The Bard: Shiny Object Syndrome

SQUIRREL!

This is the second post in a series on game developer archetypes. Read the introduction here.

The Bard is hungry. Hungry for ideas, experiences, pleasure. He’s constantly on the search for the new. He fully appreciates sensory experience of every kind so he’s constantly in awe of the beautiful experiences available – he wants to eat great food, listen to skillfully performed music, travel to interesting places, and experience everything life has to offer.
The Bard loves people because it’s fun to have someone along for the ride. He loves kids. He’s extravagant in his relationships. He is highly social, energetic, and fun at a party.
He’s constantly driven to the new experience – wether it be a new restaurant, new relationship, or entirely new culture: It’s all intensely interesting to him.
…until it’s not. The bard is easily bored, and quickly starts itching to move on to something new. No matter what he’s doing, he suspects there’s something even more pleasurable that be could be doing.

Strengths

The Bard’s always saying BOOOOYAAA as he head off on a new adventure.

The Bard is highly creative, sensitive to beauty, and is a passionate about what he loves. He falls in love with a new things instantly and intensely. He’s able to generate a great amount of explosive energy because of his love, although if it’s not sustainable. The Bard loves to play, and creativity comes naturally to him. He’s enthusiastic, excitable, and always ready for a new adventure.

Weaknesses

Artist’s rendition of the typical Bard’s life

The Bard is a bit of a flake. His love burns brightly, but it’s a brief blaze. He consumes experiences like a drunkard consumes wine.
The Bard also can be impulsive, irresponsible, and deeply selfish: he experiences a deep fear of missing which causes him to grab at exciting projects and experiences reflexively. He might have great ideas, but struggles to follow-through. He gets seriously over-committed and his life can resemble a constant juggling act of all the projects that he’s decided to jump into. Eventually he drops all the balls, and goes to find a new game to play. He gives up and completely forgets what he once loved.

The Bard in game development

Wanna make a game? Wanna make a game together? Wanna sit right next to each other and make a game together?!? Wanna wanna wanna?!?

If you’re primarily a Bard, then you probably struggle to finish anything. You get all excited at the start of a project and work at a manic pace, only to get bored 5% of the way through the project. You’ll have a string of unfinished projects, and it will always seem like the next project is “the one”, the next project is always better/more exciting/more fulfilling. Of course, you start the next project, and it gets old just as quickly as the previous project. You likely have notebooks full of fantastic ideas, are highly creative and imaginative, and suspect that if you could ever finish anything that it would be great. But finishing something where there’s so many other interesting things going on seems impossible.

You probably also really enjoy game jams, and working with other people. If making games is fun, making games together is funner. You’ll love making games with other people so much you might forget to actually, you know, get something done.

How to grow as a Bard

Bards love walking through sand barefoot, you know, just for the fEeL of it. Yum.

If you were nodding you head while you read this article (and scrolling your phone at the same time), you probably lean heavily into the Bard archetype. The Bard has wonderful strengths, but they won’t do any good unless you grow beyond his capability. Here are some ideas for growth if you find yourself acting like a Bard most of the time:

Lean into your warrior and commit.

Quit projects really early, or not at all. If you get 5% of the way through a project, dedicate yourself to finishing it, shipping it. This doesn’t mean it has to ship as what you originally planned – that MMORPG might really take you 10 years to make, and it wasn’t a good plan to attempt it. Package up the assets you made, and “ship” the project as a free asset pack. Call that project done, and move on, do better next time.

Lean into your monarch, work on fewer things

How do you pick just one thing when life looks like THIS?!?

Whatever number of projects you have, cut them in half. Work on winnowing them down even more over time. Then you’ll have time to think, learn, and go deep. You’ll create things of real quality, instead of great ideas with pathetic execution.

Lean into wizard, and deeply love things

Be this guy.

The Bard loves things, but in a light, shallow way. He’s willing to drop projects whenever something more exciting comes up. This isn’t real love, it’s impulsivity. Real love means dedicating yourself to something, better or worse. Over time, you’ll be glad you did.



If you are a Bard most of the time, you’ll benefit greatly from leaning into the other archetypes. I’ll be posting more about them in the coming weeks, and I’ll update the links here.

Introduction: The game developer archetypes
The Bard (this post)
The Warrior
The Wizard
The Monarch

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