Overcoming Impostor Syndrome
Imposter Syndrome: When someone who believes their own accomplishments were simply because of luck, tricking others into thinking they are intelligent, or timing.
~Urban Dictionary (for proper spelling and elucidation)
Starting out at zero can be really fun. It is liberating to keep heavy expectations off the shoulders. A blank canvas is actually filled with potential; just like a new trainee in specific disciplines are equally as embryonic.
RPGs (role palying games) are super fun in the beginning because the starting stats/weapons/abilities are typically pretty flexible early on. There tends to be less punishment for exploring loadouts.
A mage could be given a sword, perhaps dealing only small damages; nevertheless slaying foes regardless of inneficiencies. Eventually though, your MC (main character) levels up!
Level up skills but level down freedom
Skills improve, then enemies and challenges grow along with em. The game is still fun, but now you can't screw around with mages holding swords! You newb! (uneducated swine)
Rather now, the party must individually specialize if it ever hopes to accomplish the greatest challenges. Similarly in real life, our talents grow and the stakes only get higher.
More people begin to rely on those talents. That reliance morphs itself into responsibility, which can make it hard to find time to play around.
Maybe you liked being a mage that wields a sword, even though it wasn't specialized enough to take on the big challenges. Similarly in real life, swapping careers can hurt the surrounding community when others need your unique support.
Enter Impostor Syndrome
Specialists don't make mistakes. You make mistakes. Therefore you are not a specialist? Wait no, that assertion cannot be true.
~within my head
The feeling of unworthiness seems to creep back up whenever challenges feel too great; especially if a "fail-streak" was recently experienced.
For me personally, I think it has to do with the fact that "programming chose me". Making a video game was the only reason I bothered learning programming and subsequently software design. It is just really fun to thread logic together and create something out of virtually nothing but raw ideas and bits.
going back to the RPG Mage analogy from above... So when people started placing their bets on my ability to cast a firebolt rather than wield a sword; I'd both flounder under the pressure and begrugingly put down the blade. Taking on software engineering as a career came with challenges I could never have forseen, and many, nae all engineers in the industry struggle to keep up with the rapidly evolving landscape.
Everyone else struggles too
I wondered how it may be in other industries in the trenches, and didn't have to look far to see other kinds of professionals struggling in the same way with or without extensive education. Whatever distance an ivory tower chair may be from an uneducated swine's park bench, I reckon the gap can be closed. Just failing in and of itself doesn't make one unworthy, but perhaps not "getting back up" after merely hundreds of attempts keeps you one step closer to "the park bench".
By January 2021 I had reached out to many artists. Four responded favorably; Two of them were family, and two of them were professional. I had built engineering teams before, but never felt particularly amazing at recruiting. This experience didn't help my confidence as all four of em eventually flaked on me even though I was paying for these gigs.
Personal struggle as leader
I'd have expected more responsiveness within two months. I felt like there must have been something wrong with my approach; in darker moments, I thought there was something wrong with me as a person.
Why didn't people feel as passionate about the project as me? Why were these artist types so hard to get at? I hadn't made commissions before for artists, only worked with artists on free side projects or in larger software projects as peers. My first dip into the space felt more like a belly-flop.
Thank you Dmitry
I'd be remiss to not mention that one artist during that period of time did eventually hold up on his word. Dmitry did get back to me much later than anticipated.
Maybe this commissions thing wasn't so bad, I thought. "Maybe I just need to give out more lead time". The art shown here in and of itself is excellent, but the direction I gave wasn't good enough to bring out the style of SteelPinion yet.
It must be explicitly mentioned that the three artists we currently have are excellent and are great collaborators! (I'll introduce them properly next October post!)
Timelines are lame...
The missing artist problem made me attempt to rearticulate the vision. Surely the problem was Trello (a popular task organization tool). So everything was migrated to ClickUp (another organization tool). Spoiler alert, this made no difference whatsoever.
Uncle Bob said it hilariously when he stated that software engineers are at best liars during project estimations. In hindsight, this was mayhaps the most aggressive timeline I'd ever created... With no team even formed yet.
You may ask "why even have a timeline at this phase?" I thought it's what people needed to believe in the project's viability. Really though, a timeline is uninspiring. Timelines practically drain the desire to do what's within it's cold columns.
Now I am the master artist!
A creative team requires inspiration throughout the group to fuel one another. At this point I'd decided to become an artist myself to better empathize how other artists may feel approaching a piece. Through that process, I'd learn that casting vision is MUCH better than a liar's timeline.
My first attempt creating one of the airships; alas was not even close to what was envisioned for SteelPinion. Thankfully with some help from our current artists (whom I'll introduce next post), the inspiration needed eventually arrived in force.
If I wasn't an imposter before, I would be soon as a technical artist!
About SteelPinion Lore
The world of SteelPinion is meant to be lighthearted, yet "logically consistent". I just couldn't go on building the game without having some explanations as to why the airships were fighting, who piloted them, what goals those pilots hoped to achieve...
Going down that line of thinking led to a full blown world history that needed explaining! Now we need to know how the factions formed and what the overarcing purpose of those factions would be.
As we take our time to develop the game, we also have a passionate artist dedicated to the imagining this alternate history graphically to both share with fans and inspire the team both.
This is the 2nd page of the world history. (intentionally unexplained for now)
In the next entry, the plan is to introduce the three wonderful artists of SteelPinion, and start showing off their hard work over the past couple of years.