Monthly Archives: January 2016

Secrets of Success: Mindset

It doesn’t matter if you have all of the programming and game design knowledge in the whole world, if you don’t prepare yourself to get over the obstacles to success. Some of these obstacles are often in our own mind.

Millionaire Mindset

Even if your goal in life is not to get rich and earn oodles of money, having a mindset similar to successful people is going to lead to success. There are things that successful people do that other people don’t, and one of them is training their mind to overcome obstacles.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all you can do, but it should help you get into a productive and successful mindset.

You Go Where You Focus

My brother-in-law enjoys driving motorcycles and I was considering getting a motorcycle myself so I was talking about things to keep in mind. One of the most important things he told me is “You steer towards what you are looking at. You need to keep you focus on where you want to go.”

This is true of life as well. If you know exactly where you want to go and what you want to achieve your mind will subconsciously try to steer you towards it.

Create a clear goal of exactly what you want. Make it compelling, something you have a strong desire to achieve. In fact write it down and read it aloud every morning and every night to keep it fresh in your mind and keep you excited about it.

Solutions Not Problems

This follows the same lines as your focus. When you come across a problem or an obstacle, only spend a short amount of time clearly describing the problem. This is not normal. Most people tend to spend a lot of time focusing on all the obstacles they have to overcome and make themselves tired thinking “I got to this and that and the other thing and it’s just so much … uhhhhh!”

Define the problem in a single sentence if possible, then focus on all the ways to solve the problem. You can usually think of multiple solutions and things you can do that completely eliminate the problem. Try to come up with at least three real, actionable solutions. Then pick one and do it.

Process Not Results

If you tie your success to things that are outside your control, you are setting yourself up for failure. People with a successful mindset find a process that works and then they measure their success by how well they stick to the process, not what results they get.

Oftentimes as a beginner in game design, “failure” is the norm as you figure things out. If you focus on how much people don’t like your game or how few people play or buy your game, you are going to get discouraged and your motivation will go down.

But, if instead, you focus on doing good game design and making games consistently and following a good game design process, the results will come.

Get Rid of Fear

One of the biggest obstacles in anyone’s mind is fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of poverty, fear of ridicule, and the list goes on. In The Art of Game Design, Jesse Schell writes “[A Game Designer] must lack a fear of ridicule.” Any successful person, has to be able to overcome fears that are blocking their way.

Usually these fears are in our mind and usually completely unfounded. Often a good exercise to do is ask these 3 questions:

  1. What is the worst that could happen?
  2. What is the most likely outcome?
  3. What is the outcome I want and the payoff?

Then focus on the last one. You will tend to find that the worst that could happen is not really bad at all or at least very unlikely and the payoff for doing the action and it going right is huge.

Focus on Success

Where you steer your mind is what you will head towards. There are other successful mindset principles and I may do second post about the success mindset later on. In the meantime I would recommend the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. It is an older book but has timeless truths about success and having a successful mindset.

Now get your mind focussed on success and go make games.

Game 1 of 2016 January Progress Report

So far I have done absolutely 0 programming on Game 1, and that is ok. This will definitely need to increase but it is impossible to actually start programming a game until it has been designed.

There is a design and I decided to start by working on the paper prototype.

Game 1 Paper Prototype

Given the text adventure style of the game, it is actually fairly easy to do a paper prototype since it is fairly similar to a “choose your own adventure” book. Play testing will be interesting to figure out since I plan on having some resources like ammunition for a weapon be part of the decision making process.

As I was making the notecards, I thought of a neat little idea I could use in the story where instead of just reading text, the player can sometimes be faced with some sort of interface with button and switches and levers that utilizes the phones natural tap and swipe interaction to make the game more fun and interesting.

I used a notebook to draw a little flowchart that includes the major decision points and then develop out the interactions that occur at these decision points and what the story will be like on 3×5 notecards since they are similar in size to a phone screen (which is the target platform). The goal is to get to a minimal story and start building on it.

