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Catmull, Chapter 13

-> Go All In On The Initiative

Notes day was organized from within, incorporated feedback processes from the entire company and encouraged all employees to voluntarily participate.  The company committed to the project, scheduling out an entire day for everyone to focus entirely on the event.  Just as important is for the leaders to set the tone of honesty and openness to feedback and criticism. 

Catmull, Chapter 12

-> The Roadmap Will Restrict Your Thinking
Approach the future as a open opportunity to end up outside of your initial plans.  The goal isn't to land where you set out to, but to find out where you want to go as you move.  The pyramid that Catmull draws for the Head of HR, Ann Le Cam, shows that the problem space of a plan has to allow for zig-zagging and even landing outside of the triangle.


-> Independent and Capable
Keeping Disney Animation and Pixar separate and independent was essential to giving each studio the confidence to solve problems on their own.  Both studios asked to use the other's resources when they struggled with production problems.  But the insistence that help would not be coming not only forced them to innovate to a solution, but proved that they were capable of doing so.  Being responsible fostered a sense of personal ownership and pride amongst the teams.

-> Personal Connection
Support your team with personal gratitude for the team's contributions, for everyone at the studio made it possible.  Pixar believes that each film belongs to everyone, and that "ideas can come from anywhere".  People value the personal gesture and delivery of thanks.

Catmull, Chapter 11

-> "Creativity is more like a marathon than a sprint"
It takes time to discover and realize your vision.  Don't let the daunting task get to you.  Bring dedication and an eagerness to struggle through the work.

-> Be confident that you will conquer the uncertainty to create something new.
The uncertainty of the unmade future will always start out as a scary beast.  But you can find the confidence in yourself: believe that you will figure it out even though you may not know exactly what to do yet.

-> Move quickly, don't think, and get into the flow of Zen
The captain has to keep the ship moving at all times or it will sink.  Focus on doing, exploring, finding the wrong way early.  Connect with the creative work and listen to what it wants to be.

Lost in Sky

Life can sometimes feel like this.  You just want to fly but are out of energy and stuck in the ground.




Gnomon Level Design - A Core Statement

Last week I started the Level Design course at Gnomon with Zachary Adams. Our first assignment will involve redesigning the Veldin level in Ratchet and Clank. I'm starting with my core statement:

"magical guns on a war torn battlefield"

Numeric Treadmill

The numeric power up treadmill in games presents as a treadmill because the actions available to the player are essentially the same. Progression in difficulty becomes a counting game of managing your margin of error on perfect executions.

This system is the backbone of many game systems. The numbers go up, while the player's skill also goes up. This type of system is accounts for the wide, wide range of player ability. Players that execute poorly are given and increasingly wide margin of error to work with. While players that execute perfectly are pushed to continue to do so.

But the interesting extension of gameplay comes from the introduction of abilities and talents, which often have a multiplicative effect. They add to the number of options a player has. They change the way a player approaches a problem.

A Cat's Desire

My cat desires to go outside every morning. She meows and meows to wake me up and pats the door to ask me to let her out. Some days she gets to chase the birds away. Some days she has a visiting cat over. And some days when the sun is out, shining bright and warm she sits in the grass to in deep contemplation. I wish I knew the stories of whatever escapades she's been through, and the ideas that spring forth in her cat's mind.

A Rough Take on F2P Time Value

The time value of some popular virtual rewards is set to about 50 hours for $50, or a dollar an hour (at best). Usually, the price would start near 50 cents. When the cost is this low, it's certainly easy to calculate out the time savings and justify a purchase over spending the time in game earning points to redeem the rewards. At this price, players have access to $480 a month with a bit of sleep.

A Retreat from Multiplayer

When it comes to multiplayer games and multi-person experiences, there's a heavy dependence on other participants to create a good and enjoyable activity. When time is limited, this risk of ruined lobbies, disconnects, afks, and overall negative input from misbehaving players starts to gnaw away at the good parts of the game.

