Reviewing my strengths and weaknesses

David Shaw, 6:08 am 15th May 2009
Posted under: Blog Babble

I’ve been writing drafts of this post on “strengths and weaknesses”, and they never seem to come out right. There’s no way to avoid discussing my strengths and weaknesses without them coming off as very personal. With me being very new at this, everything seems to come across very badly, almost as if I’m making excuses for my faults or that I’ve got no confidence. That’s only partly true. ;)

It’s certainly been a good exercise, however. I’m not sure how blog worthy the extended rambling of my explanations in my drafts are. But it’s something I still want to post, so I’ll sum up my thoughts with a series of dot point lists.

Generic Indie Business Model

These are the strengths and weaknesses that apply to all small indie businesses, regardless of who runs them.

Strengths

  • Don’t need nearly as many sales, so can afford to go niche
  • Easier to provide human faces to the company
  • Can avoid red tape
  • Great if you like multi-tasking

Weaknesses

  • Very low budget; is very hard to compete on content quantity
  • Very low marketing budget means you’re somewhat unknown
  • Easy to for the business suffer setbacks by individual misfortune
  • Not so great if you don’t like multi-tasking

Myself

More relevant personally to myself are what I think are my individual strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths

  • Academic background. I’ve seen and done a bunch of things that most developers haven’t. I’m stronger in some certain algorithmic and A.I. areas than the typical developer.
  • With my student background, I’m used to living on the cheap.

Weaknesses

  • Rusty as anything on the developer side of things. The severity of this is uncertain.
  • A stronger portfolio would have been welcome. I can’t help feel the younger me dropped the ball on that.
  • A bunch of personality issues aren’t the best for a solo business entrepreneur, which in a sense is what an indie is. Specifically, I’m extremely shy and introverted, I’m quite risk aversive, and I procrastinate far more than is healthy. These may be improved upon or at least partly avoided but must be recognised.

Thoughts

In summary, given this starting position I’ve got a bunch of thoughts about where I should go in the short to medium term.

Top priority is scraping off the rust from my development skills which I’ve let go dormant during the last stage of my studies.

If I spend a couple of months just training myself back into the right skills and mindset, this will most likely save time in the long run than if I jump right into an ill-planned large project right now. It also gives me the opportunity to set a few good milestones to answer both whether I can hack this as a career and what direction I should go in.

Niche rather than casual.

Both are typical indie routes, but I feel the casual market is becoming more mainstream and niche can work well with my academic background. While my cartoony style fits in well with casual, I’m sure I can find a way to make it work with a niche as well. Of course a niche that just happens to be casual could also be acceptable – I won’t let the label pin me down.

Quality rather than quantity.

Or at the least, a very niche type of quantity rather than quantity across the board.

Any game idea that is essentially “just like (insert popular game title in here), only worse because I don’t have a competing budget” is not just worthless but also stupid.

‘Nuff said.

Play to my academic strengths.

Currently I’m better with an algorithm than with art or writing. While I do want to improve my skills across the board, I should not ignore this. Especially when an A.I. driven game plays very well with the niche and “quality over quantity” points.



3 comments for “Reviewing my strengths and weaknesses”

  1. nerd_boy says:

    The “Very low marketing budget means you’re somewhat unknown” bit can actually be somewhat of a strength if your first couple projects don’t quite make the cut you’d like them to, especially, I’d think, if you went in the niche area.

    Also, how much importance does a portfolio have for a starting indie? I mean, aside from the experience/knowledge you’d hopefully have acquired in making it, the portfolio itself doesn’t seem to come across as being required for indie/casual, at least from what I’ve seen for the most part.

    Cheers,
    –nerd_boy

  2. David Shaw says:

    What on earth is going on with those comment numbers? Comment #13?! Obviously there’s an issue with WordPress I’ve got to track down.

    I think unless your games are totally woeful, it can’t hurt to have some publicity. Even if they’re not, it’s hard for indies to get noticed. I’ve seen lots of people on the internet not know about even the most popular titles like World of Goo. But then again, maybe they’re not the sort of people who are interested in indie games in the first place.

    As for the importance of already having a portfolio, it would help immensely with attracting attention for prospective team members or contract work. If I had a few good games to point out, I’d be in a better negotiating position and people would trust my commitment more. I have to admit, my track record of big ideas and incomplete projects over the last few years isn’t exactly inspiring.

  3. David Shaw says:

    Looking into the matter, it seems I was using the wrong variable in my custom theme. It also looks like there isn’t a straight forward fix, so I’ll disable the comment numbers until I can figure it out.


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