I have been doing a little tangential programming, working through a tutorial on AngularJS and MeteorJS which is the current target technology for creating the game. If it looks like this will be too unwieldy then I may go back to vanilla MeteorJS. This is sort of an excuse to teach myself Angular to see what all the fuss is about.

We are coming up on the end of the first month of 2016 already so if you haven’t already started …

Go make games.

The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses – Part 1

One of my self-improvement goals this year is to read a book on game design or making video games every two months and I could not have picked a better or worse first book to start with.

I figured I would do a long review at the end of the 2 months and that would be all. But this first book is actually over 500 pages long and I am only about 75 pages into it at the moment and already have enough notes for a full post.

The goal is still to average 1 book per 2 months but this book might stretch to 3. So I am going to break up the notes I am taking into separate posts that will probably take the place of post I was planning on doing about various articles I had read on game design because I am reading this book instead.

These are rough notes from the Intro up to the end of Chapter 4.

The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses

Game Design is simply decision making, of how the game will ‘be’.

Good game design comes from viewing the design from multiple perspectives (lenses).

Game design is not super precise, more art than science.

Study fundamentals, study classic games that have withstood test of time to find what makes games fun.

It is a game designers job to create new games.

Design principles will come from everywhere because design is everywhere.

You will not become a game designer by reading a book. It is an activity you must do, and you must build the game and play it and have others play it.

Ch 1 Design games, start now!

Say out loud: “I am a game designer”, now go make games.

Must lack fear of ridicule.

Game design is decision making and decisions must be made with confidence.

Failure is the only path to success, the more the better.

Almost anything can be a useful skill for game design.

The most important skill: Listening.

Ch2 The Designer creates the experience

Game designers goal is to create an experience, all he really cares about.

Game is not the experience, it enables the experience.

Split between artifact and experience is more noticeable in game design mostly due to the level of interaction.

Some experiences or feelings only game based experiences seem to offer (choice, freedom, accomplishment).

Need to use Psychology, Anthropology and Design to uncover mysteries of the human mind.

Cannot afford to be snobbish about where we get our knowledge. Good ideas can come from anywhere.

Use introspection to make judgements about what is and is not working in your game. But your experience may not be true for others so listen to your audience and internalize to better predict what experiences they will enjoy.

Need to clearly be able to state what you like, what you don’t like and why.

Analyze how a game makes you feel, what it makes you think of, and what it makes you do.

Do this kind of analysis when designing and playing your own games and games others have created.

How do we analyze our experiences without tainting them?
1. Remember them – best with powerful or fresh memories.
2. Go through experience twice – analyzing the second time.
3. “Sneak Glances” – ask yourself simple questions while in the experience that don’t require deep analysis and don’t break immersion.

Getting in the habit of observing yourself without interrupting your own experience can be worthwhile.

Goal is to figure out the essential elements that really define the experience you want to create and find ways to make them part of your game design.

What experience do I want the player to have and what is essential to that experience?

Ch 3 The Experience Rises Out of a Game

We cannot manipulate experiences directly.

Fun is pleasure with surprises.

What will surprise players when they play my game? Can players surprise each other? Can they surprise themselves?

What parts of my game are fun? Why? What parts need to be more fun?

Play is manipulation that indulges curiosity.

What questions does my game put in the players mind? What am I doing to make them care? How can I make them invent even more questions?

What is valuable to the player in my game? How can I make it more valuable to them? How is the value in the game related to the players motivations?

– 10 things that make up a game –
1. are entered willfully
2. are interactive
3. have goals
4. have challenges
5. have conflict
6. can create their own internal value
7. have rules
8. engage players
9. can be won and lost
10. are closed, formal systems

A Game is a problem solving activity approached with a playful attitude.

What problems does my game ask the player to solve? Are their hidden problems that arise as part of gameplay? How can my game generate new problems so the player keeps coming back?

