Success and Stress

Hey guys, here’s a long blog about game-dev related stress.

Since around November when Epic Battle Fantasy 5 was approaching completion, I’ve been incredibly stressed about it. It’s actually likely I was stressed long before that, but just worked through it and didn’t notice too much until then. The worst has passed, but even now, 3 months after a very successful launch, the game is still causing me a lot of anxiety. I’ve never felt this way about other games that I’ve made. It’s hard to write about because it sounds weird to say it – nothing even went wrong! – but I’ll try to organise my thoughts and figure out why I feel this way.

EBF5 was by far my largest project, taking up 3 years of full time work, without any major breaks. My previous largest project was EBF4, which maybe took around 1.5 years, but I worked on it on-and-off. It’s definitely not healthy to work on a single project for so long. I’m financially secure (largely from EBF4 doing very well for many years), so I didn’t need any funding to make EBF5, and if it flopped completely I’d still be fine financially. However, it would have still been a major bummer to spend 3 years making a game that no one was interested in playing. I was fairly confident that EBF5 would be a success – just based on the huge number of people that were following its development – but there’s always that nagging feeling that something might go completely wrong before I finish it.

EBF5 was the first game I’ve made specifically for Steam, with the browser version being more of an afterthought. That put a lot of pressure on me to make sure it’s a game worth paying for, and so that no one can say “well, the previous games were free, why do I have to pay for this one?” I know people don’t take kindly to sequels that don’t have at least as much content as the previous game, so I had to make sure the new game was bigger AND better by just about every metric possible, while also trying out some new ideas. It’s hard to please everyone, but I think it’s worth trying. Keeping old fans is way easier than finding new ones.

I like to batch my work and complete each part before moving onto the next. For example, I spent around a month just drawing trees and rocks and other background stuff. Debugging took almost 2 whole months. I did most of the art assets before any coding, so the game was half finished before I even had a playable prototype done! This approach worked efficiently in my previous games, but this time I just ended up doing the same kind of work for too long at a time, and it became really monotonous and demotivating. Maybe I should have taken turns working on different parts of the game, or maybe that would have made development take even longer. It’s definitely going to be a while before I commit to spending more than a year on a project again. A lot of people may say “just don’t work so hard!”, but I’d never get the game finished if I didn’t! Progressing slowly is even more demotivating than being overworked! 

The weeks leading up to the launch were the worst. I set myself a deadline because I didn’t want to go over 3 years of development time, wanted to launch before a bunch of major AAA games, and I was getting seriously diminishing returns from debugging and polishing by that point. I had 2 weeks to fix a few major bugs that turned out to be more complicated than I thought. Deadlines are no fun, but continuing to work on the game instead of launching may have been even more soul-crushing. Things got really emotional, and my whole life revolved around finishing the game. I just had to get it done, even if it wasn’t perfect.

My girlfriend Ronja was a lot of help around launch time. She helped me test the game, and did a lot of customer support, while I was stressing out with debugging. I’ve now hired her to keep doing that, and also to do some social media posts for me. However, it turns out it’s not so easy to hire someone! I had to waste a few days learning about all the relevant laws, and doing tax paperwork. In the long term it’ll reduce my workload and be worth it, but it was a painful transition! I can totally see why many people are opposed to government regulation, or may even illegally dodge taxes. It’s just such a thankless and tedious task to do this stuff correctly!

I always liked to think of game development as a hobby, even when I started making money from it. I’m just some guy working at a computer, from his home, whenever he feels like it. I only have to do the bare minimum paperwork to keep the tax man happy. That approach isn’t really working for me anymore – I’ve got an employee now, my tax situation is getting more complicated, and I’m generally not prepared on the business side of things. I’m starting to feel the weight of new responsibilities that I never wanted. Being your girlfriend’s boss is also a weird dynamic to explore. There will be some growing pains, but I’ll do some studying, hire an accountant, and get over it eventually. What a first-world problem – I’m too successful!

Another issue I’ve been having lately is that I’m spending more and more time dealing with people. There’s many volunteers helping me out, either with moderating the EBF Discord server, writing wikis, helping with translations, or sending in fanart. I’m incredibly thankful that people want to help out in all sorts of ways. However, sometimes this means that I have to sort out disputes and arguments, especially on Discord, and I often don’t know the best way to deal with them. I’m neither their boss nor their friend – I don’t really know what our relationship is – and that makes things quite awkward sometimes. I feel I’ve gotten worse at dealing with this as I’ve gotten older and more mature. In my late teens and early twenties, I wasn’t as sensitive to other people’s feelings as I am now. Especially on the internet, I would often reply bluntly to comments, or ignore many of them completely. I’ve always done my best to read all the comments I receive, but I never really thought of them as being made by real people. Everyone online was just an anonymous user. The internet is a bit more personal these days, so that’s harder to do. I’m still trying to figure out how to be nice to my fans without getting too close to them.

