Become a documentarian of your work

I enjoy reading rags to riches stories. They are powerful, inspirational and they resonate with our emotions. Humble beginnings connect us. They are a reminder that no matter who you are, or how broke you are, you do have a chance to succeed.

 Game Engine Beginnings. Circa 2013: Implementing the rendering engine.

Game Engine Beginnings. Circa 2013: Implementing the rendering engine.

Now and then, I search on Wikipedia the stories of successful companies. I look for any photos that were taken before they made it big. I enjoy reading their "About" page and get a glimpse of how it all started.

Success is not glamorous as the media sells it. In fact, It is a lot of time working in the dark. I know this fact first hand.

 Game Engine Beginnings. Circa 2013: Improving the rendering engine

Game Engine Beginnings. Circa 2013: Improving the rendering engine

I worked over 15,000 hours in developing a 3D game engine. I would wake up at 5 am and work on the engine from 5am-7am before heading to work. I worked on it during my lunch break. And then again after work. And during the weekends, I would work on it for about 16 hours. I wanted to develop a 3D game engine so bad, that it became my life for about three years and a half.

 Game Engine Beginnings. March 2014: Improved the engine to render textures.

Game Engine Beginnings. March 2014: Improved the engine to render textures.

Throughout this time, the thought of failure kept disturbing my peace. I kept thinking, what if I fail and have nothing to show? What if this is just a waste of time?

 Game Engine Beginnings. April 2015: Improved the shadows in the engine

Game Engine Beginnings. April 2015: Improved the shadows in the engine

However, I found a way to combat it. I was inspired by Austin Kleon to document the humble beginnings of my game engine. At first, I was against this idea. In my mind, nobody would want to see the progress of my game engine. But Austin made me realize that it is the process, not the end product, that makes our work exciting and inspiring.

 Game Engine Beginnings. July 2016: Collision Detection System implemented.

Game Engine Beginnings. July 2016: Collision Detection System implemented.

I want to let you know that you are not alone in your struggles. It is OK if your game is not glamorous yet. It is OK if your indie game studio is your room. That is OK if your game only sold ten copies. And there is something powerful about your struggles.

 Game Engine Beginnings. Sept 2016: Improved animation and shadows effects.

Game Engine Beginnings. Sept 2016: Improved animation and shadows effects.

The finish line of success does not inspire people. It is the road you took to achieve it. It is your suffering, the pain, the obstacles that make your story interesting. It is what gives others strengths to go beyond they thought possible. It is your underdog story that connects us as human beings and inspires us.

 Game Engine Beginnings. Aug 2016: Game engine first demo.

Game Engine Beginnings. Aug 2016: Game engine first demo.

So document your humble beginnings. Share photos and videos of your work in progress. Take screenshots of your game. Share pictures of your indie studio; even if it is your room. Write about your struggles and how you overcame them.

 Game Engine Beginnings. Dec 2016: Added particle system to the engine.

Game Engine Beginnings. Dec 2016: Added particle system to the engine.

Don't worry if your game characters look like crap. Don't worry if your game mechanics suck. Don't worry if there are plenty of bugs. It is all OK. As indie game developers, we can all relate and do understand that it is a work in progress.

 Game Engine Beginnings. Dec 2016: Tested the engine collision detection capabilities.

Game Engine Beginnings. Dec 2016: Tested the engine collision detection capabilities.

A final product is not interesting. It is not inspiring. What is, is your story.

So what is your story?

Harold Serrano

Computer Graphics Enthusiast. Currently developing a 3D Game Engine.