WARP DOGS Game of the Year…?

Image result for ghost of christmas present

Games.

Video games, to be specific. Seems like nary a year goes by without seeing a release or two that are rather quite good.

I had originally made this post to talk about my game of the year. It’s always a fun to think about and, hey, everyone is doing it.

So I began scrolling through the releases this year and compared it to the games I played. It only then that it hit me:

I didn’t play any good games released in 2016.

I played No Man’s Sky – bad game. Paper Jam – terrible. The Witness – pretentious garbage. Infinite Warfare – fine, but not GotY.

Clearly I know that a ton of good games came out this year. I just…never…actually got to any of them?

That doesn’t even seem possible. Surely I played at least one of them, if only by accident. Like, maybe I fell onto a controller and began to play Dark Souls 3…?

Turns out that the games I played – the good games, GotY contenders, anyway – were largely from last year. Or the year before that. Or like 20 years ago.

Well, this is going to be awkward, huh?

WARP DOGS’ GAME OF THE YEAR,

(ASSUMING IN THIS CONTEXT “OF THE YEAR” REFERS TO WHEN I PLAYED IT,

NOT NECESSARILY WHEN IT WAS RELEASED),

2016,

GOES TO:

The Witcher 3

If you sat me down in front of some very smart, very capable game designers and asked me to describe my perfect game, the end result would have probably still been less enjoyable than the Witcher 3.

It’s sublime.

It nails the humor and tone I want to see in video games. It absolutely crushes it with the world and the efforts it goes to build it up into something real. The story is fantastic. The combat is fantastic. Geralt – fantastic. All the characters – fantastic.

Graphics – gorgeous. Voice acting? Wonderful. Music? Oh my god.

Quests? Otherworldly. They’re all so good. Every single one of them – in the way they subvert your expectations, in how they play with your emotions, the themes they explore, the callbacks to the most obscure lore and myth.

And so on, and so on, and so on.

It’s also gigantic, but always in the right amount. It’s open world without quite rubbing your nose in it – no towers or minigame icons and checklists.

Don’t get me wrong, I still wanted to complete everything, explore everything and, indeed, check all the boxes. The difference is that it was always on my terms.

I did it because this world, these characters, deserve help. I cared. I did it to see the next thing – it was like Civilization’s “one more turn” syndrome, only it was the entire game.

What more can even be said about this game that hasn’t been addressed by countless others much smarter than I?

All I know is that as a game designer I am at once in awe and jealous of this world. There’s so much to be inspired by in the Witcher – not just 3, but the entire Witchering series generally – and I am overjoyed that they exist and are successful.

There are few games out there that can be said to have improved the entire industry by just existing. The Witcher 3 is absolutely, without a doubt, one of them.

Anyway. The Witcher 3: didn’t release this year, but gosh darnit it is easily my Game of the Year 2016

PRE-SPRINT 11 – CASE OF THE MONDAYS – PLANNING

CASE OF THE MONDAYS

Week of December 18th, 2016

WARP DOGS’ CORP LOGS

  • The state of our WARP CORP is almost freakishly strong after a last-minute push of savings
  • The Extinction-Level-Event (ELE) is now at an incredible 28 weeks away. Unbelievable!

MEGA-MONTH lumbers past the halfway mark and aims its way forward to the finish line. With two paychecks and a birthday under its belt, you would think its insatiable hunger would, indeed, be satiated, but the look in its eyes is anything but satisfied…

SPRINT GOALS

There’s less than two weeks until I give my two week notice. Assuming my math checks out, that leaves me with just under four weeks to prepare for a graceful and prepared exit.

Unlike previous attempts at sticking to a series of goals, I’ll instead just dump out a stream-of-consciousness about what I hope to accomplish between now and the end of the year

  • A fully realized ‘pitch’ of what this game actually is
  • Mind Maps!
    • Mind Maps for the various features, themes, and emotions of the game
    • Mind Maps for the various loops of the game
    • Mind Maps, generally
  • A social media presence that’s not super embarrassing
  • A final name, and probably a URL to go with it
    • Also maybe look into rules and standards about names
  • Comment and cleanup existing code
  • Do some “fun coding”
  • Document coding procedures to better iterate over them
  • Write more posts. Write more everything
  • Focus on focus
    • BUT SERIOUSLY THIS TIME
  • Read as much as I can
    • Books on games
    • Books on game design
    • Books on life
    • Books generally
  • Cleanup and prepare
  • Hangup pictures and other decorations
  • Think real hard about scope
  • Do more pixel art
  • Learn how to do pixel art generally
  • And much, much more

Time to get to it.

PRE-SPRINT 10 – 33 DAYS – RETROSPECTIVE

33 DAYS

Week of December 11th, 2016

Overview

Another week of little dev work, but a lot of analysis. I think I’m just about done the analysis stuff and with just a bit of time remaining (less than 33 days, you might say…) these next few sprints will be big

I’m also incredibly tired tonight, so this post is going to be really bad. Sorry.

Highlights

  • Rediscovered mind maps and have really enjoyed the way they help me think through problems
  • May have seriously come up with the game title…oh my!
  • A lot of progress on the game’s overall pitch, scope, and key ideas. Or, uh, something
  • MEGA-MONTH MARCHES EVER ON

Lowlights

  • Having a hard time concentrating and staying focused. I need to really, uh, not be bad at that. I think I’ve put this in every single lowlight since I was born
  • What is game…?
  • Too tired, sorry

Show & Tell

HOW TO QUIT YOUR JOB AND GO BROKE MAKING VIDEO GAMES – THE BURN CHART

It takes some real skill and precision to quit a good job making lots of money to pursue a career in which you’ll make very little. It requires strategy. Foresight. A willful ignorance of consequence.  I’m here to talk about my own process so that you, too, can self-destruct your finances

Today, I want to talk about my burn chart, which you’ve may have seen after reading one of my WARP DOGS CORP LOGS posts.

