What I've Learned
It's been a week now since the release of Rot and it's ended up, to my surprise, on the Popular page with more let's plays than I can count on two hands. I'm still very shocked that people enjoy and relate to it as much as they do! This post will just be an un-ordered list of things I've learned following the release of my first major piece of software:
- A Let's Play can make you feel like a million dollars. Seeing someone enjoy your art- sincerely- in real time is invaluable. Always thank the let's player for taking the time to record and edit their gameplay and return the favour with a subscription to their channel, it's the least you can do.
- A Let's Play can make you feel like utter shit. Seeing someone get frustrated instantly at something you've laboured over intensely can make you feel horrible. As well as this, there will be some who link their let's plays in your comments where an inspection of the let's play only reveals them openly roasting your game and offering minimally transformative, superficial commentary between midroll advertisements (that might yield them more money than your actual game got). Of course, they think they're doing you a favour by exposing your game to their audience whereas, in reality, your art is the fundamental component of their entire content. Don't get frustrated, just move on, be courteous, and be satisfied with the private knowledge that you have created something where they have created nothing. In this way, it is okay not to take criticism seriously if the criticism is not substantive or constructive. BUT...
- Take serious criticism seriously and in stride. When you release a game you release it onto a marketplace where people have inevitably made things with better execution. The consumer is not an idiot, they can really help, and adjust your product or your future products according to their advice if it isn't a sacrifice to your creative vision.
- If your game means everything to one person, it can mean nothing to everyone else. One comment in particular that I received when I woke up after the evening of publishing meant the world to me. It even made me cry. It meant unequivocally that the emotions which pressured the formation of Rot came across in translation. They completely got the game. That is worth more than any let's play or any donation.
- After seeing what the game can mean to someone, I know that this is a feeling I always want to chase. I have to have it again, and I have to get better at it. I want my art to mean more things to more people and to connect more people together.
- You can't be a writer if you don't read. In the same vein, you can't make games if you don't play them. Keep up to date with the popular page. See who can inspire you. Since Rot, I've encountered so many new creative souls on this site.
- Be proud of yourself. Achievements are as big as you make them. Maybe you don't have someone to be proud for you, or you're longing for a person who can't be that to you. You have to be that for yourself, even if you do have these people around you. It has to come from within first.
- Conversely, also be disappointed. Pride is admirable only when it's commensurate to and critical of the quality of your achievement. Yearn to do it again, but also feel the need to do it better.
- Make friends. People see you in your art. Let them. Be thankful to the people who want to stick with you and return the favour! All my life, games have brought people together. It's no different when it's your game.
Those are the main things I have learned/would tell myself prior to release if I had a time machine. For now, what I think I have to do is step away from the horror genre for my next title and THEN return to it again. These things take time and I want to try other things.
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