Category: Questions


Too Many Options

So now I’m stuck.  I’ve received essentially 3 “opportunity” options (They aren’t really jobs, not all of them: an unpaid part-time opportunity to shadow a game designer; a part-time paid opportunity to help set up something in the gaming industry, and a paid management position at a start-up gaming company.)

But I havent even really had a week off, let along the 6 weeks I thought I wanted.  So initially I figured I’d say no to at least 2 of them, and anything else that came my way…

But what if I am closing doors that won’t open again? And I also realized that at the moment, I just have ZERO experience, to the point that when I sit at home “working” and “studying” I just get frustrated being unsure if I’m even taking the right steps.  If I do take work now, at least I get sideways into the industry, even if it isn’t yet doing quite what  I want, and I stay productive – which tends to make me more productive in my off time, too.

But if I am going to take work, is it better to take something handed to me now, where I will probably have more control and an easier in, but be working with less famous people; or to try to get in with “higher” mentors and perhaps miss a good chance?

I lean toward the former (smaller companies and opportunities now) but welcome feedback…

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While I’m generally not a huge fan of Facebook games, as past posts can attest, I do enjoy playing the new ones to pick apart how they work, what they do to get me hooked, and why I end up getting bored.  I also have two games I am actually kind of enjoying: The Sims Social and Mousehunt.

But when Google bought Slide and closed down their biggest social game SuperPoke Pets (yep, still around) – the few players left exploded.  And it got me thinking about the inevitable lifespans that most social games are going to have, and how this could be a pretty massive weakness.

MouseHunt players are bound to get pretty furious if the game disappears.

When I bought Fable 3 or Skyrim, for the most part I was hosting my progress on my own system.  Even if xbox went out of business, I could still play that character (in some cases.  I understand that many games are now saving in the Microsoft cloud of xBox live – but it’s also a long shot that this will go away any time soon.)  The money and time I’d invested don’t go away.

Now I don’t invest money in the Facebook games I played, and Sims Social (being owned by EA) probably won’t disappear any time soon, but Mousehunt is created by small studio HitGrab, and is bleeding users.  Those who do stick around are mostly those who have invested tens and hundreds of dollars into their traps and stats.  At some point, HitGrab will probably have to close down the game.  And what do those players get?  A big ol’ nothing.

I guess I’m just curious if there are things that can be done to fix this.  Can people download the most recent version of MouseHunt and preserve their equipment as it is, even if they dont get upgrades?  Can we port it to our mobile devices?  Is this something social games are even thinking about?  Because as a dedicated player, I sure am.

Anyone heard of Code Hero?

I saw that Code Hero is demoing tonight at SF Beta; essentially it looks like they’ve created a game to help you learn how to create games.  Meta, and pretty brilliant if you ask me.  If it works, of course.  It looks like the essentially put you into the world of Unity3D (so I was planning to learn Ruby on Rails…should I be learning this too?  I’ve heard this platform mentioned a number of times now), give you a Javascript-shooting gun, and make you rearrange the world with code to solve puzzles.  I haven’t tried it yet, but anyone have thoughts?

On the bigger picture, the draw of this game is also the core of my draw to the gaming industry overall.  Think about how much we learn when it’s put into a game.  I memorized 150 pokemon, all of their attacks, when they learned them, what they’re type was, how they leveled up, etc.  Imagine if that had been presidents (hell, there are only 44 of those – could I memorize 3 times the facts?) or molecular compounds?  I’ve learned how to navigate bizarre inter-dimensional portals, how best to equip a character for an imaginary world, and yet I still can’t tell you the capital of every state.

And studies continue to get published showing the importance of play in our earliest development; that through play we learn how to navigate both our physical world (this hurts, this doesn’t, this moves, that hits me back) and our social one (I can break that rule, but not that one.  If I give this, I get that).  Why don’t we learn languages through games, or coding, or how to sew?  Or, more accurately, why isn’t this more normalized in educators education?

So in the end, while I will gleefully start making short-lived goofy mobile games or addicting social ones, my real goal will be to make games that teach us something about our surroundings and help us feel better about the time truly well-spent playing.

How Do You Overcome Fear?

While I was working on less-enjoyable tasks for clients and FailCon, I could look forward to this time to explore and learn, to pursue a new passion.  I generally was joyful for time for myself, and for the opportunity to try something new.

Well, now I don’t have something to distract me; now I am actually supposed to be focussing on this.  And I am engulfed with soul-crushing terror.  What if I’m not good enough?  What if I don’t even get meetings?  What if I can’t handle a structured work-place?  What if…what if…what if.  And at times it’s so bad as to be paralyzing.  I find small hobbies to distract myself, games to play, blog posts to write (heh).

So I’m on the hunt for suggestions on how to overcome this.  Some things I’m trying (that work to some level) are having a very structured schedule, working out (which seems to work off stress), talking to as many people as I can (which also has the problem of keeping me from learning), and working to set small goals (which right now is hard, not even knowing what is realistic to start.)

But I welcome any other suggestions – small goals I can set, low-anxiety foods, etc.  Please do let me know, as I find myself short of breath more often than I would like to be…