On Persistence and Consistency

by mc

I’ve been doing a lot lately, and little of it has to do with games.  Speaking at conferences.  Strengthening my programming by learning design patterns and accepting test writing as a way of life. And it’s all been great but in the back of my head, and when I’m drunk at parties, all I want to do is talk about making games.  It’s summer, so I don’t care much for looking at screens, and I do plenty of that at work anyways, but still when I’m outside I’m thinking of the games I want to be making.

So I sat down and collected everything I’d ever written down about my dream point-n-click game.  I put them all together, organized into google drive, and I talked to a musician and an artist about assets for a demo.  My goal is a demo by the end of summer (in this heat wave I might get a free extension).  This post is about that process of getting the fuck back up.

I can’t find a link, but somewhere in the depth of the internet (because that makes it true), I found some quote about how saying you are going to do something gives you this tiny boost of accomplished vibes as if you did the thing.  That little boost can be satisfying and keep you from actually doing whatever you intended to do.  I read that and sat on it for a while and decided to try it.  I wanted to give up soda (it’s free at work because tech start ups) so one day I just decided I would stop but I wouldn’t tell anyone I was stopping.  And it worked, it’s been a few months.  Then someone at work left to pursue their dreams, this person would wake up before work and work on game dev.  I was in awe.  I tried to wake up before work, even just an hour before, to mimic that willpower.  I used to wake up before dawn for a previous job, so I thought I had it in me.  I do not have it in me.  I can quit soda but I can’t wake up earlier than I need to, because it is can be easier to get rid of habits than it is to create new ones.

I got a special notebook to help me plan when I was going to work on what part of the game.  I started by putting in goals I’d never achieve, like the waking up early.  Then I stopped and slowed down.  The notebook had cheesy questions about my goals and how to reframe approaching them.  I started with smaller goals, like combining all of my work in one place.  I included accomplishments related to tech but not directly related to work (like speaking at conferences).  I’m still only a few pages in, and I skip some weeks. I don’t have a great routine for a notebook so dedicated to routines.  Sometimes I get on tool tangents. I put all my docs in Google Drive but what if it isn’t the best way to organize my thoughts?  I looked at Wordly and Trello and Jira and all of the tools I had encountered that might help but then I just had to stop.  I had this notebook. I had google drive.  I had Unity and the assets I wanted to create the game I wanted, and there was a stack of tutorials if I didn’t know how to do something.  I needed to stop looking for more tools to invest in and start investing in my work.

So I had all of these notes and an asset list and semi written puzzles and a few characters without names and some vague locations and then I freaked out because it has been years of wanting to make this game and I had so little to show for it.  Everything felt big and overwhelming once I saw how many holes I needed to fill in the story, in the game.  I started reading articles on how to write a game design document, how to write a game, how to get past this impostor syndrome.  I read a piece about ux versus game design, which helped me look at game design as a less foreign challenge and more of a fun activity again.  I read somewhere (probably gamasutra) that I needed to start with the world and the locations.  Write about the world.  Something clicked in the back of my head.  Before going into game design I was all about writing, I can see the decay in my writing since abandoning it.  Anyways, sometimes for writing you would just write a scene, then add characters and see how they interact.  I realized if I wanted to make this game I needed to write.  So I filled my notebook with goals about writing and it felt like a funny awkward reunion with an ex.  I’ve written a few scenes out and it is a start, and I have a long ways to go.

I hope I keep tracking my progress in here, and I hope I stick to my goal and I’m the only one that can make that happen.