Being a hobbyist Game Developer

While browsing some Youtube Videos about game development with Unity3D, I noticed several recommendations titled “how to make a game in 48 hours” or “how to get your first game to market” or “how to become an indie developer”. But I started with “Basic Principles of Game Design”. In a couple of minutes, the speaker brought up some important things to keep in mind when developing a game – all which I can fully agree with. What annoyed me was the fact that most of the shown examples were taken from Triple-A titles such as Skyrim, The Witcher, Counterstrike or Half-Life. What effect did this have on me? On the one side, I nodded my head in full understanding of the described principles. On the other side, I shook my head when trying to imagine how much work had been put into the shown games. Which led me to recognize one of the causes of depression nowadays.

Media is driven by statements such as “You can get it if you really want”, totally denying reality and the personal skills of any human.

A better statement would be “If you have fun doing something, don’t stop doing it and you will become better at it. And if your goal is to reach a certain level of expertise in it – you might reach it as long as you’re having fun working towards it.”

The driving force behind Silversword and Lootbox RPG is/was my desire to play such a game. If I had found a game like Silversword (or Lootbox) on the App Store(s) at any time during their development, I would have stopped immediately and cancelled the whole project. “Luckily” I hadn’t and had to do all the work by myself. I like playing around with Unity3d and I like creating game mechanics to a certain extent. But it is nothing compared to the fun I have when actually playing games 😉

I don’t find satisfaction in creating a good piece of code or making a cool graphic asset or composing a nice melody or sound. Because most of the time I am aware that there are thousands of people who can make it better – and if I really wanted to, i could just send them a message and order some of their work. In fact, as a game developer you have to do that from time to time. Most of the sound effects and music tracks I use in my games are bought. Graphics in Silversword were bought from a professional artist or were a donation from friends. The Lootbox Tileset is an Open Source Project. I am not left handed at all when it comes to painting but after trying to create my first portrait of an angry looking orc, I decided that it wasn’t worth the time. Yes, if I would have really wanted… 

So some things you can create by yourself. Others you might… but it would kill the fun in doing so – or it just would take too long because you’re not skilled enough to do it efficiently. So you buy them. This rule can be applied everywhere. In game design as well. And that is the main reason why you will NOT create the next Triple-A title by yourself, even if you really want to.

You just don’t have the resources.

It was – and still is – very hard for me to live with this knowledge. I started many projects with a vision of what the game should become – but soon realized that I couldn’t invest the time and the money that was needed to achieve this goal. The point is: I’m creating the games for myself. I don’t get paid for it. I do it in my spare time. Money wasn’t a driving force at any time. I had an idea what I’d like to see in the games – and I implemented it. When players submitted their feedback, I thought about it and only implemented their wishes if they covered my own taste.

I digressed.

Conclusion: don’t be disheartened when you realize that you surprisingly can NOT do whatever you want to. Stick to smaller goals – especially when creating a game. Make your game playable as soon as possible so that you can reward yourself for the work spent by just playing a bit. This worked out for me: I spent far too much time playing my own games 🙂

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