Hi internet! It’s been a while – let’s catch up again.
Let’s see. A while ago I launched my first commercial game on Steam. The game was in development for far longer than originally intended, and its release was much overdue.
Unfortunately, though I say I “launched” it, I don’t know if that’s really the fitting word, as most of the traffic the game received (maybe 90%?) is purely due to its place on the Steam storefront, meaning I did not succeed at publicizing the game or getting it the exposure I think it deserves. And overall, it has garnered a small fraction of the views that its much smaller and cruder prequel had (not talking about sales here, just hits), which is pretty discouraging. After all, the main reason I decided to work on this sequel was because of the apparent interest that was shown in the original.
But now the game is out there, and I can say that I finished and shipped a product with a pretty substantial play-length, considering the game consists 100% of scripted content. There has been a lot of positive response from the people who have played it, and some really glowing user reviews that have just been a joy to read through.
I haven’t been as productive after release as I thought I would be. I had all sorts of ideas for projects that were crowding my head, which I thought I would just speed through after being caught up on such a large undertaking. Nope, turns out I was completely burned out from development and all of the stress leading up to release. I have been working on several projects and have participated in local game jams, but so far haven’t been as possessed to publish something else with my name on it as I had been with At Sea.
get it? possessed?
Partially I feel like I’ve proven to myself that I can see a project through to its end, so I don’t feel the pressure or need to finish every little idea that I come up with if it turns out that it isn’t really as interesting as it seemed at first. Which is usually the case. The fickle developer who can’t complete anything is a cliche, but in truth I think it’s important to also know when to leave a project. Yes, you can learn a lot by completing a project, and it is an important skill to be able to “finish” something.
“Art is never finished, only abandoned” – some dude
There are definitely diminishing returns however. The skill of “finishing” is only one of many, many skills that are required in game development, and it may not even be the most important one in this era of early access and open betas and development live-streaming and twitter GIFs and oh man, things change really fast don’t they?
But one thing I have definitely noticed is that my productivity and general ability to make stuff is so much greater than before I had originally set out to ship a premium game.
When working on other things, it kinda feels like the training weights have come off. I’ve just spent some time catching my breath.