Finally, Adobe Flash being a sinking ship isn’t helping me. I was and still am fairly confident that Flash is viable as a game development tool for me personally – maybe not for the web anymore, but for desktop and mobile games, it still does the job. But being one of the last people defending Flash is not a good place to be in mentally. Most of the developers I know have moved on, and I feel like I’m some old guy who’s been left behind by the rest of the world. Adobe’s lack of transparency isn’t helping either – it’s not really clear how dedicated they are to keeping the technology alive, but I’m not optimistic. (Flash is not dead in 2020 – that’s only the browser plugin!)

Even now that EBF5 is launched and stable, every little update I need to do poses a risk of accidentally breaking something – maybe even deleting saved games! There’s a lot at stake, and I’m still terrified of making a major mistake, even though my fans have always been forgiving. I’ve done my best to mitigate all the risks, but there’s always a chance.

So this might have been a bit of a bummer to read. Launching EBF5 brought me more stress than joy, even though it went incredibly well. I guess next time I’ll try to do things a bit differently, and I’m already starting with the EBF5 DLC – I’m only adding content that sounds like it will be fun to develop, and I’m not going to work so hard this time.

I’m not sure what I’ll work on after that though. I don’t want to jump into another huge project, and the thought of working on another EBF sequel fills me with dread. But at the same time, my career success is solely down to this series, so obviously a lot of my self-esteem is tied to it too. I think a lot of people would be let down if this was my final masterpiece, and personally I’m not sure if I’ll be satisfied with only making small games from now on. I guess there’s no winning either way. Achieving important things is not easy.

I’m not depressed or anything – it’s specifically just EBF5 and all the baggage associated with the series that’s causing me stress. Hopefully I’ll be able to find some sort of balance between what I want to work on and what others want me to do.

52 thoughts on “Success and Stress

  1. agentr9154

    The game,to me at least,blew away any expectations my brain decided to make like a nuke to a brick wall.It’s an amazing game! you deserve to do whatever you need to for your mental health,or whatever you want to do.

    Reply
    1. Lord of Monies

      Just a humble fan here so I can only imagine the level of stress and worry you’re going through, that said here’s some thoughts and opinions.

      EBF5 being as big and long a project as it was comes as a result of the entire series you created behind it, main entries and smaller side games alike, which means in many ways you are growing. It is quite possible that to continue that kind of trend it simply isn’t possible for you to work on this alone anymore, you’ll need a team to support you in whatever way you need. May even be the point to move away from Flash which probably sounds scary, but a close team could help work on that transition together to ease things through. Could even reach out to other developers and see if they would be happy for you to shadow them or work alongside them as a way to help you learn a new system more quickly than you experimenting alone.

      As for us, it’s a golden ray of sunshine to have a developer like yourself that cares so much about us in an age of big industry money grabbing, so thank you for always staying true to your fans. Please don’t do this at your own cost. Your games bring joy to many but if you end up listening to us too much then you’re only ever going to make what’s shouted at you. Fair enough you feel tied to EBF as the series you’ve spent so much time on, but I think it’s not just the series that we love but the heart and fun that goes into everything you do be it rpg, bullet hell or platformer. You’ve given us so much already where EBF4 kept you financially stable and now EBF5 has been another success making you even more stable (I imagine). With that safety net it could well be time to experiment again because with your talent, experience and passion I feel we’d still love whatever your next project is even if it’s not EBF related.

      Take a break after EBF5, take stock of the present and see if anything calls to you. If the stress and anxiety is still strong then maybe there’s merit to getting a little counselling to help deal with it better if it’s a growing concern. The most important thing is that you’re ok and happy with your direction.

      Reply
  2. GT ~ 77

    well atleast the hardest part is over, right? that should be a calming thought.
    i think it’s better to work smart than to work hard anyway

    Reply
  3. Jasiek

    First of all: I don’t want to sound like a smartass, so if you get that impression, than sorry for that :<
    Long time fan, long time blog reader, very infrequent commenter. But now I feel like writing a few things, so…

    You made a marvelous job with EBF 5 – I did not not had a chance to play it, BUT I introduced more than a few people to the series by EBF 4 (even wrote a review for it http://yetiograch.pl/gry/epic-battle-fantasy-4/ ), and some of them reached out on their own to play it and are in love with it, AND some of them reached out to me to review it, play it and have a good time. Circle of life XD
    Next: I know it probably won't help you much now, until you chill down a bit, but think about the experience you got while doing it – now you know, better then ever, how to organize your work NOT to get burned by it. Whatever your next project will be, I honestly hope making it will be less painful.
    From the loads of talking I had with more than a few gamedevs I would like to suggest you do something different, non EBF-connected, just for the sake of taking in some "fresh air" into your system. You don't have to even publish it, just play around with the code and everything. It supposedly helps a lot and let's you change perspective.
    Also, I need to write it – it would be better, for you and us (as in gamers) for you to ditch Flash. Adobe probably does not know themselves when they will burn it down. Also: it holds you back – getting into Unity or Unreal Engine 4, could allow you to go places you could not dream earlier like consoles (for example the "Indie Utopia" of Nintendo Switch) or smartphones. Of course that would make sense if you plan to get going as an game developer. If not, then, well… quack it :D

    But honestly – best of luck, try to chill a bit, if not, then chill more, and I wish you many discountless sales on EBF 5 :D

    Reply
  4. Dragonite

    Oh that’s not good.

