Comments on: The Will to Learn Wed, 10 Sep 2014 18:53:13 +0000 hourly 1 By: Darius Kazemi Tue, 25 Apr 2006 18:27:00 +0000 solipsistnation: well said! Although technically it was John Romero who wanted to make you his bitch.

By: solipsistnation Tue, 25 Apr 2006 18:23:00 +0000 Okay, the one thing I find that almost everybody I admire or whose work I admire (even if they’re assholes in person) is that they a) absorb all knowledge and find almost nothing boring and b) work their asses off.

I firmly believe that if you work your ass off on something, you can be good at it. Musicianship is a good example– there has actually been research done that discovered that the only difference between an accomplished musician and a not-so-hot musician is the amount of time they spend practicing.

Now, while that’s mostly technical (musicianship rather than songwriting, or you could think of it as programming versus game design) there’s definitely something to it. Nobody is born just good at something (idiot savants aside, I guess)– real skill is a product of will and effort.

The other aspect– creativity– also takes effort. The authors whose work I enjoy are, although they may be genre writers, fantastically diverse in their own reading and research. Iain Banks takes time off to drive fast cars and roam Scotland researching whisky; Neal Gaiman reads every piece of mythology that comes down the pike; Warren Ellis needs to start reading things he didn’t write again so he can get out of his rut, but when he was researching like a fiend his writing was amazing; and Isaac Asimov, of course, read EVERYTHING.

This follows through into game design– look at Bungie, for example. The Marathon games are PACKED with stuff that nobody will ever get, but even if you don’t bother to go and look up the “My Own Private Thermopylae” references (for example), it still gives the impression of a vast and living world created by people who wanted to express complex ideas and concepts through a limited medium.

The thing is, though, that not everybody will care enough to get good at things. Maybe doing masses of reading on all sorts of subjects doesn’t interest you and you’d rather code. Well, hell, code like a fiend and experiment and spent time coding. But if you want to be good at it, invest the time.

I would also advise against Patrick Dugan’s suggestion of “believing that you are The Shit.” Doing that means, well, you’re probably an asshole, or that you’ve gotten good
at something and you’ve started to believe what people say about you.

Another trait found in most people I admire is some semblance of humility. Humility is important– knowing that you DON’T know everything means that you have something toward which to work. If you go around believing that you’re The Shit and making sure people know it, how are you different from John Carmack, Who Will Make You His Bitch?

Not that you should necessarily wallow in self-denigration. If you DO know something, don’t hide that and don’t be afraid to make it known that you know it. But there are ways to express it with confidence without coming off as an egotistical ass.

Creative work is difficult, always.

By: Darren Torpey Fri, 21 Apr 2006 06:08:00 +0000 Actually, I feel that even in the very writing of this post you’ve actually started to address my comments & concerns. What I was trying to get at is that it’s often good to remind people that excellence can be earned by those with the will.

Sure, some aptitude is required, but that’s just a given in any worthwhile endeavor. If some poor schmoe who really can’t accomplish anything no matter how hard they try finds your advice and pursues a lost cause… well, fine. At least they didn’t give up without trying.

To err on the side of boldness and determination is always a good thing when it comes to believing in your ability to improve yourself. That’s all I’m trying to say, and it’s probably something you’ve been trying to say all along as well.

My comment was just that it’s good to remind people to not hyper-focus on the details that you share about how you use your specific skills that you tend to be particularly good at to accomplish your goals. It’s a shame when young people discount themselves prematurely because they think there’s an X factor that they just weren’t born with.

There is an X factor, but it’s more basic than, for example, your ability to network. It seems to me that anyone reading your blog and taking it seriously (as advice) has probably already got that X factor in there somewhere and it just needs to be nourished. =)

By: Patrick Dugan Fri, 21 Apr 2006 01:25:00 +0000 Read lots of books, watch lots of movies, talk to as many interesting people as you can, write or code or animate or whatever it is you do, and most of all, believe that you are The Shit, or probably better, believe that you are someone who can and will support excellence where it is found. As long as you have confidence in your will to make games, you can do anything.

Well, you might not hit on flash solutions to hard problems, but you can be a part of a project that implements such a groundbreaking solution.

So the key is, if you have your networ in place, to know about the really interesting projects, and learn about or if possible, work on them. Not everyone can work on Spore, but theres plenty of stuff on the indie scene that could use solid coders, artists and producers to see it to a polished final product.

We can’t all be Alexander the Great, but we can willingly suffer for a single person’s ambition. Heh, I mean, that doesn’t sound very good, but thats what the game industry is to a large extent.

Heres a better variant, we all can’t be Jesus, but we can follow and help make something really revolutionary come to be.

So my answer to the problem of not being excellent is: find Jesus. More specifically, look for Jesus-esque projects that need help.

By: Craig Perko Thu, 20 Apr 2006 14:25:00 +0000 The reason this post feels like BS to you is probably because it doesn’t solve anything or cause anything. All it really says is that there’s a piece of the puzzle you can’t help them with.

Which is an important thing to know, I suppose.