November 12, 2007

Checking the Box

Long task lists are both simultaneously satisfying and infuriating. You get the joy of crossing a lot of things off your list, which is nice, but when you consider that you added most of those throughout the day, and the one thing you had on there this morning still isn't done at 10:00 P.M. and it's a little disheartening. Nevertheless, it was all work that needed to get done and it all amounts to the same amount of time spent, no matter how you slice it.

As mentioned previously, this week is remarkably deadline free, though that doesn't mean a dearth of work needing to be done. It just means an exercise in keeping yourself motivated enough to keep moving on multiple projects with longer timelines. To be honest, I'm not sure I've yet had the chance to work on a level for more than a week so this is a new and different experience. Take today for example, we did our first "speed map" in level design.

The concept of the speed map is that you have 15 min to draft a quick paper design and then an hour to build your level. Then the whole class spends the rest of the time testing the levels, and giving constructive feedback. Then the paper map and final product end up getting wrapped up in a grade to be determined later. While it is expected that your map will look like absolute crap and may even contain some minor (or major) technical issues, it is nevertheless a somewhat harrowing experience.

Formulating a level (based on some defined visual and gameplay concepts) and then creating even a rough approximation of it in 75 min. can be stressful if you let it. I wouldn't say I let it stress me out, but I wouldn't say I didn't either. I finished my level in time, and was relatively happy with the end product, especially for my first speed map. There were some minor flow issues, but no technical problems, and I think I leveraged the themes pretty well. Overall, I think the experience was a positive one, though it makes speed modeling seem a bit simpler :).

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