Flavors of the Week

Well, it’s officially official now – you know, the whole terrifying thing of quitting my job to work on games full time. I’m scared. I’m excited. I’ll have more to say pretty soon.

For today, I want to talk a bit about how I’m going to manage my time now that it’s truly mine to spend.

I know myself: I don’t necessarily respond all that well to rigid structures, but I do respond well to gimmicks and patterns. Weird, right?

So, in order to succeed at this being-my-own-boss thing I plan to assign each day of the week a theme or focus. This way my days are always different, yet (hopefully!) are always focused on the right thing.

Here’s the plan, one day at a time:

Start it on Sunday

Sunday is pretty straightforward – it’s time to plan for the upcoming week.

I’m guessing that planning is going to be pretty important for solo work, so on Sundays I’m going to go through my Kanban board and plan out exactly how I want the week to go.

What features should I focus on? What bugs need fixing? Is there a release or other special event going on this week? I don’t want to wait for Monday to think about these things, so instead I’ll start it all on Sunday.

(I will try to avoid working too much, though!)

Motivational Mondays

Here’s an obvious statement for you: I don’t like Mondays. Who does? Now that I’m on my own I’m trying to twist it around, because Mondays don’t need to be bad. In fact, I’m going to attempt to use Monday to get motivated

How? Well, a whole bunch of ways! I’m going to do fun things, like play video games, or inspirational things, like play video games, or something related to my work, like….well, you get it. It won’t always be video games but it’ll definitely be something I want to do.

I’m going to let the work – and the motivation to do it – find me on Monday instead of the other way around. That way I always start the week on the right foot: happy, motivated, and inspired.

Technical Tuesdays

Video games are a lot of things – bits and bytes of code, art, music, writing, and a whole bunch else. While it’s important to strike a balance between them all, the technical side – the actual code, the source control, the libraries and tools and all that other stuff – that all needs to be focused on and polished on a regular basis.

In a lot of ways the technical side is the most important one: “Technical Debt” isn’t just a business buzzword – it’s a very real project killer, and I could drown in it now that I’m on my own.

This’ll be the day to learn good practices – or correct the bad. Cleanup unused branches. Pay off technical debt. Comment and refactor code. Kill bugs. That sorta thing!

Wildcard Wednesdays?

Ok, I actually don’t know what to do on Wednesday yet. I’m thinking Wednesday will be a true wildcard and be a hodgepodge of a lot of things.

Thinkin’ Thursdays

Remember all stuff about how the technical side is the most important one for games? Forget that. On Thursdays I’m going to minimize the amount of techy stuff I work on and instead focus on the thinking side: the analytics, process and product maps, game design and theory, reading books, other creative works, etc.

If most my week is spent programming and fixing things then I’m hoping Thursdays will be a good break and a refreshing change of pace. Plus, it’ll serve as a fantastic springboard into…

Feature Fridays

Yeah! This’ll be my favorite day of them all. Each Friday will have one major goal: pick at least one big feature – maybe it’s already in progress, or maybe it’s brand new – and work like crazy on it.

Implement it, refine it, make it awesome, share it, get feedback, then do it all over again.

Feature Fridays are meant to be the ultimate culmination of the week. I get motivated on Monday, lay a technical foundation on Tuesday, do whatever on Wednesday, think a lot on Thursday, and by Friday I’m ready to see something major to completion and share it with the world.

(Or at least with the subset of the world that cares to see it.)

Saturdays are for Looking Back & Cleaning Up

Finally we reach the weekend again.

Weekends are going to be weird; I need them, much in the same way that any human needs a break from work. But I also want to maximize my time and make sure I’m making the best use that I can – that includes working on weekends.

I won’t do a ton of work on Saturday, but I do want to accomplish at least two things:

  • Do a retrospective on the previous week, figuring out what went right and what went wrong
  • Clean up the inevitable mess I made the previous week
    • This includes cleaning my desk and work area, but also files on  my computer, my email, and everything else

In this way I can feel productive and ready to go on Sunday – where it starts all over again!

