Best advice for indies is 'start saving lots of money' says A Virus Named Tom's Holly Keenan

Aspiring indies should think of ‘the long run’

Tim and Holly Keenan know the challenges of independent development, and say that if you want to go it alone, you should start saving money now.

The husband and wife team behind Misfits Attic recently released their first game, A Virus Named Tom, on Steam.

The arrival of a baby meant some major features planned for release were cut from the game, but that hasn’t prevented a cult following from developing around the local multiplayer puzzle game.

The couple shared their advice to aspiring indie developers in an "ask me anything" session on Reddit.

"We worked on this game over the course of four years and life can change a lot in that time ie, having a baby which is of course a huge expense," said Tim.

"So I’d say give some serious thought to how you want to live your life and the things you want to do in the course of development for your game."

This means the first step of getting into independent development is one many take for granted in the dawning age of Kickstarter: "Save up lots of money."

"We planned on Tim leaving his full time job so with that in mind, we were able to save up enough money for us to work on AVNT full time," continued Holly Keenan.

"Plan on everything taking longer than you think. I generally double whatever estimates I hear from Tim."

Game development is a risky business, and working alone does not make the task any simpler. With this in mind, going full-time means keeping your eyes as far down the road ahead as possible.

"For aspiring developers I’d actually say that you should give some thought to the long run, because indie dev is rough, and can be quite a grind," says Tim.

"Make sure you know that your game isn’t coming out anytime soon and that you’re gong to be working your ass off."

"However, don’t over plan the business side of things. If you’re working with people they may come and go from the project, the project may change or get scrapped, so start making the game and keep adapting, if that makes any sort of sense."

So how did a low budget game like A Virus Named Tom wind up with such a knockout art style?

"Marry someone that’s a good artist," says Tim, "slave labor is the bomb."

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