I've been thinking about my own self-induced stress lately. Here are the factors:

  1. I work in QA
  2. I am eager to begin working in a design role
The problem is how that's to happen, and the timeframe. There are a lot of possible paths-- I make maps, I apply as a level designer at a studio, I get a level design job; I continue working in QA, I put myself forward internally as a junior designer, I'm moved into that department; or I'm referred by someone I know in the industry and am approached for a design position by a lead at a studio. In any case, I know that all I can do in the meantime is work on my level design portfolio, maintain my contacts, and do the best possible work at my day job. That's all I can do, and I'm trying to do it. But it's not coming soon enough for me.

Am I too impatient? Am I too hard on myself? Or am I too lazy? I feel like I don't spend enough time at home working on my mapping. But I don't have a good metric for that. How many hours per day did other level designers put into their maps and mods before they went pro? How many months or years? Do I spend too much time reading and posting about games online, or playing games? Or do I not spend enough time with my girlfriend, or reading, or traveling? I'm trying to find a balance, but I admit that I'm impatient regardless. I want to be where I want to be and I want it now. I don't know if I should expect myself to be making quicker progress on my work, but I do. So I'm sort of stressing myself out. I'll be happy when my night job turns into my day job, and I can actually enjoy myself when I'm not working. I'm looking forward to it.

Another short-term factor I've noticed in my own dissatisfaction is when I reach a point in the mapmaking where I'm not sure exactly how to proceed. I think part of learning level design is figuring out an effective workflow, recognizing exactly which aspects of the map need to be completed in what order, and being prepared to tackle them when the time comes. I'm facing some aspects of this map that I haven't had to deal with yet-- specifically, meeting a friendly NPC in person for an expository scene-- which I still need to figure out how to set up and script, not to mention writing the actual dialogue to be spoken, and recording it, and putting it into the game. I've gotten to the point though that I know my next step is to write the dialiogue, at which point I can lay out the sequence of the NPC delivering it, script it in, and then move onto the next scene. In general, I'm much more comfortable when I know exactly what work I need to do, and just have yet to do it, than when I'm uncertain about how to proceed. I think that's really true of myself in any regard; I thrive on certainty, knowing what goals I have to complete, and completing them. This probably figures heavily into why I'm drawn to games, and specifically the ones I am.

Here are some progress shots of the living quarters where you meet the aforementioned NPC:

"Sup bro"

A comfortable seating area, with dining table in the background (the two of each seat will become significant.)

Another outstanding bathroom set that I'm slowly becoming famous for.

Someday hopefully I'll learn to slow down and chill out.


Spaff said...

Stick at it dude and get yourself out of QA before it kills you. Many of my comrades lay fallen at the roadside, battered, bruised ad broken from the long hours, zero spare time, zero respect and zero money that comes with a QA job.

Some of them are still going though, propelled onwards and sometimes upwards, spurred on by some kind of evil force that has taken over their soul (it usually has a name like Babel Media or Disney). Either way - good luck on your escapades! :)

Steve gaynor said...

Thanks for the kind words, Spaff :-)

Coleman said...

Man, you can definitely work in authentic, quality game design. When you consider the daunting number of horrendously shitty games out there, and the shitty designers behind them, I feel like you'll definitely have a spot in the industry doing quality work soon enough. I think it's just about finding that one contact that gets you in.

BTW, I just got a Wii and it's the shit.

Steve gaynor said...

>:-| send me your wii in the mail, I still need one