15 January 2017

You live you learn.

A quick look into my internet presence the past year could be enough for a casual observer to determine that I have met with my fate. And that's true, and ill fate it is.

As some would know (not sure who I'm talking about), I am a man with many interests. I am hyped about playing games making games computer programming electronics general engineering and recently just MATH. I also enjoy wasting my time as indicated by my blog and my youtube channel ( this is a plug so click on the link you bastards ). Unfortunately for me though I am also a full grown man with responsibilities and a job and what can only be described as shit. So all my hobbies and interests are balanced with my real world things.

Let me get to the point. Besides my 9 to 5 I do some freelance programming. So, freelancing has basically been sucking the life and any free time out of me for the last 1 year. It was 2 clients and 3 failed projects, but the issues in all cases are overlapping so I will summarize my pain in a few (maybe 2 or more ) brief points.

Communication.
You know what you know and the client knows what he knows. Do not agree to anything until you have equalized the information between the parties. Face to face meetings are important but in any meeting just get a piece of paper (if you millennials even know what that is) and write anything relevant down. Make sure all major points discussed in a meeting are confirmed in e-mail later. But don't just send an "Are you sure?" and make yourself be perceived as a retard. Instead just send a list of questions requiring clarification a.k.a. nail down the specifics while you reiterate the major point. That way you force the client to revisit the issue in a communication session that allows a more thought out response, and you have a log of the communication. E-mail is probably the best way to discuss a complex topic, use it. If something "bears repeating" repeat it. Before and after initiating communication or responding make sure you revisit past messages and take your time composing the message. Try to keep it brief and to the point but don't omit specific details.

I had an issue of payment miscommunicated, that resulted in a loss of time and money for both parties and is the reason the project was canceled. You can do a ton of small projects without going overboard on communication but... the more complex and exotic it is the more important information is. I'm not talking about wordpress theme/plugin lowest common denominator javascript development.

Planning.
So I stopped writing blog posts and making youtube videos, I cut gaming, raging alcoholism and some other things. I did that because this type of side project is by definition done on borrowed time. If you are young and strong and still have it in you to forgo sleeping and leisure activities, good for you. I apparently am not. So when planing a project such as this I was required to free the schedule as much as possible, that included declining some other small freelance opportunities (loosing money). One of the rules of time management is to make sure that you not only have time but that you have time every day, without giving away your whole weekend. Don't grind on a project take it little by little but be persistent and work at least a bit every day. Do small things during the week and accomplish one big thing on saturday, rest on sunday.

Before you get to the time management point however, you need to have a clear idea of what exactly needs to be done. Sit down and write down all the major parts of the project, the big broad strokes. Then under each major point make sub points listing all relevant steps, and write a few word notes on each and every element. The point is do a project writeup and structure it, that gives you a measure of the work and without that you can't do estimates about time/cost. Do that before you commit to the job and use it as a plan/schedule for the work process.

Give yourself time, after doing the time estimate apply the formula `estimate*pi`. It sounds weird but nothing hard was ever done before the deadline. Again, if you are writing something simple in a field you have experience with, you know how much time it will take. But for the exotic stuff, surprises, problems and delays are the regularly scheduled program.

Billing.
Never evaluate your work based on anything except how much you want. Do no work for less than the amount you want for it. I made the mistake to consider the situation of the client, the cost of the project up to that point and factored future opportunities in determining the rates. Never do that. The more exotic (that word again) the project the less "standard" rates are applicable.

Consider what you want and what you are happy with. Consider only that, and add 20%. If the client thinks the price is high just cut half of the 20%. That way the client gets a compromise on the billing and you get 10% moar than what you wanted, you're welcome!

Expertise.
EXOTIC EXOTIC EXOTIC. Say somebody needs a piece of software that does X. If there is no ready solution on the market for X, somebody will hire you to write it. Good. Before you LEEROY JENKINS into the project make sure there is no good reason that there is no such software on the market. If nobody has up to that point written software for X, what is it about X that nobody wants to write code about. Is X a lost cause, does it smell funny.

