Monday, June 22, 2015

A note to my friends

[Will be updating from time to time]

This one is a weird blog post. The issue is I wanted to give advice to my teammates, but I cannot do so for the following reason :

The first programmer : He already quitted the project and doing his own things now. I am still talking to him every now and then, and I kind of can observe that his problem while he is working with me still persist. It is just a guess though, I am not totally sure. BUT I haven't notify him. Why?

Well it is just a guess. And I don't know completely his life so I am afraid of missing my guess. (as opposed to when he is working with me on Duel Otters then I would tell him right away) It is a thing for Thai people, really, people stay silent and afraid of things. (that's me) Also it would be strange if I started bashing him via messenger out of the blue.. because it had been so long since we worked to gether. (The last time is January 2015)

So... the idea is I think I should note the things I want to tell him here instead. And if in the future he came asking why his way of his own work life is not going that well I can then point him to this blog post. But if he became successful then I would not tell him anything then lol. (That means I missed the guess) For the following passage please attach "I guess" to everything.

1. You abandon too early : This sounds somewhat offensive and that is one of the reason I would not say this directly to anyone. So his way of thinking is "Well I quit because I must put effort to somewhere else that is more suitable for me" which obviously happening with Duel Otters. It's not that I am that mad that he quit this project. (But sure it did give me health problems for not sleeping more) But "Is that too soon?" is the true art of quitting things. And in my opinion he quitted things quite too early before the compatibility between him and the task can even start showing. And yes human can excel and practice in more than 1 thing, so you don't have to quit something to try others.

2. The vicious cycle of "cannot do" and "when can I do" : I talked with him sometimes and it seemed that he "wanted" to do many things. But in the end he did not even start trying it. He is thinking too much should he start but just the "want" is enough to start trying things. His way of thinking is "Well I want to do it if I can do it" and because he is currently cannot do the task then he is not doing.

Like when I asked for help with the art, seeing that he is interested in art. He says I cannot draw for shit, he should practice FIRST and THEN blabla... this is the problem of PRACTICING. There is no ever the real thing for him. Stop practicing and do it practically and you would get much much more.

He often asked how did I know how to do things when I did some tricks in creative programs and do you know that one function (like, brush some spots -> radial motion blur "zoom" -> you get an effect bomb burst for game) it is because I got that from a REAL project. I can never imagined that I can PRACTICE that in anyway. That one trick came from like 1 month of lingering question (and doing that in inefficient way like manually drawing the bomb) and then like 2 days of enlightenment and finally discover the technique. And with point 1 above that I am not quitting things quite easily, months and months of Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects gave me quite handful of tricks.

I did tell him that the work need not to be perfect or good ENOUGH because it can never be. I gave him this permission but he still say nah and keep "practicing" forever.

In Exargon project, I still draw horrible human anatomy with short arm and bad perspective, but the work has been effective (in this case effective means people likes it because it is a video for leisurely viewing) by the use of my other skills like Photoshop filters or After Effects time-based effects. If you keep practicing you will never learn a way of applying your full potential to help your lacking skills like in the real task like this. Make the real thing your practice.

3. Did not bought the program : This point is very hard to convince because those who can understand is those who ALREADY bought the program. (Why I am convinced to bought Creative Cloud in the first place is still a mystery..)

One of the reason I keep trying is because I bought these program.  It really IS and I know it is unbelievable to those who think "That's stupid, I should save my money for physical things like coffee or Macbook Pro when I can save money by cracking programs. It is gonna working perfectly fine anyway and I can practice with that until I am as good as you then I will make money and buy the real thing".

To describe, I valued my tools more. Like when you bought a new pen you use it more with happiness. Like when you bought a Macbook you travel with it always. The same is happening even with imaginary thing like software. I opened these programs quite regularly. AND you will get yourself involved more into using these program, like, when someone in the lab says "ah, I wish I had  a nice video to go with the slide" I feel like I should help him with MY After Effects that I bought.

I got myself into these kind of trouble often like spontaneously spawning side projects like crazy like the Exargon project which I voluntarily trouble myself even when I have tons of lab works to do and Duel Otters to finish, just because I really wanted to try using Blender with MY After Effects. Blender is free, and I would not bother doing it that much if it was not MY After Effects.

This creative cloud things I bought has so many useful functions that I must excel because that would be a waste of money if I didn't. This feeling did not happen when I cracked the program. The program is just there. It happened 2 times already with Creative Cloud and Ableton Live, my music program of choice. I know because I have cracked these two program before. And the same thing is happening. Believe it or not is up to you because I am not good at explaining these imaginary things, but it worked for me and without this effect I would not get anywhere in the past 3 YEARS. If you can put some money equivalent of like 2 months of salary and get 3 years intelligence buff will you do it?

