Experimentation is great but it eventually must be balanced with deadlines and clear intentions. Which kinda segues into this week’s breakthrough.
You know how sometimes you feel a sort of resistance towards doing something you want to do? It’s a bit like procrastinating, but instead of something you don’t feel like doing or are afraid to tackle, this is more like your subconscious saying “better pay attention to this other thing or you might be wasting your time”. Maybe its the silent right brain telling you this?
I don’t know, but this sure is an interesting video!
I was going to make a prototype without any antagonists and focus on the AI interactions, to figure out a compelling gameplay loop with just them, whilst improving how those interactions are communicated to the player – the biggest problem I saw in playtests.
The issue part of me had was that I would be focusing on the core gameplay loops without a structure that provides context and feeds back to those smaller loops.
It’s the risk of missing the forest for the trees.
This is why its so important to get feedback from other people.
If you haven’t read Ed Catmull’s Creativity Inc, I strongly recommend it. He wrote something I often try to keep in mind:
To understand why the Braintrust is so central to Pixar, you have to start with a basic truth: People who take on complicated creative projects become lost at some point in the process. It is the nature of things—in order to create, you must internalize and almost become the project for a while, and that near-fusing with the project is an essential part of its emergence. But it is also confusing. Where once a movie’s writer/director had perspective, he or she loses it. Where once he or she could see a forest, now there are only trees.
How do you get a director to address a problem he or she cannot see? The answer depends, of course, on the situation. The director may be right about the potential impact of his central idea, but maybe he simply hasn’t set it up well enough for the Braintrust. Maybe he doesn’t realize that much of what he thinks is visible on-screen is only visible in his own head. Or maybe the ideas presented in the reels he shows the Braintrust won’t ever work, and the only path forward is to blow something up or start over. No matter what, the process of coming to clarity takes patience and candor.
I could end up making a fun little game without a focused experience. I already had a few google docs pages about this but it was super useful to just talk about it to a fellow game developer (Edgar Jesus) and bounce off those ideas in a stream of consciousness kinda way.
In fact, after reading Catmull’s book I was left wanting to organize something that would emulate Pixar’s Braintrust. Some kind of group critique session.
It also made me realize I’m going to have to keep certain things secret, which is a new thing for me in game development. Usually if you ask me something about my games I’ll tell you everything you want. But saying certain things about Project BUDS would risk corrupting the experience for that person (and myself).
I hope I can keep it under wraps…
You were dead all along! (GOD DAMN IT).
It’s not a spoiler or a trade secret or a master plan… I’ll shut up now.
Actually, other than those, shader work has been frustrating this week. I can make stuff look good but it’s not yet flexible enough to support a wider range of cases you’d find in a full game.
Which means less “let’s see what happens when you plug this into that” and more “let’s read the documentation and figure out exactly how to do something specific, whilst documenting the progress so you don’t forget how you achieved a certain look”.
I’ll start working on a build for the next event on the 24th of this month.
Original Publication: 2016/06/12/project-buds-devlog-5-the-forest-and-the-trees