I have been writing to all of you more often lately. For the most part, that is because I am writing more frequently, in general. My book project is coming along quite nicely and it leaves in writing mode and a writing mood each evening or whenever I wrap up a session (today was a bit slow if I am being honest).
Anyway, I got a lot of great feedback on my most recent entry regarding Morning Pages, one part of my typical morning routine, as well as my related rants on life as a developer, dealing with anxiety, and so on. With that being said, I wanted to discuss advice, as its own topic. Everyone gives advice, consciously or otherwise. Fans, friends, and others who have any form of respect for you might even view your actions as advice. This can be harmful and unintentional, so I wanted to tell you how I look at advice. This is where we go down the rabbit hole and I pretend to give advice on taking advice from someone who may or may not be qualified to give or take advice. But hey, do with it what you will!
One great quote about advice can be read as a solid summary for what I am about to discuss: “Look at what one has accomplished, where they have been, and where they are headed. Their own advice got them into each of those situations.” In short, the person giving advice has previous experiences equal to that of the quality of their advice at the time. This basically just means that if someone hasn’t released a game, consider ignoring their advice about releasing games, and so on. This isn’t always going to be true. Teachers and people within the educational space often study without practice. You just might want to consider the source.
Consider that you only see the highlight reel. Yes, I shipped INK on itch.io and then soon after on Steam. Yes, I co-founded Spaceboy Games. Yes, we helped launch High Noon Revolver on Steam. Yes, we shipped HackyZack on Steam. Yes, I am writing a book about my development process while designing, building, and publishing INK. I taught, played, and recorded drums and general music professionally. When I was in school for Computer Science, my minor was a focus on Nutritional Science (and Psychology during a separate educational path). I *do* have certain qualifications and can justify speaking on these topics. However, I failed to flesh out many game demos and prototypes. I received funding and then failed to ship a game in 2012. I failed to raise enough money to have a successful Kickstarter campaign. I failed to please a contractor and ship another game project in 2014. I stumbled around with my concepts for our Fara project before falling back on my HackyZack demo from 2015. A LOT of failures lead to that first small victory. Don’t believe that my bio is my list of things that I attempted, nailed, and then took a bow. I have been through chaos.
In 2012, my mother helped me found my first company. An international investor gave us nearly $100,000 to work on a seemingly simple project with only two other developers who were close friends. I couldn’t manage a team that size, I ruined both friendships for a time, I bled money, and I inevitably cancelled the project without even showing up to the meeting out of embarrassment, anxiety, and fear. We then had to move out of our house, move onto our own things, and I went back to drums for awhile, thinking I wouldn’t return to games. I am so lucky to have had that experience, learn SO much, fail again and again, and have a support system to fall back on. My family makes this possible. If you don’t have that, it’s going to be harder for you. I need you to know that you might not have all of the pieces necessary to follow in my footsteps.
Be cautious when getting pumped up about advice. Be weary of discovering someone’s secret sauce. There is no easy way. Keep working, work smart, and don’t stop learning. You can do this. I can do this.