Saturday, March 10, 2012

What a moment of inspiration can do...

There are times when we as artists, scripters, writers, breakers, fixers, builders, and anyone else who is in the business of or enjoys creating things, go through moments of what can only be described as raw and unadulterated inspiration.  When something you've experienced, seen, heard, or felt has left you wanting nothing more than to sit and create.

For me, inspiration can often be brought on from something as simple as observing nature, specifically the ocean.  When I think about the complexities of a single event like a wave breaking, the trillions of chemical and natural actions and reactions that ultimately led to that swell building up and eventually breaking somewhere, and the inevitable countless more reactions that will now occur because of it, it's nothing short of mind-blowing.  The butterfly effect in nature is a constant source of inspiration and awe.  Even with a relative understanding of physics, trying to break down and think about the infinite complexities of nature and how much there is to learn makes me feel like an excited little kid.

This week I was at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.  It's a place where you've essentially got the greatest minds in the industry all together sharing information and learning from each other.  It's an absolutely fantastic event.  I sat in on some great talks, round table discussions, and had a lot of great moments with people who's company I sincerely enjoy.  Nothing inspires me more than being around brilliant people.  Even some of our business meetings which tend to be significantly less fun than meeting with friends, left me with a feeling of motivation of what we can do with our technology this year to really push the envelope.  I can't stress enough how great it feels to be excited to go back to work and start applying some of these ideas to figure out how we can innovate and focus on the art, as opposed to simply doing a job at a studio for a paycheck.  Working with and being around creative people puts me in the best mood, I wouldn't trade it for anything!

One of our meetings earlier this week was with one of the industry's leading facial animation artists, somebody who I've always been very interested to work with.  While discussing different ideas and projects we might be able to do together, he mentioned something he does while working that I thought was really neat.  He likes to keep a comprehensive list of all of his project ideas that he can add to whenever he is inspired.  This way, when free time presents itself, he can refer to his mega-list and pick something fun to work on.  Simple concept, but brilliant execution.  Keep track of the ideas you have during those intense periods of inspiration, so that later when that feeling is maybe not so intense, you've got an idea to look at and work on that will bring it back.  I have now started a list of my own and I have to say it's got me pretty excited, even though there's already thirty plus projects on it.  But hey, go big or go home.

Something I really enjoy hearing about is what specific events have inspired you in the past?  What have you been doing that afterwards you left with that excited and "fired up" feeling.  What puts you in the zone?


  1. Congrats on the good GDC trip, I've personally never gone but would love to someday. The talks you went to sounded like they were a blast.

    I like to keep lists on Google docs, and just add to them where ever i am, using Google voice to "type" things down is also something that helps. Well, when you can feel comfortable talking about some of the weird things that we talk about in our fields.

    Not lists in a way, but sort of the same idea i have been using for a while to flush out a whole game on paper. I bought some super cheap tiny note books and would go to my local coffee shop. I would then write down any game idea, controlling concept, story plot or anything that was on my mind. Even writing down things like "I cannot think of anything... what’s going on... ohh hey that lady across the street is walking weird.... Walking like her leg is hurt, hmmm what games have done persistent damage that effects animations... was that even fun to see or play..."

    Forcing myself to physically write it down and without hesitation is what i think really helped me get some solid ideas for a game down. Now; I have terrible penmanship, so i knew reading them would be "interesting" to say the least. Something that i didn't expect to happen while I was trying to read the words that i scribbled down on paper. I found that i was forcing myself to almost recount the whole thought process instead of just putting ideas down onto paper without deciding if they are still relevant.

    I'm also finding that picking Music’s for certain projects really help you get back into the mind frame of that idea or project. Personally right now im stuck on this album (Warning.. wub wub.. ahead).!/album/Welcome+Reality/6483726

    What fires me up though, is seeing the cool things that come out of GDC or that are just on youtube. So many great artists, programmers and designers doing some cool things, indie games becoming a "thing" now and making some beautiful things.

    1. Awesome idea with the music. Different projects have different themes and tones, so it makes sense to dedicate a playlist or two to a certain type of work. Very cool!

      Also, great album! Made me go watch the Borderlands 2 trailer again as well. :D The comment about your penmanship playing into your thought process is also very interesting.

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