When one has taken the trouble to start a personal game development project, one would like to continue it for a long and enjoyable time if possible. However, in general, game development tends to be frustrating. Let us first consider the reasons for this.
Reasons for frustration
First, game development is hard work. It is sometimes referred to as a comprehensive art form. In other words, a game is a work of art that combines music, images, characters, scenarios, systems, level design, and everything else into one. There is no way it is easy. It is so difficult that it is easy to fall behind in the process.
However, there is another problem that is even bigger, especially for adults who are making games as independent developers. That is the fact that you can’t make money by developing games. If there is no money to be made, they quit this hard work. Game development is hard work, but it pays off when the game sells.
The word “no money” may be a bit of a generalization, because there are always people who are making money. There are only a handful of people who make money, and the rest are mostly people who do not make money.
This is generally true in the fields of entertainment and the arts. For example, music, illustrations, and novels are all difficult to make money for. It is not the case that if you work at it long enough, you will be able to earn money. In addition, you have to be very calculating, understand what the public wants, and create something fresh while aiming for that. It is also essential to advertise your work so that as many people as possible will know about it.
Whether it is games, music, illustrations, or novels, most people who love to enjoy these forms of entertainment start creating them with the hope that one day they, too, will create a great work of art that will move people. They are exposed to so many great works that they think they have a good understanding of what makes an interesting game, and they feel as if they have the power to create such a work of art. Therefore, when a game that they think is a masterpiece fails to sell well, or when they fail to create a game that they think is a masterpiece in the first place, they become frustrated and say, “This is not how it was supposed to be.
What drives people to develop games in this way is a kind of desire for self-expression and approval, and it is precisely this impulse that drives them.
The situation in which new games are created but do not become a hit must amplify the somewhat selfish frustration of wondering why the world does not see the merit of one’s work, and the vague anxiety that one does not have the talent to create a good game. Without satisfying their desire for self-expression and approval, they may end up frustrated because they cannot bear these negative feelings.
It does not matter if the trigger is an impulse; when starting something, such a strong impact is rather necessary. But on the other hand, in order to continue something for a long time, apart from such passionate feelings, you need to have a head that understands things calmly and logically.
3 Things to Understand to Avoid Setbacks
So how can we avoid the negative emotions mentioned above? To do so, simply understand the following three things.
- The world does not know my work.
- I have no talent.
- Failure is the source of success.
1. Understanding that the world does not know your work
First of all, it is very important to accept the obvious fact that the world does not know your work. For example, major sales platforms such as Steam, the App Store, and Google Play are filled with countless games, and many new games are being added every day. Among them, of course, are series and derivatives of very popular games, as well as new games from popular game makers. It is easy to imagine that few people will find your work without any information in such a red ocean.
Therefore, the title, description, and screenshots displayed on the sales platform are quite important, and the promotional activities to let people know about them are even more important. This area of work may not be fun, but if it is well researched and practiced, it will certainly be reflected in the results compared to doing nothing.
Anyway, the key to success is to acknowledge the fact that “the public doesn’t know about your work,” and then think about what to do about it and take concrete action. It is complete nonsense to think that “the world does not realize the excellence of my work” when you have done nothing to make it sell.
2. Understanding that you have no talent
Next, the understanding that one has no talent is also important. The problem is that we believe in something like a God-given gift called “talent,” which we do not know if we really have. They judge whether they have talent or not by comparing themselves with others and others’ works, and based on the results, they decide whether to continue or quit. No one has talent from the beginning. There may be some innate advantages of the brain and body, but how many people are able to recognize those advantages in their lives? Until the time comes when genetic analysis becomes commonplace, we are much more certain of what we like or dislike, what we want to do or don’t want to do, rather than such things.
For example, if you were asked to think of a talented professional athlete or a professional musician, you would probably be able to picture several faces. Then, if you ask me if those people were able to achieve results and become famous without any effort, that would be different. Talent is, in fact, a matter of consequence. Everyone tends to think that people who achieve outstanding results have talent. However, such people must have invested more time than anyone else in improving their skills and acquiring knowledge in the process of achieving results. The use of that time should also be balanced between input and output. And rather than comparing themselves with others, they should be comparing themselves with their past selves, keeping their motivation high, and constantly striving to improve their skills through ingenuity.
In fact, continually making comparisons with past selves rather than with others creates a very good cycle. Especially in the beginning of game development, there are many things you can do, so you are certainly more skilled today than you were yesterday. Then you start to think, “Maybe I am suited for game development”. Your mood becomes more and more enjoyable and you start to think, “I like game development”. Then You want to be able to do more. Then you invest more time and become better than you were yesterday. This cycle allows you to invest more and more time. After six months or a year, before you know it, you have become quite proficient in game development skills. Perhaps the day will come when someone will say, “You have talent”.
Improving your skills will not guarantee that your game will sell, but you will certainly be able to make an interesting game. Whether a game sells or not is sometimes a matter of luck. For example, if a well-known person happens to buy your game and it is interesting, he or she may spread the word on social media. However, if the game is not interesting, there is no chance of even that.
3. Understanding that failure is the source of success
“Failure is the source of success” is an overused phrase, but this understanding is crucial. If you fail, you may feel depressed by the fact. If the game you worked so hard on does not sell at all, you will certainly be shocked. However, we must not forget that looking at the facts calmly at this point will lead to the next success.
The reason why you feel depressed when a game does not sell is because you thought the game was perfect. There is no such thing as perfect, and there are definitely reasons why a game did not sell well. We can clarify those reasons and clear them up in the next production. For example, if the game was simply not well advertised after it was launched, then the next game should be better advertised. If the quality of the graphics was low, then you can improve the quality of the graphics. You can improve your own skills, or you can spend money to have someone else make them.
The quickest way to find out what was not good enough is to refer to reviews on sales platforms or do an ego search of the work on social media. Take their opinions seriously and apply them the next time. If there are no reviews at all to begin with, then it’s safe to assume that it wasn’t promoted well enough.
If you only compare yourself with your past and maintain high motivation, you will be able to enjoy even the hardest development work and bring your game to completion. Once completed, you can sell the game. If you sell the game and promote it well, you can increase your earning potential. Even if the first game does not sell well, research the reasons why it did not sell well and make use of them in the next game. If you continue this cycle, the game will surely become better and sell more. The more the game sells, the more the hard work of development will be rewarded, and the likelihood of failure will decrease in inverse proportion.
I would like to make one final point. Even if the development work is hard, even if the game doesn’t sell and you don’t make any money, if you enjoy it and there is nothing else you want to do, then do it. There is no other creative and enjoyable activity like it.