Indie(independent) games are games that are not developed by large and proportionally funded companies but instead by smaller often less established and less resourced companies or individuals. Just go on and take a look at the Steam store to see that in recent years game development has seen a lot more of these indie games. This could, largely, be thanks to the tools that have become available and allow for easier game development.
Tools such as Unity and Unreal Engine are certainly the ones you’d hear about mostly when indie game development is mentioned. On Unity’s part, I’d say it’s mostly to do with how easy it is to learn. There are many, free and paid, tutorials for just about any game genre. It is also quite affordable at $35 per month and free for personal and educational use. Unreal Engine on the other is completely and open source. They do take 5% off the top when you sell a game.
Anyways, if you want to make games, you’re also going to need knowledge. Game development knowledge is freely available on Youtube but if you can or even want to, you can pay for it on site such as Udemy. You also need to decide what role you’re going to play in the development. If you have a huge budget, then you can simply hire people to take care of the development side but assuming you have a thin budget, you’re probably going to be personally involved in the development. Roles can be coding, concept artwork, asset creation, level design and many others. Just find one that’s closest to your strengths. If you’re working alone, then you’re obviously doing everything…
Here’s my short checklist of thing you will need to know when creating a game
1. Idea. Duhh. But it has to be a good idea.
2. A game engine. Unity and Unreal Engine, mentioned above, are examples of game engines. Pick one that best suits the type of game you want to make, suits your budget. You may also need a coding IDE such as Visual Studio.
3. A computer. The top tier engines need a half-decent computer to run smoothly. This is possibly a substantial investment.
4. Art software. For a that has 3D assets, you’ll need something like Blender or Maya. For 2D assets, you’ll something like Photoshop or GIMP. If you want to make your own audio then you’ll need programs such as FL Studio. Alternatively, you could buy assets or use free ones. Just be careful of licensing issues.
Making games has never been easier than it is now. If you have an idea for a game then go for it. Make a game.