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slayemin

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slayemin last won the day on February 20

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About slayemin

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  1. slayemin

    What makes a game an "indie" game?

    Technically, "indie" just means your team isn't working with a publisher. You're going independent. That's not always good, and also its not always bad.
  2. slayemin

    Moved my office today

    Today I went to my co-working space in downtown Seattle and closed my old desk space. I had been renting a desk there for about 5 years, spending $400 a month. It made no sense to continue paying money for something I wasn't using anymore, so it was time to close down that operation. I am delighted to actually close it down though. Not only does it save me money every month, but it also means I can have my computer office at home now and I don't need to commute to a far away place to get work done. After I finish work at my day job, I can come home and do a little bit of work on my own projects And now that I've got steady income, I don't need to worry about scraping together enough money every month to just barely get by, only to worry about it again the following month. So the barrier for entry for doing work is extremely low and there are no distractions. I'm excited. This is going to be fantastic. The hardest decision is going to be deciding on what to work on next (I have a lot of passions and interesting things to work on and I need to pick just one to focus on). I have also recently taken up painting. I have never painted before but it turns out I'm not too shabby at it. I went to a local paint studio where you can drink and paint for two hours in a group and it was actually quite fun! Check these out. First painting ever: Second painting ever: There's some obvious novice mistakes with each of these and I don't have any practiced techniques down well, but I can't be too hard on myself given my lack of experience. Despite that, I'm happy with the results and only further practice will refine my skills and abilities. The lesson here is that just because you might be a technical person like me, it doesn't mean that you have forsaken other talents you may have. Programmers can be artists, and artists can be programmers! There is no rule saying you have to be one or the other but not both! In fact, I personally believe that being both creatively gifted and technically gifted is mutually beneficial to each respective gift. I can use my graphics programming experience to look at a scene and say where the lighting and shadows are wrong and apply that to painting to be a better painter, but at the same time, I can use the free wheeling, unconstrained creative side to come up with creative solutions to hard programming problems. In terms of work at my day job, I've been doing fantastic. I learned a few weeks ago that I had an excellent review and facebook wanted to extend my contract by another six months. That's a good sign! Yay, less things to worry about for at least a few more months! I feel I have been very productive at work as well and facebook has been very supportive of what I want to do. In July, I requested $70k in computer equipment to build myself a render farm, and about a month later, it's up and fully operational! I have my own little lab! My wings are spreading and I'm flying I wish I could talk more openly in public, but I must err on the side of caution -- those details will have to wait for another day. I suppose I am now officially an indie with a day job. No shame in that it's actually an excellent way to balance things, because the experience you get working professionally carries over to your own projects.
  3. slayemin

    The only constant in life is change.

    They have been! I've been busy I'm quite happy with where things are going even though life is changing gears.
  4. slayemin

    Creating a dev log in mid development?

    I think a better question to ask is "why should I start a dev log?" Are you trying to use it to market your game? Does this mean you're going to sell it commercially? Are you trying to share developer insights into game production? Is it just a "requirement" you think you need to satisfy to launch your game? (it isn't) I've done dev logs about my own game development and one thing I've learned is that it takes a lot of time to write them up. Even on a monthly basis, it can take a whole afternoon -- which could be spent making the game instead. Choose your dev log frequency and length carefully
  5. slayemin

    I'm quite happy

    Things have been going really great! * My moms chemo therapy is working. It's not a cure by any means, but it will buy her more lifetime. There's a very small chance that she might eventually get healthy enough to fly back to America. * One of the VR projects I worked on in Nov 2018 was recently nominated for an Emmy award. I'm sure the competition will be stiff, so I'm not really expecting it to win. I worked on the "putting it together" part, where I did the programming and tech platforms. A small, but important part of the production. To even have an app I worked on get nominated is quite a confidence booster though. * My day job at facebook reality labs has been going fantastic. I really enjoy the work I do and the work culture and atmosphere is fantastic. My team is great, there are no insane schedules and no mandatory overtime. We have a cafeteria which makes 3 meals a day, loads of delicious food and snacks, and the vending machines give you any computer hardware you need (mice, keyboards, cables, etc). IT helpdesk is super helpful too. This place is probably going to be the standard I use to measure working for other companies. I can't talk about what I work on though. Maybe that'll come out years down the road when & if its all public. That's one thing I miss about doing indie work: I could talk about anything I wanted to any degree of detail. * Weather has been nice, can't complain. My car works again. My commute is a glorious 4 miles away (10 minute drive). Unfortunately, I've been slacking a bit on my other side projects due to lack of time and energy. That's what day jobs do to ya
  6. slayemin

    The only constant in life is change.

