I had a long conversation today with a person responsible for biz dev at a major publisher. He regaled me with a remarkable story about a hot indie developer who he had reached out to with a simple email: “Hey there, I’d like to introduce myself and learn more about your company.” There was more to the publisher’s email, but that is how it started out.

The developer wrote back, “A little advice — you should insert my name and my company’s name in your email. It will make it more effective.”

Can you guess how the publisher responded? Predictably: “Thanks for the advice. I wish your company the best of luck in its future endeavors.” Still no name in there. 😉

I don’t care how great you think you are. I don’t care how many companies are knocking down your door. This is a very small industry, and people talk. Never forget that. It simply doesn’t pay to be an asshole. What good does it get you, except a brief feeling of smug superiority?

Your next game or two might flop. It has happened to the best of developers, for reasons both within and not within their control. If you find yourself in that unfortunate position, all you’ll have left is your reputation — how people feel about you as a person, what you’re like to work with, etc. And even if you’re lucky enough to enjoy an endless string of successful titles, do you really want to be known as a jerk?

There’s a reason why guys like Will Wright, Ray Muzyka, Bob Bates and Chris Avellone are so widely respected in the game industry. It’s partly because they’re successful and talented… but it’s also because they’re genuinely nice guys. Aspire to be like them, not some douchebag celebrity.

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