Have you ever painted a room in your house or apartment? The task is usually divided up into stages. First you pick your paints and materials, deciding on colors that will set the mood and purpose of said room. Next comes the prep work, sometimes the longest stage. It may involve taping out baseboards, windows, and other objects as well as covering everything. Finally comes the actual painting - transforming a blank canvas into something attractive. But there's actually one more step in this process. It's what occurs after you remove everything and stand there admiring your work - you begin to notice the imperfections - the spots you missed, the paint drippings where they shouldn't be. These nag on you, and despite that fact that nobody probably notices these but you, you do your best to clean up the job.
In a nutshell, this is game development for me.
Eight months ago I embarked on a journey to finally create a video game designed for other people. You see, until that day everything I made was something for myself to tinker with. It wasn't a marketable game in anyway. I was involved with creating text adventure games, point and click adventure games, and action games all with extremely goofy premises that wouldn't entertain much of anyone but myself and an inner circle of friends. But with SCHAR: Blue Shield Alliance I knew I had something different and I wanted to share it with everyone.
Anyone that knows me will tell you I have an insatiable appetite to create. These people will also tell you I'm not the kind of person who settles on anything and it's extremely tough to call anything finished. So while creating something like Co-Optimus has been a 4 year journey of constant coding and tweaking, I can tell you without a doubt it's nowhere near done, much to the chagrin of some fellow staff members. I knew my approach to game development had to be somewhat different, if anything, the stages of feedback would have to be somewhat filtered and controlled. With the web it's a constant ebb and flow of feedback and adjustments, but making a game is a slightly different beast - it involves more anticipation of your audience.
What is interesting for me about the whole development thing, what's almost unbelievable, is the simple fact that I made something that's a real game that real people are going to play. This concept is especially weird for me because I've now become all four pieces of the gaming industry: I'm a gamer, I'm gaming press, I'm gaming PR, and I'm a game developer.
I'm not sure if this affords me any advantages or any disadvantages, if it means I'm oversaturated or too deep into the forest so to speak. I like to think I have a fairly good understanding of just how everything works. What makes the CoGs turn in this industry. I've given interviews, I've taken interviews. I've reviewed games, I've played games, I've previewed titles, been to industry events like E3, have been invited to development studios, and talked to some of the most influential game developers of the past 20 years. My gamer heart was born at the age of 5 with an Atari 300XL computer and it grew bigger with every console and PC I owned. I live and breathe this hobby, more so than my wife and child would like, I'm sure. But at this point the call to create is just too strong to stop.