Back before anyone knew who I was, I used to wanted to make huge games. Games where you can do anything, and everything you see in the game is there for a reason in the game. No fake doors that don’t lead anywhere, no trees you can’t cut down, and no made up story being told to the player to motivate them. Instead, the player would make their own story, and interact with the game world, decide for themselves what they want to do.
I’ve worked on two games like this. The first one I made with Rolf, and it was called Wurm Online, and it’s slow and grindy, but amazing. A few years later, I made Minecraft just as indie games were becoming a big thing, and it absolutely exploded. Because I enjoy talking to the players and community, and possibly because I will gladly share my opinions on things, I became recognized and got loads of fans. And then my tweets started becoming gaming news.
About a year ago, I started working on a third “omg you can do anything” game, called 0x10c. It was supposed to be a space game about actually being in character in space rather than playing as a space ship like you do in most space games. You’d try to keep your ship live while shooting aliens with laser guns, putting out fires and programming your own virtual computer in the ship. It was quite ambitious, but I was fairly sure I could pull it off. And besides, if I failed, so what? A lot of my prototypes fail way before they get anywhere at all.
What I hadn’t considered was that a lot more people cared about my games now. People got incredibly excited, and the pressure of suddenly having people care if the game got made or not started zapping the fun out of the project. I spent a lot of time thinking about if I even wanted to make games any more. I guess I could just stop talking about what I do, but that doesn’t really come all that natural to me. Over time I kinda just stopped working on it, and then eventually decided to mentally file it as “on ice” and try doing some smaller things. Turns out, what I love doing is making games. Not hyping games or trying to sell a lot of copies. I just want to experiment and develop and think and tinker and tweak.
Recently, I was streaming some Team Fortress 2, and got asked about the progress on 0x10c. I said I wasn’t working on it, and it became news. I understand why, and it really shouldn’t surprise me, but I really really don’t want to turn into another under delivering visionary game designer. The gaming world has enough of those.
Some people in the 0x10c community decided to work together to make their own version of their game, called Project Trillek. I find this absolutely amazing. I want to play this game so much, but I am not the right person to make it. Not any more. I’m convinced a new team with less public interest can make a vastly superior game than what I would make.
Last week, I participated in the 7dfps and made a hectic shooter greatly inspired by Doom, called Shambles, and it was some of the most fun programming I’ve done in many months. This is what I want to do. I want to do smaller games that can fail. I want to experiment and develop and think and tinker and tweak.
So that’s what I’m going to do.
I’ll also keep talking to the players and I’ll keep streaming myself rocket jumping in tf2 for whoever wants to listen to or watch that, but for now I don’t want to work on anything big.