Weekly Reflection #3 – Listening to One’s Heart

Written by Zainab Al-Ansari on . Posted in Reflections

Every Saturday I publish a report reflecting on the previous week. These reflections exist to demonstrate my progress, share my experiences and help transfer what I learn to others.

The Past Week

I discovered something very surprising about myself this week…

I need a team.

No, I don’t mean in the sense of having more skills on hand or the sort, I mean I can’t bear to work alone. This astounds me because I’ve always been more of an introvert, so the idea that I hate working alone seems absurd. But that’s what it is. I tried to fight this awhile, explaining my unwillingness to open Unity to simple doubts or lack of motivation. But no, deep down I knew I just didn’t enjoy walking towards a goal without anyone by my side. So, I decided to join a team and made a post on the Unity forums offering free services as a programmer.

The response was overwhelming. At first I feared nobody would be interested and I’d be stuck waiting for weeks on end, but thankfully within just a day several people contacted me to join their teams. I talked to a few, and joined up with Danijel, a nice Croatian artist. I immediately felt this is someone I’d like to work with, although he can be a bit negative at times.

Work was slow this week as I was settling down with the new project, a 2.5D Platformer, and Git proved more of a hassle to setup than I anticipated. A full day was wasted trying get it working on my machine until I finally managed to do it.

 

Analyzing Problems

The most important thing I learned in the past 4 years of hacking my productivity, is to note what’s not working and getting rid of it immediately. If you’re forcing yourself to do something, then you’re not achieving your full potential. This is why I decided to make the jump and join a team so soon, the longer I waited the more time and potential I’d end up wasting.

 

What’s Next

Next week will be interesting, as I start tackling my new responsibilities. I’ve also planned a weekly schedule to keep ahead of all the stuff I need and want to do, so I’ll see how that will affect my weekly churn-out.

 

What I want you to take from this post, is to pay closer attention to what your heart is telling you. I’ve thought deeply and analyzed my own emotions to come to my “need a team” conclusion, and the benefits are already showing with my momentum suddenly on fire. So, next time you’re going through a whirlwind in your head, sit back, take a deep breath, and ask your heart What the heck do you want from me??

Weekly Reflection #2 – Prototyping

Written by Zainab Al-Ansari on . Posted in Reflections

Every Saturday I publish a report reflecting on the previous week. These reflections exist to demonstrate my progress, share my experiences and help transfer what I learn to others.

 

The Past Week

It’s been a productive week, and my wake-up trick helped immensely. After building a playable prototype, I ran a playtesting session with a couple of friends.

 

It’s very early in development as you can see, but prototyping early and often has lots of benefits, and I’ve already noted a major one. So far I’ve only been toying with a few ideas for mechanics, but the playtest helped me see the game inside. Now I know what game to build, and unless unforeseen obstacles come in my way, I’ll be releasing the game by the end of the month enshalla. (it’s small)

The biggest problem I had this week was with the playtest scheduling. When I’ve built a core mechanic, I didn’t want to make any assumptions on what sort of game would be good with it, and instead waited to watch actual players toy around with the pure version. I ended up wasting an entire day waiting without further development until I met my friends, and instead written an article to minimize lost time.

Analyzing Problems

The reason why I ended up wasting development time, was because:

1. I didn’t schedule a playtest early enough

2. I greatly overestimated the time I’ll need to build the core mechanic

 

What’s Next

Next time I need player testing, I’ll make sure to book players early. It will also be very helpful to find alternatives to in-person testing when not possible.

I hope you benefit from this reflection. I know playtesting so early can be scary if you fear judgement, but its benefits can’t be stressed enough. Unless you’re prototyping some kind of a patent, you don’t need to worry about people “stealing your idea”, and the benefits, from saved time to saved costs, far outweigh such risks.

 

God Bless, and please comment below with any thoughts 🙂

Weekly Reflection #1 – Building the Foundation

Written by Zainab Al-Ansari on . Posted in Reflections

Every Saturday I publish a report reflecting on the previous week. These reflections exist to demonstrate my progress, share my experiences and help transfer what I learn to others.

 

The Past Week

This week’s goal was to build my business’ foundation by updating my website, listing down and understanding my current skill set, researching the relevant markets and planning my future goals and next steps to take. You see, what I wish to achieve this work year (September 2014 – July 2015) is to answer two main questions:

1 – Can I make a “livable” income entirely online using my skills and interests?

2 – Is this life-and-work style the right one for me?

I’ve decided the best way to go about this, is for at least the first 6 months to only use skills I already have to build products. Right now what am confident of using is my development (mobile apps, games, websites), 3D modeling and writing skills. I researched online markets and possible way of monetizing my skills, and decided to make a game for my first project with a focus on innovative gameplay, since my art skills are lacking. I have already begun working on a concept and built a prototype last month, and will continue exploring possibilities with it.

The main problem I had this week is procrastination. Although I completed my tasks for the week, I did end up wasting hours and this is a problem I must solve now if I want to accomplish my goals.

 

Analyzing Problems

The main two reasons why it took me so much will power to start, was because:

1. I was tired and lacked sleep. I use an alarm to get up 7am everyday, but due to fluctuating sleep time I ended up sleeping too little.

2. I didn’t have a strict schedule.

 

What’s Next

I have a neat little trick up my sleeve for fixing my sleep while waking up on time without an alarm, which I’ve been using for years, and silly me didn’t use it last week. Interested in knowing what it is? Well, just tell your sub-you to wake you up!.

o.o

I know it sounds crazy, but try it. When you go to sleep and after laying down a few minutes and you start to doze off, make an effort to scream inside your head WAKE UP AT 7AM! Or whatever time you want to wake up in. It helps to visualize the words and numbers, I also find it particularly useful to imagine my sub-conscious as her own person while giving me the thumbs up that she’ll wake me, and it works like a charm!*

*DISCLAIMER: This technique isn’t perfect, the time you actually wake up will differ from your target depending on when you sleep. Especially because no matter what, the brain will wake you up only when you’ve slept enough, and this tends to be in blocks of 1.5hrs.

So, what I’ll try to accomplish next week is figuring out the main mechanic of the game I’ll be building. I’ll also try out a stricter schedule, working from 8am till 3pm with a lunch break, and avoiding the alarm as much as possible.

I hope you enjoyed this reflection (and don’t think of me as crazy…). I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please comment below 🙂

Cheers!

 

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