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Down In Flames

One thing I hear about myself frequently is that I am my own worst critic.  While most indies exist in their own little centric solar systems where they are doing fantastic stuff, have their own style, they are proud of what they've done, I do not see my stuff that way.  It's no secret that, when I view my own creations, all I see are flaws and inadequacies.  I could have made the curve on Raff's ear smoother.  I could have added this element to a game to make it better.  Drawing chibi isn't me embracing my minimalist preferences but a cop-out because I'll never draw manga well.  Don't get me started on my attempts at drawing Alice Ip from DDR, which, if I have my way, no other human being will ever see.  Even the rave reviews I've gotten for The Supremacy don't mean much to me, because I keep thinking of how I might have restructured the story and changed things to give it more impact.  I sometimes wonder if The Supremacy could have been the next Watchmen if I'd just stepped up my game.

So I think my stuff is crap.  Whether this mentality is a result of realism about improvements I need to make or disillusionment about working in the creative field (it's a harsh lesson -- talent means JACK SHIT.  You have to be twice as good as anyone else just to get looked at, and are competing with creativity when timeliness is the major concern) doesn't matter.  What matters is I think my work sucks, and I constantly express that.  My teacher, in fact, stopped trying to hide herself rolling her eyes every time I said it.  It's bad when it's just a general belief.  It's worse when you have actual proof you could have done better.

Today at work, I'm thinking about Cloudburst, my game project that I completed in record time.  I'm working on the box art, and am ready to start coloring it.  Then, a thought struck me about an additional element I could add to the game to make it more involving and better.

And it's too late to incorporate it.

It's not because of my claim in the last update that the game is done.  I still have two weekends before the con.  But the idea I have changes the flow and balance of the game.  Would need to reengineer the whole display, 10X7 minimum with smaller clouds because of everything that would be going on (200 pixels makes a difference), readjusting the player character's speed to work with this new set-up, restructure the levels so that it is a gradual progression instead of this "out of the blue" idea...I could easily make the game eight levels with this.  But I would need to rebuild everything from the ground up except for graphics and sound, and because I have approximately two Stress Puppy strips left in reserve before I run out, I need to work on getting ahead of deadline there, need to pimp The Supremacy, need to get ready for the ChicagoCon, getting ahead on Sound Waves and writing more reviews for Video Game Trader, maybe learning a whole new language because of the problems I'm having with C++ and the licenses surrounding various modules...I don't have the time.

So now, I'm sitting here, typing this while fighting the urge to put my fist through my computer monitor.  If I had thought of this early in the design process (I had the idea for Cloudburst for about a year now), I could have incorporated it and had a stronger project to pitch.  As it is, all I have is a little timewaster, maybe a step above Solitaire but not much better.

I'm not a good salesman.  I prefer to let my creations speak for me.  Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but my creation sucks.  And now I'm hoping I can sell the sizzle instead of the steak, something I am completely unprepared for.  Admittedly, there is some hope.  High Voltage Studios was talking with me after a couple of their project leads played Biff's Adventure, the bullshit Pearls Before Swine fangame I made.  I thought it was an amusing diversion, and there was apparently something there that made these guys take notice.

Usually, when my plans go awry, I blame myself.  If nothing comes out of Cloudburst, I'll have a damn good reason to continue with that.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 29th, 2009 02:19 am (UTC)
Rather than beating yourself up over the changes you "could have" made to Cloudburst, I'll give you another option which comes with an open ended deadline.

Take all of those new changes you wanted to do, consider a few minor changes in graphics and music, and what do you have? Cloudburst 2!

Just a thought.
Jul. 29th, 2009 11:29 am (UTC)
It would be a little bit. I don't have enough ideas YET to validate a whole new game. Admittedly, some designers make sequels that are either just minor tweaks or bug fixes. My belief is that, with a proper sequel, there's no going back. You may have enjoyed the original, but the sequel does it better and the original has nostalgia value now. Kind of like how I couldn't go back to MK after MKII and couldn't go back to II after UMK3. I could still play them, but they paled next to their "evolved" versions.

From my own personal experience, there would be Biff's Adventure. The original is still okay to play once in a while (seeing as how the whole thing can be done within 2.5 minutes), but if I have the choice, I usually go with Biff 2. It's longer, more involving, far less casual, but I think it's a lot more fun.

I'm still weighing my options and won't decide on my next project until well after the con, when I see if I have anything else lined up. The original goal for Cloudburst was to try and sell it to Atari. They are really beating the bushes looking for titles to distribute, so chances are, without the deadline of the ChicagoCon bearing down on me, I would still be revising the game. But all is certainly not lost. Casual games are a huge market. It's almost like the gaming community drifted to the side with the popularization of CD technology, enabling games that would that 20+ hours to complete, and with the arrival of Flash games, casual gamers started saying, "Hey, how about something for us?" Notice that a lot of you casual games capture that same play and enjoy vibe that made the Atari 2600 a runaway success.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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