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The journals will return

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Trapper Zoid


The journals are back up! Huzzah! I missed two weekly reports due to the downtime, so I'll quickly sum up what I've been doing over the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately not much of it has been directly game dev related, but indirectly it's been important. Basically it boils down to three activities; 1) getting organised, 2) spending money like a mad eejit and 3) spending money like a mad eejit to get organised.

I have an abundance of manilla folders

At the start of the fortnight, I was still getting to grips with the basics of David Allen's "Getting Things Done". I had set myself to file the massive pile of paperwork that I'd let collect over the last years, and with my game dev work mixed in with my postgraduate papers it took a fair bit longer that I'd thought. But now everything is filed away in a series of archive boxes that masquerade as filing cabinets.

Not unsurprisingly, it seems a lot of my files start with the letter P, as "PhD", "Papers", "Publications" as well as the infamous "Project" all start with the letter. I suppose it is convienient that I code named all my game dev projects as "Project Something", but given my tendency to dream up new projects and sketch things from them it does lead to a lot of folders:

Folders starting with Project and the Labelenator

These are just the ones that start with "Project": that's the complete list of sketches and occasionally plans for games from the last year or so [smile]. Guess I won't be getting stuck for an idea in the next few decades.

This also shows my new toy, the Labelenator! Or more accurately, a Dymo Letra Tag QX50 desktop labelling machine. Allen recommended buying a labeler to give your files a more professional look, as he said the psychological and functional benefits would be worth it. In retrospect, I think he's right; it certainly looks professional to have all those labels in a row. However the thing eats through tape like it was candy, and that tape isn't cheap. Still, I'm happy with the way the filing is going. I also bought a whole bunch of other office supplies at the same time, so I'm unlikely to need more manilla folders for some time.

I'm still not fully used to the organisational system recommended in the book, but I feel I'm getting a bit more organised. I'm in the habit of making lists a lot better than I used to, however now I'm swamped with the amount of things I need to do I'm going to make a more conscious effort to get things done over the rest of February and hopefully the planning system will become second nature.

I have an impressive amount of plastic containers

My organisational flurry soon spilled out to the rest of the junk I keep around this tiny student unit, and I ended up sorting through everything and refiling things into new places. It had to be done, as I was running out of space and needed a good clean, although I suspect I'm up to the stage in my postgrad work where I'm looking for creative ways to procrastinate [smile].

Some of the many plastic containers I recently bought

These are just some of the many plastic containers I've now got stashed all over the place. Everything looks a lot cleaner now, and hopefully I'll be able to access stuff without having to shift a pile of junk to get to it.

I have a shiny new computer

My MacBook Pro

I recently splunked down the cash to get my first laptop and Apple computer, a MacBook Pro. I was thinking of getting a MacBook, but there was a recent firesale and it wasn't that much more to get a discount MacBook Pro with a larger screen. It's one of the older models, dual Intel Core 1 rather than 2, and slightly slower and with a smaller hard drive than the new models. It also came with a very slight scratch on the top of the case, which isn't much of a deal (especially given the discount) except the thing is so shiny it bugs me a bit it's already slightly marred. But other than that it seems to look and work fine, although I haven't had long to play around with it yet.

My main problem at the moment is my totally unfamiliarity with Mac OS X combined with my awkwardness of using a laptop, but I'm sure I'll get used to it. I'll be needing this to do a lot of typing this year, so I'm sure it will grow on me. Soon I'll see how easy it is to use X-code to do development work on the Mac, and I hope to get some cross-platform development happening soon.

I have some new art books

Some new drawing books bought on a whim

Finally for the picture section, I also picked up a couple of new drawing books (I guess I'm in a buying mood). The first is Christopher Hart's "Cartoon Cool: How to Draw Retro style Characters". Hart's books have always seemed a bit hit and miss to me, apart from the stupid titles ("Cartoon Cool?", geez). I found his "Manga Mania: How to Draw Japanese Comics" to be not that useful; it's more a collection of pictures he drew rather than a decent instruction on how to draw them. But this new book seems to be a lot better organised, and has some useful stuff in there. Plus I've always liked the retro look, and suspect my natural style is gravitating that way, so it's good to give some proper retro a go in my art practice.

The second book is Ben Caldwell's "Fantasy Cartooning", which I haven't had much of a chance to look at yet. I mainly got it because I really like the style he's got in there; it's a good collection of cartoony fantasy art that looks like it would go well with a game. It's a bit more detailed a style than retro though, so I don't know how efficient I'd be at it. Still it's always good to expand my library.

And that's all for now...

I've got a lot more I probably need to add, but I don't want to overwhelm the journal after such a long hiatis. As for what I'm presently up to: now that I've got all my past work organised I'm now organising the future. Time is getting increasingly stretched for me at the moment, and there's a lot I need and would like to get done. I'd still like to keep working on game dev this year, as well as actually be productive, but for that to happen I need to plan ahead, set some objectives and attempt to use my time wisely.

More will be posted later. Got some planning to finish up first. Thankfully I think the downtime at GameDev.net has helped with my internet addiction.
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