4. Too much distractions : It is true that I don't have girlfriend or many online chatting friends like him so I don't know that feeling. But at the time he is working with me he is EXTREMELY distractible by social notifications. His phone is always notifying things. He slips into Facebook very easily to the point that I can say only 70% of work time is effective. That is a massive loss!

I can't stress the value of "Full Focus" enough. If you got "Full Focus" when working, usually you will gain a buff called "10x Learning" for 1 hour. It let you learn new things that would otherwise take 1 month or maybe not discovered forever by the normal you, now is clear and can be learned in like 3 hours.

If his way of life is still like this after leaving my project, I imagined he could get much much more without distractions.

But this way he have a life while I have no life, so I guess it is not that bad being distracted?

5. You have no "random skills" because you don't dare to try. I noticed this pattern many many times from you. I invite him to go to Unite Bangkok but nah, he wanted to work. I persuade him to try drawing more but no. I recommended him to try Colemak keyboard layout but then he said "I am used to Qwerty for like 10 years now. It is too late."

I have many "random skills" lying around because I dare to try many many seemingly unrelated things, and that allow me to grab many "random events" that happened in my life.

For example, what if I don't dare to go to Unite Bangkok? The flight ticket is expensive and I have to skip lab like you that have to skip work if you decide to come. But as a result, unexpected e-mail from Apple Staff came and wanted to meet. What a coincidence! From that point, the chain of events leads to Duel Otters being featured in South East Asia region.

What if I did not decide to play music game? I would not be making the song right now. I would not know awesome Thai friends that likes music game. I would not know how to make totally awesome UI in my own game because most music games have very good UI.

What if I don't dare to apply for Thapster note chart design job that day (even though I am full of Extend Interactive works and Duel Otters 1.0 already) then now the Exargon project would not even been possible since I could not meet my fated friends that make this song with me, and connect with awesome people from Thapster also. Looking back now, those day when I have to do Thapster, Extend and Duel Otters are pretty painful with little sleep but all the things I got till today is so much worth it. At that time I have no idea things would turned out like this. This is why you must dare to grab the opportunity without thinking too much about benefit.

What if I don't dare to play Japanese Final Fantasy 5 when I was a child? By remembering Japanese character and struggling to play it, look at me now I am in Japan for 2 years probably because of that. And in here I am exposed to many more things. I can imagined if I recommend some Japanese game to you (with a manual) you probably say "nah, too much effort."

What if, what if, too many seemingly impulse decision have been made. Of course many have failed (Like making a stuffed doll, I abandoned. Baking cake, I quitted also. Cross stitch I did not like. Singing I tried but definitely don't like. ) but in turn, many have made me possible to see more interesting things.

You on the other hand, I think are too focused on make the best, or upgrade your current skill further. That is not bad, but you will not able to enjoy random events because everything in your life will slowly converge to your only mastery you have. I seemed to talk big of myself on this one, but this is the only way to convey how much I appreciate those decision I made. I tried to pass on this awesomeness to you many times but you seemed to not want to grab them.

Maybe I am an overachiever, then sorry for that. Maybe your lifestyle is ok in your way, but I think dare to try new things is pretty fun when other things followed and then you are able to grasp them, and life should be fun.

The artist : she is still in my team after attempting a though of abandoning project like I say with the programmer but came back for some complicated reason. But the reason that I cannot tell her directly is because she is easily annoyed by the comments and that will impact the work quality, reduce my friendship points with her, and then impact my health condition used to deal with problems (typing and explaining over and over again in Facebook) so this is the reason I will not tell these to her but states them here.

I still told her these things from time to time because I think it will benefit her in the future if she is going to work with someone else (who might not tell her these things directly) but not so often anymore because all these problems still persist after like 2 years of working together. Telling her more only results in quality loss but no gain, so I will stop guiding her soon. If in the future she have trouble with work I will point her to this blog post.

1. Very bad communication : communication is everything especially in online working you should type things clearly, but somehow her words is 50% ambiguous most of the time. I don't even know how she manages to do that so consistently in the text she typed! If she is a freelance worker she would get into some trouble working the wrong thing for her employee.

[13 July 2015] Now she had said it! In the Twitter she tweeted that recently her conversation partner cannot make sense of what she typed. At first I also think I am not good at conversation, but now if other person also experiencing the same thing then it must be her problem. (And it make sense because when I chatted other people it works out just fine 95% of the time compared to her) I replied to that tweet saying this has been happening always, only to get the reply back with "all of those is my fault!".... Then why can I communicate with other people normally then? I want to say the act of immediately blame me like this is also the reason the problem is still lingering, but I don't want to continue Twitter conversation anymore. I will just have her read this some time in the future when the problem gotten worse.

