Wednesday, October 7, 2009

One Year and Counting

There was an article printed in Newsweek today about the iPhone goldrush. In it, one particular paragraph caught my eye. It's about how Ethan Nicholas (creator of the independent hit iShoot) is nervous, wondering whether his new game will be a hit or not. To be honest he's got a good shot as being a one-hit wonder on the AppStore. We all do. He was a parttime hobbyist developer, thrown into the limelight of professional game development, expected to produce hits rivaling game industry veterans. On top of that, the media frenzy surrounding this shift in the game industry has probably taken its toll on him. What was probably a very personal, private part of his life has suddenly become a very public, celebrated thing.

Sure, this is good overall, but after living through this myself I can see now why some people seem to *want* to become one-hit-wonders. I never understood why some celebrities run and hide from fans and press; now I do. I never understood why some authors bomb intentionally on their second book; now I do. I never understood why some musicians authors produce a followup that is so arty, progressive, and intentionally unapproachable; now I do.

To be honest I empathize with Ethan. I empathize with the guy a lot. It's hard to get approached by an Apple rep and be told "Why haven't you put out anything new?". To be honest, I've had game ideas that have been upwards of 75% complete, but I've canned them because I felt they weren't a worthy followup to Trism. Every single time I abort a project, I feel like it's a baby I've given up. They'll come up in my thoughts from time to time, and I wonder what it could have been like to finish it, but putting feelings like this aside is one of the many things I've learned to do in the past year. It's been exactly a year since I quit my dayjob, and life is a lot more complicated now in a variety of ways I'd never imagined.

Life could be a lot worse. I don't really need to be releasing a game every month in order to sustain my business. I figure there are already quite a few apps on the AppStore already following this model -- does Apple really need me to create a new Sudoku? I am working on a few things right now with some very talented folks. They're games and apps based around ideas people have never seen before, because frankly that's really the only kind of thing I'm interested in doing with my life at this point. The cultivation of these ideas take time, and I feel like I'm in the unique position of being able to take my time and do things right.

I just want to try to put out unique, quality products that I can be proud of and will be worth your time. When I tell people I trust about my ideas, their eyes light up. That means everything to me! Focusing on this passion, finding my "eye", moving into this new phase in my destiny... it's been difficult with all the attention. I'd be lying if I claimed to have all the answers... but I feel I'm getting there.

It's taken a lot of time and energy to get to the point where I'm able to confidently answer people when my next game's due. I take a minute to look them in the eye and say "Soon" with a smile. I hope Ethan can find this same peace of mind, he deserves it.