Camaraderie

17 Oct
October 17, 2012

Project Eternity has finished its Kickstarter campaign, ending just shy of 4 million, though the additional pledges from Paypal should tip it over that milestone.

Congrats to Obsidian! I think they’ve done a great job getting RPG fans excited for the project. As I said in the previous post, I wasn’t impressed with PE initially, but I’ve since come to consider it the best-run and most promising KS project I’ve backed.

One of the neat things they did, as the campaign wound down, was to run a livestream of the Obsidian offices as the clock ticked down the final hours. Employees gathered around, answered questions off the stream, joked around with each other, did shots at each 50k accumulated, and generally had a “party on the internet”. 😀

It was actually a fairly fun, I tuned in for the first few hours, before it got too late here in the Southern Hemisphere. They’re a cool bunch of people. The sense of camaraderie, both between the employees of Obsidian and with all the RPG fans who’d tuned in, was fantastic.

The passion of everyone involved was incredibly motivating, for me personally. These are my people!

The feed was recorded, so if you missed it you can watch here. I’m running the last few hours in the background, while I work. Listen out for the Age of Decadence and RPGCodex shoutouts, and the look of panic on Avellone’s face when it was suggested they invite the Codex to the launch party. 😀

That feeling, of working closely with people you connect to, is one of the things I miss most, working alone. Even though it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be doing with my life, the last job was a pretty great working environment, the people were awesome and we had some fantastic times. I miss my mates. Communicating with people on forums and twitter helps keep me from feeling too isolated, but I want that kind of feeling again.

It was actually something I was uncertain about, when I started this. Do I want to stay a one-man band? Do I want to be like Jeff Vogel or Cliff Harris, keeping my operation small and being free to answer to no one but myself? Managing people, even contractors, isn’t easy. It’s easy to dismiss what managers do as trivial paperwork and bureaucratic bollocks, until you’ve had to manage a project involving more than one person. Taking on full time employees would increase my ability to produce new games, at the cost of having to spend more and more time managing. And it limits your options, you have to make decisions taking into account the people who rely on you, whose salaries you need to pay. Like having children, you can’t just follow your whims anymore. It is worth it?

For a long time, I thought the answer was “no”. But my viewpoint has changed this year. There’s lots of things you only learn “hands on”. And while some of the contractors I’ve worked with have indeed been a pain in the ass, a couple have proven a real pleasure to work with, to the point where I would hire them in a heartbeat if I could afford it, and won’t hesitate to work with them in the future. The trade-offs ARE worth it.

Also, I’ve finally accepted, really accepted, deep down in my emotions, that I won’t be able to finish a project on the scope of Scars of War without a team. So the question I had to ask was, am I happy to stay small at the cost of knowing that that kind of game is forever out of my reach, or am I willing to grow a team over time so I can tackle larger scale projects? Knowing that it would probably mean drifting into a more managerial role, at least to some degree? Could I let go of things like directly making all the programming decisions?

I really wrestled with this. I have always found the idea of managing people a bit of a turn-off, but at the same time, I started down this game development path a decade ago out of a desire to be involved in the creation of the type of games I loved. The Baldur’s Gate 2s and Dungeon Keepers and so on. If I accept that I probably can’t make those with my available resources, do I even want to be in game development? Should I go write books or focus on art, instead?

It all comes down to choosing what your goal really is. I DON’T want Spiderweb-scale games to be my upper limit. I DO want to work on games of the scale of Project Eternity, Baldur’s Gate 2, Vampire Bloodlines. That IS what I want. And with the right team, I believe I, no WE, can do it.

One of the first things Serge (Vince) of ITS told me : “Build it and they will come”. He was telling me that as he encouraged me, random dude on the internet, to show and talk about the RPG I’d been working on in my spare time, Scars of War, to the RPGCodex.

So I will build it.

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2 replies
  1. Tsylba says:

    I’m wondering: why don’t you try to be hired by such studios ? you obviously have some programmation / communication skills.
    Cheers.

    Reply
    • gareth says:

      Thanks. 🙂

      The mainstream games industry has a reputation as a meat grinder. Low pay (compared to regular software dev) and long hours, lots of burnout. Friends of mine actually went to the US and Canada and worked in AAA studios, they report that it is indeed often as bad as reported. I’m not sure about specific companies like Obsidian though, they might be better though.

      But mainly it comes down to wanting to create my own game ideas, not the ideas of others.

      Reply

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