A game by Heather Logas and her friends

Work in Progress Wednesday (with embedded Monday Post)

On Monday, we had no internet. Nonetheless, I wrote a post which I will embed after the status update. But here’s Work in Progress Wednesday!

My current slated task is to go through all the files on the server (for the demo game) and compare them to my local files so that I know which version of which thing I am actually using. Unfortunately when I became excited about testing certain features, I created a number of local files labelled (for example): AtGates1.txt, AtGates2.txt, etc. Then I would put them online and take the number off the end of the file name so that it would just work with everything else. Now I have learned that this is a silly practice. So I am making sure all the files are set up properly before I program anything else.

As I said, however, the internet was out Monday and Tuesday. So instead of working on this task, I started flow-charting the one scene that hasn’t been written yet — except in my mind. Doing this was very useful, as it pointed out big holes that I haven’t filled in yet. One of the difficulties of designing this game is that I want the player to feel as though they have a large degree of freedom to do things that they want to do, but at the same time I can’t allow for any possible action, or else the game would sprawl out forever and ever. So there is a tricky balance between allowing for some exploration, while keeping things under control. And interesting. I decided a while back not to branch the story unless I actually have something interesting for the player to do — a side adventure rather than a side touristy trip. I am trying to avoid simply giving players “something to do”.

Next up: I need to finish syncing up and organizing all my files before I feel free to really dig into the game. Then I’ll need to go in and layer in the dynamic trait system into one of the early scenes.

Sooner or later I also need to figure out how to handle inventory, if in fact I intend to handle it at all (which is a big open question). So far this only comes into play in a couple places, which the designery part of my brain takes as a good reason to not struggle with it. Its just that I’m hung up on one good scene where its important….

Anyway, here is the post I wrote for Monday:

Motivation Monday: Squashing the Not-Right-Things
Motivation is such a slippery thing. It can so easily be sucked away by the tiniest distractions or the smallest invconveniences. I call them the not-right-things.

I am writing this on a notepad document, offline. My internet connection is oddly spotty today, I don’t really know what’s happening. But after struggling with it for awhile I am facing the fact that I cannot rely on it to complete my work today.

I have gotten to a point where I do almost everything online. I barely touch my word processor unless writing an academic paper, and even then I do most of the work on Google Docs, only transferring offline for final formatting. My to-do lists are online, and many of the tasks ON those to do lists must be done online. This allows me to deal with my work wherever I am, and at a moment’s notice. This is key to my ridiculously busy and mobile life. I have been getting more into online shopping too (as long as there’s free shipping!) because of the time it saves me running errands.

Yes, the internet is an amazing thing, especially for exceptionally busy people (for example, working moms with artistic ambition). Until it doesn’t work. And man, very little can suck the wind right out of my sails like a non-functional internet.

But other things can too. The ideal scenario for creative work is that you come into your office or studio, you slip into your working mind and nothing and no one distracts you. Your space is just the way you like it, your tools are functional and working smoothly, everything is set up to be as condusive as possible. Sometimes, however, there are things that are _not right_. And those not right things sit at the back of your brain like a very frustrating, squirmy itch you can’t reach to scratch. When you are under the gun with looming deadlines, it is easier to ignore them. You just push them further back in your brain, lock them in a small room back there where they can’t come out and dance in your grey matter. But when you are supposed to be creative, in a flow, that’s when they escape. Then they jump up and down back there, kicking neurons around, demanding attention. Like a small child, the more you ignore them the louder they get. It gets to the point where you can’t look at your project without seeing the not-right-things staring back at you. They drain energy, those not-right-things. I’ve found it best to just squash them as quickly as you can.

But sometimes you can’t. Sometimes the not-right-things are things you can’t deal with at the moment. The internet is broken and you don’t know why. You don’t have the immediate know-how for solving a programmatic issue. Someone you need help from is unavailable. In these instances the little monsters will laugh and jeer and demoralize. They’ll attempt to siphon off all your creative energy and leave you an empty Facebook-refreshing (or solitaire-playing if there’s no internet) husk. In that case the best thing you can possibly do is ANYTHING. Even if its a tiny thing on your project, if you’re not blocked in it you must do it. Keeping momentum up is key, the only way to keep the not-right-things under control when they threaten to take over.

Which is why I am writing these words on Notepad to share with you. And if the internet ever comes back, I will do just that.

Dream Well,