Posts Tagged ‘time management’

The Minimalist Lifestyler Screenshot

Monthly Reflection #6 – I Love Game Jams!

Written by Zainab Al-Ansari on . Posted in Blog, Reflections

Every last working day of the current month I publish a report reflecting on the previous month. These reflections exist to demonstrate my progress, share my experiences and help transfer what I learn to others.

The Past Month

During August I worked on my current flagship project Against Sahara, participated in the Zanga Game Jam 2018 and reviewed my work schedule to come up with something better.

Against Sahara – Current Status

I’ve bought domain name againstsahara.com for its future marketing website (nothing there yet), and I’m in the middle of finalizing the game’s design after building prototypes and testing.

I should be finalizing the design (concept/story/game rules/art/etc.) by 6th September next week.

Zanga Game Jam

The 2018th edition of the Zanga Game Jam happened from Friday 17th to Sunday 19th and we had a local site at Corporate Hub 9 in Amwaj Lagoon – Muharraq.

I joined in with a couple of new devs and built with them The Minimalist Lifestyler around the theme Minimalism.

The Minimalist Lifestyler Screenshot

The Minimalist Lifestyler Screenshot

This jam is the 4th I’ve joined in the past 12 months, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon!.

They’re an awesome way to meet and work with new people and play around with fresh ideas πŸ˜€ .

New Weekly Schedule for a Healthier Self

I felt like my growth was stagnating and my health was deteriorating slightly, so I decided to experiment with a new weekly schedule.

Starting from last work week of August (26th – 30th), instead of small blocks per day for various activities I separated the week into blocks.

On Sunday it’s Gym Day, when I focus entirely on exercise

Monday is Study Day, where I focus on improving existent skills and learning new ones (currently learning Houdini).

From Tuesday to Thursday is project work, which is mainly business activities for Z’s Laboratories and Against Sahara for now.

The effects so far are promising!, starting the week with heavy exercise left me energized for the rest of the week, and dedicating a specific day(s) for study and work made me more focused and ended up a bit more productive than usual.

But it might just be due to excitement of the change so won’t know for sure till I review results during next month’s reflection.

What’s Next: Learning Houdini & Building Digital Demo of Against Sahara

I’m going through Houdini’s official “Houdini Fundamentals” book at the moment, and plan to complete it by end of September.

I wish to make my own assets for my games and chose Houdini as my tool of choice, so this is in preparation for making Against Sahara’s art.

Once I finalize the game’s design, I’ll start building the final version of the game, starting with a story-less and art-less demo.

This ends this month’s report, hope you enjoyed and if you have any feedback please comment below πŸ™‚ .

Weekly Reflection #4 – Studying and Working from Home

Written by Zainab Al-Ansari on . Posted in Blog, 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 began development with my new SHIFT team this week (last week was just setting up). It went fairly well, I completed my programming task easily which was to create the base for the game’s core mechanic. Although, I was forced to waste a bit too much time reading up the existing code base. Next week I’ll be helping Danijel (our leader and animator) to get the new Mecanim system working on the code side, but I don’t have any background on Mecanim so I started learning it with Unity’s tutorials. I also began practicing low polygon, stylized 3D art as am hoping to create game assets for both my own projects and others’ by selling them on the Unity Asset Store and the new GameDev Market. I tested the waters by making a simple barrel and a pine tree by following tutorials from PigArt YouTube channel, but plan on designing my own models in the future. I’ve dabbled into basic 3D modelling and animation before using Blender, here is some of my previous work for a university elective:

As you can see my skills are fairly basic, which is why I decided to go the low polygon route for starters, and as I level up I’ll make more detailed models. One major change this week was my new schedule. I finally managed to organize my time in a way that lets me actively enhance my skills, finish my work and have time for myself and loved ones. Here is the schedule (Friday & Saturday is weekend):

 

Time/Day Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
10AM Study/Practice Study/Practice Free Study/Practice Study/Practice Free Free
11AM Study/Practice Study/Practice Free Study/Practice Study/Practice Free Free
12PM Study/Practice Study/Practice Free Study/Practice Study/Practice Free Free
1PM Lunch Break Lunch Break Free Lunch Break Lunch Break Free Free
2PM Work Work Free Work Work Free Free
3PM Work Work Free Work Work Free Free
4PM Work Work Free Work Work Free Free
5PM Work Work Free Work Work Free Free
6PM Work Work Free Work Work Free Free
7PM Work Work Free Work Work Free Free
8PM Work Work Free Work Work Free Free
9PM Work Work Free Work Work Free Free

 

The new schedule worked really well for me, and it’s flexible enough that I study or work on whatever is most urgent at the moment. Among the subjects am studying right now is Electronic Engineering and Game Design. I study EE basics mainly off the text books available on All About Circuits. The reason why am studying EE is, first I’ve always been more enamored with hardware than software (I liked to open up broken equipment and look inside as a kid). Second, I joined Google’s new Little Box Challenge that’s calling for the next evolution in power inverters. When I stumbled upon it I thought this is a good excuse to start learning more about electronic devices and how they work, so I signed up. (P.S. Deadline to join is 30th of September, if you’re interested). As for game design, I’ve been building lots of prototypes while working with the book, Challenges for Game Designers. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in making games, the writer’s practical approach to explaining the various components of games and how they’re designed and built is really the best way to learn design. I mean, you’re not going to learn much by just reading about it, you need to do it!

 

The biggest problems I was having this past week were the constant interruptions from my family while I was trying to work. They often broke my concentration for minor things. Also, we’ve been having a lot of trouble with our broadband connection, which is why am late on releasing this particular reflection. Without internet I had no choice but to wait till today and go to a coffee shop to write (which is where am sitting now). This is quite troublesome, and internet problems aren’t exactly rare in Bahrain, but I can’t afford to waste so much time. My study time for today now went to writing this article.

 

Analyzing Problems

The problem with SHIFT’s current code base is lack of documentation and standardized conventions. Random naming of variables and functions, no comments what-so-ever and no guide lines to how the project is aught to be engineered led to wasted time for any new programmer joining the team. As for my family’s interruptions, they’re simply not aware of my work time.

My lack of a backup-plan in case of an internet-outage lead to this article’s delay, so I’ll need to create one.

 

What’s Next

I’ve mentioned the issue with lack of guidelines to the SHIFT team with an unanimous agreement, so this week I’ll be writing a wiki for it. I’ll also explain my work schedule to my family so they know when am working.

Batelco, Bahrain’s supreme-ruler of the Telecom companies, is offering a new cheap 4G data-plan for youth. I’ll try it out and see if I can work well with it. If so, I’ll use it as my main internet connection, and use our home broadband as backup instead.

 

This is my longest reflection yet, I hope you benefited from it. Please share with me your feedback and opinion by commenting below or sending me an email via the contact page.

Cheers πŸ™‚

Weekly Reflection #2 – Prototyping

Written by Zainab Al-Ansari on . Posted in Blog, 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.

Β 

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 πŸ™‚

About Z’s Laboratories

Subscribe to my Newsletter

Required *