Blog, Life 08/09/2016

Erasmus Resolutions

I am attending University of Malta for a semester this fall as part of Erasmus program. This is a bit off character for me since I am not a fan of traveling and most students use Erasmus time to travel, sightsee and meet people. However my master thesis topic involved a rather tricky combination of narrative and artificial intelligence and Game Development program in University of Malta had researches in both of these topics. It was kind of like all stars aligning perfectly to fit together. So I didn’t pass on the opportunity.

Although I was excited at the beginning as more time passed since my application I have lost that initial spark. The process was stressful. Responses were too slow that kept me hanging in doubt for a while. I applied to the visa this monday but if I estimated it right it is going to be ready in two days prior to my departure, which is a bit too tight schedule for my liking. Also during that waiting time I was pulled away from my thesis for work. I found myself struggling to recall some of my research decisions, let alone remembering what was my action plan in Malta.  So I have about 2 weeks left to my departure, but feeling a bit detached from that reality.

In this regard I want to use this post for both recollecting my thoughts and declaring some resolutions for next four months. This is also going to be my first non-gamedev specific post.

Blog More and Blog Regularly

Writing a technical blog post is hard. You need to find interesting topics that you believe to have a substance. Most of these things are read by other technical people so they should be useful and insightful. I did try blogging before, it almost always ended very quickly. You could say I wasn’t motivated enough to keep up with it. It was a thing I wanted to try on the side. That changed recently.

After coup attempt in Turkey I had to rethink my future in the country. I was always dreaming to work and live abroad. However that dream was always preceded by building something noteworthy in Turkey first, then moving to global market. I never had a problem finding some job to do here. In fact most of the time I choose not to have a salaried job to keep myself flexible. I was not earning much but it was ok, because I believed I could if I wanted to.

The coup attempt didn’t change much for general population, it came and went quickly, life returned back to normal (though our normal may not be up with European standards). However Turkish game development sector didn’t. Sector was small to begin with, not many companies were hiring. But with the doubts on economic instability and reduced investments in already risky industry, I have seen a lot of studios laying off people. People who I find to be quite talented. As I am 1 year away from finishing my masters degree similar doubts are going through my head.

An ssh terminal screenshot of wordpress blog

Also it keeps my webmaster skills alive

Naturally I turned to the idea of working abroad. Made couple of calculations to see if I could build a business in Europe. It was a short lived idea as I couldn’t gather the capital necessary. Next, find a job abroad. And there I hit a wall. Now this wall may not be real as I haven’t started job hunt yet. But as I started to update my website to prepare a portfolio I realized while I have had a full 6 year career in game development, I don’t have many things to show for it. My first two years were spent in a now abandoned startup project. Other two years were spent doing a lot of non-game dev related projects for the digital agency I co-founded. Those were good projects but I don’t want to put on my portfolio because I want to focus on games from now on. And last two years I worked as freelancer for only 2 games. One of which I don’t want to be associated with anymore due to my not so friendly breakup with the project. Even with the projects I have on the display, I can’t say they represent my interests and capabilities.

So thats why I started blogging again. This time with a driving force behind it; showing my skills to the world. But even with this new motivation it is still a hard thing to do. I often find myself starting something then deleting it because I don’t feel like it has a substance. During my time in Malta, I want to get into this blogging thing and turn it into a second nature if possible. 1 post a week is a good start no?

Start Cooking Again

Red Beer Cooler for Sous Vide cooking

Everyone used to have one of these but they are replaced by thermal bags

I used to cook when I was an undergrad. Not that I was any good at it, but as a picky eater I often found my own cooking more convenient than trying to find food I would like in menus. Most often than not I would pick one dish out of a menu and constantly order that. I was notorious of eating pizzas everyday, it was a false belief but not too far from the truth. Of course like many young adults, as I started working I stopped cooking. I eat a lot of junk food now. It is not even a nice variety, cycling between 3 to 4 places. Eating pizza everyday became a true reality.

 

I should start cooking again. It is better and cheaper. I have been checking out sous vide cooking for a while now. It required some costly equipment which is hard to find in Turkey. I stayed away in fear that I wouldn’t have customer support if equipment broke. However I have found a video describing an alternative method for sous vide. It is using beer coolers!! I plan doing my first tests on Malta. What better place to slow cook meat than a dorm room, right?!

Find And Practice Code Kata

I recently came out of a long and dreadful project. During that time I was pushed to deliver code on somewhat unrealistic schedule implementing kinda complete but riddled with holes specifications. Recently a friend took over the project and pointed out some structural mistakes, which I knew were not SOLID while writing. It was not the case where I didn’t know how to write SOLID but didn’t have the energy to fight enforcing it when that would obviously increase time needed for an already overdue project. I was trying to work in a structure of my own, which I had no problem to work in. But it was hard to defend your structures when they don’t have long studied principles behind it. Which led to clashes with managers, which led to me going into fuck it mode.

I always wonder what it is like to be a zen coder

I always wonder what it is like to be a zen coder

So coming out of that mess, I started my search for something more SOLID to stand on. To create some kind of strongly held principles of my own. Processes that I would practice like a code kata. However not just for programming, for everything that encompasses my work. To find that health dose of paranoia that anything can go sideways anytime. Here is what I currently came to:

  • Create multiple people in your head like a crazy person, lets call them meeples.
  • Give meeples separate tasks and responsibilities on each project even if all those tasks and responsibilities are for one person, you
  • Make meeples don’t trust each other because of that missing cake in office fridge.
  • A meeple should abstract its implementations. Always assume if other meepls know how something works, they will find a way to fuck it up.
  • Don’t trust your future meeples. They are idiots like your current ones.
  • A meeple should validate his own work. So if something breaks he can point fingers at other meeples.
  • Meeples live dangerous lifes full of lions and stuff. Make sure to work in a way that anyone else can pickup where they left off.
  • Meeples are lazy. Hit their heads often. Do fancy stuff like pomodoro to keep them on track.
  • Automate stuff so meeples can rest sometimes.

So essentially work as if you are working in a team full of idiots that will make mistakes and plan for it. Because you are guarantied to do something stupid sometime.

Workout Maybe?

I am a bit fat but I still rock those curves!!!

I am a bit fat but I still rock those curves!!!

This one has a questionmark at the end. Even I in resolutions I doubt it will stick. I was always an inactive guy. Some of that stems from me being flatfooted. Never enjoyed sports because of it. Had gym registrations which I did not use. So why put it here? Well four months of Erasmus for a guy with no intention of sightseeing is theoretically a lot of time. I don’t know if course load would be too challenging to set a regular schedule but it wouldn’t hurt to try. Oh no.. It will hurt to try, that is kind of the point… No pain no gain right. Malta University seems to have a gym but I couldn’t find membership fees on the site. I will check it when I am there. But there is a running course and a swimming pool right in the dorm so who knows? Maybe that proximity helps. And it would be nice to lose some weight. I can blame it on foreign cuisine and gain mad cookie credit when I get back home :).

I dwelled a bit on adding more stuff here but really couldn’t find anything else to add to my Malta resolutions. I guess these are what I want to focus for now. We will see how it goes.

About the author

Sercan Altun: Hello there fellow human, I am Sercan Altun: video game developer, coding aficionado & part-time weirdo. Check out my blog on game development and stuff.

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