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  • Shaun Inman’s “The Last Rocket” Development Diary

    September 1, 2015

    Shaun Inman is one of those independent unicorns that can do visual design, code, compose music, and run a software business. What strikes me in particular about his work is that it seems steeped in an aesthetic anchored by details that appear to delight him, and I really admire him for sticking to his guns. For the past few years he’s been working as an independent game developer, which is a subject of interest that I’m starting to dabble in. As I was scrabbling around the Internet avoiding work, I was delighted to discover Shaun’s Lift Off: The Last Rocket Development Diary, which is the process documentation side of his The Last Rocket IOS game project from several years ago.

    "The Last Rocket Development Diary by Shaun Inman" Unlike a lot of game development books, the development diary is more of a personal record of what Shaun did in his 140 days. A lot of books will just give you the bullet points of the development cycle rather than detail the actual feeling of going through the experience. While the diary is tersely written, it doesn’t lack at all in character due to its liberal intersprinkling of tweets and personal observations.

    "The Last Rocket Development Diary by Shaun Inman" It’s a pleasant book to skim, and I am finding it very comforting to follow someone else’s creative journey in such detail. He includes screenshots of pixel art in development, audio of the musical themes he composed, and observations on the game development process in context of his personal goals. You can get a sense of his mood every day through the tweets that align with each day’s work. Initial drafts of work are liberally shared. It’s all pretty great if you love looking at working process as I do.

    The Last Rocket Development Diary sample pageThe Last Rocket Development Diary sample pageThe Last Rocket Development Diary sample page

    The book itself is an eBook, which I read through the Mac OS iBooks app. I’d personally love to have a physical version of the book, but I don’t believe one is available. Each dated entry is from a page to several pages long, depending on the number of pictures available. I took a few screen captures above, though the official purchase site has prettier ones to look through.

    One huge takeaway I got from this purchase: I miss simple journaling. Over time, my own website has gone from being the freeing personal journal that it once was to a content management system. It’s just not very fun to open up WordPress when there’s so much maintenance junk to deal with. I’m going to try to make a new, simpler blog and try to get back to the kind of daily writing just for myself. The main website is no longer just for me, and I think that is what has been feeling so awkward about it for so long.

    Anyway, if you like process and seeing how one experienced independent game developer goes about his process, pick up Lift Off at his online store. Be warned that this is not going to teach you how to do anything, but it’s great for understanding what goes into making a game at a high level.

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  • My Computer Rig Interview on “The Sweet Setup”

    August 17, 2015

    Dave's Sweet Setup The Sweet Setup publishes an interview with working folks like me regarding their computer setup. Mine just went up! You can read about my Mac and iPad (and PC) setup on their website and then browse the many interviews with a fascinating variety of people doing different things with their lives.

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  • Resolution Review #6: Embracing slowness (or at least tolerating it)

    August 10, 2015

    "Groundhog Day Resolution Review #6 2015" This update is a few days late; usually it is posted on August 8. I had a lot of work to do over the weekend, AND I was running a game session for an ongoing group for the first time ever which was very exciting and very draining. In any case, July is an optional review month in my goal review system.

    Getting back in the mood to work was challenging after a month-long visit from my dad, and I found myself newly aware of just how debilitating my expectations of speed diminish my desire to do the work. Observations (and more!) follow. (more…)

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  • Writer’s Life Block and Learning to Accept Slowness

    August 5, 2015

    Lately I’ve been suffering from writer’s block, or perhaps it’s more accurate to say I have life block. Since Dad went home after his 4-week visit, I’ve been feeling just how empty the house is with just me and the cats, and how much in a rut I’ve been in my creative endeavors. In the past, I would have written down every issue and talked about them ALL at once, creating a giant nut of an article that would be dense and hard to read. So instead, I’ll just focus for now on blog writing.

    I’ve had this blog for about ten years now, and I used to write about all the little things that interested me through the day with little care about the “quality” of each blog post. As my comfort and courage grew, I wrote longer articles about deeper issues of both a professional and personal nature. These have been helpful for my own personal development, and from the emails I’ve received I believe a few others out there have also found them helpful in framing their own challenges. However, a few years ago I started to believe that I should be more SERIOUS about the craft of writing, and became rather self-aware of how I was NOT doing it. The net effect has been to reduce my output, and writing has become a chore that I indulge in every Groundhog Day Resolution Review Day on 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, and so on until December 12. I’ve missed writing about the little things that make me happy, and this is a shame.

    It hasn’t been all bad, though. I’m learning to get comfortable developing articles over a period of time, rather than forcing a 1000-word post article in a few hours. In other words, I’m starting to get comfortable with my relationship with Time, finally learning to accept slowness in the creative development process. I’m really impatient by nature, though you wouldn’t think so seeing how LONG it takes me to do anything. On a meta level, that self-cutting sentence is an example of how I tend to believe that everything takes way too long to do.

    Part of accepting slowness is embracing smaller steps, which I’ve known for a while; the NEW INSIGHT is that SHARING those smaller steps is probably OK too. While not complete, at least something is happening. This is a lesson I learned from watching my Dad during his visit. He would take time to develop a project, be it refining his cello bridge setup or potting orchids, over a period of days. He didn’t worry about how long it was taking or whether there was a right way to do it. He also took the time to have lunch and dinner with me every day over a pot of tea, and he would share his daily triumphs and setbacks with me. They provided both the scale and context for his larger projects, and also for mine. Now that he has returned home to Taiwan, I’m left only with my large projects. It is difficult for me to assess their true scale and difficulty without those daily shared cups of tea.

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  • ETP 75-sheet Pads on Sale for $9 (normally $12)

    July 20, 2015

    ETP 75 The 75-sheet Emergent Task Planner Pads (8.5×11) are on sale from today through August 14 or until they run out, whichever comes first. They have been sitting in inventory for nearly a year, and Amazon is going to start charging “long-term storage fees”. I figure that I might as well sell them at cost and replace them with a new line of 50-sheet pads, which is the standard count it seems for padded products like this.

    In the meantime, this is a pretty good opportunity to stock up on the luxurious paper stock I use in these pads in full-size. While they are glue-topped pads, they’re easy to separate and punch for use in your binding system because they have extra margin at the side just for that purpose. Circa, Arc, or even three-ring binding should work fine. The reviews have largely been positive…thanks for your support, everyone!

    At the time of this writing, there are 250 units left on Amazon USA. Grab them here before they run out!

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