Ludum Dare 24: Final Thoughts (or, My Personal Evolution)

Has it just been a week since Ludum Dare ended? It seems much longer. I must be busy.

I’ve had a chance to look at some of the other entries. Some of them are pretty amazing, I gotta say. Many of them certainly much more finished and full than my project turned out, which I’m okay with. I’m pretty competitive, but I set my bar too high to compete in terms of overall quality this time. So it goes.

However. I learned a lot, or perhaps I just remembered a lot I used to know. I experienced again what it was to really devote my mind to a project, to work on that project and nothing but for a few days and submit my person entirely to the task of making it better and more fully realized– to become my work. I don’t know if I could have done it, though, if I didn’t know it would last only 48 hours. I got the slightest taste of that despair that so many developers must feel when they sacrificed their lives to a project which simply would never be what they wanted it to be.

Pictured: Alternate universe ghost version of Team Meat

So, a cautionary tale, and also an inspiration.

I’m hesitant to return to this project. My affection for it is so circumstantial and so tied into the joy of engineering rather than the (also joyous) discipline of game design, and as I discussed in the previous update the potential depths of the design are so limitless it could easily turn into a labor of purposeless and loveless diligence. There’s certainly room to think like an engineer when designing a game, but most such thought processes lead to engineering games (see: SpaceChem). If I wanted to expand on it I’d have to define the scope very carefully and avoid feature creep, but for the time being older projects come first in my affections. For now, it goes on one of my numerous and heavily populated back burners.

crap

Now: Disregarding the Ludum Dare project itself, the process of creating it (and recovering from creating it) has led me back to thinking about the processes of creativity in general. I’m using the work I manage to complete, in the forms of Ludum Dare and posts here, as a lens to view why my self-determination fails me when it comes time to realize my projects, to grasp the ghost games that haunt me.

I can see clearly, from my current vantage point, a pattern in my labors. I am inspired to bursts of activity, and spend several days working on one aspect of a project before I decide that I should try to pay attention to some other aspect of the project, begin work on that, and… quickly lose momentum.

Trying to do everything is dangerous. Even when you stay on-task generally, you court distractions which are still technically work. Whenever your movement momentum dissipates the different tasks that are yours to complete settle in your brain and wedge themselves so tightly into the trap door that none can fall. Pulled in a million directions at once, the brain hangs in equilibrium, and nothing is accomplished until it is jolted into action.

“Stability causes cancer, can’t you see?”

So I need to pick one discipline at a time and stick to it. I need to be my own manager and tell myself what to do next. Maybe this is obvious to many of you, but I hadn’t known that a one man team would need a producer. It’s an entirely new discipline I was not prepared to learn.

I got this image off of google search from another blog that used the same metaphor two years ago. God dammit.

Should I take classes? Maybe I’ll look into it.

Anyway: Now I have an outline of a path. I just need to fill it in with yellow bricks and see where it takes me.

Which brings us to the future of the blog. I’m going to continue updating with essays, and right now I’m torn between updating with two 300-800 word essays a week or one 1000-2000 word essay a week. I’d ask you gentle readers to comment but that rarely seems to pan out so, yeah, I’ll just figure it out myself. Regardless, two things are going to happen, and a third might:

  1. I’m changing the days I update on to target Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I haven’t decided yet what gets posted when
  2. I’m going to be posting information on my project, starting with a synopsis next Wednesday and continuing with regular progress updates
  3. I’m hoping to set up a proper website– starting with hosting this blog on its own url rather than using WordPress’s free hosting and expanding on that

Also, new game design essays start Friday probably. So hopefully you guys will enjoy that. Not sure how all of this LD stuff has been working for you all, but it’s over now… for 3 months or so.

Until Ludum Dare 25!

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