While this post is about some of the frustrations in working on a videogame, I’m really lucky to work with the man I’m going to marry. Some people out there say to never work with your spouse or significant other. Andrew and I make a really great team in our relationship, and this is just a hobby that we have together. We don’t see this as “work” or a “job”. We don’t consider one of us to be “the boss” of our game, but that does not mean we always agree on all aspects of our game. Like a healthy relationship, there’s a give and a take that happens.
Thankfully Andrew and I know how to make our voices heard and know how to reach a compromise. When we started this project we wanted it to be a team effort, so we both agree on the decisions made. We have our opinions on each other’s work, and the opinions aren’t always favorable. It’s a process to help us narrow down what we like and what we don’t.
When Andrew gives me his opinion on what I’m working on there are times (not too often), that I have to look at him and think “he’s on another planet, that is a terrible idea.” Yet, I always find myself trying what he suggests. Andrew has told me that it’s frustrating that I make the changes he asks without giving him input first. Personally when I get feedback on my work (and I feel I can implement it), I want to work on draft and get it done ASAP to see if it’s a viable option to move forward with. I don’t always communicate that well, but I just want to work on the new idea. Sometimes I like the new idea and come around to his way of thinking, while other times I stay with my idea and play my “I’m the artist, let me make art” card. Somehow it all seems to even out in the end.
A huge hurdle for me is that I have never taken a class in animation or graphic design. I took one drawing and painting class in high school. It was a terrible experience. The teacher told me not to waste his or another teacher’s time by taking another drawing and painting class. Those words stuck with me for a long time. I had a huge fear of being terrible and wasting someone else’s time trying to teach me. Now that I’m older I realize that I should make art that I love and that I’m proud of. That fact aside, my lack of experience in graphic design means I have had a crash course in spriting. In the beginning it was especially frustrating, I had no idea where to begin so I just started reading, and taught myself what I needed to know. In the past I had looked at sprite sheets, but honestly had no idea how long it would take to just make a character that can move four directions. It turns out it’s an immense amount of work, but I will never forget the pride I felt the first time I saw my sprite move. As an avid crafter, I know what it’s like to look at something you made and be proud, but this was different. The thought that someone I’ve never met could be playing with something I made blew my mind, in that moment, this felt like a really “real” thing. I started thinking about this project in a way I never had before, and I got over the feeling that I wasn’t a good enough artist to do this.
Sitting right next to Andrew I know he has had his fair share of frustrations. I could try to go into the complexity of what he does, but I honestly have no idea where to start. He does all the work as far as the code, which just looks like headache material for me. In the beginning there were some troubles with how we would even get the physics to work for our game. He’s overcome that, and we even have enemies that hurt you, obstacles and other game neccessities. I’m really proud of how far he’s come with making our game actually look like a game. It’s amazing what he’s been able to accomplish over the course of a couple months on his own (with a little help from the internet).
Andrew says his greatest frustration is trying to balance working on our game and the rest of his life. He has a job that keeps him busy, a long commute home, a wedding to help me plan, and our personal relationship to tend to. To get over all the stress we focus on small accomplishments, and take breaks. We don’t technically have a set deadline (we’re aiming for summer/fall of 2014), so we move at our own pace. I work on what I can when I can, and Andrew does the same. This is still a hobby for us and we don’t want to feel burnt out about working on it. We take some nights just for us, where we just watch the shows we love and snuggle up on the couch. Some nights we do a little wedding planning. Working on this hobby is a lot for both of us to manage, but we just try to take it all day by day. It’s an adventure into new territory, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.