Game Development as a Zen Process

Ombwah's picture

Today, as I was getting ready to go out looking for a home again, I had an idea, an image in my mind that was right-now and yet I had no time to blog about it.

In short:
Games development is like a Zen process. It goes on and on, each game only a step in the path toward 'the best ____ evar'. Each game answers some question, fulfills some need, and yet creates new ones or steps the community toward a newer interpretation or revision. The advance of technology also pushes this ideal of an ultimate-perfect game outward as new interfaces add more options, create more potential play styles and ask more questions about what is possible and what is best. Each game is like a step along a sort of Zen path to game enlightenment.

Thus maybe, the devs with the most Kung-Fu never think of their current project as end all, but only as another step on the path?


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Snipehunter's picture


I think even the mediocre developers feel that way. I had that thought today as I was considering AA. Without going into detail, it occurred to me that I always expected to move on at some point. AA was never going to be my life-long project. You might say, "of course not" -- but remember, UO is still going and that game's life spans 99% of my career or so. So, for some on that project, I imagine they expect to be working on it for years, if not for the rest of their career (the average industry career spans 5 years, which is a chilling fact all by itself).

Anyway, to get back to the point: It came as a faux epiphany this morning that I never intended AA to be that kind of project for me. My expectation was that I would get it done, support it for a year or two and then move on to something bigger and better. That's how I've treated every project I've ever worked on. I wonder if that's good or bad?

Maybe, because we never consider our current project will be "the best evar," we don't give it the full commitment and attention it requires to become "the best evar." -- Maybe we're killing our babies without even being aware of the fact that we're doing so, like Americans, bribing their kids with junk food and sweets and then wondering why they're fat and lazy 10 years down the line...

- Snipehunter

Ombwah's picture


But I think that those that are 'on the path' do the best we think we can project per project. The idea that *this one* will catapult you to stardom and bring epiphanic glory and an out is a flawed one. Fame and glory is not the goal (as tasty as it may be).

To continue the earlier metaphor, you can't ever be the master, even the master isn't really the master, he just knows a little more than the student. Sure, we can braise dragons into out forearms on the way, sweep the floor til we have the motions down to muscle memory like Daniel-San. But in the end, you are 'in the boat' (still developing games, learning and growing with each new project) or 'not in the boat' or (looking for your hit-and-out, not concerned with contemplation of your path or refinement of your craft.)

Some Bodhi-in-my-mind is telling me to go off about selflessness now Smiling But, I'll leave that as innuendo in the metaphor.