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Trapper Zoid

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Random Thought for the Day
I haven't seen that much activity around 4E5 lately. I'm hoping it's because everyone is busy working on their games, not they've pulled out of the competion (like I have, sadly).


I was going to post a long journal entry regarding my thoughts of how I could overcome my tendency for projects to get unstuck, but to be honest I'm not sure I can express those thoughts down in a logical chain. So I might ramble on a bit and not come to a specific conclusion. But I've put some thought into where I've been going wrong and what I can do to correct that.

The first question I had to ask myself is; why am I making games? Yes, they can be fun to make. And yes, they're also challenging (which is appealling in a way). But on their own that's not strong enough; there's plenty of other things that are fun and challenging.

For me though, I think I want to make games purely because that's what I've always wanted to do. I remember making my own games of all types when I was a kid, and while that spirit dwindled as I've got older it never really died. There's something about games of all sorts; not just computer games but board games, card games, sports etc.; that fascinates me. And deep down I think I just want to make games because that's just what I've got to do.

Where I think where I'm going wrong is there's a large part of me that wants to do something grand; something that will make my game stand out above all the rest. It's the same part of me that's forces me to try and consider overly elegant software architecture schemes and is never happy with my artwork. It also looks at all the amazing projects you fellow GameDevers are working on and sets a very high standard as one to aim for.

In one sense that feeling useful in that it can push you to ensure that everything is as perfect as you can make it. However it also leads to despondency when you don't at present have the skills to match the ambition. It also leads to paralysation in projects when you are too worried about making mistakes to create anything.

So I'm trying to work with the mindset that it doesn't really matter if everything isn't just right as long as the project is going roughly in the right direction. While it's not the snappiest of philosophies, so far it's working not too bad. I'm finding I'm still putting in enough effort to ensure the code is reasonably written, it's just I don't get hung up about whether I'm approaching things the right way. Maybe I'll have to rewrite things in the future, but that's all part of the learning experience.

One of the other things I'm trying out is to work on several projects simultaneously. The idea is when I get frustrated in one project I can switch to the other for a while until my head clears enough to rationally tackle the problem.

Given I need to work on music composition, I've decided to use that as my break from programming for Ice Slider. Ice Slider itself isn't quite formulised enough for me to work on music for that, so I'm helping out Stompy by working on some tunes for Blocky Man (check Stompy's journal for the game details). Hopefully I can get the music for Level 1 done by the end of the weekend. I've got a rough draft of the first 8 bars down, so I'll just need to rework that and add a bit more into a slightly longer scrolling loop.

I'm also hopeful that I can get the graphics subsystem of the "Penguin Engine" for Ice Slider done on the weekend. Once that's done I can phase in art asset creation as another task to do, and hopefully it can also act as anothing interesting diversion when I get stuck on programming issues.
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Quote:
Original post by Trapper Zoid
Where I think where I'm going wrong is there's a large part of me that wants to do something grand; something that will make my game stand out above all the rest. It's the same part of me that's forces me to try and consider overly elegant software architecture schemes and is never happy with my artwork. It also looks at all the amazing projects you fellow GameDevers are working on and sets a very high standard as one to aim for.


Agreed. It's sometimes very frusterating when I look at the sheer awesometude that folks like dgreen, Ysaneya, and SimmerD are toying with and compare it with my own accomplishments and projects. And failing ambitious projects is also a great way to plunge the 'ol ego in a downwards directions.

There's only one solution to be perscribed in such cases: ignore them and focus on completing games. My dozens (and dozens) of failed projects have -- over time -- taught me where to set the scales on my Ambition-o-Meter. I've been through some very similar phases that you're going through, and I can empathize with the despairity that comes alongside it.

You just need to figure out something that:

a) You KNOW you can do. Make a quick mental run-down of the game features, systems, and structures and confirm to yourself that you can implement them with (reasonable) ease. Particularly tough or over-elegant implementation attempts that fail make dropping a project very easy.
b) You WANT to do. If you start writing a design document -- brief or indepth alike -- you should be enjoying it, to some degree. If you find it really hard to think about certain parts of the game you envisioned as 'key' in detail, then you might have some big design issues that you can catch now rather than face them down the implementation line and wind up abondoning then.
c) Set a project duration that's comparative to what you've already done. I'm not sure how long your biggest complete game has taken -- forgive me, I've been slacking on my blog-reading all around! [sad] -- but try to make the next project only slightly bigger, in terms of development time.

Just keep hammering at that anvil. Once you get a feel for what you can tackle, and what projects should be evaded off the bat.

If I'm blabbing about stuff that you already know, or have covered in previous posts, then I apologize. This is the kind of material that I throw at people a lot, so I'm not being very selective in who I toss it at anymore, heh. [smile]

Quote:
In one sense that feeling useful in that it can push you to ensure that everything is as perfect as you can make it. However it also leads to despondency when you don't at present have the skills to match the ambition. It also leads to paralysation in projects when you are too worried about making mistakes to create anything.


Precisely. It's about gauging your own skillset before looking at a project, not looking at a project and trying to tweak your skillset to match it.

Quote:
So I'm trying to work with the mindset that it doesn't really matter if everything isn't just right as long as the project is going roughly in the right direction. While it's not the snappiest of philosophies, so far it's working not too bad.


It's a kick-arse philosophy, and it's worked for me wonderfully thus far. Just one amendment to it: "it doesn't really matter if everything isn't just right as long as the project reaches satisfactory completion". As long as you finish the game, and you are pleased with its outcome, then it's a success. And not a small success or anything; it's huge. Completing a game is a challenging task. Completing a game that you're pleased with is monumental. Rinse and repeat!

Quote:
One of the other things I'm trying out is to work on several projects simultaneously. The idea is when I get frustrated in one project I can switch to the other for a while until my head clears enough to rationally tackle the problem.


Hey, if you can pull it off, all the more to you. [smile] I find everytime I try to embark in such a feat, most of the 'other' projects either freeze to death while one of them gets 100% of the attention, or when I get stuck on one of them, I get turned off from ALL of my projects simultaneously.

In short: you can do it! [smile]

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It's sad that you are pulling out, I was looking forward to seeing your game anyway. The characters you've posted are very interesting.

I'm in a similar position except less graphically and musically gifted!

I dunno, the other thing in your blog entry hit it on the head too... it's more fun working with someone on something then it is having the entire weight of a project on your shoulders.

Look on the brightside, the worst thing on your project is a possible mismangement of self... probably due to not giving yourself enough props. Far better then someone else pulling your strings and making you do things you don't think you should or in a way you don't want too!

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Quote:
Original post by johnhattan
Is Ice Slider like this?

Yes, it is very similar, although I'm at present not planning on having more than one "slider".


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