Reflection #8: A Good Artist Knows When To Quit

I stopped describing Axis Descending as a project I've been working on since 2009. Conversations lately have noted just "getting it done" and "moving on" from the project. Coming from people who have seen it in its earliest of iterations, which is a far cry from anything it resembles now, I can understand the sentiment. In some ways I know they are tired of seeing content for the same "game" they have been watching develop for 10 years. Despite its newfound framework and mechanics two years ago, the theme and name have remained the same. At a glance it may not seem like a whole lot has changed.

In the meantime a number of projects have come and gone. Research, development, research development and so on has lead to a series of short games without profit in mind. Instead they have focused on telling a story, communicating a message and typically serving the purpose of an assignment or project for my graduate studies. Each and every one has influenced Axis' development regardless of its iteration at that point in time. By completing these side projects, my main project has been improved. Not only that, but I become reinvigorated to continue development with Axis each and every time.

At this point though, I can't help but ponder when it will all be over. The game has been greenlit on Steam Greenlight. Hopefully, with a little luck, it'll be exhibited throughout the next year at a conference/expo or two. And with the help of a friend, new levels will be added to the game at a fast rate. How many are to be added, exactly? Is there a cap on the number of weapon skins, armor sets and collectibles? Will I ever implement that fishing minigame? How many new enemies are to be added? How many islands in total? How many chapters/quests in the main story?

Much of my approach has been to skip the planning stages, get inspired and just make. My experience building games, creating mods and teaching has lead me here.

Growing up I always saw my grandfather working on numerous projects. His workshop was filled with small scale plane models, dioramas, woodworking projects and painted canvases. He was interested in so many different mediums. His work is still being discovered and shared by extended family. One of his painted wood slabs is sitting in my office. Looking at them now I try not to see them like any other piece of art I have to critique or offer feedback on. I don't examine them the way that I would anything else. They mean something else to me. My grandfather always said that a good artist is one that knows when to stop. In so many ways it meant that he did not have to reach a point where he was happy during every project he worked on. In so many ways, he taught me not to expect perfection out of the work you do. All you can hope for is to do your best and make something exceptional.

Axis is and won't be perfect. I doubt it'll take off, create a huge stir or go viral at all. I will do everything I can, however, to make it as exceptional as I can.


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