(Marketing is the hardest part, and this part is all tied up in the marketing, of course, but this isn’t what makes marketing hard for me; this just piles on.)
There’s still work to be done, marketing for miles, but I’ve already sent out a bunch of copies of Teratozoic to reviewers now, so it’s beginning to be out of my hands. The last 6+ months I’ve been working on the game, the art, the rules, the graphic design, the marketing materials, planning everything, it’s all been the work of my hands—ostensibly under my control. The further along the project goes, the more it’s out of my hands. It begins with trusting printers to do their jobs, to accurately produce the specified colors and quality levels, to deliver on time, once I move into proper prototyping—but it’s still in my control to choose the right printers, to adjust my files, and so on.
Once the game is out in the public, in the hands of reviewers now, and in front of potential backers later this summer, and in the hands of players in the Fall, it’s out of my hands. What people think of it, what they say about it, whether they’re interested, whether they want a copy, whether they mention it to their friends, whether they play it again and again or only once or not at all—it’s all out of my hands. Beyond my control. All I could do to influence the game’s future lies in its past, in its design and production and presentation. It’s very difficult.
It’s hard to let go.
When one’s creation is disliked, badly reviewed, or attacked, it’s only a natural reaction to feel bad about it, to get defensive, to want to change people’s minds, or to fight back. Which is mostly inappropriate. I mean, feeling bad is fairly private, but the rest tends toward making things worse, rather than better. So even though those reactions are natural, one must fight against them. One must hold back. Try to let go.
The perspective I tend toward is to consider my works dead once done/published. Dead and buried. Grieve that all the best is behind us, but then try to move on, to forget, to ignore, to make something new. (I’m already working on at least two other games.)
Which makes this intermediate period, where the game is partially public (in the hands of reviewers, already (prematurely) being reviewed) but not yet public and still requiring months of (the hardest kind of) work, quite like suffering alongside a terminally ill loved-one. The pain, the struggle, the hard work and hard decisions and knowing that in the end it’ll only end in death and loss and pain. Even if some may celebrate the work, even if it reaches significant financial success, even if it’s generally well reviewed, even if thousands of people play and enjoy it, once it’s out there it’s got to be dead to me. It’s too hard any other way.
It’s too hard to hold on to something once it’s out of my hands.