2019 Goals - Update

This post is an update on how 2019 took a surprising turn and how I’m adjusting my goals accordingly.

I heard of an opportunity to go work at Ubisoft Blue Byte in Düsseldorf around late February. The position was for a back-end service programmer, using all of the skills I’d already built up over the last 14 years so I couldn’t resist! It’s now the end of July, and we’ve been in Germany for nearly three months! The banner picture for this article is one that I took myself at Schloß Burg a few weekends ago!

As you can probably tell, I’m very excited! So far, the work has been challenging, and I have been learning a great deal about running REST services at enormous scale… I still feel like an idiot half the time because there is so much more to learn! However, for the most part, I’m coping with the new work and gradually beginning to find my feet.

Needless to say, emigrating to another country was a huge endeavour. One that I don’t think I would’ve survived without the unwavering support of my wife - thanks, Love!

Emigrating has thrown a spanner in the works of most of these goals. The remainder of this post will just quickly go through and make some updates to account for it.

Short Term

Clean My Study (DONE)

This did turn out to be procrastination - ended up selling the study and nearly everything in it!

Survive Entelect’s Graduate Bootcamp (DONE)

This consumed a great deal of energy during January, so I ended up not having much energy for AAA come February…

Plan AAA’s Production Phase (ON HOLD)

This project was already losing steam at the start of the year. Then I decided to emigrate to Germany. Sas got promoted to a Senior Programmer with more responsibilities. And Almarie got very busy with work obligations. So at this point, all work on this project has ground to a halt.

There was a bit of work in February and March. Primarily me tinkering with game design documents that no-one else has the time to read and some decisions to upgrade our art style to 8-bit from the current 2-bit approach.

Some of the early work on that was a mock-up I created to adjust the scale of units, improve outlines of the sprites and play with the colour scheme a bit:

Scale2X Mockup

From that I’ve done one new sprite for a light transport plane:

Light Transport

Exciting as that looks, I think the project is at a dead-end with the current codebase. Changes have become very difficult to make, and I’m finding it impossible to keep art, design and code changes going by myself. So, for now, I’m going to stop worrying about this project for a bit. I’ll re-evaluate towards the end of the year when things have hopefully settled down a bit for everyone.

Dojo: Clean Architecture (CANCELLED)

This one I had to hand over to a colleague on leaving and it doesn’t look like Clean Architecture will be a good fit in my current work.

Learn To Draw (ON HOLD)

I took a few intro-to-drawing classes (for one month) just before we left the country. Honestly, it didn’t cover much that I hadn’t seen in Udemy courses before. The main thing it did confirm to me is that I need to practice more and with all the chaos of moving to and living in a new country there hasn’t been time. For the time being, I’m going to work on games that don’t need as much artwork. I need to try to figure out how to get a regular drawing habit into my overloaded schedule to accomplish this goal.

Mid Term

Release AAA (ON HOLD)

Due to lack of progress, this is indefinitely on hold now.

Learn German (ON HOLD)

I HAVE to learn German now, but I’m waiting for the free classes offered by Ubisoft to start…

Dojo: Performance Troubleshooting

This might be applicable for my current work, so I might revisit this as something to teach my new team.

Long Term


This challenge is going relatively well! According to Goodreads, I have read 19 of 24 books for the year (though some of those were very short, so I’m not sure if they should count). You can still keep an eye on progress here - I’m updating it every month.

Learn Turn-Based-Strategy Design (IN PROGRESS)

I want to finish what I started with my Turn-based Strategy Genre Overview post. The second post in the series (on turn structure in TBS games) has turned out to be much harder to write than I thought. I’m struggling to come up with a cohesive mental model that covers all the turn structures I’ve seen used in board-games and computer-games.

I now have a few practical projects in mind or already started that I hope will help me understand TBS games better:


I’m focusing on learning how to make games in the TBS genre for the remainder of the year.


Matt Van Der Westhuizen

Back-end service developer at Ubisoft Blue Byte by day - wannabe game designer & developer by night.