January 18, 2017

Goals

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“Over and over and over and over and over
Like a monkey with a miniature cymbal
The joy of repetition really is in you”

Hot Chip – Over and Over

This years goals are the same as last year.

Wait, no, they are not! Last year one of my goals was to complete Concealed Intent and release it. Done – it is out (since August) on Steam and Humble. There has even been a 1.1 update. Finishing Concealed Intent has been a constant target going back over four years. Now the goals will need to be ever so slightly different…

  • Create and release a game. This new wording on the game development objective is something that can be endlessly repeated. One of the main learnings from Concealed Intent is the realistic scope of any game I can make by myself. I intend to use this knowledge to make smaller games – ones that can be started and finished within a year. Or even less if possible!
  • Blog on my websites at least 4 times a month Last year this goal stated the posts should be on my personal website – a target missed with just 18 entries there in 2016. However, during the year I started a new blog, A Gamedev Plays… (and associated YouTube channel). Combined those two websites met the target easily – so I consider that a success. This year I will not not be restricted to any website (so this goal now also includes the Jarrah Technology website).
  • Exercise. With regular weights and running, I am just below the peak strength achieved in mid-2015, and can now run faster than ever before for 30 minutes without joint pain. Not bad. Especially on the running side – I hope the old injuries are definitely in the past. The more specific goals for the year are to again start lifting personal bests and run without pain for an hour at my current 30min pace.

So far, so similar, but now time for something new.

  • Learn Spanish Around mid-year I started spending 10 minutes/day online attempting to learn Spanish as there was I chance I would end up living in a Spanish speaking country. That is now very unlikely to occur, but I have kept up the lessons. According to the websites I use, my vocabulary is around 1000 words (and my pronunciation is awful). Now I’m beginning to learn grammar (the first time in any language!). It seems a shame to stop now, so this goal is just to maintain regular lessons and see how it goes.

And that is it. Although there is one more thing to be said. In the middle of this year I will be moving country. At the moment it is still not certain where I will end up (although London or Australia are by far the most likely). Previous experience of trans-continental moves show they can be incredible destructive to productivity. Thus, there is a good chance my plans will collapse under this event. It is also likely I will need to find a normal desk job in the second half of the year. Given this, I will be easy on myself if at the end of the year, I fall a little short on the goals above.


January 8, 2017

Pandemic Legacy Season 1

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Just over a year ago the small casual gaming group I play in started the board game Pandemic Legacy Season 1. Just under a month ago, after nine game sessions, we finished. This is a review of the game and does not include spoilers. For a game-by-game account of our playthrough (including spoilers!) see these pages instead.

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January 1, 2017

Kuching Trip

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Our latest holiday was a week in Kuching over Christmas. Kuching is the capital of Sarawak state in Malaysia and on the island of Borneo. While there we spent some time jungle trekking, but mostly just hanging out in the relaxed town. As is traditional on Malaysian holidays there was much partaking of the local (and very good) cuisine. Unfortunately, as our trip coincided with rainy season, the weather was usually overcast and thus many of my photos are overly dark.

My best photos from the trip are in a short slideshow available here.


November 5, 2016

Ipoh and Cameron Highlands Trip

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I’m just back from a 4-day trip up to Ipoh and the Cameron Highlands north of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. While I can’t say that those places are worth a dedicated visit, it was a pleasant enough week: eating street food in Ipoh, and discovering how tea is made in the Cameron Highlands (with a side interest in the very different architecture at the two locations).

My best photos from the trip are in a short slideshow available here.


September 1, 2016

RBS (First Time) - Part 2

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Part 1 is available here.

As the SCRS project at RBS began to come to a finish, the team started to disperse. I was the last technical person to leave and to prevent me leaving RBS entirely, the SCRS project manger arranged for my contract to transfer over to the Sales Account Opening (SAO) project so I could still be around if SCRS needed me. They didn’t, so my last 9 months at RBS were spent on the largest most dysfunctional IT project I have ever seen.

SAO aimed to allow potential and existing customers of RBS to open accounts online. Current accounts, savings, credit cards, overdrafts, the whole range of retail account should be available. Basically it was a set of webpages that took a customer’s information, and then passed it through to various backend systems to actually create the account and send out any required paper forms. At the time many banks were setting up similar systems – now it is expected functionality for a bank’s online presence, but still fairly new for most banks in early 2004 when I started on the project. The technical difficulty was not particularly high, but greatly complicated by non-technical factors. The final system had to integrate with the existing customer database and credit checking systems. The information collected had to meet anti-money laundering, fraud and terrorism laws (collectively referred to as “Know Your Customer” or KYC). Security and reliability had to be bulletproof as this was a public website and must inspire confidence in potential customers. The site also needed to look pretty, well-designed and enticing. The webpages needed to conform to UK & EU disability laws, so blind people or people unable to use a mouse or a raft of other issues should still be able to use the system easily. Also, RBS owned a number of subsidiary banks. They would all use this system too since they all shared the same backend. This meant the webpages had to change branding, wording and structure to match the bank being viewed.

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