Inbetween

I’m finding myself ‘inbetween’ a lot at the moment.

I’m inbetween projects.  I worked on a Resist Jam entry and I know I need to go back and fix some bugs, but by and large I want that behind me.  I have some bits and pieces of ideas for other things but nothing is grabbing me at the moment.

I’m unsure what kind of thing I want to work on next.  My last two games were, unintentionally, very similar so I want to do something different, but I still feel constrained by my abilities.  I have an idea for a narrative noir text mystery, which is probably the most achievable, but I’m still figuring out the story.  I played around a bit earlier with the Corgi Engine as I purchased that on a whim ages ago and not done much for it.  Again, I have an idea but I feel its a bit derivative as it is and I need to figure out a different approach.

I think part of the problem is feeling like I have to do something.  I feel that since I got back from Cuba I’ve not really done any work and I’m telling myself I have to do something, but on the other hand I don’t have much inspiration at the moment and I don’t think forcing it will help.

I like coming up with my own projects, but right now I’d like someone to ask me to work on their thing…

I’m also inbetween different states of my life.  I’m doing some temp part-time work and they’ve asked if I want to stay on to cover maternity leave (not checked, but assuming its for 12 months).  I also have a strong desire to leave this country and go work on my own stuff elsewhere while I have money saved up and while I know I still can within the EU (i.e. go somewhere without having a job in place).  However, some family health issues is filling me with guilt as I’d feel bad for “running away”.

So yeah, stuck in the middle.

2017

2016 was a big year for me personally/professionally.  I left a job that was draining me in February to pursue video game development.  I said at the time if needs be I’ll find some kind of work come January, although in June I got offered some part-time work that was still not in a field that I wanted to be in, but helped keep a roof over my head.  Two steps forward, one sideways.

However, I did release my first game (Robbing HUD) back in August.  Work on it started around May and I decided to try and do a simple self-contained idea to start and finish something.  It was a great feeling to finish that (even if I never got round to the Mac port as I don’t own a Mac) and it taught me a lot about aspects of Unity, but also general project planning.

Since then I’ve begun working on a visual novel with some friends.  Making decent progress with the programming side of things and we’ve pretty much got the story side sorted.  We’re writing it in Ink and I’m trying to build tools to then more easily build interactive fiction stuff in the future.  Had an idea for a small game recently and might try and do that soon.

In 2017 I’m hoping to release the games mentioned above and I also want to do more art.  Spent a lot of the last few years on the programming side of things but I want to try and do more art.  I’m out of practice and I know I’m going to be self-conscious about that, but I need to rip the bandage off.  Similarly, I’d like to do more writing.  Did some for the game mentioned above and felt great to exercise those muscles.

One thing I did achieve in 2016 is to keep this updated somewhat regularly.  No more posting every year saying “I should post more”.

All in all 2016 wasn’t too bad for me personally (let’s ignore what happened in the world), and I hope 2017 will be the year things really take off for me professionally.

Balance

We often talk about balance as only having two things to maintain; work and life, good and evil, credit and debit.  In terms of pursuing creative interests that is often unnecessarily reductive.  My life isn’t just about balancing the work I want to achieve with everything else, it’s about balancing all those components.

Life isn’t a scale of two equal containers that you try and level out, it’s one of many containers of various sizes that change frequently.  At presently I’m trying to balance the creative work I want to pursue with actual paid work along with trying to learn Italian, socialising/networking, exercise, resting (be it sleeping or just chilling out), general adult responsibilities and other responsibilities.

I have a tendency to try and do it all, to try and push ahead to do all sorts at once.  It leads to burn out and its where I’m heading to at the moment and guilt pushes a lot of it through.  I know things need to give, and unfortunately at the moment that’s primarily exercise and sleeping (the latter isn’t necessarily intentional as much as it is a consequence of being a bad sleeper anyway).

