Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
  • entries
  • comments
  • views

The Spirit of Mao Is Upon Me

Sign in to follow this  


Darnit, I've been meaning to keep this place updated. But I've found that working 8am to 8pm, exercising for 2 hours a day, and trying to write a book takes a bit of time. Oh well, I'm sure the billions of people who read this will forgive me. [rolleyes]

The Long March

So I'm in a rough spot right now. You might even say that I'm screwed, but that kind of talk only leads to defeatism. I've got to get a better job, because for the last few years-- frankly since the dot com crash-- I've been struggling to stay afloat. Although I've got tech skills, I'm really learning that the game industry was a unique, open-minded environment unduplicated elsewhere. Whereas I rose through the ranks in gaming because I could show talent, the business world seems to rely exclusively on connections or credentials. Either you know someone or your school's name gets you in the door.

Unfortunately, what this means is that if I don't want to be doomed to a slew of risky temp jobs (i.e., no insurance / not knowing if you can pay the rent), I've got to finish school. And that means that, now that I know nobody will fund indie game development, that it's going to be even harder to finish Straylight.

Harder, but I refuse the word impossible. It seems to me that the first mistake people make in independent game development (besides biting off more than they can chew, which I plead guilty to) is focusing on externals first. You get the concept artists and work on the engine so that you can show the screenshots. The screenshots create the buzz so that you can recruit volunteers and maybe even paid talent. Everyone asks to see how far you've gotten because nobody wants to be attached to a falling star, and your screenshots prove your progress.

Graphics age far more quickly than code, however. The next multimillion-dollar game is going to raise the bar for everyone, commercial and indie alike. Go back and play Doom 1 if you don't believe me. What I remember as clear, amazingly crisp, stunning detail is now a pixelated mess. How did it change? Our perceptions were radically altered at a fundamental level, and now, save for retro games meant to look old, those graphics aren't good enough.

So if graphics age far more quickly than code, and you have a big job ahead of you, it seems to me that, recruiting be damned, the worst mistake you can make is to start working on graphics. I knew this at a fundamental level, but let some people talk me into walking the "create a website / post artwork / get artists" path. That's only smart if you're going to finish soon, because I guarantee you that most people who sign up with you will quit unless they're compensated. By now, that's the dominant theme I hear in indie game development involving medium or large projects.

So it occurs to me that if a person has the willpower (fanatical, at this point) to keep the dream alive no matter what, then the strategy has to be long range. You keep working as much as possible on the material that won't age until you finally build up enough critical mass to burst through to completion. You keep searching for stylistic graphical representations, such as iconic, mini-game or static graphical representations, that will still be popular. And you save the wow-cool engine stuff for near last (in as much as you can create content / gameplay without an engine, that is).

As I've been exercising for hours each day, the nature of motivation, willpower and limits has become more clear to me. Sure, there are a great many things that we simply can't do; but there are a whole lot of other things that we say we can't do, which are nothing more than competing constructs of the mind. False thoughts, or undermining motives, if you will. I say to myself, half-way through my exercise program, that I can't keep going, but when I focus on something that consumes my attention, time evaporates, and I'm done. Obviously then, the mind lies. [smile]

What the hell does this have to do with completing Straylight? Given everything that's on my plate, it's going to take laser focus and an iron will to keep moving forward. I've got to do school, I've got to find a safer job, and I've got to finish this damned book (that they've asked me to rewrite, by the way). And the mechanism to do so derives, I believe, from motivation.

It's interesting how much energy we can discover within ourselves when we have the proper inspiration. One of the most amazing examples I can think of is from Chinese history: The Long March. Mao Tse-tung somehow managed to march 100k people over 18 mountain ranges to escape defeat. Now, I don't know about you, but I have no idea what it's like to march over even one mountain range, let alone 18. What does that take?

Proper motivation, I'm sure.

Now, yes, I admit it's stretching credulity to even compare the Long March to developing a video game, but I'm only using such an extreme example to show that we can do the impossible when properly motivated.

And I'm very motivated to finish this game.
Sign in to follow this  

1 Comment

Recommended Comments

Hey Wavinator!

Oh well, I'm sure the billions of people who read this will forgive me.

I haven't read this journal before, but I've stumbled upon it now, so yes, I, one of the billions of people that read this journal forgive you! [grin]


The Long March
Para 1...