Introducing the Were-Release

No development can be done in a vacuum, and with games player feedback isn’t just important – it’s absolutely necessary. Doesn’t matter how much I think a thing is fun if nobody else does!

To this end, I’ve committed myself to publish a new build to this site for everyone to play with each month. This fits well with my overall “sorta-Agile” strategy of iterative and rapid development, and it’s the right length of time to delivery substantially new releases.

But then I thought – you know what? Just doing something every 30 or 31 days is kinda boring. What if I tied to some monthly thing so it’s easier to remember and a bit more of an occasion?

Then it hit me – in a manner of speaking

The full moon happens each month! Sometimes twice!

Tying a monthly release to the full moon seemed to strike the right kind of balance between “weird” and “sorta makes sense, actually” that I try to live every day by.

I’m calling it the Were-Release. I don’t like that name anymore than you do, but it’s here, and we best just get used to it, ok?

The latest Were-Release can always be found on this page, and guess what? There’s already one there! The Were-Release for January, Wolf, has been uploaded to the site and is ready to be downloaded.

Be warned: This release, and likely all Were-Releases, will be rough and are not exactly release candidates. But play around with them and make noise in the comments if things are cool, suck, or just plain broken.

PRE-SPRINT 14 – IT’S REAL AND IT’S SPECTACULAR – PLANNING

IT’S REAL AND IT’S SPECTACULAR

Week of January 8th, 2017

WARP DOGS’ CORP LOGS

  • The state of our WARP CORP is still ~otherworldly~
  • The Extinction-Level-Event (ELE) has been pushed back to 34 weeks away. A new record!

Nearly 14 weeks ago (hey, that number looks familiar!) I made the decision to quit my job and pursue my lifelong dream to create, play, and become immersed in all things video game.

Didn’t seem real then, but it sure feels real now, and boy does it feel spectacular.

I’ve often wondered about what I’m suppose to feel – anxiety? Dread? Excitement? Some sort of mixture?

I have probably felt just about every emotion there is to feel these last few months, so what’s leftover is nothing but pure, unadulterated excitement. I’m so god damned ready for this to begin.

After this week…it does.

SPRINT GOALS

The biggest goal this week is to get through my last workweek successfully. Beyond that…

  • This week marks 2017’s first full moon, and thus begins my weird experiment to release a build of my game each lunar cycle. I’m calling it the Were-Release for now, but there is surely a better name
  • I’m also going to take the final steps to transfer my life to fulltime development
  • On the feature front, I want a hero that moves around and has basic actions, like dialog. I’m also planning out a basic UI, basic collision, basic room transition, and a whole lot of other basic things
  • By the end of this week, I’ll have something that actually & honestly looks like a game. For real!

That’s it for now. Let’s do our best today, ok?

PRE-SPRINT 13 – YEAR OF THE SWITCH – RETROSPECTIVE

YEAR OF THE SWITCH

Week of January 1st, 2017

OVERVIEW

What a good week. First, I had a ton of success in learning GameMaker and porting old code and concepts over to it. I had been worried that I wouldn’t ‘jive’ with the GameMaker Language or GMS in general, but I genuinely love it and find it really interesting and easy to work with

As promised, this time I have actual GIFs to share again, so you know things are going great 🙂

This was my 2nd-to-last week at work, and was also the first chance I had to tell my coworkers I was leaving. As was expected, it was crushingly melancholy. I’ve said this a few times, but it would be so much easier if I was leaving my job for another job, or if I was leaving because I hated my boss or my coworkers or whatever.

But I don’t! I love them all. They were all so supportive and genuinely interested in what I was doing, and it’s making leaving even harder.

