So far I’ve posted three extremely colourful articles on Indie Watch giving advice based on my misadventures in the indie game scene. What? You didn’t read them?! You can find them here. Don’t worry I’ll wait……done? Great!
I’m sure you’ve found these articles enlightening and in the words of Drake: your welcome. See we’re both from Toronto and we both think our shit is untouchable. The only difference between Drizzy and I is I’m willing to admit when I make a mistake……and he has more money than me…….and he’s far better looking than me….and he’s constantly dripping in bitches….and uh…well…I’m still far humbler!
So here’s a little bit of a post mortem of me building an indie team and fucking up constantly throughout. Try not to laugh too much jerks. I was teased constantly in elementary school like it was yesterday…because it was. I just graduated and I’m entering junior high at age 35. Don’t give me that look, I just told you I fuck up a lot! Read on, you’ll see.
Super Fantastic Fuck Up #1: I Thought I Would Finish in Five Months
Everyone knows the story of Icarus. Daedalus, the Elon Musk of Greek mythology, gave his brat son Icarus a pair of wax wings with a specific warning not to fly too close to the sun. Like a typical ungrateful teenager Icarus decided to ignore his pop’s advice and flew as close to the sun as possible. Of course the wings melted, Icarus fell into the sea, drowned cause he ain’t got gills, and his dad was left grieving. I don’t understand why this still isn’t a drinking and driving ad! Why won’t MADD get on this?!!!
I have also fallen into a similar hubris. But instead of flying too close to the sun I jumped on a rocket and tried to blast through it. I thought if I went really fast the wind would keep me icy cool from the suns burning gases. Once I planned out Dirty Chinese Restaurant I was foolish enough to think it could be done in five months. Five months turned into six years. Why? Well here are the reasons:
- The scope of the project was large
- Everyone was working full time jobs
- I was fucking stupid
- Game design isn’t an exact science
- There was a lot of tearing down and rebuilding
- This was our first attempt at making a game
- I was fucking stupid
- Life sometimes got in the way
- I was fucking stupid
- See point above
Everything looks easy when it’s on paper because when you plan something out it appears simpler. I was also very arrogant to think planning alone would make the project move faster. It’s a good step to plan but it doesn’t mean everything will go smoothly like an assembly line, especially with a creative endeavour.
Lesson learned: Great things take time and sacrifice…mostly your time is sacrificed.
Super Fantastic Fuck Up #2: I Thought Each Piece of Artwork Would Take a Week
You ever go to the art gallery and look at the hanging pictures and think people get paid for hanging garbage on the wall? I’ll show those pretentious assholes what real art is! Then you ran to the local art shop excited you were going to be an artist while foolishly spending your life savings on supplies that would soon end in a fiery dumpster. Yup that was my mentality when it came to artwork….sorta….well without the silly shopping spree.
I was well aware that I did not have the awesome skill set to draw and animate which is obviously why I didn’t assign myself to that role. Come on guys I’m dumb but not bag of nails dumb! Derek, senior (and only) artist on the team took care of all that and I directed him. Nothing could go wrong right? Wrong!
My main fault here was ASSuming that the workload I was giving Derek was going to be done in a short amount of time. So I gave him ultra-unrealistic timeframes on what work should be accomplished. Derek never made a single deadline I set. Not because he was a lazy fuck, but because I was a stupid one. Instead of me setting the terms I had to learn to ask him how long certain artwork or animation would take. Why? Well, for starters, he knows the timeframe better than I because he actually fucking draws! I’m just the drone on a spreadsheet where typing the words make Wong Fu walk in 4 directions takes 4 seconds whereas for Derek it takes 4 days.
Lesson learned: Don’t set deadlines for shit you don’t know shit about. Talk to those experienced in the discipline to get a vague idea…..and even then don’t expect it to get done on time!