Ch4 The Game Consists of Elements

4 Basic Elements
1. Mechanics – procedures and rules of game
2. Story – sequence of events
3. Aesthetics – how your game looks, sounds, smells, tastes, and feels
4. Technology – any materials and interactions that make your game possible

All of these are of equal importance.

Is my game design using elements of all four types? Could my design be improved by enhancing elements in one or more categories? Are the 4 elements in harmony and reinforcing each other?

Space invaders looked at as an example.

What elements of the game make the experience enjoyable? What elements take away from the experience? How can I change the elements of the game to improve the experience?

End of Part 1

Just the first 4 chapters have been immensely valuable in how I approach designing a game. I have started asking myself these questions about the first game I am making this year and already able to make a few improvements.

Looking forward to the rest of the book, would already recommend it as a must read for aspiring game designers.

Say this out loud, “I am a game designer” … now go make games

Game Design Fundamentals Notes – Ernest W. Adams Talk

While searching for talks about the fundamentals of game design, I came across this video of a talk given by Ernest W. Adams which has some really good material. This is a summary in some broken notes of the talk.

While this talk is about game design in general, it focuses primarily on video games.

A Game

A game is something that entertains people through play.

4 Things separate games from other forms of entertainment.

  • Play – competitive, creative, social (for single player games it is player vs machine)
  • Rules – this is what separates a game from a toy
  • Goal – a victory condition, not all “video games” are games by this definition, some are toys (i.e. Sims, Minecraft Creative Mode)
  • Magic Circle – this is a term the presenter uses to represent the social and/or mental space where we pretend the things in the game are important like the money in Monopoly has value or that it matters that the ball goes in the net. It is a suspension of disbelief also referred to as immersion. Games differ from books and movies in that there is participation in the immersive experience.

Video Games Entertain

There are multiple ways that video games entertain.

Gameplay – this is the most important and is separated from the rest of the list for this reason.
Aesthetics, Storytelling, Exploration, Novelty, Progression, Risk & Reward (Gambling games), Learning, Roleplaying, Socializing

Parts of a game

Player – This is the most important part of the game, it processes outputs and gives inputs

User Interface – This presents the game outputs to the player

Core Mechanics – This enforces the rules of the game, processes inputs and gives outputs

Game Designers Job

As a game designer you have to imagine a game, define how it works by creating the core mechanics and designing the User Interface. Then you have to describe the elements that make it up (Example was hockey and you would need to describe the hockey stick, the puck, the skates, the rules, etc).

Most importantly as a game designer you have to get this information to other people in a clear manner.

Video games exist to fulfill the player’s dreams. Dreams of power, of creativity, of exploration, and many other things.

Ask first “What does the player dream of doing?”
What actions are fun? (include)
What actions are no fun? (exclude)
Only then think about characters, story, setting, etc.

Games can offer the player more than 1 role to play but if you cannot describe to the player what their role in the game is you will have problems. Players will not want to pay money for you game because they don’t know what they are getting and Marketers will not be able to market your game to a particular audience.


Gameplay is the challenges you put in from of players and the actions that they have available to them.

At least 1 action must overcome the challenge, otherwise game is unwinnable.

Challenges are the goals of your game.
Actions are the verbs, the player options.

You will have a hierarchy of challenges with some major challenges like “Beat Level 1” being made up of smaller challenges like “Solve the puzzle” or “Defeat 5 enemies.”

Smaller challenges that can no longer be broken down are atomic challenges. Want to start with these.

Most games only offer a subset of their gameplay at any one time. They have different modes that offer different gameplay.

Modes are usually a combination of the Camera model, the Interaction model, and the gameplay that is available only in that mode. Examples include Pac-man eating a power pellet changing the interaction with the ghost to be chasing instead of avoiding.

Interaction Model

In Avatar based play, the player is represented by a character or object in the game world and affects the world through their avatar.

In Omnipresent based play, the player is usually interacting with much of the world directly.

