If everything has a beginning, middle part and an end, why should a blog be an exception and run forever? Recently, I’ve been actually living by my being fearless paradigm. I’ve worked through quite some things throughout the recent blog entries,tackled some new challenges as an artist and generally faced life. And I cannot blame one specific issue, encounter or blog entry for it, but I have become a different person. I spend my day talking with a lot of people now, without fear and with a lot of outcomes. Suddenly, there is a lot of blessings to count but little to no time to do so. I need to act, I need to do more and I have the drive for it. And the time has come to leave this blog behind. My future actions shall document what I do. That’s it and that has been the secret all along. Love what you do, always have fun, but put in all the work to become excellent at what you are doing. If you excuse me now, I have to draw a lot to get there.
Connecting with one’s audience is an issue for every creative. I’m not claiming I just solved this issue for everyone and in all cases ever. But I think I just found something that works for me.
In the last blog entry I deducted that the audience does not exist. Does this mean, my audience is the void? There is nobody? Not in the slightest! I was just caught up imagining „the audience“ I have in mind when doing my work as an abstract, shapeless entity, an unnamed number of people who somehow have the same tastes and needs. That doesn’t make much sense. You can have two people in a room and they couldn’t agree on anything. Maybe I’m still influenced by the book „The world beyond your head“ by Matthew B. Crawford who makes a similar point with „the public“. That one doesn’t exist either, only imaginings of it and wild tries to conform.
Now what do we do with this bit of knowledge? Oh, it opens a lot of doors! So if your abstract dream audience isn’t there yet and likely will not materialize with a vacuum plop sound you have your head free for more important matters. You have people in your life already, real, actual people. Some of them might even take an interest in your work already. If you cater to them, you can only win. You make them happy and get feedback that you have accomplished something and you have an infinitely higher chance that other people might find these works interesting, too, as they come from a place with and aimed at actual people. If you start at literally zero with not a single soul paying attention to your creations you can always find an offline or online community or several of which you can be part of. And every community has characteristics and tastes and needs, problems a creative can solve. Or you can start out by catering to yourself. Be human. No matter what happens, you have to live with your creations closer and longer than anyone else so you better love what you are doing.
I’m going back to an early square of the playing field, but not completely zero. And I’m more excited than ever to create and to get to know the real people around me better. I guess if you get popular (and I never was popular in my life) you are just known by more people than you can actively interact with even if you wanted to. That is it. No abstract audience entity. No numbers crunching. So all is well, nothing is wrong with you for not having „an audience“ yet.
What about expectations?
Let’s repeat our game from the previous blog entry with this topic! What is your first big random expectation that comes to your mind? Write it down, I’ll wait! Also as before – no self-censorship. The answer does not have to be pretty. It is even preferrable if it isn’t, because something that is pretty can trick you easier than a rugged looking opponent. Ready? Here goes mine: I want a giant audience to materialize out of nothing, throwing copious amounts of money at me so that I can comfortably do my best work on SPREY and other works and well…and serve the works to them. This is an interesting one. First of all, I’m glad it’s not completely selfish and lost in delusion land. I am not even expecting people to throw their money at me and get nothing in result. I do think though that this particular expectation is a warped view and interpretation of the world that also mixes up cause and effect, like most expectations like these tend to do. This is not how it works. People tend to exchange money for something of value to them that you already have created or that they trust you to be able to create in the future judging from your past works or advertising and persuasion skills. Also it is not that having a giant audience already (or their financial support) is a prerequisite to do great work or be valid as a creator. We only tend to think it is. Also the audience usually materializes AFTER the great work was done and is out in the world, not before. And another wait a moment, „the audience“ , it doesn’t tend to be a neutral blob, an abstract thing, it is rather a group of lovely people who are all real and individuals of different walks of lifes and communities that happen to like your work. So wait, that abstract „audience“ doesn’t even exist. How about your expectation? Does a look at it with reality in mind turn it into dust like a vampire exposed to plain sunlight? Was it a winding, contorted perception and interpretation mistake like mine?
I need a moment to recover from this revelation. It is okay to have expectations of any size. But it’s always worth checking them under the sunlight, with view towards reality. Vampires suck the lifeforce out of you without giving you anything back, so there’s no reason to let them take what they want unchecked.
So in the previous blog entry I laid out what is currently holding me back – ambitions running wild and too high expectations. I want to solve this problem of course and adjust my process, but how and where do I even start doing that?
I discovered game dev for me, so let’s play a game! A game of ambition!
Okay, what is an expectation that is definitely too high? Write down an the first random ambition that comes to your mind, no self-censoring, the most random ambitious thing that comes to your mind. Ready? Here goes mine: I want to move the planet from it’s place, just like Superman! The universe of ambition knows no conceivable limit, that is the nature of it. Now it doesn’t make much sense to move earth that way, I will admit it sounds fun though as long as you don’t think about the consequences. What about your ambition? Does thinking about the implications of that make you uncomfortable, too, looking at it from a logical standpoint? That shows to me that wherever ambition is coming from, it is not sitting at the same place as reason. Like a mimic uncovered and hit over the face with a hammer it crawls back into it’s shadowy emotional cradle, for it has been found out.
I’m reporting back from many days working nonstop on two game jam games. The most intense phase of developing is over, so I’m in a position to write again.
What is a game jam? A game jam is a community event where you form teams of coders, artists, musicians, writers and any other game dev role that you feel you need and develop small games on a tight deadline. The deadline is so tight to enforce small project sizes and that you have a huge incentive to finish quickly. Also, most jams have a general theme or set out some design constraints like what game genre you can work in or even what colors you can use.
One of my new year’s resolutions was to take part in at least one game jam every month to collect some experience as a dev and meet more fellow devs. So far I got everything I was hoping for and then some. It was actually an accident that I got into two at the same time, but everything worked out just fine. I might go into detail about each project in future entries.
The most important thing I learned was a new understanding of time and what it takes to finish a project for me. I am impatient and ambitious by nature. I want big results, which is good, but I want them too quickly. Things truly take time and it can take days or longer to solve a certain problem, even if you really do everything you can imagine to solve it immediately. So I get frustrated with my projects too quickly and too thoroughly, more than would be necessary while overworking myself. Then I burn out and abandon them. This is not even a critique, rather a plain observation of what is going on. With the games I had other people balance me out or my work being cut out in a way that overworking wasn’t even possible. Now my next goal is to adjust my solo process so that I work at a sustainable pace even when no help by others is available right now. I don’t have to be perfect or try to change my personality entirely, I just have to be smart about playing towards my strengths.
And I learned that I definitely want to do more game development in the future!