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Unlock Your Creative Star Power

The only way to make your mark as a developer, or for your games to make their mark in the world is to explore the abilities of your tools and employ them in new and ingenious ways.

I was watching Masterchef and discussing a particular challenge with a friend who, in my opinion, is a brilliant cook, when I realized something--I'm not a good cook.  I'm a talented cook by some standards.  I can follow any recipe and I have the technical skills to pull off most any dish that has a recipe.  I prefer not to cook with processed foods so again, I have the technical skills to handle a variety of common fresh ingredients.  What sets me apart from great cooks is that I don't play with my food.  I don't experiment.  I don't create in the kitchen.  I don't wander off-page.  I realized that this is why my friend is a great cook while I am just someone who can cook.

As game developers, we work in a naturally creative field.  Everything we do is creative.  There's no formula for a good game design.  An art aesthetic is chosen so that it's not just about creating an interactive story; it's about molding the way our players experience that story.  Sound design helps immerse our players into our carefully crafted environments while programmers breathe life into the game. 

We work in creative jobs, but our environments are logical and therefore limiting.  The tools we use to build our games feel rigid and filled with rules and manuals.  These rules and manuals are just guides that help us to learn to use the tools, however.  If we ever want to make our mark, we need to use those tools in a way that is new and innovative. 

We, each and every one of us, have a unique perspective and a background that grants us a truly unique skill set.  There are things only we can bring to a project because of that perspective.  The only way to become an outstanding chef is to experiment with food and create dishes that can't be found in existing cookbooks.  For a chef, the food is a tool equal to the utensils he's using to create the dish. 

When Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots first came out, I was struck by the way Konami had explored all of the new options available on the PS3.  The haptics were spot on.  I was impressed by how well the new features in the SIXAXIS controller were integrated into the game.  But, looking back, this isn't all that innovative.  Konami did it better than most, in my opinion.  But, they didn't do anything truly unique with the tools they (and everyone else) were given. 

That's the point: There's a difference between groundbreaking ingenuity and using your skills better than most.  If you want to stand out in the sea of apps and games currently hitting the market or even in the sea of fellow [insert your job title here]'s, you have to go off-book and use your tools in unique ways that challenge the status quo.  You're the only one that can do that because you come to game development with a completely exclusive skill set. Don't be afraid to let your rare point of view shine through because this, folks, is the place to do it. 

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