Good-bye my friend…

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In my life i have many great things to enjoy. I’m a person that tends to look at things from a positive perspective and i count my blessings for all the good stuff that has happened to me. I’ve had a great childhood, met a wonderfull girl i got to marry and we have 3 beautiful sons. We both have nice jobs and a house in the town we both grew up in.

Sometimes things happen to us or the people around us that affect our lives. Children are born, graduate, get married, create a life and children of their own and sadly people eventually pass away. I lost my mother when she was just 59 years old. Also recently the mother of my best friend died and i could feel his pain loosing her which affected me as well. This week though i recieved word that one of my childhood friends passed away. Although my mother passed away when she was still young, my friends passing was a whole other thing. At the age of 39 and father of 2 young children he should be right in the middle of life thinking about all the things he was going to achieve and enjoy his son and daughter.

My friend and I went to elementary school together and after that to highschool. We played football together and we both shared the love for gaming, for which we spend many days locked up in our rooms playing games together. Like good friends do we had our good and our bad moments but mostly we were having fun together. Also we went on holidays together with some other friends of ours which, even if that is over 20 years ago, i still remember with fond memories. After that time we kind of lost track and our lives went seperate ways.

A couple of years ago we accidently met again. In a restaurant we were seated back to back and when we found out we spend some time telling eachother what had been going on in our lives all these years we didn’t see eachother. After that we met a couple times more, always by accident, and we always concluded with the promise to go get something to drink soon and catch up some more. That never happend though… and now i realise we never will.

Right now, a few days after i first heared he passed away, i have spoken to some people that knew him well these last couple of years. I understand his life took a turn for the worse and due to circumstances and bad decisions he ended up living a life on its own, pushing away the people close to him. I thought alot these days if it would have mattered if i had talked to him about this but i concluded it would not have made a difference…

Our mind has a funny way of dealing with memories, after a while the bad ones will fade away and the good memories will remain. I will remember him as the friend from my childhood when all was good and fun. I just hope the people close to him, who have lived with him during the harsh times these last few years, will be able to deal with these bad memories before they will fade away and they too can enjoy the good memories that will eventually remain.

Good-bye my friend, thanks for the memories!

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The Importance of Community – Hero’s Song

I would like to share some thoughts on the effect off investing in a relationship with your customers. Specificly the relationship between a gamedeveloper and the potential players of the game they are creating. Is this relationship something a game developer should invest time and money in or do you think they should focus on creating the game and don’t need to be distracted by side issues?

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Lets have a look at what is needed to create and maintain a preferably positive relationship with the people that are interested in the game you are developing. First of all one or more people within your team need to act as a representative for the company and that person should be the one to communicate with the community. Usually there is already a person dealing with press-releases, interviews and other promotional issues and that is probably the first person to think of when considering someone for this community task. Remember that this person will be the “face” of the game, the person we have in mind associated with the game. Also it is crucial to regularly create posts, articles and other publications to keep a flow of interest running for the game. If you stay under the radar for too long people will start to lose interest and move on to other games, not checking out the latest news on your game anymore and therefor not spreading any (positive) information to their fellow gamers. New material and facts will give the community a reason to keep coming back for more news. Throwing everything you have on the table all at once will definately create alot of buzz but only for a very short time and if there is nothing new to show for months after that initial pile of information you have lost all those potential costumers as fast as you have invited them to your game-to-be. Information management is key in this proces, less is more. Too much is a waste!

heros-songI did not accidently stumble on these thoughts as you might have guessed by now. There is a game that has grabbed my interest as soon as it was announced back in januari of this year and had me check for information on a weekly basis…. Im talking about Hero’s Song, a 2D piXelart game by PiXelmage Games, a game company created by some veterans in the gaming industry like John Smedly, Jon Handy and Dave Mark. Within the first weeks after the announcement there was info on the game to be released like screenshots, indept information on the gameworld and they use the eXpertise of wellknown streamer CohhCarnage to keep in touch with that side of the gaming community. On their website (www.piXelmagegames.com) it’s possible to opt-in for recieving news and updates on the game and company as well as links to all their social media presence.

