Getting Emotional

22 Feb
February 22, 2013

So, the first alpha build is out in the wild!

And I’m already getting some great feedback on the forums, starting up some good discussion.

Now, friends are always going to be more supportive than the average stranger, so you have to take praise with a pinch of salt. But, based on the feedback, I think I’m seeing some genuine enjoyment of the game. Or, at least, the game’s potential, once certain rough aspects have been sorted out.

So it’s going well, better than expected, in fact! And,

I must say, I’m relieved! In fact, I’ll admit that I was actually feeling fairly anxious before the release, even a little depressed. Which might be surprising, for someone on the cusp of finishing their project. Especially since I’m a fairly emotionally stable guy in general, my usual mood is “cheerful, confident and optimistic”.

But this journey I’m on, this has so much of my hopes, dreams and resources invested in it. So much of my focus and effort this last decade has been leading to this moment. The pressure is starting to chip away at my usual calm cheerfulness, giving way to swinging moods and emotional churn.

Well, to some degree. Let me not get too melodramatic much here. But I’ve had my share of sleepless nights, of times when I can’t work because my mood makes me listless and unfocused. And there have been many times where I look at my work and think “This is shit. No one is going to buy this. It would be embarrassing to show this to the world.” And then I procrastinate on the net to avoid thinking about it.

I have had to work at confidence and optimism. I wrote this post not because I want pity or reassurance, but so that others can know that getting to this point wasn’t just a gambol through the daisies for me. That it’s hard, it’s hard to keep going, it’s hard to stay on course. And it gets harder, the closer you get to that moment of truth.

Be prepared for it to get hard, and come up with strategies to help deal with it when it does.

Me, I like motivational videos with inspiring music. Yes, many of them are kitsh and filled with oft-repeated cliches. And, amusingly for me, most of them are sport-related. But they work for me. I often watch them just after I wake up, to get me pumped up for the day. And I’ll put on soaring orchestral music, or read inspiring quotes from people I admire.

I hurl these like weapons against that negative, self-defeating voice that whispers in the back of everyone’s mind. In the moments when my self-belief fails me, I look to these things to prop me back up.

I’ll also watch cinematics and listen to music from my favourite games, to remind myself of the emotions I felt while playing them, that love. To remind me of what I’m working toward, for the times when it’s hard to remember.

So, thanks for the feedback, guys. It’s given me a second wind, motivation wise. After reading everyone’s comments, I went for a long walk. And I was smiling the whole way. I feel euphoric, optimistic, eager to get cracking.

I may just be able to pull this off!

5 replies
  1. Smehur says:

    Congrats on the release! Never doubted you’d make it. 🙂

    Promise to try it out as soon as it becomes tryoutable.

  2. C. says:

    I’m sorry for saying something so trivial, but don’t read too much into the first feedback. Most people you asked to play the game actually wanted to say something nice to you, some pretty desperately. Listen to all the negative bits and ignore the praise. Your game is not great or even good, until you hear that from random dudes on internets. Otherwise you’ll begging for a disappointment, like that dude who was relying on his internet-friends for all the feedback for too long. You know who.

    And now a cheerful motivational bit. I was a random dude praising The Shivah about 7 years ago. I still have an email from Dave Gilbert thanking for buying and playing the game, asking for feedback, listening to our feedback (I asked my wife to write the feedback, since it was the first point-and-click adventure she ever played and enjoyed it very much) and then promising the next game will have some of the stuff we asked for. Today Dave is doing very well, he made a name for himself with a string of successful releases of enjoyable games. He is not filthy rich but he has a dream job of doing what he loves to do. Very few get that far and very few know how rewarding it is to be there.

  3. C. says:

    BTW I was not implying that I contributed to Dave’s success in any possible way. I was only illustrating how small his initial customer base was.

  4. Joseph says:

    I feel like I’ve learnt a lot just from reading your accounts of game development. I started reading your blog a good couple of years ago (When you were still working on Scars of War), before I started university and learning programming and game development. I’ve really enjoyed keeping up to date with what you’re doing and sharing in your journey.
    If you ever feel lacking in inspiration just think that you’re an inspiration yourself (To others like me)!

  5. gareth says:

    C – Don’t worry, I totally agree with you. I don’t take the feedback as a sign that the game is great. I’m taking it more as a sign that it *isn’t awful*.

    And I judge more from how people give feedback rather than what they say. A mate who gets a build, gives a compliment then says nothing further is probably not that excited by it and being nice. Fair enough.

    But someone who posts feedback then comes back and posts more, then starts discussions about “how they tried this build and it was successful” and “what about adding something like this”…that person seems to be engaging with the game more.

    That I take as a positive sign, at least for the game’s potential.

    Joseph – Thanks! Glad I can inspire others along the path, as I’ve been inspired. Good luck with your own projects. From what I can see on your homepage, you’re off to a great start!


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