There may be other, more accurate names for this style of chart, so let me show you what I mean:

So, what exactly is this thing?

In short, the burn chart is the primary method to measure when exactly I’ll be out of money and broke as all hell.

It performs this tremendous service by looking at my current cash reserves each week and compares that to both a fixed and moving estimate of where I predict my cash reserves should be each week.

It then plots this all on a nifty graph so I can visualize how fast I’m spending and when exactly I can expect to run out.

Make sense? Well, let’s dig in some more…

FIXED ESTIMATE

This is the grey line.

The fixed estimate is simple. I took a look at our average monthly expenses and compared it to our average monthly income after I quit my job. I then simply looked at the difference between the expenses and income, and called this difference the expense delta. 

Said a different way, the expense delta is what’s needed to break even each month – for example, if average expenses were $5,000, and average income was $3,000, then the expense delta would be $2,000.

The Fixed Estimate is simply this delta subtracted from my cash reserves on a weekly basis. It’s a steady, consistent march to $0, and it’s also the line I want to continuously “beat” each week if I want to elongate this project.

CASH ON HAND

This is the blue line with stars.

At the start of each week I’ll record how much cash on hand I have left. The difference week to week will be reflected by the steepness of the line.

They key here is to beat the estimate. It’s sort of like racing where you want to beat your best lap times – only it’s exactly the opposite because you want to go slower, not faster.

But what happens if I do go slower? Or faster? I mean, it’s extremely unlikely I’ll spend exactly $500 a week over the course of many months, and the move I deviate from the average the less useful the fixed expense line will be.

To solve this problem, I added the moving estimate line.

MOVING ESTIMATE

This is the yellow line with the circles

Like the fixed estimate, the moving estimate steadily marches to 0 by subtracting an expense delta each week.

Unlike the fixed estimate, the speed it marches is not forever constant, but rather is based on a moving average of my actual expenses each week

Let’s use an example.

Week 1: $400 spent

Week 2: $300 spent

Week 3: $500 spent

Over these 3 weeks the moving estimate would come out to $400, and it’d look like so:

Lookin’ good! My thriftiness has bought me more time to work on my projects

Now, let’s say week 4 and 5 look like this:

Week 4: $900 spent

Week 5: $900 spent

Now, obviously I know that spending more per week means I’ll run out of money faster, and vice versa, but it’s one thing to know something and quite another to visualize it

You can see how it shaves off 2 weeks from the fixed estimate – that’s a lot of to give up!

In conclusion, this graph does two things main things:

  • It gamifies the otherwise dull task of tracking weekly expenses, encouraging me to stay under spending goals and beat my previous expectations, plus,
  • It allows me to apply principals of Agile to my financial situation, adjusting my strategies and focus on a weekly basis

So, hopefully this has all made sense. If you’re looking to quit your job to pursue some passion then I strongly encourage you to make something similar – never discount the power of visualizing the speed in which your money is running out

PRE-SPRINT 10 – 33 DAYS – PLANNING

33 DAYS

Week of December 11th, 2016

WARP DOGS’ CORP LOGS

2016-12-04-11_45_42-burn-chart-google-sheets

The state of our WARP CORP is strong. MEGA-MONTH is halfway over and boy are the results promising already!

The Extinction-Level-Event (ELE) continues to hold at 14 weeks away. Astonishing!

Our team of highly respected accountants are slacking off, but are ready for the call to action later in the week

The astute among you may have realized that despite the rather salient header image Christmas is, in fact, not 33 days away. So what is…?

We shall have to find out together!

Thank you.

SPRINT GOALS

This is likely to be the 3rd week of very little programming, though the hope is to begin to ramp up as the week goes on. As has become typical, lack of time and overall concentration has contributed to a very slow pace. This pace is expected to increase dramatically in, oh, 33 days or so.

Here’s this week’s TOP 3 P O W E R * G O A L S

  • What even is this game? Continued from last week, we’ll be focusing on what this game is and isn’t. I’ve also scoped in work on an actual, real-life, honest-to-goodness pitch that I can start to share people so they can make fun of me
  • Let’s read! a bunch of stuff. I have a huge amount of stuff to read that I’ve bought over the last few months and years. Books on game design, Lua programming, inspirational books, books on self-employment, and a whole lot more. So much, in fact, that it’s become necessary to create an entire POWER GOAL for it so I can begin to actually read the darn things
  • Improve your concentration with these ten easy steps. Well, maybe it’ll be more than 10 steps, but I really need to address this problem, so I’m making an entire goal for it. I must be better at concentrating and minimizing distractions…or I’ll be in some big trouble when I’m eventually on my own

Time to get to it.

PRE-SPRINT 9 – LET IT SNOW – RETROSPECTIVE

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LET IT SNOW

Week of December 4th, 2016

Overview

What is “game”? This question has plagued mankind for generations. Can it be answered here? Answered today? Can it be answered at all? Is answer even the right word? Is answer spelled right? Why the ‘w’? What purpose does it serve in that word?

All good questions.

None of them were answered in this sprint.

Highlights

  • Thought a lot about what my game is and isn’t. Ended up with a nice foundation with which to begin analysis on
  • Continuing to enjoy Evernote. I ended up building a ton more notebooks and stacks of notebooks and tags and all sorts of other crazy words and phrases
  • MEGA-MONTH MARCHES EVER ON

Lowlights

  • Having a hard time concentrating and staying focused. I need to really, uh, not be bad at that
  • A bit worried that I may be spinning my wheels the closer I get to my quit date. It’s easy to do and redo things at this stage, and I’m afraid I’m refactoring too much
  • What is game…?
  • Ate too much

Show & Tell