I’m reporting back from many days working nonstop on two game jam games. The most intense phase of developing is over, so I’m in a position to write again.
What is a game jam? A game jam is a community event where you form teams of coders, artists, musicians, writers and any other game dev role that you feel you need and develop small games on a tight deadline. The deadline is so tight to enforce small project sizes and that you have a huge incentive to finish quickly. Also, most jams have a general theme or set out some design constraints like what game genre you can work in or even what colors you can use.
One of my new year’s resolutions was to take part in at least one game jam every month to collect some experience as a dev and meet more fellow devs. So far I got everything I was hoping for and then some. It was actually an accident that I got into two at the same time, but everything worked out just fine. I might go into detail about each project in future entries.
The most important thing I learned was a new understanding of time and what it takes to finish a project for me. I am impatient and ambitious by nature. I want big results, which is good, but I want them too quickly. Things truly take time and it can take days or longer to solve a certain problem, even if you really do everything you can imagine to solve it immediately. So I get frustrated with my projects too quickly and too thoroughly, more than would be necessary while overworking myself. Then I burn out and abandon them. This is not even a critique, rather a plain observation of what is going on. With the games I had other people balance me out or my work being cut out in a way that overworking wasn’t even possible. Now my next goal is to adjust my solo process so that I work at a sustainable pace even when no help by others is available right now. I don’t have to be perfect or try to change my personality entirely, I just have to be smart about playing towards my strengths.
And I learned that I definitely want to do more game development in the future!
I am starting to understand that I cannot escape being tied to a time, my time, as a reader but also as a writer. Not all readers from all cultures will understand my works, neither today nor in the future, even if I tried doing everything as bland, non-committing to a time and specific culture and easy to digest as possible. This is not an excuse to invent my own language that only I can understand as the other extreme though. As with many things in life there is a beautiful individual balance to be found in between. It is one of those questions a writer answers for their own work in the stage of preparation, and there is no universal answer for all works. I wonder where I fall on the spectrum as a creator and I guess I will find out over time and honig the craft.
In order to learn a lot, I need to read a lot. And now that I have the keys on how to read and enjoy fiction, I am doing just that. I have picked up an exquisite collection of „50 great short stories“ edited by Milton Crane. If you start with no clue, you can start anywhere with any author really.
What I quickly found out is that there’s more to the much dreaded „language barrier“ that readers like me with English as a second language face. In fact, usually it is not the language itself; I find myself lacking the cultural and historical knowledge to follow and appreciate everything that I’m presented. I combat this by reading up on the authors and the times they lived in as well as the times they wrote about. Also, I should probably do that for German texts as well. I might think I know my own culture, but what if I don’t? After all, what I was taught in school does not reflect everything there is and everything there has been and it is up to me to learn more about it.
But research cannot fix everything. There are some works that I still fail to enjoy. And if I don’t enjoy them, my willingness to finish reading them suffers, too. I find myself refusing just like a child would refuse to finish eating a meal it does not like. Schumann from my writing craft handbook would probably say it is my duty to still push through as I am reading to learn, not to enjoy. But is this really the way? The least I can do is trying to understand what makes a work not palatable to me and avoid doing the same in my own works if I can.
After an extended weekend full of learning I’m back and gaining momentum again. I also did some design work for the comic yesterday, but it was deeply in spoiler territory, so I will not share this for now. I was very productive today, too, finished 1 1/2 illustrations but am not sure whether I’m free to share right now, so I’ll better wait. Have deliberations about TIME, one of LC’s antagonists. I’m happy I took the time to make some first concept artwork last year already. This is where we are heading from start to finish right now. TIME is a husk, a nearly starving thing crawling to you from the shadows, always hungry, always bored, snarky, and it can expand its jaw and body endlessly as there is nothing that it cannot eat.
Now design that, and give it a simple design that fits LC and the other characters. That’s where I’m heading to get that done. And yes, that might take longer than one day, but it’s so worth it.
And now today’s haul:
About the artist
Styxcolor creates freelance concept art and illustrations. She blogs about storytelling and art since 2020.