I need to watch it again this weekend. I certainly felt motivated after seeing it the first time, and I've been dealing with a ton of crunch at work and other things at home that are finally winding down, so a little boost would be a nice way to start moonlighting again.
Its clear that everyone is really invested in what they're doing, but each subject handles it more or less well. Some of these folks are betting their financial futures on their work, some their reputation, and a few, it seems, their self-worth. I don't think that's specific to indie gamedevs though -- Anyone committed to trying to start their own thing and make their own way would feel the same, especially if they've made the same kinds of sacrifices and big bets that these folks have made. Top it off with mental illness and you really have people who are desperate to succeed. I know people who are wildly successful by any objective measure and they similarly can wrap themselves and their self-worth around things that would seem trivial or inane to an outside observer. To some, all their success feels empty without that one thing that they think is their keystone.
Most people in this world will never fear that because most people in this world will give up long before they allow themselves to become so invested in any one thing (the exception seems to when it comes to finding love). But that's not to say that all you need to succeed is an ability to dismiss fear or doubt and press on. Sometimes fear is healthy and keeps you from doing stupid things like fighting bears or mortgaging your house to fund your turn-based unicorn-simulator ORPG. I think most successful entrepreneurs are a bit like professional stunt-men -- There's always risk and it can't be avoided, so you look around, measure it twice, figure out a plan, put redundancies in place, and surround yourself with people you can trust -- if at any time it looks like a bad idea you bail or go back to the drawing board, otherwise you put your faith in your plan and your people and go for it 100%. There's a huge difference between accepting risk and just ignoring it though. The one's that ignore it are usually the one's that wind up lost and overwhelmed when things deviate from the ideal; those who calculate the risks have a plan and pivot quickly.
Phil Fish of Fez seems to be more of the type who ignored or was unaware of the risks, being bedazzled by a lofty goal. I'm frankly amazed that he pushed through it in the end and I don't think he deserved the scorn and jilting he got from people. But he seems to have ended up getting through it by essentially mortgaging his self-worth when it was the only currency he had left. That is, when making a great game was no longer a big enough carrot, the specter of loosing his reputation and self-worth became the stick. But I don't know the guy, that's only from what I've seen and read. He seems like a guy that maybe bit off more than he should have but somehow, amazingly, stuck with it to completion. I don't think he's an asshole, I just think he was pushed to the breaking point. I'd have a beer with the guy any time. I hope he comes back to development after he's decompressed.
Jonathan Blow is pretty forthcoming about his issues, and its clear that he's pretty practiced in dealing with them. Phil is an example of someone who was breaking, Jon is an example of someone who knows how to recover (which is always easier said than done). He's clearly introspective and worldly, which is often a common manifestation of someone who's learned to deal with their illness. They spend a lot of time examining and reflecting. To people who spend less time doing that, it can come off as pretentious or arrogant. And the irony is that most of those people have opinions and views they might not ever have examined closely, and espouse them as truth, which is truly arrogant.
Edmund is clearly happiest -- he's also the one who's made the most games and built up over years from small scale. He's the stunt-man, knowing the challenges and risks and taking a measured shot. He's also got the support of his wife and AFAIK, no compounding psychological trauma's or mental illness. Its no wonder he's the most sound.