I've been reflecting on project management and working on a team lately. It occurs to me that one thing isn't clear when you're working with others: you have to give up a certain amount of control on your project. In lead positions, this is a shocking realization, and you get people driving projects into the ground because they refuse to let other people alter the vision of their baby. Frankly, I've been in that position in varying degrees.
The weird thing is that being in a lead position sounds like you're the one making all the decisions. It sounds like you're in control. You're the project lead, right? In reality, if you're doing your job right, you delegate a good bulk of the work to other team members. On a high level, you have decisive power on the direction of the project: mechanics, art style, casual vs competitive. When it comes to individual development tasks, however, your influence is smaller.
You can't be granular about it. If I expect my artist to come to me every time they question something about their task, I'll get a hundred questions about what line thickness should we use, is this color green too saturated in context. I have to let the artist make those decisions. I have to let the level designer, the programmer, the sound designer make decisions based on their resources, time, and skill. Otherwise, the project gets bottle-necked with me, because I'm stuck answering hundreds of questions from everyone.
Words, Words, Words is a one-act play I wrote a few years ago in 2016. At the time, I was considering my own qualifications as a writer and what I had to bring to the table. This script is a product of that, as the main character's doubts and inhibitions reflected my own. Through this character, however, I managed to materialize those doubts and falsify them. Thoughts can be clouded and deceptive, but putting them into the dialogue of a character makes them real, tangible. As the writer of that character, I can read his lines and recognize how absurd they are. This was my stand against self-deprecation, and my refusal to tell myself that I am not a writer. I write: I am a writer. From speaking to others, I learned many writers experience that same mental block. I pray the sentiment in Words, Words, Words resonates in others.
Click "Read More" to read the script!
This post is from June 1, 2017, originally posted on Tumblr.
Right now, I’m working in a team of 4 to make a game based on Zelda II, so I was doing some research on concept art for the game. I mainly wanted to gather inspiration to try and capture the aesthetics of the game. Our game will definitely differ significantly from Zelda II (mostly in quality) so I thought concept art would be a good place to look for that core feeling of the game.
The difference between the generations of games, in this regard, is that concept art for old, NES and SNES games played a different role in development. On newer systems with photorealistic graphic capabilities, concept art aims to show accurately how characters and areas appear. Old concept art, on the other hand, wasn’t concerned with accuracy hardly at all, it seems. Proportions don’t matter when the developers are well aware the graphics will look nothing like real life. Link's body had very limited pixel real-estate.
A prime example of this is the fact that the images below are the same scene. Both depict Link fighting the first boss of the game, the cleverly named Horsehead. All of the basic parts are shared in both: the stone, the pillars, the curtains, even the color of the boss’s armor. But when you compare them, the concept art is definitively more impressive than the gameplay. The light flooding in, the upward angle of the frame, Link’s anticipative stance all contribute to the scene of a powerful enemy towering over you.
Still, when I played the game again recently, I discovered that viewing the concept art had an unexpected effect. I laughed at the concept art, at the juxtaposition of coolness between what the game should be and what it is. But when I was playing through this first dungeon, I entered the final room, I saw the curtains hanging down, Horsehead patiently waiting for me, and I got a shiver down my spine. I played the game and I remembered the concept art. In a way, it conceptualized for me the aesthetic experience of the battle. It felt so much more exciting.
The game we completed is called Monumental Pain and can be played on Itch.io here:
I released an album!
After several months of recording and rerecording, mixing and remixing, I've finally called a project done. The EP is called Sit With Me released under the artist name onehundredthousand. It is the first album I have released under this name, and I don't plan on it being the last. Although it is amateur in many ways, completing a project was more important to me than perfecting one. If I continually revisit and rework ideas, none of them will ever come to fruition.
That being said, you can listen to it on Bandcamp here!
This weekend I did a photoshoot with this great face. I was unfamiliar with the camera and we fumbled in coordinating with the sun, but the day turned up some fun results. These photos only constitute part of everything taken. While I had the time, I focused on ones I either liked the best or thought were fun or interesting for some reason.
Navigating a moving target on camera in addition to the background was awkward. I definitely do not have the skill or experience to process all of the visual information in front of me quickly. Hopefully that can be remedied through taking considerably more photos. The camera does not belong to me, so my practice will straddle availability of equipment. That may hinder swift progress, but will at least facilitate a journey full of experimentation.
The sun began setting, and I began panicking. Again juggling multiple aspects of the photo, the sun's position, the exposure settings on the camera, the actual setting in frame had me fumbling. Many shots ended up a blurry mess. Thankfully, a few survived enough to give at least a fun expression or a curious situation.
In between the modeling, we spent time scouting for locations. The more you look, the more you find, I've discovered. Many spots were interesting enough on their own to be worth capturing, so I felt compelled to include a couple.
I found time and motivation to work on more photos. Some are from today, some are a bit older. Right now, I'm mainly trying things out, seeing what works and what doesn't. Thankfully, I am satisfied with some of the results.
With experimentation being the primary goal, sometimes a good photo isn't always the most pleasing to take. On the other hand, taking a particularly terrible photo can be so eye-opening that it offers the hope of works ten times better in the future.
Click images to enlarge.
What isn't as promising is when the reasons a photo doesn't pass any standard of quality wholly elude me. Not much gets worse than creating something bad that can't be learned from. Perhaps that's the fun in it, though.
In the end, I enjoy taking pictures immensely. I look forward to getting better footing in the art form, maybe to the end of acquiring equipment other than GIMP and a cell phone camera. Until then, I will try to push the limits on what I have as far as they'll go.