    So, EBF5 blew my expectations away so effectively that literally the biggest complaint I have about it is that I’ve finished it and there’s not really anything left, which probably makes me part of the problem. I’d already have been pretty okay if you just took a ten-year break before making EBF6, or just closed the book on EBF and never make 6, and after reading this it sounds like that’s probably a good thing to do after the DLC is done with. Maybe work on something really different for a while like EBF:TD or Adventure Story 2 or a definitive/polished Mecha Dress Up or NoLegs Dating Sim, I’m pretty sure that last one would sell like hotcakes anyway.

    Just please don’t totally burn yourself out on this, it would make me sad to tell people that the creator of something as phenomenal as EBF ended up switching to making accounting software or something because the games were too much :P

    Reply
    1. Somebody

      You know, it’s probably a lot of work porting games to the Switch, and besides, none of the EBF games have been ported to consoles of any kind, as far as i know. And even if Matt were to attempt porting EBF5 to the switch, it’d probably cause a lot more stress, which is literally the point of this devblog post. So, i doubt a switch port is going to happen any time soon, if ever

      Reply
        1. HamFantasy

          Even worse, EBF is primarily a mouse based game. There’s just no reason on Matt’s end to really do that assuming that EBF5 is good on its own.

          Reply
  5. Heindal

    I made the same experience pulling off a radio show in my free-time, with a on-going storyline, beside my full-time job. It was quite a stressful as the project was theoretically endless and was so successful and complicated that no one else could cover me. What helped me was to let things go, and accept that not everything had to be perfect and accepted that I was doing this for the fun. Even so it’s probably not the same thing, but I’ve learned that long time projects tend to catch your attention even when they are done.

    Just remember: You did a great job Matt! You pulled off EBF 5 and you did this very well! No it’s time to let go. Fix the bugs or issues sometimes later, log out from social media for at least a month and take a break and a vacation on a tropical island. And stop thinking about EBF 5! You deserved that.

    Reply
  6. ShotgunAngel

    Hey man, I’m with so many other people when I say that EBF5 was amazing and completely shattered all the expectations we had when we first heard about it. That being said, if you’re starting to get burnt out and don’t want to be I definitely think you should take a step back from the series (and anything related to it, so Bullet Heaven and Adventure Story too) until further notice. You’re so incredibly talented and creative I’m sure there are tons of other ideas you’ve got running around in your head, and I’d be excited to experience them. We love you dude, and that means we want to see you flourish as much as your games do

    Reply
  7. Christopher Oakes

    I obviously can’t speak for everyone, but I can’t be let down if ‘EP5 is your last masterpiece’. That and EP4 are two of the games I’ve played the most and had the most fun with (I’m not too great at bullet heaven :neutral: ) As a huge fan, you do what works for you best. You have given me and so many others so much joy :smirk: . Take care of yourself and those you care of first. I’ll be around if you ever do create something new, and if not, then I’m happy to keep playing EP5 for many years yet :smirk:

    Reply
  8. Manderby

    All highly creative people have this problem at least once in their life. And that’s a huge compliment I can give you. You’re doing great, Matt. And you won’t lose your fans.

    My advice? Stop.

    Reply
  9. booyah10

    Here is my opinion as a long time fan and as a supporter who bought both EBF4 and 5 on steam.

    1. I love the incentive that you give to us. It really expands the game A LOT, with all the new weapons, dungeons, puzzles, etc. It almost feels like a love letter to fans.

    2. As much as we would like to see an EBF 6, I don’t think there is a need for it. You did an awesome job with 5 and you can even say you ended it with a BANG. Story-wise I don’t think it needs a sequel because almost each game is a new story. I think you need to rest for a while and try other things. Come back to EBF 6 if after trying other things, it still calls you.

    This is just from me.
    PS. So Ronja is your girlfriend… I saw her artworks in the game, really lovely =)

    Reply
  10. Myzzrym

    Hey there Matt!

    EBF5 is a great game and I loved it. I’ve been working for more than half a decade as video game producer and I don’t know how much my experience can help you, but I’ll share a few things regardless in hope that they can help you.

    As you’ve already realised, if you plan on tackling larger projects you will need help from other people (unless you don’t mind powering through alone, which can be a solution if you think you can do it without burning yourself off) to focus on what you do best – making the game. Someone to handle the business side of things to avoid spending days trying to sort out the in and outs of taxes, contracts and the like, someone to help managing your community and moderate potential conflicts, so on and so forth…

    You will end up having to spend more time with people as a result (and less time in front of your code or assets), that’s just how it is. Surround yourself with people you enjoy talking to and can share your enthusiasm with, people you can bounce off from to power through when you start doubting or stressing out. Invest time in searching and finding these people, and you will find that you don’t have to carry the heavy load of an entire game just on your shoulders alone anymore.

