On the Necessity of a Creative Outlet

After finishing the actual development work of n * alpha, I fell into a sort of slump. My job has been more oriented on testing and verification than design or creation oriented lately. My arm got injured in BJJ. So I had to back off on that, which is another creative outlet for me, albeit non-programming related. My work on ThreatGEN has also turned mainly to testing as we get close to releasing the game.

All of my activities where creativity normally plays a big role simultaneously arrived in a phase of non-creativity, and it drastically affected my mood. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right or effectively. I realize that it was just a feeling and that my knowledge and skills didn’t suddenly disappear, but the feeling was there.

To clear my head, I ate some junk food and played some Geometry Wars. The Pacifism mode in that game has served to get me into a sort of meditative state. Then I had an idea. I really like Geometry Wars…What if I made a Geometry Wars/Asteroids-like game with a modified mechanic? I started rolling the idea around in my head and got excited about it. I took some notes and tried to anticipate a few design issues. Then I jumped in and started building something.

Not only did I make very quick progress in making a playable prototype, but my mood instantly became better. I was writing code to solve different sorts of problems that I haven’t dealt with before. I was making software architecture decisions, reminding myself that it’s okay not to create the optimal solution the first time and that refactoring is always an option.

I had always liked being creative, but until now I had never really seen the actual necessity of having a creative outlet so clearly.

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