Odd Ends and New Beginnings

So.

These past few months were quite rocky, to put it mildly.

The game is still alive, of course, and there are some Big Stuff™ coming this way. I started this blog, way over a year ago, in order to share thoughts and ideas about the development of INX, and now that I am in the verge of the final stage of the game development, I think I need to clear the gap behind those previous intentions, and where I am right now.

The last post on the In Extremis devlog appeared on January 30th, precisely 204 days ago; it was a long, meandering reflection about very particular stuff about the aesthetic of interactivity, and why it is secretly the most important element of the medium. Not a surefire way of gaining popularity, that’s for sure, but it exemplifies the equivocated way I have been dealing with this marketing beast.

There was supposed to be another text, some good months ago. That one started as a defense of the right of a game to not look “pretty”, away from the typical market-approved visual aesthetics of indie games nowadays; visuals to convey intentions and ideas, not to make pretty pixel-art gifs to #trend at a TigSource thread. But as I was writing, it quickly became a bitter rant against the state of indie games nowadays; how the post-Greenlight world transformed the landscape to be about mercantilist sucess narratives and echo chambers of dull, overepeated criticisms.]

I was angry, because during 2014 those dreams I had cultivated ever since I started visiting Indie Games Weblog back in 2007 started to slowly erode. I realized my own flaws, my lack of technical and artistical, were a constant setback, as well as my own social anxieties, that sabotaged my from either merely divulging the existence of my game or seeking help from others to finish; but also the unspoken diaspora at the heart of the indie games success narrative.

By living in a country and in a city with a disconnected scene, no investment opportunities, and by having studied on a unsporting university, I had obvious disadvantages, that certainly wouldn’t be should I live in any of the centers of attention. This is the one thing no one will talk about, as the locus of global discussion is so centered in North America that it smother any voices coming elsewhere; not to mention, the constant exportation of foreign values the shape our perception of the overall narrative.

But there is no point in complaning about that, as it is only natural things should be that way; despite our previous dreams of the internet connecting everyone, we still live far away from a globalist society of multicultural acceptance. Hell, these five years of social media only managed to increase the balkanization of our ideological neighbourhoods. And besides, my creative production, and that of other people all around the world that do not live close enough to those centers to be noticed, is informed by our own local cultural realities, and also by our distance of those that are more publicized.

This is not a localized question about games, but our culture as a whole (I was going to write “webculture”, but nowadays, is there any difference?). It has to do with the web ceasing to be a free space, but a rented one; not a place of of collaboration, discovery and subversion, but becoming more and more a corporate wasteland where our behaviors, beliefs and practices are often oriented by those who seek profit from them.

Or perhaps these are just schizoid complaints that just make sense to me, and are divorced from the actual reality; it is hard to assign truth to anything, in these digital realms.

I done a lot in these past two years; I tried exposing my game in all sorts of events that happened, even those tangentially related to games, in order to learn more about what I had created. I sent it to every games festival I could find out, only to be refused be nearly all of them. The game was too ugly, too strange, and too buggy (and of course, those past trailers were just awful).

I needed to be better at marketing; I also needed help. And to get that help I needed money; so I found a job, which made me not able to work in the game anymore. I made spreadsheets and budgets and calculations; I realized the money I had wouldn’t be enough to finish the game. I toyed with the possibility of giving it for free; that would make me free, instead, after two-and-a-half-years of work and worry (but mostly worry).

I denied that idea, of course.The game is launching commercially, financial risks be damned.

I think I cracked my main problem surrounding how I should market it; that being, how can I show off a game which more than half of its art assets are incomplete, and that is based on surprises and twists of expectation, and that each level attempts a different visual style. Whether it is going to work or not, we will see.

But it is worth a try.

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