1st Qtr 2020: More Action!

So far the year has been on a rollercoaster start. More on the world events that is.

Personally, not much has moved, but progress is ongoing. However, there needs to have adjustment again after realizing what I am really going for, all due to some recent revelations and dreams that I had.

For starters, the focus has been decided, but needs adjustment. I am still trying to do a lot of things, and there needs to be a reduction in scope.

So, I am dropping gamedev, and instead focus on art as one side of the hobby. I’ll be going back to UE4, with focus on using it for cinematics instead. 3d should still move, but will need more Zbrush side of things. and need to be serious with blender due to re subscribing to CGCookie. However, I’ll take a more serious and directed approach and not look into random tutorials to learn from there, and will try a minimum of probably 6 months evaluation.

By dropping game development, it will hopefully clear up my mind on indecision lately that really hindered my progress. Evaluating game engines to use instead of doing a game, and not really having a solid feel of making a game, only leads to like frustration and ending up not doing anything at all, which affects everything. And that feeling needs to stop. I’ve been too much emotional instead of practical, wasting time and effort, and might affect my performance at work and everyday life also.

So it is better to let it go. And just let it be. And let it simmer for a while, if I’ll be interested later on, let the Muse guide me. But for now, forget it.

So in place I’ll make programming part of hobby in addition to work. This is important because I need to level up my skills in programming. Sooner than later. So crash courses, reviews, etc. to fill up time not spent in art, instead of idle time. Also, needs to be relevant to work instead of random topics.

So in summary, drop gamedev, continue art hobby, add programming hobby to complement work, AND MORE ACTION!!!!

Year End Review: Last Minute Lessons

In hindsight, the year was both good and bad.

Good because I realized many things about myself, strengths and weaknesses, and realizations that, made me more open to at least start to think, “I want to change, to reboot, to restart”. So I had setup an Emergency Fund just in case, and decided to really understand and do what I really want in my life (but I’ll get back to that later).

Bad (though not that bad, probably) is that I had thought to clear up some debt midway, only to get bigger debt later. Compulsive buying and using credit card is not good, even if I say to myself that I have the means to pay it one way or another.

There is also a midway, in that my efforts to “minimalize” my life and decide to focus on what to do have started, but they might have taken a bit longer than expected due to still current habits of bad time management, compulsive decisions and analysis paralysis.

Which brings me to the last minute lessons: I was always good at drafting a so-called plan, but stupidly not following it. It might be excusable if there had been some bumps on time and work that made me not follow it fully (like emergencies, etc.) but no, most of the time is spent on doing jack shit. I never really realized it or made me think of it that much until this season, when the year is ending and seeing that I have not really accomplished all plans that I had.

I always was thinking “eh, I can make time for this.” Admittedly I have had some time (sometimes significantly) but used for absolute jack shit. Fear somewhat set in as I was checking my list, and thinking “what should I finish? what should I prioritize? what should I do?” maybe the argument that at the end of the day I didn’t really know what I would do all along.

Also, while surprisingly doing jack shit, I had researched a thing on focus, since that should have been my theme this year (which I decided to continue on to the next year, with some modifications). I found a quote and a video on Steve Jobs and focus, and made me think a lot on my current actions and planning:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

Steve Jobs

So, looking back, what I was doing was wrong; what I understood about focus was also wrong. In addition to doing jack shit, I was doing jack shit because I was overwhelmed by my plans to do, what to do first, that I cannot pick. Because I like them all. But true focus is to choose only a few. So now, I am trying to lessen my plans to things that are sustainable and realistic, and act on them for this new year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

Focus and Action for 2020

UPDATE:

Blender/ZBrush/UE4/Drawing/Writing, and Programming for work/hobby.

I know this is still a lot actually, so I am open to dropping some if they become boring or out of favor (except Zbrush and programming). Also, limiting the tutorials or learning material to the end goal of ideally combining 3d and gamedev, or at least improve 3d workflow to have skills for a cinematic or game production in the future. For blender/zbrush focus on 3d workflow to making 3d characters and/or robots/mechs, 2d animation fundamentals as stepping stone for Blender 3d animation, drawing as more of hobby and improve anatomy skills for 3d, programming to supplement work, like code katas, crash courses or fundamentals. Dropping gamedev for now.

