Quite honestly, I’m not entirely sure what sparked the initial idea for this week’s game*. Something along the way made me think about space, which ultimately led to me thinking about orbits and gravity. Unlike Week 43, I didn’t go into the technical part of this week’s game with any clear vision of what I’d be doing. I started out by looking up a few equations about gravitational force in space, implementing them in code, and then bending them to my will. I pictured myself making a game where you would shoot a rocket into space and aim it in such a way as to slingshot yourself around the gravity fields of the various planets to get yourself to a destination.
However, once I got the gravity implemented, I attached a trail renderer to my orbiting object and proceeded to spend the better part of a day looking at the pretty pictures it was making.
It was at this point that I decided that being able to move the planets around to change the fun patterns was way too much fun to play with to stick with the original plan. So, I altered my game design to have a more indirect method of player input. Now, you, as the player, would have to create and destroy planets in order to control an orbiting object and collect various “star bits”.
What went right: This game was wonderful to work on – I actually think that I like this game more than Week 27 (which is still a wonderful game). One of the things that made this game feel so nice is that I didn’t force myself into a box with it. Once I realized that I had accidentally created something different than my original vision, I allowed myself to simmer in it and evaluate what I could do with what I had now. One of the reasons that I was able to do this, was that I had started working on it more appropriately early in the week – this meant that as I saw that the idea had to change, I wasn’t in a state of panic trying to just get it done.
I made my own art again this week (reusing the Earth from last week). Even though I’m not really happy with what I was able to draw – I feel proud of myself for having made more original art assets.
I also took action to make sure that I was focusing on my tasks more efficiently. Because I have so many different things going on, I tend to become easily distracted by the other stuff that I need to get done. For example, if I’m in the middle of coding something and I remember an email that I need to send – I stop what I’m doing and send that email. This disrupts my programming flow, and makes me rush through the email (so that I don’t forget what I was working on). All in all, it’s completely useless. So, I took this week to really sit down and adhere to the pomodoro technique. Basically, you split your tasks into 25 minute chunks and work (without distraction) for 25 minutes straight. After those 25 minutes are over, you take a 5 minute break and repeat (I used this website to keep track of my time). It worked really well for me, as 25 minutes seems to be about the length of time that it takes me to get something done without getting antsy about other tasks. I also enjoyed the 5 minute break, as I would generally then stand up and walk around (something I’ll forget to do otherwise).
I also discovered that putting on headphones fixes another problem that I seem to have. Because I’m almost constantly around other people, and not particularly in a “working” environment (e.g. other people’s homes, conferences, really anywhere where people usually just talk to you because it’s a relaxed environment) – I find that I’m easily distracted by conversations. Whether it’s a conversation going on around me or one directed at me, it’s almost inevitable that the second I get into a rhythm with my work, someone will say something that draws me away from it. By putting my headphones on and blocking out the noises around me, that seemed to cut it out almost entirely. Also, since the people around me, for the most part, knew that I’d be working in 25 minute chunks – they would hold off asking me a question, or including me in a conversation until my break time!
What went wrong
Honestly, not a lot went wrong this week. If I had to nitpick, I’d say that I didn’t start RIGHT at the beginning of the week – which meant that by the time I was completely in my groove, I did have to cut out a little bit of polishing.
What I learned
Find a working process that works for you – for me it was the Pomodoro Technique and noise canceling headphones 🙂
Also, gravity and space make cool patterns.
*[EDIT: I finally remembered what sparked the idea for this week! I was listening to Sigur Ros one night while falling asleep, and their song Sé Lest came on. This ended up making me think about space (the soft piano/xylophone part sounded like stars twinkling), when then led to the idea of flying around space utilizing gravity to move yourself]