Hours remaining: 15
The game is functionally complete and I have begun to play and tweak and play and tweak. I look at what I’ve made and consider it in two minds: the first is that of the craftsman. I turn it this way and that, feel the weight of the objects beneath my fingers as I slide them around the scene. I watch as everything works as intended, and I’m pleased at what exists.
The second is that of the player. I watch the feelings that the game produces in me and there are moments of delight—the beans falling from the sky into the hopper, a sense of satisfaction in a well choreographed ballet of beverage production—but when the game ends I do not feel myself compelled to return.
I will sit it in a chair and apply makeup until it glows. I will add sparkle and music and sound and make it explode with life. I will add artefacts to draw me into the world. Perhaps this will be enough to save it, to give it the magical smiling afterglow that spells out the words “just one more game”.
Perhaps not. But this is the journey.
Maybe I am not the gifted game developer whose talents would ensure that everything he builds is a work of staggering and transcending genius. That would be a nice shortcut, but in lieu of that I simply have to ask if the effort I’ve put in has been worth the distance I’ve travelled.
There is no doubt.
There was a moment during development when I was trying to make a steam particle emitter. I was playing in the particle editor, adjusting settings and watching the results, and I had a moment when I thought: I should get back to work.
This was quickly followed by a second thought: This is my work.
The feeling of joy and contentment that overcame me at this is something I sincerely wish for everyone in their work lives—a moment where the line between work and play is so blurred that the difference no longer has any practical meaning. These are the moments that make all the difficulties and struggles worth it.
These fleeting moments have happened throughout my various careers. They have served as signposts that the path I’m on is the right path, and here was yet another.
Realistically, the thought should have been: This could be my work—once our financial concerns are addressed by games I produce—but I am at heart an optimist.
The world of travel-related productivity apps has been good to me and would ultimately be the safer bet, the smart road to leverage what we already have, but the tempestuous, impossibly competitive world of independent games development is a world of adventure and excitement that stimulates all of my varied interests.
I see the impossible challenges of the indie game scene. I read about its slow demise, how hard it is to get noticed and then, once noticed, how hard it is to get paid. I learn that another developer has quit because they can’t support themselves.
But Death is forever just around the corner and, however hard I try (and I offer my apologies in advance for how insufferably privileged this will sound), I cannot bring myself to care about money. It comes in, it goes out. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes not.
What is more concrete to me than the abstractions of money are the minutes and hours that make up every day, the sands in my hourglass falling away, and when I finally meet him and stare into those empty black sockets, I want to be able to smile and say I gave it my best shot.