So the game is getting really close to being done and I am just as excited as I am freaked out.
I’m normally a very relaxed person. If you’ve ever gotten a massage, traditionally the masseuse asks if you have any problem areas. “Nope,” I always say much to their surprise. I assume this is because I am so relaxed (and sedentary.)
Well, my stress levels have gone up significantly in the past two weeks due to frustrations and self-doubt.
Two weeks ago
This was when we were supposed to start BETA. BETA for us doesn’t mean the same thing it may for bigger studios. Normally BETA means all the features are in and you are only fixing bugs. Well for us BETA means someone other than me is playing the game. At this point I’ve still got a laundry list of features to put in.
Now, I can’t speak for Mike exactly but I can tell you he is crazy busy juggling everything is his life (including two secret families (and a vigilante crime fighting career with tights and everything.)) His job suprised him by sending him to California or something the weekend we were supposed to make the first BETA builds, so I couldn’t really test the build before sending it out. This also delayed our meeting for shipping out the last of the Kickstater rewards. That’s fine, I wanted to add some new features anyway.
Later that week
His computer dies on us and he is the only one that can make iOS builds. This causes some timing issues. He has been planning a trip to Morocco for a while now and he kept pushing it back to accommodate for our unrealistic hopes of launching the game any time before now. His computer wasn’t scheduled to be out till he got back. So he just buys a new laptop with the intent of returning it in 14 days (the day he gets back.) Okay, that’s fine. I wanted to add a tutorial anyway. We decided to sign up the first (and possibly only) wave of BETA testers. He can just push builds at night in Morocco.
We found out the WiFi in Morocco is about as common as an outlet that can charge his laptop (not many.) We also had issues transferring the Unity license to the new machine. Also bad stuff keeping happening to him out there. Okay, that’s fine I added a bunch of new saving stuff that is breaking the game anyway. Since Mike has been so busy, I’ve been taking tasks of his plate, dabbling in things I was never meant to. This causes issues I needed time to fix.
Well here we are and only 3 people have played the game. I gave them android builds since I can make those. They still haven’t sent me feedback. I send emails to about 30 other people we wanted to test for us and we have them all sitting on the edge of their seat waiting to play the game but we keep hitting all these snags.
I just finally fixed the major show-stopping bugs. In theory, the current build is ready to go. Now I’m waiting on Mike to land in Chicago and have a few free minutes.
Where does this leave us?
All these delays have been a mixed blessing. Any good designer will tell you that you need to be testing your game the instant it’s playable (which should be sooner rather than later.) I’m sort of glad the game keeps getting held back because I keep adding a ton of new content. I think I added quite a lot in these two weeks. I really probably shouldn’t have been touching it, but trying to slip something into the build has been a great motivator. I’m pretty scared to let people touch this thing I’ve invested my life into. I keep telling myself that if I can just add this one feature, they will like it more and I won’t have to freak out as much when we finally let them touch it. I can get pretty defensive about negative feedback and my only preemptive defense is to make the game better. I guess in this case, my self doubt benefits you because I work harder. But that also means I keep breaking the game every time Mike can make me a build and it’s useless until the next build.
There are a lot of points of stress that have been building as we approach the finish line.
People are going to play the game
Holy shit this scares me. If it sucks I can’t blame anyone but myself because I have almost full control over the game.
I feel bad every week the game hasn’t come out. I feel bad for the fans. Anyone who has been paying attention knows that I was originally saying that we would be done in May. Now I just say it will come out, “this month,” regardless of which month it is. Even though the internet has been super supportive and hasn’t said anything mean yet, I still fear the potential of that one person that calls me out for taking too long. It’s pretty ridiculous that the internet doesn’t even need to yell at me to make me afraid of it. (But seriously, you guys have been so nice to us.)
As well, we got some good press from the Kickstater and PAX East and the longer we take to put the game out, the more people will forget about us. You have to strike while the iron is hot and I feel like the iron has run cold. We need to build a new fire.
Being done isn’t the end
Once the game is DONE done… we have to start doing all those things that aren’t game making. Those things I have almost no experience with. We have to make a launch website, trailer, press release, store pages, email everyone in the universe we know, send out review builds and generally whore ourselves out. We need to build enthusiasm again. It sucks that I can’t really do that until the game is done but we are only two dudes. So when the game is done, we have to sit on it while we build hype. The thought of this drives me insane, as mentioned above, every week it’s not out I feel bad.
I quit my job with enough money to last me about 5 months. It’s been over two months. If we fail, I don’t have a lot of time to either find a new job or make a magically profitable game. PROTIP: None of the Kickstarter money went into my pocket. To the contrary, I’ve invested some of my own money because our coffers are pretty low.
I’ve been trying to maintain a social life because I think that’s part of staying healthy… but I can’t ever get the nagging feeling out of my head that I should be at home working. Relaxing stresses me out. (Except for the day I spent playing Spelunky. Totally worth it.)
I’ve been having real problems sleeping because I can’t shut my brain off. Recently I’ve found gaming is good to distract my brain before bed but then I end up going to sleep at like 4 am.
A lot of my life rides on how well this games does and so much of what we are doing is new to me so there is a lot of room for failure. It’s all pretty scary.
Although I must say, I am doing what I love and will never regret doing any of this. And once this is all done, I am looking forward to being proud of a product I’ve made.
Anyway… The good part to take from all this is that we are coming to the final days of development. I might go a little crazy but I wouldn’t really want to do this if it wasn’t challenging.