I’m sitting at the barbershop waiting for my turn for a much needed haircut. I set myself to work, but I don’t have internet, so I decided to write my work log even though the day is not over yet. Both mind and body gave out today, I woke up with a cold and a mental haze accompanied by a slight headache, reminiscent of a hangover. I checked the stats for the release: below what I expected. I was equanimous about it and actually relieved that there was little attachment to the results, but also concerned: in the possible scenarios I hadn’t seriously considered I might make zero revenue from the whole endeavor, but it’s just a matter of asking for help.

In this state I was able to get very little done, fixing bugs here and there, but the relatively cold reception indicated an underlying problem: on the web it’s as easy to gain visitors as is to lose them, and some of the feedback I’ve gathered is that the game is difficult. In creating the game I shortened the tutorial as much as I could, because tutorials suck. But one of the last things I did was add a “tutorial toggle”, so that you can turn it on or off, and I hadn’t put both together: it is not necessary to have a full tutorial at the beginning of the game, just have a single tutorial stage and then the next three stages or so can be related to the concept just learned. In this way the difficulty curve is eased and the chore of learning full instructions before playing is reduced.

When I came to this conclusion I was glad that the game didn’t caught on as much as I wanted, because it would give me time to restructure the stages.

The barber did a meticulous job on the hair that’s left on my scalp. I can’t help but notice I sacrificed a lot of hair to this project. I shaved my beard too, and it’s strange looking at myself in the mirror.

I implemented part of the idea of breaking up the tutorial into the places where you need to learn the concepts, and it seems to be the right path. I will finish it tomorrow. Thought has turned sharply towards spiritual/philosophical matters, and I feel more and more compelled to write about it, even if it would premature at this stage.

I’ve been reading Goethe’s Theory of Colors and his approach to science struck me as deeply original: he sets out a series of experiments, for example: light a candle next to a window near sunset. You will observe two shadows, one from the light coming through the window, the other from the flame. The shadows are of different color. And he goes on with these experiments, and from here he gathers a generalizing principle.

Goethe argues passionately against Newton’s Theory of Color, though time has put Goethe on the losing side of the argument, but I’m not convinced he was entirely wrong: Goethe’s approach has to do with how the mind and the eye perceive color (the subjective), while Newton’s approach studies light itself (the objective).

As scientists come to study consciousness, they are doing it from the place it yields less results, from the phenomena observed through instruments. They will put someone in a brain scanner and stimulate his senses so that they see where brain activity takes place. While it’s surely useful finding the material correlate to subjective experience, it doesn’t tell you anything about the experience itself.

The parallel I see in design is our crude attempts at making it data driven. You could argue that alignment has no value because it doesn’t have a behavioral correlate, but even to the untrained eye the pleasure perceived from experiencing something well arranged is evident. Designers are well aware that most of our work cannot be measured in a meaningful way, and there’s a couple of radicals that say that things which cannot be measured do not exist, but Goethe’s approach struck me as valid: do the experiments, and see from your experience if it is true or not.

I’m just scratching the surface on these ideas which have an application well beyond design, but I’m toying with the idea of first replicating Goethe’s experiments (he insists on this vehemently), keeping in mind that I’m not only learning about the nature of color, but also learning his method of dis-covering subjective experience. Ultimately, the application of this goes well beyond the field of design, but I must first come to an understanding within the field I know best.

I’ll pursue sideways, as a distraction from current work. This narrow view of the world as a single project has proved to be insufficient for a healthy mind.