January 20, 2008

The Truth Shall Set You Free

During one of my regular "I have too much work, will this ever end!?" rants with Rick, it had occurred to me to ask my dear brother my recent whining was the same as it had been last term, and to my surprise his response was a reasonably confident "yes." I had been pretty confident that this term was somehow worse than my prior terms had been, however looking back at my posts from the beginning of last term, it would seem he's probably right. Now there are some mitigating circumstances here which may be making my current work seem worse than last term. Mostly coming off of a three-week break of doing absolutely nothing productive (for which I am entirely to blame) and this term's current focus on documentation over everything else. Also, there was that Oblivion assignment which I've already complained about so I don't think I need to bring it up again.

I think the truth is that the three weeks of blissful sleep and gaming made me forget what it means to be a student here, which is a dangerous situation. It's not always impossible to relax here its just that sometimes they make it very, very hard. Also, with the focus on game design and documentation instead of general level design, we've been operating in more of a white space than usual, which isn't a bad thing, but it's an adjustment. I like structure. Telling myself that I am going to sit down for ~10-12 hours and work on a list of tasks for my level is a structure that I can accept. Even the structure of writing the level abstracts and level design documents is something that I had gotten used to.

On the other hand, pure game design and concept development feels largely without structure. Sometimes the ideas don't come quickly or completely baked, and every discussion really only opens the door to new discussions. This is actually kind of an exciting process - basically creating a game from scratch (minus using an established engine of course). I feel like the concept for Extinction is getting better and better, but it's still a relatively slow and tedious process at some points, and nothing around here is ever allowed to proceed slowly.

In hindsight, this really shouldn't be a new experience as the conceptualization of VIRUS proceeded in a similar manner, but I guess it still felt like we had more time, and in that case we actually created the game in the same term! Maybe it's an illusion, or maybe this term is still experiencing some growing pains from the new curriculum. Either way, I guess it's something my brain is slowly getting used to again. I think by the end of my vacation, my brain was getting used to sleeping and relaxing in front of the TV and so now I'm trying to remind it what it means to be a student here. Once I've got that worked out, I think I'll be back to my sleep-deprived, overworked, perfectionist self. Though it may not sound that great it's definitely better than trying to work while your brain is still on vacation. You'll just have to trust me on that.

Now, I must go, my concept document isn't going to write itself...

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