FYI - X Post from r/Games:

Though I'm happy to answer questions here as well!

My name is John, and I'm making indie games. I just sold my home that I been living in for the last 7 years (moving into a small 1 bedroom apt with the wifey) to pursue my dream of making games. Got 10 days to move out!

Been in the gaming industry for nearly 20 years. Broke in as a game designer, but I haven't designed squat til now. Early on I moved to the business side of things (which I did enjoy.) Launching bigger and bigger IPs (ie. Sonic, Star Wars, Bomberman) only made me realize how far removed I really was from the creative process.

The defining moment for taking the plunge was a few years back when my best friend past away. We were going to start making games together (he was truly a creative genius.) He never got the chance to do it. I sure as hell wasn't going to disappoint him. Selling my home was what I needed to make this dream a reality.

Feel free to ask me anything. ie. What it takes to launch an indie game, what it's like working for a game publisher, what's Spark Rising, etc.!

BTW- My game Spark Rising is now live on Kickstarter

Forgot to mention - The game is also on Steam Greenlight!

My Proof

Update: Thanks all for the questions and support! I'll check in through the night and answer any other questions. We got one week left to go on Kickstarter so if you are interested in coming along for the ride, hop on board. Promise to make it worth your while!

Comments: 82 • Responses: 25  • Date: 

JustAdolf-LikeCher35 karma

I was going to be all judgy and negative when I say the title, but fuck that, you go and make your friend proud, man! I believe in you!

JohnMasterLee10 karma

Thanks Mr. Adolf Cher.

It's the net, you likely are judging me either way! But you know, it does feel good that you said that. Thanks.

Rantzaus9 karma

Why does it require one to sell his home, in order to start making games?

HeresWaldorf4 karma

The amount of money to just create a Business is crazy. When I started my own company every thing I did I had to pay someone something.

edit: I am now just paying off the last of my debts

JohnMasterLee2 karma


CaptDumb5 karma

I saw this and thought about how crazy this sounded. Then thought of myself. I would probably do the same.

I really want to get into game design and create my own stories and games. My question is, what in your opinion was the most difficult thing to tackle when creating your game?

I'm always pushing ideas aside because I don't know how to truly approach them. I saw the PAX 2012 keynote with Ted Price and I always kinda base what I want to do off of this Although I still run into the same obstacles.

JohnMasterLee6 karma

Honestly, the most difficult thing initially was getting out of the day to day habits and just doing it. It's easy to work and get a pay check each day, and come home tired. Trying to learn something new, risking your comfortable status quo, are things that pretty much hold every big dream back.

From there, it's about taking small steps and gradually leveling up. I did get discouraged at first because I tried to build my first game a couple of years about in Flash, using ActionScript. That took a lot of getting use to. But I did finish the game, even if it was ultra simple. And that led to another, and etc. etc. now I'm ambitious enough to try to take on a game like Spark Rising!

BrokeCFO5 karma

Except for the idea part, what was/is the hardest huddle you have faced in your game so far?

Btw I am a hobby game dev I understand the magnitude of the risk you took and I wish you the best. I might be you 5 years down the line.

JohnMasterLee3 karma

Finding the right team. I honestly don't know how some people could make a whole game on their own, because I need collaborators to bounce ideas off of, and to help rally each other. It's always difficult to find people who share the same vision, willing to go through the same level of hardship, and have complimentary skills. Thus I'm always out there talking with new people. Sometimes just to pass on advice, other times just to network. It all comes full circle one day.

elrobolobo5 karma

What is the best/worst part of the indie gaming community?

JohnMasterLee3 karma

The best part is the amazing collaborative, and supportive nature of the indie scene. From both gamers, and other developers. I had other devs reach out to us and give us advice on our Kickstarter, share code with us, etc. It encourages us to do the same.

