Long Game Development Paranoia

I’ve been working on TRAUMA way too long now. It’s not a healthy condition. It means that I may be wasting ideas and energy because I can’t move on as long as I’m working on the current game. There are also some nasty side-effect. I would call one of them Long Game Development Paranoia. The symptom is that EVERY TIME you read something even closely related to game design or innovation, you hear a faint but persistent voice inside your head asking the same question over and over again:

OMG! Does this mean that my game sucks?

OMG! Does Long Game Paranoia mean that my game sucks?

Survival tips for indie game developers? You expect having done something wrong which would prove your game sucks. A presentation on YouTube by an know developer? You expect him to bring up a new point which proves your game sucks. A podcast on creative writing? You expect the guys be much smarter and more hard-working than you are… which is why your game sucks. Eating a brownie? You are getting fat and unhealthy… which is why your game sucks.

The real torture is that it’s always just an premonition and none of the articles and podcasts actually manages to produce conclusive evidence against your game. You are not even granted the catharsis of confirmation. And it’s completely irrational too. TRAUMA has been nominated for two indie games festivals. There is no denial that there is some merit to the game. Yet the little voice never goes away and it’s always spoiling everything I consume about creative work.

Or maybe it’s just me? Maybe I’m crazy? And if it was just me, would that mean that my game sucks?

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

11 responses to “Long Game Development Paranoia”

  1. Ava Avane Dawn

    I don’t know, but I look forward to your game and since I moved out from my moms and started studying on the uni, I do not hype games the way I used to which means that I give developers the benefit of doubts. Look at blizzard. Or the development of braid. :)

  2. Jim267

    I really look forward to your game! I watched the YouTube trailer about half a year ago and I immediately bookmarked your page. I was completely drawn in by that captivating woman’s voice. I’m checking the site every once in a while, in order to find out about the realease of “Trauma”. Keep up the good work!

  3. Finn Haverkamp

    I feel your pain. I’m having the same issue with my game, Manifest.
    I constantly have to remind myself that it’s a work-in-progress. My biggest fear right now, though, is that my game will never be all that great, without another dozen years of work or so. And I’m just not sure how much more time I’ll have the patience to devote to the game. I mean, before too long, I fear I will run out of steam and just stop. We’ll see.

    1. Krystian Majewski

      Uuu! But that looks pretty cool. Using Warcraft III is a good idea – it’s so much easier to get a game to a playable state quickly. Godspeed!

  4. Igor Hardy

    You’re just crazy! :)

    I mean I had almost exactly same symptoms for a long time until I finally got my repeatedly delayed game released last weekend. However, I never did win in any indie games festivals like you (especially not the most important ones like you), which proves that you’re just crazy!

    To compare further, this game I mention is my first finished game project ever (my earlier one is still a wip) and when I was looking at what other (real!) developers are doing I was thinking “These guys are doing everything fast, they’re doing everything on time, they made lots of games already. And me? I have not even one full game to show.” It was actually less about the game sucking and more about it never getting finished and only driving me insane.

    1. Krystian Majewski

      Haha, yeah I can understand that problem. I think people like Cactus are really driving the entire indie community mad. While I made this one game, he made like over 100! *gasp*

  5. Przemysław Mller

    I have problems finishing my projects too… There’s a good post by Derek Yu on that subject:

    1. Krystian Majewski

      Thanks! I was looking for that link to include in my article but couldn’t find it!

  6. Bribase

    Krystian, all I can say is that trauma looks like its going to be one of the most poetic, beautiful and profound gaming experiences this year.

    If you want to prove me wrong go ahead, but for now I’m hugely excited!


  7. Krystian Majewski

    Thank you for all the nice feedback. It would be SO much more difficult without you! :D

  8. chuan_l

    Krystian, know the feeling + wish you well with “Trauma”. Obviously you’re passionate about the game and so everything becomes a reflection or mark of comparison. The most important thing might be just to exceed your own expectations: so that *your* game represents yourself [ ideas . concerns . philosophy ] and not to outguess yourself. There are so few people doing that anyway and the prizes confirm that. Keep on truckin’..!

    – Chuan


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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