News Archive for 'Articles'
This article is about the life of being a freelancing game maker. Not that many people actually understand what it's like to have this job. You're at a family dinner and some relative asks what you do, you tell them and they just have a blank sorta face. Adult's really don't understand games even slightly. They then try and be interested and ask questions like... "So what type of games do you make" it's pointless because they won't understand my answer anyway.
It's funny really, even my mum is like go get a job! I'm like I have a job mum...she's like... uhh yeah but.. a real job. It's so frustrating and makes me so angry. Just because I don't go into an office and have a set work time, it doesn't make it any easier. In fact it makes it even harder and this is what people really don't realise.
When you make a game or anything at all. It is not like working at your 9-5 job of boredom. (Now when I say 9-5 mindless job, I mean any job that is one you shut your brain off for to endure instead of turning it on. Such as working take away joints, supermarkets, security etc) You can't just shut down your brain and keep looking at the clock. You have to solve problems, you have to be creative of new ideas. Your brain is running non stop and it gets very stressful. Cause if you can't be creative enough, then you can't pay rent. That is a lot more stressful then having a solid weekly pay check where you just clock in and try get through it. I could spend a month working on a game, only to have it not sell very well and now I'm broke. It really is the harsh reality of it.
I argue with a friend who says my work is easy because I can set my own hours and get up whenever I want. Sure this great and theirs many positive things to it. Making games is awesome! I love it all, but it's not a free ride job as people think. When you work, you look at the clock different to someone at a 9-5 job. You don't hope for the day to be over, you keep looking at the clock worrying you haven't got enough done today or this week. Will I get this game finished before I can't afford food anymore?
The problem is pressure dampens creativity, but it also speeds up getting work done. It's a tug and pull.
Basically my day will consist of waking up between 9-12. I'll check up on all the usual stuff. Emails/Facebook/Reviews. Then I'll tell myself I should work, but I'll usually procrastinate till 2 in the afternoon. Usually I'll get a few hours of programming in then. Till I get angry and stressed out from programming bugs. (Programming is really a mental strain sometimes, people that work mindless jobs will never understand this. It can be related to doing your final exams in high school for the amount of stress)
Some days Ill wake up and just work from 9 in the morning till midnight. Every day varies. Depends what I'm doing and how motivated I am or if I'm inspired by a song or movie. Usually I'll be slack at the start of the game, but towards the end I'm working every day for 12 hours. Working from waking up, till I sleep to get it done.
How do you explain to someone your job consists of so many things put together. If I explain it, they don't understand and still think I'm a slacker. The process has so much you need to learn. It's something like this though..
- Coming up with an idea that is unique and fun
- Programming your idea into a workable engine WITHOUT BUGS
- Designing the art style and mood to the game
- Level Design ; making mass new levels which can take a long time when you have 50 or so
- Fixing Bugs and Glitches. (This can break people who give up)
- Designing the game to work out what the player wants
- Sound Editing. Getting sound effects and music for your game.
- Storyline, coming up with an addictive story for your game
It goes on and on really. So many things you needa worry about, because a game is made up of everything. All this goes through your head working every day full of stress and worry the game won't be good enough and you try tell me your job is harder because you work 9-5 and have to dig holes? pfft. I'm not saying it's not hard doing manual labor all day, but you'll never understand the pressure and stress of truly creating something that has to please millions of people.
I'm living out of home now. It's great and all, but I needa make sure I finish a game about once a month to keep up on bills now. In a way it is good though. It motivates me to get more games done which is what I want. I have so many ideas to be put into games that I can't wait to try. The problem is sticking to them and making them work.
In this line of work, every piece of media you do becomes research. Every time I play a game, I mentally pull it apart thinking why it's fun. I'll watch a movie at the cinemas and take a little bit away from it that inspires me. It's sorta hard to shut my brain off to ideas. Though I'll cover ideas and inspiration more in depth in another article since everyone asks how I come up with them.
In this job it's constantly highs and lows. I'll release a successful game and have enough money to last me a few months and I relax. Other times I've been down to less then $100 in my bank working non stop for a week or two to get paid. I'm pretty good with money though. Whenever I get below a certain amount in my bank I start working a lot more, and spend a lot less. I just try manage it as best I can and have faith in my own game making abilities to get paid.
