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The Struggle

Posted by A Tobias 1 year ago
It's been a long time since my last post here. Quite frankly, I've been struggling a lot recently with crippling depression... which isn't new for me, but which was certainly worsened by finding out that I have a brain tumour. I don't want to say that I've given up being creative; I've spent such a large chunk of my life making things that I can't imagine not doing that anymore. But making games alone is hard and potentially fruitless work, and my failure to connect with other people is really getting in the way of everything.

I've been meaning to write a post here for ages, but what finally spurred me to do so began as a random whim that made me check the site of Homestuck, which I found interesting to follow back when it was most popular - largely because it's interesting observing the methods and ideas of another creative person - but which I never saw the ending of because other concerns became distracting.

I remembered years ago there was a very lucrative Kickstarter campaign set up with the aim of developing a Homestuck-based game, though I've fallen out of touch with pretty much everything recently (I only barely know that Trump won an election), so I hadn't heard anything else about it. There was an announcement on the Homestuck site about it though, so I checked it with eager interest.

On the Steam page for the game, I saw ∞ this discussion thread ∞, which was interesting for a few reasons. One was that it reminded me of my own time spent in online discussions, and the way people interact; it's been years since I last did that though, and I feel quite detached. I rarely talk to anyone these days. But also, people spoke of some kind of fiasco involving Andrew Hussie - Homestuck's creator - basically having the Kickstarter money swindled by the development team who were supposed to be making the game, and him not even being involved much in its creation. Surprising; this was the first I'd heard of this.

I found this comment in that thread... interesting:

"This is why you don't give a depressed internet crybaby two million dollars to make a video game."

I don't know much about Andrew Hussie as a person, but I imagine the fans would, and that comment made me curious about what he's like, what his life and mind are like. I always assumed he was a fairly hardy ENTP (wow, it's been a while since I've thought about people in terms of their Myers-Briggs type).

But more than that, the way that that naive, eager enthusiasm to magically transform money into a good game, and quickly (it was originally slated for a 2014 release, later changed to 2015, then 2017) instead led to litigation, shifting plans, and delegated responsibilities makes me think about the huge gulf between our creative dreams and the dirty reality of actually making those dreams come true.

I also remember recently reading ∞ this Cracked article ∞, where the writer talks about his own experiences making a mobile game. I won't bother to reiterate what it says because it says it better than I can, but it's all very familiar to me from my own experiences making Taming Dreams, and it doesn't exactly fill me with hope. It's worth a read to better understand the games development process, especially from the indie perspective.

In short, making games is very hard, and marketing them is even harder. I just don't feel that - at the moment at least - I'm psychologically well enough to manage that. I really need to get my life sorted out first. Find a secure place to stand, mentally.

A lot of creative types get their best ideas during dark times, turn their bad experiences into art, so I'm constantly thinking about how I can do that with mine. I imagine I'll come up with something.

If you're interested in my work or me as a person, I thank you for your patience, and your support if you've ever given that. I'm a difficult person and my life is a lonely struggle - one I think about ending far too often - but the comments I've got from people about how MARDEK made a difference in their lives are what keep me going, and help me feel like I've done something worthwhile with my life and possibly can again one day.

For the meantime, I'm writing about my personal thoughts and struggles in ∞ my blog ∞.
If you liked this, please click the Appreciate button there

on 11 Roots


20 United States INFP PhlegmaticCholeric
Hey Tobias, are you okay? You haven't been on in five months and I'm a bit worried, considering the problems that have recently occurred.

Please come on soon! I'd really like to hear from you!

(To anyone else - do you guys think Tobias is okay? Anyone in contact with him?)
22 Netherlands ISTJ 513 PhlegmaticMelancholic
Evan Rye
He posts more frequently on his personal blog on tamingmind.com (it's been only a month since his last post there).
22 United States INFJ EII 6w5 SpSo RLOAI ISA MelancholicPhlegmatic
This post actually made me sign on one of your site's again for the first time since Fighunter. Been a long time fan since Mardek and later Miasmon. Playing through Taming Dreams currently after noticing you were back to game making. I was a bit skeptical of you rebooting the Mardek series at first, but after playing the result, I can definitely say it was worth it. I'll be spreading the word where I can and it might definitely help you to get some work out through Steam just to get yourself back out there.

