Sam Lyons#

This semester working in the Animation Studio has been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences I have had at Middlebury.


Last fall, I approached Daniel with the idea of making a video game. After a bit of refinement, I settled on wanting to make a 3D hunting game consisting of objects I created in Blender and code from an open-source Unity competitor called Godot, a platform I was not familiar with. The plan was to spend the first quarter of the semester learning Godot and then dedicating the rest of my time to modeling, animating, and coding my game. I sprinted into the start of the semester with enthusiasm and hubris. Since that time, I have created a repository of a dozen unfinished video game designs and a 2D top-down coin collection game.

Download the Playable Game (Mac only)
Download the Godot Files

My semester started as one might expect. I charged head-first into Godot with a smug smile on my face and three weeks later it promptly regurgitated the remains of my self-confidence in a puddle of mud. I was stuck, mired in grandiose ideas, unfounded deadlines, and the stubborn thought that I could brute-force my way through this game. As week three turned into week five and all I had to show for my efforts were a few dinky prototypes, Daniel intervened. With a practiced calmness and necessary disconnect from the work being done, Daniel encouraged me to redefine the scope of my project and, at nearly the half-way point of the semester, I shook off my defeat and again assailed the mountainous route of 3D design.

They say history repeats itself and, in this case, history did a full circle in two weeks. There I was, entrenched in my corner of the Animation Studio, desperately trying to patch the holes in my 3D game lest the runtime errors percolate into and corrupt its very core, when the shining light of Daniel’s input once again cast away the looming shadows of arrogance and intransigence clouding my corner and set me on a new path, the 2D path.


I was hesitant to engage with this medium of game development as it felt childish and limiting, but seeing the ugly end of the semester cresting the hill ahead of me, bringing with it regret and abandoned dreams, I expended my last bit of willpower storming down the road of 2D. It turns out that that was the best thing that could have happened to me. From the start, this road was different that the 3D monster I had faced before. It was less rutted and winding, letting me gain momentum and finally progress towards my goal, however warped that goal was from my original hunting game.

In this last week of class, I see that my real victory during this semester was not simply completing a campaign of conquests and claiming fame and accomplishment, but rather embarking on a journey that yielded humility and a taste of self-actualization. In reflection, I only offer a few words of caution to anyone eager to pursue a similar path: make sure you recognize the limits of your prior knowledge, include sufficient time for your assimilation to a new software, and account for debugging complications.

Best of luck!