Making a Game to Get Read

I think a lot of people might wonder why I want to learn to program.  It seems like a big jump from working at being an author to working at learning to code, but I don’t think they are as far apart as people think.  Learning to program is also something that is not far removed from things I have been doing for years, from things I have been interested in since I was a kid.

I’ve been building and maintaining websites since I was a teenager, doing some basic HTML here and there, CMS systems like WordPress helped remove me from the ‘code’ side of things but there is still some work to do in that space when you own a website (or two or three).  I was just doing copy paste code though, I want to actually learn how to do these things on my own.

I also want to tell a story, not just build websites or web-apps.  I want to merge my two interests into one thing.  That’s why I’m focusing on learning the languages I’m learning instead of refining my HTML, Javascript, PHP and MySQL skills.  Now I could build a web based version of what I’m doing now, and I might actually do that, but for now I just want to learn the fundamentals.  There is something cool about it, something I find special.  Like building a house from scratch.

That’s where designing and building a game comes in.  That is my final goal, my main purpose behind all this.  I want to write and code a game, a game that is fun, a game that has a good story and a game that people play.  I want my work to get out there, and that’s not happening as an author.  I think by making games, good games, people will actually consume what I contribute to the world.

It’s a form of expression, it’s an art as valid as writing. Videogames also allow for my ‘readers’ to actually take part in the story, to be active in the adventure instead of passive listeners.  A game is a medium to tell a story and I think that medium will be a lot easier to reach people with.  They are the perfect creative outlet with a blend of story and user input.

Now, I’m not expecting to do this all on my own.  The art and music will be things I need help with, and I’m getting that help.  Involving other people in the storytelling process is also something special that this new project, this new goal, will help me with.

I’m also building other more traditional programs on the side, I have a few planned that I want to start on.  I have so much to learn though, and I don’t expect to be perfect, but I have time.  It seems like the more I learn the more I learn I know nothing.  This is probably the hardest thing I have ever done, I am retraining my brain entirely and it’s killing me a little.

I know that other self-taught developers might thing I’m whining here but I really feel like my mind is not cut out for this kind of stuff.  I feel like I’m faking my way through it all but I have a goal.  I want to reach people with the stories I have to tell, with the fiction that lives in my mind.  I’m cursed with this need to make things up, this need to write and tell stories.  I really think that by developing a game, that by finishing something, I will be able to tell these stories.

I’m not giving up on writing, I’m just moving to a hybrid medium.  Videogames tell a story in a way no other medium can, they let the player write the story as they go.  I’ve always said that as a writer it is the reader who writes most of the story, in the case of videogames that is literally true, and I want to be a part of that.

So I’m trying to use the discipline that I developed through writing and fitness to learn how to do this, it’s hard but I will figure it out.  Maybe in ten years I’ll have something that’s playable and fun.  I’ve always been a late bloomer and I think I finally found my path.  Something I’ve been searching for, for a long while now.  I know where I want to go.

I’ve been lost since I got rejected from what I thought was my path.  I’ve been lost as to how to get my work read.  I’ve been lost as to how to get better, but I have finally found a way.  So yes, I’m going to be developing games to get read, but I’m also going to be doing it as part of my future.  It took me almost a decade but I think I have a path to follow now.  Something reasonable, a passion from which I can earn a living, from which I can improve the world and through which I can grow my art.

Maybe it will change in a year.  Maybe I will get too discouraged to go on, but for now I think I have it.  I’m going to stick with it for now, keep growing the passion while I have it.  Keep your eyes peeled for some early test games in the next few months.  I’ll also be working on getting the three draft novels I have finalized too, when I have downtime and the logic part of my brain needs a rest.

Thanks for reading.

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