It’s a brand new year and a good time to re-evaluate positions and momentums, quantum mechanics be damned. I won’t do any top 5 lists or anything like that. Just reflect on where I’m going with my projects and life.
It’s hard to not approach these reflections and redoublings of effort with a bit of cynicism. What I solidly declared last year never came to be, and life is too weird and interesting to try to predict too far in advance. But it’s better to not be your own worst enemy. Keep jumping: you may not grab the stars but you definitely won’t if you don’t try.
On goals and resolutions
One thing I adopted into my philosophy last year is the idea that if you’re setting a goal, it needs to be falsifiable. Not a great term for goal-setting, but I’ve stolen it from the philosophy of science. There is no point setting goals like, “I want to be a better person” or “I want to eat healthier”. We are notoriously unreliable in self-measurements, especially for things that are non-numerical. While you might help a few old ladies across the road or have a stick of celery for the first few days of January, that’s not really the improvement you’re looking for.
So I’ve been trying to structure my goals around ways that I can fail. Or more correctly, avoid failure. Instead of eating healthier, mandating specific vegetarian days every week. Or putting deadlines on tasks.
There’s a bit of skill involved. A goal like “finish my game prototype” may be too big a goal, and destined to fail. Breaking it into sub-goals with timeframes gives a better sense of progress. And it’s better to fail a bunch of smaller tasks than one big one. It helps also to have realistic and meaningful goals, and have an appropriately severe or useful response upon failure.
It’s tricky, though. I tried to think about falsifiable goals for my relationship in 2015. Obviously a big way to fail is to break up, but that’s no good. Relationships tend to be lots of small things (saying supportive things, being mindful about the relationship, etc) and really big things (moving in, marriage, kids etc). So I figure that some things in my life can be filed under “policies”. Occasionally I’ll review how I’m going with the policies, but it’s not held to the same succeed/failure conditions that projects and health are.
For the things with actual goals and deadlines, I’ll write them down but keep them to myself for now.
This is all obvious stuff, but it’s nice to verbalize it to help frame the ideas.
The Day After
Last year, I really wanted to stick a flag in the sand with regards to my main project, The Day After. I wanted to get a prototype done. I even enumerated what that’d entail so I had a firm goal post.
I ticked most of that off, but the prototype didn’t eventuate. I have a program that loads and runs (especially after some major engine changes). But the actual gameplay is a big blank. Interestingly, this was the section of goals that was least detailed. I could have a very basic thing run, but it wouldn’t have been beneficial in the future.
Sadly I did my usual trick of taking a large detour on my game around the middle of the year. I think in previous years I was looking at writing my own scripting language. In 2014, it was writing a twitterbot game. And even that wasn’t finished. Dangit. I did learn a lot from it, but you can’t sell brain synapses. :)
On the upside, I got scripting in the game, input, graphics and survived a change between compilers and computers.
Currently I’m working on a fixed prototype for the story part of the game. From what I can gather, this is original research but something I feel like I can do. I’m working on it separately from the engine so the story prototype is not limited by the engine. Really, the prototype will just spit out text. Working on making it a game and do all the game-y things can come later. If I get this part right, then it’s a great foundation for The Day After and Kung Fu Chronicles.
As always, it’ll be a juggle between work and The Day After. I appreciate folks asking me about progress as it keeps me honest. I have to be vigilant about the work/life balance though so it’s not like this:
I did a lot of work in 2014 on Pathfinder. Vastly more than I had expected. I worked on my campaign called Apogee. I began writing a small guide for gamemasters in the hope I could turn it into a small moneyspinner.
Our group was playing Rise of the Runelords, and I was writing up sessions of that. This was great fiction-writing practice for me. I’d gotten too rusty writing technical things or straight-forward blogs. But at a few thousand words a pop, it ate up time. At some point I missed a week and it all got held up. People liked my writing, which was pleasing.
Then late in 2014 I took up the gamemastering mantle and ran We Be Goblins, and then my weird campaign Limen’s House. This has absorbed vast amounts of time and came with some mild worries about my ability to run games. It’s all turned out okay, but I think for 2015 I need to recalibrate the time invested into Pathfinder. Once we return to Runelords (or another campaign), then I’ll have more time to spare. Further to this, I figure I won’t run Apogee this year.
It’d be nice to block out some time to write up Limen’s House (and sell it?), as well as my gamemasters guide. One of my rough goals for this year was to set up a small passive income, and these fit nicely into that bracket.
I didn’t get to play as many board games as I would have liked, but I was pretty busy in 2014. Ideally I’d like to spend more time playing board games with a regular crew and less on computer games. This is more a policy thing than a goal - I find myself dipping into freeform survival games too easily, and investing a night of game-playing into building yet another hut against the wilds. Cutting down on this “game snacking” would do wonders.
I predict I’ll get the new Batman game and play that to completion. There’s very few other things on my radar, so maybe I’ll naturally move away from computer games.
Last year I did some housekeeping, attempting to shut down my maths blog and incorporate it into a general tech blog. I had a laundry list of posts to write for that blog, but didn’t get to it. To my eternal shame, I wanted to finish up my series on creating card games in LaTeX, but I forgot how to do a step and couldn’t be bothered finding it out again, so the last post hung in the air like a pregnant pause. This blocked any further blog posts, so the techblog plan was a failure. Perhaps I should try again this year, but do no series and limit the word count. I could definitely do with some brevity.
Otherwise I’m working on reading more, sleeping more, travelling and vaguely moving in the direction of being a mid-30s responsible adult. And as a corrective counter-measure, I am gonna buy so much fucking Lego. :)
I’d like to enter NaNoGenMo in November. NaNoWriMo is too much an investment and comes around PAX Aus season, so it has no chance.
So it’ll be an interesting year! Thanks to everyone for support in 2014 and beyond! Hopefully I can provide you with nice things to play with.