1401.003: Review of Game-Making Week Milestone 1

Project 1401 Milestone 1
Happy Monday! Since I last posted, I’ve been working on my video game project, Project 1401. Although I’ve worked on a few commercial games, my goal with 1401 is to make my own video game. It’s one of many creative challenges that I’ve never fulfilled. I gave myself 10 years to get them done.

Anyway, spending a week on 1401 also gave me a chance to test my willpower against the demons Guaranteed Uncertainty and Guaranteed Tedium, two of the resistances that sap my enthusiasm before I even start working. A few insights bubbled to the top of my awareness in the course of battle:

  • Even thinking about how long something will take is a huge distraction, because it takes one’s focus away from immediate problem solving to the unproductive realm of an unreachable, unknowable, fictional future. It’s even worse if the current task itself is uncertain in some aspect. While there is a place for time management, worrying about it when you are trying to learn how to do something is really counterproductive. I have to remind myself that 1401 is a learning project in many respects, as much as I want it to be DONE NOW so I can reap the feeling of having finished it. Such thinking is the downside of being a dreamer I suppose; dreaming of rosy futures is just where my mind goes. Sticking in the moment and not letting distractions or negative feelings derail me is a huge challenge. I’m trying to cultivate a zen-like Not thinking of time and effort mentality, which seems to be helping.
  • Thinking about how much there is to do is another demotivation, creating significant threshold to starting every task. * A lot of the systems I’m making for 1401 are conceptually simple (isn’t everything?) but complex in the details. Because there are so many programming tasks involved, it can be quite daunting because there are a lot of details to take care of before the “good stuff” happens. This is demoralizing. To bypass this, I’ve bene using the trick of fixing something really small after just looking at the system as it exists; once I have the code up and in my face, my curiosity starts to take over and I start working as my focus is productively applied to problem solving, not assessing time, effort, and difficulty. There’s nowhere to go but THROUGH, you know?

The remainder of this post delves into more detail about the time expended over the past week. This is both a review of technical process (but not too technical) and the personal challenges I faced. Read on, if you dare!

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1401.002 Review and Set Goals for Game Engine

Ok, it’s game-making week! I am not sure where to start, so I’m starting by writing stream-of-consciousness in Scrivener in my “Blog Posts 2015″ folder.

Starting has always been hard for me, particularly when I’m not sure where to start. Making a game is a pretty daunting task, too, because there are so many parts to it. To make it more doable, I’m setting some limits now, knowing that I can lift them later once I have a better feel for how the process is working. The posts in this series (which you can find under tag 1401) are going to be fairly technical, but I’ll try to make them as general audience as I can.

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How Much Video Game Can I Make in a Week?

The major interactive project I’ve been working on is undergoing milestone trials for the next couple of weeks, which means that I have some time to work on my own stuff! The coming week will be all about Project 1401, the personal game-making goal that is part of my ten year blogging plan. Details follow for the coming week! Continue reading →

Groundhog Day Resolutions 2015: Kick Off

"Groundhog by Pearson Scott Foreman"
[Updated for clarity Feb 5]

Groundhog Day Resolutions (GHDR) are my annual “New Year’s Resolutions” deferred from January 1st to February 2nd. Why wait? I don’t know about you, but after weeks of Holiday Madness I’m in no condition to set any kind of goal. After setting them, I also I designate easy-to-remember “review days” on March 3rd, April 4th, and so forth up to December 12 so I engage in meaningful periodic review.

This year, my overall goals are:

  1. Breaking Dependency on Time because I believe this will lead to greater creativity and productivity due to an improved attitude. I have a weird obsession with time.
  2. Minimization of Energy Sapping Possessions and Responsibilities because I believe that my cluttered home/work environment is not bringing me joy.
  3. Full-time Stationery Business by End of Year because the timing is right to make the transition. An established business will hopefullly enable me to spend extended time with family members on the other side of the world.
  4. Finding the Will to Create and Share because this past year has been tough on my drive to share and create, and I want to get it back. It is essential, I think, to a meaningful life.
  5. Health and Strength because I’m getting old (47!) and have been neglecting all aspects of personal maintenance.

You’ll notice that there are no personal projects listed, nor have I added any exciting stretch goals. I’m feeling tired and low on energy, and it’s been difficult to write or look at computer screens. Maybe I just need new glasses, but I am trying to be prudent by keeping this year’s goals within grasp of my sloth-like reach.

I’ve written up the gruesome details behind each of the above goals in detail; click the MORE link to read the rationale behind each one!

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Happy 2015!

It’s a whole new year! I’m not sure how I really feel about that, but I do like the years that are evenly-divisible by 5.

