One of the most important things that we can learn and develop through an event like a global pandemic, especially in the midst of the technological revolution and globalization is the ability to adapt to radically changing life circumstances. Career transition, philosophical upheaval, and the desire to become more directly involved in social and political spheres are common symptoms of the 2020 phenomenon. As for me, I’ve always kept a loose grip on anything I held as necessity.
My formal education has all been primarily in the sciences and psychology with spatterings of business and economics throughout my twenties. I worked in labs as a technician, manager, writer and consultant, and I’ve been involved in a handful of academic research projects. I’ve also played with music and creative writing all my life and started programming and building computers before middle school in the early 90s. So now, in early 2021, I find myself a month and a half into my tenth (or so) major project in software development, and I’m being aided solely by one other person, a talented sketch artist whose works will be showcased in the digital world I am creating. Almost two months in, it has become clear that strict expectations must be conceded to adaptability.
That is not to say we won’t produce what I initially hoped for. However, we have both realized the tendency to raise our expectations for every aspect of the project as we have progressed. I’d like to be able to do everything. What started as a simple table top style role playing game (with all calculations being determined by simulated 6 and 4 sided dice) became something we both expected to crush our initial goals. Keeping things simple and sticking to the plan has become difficult for two like minded perfectionists. The art is good (hand drawn and digitally painted), the interface is friendly and intuitive, but the world, music and overall scope have shifted. Technical limitations are trying to cut everything back down. I’m developing for PC, but recently ran tests on a couple different android devices. Complexity, high quality representations of the artwork, and a dynamic and active coding system are going to limit accessibility if I continue to push the boundaries, meaning less people will get a chance to enjoy the artwork and charm.
The original idea was to pay homage to my favorite classics simultaneously while introducing the artist as well as my own original core gameplay mechanic. You could theoretically play the game with two dice, a pen and paper without so many confusing statistics that are commonly found in other games. It is meant to be accessible while still holding up mathematically as a satisfying “game” experience. This is where I feel overwhelmed. I started coding as a 4 or 5 year old with my dad, and I quickly learned BASIC, pascal, and C++. There were things I wanted to do as a kid that I couldn’t due to hardware limitations, and while the same is true now, the box is open much wider than it was then. I can do those things in 2021, but I want to release the game on mobile devices and I want the artwork to be appreciated, and really, I want the experience to feel satisfying to fans of classics, and approachable to a casual audience. So I limit myself, and I force myself to remember that sometimes less is more and elegance in simplicity is often more beautiful. In fact, I believe wholeheartedly that limitations are what force us to produce and evolve overall beauty. Omnipotence eventually breeds absolute perfection, and past that there is no future. I feel the pull to do everything all at once, but I believe pure creativity loves boundaries.
To summarize, I started a project that I gave myself about 6 months to finish, and now I see everything I could do with it as well as all the technical and personal barriers to my own success, and I don’t like how impatient I am with myself… and I write this while I laugh at me. Adapting is about remembering where you came from, knowing what you want to accomplish, and knowing that the path of least resistance is not always the one you planned on.
She and I are hard at work today, bringing our characters and world to life. To date, we have completed almost two dozen portraits and paintings including sketches, watercolors and digital drawings. We’ve also completed town and world design, created dozens of equipment items, spells and abilities, and are excited for people to play with it all.
More (and less reflective) updates on the game to come. 🙂