Warning: Internet may be addictive
Back on topic: I have come to the conclusion that the Internet is getting unhealthily addictive for me. Yesterday I was following my usual routine, which was to check my email shortly after waking up, followed by news and all the forums I like to visit. Then I would scan through the journals here for what people were up to, and check for replies to anything I was following. Reply to a few threads, maybe read something actually relevant to what I was meant to be working on, then it's time to check my email again. Repeat the whole process over again. Before you know it the day is almost gone and you have not gotten anything productive done all day.
So given I am working at home this weekend, I decided to restrict all my internet access to just one hour. I pulled the plug on my connection and told myself I would only have it connected through 5:30 and 6:30 pm; anything that needed to be done online would have to be done then (although I am allowed to prepare ahead, such as typing up this journal entry, and I am allowed to save things for reading later). Surpisingly I found this quite hard to keep - I kept having a nagging feeling I should be checking my email or I was missing something on the forums. I guess this a more serious problem than I thought. I will have to try and keep this up throughout the week to see if I get more productive, although I might have to make some concessions during the weekdays when everyone expects you to be constantly plugged into your email.
Because of this self imposed restriction, I will have to be more prudent about what I do here in the forums. I enjoy reading through the threads here and offering advice, but to fit this into my schedule I will have to stop reading through things at random. Thus I will try to adhere to the follow criteria for what I bother to read (warning - may degenerate into mini-rants!):
- I will ignore any threads that do not give an indicator about what they are about in their title. Anything entitled "Please help me" or "Need advice - thanks" is annoyingly vague.
- I will ignore anything that has "MMO" in the title, for a few reasons. I do not play MMO games, so I cannot offer informed advice on the current titles. And for techincal or design issues, the MMO threads fall into two categories. The first, by far the majority, are obviously doomed projects. The second, those that have a glimmer of a chance of being completed, invariably are being created by people who are skilled enough that they do not need my help. Either way I might as well ignore the MMO threads, strangely compelling that they are.
- I will not bother putting significantly more thought into a reply than the original poster has put into their question. If the original poster has not bothered to do any research of their own, or expects an essay response from a three line question, then they do not really deserve any responses.
- Extension to the previous point: I will not reply to and rate down to the floor anyone who uses chat or leet speak in their question. I do not mind spelling mistakes or grammatical errors (many posters here do not have English as a native language, and I respect that), but if you cannot be bothered to spend the split second it takes to spell "you" with three letters then it is extremely rude to expect anyone to spend any time at all reading the drivel that you posted. Plus I find it bloody annoying to read. I may extend this to include the use of "lolz" as a form of punctuation. Exceptions will be granted for sarcastic uses, of course.
- I will ignore anyone who is not bothering to pay attention to what other people have posted. This one annoys me too. Back when I started teaching I promised to myself I would try to be kind, understanding and helpful to anyone willing to learn. However if someone shows that they are not willing to learn, my justification for being helpful vanishes.
Many of these problems can be avoided by being sensible with your forum posts, but it is amazing how many of those threads fall into one of those categories. I know the list went on a while, but I suppose I am a bit sick of the bad questions I see with alarming frequency. Plus I am killing time until 5:30 [smile].
Progress Report - Going Indie?
So far in 2007, I have not done that much actual game development. The reasons for this are complicated, but I will attempt to explain, along with what I have been up to in my dev time the last month or so.
Back in January, I mentioned that this will most likely be the last year of my postgraduate studies. While it is possible I could keep going into 2008, after about March next year things get a lot more difficult from the administration point of view (it would be very hard to get scholarship funding, for example), so it is extremely sensible to aim to finish this year, early next year at the latest. For this goal, I have been spending a lot of the last month getting things prepared and planned, and switching to thesis writing mode. There has been a lot of administration to get done, but now I think I am ready to switch to the general hard slog of getting things completed.
I still want to get game development done though. Back last month, I thought it was best to just take the development as it comes, and do not attempt to do anything too serious. But after doing all the planning for the year, getting the forms in to admin for the year ahead, and now finally my birthday clocking my age over one more year have got me thinking about what I will be doing next year when I (hopefully) wear my silly hat and get given my fancy piece of paper. Academia is still a core option, the reason why I have been doing this degree. But I realise with some thought that I still want to be making games, just like I did when I was a child, teenager and undergraduate and even after my short stint in the "real world" of game development.
Given I still want to make games, the question is whether to aim for hobby, mainstream or indie. I would not mind keeping game development merely a hobby, but I would need another job to pay the bills. The mainstream development industry still seems to be ruled by people who care much more about money than games (rant for another day). But the indie market is now looking very compelling. At the low end it could still be considered a hobby, just one that is being run as a business. At the high end it could just possibly earn enough money to run as a full-time business.
So for the last few weeks or so as I am been planning things I have been reading up about business strategy, getting a few new good books on running a business and enrolling in a quick start-up course run here at uni (usefully it is a recommended part of my PhD program). To tell you the truth, I am finding the problems on the business side of things a strangely interesting challenge.
As such, this is taking most of the time away from programming or "standard" game dev. I will get back into that soon, as I still plan to finish Ice Slider as a technology test of a game system. But at the moment I am trying to wrap my head around what it would take to go properly indie by selling games over the internet.
Ah darn it - it's past 5:30 pm and I'm eating into my Internet time! I will post more later. I may be posting more in the business forums as time goes by as I get more questions, and filling my journal up with businessy related opinions and other confusing things for a short while. Hope this does not bore you [smile]