"You can't 'solve' a 15-year-old on the internet hating you. It's just not a thing you can do."
- Dream Daddy co-creator Leighton Gray, reflecting on how to deal with the anxieties of releasing a game people are passionate about.
After helping ship Tacoma, Fullbright cofounder Steve Gaynor has started a new season of his game dev interview podcast Tone Control by publishing his recent chat with Dream Daddy co-creator Leighton Gray.
The conversation (recorded this summer during the IndieCade Festival in Los Angeles) is an entertaining listen that helps shed some light on how Dream Daddy came to be, how Gray got into games, and what it's been like for her to see her first publicly-released game achieve some measure of high-profile success.
"I'm very anxious, I don't like confrontation, and for a while a lot of people would yell at me on the Internet," said Gray, explaining that she [along with Dream Daddy co-creator Vernon Shaw] was caught off-balance by her transition into being something of a public figure. "Not internalizing all of that is really difficult."
She went on to suggest this sort of thing happens to a lot of devs ("it's a really common thing") and lamented that more folks in the game industry don't openly talk about it. Together, she and Gaynor explore the notion that an instinctual drive to "solve" problems can be helpful during game development, but incredibly stressful after you've shipped a game and have to deal with your creative work being out in public.
"In the wake of this game, I have realized a lot about myself, and that has been a big part of it," said Gray. "This experience has been really enlightening. I think [making games is] kind of what I want to do. I thought I wanted to be an illustrator, and I think I do, but I'm way more passionate about games. And making games."
She and Gaynor go into much deeper detail in the full episode, which is well worth your time. In addition to specific stories about the making of Dream Daddy, there's a really good chat about metamodernism and its expression through games that was too big to quote but too good to miss.