I constantly feel like I could, and should, be doing more to achieve my creative pursuits.  It’s an inferiority complex mixed in with impostor syndrome – look at that person, they’ve achieved so much and are younger because they work harder/smarter.

My “paid job” (as it gets known) recently asked if I want to extend my contract through to the end of July.  It’s easy work, well paid and flexible and part-time so it’s silly to say no, but every time I take on something like this it feels like I’m taking away from what I want to do.  It feels like I’m admitting failure.  “Oh yes, I’ll do this work because I’ve not been successful with the work I wish to do instead”.

I know this isn’t true.  I know that we often don’t see the toil and work people go through and focus on the end goals and the logical part of me can tell myself this, but there are still weeks where I look at what is ahead of me and how much time I’ll have to do my own stuff and feel guilty; guilty about having other plans, guilty about not doing enough.  It also doesn’t help that I’m still learning and still at the development stage of projects so there is little tangible output.  Little I can post for #screenshotsaturday and it doesn’t sound particularly exciting when someone asks me how my personal work is going if I say “not bad, managed to figure out how to parse particular phrases from a JSON query which I’ll then use to trigger actions”.  Even though this is an achievement it fails to look as impressive as a nice shiny gif.

I’m trying to take responsible steps to ease my workload and to keep my mind in a positive position, but self-doubt is a hard one to squish.  I guess I’m just typing this out to acknowledge how I’m feeling and where I’m at.  I’m my own biggest critic after all.  Since starting this pursuit I’ve been thinking a lot about mental welfare when it comes to creative pursuits.  There’s still this toxic attitude that success has to come at a cost to one’s state of being.  Suffer for your art.  Crunch is essential.  It will be worth it.

I guess I need a support network and even just thinking that makes me wonder how one would go about setting that up in the interest of the creativity community and I have to stop my mind from thinking about all of that.  I get distracted easily.  I have a desire to do too much at once.  I want to prove I can.  Prove I am as good as I want to be.

Where I’m At

Been a while.  I went on holiday for two weeks and have been fighting a cold for the last week or so.  Been trying to do a few things but I’m exhausted most of the day.  Fun times.

However, trying to figure out where I’m going next.

Working on a project with some others and they’re focusing on the creative side and I’m trying to set up some Unity Editor scripts which is an interesting challenge (read: confusing and not as documented as I’d like) but not getting that creative itch scratched quite as much.

Considering doing a NaNoWriMo maybe using something like Ink.  That might occupy me and maybe I’ll finally finish one.  Who knows.

Also considering doing a series of small self-jams on occasional weekends to work on a side project.  Got an idea for one and just trying to figure out scope and requirements at the moment.  This is where I wished I was working with others in the same room as I have conflicting ideas and I’m trying to work through them so I’ve ended up here, obviously.

What’s happening?

It’s amazing how days can go by without you really noticing.  Think it’s been a few weeks since I posted anything here and I told myself I’d keep this updated more than that.

Started working on a new project with some people.  It was agreed that the other ‘main’ project will slow down a bit because it is quite ambitious and it relies a lot on various people that are doing it in their free time (and work full-time) so it is not going to move fast and be good, so decided to make it a slow burn.

I’m also conscious of the fact I’m still learning the programming side of things.  In an ideal world someone else would be doing it but I don’t know anyone else willing to.  Some things are fine, but sometimes I come across something that really stops me for long periods of time and it’s frustrating.  I wish I had someone I knew in real life I could pester about it.  The internet is a great resource, but would be good to have someone (or several someones) to ask.  Oh well, it’s a learning exercise.

That’s part of the reason why we’re working on this other thing.  The project is smaller in scope and I want to do various things like this to gradually build up my skills.  Or find a time machine and start learning this kind of stuff about a decade ago!

I don’t know if its “the wise” thing to do having these various projects on the go, but it’s what I’m doing!

Schedule and balance

Since finishing Robbing HUD I’ve been trying to pause for a bit while also finishing off a few things I’ve been putting off for a while. In doing so I’ve been thinking a lot about my commitments and how I’ll try and balance things going forward.

