the following excerpt is from an actual interview:
[GAMEMAG]: Speaking more generally, how do you feel about the game now?
[INDIEDEVELOPER]: We’ve been delighted with [INDIEGAME]. It did great in the reviews, and its been really popular with our fanbase and a whole new bunch of people too. It’s our most popular game to date.
Can you see what’s missing? The part where the developer mentions that they like the game they made! Do they even play the damn thing?!
It’s understandable that gigantic AAA teams are more “financial results” driven — if you’ve got dozens of employees and investors then you’re responsible, you should do your best to provide the former with a decent wage and the latter with a decent return on their investment.
However in this case, the interviewee is part of a very small team.
We’ve always operated under the assumption that the best way to create something good is by creating something that you like. Chances are that at least a very tiny percentage of people will share your tastes, and so provided you reach enough people, your game will find an audience.
It’s tempting to make decisions based on how you think they’ll be received, however this is a slippery slope which ends in the desolate plains of total creative bankruptcy. Isn’t it much simpler to just make a game that you genuinely enjoy?
Of course, games being the hot commodities they are, it’s only natural to be aware that what you’re creating is potentially lucrative. But that doesn’t mean you should approach your work any differently — the reason you’re making the game should be because you want very badly to play it.
Use a more complex metric and you run the risk of making a crap game. It might be an incredibly profitable crap game, but still — all that money’s not going to buy that really fun game you were imagining, because it doesn’t yet exist.. you have to make it for yourself.
Why do so many people approach making a game like a manufacturer designing the next product to churn out of the factory, rather than a musician writing a song (i.e following some sort of inner vision)?
We’re all for pleasing fans, but we think the best (or most legitimate) way to go about that is to be yourself, so that they like your games for what they are and not because you’re simply pandering to them in order to sell as many copies as possible.