Journey of a Space Elephant

I had an idea ... It was empowering, intoxicating, and it involved a lot of screen time.

Journey of a Space Elephant
Three legged Elephant's with two trunks flying through space. Yep, somehow that is fitting ...

People speak about unicorn's, they talk of the golden goose, today we're here to discuss an entirely different beast.

Back in 2013 I embarked on a journey, a life changing saga.

I had an idea, a massaging of concepts stashed deep in my mind since childhood.

It was empowering, intoxicating, and it involved a lot of screen time.

While my chums were out partying, I was sat in front of a screen. While they shopped, I was sat in front of a screen. While they slept, I was ... OK, you get the idea.

The net affect? An exodus of people from my life.

Speaking to other British business owners, it's par for the course.

People here can't conceive of life outside of the 9-til-5 unless it's retirement.

They don the collar and they go to work faithfully, chained proverbially to a ring in the center of their padded cage.

That proverbial chain? It's a social contract.

When you try and leave the cage they will try and pull you back with words, manipulation and finally they will turn their backs on you.

I thought of it as a shakeout personally.

If these people won't stick by you while you chase your dreams then they are less than worthless to you as they'll only hold you back.

But without people around you, you'll be developing in an echo chamber. So you have to attend conferences, get people to play it as early as possible.

The later you leave it, the more resistant you'll be to change.

Find the right people.


We don't go from zero to something overnight.

We have to work at it, often in tandem with our day jobs.

To realize this particular passion it was 16 hour days for 2 years to even get it to a point where it was appreciable as a project. I had to learn Unity3D at the same time and somehow I thought that being a coder already gave me the divine experience to suddenly create the game of my dreams.

That was likely the biggest mistake of the entire process.

People joined the team who had alternative opinions on gameplay, opinions worthy of thought and I just couldn't take it.

I was totally immature about it.

This was probably due to stress, but also totally a lack of experience.

Those people came and went.

I thought I was an epic level Red Dragon Discipline, actually I was a Level 1 Bard. Hubris.

I mean, it's not like I couldn't admit that I was wrong.

If they pointed out bugs or mechanical issues I'd drop what I was doing to work on them (which is another mistake that we'll explore in detail later.)

Anyways, the issue was this; I had a vision and for some reason I expected people to be able to read my mind and support that vision wholesale.

That would be a fallacy and that is why you need a Game Design Document (and we'll get to that too.)


Once the idea becomes appreciable, we need to fund it - disconnect the umbilical of our day jobs, remove the collar and stash it.

Well, if starting a business took a sledgehammer to your personal life, then the introduction of the idea of money to your team will be like a grenade in a glass house.

For a good number of years Alex and myself hated each other.

I'm not even joking.

We would send each other hate mail, we call them 'love letters' and try to hack each others stuff. Admittedly, we still send each other love letters. But we have an unshakable bond.

This idea of a life? The fun and cuddly gamedev life?

Maximum stress of the soul eating, life destroying kind.

If you let it be that way.


Let's talk about the fans.

If you're lucky you'll get hundreds, thousands of avid Gamers - bright eye'd and full of ideas. These are people who have carved out some of their time to talk to you.

I don't know about you, but that meant a lot to me.

But let me tell you, unless you are sociopathic in nature, it will take it's toll on you mentally. You need to know when to set it down and do something else, how to walk away and come back to it when the time is right.

I mean, just imagine dealing with all of the above, and on top of the you have to lead and come up with the goods and perform in your day job.

If you get too close to it, you'll smoother it to death.

You have to imagine somehow that you're making a game for someone else.

You have to not care about it.


So what's the answer? I'll give you my personal coping strategy:

I work on a few ideas at once these days, it helps me to avoid obsessive behavior.

If I don't do that?

Well I know I can look forward to riding another three legged Elephant into the stars and if I fly past the one called 'Shallow Space' I'll know I really messed up.

If that happens? If you end up riding elephants?

I'd advise you to pack a saddle, it'll be a sore trip.