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Keep the Dream Alive

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robinventa
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Joined: 12/31/1969

Hi

A young person in my family has just shocked me. He has been dreaming of a career in the music business since he was seven – 15 years ago. He has been studying music full-time for several years, and has always talked of fame and fortune – endorsed by many who have supported him and recognised his talent.

He always talked of hit records – and has self-published several albums, and played with several part-time bands.

I hadn’t seen him for some time - until last weekend. Someone at the dinner party, who he didn’t know, asked him what he expected from his music, and he told them that “if just one person enjoyed listening to it he would be happy”.

I didn’t get a chance to speak alone with him, and I don’t know what I would have said if I had – but I think it’s so sad that he appears to have lost his dream. Some might say that reality has set in – and about time too! I take a different view. By dropping his sights he has condemned himself to failure.

I’m sure it’s only a burning ambition and a singleness or purpose that brings great success. By trying to avoid failure by limiting his goals he will surely avoid success too.

All this, in my opinion, applies to game design. I’m sure people who say they would just like to design a game that their group enjoy playing really mean that they dream of producing a game that would stand alongside, and be favourably compared to, anything that has gone before. Am I right? If so, keep the dream alive!

If you genuinely have another dream, what is it?

Robin

jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Re: Keep the Dream Alive

Hi Robin,

This dovetails nicely with the discussion in the "Hippodice" thread...

Quote:

...and he told them that “if just one person enjoyed listening to it he would be happy”.

I didn’t get a chance to speak alone with him, and I don’t know what I would have said if I had – but I think it’s so sad that he appears to have lost his dream. Some might say that reality has set in – and about time too! I take a different view. By dropping his sights he has condemned himself to failure.

Is it possible that he has reoriented his definition of success? After all, making great music/art/games and selling music/art/games to lots of people are not necessarily the same goal. As Matthew has noted, part of his drive as a game designer (artist) is to share his art with others, so the two clearly need not be mutually exclusive.

I don't know if I always believe the whole "if you change only one person's life..." kind of analysis of one's worth. But I think that it puts the goal more in the right terms along which an artist should be thinking. The point isn't so much to sell like crazy, but to make an impact on someone. In a lot of areas in our lives, it's unrealistic to expect to affect lots of people, yet that doesn't render our efforts less valuable. Some musicians have told stories about fans who told them things like "your music helped me feel like I could go on living" or some such, and I'm sure to the musicians, those kinds of stories mean so much more than whether or not they sold 2 million records.

Quote:

I’m sure it’s only a burning ambition and a singleness or purpose that brings great success. By trying to avoid failure by limiting his goals he will surely avoid success too.

Commercial success, maybe. But he may achieve artistic success, and surely that can't be measured by record sales. Which one is "better"?

Quote:

All this, in my opinion, applies to game design. I’m sure people who say they would just like to design a game that their group enjoy playing really mean that they dream of producing a game that would stand alongside, and be favourably compared to, anything that has gone before. Am I right? If so, keep the dream alive!

Speaking for myself, I agree that designing a game that is "as good or better" than other great games is what I'm shooting for, but I don't equate that with "succeeding in the business of design". As I mentioned, if I create a game that truly hits that standard, then sure, I'd hope it would sell so that other people could enjoy it. What I'm almost sure I wouldn't do is go the route of self-publishing, for two reasons. One, I really don't want to have much to do with the "business" aspects of game designing. And two, because the game is the thing for me, and creating a great game is (or will be, I guess) all the reward I really seek. It would be great to allow other people the opportunity to enjoy these games, but it's just not worth the effort to me to become a business just to give them that opportunity. I'd rather let the experts at the business side take care of the business aspects, and if none of them are interested, well, I'll still have a game that I can enjoy with my friends, and really, I rate my "fun" in the gaming hobby by the games I play, not the games I hear that other people are playing, so bottom line, I'll still be satisfied if I'm the only one who's ever playing these games. (Although, of course, I'll feel disappointed if I feel there's something that's truly special that never makes it out to the public)

Anonymous
Keep the Dream Alive

It's tough to keep the two types of success separate.

I definitely want to keep my dream of game designing alive, however illusions of grandeur sometimes obstruct this goal. Personally, I do not take failure very well. Although I do believe that the purpose of this hobby is to give something back to the game loving community, I subconciously strive for personal success. Occasionally I abruptly abandon a game design because I reach a "realization impasse". I notice that some quality of the game would keep it from being easily produced or widely played. This is a selfish impulse, but I'm not sure that it can be avoided. I do not mean to do so but I frequently equate personal success with the overall "better for the world" success. This metnality really limits my designs. But don't worry, I'm trying to get myself out of the bind so my designs don't suffer.

I'm posting this so that others may realize if they too have this problem.

I'm workin' on it :)

- Silverdragon0

Yekrats
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Joined: 08/11/2008
Keep the Dream Alive

Silverdragon0 wrote:
Personally, I do not take failure very well. Although I do believe that the purpose of this hobby is to give something back to the game loving community, I subconciously strive for personal success. Occasionally I abruptly abandon a game design because I reach a "realization impasse". I notice that some quality of the game would keep it from being easily produced or widely played. This is a selfish impulse, but I'm not sure that it can be avoided. I do not mean to do so but I frequently equate personal success with the overall "better for the world" success. This metnality really limits my designs.

Well, if you're going to be an artist, whether it be an illustrator, or a sculptor, musician, or a game designer, you are going to have to grow some "thick skin." Everyone has an opinion, and you'd be surprised how people would like to offer them good and bad, epsecially in semi-anonymous forums. I've been told that I designed games 'totally wrong.' You've gotta learn to say, "OK." and go on, but take both good and bad criticism with a grain of salt.

You will also have to walk the tightrope between self-doubt and self-grandeur: balancing "This is great!" with "This totally sucks." I think if you go too much one way or another, I think you could run into problems. If your self-censor gets too powerful, it will stifle what you do, and your work will stagnate. If your self-censor is too loose, you may produce unplayable junk and not even know it. :-)

Also, you might feel comforted in the fact that the more you work at it, the better you become. I look at my own game design when I started "seriously" messing around with game design as a hobby, and my first several games stunk. Yet even today, I still make klunkers that will never see the light of day. But now, I'm figuring out why designs work or not work. I see patterns in game design that I didn't recognize before.

I think your "realization impasses" are healthy and normal. However, try to figure out what's not working in those games. Surely there's something good, something that attracted you to the idea. A cool mechanic, the theme, something. Cannabalize the good ideas for your new games. Find variations on a theme, and run with it.

Also remember, that most successes come at the end of a very long line of failures. Yet, you'll need the wisdom to view those not as failures, but as minor successes. Because, you should try to learn from every failure. If you learn from it, it's not a failure anymore, and you become better at The Craft of game design. So maybe: most successes come at the end of a very long line of successes?!

Keep the faith alive, folks! :-)
-- Scott S.

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