You Are Now Leaving The Comfort Zone
By Tom Gilchrist
Over the weekend of the 13th-15th April, I attended EGX Rezzed as I have done for the past three years. With my fourth trip I expected much the same as before, I would leave having played some great games, seen some great developer talks and topped up my inspiration for the next 12 months. Rinse and repeat.
But this year, something else happened. Instead of feeling inspired I felt hopeless. Instead of playing games I loitered at the back and didn’t engage. I watched as my brother chatted away with other devs and tried out their games but I had no desire to follow suit.
So what happened? What caused the normally brilliant (for motivation) Rezzed to be absolutely rubbish (for motivation) in the year of 2018?
What I think happened is that this year is the first year where I started thinking that I should have achieved something by now. Undead Blackout released in an unfinished and buggy state (more on that in the next blog!) in February 2017 and while I was aware of the issues it had, I had actually released a game so gained some level of achievement from that. Rezzed 2017 just re-motivated me to get that game working and move onto the next project. The previous years I was just excited to be hearing from devs and getting absolutely loads of inspiration and motivation.
This year is the first time I have attended feeling like I have messed everything up. I have not achieved anything of note. My games are rubbish and there was no real prospect of any kind of success on the horizon. I am not looking to make millions of pounds, I just want something to be released, work well, play well and sell enough copies to buy me a beer or two. That would be enough to keep me moving on.
I didn’t attend Rezzed on the Sunday, choosing instead to stay at home and do some work, but also to sit at my desk and think everything over. Can I really do this? Is it all worth it? Am I just kidding myself? I didn’t come to any definitive answers on those questions but one thing I did realise is that I am not helping myself. Yes I am working hard when it comes to making games, but what does that matter if nobody knows about it?
I am not exactly a shy person in real life but when it comes to the online interaction I observe every day in the game dev community, I freeze up and can’t seem to do it. Promoting myself seems weird. Chatting to other devs about their works seems weird. I can only assume that people who stream themselves working on their game are massively drunk at all times of the day.
I think much of this stems from my horrific impostor syndrome which I get with every new job I start or every compliment I receive. A little voice saying “If only they knew the truth, that I am actually rubbish at literally everything.” The idea of chatting with a dev like I know what I am talking about or showing someone my game, who isn’t my mum, makes that voice pipe up and so I often just don’t bother.
I can get away with the odd post on Twitter here and there, but it is just me quietly saying something in a noisy room to nobody in particular then congratulating myself on doing some promotion. Nobody noticed but I can pretend that I am doing my best.
Well that cannot go on any longer. This years Rezzed has made me realise I need to change the way I do things, so in a strange way it might turn out to be the most motivating one that I have been to yet. I need to put myself out there, despite the potential embarrassment, despite my little impostor syndrome voice saying I don’t know the first thing about using Unreal Engine 4 or making games.
So I am going to write more of these dumb articles, I am going to stream myself either working on or testing the latest versions of my games. I have already got myself set up with some Twitch streaming as you can see below with this picture of me looking very confused and just streaming my desktop background.
I am going to interact with all the devs that I follow on Twitter and admire from afar and ask them for advice or engage in whatever thing it is Twitter is angry about on that particular day. I am going to try and ignore my impostor syndrome voice (least drown it out with the Portal 2 soundtrack) and believe that I can do this, as long as I keep learning and working.
This post is the start of this process, hopefully I can look back in 6 or 12 or 18 months and see that from this point on, I gave it my all. Whether that translates to success only time will tell, but I will be filled with regret if I don’t get properly stuck in. It is time to leave the comfort zone and enter the…uncomfort zone? The uncomfortable zone? Either way, I need to push myself to somewhere I don’t feel entirely at ease as it is the only way to make myself feel like I am doing my best.
Unfortunately for you lot it probably means me on a Twitch stream swearing about nav meshes or something. Could be funny at least.