Let us now sing the Post Release Blues

heartcrabbens

Mental numbness.

That’s the best descriptor I’ve got for the state I’m in right now. Luckily, I’m self aware enough these days to know the exact reasons why: I just released a game.

It’s pretty well known around the game development community that mental health issues seem to hit pretty frequently, but there’s an easy target that maybe we don’t talk about enough.

Releasing a game for sale is meant to be this big bundle of positive emotions: Pride, Anticipation and Relief, right? Pride at the work you’ve accomplished, anticipation of perhaps some sweeeeet money and relief that now you can relax.

Instead, I’m just a bit numb. Maybe it’s that I’m tired – after all, I was up until 5am getting the game out the door (side note: releasing games on the internet means trying to get your message out at specific ‘honey times’ of when the biggest audience is awake and online. This doesn’t line up well with Australian timezones). Maybe it’s the sudden removal of a focal point for all that stress that’s been building over the last few months. Perhaps it’s even the fact I’ve been juggling so many things as of late (buying a home, sorting stuff for Pax Australia AND releasing a game all within the same time period is not a smart move. Learn from me, and don’t do it).

Maybe…. so many other things.

BUT, I’ve been here before. I know exactly what this is: Post release blues. This is something I’ve seen in several of my friends and colleagues in the last few months alone (Australia had a bumper month last month for indie game releases!) and warned them against. Experience has foreshadowed this moment for me, so at least I was warned.

The game’s not selling well right now (maybe folks are waiting to buy it in person at Pax Aus? Maybe I forgot to post it to r/gamedeals who are always great folks? So many reasons), but this isn’t the reason I’m not feeling overjoyed right now. The reason is pretty simple: When you run straight toward a point for so long as hard as you can, it’s really easy to overshoot it when you get there.

So, now I’m just this tightly worn spring with no release. Pent up energy I’d traditionally be pouring into code, art, whatever – and now it’s got nowhere to be used up… and it’s spooling up inside me, numbing everything.

I’ll be ok though – knowing what this is (from personal experience, from seeing others go through it, from an excellent article by @retroremakes on this exact topic) means I can objectively say ‘Hey, this is post release blues, and it’ll pass’. Having that self awareness means I can say ‘Just wait it out. Go play all those games you’ve neglected so long. Go for a walk. Take your motorcycle to the beach or something’. There’s Downwell, Undertale and so many others. Apparently Gemcraft is on sale on Bundlestars, so maybe that.

This is why I’m writing this: Not for me, but instead for others who release games. So when they hit this exact point (IF they do, not everyone does), they can sit and say ‘wait, I know what this is’, and then they can go play some games they’ve neglected. These are things that get easier if we all talk about them – less ‘what is this? why do I feel this way, am I broken?’ and more ‘ok, I need a distraction right now’. Mind you, we all handle things differently, so You do You.

Now, I think I’ll go play some of those wonderful games I just mentioned…

** glances over at steam backlog **