30/30 is the public-facing front of an alien conglomerate focussed on the continual development, research and analysis of Earth’s creative forces in the areas of underground music and independent video games.
In addition to the review of other people’s hard work, we will also occasionally present projects of our own for your haphazard scrutinization. Though the existence of these topic areas may be perceived as trite and/or ineffectual to human culture as a whole, the conglomerate believes these art forms are at the forefront of humanities deepest non-physical connection and an accurate reflection of the direction of the species as they continue to kill and love each other.
I'm a new Indie dev. I have no finished games under my belt, but have a large handful of unfinished projects including-but not limited to-my amazing RPG hypercard stacks from 20 years ago. Games remained unfinished because I lost sight of my vision halfway through and without that vision, I find myself becoming less and less passionate about working on something. As a life long gamer, I feel like I can recognize when I play something that had no passion put into it, and so it becomes a service to myself and anyone who would play that game to hold off until I can find that spark again.
A recent project I began only 2 and a half months ago was started like any other, with a seed of an idea and the limited ability to try and learn how to put that idea into a playable prototype. As soon as I began refining the controls, however, I felt that well of passion deep down bubbling to the surface, and probably like so many developers before me, I felt like I had something special in front of me. It wasn't long before I was expanding the mechanics, thinking about the world I would be building around this gameplay, and — for the first time — thinking of how I was going to sell this game when it was done. At that point, I felt the most important thing I needed to do was come up with a name.
Those first 2 weeks of working on the game were like a dream. Gameplay was coming together, ideas were pouring out of me, things were forming into a cohesive looking package. I knew before I could go any further I'd need a name so I'd have something to call it when showing friends, play testers, or maybe even press... But even more important I wanted to name it for myself. I was in love with the project and couldn't resist coming up with a cool sounding name that described the game, so I could put my graphic background to work and start designing a logo, start building a website, start promoting on twitter, indiedb, facebook, etc. All these things that I read countless times that need to happen in the process of developing your game if you want any chance of people knowing it exists by the time it goes on sale.
Once I had my name, and I felt confident it reflected the game, I was lost in a flurry of to-do list tasks. Creating a logo was feverishly completed between the hours of midnight and 4am only to wake up at 8:30am the next day to start building a page to outline the game, or start working on a whole new batch of in-game graphics in the same style of the logo. There were a million things running through my head and due to the excitement and spontaneity I was feeling, I didn't give much real *thought* to any of it. I was riding on my gut instincts, my raw enthusiasm and passion for the project and was forgetting some crucial steps.
In amidst this rapid-fire mind state I checked google once or twice for any games with the same name as the one I chose. Every search came up with nothing, save for another game that was sort of close, but was different enough that I wasn't too worried about it. I didn't give it a second thought and kept on with my steady stream of tasks.
Before I knew it I was staring at the Steam Greenlight registration page. Even there I jumped head first into creating a 'Concept' page for my game, thinking because it was still in development I would at least benefit from having people learn about it that way. Not even more than a week later, I read a hundred things and got advice that encouraged me to jump headlong into a fully legitimate Greenlight page. My concept was a concept no longer, as I was already at the point where I had a functioning game, with lush custom written music and high quality graphics representative of the final game. The speed I had spent the previous weeks developing the game didn't slow down and even while progress on the game continued, I plugged forward, putting the Greenlight fee on my credit card and creating a new page for my game, headlined with the amazing name I chose for it.
This whole process felt calculated—my mind was going non-stop—but it felt rushed. The whole time I felt like these were things that needed to be done, and that by stopping to think about them, I would only delay the process and that as long as I continued moving forward there would be no harm. It wasn't until 2 months in—in a brief moment of clarity driven from exhaustion—that I had a moment of clarity that would completely turn me upside down.
My Greenlight page had received a great response; I was on my way to the top 100; I was getting amazing new people checking out my game & following the development process; even my four year old son knew my games name by heart and would ask me how it's going or give me some new ideas for how to make it more fun. All the work I was trying to do to spread the name resulted in a moment of exhausted clarity. I remembered the game that came up when I was searching for games named the same as the name I chose. I found the developers site and in a calm fashioned perused their blog as far back as I could go trying to see how their early development process played out so I could compare notes, learn some things and generally do a better job.
One of the earlier posts I found was related specifically to the name of their game, and even more horrifically, discussed the fact that they once had the same name as I now have, only when they went to trademark it, found out it was not available. Their discovery essentially required them to rename their game to what it is now. My heart sunk into my abdomen as I read this. I was essentially getting a double shot punch to the gut that not only was the name I've been calling my game taken, but another game was almost called it too, and that game had to legally change its name as well.
So here I am: A game that's 70% complete; a Greenlight page with thousands of Yes votes; a short preview trailer; forum threads; Redditt posts, Twitter feedback, Facebook threads and development communities all sharing the name of a game that I just learned is completely unusable. All because I didn't do my due diligence and deeply research the name I was choosing. The very idea of making sure your name is not in use seems obvious, but doing a search on Google, Twitter, Youtube, IndieDB, and GameFAQs means nothing. The name may belong to something else entirely. Something that may not even exist on anything other than paper in a lawyers filing cabinet. If I never found the blog post of the other developer having issues getting the trademark on the name, I would have pressed on myself, oblivious to the fact that the world I was building around me was crushable with a single legal stone.
Now it's time to move on. I'm at the 5th stage of loss: Acceptance. I have already moved on and begun to take steps to my recovery. This time with a little more thought involved. I've already gone through the renaming process, begun redeveloped the branding and prepared for a proper relaunch of the logo, trailer, and Greenlight page. The past 2 weeks have been a complete distraction from working on my game only because its something I should have done in the first place. I should have taken the time to be absolutely sure the name I was choosing was not only a good one, but also one that I could legally use.
I've learned a lot in the 2 months I've been pouring everything I have into this game, and I expect there will probably be many more lessons like this to be learned. While I still may have many lessons to learn the hard way—with over 300 hours of quiet 3am programming sunk into a game I haven't lost an ounce of passion for—I can honestly say it won't slow me down one single bit.
Cosmochoria has been relaunched on Steam Greenlight. You can check it here: Steamcommunity.com
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