Sunday, December 30, 2012

On Writing and Shipping and Whatever

So, I'm going to try something new here.

I'm not sure if this happens to other people, but after I finish a big project I go into a kind of post-ship depression. I'm so exhausted and psychologically worn out that anything that even tangentially relates to work makes me feel a little ill. This has gotten worse with age, possibly because I'm just older, possibly because my life is more complicated, possibly because I have a lot more responsibility than I used to. I have a family and kids now, and work/life balance is tough, especially given my natural propensity to overcommit myself to a project.

For those of you who don't know (of the six people who may actually read this), I'm a game developer. I'm the president and lead engineer at Runic Games. We made a few games you may or may not have heard of - Torchlight and Torchlight 2.

Torchlight 2 shipped in late September after what, for me, was a grueling couple of years. I think it turned out pretty well, and am proud of what we accomplished, but it took more out of me than any project I've ever done, and left me feeling totally wrung-out, a state I haven't fully recovered from yet.

Over time, I've found that I HAVE to be doing something. I have to have a project. I have to be making, and am really pretty terrible at relaxation. Relaxation doesn't relax me. (This has unfortunate consequences for me as far as drinking is concerned, because one of the few ways I become easygoing and conversational is after a drink) Unfortunately, my hobby for a long time was also my work - and so in the months after I ship a 'real' thing, my hobby makes me a little ill to contemplate or otherwise touch. This is bad, because it cuts out my main outlet for fulfillment.

As a result, I find myself casting about for other stuff to do, other stuff to make or build or assemble. 

I have this nasty habit of focusing one one idea to the exclusion of all other things. Lately, it's been writing.

Obviously, this blog started when I was doing a ton of digital painting, and working to get back into drawing and art in general, and there was a good long run at that. (I haven't stopped drawing, but I'm doing less right now, because of the aforementioned nasty habit).

At any rate, NaNoWriMo rolled around this year, and I picked up writing again. I didn't complete a novel, but I DID complete a 35k word novella, which I went through several editing rounds on and finished up. I then wrote a short story. Maybe I'll post them here for nobody to read. I have a novel idea which is bubbling around right now - I can feel the bits starting to cling to each other to form larger ones, and in a little while I think they'll have grown sufficiently in size to be able to put on a page.

At any rate, I DID have a point with this blog post, which is that I'm going to try to write here regularly about…stuff. Ideally, a wide RANGE of stuff. As I've been writing (and consequently, reading more as well), I can feel the engine start to turn over - more ideas are percolating, I'm thinking more widely again, and the more I feed into the machine, the more the engine wants to go.

I want to push myself to read and write and THINK about the world, and people, and art, and just general junk - to feed the engine a little more than it is getting right now.  Plus, the only way to write better is to write MORE.

This seems like a reasonable enough way to do it. I'm going to start attempting to condense my thoughts on a variety of subjects, ideas, general events, whatever strikes my fancy and seems even remotely worth writing about.

I'm not sure anyone will read it, but I'm not sure that matters at this point. What matters is that I formulate ideas and try to assemble them in such a way that I find them interesting, or at least illuminating. 

Grist for the mill.

I may spend some time talking about game development because, well, that's my job, and something I know a lot about. But I'm not sure how much of that I'll do - too much like work. There's also the fact that I don't want to speak for the people I work with, and being the President of the place, it is sometimes implied that I DO, so I have to be careful about it.

That said, if you are one of the few (if any) people reading this and you DO have questions about game development, I'm happy to try to answer some of them. It'll give me something to write about, if nothing else!



Amir H. Fassihi said...

Any written thoughts from anyone with similar experiences like yours can be highly beneficial for many others out there ... I myself would love to know more about the networking part of TL2, your designs, problems, specific solutions, advice .... if anything can be shared of course.
Good luck on your creative journeys.

Zidders Roofurry said...

Hey, Travis. I hope it's ok for me to comment here...since I sort of feel like I might be considered 'work related' :/ but I wanted to let you know that I would be very interested in seeing what else you've been up to. I've kept an eye on your blog over the last few're a really decent guy, one i'd like to get to know a little more aside from all the Torchlight stuff.

Just please take care of yourself.