To Better Things!


I snuck my final post for 2020 in a few days before the end of the year. In this post, my main aim is to reflect a little on what I’m expecting of 2021. I still need to be careful of this expecting too much, but I’m in the business of expectation management, so I’ll do my best to manage my expectations.

Sim Racing

I’m obsessed with sim racing and even more so after I had two great races during the last week. My setup has become quite elaborate, and I’m still looking into improving my PC a little to utilise what I’ve done to the fullest, but graphics cards seem to be as freely available as chicken teeth at the moment. Nothing is wrong with what I currently have, but running Assetto Corsa Competizione on a triple monitor setup isn’t feasible. Regular old Assetto Corsa leaves my PC coping pretty well with the demands, and having a triple monitor setup creates a very immersive experience.

I know that a big part of race pace is purely down to the driver and how they utilise their tools, but I feel like I’ve struck upon a groove and I’ve improved my skill by quite a bit since I started this hobby back in May 2020. It’s become a piece of pride for me, and it’s consumed a LOT of my free time, but I’m happy with the experience and what it holds.

Goals

I have a few minor goals for this sim racing hobby, but it has also taught me a lot about expectation management. I’m hoping to have the following results during the 2021.1 season at [Sim Race South Africa (SRSA)][simeracesa]:

  • Consistent top 5 finishes in Division 2 of the simGP series
  • Finishing Division 1 races or placing in the top 10 in division 2 races for the simGT series

I’m also aiming not to feel demotivated if I don’t have the results mentioned above, but this is where expectation management becomes essential. I might find myself out of my depth on a particular track, and that’s perfectly fine. The important part is identifying when something is outside of my reach and adjusting accordingly.

I’ve also become an admin for SRSA, and it’s been an exciting experience. It can easily take up a lot of your time, but I’m excited about the opportunity, and I’ve already managed to add some value. My trade allows me to automate one or two things that we do, serving as quite a handy function to funnel some C# programming rabbit holes. I’m taking things step by step, but for the most part, we’re identifying the urgent problems, and I’m tackling those as best I can. There’s a HUGE opportunity to go off and build some crazy system that does everything we do and better, but it can quickly become a very complicated thing. If you don’t have the setup and maintenance know-how, it could end up causing more headaches than it’s worth. The sweet spot is finding small apps to build that help automates the various processes we have and rely on other available tools for the rest.

Writing

I made an off-the-cuff deal with a colleague last year to write something at least once a month. Over the almost five years I’ve had this blog I’ve struggled to write consistently, but I feel happy with last year’s results. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about my colleague. On to the new master plan!

I roped in two other colleagues who were keen on being held accountable for their creative endeavours. I’m not sure if they’ll be happy if I share details here, but maybe I’ll mention it in a future post if they give me the all-clear.

Goals

For the time being, my goals for this is to continue writing once a month. It’s always challenging to start, but it’s such a relaxing experience once I get going. I’ve also proved that 80% of the time I sit down to write something without even knowing what I want to write about, but words would soon start flowing if I start writing. It might not all be a fully coherent piece, but one reason I write is to improve my writing ability, so being able to pen a coherent piece will only come with practice.

I want to do more upfront planned topics, but I’ll need to find a way to better document ideas when they pop up. A one-on-one discussion with one of our team leads had already prompted me to think of a topic for a future post I can write. Hopefully, you’ll see something about that soon.

Professional

2020 was an interesting year for my career. I attended a technical leadership training programme at Entelect called H4x0r1. It has taught me many valuable skills, and I need to work hard on incorporating those skills into my day-to-day, but that will come with time and purposeful practice.

2021 has also already presented an opportunity. The finer details are a little sensitive, but it mostly entails me stepping away from active feature development into a role that will hopefully benefit the team. There are various reasons I’m taking this on, but it’s not me trying to look for something different in my line of work. I’m admittedly a little bored with our current work, but I’m hoping this will mostly be a good change of pace while solving some of our workflow issues. A good friend warned I might get bored of it quite quickly, but my attitude is that I’m already bored and it’s not something I’m in a position to commit to fully, so if this ends up being a failed experience we’re still in the same position we were at and won’t be worse off.

