video game developer

How to Develop and Self Publish a Game in 12 Months

In the dynamic world of game development, creating and self-publishing a game within a span of 12 months might seem like a daunting task. However, with a proper understanding of the gaming ecosystem, a well-defined strategy, and sheer determination, it is indeed achievable. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through an in-depth journey of how to make and self-publish a game in a year.

We’ll start from the conception of the game idea, moving onto choosing the right development strategy, and delve into the meticulous process of game development. We will then navigate the tricky terrain of funding and financial management before turning to the art of crafting engaging advertisements. Next, we’ll discuss strategic pricing and managing revenue from multiple sources, highlighting the significance of platform features and understanding sales cycles.

From the critical role of reviews and ratings to the impact of localizing your game for different audiences, we’ll leave no stone unturned. Finally, we’ll explore the experience of working with contractors, learning from previous games, and applying these insights to future projects.

Whether you’re an aspiring game developer, a seasoned professional looking for a fresh perspective, or simply curious about the intriguing world of game development, this comprehensive guide will provide you with the knowledge and tools needed to successfully embark on your own game creation journey. So, get ready as we unveil the secrets to making and self-publishing a game in just 12 months!

Section One: Game Idea and Development Strategy

In the realm of game development, the game idea and development strategy are the foundational pillars that support the entire project. Without a unique, compelling idea and a solid plan to bring it to life, the journey can be bumpy and challenging. This section will provide an overview of how to identify a unique game idea, select a suitable development strategy, and understand the key milestones in the game development process.

Game Idea

Crafting a unique game idea is crucial to stand out in the crowded gaming market. But how do you come up with a game concept that captivates and engages your target audience?

The first step is to pinpoint what fascinates you, as a developer, and how you can translate that into a game. Drawing from your interests, hobbies, or favorite games can be an effective starting point. You might, for example, be intrigued by historical periods, fascinated by certain types of strategy games, or passionate about a specific genre. Capitalizing on these interests can help you conceive a game that resonates with players who share these passions.

The second step involves market research. Who is your target audience? What types of games are they playing? What game mechanics are they drawn to? Answering these questions will help guide the development of your game idea and ensure that it aligns with player expectations.

Development Strategy

Once you’ve defined your game idea, the next step is to create a development strategy. This includes deciding on the type of game (e.g., simulator, strategy, adventure, etc.), setting a timeline for development, and determining what resources you’ll need.

To keep the development process manageable within the 12-month timeline, you might want to consider developing a game that focuses on depth rather than breadth. For instance, you could create a game that offers an in-depth simulation of a specific scenario, rather than trying to simulate a wide variety of scenarios.

Milestones in Game Development

After you’ve settled on a game idea and development strategy, it’s time to break down the development process into key milestones. This might include pre-production (creating a design document, storyboarding, planning), production (coding, creating art assets, testing), and post-production (debugging, beta testing, polishing).

Remember that while these milestones provide a general roadmap, game development is often an iterative process. Don’t be afraid to revisit previous stages of development, refine your game idea, or tweak your strategy based on feedback and testing. Flexibility and resilience are crucial traits for a successful game developer.

Section Two: Financing Your Game Development Journey

Financing a game development project can be a daunting task, especially when you’re aiming to deliver a finished product in just 12 months. It’s essential to understand the various options at your disposal and how to best manage your finances throughout the project. This section will walk you through how to bootstrap your development efforts, manage your living costs, and allocate resources effectively.

Bootstrapping Your Game Development

When launching your first game, it’s common to use personal savings or rely on self-financing methods—also known as bootstrapping. Bootstrapping offers you full control over the creative process, allowing you to mold the game according to your vision without any external interference.

When bootstrapping, it’s essential to budget carefully and consider your living costs during the development process. The goal is to ensure you have sufficient funds to maintain a basic lifestyle while fully dedicating yourself to your project.

Managing Living Costs During Development

One critical factor when creating a game in 12 months is how to keep yourself fed and housed during this period. Here, savings play a crucial role. It’s recommended to start planning and saving for your game development project years ahead. The goal is to amass enough savings to support yourself and cover any unforeseen expenses during development.

Consider optimizing your living situation to stretch your budget further. This might involve moving to a less expensive city or even country, sharing accommodation, or cutting down on non-essential expenses.

Allocating Resources Effectively

Allocating resources effectively is a fundamental skill in game development. When bootstrapping, every penny counts, and wise resource management can be the difference between the success and failure of your project.

Consider the areas where you might need to outsource or hire extra help—such as art design if you’re not artistically inclined—and budget accordingly. Be mindful of your strengths and weaknesses as a developer, and don’t hesitate to seek assistance where necessary.

Balancing the desire for quality with the reality of your budget can be a tricky task. However, remember that the most important goal is to release a playable and enjoyable game. Some features or aspects might have to be downscaled or omitted to achieve this within your budget and timeline.

In the upcoming section, we will discuss the importance of planning and setting a realistic timeline for your game development project. We will also delve into the benefits of the “Early Access” model and how it can help you refine your game.

Section Three: Planning and Utilizing Early Access

Developing a game in 12 months requires meticulous planning and strategic utilization of resources. A well-structured development timeline and smart use of early access can significantly enhance your project’s success. Let’s delve into how you can integrate these elements into your game development journey.

Developing a Realistic Timeline

A realistic timeline is the backbone of any game development project. To establish one, start with your end goal – the finished game – and work backwards. Break down the entire game development process into manageable tasks and stages, assigning a time frame to each.

The goal is to create a timeline that allows you to develop your game progressively, without rushing or compromising on quality. Remember, your timeline needs to account for the unexpected – delays are a natural part of the development process.

