Post-mortem report: reach.

reach out to your dreams, your goals

I'm still a novice developer, working solo to make games. I consider myself a programmer, though others may see me as an artist, or even just some pretentious asshole who thinks they know everything. However it is you see me, I still like to make games, and I do make games. I've never released a game, not properly anyway. I haven't looked at any of my projects and said to myself "This? Yeah, this is complete, I want people to see this", and to be honest I still felt this way about my first ever release reach. The difference this time is I had a deadline, and I had to release it lest I miss the submission date. So, with much doubt in my mind about how people would receive it, I released it.

I haven't looked at any of my projects and said to myself  "This? Yeah, this is complete, I want people to see this"

Now, there's one thing you need to know about how I design my games. Everything post goingUP has been based off real world experiences I've had. Most of these things are struggles, though some are triumphs. I like to try and convey how I feel through my game play, since I feel this is a strong story telling technique that goes criminally underutilised. Now, I don't want to speak too much on the story of reach  for various reasons which should soon become clear, but I do want to talk a bit about the development process.

I like to try and convey how I feel through my game play, since I feel this is a strong story telling technique that goes criminally underutilised.

Starting off with this game, I had come straight out of a tough patch with some of my mates. I haven't been good at holding friendships for a long time now, but now that I've dedicated so much time to learning my craft I've been pushing people away more and more (shout out to all my mates that stick with me despite this, you're awesome!). At this time, one of my friends had started becoming cold and distant towards me and I got into a pretty bad spot mentally, not really being able to focus on much or do much. I lost my will to play games and socialise, I just kinda sat around, listening to music all day and maybe occasionally launching Unity, only to close it down again a couple minutes later.

That is, until this game jam (My First Game Jam) caught my attention one day and I thought, why the hell not I could use something to do. Being a sad sack kinda just lumped in a desk chair in front of a PC, I pondered for a few hours about what I could do. After writing up a few design documents, I picked out this game idea which you now know as reach. Looking back now, I almost certainly picked it because of how closely it related to this ordeal I had with losing my mates, and this is no more apparent than how I was acting while developing this game. I became tired, pissed off, short tempered. I was pouring a lot of energy into making this game, all this energy gathered from the sadness and rage I had from this experienced. This fuelled the first week of development for me alone, but soon I was feeling the burn, and I was beginning to lose the passion for the project. That is, until I posted a simple demo of the game that only showed off the aesthetic of the game. This got attention, more attention than I was expecting. People started actually coming up to me and saying "Wow, this game looks great! I can't wait to see it finished.", and there were people who wanted to test my game for me. I'd never properly had this before, and it made me so happy to see that there were people out there enjoying my work, even if it wasn't complete.

I got into a pretty bad spot mentally, not really being able to focus on much or do much.

I got excited, really excited. I wanted to work on this game and get it out to people, I wanted to get my message out. So I kicked into overdrive, started getting more feedback on the game, tweaking things based on what people told me. Of course, I got nervous as I reached (heh) the end of the game jam, wondering if I had gotten my game to the quality level people were expecting of me, but I accepted that I wouldn't be truly happy with it so I just released it a day before the deadline with the hopes that it would be enough.

Now I'll be the first to admit that reach is a strange game. It's got a story, that much I will tell you, but it's not something that's in your face. It's a story that you can find if you wish, but it's by no means easy to find. You're going to have to read into things a lot, and people did not like this one bit. Most people who play it make the comment that "It looks and feels really nice, but it's kinda short and boring", and I'm not going to lie it kinda hurts that my message has been lost in translation. It sucks that nobody sees it as the work that I had envisioned, but that's just how it's unfolded.

I got excited, really excited. I wanted to work on this game and get it out to people, I wanted to get my message out.

So yeah, I'm kinda just left here with a game that to everyone just looks and plays nicely but that's it. But that's okay, and I'm going to leave it like this, mostly because:

  • I want to just let this project go, it's done, there's nothing more I can or want to do
  • Having to explain myself both ruins the point of the game, and requires me to go back and live out the emotions that this game spawned from

I don't really wanna do that. This game has already caused me enough grief as is. I'll just let people interpret it however they want. They can go on and think it's terrible, I'm honestly beyond caring now. I'm moving on now, making my next project. This project has been a great learning experience, and I've gained a lot from it, so my work will only get better from here on out.

thanks for playing

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