The altered pattern continues. Over the last few months, I have focused on teaching and self. I have written plans for several new classes, adapted existing plans for in-person classes to work with in online settings, spent some time doing physical therapy, made more time for sleep, and taken myself for some walks out in the desert.
I expect crises in politics and covid and education to continue through June, and so I plan to continue this same pattern through June. Patreon and game development will be mostly on hold. Instead, I will be supporting schools and students through teaching and advising, and caring for myself so that I can be a sustainably effective agent of positive change.
While there has been less game development than otherwise would have happened, all this teaching stuff means that life has been full. Some highlights:
Eco @ One Spark Academy:
Eco is a true standout among learning games (trailer here). It is a multiplayer virtual world that tasks players with building a society from the ground up. That means everything from laws to economy to social norms. In the first semester of the school year, I hosted a game of Eco for my OSA students. It was hard and rewarding in all the ways I had hoped for.
Eco @ NASAGA:
Together with my colleague Juni Yeung, we ran a pair of workshops on Eco at the 2020 meeting of the North American Simulation and Gaming Association (NASAGA). Being our first appearance at the conference, we misjudged the audience a bit. Still, I think we succeeded in helping our session attendees to broaden their thinking around games and education.
Serious Games @ IndieCade:
IndieCade is always my favorite event of the year. This year, it was *very* different. Very. Still, I had some good conversations with folks, met some innovative games, and had the opportunity to host a discussion on serious games.
Staff Advising @ Sci Tech
Not quite three years ago, I worked at Six Points Sci Tech, a camp for nerdy kids, as their video game design instructor. It was one of the most exhausting and rewarding things I’ve ever done. As they move forward, they’re looking to strengthen their staff recruiting process. To this end, they’ve recruited a Staff Advisory Board, and invited me to join. I agreed. While I don’t have much networking clout, they’re great people, so I’m always happy to support them in whatever way I can.
It turns out that Unity has a volunteer Advisory Panel as well. It’s big and broad, and it sounds like something of a pool from which they draw people when they need focus groups. Anyways, I submitted myself. I think I have useful feedback. So far, there’s no action on their end, and there may never be. Bit that’s there. For whatever it’s worth.
Out of odd curiosity, I decided to take Unity’s Professional Programmer exam. Over the course of two weeks, I put some time into studying for the exam, and passed quite handily. I feel validated. And more informed on both Unity and on their certification program. And a little guilty for supporting the educational-industrial complex. It’s a big mixed bag. But that’s there too. For whatever it’s worth.
The Diamond Challenge
Is a worldwide entrepreneurial challenge for high school students. Think Shark Tank, but a little gentler. I volunteered for DC as a judge in each of the last two years. This year, they invited me to volunteer again for their all-online competition. I agreed. Then backed out at the last minute. They’re good people, but my plate is very full, and this one more thing was feeling like too much. I regret the switcheroo, but I’m glad to not have to do that. They were nice about it.
Girls Make Games
Are exactly what they sound like. Every summer, hundreds of girls go to GMG camps to make games. At the end of the summer, there is a competition, and the best prototype of the summer is rewarded with placement on Kickstarter. The Kickstarter then funds full development of the game, for eventual publishing on Itch and Steam.
They’re good people too, and I’ve supported every one of their Kickstarters. You should too. If you can.
I bring them up because they’ve hit several milestones in the last month. They have finished work on two of those Kickstarted games and published them to Steam. You should check them out: Shredded Secrets, and Find Me.
My long burbling back-burner project. That tactical cloud brawler I keep mentioning, if only briefly. During the winter holiday, I had some modest hours to work on the prototype. The first draft of the new re/buildable surface feature system is finished. I’m now working on asymmetric team play. Got three players? Cool. Set up a 2v1 game, but with a handicap/bonus to favor the 1. With more flexible team options, the game should be more amenable to playtesting, and I can start to circulate it among friends.
That likely won’t happen till June. Again, most of those things are on pause in favor of teaching and balance. But there may be small progress. For the curious, and the fancy, I’ve created a rough development roadmap in Lucidchart. I’ll share the link with the $2 tier on Patreon.
The world continues to be uncertain. And as the information wars continue, I feel more and more strongly that teaching is one of the most important things we can do. Therefore, I will continue to focus on that, and do the best I can.
It’s tough. And I appreciate your support. Friends, family, colleagues, patrons, kind words from strangers ... everything matters, and everything helps. Thank you. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for good luck for all of us.