Alpha 1.

Michaël Samyn, June 22, 2012

The first alpha build has been sent out to people who have pre-ordered Bientôt l’été. And even though I know that through the act of pre-ordering without even seeing a screenshot, these people show more than average sympathy towards our work, I’m nervous as hell.

At first there was the fear of disappointment. I was, and still am, fully prepared to refund anyone who does not enjoy the game. I am also worried that people may not understand the game. Bientôt l’été is awfully calm and understated, and probably more conceptual than anything we ever released. I don’t think I’ll be making art games for a while after this. It’s nerve-racking.

But mostly, I’m embarrassed to admit it, I’m nervous about rejection, about failure. And I know this is stupid and that I need to fight it. In videogames personal taste is almost non-existent. Games are either right or wrong. And if you make a game that people don’t like, your game is wrong. If you make a game that isn’t massively successful, it’s because it’s a bad game.

And I know that is not how I feel about other media. You like that kind of music, I like these kinds of books. We are happy for each other that we both find something we like, but neither one of us is wrong, and neither are the creators of these works. They do what they do and some people enjoy it and others don’t.

Anyway, releasing an early alpha has a purpose: to collect responses to the game. And even though I would infinitely rather hear gushing praise and reports on how much people love Bientôt l’été, what matters now is making the game as good as it can be. And for that I need to hear criticism, I need to hear what people do not like about it. And then I need to judge if it can be fixed without altering the purpose of the piece, or conflicting with my own preferences.

The latter is important because I do not see Bientôt l’été as a commercial release. It needs to be good, on its own terms, not necessarily as widely successful as possible (I’ll reserve that ambition for another future project). It needs to be good in the way that I think videogames can be good. And I know that my taste is not exactly mainstream.

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