A need for creative seclusion

Last week, I decided to end the development of Seashine after a long discussion with my wife where we both agreed Seashine had done us far more harm than good.

We both felt relieved.

The following days, I felt empty. I thought I just needed time to process. But it was not that. Something was wrong.

Waking up with the idea of not being able to create new lifeforms made me very sad.

Was Seashine really the source of the long-lasting psychological distress, the exhaustion and the countless burnouts?

I love creating games. How come Seashine keeps destroying me?

So many things I love

I’m a PC gamer. The games I love and have played the most are strategy games like Civilization and simulators as different as Kerbal Space Program and Arma.

The game genre of Seashine is not my cup of tea but working on the game is like playing a complex tower defense and I love the tower defense mechanic.

In Seashine, from my developer point of view, the opponent is the player and I must place obstacles, traps and puzzles to stop him/her. The player is the jellyfish and I am the abyss. Being the abyss is a complex but very entertaining role.

I also really enjoy working on deep sea biology and environments. I’m learning a lot of things. My thalassophobia brings a certain thrill to my work.

This fits well in my ikigai, a Japanese concept that I really like.

What I want to implement in Seashine to raise awareness on environmental issues, the educational content I want to add, and the fact that Seashine helps so many people fight their anxiety are all part of my mission and vocation.

I earn almost nothing with Seashine. But there’s a chance that the upcoming bonus in-app purchases (and donations?) will allow me to earn at least a minimum wage. My ikigai would then be complete.

So how did Seashine get so toxic to me?

Technical troubles?

The May 2023 update was a technical nightmare and the issues I had with Google Play preventing the release was a huge blow to my motivation. But I worked hard and I was able to release the update.

I thought everything would get better after this update. I thought I would finally be able to return to creative work and enjoy a healthy creative routine.

It didn’t happen. Things got worse quickly.

Technical issues can be really annoying, but they’re not what constantly gets me down. They are not why Seashine always leads me into a destructive loop.

The discrepancy between players’ perception and reality

After 8 years of reading comments and feedback, I know players are in majority extremely ignorant on the amount of time, skill and money needed to create a video game.

The reality of game development is very harsh in 2023 (in case someone reads this before AI starts generating entire video games). Most game developers never finish their game. Of those who do, most fail to see a return on investment.

The game industry is not glorious or some kind of get-rich quick industry. It’s an incredibly complex industry fueled by burnouts and crunch culture.

I always recommend watching Indie Game: The Movie. It’s a fantastic documentary giving an insight into how mentally and physically challenging creating a game is. It was filmed during the golden era of indie games. Things are much harder now as it’s extremely hard for indie games to get noticed nowadays.

This 2016 article on Vice is also a good read.

Making/publishing a quality game requires an insane amount of skills. A solo game developer like me has to be the game designer, the programmer, the concept artist, the technical artist, the 3D artist, the UI artist, the sound designer, the musician, the level designer, the writer, the quality assurance tester, marketing and PR, the project manager, the business manager, the player support, the publisher,…

Making/publishing a quality game requires an insane amount of dedication and patience, especially when you don’t have money like most indie devs.

Famous triangle of project management choices for getting something made where you can only pick two of the following: speed, high quality and low cost.

I wish the game industry was more transparent on how hard it is to create a game instead of releasing so many big games full of gamebreaking bugs, selling unfulfillable promises (Kerbal Space Program 2 = 😭) and relying on crunching all the time.

The unfulfilable expectations of the players

Everyday and especially just after the release of an update, the most common message I receive is “when is the next update” or “add this, do that”, when it’s not extremely ungrateful people leaving a bad rating because I didn’t add enough… for free.

I have this awful feeling of being a slave to so many spoiled consumers, modern individuals unable to be grateful for all the amazing things getting delivered to them in an instant, even when it’s free.

No matter how hard I work, no matter how hard my life becomes to keep working on this free game, the majority of players will not even try to imagine the efforts and sacrifices behind the game.

“Games are these really little magical boxes that run on smoke. The less visible stuff is holding the game up just as much as all that other stuff.”

Nina Freeman

Imagine you are at work and your boss (the player) only perceives a small fraction of your actual work, let’s say 1%. How long would you keep working there if your boss kept ignoring 99% of your work while pushing you to catch up?

Imagine constantly receiving messages of people asking you when the next update will be released, and about half complain about the wait. Imagine receiving these messages ALL THE TIME for more than 7 years.

The constant pressure, implicit or explicit, to add more, to do more, to work faster, from too many people who can’t even start to imagine the complexity of game development completely killed my enjoyment of working on Seashine.

Building a shell

A very small part of the player base has been supportive and kept telling me to take all the time I need. I’m very thankful for that.

These beautiful people are rare and so precious. They should be the normality in Humanity but sadly they are not. Because of that, I have to create a shell to completely protect myself and Seashine from external pressure.

Seashine can only survive this way. A good metaphor would be homeschooling my child after too much bullying at school, a school not even suitable for my child.

From now on, I will either not communicate about Seashine or only one way, blocking the ability to reply or comment on any of my posts, except maybe on my website where I can easily filter what is sent to me.

I will mask anyone explicitly or implicitly disrupting my well-being while I work on this extremely complex task of expanding Seashine.

From now on, I will also stop posting previews of my work publicly on Twitter and Facebook. Most of the images, videos, and information about what I’m working on will only be available to people supporting my work on Ko-fi via a monthly subscription.

