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A Message to Everyone Attempting to Make Games

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING POST IS RATHER LONG .

Hello.

Most of you know me by now, but you don’t know too much about me.

I won’t bore you with any details of my life, but I just had to share something.

When I was 11, I first got my hands on the modding tools for some Valve games.

I was eager to make maps and such so I braved the complex nature of the tools and did just that.

A few weeks later, I ended up finding something strange.
It was a game engine, UDK.

At the time I had no idea that someone like me can start creating games.

I had never really known what I had wanted to do.
Originally it was acting, then being a doctor, then I decided to write a book.
Unfortunately, I just didn’t like writing. It wasn’t fun.

After a few weeks of using UDK I realized that game development was my life.
I knew it’s what I need to do.

So because I am who I am, do you know what I did?
Take a guess.

I made myself fail at it.

When I had first decided to become a game developer, I had this great game idea in my head.
I still remember every single piece of it to this day.

As I started to develop it, I started to learn some tricks of the trade so to speak.
I began to understand the importance of certain aspects of game development through books and videos.

However, I did something I will never forget.
I threw the idea out.

I started again.
I convinced myself that I couldn’t make that game and I needed to start smaller.

I did that, I hated the game.
I started again.

It was because it was too big, I told myself.
So I stopped and started again.

This cycle went on for YEARS.

Then, one day that original idea came back to me.
The story and plot had to be tweaked a little, but I decided to make it.

Eventually, I threw it out.
I defaulted back to my original cycle.

Flashforward to earlier this year.
I had just created two games, both for jams and I hated them.
I knew, I knew that making small games was not for me.

So I decided to actually do something interesting: follow my passion.

The original idea I had was…old.
I didn’t really like it anymore.
I’d learned a lot since I first came up with it so I decided to start fresh.

I ended up with the best idea I’ve ever had.
And then I decided to roll with it.

Interestingly, I didn’t stop.

Then, one day, I decided I would take on a side project.
Something small, but still good.

Long story short: that great idea fell to the wayside and the side-project became my main project.

Why?
Because “The main game requires female Voice Actors!!! I can’t get that!!!”

I convinced myself that the main project was not supposed to be built first.

Flash to the past few days.
Slowly, but surely I became annoyed at the project.
I didn’t like it.
It was contrived, convoluted and just…not good in anyway.
I was confused.
I had spent months perfecting it, but I just hated it within a matter of a few days.

And then it hit me.
That project isn’t what I want to do.
It was a ruse, a waste of time.

I realized the truth: I had used the side project as an excuse. When I created that large, awesome idea I stated that I would no longer “settle” I would create what I had passion for! The truth was that I settled. I settled for the side project because I believed that I couldn’t create something better.

The reason I came to realize this, was by thinking about a great idea the other day.
I noticed, involuntarily, I kept attempting to put to idea out of my head.

I had conditioned myself to accept passion, I made myself hate what I love.
I ruined the one thing I believed would be my life.

I know this may all just seem like the ramblings of a mad-man, but I wanted to share this for a reason.

When that great idea comes to you, don’t let it go.
Don’t delude yourself into thinking your not good enough to do it.
Don’t pretend like you’re doing something right and just by blocking passion.
You’re not.
Instead you’ll end up like me.

At the end of the day, passion will always trump ability.
See, what I learned is that your abilities will grow as you use it; passion will grow when you don’t.

Make the game you want to make.
Make the game you love.
Make your life into what you want it to be.

Never give up.

~ Jason

The idea you like and you can accomplish, you love it.
The idea you like but you can’t accomplish, you start to hate it over time. The reason for the hatred is what you are doing ends up being way different from what you had in mind. But mistakenly, people start to hate their idea and not think about the workflow/pipeline. And it’s because they started too early and didn’t have a guidance.

As an example when I first started working on my own game, I was like… ok I don’t know anything but how hard can it be? I’ll learn. I did learn but well, now I see I was trying to do what probably required 20-30 AAA artists.

Long story short, game engines should have an age verification I think.

Hi Jason, A moving story indeed. Have you resumed your efforts towards your ‘dream’ game?

You’re a bit young to give life lessons. Instead of working on “dream” projects, use those free precious years to practice hard on targeted tasks.

So what was the great idea… Pictures vs. words???

When you’re bogged down in a game, you do get incredible euphoria sometimes coming up with a new idea. Because the fresh idea seems to be way better that what you’re stuck on… But later you feel gratified knowing you got over old hurdles and kept going on the master project. Why? Because the idea was just that, an idea. Whereas it wasn’t months or even years of hard work or investment. Seems like we could do with a Motivation thread on here (sticky), something to sooth the mind and help keep us focused…

nice little read, fair bit of truth in there, i’ve been doing my game on and off for the last 11 years, trust me at some stage you need a break from your dream, dreaming doesn’t pay the bills or get your qualifications (school/uni) but does help you get past the bad times,

bottom line if its your dream then great but don’t let it take over your life unless your certain it won’t kill you :wink:

I beg to differ.

