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The Trouble With Inspiration

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Spencer Bowers

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... is that I need it. Everyone at some point tries to tackle a project that's too big and ends up failing. We've all been there, right? So we think to ourselves, "From now on I need to stick with smaller projects I know I can complete." And maybe you actually do finish one or two like that. But for me at least, that's not enough. I have big dreams that inspire me. Little projects don't inspire me. If I don't feel inspired I have no desire to put in the work. So yes, the trouble with inspiration is that I need it; I don't get anywhere without it.

So now I'm thinking I need medium-sized projects that build towards larger goals. The larger goals are my inspiration. The medium-sized projects are definite, tangible steps in the direction of the larger goals. The ultimate goal for me is a living, breathing world (like Dwarf Fortress) in a full 3D, destructible environment (like Minecraft.)

So here are my medium-sized project plans to get me there (and the pieces I will gain from them that are steps toward the ultimate goal).

  1. A 3rd-person multiplayer-only deathmatch. (model animation, physics, networking)
  2. A 3rd-person single-player RPG. (scripting, enhanced 3d engine, streamed content loading, AI)
  3. Open world single-player RPG. (procedural world-building, crafting, magic)

By this point I'll be a lot closer to the final goal and I'll be able to define the next set of goals. The other part I've been struggling with is choosing a set of APIs to develop on. I started with DirectX too many years ago to think about. My BS senior project used XNA. For a long time I've been wanting to get away from being tied to Microsoft though. I feel that eventually they'll change things too much and I'll want to abandon Windows (and I think Windows 8 may be my breaking point.) But XNA is exactly what I've been looking for! I love C# and the Visual Studio IDE. I don't like how Unity is all about setting things up in their editor and just scripting the logic.

The solution I've found is MonoGame, an open-source implementation of XNA built on Mono and OpenGL. Granted it's still pretty early in development, but I think this will be a key to my regaining productivity. I'll post back here as I progress.

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Everything needs fuel or some source of energy. However, there are times that you are not going to get it or worse you get tons of negative feedback about what you are doing, and then you either decide that you can do "X" without a good head-rub or quit.
If you have a passion and energy behind what you are doing you are not going to be able to stop. You may have times that you question if you are crazy or not, but you will not be able to stop.
Case in point, (not self promoting) running a Kickstarter project and have been asking for feedback. In the course of 15 days have gotten tons of feedback, with only a handful of positive comments. Has this stopped me? No, if people are welling to tell me their thoughts than I want to see if I can fix or upgrade my game in a way that more people can see my vision. I have upgraded my page at least 50 times and I am on my 13th version of the video in 15 days. Both are still not there as I got reviewed earlier today and ripped some more, but I have not stopped. I am driven to move forward.
Therefore, in short you need to find a project or story or whatever that you do not need outside motivation to continue. The material or idea needs to be from you and your energy will show through it.

Sorry for the wall of text, but hope it helps.
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