I'm at a really important stage of my artistic growth, I think. It's not that crow-quill pen I bought, or going to a life drawing session, or anything like that. It's learning to let go of my absolute control over every aspect of my work.
I have always had a bit of that diva streak in me. I identify with people like post-Jedi George Lucas, who want what they want and they're going to get it (we also have in common a long-running, um, penchant for dialogue). Really, I've spent a lot of time isolating myself and my fragile ego because other people just "got in my way". Asking for critique on anything sent me into, honest to God, anxiety attacks. I always told people that if I did a comic book, I'd write, pencil, ink, color, and publish it all myself; if it were a movie, I'd write, direct, score, costume design, and potentially star in, it. I'm at an age now where I realize that's how you turn into Tommy Wiseau... and, in short, make bad art.
Looking at the process of a video game - especially when I have spent so many years trying - and failing at - many different ventures all on my own... I'm realizing that things have to change. I have handed off some music duties to a friend and asked a local guy to hook me up with programmers who might be interested in coding such a project. This is ENORMOUS for me. Collaborating?! With PEOPLE!?!? Even more, I'm letting my composer go wild and will see what she comes up with. If I find a programmer to work with, I will look to them for a battle system and further input as to gameplay. True collaboration. People bringing their own talents and ideas to the table. Creating something that isn't an inbred, wretching reflection of someone's sick isolation.
I am also learning, slowly, to let go of the idea that everything I do has to be 100% unique, influentially untraceable, and blessed by some kind of godly intellectualism. It was like this when I was writing music, too. I swore I'd never use this or that chord progression because they were "too easy" and I had to find some other, much smarter-looking way to accomplish what I wanted musically. "Hey! I'll be atonal! That'll be nifty!" But do you know what? There is a reason that throbbing Hans Zimmer riff comes back to movies again and again: because it works. And when you are an artist trying to express something, for God's sake, you have to use what works. All that high-minded, narcissistic overachieving does nothing but constipate the creative process. You get clogged up with boundaries and self-loathing - if you have a soul - and end up sitting in front of a blank canvas, too petrified by your own instincts to truly accomplish anything.
Yes, that is lemon balm; lavender; ginger; aloe; mint; echinacea; chili; and nutmeg. I don't have to invent 100% of the botany of a fantasy planet to produce an interesting and emotive story. I want the player to procure an item that prevents illness, so, hey, echinacea. Is it really worth the whole Tolkien approach and inventing something called, I don't know, "Thoriandalalaladell Root" to get the same effect? Am I trying to bring people into my world or expel them with confusion? This is another blessing that comes from a 128-color, 3x pixel size interactive medium... forcing limitations. I. Need. Limitations. I need to let the hell go and just tell the story that needs to be told. I have 40 pixels to express a character, and that's it. Once I do all I can do with that, I can move on.