My childhood dreams

2017 will be over soon, but the search continues.

5 years into life, I was told to play videogames to regain some of the fine motor skills I had lost after battling a benign tumor that almost ended me. So hey, I had a very early excuse to play videogames. Yay! One of the first games I played, if not the first, was Sonic the Hedgehog. I can’t really say I played a ton of different games when I was little, but there were a bunch I will always remember. There was this one game that scared the crap out of me when I was little, but I could never recall its name; my brother used to play it, and I used to watch him as he did. There were many I remember playing on PC in the late 90s, but I don’t remember the names of most of them (and I’m still trying to find them). In any case, I don’t think my parents ever expected me to continue playing videogames forever, though.

Back then, making videogames seemed like an impossible dream. I loved the idea, but it just seemed completely out of reach. My first games were made with pen and paper …and a dice. I used to make little sliders to use as health and ammo and stuff, and the maps and levels were always hand-drawn or made into actual volumetric models. Those things used to occupy a lot of space around the house and I could never find a proper way to carry them around. I also always ran out of glue. Damn it! It saddens me that I don’t have any record of the countless paper games I once came up with, but I had nothing to take pictures with back then and I had no one to show it to either other than my mother and sister. The latter always used to help me test the games, which were mostly simple RPGs and weird board games. Good times. The time came when all of it had to end up deep down the dumpster, however. Back then, losing them didn’t really mattered to me that much, but now I’d give anything to have those things back, a picture at least to please my nostalgia.

At school during computer class, I discovered that I could create some level of interaction in PowerPoint. My dream was not that impossible after all! I made some “games” in PowerPoint using triggers. I was crazy about it: all of my school presentations were then gamified and over-interactive. Sadly, that stuff is long gone as well, but little did I know that the real deal was yet to begin.

At first, we didn’t have Internet back home, and I didn’t have a smartphone or anything. I was a fully-fledged “offline” guy. My life was pretty humble, and so was the school I attended to. At some point during one of the computer classes, however, I realized that Google was at my disposal to search for whatever the hell I wanted; and I knew what I wanted: “How to make videogames?” I ended up downloading a bunch of weird apps. Eventually, I started using a very sketchy game-making program. I don’t even remember the name of it; I just remember it was awful, but —holy hell— was I excited about it. I never really made anything particularly interesting with that piece of software. I had to continue searching for something better, and I did find something glorious that changed it all: Game Maker. It was the beginning of an era.

And so, many, many bad games were created using that tool over a span of 2 or 3 years. Even my school presentations were then made in Game Maker. I used to have such a good time coming up with ideas and bringing them to life through little crappy games. I learned to program in Game Maker; I began learning PaintNet and then Photoshop, then Mixcraft for the music, and a lot of other stuff. Those were the days, man: so many shitty games I would never forget; they taught me so much.

One day I finished working on my first platform game, and I felt so happy and accomplished. A few weeks later, I figured that I wanted to make a sequel to it, but shortly after development began, I stopped: my sequel needed an actual story. So, I wrote a single-page summary of the story I had in mind. But as it turned out, I didn’t stop there. At all. My story kept on growing and growing as a universe began taking shape and expanding. This was many years ago, and I never went back to Game Maker after I began writing. All I wanted was to write down the entire story, all despite my ugly English back then (not saying that it has improved that much, anyway). I never really finished writing, as the ending was nowhere near and the task was too demanding; the plot wouldn’t stop expanding and developing.

Before I knew it my time had run out: college was just around the corner. Honestly, despite everything I had learned and made, I was completely lost and disoriented. I didn’t know what I wanted to study; I didn’t know what the options were; and never did the idea of going for something videogame-related come to me. My parents were on a completely different page (Law), and my school didn’t do much besides telling me to “go for Design”. I think that I paid the price for the lack of self-knowledge and awareness of the situation. “Digital design” it was in the end: 5 years of my professional career gone to waste. At least, I learned stuff on my own, things I was actually interested in, like 3D and Unity. I began 3D modeling a lot, but I also never stopped learning more and making games.

