Independent Learning Project Wrap-Up

The end of the semester is a time for wrapping up. It’s a trying time – the last stretch in the marathon. There’s the finish line: it’s in sight, it’s right there, but your legs feel like giving out, your lungs are burning.

Granted, I’ve never run a marathon in my life, but that’s what I imagine it’s like. At the very least, I’m well versed in things that are the end but not quite the end. The greatest lesson I’ve learned is how to carry on. Not very good at it, but I’m not good at marathons, either. Still, I’m giving it my best shot.

My Independent Learning Project took a lot of twists and turns from its original concept. No video games were made in the making of this project. It was, however, very satisfying to make sprites move around in the game-making software.

Though, I don’t think I’ll do much playing around with that software again. At least, that’s what I’m thinking right now; who knows what twists and turns await me in the future.

This project turned out to be more of an exercise in self-reflection than I intended, much to my irritation. It’s not that I don’t like self-reflection — I do; I’m a huge proponent of it; I think it’s necessary for being a decent, healthy person — it’s just that I’m very tired. I’d like to learn how to make something without it being some life lesson, something that reveals to me I need to change and grow. Growth is demanding. Change is hard.

But — fortunately and unfortunately — all of that is innate in the creative process. Hell, all of that is innate in being alive.

Over the course of this project, I learned that I bite off more than I can chew. I think I’m making progress, with how I approach projects, but there’s still a lot I have to learn. And the most important of that is: discipline. I tend to get caught up in the idea, the grand scope of it all and when I trip and fall behind, I don’t see small pieces and steps towards progress — I see this great thing looming over me. And it’s overwhelming. Management, of time and resources and health and scope, has never been my strong suit, and this project has made that clearer than ever.

In connection with that, I also learned that I need to take better care of myself. I push myself too hard, too fast, and too far, and even if that wasn’t a big deal in my youth, as I get older it’s undeniably unsustainable. Self-care has never been my strong suit either, but now as I skirt the edge of being burnt out, I realize its importance. If I don’t take care of myself, I won’t be able to continue to produce the content that I really do love to produce.

A lot has been stirred up by this project, and there’s a lot I’m going to need to deal with as I move forward into a world where my creativity will be, at last, entirely self-driven. Change is hard, pushing forward seems to be impossible sometimes, but it’s never too late. It’s never impossible.

This project wasn’t all semi-painful self-realizations. I loved rediscovering pixel art, and learning how to scale up the tiny drawings and getting the textures and tones right. I loved designing the characters, especially being able to give them a different kind of life than I can with writing. It was satisfying and, while I will likely abandon the idea of a game with a noir detective, I still have that idea for future use. Maybe you’ll see her again; ideas are fantastic because they are energy: you can’t destroy an idea. It just changes.

I made one last pixel-art drawing — which this project sorta just turned into — and I’m including it here. It’s not the culmination that I really wanted, but I’m okay with that. I was inspired by a news article that chronicled the growth of the first flower in space.


There’s a metaphor, there, I’m sure.


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