Goals

As mentioned above this new challenge will be a key focus over the next few months, and I’m still working on what I would consider success/failure criteria, but I’m in the process of finalising that. It will also become the criteria I’ll be using to judge the long term value of this role because it will ultimately become the responsibility of someone better equipped to fulfil the role.

Our team lead mentioned that I’m not fully aware of the influence I have on the team. I’ve grappled with this in the past, and I’ve also convinced myself that it’s not that important, but I made a vague statement about something I disagreed with in a recent meeting. I discussed my disagreement with the person afterwards. We concluded that we were in agreement, but that the team won’t perceive it that way, especially if I’m facetious about something.

I’m equating it a little due to “toning down” my very strong reactions to people’s suggestions. An important consideration is that I’m usually already a few steps ahead in how I reason about a problem, sometimes so much that I struggle to articulate why I feel some solutions won’t work. Delving deeper always points out that there’s some critical context I need to share as well. Taking a moment to think about why I’m saying something can hopefully prevent me just having a very strong response to someone’s idea while also allowing others to come to their conclusions instead of just following my own.

As a goal, this is probably still very vague, but I haven’t figured this out myself. It will take a lot of work with a lot of deliberate focus, but I felt it better to try and write about it here.

Blind agreements

I should probably have cleared up this before writing it, but I’ve also entered into a bet with someone regarding a piece of creative work we’re both wanting to do. I’m not 100% sure about all the details as the night’s memories are a little fuzzy, but he’s already started sharing some of his work with me. I have a rough idea, but I’ll more than likely write a follow-up once I have the details down.

Goals

I know that there was some promise of me having a working prototype of a game before the middle of the year. I’ve been toying around with a game concept that I think can have legs, but I also feel that it’s the type of game that should be easy enough to make fun. It likely won’t ever be a raging success, but I’m aiming to have a prototype available online where people can play and provide me with feedback. I might have agreed to have something on Steam which is likely a big stretch, but I think I can get working prototypes by then. I’ve been busy with SRSA admin work during January, but come February I need to get back on my game development horse and make something.

If you’re interested, please read what I have written in the prototype document. I still need to add to this document, and I suspect I’m going to have to commission some art, but the critical parts will be building various smaller prototypes as proof of concepts for some of the gameplay elements. I think those prototypes might be as follows:

  • basic top-down movement & gameplay
  • vehicular gameplay
  • map building

These items will serve my primary gameplay loop, but these elements must be fun from the start. Once I have each of these elements mostly dialled into being good fun, I can start building a small vertical slice where it’s all combined. Once completed, the vertical slice will fulfil my side of the bet. A key focus will have to be how I can put the work down to pick it up at a later time without lots of struggles. It might entail that I do some live streams of the development process, but I’m also wary of adding too much of a barrier to entry to just picking up and doing something on any given day.

Conclusion

There are many other things that I also would like to add here, but this list is already quite extensive. Some of it is also very personal, and it’s instead something I’ll keep track of it elsewhere. I’m looking forward to 2021 and the challenges that it will present and I think a key ingredient to it being a good year will be making sure I extinguish the dumpster fire myself instead of hoping someone else will do it for me.


  1. To be an ubar 1337 programmer. This person can gain access to virtually anything involving a computer. It may be done for pleasure and harmless jokes, or it may destroy other computers. These people are usually huge nerds.

    Erich: Wow Marty, I am such a h4xor. I just shut down MIT’s power.
    Marty: That’s totally awesome. You’re ubar 1337.
    Marsh: Man, I wish I wasn’t such a noob and could be a h4xor too.

    by h4xRgud July 10, 2008
    Source ↩︎