Getting back into the flow of things! (an essay on mastering abstract distractions of the busy mind, retraining muscle memory, and design better work habits)

So I’ve been busy picking myself back up of the cutting room floor and any way I noticed one thing my old work flow habits are no longer present, I’m a little bit slower and really the muscle memory is gone.  This might be a bad thing depending on whose looking at it. the pessimist goes “oh shit now I have to re teach myself everything I knew”, the optimist which is how I am looking at it how ever sees this as a opportunity to throw out the bad habits I know I used to have and form new more efficient workflows.

First thing I changed since I’m planning on making art for video games and then video games I really have had to adjust the way I handle inspiration.

OMG favorite work song “oh no no no, you don’t love me, yes, I know now…”

OK sorry i have a easily distracted mind that likes the general public to know its easily distracted by random things like favorite work tune coming on.

Back to how I handle inspiration well. Old me younger me more impulsive me used to immediately hit the canvas not entirely sure what that good idea I just had was. ha ha I figured it out as I went with a bunch of random shapes aligned themselves in my mind, it was chaos at it’s finest and most distilled form. I still get to enjoy this feeling after all with out a complete mastery over the chaotic whims of creativity not much comes random moments in time a person had a idea.

So now instead of just embracing the sweet chaos of creative inspiration. I study it for an hour or two learn the structural design logic of what my idea is trying to tell me, in other words i don’t just try to copy the image that’s popped into my head I try to understand it at the very basic level of why its working so well in my mind that it’s floated to the top in a sea of ideas yet to form coherent forms. I make notes on it to be later used in translating it from thought to medium.

These include things line weights to be used in every single art asset produced for the project. Uniformity here is important. Why?, because the human mind is a super computer, it’s going to pick up on things like varied line weights on different elements of a background and your work will look like shit as a result in fact your morning shit is going to have more depth and artist merit than your game art.

The other big thing I’m picking before I begin actually creating art these days is light sources I’m obsessive about them and you should be to. every scene needs to have light added shadows added light added to the shadows yes shadows have light I’ll explain that in a minute. So obviously the kind of light sources is dependent of the kind of scene your drawing. But their are a few light sources you need to pick ahead of time to really successfully light an area. Those are your world’s sun/s and other bodies in the solar system that light would be reflecting off of(that is where the light in your shadows comes from). those light sources are constants in any piece of work that would exist outside an interior space and also be the light coming in through the windows inside. beyond just where are they what color are they, basically to successfully paint an outdoor scene anywhere but our solar system requires the ability to imagine a whole solar system and the physics of it’s light source.

After that you need to think about who built this what geometries did they find sexy as a culture and used commonly through the architecture of the culture. like for example lets look at a well known ancient earth culture  the Egyptians of pyramid building fame. lets look at their design those guys really had a boner for rectangles and triangles, and why not its looks fantastic on a grande scale. Another example would be the cultures of Prehistoric Northern Europe They had a more fluid design aesthetic culturally and had a big thing for spirals and rounder interwoven patterns.

So new habit 1 condensed into a sentence that needs all that to be explained first


“I write all that down and it becomes the operational logic behind every future choice I make until that project is done and as a result at the end of it all I have a highly fluid interlocking, believable world that can be enjoyed by the person loosing themselves in it.”

So onto the other really good habit that I feel is keeping me organized enough to be back at work and effective along with all the what of the design I then choose my weapons of execution based on the needs outlined in step one. For this example I’ll use my current project as an example which is getting a video game company launched which has two simple goals in phase one.

Goal 1 Create games, while continually developing my own skills further

Goal 2 To inspire others through educational experience sharing(such as this wonderful document)

a note on goal two while competition is good, I’d rather share my experience to further grow the overall skill set off the Indy development sector and have better competition that in turn pushes me to further pursue the personal growth of my own skill set and any skill set of any future partner or employee would be bring to the table. Nothing I know yet is really some new revolutionary technique so the idea of trade secret to me is absolutely preposterous to me I’m just a guy with a good understanding of how to do art well and occasionally I back that up with work.

