Progress is progressing.
I’d originally been thinking of doing a lot of the level and map resizing via choices made through a menu, which would have been, among other things, extraordinarily tedious to program. Eventually, though, after many false starts, I realized that I’d be able to do 90% of the normal level and map interactions through creative use of the left and right mouse buttons and a few keyboard keys, which should allow much faster work once the user (i.e. me) gets used to it. I spent a lot of time carefully placing buttons on a menu bar and it looks like I won’t need any of them. So it goes.
So: I still hammer away at the map editor. I may have been overoptimistic in my time estimates, perhaps underestimating the other demands upon my time or overestimating my work ethic and/or programming skills. I’m hoping work ethic is a skill I can grind up– and I’m definitely seeing improvement in my programming skills, which is encouraging. These skills have been stagnant for a while, and it’s pleasant to exercise those muscles again (if also, perhaps, sometimes a bit frustrating).
Anyway. For the first several days I was coding a bit of feature, then thinking of a better way it could be implemented and redoing it, then doing that whole process again, then again, and getting frustrated when I couldn’t decide what the best way to do it was or how to approach developing the solution I would eventually decide on. Work gets done that way, but I gotta say I’m not 100% pleased with the rate of progress there (I’d hoped to have the Map Editor done by now, it’s at about 70%).
So I’ve got to learn to manage myself. I guess if this were something every programmer had to go through then the process of promoting programmers to management would make sense, but when I worked professionally I had to decide very little for myself and mostly allowed others to manage me. A useful skill, at any rate, but one I hadn’t really conceived of as a discrete skill until recently…
And perception is important. Because I didn’t recognize self-management as a discrete skill-set, I never recognized it as one I would need to learn in order to achieve my artistic goals. Well, we’re told that artists can’t help but create, that it’s something that bursts out of their soul like a movie alien and half creates itself. To some extent that’s true– every piece of art has a will of its own, and when an idea emerges I can trace its meanings, but I can’t pretend that those reasoned trails which I follow were the real genesis of the idea. It emerged from my mind, my sub-mind, my love of and understanding of the fundamental story I’m trying to tell. My ascribing reasons it afterwards is as a junior high English class trying to infer clumsy symbolism out of literature.
But– and I was drifting off track a bit there, so consider that a preview of Saturday’s essay– just because the story knows where it wants to go doesn’t mean it will take itself there. And just because I love the story doesn’t make it easy to create it. Love is not generally an easy thing, I think. So, maybe, art is like love, a worthwhile struggle, and the easy lies we’re told of both of them are just the same lie told twice.