Caged Birds Don’t Sing

One of the very first bits of advice I was given on my BYOND page was a snarky remark based off of a recent advice post which basically said, “If you announce what you’re working on, you’re going to be robbed of the motivation to do it.”

I scoffed at that on the grounds that I couldn’t see that as being all that concrete. However, as of late, motivation flagging, I’m thinking perhaps there’s something to it after all. In taking it seriously, the brain cogs started turning, I decided that it probably has to do with the idea that caged birds shouldn’t sing.

When I’m creating a game in BYOND, I’m not devising to get paid for it. What I have instead is a “labor of love” – something I create because I’m aspiring to create something great just for the joy of creating it.

Yet, when I announce I’m doing something, I’ve set pressures and limitations on myself that weren’t there before. At this point, it no longer has that “labor of love” feeling.

It’s problematic because, as I’ve said a couple of times in this entry so far, we don’t expect a caged bird to sing (that’s why, when one does, we find that inspiring). The inner muse – that creation engine which sought to create something great – is now caged. It becomes silent, the game goes nowhere.

I’ve basically created my own little micro simulation of what happens when an upcoming deadline crushes the spirit out of a development team. All that’s left is to create another boring clone just to justify my paycheck. Except, you know, I’m not getting paid for this so that doesn’t work. 😉

After nearly a month of trying to create my “game inspired by M.U.L.E.” I’ve decided that what I was going to end up with was a game that wasn’t personal feeling enough to the player, and actually had a surprisingly lot to do with the average real time strategy game.

I’m going to try starting from scratch, and no more announcing exactly what I’m going to do ahead of time.

One Response

  1. I think that a good time to announce a project is when you are losing motivation and nobody knows about it. I mean… you begin your covert project, work on it for a couple of months and then grow tired of it. That’s when you announce it, show what you’ve got so far, and (hopefully) receive some feedback on your work. Feedback is a great motivation booster.

    As a real-life example, I once worked on an online RPG. After a while it started to get boring so I nearly gave up, but then I decided to put the game online instead. At that time it was barely playable (you were a smiley walking around and some limited chat functions), but the 5 or 6 people who saw it gave enough feedback to motivate me to get back to work. At its peak, one year later, it had 100 users online at the same time.

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