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Forgetting How to Play


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#1 Schwartz86   Members   -  Reputation: 102

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 09:46 PM

Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to make video games. Video games were my life for a good portion of my childhood. At the time, I had 1000's of ideas for what I thought would be the most amazing games the world would ever see. I would often create my own games (the kind that weren't digital), change the rules of existing games, re-enact stories/TV shows/games leading to my own unique adventures. I also developed a passion for books at a very young age. I even started writing my own stories and adventures. My teachers and parents all seemed to think that I would be a writer. Looking back on it now, it seems it was during this time that my imagination was at an all time high (peaking around Jr high). I would assume this is rather true for most people. It was around this time I received a PC for Christmas. Most of my day outside of school was spent playing computer games or play with HTML to make fun little websites. I eventually started teaching myself to program, in order to help achieve my long term goal of creating games for a living.

I decided to go to college and study computer science. It was around this time I believe my imagination and creativity started to fade. My leisure activities went from video games and books to girls and booze. I too imagine this is somewhat typical. I soon lost all interest in gaming and my dream of developing computer games died. I remember distinctly talking to a recruiter from a game production studio at a career fair. He asked me what my favorite video games were and if I would be interested in developing games for a living. I more or less blew him off, thinking to myself "I have more important things to do with my life than make games". I am not sure what had changed, perhaps my creative side had been drowned by all the science/math/logic I was studying? Whatever it was, the change definitely took place in college.

After graduating with a respectable GPA, I took a job as a software engineer working on flight simulators. In an attempt to build upon my technical abilities I decided to pursue a master's degree (on top of a full time job). This semester I enrolled in a video game programming class, thinking it would be a fun/easy course. Since then, my interest in creating games has been revived. I started some small projects but they all tended to flop. It wasn't until tonight, after driving home from a seminar by Ernest Adams (founder of IGDA) that I realized why my projects had been failing. It wasn't because I was technically incompetent, which had held me back as a child. After some serious thought I have come to the conclusion that the problem is a lack of inspiration and creativity. I find this ironic, since I was FULL of imagination/passion/creativity as a young adult. Upon gaining my technical ability it seems my creative side has diminished.

Has anyone else experienced this? What is the solution? I have decided to make an attempt to make some time to start reading fiction again (last book fictional book I read was probably in high school). I also have picked up some video game and plan on trying to make time for some long needed play. Does anyone else have any suggestions for sources of inspiration or ideas for game design?

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#2 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 13326

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 10:11 PM

I have decided to make an attempt to make some time to start reading fiction again (last book fictional book I read was probably in high school)... Does anyone else have any suggestions for sources of inspiration or ideas for game design?

I think reading fiction is a really good idea. Don't "make an attempt to make some time." Read!
I've got some fiction books listed in my recommended game design books at http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson8.htm
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#3 forsandifs   Members   -  Reputation: 154

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 04:28 AM

Has anyone else experienced this? What is the solution? I have decided to make an attempt to make some time to start reading fiction again (last book fictional book I read was probably in high school). I also have picked up some video game and plan on trying to make time for some long needed play. Does anyone else have any suggestions for sources of inspiration or ideas for game design?


Something that always gives me massive inspiration for game design is playing a game. This is because while I'm playing it I'm often thinking "this is a great game, but if it had this it would be amazing", or "this is a rubbish game because of this this and this. I think this game should have been made like this this and that", or they inspire ideas that are tangent to themselves, or they are examples of good or bad game design principles/ideas/philosophy.

#4 Coz   Members   -  Reputation: 169

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 04:52 AM

Do more creative stuff.

Like forsandifs said, play games. Read books again. Push your boundaries. Listen to music you usually don't like.

Personally what I do when my creativity seems to run out, is to get on youtube and watch a game videos, trailers, playthroughs or whatever, though I have the tendency to watch more indie games since they often are more experimental. If I have an vague idea of what I want, I search for videos of that kind of games. This has the bonus that I don't have to spend 10 hours playing just to be creative, a few minutes are enough.

#5 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5671

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 05:30 AM

The key question is, why do you still care? If you think you have more important things to do in your life, they why don't you pursue these other things instead? Why does it bother you? Why do you hesitate to say "I quit making games forever"? I think the answer to this question will tell you where your lost creativity is right now.

I would stop making anything related to gaming temporarily. And after a while examine how I feel. Do I find something missing or not?

It's not like all people are born to make games, actually, we here are just a tiny percentage of abnominions that love making games more than playing them. If you are not one of such people it is completely natural, you are the healthy and normal one :D You don't have to make games, you really don't have to. If you can quit making games and have no regrets I definitely recommend it. It is not the best career ever.