On their site they have a page about their announced game Hero’s Song which already contains quite alot of info on the gameworld, systems, characters & races as well as some good looking concept-art. With John Smedley they have a representative who is well known in the gaming industry already and the perfect guy for promoting and representing the game to the community.

Getting back to keeping that community (the potential customers for PiXelmage Games and their game Hero’s Song) involved, i do have some critical notes to mention though. The announcement of the new gamestudio and their game was made on the 19th of januari 2016. That announcement has since then been the only newsitem on their site. I have been checking their site regularly but nothing seems to change or get updated which keeps me in the dark on the progression on the game which i am genuinly looking forward to. I understand they can’t produce more info on the game than is available at this time, also due to the fact there is already quite a bit of info on the game to be found at their website already. They could have considered however to release that information over a longer timespan with bits and pieces now and then to continue lureing people back to their website and keep interest in the game alive. Even little things like new screenshots or revealing teasers/information about the backstory or even characterstories could be a good way to generate recurring buzz. Another idea could have been to have the members of the company introduce themselves to the community with a personal article and/or bits of info on the part they are working on.pixelmage-logo PiXelmage Games has this information on their site as static information which has been there from the start. Very interesting but since it has never been updated it will be checked ones or twice and never again.

The presence of PiXelmage Games and John Smedley on social media, especially Twitter, is alot more active though. I’ve made Tweets and asked questions about Hero’s Song which have been commented on and answered quite fast and to the point. That particular active interaction with the community has kept me coming back to their Twitter page and checking on their Tweets regularly hoping to get some more info that way. It is that positive way of interacting with their community and potential costumers that PiXelmage Games should focus on and try to eXpand to their other means of communicating, for eXample their website as mentioned before.

To my opinion the community is a very important subject to deal with as a (game)developer and not to be treated without care. The time and effort you invest into your fans will be payed back to you by means of free promotion, free critics with genuine interest in creating a good product and they will also be your first customers. When you have the product to look forward to, the right people to make it and the presence and tools to get people hyped and informed, take that last hurdle and embrace YOUR community!

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Things dont break alone

You might recognise the event when something in your household breaks down and not long after something else follows? The most common eXample is the washing/laundrymachine and after replacing it the dryer breaks down and needs to be replaced as well…

Such a streak of bad luck seems to be happening to us lately. A couple months ago our car broke down for the 100th time in 2 years (we needed to have it pulled away for the 5th time since we bought it) but we are so getting used to that we’re not even surprised anymore. What annoys me more is my laptop that seems to have given up on me last weekend and that is one thing i cannot miss since we are in the process of renovating some rooms and therefor i have parked my desktop computer in my sons room. He is quite thrilled with that since he is now able to play some games on this PC in his room but i feel kind of like missing a limb!

The laptop i was working on AND playing my games on since my desktop is temporarily in use by my son is a 3-years old but quite decent HP G6 (i7, 4gb with a dedicated GPU R7670m) that plays my games fairly well… Since about half a year though it started eXperiencing heat issues for which i had it checked out at the local computer store. First time i brought it in they cleaned it and put on new cooling paste which worked for about a month untill it started to shut down again. The second time they discovered that the heatsink was broken and therefor it couldnt direct the heat out of my laptop correctly. Because the laptop had a dedicated GPU it has a rather unusual heatsink and we found out it couldnt be ordered via the official channels anymore. HP stopped producing it and they had none in stock anymore but via some obscure website we found a seller in China. After a 30 day delivery time we did actually recieve the part and i must say we were a bit surprised since we kind of gave up hope on it being delivered. The laptop was fiXed and worked fine again… For 2 months… Since last weekend it shuts down again and i tried several things but im afraid its overheating again and honesty i dont want to spend anymore money on repairs…

For my son i am putting together a desktop computer from spare parts i have laying around… Or at least that was the plan! I had put together my old AMD64-3500, 2gb ram, R3850 but then the videocard gave up on me. I had another card laying around, a Radeon X850 but we found out my son couldnt even play Minecraft on the system with that card so i started replacing stuff and one thing led to another…

I bought a budget videocard but one that would be able to play games at a decent framerate, a Radeon r7 270X and decided to order 8GB ram with it as well. I did accidently order ddr3 ram which doesnt fit on the old motherboard is was using so afterwards i decided to find a decent (again budget) motherboard and processor for him as well to replace his old ones with. So at that point i got him an Asus motherboard with an AMD A4-6300 processor, 8gb ram and a Radeon R7 270X videocard… And there are no IDE connectors on the new board so the choice for a new SSD HD was made and completed his system. It ended up better than my current desktop system but it looks like there is one hurdle to overcome.