Camera Model

Most games simulate a physical space and have a virtual camera that looks at that space.

You have first person which is good for precise action like shooting and driving.
You have third person which is good for exploring.
You have side scrolling, top scrolling and fixed.
You have Omnipresent which is usually an aerial top down or isometric view, though many modern games have a free 3D camera that can roam the whole world.
Some games have a context sensitive camera that tries to find the best point of view, this can be tricky to do though and is usually a bad idea for combat or other intense situations.

Game Structure

The overall game structure is made up of the relationship of gameplay modes to each other.

The game designer usually would want to create a flow chart to determine what actions and occurrences cause the games mode to change (i.e. zooming in with a sniper rifle).


Mechanics are the algorithmic form of the rules that a computer can understand. They are used to implement the internal economy of the game. By that we mean the numeric quantities like ammo and life points that the rules of the game rely on.

Not all games have internal economies. Puzzle games and some adventure games do not rely on numbers.

The internal economy typically has Resources, Sources, and Drains. Using an First Person Shooter as an example.

Resources – Ammo, Health, Enemies
Sources – Clips, Med Kits, Spawn Points
Drains – Fire Weapon, Get Hit, Kill Enemies

You Balance a game by adjusting the numbers in these three categories.


Balance has different meanings in different kinds of games.

In a PvP (player vs. player) game, it means that the game is fair. Each player has an equal chance of winning the game at the beginning based on the rules (skill does not factor in).

In a single player game, balance means that the difficulty level is appropriately challenging.

Puzzle games are difficult to balance.

The easiest way to balance a PvP game is to make it as perfectly Symmetrical as possible. Everybody starts with the same resources (turn based games can be a little difficult because of first move advantage).

Asymmetrical games are harder to balance but are more interesting because of their complexity.

Positive and Negative Feedback

Progression through the game is aided by positive feedback.

Positive feedback is when a resource makes it easier to get more of itself or an achievement makes the next achievement easier. Monopoly is the example used where you spend money to get properties which get you rent which gets you money.

Good positive feedback prevents a stalemate but you don’t want to give too much of a lead so that it is hopeless for the other player.

Negative Feedback keeps games close and punishes the winner (think Mario Kart and power ups). This is usually good for silly games.

The ideal progression in a games is where the lead changes hands but the better player ends up winning.

Mechanics of Game Design Questions

These are some questions to ask yourself when designing a game.

What are the core resources in this game? What are the sources of those resources? Where do they go, what uses them up?

What are the challenges in the game? Physical Coordination, Logic, Pattern Recognition, Races against Time, Factual Knowledge (only good for trivia games), Memory, Exploration, Conflict, Economic, Lateral Thinking and Conceptual Reasoning?

Interface of Game Design Questions

User Interface needs to be designed to answer the following questions:
Where am I? What am I doing? What challenge am I facing?

The interface should use indicators to represent the internal values of the game.

Binary indicators (on or off), Multistate indicators (like traffic lights), Numeric (Money), Multidimensional (3D character appears tired instead of having a stamina bar).

People always forget audio indicators (when they aren’t sound designers).

Indicators should answer: Do I have what I need? Am I making Progress?

Constructing the Fantasy World

This is one of the more fun parts of game design (results may vary).

The fantasy world contributes to the immersion of the game.

However, if the gameplay is absorbing enough, the setting or world becomes less important and may not be important at all.

Things to consider are:

The physical dimension – is it 2D, 2.5D (2D with a single flying height), 3D?

Scale – how big is the world? how big are things in relation to each other?

Boundaries – what happens at the edge of the world?

Laws of Physics – totally bogus or borderline literal (usually only want this for simulations like flying)?

Temporal Dimesion – is time meaningful to the player? does the game make time move or does the player?

Environmental Dimension – what are the natural surroundings? how about man-made? how are things influenced by the culture? what level of detail? what is the visual and auditory style/tone? how do you choose to represent the underlying style?

