If you happened to catch the presentation I gave at ONETUG last month, you'd know that one of the main points of that presentation was constantly learning and developing your own skills by doing personal projects on the side using XNA. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened up the latest GameDeveloper magazine and found an article by Masaya Mastuura, the mind behind Parappa the Rapper, called A Sense of Fun.
I've excerpted a section below and added some emphasis on a few of the sentences:
Most musicians create music in their own style, even when they have been asked to make something specific. Many incapable music directors do not even think of starting musical production until after the taste of the game has been decided by the planning, design, and graphics teams. For me, someone who is engaged in this kind of occupation cannot be called a musician.
This applies for more than just music. If you want to create something of value, then you must continue to create for yourself as well. It's the same for designing games. If an artist only works on things that come to him through work, then all he is doing is production. Development is not coming from within. The scale and scope of the production, as well as the number of people working on the project should not put a damper on his creativity.
Lately, a lot of developers I know -- especially programmers -- have told me that they are making small scale games by themselves, independently. To develop something solely from one's own potential is, I believe, a thing of importance. The contents of a game are a combination of passion and energy. If these are becoming sub-ordinate to other factors, then it is game over.
I hope if anyone took anything away from that presentation, that it was this. Even though in retrospect it may seem that I was just lucky and jumped on the right bandwagon, one of the things that I had always wanted with respect to ONETUG was expand the local developer community to the point where central florida is a well respected center of excellence. I feel that the local community has indeed expanded greatly since those early days.
The more that people work on expanding their own skill set, as opposed to only working on things that come to them from work -- I believe is the more that the local community will expand and improve :-)