March 18, 2008


It's been an oddly stressful first few days here. I mean, not odd that it's stressful, it's always somewhat stressful around here, but odd in how stressed out I think we've all been vs. the amount of work that is currently being asked of us. Right now there isn't an exceptional amount that needs to be done. I mean, DFS is spiraling up (LDD due Thursday) and Extinction is on its way, but I feel like I have, in fact, been asked to do more in less time. Nevertheless, I am (or was?) already starting to feel hopelessly overwhelmed and wasn't really sure how to cope. I know it sounds weird, but I was struggling so I sought help.

I talked to one of the professors about my struggles and how things seemed to be affecting me as well as seemingly the rest of the LDs if not the entire cohort. I think he was initially surprised that it was happening so early, but he divulged that Term 4 is generally thought to be the most difficult term, and the fact that we have two large projects (TGP and DFS) going on at the same time (which hasn't been done since cohort 4 I believe) isn't helping any. He said that students typically go through a sort of "panic attack" somewhere around week 5 so it was a bit unusual to see it in week 2 (though if you consider the fact that we shortened the terms by 3 weeks, they might be closer than it initially appears).

Anyway, we talked for a bit about me specifically and how and why things might be affecting me, and it was his belief that my primary issue was probably one of time management. Mostly, allowing myself too much time to work on things, case in point my Doom 3 speedmap. Admittedly, I was really happy with the result, I think I learned a lot and it demonstrated a fair amount of proficiency within the editor, but was all that time necessary? If I had actually limited myself to 12 hours, what would the result have been? 10? 8? I don't really know the answers to these questions, but I am working to find them. Theres an important law called Parkinson's Law that says something like: work expands to fill available time. The problem that I had was that I wasn't really restricting the time that I assigned to certain tasks, I would just work on them until I was happy with them and that worked for me so far, but I think it Term 3 it began to break down and here it broke down entirely.

I have really high expectations for myself, which has generally served me well and I think it continues to do so to a point, but then there is a point at which it's just crazy and potentially detrimental to my professional development. Games in general straddle this border between the commercial and the artistic. On the one hand, an artist will want to work on a piece of art until it is a masterpiece, on the other, the company wants it within a limited timetable and usually as soon as possible. What was my solution you ask? Well, clearly to sacrifice sleep and everything else I could to meet my expectations within the company's timetable. While this ultimately made the company happy, it was probably one of the worst things I could have done.

Not only did I push myself to the brink of exhaustion, I continued to do so as I wished to continually surpass myself to indicate that I was continuing to grow and learn. Extra bad. Anyway, this may sound like a bunch of garbled psuedo-psychology, and maybe it is to a point, I'm just trying to express my thoughts as I have reflected on my time here thus far and what caused me to crash as of yesterday (I think my earliest crash to date). I'm not thinking a great deal about how the whole thing flows as a post or maybe even how all the sentences fit together, just getting it out of my mind and onto the paper, a sort of stream of consciousness post.

That was actually another point of discussion was basically trying to get things out of my head, particularly tasks. Basically trying to get everything I could plan for down on paper into a legitimate and actionable plan and everything else out of my head. This may sound like rudimentary task planning to all of you and maybe it is. Maybe you figured it out in college or at your first career job, but I've just never really had to think like this before. Where the requests on me where so drastic and overwhelming that I had to make serious choices about where to focus my time, and then accept the consequences. I think that before now, even here, there was enough time to do everything as far as I wanted to do it, all I needed to do was sacrifice a little sleep here in there. Each term it got harder and required more sleep, and then this term I ran out. There just isn't enough time to do everything I want to as much as I want to. I know, great revelation right?

Anyway, that's where my mind is at right now...trying desperately to plan efficiently and effectively and be realistic about what I have time for and what I am capable of. Actually, the professor I talked was pretty encouraging on this point. He didn't say I needed to settle for less (though maybe I should lower my own expectations in a few places), he actually said he thought I was capable of doing things in less time than I gave myself credit for. Ultimately falling into a self-fulfilling prophecy of assuming something to take 15 hours and then having take 15 hours. a more positive note than simply "settling for mediocrity" as Rick would sarcastically say.

Alright, well I've used the time I alloted for blog writing today on this crazy/rambling post, so with that I bid you all a good night. Bye!

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