    Anyway, hope you get some good rest, clear your mind, and find what you want to do next! Always remember that you kick some serious ass, and you’re a great game maker :)

    Reply
    1. Gharen

      As a longtime fan of Epic Battle Fantasy, I’d be cool with 5 being the last one. It surpassed all my expectations twice over, and I’m glad I payed for it and 4. You do what’s best for you, and keep being awesome!

      Reply
  11. Dilan emir leon ramirez

    Hello,matt

    I wanna thank you for making the series, i falled in loved with the series and your artwork.

    If you wish to end them and focus on anything else or nothing at all it would be fine after all it is your choice and with whatever it is I will be happy

    You already gave lots of people joy doing something you like it and if it isn’t fun anymore why bother.
    It first comes yourself, take care. :smirk:

    Reply
  12. Yalda

    Hey, Matt. I have a recommendation for you. I like to hear a podcast called Cortex. It’s about two (much like you) independent content creators, Mike Hurley, co-founder of a Podcast Network, and CGP Grey, a successful youtuber who makes educational videos. The podcast talks about working for yourself and provides many tips for people who want or are starting to live that life. They touch these topics of their businessess growing and hiring new people, productivity, how to cope with workload and many other thing that you may like to hear. Not to mention it’s quite calming to hear as well. I hope you give it a shot and it will serve you well.
    Wish you the best, and thank you for bringing such wonderful games to us :]

    Reply
  13. Forger343

    Dude, I’m sorry EBF5 has been so stressful for you, and I understand how it ties to you emotionally. Why not work on small, fun projects, until you find yourself able to pick up the big stuff again? It seems like that might be for the best right now.
    Also, in regards to the Discord thing, handle it more like a moderator in a forum. That would be the best approach to arguments there.
    I hope I helped, even in some tiny way, and I hope you can relax and find a way to work that works for you.

    Reply
  14. Damien

    I think you need to make some short games like his older flash game days. Explore new genres and only do what interests you for a little while. As a long time fan anythin gyou make is a day 1 buy for me. Don’t push yourself so hard and try to enjoy what you do.

    Reply
  15. Michael Lee

    Hey Matt, I’ve been playing the EBF series ever since I was a kid and enjoyed following your development of EBF4 and 5. I remember I was in freshman year of college when you started working on EBF5 and am so excited that it’s finally come out! It’s exceeded all expectations and you’ve clearly put a lot of time and effort in it so it makes me a bit sad to hear how much stress it’s caused you.

    I think everyone who plays your games understands how hard you’ve worked to bring us an awesome experience and you should really take a well deserved break! Don’t rush to make DLC’s or jump into another big project. Honestly, play some games, do what you want, and chill for now haha. After waiting years to play EBF5, I think we are patient enough to enjoy your future work when you’re ready to make it :)

    Reply
  16. Adam

    Hey there Matt, if you are reading this then I want to let you know that I am very thankful for you and the EBF series. I never ever commented on this website but I wanted to let you know there are plenty of people like me who think the job you did is absolutely stellar. I am sorry to hear the amount of stress this casues and wish you can rest and maybe go on a long vacation or something, you have earned it! I will still be looking forward to any game (if you decide to continue on this road) you make.

    Reply
  17. Altarius

    Dude, you need to calm down. First of all, if EBF 5 is the last game you create, you can trust me that noone will feel let down. Second, we all (without any exception) think you are a great and very kind developer. I am pretty sure noone would mind even if you refer to us fans as for example “peasants” or “sh*t”. We aren’t that sensitive. There are some very sensitive people, but they are definetely not in this fandom.

    We wanted EBF 5 and you gave it to us. You can relax. Of course there will be some people demanding EBF 6 and you might feel the need to give it to them, but believe me that EBF 5 is at least the minimum of what we wanted, the rest would be just luxury for us. We can live with Ebf 5 as the last game of the series (I was already happy with EBF3. When I saw EBF 4, I just couldn’t breath anymore. I got so flashed. I didn’t even expect you to even think about making EBF 4 at that time.)

    And about discord, I personally don’t think anyone will be mad at you no matter how harsh or rude you reply. We all know that you are a GREAT Developer.

    Best regards

    Altarius

    P.S.: I struggled to properly explain one point in my comment since english isn’t my first language, so I already want to clarify that everything I wrote is meant in a nice way.

    Reply
  18. pradipayogyartha

    Hey Matt!

    I was a Newgrounds veteran, and still checking flash games and older titles from time to time, and i gotta say ever since i beat undead goku my life has never been the same.
    Although i followed your games, i didn’t follow your blogs and website so i’m sorry if my suggestions are incorrect.
    First, i think if you want to focus on game development (as in a full-time job) you need to hire more people, at least who share the same drive and passion as you. It doesn;t have to be a lot, but just for jobs you feel comfortable to delegate (PR, business, a bit of art & design maybe?).
    Second, perhaps you could take a time off making big games, and work on smaller titles with a new engine, so you can study and master it (considering the sad state Adobe is in).
    Third, if you don’t want to work for too many years, an episodic title maybe? But it would be very hard with interconnecting maps and all, i’m not a developer myself so don’t take it seriously haha.

