A good indication that you’re invested, engaged, and inspired by something is when you take it with you in your head throughout the day. You might be holding problems or challenges in your mind so that outside data you pick up could present you a solution. When you’re doing this you’re engaged in whatever you’re doing – probing deep into things that appear to hold something of value. Anything could give you the answer or hold the inspiration you were looking for.
You might be so intimately involved in whatever project you’re working on that the things you see can freely turn into things in your project and vice versa. You’re seeing things or experiencing things, and you’re saying “that’s this thing!” or “oh! there’s this thing that I left out of the [x location or place in project]“. In process of developing the story for Stranger Dreams – the indie game development project you’re eagerly following – I’ve had countless experiences that have inspired me or fed me something i needed. I quickly take note, as if I’ve had a prophetic vision, with short, succinct, self-contained statements.
One of these experiences happened on a trip to an abandoned quarry in Bloomington, Indiana. It wasn’t the first piece of inspiration I received from Bloomington. As I was walking, slightly anxiously because we were trespassing through an unfamiliar place (to me), I knew that the rocky, aged, path full of artifacts with lingering memories (there’s always some forgotten sorrow clinging to surfaces and the space of abandoned places) – slowly becoming reclaimed by natural things – was so similar to what I had been thinking (having never seen or heard about the place) that I couldn’t ignore it. It simply was a certain part of the setting of our story – at least parts of it were.
I decided to come back with Jackie to let the scene feed into the mental images she had already been developing. We waited for a day that was sufficiently rainy and eerie to go attempt to rediscover and photograph, the abandoned, Sander’s quarry which was featured in the film “Breaking Away”.
Thankfully, we found it.
You can see some more pictures we took on our tumblr blog.
I think an important point is that field trips, or journeys for inspiration, whether it be for game development or another type of project, are valuable even if they don’t relate or translate into something in your project. Just the act of taking some time to explore someplace new is worthwhile. I felt so enlivened and refreshed after hiking around that I stayed up most of that night developing and diagramming, using the online tool: http://www.diagram.ly/, the game engine I’m creating for Stranger Dreams.