Hey, gang! As I’m not doing any of the visuals for Osprey Adrift and instead working with professional artists to bring it to life, I’ve recently moved into more of a project manager role for the game, as opposed to a designer role. This has left me waxing nostalgic for the days when I’d stay up till 4 in the morning, agonizing over game mechanics and longing for the feeling I got when I’d create something out of nothing.
What I’m about to say shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s experienced in designing games, but it might help people new to the gig: Don’t work on just one game at a time.
It’s perfectly fine to have one game that you’re focusing the majority of your effort on. Since Osprey Adrift is the first game I’ll be publishing and selling, I’m spending most of my creative energy seeing to its success. However, I still have a stable of games that I’ve been tinkering with for months and–in some cases–years. I haven’t forgotten these. And, in the scant moments when I find myself reaching for the TV remote, I instead pull the prototype and notes out to one of those games and work on it, even if it’s just for ten or fifteen minutes.
You’d be surprised by the new insights you can bring to a game you’ve had on the back burner for awhile. All of the things you’ve learned and all of the new experiences you’ve had might cause you to see something from a different angle. And similarly, working on one of those back-burner games can help you see something on your main game that you didn’t notice before.
What I’m getting at is this: enjoy the creative process. The more creative projects you’re working on, the more it fuels your creativity. Creativity doesn’t happen by itself. There’s no such thing as spontaneous inspiration – it comes from putting your brain to work. This is something I realized during my almost 15 years of writing fiction and screenplays. The idea of the artist being struck by a creative bolt is a myth. Writer’s block–and game designer’s block–are not a function of not being struck by inspiration. They’re a function of waiting around believing you’ll eventually be struck by inspiration. It simply doesn’t happen. Work on as many projects as your creative mind will allow.
And when the time comes to focus on getting that one game onto game store shelves, put the other projects on the back-burner. Let them simmer. But don’t forget about them. You might be surprised by the things you can learn from those stewing and simmering games.
Until next time, gang. Keep it plucky,