The worst parts are increasingly becoming a non-issue. Just 2 years ago, there really was no concept of an indie gaming community that was large enough to have an impact on the industry. A community matters when its voice can affect dramatic change. And we're now seeing that happen. Sony/Microsoft/Valve are all going out of their way to support indies. New business models are making indie game development more feasible. Sharing of information is not only encouraged, it's part of the indie community DNA. This happened because the indie community made a difference.

coloicito4 karma

How would you define Spark Rising in few words? (like a "slogan" but explaining how is the game)

JohnMasterLee9 karma

Spark Rising is a build + battle sandbox game. Imagine if Minecraft had Hanky Panky with Star Wars Battlefront, and the wonder kid being Spark Rising.

Yeah, that's not really a slogan, but it does capture the essence of the game.

iZacAsimov3 karma

If you don't get a MASTERMIND TIER backer, will you make the villain Peter Molyneux? ("Polyneux"?)

JohnMasterLee2 karma

If he backs it, I'll make him Godus.

choboy4562 karma

what is your favorite video game?

JohnMasterLee6 karma

A game called King of Kings. It's ultra obscure because it only came out on Japan. Ultra awesome turn based fantasy game. I'm still amazed at how in-depth the game was for an 8-bit creation. I ended up learning how to read Japanese just to play it.

NOTE: Don't get it confused with this other game!

t3rminalV2 karma

How does your wife feel about you choosing to go down this route?

JohnMasterLee2 karma

My wife has seen how the last few years has had an impact on my well being. How it eats at me when I not having the outlet to create. How it's driven up my high blood pressure, how it's affected my mood. It's quite subtle at first, but you can feel it when something isn't right with someone you love. And she wants me to be happy. I think she and I take a long term view of our relationship. In other words, yes, she is doing everything she can to support me at this stage. And one day (or perhaps I already am), I will do the same for her. No expectations, or "you owe me one". She's taught me a lot about unconditional love.

zen127912 karma

What genre of gaming will you be aiming for?

JohnMasterLee2 karma

It's a strategy infused action game. Played from a 3rd person perspective.

ChaosThirteen2 karma

I want to wish you the best of luck. Remember, when you become rich and famous, don't forget you had a wife that would allow you to sell your house to chase your dream. I have no intent to preach, but the reason that in particular stands out, is I'm fortunate enough to have a wife like that as well.

"Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal." ~Attributed to a LOT of people.

You've already done more than hundreds of thousands of people only wish they could have the incentive to do. Taking that first step to chase their dreams. Godspeed my friend.

JohnMasterLee2 karma

Word. And tomorrow, I shall wine and dine the wife. It's her birthday. I got her this:

AaaronnMusic1 karma


JohnMasterLee2 karma

The only time she ever checks Reddit is when I force her to stop sometime important she's doing, and make her come running to me, so I can show her some funny pic someone posted on Reddit.

MrSprinkles1012 karma

What's your business name?

JohnMasterLee1 karma

Wicked Loot!

GolgothaAvante1 karma


JohnMasterLee4 karma

You can. Support us on Kickstarter and you can come to my home and play on my computer.*

*Well, sorta. You get alpha access. But not at my home. Sold it.

Altinervra1 karma

What's your favorit indie game of ALL time?

JohnMasterLee1 karma

I'm gonna cheat on this one. I'm going way back when games were self published and say the early Ultima games.

boner791 karma

Have you played the classic game "Rampart"?

JohnMasterLee2 karma


DaCzac1 karma

So, Masuka, please teach me how to be as smooth with the ladies as you are.

JohnMasterLee3 karma

I had to Google that shit to figure out what you are talking about.

My answer: Years of building up finger strength playing games.

Fashbinder_srs1 karma

Democracy 3 was the most recent indie game ive played. Patched twice in the first week for obvious bugs (a capitalist policy lowering capitalist happyness. As well as seemingly obvious features missing (having a country in the black not generating money through interest).

I think the most important thing for an indie title is to be complete at launch, it would put you on a pedestal that towers above recent triple A titles. Do you concur?

Good luck with spark rising!

