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'Awful,' 'intimidating,' 'complicated': Indie devs on the guilt of success

S. Prell, @SamPrell
04.06.14
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It's said that money can't buy happiness. In fact, for some indie game developers, an influx of money can mean just the opposite. In a New Yorker feature, developers like Rami Ismail of Vlambeer (Ridiculous Fishing, Luftrausers), Edmund McMillen of Team Meat (Super Meat Boy) and Davey Wreden of Galactic Cafe (The Stanley Parable) explain how the success of their games have, in some ways, made their lives harder, not easier.

Ismail, for example, cited his feelings of guilt over making more money in a single night than his mother makes all year. "Ever since I was a kid I've watched my mom wake up at six in the morning, work all day, come home, make my brother and me dinner," Ismail said. Regarding his overnight success, he told the New Yorker, "It feels awful. I couldn't get rid of the image of my mother in her car, driving to work."

McMillen likewise experienced an impact on his familial relationships. He said that after the release of Super Meat Boy and Indie Game: The Movie - a documentary in which he is prominently featured - he had experienced distant relatives and old acquaintances asking him for money. "This success has artificially elevated me; it's caused jealousy, even hatred," McMillen said. "The money has made relationships complicated."

Wreden wrote on his studio's site in February that he was experiencing depression, and told the New Yorker that, with the success of The Stanley Parable behind him, he must now look ahead to creating its successor. "It's intimidating to think that we have enough time and resources to do whatever we want," Wreden said.

For more on the developing, expanding indie scene, be sure to check out our in-depth feature report.
[Image: Vlambeer]

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