So Now What?
This month has been... interesting, to say the least.
On May 1st I wrote a blog post about wanting to get back into a consistent personal project, while also being unsure of what to work on in particular. On a whim, I threw together some gifs of my raccoon player controller trotting around a stylized environment in UE5, and shared it to Twitter.
That Tweet went on to get something like 420(nice)K impressions, and was briefly mentioned in three gaming/gamedev news outlets. I got flooded with messages from people from all over the world in all sorts of different professions, and the sentiment was universal: hey Christian, you should work on this, in particular.
I don't say all this to brag or show off; instead I want to try and capture the gravity of the response, at least from my perspective.
For starters, I had to Google how to set up Focus Mode on my iPhone to set up notification blockout times while I was working my day job because my phone literally would not stop going off. I reached out to my bosses to re-assure them that I wasn't prioritizing this side project over my main work. I had one of the worst, most painful, and most prolonged panic attacks I've ever had in my life, the Friday of that first week. It felt like I needed to put every waking moment of my time that wasn't already dedicated to my family or my job into building on this, to strike while the iron was hot, while simultaneously reeling from the freight train of momentum I had just been hit by, and feeling frozen in terror of fleshing this out and ultimately messing it up.
In the interest of getting help when I felt absolutely petrified, I reached out to some friends and colleagues for advice, people who had experienced similar big-ish (or even bigger) early responses to their ideas/prototypes; people who manage teams of people, running development progress as well as infrastructure, business stuff, the things that I can't learn from tech-breakdowns or YouTube videos, and the stuff I never considered I'd actually be taking on. I'm eternally grateful for the wealth of knowledge that they shared, and it helped tremendously to put things into perspective, and to get over my own weird mental hurdles, to sit back down at my desk, and actually do some work.
To be clear: I want to turn Snaccoon into a full, complete game, and I'm excited to say I have a very solid plan for the game's development from start to finish, and with each phase along the way. What I don't want is its development cycle to feel like a constant, frantic sprint, like there's some monster right on my heels at every moment. I want to be productive and consistent with work and updates, without the stress of it affecting my job or my family or my health. Part of that comes down to me improving the way that I react to situations like this, and it's something I'm working on. Right now, I'm going to keep steady on work on Snaccoon in my available time, and I'm going to try not to freak out too much.
I've had a lot of really interesting conversations this month, with a lot of really interesting people, and while I don't want to spoil anything, there are some incredible opportunities that have already presented themselves from this situation, and I don't plan on wasting them. Much of my spare time has been spent writing out docs, organizing my project/getting source control going again, and starting in on some code refactoring/cleanup. I'm going to start making devlog posts at the start of each month (beginning today) regardless of how much or little progress I've made that month.
I hope I don't sound like I'm complaining. It's hard to put into words how jarring it feels to have such an amazing, positive thing happen, and to feel unparalleled fear and dread instead of just being excited for it, for what it is, for what it represents and could lead to. But I also wanted this blog to be about all facets of indie game dev, and that includes the weird human elements that come with it.
With all that out of the way, the next blog post I'm writing right after this will be the first official Snaccoon devlog. To everyone who responded to the original post, thank you very, very much for the kind words and encouragement. I can't wait to show you all my vision, and to see where this goes.