plans for tools (thread)

i'm currently working on making a set of intuitive visual tools for making games and other projects.
i know two things about myself as a tool maker:

(1) i am not the right person to make a robust, well-engineered tool. i'm not that kind of programmer. ux and tools programming are deep skills, and my skills are elsewhere.
(2) for mental health reasons, i have trouble consistently working on and managing projects over long periods of time.

despite what my internalized ableism tells me, these aren't faults. they're just things i need to accept and learn to work around.
so the choice is to either not make tools (not happening), or to try to find a way to make tools which works for me (challenging, but exciting).
i have struggled with this in the past. the first game making tool i worked on, dungeon decorator, was a perfectly good idea but it suffered because tools are hard, i was in a difficult period of my life, and i had trouble working within my limitations.
you can try a version of dungeon decorator on itch. i think for all the bugs, it shows promise. (note that the player link is broken, so you can edit but not share projects here.)
since then, i've done unreleased editors for a several of my own projects. making editors for yourself is freeing.

you can severely limit scope. you don't have to make them versatile, just useful. there is an elegance to very minimal editors.
(ha, until you pick up your weird hand-in-glove editor from 3 years ago and try to figure out how to use it again...)
after several editors like this, i find myself both wanting to make tools i can reuse across multiple projects, and also wanting to make those tools useful for other people, if that feels possible.

i think carefully conceptualized, limited scope tools have potential here.
one which inspires me is the editor in nuts and milk, for the NES. i wasn't able to find editor footage, but here is the game:

the editor is brilliant. the controls are so concise they work on a stock NES controller, and you can share levels via password!
what i want to do is start with a few tools of approximately that scope. useful, complete, tiny. over that time i want to reinforce useful habits, and practice releasing things.

and at the same time, i want to build up code which will eventually culminate in a larger editor.
i don't know how often i will be able to work on tools, especially lately. some days i don't get any programming in at all. there is a lot happening.

but hopefully over time this will build toward something useful.
i'm doing a little systems work and planning now, and will start on another self-contained tool in the near future. stay tuned for updates!
and good luck to everyone. undoing your conditioning and finding ways to create which embrace, rather than work against, your particulars is a lifelong task. i wish everyone the best in doing whatever that work entails for you.
You can follow @lorenschmidt.
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