GamesRadar is clearly limited to the 140 characters, but still. Damn. That’s how you want to frame this? Other replies to the tweet echo my reaction, which I’m thankful for, at least.
It’s a little troubling–no, it’s scary to me that these big, potentially devastating life choices can be framed as “relentless passion”. And I know from other people I’ve talked to in the industry that pretty much every dev has a similar story about something they’ve had to give up to proceed with making a game.
It’s fun to make games. There had to be some reason we keep going through this, right? But these sacrifices don’t feel like they’re being made accompanied by a romantic string swell at the cusp of a climax in a documentary, if you know what I mean. It feels unfair that this occupation has to continue to be such a struggle, and that those from outside and inside of dev will acknowledge and applaud it as such. Not only that, but if you fuck up real bad, everyone will get at you with that 20/20 hindsight.
“LOL why did you remortgage your house to support THIS piece of junk”
“failed because $30 on Steam, shouldn’t have gone broke making it you lazy devs”
“What if someone with financial skills had been on this team? I’d love to see that game”
“Maybe if you listened to the community you wouldn’t have had to delay and redesign”
Troubled indie cycles in particular are not amazing stories of passion. They are a sign of a larger problem–that the people expecting something from indie devs, whether that be publishers, consumers or platforms, do not have the proper patience and respect for their work-life balance and well-being, or in Cuphead’s case, the need to re-scope due to massive feedback during development. I swear, if an indie game isn’t out two years after it’s announced, it suddenly becomes a “when’s THAT coming out” joke. It also happens with the indefinitely delayed BELOW, another Xbox One-first indie, as well.
I get that impatience a little more when it’s AAA. A little, because some of those big companies have stockholders. Some of their games are tentpole releases that HAVE to come out on whatever date. Indies are in a dangerous position where they’re expected to have the same hustle as a larger company if their game is hotly awaited, but they don’t HAVE that hustle and they’ll sometimes nearly kill themselves to achieve it, seeing no future beyond release but just doing whatever it takes to get there.
I don’t know if I have a conversation to start here. Just pouring out my gut feelings a bit, and this honestly feels more like an article that would be on the site than a topic in these forums. Whether you’re a dev yourself or a player, I’d love to hear how you feel about the like, fetishization of indie sacrifice, yo.