Indies Aren’t Solos

Come to think of it, there’s most likely not a single “solo” programmer in the world. Even the ones locked in dark cabins have are connected to zillion of other developers. We have Twitter. We have email accounts. We have blogs. We have forums. And we have loads of more ways to connect and ask help from each other.

Even if we “work alone” we aren’t developing things solo. There’s loads of people helping us when we just ask. (see for example here – I was pretty amazed to see so many helpful replies).

Pretty amazing.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Actually it would be an interesting poll to see how many programmers do use twitter while they program etc. Perhaps along with other things like help yourself websites/tutorials as well as getting more live help from friends.

  2. Yeah I guess once an assasin is in the field there’s no calling mommy, so you got me there. Man, a twittering assasin, I hope there aren’t any Hollywood movie executives reading this forum. Well, as long as it’s not Ben Stiller…

  3. Val, heh. Well, at least the guy shuts up during the job instead of going Twitter saying “polishing guns”, “approaching the target now”, “oh, shit. now he is awake”..

    Naturally people need each other’s help for tools and stuff, but nowadays programmers also communicate a lot during the development. Maybe.

    Or something.

  4. Who does your assasin buy weapons from? Does your assasin just make money from stealing from others they killed perhaps? If you make your own weapons, who came up with the designs? Did/does your assasin train somewhere with someone? I’m not sure I buy the “solo” assasin model either :)

  5. You guys do have a point about “solo” vs “alone”.

    Maybe the “solo” I think stems from playing Cyberpunk pen & paper RPG where you could pick “solo” as the character. Character who could be like a lone wolf assassin type of dude…

  6. Juuso,
    Getting tips and googling stuff, while very valuable, will take only a fraction of the time you will invest in the project.
    Most of the time will be consisting of you(or the programmer) sitting in front of the computer and typing stuff or generating content.
    I think you can try to draw a line to seperate people who gave advice and people who contributed content(code, art work, stories and etc).
    Its not a clear line, but it can be some kind of a guiding line in this sort of argument.

  7. There are a couple versions of “solo” and “alone” that I think could be considered here. The first is the lone programmer of the team who has to code everything from scratch. They are the ones who don’t use the pre-made engines. Then there are the lone programmers who do use the pre-made tools. Both are alone to some extent.

  8. If you consider development the entire process of creating an application, including anyone who contributes general knowledge… yeah. But as noted here, that seems really broad.

    However, in terms of programming… getting help on a forum really doesn’t mean you’re no longer solo, unless someone else is actually contributing code that you’re using directly — and even then, if you find or solicit a snippet showing, say, the usage of a particular library function, that hardly constitutes a meaningful contribution to the project.

    I think “alone” is a far better term to use here. Not having others contributing significant meaningful, useful work to your project is, to me, what defines it as a solo effort.

  9. Sargon, yeh, but I mean we are not like Rambo-solos who go take the enemy base against 10,000 head army in some jungle.

    We are more like… guys who develop our ideas, discuss it with each other, show pics, videos and stuff to others – ask questions and get help. Sure, we are steering the plane, but there’s passangers hanging on the wings so to speak.

    I just kind of feel that the guys who made Microprose Soccer for commodore 64 worked much more “alone” than the any developer today. (I suppose there are exceptions, but anyway…)

  10. It is hard to ever be “alone” when you deal with anything online. We collaborate more now than ever I think.

    Every project I work on, if I get stuck, I drop a forum post somewhere or send an email to an old work buddy. I can’t really say I do anything alone.

    Even the stories I write are generally inspired by someone else.

  11. Very true. I in turn work with Newton Game Dynamics, Lua, the guy who wrote the FBX converter, and NVidia and ATI. You have no idea how many bugs I have prompted the graphics vendors to fix.

  12. Or, there could be several levels of solos. Maybe no one is 100% solo, but also not everyone are equal at their “solo level”

  13. I think this definition of solo is too wide.
    You can account a guy’s mother for breast feeding him and thus made his IQ higher. And then say he is not solo, and his mother helped him achieve his goals.
    But that is a stretch.
    A solo guy is somone who is the only one responsible if his project will get completed.
    If he isn’t going to work on the project, no one else will take his place or fill his position.

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