It’s all between the ears
I’ve been struggling recently to deal with my new/old situation. I didn’t have much choice to make this decision but making the decision and accepting it ain’t quite the same. Not yet at least. After some honest and direct discussions with my wife I might be starting to see the hint of a way to get over it though. One day or another it’d have to happen but better sooner than later.
My real honest first hope was to have a nice start that would allow me to consider checking only for a part-time job. Maybe 3 days a week. It’s not my ultimate goal (which is to make a living out of my games) but it felt about right. Me going full-time was only because I lost my job and had enough savings to last a bit but being able to stay full-time after working on a new project for 5 months was a bit too much and I knew it.
So it didn’t happen and when you’ve been working on a single thing for some time it can be hard to finally hit a wall and realize that things will have to get back the way they were at least for some undetermined time (not knowing for how long is the difficult part here). I’m not sure what others think but I was convinced that it was part of the realm of possibilities. I never had better conditions to work on a project and everything went pretty smoothly during that time. Was I aiming too high? Possibly. Would it have helped to aim lower? I’m not sure.
That’s when I’m starting to see that hint. Right from the beginning in 2007 I’ve been chasing something instead of letting things happen. It doesn’t change anything beside how high I get and how low I can fall down. Maybe I’ve been a bit too passionate about a single thing instead of just enjoy the many things around me. I do tend to focus on a single thing and invest a lot in it. The problem with MMO development is that the single step you take takes a lot of time and even after release it’s still constant work so it leaves little place to other things. For example I don’t have to spend any time thinking about the single-player Flash games I worked on but I still do get emails about Golemizer even though I decided to not work on it anymore.
When I look back at the past 4 years I see that I worked on and released 2 1/2 MMOs (Dungeon of Loot didn’t last long), 1 multiplayer online game and 6 single-player Flash games. I never allowed myself to take a break even when I was saying that I was taking a break… I was chasing something. It could have taken 15 years to go through that same process that I don’t think the results would have been different though. I still got huge experience from all this and some concepts were just not good (maybe I should have skip them though). The difference however again is that when you fall it seems to hit harder because you don’t have anything else you like to focus on. You’ve been so distracted by a single goal that everything else seems trivial.
I see that now that I’m back working for the same employer I used to work for. I’ve been there for 10-11 years and built a solid reputation. The problem is that I don’t seem to enjoy that reputation anymore. If only my mind was 100% dedicated to this again I’d be much more efficient and much more proud of my work there instead of always seeing the dark side of it. It now just feels like “that thing I have to do until I can finally do what I really want” and it wasn’t that way before. Well up to 3 years ago at least.
And then I look at other indie developers and see that few of them are actually doing this full-time. Sure we mostly hear about those who do so it sends a distorted vision. So what’s the difference between me and all the other indie devs who are still doing this part-time? Well like I said I am chasing something. Others seem to just enjoy the opportunity to work on games and release them. It’s like a bonus to their day. For me it’s the prime objective. That’s the difference and I’m surely not saying that it’s better. Just pointing out the difference.
Yet… It do feels legitimate to want to start your own business. I just might not have chosen the easiest field though. If I decide to open my own bakery tomorrow morning on the corner of the street I will have to face challenges but the bank might accept a bit more easily to loan me some money to start my business. Have you ever went to you bank and say “I want you to loan me money to make games?”…
So yes I’m frustrated that I’m having such a hard time to get bigger results but I’m working on that. I’m frustrated but I feel it would be pretty stupid to give up now. At least as long as I can deal with this. In the end I still have a house to live in, a wife who loves me, a dog peeing in the house when we leave him alone for too long, projects I have completed that are still online that I can show around and the certainty that I’m able to work on great game projects. I know all of this. It’s just that between knowing and accepting you need some time. Right now I just need some time if I want to be able to carry on.
It’s all between the ears. What are you expecting from what you do? How you end up feeling will be guided from this.