    Oh, there's certainly good game studios to work at as well. I wish they'd make the news a bit more frequently to counter-balance the bad news about studios with awful working conditions. Sure, there's lots of industries and companies with bad working conditions, but I don't think that means anyone should have to tolerate sweat shops either. Most of the harsh deadlines in the game industry are driven by bad project management decisions and if we consider game development to be software development, this trend seems to be concentrated to the game industry while other software companies seem to find ways to pay well, ship on time and have sane work/life balances. The long term trend I'm seeing is a brain drain out of game development and moving more towards professional software development, where most game devs don't stay in the industry longer than 10 years -- if this is the general trend, it's bad news for the game dev industry because the senior devs leave, take their experience with them, don't mentor juniors, don't offer teams sage advice and help avoid the crunch which burns out team members.
  7. slayemin

    The only constant in life is change.

    That's an interesting argument, and it would make sense if you only programmed games -- but if you program other types of applications far outside of entertainment, I think it would be harder to make the same argument. For example, someone had to write the thread scheduler for modern operating systems and its purpose is purely to context switch between threads and be invisible to the end user.
  8. Games are art. Art is created by artists. Artists are people. People have lives outside of their work. Our personal lives can be messy. Parts of our lives are reflected in our art. I've been thinking a lot about life lately. My personal life has been going through some pretty radical changes in the last few months. When it comes to tech, I often say, "The only constant is change" followed by "if you aren't changing, you're not growing, and if you're not growing, you're dying. Complacency kills!". I think this also applies to life in general. When life changes, it has second order impacts on other things. 1) I started a contract position doing research and development in VR for a very large and well known social media company. It is now my 'day job' and my indie game projects are a side job I do when I have time. I am realizing that the day job takes up a LOT of my time when I factor in any overtime work and the time to commute between my work and home. The steady paycheck is nice though and it helps me worry less about money in the short term. 2) I ended my long term relationship with my girlfriend recently. It's sad and it sort of turns my world upside down, but it was time: We're quite different people and our lives were moving in very different directions. I won't get into it out of respect for her privacy. 3) I moved closer to work in order to reduce my commute to 15 minutes. It took me 3 hours to pack everything I owned and 30 minutes to unpack it all. It's a bit disappointing that my net worth doesn't amount to much, but the materialism of possessions has never held a lot of importance to me. 4) I found out last week that my mom has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and doesn't have much time left to live, so I took emergency leave from work and flew out to Europe to say goodbye. I'll never see her again. How do you carry on when the person who has looked over you, cared about you, worried about you, protected you, given you life, dies and is gone forever? It's heart breaking, but death in the family is inevitable and unavoidable. I suppose its better for children to bury their parents than for parents to bury their children, and I can be thankful to have had the opportunity to say goodbye. 5) I've started writing a fiction book about a princess and a dragon. With many of these life changes, distractions and tragedies, I am wondering if I still work in game development? It's certainly not a daily activity as it has been for the last few years. Do I care? The scary answer is that I'm not sure. I can totally understand why other game developers would say that they're "taking a break for personal reasons". My day job is tangentially related to the game industry and I'm pretty happy with it. I've also been hearing a lot about how abusive and exploitative game studios are to their employees and I'm not really sure I'd want to work directly for most studios. My sister and 14 other people were recently laid off from a mid sized game company in the VR industry -- a company I also interviewed at in September. I dodged a bullet there. The game industry as a whole makes me a bit wary. The hours are long, projects frequently are mismanaged and go into crunch time, the pay is low, some players are toxic, send death threats and abuse to devs, released game success seems to be based on luck which creates a lot of uncertainty... why would you want to be on the receiving end for any of this? Is the 'entertainment' element really so compelling that it would override all the other industry problems? Anyways, I'm going to be writing a novel and working on my games on the side. They're my creative outlet. I don't know what that makes me but the definition probably doesn't really matter.
  9. slayemin

    Celebrating 20 Years of GameDev.net

    Well, I can say this site and the people who've come here have had a positive impact on my life. Congrats to 20 years, let's hope for another 20.
  10. slayemin

    What is the developer level for this game?

