Saturday, 9 April 2016

Time to Recharge

Time to Recharge

Last year I went to hospital for close to 3 months after working on the game and doing a full time job solidly for the previous 6 months before being hospitalised.

Something I want to share is that I make games for fun, as a hobby, outside of my regular day job. It is a creative task and as such requires slightly different mental effort than my day job. I enjoy being creative, as you can see from my writing and the game obviously. I have written other games in the past but none as ambitious as this one. And it has taken a toll on me mentally.

I have noticed a pattern when I write a game as I have done many times over the years.

Typically I write either small crappy games or I invest a lot of myself into creating something more ambitious which I finish.

The small crappy games don't really take any toll on me mentally. They are easy to churn out and are the product of a mind that is creative but not all that focused.

The more ambitious projects do take a toll on me mentally and always have. They are more difficult to produce, require creativity, persistence and intense focus. After I have created one of these depending on the size of the project I am then often out of action in terms of creative tasks for some time.  

For example - after some of my previous games as well as Star Dancer after I have finished the game I will have further ideas for other games but even the action of opening up my code editor or designing an interface on paper will often seem too much for me.  What typically happens is that I open the code editor, have a brief day-nightmare of how much work lies ahead of any project I wish to start-and then close the editor. Or I write down ideas for the games I'd like to work on, I may put together dozens of pen and paper design docs for games - some of which are really good ideas some of which are just cheap rubbish.  

Either way I am unable to produce another game until the recharging process is complete.

Something I have never learned is just what acts as a catalyst to improving the efficiency of the recharging process. I do not know what activities improve the rate at which I recharge.  

But I do know for a fact that the way my mind works I am unable to produce anything of quality, even a small game, until my mind has recharged to a certain extent.

It is a bit like a battery except my battery won't work until it is recharged to say past 80%.

Star Dancer is the most ambitious game I have ever produced. It truly drained my battery.  I would say I'm barely at 30% if that and recharging very slowly.  I don't expect I will make another game of any sort for the next 6 to 9 months if that.

In the meantime however it means I often get bored. Because my enjoyment is in writing code and making games by being unable to do it means that I often find myself unable to find anything else more interesting to do on Sundays or Saturdays.  I can find activities I enjoy quite often but usually on a Sunday I'm completely flat on my back on the couch bored out of my brain because typically Sunday would be my coding day when I'm writing code for something.

But coding is not possible for fun when I'm in the early stages of recharging. And after such a big project the recharging phase is lengthy. More lengthy than I've ever experienced.

This all relates to my mental health as well.  Part of the reason I am taking a while to recover from my hospital stays is that my mind is in a recharging phase.  This is normal for me.  I've spent all my energy on this task (Star Dancer) and the creative, fun, side of my intellect is sitting on empty in its fuel tank.  

Some people who write games will know what this is like. Many hobbyists won't because their mind works differently. Some of them can churn out game after game because they are not all or nothing people like me. When I give of myself to anything it is done so completely.  

Right now I have very little left in me to give of myself because I have spent it all. Not financially, but energy wise.

My batteries are on low. And this is perfectly normal for the way I operate and always have.  It will simply take time for me to recharge. It is different to the way other people operate but then we are not all the same.

Thanks for reading.  I'm now going to return to my notes and work out some activities I can do that may help speed up the recovery process. Sometimes simply being bored is an essential but unpleasant part of the process, but I have not worked this out yet. Maybe there is a workaround solution. Maybe there is not.

from Matt

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