Starting young helps you learn.

I mean put it this way, if I had not started at 11 and instead started at the age I am now I’d be done for.

I mean right now I have to focus on staying financed. Back then and through high school it was easy to find time to do things.

If I had started now…I’d be well into my thirties before this hit me.

~ Jason

Thanks!

Yep, I started pre-production today.

~ Jason

Honestly, as long as there’s something you can teach you’re never too young to give a lesson.

I’ve already had my years of practice I’m done with that.

So many people just practice their life away. Then they never do what they wanted.

I do see what your saying though.

Put it this way if I wasn’t able to be sustained financially I may have a different outlook.

But I have what I need and want so I’m good.

~ Jason

I agree on the motivational thread idea.
I think that’s great actually!

As for the big idea, it was more along the lines of: follow and create your passion because if you don’t that passion will just keep on growing and ruin your other plans…

Ok well I didn’t want to make passion such a violent thing, but you get the idea.

~ Jason

Thanks.

Haha, yeah.

I mean as much as I regret NOT doing my dream game, I’ve also come to realize that it may have been a good thing.

I’ve done a lot and learned a lot since then, which has made me a better writer/developer.
In turns it just makes my passion better.

~ Jason

I didn’t mention people should not start young though. The point was most of those who start young don’t have a guidance. They jump from here to there on their own and follow the exact same pattern as yours (as I did). Otherwise, it’s great to start young and go to art schools or anything like that where you actually get to learn a lot of valuable knowledge in short amount of time instead of jumping on creating a next gen title at home and trying to learn through that, which is 90% time wasted and 10% learned.

Quite the motivating thread! I hope to see some of that ‘Dream game’ some day! :slight_smile:

True, but in my case it was the opposite.

Let me see if I can explain myself better.

It was because I DIDN’T take on the larger project that I kept going in circles.

I mean it’s really a give and take though.
Had I not went through all this I wouldn’t have learned everything I did.

So I delayed my passion and I gained some knowledge.

The question is was it worth it?
Could I not have learned the same stuff while making my passion project?

Truthfully, I have no regrets.
I think everything led me to this moment.

To a point where I was smart enough to see what was wrong.

My major point was to just not waste time doing something you don’t want to do.

Just because someone has a passion doesn’t mean it will work, but it doesn’t mean it won’t either.

Put it this way: no matter what your going to use time, so isn’t better to use the time on something you love?

~ Jason

Thanks, 94.

Yeah soon enough.
Hopefully.

I’ve begun to start some stuff for it.

Maybe in a months time.

~ Jason

Like you, I also had those few years of giving up, re-thinking my ideas, and throwing things out the window, great post.

Thank you.

What are you doing now?

Are you creating what you wanted to create?

~ Jason

By now I am always confident in my ability to complete a project, the only things I run into are performance issues (with my large ideas), which I usually think of and become aware of before I start a project. I usually have a few small projects here & there that I make for the community for tutorials, or simply for fun, so I am creating exactly what I have wanted to create.

A great thread indeed! Very nice and realistic one!
I am in the same state as you used to be… But playing with the engines (Unity and now ue4) and after playing some big games like Skyrim or Witcher to see how others do their work I realised that I will never be close to that. But guess what, I’m fine with that and I plan to make my 3rd person open world RPG the way I want it to be.
I don’t have voice actors? No problem, many players wouldn’t mind from an inde developer to just have only subtitles.
I don’t have audio sounds? No problem, I’ll use the free assets, they’ll do.

Basically, I think that we need to realise that we are 1 person who is developing a whole game and we must realise that from the start, from when the idea comes in mind.
So I plan my game with the resources I have.
One day I was playing gothic 3, where I entered a house and I noticed that for ME the one person developer, artist, etc. to make a house like this which has bottles, a fireplace, clothes, chairs, tables, etc is too much, because I won’t have to make only one house, but at least 50 as it’s an open world rpg and I will have to fill my landscape… Not to mention, the npc’s, their armors, the weapons I have to make and the variety of them…
But still nevertheless, I’d love to do and I love doing or if you’d like, bringing to life the idea that I firstly had in mind.
I know it will take at least a year till it’s finished as I’m not able to stay focused on it because I have a family and a job…

I do not want to practice on a small project, just to learn some things. I want to learn upon a project I love and thus I will learn what really interests me as I’ll be going the way to make what I love and not learn something that I will not really need for my game. In final analysis that’s why I occupy myself with game development engines, to make MY game and not learn an engine for fun…

That’s all that matters then.

I’m happy you were able to get into and continue to do what you wanted to do.

~ Jason