Any additional tutorials or review materials not related to this will be scrapped, and plan is still subject to change. Remember to self, focus is saying no, and action is more important than just planning.

As the year ends, I will have a review of the tasks and plans that I did this year, which was admittedly, somewhat not that ideal.

There were more setbacks than achievements, However those achievements were actually beneficial enough that they inspire me to go on with my plans. As I had in my sticky (which I might also update / add to later), the problem is not much on the subjects at hand but on what to focus on….

Actually the problem is on the habit / trait of focus itself. My understanding of it was flawed, just as I had failed to understand my limitations and actual desires.

Before I would forget and might inspire me to come back later to this topic, What I really want ideally is to make a story; the gist was to have it 3d animated. For a lofty goal the skill itself is still far from me, and I admit my goal was to monetize it….

And it is still a head in the clouds thing, that I realized that I cannot really make a reality fully, based on my life experiences, desires and habits. As being somewhat lazy enough (which I desire to change), Time might be not enough for a full length CG film. So, maybe a micro short film or just produce animated characters for games might be the next plan…

So to summarize (and subject to change), the focus is wrong to “focus” on the subjects that I need to learn (which is A LOT), but to “focus” on what is the fastest to a viable MVP, which means to produce in spite of my means, skills, and habits / laziness thereof. Which, to focus on only what I can do best, and limit my scope.

In that matter, I will focus on mostly Zbrush and drawing (but to support ZBrush / 3d skills). Blender for hard surface, but possibly for rigging and animation only. Also, since I have decided previously to focus on NPR / Anime style / Stylized humanoids and mecha, so: realism as fundamentals for Zbrush and drawing, i.e. anatomy studies, and hardsurface in Zbrush/Blender. Rigging and animation? will only use 2d drawings and low poly models as reference for blender, but will major in modeling skills.

To summarize (which can be reduced / chang scope):

Things to learn are: Zbrush and drawing for fundamentals and anatomy. Blender general modeling, basic rigging and animation only. Grease pencil for 2d animation practice (stick figures are enough).

Goal: Animated stylized figurines, orig or fanart, no need to be animated; if animated, ideally stylized and for games, for small marketplaces

Timeline: long-term, subject to change/reduce scope, minimum is static figures

This is subject to reduce scope since not included here is programming lessons via gamedev and work. That is most priority, with gamedev more on the programming aspect (small 2d games) instead of something grand. The good thing is that in case I can generate original sprites via blender so I can still combine them later.

The Problem is the Focus

Or more specific, the problem is not only in the habit of having focus, since the habit hasn’t been developed well at all, but on what to focus on. Even if all the plans in the world are in front of you, not taking action or really, not following the guideline of focus itself, will failure set in. Also, doing everything that you want is not a good thing (jack of all trades, master of none). Read Don’t be a Donkey by Derek Sivers to remind you of this from time to time.

Though we fail to do what we need to do, it is not the end of the world. Rather, we should learn from our mistakes and rise up again and move on, still do the thing you want to do. Because that hasn’t disappeared; rather, the hunger has strengthened by carelessly not feeding it consistently enough.

So with the remaining time, I have decided to focus on…focus.

Activities will be limited to Blender and Zbrush. want to make it consistent but for now try to find the flow. As for learning, prepare for Java certification for now, then review other programming requirements as we go along.

These are the 3 that are most important to focus up to next year, and admittedly might still be slightly more. But I want to focus my learning for these 3. Probably via rotation and scheduling and the most important: doing.

It’s now almost half of the year, and I need a reset (basically part 2 of refocus)

I just had a realization that at the current rate, I still have too much to do and not much time to do anything. I have been trying to include gamedev in my routine, only to somehow get bored at learning it. At least in my mind, it helped me create ideas and imaginations that I thought can be brought into a game, to combine my skills of 3d and programming, but these ideas are more for a story than for a game.

My interest in art is somewhat still there, but I am thinking that if I am learning pixel art for a game, when I already know some 3d, why would I burden myself with something to add to learn when I have actually less time to do them (or rather, none of the discipline yet to manage my time properly). I figured that it is probably for by best interest to reduce further what I plan to learn.

