Friday, June 29, 2012

We are all idiots…sometimes

A while ago, a colleague of mine found a set of keys on the sofa while in the lounge area that our company shared with other companies. He immediately asked our group if we had lost our keys and when everyone's found their favorite beer opening key chain (we were young) in their pocket, my colleague promptly brought the keys to the building manager.

The building manager, after checking with all the other companies in the building, still had not found the owner for the keys. He came to our room where we're all sitting and asked if we all had our keys. By instinct everyone's hand went to their pocket again to double check, as is often the case when someone asked if someone is missing something. "Oh, I lost my keys!" says the guy who found them in the first place! He brought is own set of keys to lost and found. This guys was smart, he showed me how to play Go.

Another friend of mine went to the arcade and played a side scroller shoot them up game. He says "I remember how good I was playing them, especially since it was my first playing this game". After a good couple of minutes being awesome at this game, a guy came and force himself by him and on the machine. "I couldn't believe the audacity of this guy, to just push me aside like that". Than the newcomer dropped a quarter in the machine which promptly put the machine out of demo mode. "It wasn’t even me playing after all! I just walked away".

I swear this guy is one of the smartest guy I know. Although he was never as good as on that day at playing video games, he can make sense of very complex problems and "cut through the crap" that can sometime accompanied multiple level of management.

Seth Godin said in Linchpin: “Everyone, every single person, has been a genius at least once. Everyone has winged it, invented, and created their way out of a jam at least once”. I fully agree with him. I’ve been in plenty of meetings where the source of a much needed answer did not come from the expected “thinkers or leaders”.

On the opposite end, you find Scott Adams, Dilbert cartoonist who said: “No matter how smart you are, you spend much of your day being an idiot”. I can certainly vouch for this myself.

Only when you put the two lines of thinking together can you really appreciate the big picture of your daily life.

Most people go through their days patting themselves on the back when they do something smart, and so they should. What we don't do enough is to stop and think if we did something really stupid. We should celebrate our victories, but we should also give a good retrospection on our failures.

Next time, I’ll be picking on a personal example of doing stupid things, even though I might have looked smart doing it. The smart idiots are always the most dangerous!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Minimum Viable Product - Curiosity

Whenever I look at a new project, I always ask myself what is the least amount of work that I can do to prove that this product can be fun or have a business case (and hopefully both). I was reading about Curiosity on today and I thought to myself: "That's probably the most MVP potential for a game I've ever seen". Seriously, they could release the game now with a cube in a room and spend months developing the actual product while people are chipping away at a cube. Only when the features are ready do you have to put in the field and say "The players chipped at it so much that now you have access to a slightly better hammer" (that you have to pay for). So that got me thinking, couldn't I release that game before they do??? How hard can it be to make a cube? So without further delay, here is my first release of Curiosity. Don't expect to chip away too fast at it though, I don't expect I'll ever have the foot traffic that 22 Cans would have releasing the exact same cube :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

IOS Unity Essential book review

I received the IOS Unity Essential book to review from Packt Publishing.  It seems lately that they have been getting a lot of books out that has been getting my attention and this was one of them.

You can find more info on the book here and there is also a sample chapter available.

Looking at the TOC, I couldn't wait to dive right in, so I skimmed some of the chapters for some of interest.  Although even chapter 1 covered some topics that got me hitting my head against the wall when I first tried putting my game on the IOS devices.  So if you are new to this, starting at the beginning will be helpful :)

The IOS performance guide was one of those chapters that peaked my interest.  Unfortunately, it fell below my expectation.  Many of the tips was more game design oriented rather than performance trick.  Which isn't bad per say, but I'm a tech head.  I would always consider a game design work around if I needed to, but I would first want to prove that I can't do it first.  It seems like some subject should have been split in their own chapter (i.e. First Person shooter basics?) There was still some helpful tricks to learn though.

I found that the game design angle was repeated in some of the following chapter as well.  Again, it's fine, but if my game is to be a game with based largely on a flying camera element, you can't say that you shouldn't do fly-by because of the cost of this feature.

Although few books on Unity covered the particle system before (sorry, no Shuriken coverage in this book), I believe this is the first one to cover Shaders!  I thought they did a pretty good job at describing the surface shaders in Unity.  They covered a lot of the basics and finished with examples of the Gem and Water shaders that you can find on the store or within Unity itself.

All in all, I thought this book was a good start, especially if you are new to Unity and you want to target IOS devices.  If you have a lot of experience in Unity already, you can probably skip this one and hope that there is a more advanced book that comes out soon.