Well to start obviously I choose the inter webs it’s one of the best tools I have. I  learn through it I communicate through it. Second I picked up a cheap easy to use jrpg engine mostly to challenge myself to work in a limited environment, learn to use it and then grabbed the current version of unity to make the other kinds of games I want to make. So I got a start a to goal one but their is a lot more to  making a game than having a engine you need more tools yet.

To handle graphic creation and keeping goal 2 in mind as I plan on developing a lot of tutorial content as I go I choose GIMP because it’s free and anyone can use it, it’s nice as a pixel by pixel editor and makes a seriously good tile set for jrpgs, the second tool I picked was my usual sketch book pro it’s perspective tool is a time saver for me, plus it’s really quick to concept in. from these two tools I can do everything I need for 2d Game development.

Audio is Creation is handled by either live recording a sound I need or using a synthesized music and sound effects. For audio creation probably going with Reason as I love its virtual synth power. to be honest though at this stage in development it’s only a background thought visuals i find are important to creating specific music for specific settings.

All other things are handled in either engine I’m working in like scripting, and character animations although in the future I may switch to spine 2d skeleton animator.

The last good habit I’m adding to my work day is 2 hours of learning what do I mean by that well right now it means doing tutorials on things I need to figure out, sitting in front of screen watching talks from GDC with a note pad taking notes and on the weekend I game with a note pad in my hand making notes on game design about games that have been design and read forum posts and reviews of games all to further my understanding of what I am doing with my own projects.

For instance last night I spent a hour listening to the words of Mark Ferrari he has a lot of great info on game art asset creation from the days of EGA until now, it’s very good stuff go check it out for your own benefit if you’re like me interested in 8-bit and 8-bitish style art for games. it really is some mind blowing work. and encase your wondering who the hell is Mark Ferrari and why should I listen to him hes not the wildly under qualified neck beard I usually come by this blog to listen ramble, well he did a lot of the art at Lucas art in the 80’s  and 90’s that was a little bit before my time and during as well. So go watch his talk from GDC and watch other talks as they are all really worth your time if you’re interested in game development as a Indy guy or team! He is also the inspiration behind me doing a project with a 20 year old game engine updated to work on system of 12 years ago.

well that’s about it most of the choices I’ve made in terms of new habits have negated the old rushing into things habit. Now all that’s left is to remember the key board short cuts to my programs to make life less click heavy or more click heavy depending on if you consider the very real clacky noise from my key board makes a click but i assure you its a clack. I also only work 40 hours a week over 4 days and some times it’s more like 50 or 60 hours in those 4 days which includes not only game development stuff and management type stuff and R&D but i am also right now the office janitor, IT guy(so computer janitor j/k IT guys or am I’m only kinda is the real truth), Secretary, Dog walker, gofer, PR dude and what ever else might come up guy looking forward to the day i can specialize a bit more on the game dev, management side although i’ll keep the dog walker job.





Published by: mitch fourtwenty

I write fiction, do street art, used to paint trains but that's really hard when your old, they just always seemed so dull and NY had better trains then we did with more color so i always liked throwing paint at my trains, I have one main blog which is my idea board which you are probably free to steel from just don't let me catch you with my more professional lawyers, I was depressed at one point in life because people kept pointing out i was different then them thanks, I guess i am, I don't fit in anywhere particular but I'm pretty happy because it seems like instead i fit in everywhere. I occasionally use grape vines to talk at some people, which are slow but un hack-able, I'm also my own medical researcher and a host of other nifty job titles i don't mind doing for myself it makes me happier each day! I am intelligent to the point where i'm hyper curious about things so i tend to ask alot of question about stuff if peole dont piss on me for having the super human ability of curiosity which keeps me learning despite a system that turned its back on me long ago, I still survive and write, one day i might go public but considering I'm probably wanted in my home town and don't even know it because i never got caught i don't often clue people in on who i am on earth, on the inter webs. while i have many masks that may seems scary even to some people I'm genuinely just a man making his community a better place to live for everyone he talks to that ever had a sad story who erased my metal ass face? I liked my metal face?

Categories 2017 writing, Game Devlopment, UncategorizedTags, , , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

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