Don’t Panic

Hello there! Welcome back.

Today marks a significant milestone for me as I have just renewed my Xamarin and Apple subscriptions for another year. When I started this journey I knew it would take time to turn this into a business yet somehow I still thought I might make it within a year. This has not happened and as a result I can’t help but think that this is both expected and unexpected. It’s an indifferent feeling that I can’t quite explain as well as I would like.

The Year At a Glance

The year hasn’t been fruitless however, as I’ve learnt a lot about the process and the people. I’ve made a significant change in my life in that I shelved atStumps, a project I had been working for years and years but never quite finished. I’ve also reached out to the greater community and became involved in MakeGamesSA, a South African game development community. I seem to have also inspired two colleagues, who have also released a game each, Save a Fire Fly and AoM.

AOM

AoM

Save a Firefly

Save a FireFly

I also delved into Twitter. Now I’m not really the social media kind of guy so getting up and running wasn’t a natural thing for me.

Most importantly though, I’ve learnt some new respect for time. I’ve learnt that I really haven’t got as much time as I thought and that I need to choose carefully the things that I do with my time.

Dont Panic, It’s The Mensa Experience

The real “achievement” came totally unexpected and it took other people congratulating me before I realized it. Last week Thursday I was invited to attend a Mensa meeting with my cousin to hear a talk by Hanli Geyser about game development.

Mensa

Mensa is the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world. It is a non-profit organization open to people who score at the 98th percentile or higher on a standardized, supervised IQ or other approved intelligence test

So I was excited to hear someone who clearly knows more about stuff than I do talk about game development. At midday, I received a call informing me that the speaker had cancelled at the last minute and they wanted me to replace her. In an instant my stomach turned, my heart skipped a few beats and my emotions were shouting “DONT DO IT“. “Just say no“. I was the opposite of Nike.

It took a moment for me to stop, think and breathe. I had a “DONT PANIC” moment that would have made Douglas Adams proud. I saw it written in bold red letters on a black background. Like this:

dont panic

Don’t Panic

I reminded myself that I’m on this journey to make it a success and that I won’t ever know where the road leads unless I take it. I said yes. It was one of those “yes” then fall down to the ground moaning “what did you think saying yes” moments.

I had very little time to prepare. Less than an hour in fact, which included feeding the dogs, eating something, taking a shower and oh yeah, preparing a speech! I was rushed, so I pulled out my block of sticky’s and scribbled notes on the first one, building up the story from who I am to why I chose games and then finally ending up with some of my journey. In total I had 30 sticky’s, each with just a few hints at topics on them.

At the venue, I started my evening with a Heineken. You know, because I could. I was relaxed and I had fun with it. This was “winging it” at the next level. I only made it to the 9th sticky before my time ran out and question time began. The audience was captivated and thoroughly enjoyed the topic and I ended up saying a whole lot more about a whole lot more than I thought I would. In the questions that followed I seemed to have covered most of the other sticky’s so I supposed I still ended up using most of them. It was a wonderful experience and I am ever grateful for Mensa for inviting me in the first place.

Since then, the fact that I spoke at Mensa seems to have spread like wild fire. I have people congratulating me at work, on Facebook, on Twitter and most certainly in person. I didn’t quite realize that people view it as an exclusive club at that level. Whether that is warranted or not is not for me to say, I can merely observe the reactions of those around me and be proud that I did it…

And so the second half begins

Hello dear friends. I hate to start off with an apology but I need to say that I’ve been way too quiet. It’s been nearly half a year and I’ve not been too active on my blog. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t active or didn’t focus, far from it. I am a lot more active on Twitter so if you want blow by blow updates that’s probably the best place to get in on the action. The things I learnt the last few months have made me feel like a ship, rising and falling in stormy waters. Wait, that sounds a little more gloomy than I intended, but still conveys the feeling of the roller-coaster ride that it is.

As it stands I have 2 games on the Apple App store and although I have been working hard on my latest [still unannounced] game, I’ve been busiest getting some form of a foothold in social media and some form of grasp on the murky waters that is advertising. I’ve also been following the FIFA World Cup, which is drawing to an end and that means it’s 4 more years before we see it again. Unless you support Germany or Argentina I suppose there isn’t much left in it for you, but I’m impartial because the South African side didn’t make the cut to begin with. So it is with very little fanfare that I can say I feel that Germany will take it and I’ll care very little if they don’t. Here’s to hoping it’s at least a spectacle, right?

So why the sport analogy? Well, with sport it is important to finish well. Sometimes when you finish well you can even make up for a poor start. But, there is absolutely no use starting off with a bang and fading in the end. Also, it is as much about the training before the game and the post match work as the actual match itself. I learnt a lot about that in the last few months in terms of game development too.

If you recall from The Challenge I made a game called Stray Cat. I thought getting it onto the App store would be the hard work; how wrong was I. Look, I always expected that it wouldn’t be that easy, but I never thought it would be this much work. Anyway, the point is, there is a lot more to making games than being creative, a lot more. While I’ve not nailed it yet, in fact far from it, I do have some ideas with what doesn’t work or at the very least hasn’t worked yet.

It’s quite a lot of information and I don’t want it to get lost in translation so I’m spending some time on the posts, so come back in a day or so and you’ll get to continue the experience with me.

I’ve also learnt that my day job expects me to blog and communicate with peers regarding my area(s) of expertise, so you’ll start seeing some of that come through as well.

As for now, I need to get more coffee.