So true! I'm not even there yet in that world per se 'on my own', but I know what you mean. It seems that's the way life is - it's all about who you know. Some call me crazy, but that's why I stay quiet and keep myself under the radar, socially. People that know me, know me not because they have a reason to dislike me [smile]. So, with that in mind I guess you'd better start building up yer connections buddy! No place to start other than right here on GameDev too! It might take a bit, but once you get going, you'd be amazed by who you can meet here. So my hints on getting to know more people, just think what people like (besides those insanely long posts you have) [wink]. Free help! Yeap, even if it is indirect help, such as most of your posts on thinking and game design, etc..., it is very good stuff for you. Ahh, but it also extends more than online, you gotta help out all over, make youe name known, you know. That and last resort is if you can't get a referall, or your school name doesn't cut it, you're going to have to make something just kickass to get in, which I assume you are already on with your game.

Para 2...

I guess it is all about strategy then. Work some, save up, invest in something! Perhaps you can start doing some research in the stock market on the side and build up some money that way. Risky, yes, but I think risk is what defines life. Woh knows, you just might get something good enough going to have what you need for your project. Just remember this (something my dad told me) "The pigs get fat and the hogs get slaughtered'" Which means, play it safe, once you start getting ahead, only do enough to say ahead, don't get too greedy!

Para 3...

Well if that is a mistake, then our project is doomed to fail. However, I know our project is not doomed to fail, so that must not be a mistake [wink]. I think it's all about motivation and attitude, how far are you willing to go and how much are you willing to risk to see your dreams come true. "How far" not meaning the traditional sense used in movies such as muder, etc.. either [lol]. I just mean time and effort really. That and you just need to happen to stumble upon good people that you can enjoy working with. As a programmer myself, I see your point though. However, it's not the end of all sums when you take this approach. I see a lot of flaws in our project right now, but we should be able to manage, to which whatever happens in the future, I'll make sure we don't make the same mistakes again!

Para 4...

Interesting point, but I disagree to a ceratin degree. Yes, new games might raise the bar, and new technology might enable us to do more than ever before, but it's still a matter of game play in a game that makes the final difference. I mean the other day I played a game I bought from Half Price books, it was called "Devastation". It was built using the Unreal engine. I just played the first few minutes of it and I am at least far from impressed. I think it just sucks. I mean sure it looks good, but there seems to be a lacking abidment to the game design principle, which is capture your audience for the first 30 seconds and they will be yours. Hell, I think Mario 3 was more fun then this game, etc.. So why graphics are a part of it, there are bigger issues with games that enable indie co's to succede while not having to be at the bar the industry is at. The other day someone posted a link in the lounge for a simple 2d bowshooter game where you had to defend your castle from incoming stick figured and other cratrues. Simple game, but I played it for over 15 hours total! It was fun! I mean the graphics were horrible, but that didn't matter, the immersion factor was so good that spectatcualr gfx were not needed.

Para 5...

Ah ha! Think about this though, what did you say in our earlier paragrahs about having screenshots? One thing that someone on my project told me was that graphics shows progress, so if you start with having graphics made for you to use while you are making your project, the easier it is to get attention and the help you need to get your stuff done. Think about it, this technique is used all the time. Have you ever bought sports cards? You know how they promise one good card per pack in the expensive ones, which they do indeed give you to a certain degree, but the rest of the cards just suck? Tricky, but its the hook and lure them in kind of approach that has to be done. As for payment, ues, most people don't want to have to do work unless compensated, but then again, if you give them just a taste of the possibilites, I'm sure they will not have seconds thoughts on leaving (<the many exceptions go here>).

Para 5...

So it occurs to me that if a person has the willpower (fanatical, at this point) that best describes me right now. More like insane to anyone else, but it's something that once you truly understand, then you just are already on the path of success. Constant evolving and adaptation is essential for a project, but having that as a requirment is not. I mean I've seen a lot of crappy games out there - for your first games, yea you don't want them to be crappy, but it's hard to hit the naim on the head with a hammer first time around, unless you are pixar who has managed to hit the nail dead on....5 times in a row.... So for your games, aim for it to be great, but don't be disappointed if it is at least decent. I mean making a game is still in itself quite a feat. Then there's always the saying, "There's always next time". Learn what your flaws were and fix them next time around! I mean most of the time, at least in programming, you only learn from making mistakes! It's not the fact you made them, but rather if you learned from them.

Share this comment

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Advertisement

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

GameDev.net is your game development community. Create an account for your GameDev Portfolio and participate in the largest developer community in the games industry.

Sign me up!