Thursday, December 14, 2006

Following Your Bliss

CAMPBELL: ... Have you ever read Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt?


MOYERS: Not in a long time.



CAMPBELL: Remember the last line? "I have never done the thing that I wanted to in all my life." That is a man who never followed his bliss. Well, I actually heard that line when I was teaching at Sarah Lawrence. Before I was married, I used to eat out in the restaurants of town for my lunch and dinners. Thursday night was the maid's night off in Bronxville, so that many of the families were out in restaurants. One fine evening I was in my favourite restaurant there, and at the next table there was a father, a mother, and a scrawny boy about twelve years old. The father said to the boy, "Drink your tomato juice."



And the boy said, "I don't want to."



Then the father, with a louder voice, said, "Drink your tomato juice."



And the mother said, "Don't make him do what he doesn't want to do."



The father looked at her and siad, "He can't go through life doing what he wants to do. If he does only what he wants to do, he'll be dead. Look at me. I've never done a thing I wanted to in all my life."


And I thought, "My God, there's Babbitt incarnate!"



That's the man who never followed his bliss. You may have a success in life, but then just think of it—what kind of life was it? What good was it—you've never done the thing you wanted to do in all your life. I always tell my students, go where your body and soul want to go. When you have the feeling, then stay with it, and don't let anyone throw you off.



[...]



MOYERS: Do you ever have this sense when you are following your bliss, as I have at moments, of being helped by hidden hands?


CAMPBELL: All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as the result of invisible hands coming all the time—namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will oepn where you didn't know they were going to be.




Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Crunch Time

In software development, there can be a lot of crunch time, i.e. late nights spent working on code and getting the software working.

Having crunch time at times is necessary in work at times, but in most cases 80%, it is unnecessary. It can be a sign of dedication and passion but I think in most times it is a sign of bad time management.

To take an analogy of from school. Most of the students that are working furiously the night before a deadline are not motivated because they are passionate and dedicated. It's because they left it till the last minute to do their assignments! 80% of these students are doing it because they didn't pay attention during tutorials or lectures, didn't do their homework, didn't set sub goals and smaller milestones.

A lot of last minute crunch time is because people took their time in preproduction and planning, working out their "perfect plan", "gathering requirements". A lot of this planning is sometimes indecision or vacillation or delayed because of foot-dragging on other people's part. Why? Because there's "plenty of time".

This is not to say that you shouldn't do crunch time. To continue with the student analogy. A good student always does his homework and stays on the ball. However during exam time, there is also a time to brush up on and stay fresh on topics and to forgo some TV.

Crunch time could be maybe 1-2 days before launch to polish things up. In the end, it's about leadership. Troops morale fall. As Sun Tzu said in "Art of War", a long prolonged battle is a sign of bad leadership.

To relate to another fact, 300,000 surgical deaths happen yearly in the United States are actually preventable! A lot of crunch time is actually preventable.


The thing about life is that it must be lived.
Game design is about living life. A good game designer needs to spend time learning all about life to soak in life all around him. Games are an extension to the experience of living life, it distils certain aspects of excitement, intrigue, puzzle solving, reward experience into tight feedback loops. Like movies, it is "life with the boring bits edited out."
A good game designer learns about life, he watches movies, he wonders in awe of the sky and God's beautiful creation, the design of plants, animals, the patterns of nature. He learns about human nature and the beauty and also the fragility of the human heart and soul. Like an artist, or writer, he is a student of life and life must be lived to be experienced.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Meeting Again 20 Years Later







This is me with Ian Livingstone (now creative director of Eidos) at the chill-out networking session after AGDS.



I met him first on 10 May 1987, almost 20 years ago in Kuala Lumpur during a book signing session for his "Fighting Fantasy" series of books.



I was even featured in the local newspaper meeting him and I still have the news clipping!


Fighting Fantasy allowed me to play Fantasy games when there were no kids around me who had the language skills or imagination or understanding to play with me.