This post is not programming-related. It’s also purely anedoctal and based solely on my own experiences.
I’ve recently watched all the unfold fiasco regarding Mighty No. 9. For those who don’t know, it’s a game that was promised to be almost like a “spiritual successor” of megaman, but apparently failed in a outrageous way. When this kind of thing happens, as always, we see some people take an initial stand, and everyone else following the bandwagon. Some judge, others defend. “It’s not that bad”, “It’s atrocious”, and everything in-between. One post that got my attention was: “If it was me doing a game like this, I would be so proud. I don’t understand why people are bashing it so much”.
I’ve recently released a very basic adventure game for a 1-week game jam, http://gamejolt.com/games/in-solus-fabula/147192. I have to say, it’s bad. No, really. It has an interesting art style, however it’s inconsistent. The story is all over the place, and it’s difficult to figure things out. The development was rushed. I’m not very proud of it. It has a very few ratings and comments, but they are mostly positive. The thing is, nobody expected this game. It hasn’t generated hype. It didn’t break your heart. And it costs nothing (in fact, I got $0.02 from ads, so there’s that).
Then it hit me. This is not only true in a community perspective, but also in an individual outlook. The more I expect from myself, more frustrated I become when those expectations are not met. I’m not saying that we should always expect the worst: But the hype certainly carries a burden. And it’s a very heavy one .
And for all that matters, I’m not defending the train wreck that was Mighty No. 9.
The follow-up is a rollercoaster of emotions. As I said before in another post, modern society takes failures with shame. Losing is bad, winning is good. Hell, even in RPG games you usually gain experience when you win, but not when you lose a fight. It’s kind of worse when you publish anything, because if it fails, you’re automatically associated with defeat. I have to say that this makes independent endeavors extremely taxing, with this double-edged sword of first impressions.
It’s hard to be seen. But when it happens, you better be ready to handle it all. The people are hungry. You’re cooking with your sweat, blood, and the effusive glare of their eyes. It’s really easy to burn yourself out.
The exposure of effort is something questionable. It’s useless to outsiders, and it’s useless to oneself. Though the experience is imperative and the hard work is crucial, struggles are not synonym of success. If I find a intricate solution to a problem in 10 years of dedication, it may look like an impressive feat. If I find the solution in 10 minutes, it will certainly diminish the apparent complexity of the task. It will look a lot easier, and trivial. This is wrong on so many levels.
People surely give a lot of credit to feelings. The one thing that baffled me most when I stopped working on site to work remotely was the fact that I used to justify my leisure time with the premise of being tired because of the daily routine. It seems logical, yes, but it lingers. I found myself at home, with a lot of extra time in my hands, worried that I wouldn’t be able to rationalize my netflix sessions. At first, I wasn’t happier. On the contrary, I was sad. Home, working in PJs, and decidedly concerned about it. And to think that just months before I would get home, crash on the couch, and nobody would judge me. Because I was genuinely tired.
This brings me to the matter at hand: the effort you make towards something shouldn’t be yours (or everyone else’s) to consume. It really doesn’t matter. It’s a side effect of your current task. The way people lay on it is merely a faulty tranquilization technique. No one should be entitled to anything just because they fought for it.
The ideas, the process, the journey, the people. It all matters. The results, though, are lasting. They are the reason you work so hard today. They are the sense behind your obstinate quest for glory. I currently live in a world in which getting out of the loop is extremely frustrating. Paving your own road and seeking your goals, tough as they may be, is seen as a lunatic behavior by most people around. This is exactly why result is so important: it represents the spoils of your own personal war against the world’s agenda.
It’s the endgame: To use your efforts, to cause an impression, to fulfill your expectations.