The Hard Truth

The "Hard Truth"... if you have ever wanted to get into the game industry as a designer, I probably don't even need to tell you what that means. For everyone else, it goes a little something like this.

"Hey I have this great idea for a game!"
"Well the Hard Truth(tm) is that nobody wants your bleeding idea. You'll either need to get a job in the game industry, you lazy bum, and wait out the three to twenty years of being an executive's ass wipe or pour blood sweat and tears by the bucketload into making it by yourself. Oh and good luck finding anyone to help you, nobody wants to work on other people's ideas, they have their own."

The trouble isn't with the core message, 'it's not that easy', it's that every time someone broaches the issue they're always in some sort of sadistic competition to be even more cynical and condescending than the last person. Obviously these peons simply didn't get how wise they were when they were level headed about it, and now it's time to remind them all what useless pinheads they are.

Now I'm not an industry insider, in fact I'm an amateur indie developer, but I have something to tell everyone whose ever read a Hard Truth(tm) put down. They aren't wrong, but they aren't actually telling you anything useful either.

So what is the useful information? It's simple, if you want to get involved in making games, you kind of have to actually like making games. If you either can't be bothered to learn the software for a mod kit, or get an office job, or just hate those activities with a passion, then maybe game design isn't for you. It's probably not something you'll ever like being a part of, and in the end you may come to hate your own idea because of burnout. But that's only side A. If you love getting involved in modding, if you love programming, or working as a hiring person, or game testing, or writing, then boy are you in for a surprise... You're actually welcome here. Okay so nobody is going to trust your pitch with the ten million it needs to become reality, but that's okay, because you know what you get to do in the mean time? Have a lot of fucking fun doing something you love.

If you're a writer, write. Get out there and write a book, you may not have an in to get hired as a writer straight up, but maybe you'll get to write a book for a game. Then do some writing for the next game, or if your book gets that popular, maybe they'll approach you wanting to make a game for YOUR book. If your an artist, take your time, nail that portfolio, work in movies or comic books, hell print ads are excellent for learning composition. Then guess what, you'll have a portfolio and people who think what a swell person you are, and all while doing exactly what you loved doing.

The fact that your idea is going to have to mature before it actually gets made shouldn't be a horrible disgusting truth that must be borne in order to enter the club. It's a chance to get some experience, get better at what you already do best, and most importantly, relax and have fun. After all, if you screw up, at least it wasn't your idea.


  1. I'll politely disagree in that I think it is useful information. Having an idea isn't enough, no more than me saying, "a picture of a spartan done in TRON style" is enough. It took your work and creativity to make that a reality, and I respect that. I wouldn't think of trying to say that picture is "mine" just because I mentioned that to you. Not so with some wannabe game designers.

    I will agree that professionals have a lot of baggage, too. Many of them "paid their dues" so they expect others to have to jump through at least as many hoops as they did.

    Personally, there's also the issue that a lot of people say they're interested then when it appears that this is going to be "real work" they bolt. I've known a lot of people who said they wanted to work with me on making games, but then they just disappear. Unfortunately, it's hard to pick out the people that will stick with it vs. the people who will just flake, so sometimes it's best to try to weed out the slackers by painting a harsh picture.

    Ultimately, however, you are right: the secret is to just get out there and DO it. Make games, even if it's a silly board or card game. Use whatever abilities you have to make an interesting game. Sure, it might suck, but use that analysis to make the next version even better. That's how you become a game developer.

  2. I agree with that, when we first started out as a small group on a forum there were 7 of us, we eventually gained some momentum and modelers and animators, musicians and programmers and before you know it we had almost 40 people voluntarily working on the project....then the day to day work started and a few just stopped coming by to say hi anymore..then more then more...over the course of 2yrs 7 of the original went down to 2 and of the nearly 40 volunteers 4-5 stuck by it....this is the core team making things happen, as much as we can as an indie group funding our own project..