Well, somewhat of a retrospective. Partially because I like to think about what I’ve done and evaluate it all for the future, and partially because Syd already did her own brief post about it, the end of the year seems like a good time to mull over some key points of 2010.
(On a side note, it deserves mention that as with a whole lot of my images in this blog, I’ve no idea where exactly I got the image that goes with this post, but it isn’t my work, blahblah et cetera.)
This year’s been something of a landmark year for me, even if I don’t have a great deal of really tangible substance to show for it yet. A lot of it has to do with my time at SCAD since last Fall—the first part of this year has seen a lot of confidence growth in terms of what I do and my abilities as a designer and game-maker, as well as a greater willingness to be totally wrong and fail, which is terribly important to a game designer (and something that I’ve always struggled with as a gifted individual). learning to embrace iterative design and getting ideas torn apart in public has done great things for me, no lie.
Somewhere around mid-summer, I took some advice I’ve gotten from more sources than I can count to heart, though I didn’t realize it until recently. Kevin Smith recently posted about it, and I hear it all the time in other forms when someone asks how to get into the game industry. “How can I get a job making games?" someone asks. “I am a fill in the blank here.” The answer, invariably and completely appropriately, is “make something cool”. Whatever you want people to pay you to do, you’ve got to do it first. Act like a game designer. Act like a filmmaker. Act like an artist. And by act like it, we mean be it. Get off your ass and get to work like you’re being paid a million bucks and maybe you will be.
On a brief tangent, Syd’s been doing this, too, and I’m terrifically proud of her for the progress she’s pulled together on it. That project is still semi-secret while in trial phases, though, so that’s what I’ll say about it.
Happily, I’ve been better about that point over the last few months. A lot fewer of the game ideas on my white board are staying on my whiteboard—I’ve been making an effort to get them off there and at least into some design documentation, or preferably some prototyping done. The recent work with orbital mechanics is a case in point.
Similarly, I’m allowing myself to believe that there’s no reason some of my longer-term goals lately have to stay long-term. A full-on indie studio, for example, is probably a ways off. But there’s not much keeping a team of three or four of myself and colleagues from getting something together and getting it out there and every reason we should. So I’m intent on making that happen in some fashion this coming year.
I’ve been developing a little fearlessness in some ways, and I’m terribly happy with the results. Where before, I might have gotten excited about Microsoft making available development on the XBox, phones, Kinect, or whatever and not done anything because it all seems like things that cleverer people than I do(leaving aside the issue of my own cleverness), this year has been different. It’s been a year, especially since March or so, of “Fuck it, I’m gonna play with it and make something happen”. The results have been outstanding. Just outstanding.
What will the New Year bring? Hopefully a continuing trend. With any luck at all, some serious productivity and maybe even some decent money to show for it. I’ve been seriously tempted these last few weeks to perhaps launch a game critic blog thingie, perhaps with Syd. Something patterned on Siskel & Ebert at the Movies perhaps. Say what one will about Ebert and games, but the man knows being a critic, even if he’s not qualified to do it for games. And I feel in the current morass of really awful game journalism and disingenuous reviews, a critical eye toward them that doesn’t involve review scores and news items and Graphics-Gameplay-Audio-Every Other Subjective Thing breakdowns could be very valuable, especially when set against a rigid criteria for discussion. And I feel the conversational format of discourse S&E favored back in the day is a great way to do it. No telling if this one will see the light of day—I doubt it’s something we’d ever really manage to monetize enough to really do it justice. But it’s on my mind.
Lessons for the year: be bold, be confident, be fearless, take a fucking chance and whatever you want to do, be it now and not later. I’m no particularly enamored of the USMC (or un-enamored, for that matter), but SEMPER FI GODDAMMIT. Your destiny is in your own damn hands more than anyone else’s, so harden the fuck up and do something already.