Do not pursue your creativity, it is your creativity that is supposed to hount you :D

Working on an Emperor focused, no micromanagement, asymmetric, 4X, space empire builder:

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#6 Edtharan   Members   -  Reputation: 606

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 09:03 AM

Biologically, this has an explanation.

During childhood, you brain is growing neurons quite rapidly and the neurons that you have are making as many connections as they can. This increases the potential processing that your brain can do, however, it is not very efficient in terns of speed or energy usage.

Around the time puberty starts and until around the age of 25, you brain starts to streamline its operation and begins a pruning process of removing unused (or little used) connections and neurons. This has the side effect of reducing the scope of thinking that you can do (along with a whole host of other things that explain a lot of the problems with adolescents.

The good news is even after this (and though it as well) your brain still has the capacity for making new neurons and making new connections.

You can do this by experiencing something new or learning something new (the new bit is the important bit). The chemicals released during learning or experiencing something new trigger an increase in neural growth and connections. This is why playing new games often is accompanied by a burst in creativity as you are building new connections and neurons and you can co-opt this for making new connections and neurons that will increase your creativity.

The problem is that your brain operates on a "use it or loose it" principal. So it is important for you to keep using the creativity inspired by this neural growth spurt and to keep trying new things.

It is easy for use to fall into habits and ways of thinking. The secret of lasting creativity is to know how the brain works and to use that knowledge to take control over it.

#7 Schwartz86   Members   -  Reputation: 102

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 09:12 AM

Biologically, this has an explanation.

During childhood, you brain is growing neurons quite rapidly and the neurons that you have are making as many connections as they can. This increases the potential processing that your brain can do, however, it is not very efficient in terns of speed or energy usage.

Around the time puberty starts and until around the age of 25, you brain starts to streamline its operation and begins a pruning process of removing unused (or little used) connections and neurons. This has the side effect of reducing the scope of thinking that you can do (along with a whole host of other things that explain a lot of the problems with adolescents.

The good news is even after this (and though it as well) your brain still has the capacity for making new neurons and making new connections.

You can do this by experiencing something new or learning something new (the new bit is the important bit). The chemicals released during learning or experiencing something new trigger an increase in neural growth and connections. This is why playing new games often is accompanied by a burst in creativity as you are building new connections and neurons and you can co-opt this for making new connections and neurons that will increase your creativity.

The problem is that your brain operates on a "use it or loose it" principal. So it is important for you to keep using the creativity inspired by this neural growth spurt and to keep trying new things.

It is easy for use to fall into habits and ways of thinking. The secret of lasting creativity is to know how the brain works and to use that knowledge to take control over it.


This seems to make sense. I don't believe my problem is with learning "new" things. I am learning "new" things everyday, they just tend to be more of a technical nature. I am wondering/thinking that perhaps I should expose myself to new experiences outside of the technical realm...

#8 Schwartz86   Members   -  Reputation: 102

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 09:19 AM

The key question is, why do you still care? If you think you have more important things to do in your life, they why don't you pursue these other things instead? Why does it bother you? Why do you hesitate to say "I quit making games forever"? I think the answer to this question will tell you where your lost creativity is right now.

I would stop making anything related to gaming temporarily. And after a while examine how I feel. Do I find something missing or not?

It's not like all people are born to make games, actually, we here are just a tiny percentage of abnominions that love making games more than playing them. If you are not one of such people it is completely natural, you are the healthy and normal one :D You don't have to make games, you really don't have to. If you can quit making games and have no regrets I definitely recommend it. It is not the best career ever.

Do not pursue your creativity, it is your creativity that is supposed to hount you :D


Hmm, interesting point. I suppose my problem or motivation (depending on how you look at it) is that every time I play a great game I am trying to figure out how it works. Upon further reflection, I think what originally drew me into game development was the idea that I could create and design my own little world and then share it with everyone else. This is still a desire of mine, the problem has now become "what world can I dream up that is worth sharing?"

In response to "Why do you hesitate to say "I quit making games forever"?", I believe/hope what I am going through is just the equivalent of a writer's block. I think if every writer would quit writing forever whenever they experienced writer's block, the fiction section of books stores would be rather sparse in comparison.

"If you can quit making games and have no regrets I definitely recommend it. It is not the best career ever."

I have no true intentions of pursuing game development as a career at this point. Just a hobby/moonlighting adventure...

#9 forsandifs   Members   -  Reputation: 154

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 09:24 AM

Hmm, interesting point. I suppose my problem or motivation (depending on how you look at it) is that every time I play a great game I am trying to figure out how it works. Upon further reflection, I think what originally drew me into game development was the idea that I could create and design my own little world and then share it with everyone else. This is still a desire of mine, the problem has now become "what world can I dream up that is worth sharing?"


