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Moving Beyond the Wall

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Stargate World Developer Blog - Moving Beyond the Wall

Nick LaMertina, a Sound Designer for Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment's Stargate Worlds has written a fantastic blog post over at the game's official site. We have asked for permission to re-publish it here at MMORPG.com as it serves as a grreat example of a developer struggling to do the best job possible on a project and also of an artist struggling to ply his trade in the games industry.

There are some days things just plain refuse to work, and fault never lies with just one person or circumstance. The software is crashing, the MIDI routing hiccups, the instrument doesn’t perform as expected, or there’s an unannounced support task that inhibits or destroys my momentum. Or sometimes it’s even an outside issue (or frequently, issues) that affects my composure at work.

It’s often frustrating when I’m trying to accomplish something, and I know, I just know, that I’m fully capable of delivering the goal I have in mind, but one roadblock after another comes up and inhibits my progress. Sometimes it’s my own fear of failure (or success!) that holds me back. It’s very easy to get discouraged and feel like the end goal is an impossible task and not worth pushing to, especially when dealing with an art as emotional as music. It’s frequently a lonely experience, speaking, reading, and writing in a language that most can only topically understand, and no matter how much I try to disconnect myself from the work, I’ve never been able to reduce that emotional bond to my work. It is singularly my greatest strength and my most significant weakness.

Despite the challenges though, days always follow where I burst through the walls and revel in my success, sometimes bloody and tattered, but it makes it all worth it. It’s is sad and comical relationship, because so frequently, it’s often right before a major breakthrough that I begin to seriously ask myself if it’s at all worth it and if I really have what it takes to keep going. The call of a simpler and less intense life sometimes beckons, and it’s hard not to indulge in the idea of just running away from the challenge of living through the stress of growing and changing as a musician and person. And there, right there, is why I’m always so amazed at how clearly it speaks, that artistic expression is not simply a cute little distraction or just a part of life, it is life, in a wholly encompassing and un-analogous way.

I’ve been asked by many people what it takes to succeed in art, music, and games professionally. Admittedly, I was not making a very smart or sensible choice by choosing to study music in college. There isn’t exactly an industry or group out there that is just itching to hire young, bright musicians straight out of college. I’ve frequently joked that I was essentially getting a fast food degree (What does a liberal arts grad say after graduation? “Would like fries with that?”). That’s not to say that making a name for yourself and succeeding isn’t possible, but the opportunities for artists are far and few between. Thus, when asked what the big secret is, I always answer, “Love what you do.”

It may seem like an odd answer at first, since it seems that you can only love it if you’re in a position to do so, but the point behind it is that if you don’t love your passions and interests, like video game design, writing music, painting pictures, or anything in-between, you’ll never be able to keep going when things are down. Anyone can enjoy something when it all works as planned, but you can only say that you love something if you’re able and willing to keep going when things get difficult or when you’ve been knocked flat on your rear and you’re left wondering, “Now what?” You know it’s love when a circumstance or event threatens to take something away from you, and you give yourself no choice but to fight back because it’s too precious to lose. Because you know what? You’re going to fail. You’re going to get rejection letters, you’re going to lose your work, you’re going to mess something up, and you’re going to be told by someone that it’s a waste of your time, but that’s your cue to push the adversity aside and say, “No, I’m going to keep moving forward, because it’s my decision to do so, and it’s what I want.” That’s really and truly the only difference between people that are successful and people that just coast. Sure, there’s talent and genetic dispositions, and a whole slew of other this-an’-that’s. All those things are though, are just the shoes, socks, and shorts you wear on the run. Sure, they help, but they’re not going to sustain you on the uphill climb or give you the will to go on when you think you can’t take another step. I’ve met and worked with plenty of people that had the advantage of being naturally musically gifted, or being born into a musical family, or just really pretty and attractive with a decent voice, and even others with a massively inflated ego and a disgusting sense of entitlement. Despite any advantage someone else might start with, I promise you that your love of what you do will carry you as far as you want to go, and that people that are just coasting to a destination with the assumption that their looks, birthright, or entitlement will carry them to glory are in for a very rude surprise in the end.

So march onward, fellow hobbyists, enthusiasts, and lifetime learners. The spoils are ours for the taking.

Basically this is a really long way of saying that I wrote something cool this week and I’m really, really excited about what I’m accomplishing with it. 

Article by: Nick LaMartina, Sound Designer


You can check out the original or more of LaMartina's at the SGW homepage here.


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