I also now know more than ever that I’m making the right move. What remains is one last workweek – 5 days more days of ties and commutes and Outlook. After that? Well…

…guess we’ll find out

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Learned a ton in GameMaker. I seriously learned more in these last 7 days then the last 7 years previous
  • Discovered a new user of MindMaps: Using it to create a Product Map of sorts.
  • Did a lot of coding, adding in basic movement, dialog, and a tileset I had created long ago
  • Continued to use tools and processes such as Pomodoros and KanbanFlow

LOWLIGHTS

  • Really none, other than the sadness of my transition

SHOW & TELL

PRE-SPRINT 13 – YEAR OF THE SWITCH – PLANNING

YEAR OF THE SWITCH

Week of January 1st, 2017

WARP DOGS’ CORP LOGS

  • The state of our WARP CORP has increased to ~otherworldly~
  • The Extinction-Level-Event (ELE) has been pushed back to 34 weeks away. A new record!

New year, new life. This is the year I make the big switch.

Each year I try to make some semblance of resolutions – lose weight, read more books, that type of thing – but this year it all feels so much more intense. It’s like I really got to mean them this time, you know? There’s some magic to big decisions, and I’m hoping some of it rubs off on these resolutions.

Anyway. Enough of that wishy-washy stuff. Resolutions for me are as follows:

  • Have a Kickstartable by December 31st
  • Adopt the slogan, “Let’s do our best today”
  • Start a “gratitude journal” to remind me what matters in life
  • Practice mindfulness, whatever that means for me
  • Lose 80 pounds
  • Oh, and celebrate the insanely good vibes about video games

SPRINT GOALS

Last sprint I committed to GameMaker Studio for my game’s engine. This sprint, I’ll work on learning all the ins and outs of GMS while also porting over my Lua code. I’ve said this a few times already with little success, but I really and sincerely hope to have much more to share at the end of this sprint

On the non-coding front, I plan to continue iterating over the various mind maps and other analysis artifacts in prep for the big day. I want to be laser-focused and dialed in and all those other cliches the very day I quit, and to do that I need to have the full breadth of analysis completed and ready to go.

Beyond that, I hope to use these last 2 weeks of relative stability to help out the more foundational aspects of my move – budgets, getting health care sorted out, working on my writing, that kind of thing. These are aspects that will become harder to focus on as the anxiety of my move sinks in, so it’s important to figure it out now.

That’s it for now. Let’s do our best today, ok?

PRE-SPRINT 12 – MERRY QUITMAS – RETROSPECTIVE

MERRY QUITMAS

Week of December 25th, 2016

OVERVIEW

Well, it’s official, then. I’ve put my two weeks notice in. Quitmas has come and gone, and now all that remains is a two week limbo before things really hit the fan.

I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’m somehow both thrilled about how much money I saved + dismayed that I didn’t save more. It’s complicated.

In terms of laying a foundation this week could not have gone better. KanbanFlow has been fantastic and I’ve developed a real repeatable system almost overnight. I love it.

The decision to use GameMaker Studio was also an important one. I’ll begin learning the ins and outs in earnest and will hope to have some actual dev progress screenshots up.

MEGA-MONTH is officially over after tonight. As is 2016. The end of my employment and old life follow soon after that. Then…uh, well, then it’s onto something new. Exciting!

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Laid a fantastic foundation for work via KanbanFlow and Pomodoros in general
  • Set up a new YouTube channel, VGM Pomodoro, for both myself and the general public
  • Decided (officially!) to use GameMaker Studio for my development language
  • Continued to find success in focus and meditation, though the latter has also been putting me to sleep a bit too frequently
  • Played, beat, and analyzed Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Inside, and a few demoes
  • Christmas was rad!
  • Oh yeah, and I quit my job
  • MEGA-MONTH HAS BEEN SATIATED

LOWLIGHTS

  • Still no dev, but this is likely the last week for that to be the case
  • What is game…?
    • UPDATE: I dunno
      • UPDATE: TBD