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How I learned to balance music and game design and my struggles with both.

I talk a little about my struggle to balance game design and music as equal parts of my life.

connor heighton, Blogger

March 13, 2017

5 Min Read

Okay, I dont really know how to start a blog post, havent really done this before, but I guess I'll just jump right in.

When I was 13, I had been obsessed with games. Making games was a childhood dream of mine, and by the time I turned 13 I wanted to give it a try. In school, we had a class entirely dedicated to making games in the game maker engine made by YoYo Games. At the time I had been ecstatic. I thought nothing could change my career path or make me sway on this tightrope I walked upon. 

At 14, I first picked up a guitar. 

I knew nothing of a guitar but being 14, I thought it would be a cool way to talk to girls, be "cool". Yes I was misinformed, but I kept at it. It was fun, I had fun playing by a campfire. It was enjoyable, but not really any particular kind of paying job.

When I hit 16, I had already started my website. I tried and failed at talking to news sites and other places about a new game I had made, and although it had made me frustrated that nobody took me seriously enough to respond, I was intelligent enough to know that I simply hadn't found the right game yet, my moment would come. I just needed to be patient. By 16, music had become a huge part of my life. I had been in Guitar classes for two years, and busking for one at this point. Music seemed magical, and exciting.  In comparison, games were the darker, more mysterious and gritty companion. I had started seriously considering music as a career. I played my first coffee house that year. It was... Embarrassingly bad, but it made me realize how similar games and music truly were. Either one was equally important and magical to me, and I wanted both. I knew it was greedy, but at this point, I felt that I had time to figure out the twisted knot I had created for myself.

One summer day in 2016, I was told about digipen tech academy. "its holding a course in ___! This is the chance of a lifetime!" they told me. I had become apathetic. My school life, once so full of colour and life, had looked dull and grey by now. My grades had started to slip, and I couldn't handle the endless lectures and the dull, monologuing textbooks. Even this... digipen hadn't interested me at first. "why should I go? it'll just be a newbies course, I'll learn nothing. I'll sit around getting lectured like always. -insert teenaged angst here--." Of course, when my rival from the very beginning of my game making hobby signed up, however, I started to have second thoughts. "hey... maybe... maybe this might not be so bad after all. Ahhhh.... but i've missed my chance. I'll never make the deadline in time (at this point it was a few weeks away). Ah... what will i do..." As I continued to spend my day to day life, the boringness finally cracked me. "screw it!" I said, "I'll try it! It cant be as bad as... well... This." 


And so, I applied. I had to write an essay comparing and contrasting two different games. I did Metal Gear Solid and tom clancy and how similar their stealth is. I got into the course. 

My first day, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. My day was literally 8 hours a day of game theory, high level math, coding, and then making games. It was incredible, compared to the boring monotony of high school. 

by the end of my second week, I ended up falling for a girl. Lo and behold, when I hung out with her, she was also a guitarist. We ended up hanging out at lunch one day and we brought our guitars. The next day, another two of us had joined in. (was it two? i cant remember) Soon, we had our own little "buskers republic" on the side of the school. At lunch hour me and about fifteen other students hung out on the hill near the not yet discovered ground hornet nest and played for the entire lunch hour. This too was glorious.


It was some of the funnest days I have ever had.


By the end of the course, I had passed with a c+ (I failed c++. What, i fell asleep in one class and couldn't understand the rest, can you blame me?) and was riding high. When I went back to normal school, I fell back into my apathetic ways. In the end, the only interesting things in those days were my coding courses and busking for change. It was pleasant, but exceptionally boring.


Last june, I graduated around the middle of my class academics wise. I couldn't afford to attend university, and even if I did, I missed my english requirement by 5% and i took the wrong math set for two years, so now im busking and making games semi-full-time (my only income is from busking, but im in the middle of a job hunt. Any devs hunting for an entry tier designer hit me up? hahaha).


I'm still trying to figure out my correct career choice, but at this point, im content with simply spending my days living a fulfilling life. Maybe one day, this will become the story of connor, the next bill gates, or connor, the next john lennon, but for now, im fine with this.


thanks for reading. ^^; 


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