I installed Windows10 on the new system and made my son very happy with his own computer… Untill it started showing bluescreens and error messages about drivers that are causing issues! At this point im still testing and searching for which driver is causing the issue and untill i find out my own desktop remains in his room, leaving me without a computer and now even without a laptop!

Long story short, i have gotten my 7 years old Acer laptop back on the kitchen table with a faulty spacebar which makes it unusable for write large amounts of teXts (like blogposts) but at least give me the opportunity to fill  in my taX papers and even lets me play a game of Diablo… 2…

Please bare with me, blogposts will be a bit low  but ill be saving my ideas for better times. If you like to help me either intelectual, technical or financial… Just sent me a message 😉

Edit: At this moment as im publishing this blogpost i have just recieved my new laptop!

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Time is of the essence

There are days that feel like they never end and then there are days that just fly by… Sometimes there are even weeks that seem to pass without anyone noticing and to be honest that is how i felt this morning.

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After a long weekend the kids needed to go to school again and my wife and i off to work. Mornings are hectic enough and that is pretty common in our household but somehow this morning seemed to pass with the blink of an eye. Off to work where time also seemed to pass twice as quickly as normal, resulting in doing only half the things i planned to do… Leaving me with an unsattisfying feeling and the intention to make up for it tomorrow eventhough i already know it wont happen because the day is already planned and new challenges will arise.

Reading back at some of the blogposts i made these last few weeks (where did i get time to do that!?!) i noticed the post about Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality… Very eXciting stuff and predicted to become a major thing in our foreseable future. If i can make a quick suggestion however i would like to ask to also implement a time-management switch into these VR and AR solutions giving me the opportunity for a littlebit more control over my time well-spent. Maybe even better yet, make a whole new device to manipulate time in RL (Real Life)! This might just be the neXt big thing after VR/AR, now only a thing of the future but hey, how long ago did we say that about color tv, 3D movies and Virtual Reality? The future is now and time management is near…

…After a good nights sleep because i have to be ready and awake again tomorrow for a busy agenda awaits me…!!!

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Stealing is the way to go

Steve Jobs famously said in 1996: “Picasso had a saying — ‘good artists copy; great artists steal’ — and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”

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Latest news from Microsoft in an effort to get more content in their Windows Store is to make iOS apps available to Windows 10. First thought i had was that MS seems unable to make their own apps popular enough and doesnt seem interesting enough to developers to entice them to make Windows 10 apps… Until i stumbled upon the interview with Steve Jobs mentioned in the quote on top of this post which says it all… Microsoft is doing a fantastic job stealing great ideas! Cant blame them for that 😉

Steve Jobs on Stealing (1996)

DevELOPEment life

The art of creating things, wether it is a book, painting, videogame or a 5-star homecooked meal, is something that brings forfillment and a sense of meaning to those who see their product of imagination become real. Sometimes there is alot of planning and thought put into the idea before one starts to produce. Another time the creator starts from scratch and let the mood of the moment decide what the final product will be. And sometimes the idea IS the product and the means to distibute is of secondary importance.

The thing that fascinates me is that people tend to loose themselves into the proces and focus on the one thing of importance which is the realisation of their idea. It is just that which shows the dedication of the developer, the focus and undivided attention… Almost like the developer put life aside for a moment to create their piece of “art”… The developer eloped life.

Spinning this idea around for a bit of theorycrafting. Doing things you like make you feel happy and meaningfull… You have fun. We all know that having fun makes time fly by. When you realise you lost time and all sense of surrounding you just might have been creating your personal product of imagination., your personal piece of “art”!

Everyone is a developer and if your having fun doing the things you like you have learned to devELOPE life 😉 Happy devELOPEing!