The Die is Cast!

Julius Caesar quoted: "iacta alea es" (the die is cast), upon crossing the Rubicon.  There is a point at which you must take forward action and bear the consequences.  The uncertainty falls away once you throw your choice of dice down onto the table and they begin to land.

Moon Cakes after Moon Cakes

The cake after the moon brings back the memories of the moon cake.

Growing Seeds

I like the metaphor of the growing seeds. To grow a plant you must bury it and consistently water it until it is able to seek light. When it is below the surface, there is a lot of uncertainty as to whether this plant is going to take root. It's hidden from view.


Creating a new project has been similar for me. It will take time to nurture the ideas into a growing tree, and I'm yet to know what shape it will take until it grows up.

Catmull, Chapter 10

There's so many ways to enable your team to think with the big picture.


Quoted from the book:

Broadening Our View

  1. Dailies, or Solving Problems Together
  2. Research Trips
  3. The Power of Limits
  4. Integrating Technology and Art
  5. Short Experiments
  6. Learning to See
  7. Postmortems
  8. Continuing to Learn

Catmull, Chapter 9

-> The Curse of Limited Perception
We are limited by our means of perception.  The curse is also on those who cannot see the truth and


-> Watch Out for The Hidden
Leaders will miss the problems they cannot see.  There is always an invisible problem.

-> Prepare for The Unknown Problem
Don't wait for the inevitable failures to come to pass.  Prepare your organization to deal with them.

Catmull, Chapter 8

->Stochastic Self-similarity
Problems of different size and magnitude have more similarities than first meets the eye.

-> Big and Small Problems
Create a response structure that matches the problem structure. Everyone should be free and motivated to solved whatever problem they face, no matter how big or how small.

-> Build A Framework for Potential
A company grows on the excellent people within it, who rise up with talent and excellence.

-> Look Forward, Not Back
Don't ask "What would Walt do?" This thinking inhibits creativity and only walls in your position to the work of the past.

Genshin Impact: Starter Roster

 



I have to say, I'm pretty happy with the characters I pulled with the early game rewards!  Xiangling is great, since I really like staff combat.  Fischl is an awesome support, even with the lackluster archery.  And Noelle is just a well rounded swordswoman with a very effective shielding ability.  Bennett is alright with a fun and fast weapon, but his explosion knocks everyone out of combat, including himself (am I using him incorrectly?).

The game has been pretty rewarding to play so far, and now that my roster has been filled out I'm excited to explore further.  The only downside for me so far is the level requirement for unlocking multiplayer, as I think that is where I'll enjoy the game the most.



Hades: Credits





Got to the credits! Challenged myself to high heat! I pushed up to about 40 hours in Hades, and had a blast fine tuning my builds and learning the intricacies of each weapon. Today I rushed to the battlefield again, but hit a snag and failed to clear the final boss multiple times in a row. In my last run, I turned on God Mode, to see what it's like, and perhaps make some runs towards completing the game. I bit off a bit more than I could handle, borrowed 300 from Charon, and quickly died.


Weird thing is that my infernal arms records got reset. The save data still works but the stats on the first page in the administrative chamber only show my god mode death.  The little perfectionist in me says that's enough Hades for now (especially after clearing the ending). I still love the progression and challenge and pressure to death, and have high hopes to continue running this game in the future!

Here's my records, which I'm super proud of!



Actions and Choices

Games are based on actions and choices.  Players get a designed set of actions that they may perform and the ability to choose between them, and to power to choose the contexts (where, when, why, how) in which they are performed.

How many actions and how many choices makes a great game?  It really depends on the type of game, and the amount of depth and engagement you want to ask of the player. It's not only important to allow the player to make their best actions but also important to give them the opportunity to refrain from taking actions where not needed.


2020 Harvest Moon

 Harvest Moon this year.  It's a warm orange hue that can't quite be captured by my old cameras.