In many ways I feel like a wind-up toy.
I wind up, I get excited. I’m going to do it this time. (It being lose 50 pounds, finish Inaria, clean the house, whatever.) Then as I start to work I wind down, and I always wind down before I’m finished. Thus I have to finish the task when it doesn’t excite me at all; it’s now drudgery.
But then something happens! I get wound up again! And this time I know it’ll last! This time I know I’ll succeed!
The thing that winds me up the most when it comes to game development is talking about games. Not making them – the effort of making them tends to unwind me. But discussing games, reading about game design, reading other people’s development blogs – all these things wind me up.
But I’ve had a hard time getting wound up since…well, pretty much since the Great Unpleasantness last October.
For a long time after my surgeries, I had anxiety problems. Bad anxiety problems. I-don’t-want-to-get-out-of-bed-because-that-might-trigger-my-pacemaker anxiety problems. At the time, when just driving to work at Aspyr would trigger a panic attack (what was I going to do if it went off while I was driving?) I yearned for it to be a year later…after my anxiety had resolved and my heart was doing fine and everything was okay.
Well, it’s almost a year later. My anxiety problems are almost completely resolved (though I am still on some medication for it). My heart is doing fine.
But everything isn’t okay.
If you’ve been reading my professional blog, you’ve probably seen the decline in both the quality and quantity of posts over there. It really does feel like I’ve lost something – like my heart problems knocked something off me that I haven’t recovered. Or perhaps I’ve gained something; something that has mired me into almost not caring about game development any more.
I need something to wind me up. Sitting at home working on stuff isn’t doing it. Perhaps what I’m saying is that I miss the social experiences that come with game development.
And…I’m back to reading accomplishment porn. That’s never a good sign. Right now I’m reading Mike Hommel’s development journal (and watching his Behind the Dumb series of videos) and it’s great stuff. Mike just keeps everything so light and airy and fun and I just don’t feel like I can do that any more without it feeling forced.
A year ago I wished it were a year later. Now I still wish it were a year later. Or that I could shake this malaise that is preventing me from finishing Inaria and Let’s Play Starflight and that video on Startopia I’ve been wanting to do forever…or even posting a new Name That Game, which would take, like, fifteen minutes.
There’s a Bible verse, Romans 12:2 : “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Now, I’m not terribly big on religion, but the phrase “the renewing of your mind” sounds like just what I need. I just don’t have any real idea how to get it.
Well, how about this:
Stick to game development.
BUT don’t make computer games.
Make a board game or a card game and get your family and friends to sit down and play it with you. And, like any good game, keep iterating until you refine it into pure awesomeness.
I do warn: don’t get too wrapped up in the presentation. All you really need is some dice and/or printer paper.
Who knows, maybe it’ll inspire you to make an actual computer game out of it someday 🙂
I think I know what you mean. I have a load of game projects that just sort of got left behind half way through the process of creating them. A 2D XNA overhead RPG where I kind of hit a wall trying to figure out collision detection, a campaign for L4D set in a carnival where I kind of forgot about it after finishing the first level, etc…
But the thing is, even those unfinished projects are learning experiences. The 2D RPG will never be completed, but I did learn how to make a game state manager and many good OOP lessons. For the L4D maps I learned to find my way around the Hammer editor with some degree of competency. There are no defeats here, just lesser victories :).
You’ll get back on that saddle in no time, and I don’t mean that platitudinously. Game dev is in your blood, and sooner or later you’ll get that itch again. We all do. The itch of greatness! And it will not suffer going unscratched long.
I always have several projects in progress. I used to think this was a problem, but I don’t see it that way anymore.
Sometimes I get winded up, other times down, I work on different things, start new stuff that doesn’t get finished..
I do agree that the social interactions are important,though. This very summer I was “alone” for a couple of weeks – telecommuting to work, wife and kid on summer cabin, and I found myself turning horribly negative.
Thank you guys for your commiseration and ideas. I definitely need to stay social in order to keep myself positive, and I need to stop being so negative when I have problems. Not like it’s going to help!