As expected by someone who would expect it, I struggled a lot during my time in college trying to find my way, and I continued to do so during my 3 years working as a QA Tester in a videogame company. Who would have thought that I would end up working at a developer so soon? I was and still am very thankful for the people who made it possible <3. I got the job during my last year in university (Quite a fun year working on my thesis). As much as I enjoyed the people, the atmosphere, and the experience, however, I was not happy when it came to thinking about my professional career. Because of my little history, I felt like I was wasting my time in QA while my actual skills continued to be developed at home.

All things come to an end. We were all released into the wilderness when the studio shut down. It affected everyone, of course, but that’s just how things go in this life. Like I said previously, I had a great time with the team, but personally, I believe that getting laid off was the best thing that could have happened to me given my situation. It’s been 7 years on the wrong track. I needed my time off to try and set my focus straight. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing during these jobless weeks. That and—well—being scared. It’s my chance to finally try and get the job that I want, which is… what? I realize I wasted so much time exploring so many things that I never made or achieved anything particularly interesting.

A lot of people can’t really understand what this is like: not knowing what you want to do. They just say that I have to choose one. And yes, they are right; I understand that well enough. But why is it so hard for me to make up my mind at this point?

I just love making videogames. No: not as an individual artist, programmer, designer, musician, writer, or other, but as all of the above. “Making” includes the entire pack. It’s not a selfish thing. There’s just something about bringing everything together on your own that I enjoy. It’s never going to top something made by a professional team. I know that well enough. Here’s the catch, though: working on my ideas is what motivates me. And, by the way, motivation is a big deal for me.

Alright, so… I guess I can make videogames as a hobby. Good. Hopefully one day I will come up with something neat. On the professional side, I think we can go with the 3D Artist title. That’s the thing I know the most about, I believe, and I enjoy it. I just need to find the correct balance to work on both 3D stuff and game making. I obviously have to and want to continue sharpening my 3D skills; I need to show what I am capable of!

Alright. Sounds like a plan, for now. But why all the fuss, then?

Well… I just wish I could leave a mark here before I set off for the stars, but time scares me. It’s a weight that I have shamelessly and naively put on my shoulders ever since my ideas began trailing off; when my feeling heart submitted itself to the infinite stories of great heroes and adventures; when my eyes made fool of themselves by shedding empathic tears for characters and situations that only existed within our imagination. My dreams thrive on passion and emotion. There are countless things I wish I could feel and experience. No wonder why videogames bring me such joy: It’s the closest I can be to those stories and adventures. But everything tells stories… books, music, an image, an object, a place, a thought; I love them all. I want the world to experience a voyage like no other, and there are a handful of ideas which could become the foundation for it. One stands out, however: the one which began this whole thing, the one I’m still working on to this day. My heart has gone through so many things with that one massive story that started out as an excuse for a platform game. And there’s no going back now. I simply cannot abandon that project anymore. But I falter at the thought of how I’m going to make it possible for the world to see. I don’t seek money or fame. I want to inspire to dream and feel. I seek to give the grandest smile, the craziest goosebumps, the warmest moments, the most fragile tear, the greatest adventure. Only then will I reach self-fulfillment.

I’m never going to give up.

But my life is quite all over the place right now. So there’s that. I don’t think I belong in an office. Hopefully one day I will be able to sustain myself with my own projects and ideas. That’s not saying I don’t like working with a team. I love helping others with their ideas… when there’s passion and not an obligation or a thirst for money. I mean, I don’t have a family to feed yet or anything so… yeah. I guess I’m allowed to be a bit pickier. If the ship sinks, I’ll be the only one drowning.

This 2017 has been weird. It’s been a bumpy ride with a good dose of physical and emotional pain. I am feeling better now, at least, and not everything has been so bad. I’ve also learned a lot more during this year. So at least I got that going for me.

I had to write something; I like writing. 2018 will hopefully be a better year for me and my ambitions, and for everyone, really. And with some luck, I’ll find a job that I can enjoy.

Happy New Year to you all! May it be full of love and awesome surprises 🙂

 

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