Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Project

Posted by Trixter on February 21, 2008

One of the things that contributed significantly to MindCandy 2 being delayed for 18 months was self-inflicted implosion. I got so hung up in the project — worrying about what to do, how to do it, when to do it, who was waiting for it, what was affected by it, etc. — that I self-destructed and sought out anything that would help me avoid working on it.

Oh, I wanted to work on it. I love capturing video, especially from older computers doing their thing. I love processing it without touching the picture detail; I love compressing it to within an inch of its life without affecting picture quality. I love distributing it. And I especially loved the subject material. But left unchecked, my mind tends to enter a recursive death-spiral feedback loop during moments of stress and I just spin my mental wheels.

I started to get that hung up over my Block Party plans and obligations. Should I attend? If so, what should I bring? Should I give a talk? If so, on what? Should I bother with a compo entry? If so, what compo? Is it worth going if none of my very close friends will be there? If so, who will I talk to? What talks should I attend? Ahh! Aaaaaaahh!!

Five weeks ago, I was in #blockparty telling s_tec how much I enjoyed the invtro, and after a brief conversation, he innocently stated something that reminded me, after so many years, why I love the scene and all its related offshoots:

[14:49] <__Trixter> Almost makes me want to write a demo again :) but I'm not sure I will. I can't compete with the big boys and this hunk of junk is much slower than my imagination is
[14:50] <s_tec> So? Making demos isn't about winning, it's about making.

It is indeed. Thank you for the reminder; it was cathartic.

With my head cleared, I was able to sort out all of my thoughts, organize them, and get them down on paper (well, into a text file). I have a very clear direction on what I want to accomplish and how to accomplish it. Whether I get it done in time for Block Party ’08 or not, I make daily progress. This is a good thing. The experience, like all fun programming, is not unlike relaxing in a trance-like state punctuated by occasional moments of pure exhilaration.

I am working on creating a nearly useless piece of software. Only a handful of people will ever use it. It serves no practical purpose. But it is mine, created with my bare hands, where nothing like it existed before in the hardware space it commands.

For the curious, here is the some insight into my madness: MONOTONE development notes

4 Responses to “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Project”

  1. Oh man, do I know that feeling? I think I’ll just call it “default”. Embrace the madness, I think this is how you know you’ve crossed into ‘art’ :-).

  2. Accatone said

    Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb? Funny movie! :) Really, it is great to see you working at a project “created with your bare hands”.

  3. Optimus said

    Ahh,. how can you do it?

    Actually, I still can’t avoid procrastination but the more I am thinking it the more it kills me. Lately, I somehow get motivated to code by not following close deadlines, not saying to myself “you must do it NOW”, but starting projects I always wanted to try but there is no deadline or obligation for them, and if I get bored I start another project and leave the previous code in the closet.

    Some days ago I started coding a X86 emulator just because I have never coded an emulator before. No deadlines, no plans, but this plan really motivates me to code each day. From the other side I don’t think I will code a new demo any time soon. It’s better with motivating projects like the emulator..

  4. Trixter said

    If a project is no longer fun to work on, drop it. Life is too short to struggle needlessly. Good luck on your emulator.

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