Small Side Projects – The Saviours of Creativity

Well, I have been very busy with university stuff the last month. A few more final tests and work for this term is over :) Cheers!

So I took the ever decreasing stress around me as an opportunity to dwell within my lab of gaming madness. At least for a few hours :)

I wasn’t able to concentrate very well so instead of working on our projects, I decided on quickly hacking together a Lightgun Game on the great Dreamcast. After having some ridiculously funny moments with this weird experiment1, I felt like talking about the greatness of small scale projects.

lg2

lg1

Too often those fine little excersises are blamed to be a waste of time, keeping you of the real work and don’t end up being shared anyway, whilest in reality they are a great source of motivation.

When you are a two person team, trying to create games with complex concepts like Reblobed and Saviour, you will surely, at one time, get to the point where things seem to go out of hands.

I love to draw for hours and I love big projects where I am my own master, able to create complex and interesting worlds. It is great to go from nothing on a blank page to even the smallest detail of characters or landscapes.

I get a lot of inspiration from my environment and other peoples work. Creativity is something that flows, from thought to thought and input to input. At the beginning of every project, be it games or any other kind of art, this river of imagination is quite wild and uncontrolled, which leads to a lot of quick results.

Development is going fast until there needs to be a frame to make all those results fit in together. This is were artists, designer and programmers have to adjust and focus on fullfilling the tasks that are needed to form a well-balanced product. An easy example for this kind of adjustment would be me creating a dungeon for Saviour or level for Reblobed.

I typically start drawing without too much thoughts of layers and tiles to simply get out ideas only to end up fixing a lot of the details later on, in order for my work to be perfectly useable within our game engine2. If I feel like ending the character work for a stage, because I cant imagine another kind of enemy within it, it’s no use because game balance and design need me to create 6 enemies per level. It’s always a mixture of being creative and doing professional work. Both go hand in hand within game development.

Now, I don’t have a problem with the way games work and even tend to like being pushed and directed by the boundaries the development process establishes, but it certainly blocks my way of creating art when I dwell within those for too long at a time.

With projects that take month or even years to be finished, because they are more complex than small ideas, one is quite often caught within this mind-blocking circle, cause things need to be polished and implemented.

So after awhile at working on our two big projects currently announced, I need to free myself of those boundaries in order to get some new ideas and motivation. So what do I do? Well, of course I go outside, do some sports, take time to learn, meet various people, enjoy all kinds of entertaining media or just relax and do nothing.3

Going back to the project work after some time of AFK makes it more easy to continue, but there is still something missing.

This little extra thing that pushes me forward even more and that is the feeling of completed work. A token that makes me realize: “I can do it! I can finish that game! I got a lot of ideas and I am sure I can implement them!”

This is were I have to say small side projects are the saviours of my creativity and motivation. Simple creative works like a lightgun game can be done within a day or two, depending on how many hours you are able to sit on your desk at a time ;)

They are a way of trying out new things, a platform to learn, getting a finished project without being caught in endless fixing processes and most importantly enjoying the feeling of “DONE!” It leaves you with new energy for that stuff you still need to work on, cause afterwards you know finishing something is still possible!

Footnotes:


  1. Alright maybe I just got a little dizzy by looking at my really shitty old CRT for a few hours straight, but it was fun anyway :P 

  2. Have a look at our Blog entry Announcing RetroLeap 

  3. Wooohooo Game Devs have a life after all ^^” 

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