The Harsh Truth of Gamemaking

Ragpuppy87

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So this may be the most important question I ever ask on these forums.

We all want our games to be a success. We want to create something others can enjoy.
But the vast majority will either A. never see completion, or B. simply get lost among the hundreds of other games out there.

Even if it does get noticed, it may not be enjoyed. You may get nothing but criticism about a project you truly poured your heart and soul into. Maybe you realize you just aren't meant to be a game designer and lose your passion completely.

I think most of us know this deep down.

Yet we continue to create. We accept this risk. Why?
What drives you forward knowing the odds are against you?

This could apply to any type of art technically. Writing a book, painting a picture etc.
Why do we bother to do it in the first place?

For me it just boils down to I wanted to do it. I had an idea. And this was the best way to express it. I've always wanted to create a video game. I could end up creating what goes down in history as the absolute worst game to ever grace these forums. Or it could end up being lost among a sea of other games. But I would have done it. I would have created my game. And it was the best I could do. And while it would hurt knowing that no one else enjoyed it or even played it, I would still have the knowledge that I put something out into the world that was my creation. Despite the results.

But I'm curious as to what keeps others going. Why do you create despite this harsh reality?
 

Tiamat-86

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inflated ego bordering on god complex. almost every game i play i have thoughts of "why didnt they just..." "shoulda had..." and many other ideas of improving games but no real way to reach out to developers. so just let ego take over n make it myself

no amount of criticism can ruin a god complex, either they make sense n ill use it or just blowing hot air and IDGAF

edit:
big thing to remember about criticism. cant please everyone. some will try and tare down your game for using random encounters. some will tare it down for using event encounters. some for it being to easy or to hard. there is no happy medium.

the best your can do is make a game you would want to play and make sure there is no bugs, errors, or glitchy exploits. if you can play through your own game and give it a 7/10 even after knowing the whole story before hand then screw what the haters say
 
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Lihinel

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Whenever I feel like my work is worthless, I go back to draw some inspirations from the great philosophers.
For example, Homer once said the following:
Homer said:
 

KazukiT

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I make games because I can actual interact with my own creations which is something no other art form I have worked on before has ever done for me. Plus if I didn't make games what would I do with my life besides working to put food on the table?
 

richter_h

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Well, first of all, don't expect too much on either yourself or on the others. Making games, like any other things, require a lot of things to succeed; ideas and passion alone will only get you not that far. Also, based on what I've observed, people around here are having some kind of megalomaniac tendency (including myself), so keep that in mind.
And now I wanna ask y'all this: should your game becomes a hit here or out there, what's your next move?

Second, everybody has their own preferences, viewpoints, and opinions. Criticism is a common thing, especially in all things creative. If you can't stand criticism, I'm afraid you can't even stand "the mildest breeze" in the industry as well. It's either you make it as a takeaway and learn something out of it... or just quit. Nobody's holding you back in this part, like, seriously, do you really wanna improve your works as well as yourself?

And why I'm still around in the community despite being some sort of sleeper agent? Well, I didn't come for fame or wealth (I lied at this part tho; I came for fame and wealth) yet the first and foremost reason why I'm still here is I've grown up here, learned a lot here, and not gonna lie, this place is quite comfy at most times. Most of the time, my crafts speak for me, and everyone's cool with that, so... yeah.
 
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Galenmereth

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For me it's that I have so many different interests I want to pursue. I do programming for a living, but I've also studied and worked as a graphic designer and interactive usability designer. I like to write stories, and I like to think about how other people might see the same reality differently from myself. I like to dream up and design cities and living spaces in ways that I'd find interesting to explore were I to encounter them. Game making is the only endeavor I've found so far that lets me combine and practice all these different interests and apply them to a cohesive whole.
 

TheoAllen

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This is a personal question, and these also come from a personal perspective from me as a hobbyist

We all want our games to be a success. We want to create something others can enjoy.
Do I want my game to be a success? Frankly, I don't.
Do I seek for fame? I also don't.
Do I want to create something others can enjoy? Partially, yes. But I'm not targetting a wider audience. Precisely, as long as I'm satisfied, it's enough. Other's people opinion is just extra that perhaps some of them I'd agree with.

But the vast majority will either A. never see completion, or B. simply get lost among the hundreds of other games out there.
Case A: I have a lot of it, but fortunately I have one complete.
Case B: Back to my previous point, I don't seek fame. It never bothers me. But at least when someone asked me about my game, I have.

Yet we continue to create. We accept this risk. Why?
What drives you forward knowing the odds are against you?
It's driven out of curiosity.
What if I make a game using this system? Will it work? let's try
What if I make a game using ATB? How hard is the balancing is going to be? let's try
What if I make a feature to combine visual and random encounter? let's try
What if I make a tactical game using a certain AI pattern? let's try
a lot of them got the case A, never seen a completion, but I'm happy I'm able to experience the development process, and to feel how the other dev struggle with it.

