I guess now’s as good a time to look back at this year and reflect.
2014 started out a little stressful because I was out of a job and instead of aggressively looking for a new one I decided to take the deep dive and go the self-employed route. If you were someone who was used to many of life’s comforts, it was time to forget it all as they became luxuries one by one. As for all major decisions in my life, I made an objective list of pros and cons to check against my gut feeling. They were aligned. My conversations with various game industry insiders made it clear what was in store for me at any potential new job regardless of the company’s pedigree: misery and the same bullshit, just a different place. So the decision was easy, just not EASY.
With hindsight by my side, I can see what things were bothering me the most and how in the past couple of months, as corny as it sounds, I arrived at a “peaceful place.”
Artificial deadline. I created a game development timeline in which I get such and such done in this month, this and that done in the next, and I missed every “milestone” I set up. Little did I realize at the time that I was to spend over half the year just learning and getting to grips with the technology needed to make a game, namely programming. Other areas of study that I now have a handle on are user-interface, AI, animation, and much more. I’m still learning, but by the end of summer I had built enough of a foundation to begin development in earnest (what I’m making I’ll reveal in time when I feel there’s enough to show). Currently I have no idea when I will finish my game – six months, a year, maybe more? – nor do I care. I trust in the process. And that process is improving the game just a little every single day. If I improve or add or fix just one thing a day, I’m happy.
Need for success. With so many success stories flying around of indie developers who came from nowhere coming out with hits, it is difficult to enter this journey without thoughts of equal success for oneself. I admit the thought has definitely crossed my mind more than a few times. But the thought that whatever I make would amount to nothing more than a faint blip in the radar in a tidal wave of awesome, better games was crippling at first. This is obviously not a healthy idea to indulge in and I noticed it affecting my work. I’d second guess myself constantly and turned game development into a dreadful chore. I nipped this motherfucker in the bud by letting go of ALL expectations. I am no longer attached to the outcome of the project I’m currently working on. That’s not to say that I don’t believe in my game. I like very much where it’s at and I have high hopes for it’s eventual final state. While I’ll do my very best, I’m mentally prepared for the always real possibility that it’ll burn to the ground.
The balanced life. Initially I was overly concerned with having a balanced lifestyle where I’m regularly going out socializing, travelling, dating, and exercising all while working on my video game. I maintained this “balance” throughout most of the year until I reset my priorities after a particularly frightening accident. Accidents can do that I suppose. Suddenly, what I used to regard as essential appeared to be unimportant distractions that are a drain on my time and energy. I still exercise, but development is all I do now and I’ve been the happiest all year. Of course there is a time for rest, recreation, and relaxation, but I’ve determined that that time is not now. When I’ve earned it, I will return to those other areas of my life in full force – with a fucking vengeance.
The reason, I think, why I’m so happy right now despite having very few digits in the bank account, despite losing touch with friends and turning down potential girlfriends and retreating into a cave, is because I’m living the dream. Not the adult dream of wealth, security, family, or recognition but a child’s dream of making a video game about whatever the hell they want without anybody’s permission.