The exotic nature of the projects I had this past year is not something I want to give details about. That said, as a professional (psh) you can write anything that can be written. If there are gaps in your knowledge then great, you have a good reason to close some gaps. But if X is not just a clean coding exercise you will be presented with the need to acquire expertise in an unfamiliar field. I know nothing about cows and if X is some sort of specialized cow software. Ahh.... Exactly, I didn't have the required cow expertise to model the cow's world into working code.

Another way to run into a room and die is to take over a big piece of working software written by another freelancer. Say that the previous freelancer working on the project was say... hit by my car and then kicked. And say that he is the type of gentleman that never comments his code and gets punched in the throat. Then the project isn't only a coding exercise but a reverse engineering and hitting his kneecaps with my hammer exercise. Say that even if the previous developer was capable of giving information about his work, he wasn't willing. Enough said.

In conclusion, be careful. Make sure you know what the client wants, think about how you are going to accomplish it and make sure you are happy with the compensation you are getting. Otherwise risk loosing a whole year of free time and a bag of money, like a certain idiot whose name is somewhere on this page.

26 November 2015

Zoe Quinn ON TRIAL

    It all started with a kotaku article about a girl with a chip implanted in her arm and a magnet implanted in her finger. My thoughts then were positive. I thought it's cool that somebody is so out of their mind on geek stuff that they would go that far. I made a tumblr profile and started following her to see what other crazy shit she might pull. Quickly loosing interest in her I didn't keep up with what she was doing.

    Fast forward to GG ( Yes, I am going there! ). Sort of a shameful thing to admit but I was totally not interested in the drama and politics. I like games but I don't like the community and didn't really care what was happening. Until I described myself as a feminist to my brother...

    Stepping back a bit let's look at:

Exhibit A: Depression Quest 




    If you don't feel like watching the videos the end of the last one presents my judgment. It's not enjoyable, granted they disclaimed that it wasn't supposed to be. But neither was it provoking engaging compelling or whatever else. I can concede that there is room in the universe for a graphical novel (with no graphics) telling the story of an infantile lesbian incapable of dealing with a normal rather comfortable life. Even be it as badly made as it was! But there definitely is no room for such a production on steam and it surely shouldn't be praised by game critics and journalists. The only way this thing gets an award is if it was made for a game development contest in high school and it took the offbeat lesbian social commentary award (probably due to lack of competition in that category).

    In order to make such an utterly inconsequential *production* ( I put "*" so that Zoe and other of her ilk can choke on them ) somehow valuable it is thematically tied to a mental health issue. Botching this goal makes the game a misrepresentation of people suffering from clinic depression as a bunch of self centered low self esteem losers. Thus adding insult to injury.


Exhibit B: https://thezoepost.wordpress.com/


  1. Joshua Boggs who is allegedly married (w.e.t.f. that means)
  2. Friggen Nathan Stupid-Red-Pants-Wearing Kotaku-Writing Grayson.
  3. Robin Arnott, why you gotta be like that?
  4. Blue
  5. Turquoise who doesn't really make much sense since he is obviously a raging homosexual (Turquoise)

    Why do we factor in questions of fidelity. Although we would like to leave people's private sexual promiscuity aside during a debate of social issues. We can't ignore evidence pertaining to the accused's character. The implication is not one of "bad" sexual behavior, for if we judged that Milo Yiannopoulos would be on trial and he would undoubtedly derive some sick sexual gratification from the indictment. The implication is honesty, and the exhibit demonstrates that the defendant's character is dishonest.

Exhibit C: GamerGate


    By far the most damming thing in this whole story is what happened after the public outcry against the nepotism in the gaming press. In lieu of a pathetic public apology and the self flogging that were due, the community was subjected to a massive smear campaign. A manufactured controversy used to split the community between uninformed well meaning idiots and informed rightfully angry GG participants and supporters.

