Lately, I've been stuck in a development dreamland.
Since I released suteF close to ten months ago, I have completed exactly zero personal game projects. Compared to my ultra productive 6 game year (Fetus, Super Space Rogues, Vatn Squid, Hold Off Brownish Yellow, Chawp!, and of course, the flagship suteF), 2011 has been a flop.
It's been hard to put a finger on exactly what might be keeping me from working on any projects this year, but one thing I know is that I feel a lot of pressure to "deliver" on my next project. After lengthy discussions with several of my coworkers and friends, they've assured me that it's a bit irrational.
"You should have been riding that publicity wave you got after making suteF! Are you crazy?"
I feel like they're definitely right. I've hacked and slashed my way trying to make some new, different game that will break and shatter everyone's expectations of my work but have actually produced a hollow land of what I could imagine being jaded fans. I don't claim to be a cactus or anything like that; but I'm certain I have some sort of following! Fan art, tweets, retweets, thirty-one thousand plays? It's nothing to sneeze at, for sure.
Okay, then I'll attack back with....
"But if I make a game that's too much like suteF, everyone will think I can only make puzzle games with blue dudes in them! I will be THAT guy or whatever."
I'm super scared of that. Like, insanely scared. Somehow, I've gotten it in my head that doing something like that is a bad thing. Part of this might be that I've seen a lot of movies that are just the same old thing all the time (I'm talking about you, Michael Bay and James Cameron). Not just recently either. Several directors like to make the same movie with a slightly different theme, and they just don't get away with it. I look at Titanic and Avatar as being almost the exact same movie. It's more apparent with when you look at Aliens, The Abyss, and Avatar, though.
Then, there's AAA video games. Everybody knows that there are way too many military first person shooters these days. I hate that. It's now public.
Then someone reminded me of this important fact:
"It's not like you're making any money with the games that you've made, Ted. So what the hell does it matter?"
I love what I do and the games I make so much that money doesn't even occur to me. I think that definitely says something. When you boil it down, when you make games (and even movies) and sell them, people that like them will buy them. Then there's going to be people who hate Avatar, Transformers, and FPSs that will trash the idea and just not want anything to do with it. But, I'm told they make money; so there's still more people buying them then hating them; or at least enough that IT NO LONGER MATTERS what anybody says about it, because, hey, I'm going to make something else I like even if you don't like it.
And when there's no money involved, I can just say you're stomping on my dream or something like that. Jokes aside, how big of a deal is what I make when I'm doing it for fun? People might be disgusted by undead fetuses and tumorous monsters, and even though I nearly worked myself to death on suteF, damn it if I didn't end up enjoying it to some extent.
I'm not sure how other people view their work in regards to "staleness" or "it's too much like the other ones," but anyone who thinks so should at least consider themselves in the process. There's nothing that says it's going to be exactly the same anyway.
This is probably some sort of rant more than an intelligent argument for making games you want to, but I feel like I've had issues getting over it. Comments on the blog are impossible, but if you have your own two cents to throw in, I'd be really happy to discuss it:
ted DOT lauterbach AT gmail DOT com
Also, if you're interested in a permalink - http://tedlauterbach.blogspot.com/2011/10/make-games-like-your-other-ones.html