2019 Goals

Well done Sas - you have indeed beaten me to the punch with the blogging this year! Here’s my very late 2019 goals post. I see your post and raise you two!

Just kidding - it’s not a competition - it just makes sense for me to split this one up, because of stuff I’ve already started or completed that I’d like to report on for the rest of the year.

I must admit that I’m not one for new years resolutions either, but I feel like we worked very hard on Anti-Aircraft Antics last year without really getting much closer to releasing a game - so perhaps some concrete goals are a good idea… Hopefully, they will help me to stay focused on the right things this year.

I’m not going to try categorising between professional and personal goals like you did - I’ll instead do some broad strokes of what I’d like to achieve in the short-, mid- and long-term - in concrete terms that means roughly end of March, end of September and beyond.

Short Term

Clean My Study (DONE)

Perhaps it was a form of procrastination to kick off the year with this, but my study was really a mess and not at all a pleasant place to be in so I felt I had to do something about it before I could start tackling more critical stuff. If you’re curious about what it looks like now head on over here.

Survive Entelect’s Graduate Bootcamp (DONE)

I spent approximately 60 hours since October last year revamping the content for the ORM section of Entelect’s Graduate Bootcamp and spent 3 days this week preparing, lecturing and helping the graduates figure out how to build the persistence layers of their demo projects. While presenting in Bootcamp is always a gratifying experience, I did bite off much more than I could chew with my ambitions for expanding the ORM content this year, so I had to put my game development activities on hold a bit for January to focus on getting all the preparation done in time.

Now that this is over and done with it’s time to jump back onto Anti-Aircraft Antics with a vengeance!

Plan AAA’s Production Phase (IN PROGRESS)

We need to get this game out the door this year, but we started losing a severe amount of steam towards the end of 2018. Simple changes to the game were taking longer and longer with more and more bugs caused by changes. We concluded that it’s probably time to throw one away now - that is: start from scratch, rewriting the code in its final form now that we have a better idea of what it needs to do.

If you haven’t heard the terms pre-production and production before, I described it to Rishal yesterday as game development using agile and waterfall.

In pre-production, you’re exploring the design space of your game, trying to figure out everything that you want to do in your game - you’re finished with pre-production once you’ve built one of every type of thing that’s going to be in your game (also called a vertical slice). Pre-production is the Agile phase of the project because you should be using short iterations to find things that work and cutting your losses quickly on things that don’t.

In the production phase, you build the final game, which should now be a case of doing more of everything that you’ve already figured out. Production is the phase that should be more waterfall. We should have a rough idea of how much time everything in our game takes to do, along with a plan of exactly what needs to be in the final game - with those two pieces of information in place we should be able to plan out most of the rest of the development process in advance. Then it’s merely a case of putting our noses to the grindstone to crunch out the final version of the game.

We have finished our vertical slice - all we lack now is the final plan of what we need to build to consider the game finished. I’ll use hack ‘n plan to document everything we need to build.

Dojo: Clean Architecture (IN PROGRESS)

A Dojo in this context is one of the many forms of internal training Entelect provides to its employees. Dojos are focused on practical classes which provide just enough theory before jumping into practical coding exercises. I started working on a Dojo about Performance Troubleshooting last year, but I finally finished reading Uncle Bob’s Clean Architecture book around November last year and felt that it is more important to share this with my colleagues. So I’ve switched to working on a Clean Architecture exercise instead.

This Dojo has to be ready by March for the first round of Dojos of 2019.

Learn To Draw

Some friends got me a one-month voucher for an art school near home for my birthday last year. I need to schedule my first class now before the voucher expires. The nice thing with this school is you can choose what you want to learn, so I’m going to pick basic pencil drawing to start with as I feel my fundamentals need the most work.

Mid Term

Release AAA

I think we probably have in the region of five to ten viable, good ideas for games that we could be working on… Instead we chose to try to release Anti-Aircraft Antics as our first game because we were relatively far along and we thought it would be quick and straightforward.

A year has passed, and we’re not nearly done yet - so it’s vital that we finish the game this year and get it released because we’ve probably already spent more time on it than we should’ve and I think we need to get back to working on some of our other concepts!

Learn German

We’re planning an extended holiday in Germany with our friends in October - mainly to see Spiel in Essen to indulge in our love of board games. It would be nice if this time around I could speak enough German to get around and I still have a subscription to Babbel - so this is simply a case of making 15 minutes each evening and getting back into it.

Dojo: Performance Troubleshooting

I’ll have to come back and create this Dojo that focuses on the various tools you can use to help you identify performance bottlenecks in your code once I’ve got the Clean Architecture Dojo up and running.

Long Term

Read More

When I was still at university, I used to devour books, but the last 5 years or so I’ve slowed down to probably less than 10 books a year. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it any more - I’m usually just trying to do too many other things to make time for books… I’m going to try to make a point of reading more this year, so I’ve created a blog post especially for keeping track of what I’ve read this year.

Learn Turn-Based-Strategy Design

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 because I’m struggling to come up with a cohesive mental model that covers all the turn structures I’ve seen used in board and computer games. I’m not sure where I’m going to find the time to work on this as well, but I do intend to try…


Matt Van Der Westhuizen

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