Press X to be Okay

Today I finished a game that I started almost two years ago.

It’s not that I’d been working on this game for two years straight – I just started it two years ago and finished it today.

In the summer of 2013, I was going through a bit of a rough patch – I had just moved out of the apartment I had lived in for three years, and, with that, had ended an eight year long relationship. There were a lot of things changing in my life, and I wasn’t particularly coping well.

I created the prototype of this game one day while feeling particularly down and exhausted, then found a young pixel artist on twitter who was interested in making a few small assets for the game (my, how things changes in two years)

Soon after Andrew delivered the initial assets for the game, things started looking up for me. I began to cope with my life changes a little better, and started feeling a little less exhausted.  Basically, I didn’t have to pretend to be okay all the time anymore.

Since then, I had revisited the project a number of times trying to find the motivation to take it beyond the initial prototype phase. However, every time I opened it up, it just didn’t feel right. I wasn’t in the same place, mentally, as I was back then, and it felt dishonest to work on this while feeling so good.

Things have been generally amazing for me since then, but, as always, there are ups and downs.

For the last month or so, I’ve felt as though I’ve had no direction. I’m not doing Game a Week anymore, I was without contract work for a few months, and my personal project is at a state where things simply feel like they’re not progressing.

I’ve noticed myself becoming increasingly physically lethargic over the last few weeks, losing interest in many of the activities that I enjoy on a daily basis and largely becoming apathetic towards the things happening on around me. I seem to have lost my passion for speaking at conferences, traveling to new places, going outside, etc etc. It was a gradual change, so I didn’t quite notice it right away, but it’s definitely there.

I’ve fallen into that self-perpetuating loop where I can’t motivate myself to accomplish anything because I feel bad about myself – which causes me to feel bad about myself because I’m not accomplishing anything.

Today, I was finally able to revisit the game that I had started back in the summer of 2013.  There’s not a lot of gameplay and it’s not particularly fancy, but it was the first game I ever made where I was able to accurately convey a specific feeling of mine.

It was incredibly cathartic to finally take this game a step forward, and I feel like I’ve gained a little more closure on that chapter of my life. I thought about this game often over the last two years, and I was fairly certain that it would never be finished.

It didn’t take me two years to make this game in the traditional sense, but I’ve definitely put two years of my life into it.






Design & Programming: Me

Art: Andrew Gleeson


6 Responses

  1. Congrats on the release. Some quick bug’ish feedback:
    . If you “die” just before/on/at the arrival of the office scene (second playthrough), she moonwalks from her desk to off-screen stage-left (which seems a little at odds with not feeling ok :).
    . Because ‘x’ is both the in-game action and the start-new-game action, I suspect most players might miss the end game report on most playthroughs.
    All the best.

  2. Tha´s all? the rules were telling me about a lot of bottoms, clic, ctrl, mouse, left, right, and when I was playing, I need only press bottom X… that´s tired, the image was so good 🙂 but I don´t think so the same to the game mode. have a nice one.

  3. Glad I stumbled upon this. It’s nice to know someone else has felt something similar, if not the exact same feeling. Thank you.

  4. Ms. Wallick,

    Congrats on releasing the game, you should be really proud and I hope you are. I can relate to the “downward loop” resulting in lack of motivation. It’s a challenge to push through it sometimes. Hopefully this will make you feel better:

    The fact that I make games today, can be largely attributed to you inspiring me through one game a week.

    I used to feel guilty calling myself an indie game developer. In all honesty I made an unfinished game once every couple months while in college. No discipline, no motivation. I felt like a fraud and I was ready to quit before I started. Rami’s post on Gamasutra lead me to your website, which I believe lead me to watching your GDC talk (might be out of order).

    That talk was probably the best thing that could have happened to me.

    I had a couple false starts since then, but regardless I’ve made more games and experiments than I know what to do with (not many are particularly any good, but whatever). Recently, I even built up the courage to start sharing them online.

    I’ll wrap up my point:

    Had you not pushed through everything you went through during one game a week, I’m not sure I would be making games like I do.

    Motivation can be an unreliable little thing and life always gets in the way, but if I can offer up some advice, it’s your responsibility to push through it all. There’s indies out there, like me, that need YOU to push through, show your work and inspire them to do this amazing thing called game development. It might sound like a lot of pressure, but someone, somewhere out there needs your games…not just for entertainment, but to help them get through something or overcome an obstacle they don’t think they can overcome.

    I’m glad you released your game, even after two years, and I hope you release many, many more. By overcoming your own inner battles you’re help others overcome theirs.

    Essentially, thanks for the inspiration and please don’t stop doing what you’re doing.

    Best of luck. Kick ass and make more games!

    1. Thank you so much. This a lot to me, and I’m so happy that I’ve been able to help have a positive impact on your work. I would love to check out some of your games – is there somewhere I can check them out? Please feel free to email me if you ever want to talk or get feedback on something that you’re working on <3 <3

  5. Yes, I said I wasn’t going to comment anymore, the fact was I had already downloaded this full game of yours from and still wanted to try it.
    The choice of X key would have been appropriate if the majority of people were left-handed. It would have sufficed to give the option between X or, say, O before starting to play. But you take pride in everybody attempting to play any of your works getting cramps/their arms numb. Well done, and, as usually, no “failure” in this 😉

    — as to someone’s feedback above: I didn’t miss the game end report even once.

Leave a Reply