After 4 years of burnouts, failed funding attempts, re-designs & thousands of man-hours across two different development teams, it’s time to put Tether to the back of my mind.
Ultimately when I started out on this journey with a group of friends to make the game a reality I had an idea on how to execute elements of the game, but not the whole project. This in hindsight was a terrible decision – to start making the game before I could envision gameplay & narrative working in unison.
One thing I have personally wrestled with was the theme of the game, motherhood and the effects of leaving a child to do a long-distance job. Obviously, I am not a female or a Mother and have only recently become a parent for the first time. All of these elements put me at an instant disadvantage to truly understand what that feeling must be like especially when your child is having problems of their own. I am not afraid to admit I got stuck inside my own head for far too long with these elements and trying to find ways for them all to fit together.
Even though all my conversations with team members throughout the years, I was never truly happy with what I was producing and I never felt like I was doing the characters or the themes the justice they deserved.
I mentioned previously about gameplay and narrative working in unison complementing each other being a core goal – it likely is for most teams in 2020, nothing new here. In the search for how to compliment the narrative we went from first-person horror to immersive sim and ended on a Death Stranding style game making your away across Mars surface, and we still never found a formula I was 100% happy with.
We did all this based on feedback (mostly from publishers) from our previous prototype, rather than drilling down into the feedback and refining our design, I ripped it up, took elements that did work & redesigned the core experience. This was dumb of me. It put incredible strain on my friends and myself as we crunched away for 9 months to build something new from the ground up to be ready for the next pitching event.
The truth is we were much closer to our goals with the original version we prototyped in 2017 – hindsight is a wonderful thing.
The multiple burnouts along the way also played into the mind fuck I got myself into with the project. Working a day job then working till 1-2 am then getting up at work for 7 am put my body under incredible strain. It’s only recently I have learnt the importance of self-preservation and a healthy working balance after taking myself to the brink. When you’re incredibly passionate and attached to a project it’s absurd the lengths we’ll put ourselves through to see it succeed.
Learning to let go of something you love has been a truly insightful process, one that I wouldn’t change because of the life lessons I have learnt, the friends, people it has introduced me too and finally the opportunities it has afforded me.
If there is a message to other inexperienced indies behind this rambling blog post (ironic really) it’s to trust your instincts, listen to your team and ignore external influences from the realms of Twitter about what’s hip to put in your game.
For anyone interested you can download the first prototype that we pitched to publishers in 2018 from Itch in the link below.
To all the team members over the years that read this, thank you for all your efforts over the years, your friendship to me (and each other) & dedication to the project are testaments to what amazing people you all are.
– Mark Gregory (@markgregory_)