I recommend this job 100%, but only if they have the motivational and love of game making to keep with it. It's not easy, but if you can do it. You have a huge portfolio of stuff you've hand made that feels like you've really accomplished something. It's so rewarding when people say they spent an hour of your game having fun. It's still weird for me to hear that, each time I hear it I just think really? you liked it?! I'm so used to look at statistics on the game it's always different to hear it in person.
My general tips for living a life like this would be -
- Create your game making folder. Organise it into folders of sound, written ideas, engines, anything that inspires you. Throw everything in here.
- Start making every single thing and idea that pops into your head. Build up a folder of engines you can start to use to make into a game any time. If the engine is fun, then the game will be later.
- Build up some savings before quitting your other job. The first few games you make won't do as well, you gotta be prepared for failure and maybe some debt before progressing forward.
- Don't listen to anyone that doesn't make games and doesn't offer any value to their criticisms. 99% of people have no idea about game making and will put you down by saying it's not as good as their job.
- Be prepared for long hours at the computer. Try look after yourself. It's hard though. Specially since a lot of programmers take a lot of caffeine and don't eat right.
- Just go for it. Don't let anything hold you back. Sit down, don't think about making games, just do it. Sit down and start making whatever you want. Have fun!
In summary, I love my job. I wouldn't trade it now for any other besides working in a proper game studio, but even then I'm not so sure since I'd then be taking orders and can't make whatever I want. So I'm gonna keep having fun making games till it can't make me an income. Then I'll port my games onto other things or start a website that makes me income through paying. Not sure yet. I just know with all the advancing technology, theirs always gonna be more possibilities.
Now, time to stop procrastinating my work by writing this article.
I'm quite a young person really, I'm 20 years old but that's just the right age to have experienced gaming through it's entire journey. I was playing games at a kid right when they started to flourish from the Atari age just hitting into the N64 age.
I think most people around my age will all agree they don't make games like they used too. I know it sounds like I'm spitting some "old person" dribble that just can't keep up, but everyone knows the gaming industry is really turning it's back on people just for the money these days, and I'm not even mentioning 33% of Xbox360's breaking.
Don't get me wrong, I'm loving games still. Seeing how its evolved and playing the newest updated graphics, seeing a beautiful sky now and water reflection. Physics done to perfection with ragdolls everywhere. Hey, It's great sure, but how come even with all of this stuff in one game you still think...why am I having less fun then Banjo Kazooie? or Mario Kart?
Even I'm trying to get to the root of the problem. Am I just growing up? or are games losing their heart these days. What sequel number we onto now with Final Fantasy? or the 108th Mario game? Where the fucks the originality. If I wanted the same hotdog but covered with shit, I'd just go buy the old one and put my own shit on it. I have to respect Metal Gear Solid for ending it recently. At least they have pride.
I'm sick of every single release being a sequel these days. Gaming companies needa stand the hell up, grow some balls and use their new physic engines and amazing graphics and create something truly new. They're too scared of losing money and will only make copies of things that sell.
Why does every single shooting game have to start with a knife and pistol? Why can't you throw me into a pit of nails and I grab a nail and use that to deflect frickin' laser beams back to escape. Make no sense? sure, but if you heard that, wouldn't you wanna play it just cause it's so wild. How about an adventure game where I don't start as level 1 and have 3 spells that are fire, water and earth. CHANGE IT UP FOR GODS SAKE. Throw me a curveball, surprise me, challenge me, baffle me, make me say - "How the hell do I get past the giant ogre guarding the room with a giant kitchen blender when all I have is a magical rock and 2 potions of sexual desire"
Another thing that's saddening is that 2 player on one console isn't a given like it used to be, you actually have to pay for it and buy a Wii. In the old days, me and a friend would go get a coop game from the video store and stay up all night beating it. Now days if you look, nothing is 2 player and/or coop. It's all online only. Onlines great, but not when you have to sacrifice playing with a friend in the same room. It's losing it's sense of being together.
Their is still some great new games coming out, but you'll find they're more in the indie game scene these days. Things like Braid and Castle Crashers. Heroes of Newerth is made by a smaller gaming company and they respect their players and don't turn their backs on them.