At present I’m currently:

  • Working 24 hours a week (with another 3-5 hours travel depending on mode of transport)
  • Learning Italian (an hour a day typically)
  • Various writing responsibilities (time varies)
  • Gym (around 3 hours a week)

Then of course there’s sleeping, socialising and that kind of stuff.

So between all those I’m trying to progress what I wish to turn into a career. There’s a lot I want to do and I often find myself alternating between feeling like I don’t have any time to do it and cursing myself for ever giving myself a break.  Quite often at the end of the day I’ll feel “I could have done more today”.

It’s a tricky one to balance; the drive to progress and the need to look after yourself.  Maybe it will become easier with time, or maybe I’ll become more successful and can leave work behind (one can hope!)  I’m trying to think what I can cut, other than sleep which is kind of needed.  I might swap the gym out or cut down on my Italian.  I’ve had quite a progressive pace in the six weeks since I started it, but I don’t know how sustainable that is going to be.

I’ve always been one that wants to skip to the good part.  That’s not to say that I don’t put in the hard work, I just grouse as I do!

Scene muck around

Decided to just play around with low poly models and terrain stuff for a bit this afternoon in Unity3D.

Most of what I’ve done in Unity has been 2D based so I thought I’d give it a quick bash.  As you can tell, when it came to the terrain stuff I didn’t even bother adding a text.  It’s a snow scene, okay?  Or maybe clouds…or who knows.  Just trying something different.

Low poly test
Low poly test
Low poly test
Low poly test
Low poly test
Low poly test

Robbing HUD now available

My very first completed game is now available to purchase!

A year ago I posted on Facebook “Oh screw this.  Who wants to set up a studio?”  I can’t recall what drove me to that, but the outcome has been good!  A lot of people seemed interested and that’s still ticking away, but in the mean time I’ve been working on my own stuff and after some last minute crunch I managed to get Robbing HUD available for today to mark the anniversary.

It was always meant to be just a little project to try out some stuff but hopefully it’s at least fun and entertaining in some capacity.  I’ve learnt a lot along the way so that’s all that really matters eh?

Hoping to do a few more little projects (even smaller than this) to try out a few ideas and get to grips on some stuff.

You can find out more about the game and download it from the Robbing HUD page.  Price is completely up to you.

If you give the game a chance let me know what you think.  Would love to hear any feedback you have.

It’s great to finally have something out though.  All those years of playing games and now I made one!  That’s kind of weird, but really cool and exciting.  Hopefully the start of many more 🙂

Reviewing feedback

Got some feedback on Robbing HUD from two of the people that agreed to test it.

There was some really useful feedback on the balance as that was one area I really wanted to get some feedback on as I was very much just playing to test if things broke when I played it.

There was also useful feedback on the overall difficulty.  I always wanted it to be challenging, but seems it might be unfairly challenging.  The difficulty apparently ramps up too quickly and the maths quizzes become undoable in the allocated time.  In addition to this information wasn’t clear (such as which jobs would earn more/less money).

Now I’m trying to decide where to go with this.  I intended the game to be a quick simple project just for the sake of having something out there and I could tidy up a few bits and get it out quickly.  I always ended to release it as a set your own price kind of game so I wasn’t too concerned about it being ‘perfect’ (or near), but perhaps I should consider spending a bit more time just tidying up a few bits so at least it plays better.

On the one hand I don’t want to labour too much over what was intended to be a rough quick project, but on the other I don’t want to ignore the possibility of improving things after dedicating a bit more time.  Think I may try and do a half-way between those two things, just need to figure out what that half-way would contain.

Just gone through and listed 12 changes I would consider (others are worthwhile, just not in the scope of this project).  Seven of them are small changes that will be implemented and now I’m just trying to figure out how much time the other five would take and what exactly they would entail (as they’re not simple “change this to this” kind of things but additions of features or significant changes of existing ones).

Scroll To Top