Emotional Dimension – what is the tone of your world (happy, sad, scary)? how do you want the player to feel? (most games not emotionally subtle) how do you inspire emotions?

Ethical Dimension – what is right and what is wrong in your game world? what leads to victory is considered good. player must conform to the designs morality to win (cannot be a pacifist in Call of Duty). games can get into political trouble when they look like real world and have flip flopped ethics (GTA).

Abstract vs Representational

All games have compromises on realism, some more than others.

Abstract games can have arbitrary rules.

Representational games must avoid “conceptual non-sequiturs” because they represent a world similar to the one the player is familiar with. (example is James Bond game where fuel tank had a medkit inside it when blown up).

My Closing Thoughts

This was a useful talk about game design and gave a lot of good questions to ask yourself when designing games. I highly recommend watching the talk for yourself. You can find it on Youtube here.

Lessons in Productivity: Overcoming Procrastination

One of the major forms of resistance when working on any project is the temptation to put it off until tomorrow. The problem comes when you wake up a year later and realize you did nothing. So here are a few ways to overcome one of the most pervasive vices of mankind.

Start Smaller

This is the mistake I make time and time again. I even did it with the first game of this year. The final goal looks so big and time demanding and mentally holding everything that it takes to get there is just exhausting so you put it off. But that is not how you start things.

The phrase that keeps coming up when I read about productivity is “How do you eat an elephant? …. One bite at a time.”

And it is true. Don’t think of the whole problem. It often overwhelms and keeps us from taking the first steps.

If you need to, make the first step ridiculously simple (like turn on your computer or open your notebook and get a pen) and list out 2 or 3 simple steps that you know you can do to get started, then do them. After you are done, do it again.

This builds momentum and gets you in the habit of doing instead of putting off.

Find the Pleasure

When you find yourself wanting to procrastinate, stop and think about what it is you are avoiding and why it is bad. What happens if you actually finish it? What are the physical, emotional, or spiritual rewards? What are the consequences of not doing it? What are you planning on doing instead?

Tony Robbins, a self-mastery kind of guru, proposes that the reason we do things is because we associate them with pleasure and the reason we don’t do things is we associate those things with pain. But you can condition yourself to associate the task you are finding difficult with pleasure.

Find the Why

Most of the information I have found about becoming successful and productivity says that if somebody has a strong enough reason, they will do something.

Are you writing that blog post just because you think you should have a blog or because you have an idea you really need to share? Are you building that app because you feel like you should, or because you want to learn and grow as a developer and bring your ideas to life in a computer?

You will only do things consistently and well if you have a good enough reason. Find your reason for doing what you are doing and make sure it lines up with your life goals.

Change your State

Another idea I got from Tony Robbins, change your physical state if you are feeling like procrastinating. Often we put off stuff because we feel tired or mentally exhausted. This may be because of bad diet and lack of exercise, but regardless simply improving your physical posture as if you had energy, taking some deep breaths and putting a smile on your face often helps you feel better and gets you in a state to get things done (a brisk walk will help as well).

All Together Now

These are just a few of the ways to beat procrastination but they are effective. Use them and get more done this week. Procrastinate next week.

Game 1 of 2016 Design Notes

Since I have not found a better method yet to start my game design process with, I am using the 10 things every game needs as the foundation for the first game I make in 2016.

The Game

Part of the first game’s goal is also to learn how to build an app for Android and how to release it in the Google Play Store, so it needs to be pretty simple. I do not want to be doing animation, multiplayer or any other complex stuff for game #1.

So I decided that a nice text adventure should be a good first app. Also, last year I did not make any games of this type so it is a new genre to learn about making.


The first thing any game needs is a goal. For our text adventure, the goal is simply to reach 1 of X (X probably being 4 right now) endings where the player is still alive. These ending may vary wildly in their perceived desirability with some leading to riches and others maybe leading to minimum survival but the goal is just to get to a survivor ending.


