Learning Something Every Day of 2016: April Report

So this is still a thing that I’m doing, that’s good. The hardest part is probably taking the time to make these review posts, but they are a nice way for me to check in with where I’m at.

spreadsheet screenshot, things learned by date

The things I learned in April.

While last month had a focus on drawing, as well as some general programming background knowledge, and a detour to play around with Arduino which was a lot of fun… this month was about getting serious. Serious about computer games. The computer game that I am making.


The Main Event

I feel that to some degree the previous months of this challenge have been the warm-up. Now it’s time to get real, and for me that means tackling a single focused long-term personal project. There’s a game that I’ve wanted to make for the past year or two, and I started poking at it more consistently in the past couple of months. But it wasn’t regular enough to make real progress, and I was also making the same poor choices that generally plague a programmer’s personal projects, namely attempting to write everything from scratch myself. This is a fun way to learn new programming things, but it’s a terrible way to make progress on a non-trivial project.

Sure it’s fun to get that first triangle rendering on screen, and you can write a model importer, and some input handling, but then oh god you have to write a UI framework and are you really going to support multiple rendering systems? What if you ever want to port it to other platforms? There are good reasons to know how to do all these things, and if it’s really want you want to do, that’s great. But this time, what I really want to do is complete an entire game project. That means vetoing the part of me that wants to do things the hard way.

So… I’ve started learning Unity, and gotten my project going “for real”. I will find things to hate about Unity by the time I’m done, but the productivity advantage for a single-person team is undeniable. (There is actually one other person who has signed up to help but hasn’t gotten rolling yet, and I’ll likely need to kidnap or hire an artist as well.)

So that’s that. From this point it’s Unity all the way down.


This month went smoothly for the most part. There were only one or two days where I felt like I really didn’t have the energy or willpower to spend even 30 minutes on anything remotely taxing mentally, and I really really just wanted to zone out and watch iZombie or play some Heroes of the Storm, but seriously it’s only 30 minutes and I managed to pull through.

It’s interesting that even a 30 minute commitment seems so arduous sometimes and I actually have to break it up into smaller chunks. Ok just read for a couple of minutes. Great, look at that, 13 minutes gone by already, just 7 more minutes and there will only be 10 minutes left. Nothing. No time at all. Bam, ok, done. Now it’s time to watch iZombie.

Free Energy

Another interesting note is that while I would say I can definitely feel that I’m spending more energy every day than when I was just taking my time off as a it came, I’m also getting back some free energy that I was previously spending being disappointed with myself. There is no time for that anymore.

I can’t say that I’ve ever really kept track of how often I felt down on myself for any length of time vs. days when I was energetic and motivated to do things, but I guarantee you that it wasn’t as good as I’ve been doing this year. Because this year I have been keeping track at least of what I’ve been doing, and there have been zero days since I started this project that I’ve felt disappointed in myself for longer than a few minutes. Because there are only two possible times for this to happen, one is after I’ve already done the things I’ve decided to do for that day, in which case oh yeah I did that stuff, good for me, moving on. And the other time is before I’ve done the things I planned to do for that day, in which case DO THAT THING ITS ONLY 30 MINUTES. So then I do, and I feel much better. Probably tired, but not disappointed.

This is, as many people have observed before, is because motivation is garbage and fickle, and “discipline” (in my case, a trivial time management system) is what can be counted on to actually get things done.

Some days I actually feel like I have more free time than I would have otherwise. How is that even possible? I don’t know. All I know is some days I get to the end and I’ve done all the stuff I wanted to do and it’s only 9 o’clock and I have to think to myself is this right? Should I just… keep doing things…? But not every day. It’s not magic.

Checking The List


Time to focus. Making a game.