This could apply to any type of art technically. Writing a book, painting a picture etc.
Why do we bother to do it in the first place?
I stopped doing something when I see no particular improvement in a certain field.
But when I still discovering stuff, I keep doing it.
Recently I stopped drawing because I keep using the same style. It bores me because I keep repeating it. And I'm too lazy to learn the art fundamental

---------
Regarding critics, I never take it personally. Especially when we're only talking about in paper concept. Something may sound ridiculous to others, and they couldn't help but write something out of their mind that "this is wrong! you should do this". This happened many times in general/mechanic discussion. I never really mind them. It's good to see a new perspective.

But I appreciate more to the comment/critiques when it's directly related to my products. How broken is my game, what could be improved, etc. The fact is I never satisfied with my own game. Someone's critique may point out where is wrong with my design, and I always gladly accept such commentary. If the comment is just an outright insult, I just move on. If my game never got attention, there is no hard feeling. I know because I don't design my game to appeal to a wide range of people.
 

xoferew

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To create a world and be the god of it. To know in a tiny way what it would feel like to be a god. Isn't the drive to create a biological imperative? Some want to have kids, some express it in other ways. Is it worthwhile to give birth to and lovingly raise a kid, even if that kid is not popular and doesn't make a big mark in the world? Can't games be the same? ^_^
 

Frogboy

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I've always fancied myself as more creative than technical, but it's a pretty even mix. My journey into the world of software development was mostly fueled by my desire to be creative and there's nothing better suited for this combination than game creation. I wouldn't fair as well or be able to retain interest if I went all in on one aspect or the other.

As far as what others think of my games, I'm really making them for myself. I appreciate comments and criticism so that I can improve and make my games better but ultimately, whether anyone else enjoys them is second nature. I know that I'm going to play them more than everyone else in the world combined.
 

PhxFire

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Well there are a few things to think about/ remember when you're making games. First is that you can never please everyone, even AAA games have people out there that absolutely hate the game, that's just a fact of life every game maker has to deal with. Second is that we aren't making AAA games so don't expect your game to be something amazing like the top sellers, were usually just a 1-person team doing all the development and this isn't our full-time job. Third is to accept criticism, but only to a point... and what I mean by this is that listening to criticism is great and can help improve your game, however you can't listen to everything that people say, and if there is an aspect of your game you like and wanna keep, then keep it. Finally have fun with it, don't stress yourself out too much about the specifics, first games usually aren't great but you'll get better as you make more, and if it's something you enjoy doing then don't stop.
 

astracat111

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I see your point completely.

On one end, the reason I'm going right now is because I am trying to get to a sizable audience. My work to be public these days takes getting to let's players, which takes messaging and e-mailing like hundreds of people to get...well...not a sizable amount of let's players. Why try to get to a lot of people? Well, most people will play it and it'll be a surface level thing, they'll just skim through it, kind of laugh at it, and I think a developer has to be okay with that surface level.

The reason being that the whole point for me is that when I was growing up I was sick, had no friends and all I had were games and anime and manga. It's sad, but it's the truth with a lot of kids now growing up that are in my shoes. I've heard from others the same story, that these stories and characters that people grew up with helped them with their depression. This is my ultimate goal in life, and why I'll keep making stories and characters until I'm basically Miyazaki's age. I want to provide a service that has the power to get deep down to the core, the roots of someone's heart and really moves them in a way that uplifts them, hopefully helping with often times a depressed state of being. I would give up the traditional wife, 3 kids, a dog and white picket fenced in middle class suburban 9 to 5 lifestyle if I could know that I'm actively achieving this goal.

In short, there are people like me out there I want to make something for. So, a sizable audience means that there'll be a lower percentage of people that are really deeply effected by what I'm expressing emotionally.

Now, on the OTHER end, I've also learned it's very very important not to go about this path in an unhealthy way. Almost all through my early 20s I was like a hikkikomori/shut-in, completely in my head about my ideas and my work and just brainstorming my life the way I wanted it to be constantly. The only problem was, I didn't have friends, I didn't have a girlfriend (still don't today), I didn't go out or exercise or eat healthy or take walks in the park, nothing. Just stayed in all day working on my work, mom would come in with like tea or cocoa and I'd be like "yeah, thanks mom" and just keep grinding and grinding and grinding. Years and years passed, and finally towards my mid-20s I found myself in a situation in where it was like...yeah, something's not right here where I don't have any friends locally or anything...yeah....So I started to learn to detach from the work, which was insanely hard at first because it'd become like an addiction. Every moment I got I wanted to dive right back into the computer to do programming or drawing or music and be in my head brainstorming. Still today I have this problem where I have to force myself to stop working.

So on one end, it's great to know exactly what you want, like why are you doing what you doing, but on the other end, it's important to do it in a healthy manner I guess. Sorry, I don't mean to talk about myself all the time, just that's the only way I can add my own perspective on the matter of like....why does someone keep going. All in all, I think you need to find a much better reason to keep going than to finish something or to have a means to an end. It has to be a continuous process of enjoying improving. If you've ever played a sport competitively, it's that feeling of losing and feeling like crap, then making an adjustment and getting the rush, that high from a breakthrough. I think on a personal level, that's what it's all about. To know you're also hopefully at some point deeply effecting someone in a way that serves them, that's a huge bonus, just remember there's no reason you can't have friends, go outside, hopefully if you're healthy enough play a sport or something, be out in the sun and the grass and the trees I suppose.
 

