A “true” indie story
Warning: If you have a tendency to take everything seriously and are unable to go beyond the first degree of anything you might not want to read what follows. If you can handle it, well just stick until the end.
Stories to tell
Yesterday the following tweet appeared about 50 times on my Twitter feed with nothing following it:
— Cynthia Griffiths (@ObiCynKenobi) August 10, 2014
Just a few days before, this story about the cost of running an indie studio was posted on Polygon. A story I really couldn’t relate to and one I must say that have nothing to do with most indie devs I know.
As an ordinary guy making games independently I felt slightly disturbed by these (but mostly by how popular these stories seemed to be) so I thought I should fix my “emotional distress” with the following made-up story.
It goes like this:
How the indie game dev life nearly destroyed me
I was having a happy life for many years until I discovered the world of indie game development. I had nothing to worry about before but the constant fear of making it alive until 5PM (by then I was stuck in traffic so the chances of dying were highly improbable) but when I heard about this indie adventure I had to try it. Something was missing from my life and I thought this was the answer.
It started slowly, first I started to ask around how to make a game. People laughed at me and called me a n00b. This didn’t stop me though. I kept searching for the answer I so dearly needed until I finally figured it out. I needed to give everything away in order to “achieve my dream”. Yes! That was it. I was far too happy with my ordinary life that it was clear I needed to jeopardize everything in order to live the dream.
I still had no idea what games I’d be making but I knew I had to take risks so I went to the bank and got another mortgage on my house. I of course didn’t tell this to my wife otherwise she might have tried to talk some sense into me. I then had a ton of money so all I had to do was to figure what to do with it.
I read a few things about tools to create a game so I decided that I couldn’t take any chances and went with the most expensive solution. I was too afraid of picking the wrong tech and have people say that my game looks from a past generation. I honestly don’t know what this tech is called because I hired some guy to do this stuff for me. This guy would become the guy I put all my trust in. What he told me I did. He knew what he was talking about … well, at least he told me so.
Six months after quitting my day job, getting another mortgage and staring in front of a computer browser reddit I still had almost nothing done. My wife found out about my new life once she pulled me out of a mountain of pizza boxes and started to yell at me. It was too much to handle. I crawled into a corner and sobbed until she was too tired to tell me how irresponsible I was.
I still had some money so I decided that I really needed to get out there and show my prototype to the world. It was still nowhere near being a game but we all know the action happens outside. I spent thousands of dollars going from conferences to conferences and even brought my shih tzu as a great ice breaker. It had nothing to do with my game but everyone loves a cute dog and I figured that was the best way to distract everyone from the terrible prototype I had to show.
Once I got back home I found out that my wife left me for a vacuum cleaner salesman. She told me that at least he only made the dirt vanish around him. I still don’t know what she was trying to tell me to this day.
I used the last $10k I had left in my account to start a blog and pay an artist to do some design work for it. That’s when I started to tell my story to the world and finally heard back from all these press people I met in conferences. They wanted to tell my story and let the world know that it isn’t all fun and games when you decide to go the indie way.
The actual true story
The truth is that there’s nothing much to tell really. Like most indie I know I’m a guy who knows a thing or two about programming, likes games and thought that maybe mixing the two was a good idea. While still believing in my capacity and “believing in the dream” I try to do things carefully because there was a life before this and there will be one after as well.
It’s incredibly boring so when I talk about what I do I only have my current project to talk about. There’s no bigger story here. I don’t take incredible risks, I don’t suffer from depression, I have a stable but not extravagant social life, I just do stuff the best way I can. That’s it.
What’s annoying me with stories about people that seem to be nearly dying from making games independently is that it has nothing to do with what most of us are going through. I know (not personally but enough to chat with them) quite a few successful indie and their lives has nothing to do with the drama that sells so well page views on gaming websites. Even me, if I’m not so far quite successful, I have really nothing dramatic to tell about beside I wish I was better at what I’m trying to do. Big whoop! Unless I tell you I’m struggling with drugs because I can’t handle the pressure I won’t have anything good enough to tell you until I finally find “THE” game to work on.
The good side
Many people don’t fall in this trap. These dramatic stories just take a lot of space but many people know it has nothing to do with what’s going on in most indie lives. Sure we sometimes are frustrated that things don’t work the way we want them to but we still manage to keep our life stable. It’s bad press but quite healthy I must say.
Most people don’t gamble it all on some Kickstarter campaign that might make the difference the life or death of some project. We just try to find the best game we can work on considering what means are available to us. Most people with this crazy idea that maybe one day they can make a living out of games don’t go out there to look for an office or spend thousands of dollars on some expensive trips. Some might argue that it makes the difference between success and failure but there are many stories out there that prove otherwise.
It all comes down to the right game at the right time with the right contacts and the right timing. It can be incredibly frustrating and that’s why some people like me decide to post on blogs. It’s not meant as a way to fix things but as a way to move on. Things happen, we vent and then move on with our lives without trying to appear like we’ll die from it.
Sure, sometimes it sounds way more dramatic than it actually is … But you know what … If it was really that dramatic I wouldn’t waste my time talking to the press about it. I’d be busy finding a way to make my life happier. As long as I keep posting here it means things are under control and that I just maybe need a tiny break to put some stuff in the past. Indie game development really don’t have to be as dramatic as it seems to be on gaming websites you know …