The lesson, for me last year, was all about asking for help so I could focus on what I'm good at. I have a tendency to try to do everything myself, build everything myself, take everything on myself. But sometimes, that isn't the best idea. Sometimes, getting someone who has more skills than I do in a certain area means that the things I really am good at can shine.
About two years ago, I wrote a game called Shelter In Place. I test ran it for my friends, then at a convention, and I got a great response from players and game developers. This year, I was invited back to run Shelter In Place again, but I still hadn't finished the technical issues for the game, and I felt weird going back without a book in my hands.
After all, it had been two years. And I was still having problems with the game design. The idea was good, and a lot of stuff did work, but other elements were clunky, and they needed work. Unfortunately, I had gotten to the end of my knowledge, and unless I devoted myself to game design, I wasn't going to get any better.
This is where it comes to a turning point. Do I devote myself to learning game design, or do I finish my novel? If I choose to finish my novel, then this project gets pushed back until I learn more about game design. Which means that if I schedule out my projects the game will be finished in. . .2012.
Which would be four years after I started. Or, I could get two amazing game writers to work on the game, to tune it up, to make it brilliant and tight and everything I dream it can be. I can do that, and I could have it out by Halloween. This Halloween.
Then it comes to layout and graphic design. I have enough technical knowledge to do this myself, but if I did do it myself, then it would be sloppy and while functional, it wouldn't be professional. I could learn graphic design, or, I could just hire a professional, someone who has been doing it for years, someone who does amazing work.
Could I illustrate it myself? Sure! I've drawn stuff before. Some of it halfway decent. Or I could hire the person who drew Fred the zombie, an adorable character with a range of expression who delights the people who see him.
I could try to do it all myself, and I'd end up with, a best, something decent and very late.
Or I could ask for help, get experts, apply myself to doing what I love best, and what I do best, and, by the end of it, hold something amazing in my hands. Yes, the end product will not be entirely mine, it will be a collaboration between artists, each doing what they are best at to create something far better than they could create alone. The question I had to ask myself is, what would I like better - to hold on to everything, or to make an amazing game?
This is my lesson, not that I can't do everything, but that I don't have to. And that turning to other people for help so that I can do what I love to do isn't something to be ashamed of nor an injury to my pride. I don't have to be good at everything, I just have to be good at what I love.
Shelter In Place should arrive in Halloween 2010. You'll be able to buy it this year. And it will be beautiful.