(Sorry for the extra long wait! Expect the unexpected when it comes to fixing someone else’s code. )
The list was released. The games that would go to greenlight pitches. And mine. Wasn’t. On there. A frantic post. Moving quickly through denial – I must have read that wrong, anger – mine is better than some of these!, and then right through to acceptance…I’d find another game to be excited about. That thought was interrupted by a frantic ping from another teacher: “hold on, I think the list is wrong!”. Refreshrefreshrefresh -remember to blink – refreshrefresh…and there it was. Biogenesis, tacked onto the top of the list. And an apology from the professor.
Relief was quickly replaced with a second dose of panic. I am an exceptionally bad public speaker. And suddenly, I had less than a week to prepare to speak in front of a panel of judges from the industry. Acquiring a team was easy enough. People could join multiples, putting off the final decision until Greenlighting was complete. Old friends rejoined and I absorbed a similar project, “Monster Battle”, when it did not garner a large enough team to go forward. I would have to convince the judges that this hodge-podge of people I barely knew were able to pull of the game I was presenting.
A few days later, the tentative team was crowded around my living room. The meeting dragged on for hours as we went back and forth over what angle to take while presenting the game and smoothing over all the gaps we left. When you get so close to a game and understand it through and through, it can be hard to take a step back and explain it to others. The presentation was limited to five minutes. A mere five minutes to pack in as much information as we could about the game, as well as arguing why we think it’s awesome enough to get greenlit. And while I could have chosen to do it on my own, I recruited help instead. Two new members, Jake and Robert, proved to be good public speakers. I knew that the longer I was on stage the more my nervousness would show, so having two co-speakers was key in pulling off a strong presentation.
We practiced right up until the last minute. I walked into the auditorium feeling surprisingly confident. While I hadn’t been confident in myself, the confidence of my team members was contagious. They believed in my game, and by extension, in my ability. So rarely have I had so many people rooting for me. It was still hard to keep collected during the wait until our presentation. We were third in line, but every minute that passed I could feel myself slipping as I compared our presentation plan to those that went before us. But practice does make perfect. As I stepped up onto the stage repeating my lines silently, I could feel the confidence returning. I knew what I was doing. I did. The presentation was over before I knew it, but unlike normal, I couldn’t flee the stage immediately.
The judges were given 5 minutes to question us. I can hardly remember most of the questions now. Little things we still missed in the presentation, questions about tools and release platform – then the killer.
“How do you intend to balance this game?”
One of the most important questions in a game like this, and I had completely neglected it. It had seemed so obvious to myself, if only I could articulate it. I stumbled through “the mutation factor on the creatures means that players are discouraged from creating super strong creatures either too fast or too early in the game…” This was one of those moments I would repeat in my head for days, cringing at how poorly I felt like I had handled it. Much later I would find out that this question was posed by the creator of Impossible Creatures, one of the games that we had been pointed to as having similar gameplay.
People say that the more you act confident, the more you will feel confident, and that was certainly true for me. First I had to act – to pull the team together, to convince the judges, to make it through the presentation, and now I actually feel it. I still have my moments of self-doubt. Yet, the vast majority of the time I feel fine. I was quickly labeled “fearless leader” and it stuck. I might worry about the next deadline or some code I’ve been struggling with, but I actually feel comfortable with my ability to lead a team. All along, I had possessed many of the traits I needed. A strong voice (training a puppy will teach you that real quick), a knack for organization, and enthusiasm have helped me handle what previously seemed like an insurmountable task.
It feels wrong to conclude this post when Biogenesis is nowhere close to done. Even though that first quarter was agonizingly slow, the past 7 weeks of development have flown by. So stay tuned, folks – this only chronicles a small part of our game development saga.