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.