Lots of Work For So Much Play


Cliff Seeger-Destino

Sophomore Davionne Gooden works on the plot for a video game he is designing May 24. He does most of his work at LaunchHouse, an institute for startup businesses, like Gooden’s, in Cleveland. He plans to sell his two most recent video games, “The Bravest Four” and “Office Adventures,” in July, and plans to make a career in video game design.

Game development isn’t always rainbows and sunshine. Most of the time, it’s tough, stressful and boring. A lot of people seem to glorify game development and game testing as just sitting around all day playing a game, or coming up with cool ideas, which is certainly not the case. For me, at least, about 80 percent of development is basically me making graphics, coding, working on an area, testing, swearing, procrastinating, drinking some kind of sugar-filled drink, debugging, etc. Seriously, if there was a camera recording the entire development of one of my games, it definitely wouldn’t be the most invigorating thing out there. Not to say there aren’t any fun or exciting moments, or anything like that. Things like successfully testing out a feature, getting feedback, finishing a level, etc., are things that really make the process worthwhile.

Speaking of feedback, that’s definitely a REALLY key part of development for me. Seeing as I’m the only one working on the actual games, it’s hard to judge whether it’s good or not since I’ve been staring at the damn thing for ages. Usually I turn to my friends to judge if the game looks good or is fun or not, but often I might upload a demo to an online forum for people to play and critique. Usually the feedback is pretty positive and constructive and helps me make a better game.

Still, even when people say a game is “good,” I stress over it pretty much every day. Feedback from friends is great and all, but oftentimes, it’s not the most sincere and accurate, and my testing pool outside of friends and online forums is pretty limited. Plus, these two games (“The Bravest Four” and “Office Adventures”) will be the first games that I’ll actually be selling, and people’s perception of quality changes when they actually have to purchase it for themselves. They want to know if their hard earned money was wisely spent, so I’m constantly worrying about if the games will be successful critically and financially when they’re released. Since I’m still in school and am taken care of by my parents, I don’t necessarily have to worry about losing my home/job/whatever if the game fails. Still, I don’t come from a wealthy background or anything like that, far from it. So the games being successful would really help me now and in the future.

It’s because of this stress that I work pretty much every day, and am really prone to constantly re-tooling or re-working things. It’s the reason the games have taken so long and have gone through so many changes over the past few months.

Who knows — “The Bravest Four” and “Office Adventures” could be well received, or absolutely suck and have no players whatsoever. I don’t know. At the end of the day, though, I’ll probably be happy that I finished a full-length game. Having it be critically acclaimed would be awesome, too. And having it sell well would just be the bee’s knees. It probably won’t happen, though. Or maybe it will? I guess I’ll just have to find out, eh?

If there’s anything I would say to aspiring developers (which I know there are plenty of within this school), I would say to definitely go for it! There are plenty of tutorials and free engines online; all you’ve got to do is take the first steps to actually do it.

Oh, and start small. You’re not gonna make the next “Skyrim” overnight.

Read Spotlight Editor Nora Spadoni’s feature on Gooden here.


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