The hardest thing is to let go
Or maybe I should say that the hardest thing is to face that working hard just doesn’t cut it. You need to be good, you need to be brilliant, you need to have that little spark in your mind. I don’t think I have much of this. I’m just able to get work done but it doesn’t mean it’s viable commercial work. That’s the sad part.
You build yourself some kind of fantasy and then your start to believe in it. A couple of years later you realize that it was some kind of crazy hobby but nothing to get food on the table. What do you do next? Keep on fighting even though you don’t believe much in yourself anymore or try to find the ground to do something that works.
Ask me what I’d tell myself a couple of years ago. I’d probably tell myself to do the exact same thing I have done. Go figure. I still needed to do it. It just happened to not work very well. Ask me what I’d tell someone asking me for advice. I wouldn’t say anything. Anything but “just do what you feel like doing”. I can’t really say that people should carry on with their dreams at all cost because sometimes we are just not fit for our dreams. On the other hand who am I to tell someone to not do something.
Want to build games on your own for a living? Have fun! I won’t tell you it’s a good idea but I won’t tell you it’s silly either. I guess I’m not very helpful and I don’t feel like being helpful anyway. I won’t tell you that you should know some stuff or that you should limit your ambitions. I haven’t accepted that kind of comment myself anyway. I also won’t tell you that you should keep going on no matter what. Just because I honestly don’t know what to tell myself sometimes.
Like I said I’m not even sure I’m good at that. Maybe that’s just something I’d like to do but that I should really forget about. As time goes by I’m starting to believe it I guess. The only thing that makes me feel a bit better about this is that a lot of people that succeed actually don’t have much of a clue why they succeeded as much as I don’t have much of a clue why I didn’t. Or they know too well like I sometimes know too well. It just happens because … Well because of so many things. This is where it sucks. That guy succeeded because of that. That guy succeeded because of this. That guy failed because of whatever … If someone think he’s able to tell you he’s just shitting you. That’s the best thing I learned from game development so far.
Of course we can speculate. That makes for great theoretical discussion but doesn’t get you anywhere near any results. And by looking at all those great big budget games that are firing their employees it seem that nobody have any clue at all. Maybe the only real tip I could give is “find a niche big enough to keep you alive and stick to it”. That seems to work well.
CoD games are doing well because of orgies of cutscenes that barely requires you to do anything and they succeed. The day they try something else I guess they will start to sell less copies. WoW is master as single-player MMO and people expect this from them. I’m sure some people there are warning stupid kids to not try anything else. Others just know how to spread their opinions to the press and it serves them well. The day they will stop doing it they might then become forgotten. So no way of becoming successful here. Just ways of keeping your head above the water.
And when you find a recipe that doesn’t work well you then have to learn to let go. It sucks. It sucks bad because you might not learn the right thing from it. Maybe the recipe was great but you were just not the right person to sell it. Maybe the recipe was amazing but you were lacking something to make it last just long enough to get you some results. So it sucks to let go because you can’t even be sure that you’re letting something go because it sucks. No. You’re letting it go because it didn’t work for you but could work for someone else. It really doesn’t take much to be successful you know. Look around and you’ll be amazed about how stupid success is. It’s however totally frustrating how impossible that pattern is to recreate.
And when you do finally let go then you feel like shit. And then feel like there’s nothing much ahead. And then you feel like maybe you should focus on some other job that would help to pay the house instead of following some ambition you don’t seem able to reach.
And at the same time you don’t feel like doing so. Just in case you weren’t that far … Learning to let go … sigh …