Jach's personal blog

(Largely containing a mind-dump to myselves: past, present, and future)
Current favorite quote: "Supposedly smart people are weirdly ignorant of Bayes' Rule." William B Vogt, 2010

Side project energy

As a certain political persona might say, I'm kind of low-energy.

Take a look at my Github. It's gotten better. Take a look at this very blog. It's gotten better. 2015 was a rough year.

Ever since around the start of 2012 (we'll say this post) I haven't really been happy with my productivity. It's been ok for work related stuff, I survived school, but it's still not where I want it to be overall. And my side projects are all on life support, and that's where they've got more to them than just some ideas in a local readme.

Ludum Dare 36 is coming up. The last time I made an entry was #15, in 2009, seven years ago.

Seven years, holy hell. And that entry was probably my worst. And in seven years I don't really know much more about game design and game programming than I did then. A few things, sure. I can implement A* and other game-AI stuff now. My math is a bit better. If I have to I can write shoddy netcode. I know a bit more about 3D. But I haven't completed a full game since the one I did for school in 2010.

I've wanted to make more entries. I justified not doing any more while I was in school because they always seemed to fall on the weekend right before or right after finals, plus I "wasn't inspired" by the themes. But really I was starting to feel energy-decline even back then. And for 2014 and 2015 when I no longer had the school excuse, well, I had the Event excuse I guess, but really I was just tired and focusing my efforts on work.

At least I've been able to keep up my input to acceptable-to-me levels (full book-wise I'm never happy though) and still learn new things, but I also tire out more easily. I'm not writing this off due to age. I'm still young. With chemical assistance I can still pull all-nighters and be productive for work the next day. I should be able to last the 48 hours, or at least what I did for my first few entries which is ~6 hours of sleep over the whole period. (Before I started my current job I actually had a last hurrah with my old boss working about 40 hours over a 48 hour period. It was refreshing to know I still had that in me, and until the Event a couple months later I was starting to feel like my energy levels were increasing for the first time in a long time.)

I'd like to make an entry for this upcoming Ludum Dare. I can already feel the excuses manifesting though. I'm traveling for work next week, will be home late Thursday (maybe I'll take Friday off...), and I probably won't be feeling like doing much besides sleep.

It's also totally likely that even if I start trying, I'll block myself by getting lost trying to do too much. This happened during a few low-effort attempts at prior Ludum Dares over the last few years. I'd spend maybe 4-8 hours on Saturday trying to teach myself some cool thing for the first time. Just in time learning sometimes works, but I've learned I can't really rely on it. So if I do it this time... or even make an attempt... I know I should just drop back to PyGame and make some simple 2D thing. But I really want to use more Nim... If I give in to that temptation, I already know I'm more likely to fail. But at least in this instance, I'd be ok with it, since ideally even if I only flail around for 4-8 hours working on making my start of a PyGame-esque wrapper around Nim's SDL wrapper, that will at least advance that component for use in a separate side project. This is a new tactic worth exploring: have a couple side projects that share another sub-side-project.

Some other rambling advice to myself is that I need to un-paralyze myself from the desire for originality. The entries I've actually done have something in common: they're simplified rips of experiences I've already had that were made by others. Chain Pain? Some minigame from Star Fox Adventures. Pepsi Blue? Not sure where that's from actually, probably one of a billion flash games from way back, but also my own game beforehand about a cancer fighting ninja pill... Femme Tower? Static castle defense, at the time I was into Bowmaster. Lava Flee? I just wanted to try a side scrolling platformer. Bat Cave? I don't remember that one well either but I think I wanted to take it in the direction of an RPG. Or maybe it started out as a series of Mummy Maze rooms? But like Lava Flee, these "most recent" two are easily the weakest in the whole series, and I think a large part of why is because they were more "I want to learn about [tech]" oriented rather than stealing some gameplay idea like the even older me did (and learned more from perhaps).

Currently estimating a 40% chance I participate at all, 10% chance I complete something.

Posted on 2016-08-20 by Jach

Tags: personal


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