Super Fantastic Fuck Up #3: I Thought Programming Would Be Simple and Fast
My foray into the downward spiral of stupidity continued at breakneck speed when it came to the programming department. Now it didn’t really help that Richard was a novice programmer to begin with. He was just getting into it. I was the vessel that provided him with the appropriate baptism by fire experience that made Richard a coding all-star……or it was the ultimate waterboarding torture teaching him to code in fear. Hey, I don’t really know which is which anymore. He did manage to program the whole thing in Adobe Air which is unreal when I tell developer friends who use Unity 24/7. They look at us like were fucking monkeys learning how to use stones to make a fire.
The programming issue was similar to the art issue, which just proved how idiotically incoherent I was by making the same mistakes. I would plan out the game design and show Richard through algorithms what needed to be done. Unfortunately, programming isn’t a turnkey operation. It’s a fucking door that jams every godamn fucking time you put the key in. After five minutes you break said key and its only then you realize it was the wrong fucking key! Code would get coded but later down the line it would need to be recoded. I can’t tell you how many times Richard’s rebuilt the engine alone.
Now I never needed to get upset at any of this. Richard already did a fine job of freaking out for me with such classic lines as this would have been so much easier if I knew this beforehand or next time we need to plan better and the classic this feels like the Never Ending Story! Now I could have shived him every time he’d say such blasphemy but then I’d be writing a different article: The Rapid Ins and Outs of Prison Rape and how to Stop that Rectal Bleeding.
Lesson learned: No matter what you do set backs are inevitable. Take them with grace and learn from the mistakes.
Super Fantastic Fuck Up #4: I Thought Scoring Music Would Be Similar to an Assembly Line
Nothing says total asshat like when you try to tell a musician what to do….while possessing no fucking musical background! Clearly this is just the same as the other two sections I discussed but it’s much worse when I’m saying make it sound like this *holds up iPhone playing YouTube video*.
Wayne, our talented musician, would bring work in bursts. Sometimes he would have a lot, sometimes a little, and there would be long stretches where he would have fuck all. Part of the reason would be his schedule. He took on one of those 15 gallons of shit in a 10-gallon bucket approach because he believed he was fucking Superman. You know mixing ambition with arrogance…..like me! The other part was musical inspiration takes time. It’s not like making Legos from the instructions. It’s like making something unseen from Legos! Crazy shit like that takes time to craft with your childlike imagination. I’ve experienced it once…. but then those pretentious pricks kicked me out of the Lego store. Fuck those kids, I should be able to play too!
I will say this, every time Wayne brought something it was nothing short of stunning. The theme for Dirty Chinese Restaurant and other tracks still give symphonic orgasms to my ears. I don’t tell him that though because then he’ll run to a studio that can give him real money. The self-entitled millennial brat doesn’t like being paid in Monopoly money because McDonalds didn’t take it the other day. You’re a starving artist like the rest of us Wayne! Start acting like one!
Lesson Learned: Put your faith in people and trust in them to get the job done. When done their way, the results can be incredible.
Super Fantastic Fuck Up #5: I Thought as Soon as the Game Was On Twitter I Would Go Viral
My grade 3 literacy level has allowed me to read a book recently called The Content Trap by Bharat Anand. It’s excellent and if you get the chance read it. To summarize, this tome of marketing knowledge deals with successes of Satan’s corporations such as Wal-Mart, Apple, Microsoft, etc. and how we are deceived into thinking that their triumph came from their products alone. The reality however is these companies took advantage of customer networks, leveraging compliments, enhancing customer experience, and other big business words. Main point: don’t think your game alone will sell your game.
I was dumtarded enough to believe as soon as I put out Dirty Chinese Restaurant on Twitter it would go viral making me the rock star I was destined to be. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Currently I’m at 280 followers on Twitter and slowly moving up. The reason being was I relied on my content alone. It doesn’t mean I should bury my hard drive in the backyard because I’m not a fat ass Kardashian. It just means I have to change up my strategy.
The main reason for this misstep was I convinced myself that marketing success was going to happen to keep myself positive. And I would tell my team members that his would happen to keep them positive. It’s good to keep an optimistic outlook but never delude yourself or others. I hope the guys don’t beat the fuck out of me for promising them fame, fortune, and unlimited pussy….I’m talking about cats! We love cats! We’re cat people, geez.
