An update on me

So here’s what I’ve been up to over the past week-and-a-bit, in no particular order.

  1. Started up full-time work at a professional game studio again.  This one is (in my opinion) one of the biggest names in the mobile gaming space, publishing games which most gamers would recognise.  (I found that I often have to put on headphones to avoid spoilers, as nearby people discuss the work that they’re doing on games that I’m looking forward to playing).  This place is definitely somewhere awesome to have on the resume, and there’s heaps of stuff I’m going to learn from the people here.  And I don’t just say all of this because I know that my current boss/supervisor reads this blog.  Anyhow, I’ve been assigned to write shaders and similar direct OpenGL code on a new game, despite having told them at the hiring interview that graphics technology is my weakest area.  On the one hand, bits of me wonder if they’re really getting their money’s worth from paying me to work on graphics rather than on something where I have some demonstrated expertise.  On the other hand, it’s absolutely fantastic as an opportunity for me to improve my skills.  But starting work anywhere new is always scary and stressful, no matter how awesome the people there might be, just between uncertainty, trying to remember names, trying to figure out parking, trying to figure out where to have lunch, working on unfamiliar things in an unfamiliar codebase, and so on.  So I’ve been a little overwhelmed, and when I get home in the evenings I’ve mostly just wanted to crawl into bed and switch off my brain.
  2. I’ve been playing a bit of StarCraft 2 again.  And by “a bit”, I mean that my bonus pool has dropped from around 2200 points to around 2100 points.  (this represents a total of around twenty games played, over the last two weeks, with games averaging about ten minutes duration, each)  For those conversant in the lingo, I’ve been practicing to try to survive against early 4gate and 2rax pressure, and am now doing a lot better, such that I’m generally dying to void ray/banshee harassment instead.   So while I’m doing better, I’m still losing a lot.  Losing, that is, except for when I use my cheesy “nydus rush” build, which has an absurdly good record of winning.  But practicing that build doesn’t really make me a better player (even if I win easily while doing it), so I don’t use it very often at all.
  3. I’ve been working on a single post on this blog for almost two weeks now. It’s a game design-related post, and I’m still fussing and tinkering with it.  Usually, a post related to game design will take me about two to three hours to write, and another hour or two to revise after publishing;  they just take a very long time for me to sort out my opinions and present them in a comprehensible manner, but this one is taking far longer than is normal.  This may be because of its subject matter, or it may simply reflect the distracted state of my mind this week.  In any case, the post is about the types of choices presented to players in video games, and it’s directly related to design troubles I’ve been having with MT2 for the past few months.  But I haven’t even figured out how to frame the discussion yet.  Hopefully I’ll find the right words to really strongly define the topic, and will post it sometime in the coming week.  Maybe even tomorrow, if I’m feeling inspired.
  4. No progress at all on MT2.  At all.  All my coding brain power is currently going toward the new paying work (and I don’t expect this to change in the near future).  I’ve had some fun design and marketing thoughts for it, but I won’t bore you with them here.  :)
  5. I’ve begun using f.lux, which is a free program that adjusts your screen’s colour balance automatically over the course of the day.  I’ve been having serious (intermittent) eyestrain problems over the last year or two, and they’ve slowly been getting worse over time.  After three days with f.lux, though, they seem to be an awfully lot improved.  It’s still much too early to state definitively that f.lux has actually helped my eyestrain, but things seem promising so far.
  6. I’ve begun using 1Password to manage web site passwords/logins/etc, and to hold other various bits of information which I’d really like to have available to me, but still have secure (bank account details, etc).  My parents have been using software similar to this for as long as I can remember;  even as a child I remember my father keeping registration numbers, passwords, and other bits of random data in giant spreadsheets, and always feeling like that was kind of a silly thing to do.. but after a day of trying it myself, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back to my old unorganised or email-based methods of storing this stuff.  Just little tidbits like having my passport number with me all the time (even when I’m not carrying my passport) has saved me absurd amounts of time and bother over the last week.  I can’t compare 1Password to other similar software, though;  I’m sure there’s something better/faster/free-er/whatever.  But it works for me, and made this past stressful week a little less stressful, so I thought it was worth mentioning.  :)
  7. Bought Stacking, and played it a little.  Brilliant, as usual.  (Dear Mr. Schafer, I would dearly love to have fifteen minutes with your game’s codebase.  It’s so very very close to perfect, it wouldn’t take much time at all to fix.  Call me.  We’ll do lunch and sort it right out.)  (Note to my current boss/supervisor who reads this blog:  the preceding parenthetical is a joke.  Actually consulting on someone else’s commercial game would, of course, be a major violation of my contract’s non-competition clause, as well as a breach of even the most basic of professional ethics, and I would never actually do such a thing.)  (Note to Mr. Schafer:  Phew, that was a close one, but I think he bought it. Call me.)
  8. Apparently, the accrued vacation pay that I was owed by my previous employer (who went out of business late last year) will shortly be paid to me by the company’s liquidators.  This is a big relief to me, as I had quite a lot of vacation time built up over the years.  Redundancy payouts, however, will not be coming to me.  Friends tell me that I should fight for the redundancy payments (since they’d be for a surprisingly large amount), but frankly I’m so exhausted that I just can’t imagine actually pursuing them at this point.  The vacation pay is enough for me, today.  Maybe I’ll regret this in a year or two, but…  Let me tell you a story:  when it became clear that the company where he worked was going to shut down, a friend of mine handed in his resignation on the spot, intentionally destroying any possibility of a redundancy payout.  He described that decision to me as “the best money [he] had ever spent,” since it meant that he wouldn’t have to clutter his brain with worrying about whether or not he’d qualify for a redundancy payment.

And right at this very moment, I’m rather inclined to agree with him.

Anyhow, I hope you’ve all had a good week or two.  Wish me luck for the weeks ahead.  With any luck, they’ll be easier than this last week was.  :)