I recently completed and launched my new game, Barista!—a fast-paced coffee creation game in which you have to fulfil all of the orders and get to the end of the day before your grumpy boss Jim fires you. It’s available on the App Store now for free!
At this point, I’m supposed to say: “you should totally play it! it’s amazing!”
Here’s the thing, though: it’s not the most fun game ever.
I’m still incredibly proud of what I’ve accomplished. I made every aspect of this game myself—the art, the code, the music.
I also shipped it, which is the most important thing.
There is something magical that happens when you say that a thing is finished and you put it out into the world in some form. All of your learning is cemented and you regain the sense of wonder and excitement that sometimes fades in the grind of getting the thing done. It motivates you to get started on the next one.
And there are moments of fun to be had within the game.
My original intention was to give players a feeling of mastery, where swiping objects around the screen using well-timed movements under time pressure would give a sense of flow and it does achieve this, but only for a couple of drinks at a time. The timing of the elements is off, but balancing this timing with making the game challenging enough to be fun proved to be difficult.
It’s just not enough to make you want to play it over and over. That feeling needed to exist for whole levels at a time.
In the famous interview with Ira Glass, he talks about the gap between what you wish you were making and what you’re actually making.
This game has helped close that gap but it still exists and it’ll probably be a few more games before what I produce starts getting close to what I imagined.
Here at Never Ending Voyage, we try to be honest about the ups and downs of digital nomad living. Making a living from making things is a long, hard road and we want to be careful of overselling the lifestyle—we have a great life, but it’s not always an easy life, and it often takes a lot of time for it to bear fruit.Trail Wallet took over two years before it started making a significant income. Erin’s book was over a year in the making. And both of these things are only doing as well as they are because she spent six years of continual work on building this blog.
(It also doesn’t help that earning a living from independent games makes Frodo’s journey to Mordor look like a trip to Tesco’s to pick up some eggs.)
The fact that I made it and shipped it is still a big deal and it’s a significant step on a larger journey. I’m ready to get started on my next one, which I already know will be better.
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