Monthly Archives: August 2016

Secret of Success: Get Enough Sleep

This past week I traveled for work and somewhat disrupted my regular sleep and work schedule. I ended up staying up a little later but still getting up at the same time.

To cap it off, Friday I stayed up until about 1 A.M. and then got up at 6 A.M. to drive home. On Monday when it was time to go back to work, I was feeling exhausted all day and had significant trouble getting work done for my job and got zero writing and programming done for myself.

Thankfully by Tuesday, I was feeling much more rested (in spite of getting up at 5:15 A.M.).

Some People Don’t Do Well Because They Don’t Feel Well

If you are tired and not feeling 100%, you usually do not do your best work.

You probably do not feeling like working either.

It is hard to be creative and solve problems if you are exhausted.

Sleep Tips

Here are a few tips that are likely to be relevant to you, especially if you are into programming and/or video games like me.
You might already know some of these, but a reminder is always good.

  • Exercise: Getting some exercise in everyday will help you sleep better at night.
  • Get Sunlight: Going outside and allowing your eyes to have natural lighting will help you sleep better at night. In some places and for some professions that don’t get sunlight much, a special kind of light for therapy is often used to help.
  • Avoid Screen Time Near Bed Time: Many studies have shown that we have trouble falling asleep and getting good quality of sleep if we are using screens that shine light directly into our eyes before we try to sleep.
  • Mind the Caffeine: Personally I usually try to avoid caffeine because I can be a little sensitive to its effects and I am not a big fan of the crash that comes a day or two later. Even if you only start the day with coffee or some other caffeinated beverage, it can still effect your sleep that evening.
  • Cool It Down: Cooling the temperature in the room will help your body relax and fall asleep easier.

How Do You Feel?

One of the key indicators for whether or not you are getting enough high quality sleep is how you feel in the morning.

Do you wake up ready to get out of bed or are you hitting the snooze button 7 times?

If its the later, try some of the tips above and even search for other ways to get the sleep you need.

Success Is Difficult If You Don’t Have The Energy


As I sit to write this post, I feel small twinges of exactly what I am writing about. Fear that it is pointless to write this and that it is a waste of time. But it needs to be written because Fear is exactly what will keep you from making a great game or doing anything great.

Another Name

Another name for Fear that has been given is the Resistance. Most of the people I have heard use this term reference a book called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I have written a little about this Resistance before, but I think it is such a major factor in holding people back, myself included, that it needs to be readdressed occasionally.

Common Fears

In one of the classic books on success titled Think and Grow Rich, the author list 6 categories of fear that most fears can be grouped under.

  1. Fear of Poverty
  2. Fear of Criticism
  3. Fear of Ill Health
  4. Fear of Loss of Love
  5. Fear of Old Age
  6. Fear of Death

Today we will look at the fears of poverty and criticism because they seem to be the most likely culprits in keeping creative people from doing great things.


Fear of poverty is characterized by things that keep you poor such as worry, doubt, indecision, and procrastination. It makes you overcautious and unwilling to take the risks which you need to take to become richer. And often the risks are not really risky at all. It turns out it is usually more risky to keep the status quo than to make the changes necessary to achieve success.


For writing and making games especially this is a big one. I think it is the one that keeps me from wanting to hit the publish button every time I write a post and that keeps me from wanting to show someone a rough version of a game.

You are not likely to become poor from writing for free on the Internet or from showing people the games you are making. However, you are likely to receive some criticism, especially if you have any sort of audience. It is impossible to make everybody happy. But often the criticism comes from people whose opinion of us does not matter. As far as games are concerned, criticism is exactly what we need. We need fresh eyes to take a critical look at our games and we need the criticism and insight that they offer.

There is a fairly well known quote from Theodore Roosevelt that says

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

What Do We Do?

There are a couple of ways to get past the fears. One is to talk about them, they hate that. The part of your brain that likes to bring up fears does not like you to look at them directly and consider the worst outcomes and the likely outcomes.

Another way is to ask good questions. What is the likely outcome of performing this action? What is the worst outcome? Who might criticize me and do I care that they do? Who am I helping by doing this? Start asking yourself questions about why you don’t want to do something.

A final way of getting past fear is just make what you want to do a must and turn it into a habit. Every day you will do this thing. It helps to make it the first thing you do when you get up.

I hope this help you get past some of your fears that are preventing you from writing that blog post or showing someone the game your are working on.

Use a Sharpener

While reading through Clean Code today, I was surprised to reach the end. Even though there were 80 or so pages left in the digital version of the book, they were all appendix and index. So today is the “what have we learned day.”

Keep It Sharp

One of the most common stories about self improvement is the story of the man felling a tree. Usually this man has a saw or an axe and is working very hard but making little progress. A friend comes by and notices the tool is very dull. When this is pointed out, the man felling the tree usually says that he does not have time to sharpen his axe because he has to get this tree down. Most people can see the irony that if he would spend a little time keeping the axe sharp, the tree would be down quicker.