I can definitely relate to your struggle with both creativity and depression. When it comes to artistic things in general, it's hard to power through them and finish them after the initial excitement wears down. When that happens, it's best to take a break and let yourself recharge.
Indie devs in general have a hard time putting their foot into the market for several reasons. There's always the fear of being judged or not taken seriously when you do something experimental and against the grain. There's also the fear of costs, workload, and whether it's actually profitable or worth making in the first place. The biggest thing I can say is to keep doing what you've doing because the world needs something to free itself from mundane norms. Your main goal as a developer is to have fun with your craft and the creative process because without it, you have no will to follow the dream in the first place. Your second should be the experience. Being able to say, "hey, I made that. Look at me go" is always an awesome thing and even if it seems silly, not everyone can say that.

I think what would definitely help you, as you've probably heard before, is making connections and getting your name back out there. Find other game developers and other artists. Meet people when you can and try talking to as many people as you can. It's hard and lonely, but even when you don't hit it off with someone, there's always something you can take away from the experience when you see them as something to learn from.

I have to say that, despite your shortcomings, you've been a great inspiration to me and I look forward to seeing you move past these hurdles. I wish the best for your health and hope all goes well. Don't give up and your fans won't give up on you. :)
21 France
Hey, I just played Taming Dreams, and it was great: interesting, innovative, fun, and thought provoking. I loved it. And I'm pretty sure most of the people who played it did too. It felt great to see you create something new, after all of those years.

And now I see this post... It saddens me to see that you have difficulties and distractions which hamper your creative process... But it is also why I'm making this comment: to cheer you up, in what measly way I can, if you ever see it. You are a creator, a great one at that, your works are inspiring to look at, and despite your flaws, I think you an admirable man. And I think many others would too, if only they could play the games you made. That's why I'll spread the word, and encourage others to do the same. Taming dreams is extremely promising, and I feel like you have it in you to keep developing it, even if it's difficult sometimes, even when you feel like giving up, I believe you'll come back to it eventually.

Cheer up, you can do it.
46 Egypt
Hello, Pseudo. It really is unfortunate what happened to the kickstarter.

I was thinking, you could probably release Mardek 1-3 on Steam and even price it. Yeah, they are already available for free elsewhere so it wouldn't be a big release or anything but it's actually been done before (e.g. Gemcraft, Alicemare) and you probably aren't thinking on making a new game just for Steam as of now.

I was thinking on something else to comment but it's a secret so I'll send a PM.
19 Brazil CholericSanguine
Izack San
Olha só quem eu achei, há quanto tempo hein.
19 Poland ESTP LSE 1w9 SxSo RES CholericPhlegmatic
The whole steam thing isn't bad idea actually, even for Taming Dreams.

There are in fact episodic games released there already, TellTale is best example and games such as FF remake coming up, being episodic RPG experience I imagine people already got used to this idea.

Tobias *could* release the first 2 episodes of Taming Dreams for free on steam and the rest would require some payment. However, unless more episodes would be released, I'm not sure about this. People already complain about unfinished games there and it could be reflected with the negative reviews, just like it happened with the App Store.

There's also one another obvious issue, the game was designed for Android, so Tobias would need to make a port of Ep. 1-3 first. It is a good idea and I hope the creator will consider it someday. Most of his previous audience doesn't have Android, but I bet they still have PC and moved from flash games to Steam/GOG and so on.
28 United States
I would love to see the mardek 1-3 games, or the taming dreams games released on steam.
24 New Zealand
I would happily buy the original Mardek 1-3 on steam if it meant there was a possibility of a #4 and then buy that as well. It would be a good excuse to re-play through the game in any case.

Sadly it seems we will never see this.
19 Poland ESTP LSE 1w9 SxSo RES CholericPhlegmatic
Hey Tobias, I've originally commented on wrong post (as I often do), but I still want to say that you shouldn't give up.

I've been reading lately from the other blog you've been posting on the other blog and I'm glad to hear you're doing better. That being said, I'm not sure whatever you're doing the right choices anymore, reading about the religious fanatic from the last post was certainly hilarious at first, but I'm not sure if it's anything good to go by, if that makes any sense.

Depression usually comes from three main things: mental and health unstability, lack of social and meaningful interactions or simply not feeling the fulfilment in your life.