Hyouryuu-Na

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I work on games because I love the "oh wow I'm not totally useless" feeling. I fell in love with rpgmaker horror games when I was 11. No other genre seemed to attract me as much as horror. And I love making up the whole story and watching it slowly come into shape, like it's becoming interactive and people can play it! I also draw and write stories but they're both pre-organized. They're not interactive. I want to leave behind something that someone may interact with, see what challenges I left for them. Maybe nobody will ever play it or enjoy it but I simply accept that. Anyone who will, they have all the thank yous that my tiny heart can hold <3 Funniest part is, I never finished a game. I'm still working. I'm a perfectionist and it's something I can't change. I will mever release it maybe. But I don't care as long as it's perfect. Just sitting infront if my computer and watching my game appear just as I planned it to be, makes me extremely happy.
 

lianderson

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For me, it's a mix of entertainment, fans, and completing goals for the sake of completing them.
 

HexMozart88

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Because I feel like it. Pretty simple. I like games, I like art, I like music and I want to combine all of those things, so there's no other option, is there? Even if no one else wants anything I make, at least I put my stuff to years of usage.
 

bgillisp

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Mine is because I want to. If it was about $$$ in all honestly I could probably have earned more working those 7000 hours I've had RPGMaker ACE open at minimum wage than I'll ever see selling my first few games.

As it is, we all need to remember that most games don't make it. Never put into your game something that would doom you if your game fails. As in, don't spend $$$ you need to pay the bills on your game, instead take care of the bills somehow. Reason I say this is I read some interviews they did with devs from the 80's and 90's and they say on average 1 in 10 games were a success. 2 others made enough to pay what it cost them to make and were moderate successes. The other 7 flopped and cost them more to make than they ever took in. Now, some of the 7 that they counted as flops were games that never got finished too, so that is a factor, but still, it is for that and other reasons I say put what you can into your game, but don't bankrupt yourself trying to finish the game, as the harsh reality is if you do, you will probably just end up bankrupt in the end.

(Granted, the same can be said about books. I've written one book, and last time I checked it had sold 71 copies...ever. Not likely to get rich off of that.)
 

SolonWise

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I had watched a video of Jordan Petterson talking exactly about this. For him, creative people need to be creating something all the time, otherwise they will be miserable. Creativity is also not to be considered a complete virtue, as it's very hard to make a living out of something you have created. First you need to prove to people that your product is better than the other products in the market (in our case, you need to show people that our game is good). Second, you need to show people that they need your product. I mean, it's a game, but the people can go watch a movie instead of playing a game, so it's very difficult to please someone with something you had created.

What keep us in the game making, you ask? Well, I think a lot of people give up due to the difficulties you had mentioned, but the ones who stays are creating something for themselves instead of creating something for others. I came to think about it just now. Someone has done a first impression video of my current game, and he talked too much about the game flaws. Well, I don't think the things he pointed out are flaws, but I came to realize that, ultimately, I'm making that game for myself. For the pleasure of making it, and for the pleasure to playing it. If others enjoy playing it as well, good, but if not, well, it's a shame. I intend to finish the project and start a new one soon, because I think I'm a creative person, and in the end of the day, I really have no choice other than create something.
 

Traveling Bard

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I'm a realist with a tiny speck of optimism. I know the reality that whatever I produce, no matter how much effort I put into it, is just one among countless. I spend a bit of money to try to make them nice knowing that I likely won't be making my money back. Why? Because at the end of the day I want to be proud of the things that I put my hands to. They are mine, even if they don't do well or never leave obscurity. But who knows, it might do well but that's not really my goal. Like many others here voiced, I enjoy being creative and the challenge of finishing a creative project. Learning and getting better at it. There is something satisfying about that alone. The journey itself is fun, not the final product. The moment I finish what I'm working on right now, I'll release it and start the next thing.

I read somewhere that happiness is not so much a state of being but the action of solving problems you enjoy solving. Game making is hard and long and likely won't get you praise or rich, but if you like solving all the problems that come up in game making then who cares about any of the possible negatives, it simply makes you happy. And that's enough for me. I'm a simple guy :)
 
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Wavelength

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For me, it's because I know that if I want to bring a new idea into the world - or a new creation, or just a better form of something that I love - no one else is going to do it for me. I have to create it. I have to either lead the effort or do it myself. If I want it focused around my vision - the vision of what I want to bring into existence for people to enjoy and accept - then the onus falls on me to make it happen.

They say "Be the change you want to see in the world." My games, my work - they are the change that I want to see in the narrower world of interactive entertainment.

I feel the acute and constant awareness that my games may end up languishing in obscurity, as you mentioned, and therefore never making any big changes. I accept that risk because pressing forward is still the only way to give my ideas a chance. I accept a high chance of "failure" and I try anyway, because if I never try then the chance of failure is 100%.
 

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