Tag Archives: projects

Chronicles of a Second Wind

Originally posted to MySpace on:

April 10, 2007:

How does a man driven by creativity get his brain to stop nagging him? A pressing question to a philosopher, maybe, but not to me. “Finish what you started” seems like a worthier battle cry for such an occasion—stop leaving the past unresolved—don’t go to sleep on an empty stomach (okay, the last one might be overkill). The message, it seems at its most rudimentary state, is to complete a project that the creator thinks is worth his attention in the first place. If it’s not valuable, it won’t nag him. Simple philosophy…in theory.

I caught the game creation bug back in the ‘80s, found a creation engine, and thus the means to see my computer game ideas come to life in the first half of 2000, and went to work on a project (of organized chaos) called The Adventures of Powerstick Man. It starred the hero of a mock comic I had made in the early ‘90s about a tennis player turned spandex wearing crime-fighter who threw deodorant as his superpower. His story began with his birth as a superhero and ended after a short spelunking quest that earned him the coveted “Cove Ruby,” an item that didn’t really help him any because the game was over. There was so much more planned for the game, with several new towns, a deeper story line involving the kidnapping of mayors, and a slew of pop culture parodies that would make the writers of Scary Movie groan. It was my gaming opus, and my ticket into an underground world of RPG making geeks, where popularity depended on the quantity of message board posts and the clever use of “elite speak,” where “e’s” became “3’s” and “t’s” became…something. And, like so many who fell victim to the black hole of message boards, I had lost my steam after the first release. It was a fate I thought I could avoid. I was wrong.

I never learned “elite speak,” by the way, or cared to. My geekiness was intended to live in theory, not in reality. Anyway…

I tried to assimilate my identity into this indie-gaming world through various forms of writing, mainly through reviews of other people’s games. I spent nearly a year of my life critiquing these amateur projects, trying to wow readers with big ways to say little things. And I gained attention. Through my reviews, I became a valuable resource to the independent gaming community. I wrote articles on character development, fought for the appropriate use of dialogue, both in action and in presentation, and even submitted the occasional fanfic in the form of documentary radio scripts. It was a golden age for me in this secret world; I was like Roger Ebert, but younger and skinnier. And I couldn’t get back to my project.

The fire of participation died by 2002, and with it, several false starts on other games. The Adventures of Powerstick Man lingered in limbo, waiting for the day that its story would be completed. But that day never came. I tried to revive it a year later with a new presentation, calling it “Version 2,” but again the fire died as soon as it had flickered. My passion for game-making hit a dead end, as did my creativity in all forms. I searched for other methods to keep myself plugged in with the fans (the few that called themselves fans), but my taste for the subculture faltered. Nothing ever got done with this group. Nothing ever got done on my hard drive. With personal crises taking over, I had nothing left to give to my creations. I burned out.

Several projects ate space on my hard drive by 2003, most of them with nothing more than a title screen and a couple of graphics. I still dabbled with my perpetually labored project called Tightfloss Maiden, which to this day remains close to release, as it was in 2001, but not close enough to actually unveil it. In the end, unfortunately, my desire to work on anything creative subsided in favor of personal misery. The golden age became a rusted age, and I couldn’t take it.

By the end of 2003, however, something remarkable happened: I went back to school. I was refreshed. And with the refreshed journey, I went back to my writing. I started revamping my old collections of short stories, releasing two self-published books by early 2005. In the last quarter of 2005, I wrote the first draft of my novel. Throughout all of 2006, I wrote and released my third collection of short stories to the public. And now, as I write this, I’m back to the editing stage of my novel, with a second novel in the drafting stage. Add these to the screenplay floating around various agencies for the Scriptapalooza contest, and it seems I pulled out of a major dive. But alas, something still lingers.

During a brief creative spell in 2005, I decided to return to the original version of Powerstick Man and add some features for an Extended Edition. My intention was to re-release the game as it used to be, but with more options for the player. It was a means to draw its fans back to the character and back to the charm that made it a cult classic (and also to spur interest in the graphically enhanced Version 2 that I had hoped to also release someday). But again, after a slight addition to the character roster, I went on to something else—my novel. And there it sat untouched for another year.

And throughout that year, the unfinished project nagged at me. Six years had passed without a fair attempt to finish it, or even to progress it, and it haunted me. I couldn’t stand it. But I kept putting it off, favoring the work on my prose over it. It was the annoying guest that refused to leave. It spilled over into my other unfinished gaming projects. One project became nine, all of them waiting for their turn to see the light of day. It was madness.

Finally, I reached the point that I couldn’t take it anymore. After spending a weekend dabbling with another creation engine that specializes in point-and-click adventures, I thought, “I could do this again.”

I’m writing this journal, in March of 2007, because the second wind is blowing, and I’m curious to see what becomes of it. Certainly, it could be a short breeze, destined to die in two weeks’ time. Or it could be a strong gale, lasting until the project sees an end. Either could happen, and I’m curious to see which becomes reality. My novel still demands my attention, as does my economic freedom—both of which are threatened by the idea of revisiting these old projects. But that marks the creator’s heart. A creator without passion isn’t a creator but a do-boy. He has to give his attention to these things anyway.

Having said this, I’ve put The Adventures of Powerstick Man on a new train, and I’ll record its journey in some form as it unfolds.