Quest Creep

I’ve been trying to do more running lately. While it’s not directly related the Quest, it ends up being important because my mind decides to go into rapid fire idea generation mode while out on these runs. The skeleton game ideas I’ve been tossing around for awhile really need fleshing out and these runs end up kick-starting that process. I get back to the house physically exhausted and mentally charged, sit down in front of the keyboard while I try to cool off, and start digging for ways to bring my ideas to life. These deep dives into the independent gaming communities of the web end up being as frustrating and humbling as they are enlightening, mostly because they reveal how much I still have to learn and how far away I am from reaching the goal of a playable demo for these ideas.

I never expected game design and development to be easy; on the contrary, I knew it was going to be demanding. Where I seem to have miscalculated was where I though I might be able to cut corners. In many ways, I’ve often found myself searching for a few hours for a faster / easier / simpler way to do something only to realize that I would have probably gotten more done by devoting those few hours to just learning something more elementary. For instance, I spent the better part of today searching for open source gaming engines, trying to find one that would let me jump right in. Naively, I thought that someone would have spent the time building such a tool, but in a lot of ways, that’s like expecting someone to build a program to automatically make money and then give it away for free.  Still, I found several tools that attempted to give me what I wanted, but the tools I found were either incomplete or too inflexible to do what I wanted them to do. That’s not meant as a point of criticism of independent developers, but rather a realization that I was going to have to learn to make more of those tools and adjustments myself.

At the end of the day, I think it’s important for me to keep in mind that I’m just one person. Anything worth designing and developing is either going to take a long time if I insist on doing it myself or I’m going to need a team at some point. More importantly, until I do get a team, I need to have a more rational expectation of what I can accomplish in a given week and stop chasing ideas that are outside of that scope. It’s humbling to admit that, but short of cutting out the other things in my life I enjoy (like actually playing games) I just don’t see how I’ll get anything done otherwise.

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  1. April 22, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    I also like to go running myself when I need to clear up my head or think up new ideas, the simple rythim really helps you to focus; most of my answers or additional motivation are found there. I’m silly in that I have the whole ‘not invented here syndrome’ and I like to have the experience of trying to keep as much of a game as 100% mine as I can. It takes longer, but I feel I’m better at programming because of it and the effort shows through my games. Still, its good that you’re looking for shortcuts instead of re-inventing the wheel. Anything that’s worth doing well will always take a while though. Finding a team can speed things up, but its hard to find like minded motivated people with the skills you want and you have to be careful because in some cases the time taken to brief and organize them could have been better spent just doing it yourself. The bitter truth is, a lot of game developers do actually give up gaming time to build them instead. When I was at university on a games course I wanted a first so badly I got my head down and didn’t play a single game for several months. It was agony because I could see all my friends playing but I managed to resist. It was worth it though because I got that first. Don’t burn yourself out though either and try to enjoy it. A lot of people don’t realize how challenging it actually is to build your own games, but the rewards are well worth it.

  2. April 22, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    It’s definitely good to hear that coming from someone else. Like you, I want to do this on my own to prove to myself and others that I can, but in the interest of speed I decided to try to look for those tools. The company I work for encourages adoption of open source tech into our work (we’re also open source) and having seen the advantages that can bring to a small scale project’s development sort of inspired me to look for areas that I could replicate that on my own personal projects. It’s definitely not all roses, though, as I’ve said.

    I’ve been trying not only to keep up with my current games but also try to play some new ones to keep the content on this blog fresh. I like writing here, but if starts to come at the cost of ever actually getting a prototype, I may have to look to cut back. Time will tell, I suppose.

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