Stardew Valley took the gaming community by a storm. A lone developer that streamed his efforts released the game and within the day, it was THE game to play. I bought a copy and I usually don’t like games like these, and every gamer I know knows what Stardew Valley is. It’s hailed as the Harvest Moon for the PC.
I didn’t like Terraria, I wasn’t a fan of Minecraft, but I play this game at least once a day.
The game is even more interesting when you look at its origins. A single developer spent five years developing this game. He spent five years on it! He wrote a blog post on it, and it’s worth a read.
So why does this inspire me so much?
“He finished it,” is probably a good summary for this article. He finished it. He worked on it, he revised it, he built the entire thing. He finished it.
I can barely finish a 30-line node library. I’ve got 100 or so projects on my Github and probably a fifth of them are still functional. I love starting new projects, who doesn’t? I just lose interest when going gets tough.
Last year, I started working on a Markdown Editor that suited my needs but I gave up on it when I hit some difficulties with Electron that required a rewrite. It’d take like an hour but I’ll be damned if I spend that hour on a project I really love. Instead, I’ll probably start a new library called “Canadux” which will be a Redux enhancer that appends every string in the state with “, eh?” or “Sorry!”.
It’s difficult to stay on path when things get tough, when things get unpredictable. It’s hard to go over that hill of what feels like real “work” in order to get to the next valley of fun. (Get it?).
Dreams, Fear of Failure, and so much more
I’m jealous and envious and inspired by what he’s done. I think about the kid in me who was passionate and fascinated by the world and could not stop thinking about growing up to do the things I dream about. And for the past decade or so, I’ve been trying to do just that: accomplish my childhood dreams.
I started digging and even made a “100 item bucket list”, the kind of bucket list where by the time you get to 15, you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel.
I’ve always had this ambigious childhood dream to create a whole new world. Maybe as a video game, maybe as a book, maybe as a comic book. I wanted to create a brand new world but every idea for it that I had came and went.
I wanted to create a conlang but gave up when I felt like it was too much to focus on. I wanted to create a map of this fictional world and so I did and then I threw it away. I wanted to write books, so I wrote 3 books in the same universe. And then I wrote 3 others completely elsewhere and I don’t want to return back (even to finish the series).
Game development hasn’t really crossed my mind because I feel like it’s such a massive undertaking that requires such a wide variety of skills that I’d probably fail.
But Stardew Valley inspires me to maybe stick it out just this once. Maybe I’ll fail or maybe I’ll keep failing but still make enough progress to eventually succeed. Who knows?
Maybe this is a great lesson for all of us. I’d say “stop and smell the roses” but I don’t think that applies accurately enough. Instead, I’m going to say: “plant the roses and take care of them so that one day, you can enjoy their beautiful fragrance.”
As a web dev, I start a ton of small projects. I enjoy doing it. It’s super satisfying to get a random idea, hack on it for a few hours, and see the result. I built a custom markdown-ish parser a few years back and I still use it. It took me a few hours but it was a lot of fun. I haven’t done much with it since despite the original grandiose plans.
Following my analogy, I tend to plant the roses, see a few sprouts and move onto the next thing that catches my eye.
This has worked out really well for me career-wise. I get a wide-breadth knowledge and experience in the field while getting deep knowledge at work. It creates semi-perfect t-shape of a skill set.
The thing that bothers me is that when I look back at the stuff I coded, I don’t see much. A small app here, a small app there. Most of the stuff I’m really proud of usually revolves around my blogging like my Angular 2 Beta Guide (grossly outdated, don’t even check it out) and not the code itself.
There are plenty of ideas though that could have been finished and could have been running for years barely attended like:
- Ludus – a link sharing site for learning resources that I called Ludus (or something similar). Got as far as authentication, registration, and basic link sharing….so pretty far
- OMEN – markdown editor that I used to write a NaNoWriMo book. Got as far as opening files, proper markdown editor, saving files, listing files in a folder, and a nice UI…so pretty far
- Popstar – file-based CMS using what I call “Markdown Object Markup Language”. It still powers a few of my test apps/APIs. Got as far as….well, it actually worked, I just wasn’t happy with the API. I started a rewrite and dropped it entirely
- WebDevelopment.META – a book on getting into development and how to advance your career. Got pretty far here too. I finished it but never edited or released it. It’s up on my Github for anyone interested: https://github.com/AntJanus/WebDevelopment.META and uses the aforementioned MOML syntax.
- Tseczka – a CSS framework and also a WordPress theme. I used it on dozens of projects but dropped off from using it two years ago. Now it’s a dead project.
There were plenty of others and I think that I would have loved to have looked back and see something I was really proud of that I worked hard on for a long period of time. Especially if that “something” was directly related to something I love.
I’ll be honest, I’m rethinking the way I approach my goals. I usually set monthly or at most quarterly goals. And month-to-month, they’re usually unrelated and never continuous. I tend to purposely deprecate old goals and work. I tell myself, “If I keep doing this, I’ll end up hating doing this”. Instead, I end up forgetting about it and moving on. Not ideal either.