    Anyways, congratulations for everything, and thank you too for everything since like a decade ago. Cheers :yay:

    Reply
  19. Anoze000

    Thanks for EBF,and your ten years。
    I love this game,just like many of my friends.
    Translation with love is completely different from translation with money , Personally ,without a harmonious, unified and powerful translation team,the latter may be better for EBF5—— at least set a person in charge of polishing for each translation group.

    Reply
  20. Drake

    Planning the own future is always stressful, but even more if responsibility growths. Just natural to be burned out or exhausted.
    Also, thinking of depression, some might describe it in 1-2 sentences while others might not find enough words. It’s complicated.

    Take the time you need. Organizing work to fill stressful work with some in-between fun work might be helpful. I still would love to see some NG+ content but I think everybody agrees that your own health has priority.

    Reply
  21. Joonas

    You’re going through what every successful indie has to overcome: you’ve become too successful to just keep doing what you’ve been doing so far. Very, very few people or teams manage it. Background: I’m a game making hobbyist with more than a decade as a full-time producer.

    If you’re not going to scale your games down, I don’t see there’s any other option but find yourself at least one comrade in arms you trust and enjoy working with. Being able to share the load with someone is immensely helpful. Sharing the work with your girlfriend is great, but be very careful of not letting the work take over your life as a result.

    But you’re in a good place! You know a lot, you have fans, and Flash is just a tool. You can learn another tool if that’s better for your future. Anyway. Every game I’ve released has felt like a massive load off my shoulders, and I don’t like to go back, I want to keep moving forward. Have courage, take some time off. Your post-launch roadmap for EBF5 sounds like just the right thing, focusing on developing only things you’re excited about. You can keep doing that for a while and figure out what you want to do next.

    Reply
  22. Will Kenyon

    Hi matt, nice beard

    Also I wonder if its worth working on the next big project for like a year or so then having a couple months break with a small, not so serious game, just for a bit of stress relief before continuing the big project. Btw I would be perfectly satisfied with EBF5 being the last EBF game, theres not much to improve.

    Reply
  23. David Zhang

    I’m not going to read through every comment that has been posted and I will not read any comment afterward. However, some of the comments I read were inappropriate to the blog post (as if a 6-year old made them without reading the entire point of the topic). Others were closer to the point, in my opinion. There are a few responses I have from one coder to another.

    1. You’ve made some important decisions regarding this game, especially the big one that hovers over your head on whether you should continue working on this project while you are still in the middle of it. I have to say, I cannot state a single criticism to ANY of the decisions you made for this game. In fact, I would be akin to say that you are one of the very best video game developers I have come across, and the list includes Krin with his retired Sonny series (R.I.P. Sonny 3).

    2. EBF 1 was epic. Creating a sequel to that was hard. But for every sequel, you made bigger and more ambitious moves, and that is hard to do 4 times in a row, especially if the first game was great. It’s completely understandable you have the stress you have right now, as every move you make could break the whole system.

    3. In most series, the fans of the series are usually better than the creator. EBF is a rare exception. Another being the Avatar the Last Airbender. Like Avatar the Last Airbender, most fans in EBF series would agree that the creator FULLY DESERVES his praises for the work he has done. In fact, most of the work we fans produce are second to your work. (There were a few that could be argued as being above yours, but your ideas were the driving force for them to aspire such heights.) However, even Brian and Michael, the creators of Avatar, fell short of expectations of fans when producing a sequel. Brad Bird fell short on fans expectations for Incredibles 2, the sequel to the one and only Incredibles. But you, Matt Roszak, have completed the sequel over and over, and you put in the effort to make sure it doesn’t fail. (I was about to say that “you have done the sequel over and over, and EBF series can’t fail”, but there is a CRITICAL flaw with that statement, is that it fails to acknowledge that you are the reason why it doesn’t fail.)

    4. Before even the game was released, most fans find the final boss to be rather…anti-climatical. Nah. It was perfect, an upgrade to the like-able enemy, the Beholder. Plus, it was fitting with the plot. However, by making the final boss an alien (a surprise), the user fails to ascertain the background lore behind the Devourer. Lance also did mention that the alien has an invading “army” unless the Devourer is the army of one soldier. Therefore, I think a good idea may be to explore more of the Devourer’s universe. I imagine the landscape he came from has to be pretty epic.

    Reply
    1. HamFantasy

      Damn, Sonny 3 is down too? MARDEK’s dev going through major depression was bad enough. I wish bad things wouldn’t happen quite as readily…

      Reply
    2. HamFantasy

      The issue with Devourer was that it was kind of a Necron moment. Like we’ve had this mystery foe being built up for all this time and…its Beholder v5.17. Just. Think about that. What?
      He’s an interesting and somewhat enjoyable final boss, however it seemed a bit off as the game is riddled with foreshadowing for this entity and the hints appear to be scattered across the landscape, but those were for the Glitch and Snowflake instead. I actually theorized while playing that the final boss might be those frigging alien masks you see everywhere. The issue wasn’t that the Devourer was bad- its that we had him come out of left field and it left us reeling for a bit while we tried to figure out why and how Devourer was controlling the Gigaliths. (Tentacles?)