JohnMasterLee3 karma

Very interesting question! Most indies would love to have the opportunity make a game all the way through and then launch it feature complete, and bug free.

But the reality for indies is that funding is usually pretty tight throughout development. So you have to turn to some financial resource to make sure you can even complete the game, whether investors, publisher, or crowdfunding, etc.

But there is a better model today, and it works for many games (though I acknowledge it doesn't work for every type of game.) And that is to launch an alpha version of your game, and start building a fan-base early on and start generating some revenue early on. This ensures you can gather feedback as you go, which is important for a really small team that can't catch all the bugs, or know what works or what doesn't.

I think many indie devs that eventually become successful enough start to interact with their fan-base less and less during development because they have the funds to make a game without having to cater to investors, publishers, gamers, etc. But one thing I think our studio will do is always keep that channel open with gamers. We make games that feature user generated content, so having gamer input from the start is pretty important to the way we approach development.

Derpy_Bird1 karma

Why sell your house instead of getting a loan?

JohnMasterLee3 karma

Few banks will ever give a loan for something like game development because they view it as high risk. Unless you have a track record as a company and steady income already, loans are generally out of reach for indie developers.

iZacAsimov1 karma

What were some enlightening challenges you encountered while making your game? Any fun stories to interrupt the dull monotony?

Since Halloween's coming up, do you plan any holiday-themed DLcs?

JohnMasterLee1 karma

Making a game that is always factoring in a way to empower users to create is damn tricky. You can't just launch raw tools and expect most people to get it. And if you make it ultra easy, you know there will be penis monsters everywhere. We decided to opt to make it accessible. What you want to create and play with... that's up to you!

purplesascwatch1 karma

I am a younger redditor and plan to pursue game designing as a future career. I was wondering if they get paid good and can they work their way up? Thanks.

JohnMasterLee2 karma

Gamasutra's Salary Survey is useful for knowing what roles get paid what. Programmers are the best paid on average. Well, except for the high ranking execs who wear the suits...

iamtalkingbullshit1 karma

I am currently teaching myself C++. I am 15 Years old. How should I practice after finishing?

JohnMasterLee4 karma

Can't tell if you are talking bullshit or not.

iamtalkingbullshit1 karma

Well. I bought the book "C++ Primer Plus 6th Edition" and have been using it to teach myself c++, I have not, though, used my new abilities on any small projects.

iamtalkingbullshit7 karma

FUCKK... I forgot what my name was -.-.

JohnMasterLee4 karma

Still can't tell...

ah, that was fun for the first time.

Anyways, so this is just me, so don't go taking this as if you should start a book burning club. I rarely learn stuff from books. And I studied a lot of freakin books (went on to do an MBA.) I failed statistics the first time I took it in collect. The second time I took it in grad school, I aced it. Why? Because I got hooked on Poker, and I was able to use stats in the way I played.

Studying only gets you so far. Creating something is what makes the difference! So my advice is the same things I mentioned before: Take small steps. Build something small you know you can finish (because chances are it's still a lot harder than you realize!) Each successfully completed project motivates you to take it further next time. Each time you don't finish a project sets you back further.

You are well on your way though. Learning programming is in essence the foundation for creative work.

makesyougohmmm1 karma

Hi. As a broke game developer myself, how to stay motivated? I have tons of designs, and one amazing game design (which i want to put on kickstarter), but no money to pay programmers and artists to work on prototypes. Now I have started learning Construct 2, and do a bit of art on Photoshop, but how does one generally form a solid team when broke?

JohnMasterLee1 karma

So if you are broke, then you better build up some talent. That's pretty much the surest way to get out of being broke. In this scenario, if you want to find a good team, make sure you are very talented in one thing that the team needs.

erqos0 karma

Not to be discouraging or anything, but you're not gonna be the next Curt Schilling are ya?

JohnMasterLee2 karma

Let's see, last night I bought the generic Safeway brand of ice cream, to save a couple of bucks compared with Ben and Jerrys. So I think I fallen pretty far from the Schilling tree.