I have been operating a part-time GameDev sideline since 2004. I started working with a local GameDev to bring to the internet a game inspired by Atari’s arcade game Warlords. Like most projects, it never came to be. Now I have been working on acquiring and designing/developing a series of online game IPs. You can see more through my business links.
Because I enjoy the mental exercise of categorizing entities, I got thinking about how GameDev has its own ecology that is more nuanced than seeing just AAA and Indie Devs. I tweeted about it and got some responses that got me thinking more. Here is my summarized thoughts:
ProDevs are those typically professionally trained programmers, artists, designers who work for a company. They are either Employees or Contractors. They belong to large companies that spends millions of dollars and take years to release.
Then comes the IndieDevs, made up of three distinct groups: In-Market (released one or more games and is seeking continued profitability), Pre-Market (either working on their IP or trying to find their market); and Never-Market (these people take on a game product that they can’t realize and it never materializes). The difference between a Pre-Market and Never-Market is the scale and viability of their project.
Finally there are three kinds of OtherDevs: The HobbyDev loves to gamedev because it is fun, creative, and they might sell on itchio for kicks and some props. The DemoDev may look like a HobbyDev but creates demos and small games to informally train themselves and aim to become a ProDev or maybe a IndieDev. The OpenDev creates games and releases their source code out of idealism and commitment to sharing.
Below is my GameDev Ecology chart. I think it reflects accurately the diversity of GameDev and hopefully helps clarify expectations that we hold of ourselves and of others.
Doc Surge (a cool synonym for Billows) is inspired by Doc Brass from the Planetary Comic series who in turn was inspired by the 1930s pulp hero Doc Savage.