A little information about me: I am rubbish at making anything remotely close to art. The second my hand grips a pen and I touch that pen to paper my mind goes completely blank. I’ll scribble nonsense until I am so ashamed that I feel like sacrificing my hand to the God of Arts as a tribute for the shame I have brought to the medium.
One thing I’m not quite so rubbish at is cooking. I come from an Italian background where food was seen as incredibly social. It was *the* reason for the whole family to come together in one place for a full day and cook and eat and eat and cook until you had to be rolled into the car… So I have a fairly “community” focused take on eating and cooking; where I live we take it in turns to cook for each other.
I love trying new recipes, or tweaking an existing one, or going crazy and making something bizarre and new. I find it really, really fun and gratifying. Even better is I get to share this food with any mouth I can get a spoon in. Full disclosure, I’m not a great chef. My food’s edible but not award winning.
That’s ok though. It’s not about being the next great chef. It’s just about the act of making, sharing, and learning…. and eating until I hate myself. It is soooo rewarding being able to apply these abstract concepts about what I think makes food taste good and make something that other people really enjoy. Or at the very least say “…s’alright I guess”.
Now I’m in a position where I get to make games and suddenly it’s what I have always wanted to do. I’m very new to it. It’s scary and unknown and I’m afraid to mix ingredients before I know how they play with each other. Or even what they are in some cases (what even is marketing???). Mostly, though, it’s exciting. It’s gratifying in the same way I find cooking.
Making games is a constant experiment, and at early stages of ‘learning to make things’ most of the time what you make is rubbish; but that’s OK. In fact it’s better than OK. It’s what is needed to be able to get better.
We have made a couple of games now, and we’re tentatively holding out our spoons for other people to try. Just like the first dish I ever made, I know in retrospect these first games are going to look like the first games a new studio makes; but hopefully after enough burnt pots and pans we’ll understand enough of the ingredients to achieve “…s’alright I guess” with our games too.
Our transition from group of friends making games at jams to making a studio wasn’t to be the greatest games chefs. We really just wanted a platform to practice – and most importantly – learn. To throw ourselves off the deep end and learn how to float. It has had moments of being really fun and gratifying, and many many moments of burnt pans. We have spent a lot of time just in the concept stage of our first major game (which we intend to be our first major release). On one hand it has felt like we have had made slow immeasurable progress, but looking back, we can see how much we’ve learned so far.
I guess the whole point of what I’m trying to say is that making games is a constant experiment, and at early stages of ‘learning to make things’ most of the time what you make is rubbish; but that’s OK. In fact it’s better than OK. It’s what is needed to be able to get better. Make the most of the people in your community – attend events, ask questions, and just get involved. You’ll find that some people have ingredients you’ve never even heard of, and will improve your recipe in ways you hadn’t even considered.