I knew this would be a leaner update than usual, since I would be focusing on game design/direction whilst starting a smaller project with some of the code from Project BUDS. But other than a few shader experiments, my focus was entirely on the new project.
The New Project
It’s a game of tag! Probably. One that takes place in an arena, with a round based structure that throws increasingly harder hazards as you go! Possibly.
The point is – it’s a small game using some of the current mechanics of Project BUDS, mechanics that will probably fade in relevance as I explore the core of the game. So rather than losing them entirely I figured I’d adapt them to a game of their own.
It started out as a direct copy-paste of the mechanic of seeking an orb and bringing it home. Then I allowed the player to take the orb back once an AI stole it, which lead to a game of capture and hold the ball, where AIs and the player competed in stealing the ball and running away from everyone else. Since the most engaging part of that game was the being chased part, I just removed the ball and now the objective is simply to not get hit.
Its super simple, which is what I wanted and judging from quick playtests with family members, where I had to pry my phone away from them, there’s potential for a fun game.
I could just publish a tiny update but this marking a little over a month of focused game development, with a second game coming to life, I’ve been thinking about how good it feels to have this kind of consistent progress and how illusive/impossible that was a year ago.
This is something I wrote about. Anonymously. Only shared it with a handful of people and I frankly cringe at the thought of publicly saying – yes, I’ve been struggling with depression for a long time now, let alone publishing the blog post in full.
But I think it’s important to talk about it, or at least to acknowledge it. I know I’m far from alone in this and yet it’s something people rarely, if ever, talk about.
Everyone’s experience is different but I’m going out on a limb here and say that progress is the best cure. And that you should do whatever it takes to make that happen.
For me it was medication:
Published anonymously on whygame.tumblr.com – Sep 11, 2015
THE THINGS I CAN NEVER SAY
Walking towards a monthly meeting of local game developers I find myself tearing up.
What the fuck.
It was sudden and unexpected. It’s not that I don’t cry. I wept like a baby at the end of Furious 7. But I can maybe count with one hand the times I cried for myself in the last five years.
Yet there I was, on a warm evening in Lisbon, suddenly walking in the opposite direction of the meeting, trying to muster whatever it is you need to convince people everything is fine.
That was about two months ago.
The truth is I lie.
I’ll tell you I’m doing well. That I’ve been busy. That vacations or other projects have kept me away from making progress on that game I showed you months ago. And most of the time it will be true. There have been other projects. I have gone on vacation. But that accounts for one iota of the time that passed since last we spoke.
The truth is I’m broken. I can’t do it. I can’t do the things I love. I can’t go on hikes. I can’t be with friends. I can’t make video games. And I’m crying as I walk towards the only event that still gets me out of the house because once again I have nothing to show.
It’s frustrating. It’s shameful. It’s dumb. It’s so dumb. I know better. I know I’ll feel better if I go on hikes, be with friends, make progress on my game. But days go by faster and faster, weeks turn into months, turn into years. And I’m nowhere. Stuck on this no man’s land where things are so fucked up, but I’m so used to that pain that I’ve grown numb to it.
I used to believe depression was a verb. A habit you fall into. Part of me still thinks that way.
But walking towards that meeting convinced me that maybe I need help. That it’s not okay for the best reason against suicide to be the pain that would inflict on others.
There is this big event called Game Dev Camp where, once a year, everyone from the video game industry in Portugal gets together to show each other’s games and give seminars. A few months ago I said I’d show my game there. It seemed like there was plenty of time to bring something that would amaze people. After all, time and again I’ve shown that I can make games really quickly. If I can make winning games in jams under forty eight hours, imagine what I can do with a thousand hours on a project I believe in.
But a week went by.
Then a month.
Then I’m on the verge of tears in the streets of Lisbon.
Then I’m at the hospital, for the first time in over a decade.
Then I’m on SSRI medication.
Now it’s the eve of that event and I’ve given up.
What will I tell you tomorrow? How am I going to present myself? Am I going to be confident? Outgoing? Am I going to keep a low profile or leave early? What mask do I choose? What half-truth will I prepare?
I don’t know.
I don’t know if the medication will help once it takes effect.
I don’t know if I can make substantial progress before another season rolls around.
I don’t know if I can continue when I think of going another year like this…
I only know the things I can never say.
So yea, if you’re going through it (and somehow game development seems to be full of people dealing with it) seek help. The sooner the better. Don’t wait around for your circumstances to improve or by telling yourself, like I did, that you can handle it. You may find yourself waiting longer than you’d like.
Last month, after talking to my doctor, I’ve started the process of going off the SSRI medication. Not to be complacent, but I’m fairly confident I won’t need to get back on it.
One of the ways I convinced myself to seek medical help was by reasoning that all I needed was to get the symptoms of depression out of the way long enough to build momentum on a project I believe in.
So in a way, Project BUDS is my drug. And progress on it, my cure.
Will feature a lighter update, to be sure! (Hope I didn’t just jinxed it)
I’ll continue working on the new project for the first half of the week. It’s at a stage where it’s beginning to show the kind of game it wants to be.
As for Project BUDS, I’ll keep the focus on game design/direction but I’ll probably have something new to show in the next update.
Original Publication: 2016/06/05/project-buds-devlog-4-depression