For those of you who are regulars, you know about my "as-needed" game development method. Outlined in full detail in my How I'm Battling My Autism post.
In a nutshell, I'm a game developer with Asperger's Syndrome. It put's me on the autism spectrum. I also have a small amount of ADD. I'm not the "Knock knock" "Who's there?" "Wanna ride bikes?" kind of attention deficit, but I can get distracted easily, and I lose interest in things if I'm not able to mix things up. And if I can't mix things up, I start having a slow, agonizing, anxiety breakdown until I can break the monotony. It's weird.
This fact has killed... every single project I've ever worked on. Once I lose interest in a project, I have to stop working on it. Save for 5 of them. One will never see the light of day, and the other four are on GameJolt under the username Bastendorf. (Don't play them, they're all 6+ years old and crap.) It's torture for me to try to work on something I have no interest in. I think that has something to do with my ADD/Asperger's combo.
I realized that the only game I never got sick of working on was an RPG I made on RPGMaker 2003, and I got through it because I just worked on whatever I felt like doing. When I got bored, I switched and worked on something else. Very little planning went into it (which is why it's crap.) After the 4 projects I managed to complete and upload, I fell out of that method, trying to get more serious, more focused, and more professional. I've failed to finish a game since. I recently realized this mistake and have returned to using my old method, dubbing it the "as-needed" method. I only work on what I need at the very moment, and work like, well, someone with ADD.
But I may have discovered a large chink in that strategy, today. While taking a mild break, I came up with an idea even better than the one I'm currently working on it. I want to start this new project as a side project so bad, but I'm afraid that if I do, I'll lose interest in the current project. But if I don't, and this new idea continues to dance around in my head, making me more interested in it, I might lose interest in the current project anyway.
Since I'm still trying to master my "as-needed" approach, I haven't a clue what to do to combat coming up with a new, more fun idea. It's especially worse news for my current project because I still have another set of walk animation frames to make, and as my regular readers will know... I hate having to do walking animations.
It's not like I don't want to finish this project. I never stop wanting to make these games. The problem is, I lose interest in working on them. No matter how much I like the concept, no matter how well I'm doing, once it passes a certain threshold, the project is doomed. No amount of knuckling down has ever worked. For those of you who don't have Asperger's Syndrome, it's easy. You just nut up and do the task. But the problem with AS is that we have very narrow interests. We like very few things, but the things we do like, we like a whole lot. To obsessive levels.
In light of all this crap with feminists and SJWs speaking on behalf of groups they have no right to speak for, I hesitate to speak for all Asperger's people, so I can only give my personal experience. When I'm disinterested in something, I can only do it a short amount of time before I start suffering emotional distress, I feel drained, depressed, my ADD gets even worse, etc. I don't handle repetition or disinterest very well. Believe me, I've experienced what my mind does when I try to knuckle down and just do it.
At my high school, 120 hours of community service was required by every student to graduate. I paid that off by working in the school's library. I would put the lamination on books, by hand. I'd be in there in the morning, at lunch, and after school, every single day. This is how I figured out I'm not able to get a job. In just a few short days, the task grew old and I slowly started to descend into this ever increasing state of anxiety. Even the breaks I took from it to attend class, go home, and even weekends didn't really ease this sate I was slipping into.
It's hard to describe what I was going though, but my ability to focus disintegrated, I was phasing in and out of daydreams and just flat blanking out entirely, trying to keep the work up. My anxiety had built up to the point where I felt panicked for no real reason, my heart would be racing, and I would start to have trouble breathing. Even though I was sitting at a work desk in a relatively open room, I felt like I was stuck in a tiny box, and to make matters worse, I am quite claustrophobic. And I don't mean I'm just afraid of small spaces, or the feminist redefinition of phobia. I mean real, irrational, uncontrollable fear. Ok, well, I wouldn't describe it as fear, but more like an extreme and irrational discomfort.
Anyway, I would sit there in the library, usually alone, for what felt like 20 minutes, working, and glance back at the clock to find that only about 30 seconds had passed. Sometimes it looked like no time had passed at all, and other times, it looked like the clock had run in reverse. Though, that might have just been my difficulty paying attention at that point, playing tricks on me. Every so often, my thoughts would scream at me "Do something else, for the love of god!"
This reaction isn't a normal thing for me. I'd never had that happen to me before in my life, because usually when I got tired of doing something, I'd do something else. But this was something I had to do, and I thought that if I just powered through it, and did it all in one smooth stream, I could just be done with it. Well, I did it... I got all the community service points I needed. But it was purely horrible.
I once had pleuritis. It's an inflammation of the pleura. That's an exterior lining tissue of the lungs. It was hell on Earth. I couldn't breathe in too much without intense pain, I couldn't breathe out too much without intense pain, I couldn't laugh, yawn, sneeze, or cough, or it would hurt. I couldn't even sleep in my own bed because it was too firm and laying in it caused me pain. I was also subject to random bouts of severe pain for no reason, the likes of which I'd never felt before, and had to take extra strength, prescription pain killers just to get through it. It lasted for two and a half weeks, the pain only finally dying down after the first two weeks. Think of the pain of a broken bone. It's like that, if not worse. Why did I tell you all that? Because I would rather go through that again than have to experience what ever it was I was experiencing in that library, again.
I only just realized how dark this subject got. I'm sorry. I started out talking about my worries about losing interest in my current game project and veered into what happens to me when when I try to push myself to do something I have no interest in doing.
Back on track for my wrap-up: I'm going to try my hardest to keep myself interested in my current project, even if it means switching to working on a completely different set of things for it. Whatever happens, I'll keep you posted, just in case I have readers who are also devs, and happen to be trying out my "as-needed" method.
(Considering the fact that I only have anywhere from 34 to 55 unique visits per week, I can't deny that the chances of that combination occurring in any of my regular readers is going to be incredibly low. What are the odds that out of 55 people, any of them are going to be autistic game developers with ADD who have trouble maintaining interest in their project exactly the same way I do? Not impossible, but unlikely. I'd need more than that to believe those odds were more plausible, but I'm documenting my progress with my method none-the-less, just in case someone who reads my blog knows someone struggling with the same problem I have. Although, I just realized one does not necessarily need to be struggling like I am to still try out the "as-needed" method. In which case, those readers probably aren't exactly super invested in what turns out as I try out the method, because they probably aren't struggling in the same way for the same reasons. I'm rambling...)