Python, the winter warm-up

David Shaw, 4:57 am 22nd May 2009
Posted under: Blog Babble

Man, I’m bad at this blogging thing. I was planning on making a post every few days; I even had one written for nearly a week ago. But I felt it was lacking something and never posted. Next time I should get something else written; I should get around to writing a proper review to Plants vs. Zombies, plus now Braid’s been released for the Mac I can finally see what all the hullabaloo is about.

What was clear after my blogging brainstorming sessions, and has been increasingly clear this week, is that my most pressing issue is that I’m extremely rusty at game development. I’m running at a much lower efficiency than is required if I’m to have a serious stab at running this as a business. The plan I’ve got jotted out requires a rather high level of creative output, and this requires a level of organisation I need to build. I know it’s achievable; I’ve been there before. It does however require a considerable amount of focus that I need to build.

The flipside of this is I don’t want to burn myself out prematurely with a flurry of misplaced activity. It’s the start of winter weather in these parts (reverse seasons down under, northern hemispherers), which is not exactly my most productive period. I feel like I’m solar powered and it’s a struggle not to just hibernate until spring. I don’t want to push myself into poor health, but on the other hand – if I don’t push myself I will stay in a slump until spring. It’s a fine line.

With that in mind, my goal for the winter months is to convert myself from a rather disorganised post-postgraduate student to an somewhat-organised-though-chaotic indie developer. By the time spring hits, I’d like to be much more in-tune with a healthy development life cycle and a heck of lot more productive than I am now. Basicaly my goals will be a bunch of internal organisational objectives, everything from finding and learning new tools and languages to just learning how to properly manage my time. This also gives me spring as a milestone in learning how to manage myself as a small business; if I can’t hack running my projects by then, then maybe I just can’t hack the self-discipline required for the indie life.

To start, I’m going to properly get to grips with Python as a development language. I’ve dabbled with Python over the last couple of years and loved it, but I’ve only really scratched the surface. My impression is that Python has the potential to being an extremely productive language for what I need. I’m hoping it will turn out to be a great general purpose development language, especially for things like tools and rapidly prototyping ideas. To see if my instinct is correct, I’ll need to give it a proper trial. Other languages I’d like to try are Lua and Flash’s Actionscript, but I’m thinking Python is also the best to warm up with.

I’m thinking the proper approach to learning Python while simultaneously derusting my skills is build a bunch of small projects, building my way from simple starter games to a more cohesive advanced framework. My main reservation is that this means the start of my blog is going to full of really basic games, which is bad for the ol’ ego. But it’s either post that or blog about random stuff for the next month! I don’t think I should force myself to work on anything especially creative right now, because that’s not the pressing issue. It’s too much to work on novel design techinques and learn Python and derust my development skills. Especially over winter, when I’m at my lowest creative ebb. It’s solid grunt work now, creative stuff later.

If Python really is good at both rapid development and derusting my skills, then it should show quick results. It’s the self-discipline in getting back up to speed that might be the real challenge…

2 comments for “Python, the winter warm-up”

  1. Josh Jersild says:

    Wow, good thing you posted on your other blog with a link to this one, I didn’t realize I didn’t have the right RSS feed set up!

    So, of course, I went back and read everything – good call. I especially like the bit in a previous post where you list strengths and weaknesses, both of indie development and yourself – I might end up doing something similar on my blog, if only to try to sort out what it is that makes my own development schedule tick!

    The blog looks good, and I’m looking forward to tracking it :) Hope your southern-winter development goes smoothly! I know how hard it is to develop when the sun seems to set before it’s even quite risen.

  2. David Shaw says:

    Luckily in Melbourne the winter sun never hides to the extent that it does in Scotland or Sweden, so it’s not that bad. If I had to survive one of those winters where you only get twilight at noon then I’d go crazy.

    Still, I’d like to not fall into a slump like I have ever other winter. When I look at the dates on all the interesting notes I’ve made over the years, it’s rare to see a June or July.

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