Wednesday, October 29, 2014

FTL is Distracting Me from Writing

Something I struggle with as a writer is time management. Not only do I mean that it's difficult to manage having any free time, but it is difficult deciding what to use that free time for.

Logically speaking, since I'm an unpublished aspiring author, I should spend every second of free time practicing my craft so that I can hone my skills and churn out a novel for publishing. For the most part I've been striving for this and I'd say that I'm at least more successful at doing so than most other aspiring authors my age that I know of (I've written before about how most writers reportedly do the least writing immediately after graduating college and how I've worked to ensure that I stay just as active as before).

Sadly, writing was never my only hobby. I grew up with an arguably healthy obsession with video games. It all started when my family got a Sega Genesis bundled with Sonic 2 for Christmas one year, and from there I was hooked. For quite some time playing video games was my primary hobby. I was well-informed on all the new and upcoming releases, and the whole gaming culture consumed my youth.

As time has gone on I've had less free time, more interest in writing during that free time, and a wife who I enjoy spending time with on activities that are not playing video games. I am no longer well-informed on the ever-expanding industry, and I no longer buy games as frequently as I once did, but I still have a decent collection of games that I go back to now and then when one interests me.

Recently that interest has been focused on FTL (Faster Than Light), an indie game that came out in 2012 and simulates the experience of being the captain of a space ship on a suicide mission. I had really enjoyed the game when it came out, but let it collect dust for a few years because, ironically, I was doing so well at it during one play-through that I feared failure which would result in a complete start-over from square one.

A few days ago I was listening to the award-winning soundtrack for the game at work because it was great as background noise to keep me focused on work, which reignited my interest in the game. A day or so later I bravely returned to my successful run, failed almost immediately, and then restarted with a whole new ship, crew, and strategy.
screenshot of my FTL ship and crew at the time of writing this blog
My FTL ship and crew at the time of writing this blog.
It's hard to describe how addictive this game is. I find myself thinking about it constantly and then playing it whenever I get a few minutes to myself because it is designed in a way that allows you to make rewarding progress in only minutes, but then dangles a carrot in front of your nose to prompt you to continue climbing the metaphorical mountain of progress. It then pushes you off your mountain and says "I bet you can't get the carrot this time" before offering to let you climb again.

To put it bluntly, I've been playing FTL when I should be writing.

At the time of writing this, my ship is very, very low on fuel (unlike the screenshot above in which it is only almost very low on fuel), because I forgot to buy any when I saw the cool weapons and defensive items I could buy instead. This means that unless I can find someone to sell me fuel or an enemy ship I can battle, defeat, and plunder for fuel in the next few turns, I'll be stranded out in space, forced to send out a distress signal in hopes that someone nice answers before the army of enemy ships catches up to my location and blows me to bits.

Given how tough the game is, I expect to run out of fuel, send out a distress signal, get blown to bits, and then I expect I'll start all over again; convincing myself that this time I can do better.

To add insult to injury, I've just realized that I should have written my novel instead of this blog. Oh the irony.

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