Editorial: Thoughts on success

Angry Birds - a success story in infographic form

I saw this on my Twitter feed recently. An infographic that perfectly encapsulates the empty platitude “if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again”. It brought to mind the years I spent trying to break into comics in a small way. Which was almost a minor success were it not for a few factors, including but not limited to the only comic willing to give me a break folding and ceasing publication.

The “try, and try again” part though, is the ultimate frustration and seemingly utterly futile. I had personally spent six years in design and media courses (to wit: First and National diplomas in Multimedia and a Bachelor of Arts in Animation) and was intent on making that training pay, as a career. When venting frustrations at pitching to every comic that took non-Marvel/DC style work for three years, I’d often be told by professionals something to the lines of it being decades before most got a break.

Decades. Tens of years for a boat that very realistically could never make port.

Eddy Kill, as pitched to Viz

It’s not like I can’t draw to an extent. But I suspected I’d always lack the intangible ‘x’ factor required for success with my work. And what is ‘success’ anyway? Doing what I love and making a living from it, I’d argue. But after a stressful period of trying (and very nearly succeeding, I admit) to make freelance illustration work out for me, I had to give it a nudge. I simply couldn’t wait at port without seeing some real progress. It was likely going to ruin me, psychologically if nothing else, and I started to hate doing what I once loved in drawing.

Enter: SLaVE.

SLaVE - first person arcade shooter

Upon realising that certain strains (to be accurate, source ports) of the Doom engine were GPL and legally salable, I decided to resume a passion of mine that had been a dream career since I was but five years of age: game development. After all, I’m still passionate enough to completely dissect the medium to its fundamentals, so maybe I could put such knowledge and theory in lieu of that missing ‘x’ factor.

SLaVE isn’t done yet. When it is, I hope to be able to sell it — it may be in effect just a glorified Doom total conversion, but the original Half-Life was in essence the same thing to Quake. Right?

Along the way, I discovered Construct 2 and have made several HTML games since February, when I started. The latest of which being a very personal game I made about my experiences with depression – which I shall write about in the future. This one game has been one of my most successful.

But again, what is success?

I love making games. Magnitudes more than I loved making comics, in fact, as a passion that has been with me longer. I am more sure of the fundamentals of gameplay than I am with the sequential art form, and I really love to play with my players in terms of what I present and how I present it. And for something I love to get some of the following reactions:

<3

<3

This makes me feel like I’m on my way. I loved making it, despite having to cease development 3/4 through to have a bit of a triggered crying session at the continued raking through my bad memories in order to portray them in the game’s vocabulary. And, the following started to happen:

A donation!

Money. My Construct 2 games have been free for the interim until I get the Personal License, as I was not intending to put a price on them until I had become better at the technical side of game creation. And here it is. Voluntarily given because of my game. This is a thing I never achieved as a comic artist and illustrator. And this is me now, making games and seeing money because I make games.

I haven’t made Angry Birds. I am not a success story in the traditional sense. But I feel like I am starting to be a success in the smallest of ways I can be, and that makes me happy enough to wait at this particular port to see if a boat does come.

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