Stop Trying


Do or do not. There is no try.

-Jedi Master Yoda


Easier said than done, Master Yoda. Trying has a lot of benefits. When you’re only trying to do something, you haven’t really failed if you stop trying to do it. If I stop working on a project, it’s not so much that I failed to accomplish my objective, it’s just that I decided, under my own power, that I wanted to do something else.

This type of mental security blanket is something that I’ve thought about a lot as this game venture has gotten under way. It’s an especially powerful idea considering that I’ve already got a day job. After all, things that you do in your free time are supposed to be things you try out. Things that you do for fun.

When I talk with my friends about the fact that I’m making a computer game, I get the impression that they often assume that I’m doing it just for fun. And I can’t really blame them for that. After all, I sometimes get the same impression when I ask myself what my main motivation for making a video game is.

However, I think it can be dangerous to a project’s stability to label it as something you do “just for fun.” Especially, when the project in question requires a lot of work and has a low probability of success. Doing something for fun is too much like trying on a pair of shoes at your local department store. Working for fun doesn’t require commitment, or require you to put your heart and soul into something. And consequently, you’ll never be able to find out what you can really do when you put your all into a project.

So, if fun shouldn’t be the primary sustaining force in this venture, then what should be? I’ve talked about how friendship keeps me going right now. But what keeps me going in the long term? What am I going to have to show for all my efforts after all is said and done?

At this point, I suppose I have to at least consider money as a motivator. We do plan to sell our game, and all of us on the team could put the money to good use (that hover yacht isn’t going to buy itself). That said, I know enough to realize that “Get Money, Get Paid” is probably not an ideal mindset for making an indie game. I recognize that there is a very high standard of excellence amongst fans, and breaking into the market on a large scale is incredibly difficult.

However, while money is an insufficient motivator in and of itself, we do want to make something that people will buy because that act of purchasing is a sign of trust. It indicates that we have achieved something much more important than making a few bucks. Put simply, this higher goal is to make something with integrity.

When I say integrity, I’m not just talking about making something without cheating or violating copyrights. Those ethical standards are important, but to me integrity in the pursuit of a goal is about much more than that. It is about giving your best effort in the pursuit of your passion in order to create something of value. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this idea and about how having the opportunity to spend time doing things I love is a huge privilege in and of itself. I personally believe that it is a moral imperative to imbue my efforts with this sense of integrity; lest I squander the opportunity I’ve been given to do these things that make me happy.

Austin, Rich, and I have our fair share of differences. We have different life experiences, different religious perspectives, and different hopes and dreams. But I know without a doubt, that we are united by this ethos of driven integrity. I know that they’ll do everything in their power, down to the smallest plot detail, or the most insignificant programming bug, to create something of value. At the end of the day, we’re in this because we want people to look back and be able to honestly say: “Damn, AOTW was fun, and it was well made.”

It all boils down to this simple sentence, but it means the world to us.




Booting Up: The Art of Doing Stuff and Holding Off Despair

How do you motivate yourself to work on something challenging that you have zero experience doing? Moreover, how do you motivate yourself to learn about said challenging activity outside of normal work hours when you currently have very little tangible product to show for it? These are the questions I find myself struggling with as the “business guy” for a team of rookie game makers.

As you may recall from our first post, we are excited to be working on our first indie game. If you don’t recall because you haven’t read the first post, welcome to the blog!  While our first post talked about our excitement in getting started, I want to use this post to talk, from my perspective at least, about the difficulties of getting started with actual work and staying motivated enough to keep at it.

At least for me, I feel that in many ways this early stage of the process will be the hardest. Sure, there will be more work later on, but at least the end goal will be in sight. Right now, I am grasping for signs of progress, wondering if this sense of overwhelming challenge and impending doom is normal for this type of project, though I suspect it is.

I think that this miniature crisis is partly due to the nature of my role on the team. As the business and marketing guy, I don’t have as much tangible output to work on as do Rich and Austin. In fact, I’m a bit jealous of them. Rich has the foundations of a demonstration level as well as part of a soundtrack under his belt, while Austin has already generated a body of written work rivaling the Library of Congress in size.  I think this blog is the first aspect of the game I’ve worked on where I’m generating something concrete of my own.

On the practical side, I’ve found that right now, the biggest key to overcoming inertia and building momentum on my side of things is simply to keep doing stuff. I know, probably not the most life altering insight you’ve ever heard, but I think this is an important point. Like my favorite Game of Thrones character, I know nothing. I can read all I want about how to blog, how to tweet (I always swore I wouldn’t be a Twitter person), and how to convince Steam to look at us, but at the end of the day I’ve found that I just have to jump in and start working if I want to make progress.

A perhaps equally obvious but also important insight I’ve found is, I have to explicitly block off time to work on game related stuff. Otherwise, given the fact that I also have a full time job and personal commitments, the game work is probably not going to happen. So, against my better judgment, I’ve done what I resisted for most of my education and started scheduling out my weeks and (gasp) months in a planner.

Truth be told, I’m still learning about the game. I have no doubt it will be fun, but right now I see only shades of the vibrant characters and rich histories that Austin has created. So, to answer my own question, how am I keeping myself motivated right now?

What keeps me going right now is the love I have for my friends and team members, Austin and Rich. They’ve been there for me for years, through all kinds of ups and downs, and they brought me into this project. I can’t let them down. Not now.

Make no mistake, this is more than a personal bonding experience for me. I’m extremely excited about our game. I’m excited by the prospect of taking something that existed only in the realm of imagination and making it a reality. I’m excited about the prospect of people getting a bit of joy out of something we created. But right now, before the press coverage, demo videos, and forum debates, it is very personal. And maybe that’s how it should be.

Not an Industry leader

“Mike, we’re going to need you to research code repositories. Make sure that whatever you choose has lots of free repos and private commits.” Or did he mean free commits and private repos?… and what the hell is a Github?

Above is the elegant thought process I had as I attended one of my first ever meetings as an indie game developer. Or, to be more precise, above is the jumbled panic I experienced as I attended my first meeting as the “non-technical” guy on a game development team my friends and I had just formed. But hey, not bad for a business major right?

If you are reading this, thank you.

You are reading the first of what will be many posts chronicling the journey of 3 first time indie game makers. The game we are working on is “Armour on the Wastes,” and our team is composed of three individuals: Rich (dev), Austin (story & game design) and myself, Mike (business/marketing/comic relief). In our own ways, we are all passionate about gaming. But even more, as close friends from college we are passionate about taking on this challenge together.

This blog will be a dev blog to some extent. But we want it to be more than that. As you may have surmised by now, we are not professional game makers – and this is what will make this experience fun. We all have eclectic interests, and different biases that we bring in from our day jobs. So, while we will eventually talk more specifically about our game, we also hope to share a bit of our lives with future fans and supporters. In my case, a big part of my life that I want to share is my apparent curse when it comes to technology. From cracked cell phone screens, to perpetually crashing laptops, to electric bills that are twice as high as they should be, literally everything tech that I touch malfunctions in some way, which is going to make developing a game very very interesting. In our first couple posts, I plan to share some of my favorite adventures as a tech-handicapped business major trying to make it in the indie dev world.

Please join our team as we work, laugh, drink, and drink a bit more throughout this process!


P.S. We will be updating this blog weekly, with new posts every Thursday!