How long do you think you’re going to live? Seriously. Think about it. Me, I plan on living a damn long time, but barring the as yet unreleased Google immortality initiative, I know that I won’t live forever. I hope that you will, really I do, but the odds are against all of us. Knowing that, what will you do with the time that you have.
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to make video games. I have done peripheral work on a few, but I have never worked on a game, start to finish, and released it to the world. For the past couple of weeks I have been digitally modelling parts to be 3D printed and turned into real physical products. It’s neat, but it has very little to do with game development. Now, This could be framed as lost time. This was time that I wasn’t working toward my goal of releasing a game. Time I wasn’t honing my craft. Time that wasn’t part of those 10000 hours required for mastery. Time wasted.
I have worked in the fields of graphic design, advertising, manufacturing, drafting, and mapping. Not one of them is game design. I enjoy wood work and metal fabrication. Cutting, joining, welding, and shaping physical material. I also enjoy digital modelling, creating mathematical representations of objects composed of triangles and splines. I like to draw and paint and edit video. I finished the basement of our house, with help, but largely on my own. I will write one day and solder wires another. I am not especially good at any of these things. In no way has any of it been notably successful financially. None of this dabbling has, or likely will, make me tremendously wealthy.
Many years ago someone told me that if I wanted to be able to draw as well as my comic illustrator heroes, I would have to focus on only drawing, and forego any other distractions. I would have to sacrifice the small project that interested me in the moment for greater gains down the road. Maybe that was right. Maybe, had I practiced figure drawing rather than leafing through that set of Turbo Pascal manuals, I would have had a different career trajectory. Maybe. Maybe not.
How long do you think you’re going to live? To focus so thoroughly on one craft, one trade, one endeavor, you must either think that your life will be incredibly short, or incredibly long. You are so harried that to step off the path even a little could lead to ruin, or you assume that there will come some time when all of your work is complete. You can sample all of your other interests then.
I don’t know how long I will live, and so I think I will sample all of these interests now, on the chance that I will live long enough for them all to weave back together in whatever I am working on in the future. It’s the only thing that really makes sense.