Whatever is the problem in your case, I just hope you stay in touch with us anyhow, comforting the problem is better than simply ignoring it, always.
21 United States
Depression sucks. I would know. But waiting for it to go away isn't a valid strategy.
27 United States
Hey, I can understand how hard it is for you right now. I'm in a similar situation, making a decision to move to the opposite coast of my country while trying to deal with my own problems and depression, as well as my poor people skills.

However, can I say something in regards to your readings? Don't get me wrong, but you seem to refer to Cracked a lot in your recent posts, which suggests that you're a regular reader. Maybe it's my own preference, but I wouldn't try and take their words as authority, as a) they're supposedly a comedy-focused site (supposedly--I used to read them too, but their articles no longer seem to reflect that aspect), b) their business is focused on getting people to view their site and get paid through advertising, and c) a lot of their writings are from freelancers.

And uh, honestly, looking through it? It's cherrypicked trash. Reason #5? Sure, there are a lot of clones, but they're not going to do gangbusters, probably just enough to support their creators. Gigantic companies have trouble maintaining their games for a few years. Writer mentions nothing about A Dark Room, etc. It's honestly just anecdotal evidence and analogy, nothing actually convincing. I apologize though, if I'm being too harsh.

Your highlight of a negative opinion also invites some concern. I know I dealt with a lot of negativity with my own family, hence my life decision, so my advice in that regard would be to try and avoid seeking out such comments. If you do, well, what does the opinion of somebody halfway across the globe from you matter? It's not productive to focus on such comments. I may have been disappointed with HS's ending but why listen to people who think KS is a preordering system, much less preorder (a poor consumer decision)?

Have you tried visiting game development communities? Generally, they are a lot more positive then traditional communities focused around gaming discussion, as they are catered to discussing the actual creation of games. You would be able to get along better with people more attuned to and knowledgeable about your interests. Heck, perhaps you could teach each other new things. reddit.com/r/gamedev is a good place to start. There are also real-life networking events out there centered around game development. You would probably have a lot of cred already with the MARDEK series in the past.

Actually, have you considered putting your games on Steam? (Even though you probably got this suggestion a billion times. :P)
22 Netherlands ISTJ 513 PhlegmaticMelancholic
Evan Rye
Tobias explained in a previous post that he knows Cracked is mostly trash but that he simply got into the habit of regularly visiting the website at some point.

He also knows he should not be focusing on negative comments, but that is unfortunately how his brain is conditioned.
23 Russia CholericMelancholic
I get what you're experiencing, Pseudo (yeah, you are forever etched in my mind as Pseudolonewolf, referring to you otherwise feels weird still).

Sorting yourself out and setting yourself straight is the step that comes before everything when you feel cornered like that, of course.

Take all the time you may need to enter a positive trend again. No use fretting over failing someone else's expectations when you're not going to be up to it at the moment anyway.

Here's hoping you find a way to rediscover a positive relationship with your own existence.
30 United States INFP
I'm glad to hear from you, Toby.

I wish you the best and am always hopeful I'll be able to immerse in your creative output again in the future. Some people cannot imagine how difficult life can be, and the rest of us hear and feel what you are saying. We all cling to the truth that things will get better, and we'd have to believe it even if it wasn't true. We're all in this together.

Best outcomes,
24 United States ISFJ MelancholicPhlegmatic
Hey A Tobias, just wanted to say I can relate to how you've been feeling. There are a lot of times when you're struck with inspiration and that fans into a creative passion, and you're all fired up. But after a while reality sets in and that blazing enthusiasm cools down, and the real work of making it happen comes in. Making games is hard work, and can take years before being finished. Being an indie developer doesn't make it less difficult, but it isn't impossible. Whenever you start feeling discouraged, I suggest looking up the game 'Owlboy'. It's a platform-adventure game made by an indie team that took 9 years of development.

Way back when the old Fighunter site was active, MARDEK was the first full-fledged flash RPG game I found and I loved reading the silly dialogue and item descriptions on the wiki. If it wasn't for those games I would've never found and stayed on Fighunter, and I would've never met a lot of good acquaintances I still keep in touch with here.

There are a couple other examples I could give on how people were able to reach success in spite of difficult obstacles, but I believe the most important thing is that you do what makes you happy. It's easy to worry about how others might receive your ideas when finished and second guess your decisions, but even if things don't always turn out as you'd expect--at least you can say you made the effort.