To reiterate again, these are, hopefully, my final todo list:

  1. Learn blender and 3d, and drawing. Focus on the art, not on gamedev. For example, continue on Udemy the lessons regarding the blender character and low poly 3d game in Unity. But unless the fun returns, limit it to learn 3d and animation, not for a game. You can continue learning on the 2d art not related to drawing with a pencil but anything regarding pixel art can be stopped for a while.
  2. Learn programming as a hobby also instead, this can be combined with work topics. Try to make it interesting and short snippets, or create a project. Should be for skill improvement instead of gamedev.
  3. Forget game dev thoughts for a while; focus on story elements and writing instead.

UPDATE 1: After some analysis paralysis again and some reading (Derek Siver’s Don’t be a Donkey), I realized that I don’t really function well in multitasking, even for hobbies. So for now I’ll take advice and focus on doing something for 2 weeks, then check if I can focus on only that in 1 month then 3 months. So, I am writing a revised plan from above below:

  1. Focus on drawing and 2d tools like Krita and GIMP, probably complement with 2d pixel art. I feel that I can focus more on this since this will only strengthen my 3d skills in blender also. Where does this leave blender now? well I have purchased on Udemy something that I found was lead by a good instructor, and he is currently updating his Blender tutorials to 2.8 (which unfortunately didn’t see before I purchased). Since this might take some time, I will wait for the lessons to be updated to 2.8 and probably after 2.8 is non-beta before I go back and refresh some skills in blender.
  2. Which takes me back to this instructor’s Krita Udemy lessons, which so far are very good. So I’ll continue on this and then probably focus on creating pixel art assets on them.
  3. Gamedev? lingering thoughts always take me back to this especially seeing a demo of the Radio the Universe game in Youtube (damn you! hahaha) so I am thinking of going back to LibGDX since that I started it already before. Also will complement my programming lessons on Java, not thinking about the certification for now. So programming as a hobby via gamedev or work is still feasible.
  4. The surprising thing in this plan? everything complements for now than if I focus on blender and 3d first, since LibGDX is generally better on 2d assets. I feel that going back to 2d for now, even if it would take me a long time, will be better in the future and can be applied in 3d. 3d has a technical aspect in it (pressing buttons, etc.) that I feel I can shortly refresh in a short time, but 2d traditional art skills are more valuable and is not limited to 3d or gamedev for that matter in the long run

It’s already May…and I realized I have to refocus

UPDATE 2: A topic about focus sure is not being focused enough…maybe the point is that it is a struggle of mine :-0 due to some “bought” tutorials on Udemy, they focus on using blender and unity together. And this is because Unity so far is still something of a easy to use engine for 3d. Learning blender ticks this focus list, however doing 2d games is still on my plate, or rather, 3d game assets converted to 2d sprite aesthetic, so I can still combine 2d and 3d at the same time.

UPDATE 1: Decided to include gamedev with programming, maybe alternating both when bored. In case, gamedev is strictly 2d for now, since to create assets, will learn drawing skills and some 2d game assets. Also for 3d, decided to focus on Blender to maximize learning and add from previous learning experiences. Zbrush may be good, but my art skills are not good enough to maximize such software. Need to be back to basics first.

3 months after I had said that I will be better at focusing on activities and then not much has happened. Given that there had been activities here and there that were finished, but instead of being motivated to do more, it actually gave me insight on what I really want to do with my life and time.

Coupled with bouts of sickness, boredom, laziness, confusion, and stress at some day to day activities and basically, I became somewhat lost. I was thinking of having a reset and refocus on this year, but I haven’t done much yet, but I will from this time maybe along the month of May.

First of all, I have suddenly realized having a lower interest in creating a game. A story is fine, which I was thinking I was creating it into a game, but then I find it hard to really have an idea of how to make it into one. Game mechanics, etc. are not of much interest for me to figure out right now; if given a choice, I would just take an existing genre and create from there. Also my decision to make a game was more related to complement my career in Software development, and making games as a learning tool for programming adds an additional layer of difficulty compared to the many todo apps that are basis of most programming tutorials.

Funny that I was interested in programming due to want to make a game, and when I was a game developer at work, I found it boring and uninteresting. Which gave me an existential crisis back then (maybe up to this day haha). Will I make a game in the future? probably, a desire is still there, but not that strong. Also, it adds confusion to me in the sense that I have to learn programming skills but instead having analysis paralysis on what game engine or framework to use, which is a waste of time.