As with most text adventure games, it will be a game of choices. Choices that players make early affect the choices presented to them later.

Also, this game will have some resources that make the player choose when to use and what they can bring along with them. The choice options will depend on the players items and other resources.


This does not really exist in this game as it is single player. The player only interacts with the game and the choices that are presented to him. We can sort of simulate an opponent through the story, but I feel that this is not in the spirit of this particular design element.

Catch Up Feature

Again, since this is a single player game this does not really apply. There could be choices that allow the player to risk something to gain more resources if they managed them poorly in the beginning of the adventure so they can reach one of the survivor endings. I will have to think of how to implement that.


There is no going backwards through the story. Once you have made a decision it cannot be reversed. Pretty straightforward inertia.


Unless someone has played through the entire game several times, they cannot know what the consequences of their actions are or how to get to a certain ending. Each choice is a surprise. Also, some elements of the story can include surprise like events. Even a little randomness could be added.


Managing your resources and learning the best response to the enemies you encounter to get to the best possible ending is where strategy comes in.


The book I am currently reading on game design states that the purpose of game design is to evoke an enjoyable experience from the player. This can be the choice making and the surprise one gets from unexpected consequences of the choices that were made.


This is usually whatever scifi or fantasy story I am currently reading, but I think it will be a cross up of several stories. Leaning towards having the player start in a crash landed escape pod, waking up with amnesia on a planet with dinosaur like animals and a mix of futuristic and modern day technology. With the usual intergalactic war, pirates, mercenaries, crime lords and politicians.


I think I actually need to do some research into hooks for text adventure style games. The only thing I can think of for this is “Find out who you are by the choices you make. Run by the most powerful graphics processor known to man, the human imagination.” Borrowed the last bit from the Big Bang Theory from where the main character, Sheldon, plays a text adventure.

Final Thoughts

Its not perfect but it is something to start with and that is one of the most important things. If you don’t get started, you will never figure out what works and what needs to change.

Keep growing and learning.

Making Games: Paper Prototyping

Paper prototyping is an easy and inexpensive method of testing out game ideas and anybody can do it. Basically all you need is a pencil or pen and a piece of paper of any type.

The idea is to simulate the game you are designing to get an idea of the different parts of design before you make a large time and effort investment into creating a digital or more exact physical prototype.

Paper Beats Rock

There is a short but noteworthy list of advantages to prototyping a game with paper.

Paper does not grow on trees. Or does it?

You can literally paper prototype for free if you don’t want to use actual paper but will settle for dirt, sticks, rocks, etc. Single person shops and small studios (even large studios really) can always stand to save a little money. What better way than to start your designs in the cheapest way possible.

However if you do want to be slightly more sophisticated, a few standard office supplies is all you need to get started.

People are not scared of paper

A major benefit of prototyping with paper is when you are working with non-techy people such as artist, sound engineers, and people who play games but don’t make them.

Where a computer and programming might scare somebody off, most people are comfortable working with paper and pencils.

This allows you to get design input from all sorts of people who would have been excluded before. Large teams where only a few members are programmers will especially benefit from this. Added benefit is you can remove all the pesky distracting technologies from the design area such as phones and computers.

Fill the wastebasket

Throw away the bad ideas early, its just on paper after all.

The disposability of paper makes it ideal for iterating thru ideas quickly. This gets you to the better ideas quicker and makes you feel less guilty than if you had invested a lot of time into writing the code and creating the art for a digital prototype.

This does not mean you have to throw out whole ideas every time. Using paper in different sizes, like sticky notes and index cards, allows you to replace small parts to find what works.

More than plain paper

Just using a paper and pencil is fine but using a few more office supplies and a few odds and ends make paper prototyping even more versatile and useful.

The articles and videos I watched doing research on this suggest a long list of articles that could be useful:

  • Colored paper
  • Index cards
  • Sticky notes
  • Tape
  • Glue sticks
  • Scissors
  • Poker chips
  • Dice – for randomness
  • Pieces from board games
  • Any other office equipment you can think of

There are really no limits on the physical objects you use for paper prototyping.

