Another Day, Another Coffee
One time Maus found this graphic and posted it on Facebook. It said generally, “I don’t really plan my days in advance. It’s just coffee and strangeness my friend, coffee and strangeness.” He said this was my line, and he was so right. My days are filled with coffee and strangeness. I forget how strange my life is sometimes, because I regard a lot of ‘strange’ things as normal. I don’t think I’m really that strange, I think I’m pretty run of the mill, but Maus points out that I don’t get out often.
So, today I pay my rent, do my laundry, get a book from the library, and create some stuff. I was thinking about it, and I realized that I have fully designed a game in the past. It was for the month long game design contest hosted by a consortium of people over at the RPG maker sites. At least, that’s where it seems to be able to be found. We had to make a game in a month, which we failed to do, but I did finish the design of the whole game. We decided we’d make an adventure game called Howard, about a robot and his quest to save his young charge from a futuristic dystopia. The thing that was somewhat remarkable was that we actually had graphics, a working prototype, stuff moving around, an interface, items. The whole she-bang. We had about, I want to say, the majority of screens created. We had a a pretty good way to go, but the design and such was done.
We flit back and forth between lots of projects. We’re working on a card game, and countless computer game ideas. I think part of the problem is that I want everything now. I want an end product so badly these days (because I don’t really have one), that I keep trying to put in the least amount of work possible for the most production. This doesn’t really work, because anything of quality requires a fair amount of work. I think narrative games are easier to make, but when I went to turn Impossible Things into a visual novel I realized the graphics weren’t up par, so in the end they’re not. I think RPGs are easier to make, but when I finished making the battle system for a 2.5D futuristic fantasy game the interface and details required to implement it were very complex. What is a fledgling game designer who wants to show what he can do, do? We thought up an innovative sigil system that wouldn’t require a lot of programming, but we couldn’t find an inspirational base for it. What would be the theme for it? It’s a great idea, but we can’t rest on a solid backdrop… so we skipped over it. My parodical RPG? I can make the characters but I can’t come up with plot. It’s like every time I actually start working on an idea, I go blank.
I don’t understand why this is so. I come up with ideas, little premises and snippets, I have hundreds by now, but then when I go to work on these great ideas I suddenly go blank. It’s interesting, when I have to do something for a class then I sit and do it. When I have to do it, I can step through something somehow and come up with something. But when it’s just me in my life, no matter how much I want to improve it, I can’t seem to follow through.
My biggest weakness in writing is plot. I read Ayn Rand’s book on fiction, and that helped somewhat, but I still have difficulty spinning things into motion. My biggest weakness in game design is not the actual game, but what the execution of the game entails, like puzzles. Howard was a very innovative narrative, and someday I’ll make it, however the hardest thing about it was coming up with the puzzles.
I think it plays into my lack of being able to also think physically. I’m great at something abstract like programming: I think in terms of abstract systems, but bring everything I think down to an immediate implementable level when I program. However when I try to think of a physical system, how this gear goes with that pulley to accomplish this lift… my brain comes up with a giant block. It’s like the difference between making a fursuit with mechanics, and a fursuit without mechanics. The fursuit itself is an abstraction turned into foam, tape, and fur. These are static things in the end. Perhaps I need to look at it like it is programming. I start with an abstract idea of a story, and then work it down in the same process into implementable mechanics. This is as in, writing is a way of programming, just different tools and mechanics.
Maybe I should read more books on writing to learn this system of programming. Maus suggests I take the creative writing class at the college like he did. I mean, I’m doing pretty well in art class, maybe it might help me. The other thing I need to also do is read more fiction. I have a great mind (I’d like to think), but when it comes to experiences to draw from to make an authentic narrative, I don’t really have a lot. That’s why whenever I try to make anything slice of life, it turns out being about me. When Howard was not about me, I made it. Maybe it’s not all about me?