Now, there is a hobby that I have done, but suddenly became bored, maybe because of the high learning curve: blender and 3d. On and off I have learned blender but my reason is again I was finding a reason to change careers after my existential crisis for gamedev, and ironically I found it in creating art assets….for gamedev. Or so I thought. Though I am also wanted to learn animation, but more as compliment to my story, which I thought was the best thing since anime (haha)… let’s just say my inspiration was if you think you can do better, then make your own…and then it was VERY HARD. So hard that I am eating my words. If I had kept into it I might have been good, but no, I didn’t because again of over-analyzing, so my skills are not that good enough.

So what will I do now? I don’t really know much yet, but for a start, I’ll change direction slightly:

  1. Focus on gamedev with Unity alternating with programming skills by not limiting it to work but also as a hobby. My interest in programming languages is still present; in fact I think I am not practicing enough. Hopefully by being better at it I can enhance my love for gamedev. Will give chance to it at least this year. If nothing happens then it probably is not meant to be. Will do this by doing what is most interesting at the moment, if I get bored with gamedev for example, then I shift to programming skills related to current work.
  2. Continue with blender 2.8 and wait for an upcoming tutorial for 2.8. Basically a CGBoost tutorial, but may cost money, so it still depends. I’ll retackle sculpting with Blender while I improve my skills in art, and complement it with…
  3. Drawing, restart by looking into the 30 days of drawing. Generally, I was not that good, but when I was learning to draw back then I felt a sense of peace. Also it prevented me to be too addicted to internet browsing, so I find that I need to do that to be away from a PC from time to time. And also, I stopped because I felt I was not “improving” fast enough. I should just focus on the peace and enjoyment.
  4. Writing, this one I am evaluating, but I have a certain story in my mind right now and somehow I can’t let it go, so I’ll be trying this.

There. Hopefully something sticks this time, since I am again almost at the half of the year. And also I am going 37 now, should stop feeling sorry for my self and be a true adult for once, pick up myself and not be ashamed to ask for advice and help from others.

It’s already February…and still adjusting focus

Well, time flies fast for some reason, however I need to keep track of everything I am somewhat behind in…mostly work related.

I had prepared the plans to focus on some things this year, but it’s mostly for hobby projects. And I can see I’m neglecting my work responsibilities a bit.

Combined with sickness days (more for something within 2 months already) and I feel I need to be on track and probably focus more on work most of the time to make up. Though if I might be questioned I would like to really focus on skills on art (even if I never was an artist) 🙂

Times like this makes me question myself if the choices I made in life are valid or correct, since one of my biggest fears unfortunately is severe failure…failure in the sense that when I do something and then I fail in it (for example, being fired at work, with no backup plans) will give in me a severe panic that I tend to do nothing, or more move fearfully on the next steps. When the best course of action is to move on.

So in addition to focus, I should probably invest in making this year a year of moving on, and taking action. Will probably add to that on the next post.

2019 – The Year of Focus

2018 was better that what I expected in 2017, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

Or rather, work that should be doing…Most of the not-so-good things that happened in 2018 were due to me not focusing on my goals and always changing my plans or not sticking to them after writing them down.

So for this year, I declare it to be the year of focus…focus on small, doable and realistic goals, focus on the goals as much as possible instead of changing from moment to moment.

Re-learning Blender

I am currently learning Blender after using it on and off for about 8 years now. This time I am taking it as a hobby, and hopefully I can improve my 3d skills further than before.

I was planning to learn it with the initial goal of maybe using it for some future game development or animation project, but lately I am not so sure yet. Doing those things are not as simple as I thought they would be given my opinion of my skills right now. I would need to know more about animations, color, texturing, drawing and painting, etc. and they cannot be skipped in the fastest time possible.

So I am taking a step back and just enjoying the experience and tutorials for now from Youtube, from a guy named Grant Abbitt (https://www.youtube.com/user/mediagabbitt). The thing that I liked about his tutorials was they were small and short, maybe not enough for some beginners to learn but good for me who is coming back to learning it and having a refresher course on using blender.

I also want to learn Zbrush (I have Zbrush Core but I feel it might be limited, and has almost same features with the current Blender sculpting tools) but I have no money to currently buy the full version (since I also assembled a new PC). Well, I can still stick to Core in case or make do with blender sculpting.

A low poly set piece I made from following the tutorials of Grant Abbitt