Reflecting on the Autumn of Creation

I had been meaning to write this post when the Autumn of Creation ended, at the end of December. Procrastination turned to forgetfulness as time went on and now, two months later, I’ve kicked myself in the rear enough to sit down and get it done.

I introduced the theme in my post about Tumbletile, which was one of my bigger projects for the season. Overall, it went well! My original plan was to create something new every week, no matter what it was. I just wanted to get back into the groove of making things. By the end of it, however, I had only finished 3 creations. But hey, that’s better than nothing. Even though I didn’t finish as many as I would have liked, I was still putting in work every week. I have to admit that I was also playing Final Fantasy XIV like it was a full-time job to prepare for the newest expansion.

So let me share with you those 3 creations: A game, a short story, and some art.

Project 1: Underwater Temple

The first creation was simple, just a single piece of art. I’m not a particularly good artist, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to be better at. At the beginning of the Fall, I’d been slacking on those efforts for nearly a year, so it made sense to start there. The weeks prior to this, I’d been obsessed with looking at art of mysterious places, their doorways like a black maw into the unknown. Something about that was drawing me in, and so I wanted to make one of my own.

What could be inside?

That’s it. It’s not particularly good, but I made it, and that counts for something. It didn’t even start out as an “underwater” temple to be honest. The underwater aspect came about as I was playing around with tints in Procreate, and when I put a sort of dark aqua tint over the whole thing, it just felt right. After that, it was a lot more playing around with various things I didn’t know how to use. I went back and forth trying to put neat details beside the staircase, I tried doing multiplicative layers to shine beams of light through the water, and so on. Ultimately, I threw most of it away, but it was still fun, it felt like the art had almost become a toy.

Project 2: Courier Short Story

In high school, I was really into writing, and had aspirations to become an author. After I graduated, I was writing less and less as I got more into game development. Recently though, a lot of the game ideas I’ve been jotting down are narrative-heavy, which has reignited the fire in me.

One of the game ideas was really nothing more than a setting idea: a hard sci-fi setup in the early 2000s, where Earth was subjected to an electrical anomaly that caused large chunks of the world to be enveloped in an unknown energy. The interference shut down most long-range communication, and those caught in the initial fields were mutated by it.

I took this setting and decided to tell the story of a courier in that world, someone willing to brave the new wilds in order to connect those that were separated by the event.

You can find that story in PDF format here. I still consider it very much a rough draft, but I think that’s just me judging myself too harshly. The people I shared it with seemed to enjoy it, and that’s enough for me. I think the self-judgement came from not having written in so long. Perhaps I had convinced myself that I was too rusty, completely disregarding the fact that I tell stories all the time when I’m running tabletop RPGs. Whatever it was, in retrospect, I’m proud of this story, and it inspired me to write even more in that world.

Project 3: TumbleTile

I already wrote all about TumbleTile here. There, you can read about the process of designing it, working on it, and play-testing it. I had mentioned wanting to come back and do some additional work on it, and while I still want to do that, I have yet to do so. It was a really fun project to work on and just as fun to play the end product.

TumbleTile was one of the first games I had really “finished” in a long time. Despite some issues cropping up in play-testing, it’s a game that I gave a deliberately minuscule scope, and I was able to make everything that I wanted for it. It ended up being a great confidence boost, and made me feel better about game ideas that aren’t necessarily massive.

Final Thoughts

I expected to come out of the Autumn of Creation with 13 new things under my belt. I came out with 3, and I still feel great about it. Do I wish I would have created more? Absolutely. I like to think I acquired more from this than just a few completed projects. I learned a lot about my own time management skills, and I reinforced some important ideas about project scope. TumbleTile could have been bigger, the art could have been more elaborate, the story could have been longer, but they also all could have been dead in the water if they were.

I think I’d deeply consider coming back to this theme in the future, though it might be one with lessons to apply year-round.