So I'm in the midst of what I call the "design phase" of development. For me, this is the most fun and also the most challenging part of the process.
On the one hand, I've got a lot of creative freedom. I let my mind go nuts and my pen follows suit. If what I come up with sucks or doesn't work, I just cross it out and start again. It's quick, it's dirty, and it's very satisfying. I think I have about a dozen notebooks of cross-outs and scribbles on my shelf.
On the other hand, I rarely feel like I'm accomplishing anything substantial. During proper production, you have a list of tasks you need to accomplish and you get the satisfaction of ticking them off one by one. You have a large goal that is broken up into smaller goals, and it's much easier to digest.
The design (or pre-production) stage isn't like that for me. I can't break up the game into smaller chunks, because I have no idea what the game is going to be. It's some nebulous, insubstatial, raw thing that's floating out there in the ether. So there are days where I feel great that I get to be all artsy and creative (this is fun), but there are days when I pound my head in frustration when I see that a whole day has gone by and I've only designed half-a-puzzle that I may or may not keep (this is not fun). Time is money, and all that.
But the biggest perk to the design phase? I don't need my laptop. No longer do I have to lug that thing around. I just grab a working pen (usually two, just in case) and a notebook and off I go. A laptop gives you great mobility, but a pen and notebook is even more so.
In the last week, I've done design in the following places:
- on the subway
- Washington Square Park, while a live jazz band played
- on a bench overlooking the east river
- a park overlooking the Hudson river
- the back seat of a taxi
- the bathtub
So yeah, the design phase can get frustrating but it certainly has its moments.