Here’s an interesting idea I thought of recently, although I’ve ascribed to everything I’ve done with gamedev so far.
Game development, for me and many others, is a 100% creative activity just like painting or writing. It has few bounds (granted those bounds are almost infinitely more numerous than writing or painting) and as such it’s potential for expression is near limitless. It could be argued that it is the greatest medium for expression (I think Phil Fish said something like that in IG:TM.)
So why not actually use it that way?
Many people do. There are some great expressive and personal games out there. Hundreds in fact. Many of which will not receive more than a handful of players.
This, is of course, perfectly fine. I never expect anyone to play my games, I make them thinking that no one will. This is very similar to my music creation for the past decade. It’s only recently that I’ve decided that I should start posting music I’ve written.
But how do you plan to make money from these personal games?
I don’t. I don’t really believe that anyone should pay for my games unless I’ve poured hundreds of hours of my time into them.
I’ve had people say to me that I should just come up with an idea for a game, focus on it and release it for cheap on all the different stores for ~$1.
Sure, why not? It’s a huge risk that could have an even bigger payoff.
But I won’t feel good about doing it, unless I completely enjoy the concept. (Which is highly unlikely.)
The same people have said it’s stupid to release freeware.
But, no, shutup. You’re an idiot!
Using game-development as catharsis is extremely useful. Obviously, you can combine various forms of your creative activities into a game allowing for you to express yourself in many ways. This gives you a type of expressive freedom.
Heck, anyone can get into game-development now with Gamemaker, Twine, Scratch, Construct and others.
People experienced with coding can use established libraries such as libGDX (Java), Flixel (Flash AS3), SFML(C++) and so on. Don’t feel bad for not creating something from the ground up.
But if it’s so personal, why does it matter how you make it?
It it’s something you are passionate about, why does it matter how you make it?
BUT to do any of this, you must first redefine your definition of what a game is. This is a very hard thing to do if you’ve played only AAA games (and many popular indie games) your entire life.
I don’t plan on defining it here. But here’s a tip: use game as if you are using metal to describe the infinitely vast spectrum of metal. Under the umbrella of metal you have metalcore, ambient black metal, funeral doom metal, atmospheric sludge metal and millions of others. A lot of the time these are combined to form descriptions that would make sentences blush from sheer length.
If you try to pigeon hole each game like you would metal genres, you end up with a very tight restriction of what a game is.
Understanding this is where the freedom is.
- If you feel like creating a game based on anything, try and do it. If you fail, it DOESN’T MATTER!
- Don’t give a crap what other people think. Make games/things you want to make.
- Put your emotions/inner-most thoughts into a game. It doesn’t need to have the best/many gameplay mechanic.
- Change your understanding of what a game is.
- Don’t feel bad for using a tool to make things easier for yourself.
- Don’t feel pressured to release it ever.
[This reads a little bit like a manifesto-lite.]
I’m sure that people don’t enjoy this view of game-dev, but fuck them.