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From a MMORPG to a cupcake jumping through clouds; be careful with perfectionism

Careful if you start something too big, but also be careful if you start wanting everything perfect, even when small. Aim high, but don't let perfection hold you back.

Leonardo Fraga, Blogger

October 2, 2019

6 Min Read

Hi there, my name is Leonardo Fraga, and I'm a solo indie game developer. 

I graduated (bachelor in Computer Science) in 2015, and I've been developing since 2014. I've learn a lot through those years, and in the begging was, how can I say... Not ideal.

I started creating an MMORPG, that right, I skipped the number 1 rule of indie game development, and started out with an full MMORPG.  

My MMORPG wasn't actually my first game, it was my first attempt to create a commercial game. I did a project at college with a awesome group of friends (MRLED), it was a tactic board game with augmented reality. It was more bugs then game, but it was amazing, we love it and we score a 10/10. After that I studied online pretty hard, and I though I was ready, so I started my MMO.

I modeled and rigged a character, I was actually proud of myself, and to see him walking I felt like I was half way through the game! Looking back know, I think I was around 0.2% done, but at the time I was all dreams!

Luckily, after my wife seeing that it was way to complex, she advised me to create something smaller, and I quote "How about a game about a cuPCAKE THAT JUMP THROUGH CLOUDS?!?!?! :DDDD"!

I was reluctant at first, after all, it was my soon to be perfect MMO to a game about a cupcake.

A few days went by, and as I studied more and more, things was getting clearer that a MMO was not a good idea... And I should have started with something small.

So I accepted my wife's advise and after spend sometime thinking about how could I go about this, I started developing. After a few months of development, I looked at my code and I just couldn't bare it anymore, it was a complete mess. So I started my game from scratch and was really satisfied with the result.

Once I reached a point where I should started marketing my game, depression hit me hard. I was getting used to changing hats, going from programming, to art, to sounds to level design... But marketing, marketing was my boss battle.

I couldn't move anymore, I was very tempted to finish my game without marketing, but through my time invested studying, I knew I just couldn't ignore marketing, so I stopped working on the game, and started working on marketing, at least my trailer, and this is where things got rough.

It took me a long time to finish my trailer, but took the longest to actually release it. I just released my trailer, just now Tuesday, October 1, 2019.

My trailer was completely done in February this year. It took almost 9 months to just release it.

After I finished my trailer I wanted to do things perfectly, and I wanted a web site, I wanted a steam page (NOT ENOUGH CASH!!! STRANGER...), I wanted to put in my trailer that I was going to release on Switch also. I wanted a nice press kit I wanted everything, and I wanted it perfect!

So I started developing my site, that's right, I stopped everything to learn how to make a site, but not some site made out of a template, I wanted a perfect site with moving clouds and stuff, and I just started working.

Oh boy was I over the roof....

I couldn't get the site done, it was never good enough, I spent so many days working on it, trying to learn and do things, and once I had somethings acceptable (my will to make things perfect was quickly fading away along with my skin color), I for the first time, went testing the mobile version of the site. *facepalm with tears*
The mobile version just didn't existed, everything was cropped and displayed the worst way possible... That was when I gave up on the site. I'm releasing my trailer now, and I don't have a perfect site, actually I have no site at all. But the main problem was that after so many months not working on things that I really enjoy and forcing through something that my wife kept calling starting of depression, I don't just gave up my site, I gave up my site, my game (CupCakoon) and my dream of working with games, actually I was giving up on life (not suicide related, just a lack of will to do anything).

To summarize the end, I got help from a psychiatrist (it's funny how in Brazilian portuguese, "triste" means "sad", it's like Psyc"sad", nevermind...) and starting taking some medications.

I fortunately got a little better, but I'm still far from where I was, but one thing I learn, and you can learn this now too.

Don't go for perfection, it can hold you down in way you can't foreseen.

So, with the strength that I have left (increasing little by little each day, thanks God for that), I made a post on Reddit, and for the first time I got some feedback from stranger on the internet, and it was surprisingly good, and I was just too happy, my post quickly became the top 1 of the day, and I felt life coming back to me. But, after a few hours with a smile on my face replying to comments about my game, my post got shadow banned, no one could find it anymore (I wasn't just showcasing my game, I was talking about my experience in trying to creating an MMO and how creating a smaller game was a better choice. This was on /r/gamedev).


Thankfully I was just too happy that people liked CupCakoon, and I wasn't much sad that my post got banned, and I was desperately needing this boost of happiness, because I only talked about my game developing journey, but though those months bills didn't stop coming, and the feeling of uselessness was growing at a fast pace in me, and this was the root of the depression to start with).

So with the new strength that random people from Reddit gave me, I was able to release my trailer. Things are far from perfect, and I still don't have a site, but I managed to create a channel about indie game development, that was something that I wanted to do for a long time, and I learnt that searching for perfection can be dangerous, and in this case it was.

I hope you could learn something from this, and I hope I somehow helped you avoid this mistakes that I made, that costed me much time and mental health.

Thomas Brush once said, "When you say that you've been creating games, almost sounds like you've been playing games", and adding to this, the fact that if is your first game you probably aren't getting paid yet, the feeling of uselessness can do us much harm.

God Bless you, aim high but don't let perfection holds you down, and let's create better games!

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