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Game Development as Sex: Embrace Your Compulsions

Art is like sex. If you think too much, you’re bound to screw things up1.

January 31st, 2013 — 9 PM

I’ve been busy all January with a number of non-game projects, but I joined One Game a Month with the real intention of completing something every month.

In the ecstatic haze of self-(un)employment I lost track of the day of the month — January was almost over, and I hadn’t started anything.

Right away, compulsion kicked in: the challenge of completing something interesting in just 3 hours was enough to push me over the edge into “LET’S DO THIS” territory. Like most psychological quirks, compulsiveness does have advantages.

I immediately decided to make a Snake clone. No time to think, just make it!

10 PM

After an hour I had the basics of a moving snake working, and soon tail-growing and self-collision.

With a little over an hour to spare, I wanted to make it something different. Suddenly it occurred to me: what if you couldn’t always see where the snake was? You’d have to rely on a precise mental-picture to ensure you don’t run into a wall or your own tail. There’d be a heightened sense of danger for each turn (or non-turn) of the snake.

Two lines of code later, and suddenly the gameplay went through a significant, meaningful transformation.

I tweaked a few bits and adding sound effects right up until the last minute, shamelessly adding it to my #1GAM profile.

At the end of the day, blind snake was essentially just another snake clone, but 2 minutes of unadulterated ingenuity transformed into something interesting — or at least I like to think so.

Let me be clear. Don’t mistake all this talk about “3 hours” or “2 minutes” as chest-pounding, so much as a means to lower your expectations. The game itself is neat, at best — what fascinated me was the care-free attitude I had about it (necessitated by the unreasonably short time frame), and how good it felt to make because I didn’t have time to dwell.


Back to sex. Scientists claim that it feels good. I generally agree.

The otherwise-primal act of pleasure-seeking hides behind a veil of social mores and rituals, but I think many would agree that the best sex tends to be spontaneous — free from pressures, expectations, norms, and all the other worries that come with being physically intimate with another person.

The same can be said for game development (or almost any creative process). If you try to please everybody — that is, if you worry about expectations or anticipate criticism — you won’t have fun, and you’re bound to lose sight of the idea you were once excited about. That original passion gets replaced with a downward-spiral of nit-picking and doubt; before you’ve even really had a chance to get started, you already want to get the hell out of there. Think back to (or try to imagine) the worst sexual encounter you’ve ever had, and this might sound familiar.

Sometimes you just need to relax and run with an idea. Other times you need to spice up your love life by trying something different. Blind Snake was my equivalent of a memorable one-night-stand when I really “needed it,” if you will.

You should try it, too. Just don’t tell my other projects about it.


1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rctt-a04khE#t=28s

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I finished my entry for TIGSource’s Sports compo. If you squint, it almost seems like a sports game! Heh.

I finished my entry for TIGSource’s Sports compo. If you squint, it almost seems like a sports game! Heh.

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Making Stuff

I really like making stuff.

I still sorta sit where I was when I wrote that last angst-laden post (okay; precisely where I was). I won’t go into details about why; suffice it to say I’m a horrible lazy person who never gets anything done.

But aha! — I’ve got you! I actually have been getting things done. Just not that whole moving out of the winter wonderland I amicably call Poopchester this time of year. But yes; things, making, done, etc.

For instance, I’ve launched my first (in-my-mind-)useful web app with a design that actually looks professional.

Spiffyshark is a tool for creating and importing playlists on Grooveshark. The details of its conception can be read on the about page. I toiled over it for just over two weeks, on and off.

I’m experimenting with online marketing and SEO by creating the web marketing holy trinity: Twitter account, Facebook page, and Blog. But I have to be honest — those are all moot if the site attracts no users. Not that it’s stopping me from writing this post, but updating those pages sorta feels like talking to an empty house. I guess it’s sort of a catch-22.

I’ve even included a Donate Thank You button if any ironically-philanthropic Grooveshark listener finds it useful.


I’ve also started working on an entry for TIGSource’s latest “TIGCompo”. The theme is sports. Minigolf is kind of a sport. I’m making a minigolf puzzle game called FLOG. The twist is that you have no control over how the ball is “putted” ; in order to get it into the hole, you must place obstacles and devices on the course in clever combinations.

This is what it looks like right now:

More on that later, when it’s closer to completion.


I’m baking a lot of bread.

I also just drank a delicious clone of Chimay White that a friend and I labored over to brew months ago.

I guess I like yeast.

I’m even trying to make more music.

So yeah, I love making stuff. It’s a shame writing about it is so exhausting.

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Curiosity

It’s July 28th, 2012. Ugh.

For the last several months, every time I look at the date, I feel a bit disgusted with myself. Today I may have reached a new low.

Let me explain.

It takes twice as long for Mars to orbit the sun as it does Earth — in other words, every two-or-so years, Mars and Earth line up like the hands on a clock occasionally do; they get close.

This is why we’ve sent so many probes to Mars; every two years, we have a nice window where it doesn’t take a lot of fuel or time to get there.

But how close do we get? Let’s put this into context first.

The Earth’s circumference around the equator is about 40,000 kilometers. It took Magellen and Elcano about 4 years to circle the Earth. 4 years might seem like a long time, but this was in the 1500s. With fucking wooden ships.

So with that in mind, the minimal distance between Earth and Mars varies each cycle, but is roughly 75,000,000 kilometers — something like 1,900 times the circumference of the Earth.

I quit my job some time last November. I want to say November 11th or 21st or something like that.

Soon after, on November 26th, 2011, NASA launched a rocket carrying the Mars Science Laboratory (AKA Curiosity). It’s July 28th, 2012. In about 9 days, the MSL is planned to land on Mars. It will have taken about 254 days to go from Earth to Mars. That’s 8 months, 11 days.

It took Magellen 4 years to circle the uncharted planet in the 1500s in fucking wooden ships, but today I could fly to Beijing in less than 24 hours.

I quit my job because I was unhappy. I felt unfulfilled and that my life wasn’t going anywhere. I had ambitions to move to the west coast, to travel, to explore, and to find something to be proud of. Where do I live? Where have I gone? What have I explored? What have I found?

It’s July 28th, 2012. Ugh.

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John Carmack, circa id tech 2.

Yes, that is a friggin huge, 1080p CRT monitor.

John Carmack, circa id tech 2.

Yes, that is a friggin huge, 1080p CRT monitor.

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copypastaresearch:

Awesome! Just as last year @twbompo ported my PC 4k entry for Revision 2012 ‘Hartverdrahtet’ to WebGL (using libgdx). Nice Job! The port is available here. It’s always encouraging to see that it actually pays off opensourcing ur stuff :)

copypastaresearch:

Awesome! Just as last year @twbompo ported my PC 4k entry for Revision 2012 β€˜Hartverdrahtet’ to WebGL (using libgdx). Nice Job! The port is available here. It’s always encouraging to see that it actually pays off opensourcing ur stuff :)

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I made a game for Ludum Dare! I’m still working on it though. It’s a (tiny) epic space exploration game a la Elite. It’s 2D. It runs in the browser. Enjoy!

And if you’re into devlogs, you should +follow mine.

I made a game for Ludum Dare! I’m still working on it though. It’s a (tiny) epic space exploration game a la Elite. It’s 2D. It runs in the browser. Enjoy!

And if you’re into devlogs, you should +follow mine.

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