      Reply
  24. Nick Molitor

    I have been following your games for a while now. I think that your work is great, and I have enjoyed all of your games. That being said, though, EBF5, while massive and great, lost some of the charm of the others. I don’t mean to sound critical of you or EBF5, but something about the it felt different. Ultimately, I can’t know for sure how you felt making EBF5, but I believe that the best games you make are the ones you pour your heart into. Maybe I’m wishing for more flash games in a world that doesn’t want them, yet I wish that the sites like Kongregate still were treasure troves of labors of love. I guess all I’m saying is that while right now you are the EBF guy, it is not about that; your games have been great because you loved them, and if EBF is not fulfilling your creative desires, please, do what you want. It is more about you than EBF, and if you continue to develop games with the same passion, no matter the genre or style, lore or platform, it is that which will be the most fulfilling, and that is what matters.

    Reply
  25. jordan scott

    You deserve to be happy. Making a sequel that exceeds the previous in every way is already difficult enough, and you’ve done that 4 times in a row now. I don’t care if you don’t make an EBF6, I don’t care if you don’t make another game ever again. You’ve already given so much to us that asking for anything more would be selfish. You’ve done something amazing that deserves all the praise it gets, and I’m certain that most people agree with me. Take a break, work on smaller games, stop all together, whatever you decide to do, just remember, you have given so many people so much joy that you deserve to be happy. To future days. :smirk:

    Reply
  26. RPG_Lover

    Matt, you’re AWESOME, as you said, this should be a hobbie, since you’re financially OK, so don’t overwork youself. I haven’t bought the game yet, only completed the “free version”, and I’m really waiting for it :love2:

    We, your fans, love you, never forget it.

    Reply
  27. Try New Things!

    Hey so I just read all of this and I’m glad you share this kinda stuff with the people that play your games. I just wanted to propose the idea that maybe you could hire one or two other game developers next time you decide to work on another installment in the EBF series. I understand you don’t want to start working on a sequel any time soon (completely understandable), but when you eventually decide it’s time for EBF6, maybe a couple of employees would be helpful to produce artwork for the next game or perhaps aid in certain areas of coding or debugging. While the other developers work on nitty gritty stuff with your supervision and general guidance, you can focus on more personal aspects of the game such as dialogue, storyline and side quests. These are just some thoughts I wanted to throw out there. Take it or leave it, but I think at least one person helping in development could reduce the time it takes to produce these games, especially considering that the next installment might take just as long, if not longer, than EBF5.

    Reply
  28. TeKett

    you can always jump to a open source alternative to flash rather then having to learn java or C++/#, not familiar to them nor game development in general but at least the jump wont be as hard or time consuming.

    Reply
  29. comaloider

    I don’t know how to word it exactly, but it feels like you’ve pulled off a better job than most of the mainstream game developing teams (I don’t mean to throw shade, but really). The continuous updates, beta versions available for public, us being able to have in input in how the game will turn out, these are all fantastic features that made (at least) me fell in love with the series even more than before. And the significant lack of bugs and very wallet-friendly price are definitely a plus as well. I am recommending this series left and right and will not stop until they make me.
    That being said, you have dedicated, loyal followers. I don’t want to talk for others, but I believe we all would be able to overlook an occasional bug here and there and perhaps some final polishing that would be corrected in the next patch if it saved you the stress, not to mention we could help in the process. Your old fans are not going anywhere. We care about you and will wait a little bit longer for the incredible content you never fail to deliver if it makes things easier or less stressful for you. Please, take care of yourself, and thank you for everything you have done for us so far.

    Reply
  30. Rainwalker

    Hey! This is a late comment because I only just read this post, but could I suggest therapy? I won’t go into all the bloody details here, but recently I too found myself feeling a lot of anxiety and dread around big projects. You appear already to have done better than me- I could barely face my projects through my stress, much less complete them. Even so, I think it’s something for you to consider. Therapy isn’t a cure-all to these feelings by any means, but it did help me sort through them so that they became more manageable. Anyways, I wish all the best to you!

    Reply
  31. Random Beta Tester 1234

    Matt Roszak:
    It wasn’t a project on the same scale as Epic Battle fantasy 5, but a while back I wrote & posted a fanfiction, a chapter at a time. It was (for me) the biggest thing like that which I’d done and I had people posting ‘when is the next update?’ and so forth, and by the end there was more stress than joy for me involved, and it was a case of just wanting to get the thing finished and done with and never to go back to it again (or to write, as some people wanted, a sequel.)
    So I can guess (so I tell myself anyway) at what at least a tiny portion of what you’re experiencing might feel like, and sympathise.
    If you’re looking for suggestions of ‘what project next?’ maybe a point-and-click mystery thing, for a change of pace (but which would still let you have fun drawing stuff)? I have next to zero knowledge of modern programming however, and don’t know if that would be simpler or harder than what you’ve just done though…
    And if you’re into Harry Potter fanfiction, I can recommend ‘All the Dementors of Azkaban’ (no it’s not written by me) if you need a ten minute read of what it pleases TV Tropes to identify as ‘Crack Fic’.

