SAGE is coming up soon! As a developer that’s submitted to SAGE multiple times, I’d like to give you some healthy tips that should help you have a good SAGE.
#1- Don’t be intimidated!
(THIS IS NOT THE MIDDLE-SCHOOL LUNCH TABLE)
Don’t curl up in the corner fearing like you’re game “isn’t good enough to make it into SAGE.” That’s not likely! SAGE is looking for minimal effort, not earth shattering game-changers. As long as your game is more than a sprite-change of someone else’s game, it’s probably welcome. Check the guidelines for more info on that. Remember that SAGE is not a contest. There is no "Best In Show". That brings us to our next point...
#2- Aim For A Learning Experience
(AND YOU'LL GET THE MOST OUT OF IT)
If you are coming in wanting to get awards (as I said wrote, there are none), maybe don’t think about it from that angle. A healthier perspective to adopt would be one of learning. There is so much that YOU can play learn by having your game showcased at SAGE. Play testing is very important in getting feedback for your game, so imagine hundreds of people playing your game in one weekend! You will also get the experience of completing a project before a deadline. If you are working with a team, you'll learn how to work together to achieve a common goal (Sonic Heroes, anyone?), which is a valuable skill for professional game development. So if SAGE helps you learn something, and helps you become a Better You, then you can't fail. Speaking of which...
#3- Don't Get Crushed / Find The Positive
(LEARNING CAN BE TOUGH SOMETIMES)
Let’s get big-picture for a second. No matter what you do in life, someone will always be negative about it. But someone will always be positive, too! Unfortunately, our squishy human brains have a bad habit of pushing positive comments to the side and fixating on the meanies. So it’s important to compensate for your built-in negative bias and take everything in context. For example, some people will hate your sprites. Is it just one or two people? Then don’t think too hard about it. But if you notice that a large number of people are all getting confused at a certain part of your level design, that can be some helpful feedback. If someone is a meanie about your game, let the negativity slide right off you. You don't need it. But, don't run away. Instead, face it head on, parse through it and see if you can find a bit of valuable feedback that can help YOU get better while they stay mean. This is a tough balancing act, because sometimes it's hard to tell what's valuable and what's some whacky personal bias. It's probably the hardest part about being a developer. I could probably write a whole article on it. That said, most people are glad to play your game at SAGE.
There's a phrase I like: Don't compare yourself to who others are today; compare yourself to who you were yesterday.
#4- Have Fun!
Most importantly, SAGE should be fun. It’s not your job or your duty. It’s a hobby, and hobbies should be fun! Of course, there will always be that last minute rush to get that last bit of polish to Act 2’s boss fight, and that can be stressful. But there’s such a thing as “fun-stress.” It’s the kind of healthy stress that gives you a sense of satisfaction when you achieve your goal. As long as you manage it and keep it in a check, a little bit is fine. So be such an edgy-the-hedgy. Be the guy that loves adventure.
A bit about me, Noah N. Copeland. I've been participating in SAGE since 2016. If you've visited SAGE before, you may have seen my work on Sonic Project Survival, the Gmate Engine, and Sonic Neo Genesis. I'm also the lead developer of Sonic Triple Trouble 16-bit, and Genesis style remake of the Game Gear classic.