The Rise of the Hobby Developer

Posted on 18th Mar 2011 at 16:33 by David Hing with 8 comments

David Hing
Developers around the world have submitted over 61,000 games made in Game Maker to the YoYo Games site since 2007. The rate at which they are being submitted is that, when I started writing and researching this article, it was closer to 60,900. A new game is submitted every 20 minutes.

As you can probably guess based on the rate of submissions, a lot of these games are more works in progress than stable, finished releases. There’s no real quality control and the content ranges from the likes of Crimelife 2 to Box Dodger.

There are a lot of indie developers who use Game Maker as a way of producing very high quality titles, but what I find more interesting is the number of what I would describe as ‘hobby developers’ there are out there.

By a hobby developer, I mean someone who is in the same boat as me: they love games, they love the idea of making games, they have ideas for making games, but their programming ability is remedial at best.

Hobby developers today have a plethora of choices available. There’s rapid prototyping software like Game Maker or RPG Maker. There are platforms like Unity or Flash which have a wide range of uses, or there are languages or design suites that cater to the creation of games. Gone are the days of having to learn OpenGL APIs and patch in the missing links between "learning C++ in 21 days" and "Using C++ to make something that looks like a game".

There has been a lot of talk lately about the rise of the indie studio. If nothing else the mind blowing success of Minecraft has pricked a few ears across the industry and arguably for the first time since the days of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, we are starting to see teams of one or two people produce ground breaking commercially successful games. What there is less talk about is how large numbers of people are making games for no other reason than the fun of it.

If you have a pet project that you've been keeping to yourself, click here to throw a link up on the forums.


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Orionche 18th March 2011, 17:19 Quote
I think the widespread of internet in general has helped this because you can get the tools for making a game (legally or otherwise) and you can get help from countless of programming communities that are out there if you're stuck somewhere.

Nice article, sorta boosted my confidence to think more about an idea I had. Still a long way till i try and learn C, lol.
Landy_Ed 18th March 2011, 17:58 Quote
Ending Credits 18th March 2011, 18:38 Quote
I'd class myself as a hobby developer but I'm still on the C++ path to making a game although admittedly I am using a graphics/physics engine so that's a lot of coding I don't need to worry about. That's also another thing in favour of hobby development today, UDK and the Crysis engine are both free to use providing you're not making any money from your game and stuff like Ogre3D and (until recently) Torque means that first-time devs don't have to worry about all the complicated stuff and can jump right into what makes a game a game.
BurningFeetMan 19th March 2011, 00:59 Quote
I code with DarkBASIC Professional, which can be found at The Game Creators website;

Pretty fun stuff. :)
yakyb 20th March 2011, 10:38 Quote
I have been in the process of making a game for some time i still think i'm 3 months off completion (Minimum) will be hoping that i sell a few copies but really hoping to Learn more than anything
Von Lazuli 21st March 2011, 01:48 Quote
Most of the things I make are not really polished enough for public consumption...

That said, we (my two-man games-development team...) did release a little design pretentiousness a few months back. We released a 1D game on TIGSource called LINE (linky)

As part of a separate team, I was working on a neat exploration and puzzle game called Cosmic Roots. Due to a falling out with our main engine programmer it was never taken to completion, but we did get a trailer up (linky)

I wouldn't really classify myself as a hobby developer as I am a trained programmer and designer. I just don't work in those streams and I make things on the side, the other part of my team works in software development though, so we perhaps have a leg up...

NiHiLiST 21st March 2011, 12:30 Quote
Does anyone else miss the days of the Shoot 'Em Up Construction Kit? And later Klik & Play, and The Games Factory?

Good times.
sofalover 24th March 2011, 13:56 Quote
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