Project Origin #02

Making mistakes

So here we are. Months have passed since the last update and decisions has been made to change the direction of Project Origin. I ended my last update with the solution that would make this game possible, pixel-art. My final words were that I had to prepare for this type of art-style, and so I took a deep dive into these types of games. It was like taking one step forwards and falling into a deep, dark hole. Making Project Origin a 2D pixel-art game would limit game mechanics and creativity to the point where it was no longer in line with my visions and identity of the game.

What does this even mean? I’ve been invested in this project for so long I can close my eyes and see what the game looks like, feel what it’s like playing and imagine what I’ll be doing in-game. It’s all in my head and all I must do is to create it. I thought taking a 2D approach would make it easier to create, but I could no longer see, feel and imagine Project Origin. It wasn’t at all the game I’ve dreamed of making all this time.

As you probably realize, my relationship with this game is very deep and personal. I’ve so much care for Project Origin that it really hurt having lead it to this dead end. Project Origin 2D was scrapped and I stood at the bottom of the deep, dark hole with no way out. What I did next might have changed the entire course of my personal life. Having attended two universities and one college with nothing to show for it, my life was already full of dead ends. It was time to take a step back and review my options. I could choose the safety of a degree in programming or pursue my dream of making games. I’m aware of the obvious solution here. I could simply get my degree in programming and get hired at a studio programming games.

This is where it gets a little complicated for me and I’ll explain why in very carefully chosen words as to not start a heated discussion. Know that I consider myself a programmer more than anything else and I love to code. But I don’t consider programming as making a game. The game is made by designers and handed off to programmers so that they can build it. I’m fully aware that this statement might spark some controversy, therefore I must make it clear that this is nothing but my own opinion. Both parts are equally important and require the same amount of creativity and problem-solving. The fact is my current skills and knowledge makes me much better at designing games than building them. I love to code, but my passion is design.

So, there is no obvious solution. I could finish my degree and after years of experience maybe get hired by a studio, building their games. But I’ll abandon the opportunity of putting my creativity and passion for design into making unique game-experiences I care deeply about. I’ve made this choice once before, the summer prior to pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science. I wanted to take a normal job and work just enough to earn my living, giving me enough spare time to develop the skills necessary for creating games. However, I decided to attend the university because it felt like the mature and right thing to do. Following the honeymoon-period that is starting at a new school and making new friends, this decision felt less right with each passing day. Every assignment presented new, interesting problems to solve and upon completion, gave a tremendous sense of achievement. It felt good, but not like the thing I was destined to do.

Project Origin 2D wasn’t a failure because I lacked experience developing code. I arrived at a dead end because I lacked the experience needed to make well informed decisions for moving the game in the right direction. Much like in my personal life, I wanted to make it easier for myself and failed in the process. You might think to yourself that this is an unnecessary dramatic outcome following a small miss-step in what could potentially be an otherwise healthy development of a great game, and you’re right! This isn’t so much an update on Project Origin, as it is an update of my personal life. I started this post saying it’s been months since the last update and now you know why. As you can see, developing games tend to have a huge impact on an indie developer’s life, which is why they become so personal. The decision of becoming an indie developer takes sacrifice, devotion and a huge amount of passion and is therefore not easily made.

“So, what? You scrapped Project Origin, but decided to devote your future making games anyway? This doesn’t make any sense!”.

What did I do next? Yes, I never really explained that part. The grand conclusion that lead me to writing all this. Well, I did what no reasonable person would do. I put all responsibilities aside for a while and took a deep dive into role playing games. The Witcher, Assassin’s Creed: Origins, Skyrim, Kingdom Come: Deliverance and, most recently, God of War. This made me realize that management- and city building games weren’t the only ones lacking some major features. It is safe to say that Project Origins will from here on out be influenced by role play mechanics. Keep posted for the next one where I’ll be explaining Project Origin’s new direction.