So you have a game idea.
In your mind, it’s the most innovative, fun, and interesting idea ever! There’s just no way it could have been done before!
Now, if you’re smart or practical, you would go validate this theory of yours. But if you are like me and blatantly ignore the outside world, you would jump head first into game development with zero experience. Then, after a few months of learning and developing, your curiosity is too overwhelming to ignore. You do a search on games similar to your idea. Heck, you search for the game title you thought was too clever to be duplicated. So, what do you find?
Chances are very high
Your game idea has been done before. The title has probably been taken too! Of course, your idea will be slightly different than any one game, but there are enough similarities that your game could be called a “clone”. Worse, you find not just one, but 50+ similar games. Even worse, some of those are BETTER than your game could ever be! What’s a poor, strapped for time, lone indie game developer to do? Why create a game that’s not as good as some one else’s, that will probably not get bought or even noticed? Why waste precious months or even years of time developing?
I could not answer this for a long time. I went from depressed, to angry, to depressed again, and finally resigned. I stopped developing the game and started playing a great MMORPG to pass the time. This went on for 6 months. Even after quitting the MMORPG, I did not pick up development again. Yet, game development was never far from my mind. I continued to write down new ideas for different games. Then one day, out of the blue, I opened up that project I created months ago and dusted off. I was determined to finish the game!
Why the change of heart? What was the rationale, against all common logic, to start game development for a game I know would most likely fail? Here’s what I realized after a bit of soul searching:
- Even though I gave up, I never really gave up. Game ideas were constantly in my head. I would come up with new ideas just driving down the street or walking to a meeting. So, even if I’m not actively developing anything or had no desire to, I knew deep down, I was still a game developer.
- I was almost done! At the time I picked up development again, I thought I was almost done. In reality, I was probably at 25% complete. I said to myself, “I might as well finish the game. I don’t have to release it or anything. It’ll be an accomplishment.” This is kind of delusional and probably only happens for your first game, since I hope I have enough experience now to better gauge completeness. But, crazy as it might sounds, this was the stepping stone to the most important reason, which is…
- I COULD NOT FAIL. Seriously, what does failure mean? How is creating a great game a failure? How is learning a new skill a failure? Not every accomplishment must be measured by money or how many “points” (downloads, follows, likes, etc) you get. My definition of failure really started to change around this point in my life. Granted, there were many other things going on that prompted this change in outlook, but to you the reader, the most important part is: I realized life is short, do the things you love, no matter what the outcome is (as long as you don’t hurt other people in the process).
So there you have it.
How I got over my self doubt and finished creating my first game. If anyone has similar stories, I’d love to hear them.