I never had much use for New Year's Resolutions, because I try to continually improve myself, not just at a random, predetermined date. (And because I can be an annoying contrarian at times.) But I have been on a path for the last few months and it seems a good a time as any to write about it now.
I've started my journey as a game developer last year in earnest; I wrote and published five small games. They were all learning exercises, designed to prepare me somewhat for my first bigger game, Wild Sam. I am working on that right now, developing an animation and dialog framework. There will be a post about that as soon as I'm finished with that portion (It takes a lot longer than expected, but that's just software development.) I also picked up blogging again. At first to write about my experiences in game development, but it quickly morphed into my favorite outlet for everything. I haven't done a lot of pieces here, but the ones I did, I'm proud of. For years, my main output was Twitter, with a dash of Facebook on the side. This led to a string of shorter outbursts, which seem great in the moment but are terrible for posterity. Looking for old tweets is a nightmare. Linking to an old Facebook post feels weird. I also feel that the shorter commentary is not really advancing my thinking. It feels good to comment on something in the moment ("Steven Moffat: “So what if he thinks there’s a creature with perfect hiding?” They're called Weeping Angels. AND YOU CREATED THEM, MATE!"), but it doesn't get at the heart of the issue. It doesn't go beyond the surface, which is the least interesting aspect of anything worthwhile. I stopped thinking about stuff critically. Putting words on my own page forces me to think about what I'm writing and it allows me to form better opinions. Good art comes from a point of view and I neglected mine. So, more longform writing, less social media outbursts.
But if I stop posting on social media, I might as well reconsider my consumption as well. I've become addicted to short bursts of information, just like everyone else. This is not a bad thing, if you can manage it. But I am bad at moderation. I check my social feeds compulsively and I don't like what it does to my thinking. Short form information bursts lead to short form opinions. It's a cycle I intend to break. So I am blocking Facebook for most of the day now. I am also blocking Hacker News, because it's seductively evil. There's always a great list of "articles" to read that are, ostensibly, about work:
"Setup your own Server with [insert technology]"
"Ten tips to speed up C++ development"
"[Very Old Game] source code analysis"
It's procrastination at the highest level. I don't get any work done, but feel like I do. Worse, my Imposter Syndrome gets reinforced, because in a lot of cases the technical blog writers assume a lot of very specific knowledge on the part of their audience. Technical writing is really hard and doing it for free leaves little room for niceties like editing or explanations. I intend to read more books on the topics that directly relate to my work. I have noticed that I save a lot of time that way and also retain the knowledge better. And before you ask, it's not just about digital vs print. I read books in both formats and it's the depth and breadth of the information presented that are important to me. I learn best by reading books. (This is a privilege I am acutely aware of. Investing that way is not feasible for everyone, and I am glad the free alternatives exist at all. I got started by reading free articles.)
I will essentially continue on the path I have laid out for myself a year ago: Minimize distractions and focus on the things that truly matter to me; namely making games and writing critically about the world.