I recommend watching a few videos on youtube of people demonstrating games using paper prototypes. Several have been done and they are very creative in simulating things with paper, some tape and some short sticks to manipulate actors in their game.

Hard to Draw

Some game styles do not lend themselves well to paper prototyping. It is not a one size fits all approach. Real time strategy games, first person shooters, and games with a lot of action do not lend themselves to paper prototyping.

Also, some concepts do not translate well or are hard to simulate on paper such as screen loading time, colors, images, fonts, and scrolling horizontally or vertically.

The colors, images and fonts problem can be partially solved by using a printer to get hard copies of some of these things but this is not always practical.

Lessons from the Field

In my research I found several great suggestions about things to do and try while prototyping with paper.

Put Notes on your Paper

Put design notes directly on the design, front or back, for when you actually go to build the thing. They will have context and be easier to find.

Get User Expectations

Have a tester/user draw what they think would happen when they push a button or perform some sort of action. This will lead to better user interface design and help find unclear design features.

Cut the Paper Down to Size

Try to accurately represent in the size of the paper, the size of the computer screen you are designing the game for. If its for a phone, get some standard phone sizes, a ruler and a pair of scissors and cut your paper down to size (or use index cards). Same for tablets and other digital devices.

Get Creative

One video I watched, the guy was talking about designing the game Paperboy. In it he described how they had one person sliding poker chips across paper while others tossed poker chips at them that they had to avoid.

Don’t just limit yourself to drawing things.

Wrapping Up

Paper prototyping is an inexpensive method to rapidly prototype games used by both industry professionals and beginners. It is beneficial in being able to get the design input of non technical people, and being disposable so that you can iterate faster to get to the fun.

Further Reading

A List Apart: Paper Prototyping
Game Career Guide: 5 Facts for Paper Prototyping
Video: Play without Pixels
Video: Dr Ben Lewis-Evans on Paper Prototyping

2016 Goals and Plans

In my last post I reviewed my progress and struggles from 2015. Today, I want to turn the focus completely around to planning for the new year.

New Goals


Although I did not hit my writing goal of 1 blog post a week in 2015, I am not going to keep that goal the same. I am in fact increasing it to 2 blog posts a week with a 3rd blog post added to a buffer.

I am sort of borrowing this from some financial advice I read in a book called “The Richest Man in Babylon” and from advice given by some of the podcasts I listen to.

The idea is to avoid the scenario that I ran into last year where I met the resistance of life – having to move, go to the dentist, going on vacation with no internet access – and still be able to meet my goals by building a buffer of articles.

In short, goal for 2016 is 104 blog posts published and a small buffer of posts set up for when I am unavailable. The first instance of this is end of January so I really have to get started.

In addition to writing about programming and game design, I will dabble slightly into mindset and productivity tips, much like I did in 2015.

Programming and Games

For this goal, I am actually lowering the number of games I plan to produce to 4 but planning on increasing the quality.

Each of the games last year was sort of blocky and ugly with thrown together graphics and no sound. This year I want to release 1 game per quarter and I want to be able to release them to the Google Play store for Android.

Education and Personal Improvement

Although continual personal improvement has always been my goal, I wanted to add a little direction to it and add it here because it should be relevant to the first two areas.

I plan to read through 6 books on game creation or game design and incorporate the ideas into my games. Keep in mind that books on game design that are not about video game design are still relevant.

On top of that, I plan on finding and reading at least 1 article or watching at least 1 video on programming and game development every week.


It doesn’t matter how good I write or how good my games are if nobody is reading my writing or playing my games. Therefore, I plan on getting at least 100 people to read my blog every month by the end of 2016.

Here We Go

Looking forward to next year and seeing how instead of falling short of my goals, I exceeded every single one of them.

Until next time.