    Zoe Quinn is not central to GG, she is not important and/or vaguely interesting. Looking at GamerGate at this point she is as irrelevant as any other single individual. That being said, we are not here to discuss GG, we are here to bring Zoe Quinn to justice. Zoe Quinn who in the moment of truth had no regard for the damage her misconduct could cause gaming. Who hid behind lies misrepresenting every member of a community she claimed to belong to. Who sought personal gain when what was required was personal responsibility.

Verdict


    This is a weird post. I need to do another one on GamerGate and one on feminism. Not to cover the tropics but to give my stance on them. Just to put the opinions I have in context. But not today.

   From what has been presented to me Miss. Quinn is guilty of everything from vanilla lying to grotesque manipulation with the specific intent of harm. She is an example of a non contributing zero, lacking talent in any creative venue yet excelling in manipulating the people around her. Her willingness to use others to further the delusion of her part in a community that neither wants or needs someone of her questionable character. As fun as it would be to imagine some harsh consequences for her, the true punishment is going to be far worse than anyone could imagine. People like her need not be confronted for their "crimes", nothing anybody could do to her would be as bad as what she has done to herself. She has boxed herself in with a group of people just like her. And is set to hit bottom hard enough that all her hopes and dreams will shatter before her very eyes.

Have a nice life Zoe Quinn.




26 October 2015

DeusEx Explained



Not sure this one needs any explaining. It's DeusEx! Everybody and their brother knows that this is one of the best games of all time. It's up there with Fallout, half-life and Final Fantasy 7. Granted it has aged, and it has aged in the worst possible way. The visuals are what realistic graphics were when it first came out, and in case you didn't know, realistic depictions age badly, stylized depictions are timeless. The controls at least on the Play Station 2 are not the best evars but... Playing DeusEx now is like re watching the alien trilogy ( F you the forth movie doesn't count ), the oldness is on the screen at all times! But it is better than any of the new games coming out.

DeusEx is hard to fit in a box, if it needed to have a strictly defined genre it would be an action adventure role playing first person random number simulator. It has action and adventure, role play in first person, but it's not a shooter. The shooter mechanic requires consistent weapon behavior, the weapons are reliant on the level of the player with the specific class of weapon, thus not consistent thus not a shooter. If you doubt me, go play some Unreal Tournament to see the difference, never will your rocket launcher be affected by a dice roll. As far as the RPG aspect is concerned, we have a character build. Granted, the character build is relevant half way through the game, because at a certain point you are done with specializing whatever you needed and you can just spend points for melee combat and lifting heavy things. Even on the high difficulty levels the game is not very hard, but it is challenging and engaging.

I don't really want to go off on the controls, I played this on the PS2 with the dual-shock. A dual-shock that has seen better days at that! The constant drift to the left and the unintended crouching is due to the fact that this controller has seen hundreds of hours of gameplay. On top of that although not a FPS game it has the core mechanics of one, and that is not ideal for a controller in all cases. I don't know how Guerrilla did it with Killzone exactly but something that makes an FPS a controller game is missing in DeusEx.

I said the graphics have aged badly. Many people say the graphics have aged badly. The sound and the music on the other hand I like, they are old but good. The music I like. The music is awesome, retro but awesome and I will fist fight in the street anybody who claims otherwise.

With all the issues why is this game so fun to play??? The story the world the Alex Jones science fiction dystopian technophile society. DeusEx presents a world I would hate to live in yet a world I like to fantasize about and touch myself. If technology was as prevalent in our world as it is in the game world being a hacker would be awesome. The level design presenting the game world is good at giving you the freedom needed to utilize all the tricks you know. If there is one big issue with it it would be the loading screens. F me this game loads more than Resident Evil ( the first one where every door was a loading screen ), I don't know if it's an issue on the PC but the PS2 version is annoying. The game is not perfect, not the best game evars. That doesn't mean the game is not part of the mandatory literature, and I use literature here for a good reason. In it's imperfection we can see good examples of balance between artistic vision and technological/economic reality.

In closing, go play this game. Go buy it right now. Click on this text and buy it and play it or choke next time you say you are a gamer. I am publicly shaming everybody who hasn't played this thing and calls him/her self a gamer.