I guess at the end of the day, I'll still be playing whatever comes out. It's what I do ya know, but now my outlooks a bit different. I look through about 20 gaming cases looking for something new and different. Something more fun to let myself get immersed in.
Lets just hope once graphics hit their limit of being improved that gaming companies will be forced to go back and create a truly great world that you can get lost in and ignore your Thai $500/night hooker waiting for you on the bed.
Game on bitches.
I've decided to write some Articles/Mini Rants on lots of various subjects dealing with things I know about, or just have a strong opinion on or mostly my life and job. The whole point of this is to just vent my ideas and hopefully make you, the reader, stop and actually think about it and look at things from a different angle. And hell, maybe I'll even teach you a thing or two.
The first would be my take on criticism. It fits well with the first topic because I deal with it A LOT and also showing why I don't have comments on the site anymore.
I removed comments on articles like this and games because here on my website, I just wanna show you it. It's not up for debate. I'm simply showing it to you and you take from it what you will. Yes I very much hope you like it more then hate it, but after a while on the internet you get sick of the spammy trolling crap over and over. You get to a point where it's too tiring to see, and having one good comment amongst 5 spam ones isn't worth cleaning by myself. I'd rather an email, if you took the time to email me and say you liked it, then I see it as much more personal and am more grateful. Usually trolls cant bebothered sending emails, so this is a great way. Heck, if you even like this article feel free to send an email saying you agree so I can write more. I just read comments on NG and such where it's easier to see since they are more modded, I do a bit on Kongregate, but not as much since they are more spoilt kids over their. You needa find the better communities. And it's enough for me for one game now.
So, The whole purpose of this is, THINK ABOUT WHAT I SAY. Don't take my word for it. Always question it and apply your own things you've learn't to what I say.
Whenever you make anything in life, you're gonna have to deal with the criticism, and it's harsh and will make you mad. I wish I could say I'm a better person to not get mad over it, but even I sometimes get pushed to the edge. After spending months working on a game only to be told over and over how shit it is, it can hurt and people forget that. But over time I've gotten used to it and you have to if you want to grow as a person. You also start to become a harsh person on comments as they are harsh on you. You stereotype them into either troll/simply mean/helpful criticism. Basically the first 2 options theirs no point even reading what they say. They simply just wanna piss you off. The more successful the game, the more trolls there is.
Over the years I have changed a bit on comment reading. I used to read every single one and couldn't wait to see what they say. I still do love the feedback, but I'm more jaded now. I only need to read a certain amount on my latest project and then I've had enough because of the overwhelming crap and hatred you gotta sift through. Now I'm just loving to create more and just put it out their then leaving my piece to fend for itself. I can't sit their arguing why it's good or bad all day. It's too tiring, and you'll burn out.
You needa learn to let it go and just let people decide for themselfs. I now create for the people that genuinely love to play them, they are the ones you wanna show and enjoy their comments. This is not to say you shouldn't go get criticism, I still do have the people I wanna impress that will always say it's shit, but I know the REASON I make something isn't for them, I have them just to improve and will always value them, but you gotta remember to take it in equal doses.
It's all about balance. If you only take the harsh ones then you'll start to think you really suck and give up on what you started. If you only take the good ones you'll never improve. It's about striking that balance, but most of all it's not even about them at all. You make something cause YOU WANT to make it. Showing everyone else is just the side bonus. You never had to make it in the first place, and they never had to play it. Don't ever forget that. If you start getting angry at what they're saying, simply tell them you're sorry they didn't like what you made, so stop playing it, and hopefully you can impress them better next time.
I've had some people who say my games are shit every single time and I could never work it out, then I release a game that was a specific genre and all of a sudden they loved it. You finally work out these people were never actually open or knew anything, they just wanted what they wanted. It took me all this time to realise they didn't actually fairly rate something I made, they were just biased and wanted something I wasn't giving. So you really needa realise who these people are and just ignore them at times.
That's pretty much the end of my first rant. It's my experiences on it all so far, hey I'm still young. Maybe my view will change later. The moral I really think, is take everything in healthy doses. Never get too angry, but never be too close minded to what people say to you. Just work out who are the people that are worth listening too, and who arn't.