Lesson Learned: Know when you’re in an echo chamber.
Super Fantastic Fuck Up #6: I thought game development would be fun
When my cousin was fifteen years old she wanted to pursue a noble career as a crime scene investigator. Now it wasn’t because she was skilled or that she had the urge to serve justice. See, she used to watch CSI religiously and brilliantly came to the conclusion that the job would be exactly like the show. Watching good looking people dressed like they’re about to hit a night club, examining bodies in a morgue with the same lighting as a night club, hitting the streets at 2am surrounded by assholes like a night club. I don’t need to go on as you can see the circle of failure completing itself here.
I may have made retarded rookie moves in game development but I’m not fucking shallow. I knew that making a videogame wouldn’t be like playing a videogame but I thought this would be a fun adventure. You know, like Indiana Jones where he seeks out the holy grail while emerging a wiser and greater hero. Instead it feels like Robocop where Murphy gets repeatedly shot by Clarence Boddicker and his goons. You start out hopeful and optimistic. Then you’re brought crashing down to a pit of despair losing your identity. It results in you trying to reclaim your humanity and your place on this fragile earth, while never truly being the same.
Me being a drama queen aside, you have to go through the mud to get to the glory. Yes, your life is going to get fucked up beyond all recognition but that’s what growth is all about. Why is it so ugly? Because you have a task at hand that has deadlines to complete, problems to solve, and people to deal with….and it all hits you at the conveniently worst times possible. Hey chin up, if it was easy everyone would be doing it. Sounds like a…fucking job doesn’t it?
Lesson Learned: It may be a passion but it’s still a job. And like a job shit needs to get done…and a lot of shit WILL hit the fan.
Super Fantastic Fuck Up #7: I thought the project could be a success with just 4 people
No project can get screwed faster than the speed of fuck than being overconfident. Like a douchebag Shawn Desman music video (the one where he pays his one night stand to get the abortion) I thought that me and my crew were unstoppable. It’s great when your team clicks, but don’t think you can do all just cause the fiery crucible of game development has forged you into the Super Friends.
During this time, I had to add the following people to our epic game dev quest:
- A web designer after FUCKING FAILING to build one myself to save money
- An editor after realizing I was FUCKING STUPID enough to believe I could edit my own writing
- Advice from other game developers on how to market via social media after I was FUCKING DELUSIONAL enough to believe Twitter would do it itself
- Input from outsiders about our trailers because I was too FUCKING BLIND to see that my teammates were just excited seeing their work on screen
- Assembling a team of beta testers because I was too FUCKING DEAF to listen to my team members the first time
And I’m pretty sure more will be added to this list as we march down this final stretch of DCR. I now know the more human beings, the better. Miyamoto needed artists, programmers, and marketers to bring Mario into our homes. The Beatles needed producers, stylists, and promoters to show the world their style of music. The Hobbits needed elves, dwarves, and men to prove that Middle Earth promotes diversity….except for the bad guys. They’re all black. Dammit Tolkien its 2016! Black orcs matter now bigot!
Lesson Learned: It takes a big group to find big success. The more people that are involved the more infectious the content you produce.
The End Result
In the end I don’t regret the errors I made because I learned from them and grew to be a better person as a result. My team members have also matured astronomically through their adversity, perseverance, and tolerance for my dumbass inexperience. That makes them real men! Yes, men! I’m not being sexist I literally have no girls on my team. I’m not chauvinist, I’m shy. Fuck you!
The team and I have a near finished game on the horizon while still putting up with my nonsense. And for that I’m eternally grateful and in their debt for their efforts. So the real failure in the end, as cliché as it sounds, is not trying at all. Well, except for Russian roulette with a semi-automatic….or trying to fight a bear using only your words….or not altering the parameters to cheat on the Kobayahshi Maru. I hope this article shines a light on how you’re fucking up as well. Once again in the words of the Immortal Drake: Hip Hop Highlander of the North (whatever the fuck that means) your welcome!