I’ve been working on my “real” HTML5 game. By “real” I mean not text based. Things moving around the screen, physics, tap/drag, etc. On Friday I lost steam and had time to reflect on why over the weekend.
I do these little projects to explore new technologies. An analogy is like learning to drive a motorcycle. You can go to the CSM parking lot on Saturday morning and go in circles (take a class), or you can learn the basics then start riding (self directed learning). Pick an arbitrary destination then start moving. This is what I’ve been doing for years. I pick a target, but always knowing that the journey was the real goal. Lacking a real definition of “done”, I’d stop the journey when I’d decided enough learning had been accomplished.
This is a common way to “keep up” with technology, but I’m missing something to be passionate about. My wife once told me she was jealous because my job was my hobby. I want to restore that passion via these projects (more on “physical” or “real world” engineering sucks compared to vs. “computer” engineering in a later post).
What I realized on Friday was that I was building a game without a design. Literally. I was putting things on the screen that looked interesting (to me), having them collide, playing sounds – but I lacked an actual plan for what the game would do.
I’m going to pause and design a real game before I continue. As a parent, I have a reflex to mandate the game incorporate some form of learning. Something that reinforces the multiplication tables for my boy or factoring for my girl. However, this distracts from the goal of entertainment. Am I a bad parent because I want to make a toy? No. We send them to school, work with them at home, read to them before bed. We’re doing our job – everything doesn’t have to strive to push them closer to getting to college. So my new goal for this project is changing from “explore technology and maybe produce something 1/2 finished” to “entertain my kids”.