I feel the same way actually. But I think I have an answer. The answer imo is: whatever world you find fun and interesting that isn't already available to people.

#10 Schwartz86   Members   -  Reputation: 102

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 12:20 PM

I think reading fiction is a really good idea. Don't "make an attempt to make some time." Read!
I've got some fiction books listed in my recommended game design books at http://www.sloperama...ice/lesson8.htm


Your site is a great resource. Thanks for taking the time to create valuable content for aspiring game developers. Also, I didn't realize chicks digged game designers (referencing lesson 26) :)

#11 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 6388

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 02:20 PM

Upon further reflection, I think what originally drew me into game development was the idea that I could create and design my own little world and then share it with everyone else. This is still a desire of mine, the problem has now become "what world can I dream up that is worth sharing?"

In response to "Why do you hesitate to say "I quit making games forever"?", I believe/hope what I am going through is just the equivalent of a writer's block. I think if every writer would quit writing forever whenever they experienced writer's block, the fiction section of books stores would be rather sparse in comparison.


I've thought about these kind of issues, although more with regards to writing fiction than game design. My major motivation to be a writer or game designer was that I could always imagine things that would be a ton of fun to read/play, but didn't exist. If, as a young teen, you go on a forum or to a club whining about "Why doesn't someone make XYZ that would be soooo awesome!" one of the first things you will be told is, "If you think it's awesome, why don't you make it yourself." At the time I also had a huge respect for authors and designers, it was probably the closes I came to having real-life heroes. But it had never occurred to me that I could BE one, despite having had various creative writing assignments and art assignments and even a few assignments to program in basic. (Yes my elementary school was really that cool). At any rate I swallowed whole the idea that I should create my visions, without really thinking much about it. Story ideas are still my favorite thing to spend time thinking about, so becoming a writer or a game designer seemed like a good excuse to think about fun stuff all day.

In college I majored in English, including taking some creative writing courses, and did a lot of art on the side, joined this forum, a year or two later was made a moderator, and also participated in several utter failures of game making projects. But by the end of college I was writing very little fiction and drawing less. Why? I don't think it was due to any decrease in creativity - that might be just me, people have several times told me I will always mentally be a teenager. My sister told me that over the past decade I have at least matured from being mentally 14 to being mentally 18, not sure if that's a win or a loss, lol. Gaming and reading are still my favorite hobbies and I do both every week. I have new story ideas regularly. So why don't I write them down?

Well, for one thing I took a lot of verbal abuse on the art side of things. The art community has this cultural belief that vicious criticism is appropriate and somehow useful. Maybe for some personalities that works, but I personally found it damaging, to the point where I have to dredge up my courage and steel myself every time I want to post a piece of my art online or read comments anyone makes on it. I got my art to the point where I was personally happy with it, yet other people still seemed to think it was horrible. With writing I fortunately never ran into that, but instead I ran into huge amounts of indifference - I'd have some idea I thought was really great, post about it, and crickets would chirp. Maybe one person would say it sounded like something they would like to read. Yet, much stupider ideas (IMO) would get lots of more enthusiastic responses. It just doesn't seem worth the effort of writing something not very many people are going to like. At the same time my opinion of the average person has gotten a lot lower since I began college. So, finally responding to the quoted post above, I've come to believe there isn't an audience worth sharing my worlds with.

Game design is a bit different - I LOVE working with team members who are (hopefully) as excited about a project as I am. But I tried leading a game design project, I put as much effort as I possibly could into making it happen, and I discovered that without a budget it's just impossible to create a game that's even as good as an SNES or PS1 game, forget current gen games and MMOs. So I realized I really disliked being a project leader and only wanted to work under someone else who might have more monetary resources or driven-ness than me. But still I run into the problem, possibly due to being a woman game designer, or due to it not being the 80s or 90s anymore, or possibly just due to being me, that 95% of the projects that go through the helpwanted forum are not something I have the remotest interest in working on. Why does everything have to be Darker and Edgier??? I tried joining a group that hadn't decided on an idea yet, and could compromise with them 80% of the way toward a design we all liked in terms of gameplay genre, game structure, setting, but when it came down to the story I wanted cheerful, romantic and funny, they wanted hardcore.


Tldr: I've gotten the strong impression no one is interested in the worlds I dream up and could share.(And if other people have the bad taste not to like what I like, why would I want to communicate to them anyway?)

I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#12 Enders   Members   -  Reputation: 128

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 05:40 PM

You know, I feel very much the same way as you. When I was a kid, i had tons and tons of ideas for a game. I wanted to program so bad. Then, i learned to program. Made a good number of game prototypes. I was in heaven. Then i went to college. I learned way more about programming. It was sweet. Then I fell in love.

Everything stopped.

