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Dare To Be Badass: Project Development Part 2

Hey Destructoidians, Returner Mike here once again with the thrilling second episode of my special, ‘So Your Rampant Insanity Has Driven You To Create Something’. Last post dealt with what I like to call ‘cruel reality’.

This one is going to be a bit different. Now that the ugly parts are out of the way and you’re hopefully beginning to understand the monumental task ahead of you, we can get on to my favorite part: Why you should make a friendly gesture at the rest of the world and kindly inform them of where they can store their cynicism.

Thank you for your input. I'll take it under consideration.

Is creating an amateur project a lot of work? Yes. Is it going to be a long, brutal, possibly thankless task? Oh sweet Mario yes. Should you do it anyway? You are damn right you should. Why? Because someone has to. I write because my stories won’t be told any other way. They’ll sit there, in my head, screaming to get out and unless I write, that’s where they’ll rot and metamorphosize into those obnoxious ‘regret’ things. I don’t want that. You don’t want that. Your future therapist wants it, but he’s likely a huge jackass who’s cheating on his wife or something, so stick it to him.

Besides, proving your detractors wrong is beautiful.

The Warm, Uplifting Truth

Your vision is possible. Try it, you sitting there, staring at your computer. Just whisper the words at the very least. I'll wait. Mull it around. Your vision is possible. Whatever is in your head can be realized in the medium that you want. Will it be easy? No. Nothing of worth ever is.

Your idea is possible and there are people out there who you can find who will be just as eager to see it through as you are. I have some other awesome news for you... you are living in science fiction. You are in a world where we have nearly perfected electronic telepathy, and through amazing sites like Destructoid, Reddit, 4chan, Deviantart, Soundcloud, Newgrounds... you too can find these awesome, like minded folk.

Look! There's your new art director on the left!

Post some ideas. Talk to your friends. Have them ask around. Post on message boards, scope out subreddits, follow artists on Tumblr, scoop up people as they are just getting started or are just in school.

There are some hard pills to swallow here, but if you’ve made it this far, you can go a bit further. The biggest one is - your baby is no longer yours. The moment you bring someone else on board, your project is going to change. Probably in ways you never imagined and possibly in ways you don’t want. That’s the cost of what you’re doing. No matter how small a part these people will have in building your dream, their mark will be left on it. This is NOT a bad thing. Just like life, diversity helps strengthen your work and gives it the unique chance to be critiqued during it’s creation.

You never know what ideas you'll spawn!

Your Project Doesn't Have To Be Expensive or Difficult

Unless we’re talking about time, you’ll be amazed at what you can get away with not paying for. An amateur team, working on a freeware title, can find a surprising amount of assistance online, from their local community or can learn for themselves without too much difficulty. As I mentioned before, social websites like Reddit, 4chan and such (and think outside the box here... places like crunchyroll.com, Steam and newgrounds.com have huge communities of people likely with similar interests, just looking to work on projects with others.

Our artists and writers were found all around the web, and were all brought together by a common idea: the want to create something fun and meaningful.

Think of the wonderful things you'll make!

A side note here, if your project requires things from the real world, remember that businesses are made of people. Call around, ask questions, as for donations or assistance. If you need photos for references, you’ll be surprised at how accommodating places can be. It never hurts to ask, and people are almost always thrilled to contribute if you ask nicely.

You Will Improve

Win or lose, succeed or fail, you’re going to learn something during your project and it’s going to make you stronger. Maybe your team’s input will point out a flaw in your writing style, or perhaps you’ll learn new art techniques from the other artists in your group... regardless, no project is wasted, and at the worst, you’re merely gaining strength and knowledge to make your next attempt that much better.

One point I’d like to mention here... listen to criticism. In fact, seek it out. It’s not always pinpoint accurate or nice to hear, but it rarely is devoid of meaning. Of course, I mean criticism, here. ‘Eet boiled lobster poo’ is not criticism. Neither is ‘your writing sucks’, ‘you aren’t funny’ or ‘I could do that better’. Ask people why. Ask them why until they throw their hands up and walk away. What about the scene doesn’t work? Why don’t you like this character? What stops them from being believable? It hurts to hear about how your work is flawed. There’s no secret way to stop that from being true. You just have to masochist up and throw yourself out there. It’s the best way to learn and improve.

You Will Have An Audience

It’s the internet. The place that gave birth to amputee porn, rotten.com and Google+. If you create it, chances are a fair number of people are going to explore your work and that some of them will enjoy it. Criticism via fans is a brutal affair, and I’m not sure how much I can recommend getting into discussions about your work online. All I can say is... be civil. Anonymity offered by the web makes it easy to say hurtful things. Try to look past the callousness that being faceless provides and really think about what people are trying to tell you. Be receptive and warm and your audience will be far more likely to grow.

Just do everything that Derek Smart doesn't.

It Will See The Light Of Day

If you refuse to give up, if you crack at it, just a little day by day, your project will see life. You’ll hit snags, you’ll lose progress, you’ll lose teammates and you’ll get so frustrated that you’ll want to cry and quit.

Don’t. Your project started for a reason. I’m not saying that there aren’t genuinely good reasons to shut down a project (there are) but seriously think about what you’re doing. Is your project really going badly, or are you simply reading the first draft? Are you getting a bit of writer’s block? Are you listening to your team’s complaints and making them your own? Are you receiving threatening emails from the man who’s kidnapped your daughter and it’s distracting you?

Pictured: Not the best way to overcome writer's block.

Be honest and realistic with yourself at the start. You want this to finish. Even a short project can take vast amounts of time to complete. You’ll never be able to account for every delay, so just roll with it when you can. There is nothing like looking back on a year of frustration and delays and realizing just how much work you actually did get done.

Next post will be a bit more in depth about how our project is being run, the systems we have in place and the way we’ve overcome our various obstacles.

Hope you’ve been enjoying it so far! If there’s any other advice that I may have missed, I’d love to hear about it in the comment section.
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About Returner Mikeone of us since 6:25 PM on 01.24.2013

I'm a gamer who's lived in Indiana, Colorado, Hawaii and Japan (having majored in Japanese at Indiana University). Beyond the electronic, I'm a fan of of scuba, fencing, movies, anime and creative writing.

I love all kinds of games, from indie, to foreign, to high profile and experimental. I grew up with the NES, SNES and Genesis, and was always a nut for a good RPG.

I'm currently working on a writing focused interactive fiction with a team online, and assisted in map design and writing for Killing Floor when it was a mod.

I'm hoping to bring an interesting voice to the community and I ask for your feedback, your criticism and your support.