When you make a game or anything at all. It is not like working at your 9-5 job of boredom. (Now when I say 9-5 mindless job, I mean any job that is one you shut your brain off for to endure instead of turning it on. Such as working take away joints, supermarkets, security etc) You can’t just shut down your brain and keep looking at the clock. You have to solve problems, you have to be creative of new ideas. Your brain is running non stop and it gets very stressful. Cause if you can’t be creative enough, then you can’t pay rent. That is a lot more stressful then having a solid weekly pay check where you just clock in and try get through it. I could spend a month working on a game, only to have it not sell very well and now I’m broke. It really is the harsh reality of it.
I argue with a friend who says my work is easy because I can set my own hours and get up whenever I want. Sure this great and theirs many positive things to it. Making games is awesome! I love it all, but it’s not a free ride job as people think. When you work, you look at the clock different to someone at a 9-5 job. You don’t hope for the day to be over, you keep looking at the clock worrying you haven’t got enough done today or this week. Will I get this game finished before I can’t afford food anymore?
Basically my day will consist of waking up between 9-12. I’ll check up on all the usual stuff. Emails/Facebook/Reviews. Then I’ll tell myself I should work, but I’ll usually procrastinate till 2 in the afternoon. Usually I’ll get a few hours of programming in then. Till I get angry and stressed out from programming bugs.
Some days Ill wake up and just work from 9 in the morning till midnight. Every day varies. Depends what I’m doing and how motivated I am or if I’m inspired by a song or movie. Usually I’ll be slack at the start of the game, but towards the end I’m working every day for 12 hours. Working from waking up, till I sleep to get it done.
How do you explain to someone your job consists of so many things put together. If I explain it, they don’t understand and still think I’m a slacker. The process has so much you need to learn. It’s something like this though.
Coming up with an idea that is unique and fun
Programming your idea into a workable engine WITHOUT BUGS
Designing the art style and mood to the game
Level Design; making mass new levels which can take a long time when you have 50 or so
Fixing Bugs and Glitches.
Designing the game to work out what the player wants. Sound Editing. Getting sound effects and music for your game. Storyline, coming up with an addictive story for your game
It goes on and on really. So many things you needa worry about, because a game is made up of everything. All this goes through your head working every day full of stress and worry the game won’t be good enough and you try tell me your job is harder because you work 9-5 and have to dig holes? pfft. I’m not saying it’s not hard doing manual labor all day, but you’ll never understand the pressure and stress of truly creating something that has to please millions of people.
I’m living out of home now. It’s great and all, but I needa make sure I finish a game about once a month to keep up on bills now. In a way it is good though. It motivates me to get more games done which is what I want. I have so many ideas to be put into games that I can’t wait to try. The problem is sticking to them and making them work.
In this line of work, every piece of media you do becomes research. Every time I play a game, I mentally pull it apart thinking why it’s fun. I’ll watch a movie at the cinemas and take a little bit away from it that inspires me. It’s sorta hard to shut my brain off to ideas. Though I’ll cover ideas and inspiration more in depth in another article since everyone asks how I come up with them.
In this job it’s constantly highs and lows. I’ll release a successful game and have enough money to last me a few months and I relax. Other times I’ve been down to less then $100 in my bank working non stop for a week or two to get paid. I’m pretty good with money though. Whenever I get below a certain amount in my bank I start working a lot more, and spend a lot less. I just try manage it as best I can and have faith in my own game making abilities to get paid.
I recommend this job 100%, but only if they have the motivational and love of game making to keep with it. It’s not easy, but if you can do it. You have a huge portfolio of stuff you’ve hand made that feels like you’ve really accomplished something. It’s so rewarding when people say they spent an hour of your game having fun. It’s still weird for me to hear that, each time I hear it I just think really? you liked it?! I’m so used to look at statistics on the game it’s always different to hear it in person.