Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life

When I first left Lionhead to start this little venture, many feared for my mental health. They had images of me spending the remainder of my days attired only in a large, saggy pair of y-fronts, my critical and intellectual faculties slowly being eroded by the soothing wash of daytime TV, lamenting past glories like a WWII veteran on remembrance Sunday.

Bar the occasional foray into the world of the 'Dave' TV channel, and the bizarre realisation that I have a strange fondness for - of all things - Top Gear (I loathe cars, hate driving, and have no ambitions ever to own a pair of string-backed gloves) I have largely managed to avoid this fate.

My days are now filled to the brim with sitting in front of XCode, mad dashes around the internet desperately attempting to fill in the large blanks in my game-engineering knowledge that have developed over the last seven or so years of 'being a creative director', musing in coffee shops, and hoping to all that is unholy that nobody 'does my game before I do'.

Far from being bored and be-panted or lamenting the passing of great projects from my life I have instead discovered the incredible motivating forces of naivete and ignorance. There is a colossal universe of things I don't know out there. And it's bloody marvelous.

A couple of weeks back, I was looking at Victorian damask wallpaper patterns (which are - strangely - going to play a large part in my future), old eastern European light bulbs and the soothing aesthetic qualities of dust. This week, I'm renewing my acquaintance with verlet integration, parallax scrolling and alpha channels.

When I started Big Blue Box, one of the things I loved about it was that I had the ability to ensure my working environment was agreeable to me at all times - we all did. Visitors may well remember our rather curiously individual lamps (mine was a chintzy red affair with a tasseled lampshade) and refusal to use anything other than indirect lighting. This control largely passed once our company had gone from 'bizarre cottage industry base' to 'colossal, mature development studio'.

Seeing as I'm now my own boss (I'm thinking of trying to undermine myself in the eyes of me so I can wrangle my way into a more senior position) I'm finding a great, simple pleasure in being able to craft my day's mood as I see fit through lighting, musical ambiance, and even physical location.

I've never worked so hard in all my life. Nor have I ever felt quite so personally rewarded.
Fluttermind's first game's main hero, an overweight yellow chick with a cheery expression, is now alive and sitting on my iPhone blinking cheerfully at me. There's a way to go yet, but it's really coming along.

What will tomorrow bring? No idea, but I really can't wait to find out.

Back to Fever Ray and a glass of red wine, I think.

P.S. Here's a Yann Tiersen track for all of you out there who have ever tried doing anything creative: