Month: December 2012

Cats and Christmas Trees Do Not Go Together

Or rather, they do, and that’s the problem.



Well, I guess this was inevitable. Peter Molyneux is attempting to remake Populous. Which means that Planitia could easily become superfluous.

Now, I don’t resent Peter one bit for this. In fact, I kind of knew it was coming. A few months ago I watched a presentation Peter gave about the development of the original Populous, and at the end, he showed off a multiplayer version he’d been working on with massive islands. That drew a great deal of applause, so it was fairly natural that Peter would try to go forward with that project.

What I don’t like is what is happening to the project. Godus, at this rate, will not get funded.

There are a lot of people who feel that Peter has broken past promises and thus can’t be trusted with this project. And Peter isn’t helping anything by making similar promises for Godus; he swore there would be a tech demo out on Friday, for instance…it has not seen daylight yet. And if it doesn’t come out within the next couple of days, it will be too late for that tech demo to sway people into supporting the Kickstarter.

But the general consensus I’m getting is that people are effectively punishing Peter, in a sort of inverse to how they rewarded Tim Schafer. That makes me…uncomfortable. It seems a little unfair to punish everyone at Peter’s company – as well as the many people who would love to see a Populous remake – because of Peter himself. In this case, I think Peter can be trusted. It’s a small company making a small game for a relatively small amount of money. I’d like to see more people take the risk and fund Godus.

I Knew It…

One of the reasons I was kind of avoiding porting Planitia to Unity is because I knew how long it would take.

Or rather, how short it would take.

This represents about a week’s worth of work total, and that includes spending a lot of time learning the system. You can use the WASD cluster to move around. It’s got terrain picking, animated units (one hundred of them, in fact), the basic GUI and the procedurally-generated minimap going. At this rate it’ll take about a month to do what it took me five years to do the first time.

Ain’t Goin’ Down Like This

I find myself wanting to write, but I hate writing about bad things and lately, that’s all that’s been happening.

So let’s embrace it.

I was laid off from General Motors in February of 2012. That means that as of this writing, I have been unemployed for ten months. During that time, we’ve lived off our savings and our unemployment insurance. When the savings ran out, we had to move to a much cheaper neighborhood in order to make ends meet.

And by “much cheaper” I mean “it’s a dump and we hear gunshots go off all the time”. How bad is it? Here’s the house next door.

You can buy this house for less than $10,000.  If you so desire.

And here’s one just down the street.

People rip the siding off these houses and sell it for scrap.

During my time unemployed I’ve had at least fifteen in-person interviews and probably twice as many phone interviews, none of which have panned out. The unemployment rate here in Detroit is a whopping eighteen percent, which means that about one in five people looking for a job can’t find one. Employers can afford to be incredibly picky, rejecting candidates if they are missing any skills required for the position because they know another one will come along.

And as if that weren’t bad enough, software development is apparently no longer a job you can bootstrap into. Despite over ten years of experience with a wide variety of platforms, operating systems and languages, I have been told several times that I cannot be considered for employment because I do not have a bachelor’s degree in computer science. This did not used to be the case.

Even so, at some point it’s hard not to wonder if I accidentally killed someone’s dog and got blacklisted. My favorite interviews are the ones that seem to go well, only to have them come back and say they hired someone else for the job. And for legal reasons, they will never tell you why they didn’t hire you. Which means you’ve got no feedback on your interviewing performance and thus no real way to improve, other than to write more practice code and memorize more C++ trivia questions. (I can recite the four uses of the static keyword in my sleep now.)

Being unemployed long-term is one of the worst non-injurious things that can happen to you. It saps your spirit. It makes you doubt yourself. It makes you feel like a failure for not being able to provide for your family. And it’s even worse if, like me, you are prone to anxiety and depression. I know this is going to sound horribly lame, but at this point a lot of times the first response my brain has to an idea is “Why bother?”

I should update my blog. Really? Why bother? You don’t get paid for it.

I should finish Let’s Play Starflight. Really? Why bother? You don’t get paid for it.

I should work on Planitia. Really? Why bother? There’s a chance you’ll get paid, but it’s really low and it’ll take months of work.

I recently was approached by a publisher to write a book. I would frickin’ love to write a book. They came to me because they had read my blog. But the advance was tiny (I don’t blame them, I would have been a first-time author). In comparison to the amount of work required – twenty weeks of part-time work – it didn’t seem like a good economical use of my time. So I turned it down.

The only really good thing that is going to come out of this is that when it passes my anxiety problems may lessen. If I can survive being unemployed for a year, I really should be able to survive anything.

This Only Works Because She’s Seven

Me: “It’s your birthday in a few days, I can’t wait to give you your present!”

Younger Daughter: “What is it what is it what is it?!”

Me: “It’s a secret!”

YD: “Aw. I want mommy to get me my present; I like mommy’s presents better.”

Me: “Well, mommy is getting you one too…but I can’t wait for you to see mine.”

YD: “Well, I bet I’ll like mommy’s better.”

Me: “We’ll see. What are you doing?”

YD: “Watching Minecraft videos. I love them! I just wish we had the real game.”