Friday, 22 September 2017

Creativity

Almost a year ago, I wrote a text post on my website titled "Creativity". While it was one of my more interesting text posts from the time period, it doesn't carry much in the 200 words I spent complaining about not being creative enough.

However, there are some things I expressed in that post which no longer reflect what I believe today, and some more things which I feel I need to expand upon. Consider this video (or for those of you who still follow my text posts, one of those) a re-make of that old post from December, 2016.

Creativity is something which I don't believe is possible to pin down as a single, definite attribute. A so-called "creative person" is not necessarily a person who is inherently creative, but rather someone who believes themselves to be creative. Maybe you'd disagree with this quasi-post-modernist view of creativeness, but just bear with me.

Creativity is ultimately a function of familiarity with your chosen medium and how much you're willing to come up with a hundred awful ideas before you get anything good.

In order to be really creative, you have to know the exact limitations and boundaries of your tools. Your tools might be the Godot Engine, FL Studio, Sony Vegas or some bizarre combination of all 3. This means you'll have to spent a lot of hours learning how to use them. It's taken me six hundred hours on Godot and I'm still learning new things about the engine even now as I work on Mass O' Kyzt.

Once you know how to use them, it's a lot easier to allow your mind to wander into territories that you might otherwise never have thought to even approach. Certain media such as game development are particularly obtuse in that regard, which bit do you work on first? The bare-bones mechanics? The art direction? The codebase? The story?

After creating a game or two, it gets easier to see exactly what you can do and where you can go from each starting point. If you want to create a game where mechanics take the lead, you can write out the mechanics first. It gets easier to recognize what kind of idea each idea you have is- "something involving glowing blue mushrooms" is an idea where the art direction and style takes the lead. "A game wherein you upgrade your enemies" is an idea where the mechanics takes the lead.

Imagination and creative thought does need to be trained, but I don't believe it's in the same way as a muscle needs to be exercised. I think that a lot of people will get better imaginations the more they try, but not because their imagination somehow "became bigger", but rather because they're more comfortable with the process as a whole.

Here's an exercise in imagination: pick a random word(preferably a noun, verb or adjective, don't be a dork and pick a preposition) and think about literally the next thing that comes into your head. Even if it's not related whatsoever to your initial word or its a random fleeting thought, grab it and do the same again. If I'm making any sense, you'll be led along a random path of neural connections and associations and maybe come up with some ideas.

Don't get frustrated if you don't come up with anything, that's part of creativity. Coming up with like a billion bad ideas is almost required in order to come up with one or two good ideas.

Spending your time pursuing a bad idea is usually not wasted time, since you're practising your "making-the-thing" skills so that you can become more confident coming up with a better thing to make.

This is getting really quite rambly, which is impressive because it started off rambly but I'm going to cut it here. I have a cold, so my script-writing is pretty rubbish. Anyway, thanks for watching and stay tuned for more illness-induced rambling about something which a lot of people either realize already or don't care about.

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