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HOW FORESIGHT CAN LEAD TO CREATIVE PARALYSIS

13 May 2013

A thought:

As I’ve gotten older and more experienced in game development, I find I can see further down the road of a project, which means I can see lots of potential problems well ahead of time. This seems like an awesome skill but what often seems to happen is I see all those problems and think, “Well this looks like a really shitty road!” And I don’t even start down it; instead I start looking for another, easier road, whether that’s another approach to the project or (more often) a different project entirely.

When I was young and naive, I couldn’t see as far down the road: I could only see a step or two in front of me. In that step or two I’d rarely see any problems at all — they were still there, just further out than I could see — so I’d think, “Well this looks like a great road! Let’s go!” And I’d rush down that road with abandon, only to blunder into all those problems further along without any chance to prepare for them.

But even with the blundering, I was still moving down the road.

The difference between my younger, myopic self and my older, farsighted self is that I only made progress along the road when I couldn’t see far enough to see any problems. Experience begets foresight, and (for me, at least) foresight begets paralysis.

The trick, I suppose, is to shift my perspective. When I look down the road now and see all those problems in the distance, instead of thinking, “Wow that’s going to suck,” I should think, “Great, I have plenty of time to prepare!” Because really, every road is going to have its challenges; looking for a road with no problems at all is a lost cause.

So I’m thinking foresight isn’t about avoiding problems… it’s about preparing for and solving them. And by extension, experience doesn’t mean you have fewer problems, it just means you’re better-equipped to deal with them, provided you allow yourself to do so.

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