Brian Crick

Hiking

Been feeling pretty fried lately. In less than a week, I’ll be demoing Tinselfly–or maybe Gemslinger, insteadat GDEX, a video game expo in Columbus.

I’ve very deliberately not been rushing to get a demo of either project out. I’ve kind of learned the hard way that working too much on demos always ends up complicating real work that will move me closer toward finishing these projects.

So I’m focusing on doing exactly what I’d do if the expo weren’t coming up: solidifying my project plans, figuring out what exactly I need to be working on next.

I’m just doing all this… a little faster than usual. I’m still rushing.

* * *

Been having trouble the last few years finding a game I find really interesting and memorable. Sure, I love playing well-produced arcadey titles like Tron Run/R and Pac-Man Championship Edition, but they’re sort of like junk food. Delicious, wonderful, quick hits of junk food… but I’m yearning for a nice multi-course meal.

I don’t do a whole lot of things you’d call relaxing. I stress out about having fun, so frequently I don’t try.

I’m impatient to get to the fun part in any game. So I’d been going through some old games I bought and could never really got into: Arkham City, Mass Effect 3… wondering if I just bailed, in my impatience, before I’d gotten to the fun part.

Maybe I’m looking at this all wrong.

* * *

The first game I really loved was the original Myst. I couldn’t tell you why; with my memory as spotty as it is, whys always elude me. But I can tell you whats. What I loved was Myst.

My own work frequently gets comparisons to Myst games: and visually, I can certainly see that. But there’s certainly more to it than that, more than I consciously know. Myst is undeniably a core part of how I think of game design, but it’s maddening sometimes because I couldn’t tell you what that means.

* * *

I’ve done a couple 5k runs and one 5-miler, but I’m not really a trained runner. I’m not particularly fit (despite being rather thin).

Still, most of us can just decide to run and we run. We can decide to sprint and we sprint. After a little bit of practice, we get a feel for what speed we need to go at if we want to maintain that speed for such-and-such a distance. I’m confident I can walk several miles without issue; I can jog two or three miles; I can run one; I can sprint for about fifty feet before having to stop and rest.

Obviously, we don’t go everywhere at top speed; that would be absurd. But there are times when it’s fun, and times when it’s useful.

* * *

Been playing Obduction lately. I played it when it first came out, got frustrated, and now I’m back.

If you haven’t heard of it, Obduction is the latest game from the creators of the Myst series. You wander around vast, alien, beautiful, largely unpopulated environments, fixing broken machines and just soaking in the ambience everywhere.

And when I say these environments are vast, I really mean it. There’s a lot of just walking from place to place. My wife saw me playing as said the game looked like a hiking simulation.

That seems pretty accurate. I have no patience for hiking.

Sometimes I drop games and come back to them with a burning desire to just get them done, to tie up that loose end and move on. That’s not what I’m doing here.

I’m trying to play Obduction in the spirit in which it was, I think, intended. I’m making maps and taking notes. I’m reading all the way through lots of journals and meditating over little visual storytelling details here and there. I’m walking from place to place and trying not to be annoyed at how long it takes to get from place to place.

I’m taking it slow. And you know what? I’m enjoying it a lot more now. I think it’s supposed to be a little slow. This is, in many ways, the fun I have been looking for, for so long. It’s not a longer version of the quick-hit arcade games I’m used to playing; my definition of fun evidently doesn’t scale that way. It’s meditative and relaxing and fun, if I’ll let it be that way.

* * *

Lately, I’ve been working on Tinselfly at a rate I can only describe as a run. I decide to think faster and I think faster.

This pace is not sustainable indefinitely… but I’m confident it’s sustainable until GDEX.

I’ll probably jump into a sprint the day before GDEX starts. That’s the way these things typically go. And that’s fine.

But once GDEX is over, I need to slow down my thoughts again. This is not a sprint. This isn’t even a marathon.

This is hiking.

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