Indie Game Design: 11 Student Success Stories

Indie Game Design: 11 Student Success Stories

One of the best things as a game design student is that you can turn an idea during your college days into a game in the future. Many investors and design firms still notice student success and offer them the opportunity to hatch their concepts. However, there are many who choose to pursue their path independently.

Yes that’s right, it will require you to do some extra work. This can be especially difficult when you also need to prepare for tests and the like. However, thanks to online educational platforms, you can now ask write a research paper for me at to answer theory-based homework. And now all you need is a little inspiration.

So here are some success stories from game designer students to motivate you.

1. Total chaos games

Total Mayhem Games, one of the leading independent game design companies, is the brainchild of a group of students from the Dutch university. Their first cooperative puzzle project, We were here, was released for free on Steam, which instantly became a hit. All three games in the series have been downloaded and played by over 50 million users around the world.

Due to this success, the team decided to release a commercial version of the game, and it didn’t take long for the game to be released on Xbox and Playstation as well.

2. Arvi Teikari, developer of Baba is You

Arvi is another successful freelance designer who pursued a career in game development while doing her Masters at the University of Helsinki. According to Teikari, being a student allowed him to cut some costs, which helped him put more work in games.

His Baba is You project was a success on several platforms and led Arvi to find more and more opportunities.

3. Paloma Dawkins, designer of the Gardenarium

Instead of taking the conventional collegiate approach, Paloma decided to do a residency and entered the National Film Board of Canada. After the success of her game Geranium, she pursued several projects with the Manchester International Festival and the V&A Museum.

Currently, she works as a game designer with partnerships with several institutes and receives remuneration from them, including UK arts funding.

4. Pol Clarissou, Creator of Vignettes

Pol Clarissou has made a name for himself in game arena via his creation Vignette, which stands out for its concept of transposing still life into interactive media. Gambling has caught the attention of many and has led to more jobs.

In fact, Vignettes was a product Pol designed during his student years. He was part of the team and the game was even released on the Apple App Store.

5. Kara Stone, creator of Ritual of the Moon

In 2013, Kara was a master’s student when she started game design. Her academic program was well funded, which gave her the opportunity to work on Medication Medication as part of her thesis, which is available online.

In 2014, she was working on another game called Ritual of the Moon. This earned him a Canada Arts Fellowship, which included a prize of CAD 10,000. The game is a 28-day narrative that explores aspects of loneliness, power, and healing. It combines a memory game, drawing symbols and making decisions that basically follow the mood of the user on a daily basis. The game is available for download online.

6. Starcats, Bradley University Senior Project

If you do a quick search for Starcats online you will see many mentions including the platforms this game has been featured on. This popular game started as a senior project at Bradley University. The game was shown at E3 and the team behind the project went on to set up their own business.

7. Cardboard Computer, Manufacturers of Kentucky Route Zero

Kentucky Route Zero is the brainchild of the three-man army of Jake Elliott, Tamas Kemenczy and Ben Babbitt. Together they launched Cardboard Computer which is currently working on the Kentucky Route Zero series.

The game was first developed when the three founders were students at the Art Institute of Chicago. The game offers a southern gothic atmosphere and soon takes off. Currently, the team is working on console versions of the game.

8. Alex Beechum, developer of Outer Wilds

In 2019, Alex Beechum was sought out by Mobius for his game Outer Wilds, which he developed as a graduate student of USD Games. This independent game developer is now the company’s creative manager, all thanks to his master’s project.

Outer Wilds is an interactive adventure game about a solar system trapped in an endless loop. It was first released for Microsoft Windows, then found its way onto Xbox One and Playstation, and is awaiting a Nintendo Switch release soon.

9. Undertale, created by Toby Fox

Independent developer Toby Fox rose to fame among game designers with his creation, Undertale. This game is presented as a game where you don’t have to kill anyone. Instead, you can choose to pacify the monsters by sparing them, which will affect the story and results more.

The notable feature of Undertale is that Toby Fox designed not only the story and the characters, but the soundtrack as well. In fact, the soundtrack of this game caught the attention of many players in the industry.

10. Celeste, created by Maddy Thorson

Celeste won the Best Indie Game award at the Game Awards and was developed by Maddy Thorson with Noel Berry and others. The game is considered a masterpiece and uses a trial and error platform with a hard-hitting storyline.

Although released independently, Celeste exceeded expectations and was acclaimed by all.

11. Minecraft, developed by Markus “Notch” Persson

And finally, if you need to remember how a fascinating indie game designer success story, then all you need to think about is your childhood days playing Minecraft. In fact, this masterpiece was created by Markus “Notch” Persson, an independent developer at the time.

In 2014, Microsoft purchased Mojang Studio. However, Minecraft continues to remain a titan in the gaming space and is the top selling product in the niche.

Become a freelance game designer

These days, you don’t even have to graduate from a reputable university to pursue your chosen field. To become a freelance game designer, you now have a lot of resources available through the internet and a global platform to showcase them.

One thing that is common to most of these success stories is that these designers have developed projects within limits. Or, in other words, once you start working on a game, it’s easy to get carried away and try to make improvements, only to leave them unfinished. This tendency is quite common to all artists.

However, it may be in your best interest to keep it simple. Start with a project that you have actually completed. The more games you make this way, the more you will learn. And luckily, once you have received information, there is always the possibility of releasing new versions or improving them.

Most importantly, remember that you also have to think like a businessman and a marketer. You have to release your games, even if it’s free at first. And always take advantage of jamming events, competitions and other opportunities to connect with more people, which will make you more visible.

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