Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Its not just you that feels demotivated.

There is a bit of a misconception among people who are struggling to get ahead in any industry, that all of the people they look up to, and see as a success, and who have in some way or another, by some metric ‘made it’, live their lives 100% of the time like this:


(I just googled for ‘TED speaker’. Apparently that guy is a ‘renowned leadership expert‘.).

Anyway, thats bollocks. And its also slightly destructive bollocks because it can be harmful to your motivation, your ambition, and your belief in yourself. Here is a little secret that people who have ‘made it’ don’t often admit… (I am putting myself rather embarrassingly in that slot, because I have a life which by a lot of peoples metrics is very good, no boss, comfortable income, blah blah. This isn’t generally how I describe myself…)

We have really really bad days too. Sometimes lots of them. Sometimes they are really bad.

I do not leap out of bed each morning and jump into my office chair and start coding flawless neural networks with one hand whilst dealing on the stock-market and making a fortune with the other. In fact this only happens about half of the time. In fact, most of the code I write has bugs and is broken and slow the first time I write it. A LOT of my code gets thrown away. A lot of my ideas get thrown away.  My current prototype project folder that I’m creating my potential next game in, is called ‘Research Cats’. Its not about cats, and its not about research. I ditched both ideas. Nor is any of the three other ‘really cool ideas’ I had, which I have also thrown away. Nor does the current game even look like it did two months ago. (It was a side-scroller then, its isometric now).

Plus my path-finding code is currently getting stuck under certain circumstances. My coder art looks HORRIBLE. I am not even sure this is a good idea for a game, and it may be a total waste of time and money.

The last game I coded and released made *some* money, but not that much. Certainly not a hit. The game before that was a HUGE hit, but every day I code I worry that maybe I just got lucky with that one, maybe I have no actual ability whatsoever, and was in the right place at the right time. Maybe I’m an idiot to not code in java or use unity. I could be wasting the next year of my life on a game that will *lose* money, plus I’m investing in three other games, all of which could potentially lose me money. Plus all the savings that I have are in investments that could go badly wrong. That iron-pellet factory in the Ukraine now looks like a dreadful investment, and the last tech company I invested in was actually in the news headlines for technical failures that wiped out 50% of its stock value.


I have mood swings that are so rapid and variable that I’m basically impossible to work with, and I’m such a workaholic I sometimes think I have ‘no idea’ how to ‘have fun’. I could talk for hours about my various fears for the future.

Now the thing is, *you don’t see that*, because like anyone who is selling something, I put forward an ‘image’ of super-confidence, success, motivation and ambition. Nobody wants to hear someone whining all day about how things are going wrong. We want inspiration, and we want to look up to people. Thats perfectly understandable. The trick is to realize when we are going too far, and expecting to live up to an idealistic vision of how people should feel/look/behave. Women have endured this for ages with the looks of airbrushed supermodels being demanded of them. Men get similar pressures in other ways (You MUST have a job, you MUST have muscles, full head of hair, fast car blah blah). What I’m saying is the same thing happens in business.

samething(There is actually no difference between these)

When you look at a successful developer, or indie game studio owner, you are seeing the vogue cover-model image of them. All the failure, the doubt, the stupid decisions, the drunken sobbing at 3am about how they are wasting their life… thats all kept from view. In short, we all fuck up, we all get it wrong, we all get demotivated and miserable, and wonder if we are doing the right thing. Or hopefully we all do, because if its just me, I am so fucked :D. So anyway, on your off-days, hang in there. That person you think has all the answers is probably having one too.



3 thoughts on Its not just you that feels demotivated.

  1. Thank you for this.
    I will add the fear that i’m almost 40 and I have no hit game (yet) and how much longer will I code?

  2. I found it quite liberating to hear Peldi of Balsamiq software say “it’s ok to be a one hit wonder”. That is still one hit more than most people manage!

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