2. Not reliable : I feels like the things I asked her to do have 50% chance of not being delivered. I must make sure 2nd or 3rd time that it is actually delivered. This is like UDP!

3. My hard work must bear fruit regardless of other reason : The truth is you WILL FAIL most of the time. The design will not work unless you iterate and fix it a few times. But I think she have this mindset that it will workout somehow. Please learn to fail more. But I don't want to fix her anymore because she is kind of annoyed when I do that.

Even if your work is perfect but then if the game does not sell, if the sticker does not sell, because whatever reason like I have a bad marketing design, bad game design, or left some bugs in the program, please don't give me an impression that your hard work is ruined. (you chat conversation gave me that impression) Of course it is NOT your fault but it hurts the teammates who is also working hard like you but made some mistakes that you didn't. Be considerate of works in other parts like marketing efforts, programming, animation, etc.

Also I can imagine the case like, you might feel bitter when I prevent you from promoting things you made because it is not reasonable to promote it "everywhere" and "every time". It happened when we were talking about marketability of stickers before it came out. She gets in bad mood when I said do not rely on game page to promote stickers because that IS the game page. It cannot function like artist page that you can constantly remind fans about your sticker because that is your art, unless you wanted to alienated the page. Some page might do that, but I think the game page is for game news. I wanted to keep it true to its purpose. But again, you gave me the feeling that your hard work must bear fruit, and it is my responsibility if I prevent the promoting in some way... If you made me feel like that, I cannot deny anything any more even though I wanted to give some reason.

I might be wrong all these time for not wanting to alienated the game page who knows? Nevertheless I believed in the decision I made because she did not argue me back with reasonable reason. (Go to 6. to see more) I am very ready to listen and change my view, but she just did not counter my argument and walk away leaving bitter feeling.

4. Work without reason : Sometimes she worked without asking what is missing, what is the purpose of this artwork? Sometimes she handed me the result and clearly something is missing, I asked why do this when we don't even have the other things that required for this one to function and she have no idea how this will be used in the game and it is then my fault for not explaining repeatedly. That might be true, but you should know the reason of everything you do.

She is just following an instruction like a normal freelance do while actually we are in the same team and actually friends for 4-6 years. And then it is my fault again that I am not making sure that she is knowing everything. You could help each other out by thinking and asking. Not finish the work in a wrong way and then complain afterwards that it is wrong and not going to be used. I could not keep pinging you the requirement, reason, history of the work.

5. Please keep promise : Please remember your own promise. This happened more than 30 times already, I believe. Like when you say Sunday and I believed in you, then I waited until midnight of Sunday and still nothing happened, not even a change of plan was delivered to me. Of course I can ask you constantly, but then what is the point of the promise? Not only about time, other things too that I felt like betrayed. But I should not wander into that territory.

6. Please disagree with reason. When you disagree things you should state your reason clearly why that way is better than this way. Most of the time you just say nope and I have to ask for reason always. If with reason and then we can exchange thoughts until it came to conclusion.

7. If you don't know then TRY it : She asked many times how my art program can do watercolor and asked me to sample the watercolor stroke screenshots for her, then I told her the program has free fully functional trial and you can easily try it yourself. Then 1 month after she asked the same question when I mentioned my program is on discount and she should grab it. I told her again that the trial is free, please at least try it. I don't know if she already try the watercolor til this day.

When we discuss art decision also, many of her arguments is like "Is it really _____?" Well I also don't know! It is impossible to know unless you try. (or guess if trying is not feasible) But you gave me an impression of "Please give me 1 final decision please and then I will do it perfectly as you say." (And then if that decision "I" made does not work then see point 3) No! We have to try and think together. You are not a drawing machine aren't you?

One of your favorite sentence when things got complicated is "well, so what is the conclusion of what I have to do?" while we are still discussing. I know you are an art not a game designer, but staying silent and just following commands is equivalent to being in a big company. We are small like only 3-4 people we should really discuss.

It might sounded like petty things, but in a large scale it could affect her life I think. If you want something please try to get it. Not asking for it to be served to you.

The second programmer : I honestly think that he is super fine.

By now you reader will probably think "Wow, this guy is so high and mighty. Like, he is so perfect or something?" this is one of the most popular way of unreasonable thinking also. Who says I am almighty and always correct? Hell, some of these might be totally wrong.

But in the same way as tasting food and criticize it, you don't have to know how to cook to judge the food. This way I am not saying a single word that I am good, but I want to note my friends. That's completely independent of each other right?

Ironically when I criticize food I would often get the infamous "Then why don't you cook it yourself?" that is not even a relevant answer.

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