Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Lost in Training

Iced Z
    "I've have lost my mojo."  - Austin Powers

    Lately, this quote runs through my head a lot.  I have been mentally spinning my wheels on the game design for a number of reasons.  One of those reasons is that I have been really cramming a lot of new knowledge into my overstuffed, books lying around, half-done experiments, wizard's attic of a mind.   "Don't mind the crow.  He always sounds hungry."  I like to think of myself as more of an eccentric wizard from an old Excalibur film, but most likely I am more kook than cook when it comes to creating things.  I usually have a ton of different ideas banging around in my head and just pull out a few to start turning them into a product.  This past week it feels like there are too many ideas and ways to implement those ideas to just focus on a few.  Nothing feels right yet and time is running out.
   Adding to this issue, and probably a major contributor, is my extra development training with 3D graphics and the SpriteKit API.   The 3D program, Blender, is very complex and oddly compelling to me.   When I have a spare moment, I like to crack open the program and tinker with a new 3D modeling task.  Usually with a tutorial video playing on the other monitor because I would never figure these things out by experimentation alone.  It helps to have an expert guide you through the process the first few times.  It would also help to have a bit more talent in the graphics area, but we work with what we have sometimes.  "Oh be quiet, Crow.  I am trying to write here."  Anyway, this takes up time and diverts my brain more than I would like.  I can't use the modeling at the moment, but does seem like there is something there...
   Where was I?  Oh yeah.  Distractions.   Along with the 3D modeling, a book about Sprite Kit that I have been waiting to be published finally arrived last week.  IOS Games By Tutorials has been pretty engaging and I have learned a few things and filled in some gaps in others.   The latest chapters have covered physics, level design, and combining actions to make interesting animations, sounds and effects.  It is a good book and I recommend it highly to those of you that just would like to tinker at building games.  I am half-way through the book and still picking up great tips on building a quality game that is fun and maintainable.  Unfortunately, it is easier to just work on one more chapter than to go back to my actual game development.  Given that we are approaching the middle of the February, I really should put the book down and finish the latest game App.
   Which brings me to the crux of my problem.  Every new technique or programming tip could potentially move my game ideas in a new direction.   Usually this is a good direction.  I have discovered better ways to handle level design and the way the game objects behave on the screen.  Other times, it is just reinforcing my knowledge on the subject or verifying something I had discovered through my earlier experiments.  In the end, it brings a lot of extra thoughts to my game idea and starts the wheels spinning again.   "Yes Crow, I was getting to that."  The worse part is, the more I train, the less I produce on my own product.  This adds to the guilty feeling that I am shirking my work.  Even though I have been training and studying a lot lately.
    I probably just need to pull back, look at the big picture, and pick a route to travel for now.  On the other hand, the next few chapters cover Tile Maps which could be really useful for a slightly different game.  
   "Yes, yes Crow.  I am ready to get back to work."


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