My creativeness was put to a halt in desire for my girlfriend. I spent more time with her. My spare time went to nothing.
But I was still happy. We got married and had a baby. Kids are so fun :D

Then I got a job making a website and selling stuff online. The making a website part sparked my programming part again.
Only recently I wanted to do some game programming. My daughter is almost two. And playing with her sparks my imagination once again.

I may not have the spare time i once did, but a few hours of programming a week feels good to me. :)

#13 Nanoha   Members   -  Reputation: 863

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 06:03 PM

I'm a rather technical person so I've started teaching myself how to draw in an attempt to improve my creativity (and because I'd just like to be able to draw things). Unfortunatly I find I'm getting too obsessed with making all the propertions and perspectic perfect (technical). I guess once your mind has developed one way its very difficut to change it.

#14 Edtharan   Members   -  Reputation: 606

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 09:06 AM

This seems to make sense. I don't believe my problem is with learning "new" things. I am learning "new" things everyday, they just tend to be more of a technical nature. I am wondering/thinking that perhaps I should expose myself to new experiences outside of the technical realm...

It is as I said: "It is easy for use to fall into habits and ways of thinking."

You have been doing technical work, and therefore thinking. By learning new technical knowledge, you are not actually dramatically increasing the amount of neural building you have to do. It is mostly building on what you already know, and there is only a small amount of "new" material you have to learn at one time.

So, yes. You should expose your self to experiences that are out side the technical realm. However, the important thing is you need to have an interest in the subject. Learning requires an emotional experience to be the most effective. Without that emotional aspect, you don't actually put the learning into long term memory (which is what you need to get this beneficial effect).

If you are more interested in this subject, have a look into Neural Plasticity (in this case plastic means flexible, not the stuff your keyboard is made from Posted Image). Actually, researching this could the learning experience that can give you the effect.


#15 Seraphian Concytus   Members   -  Reputation: 102

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 11:53 PM

Well, whenever I come up with a game idea that might go anywhere, I write it down. The game I'm making now I actually thought of and designed 2 years ago. I was looking through my files on my comp and noticed the .txt and then I was all like OH YEAH BABY, it all came back and I've been rolling since. You might want to try implementing that, especially putting ideas in writing.

#16 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 13326

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 11:14 AM

Well, whenever I come up with a game idea that might go anywhere, I write it down. The game I'm making now I actually thought of and designed 2 years ago. I was looking through my files on my comp and noticed the .txt and then I was all like OH YEAH BABY, it all came back and I've been rolling since. You might want to try implementing that, especially putting ideas in writing.

Putting ideas away for a while and revisiting them later is a good idea. Ideas always seem good when we first have them, but it's when they still look good upon reexamination that we can be more certain that they're good.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#17 Ashaman73   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 12599

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Posted 28 February 2011 - 04:08 AM

What is the solution? I have decided to make an attempt to make some time to start reading fiction again (last book fictional book I read was probably in high school). I also have picked up some video game and plan on trying to make time for some long needed play. Does anyone else have any suggestions for sources of inspiration or ideas for game design?

I was in a similar situation. As child I played games en mass, started to study computer science afterward and ended as software engineerer. The funny thing was, that I participated in the development of one computer game and the one thing I learned from it is: being in the game industry as coder does not meant to fullfil your game design dreams.
Sure, it is more satisfying than developing some 0815-management systems, but eventually it is just a job, a job in which you code the dreams of others ( and publishers = $$$).

When reading your story I have to remember my own first steps. In school I started to create a game with a friend, but it failed due to inexperiences (nobody told me that 60000 lines of asm code in a single file was a bad idea :lol:).
Almost 20 years later I started to create a new game with the same school friend and we really make great (!= fast) progress. My motivation is to create a world and give others the opportunity to experience this world. I just make this for fun as hobby, I don't need to bend to mainstream or publishers.

From this angle of view you could be more happy with developing your own hobby world than by working for the game industry (who often forbid to work on your own game project). I think that creativity will come back once you start to develop your own project, it will even come back with such a power that it ends in more problems than solutions (=> feature creep). :D

Ashaman

 

Gnoblins: Website - Facebook - Twitter - Youtube - Steam Greenlit - IndieDB - Gamedev Log


#18 radioact1ve   Members   -  Reputation: 136

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 07:42 PM

Talk about designer drought that everyone goes through, some longer than others and last different times for the same designer. My way to break out of it is to get out of my routine. Mix things up with movies, music (play an instrument!), games, books, etc. All different types of art that I'm into or not. It gets me to step back and think outside the box.


I also think Acharis' "why" question is very important to answer. Excellent way to reevaluate yourself and position to move forward.


Also, don't underestimate what playing a guitar can do to your mind. Posted Image




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