I’m not an independent developer, nor do I run a studio, but if I were an indie there are a few points I’d adhere to for my first title. The points are based on a few key ideas; make the production cheap, use word-of-mouth as a marketing strategy and aim for a casual crowd. Making it casual enables a cheaper production as casual gamers don’t demand AAA production values, and their treshold to try out new titles online are low.
Minimize all that stands between the game and the player the first time she’s about to experience it. Use Flash as your platform – click a link in your browser and you’re playing. Make the control barrier as transparent as possible by using a simple, intuitive mouse control.
2. Embedded viral marketing
Use the players to spread the word – make their gaming experience produce something they want to show off , and something others will be impressed by. Provide the tools to easily send a unique URL that carries the viral content to friends.
Have some form of multiplayer, even if it’s just a social lobby. Provide features that drive the development of communities. Being part of a community makes players stay, and encourages them to bring their real life friends with them into the community – and the game.
4. Art direction
Go with stylized art that won’t require the creation of highly detailed graphics or a lot of unique resources.