    Also, keep in mind that you're looking at a finished product. What you don't see is all of the scaffolding that went into getting to the finished product. All of that requires time and experimentation, but like the rough draft of a novel, nobody ever sees it. What may look like a 3 week project on the surface, could have taken 9 weeks to produce, etc.
  11. slayemin

    Game engines

    Ram is cheap... buy more!
  12. I'm a UE4 fan myself. UE4 comes with Blueprints, which is a visual node based scripting language designed for non-programmers. You can build full fledged, high performance, AAA quality games using only the blueprint system. Not a single line of C++ needs to be written if you don't want to (I have some talented friends who work almost exclusively in blueprints). It's easy enough that non-programmers can use it to contribute to the game logic, so one person doesn't necessarily have to make everything happen (which is good! spread the workload, grow team talents, and lower risk!)
  13. slayemin

    Best places to "market" my VR game

    Free marketing will eventually hit a limit (exhausting your friends lists, and network limitations), so when you have saturated your free marketing supply (twitter, facebook, reddit, forums, etc), you'll get diminishing returns on effort spent. I highly recommend getting a google analytics backend tied to your landing pages so that you can measure how many people are coming to your pages and where they're coming from. You will want to get a rough baseline on your traffic and then when you create a marketing effort, you can see whether that had an effect or not in moving the needle. Think of it much like performance optimization in gamedev where you profile your performance before modifying code. If you don't measure it, you can't improve it. And if you can't tell what works and doesn't work, you're just throwing oatmeal against the wall while blindfolded and hoping something sticks. You may be able to see some marketing actions are more effective than others, and some marketing efforts are going to vary during time of day or time of year. If you've exhausted all the free methods for marketing and you still need more people, you'll probably want to consider paid advertising (which is surprisingly effective). But if you're going to pay for advertising, you pretty much are a commercial product, even if you give it away for free. Also, it should go without saying, but it bears mentioning: The best advertisement you can do for your game is making it a high quality game -- something friends will want to talk about and show to their other friends. If people find something in your game worth talking about to other people, you will get lots of free advertising with no effort on your part. If you are the creator of the game, you are in a great position where you can design the game to have cool / memorable moments other people want to share. If you make it easy for them to share, even better --its especially challenging in VR games, but check out beat saber as a shining example of this. It's even been featured on the late night show with Jimmy Fallon 😮 How many other games have been compelling enough that guests will play it on live TV for their audiences?
  14. slayemin

    Best places to "market" my VR game

    If you aren't ever going to go "commercial", you can spend $100 and post it on steam for free. You can then give away steam keys to people on reddit (r/oculus and r/vive) and just by being on steam, you'll get people who randomly find your game and want to play it. You'll still want to create some sort of a gameplay trailer so people can see what the game is about before they decide to download it -- technically, they 'buy' they game even if they don't give you money, so they gotta like what you're selling even if its free.
  15. Well, now it's 2019. I've got an NVidia 2080 RTX running with Unreal Engine 4 and I can ray trace 1920x1080 scenes in real time at 60 fps. It's been something graphics programmers have dreamed of for 30+ years. For a long time, I thought it would never happen, but here we are. This afternoon I was ray tracing a scene with two metallic spheres and counting the number of bounces in their reflections and modifying it in real time. Wow! A scene like that would have taken a few minutes to render on the CPU 8 years ago, even with multi-threading. The tech is only 3-4 months old though, so it's easy to run into areas which aren't fully supported yet. It's also easy to crash your video card on accident. But, I think in the next few quarters, we're going to start seeing a lot of these rough edges getting smoothed out. Seeing RTRT in upcoming games may take a lot longer though: release cycles are long and publishers & devs are going to target a market that doesn't have RTRT capable GPU's quite yet. Give it a few years though, and I think ray traced games will become a lot more common.
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