Monday, April 26, 2010

Home Alone

I thought I'd share a personal note about the trickiness of working at home alone. For my first 5 months-or-so, the raw enthusiasm of turning game ideas into something real, mixed with the anxiety of leaving the security of a very real, very secure job was a potent combination, and I feel like a lot of progress was the result. If you follow the blog, you know that I set up a website, a blog, and Google Apps; did write-ups and overviews of the different ideas on my mind, picked up scripting, toyed around with one game direction to push scripting further, and eventually settled on a yet-to-be-named project that features harsh death penalties. In it, I was able to test out core controls, create randomized levels, add enemies to kill, and some rough scoring and loot mechanics (non-permanent) for feeling nifty and refilling ammo. All in all, it seemed like a pretty amazing zero-to-something process for an artist / designer.

But then I got used to being home alone, and regardless of my excitement -- before bed the night before, thinking about the things I would do the next day, or sitting down knowing just what to implement at my desk in the morning -- it became too easy to follow news, videos, and emails, browsing the web until another day had rushed past with nothing to show for it. Nothing might be harsh -- I made small progress here or there, and always made a point to update this blog -- but productivity was taking a curious dip. Choosing smaller tasks worked briefly. Promising not to browse the web until work was done only worked if my fingers weren't crossed. It wasn't until I decided to send daily reports that things began turning around.

Now I spend time describing my goals and progress to peers that understand my work. It keeps me focused because it juxtaposes dreams with reality. Imagining what my work looks like through their eyes, I find myself pulled from the trees for a look at the forest. Whether I get feedback is less important because I'm the real critic. I do it every day because it makes it difficult to spin details. I want to tell a good story about my life, and telling it often keeps it honest and motivating. I hope it continues to be.

Now back to randomized boss spawns.

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