October Challenge Postmortem
Oct 31, 2013
4 minute read

Intro

The October Challenge is a LudumDare tradition, brought to you by the infamous @mikekasprzak. The goals?

  • Finish a game
  • Take it to market
  • Earn $1

I had announced my attention, as is customary, as a LudumDare post, on September 30th. Yet, at the time of this writing, it is now Friday, November 1st, and I have failed.

My game is not finished, it is not on any marketplace (well, there’s a private itch.io page but that hardly counts does it?), and I have yet to make a single cent.

Random thoughts

For some reason, I find it really hard to write anything constructive about that failure. Sure, I could argue that it was not really a failure, because I have a kickass prototype now. That the important thing is to have tried.

That it’s better to wait (as long as you have a reasonable scope) for a better game than release something crappy now, that I resisted the temptation to ‘cheat’ by offering pre-orders on a half-cooked presnetation video, etc. etc.

The truth is, that challenge brought me down under quite deep.

There’s always the same questions: can I really make good video games, and if I can, do I want to? Is it useful? What do I contribute to the world? Is anything really original at all? How come all those naive copypaster newbie pseudo-indie devs appear so blissful? Why are ‘successful’ indie peeps mostly dicks?

Why do I have a lot of trouble handling a public Twitch stream? Why do I insist on not using most pieces of software that could, apparently, help me make games quickly? Where are my old teammates and how did we get to this point?

Will I ever be able to work in a team again? Will I keep a day job until I retire? Why do I readily acknowledge (and preach!) the iterative nature of creation but fail to apply it to my own craft repeatedly?

Why do I feel the need to censor myself everywhere — in real life, on this blog, on Twitter, even on a private, cozy devsofa channel? Why does any glimpse of success for others make me feel bad about what I’m doing?

Why am I so affected by other people going through the same things, even when I don’t know them personally?

There are lots of answers to all these questions, some of them are in previous blog posts, but in any case, the point was to show that, for me, such a challenge fucks me up.

I guess a short way to put last month’s adventure was that “I didn’t finish my project because I spent too much time on the engine, changed the game mechanics halfway through, and didn’t sustain enough faith to bring it to completion.”

But I’m kinda tired of small games. Yet I can’t do anything big either. This month, for the first time, I’ve actually considered retiring from anything creative. Just, you know, spend your life consuming media, reading online articles, become an expert in wine and beer tasting, just stop caring about creating anything whatsoever, forever.

I could delete my GitHub account, this website, my Twitter account - in fact, my whole online presence. Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn already went out the window a while ago. And then I’d never have to worry about matching my expectations ever again.

I’d never be at a complete loss for ideas, never again wandering on your fifth coffee of the night trying to find the missing spark to your current game project. I’d never to have to answer any questions about computers ever again. I’d just pretend that I’m running a flower business.

I could spend a lifetime perfecting my Chopin, or just finally getting into some Haendel like I said I would a thousand times.

I could distance myself from yet another industry, scoffing at their foolishness and then quickly adding that “I don’t have anything against them, it just wasn’t for me”. What would be next then? Nothing probably except consumption.

Conclusion

But in the meantime, I’ve got a nice prototype going on, like I said. And it’s coming together slowly. So, whatever, October Challenge. See you next year I guess.