Meta

The video game designer has an idea. It sprung out of a song on his iPhone as he was walking to a greasy burger joint. And for that one moment, the entirety of the game was perfect in his mind’s eye. Just that one moment.

Precious minutes later, as he picks through a bag filled with small, greasy french fries, he tries to piece together the pieces left from that initial moment. He takes a single fry, one far too small to even be worthy of dipping in ketchup and moves it through a series of nearby fries. As a visual reference, it’s lacking. The runt fry is eaten.

As the designer walks back home, he attempts to flesh out the image in his head. It’s a game about about attraction, balance, and love. He knows he doesn’t have the time, interest, nor artistry necessary to make these ideas have a one-to-one correspondence with the sources of the idea. Not that it matters, he thinks, that relationship should remain as loose as possible. His style, if it can be called that, allows for and encourages as abstract a representation as necessary. He refines an earlier thought: not attraction, he thinks, but physical attraction. He realizes that clarifies nothing. If he still had the fry, he would move along a straight path until its proximity to another fry caused it to curve in that direction.

When he gets home, he finds his laptop to try and make his fifteen minute old idea into a game. After the software update. While the update downloads and installs, he sets up a music playlist solely containing songs from the band that was his inspiration. He sets it on repeat. If he knew which specific song in the list of names was the one that triggered this whole endeavor, he would set that on a one-song repeat, but that was effort.

Software update finished. Erm. Now to get the patch to the software update. A response to an important message in one of the designer’s inboxes might as well be written now.

Forty minutes later and utilizing Version 2.6.1f3 of his development tool, the designer places a sphere in the middle of empty gray space. He’s unsure whether or not the sphere is the actual protagonist, if it can be called as such, or simply a placeholder. No matter, though, the collision shape will, well, should be valid throughout. He sets up an orthographic camera because, fundamentally, he assumes 3D would take away any of the character to the ideally minimalist aesthetic. The style, if it can be called that, supports this choice. Realizing his deskcouch lacks proper warmth, a blanket is added to the work area. And headphones. Tinny laptop speakers do no good for anyone focusing on something.

The designer, now comfortable and set to work, sets to work. He takes a drink of the nearby pop that he doesn’t remember ever getting. It’s warm. And flat. And now empty. He sets aside his workstation, if it can be called so, to replace the pop.

Sitting back down, re-blanketing, re-positioning the headphones, and picking the laptop up off the floor, the designer looks at the sphere in the middle of gray 3D space. He feels this is a good spot to save the project and scene and does so under an appropriately vague name in a folder amongst five other similarly-named unfinished projects. Looking back at the scene, he figures he needs to establish some world boundaries. He tosses in four planes in the scene where he thinks, approximately, the view boundaries are. He tries to setup mesh renderers so he can validate this in-world, but, well, orthographic view. And planes. “Balls,” he says aloud. His cat, sleeping nearby, opens his eyes and looks in his owner’s direction. The cat remains unmoving, yawns, and closes his eyes.

“Well,” he says aloud still, “this’ll do for now, I’ll just–” the nearby phone rings.

Ten minutes later; blanket, headphones, and laptop, re-oriented. Pop empty again. “Fuck it,” the designer says, grabbing a nearby Xbox controller, “Instant Netflix it is.”

Two hours later. He picks up the laptop from the floor, opens it up, and sees the sphere, still sitting in the gray void with plane collision meshes surrounding it on four sides. Knock on the door.

The designer walks opens the door to the apartment, aspects of his workplace strewn about the living room. The sun outside has set. The designer looks at the laptop sitting open on the couch, the screen darkened after an hour of inactivity. The cat walked to the door to greet the designer. The cat rolls around the ground around one of the designer’s cast-aside running shoes.

“God dammit,” he says.

A run, a shower, dinner, errands, and two or three hours later, the designer sits back down on the couch. He puts fifteen minutes of research into various functions for the development tool. The phone nearby buzzes, any associated sound muffled by the over-sized headphones the designer has on. The designer picks up the cold phone and sees a text from a friend asking if the designer saw the ‘amazing’ episode of a show from earlier in the week.

Looking the show up online to watch, the designer finds it. It’s a double-length episode.

An hour and a half later, the designer closes the internet browser he used to watch the show. The development tool takes focus. The designer looks at the white sphere sitting amidst the gray 3D void, nothing else in the scene other than planar collision meshes.

He opens up a text editor and starts writing.

9 thoughts on “Meta”

  1. The number of times I've had that exact experience makes me want to punch myself in the junk. I think it's the curse of creative types.

    The distractions, I mean. Not punching yourself in the junk. :P

  2. I'm rather new to reading Trent's entries…but the whole time all I could think was “…what development tool is he using!?”

  3. I'm not usually this bad. I know that's kind of hard to believe being that you know me, but generally when I sit down and work my attention is amazing. It was just an unbelievable series of distractions on Saturday.

    I also got a lot more done than this entry would indicate and, at this point, I really do think that despite the limited development time frame (one week) that this is my best game. Well, best in that it most clearly reflects the original idea and emotions that I intended.

  4. Well…isn't that awesome. The semi-makeshift-sorta-startup-thingy that I'm kinda-employed-based-on-if-we-ever-finish-stuff err…corporation? Just decided on Unity for our first “product”.

    Appreciate the reply – and really dig your posts.

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