I’ve been working on art a lot lately and it’s been making me think about the differences between programming and art. Specifically, the anxieties related to the two.

When I need to do programming, whether adding new features or fixing bugs or the likes, I generally know what I’m trying to accomplish, yet I’m not always quite sure exactly what the means to doing it are in advance. Most of my anxiety comes from a somewhat binary question, “Will I figure out how to make this work?” with the answers being either yes or no. As long as I have some confidence in a “yes” going into it, the actual details aren’t super important. This isn’t to say that how code is executed doesn’t matter, because it does, but for the most part, at the point I’m at now anyway, if I write working code, as long as it doesn’t slow down the framerate significantly or something then that’s good enough. It works, it’s done.

I’m simplifying things of course, because programming is tied into game design so often programming has to go alone with tweaking the design, which is a very not so binary thing. What kind of movement should a piece have, how should it interact with the player, even questions like how big should it be all play into the feel of the game. You can’t just switch off the artistic side to work on solving problems all the time. Still, I tend to feel significantly less creative pressure when I’m working on programming than art.

Art is almost the opposite. There is some small bit of execution getting my art from the art program I use into the game, but at this point it’s mostly routine. Not much anxiety about making it work… make some art, export it, import it, it’s there. Hard to mess that up. Here though, the anxiety comes in the execution. Art is not as binary. I can get working art into the game easily enough, but how good will that art be? My art tends to range from REALLY BAD art to REALLY OK art (and sometimes, on rare occasions, SOMEWHAT GOOD art.)

So the mindset coming into work sessions is very different, and sometimes I’m more mentally / physically prepared for one kind of work more than the other. But that’s not necessarily the thing that needs the most work at the moment. A conundrum to be sure.

All of this is to say that today should be an art day, but I’m not really feeling it. BAH.

PS. Everything that applies to art applies to audio as well, though I suppose I have a tad bit less anxiety when it comes to audio, because honestly… my soundtrack is probably the best part of the game. Even if I have a mediocre day of music making where I’m just not feeling it, it still ends up better than most everything else I do for this game.

PPS. I’ve been working on the game for a bit over three years now, and the end still feels a decent ways off. BAH AGAIN.

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