Devlog #2: Make what you know

I love a good 2D platforming game. I grew up with some of the classics- Metroid, Mario, and Kirby. I know what makes a platformer fun- precise movement, varied enemies to test your skills against, and level design that builds as you progress.

One of the first games I made in GameMaker was a little platformer. A strange island with the tunnels underneath full of platforming challenges and bats to fight. It was fun to build out the spaces, dial in the physics, and create enemies that challenged you in different ways.

But I am almost certain I will never release a platformer.

Some reasons why I’ll never release a platformer

  • The genre on Steam is incredibly saturated due to the low barrier to entry.
  • The pre-existing titles are titans (Blasphemous, Ori and the Blind Forest, and Hollow Knight just to name a few) and very easy to be compared against.
  • Finding a unique take on the genre is difficult due to its long and rich history.

And it’s not just me- trends on Steam show that modern indie platformers struggle, whereas other more niche genres can flourish when done right.

Link: Source

Does genre really matter?

Link: What Genres are Popular On Steam In 2022

On Steam, not every game genre is created equal when you’re a solo indie. It’s totally alright to pursue making a game in a saturated genre- if it’s what you love and you can do it justice, follow that instinct. But understand the landscape. What games currently exist, what are the modern trends and expectations, where is there space for an indie, and what is your experience working in that genre?

I am extremely passionate about 2 genres of game- horror and strategy, and the places where they mix are a lot of my favorite games (Inscryption, World of Horror, Frostpunk, and more!). I’ve settled into finding spaces there that I can create interesting and successful projects- and importantly, a space I can remain passionate about for years to come.

We can look at those same reasons from earlier to test the viability of success creating in this genre:

  • Is the genre saturated?
  • Will it be easily compared to other games?
  • Is there an opportunity to create a unique take?

As of 2024, my genre of choice is a growing space where passionate people with interesting ideas make some weird, creative things. And that sounds like a pretty ideal place for me to start gamedev in earnest.

Niche games have passionate fans!

All games are going to fit in multiple genre boxes (how many RPGs aren’t also Adventures?) but pairing unique and sometimes counterintuitive genres together can be a powerful thing. The more specific and intentional you make a game, the more it sets it apart from the competition. And that’s not just good for sales- it can allow you to break your own preconceptions on what your game SHOULD be.

Good platformers should have wall jumping, I might say. Well- how about a rhythm-based platformer? Maybe a lot of those conventions that fit for other games no longer apply.

Make what you know, love what you do, and embrace failure along the way. And if you overthink things, you’ll talk yourself out of a lot of opportunities.

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