January News: Sad, Tantalizing, and Interesting

Across these past two months, multiple metaphorical yarn balls have wound, unwound, knotted, knitted, and a whole bunch of other verbs as well.

The Very Sad News

You may recall that the NSTA published our book project, Exploring Matter, with several egregious errors. After multiple conversations, the NSTA and I finally managed to agree on a set of changes to fix the problems. My NSTA contacts agreed to put those changes into the update queue, and told me that the update would likely be out by the end of calendar 2018.

December 31st came around, I decided to check on the book, and I found that there was indeed an update! Hopeful and scared, I downloaded the update, and flipped to the problematic chapter. There, I found an incomplete implementation of our agreed upon changes. Of the items on our update list, some were done, and some were inexplicably left undone. It felt like a kick in the gut. I have rarely been so disappointed.

With this partial update, the concluding chapter of the book is better than it was, but still deeply flawed. I am currently working on writing an evidence-based breakup letter to the NSTA. I had thought that this book might be the start of a fruitful, multi-book partnership. I suppose that may still happen someday, in the way that all things are possible. Right now, just I’m too sad and angry.

I’ll share the letter on the $2+ Patreon channel in a few days, when it’s finished. It’s worth sharing carefully.

The Tantalizing News

Sprout is really, really, almost, almost, almost ready for a mobile release. A year after we released it on Mac and PC, it’s doing just great on Steam. As of this exact moment (5:28 PM PT), exactly 39,579 people have played Sprout on Steam. Of those 39,579 people, precisely 782 have written reviews, 95% of which are positive!

In that same time, since our Steam release, I’ve been squeaking out small advances on Sprout. This means updating the build to maximize performance on mobile devices, and learning how to deal with the two main mobile sales platforms: Google Play and Apple’s App Store. I believe Sprout is all ready to go, and I’m just waiting for a final thumbs-up from Jeff. He’s already found one bug, so there may be others still hiding, but I’m pretty sure I’ve now got them all. If not yet, then very, very soon.

So, stay tuned for final news about Sprout on mobile! Any day now.

The Interesting Career News

As of today, I am officially an instructor at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. It’s kind of a big deal. In two weeks, I will begin teaching game production in their newly born Game Design program. So far, I feel quite good about this. All the people that I have met have been competent, kind, and excited to do the difficult work of making beautiful things. Which is amazing!

The next fourteen weeks will be nuts. I will be a full time teacher: science and math at OSA, and game production at ArtCenter. I will post occasional updates here, but there will be no noticeable motion on any Mindful Mammoth projects.

And yet! One of the major obstacles in all of our science/game projects has been money. Several worthy projects have simply ground to a halt because we could not take time away from paid projects. With the funds from this new job, I will have the freedom to use this summer to take some risks, and (fingers crossed) make big strides in at least one of these long-postponed projects.

The punchline is that the next fourteen weeks will be rather quiet here, but the three months of summer should bring at least one amazing advance. In short, I’m excited about this new job both for the job itself, but also for the creative opportunities that it will enable.

Thank you

Twenty eighteen was a complicated year with small triumphs, medium triumphs, and significant sadnesses. With Sprout and Exploring Matter soon to come to an official close, I look forward to taking some of my favorite ideas out of the storage closet, and bringing them into the world with quality and class.

Thank you all for your company and your help. None of this would have been possible without you. As an extra special thanks to those of you who supported us at the $10/month level and above, I’ll be sending you a cheesy bumper sticker from ArtCenter. It’s out of keeping with the usual style of swag, but highly relevant. This new job is a big deal that could lead to significant positive impacts to our science gaming projects. Fingers crossed!

Thank you all. Keep in touch!

– Tim