I've been thinking a lot about blogging and making YouTube videos about game development. For a few years now. I've always started it half-heartedly but have never committed to it. Why?
The typical excuses that get in my way:
- "I don't have enough time"
- "I already work enough. I'd rather be making games than talking about making games."
- "Do I really have anything to contribute?"
- "Will anyone really care?"
- "My work will be crappy"
- "Isn't this really just about ego anyways?"
These have been my nagging excuses. I would never say these out loud, but this is the voice of the invisible, inertial sloth that prevents me from taking action.
So I decided to reframe this and come up with some real reasons why I might want to have a public voice.
Reason #1: Improve at my craft
It's clear to me that one actually improves at an activity, when one describes or explains it to others (I'm hesitating using the stronger "teaches" here). When I was working on the Design of Subnautica talk for GDC 2019, I had just come off of close to 5 years working on that game intensely. I was there for the first prototype and all the way through the end of the game and led the team during creation of it. If there is anything in Subnautica that is possible to know, I should've known it.
Except so much of the design didn't actually become clear to me until I studied it well enough to talk about it. The whole series of parallel non-linear stories is something that's in the game, but we never thought about it in that way, with that precise of a wording or concept. It wasn't until trying to teach it to others that I had broken it down and understood its essence.
As I continue to learn about game design, it also becomes clear to me how inefficient I've been. NS2 took 6 years (1). Subnautica took 5 years. Vendetta, a board game took 5 years. Surely, there's a lot of room for improvement here.
But each hour I spend learning ("teaching") about game design, I probably save myself 10 hours of working and reworking. And occasionally, I'll learn something that will save me a year or more.
There, my first epiphany from blogging.
Reason #2: Meet incredible people
Ali Abdaal talks about the concept of Serendipity Vehicle (from another blogger). This hits the nail on the head for me. Spending the time to publicly create for others allows one's "village" to grow and for serendipitous things to happen. Some of the best things in my life came from meeting certain people.
- We were able to finish NS2 because of an introduction to an investor through a friend - which then led to Subnautica and so much more.
- I spent many summers in Italy, learned Italian and opened my heart after a chance encounter with some friendly Bolognese game developers. Anything I can do to meet more wonderful people that I share something in common with is something worth spending my life/time on.
- I made and published my first board game largely through meeting one person, who first inspired me, and then introduced me to many other people in the industry that helped me make it and lead to it's publication.
And of course, as the pandemic has made clear to those that forgot: people are the "juice" of life.
Reason #3: Outflowing
I'm now at a stage in my career where I have less I need to achieve. There's plenty I want to achieve, but the focus is inexorably changing from the material to the spiritual. Instead of accomplishing things for myself and my life, I want to start giving back to others. The word I most like for this is "outflowing".
It's not about any particular thing - money, attention, focus - but is an entire shift in way of being. Changing from an internal and self-oriented focus, to an external and others-orientation. Helping others is a way for me to start my energy moving in a new direction.
Reason #4: Create a legacy
I don't know why I'm so morbid. I've always had death on my mind - I can't help thinking in through the Stoic lens. But I have to accept that I'm not getting any younger (I'm 48). It's time to start thinking about my legacy. Sending my viewpoints and experiences to others through this ether is a way to create some sort of legacy, for my life to reverberate a bit longer before falling still. No one wants to be forgotten, but it's more about helping others after I go.
I yearn for more material from my favorite creators: Richard Garfield, Dani Bunten Berry, Eric Lang, Derek Yu, to name a few. But they're very busy making games. I certainly don't view myself anywhere near these legends, but maybe there are some folks that yearn for more material from me? I want to help anyone that wants to learn more about what I've made.
There are many other smaller reasons to write, but these are the big ones.
Writing helps one think.
When I sat down to "write my first blog entry", what I really did was explain all the reasons why I want to change the energy orientation in my life. And now that I've explained it to you, I've clarified it for myself.
Magically, I've learned something that I already "knew". And hopefully I've given you a little energy to take a single step with something that's been gnawing at you forever.
Now with that out of the way, let's get to game design. Next Friday's essay will be on Game Pillars & Values.
Please let me know what you think.