The Peace of Mind in "Masterwork"

September 10, 2015

The indie games scene is going through what some would call a "market correction". The last five or so years have seen a huge boom in indie games developed and mainstream awareness of cheaper, smaller games. A few single-person or small teams have made a lot of money. That combined with the ease of tools like Unity have flooded the market with indie games.

Demand isn't meeting supply - there have been a number of articles written by frustrated indies lamenting the lack of sales, and an equal number of articles by long time indies with a "told-you-so" or "it's-always-been-hard" gist. Just search for "indiepocalypse" or "indie bubble" to get a feel for what I mean.

Bottom line - it's easy to see this all spiraling down to an indie market crash. The proverbial "death" of indie games as a way of making a living. And as someone who spends his free time on hobby game development - one day hoping I can turn it into a career - it's disheartening.

But then I stumbled across a post by indie dev Ian Stocker that brought a lot of this talk into perspective. In searching for how to be successful with his next game in such a market, he concluded:

Nobody knows what works, so I might as well pick what I am best at.

He's "gone dark" on publicizing his next project to focus and just make his game.

Since committing to zero public announcements for the time being, I’m writing the best code of my career. I’m coming up with some of my most creative game design ideas. I wake up in the morning excited to get started...

Of course there are going to be ebbs and flows in the market, but why make games unless you really enjoy making games? The pragmatic in me says that I shouldn't spend time with hobby game development unless it could someday lead to a full-time career, but one final thing Ian says helps shed some light on why I enjoy learning and working with game development so much:

Because of this, I’m confident the new Soulcaster is going to be my masterwork, the game I was born to create.

I'd love to be able to point to something I'm doing and say, "this is my masterwork". I don't have that thing to point to yet, but for me that sort of fulfillment won't come from a piece of business software no matter how interesting it is. There a perfect marriage between creativity and technical mastery in games that really appeals to me. I want to point to a created universe and story as well as a codebase and say "that's my masterwork" and knowing other developers are out there striving towards that goal provides a certain peace of mind.