Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Inspiration Through the Blue Portal

Many of us are working on our own gaming projects that keep us up at night.  Maybe it's developing/porting a game, or in some cases a brand/IP - maybe you're making strides on the journalistic side of things or developing a YouTube following to watch your game footage. Whatever it may be, we're all trying to carve out a little piece of cake to call our own, taste the delicious frosting of success, and raise the cake over our heads exclaiming, "This is my cake, eat some!"

But it sure is easy to get sidetracked.   And by sidetracked I don't mean the heavy hand of the procrastination or utter laziness.  I don't mean the little red Netflix envelope, Twitter banter, or figuring out what the hell Reddit is (okay I get it now, and I am a little hooked).

I am talking about losing sight of your original goals while you wallow in the inter-drama.  I am talking about questioning your motives and falling off course, swayed by the opinions and rhetoric of others.  I am talking about flocking to mindless controversy because it's seems exciting.  Some examples:

  • Community disputes over other game's worth/value/success (or lack of). 
  • A debacle over Xbox ratings exploits. 
  • Aggressive marketing techniques that ride the unethical gray area. 
  • Forums and comment threads locked in endless and often pointless debate. 

Now I am not proposing that discussion or involvement in the above happenings is completely avoidable, or that it needs to be.   For many, there's personal stake to varying degrees - and so be it, get involved.   Get on your soapbox when it really calls for it. (just remember not to feed the trolls)

But I just played Portal 2.  And holy shit it refocused me - like a slap in the face.   Here's why:

As I poured through this game and it got it's grips on me, I was carried away.   I was reminded of what makes games the mental vacation that we all crave.   It reminded me of what I am attempting to do and why I spend hours of my free time doing it.   

I am not going to talk about Portal 2 or why it's such a wonderful game - it just is, and that's fairly widely agreed upon at this point.   The point is, Portal 2 did for me what I have always wanted to create for others - it's a lesson book for game design, or interactive media for that matter.   It highlighted my favorite elements of gaming, and what I need to regather focus on accomplishing within my own project. 

Better yet, the gaming high felt from Portal 2 contrasted so heavily with the swamp of eternal stench listed in the bullet points above, that it was a moment of clarity.   I believe it hit me when I was looking through a blue portal and realized I was about to launch myself like a cannonball across a gaping pit to the exit, while being mocked by a vindictive and sarcastic A.I (and what I consider a top 5 video game villain of all time). 

So I would encourage anyone reading this, to take a step back from the daily shitstorm and remember why you dove in headfirst to begin with.  Get back on that path and beware the tempting sirens of controversy, opinion-blasting, and so forth.   Ignore them, grab your drug of choice, and work on something special to you.  Sometimes it take a great game to remind you what you set out to do. 

Some screenshots of our work in progress, Ophidian Wars: The Legend of Kilflame