The Point of No Return
May 29th, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

I’ve reached the point of no return when it comes to writing a text game. I’m a complete mess.

I can’t remember the last time I got a good night’s sleep in some kind of string. I’m not just saying that: I’m trying. I’ve tried. Nothing comes back to me as a solid memory that I can point to. I was regularly going to bed at two thirty until I realized that the alarm would more nicely interrupt me outside of a sweet spot if I worked for an hour later. I still wake up completely fatigued. My muscles ache and complain, my knees creak and pop, and there are deep, purple bags under my eyes at all times. I avoid mirrors and all reflective surfaces when possible. I crawl into bed and think about the game, think about what I will be writing next, think about how poor the slop is that I made the night before and how to fix it. Once or twice a day I completely lose my breath and while doing nothing.  I need more exercise, I need more rest, I need to eat more fruits and vegetables and vitamins.

I have forgotten birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and celebrations – both made-up by greeting card companies and those I helped to create through the amazing and fortunate successes in my previous life. The only people I can connect to are on-line, in chat rooms, in e-mail, on forums, since they are the ones that make the least number of demands to my time. I judge every possible experience as to whether or not it is taking away from the time I have to write. I demand that movies be better than the quality of the game I have imagined I am making in my head, and silently curse them when it’s obvious that they aren’t. I come to a slow burn putting a DVD in the player, since that requires fighting with the Xbox, trying to immediately get to the menu screen, sitting through the insipid, unskippable bullshit the studio asked for, hoping the last Netflix customer didn’t take a safety razor to the disc, causing freeze-ups. Some worthless suit deigned that their terrible movie or season of TV shows should roll animation for twenty seconds before you can start the chapter or next episode and I wish them their death for having the arrogance to waste my time.

I worry about dying with the game unfinished. I fret over the fact that a glass of gin and Wal-Mart off-brand Kool-Aid gets me almost immediately in the mood to write, and that I don’t let myself do all the time because I’ll develop it into a problem due to my poor impulse control. I feel a deep despair when I play the acoustic versions of the pop punk songs that get my brain into the mode it needs to be to write. I find myself wishing I could exist in a featureless white void of a room for the days I’ve computed I could finish the game in, if I wrote an ever-changing number of lines of code a day.

I get back test scripts and feedback and decide, a dozen times over, to just give up. To be a consumer for the rest of my life. I read what I gave another person to test and find it shit, find it terrible, predictable, moronic, unfunny, uncreative, small-minded, incompetent. The dialogue doesn’t crackle. The scenery isn’t implemented. The puzzles aren’t rewarding. They tried things I need to implement, they found holes in my narrative I hoped nobody would notice. It all needs to be addressed.

I laugh at myself over the fact that the only subject I could get in front of a room of people and teach — the only thing I have ever mastered in my entire life in almost three and a half decades — is how to code in the 4th-most popular text game development environment.

I have become a terrible friend, a terrible confidant, a miserable person with which to live, an empty shell of once happy and functional human being. Nothing I can do will change this until the game is finished and complete and released and judged. I could promise to take a week off and “recover” and get maybe two days into it before the nagging, empty, spectre of text game making pulls me in again and demands that I continue. There’s literally nothing else I want to do in my life but this. Everything else is sighworthy. What is wrong with me. There’s at least an end in sight. There is at least that. This will be the creation I will be remembered by, if I am remembered at all, and every day I have spent on it hurts.

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