(Originally Posted on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/7-reasons-why-i-love-making-devlogs-garrett-williams/))
Hi! My name is Garrett Williams. This is the transcribed version of a talk I did for the Philly Game Mechanics 7 minute Lightning Talk, titled “7 Reasons Why I Love Making Devlogs”. This is also available in video form on my Youtube Channel linked here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7PBwAhQ_XQ
Hey! My name is Garrett Williams. I am a sophomore at Rowan University, studying electrical and computer engineering. I have been making my own video games since 2015, and at the beginning of 2019, I started creating devlogs, documenting the progress of my video games. I would love a full-time career in the industry when I graduate, whether that is at a AAA company or as an indie. From doing devlogs I have learned a lot of things, and here are 7 of the reasons why I love making them.
I post my devlogs on Youtube, the second largest search engine in the world. Being that Youtube is a global platform, people from anywhere on earth can watch my videos. I have viewers from across the US, Germany, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, and those are just the ones I know. Though some of them or lurkers, devlogs allow me the opportunity to connect with people from all different backgrounds and cultures. Being in an area and situation where I sometimes lose perspective from other cultures, this is a great way to bring me back and learn something new about people.
Additionally, I always look forward to the comments of my viewers. Every week when I post, I know that there are at least a handful of people who will watch and comment. I may not know them personally and couldn’t pick out their faces from a crowd, but knowing that they are watching and caring drives me to keep creating.
As an intermediate in game development and a novice at marketing, devlogs has become a way for me to learn a diverse set of skills to help me progress in both areas. By visually representing my game every week, I have an organized view of how development is going. I can easily identify areas for improvement when editing my videos, allowing me to later learn how to correct them and produce a better product. Additionally, I have viewers who are more skilled than me, who will typically comment suggestions for more optimized code or give me tips on how to create good looking art. Putting out this more raw and vulnerable content allows me to reflect on my work and others are also able to help me grow.
I post my devlogs weekly, meaning every 7 days new content is hitting my social media accounts. In a world where more content is being produced than ever, noise is a huge problem. By making new content frequently, I can make more noise and stand a better chance at being heard by potential players.
When I decided to start creating devlogs, I made a promise to myself. I promised that I would make 1 devlog every week, no matter what. For 40+ weeks, I have done that and am super proud. I think if I hadn’t made this public commitment, I wouldn’t have worked as much on my games. But by telling the world, even if it was only 1 or 2 people at the start, it motivated me to put my videos out and create my games. I am sure that if I missed a week, my audience would be supportive and understand if I was busy or dealing with personal issues. However, at the same time, I’d like to think that they would be in a sense disappointed that I hadn’t delivered. Though I am harder on myself, I don’t want to let me or them down. I know I can do it. It’s just about committing to doing it.
Karate, Tricking, Impractical Jokers, Spongebob, Singing in the Car, Humor. Those seemingly random words are some of my interests that in one way or another at some point or another I have put into my devlogs. They don't relate to game development at all, but they are all a part of me. For one, putting these things in my videos helps my confidence. Being able to express my true self and not care if people shame me has been liberating and has benefited me personally (that being said, everyone has been supportive of my singing thus far :D). Secondly, it allows me to build a stronger relationship with my community. I don’t come off as this robotic developer who just makes games and isn’t fun. I’m Garrett. I like to be goofy sometimes, I love to do karate, and well, I sing in the car. Being vulnerable like that with my audience allows me to connect with them on a deeper level, allowing for better relationships on both ends.
I have several different interests as I have stated, but that’s not an exhaustive list. On the computer alone, I like graphic design, animation, film, web design, t-shirt design, etc. If a software starts with Adobe, there is a 99% chance I had tried it. Though I like all these things and that’s great, it isn’t great for productivity's sake. That’s where devlogs save the day. Rather than aimlessly try to do all of these, I combine them through my devlogs. The process of creating devlogs involves me making graphics to show the development, animations for video intros and outros, and video editing skills to make the actual devlog. Sure, I am using a lot of different skills to make the devlogs, but at the end of the day, they are all focused on game development. Having focus is probably one of the biggest keys to success, and while I am not completely focused, I am focused enough for success while still satisfying my other interests.
Granted I have only been doing devlogs for 10 months (Now 13), in that time I have started to notice a few different things that aren’t so great. I know several community members dealing with burnout, depression, or personal issues. Knowing that people who care about me and my content are going through stuff like that is extremely upsetting. However, I am delighted to see the overwhelming amount of support from their communities. We all are here to help out one another, and I would love to help expand that community. I’m beginning to help drive that support through my games directly. My current game, Space Prevention Force, is themed around suicide prevention. At the end of my devlogs, I give a little speech just letting my audience know I am there for them if they need help, hoping that people who need that are there to listen. It’s just the start, but I’d like to think that one day I can make a real difference.
That’s it! Thank you so much for reading. If you’d like to get in contact with me, please connect with me here on Unity Connect! I’d love to talk :)