How does a person spend 5 months, summer through fall and 16 hours a day, working on a game only to have it not be a shining success? To see downloads never exceed 200? Or spend hours a day making videos for YouTube, seeing years roll by and thousands of videos, but nothing? How do you handle such a crippling defeat?
You learn and move on.
you don’t have to give up though. Your formula for success may be slightly off and needs slight adjustments. You haven’t marketed enough, or you are just slightly off. Maybe you are just stretching yourself too thin and need to get back to your Core. You may have an amazingly fun game, or your YouTube channel may have some awesome content, but no one has “found you” yet. It doesn’t mean you should quit, or give up. It just means you once in a while need to scoot away from what you are doing, take a big look at the niche you’re focusing on and reinvent yourself.
Take a look at what you are doing too. Are you burned out? Trying too many new things at once? It’s great to have several plans and goals, but one person cannot hope to achieve it all at once.
Focus on What’s Most Important.
When I released Super Panda Adventure Tour it was a lot of fun but a mega flop. I spent so many long days and nights doing the Art, programming the AI, the game mechanics, tweaking the UI… I neglected to test level play-ability. Some levels had game breaking bugs early on. But I got feedback and quickly set forth fixing things. I took a break, looked at what went wrong and fixed it. Then added more fixes and today, the game is pretty popular and quite awesome. If problems are still there and someone reports them, I’ll fix them.
The main thing was that I tried too much. Too many different character types, too much juggling to learn art, C#, game AI and UI (User Interface). I was new to Unity and got overextended. I also wanted to get the game out and rushed it to release. But I honestly wanted so much for Super Panda because it is such a fun game.
Immortal Realm initially started as a dungeon crawl. Build small, procedurally generated dungeons and blast your way through them. But I took some Unity Courses and Ben Tristem’s awesome RPG course opened my eyes to possibility. The Game scope grew and I had to shelve it to get back to the core. The top down Zombie shooter is now taking place of what Immortal Realm started as. A small, fun game to fit a niche in killing zombies. A pure arcade experience. That’s the core theme and I’m sticking to it as if it were carved to stone. I haven’t strayed and the game is coming along quite amazingly.
Don’t be Afraid
At work, among friends, on Facebook talking with semi strangers. I hear the same things over and over “Don’t try”, “It’s not worth it”, “There’s too much already”… On a plethora of topics from traffic to tasks at work. We’ve become too risk adverse of a society. So many people quit before ever even taking the first step. They get to the start of the path, take a quick look and decide to pop open a beer and binge Netflix. I’ve seen it way too often with people joining martial arts. They ask for private instruction because “they don’t want to look silly”. They show up for two classes and never again.
When fear controls you, your decisions are debilitated. It’s no longer based off logic and rational thought. You’ve succumbed to the fear, are off balance and struggling to regain yourself. Fleeing is easy, facing the challenge is not. When has running away ever been beneficial?
When you pull back to get a view of the situation before tackling it from a different angle. That’s when. But that’s a tactical retreated and not a failure.
Control your Battles
I met a person recently that I highly respect. I barely know him but he’s already won my support. He ran out of money on his rather ambitious project. It was almost complete when the money ran dry. He didn’t give up, didn’t let that hold him back. He regrouped, formulated a plan and offered a solution. These are the people that find a way when all others have given up hope. I strongly feel he’ll be a huge success in the next few months or years. Because he’s not throwing in the towel.
To have success in life doesn’t mean you’re a new billionaire. Small successes add up to bigger wins. Keep on trying and you’ll succeed. There may be a thousand times you feel there’s no hope, no reason. You ran out of time or money or friends. It’s not the end if you can rebuild.
This is why I haven’t Given Up
Being a YouTuber, or a game maker is tough. There’s a million other people fighting to do the same thing. It almost become a game of attrition. In YouTube it’s who can outlast the top dogs who are burning out. In game making it’s that right formula of being discovered, having a good product and having a Million $ marketing budget. I jest on the last one only slightly. I’ve spent $4,000 this year on facebook ads and barely have any conversions. Because my marketing plan sucked. That’s why. Throwing another $100,000 won’t fix a sucky plan.
I recognize my failings, research how to improve and try again. I’m not the government with an unlimited budget. So I need to constantly step back, evaluate and try something new. Understanding that core principal has allowed me to keep going. It made a failure that was Super Panda into a viral success. (HA! Just now I realize my link buttons on Super Panda’s Page were broken) It’s tough being the programmer, marketer, webmaster, art director…
Now get out there and be awesome!