Utilizing the Early Access Model

Early access is a valuable tool for indie game developers. With it, you release a playable but unfinished version of your game to the public. The benefits of this model are two-fold: it creates a community around your game, providing you with valuable feedback, and it also brings in some revenue to support ongoing development.

Leveraging early access allows you to fine-tune your game based on real player feedback. This helps ensure that your game aligns with player expectations and market trends. It also offers an opportunity for players to get involved and feel invested in your game’s development, fostering a stronger connection between your team and your player base.

One way to get the most out of the early access model is to have a well-defined plan for regularly updating your game and communicating with your players. Regular updates show progress and dedication to your project, while clear communication helps manage player expectations and fosters a positive community atmosphere.

In the next section, we will focus on marketing strategies, highlighting the importance of consistency, community engagement, and localization. We will also discuss how to handle reviews and ratings and the role they play in your game’s success.

Section Four: Marketing and Community Engagement

Crafting a game that resonates with players is just part of the equation. Effective marketing strategies and active community engagement are key elements to ensure your game reaches its potential audience and enjoys enduring success. In this section, we’ll delve into how you can achieve this.

Consistent Marketing

Consistency is key in marketing, particularly when it comes to maintaining your game’s unique voice across all your promotional efforts. This includes advertising, social media, blog posts, or any other communication about your game. This consistent voice helps to shape your game’s identity and allows players to resonate with your brand more effectively.

Even if your game’s voice leans towards humor or incorporates elements such as puns, as long as it aligns with the overall brand, it can significantly impact your marketing performance.

Community Engagement

Developing a game isn’t just about creating a product. It’s also about building a community. Engage with your players actively – this could be through forums, social media platforms, or within the game itself. Feedback, suggestions, and constructive criticism from your community can help you refine your game, while their praise can serve as valuable promotion.


Localization isn’t just about translating a game into a different language. It’s about adapting the content to make it culturally appropriate for different regions. If you notice a sizable interest in your game from a particular region, it could be beneficial to localize your game for that audience.

Localization can increase your game’s reach and boost sales in those regions. This means going beyond just translating text and ensuring that all content, from dialogue to visual elements, is culturally appropriate.

Managing Reviews and Ratings

Reviews and ratings play a vital role in your game’s success. Positive reviews can significantly boost your game’s reputation, leading to increased sales. Negative reviews, on the other hand, can offer valuable insights into where your game might need improvement.

Although it’s not always possible to directly respond to player reviews, it’s crucial to stay on top of them. Monitoring reviews can help you identify issues that need addressing and opportunities for enhancing the player experience.

Section Five: Planning for Future Games

Successfully releasing your first game is a massive achievement, but it’s just the beginning of your journey in the gaming industry. As you consider future projects, there are several key aspects you should keep in mind, including game ideation, funding, and outsourcing.

Game Ideation for the Future

While working on your current game, you might already have a wealth of ideas for your next projects. Some ideas might be more ambitious, requiring a longer development time than your first game. These ideas, while potentially demanding more resources and time, can be a part of your growth as a game developer.

Maintain the same sense of urgency that you had while developing your first game. This mindset helps to stay focused and ensures that your next game can sustain you financially as you continue your journey as a game developer.


Funding is one of the most crucial aspects of game development. Depending on your situation, you might choose to bootstrap your project, or you might consider seeking external funding.

Bootstrapping allows you to retain complete control over your game. You’re able to maintain the integrity of your creative vision without external pressures. However, it does require significant personal financial investment and risk.

On the other hand, external funding can provide you with the resources necessary to realize more ambitious projects. The key is to ensure that any potential investors align with your vision for the game.


Outsourcing is another vital aspect to consider in your game development journey. Outsourcing certain tasks, such as art or music, can save you time and allow you to focus more on the game development aspects that you excel at.

Finding contractors can often be done through your personal network. Reach out to artists or other professionals you admire and ask if they would be interested in collaborating. Finding the right people to work with can greatly enhance your game and bring your vision to life.

Section Six: Final Thoughts and Advice

As we conclude our comprehensive guide on self-publishing a game within a year, let’s take a moment to reflect on the core aspects of our journey. Throughout this process, we’ve touched on everything from the initial planning and research phase, through to development, marketing, and finally the post-launch phase.

Persistence is Key

Undoubtedly, developing and self-publishing a game is a demanding task that requires dedication and persistence. You’re likely to encounter obstacles and challenges that may test your resolve, but remember that these are all part of the process. Embrace these challenges as opportunities to learn and grow as a game developer.

The Importance of Community

Throughout your game development journey, the role of your community is paramount. Not only does your community provide valuable feedback, but it also supports your game through purchases, reviews, and word-of-mouth advertising. Treat your community well, and it will repay you in kind.

Constantly Evolve and Adapt

In the fast-paced world of game development, it’s crucial to remain adaptable. Be prepared to adjust your strategies and ideas based on the feedback you receive and the data you gather.

For instance, consider localizing your game to different languages based on sales data in various regions. Such adaptations could significantly boost your game’s success and reach a wider audience.

Looking Ahead

As you look forward to your next game development project, remember to maintain the same sense of urgency and focus that helped you successfully complete your first game. Each new project is a fresh start, and the experience you’ve gained from your previous game should only serve to enhance your approach moving forward.

Developing and self-publishing a game within a year may seem like a daunting task, but with careful planning, perseverance, and the ability to adapt, it’s an entirely achievable goal. It’s an exciting journey filled with opportunities for growth, innovation, and the potential to share your unique vision with the world. Happy game developing!

Wyatt Mayham

Wyatt founded TwitchMetrics in 2016 and shares his knowledge about the business elements of the livestreaming and gaming world. With more than 10 years’ experience collaborating with gaming studios, developers, and agencies, he’s adept at increasing their game revenues through strategic partnerships with creators and PR and marketing strategies.