Carp and flounder: fishing for ideas (and titles)

David Shaw, 2:12 am 7th December 2009
Posted under: Blog Babble

Missing making a blog post is more trouble than it’s worth. I’ve got several unfinished drafts of posts I meant to post ages ago, but the longer I leave it the more information I feel I need to cram into them. This in turn causes me to delay to think more about what I want to say, which completes the terrible cycle of non-posting. The point of this post is to break that cycle. If I can’t fit everything nicely into one post, I can always post it later.

November game development in review: If I had to describe the state of November in a word, it would probably be “floundering”. I started the month at the initial crossroads of development looking to make the first few strides towards my destination, and at the end of the month I’m still standing there feeling bewildered. Having thought about why I’m still there, I think the problem is not so much choosing from the insanely large number of paths available for development, but that I’m uncertain about exactly where it is I want to go. Without a clear direction to head in, I’ve been evaluating my options with the vague metric of “Well, does this path look interesting to me?”. The answer is always: yes, it does look interesting, but so do all those other paths over there; maybe they would be better? I’ve stuck myself in limbo, exploring what options are available to me rather than making a hard decision and sticking with it. It feels nice and productive while I’m doing it, and above all it feels safe and comfortable. But I’m never going to get anywhere without making a choice.

Compounding on this, I’ve hit a creative dry patch right when I need game ideas. Deep down, I was sort of hoping that while I was working on exploring the tech and libraries I’d be hit by a few bolts from the blue with great, feasible ideas that would excite me into planning them up. But I’m getting nothing. It’s rather frustrating. Given the time that has passed, I’m going to have to force the issue by writing up treatments on whatever stale ideas fizzle into my mind, no matter how painful it feels, and keep doing so until I find something serviceable. I don’t have to keep digging through ideas until I strike gold, but it would be nice to at least strike zinc.

For this month, my aim is simply to have a sensible, workable game goal to develop that I will achieve. Sounds simple, but to properly find a goal with confidence I need to: make some fairly solid decisions about the direction I want to go in, platforms to develop for, genres etc.; come up with some workable ideas; choose my tech and art direction; have a workable prototype; and then have a development plan for how to get from prototype to release. Above all, I need to switch mentality from the “game development as a hobby” mode that I still think I’m stuck in. It’s more than a fair amount to do in three weeks, but it’s what is required for 2010.

Oh, and I need to figure out some better material to post in my blogs too. I envy those bloggers who can churn out interesting articles full of quality content at an alarming frequency. I have enough trouble just trying not to trip over my own grammar.

3 comments for “Carp and flounder: fishing for ideas (and titles)”

  1. Matthew says:

    You need to stop all this floundering and focus. But you have no solid ideas. So, forget choosing a direction just choose a challenge or competition and pick the tools to get the job done in the allotted time. Ludum Dare might be a good starting point.

    It sounds like you don’t need to sit there choosing what to do, you need something to force you to >do<. So enter a Ludum, the result might turn out to be complete rubbish, but it means you have something completed before the end of the year and that might be the kickstart you need for 2010.

  2. David Shaw says:

    That’s a really good idea. I don’t think it can completely replace “sitting around choosing what to do” since there’s a few things I need to sort out, but it sure will help kick me out of the rut I’m currently in.

  3. Matthew says:

    It would also give you something to write about on this blog for a few days or weeks – developer diary style. Even if it’s a complete failure it’s content and experience.

Leave a Reply