    Reply
  32. Spinner

    A good read indeed. It sucks to hear about how much stress you’re going through, but at the same time it is satisfying to hear about how successful you are!

    I would dedicate time to relaxing and light brainstorming just whenever something may come to you. You certainly have plenty of time before even the notion of your next game is even considered. Take time off and passively try to think of a different way to go about it. There is something in the entertainment industry (across virtually all mediums) called spectacle creep. It is similar to power creep in gaming, where updates to games bring in more and more powerful weapons or abilities, making old ones less useful. Spectacle creep is similar to how you described your vision for each new EBF game. They need to be bigger and better; that’s what spectacle creep is. The expectation of each new entry outdoing the last, to a point where each entry becomes exponentially more difficult to pull off, especially in a similar amount of time. But that is what most people come to expect from sequels. Spectacle creep is something that all creators have to overcome in some way, lest they doom either their content or their own personal lives. Extra Credits did a video on this in case you haven’t seen it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKzJWoZWMOI

    As for a solution, I don’t think there is a one size fits all. I think it depends on exactly what you’re working with as far as the game’s genre, theme, development time and all that goes. A reboot may ultimately be necessary, but I think EBF can go in a different direction. I’m no developer so I don’t know how difficult or easy anything is, but a multi-chapter series may work well. Smaller chunks of content with smaller release windows that follow the same story and characters. One advantage of this would be that they would all use the same engine and underlying code. You wouldn’t need to build each one from the ground up. You could also put off the problem of spectacle creep for the most part. So long as the first chapter is strong at its core gameplay, you don’t need the hoard of content that would be expected of a standalone game (like EBF5) at launch, because you could drip feed it to us on a per chapter basis, both in terms of story content and side content. You could take multiple years setting the entire project up, and allow yourself plenty of wiggle room between each chapter launch after that to both make sure that the next chapter is great while not working yourself to the bone. At the end (however much later that is) you could wrap every chapter up into a nice little bundle and sell it as a whole game with massive amounts of content. Again, I’m no expert in game design, but this sort of method would allow for both less strain on keeping up with expectations as well as a steady income with the sale of each chapter.

    The only problem I foresee would be how well each chapter would sell, and if it would do just as well as a full game would. Certainly your hardcore fans would buy each chapter day one, but for others it isn’t quite as sure. It would allow for more potential buzz over time, since so long as the chapter prices are fair you would be hooking anyone who even touched the games. As far as how the gameplay would be affected, all you would really need is a level cap for each chapter, so that players can’t overlevel and breeze through the next chapter. But in that case you would also probably want a different form of progression to occupy their time until the next chapter. What that would be I know you are more than creative enough to come up with though.

    Well, that’s just one possibility. Regardless though, try to go at your next project from a different angle. The same, but different. Prioritize tackling the issues holding you back or holding you down, and find a new more manageable way to go about this whole thing, so that you can be both more secure and more satisfied in where you are going in the long haul.

    Reply
  33. Mr.Wintre

    Honestly, I was ready to spend money on EBF after I completed the third game. When the fifth game came out on steam I was ecstatic. I immediately told all my friends. while they didn’t all go and get the game, I bought it for them anyways. I’m wary of websites like Patreon so whenever I want to support a creator, I will buy from them and attempt to get others into the creator as well. that doesn’t always work out but I digress. To me, time isn’t of the essence. I love EBF and have played since I was eleven. Here I am seven years later and still loving the game trying to do m best to help you. even if there is never another full-length EBF game I will always love this thing you have gifted the world with. I will always share it with those who can benefit from playing it. You can’t rush perfection, even though we’re trying to. everything takes time to be made. chickens spend 1.39% of their life in the shell, how are games any different? you spend 3 years on them, they will live 417 years. (don’t know where I was going with that… By that thought, your game will probably outlive mankind and definitely you.)
    I don’t remember what I was trying to say so, take your time.

    Reply
  34. Mr.Wintre

    I remember what I was trying to say! I am going to be perfectly happy with whatever content you feed me. Even whatever you decide not to, I love your content and the content people make around it. you have brought something unique to the table. even if you don’t think it’s unique it feels unique, special, warm.

    Reply
  35. Shraderc.inc

    Hey matt, you probably wont read this but apparently this is a major pattern for successful indi developers. In the book Blood Sweat and Pixels there are interviews with people like the creator of Stardew Valley who all say that they have a post launch depression for sucessful games. And I just wanted to say that what you’re going through is normal, but all the same I wish you the best of luck in getting through it.

    Reply
  36. Zion

    Hey there, been a fan of your games since the old NG days. I haven’t posted on here yet but I have to be honest: Experiencing the long development of EBF5, rooting you on, playing it, loving it, and watching it succeed is extremely inspiring and encouraging. Especially with all the love and hard work that you put into your projects and how down-to-earth you are as a game dev. Thanks for being so transparent with blog posts like this so that people like me can learn about tackling huge projects. (I am currently 10 months in on one).

