I’m back! (for now)

Hey! It’s been a while, hasn’t it…but I have good news: my hiatus is over, at least for now.

Before I get into what game I’m going to do now, I will explain my current situation. I tend to shy away from talking about my personal life, but I honestly feel uncomfortable keeping all you guys in the dark when in the end, all of this is relevant to my actions as a game developer. The following section is going to be a tad personal, so if you rather go read about the game-related stuff, skip this part.

Why I went on hiatus and what I did during this time

Let me present myself properly: I’m Alonso, a highschool senior from Chile, who is not too far away from finishing school and entering university… or not?

This year has been brutal for me. I’ve always managed to juggle game development and school, but lately school has been demanding more and more of my time. It doesn’t really help either that I’m going to cram school for the university selection tests… I initially didn’t give up on gamedev, but in the end, I worked really hard to finish my school stuff only to have half an hour left a day to work on my games (vs the 2 or 3 hours I used to have). I grew frustrated with this lack of progress caused by this lack of time, and decided to go on hiatus. I was angry. I was really angry. And why was I doing this? To enter university and spend another 6 years dedicating countless hours to school work I did not really care for?

No. Just, no.

I eventually cracked. I did not want to go to university. I wanted to make games. And so, I started to investigate and think about the possibility of not studying. And… the stuff I found gave me even more confidence in my idea: there are many sucessful game devlopers who never really finished school (such as John Carmack, Cliff Bleszinski, Tommy Refennes, etc), and the whole “uncollege” movement in general is something that exists and is constantly gaining traction. I realized that the option of not going to university was a thing, and that I was confident I could achieve so much more in these 6 years by learning by myself and working for a company than just going to a university to learn. And to some degree, I still believe this.

Of course, my parents were against the idea. Thankfully though, they’re still awesome parents, and were open to the idea of at least discussing it. And so, we discussed. I was totally convinced of the correctness of my position, and my parents arguments did little to dissuade me. But, that’s when they had the smart of idea of asking some of my relatives to talk to me and give me their opinion. And damn… it was effective. Basically, they made me ponder on the question “What do I want to do in my life?”. And the answer was:

“Start a company that will make the games I want to make.”

(Trying to) Make the games I want to make is what I’ve been doing for the few years I’ve seriously dedicated myself to gamedev, and it’s what I currently aim to do for the rest of my life. I truly believe my vision for games is something that doesn’t really exist in the market, and it’s an important, valuable and even trascendental vision.

So, what would I do if I didn’t go to university? The plan was basically the opposite of making what I wanted to make; I would spend a year making a portfolio specially tailored to be as attractive as possible to potential employers, and then I would try to join a game company, making somebody else’s games. And then, at some point, the idea was to meet people and make a company, or something. …this was probably the most important part, but it was also the vaguest one. Since one of the relatives I talked with knew people who worked in the Chilean game industry, he could confirm that it was idealistic to assume I would have time to work on side-projects and make a company while still working for a Chilean game company.

This is how I started to realize that university is actually the better option if I want to make a game company because:

  • I will have time to work on my stuff if I do my best to optimize my studies.
  • Following the previous point, I’ll have 6 years to experiment, learn what works, and build a fan base, all essential aspects for when I’ll make a company.
  • I will have better chances of meeting people I could make a company with.
  • I will have access to student-only resources that I wouldn’t be able to get otherwise (like funding, software discounts, and competitions).
  • If I do fail, it’ll probably be easier to find a job where I get a good salary but still have free time if I have a good degree.

And so… I’m back to where I started: going to university after I finish school. But now, I know why I’m choosing to go university, and it’s not just because “it’s what everybody does.”

The Game I Want To Make

I’m going to university because it seems like the best option to achieve what I want to do: make the games I want to make. But… what exactly does this mean?

To be honest, none of the games I’ve made so far are a good example of what I want to make. Life’s Impetus was meant to be the “great example” of my vision, but it was so “great” it imploded in my face. If I’m going to university to make “this” type of games, I feel like I need to answer this question, but rather by doing it with words, I want to do it with a game. A very, very, simple game, but that in essence will answer the question: “What are the games I want to make?”

When I say simple, I’m aiming for:

  • A small HTML5 game,
  • that I can make in a month (July to be exact),
  • to be released on web portals such as Kongregate and Newgrounds,
  • monetizing and participating in competitions when possible,
  • made in Construct 2.

You may be wondering how I’ll achieve this if school is so demanding, but thankfully winter break is nearby, and that also means that the homework/test workload will be less for the period before and after the break. It’s a bit more than that though. I am and always have been a straight-A student, but I’ve decided I need to rethink this “overly-responsible” attitude (because yeah, I’m a bit to responsible), especially if I wanna make it through university. It’s not like I’m going to ditch school or anything, but I need to find a better balance between game development and school, and that means letting school-related stuff suffer a bit. To get something you must always sacrifice another…

But yeah, I’m boring you with details. What is the game going to be about? Without spoiling things too much, it’ll be a top down action game with combat like the 2D Zelda games. My mains inspirations so far are the Mindful XP Volume (a series of short games searching to express meaningful concepts through mechanics) and the classic flash game Tower of Heaven. And… that’s all I have to say for now. It may not seem like much, but don’t despair, because development on this game will be quick! I hope to have a small prototype up by this Friday, so look forward to that!

(whew… that was long, but it was good to get off my chest)

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