Post AdventureX thoughts

This is not the first time that I find myself thinking about game making, and more specifically about if making makes is something I want to do. A few days ago (to be specific, it’s soon three weeks ago), I attended AdventureX in London, which was great. I listened to all the talks, and didn’t regret any of them. (They are posting video on Youtube, and I plan to revisit several of the talks. I haven’t watched the videos yet, but I can recommend the talks by Sally Beaumont and Jon Ingold in particular as being worthwhile. I have a few pages of notes.) So that was a great way to spend my 40th birthday.

And that has added new fire to my game making thoughts…

It’s been many years since I made the one big game that I have made. I have posted here about a few attempts to get started on something new that haven’t gone anywhere. I still want to make another narrative-based game, but I don’t know if I want it enough to actually make one. I don’t think I have any stories to tell. Looking back at Frasse, I’m still proud of having made that game, but the story is far from great. The “design document” (I use that term loosely) for the game got started as a collection of puzzle ideas that didn’t fit another game that I thought I was making, and the story is basically a collection of obstacles mixed with encounters with some (shallow) characters that I tried to make likeable. (And the “save the princess” bit at the end is a bit embarrassing, even if I attempted to play a bit with the cliche.)

One of the things that stuck in my mind was that Ragnar Tørnquist opened his talk by stating that he, as a writer, enjoys more sitting by his keyboard to write than standing on a stage. That is very much not true for me. I am more comfortable on a stage than behind a keyboard, and don’t particularly enjoy the process of writing a game. (I probably more want to have written a game than to write one.)

So I am not going to write a game any time soon anyway. What about the game musical collaboration that I’ve tried to do a few times then? (I have actually made more attempts on that than I’ve written about here.) Having someone else write the story and game design and be responsible for the other parts? I didn’t get quite excited enough about the story to motivate the huge amount of work needed, but more important is probably that what I want to do requires a lot of coding above my skill level. (Well, all programming I’ve ever done has been above my skill level. I had to learn a lot when I ported the game engine that I used for Frasse to Mac OS X.) I’ve tried to start this project three times trying different technical approaches (SLUDGE, Unity and a completely new engine built with what I learned from working on SLUDGE.) Neither attempt got far enough to be fun. I can really enjoy programming when I can get into a flow, either by making clear progress or by hunting for bugs. I never got far enough along with this to make me excited about sitting down to code. It was just something that I had to do to later get to the fun parts, and well…

So I’m not going to give that another try. At least not today. But I still don’t want to give up on game making. Where does that leave me? If I don’t want to write, and I don’t want to code, then I can’t do my own thing. I’ll have to find a way to work on someone else’s game. How do I do that? I’m not confident enough about my drawing skills (and even less about my animation) for me to think that someone would want my work in their game.

But I am a musician. I make my living, teaching people to play music. If I am to focus my game making to one particular skill, this must be it. The biggest obstacle here is that I’m not a competent sound engineer. And I’m not a great composer either. I have recorded some things that I like (see Frasse or my soundcloud page for examples), but is what I can produce good enough for other people to want in their games? And if so, how do I find those people?

To be continued…?

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