    Some advise I can lend you is that there is power in numbers. I work with three other guys, and we all heavily-specialized in separate (but complimentary) fields and have different creative approaches and ideas. And believe me: if just one of us weren’t a part of the team, our project would not even come CLOSE to being as big and great as it currently is. As a team, we’re able to constantly support each other through the challenges of creating a huge project, bring our own strengths to the table, and grow and learn from one another all at the same time. We’re all stressed, and we have our disputes at times, but we’re all splitting the stress and pulling each other through it for the good of everybody and the project. Because of this, the project has become bigger than any one of us, and it’s both humbling and awe-inspiring. This is what you can expect from working with a team. With that being said, I’m not saying that you should absolutely join or create a team of devs or something like that. I think you should do what you feel is right for you and your projects. But from my 10-months in, this is what I’ve learned.

    on a side note, if you’re edging away from making another EBF in particular, I for one would LOVE to see a different variety of games from you. I remember when Bullet Heaven was released I was hella stoked and I’m excited for what other ideas you might have stewing up.

    Reply
  37. Random Beta Tester 1234

    Matt Roszak;
    I also should have added in my previous post that if you’re already stressed, banning the discussion of any real-world politics might be a good stress-saving measure for your discord if there isn’t such a rule already in place.
    I have seen online communities shredded by the intrusion of real-world politics. Unless the purpose of a site is specifically for political debate (or for something less savoury such as flame-wars), I don’t think it’s worth permitting it.
    All the best to you and Ronja.

    Random Beta Tester 1234

    Reply
  38. Nobody

    Maybe is time to learn new skills.
    I know that in 2020 only the flash plugin will be retired, but actually it isn’t only that. You mentioned it, all the game developers have left flash and moved on, and if you think about it, the reason is obvious. The video games market moved to the mobile, desktop and console, the web is practically dead, in order to survive the game developers had to adapt and follow the market to continue to earn money. But obviously flash wasn’t made for these platforms, therefore the only solution was to switch to another programming language and framework, which was able to target the new video games market.
    Now the main issue with flash is that it is considered an obsolete technology, maybe it’s true, maybe not, the fact is that the game developers have abandoned it, because it wasn’t fulfilling their needs any more. On the other side I doubt that Adobe will continue to develop flash, because 95% or even more of the developers already left, the web plugin will be retired, what is left of flash? Just to have an idea of actual state of flash, on amazon the most recent book about flash is five years old.
    No Matt, it isn’t only the flash plugin, it is the whole flash world, which is collapsing and in the reality nobody really cares, even Adobe doesn’t care and they have their good reasons. But be sure that flash will never disappear completely, technologies never die, look for example at Delphi and Fortran, they are still “alive”, but the main problem with these “zombie” technologies is that they get only a minor upgrade once every three years and it consists in only one critical security patch.
    All in all I can’t blame the game developers to have abandoned flash for other programming languages and frameworks, they wanted to do what they like to do, creating games, and if they wanted to survive they had to adapt and follow the video games market. And I can’t blame Adobe for abandoning flash, a company needs to earn money to survive, if a product ceases to earn money, it’s better to retire it and invest the money in a new product.
    We aren’t much different from migratory birds, when the flock is leaving, it’s better to leave with the flock, because otherwise the survival probabilities are really scarce.
    Last week I was thinking about the point and click games of Carmel Games, I haven’t seen one of their games in a while, so I went on their home page and I discovered this blog post: https://carmelgames.com/our-last-flash-game/
    Well they are leaving too, the flash era is really coming to an end.

    Reply
  39. Enesith

    Hi, I saw your post.
    I can understand your stress as it is not easy to manage things on your own.
    Firstly, I want to thank you for your hard work and caring thought put into the game. It was pretty amazing. A nice storyline and plots, sneaky tips and puzzles ( Seriously dude, I’ve almost turned mad seeing all those puzzles I had to solve! They were great by the way… *cough*), The fights required mostly brain than fists (in epic mode … although I bashed them all with a set of skills and defending…). What was appreciated the most by me is the arts (especially natalie’s limit break with differents dresses) and jokes. An overall great game experience I had.

    Secondly, congratulations for getting your first employee, hope you’ll get more to relieve some tasks from your shoulder. Anyway, your relations with your volunteers are indeed awkward. You should think it as a guild management where you are the leader and the rest are people who occupy one of the department of the guild. Maybe you should organise an online reunion from time to time to discuss about things that happen.

    Lastly, That issue with adobe is really problematic. You should see if you can do learn/use something else as to prepare yourself if it goes down the drain. But don’t make it a priority as Flash is still something that is used, and you’re one of the people that can make something of quality with it. I’m pretty sure things will go well. At worst you’ll lose a few games, but then there is still you.

    Reply
  40. Az0rius G4m3r

    If you find this post, please know that I’m honestly rather surprised to hear that even YOU don’t know what you want to do next – I’ve been wondering and worrying off-and-on for some time, but I’m at least glad to have heard from you personally. You can work something out, I’m sure of it. Stay frosty (or whatever else works)! :stars: :stars:

    Reply

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