Craig and William glanced through the draft Steam Store page for what had to be the last time. There had been many last times, interrupted by a sudden realisation or a different delay, but now they were out of last times and out of money.
Only one press of the enter key stood between them and releasing their video game into the world.
Craig nervously flicked through the screenshots. He still wasn’t quite happy with his background art, he worried the animations were a little too choppy and there were elements of the art style he regretted integrating.
William looked at the project and loved the art. He was amazed by Craig’s artwork and the speed he’d managed to create it all. He saw an entirely different breed of problems. He’d never quite figured out that bug that made objects disappear, one in one million times. He hadn’t had time to re-write the audio code, which he knew would be a pain to maintain. There had never been quite enough play testing to convince him the design was actually solid.
“You did good work, Craig,” William said. “It’s a beautiful game.”
Craig scoffed. “The gameplay is the only thing that makes it worthwhile,” he said, and he meant it. In his eyes, William had pulled together a very tight control system, with a seamless design.
“After looking at it for so long, I’m not sure I can see anything good about it anymore,” William said.
“I know how you feel,” Craig said.
They stared in silence a moment longer at the decorated page, the enter key so close yet so inaccessible. It seemed like an optimistic approach was futile. Craig felt a wave of negativity that drew him closer to release; apathy, frustration and a sense of letting go.
“I’m going to hit it,” Craig said, reaching out for the keyboard. “Fuck it.”
“Wait,” William said, causing Craig to hesitate. “What if people don’t like it? What if they hate it, even?”
“That won’t happen,” Craig said. “I think it’s half decent. You think the other half is decent. It’ll be fine.”
William sat back, sighing. “I didn’t think it’d feel like this,” he said.
“Like what?” Craig replied.
William shrugged. “I don’t know. I thought it’d feel satisfying, not nerve wracking. I thought we’d be gaining something but I don’t feel any different. I thought the game would feel finished but it just feels like we’re giving up. Collapsing, instead of crossing the finish line.”
“We could work on this forever,” Craig said. “It’s about time we let go.”
William bobbed his head. “What do you think will happen?”
“There’s a handful of things that could happen,” Craig said. “First, like you say, people hate it, or no one finds it, and it tanks. We give this up and go back to normal jobs to pay back the debt we’ve racked up. We’ll still wind up doing the occasional game jam so essentially we’re back to where we started. That’s the bad option. Second thing that could happen. It does okay, gains some fans, and we get enough funding to make another game. That’s the good option. The third possibility is that it totally blows up, gains hundreds of thousands of followers and we become insanely happy for the rest of our lives, like Notch, Toby Fox or Davey Wreden.”
William snorted and hugged himself.
“What do you want to happen?” Craig asked.
William sighed. “I don’t know. I just hope people like it.”
Craig nodded. “Yeah. Me too.”
Craig hit enter.