30 Great Independent Developers in one month.

Finding Answers in Always Sometimes Monsters

IndieMonth | 363d ago
User blog

By Justin Amirkhani, Creative Director

Always Sometimes Monsters started as an attempt to find the answer to one of the biggest questions I had ever come across. What else could my life be?

Whether the game was ever able to successfully answer it, or if it was even able to pose the question to players is not what's worth talking about here. Over the course of producing ASM I have come to understand that in life there is no certainty in anything, and possibilities exist only in the realm of curious wonderings. No matter what angle I analyze the question from, or how I use the game and the experience making it as a filter, I will be forever uncertain whether my life could ever be anything other than what it is.

This is the real heartbreak of the game.

In many ways, the story of ASM is the story of making ASM. Like the protagonist we set out on a mission with a hard deadline, no real clue how to progress, and mired in the tedium of work. Here and there we'd find lessons and misadventures, all in pursuit of a highly intangible goal we only really appreciated in dreams. As we pull to the end of the journey, sacrifices need to be made, and we come to an ending that is equal parts celebratory and gut-wrenching. A guilty feeling overtakes as the credits roll and we think of all the ways we could have done things better, and we want to play again.

Being happy with what you've made is probably the most difficult thing about creating any form of art. Even when your praises are being sung, it can be hard to believe what people are saying because you know how much better it could have been given just a little more time. Sadly, with a game like ASM there is no "done". No matter what you do or how much effort you put in, you will inevitably release something that may be good, maybe even great, but will always feel incomplete to the creator.

It's like running on a track by yourself; only you decide how many laps is enough.

Still, I look at myself and my life now that we're through with our first game and things look good. We're comfortable and fulfilled, making a living doing something we love. Nothing is perfect, our naive ideals are unmet, but everything about life is better than it was before we started. Perhaps this is what the game was trying to teach me all along.

What else could my life be? With persistence and effort, it could be better.

Seeing an idea of yours come to life and success from scratch leaves you with no doubt that hard work has its rewards. I now know that regardless of circumstance, I can always improve my station with the will to endure. That's a valuable lesson to learn, and probably the most important thing gained from making a game.

As we move forward from Always Sometimes Monsters, and on to whatever comes next, it's with a confidence that we never had before. With luck it bolsters our ability to deliver games that continue to impact people emotionally, and never cripples us by turning into cheap hubris. Vagabond Dog has only started telling its stories, but now that we know someone is listening, there's all the more reason to keep talking.

Day 8 | Vagabond Dog

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F4sterTh4nFTL   363d ago | Spam
Derekvinyard13  +   363d ago
This game seems like it goes real deep, gotta play it
cleft5  +   363d ago
I guess it makes sense for a developer to feel like no matter what they release, particularly a game like ASM, you are never done. I remember a lot of other developers saying that when they look at their games all they can see is what could have been better or what they left out. I think thats the sign of a great developer, looking at their working and seeing how they can improve on it.
randomass171  +   363d ago
I think that applies to almost any art form, especially video games. People love Metroid Prime, but some of the former members of Retro who designed that game said they thought it sucked. Go figure!
XtraTrstrL  +   363d ago
A game about life, if it's fun - I'll play it.
rambi80  +   363d ago
" A guilty feeling overtakes as the credits roll and we think of all the ways we could have done things better, and we want to play again"

Life would be a lot more interesting if there were save points i could return to.
randomass171  +   362d ago
I feel ya there man, I feel ya there. :(
SpeedDemon  +   363d ago
Seems like the game can spawn some pretty humorous stories.
oasdada  +   363d ago
This is pulling me in
TreFord  +   363d ago
I like seeing indies be a big factor now in gaming
LightDiego  +   363d ago
The story looks amazing, really want to check it.
beepbopadoobop  +   363d ago
Cool trailer, theres so much passion put into indie games compared to most big publisged titles out there
randomass171  +   362d ago
That's because indies are not constrained by fixed budgets, shareholders and money grubbing publishers. They work on their own schedule, whatever budget they can work with and whatever game type they want. It goes to show how you can do a lot with a little.
dictionary  +   363d ago
There are a lot of details in the areas, nice job.
Budobear  +   363d ago
The more I see the more I'm liking this game, loving the little touches in the art work that add more detail than you would think is possible for 8 bit style.
WillGuitarGuy  +   363d ago
"A guilty feeling overtakes as the credits roll and we think of all the ways we could have done things better, and we want to play again."

Not going to spoil To The Moon, but I felt the same way with that game, knowing I couldn't change the ending, but still ended up playing it again to find out more of what I missed on my first playthrough. Back onto Always Sometimes Monsters though, I have a strange feeling that I'll feel depressed afterwards...bring it on!
#12 (Edited 363d ago ) | Agree(0) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
randomass171  +   363d ago
That was kinda sorta my playthrough of Heavy Rain. Same ending mechanic, same drive to see different outcomes in the main plot. Wonder if this game will play out the same way...
shadowvisa  +   363d ago
Caffo01   363d ago | Spam
LukeFair  +   363d ago
Those guys seems to really love what they do. I will check this game out for sure
user3050031   363d ago | Spam
pyrocloud7  +   363d ago
I mentioned on another article that this graphic style was not my cup of tea, however as I see more screenshots of the game I think it's growing on me, might have to check this one out.
mydyingparadiselost  +   363d ago
These guys seem like they might have the talent to see their vision through.
Valenka  +   363d ago
Always Sometimes Monsters completely messed with my head. Absolutely loved it but absolutely hated it at the same time, haha. Great game overall though!
randomass171  +   362d ago
Sounds like it was very thought provoking. I find this exciting. :D
electricrabbit  +   363d ago
This game is going to give me feels I can tell.
Emilio_Estevez  +   363d ago
Super interesting, hope I win!
coolbeans  +   363d ago
Appreciate you sharing your thoughts here, Mr. Amirkhani. That last sentence is a pretty cool sendoff.
iceman06  +   363d ago
"Seeing an idea of yours come to life and success from scratch leaves you with no doubt that hard work has its rewards." If this isn't a ringing endorsement for the support of indie developers, I don't know what is.
lazyboyblue  +   363d ago
Added the game to my steam wish list this morning. Looks great.
ldurham  +   363d ago
My laptop would have no problem playing this game. This is one reason I like indies: most of them have low system requirements :)
gobluesamg  +   363d ago
That trailer looks great.
Disagree  +   363d ago
your passion inspires me.
reberk  +   363d ago
Hey, good for you! It's all about making things you feel good about making. Never settle for making just what it seems the market wants.
BiggCMan  +   363d ago
I like the art style though.
ichizon  +   363d ago
"Sadly, with a game like ASM there is no 'done'."

It's sad, but true. I am sure that there could be endless permutations and redesigns to this game, but an important part of game development (and pretty much any job) is knowing how to set limits. I think you managed ASM well for what it is, and that's exactly how it should be: Well within your boundaries.
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