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Liberating

My time after graduating from college feels liberating. No longer do I have to struggle through a fast-paced, quickly-compounding schedule that involves stuff that might not even interest me. These days, I can finally learn the things I want to learn and work on the things on which I want to work. I can play and work at the times that fit me best; I know that I like to relax in the morning, but I get into a working mindset at noon then get cumulatively more productive into the night.

Primarily, I have been continuously finding different ways of organizing myself; I have a lot of stuff that I wanted to do but had to put off until after graduation! I also have been reading on game design and character design recently.  I even tried out some vaporwave music, which eventually inspired me to try again with music-making, that is, a weak area of mine! (If only I could make vaporwave-style loops in the Pico-8, now…)

Of course, this new freedom has its own risks. Away from a setting directed by structured, time-sensitive expectations, my own responsibility plays a much bigger part. A lack of responsibility in this situation leads to wasted days. Then again, the time I spent during my master’s degree was time developing some much-needed soft skills, responsibility being one of them. I ended up learning how to lead my interests; I followed my whims if they advanced productively. For example, during my final project, I had a schedule that flexibly stated which areas of my development would receive my focus each day, but, if I felt like doing something from a different stage, I followed that whim because I would harness that momentual motivation towards the end goal: the completed project. Another example would be the situation in the first paragraph here; I am studying game design and character design while looking into music-making, all areas that would benefit my game-making career.

Then again, harnessing my interests towards productive ends is easy when you naturally want to do your job in the first place. Even when I got full-on tired after the high-pressure situation from my master’s project, I got a hankering for game development just a week after submitting all my work. These days, working on game development is actually both fun and relaxing.

That does not mean that procrastination is not an issue. Right now, I am not looking forward to actually coding the game because I am still figuring out how to use a from of simulated object-oriented programming in solving the problem of generating opponents per each round of play in  my game Re-Hoard. I am not really one to shy away from hard work, but the real issue is the lack of clarity of the solution I seek and a fear that I would get myself into deeper problems during the process. Re-Hoard is my responsibility, though, plus I have already progressed so much in the game development. What I plan on doing is doing a little of the problem at a time, working until my comfort runs out, yet returning to the problem frequently. I find that this way of approaching big problems works best with me.

Coincidentally, I have been doing everything, not just “work work,” in terms of “a little at a time”. I plan, read, research, and experiment a little at a time. I would attribute this to both my much more relaxed situation and my own natural preference to the more easy-going.

After all, even this blog is an “idyll romp.”

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A Living from Making Electronic Games

Since a few months ago, I have started a business from making my own electronic games. In other words, I have made myself reality one of the fantasies children and adolescents have had. Does that mean that I am living the dream?

Yes.

Let me take this subject a bit more seriously. Back then, I was unsure of what would be my major when I was going to take my bachelor’s degree. I decided on computer science, thinking that the degree would help me gain more skills that I can use in helping people, my experience with computers being the reason why others frequently came with me when they got computer problems. When I was attending orientation, the director , partially out of jest, suggested that we who attended the orientation were excited to make electronic games but were going to be surprised and disappointed in that we were not making games instantly, but instead doing boring stuff. This may be from the different ways I have learned responsibility up to that time, but I had no such illusions. Even if I was not wasting my life on games, the “boring stuff” was necessary! I could not, nor should I attempt to, avoid hard work!

The work turned out to be not that hard. Sure, I still had self-discipline problems that made most courses difficult to me, but I was surprised at the way I handled classes that were directly related to programming itself! Programming projects that took others around 3 days took me only 1 day! In an X86 assembly language class, I managed to give a correct solution that was different from the professor’s answer! Most importantly, I found the act of programming itself to be fun! In other words, I think I made the right choice in college major!

I still goofed off heavily during the time I worked towards my bachelor’s degree, though the way I goofed off was significant. I did not simply play a lot off games; I also read a lot of articles that detailed their history. (I could tell you why development or the Sega Saturn was difficult, or again, what was the problem with Pachi Com!) I also toyed around with game development, spending some time now and again on GameMaker Studio. I even had fantasies of actually making several games! However, I never really went ahead here because, even if I had the self-responsibility, I knew that games would get me nowhere in life.

I was so wrong.

During counselling on the subject of my potential major in my master’s degree, I learned that earning money making games was actually a noble, adult endeavor. This new perspective excited me into officially making game development my major…  excerpt that that major was going to be cancelled because, for some reason, too few people were signing up. More counselling had me decide on a compromise: I would instead take software engineering, but I would pick my electives based on the classes that were required by the major in game development. Despite this, I still wondered why the game development major was going to be cancelled due to too few people signing up, given how many people wanted to take computer science out of desire of becoming a game developer.

I received a couple of answers around the start of my master’s project. The answer I got was that, normally, people who signed up for master’s degrees already had jobs and are studying out of a desire of career advancement. Given how relatively rare are jobs in the industry of electronic games, someone taking a major in game development is unexpected. During the overall conversation, though, the subject of fantasy against reality came up. Specifically, there was talk over a lot of people who wanted to make games, only to quit the idea entirely upon experiencing the very real hard work involved in actually making these games. I felt disgusted at this phenomenon, given that I did not have any illusions of “easy development” in the first place! (My self-responsibility grew a lot since my bachelor’s orientation by the time I started my master’s project.) Indeed, my master’s project was extremely difficult, me hitting some dead ends that left me a desire to quit… but I knew better than to quit.

Oddly, though, despite being excited towards the idea of taking a break after I finished the programming, I was hankering to program again only around two weeks after I did finish! That was the point that I realized that I really was not only willing but also capable of actually making a living off electronic games, even taking into account the gruelling trials that form the reality of game development!

At times, I come into the advice that basically says “Careers based on what you really like will turn what you really like into what you really dislike.” However, after spending my college years both growing in responsibility and actually experiencing, multiple times, some of the trials involved with both software development in general and game development in specific, I can confidently say that I still want to make a living based on what I really like: electronic games.