How Did I Do? 2015 in Review

Ah, a fresh New Year. That time when most people make New Year’s statements about the things they wish would happen automatically in their life and make half hearted attempts to make them come true.

I do not believe in “New Years Resolutions” but I do believe in making a plan for the new year and setting some SMART goals and following through with them in the coming year. In case you have not heard of SMART goals before they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

First we will review how we did last year.

Last Year’s Goals

At the beginning of 2015 I set some public goals for myself (public being used loosely here because a new blog like this has 0 readers). Let’s see how I did.

Goal 1 – Write 1 Blog Post per Week

You can see for yourself that I only got half way there on this goal writing 26 out of the 52 planned posts.

What Went Wrong

I started out good and was writing and posting every Sunday for the first 4 months, then I met Resistance (aka “Life”) and let my writing ritual become sporadic.

The Resistance in this case was I moved cities on a little shorter notice than I liked and spent at least 4 weekends in a row in the new city looking for a new apartment before the move.

I allowed this to break my writing streak and did not recover from it for the rest of the year.

Also, in August I was in Thailand for 2 weeks and traveling everyday without access to internet (which was surprisingly enjoyable) and although I had already planned to be gone and unable to write or post for those 2 weeks, I failed to build a buffer of posts ahead of time.

As far as I know, I have 0 readers for this blog. Which is entirely my fault as I do 0 marketing currently. Planning on changing that this year.

What Went Right

I wrote 26 freaking blog posts!!! Which is 25 more than I wrote the year before and a bunch more than most programmers wrote this year. Definitely a major improvement.

I did stick to a schedule for the first part of the year.

I learned the importance of having a buffer for when Resistance shows up so that the goal will be met. This is similar to insurance or an emergency fund in financial terms.

Goal 2 – Make 1 Game per Month for 11 Months

Again I got about half way there and was doing well until the same Resistance mentioned before but for this one, I also made additional mistakes.

What Went Wrong

First of all, letting resistance break my streak and not recovering same as with the writing. But I made 2 additional mistakes.

First, I started making a game by building a part that was not essential to the game. Game number 5 is a space ship tactics game and instead of starting by building a game board with ships that could move and fight, I built a fleet construction menu which handicapped me when I actually tried to make the playable part of the game. It became easier to start again from scratch than to try to untangle the mess I had made for myself.

Having this mess to slog through to try to finish the game made working on it no fun and so I kept putting it off to do more enjoyable things like reading a book or playing video games. It took me a while to get around to the solution of starting over with a playable MVP.

Second, I switched programming languages/platforms in the middle of the year to one that was not game focused. While this is not really a bad thing, it did cost me a little time learning the second new platform.

What Went Right

I learned a ton. Having never made games before, this was a fantastic learning experience. Now I can say that I have made 5 games.

I got to watch some people try my games. A few friends and family members tested my games for me and it was an great learning experience watching them learn the controls and ask questions to help me learn what was missing. Play testers are invaluable. Try to find as many as possible.

There are now 5 “completed” programming projects that I did that I can put on a Resume in the event that I ever need another job. This is worth it just by itself.

Goal 3 – Take on and complete 6 Freelance contracts

Zero is the number you are looking for if you want to know how many freelance contracts I got.

Not entirely for lack of trying. Admittedly I made no effort until after I moved and then my effort was not focused or very determined, there was no real desire.

I did manage to have a discussion with a guy about a possible job, but it was an overly complicated app idea that I did not feel was in my wheelhouse or would make a good app.

However, I was able to pass along some advice from a freelance and entrepreneur podcast to a friend of mine so not all of my research was wasted.

Nothing went overly right or wrong for this goal because nothing really went at all. Not worried about it though.


2015 was another year of learning, but with action. I wrote more than I had in any previous year and programmed 5 video games that I can show to people.

Sure I did not meet my goals, but having goals and planning things got me to do more than I ever had before. For that, I say 2015 was a success.

Stay tuned for goals for 2016.