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sonder
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« on: August 10, 2016, 06:25:53 PM »

I'm 32.  I'm struggling with a problem. I don't know how common it might be...

I'm calling it "Design Amnesia" because I don't know a better term for it.

When I was in school, I was always coming up with great game ideas.  I didn't have much means to make them, so they just stayed ideas.  (Practically all of the sketches are lost now, but I remember a lot.)  I never questioned what I wanted to make, even if it was a blatant ripoff of / directly inspired by another game.  Think Jazz Jackrabbit to Sonic.  

When I learned how to program, I was super impatient, and I became obsessed with making game-making tools over games.  For like, years.  It was super counter productive.  Basically I've come full circle and the ironic main lesson was don't be in a rush.

I'm really good at taking other people's skeleton ideas and fleshing them out, or substantially improving on complete ones.  I'd do great in a "writers room" setting.  But my own original ideas have problems.  Like, I'll have an idea for a setting and characters and a mood, but not be able to decide on a story or even the genre of the game.  Or chase my tail about what platform or tech I should use.  Or get totally hung up on if it's 3/4 overhead or sidescrolling, or how detailed the graphics should be.  Or I'll have an idea and then feel like it's too immature.  Or I'll come up with one that is "mature" or "sophisticated" (best words I can come up with for it) but I don't have the experience or resources to make it, because I don't have the prolific portfolio I ought to.  I'll often conclude that games in general are tired and pointless, as if I've already gone through a natural artist's evolution, to a theoretical mode or medium that is somehow not tired and pointless to me, but I don't have the body of work to help people "catch up" and see the value of such works.  

One part of me wants to make what I think of as "gamey" games.  Just immerse myself in pretending to be Nintendo.

The other part of me finds that idea regressive and childish.  I'm thinking about the fact that my life is 1/3-1/2 over, and whether I should be pushing myself now to be more of an artist or more of a craftsman.  Or both - which is super confusing because I don't know what such a hybrid would look like.  I know it's a toxic, contrived way of thinking to begin with, but I think years of being exposed to a wide spectrum of art while failing to weave my own "artistic thread" has left me overstuffed with rules and prejudgments.  For years I've felt like an empty shell.  It sucks.  Only recently I've started to feel bits of inspiration growing through the cracks and I'm being really careful not to trample on them.

By the way... looking to modern games - or favorite classics - for ideas, just gets me more confused and indecisive.  There's too much noise.  I wish I could start again from zero and forget everything I've learned or come up with and be in that state of just having discovered video games.  I feel adrift.

TLDR: I'm an unproductive artist and my head is full of poop.  I don't want to be an unproductive artist with a head full of poop.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2016, 06:40:15 PM by kidfingers » Logged
JWK5
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« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2016, 06:43:27 PM »

Poop is great fertilizer, if you'd stop trying to get of the poop you might be surprised to find impressive things can grow out of it.
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sonder
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« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2016, 06:49:26 PM »

Poop is great fertilizer, if you'd stop trying to get of the poop you might be surprised to find impressive things can grow out of it.

the poop was more or less referring to included my anxiety, indecisiveness, brain-schismness, and hangups, but i get what you're saying.  maybe i should let myself get covered in poop and see what monstrosities come out and figure out where to go from there when i get there. have stuff to base good stuff off of instead of nothing
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JWK5
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« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2016, 08:11:28 PM »

The main thing is just make something you are content making. There is always going to be that invisible nagging "artiste" sitting on your shoulder whispering "That's not real art!" but that mostly comes from an exposure to the game making culture as a whole. Yes, there are people trying to push artistic boundaries left and right but that doesn't mean there is no room left for nostalgia and a focus on fun.

The thing is all of us creators are just a composite of the creators that came before us. We pick up so much experience, and talent, and ideas, and wisdom from all these creators who come before us and inspire us that really as artists we are like a network of veins pumping the same creativity from the heart of humanity.

No matter how original or how traditional you want to think you are both is true. You are building on everything that came before you, but what you add is coming from an experience that is uniquely yours.
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valrus
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« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2016, 09:34:46 PM »

I'm really good at taking other people's skeleton ideas and fleshing them out, or substantially improving on complete ones.  I'd do great in a "writers room" setting.  But my own original ideas have problems.

[snip]

One part of me wants to make what I think of as "gamey" games.  Just immerse myself in pretending to be Nintendo.

[snip]

I wish I could start again from zero and forget everything I've learned or come up with and be in that state of just having discovered video games

I sometimes like to think of my games as someone else's games from a parallel universe, that branched off of our universe in a different direction sometime after I turned 15.  Like what if, instead of Mario, DOOM, and Dune II being giant hits that launched major genres, some other game of my childhood did.  Can I work out what happened in that other universe and bring back a game from that genre?  What if Nintendo's big hit on the NES had been <X>... how did they follow up on the SNES and N64?  Thought experiments like that.

I'm thinking of this because it's a bit like what you're good at -- working out a good logical conclusion from an idea that's already semi-started -- plus an artificial constraint that forces you to *not* take inspiration from too much at once.  (In that the specific history of games in this other world splits off after the year 19XX, although they underwent similar technological innovations and improvements in craft.) 
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rj
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« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2016, 09:50:02 PM »

here's what i do: come up with a terrible game idea. then make it better.

everything is execution, after all.
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saluk
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« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2016, 09:57:33 AM »

Maybe your younger self really wanted to work on games - but that doesn't mean "game designer" was your destiny. Perhaps your skills are actually best suited to working on tools or programming effects or drawing art for someone else's design vision? It's dangerous to go alone after all!

But it could be that you just haven't found your project yet. I've had a similar sort of design crisis going on for a while, between shutting down my impossible mmo project and now, of trying to find a project that is at the right crossroads between my ambition and my ability. I've been keeping a journal of all of my game ideas, from the awesome to the terrible, and just kind of waiting for one that was really worth expanding upon.

I think for the longest time I would just have an idea and then start building something for it, taking the time to actually evaluate my ideas and consider their viability has helped me to focus. Maybe a similar kind of soul search can help you.
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alvarop
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« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2016, 10:06:42 AM »

You're judging yourself too harshly and comparing yourself to others. Stop that shit.
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