February 21, 2016 by Travis Anderson
It can be pretty damn difficult to make stuff.
To some of you, that sentence may seem incredibly silly and, dare I say, stupid. If you want to make stuff, just make stuff. Boom! Problem solved. For others, you might read that sentence and have a Vietnam-esque flashback about a time or two where trying to start or finish a project was equivalent to trying to make grilled cheese with a single match. Doable, but my god, how daunting would that be?
I started thinking about this because a little while ago Motiga – the company behind the gorgeous and extremely fun video game Gigantic – had to lay off a large majority of their staff. You can check out their announcement here, but it basically came down to the fact that they are low on funds and currently seeking investors. What strikes some people as odd about that is the fact that Motiga partnered with Microsoft a while back, securing the game as a PC and Xbox exclusive title. When you hear Microsoft you envision either a pile of money or a smaller pile of money next to Apple’s pile of money. Either way, how is it that this company is low on funding if they partnered with one of the largest corporations in the world and how are they going to complete the game if they’ve had to cut their staff so significantly?
Honestly, I’m not here to bandy back and forth about what might have gone wrong behind the scenes. When it comes to money and costs and wages and all that fiddly math stuff, all I can say is that, moving forward, Motiga will need to handle their money better and/or garner enough capital to finish development of Gigantic without something like this having to happen a third time. When it comes to their game getting finished, I just hope that they do because I absolutely love it and I can’t wait to Spotlight it in the near future.
What I do want to chat about is creating and how, as we see above, it can be a massive uphill battle sometimes to see a project through to the end.
Indie game developers like Motiga are filled with one type of person: incredibly passionate, hard-working nerds who eat, breathe, and drink the game they are working on. All they want to do is see it in its final form, get it out the door, and have people enjoy it. That’s all. The same can be said of any creator – indie or otherwise – who just wants to make something in hopes that others will walk away from the experience happy and entertained. Unfortunately, whether the project is big or small, there are countless un-knowable hurdles that will either cause people to stumble and course correct or, sadly, throw in the towel and wash their hands of it.
Individually, such obstacles are already hard enough. People either stop creating or don’t even start for multiple reasons, be they physical, mental, or emotional. Chronic pain, severe fatigue, depression, anxiety, finances, and lack of motivation are merely a few roadblocks that keep creative-types from seeing their dreams fulfilled. Once it’s a collaborative effort, like a video game or a comic book or a film, any issue becomes amplified in the damage it does. Motiga has been dealt a blow that’s affected those who were let go, the team that remains, and, to an extent, the community that they’ve been fostering around Gigantic.
No matter how much passion and drive and love you have for your project(s), it will always be hard to make stuff. There will be days where you don’t feel like doing it, there will be moments of anxiety that force you to step away and do something else, there will be financial problems that crop up and cover you in Slimer-like ectoplasm dumps of stress. What does that mean for your art, for your passions, for your dreams? Should you say screw it and never bother? Hell no!
The devs at Motiga right now are not making a paycheque, at least that is what I believe was stated on a recent stream of theirs. Have those that remained at the company given up and moved on? No, because they love Gigantic and they want to see it through to the end. They’re making sacrifices, they’re going without pay, and they’re doing everything they can to keep development pushing forward. Any creative, be they part of a team or lone wolf, will have to do exactly what this studio is doing at some point if they want to see the fruits of their labour realized.
When creating something, you decide what sacrifices you make, you decide what you can live without. Can you get up at five, four, or three in the morning to work on that novel before your job starts? Do you mind giving up Wednesday wing nights so you can spend a few hours coding that game? Will you be okay taking your gaming hours and turning them into drawing hours? No one can tell you what you should or shouldn’t sacrifice to achieve your dreams, that’s on you, but you will need to make sacrifices, big or small or, most likely, both. You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs is a cliché for a reason.
Life is hard enough already. Make it worth it.