This should keep away the ungrateful players. Hopefully it will also provide a bit of financial support for Seashine’s development.

This might hurt the visibility of Seashine but I really don’t care. The priority is my well-being and Seashine to become what I envision.

I was not made for this kind of exposure and pressure.

I want to feel joy again when I work on Seashine.

“I have spoken.”

Kuiil, in The Mandalorian television series


  1. I’ve been playing Seashine since it was first released on the App Store. Over the years, this game has never failed to bring me a sense of peace. I’ve always appreciated the artistry, technical skill, and research it’s taken to create this game. I’ve always been fascinated with the ocean and its depths, and I was so excited to find this game all those years ago. I’ve been able to share this game and experience it with my closest friends and my partner, and this game brings joy to everyone I share it with. It’s been disheartening to see the amount of people who don’t appreciate the years of hard work it has taken to bring this game to life. I can’t imagine how it must feel, being the creator. Your passion for the environment is infectious, and growing up with a love for nature, I deeply appreciate the message you are sending with Seashine and its development. I guess what I’m really trying to say, is that no matter what direction you take with Seashine, you will always have the support of people like me. My life was changed, even if in a small way, for the better with Seashine.

  2. I can’t even explain how much Seashine has meant to me. I have played it ever since the beginning and it has followed my roughest and greatest journeys. Since I have moved and travelled a lot in my life, Seashine has been some kind of reminder that no matter where in the world I was, I still was a little jellyfish in a vast void…
    Seashine inspired me to do so many new and great things that I now adore like biology and 3D modeling, and I thank you for bringing that to my life!
    I’m very sorry that Seashine didn’t manage to reach the popularity it deserved. The world would have been a better place with Seashine in the hands of all. But you are doing the right thing by prioritizing your health and I will always support your decisions.

    Don’t worry about these pesky reviewers! They probably go to an ad game the next minute, they don’t know anything about quality!
    You are one of the few that have created a true hidden gem 💎 in the vast void of the App Store. Everyone that I have shared this game with has loved it! Thank you for making Seashine! 🪼

    Good luck and have fun!

    1. Giovanni, thank you so much for your very kind words, your long lasting support, and all of your help with the beta. 💙

  3. Mire, yo lo se, usted lo sabe, todos lo saben, la gente es en su mayoría ignorantes y mal agradecidas por todo, incluyendo lo que a hecho en estos años. E incluso usted mismo lo a dicho, esta iba a ser una actualización pequeña y que estaba teniendo problemas con la nueva versión de Unity, y aparte también están los problemas de su vida privada como el echo de que se esté mudando y su discapacidad. Y la gente aún se queja, y yo aún me sigo preguntando, de que se quejan! de que rayos se quejan! usted nos dio todo lo que prometió!, y aún se quejan. Que gente tan ignorante, de que rayos se están quejando si les dio lo que nos dijo que nos iba a dar. Mire, yo no estoy ni e estado al nivel de estrés y problemas que tiene ahora mismo pero algo si le puedo decir, esta gente no merece nada de usted. Usted a estado trabajando tanto y tan duró en esto solo para que se quejen? No, y estoy agradecido de poderle decir que no, por que del otro lado de la moneda estamos aquellos que si apreciamos y agradecemos su trabajo, teniendo en cuenta los problemas técnicos y físicos que tiene asique usted tardese lo que se tenga que tardar y denos lo que nos pueda dar. Sin prisa. No se preocupe, no nos va a pasar nada por esperar lo que se tenga que tardar para una nueva actualización de seashine. Y si de algo le sirve, le comento que mi hermano y yo jugamos su juego y lo apreciamos mucho aparte mi hermano tiene autismo nivel 3 y aun así y con su discapacidad juega su juego y es muy bueno. Pero ya, muy bien, creo que ya me entendió, así que me despido no si antes decirle, muchas gracias por lo que a hecho por nosotros.

    1. Muchas gracias por este apoyo. Espero que Seashine le haga la vida un poco menos difícil.

  4. As someone who’s played your game for years, it’s saddening to think that there are so many people hating on Seashine. Clearly lots of hard work and love was put into the game, but guess some people can’t see that. I’ve loved sticking with Seashine all these years and watching all the progress being made! Hopefully working on Seashine will become more enjoyable with all the haters hopefully being taken out of the picture. This game is a masterpiece and you should take great pride in all your hard work. Keep doing an amazing job and best of wishes for the future!

    1. Thank you so much. 💙
      There’s much more love than hate but the bad people are really a part I can’t deal with anymore if I want to preserve my mental health!

  5. Thank you, Pated. Thank you for giving us this amazing game, thank you for working on it even when people are ignorant, thank you for not giving a damn about people’s negativity. Your hard work, persistence, determination and dedication is what makes you an amazing game developer. Seashine is a great game, and you should be proud to have made it. It was made with the perfect balance of thrilling gameplay, suspense, simplicity and relaxation. Sure, some designs of the creatures are old, but they add to the beauty of Seashine. You, along with Seashine are often overlooked, pushed to their limits, and ignored. People need to understand the beauty and quality comes with time. They need to understand that people with certain diseases like muscular dystrophy need space to work, that they don’t need to be constantly pushed. Thank you, Patrick, for this amazing game. Take all the time you need.

  6. I just downloaded this game today and I’m already in love with it. This game is so fun with so many twists and turns and surprises. Keep this game alive note that you could also work with a video game company probably not a realistic thing that’s gonna happen although. Keep going you can do it.

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