The other day we received an email that caused me reflect on who really matters when it comes to making games. This is something I have long suspected about game dev, and I decided to take a moment to collect those thoughts in one place.
We first decided to “invest” our life savings in starting our indie game studio about seven years ago. As much as I’d like to go back to 2012 and give my overly optimistic self a good smack on the head, I can’t say I regret the decision.
But some days it does feel foolish to still be fighting to finish Unknown Realm…it’s far too easy to only hear the negative voices, or to focus on the things we’ve sacrificed or the mistakes we’ve made along the way. I won’t lie, sometimes it feels like giving up would be the wiser path. But then emails like this come in to remind us: THIS is what we’re fighting for.
We’ve made mistakes on this journey…A LOT of mistakes. We’ve miscalculated and mis-stepped and made rookie moves that hurt us. We’ve had days where felt like our life was completely ruined – we still feel that way some days. Sometimes we’ve wondered how we could ever come back from such huge risks. As a husband and wife team, this journey has brought up issues that have frayed our relationship and bled well past the tidy boundaries of “work” into the rest of our life. This little “adventure” has taxed us emotionally, physically and financially far beyond what we ever imagined.
And yet…Seven years ago, we sat across from each other at the table in our one bedroom apartment, and we said we were going to take the risks and make games for the overlooked game players. The players who are now pulling out their old cloth maps and feelies, and revisiting memories of childhood wonder and the simple pleasures of exploring new digital worlds. We know these people are out there, many of them found us on Kickstarter and and we get emails from more on a regular basis. They are the ones who keep us focused. They are why we started this journey and they are why we’ll see it through to the end.
For the naysayers and doubters: people want what we’re making because it is different and they know it’s made for them. It is different because WE are different. The product (our game) is a direct result of the creative process (the way we work), and we can make something different because we don’t do things the way everyone else does. If you want what we’re creating, you have to recognize that it is inextricably linked to who we are and the way we do things. If you like the product, you should respect the process.
So here’s my little piece of unsolicited advice to any creative person reading this. If you’re trying to do anything in life, please remember: in the end, the people who don’t like what you’re doing or how you’re doing it don’t matter. The people who don’t believe you can do it don’t matter. The only people who matter are the ones who say “Yes!” They are the people who see your stuff and know it’s for them. They probably won’t be as loud as the ones who say “you can’t do that!” or the ones who say “I don’t like it” but if you’re making something good and meaningful to bring joy to others, the people who say YES will be there for you, waiting at the finish line.
They are the ones who matter. Think of them and just keep going!
PS: If you’re reading this and you are trying to figure out if you can still get a copy of Unknown Realm in the box with the cloth map – send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), we have a wait list and we’re going to try to find a way to make sure you get one. 🙂