It’s 12:08 AM, Spotify is encapsulating my ears with my favorite study playlist in the hopes of inspiring some progress. I’m sitting at my desk staring at a piece of paper that I had crudely drawn on. I don’t normally use real paper to do work, in fact, I hate it. I much prefer the structure and immediacy of a word processor. The hope was that by changing my method it would instill a change in momentum, that being from none to any. Much like the first playtest, I’ve stalled. I’ve sat here for three hours listening to talks, podcasts, trying to do any research that will help me through this rut. At one point I actually googled “interesting boardgame mechanics”, and that was when it hit me. This isn’t working. I can’t force ideas out of myself, I was naive to think I could just sit down and accomplish something when my mind wasn’t up for it. All of this inspiration, but no product.
And that’s okay.
I don’t need to spend all of the time I have to myself working on my board game. I try to spend about an hour a day actually sitting down and sussing out mechanics, tweaks, sometimes designing and redesigning graphics. Occasionally I build momentum, one fix leads to another, then another, then maybe to a new mechanic, these days are fantastic. More often than not, I set myself a goal and accomplish it with nothing productively exceptional to speak of, just a sense of adequate satisfaction. Times like tonight, I sit down with no specific task other than “work” and accomplish nothing. I don’t think that having a mission is imperative to my productivity, but more an understanding to accept when the output just isn’t there.
In Brian Tinsman’s “The Game Inventor’s Guidebook”, he describes some people’s hyper-fixation on game design as the curse, and boy do I have it. It’s why I started this dev-log, to get the thoughts in my head onto something without talking someone’s ear off. So why, in moments where I struggle to progress, do I try to force it? I don’t always have to be productive, I’m allowed time to myself. Actually myself, not a board game. Yes, I enjoy designing Canine Conquest, and I do hope that I can shape it like clay into something a publisher finds attractive. That doesn’t mean I owe it anything. I realize as I’m typing this that I’m treating game design like a bad relationship, and that’s for good reason. I have a habit of allowing myself to focus on this one thing to the point of being unhealthy, and it’s important to take a step back and notice this in the moment.
I shouldn’t give myself headaches over a hobby I enjoy, it’s meant to be fun. As much as I think I want to be a full-time game developer, in practice I learn that I don’t have the experience. Someday I may be able to sit down and consistently work on a design, but now is not that time. Perhaps the neurons in my brain haven’t formed enough of the right connections, but I can’t force myself to create these connections. Time, dedication, and patience are what I need, and there’s a heavy, heavy focus on that last one. Patience, not for the creation, but for myself. I’m not the full-time designer I wish I was,
and that’s okay.
It’s important to recognize that. Thanks for reading.