The past few days I haven’t written work logs, each day has a different excuse, none of which is laziness or distaste. Sometimes more important things arise and these exceptions are observed with detachment. I’ll list some thoughts and activities from the last few days regarding work:
On Sunday a friend came home. My roommate mentioned that I had released a new game, and he wanted to play it. We opened the Boolean Game on his phone, and I set up the opportunity for it to be a quick usability test: I told him I’d look at him interact with the game and I’d keep quiet.
There were some interface issues which had been mentioned by René, but I didn’t give them that much importance at the time. Seeing it happen in front of my eyes changed my perspective: indeed, it was a problem. I was reminded of an essay by Joel Spolsky, in which he argued that hired usability tests were a waste of time: it is necessary for the creators to see the problems first-hand. Hiring someone else to do so is just paying someone else to learn the lesson.
I took note of what I saw, and decided it could use another week of programming to kink out the issues. I’ll do this when I finish my current projects.
For the past few days I thought I’d rather write essays than work logs, and yesterday I published a piece on workplaces. But writing essays takes a bit more time, and it’s less enjoyable. This activity of sitting down and publishing my thoughts doubles as journaling, it helps me clear my mind, and it is pleasant. Though I don’t set out to weave anything beyond what I experience in the day, when I come back to read what I have written, I observe larger patterns which arise out of registering daily experience.
Still, I only noticed this through action in the opposite direction. More understanding-through-experience and less mentating seems to be the lesson.
I wish I could write more about client work. The project I’m doing is not classified, yet it’s common sense not to publish anything about it. I’ll address thoughts in the most general terms: with client work you step into a new reality, this reality is fresh and unconstrained. Solutions arise and shift form as new information and experience is gained, without having to execute them. Most of the hours go towards justifying your product intuitions, making it seem like a rational process.
This seems to be akin to the way mathematicians work. They are exposed to a problem, they gain information about who other mathematicians have tried before. They try new approaches, but ultimately the answer often comes in a flash of intuition. The hard work is actually communicating it to others.
I’m finding myself itching to begin a new project. Something that I can complete within a week. Something so simple I find myself embarrassed to publish it. Something that people say: is this all?
The 1st game I made took me two weeks, the 2nd one three weeks, the 3rd one four weeks, the 4th 8 weeks, and the 5th 12 weeks. There’s no correlation between execution time and popularity. I want to plant many seeds and see what grows!
I’m collecting ideas for this. Quick brainstorming:
- Kerning pairs: a remake of the kerning game which is closer to the activity of typographers.
- Alignment: a puzzle game where you learn to align/distribute elements.
- Crop it: crop hi-res photos based on different tasks (ie a spacious image of a customer support person that needs to be placed in a specific design).
- Unscale it: given an unproportionally scaled image, try to get it back to its original proportions.
I’ll keep on adding to this list.