22 – Business as usual

A new project, kids @ home due to COVID: business as usual.

Enjoy the read!

Rework on Find the Gnome

First I will share with you some juicy screenshots of my work. Here I am reworking a level on Find the Gnome.

Rework in progress on Find the Gnome

In the past months I did a lot of remodeling to create new low-poly model replacements for the original models. Here you can see the old and new vegetation side by side. As you can see I need to adjust a few of them to increase their size, but other than that I am pleased with the results so far.

Gun model improvements for Manage the Universe

I am not working on Manage the Universe currently, and I use this to look at it from a distance. One specific thing I want to decide on before continuing is the art style.

So when my daughter asked to join her with drawing, I happily accepted it and took it as an opportunity to experiment.

Experimenting on Manage the Universe

There are a few things to notice here:

  • Unit types: I am thinking about how to create more units without having to create models from scratch. Giving factions 1 base type and then create a few variations, is a thing common in other franchises. The hover boat would be one base type, that walker with the external control pod on top would be another base type. Same goes for giving factions ‘preferred’ gun types, like rocket based vs laser based.
  • Adding details to units: I created a hover boat but I am not satisfied. The current model feels lifeless and rough. So I added the green stripes, those would be ‘radiating’ light. And I added a few ventilation panels on the side. And I worked the wings open, like wings present in the old Lego sets. Same goes for the turret’s hull, there I added a few nuts and bolts to give it an interesting shape.
  • Gun types: with the idea of having base units came the idea of having base gun types for factions. If they have rockets on their units, they should have rockets on their ships. And these models should look and operate alike. I am not totally sure yet because this will probably make the factions a-symmetric, but I could counter that by having faction specifics while also providing some generic guns and unit models.
  • Adding details to guns: inspired by the Star Wars franchise and the game Forts, I tried to create a few interesting gun barrels that had more to them than just being sticks that point to the sky. Moving parts, visible internals, interesting shapes, outside wiring/tubing, heavy muzzle flash effects and of course totally different types (laser, rocket, gun/mass, fluid).

New projects

Creating new projects is a healthy entrepreneurial practice. So when people come to me with a project they like themselves, I always listen. If their project resonates with my own capabilities and my own vision of my future, I will gladly join their efforts.

I can’t talk much about the specifics yet (because these idea’s aren’t mine to share) but I can share a few details on how I handle requests like this.

  1. I like talking about random stuff, and I like to solve problems. So I have always time to talk about an idea.
  2. When I talk with someone about their idea’s, I understand that us talking is already valuable for both of us. I get inspired, they can sort out their thoughts and reflect on it. Because of this I feel no pressure to actually do something with their requests, I already helped them by listening.
  3. While talking I use my work-structuring skills to help them get to the core of their issue. This is always a healthy balance of empathetic listening and technical checks. You could argue that there needs to be listening only, but there is a reason people get to me the engineer: they understand that their vision on the subject is limited and just want to know if it has a chance of succeeding or not. The sooner I point out issues the better.
  4. When pointing out issues, I always offer alternatives. I have very diverse interests and a very diverse knowledge base, and I use this to our both’s advantage. I just as much want their idea to succeed as they do: I know how hard it is to bang your head against the wall trying to make something work. Our combined experiences can make from 1 + 1 = 3.
  5. And then, when it is clear what the root issue is that needs solving, I have to find out if giving it my time makes a difference.
  6. If that is the case, I have to decide if I like this type of work (short time benefits) and where this gets me in life (the long run benefits).

The funny thing is that my available time and the costs of this all is not in this equation. That is because this early on it is much more about being smart and to try out some key concepts, and those require much and much less time than the creation of the ‘actual’ product. Later, when things are validated, it is clear what the actual benefits are so the justification of time and effort can be made.

Published by Erik_de_Roos

Erik de Roos is a Freelance software developer.

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