This is the point of reading books and doing other forms of continuous education. As creators and designers we need to keep our skills sharp so we can be more effective.

Fragrant Code

The essence of Clean Code is summarized nicely in its last chapter called “Code Smells.” It gives a list of heuristics of “smells” that, if you find them in your code, can be warning signs of poor code design.

Importance of Clean Code

One of the most beneficial things that I have gotten from learning how to write cleaner code is being able to come back to code I wrote a week ago and more easily pick up where I left off. Sometimes life happens and I don’t get the opportunity to work on my games every day. And one of the things I noticed as I was reading this book was a lot of the time as I tried to make games quick and with my limited time, I sacrificed a lot of code cleanliness.

And this is ok. But what I did not do, and what is very important to do is go back and clean up or refactor that original code. Otherwise your pace will start to slow down as you dig through to find what that function does and have to rewrite that other one to handle some new case. You will be trying to chop the tree down with a dull axe.

So Sharpen Yourself

Knowing that you need to stay sharp doesn’t do a whole lot. You have to actually take the time to read, to watch and to learn. If you write any code at all, I would recommend reading through Clean Code if you haven’t already. And if you have, read it again.

Even if you never plan on writing code, just the principles that help keep code clean will help you keep designs clean.

10/10 Would recommend reading.

July 2016 End of Month Goal Review

It’s August already. Where has this year gone? Lets take a look at how I did in on my goals in July.


  1. Write 3 Blog Posts Per Week and Publish 2 – I wrote and published exactly 5 posts in July. The writing goal was 12 and the publishing goals was 8. This is why it is important to check the numbers every so often. I am clearly not hitting my writing goals.
  2. 1 Game Designed, Created, and Released Per Quarter – The rough draft of a card game was made (Design) but no further work has been done on it. I have been steadily working to finish multiplayer for Drone Tournament (Game #2 of 2016) instead, and I have been making good progress. Some of the server side code could be cleaner but it is almost an MVP for play testing.
  3. 1 Book Read Every 2 Months on Game Design – Still making my way through Clean Code, in fact I just read a few pages before writing this. On page 340 out of about 460 pages so 75% done. Making good progress actually and the principles in it have been invaluable in improving my code for my games and also for my day job.
  4. 1 Article Read Or 1 Video Watched About Game Design/Creation Per Week – I don’t actually remember July that well as far as this subject goes. I do remember listening to some podcast episodes on a new podcast I found, but other than that not much.
  5. Get 100 People Reading Evolving Developer Per Month – I have noticed a couple people have followed links from a forum post I did linking to a tutorial on how to handle a certain camera interaction. Maybe more of these kinds of tutorial posts that teach something useful and actionable and that deal with specific problems are what I need to be doing.

What Went Right

Drone Tournament multiplayer is coming along steadily and is almost done. My code is getting cleaner and I am on track to finish reading book #2 of 2016 on the schedule I set for myself. I am getting a tiny, tiny bit of traffic to a certain article that solves a specific problem. Bonus thing that went right is that Monkey-X full version dropped its price to about $40 instead of $100. I was already thinking about getting it and this makes it an even easier decision.

What Is Not Perfect Yet

My writing volume was at less than half of my stated goal per week for July and my publishing of that writing was only slightly better than half. Game #2 was not released on time and is not yet finished. I did not keep track of the articles and videos I watched on games and game design so I don’t remember if I hit my goal or not. And still don’t have even 1 daily visitor to my blog.

Corrective Measures

In order to keep writing volume up, instead of starting every day with coding on the current game for the quarter, I will start everyday with at least 15 minutes of writing. In order to get Game #2 finished, the writing will be followed by at least an hour of designing and coding the finishing touches on the game. I start keeping a list of every article that I read and video that I watch on game design in Evernote to refer back to later to see how I am doing. And finally, I will begin writing more tutorial type posts and sharing them in the Monkey-X forums for people to use.

More Progress Mixed With Difficulty

Game Devs Like You

One of the many things that my studies in success have consistently directed me towards is forming a Mastermind. The word may sound fancy but it is simply the idea of 2 or more people who meet together to share advice and ideas.

In game development especially, a mastermind would be extremely helpful. Sharing resources, pitfalls, and ideas in something so complicated is extremely beneficial to all involved.

So a few months ago I started looking into this a little more seriously. I have not found or formed a mastermind as yet, but I did find an opportunity to join one remotely.


Gamekedo is a game development club organized by Chris DeLeon. They work mostly in Unity and work together to make games.

The club has monthly dues but for someone just starting out in game development it sounds like a great opportunity (especially if you are interested in Unity).

Game Devs Like You

In addition to the club, Chris also runs the Game Devs Like You podcast in which he interviews people in game development. I have only listened to the first couple episodes so far but they are fantastic. The first episode is with a game dev who is only 12 years old (what’s your excuse?).

It is an encouraging and informative podcast and I will be adding it to my Ultimate List of Game Development Podcasts

If you don’t already have a group to discuss games and game design with, consider looking for one in your area or online.