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Hobbyist Game Dev Tip #2: The Real Hard Part

Creating things is hard. But when you create in your free time, as a hobby, more often than not the difficulty is part of the enjoyment. Putting your game out there is putting yourself out there. And that can be very difficult in a very judgmental world.

Note: this post is copied from my developer blog. You can also find me on Twitter.

Creating things is hard. A game, a song, this blog post – they all require some level of dedication and personal sacrifice to complete. But when you do these things in your free time, as a hobby, more often than not the difficulty is part of the enjoyment. The work becomes a labor of love and the end result is a reflection of its creator’s efforts. As you progress, you learn, and as you learn, the creation improves, and as it improves, you can progress further.
 
When done in isolation, the cycle is beautiful and satisfying. You are your only critic. You are only judged by your own standards. If you are content with that, you can stop reading and continue making things you enjoy. For everyone else – the real joy of making things is sharing your creations with others.
 
Unfortunately, at least for me, sharing your work – putting yourself out there – is the hardest part of making things.
 
When I started making Pyro Pursuit, I never made a 2-D platformer before. I had very little experience with game physics or creating procedurally generated levels or creating a satisfying difficulty curve or doing any of the other little nuances of game design. The entire development, from start to finish, was a learning process. I’m still learning.
 
But when a player jumps into the game for the first time, my game-making education is of no concern to them. It shouldn’t be. Instead, they just want it to be a fun experience. They want it to be worth their time and money. They will compare it to any of the other games out there, made by developers with far more talent, far more experience, and in far less time.
 
The instant you put a game out there, you are judged. The game needs to justify its existence. “Why would you make this when games X or Y exist and are far superior?”
 
Of course, it’s easy to say that you shouldn’t worry about what others think. The fact that you enjoyed making it is all the justification the game needs to exist. But these things are personal – games, indie/hobby games in particular, are often reflections of their creators.
 
Putting your game out there is putting yourself out there. And that can be very difficult in a very judgmental world.
 
I don’t have a solution to any of this. I just try to make the best things I can with whatever talents I possess and hope people enjoy them. I acknowledge superior creations and try to learn from them, not tear them down. But mainly, I just plan to keep making things I’m proud of.

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