To discover how I’m feeling, I’ve decided to keep a gratitude journal where I list one thing I’m grateful for every day and see what patterns develop before Groundhog Day Resolutions rolls around on February 2nd. Until then, I am not going to make any long-term plans for the year.

Some recent happenings:

  • My new standing desk is almost here; I had to send back the top because it had been damaged in shipping, and it might be another 4 weeks before I get a replacement. We will see.

  • Although my living room cafe plans had stalled, I had a pork chop party on the weekend after Christmas, and for the first time I could see how the space could work with actual people. This was very encouraging, so I am excited about getting the project moving again.

  • I picked up a copy of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing on a whim, and found it unexpectedly delightful. I have been telling people that it reminds me of the movie Amelie in some ways, with Kondo as the protagonist, because of the personal narrative interwoven between each principle in the book. Kondo would probably be regarded as an odd kid, obsessive and principled, and that is the kind of thing that turns me on. Plus, I think the general principle of “keeping only those things that bring you joy” is a good one when combined with her uncompromising approach to achieving that state of material being. I’m looking forward to trying it.

  • The full-size Emergent Task Planner notebook project is still chugging away. I heard from the printer yesterday that the sample covers have finally come in, so I will probably have the mockups ready to evaluate this week or next. I’ll be sure to post pictures.

That’s about it! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! Let’s have a great 2015!

2015 Word Counting Calendar Available!

Word Tracking Calendar
Based on my Nanowrimo Calendar, the full-year version allows you to count the number of words you’re writing every month in a way that allows you to see how fast / how well you are doing.

If you’re writing a thesis or a novel, print this out on a nice color printer and stick it up somewhere to track your progress. You can buy the 12-month PDF at my Shopify store:

Did you know it takes 5 back-to-back episodes of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me for me to update the 50K word counting calendar? I didn’t either!

2014 Resolutions Review 10: Final Review

Groundhog Day Resolutions December 12, 2014
With everything that’s going on at the end of the year, I forgot that today was RESOLUTION REVIEW DAY. There’s a good reason that 12/12 is the last review of the year…from today to February 2nd, it’s time to take a break from self-improvement and just make it through the holidays!

Again, I am presenting an abbreviated report this month, as I don’t have the patience to do a full-blown deconstruction of the month in the way I used to in years past. There’s a personal upside to this change: I no longer am feeling the need to do it, as I think I am more curious to see what happens next than figure out what went wrong.

More about that after the jump! Continue reading →

Post Mortem: Takeaways from the “Thing-a-Day” Challenge

It’s been almost two weeks since I wrapped-up the November Thing-a-Day Making Challenge of making “30 things” that were tangible and sharable, improved process, and/or helped me sell something I’d made before. I kept the threshold of success low so I wouldn’t freak myself out; I was happy if I carved out the time for myself, which I think is an important habit to cultivate if one wants to achieve personal growth.

I didn’t know what I would take away from the experiment, though I knew that I wanted to do something during the month of Nanowrimo. As expected, I enjoyed the process, and have come up with takeaways that will affect how I approach creative acts in the future. Continue reading →

Thing-a-Day 30: Backup the Backup

Storing Backups


The last day of the November 2014 THING-A-DAY challenge got away from me with the extended family visit, so I spent today doing the work I had wanted to do: start the big backup of my network-attached hard drive. The process of backing-up my data is worth talking about, because a lot of what I do is completely digital in nature. Creating a backup process that’s easy and covers all the bases is important; I’ve added a couple of new backup devices to help me do that.
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Thing-a-Day 28-29: ETP Almanac and Shop Updates

ETP Almanac Updates

With the holiday weekend family festivities, I’ve been forced to merge all the work for the past two days into one. First was the big ETP Almanac Update for 2015, followed by updating two online stores with collateral. It’s a big chunk of work, but thanks to some prep I did last year it wasn’t as time consuming as it could have been.
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Thing-a-Day 27: Turkey Dinner

Turkey Dinner

Today’s thing-a-day is Thanksgiving Dinner, which happened despite the power going out last night and threatening everything. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! :-)
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Thing-a-Day 26: TPT with DONE on the left

Flipped Version of TPT

Before the Emergent Task Planner, there was the Task Progress Tracker (or TPT). It was designed as a to-do list that measured effort; you would fill-in a bubble for every bit of time you spent so you could feel momentum. A regular to-do list item can be checked-off only when it’s done, which might be a long time coming.

I had a request yesterday about flipping the DONE boxes from the right-side to the left, which I thought was a great idea because it would be fast! I wasn’t sure what it would look like, but here it is!
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