A couple of weeks ago on a Saturday, I was feeling anxious. For no apparently reason, it was one of those days when you couldn’t think of anything to feel down about, but feel down nonetheless.
So naturally to “fix” this, I made coffee. One cup of coffee, didn’t work. Two cups of coffee, didn’t work. Green tea? Didn’t help either. By mid afternoon, I was high on caffeine but low on mood.
Towards the end of 2018, I had the urge to “tidy up” my mental space to make room for Markd, and I decided to close down the numerous websites I’d had created and accumulated over the years.
For the sites that I do want to keep, I wanted them to be smaller sites, simpler projects.
For years I’d been using Wordpress for websites. It’s a powerful CMS that allowed me to get set up and running quickly. The massive plugin eco-system meant I could add the latest features fo these sites without technical knowledge. The themes let me create websites that looked nice without worrying about designing them myself.
But it also came with a cost. Plugins and themes constantly required updating. And dealing with spam was always an issue for some of my bigger sites. Maintenance became a bit of a headache, and with so many different plugins for different sites, it got overwhelming.
Ten years ago, I had a blog. It was in mandarin and hosted on a popular blogging platform in Taiwan.
I wrote anything that came to mind. I wrote about the passing of my grandmother. I wrote about life in Japan. I wrote about new learnings. I wrote personal thoughts. I wrote poems.
Then I left my job to start a business. And all of a sudden, blogging becomes part of that. I thought I needed to write about business, technology, and whatever else good for SEO / personal brand …etc.
I manage creative teams at our game studio and work with many independent game and app developers, people who passionately and happily spend their free time turning their impulsive ideas into playable experiences. They are programmers that can’t stop tinkering, and artists that can’t stop drawing (or modelling, animating…etc.) — highly talented people that live for creating and crafting their art.
These tend to be the most motivated bunch, and they also tend to have deep domain expertise because they have spent not just their work hours on improving their skills but also their precious evenings and weekends. I am often amazed at how talented these people are, and if you spend even just seconds talking to them, you soon realise how addicted they are to their tools, their thoughts, and their creations.
They can also be some of the most difficult people you’ll manage.
Why? Let’s look at some of the overlapping traits of many highly creative people:
This question on Quora "How do I determine the consumer market size for game engine software?” peaked my interest. Here’s my reply:
A Desire to Create.
If you are like me, you spend your days with images of what can be in your head. You see things morphing into newer things. You find the possibilities of what can be created anew exhilarating. The missing imagination in mundane everyday things not only bores you, it infuriates you. You know it can be made better; they can all be, and you find it difficult to stop wanting to build, to shape, to create.
Due to an unforeseen event, I am staying in a village in the heart of England for an extended period of time. For someone who has lived in big cities primarily, the village life is new to me. The buzzing streets and rush hour traffic jams are replaced by endless green fields, horses on the road, and farm/wild animals. A different way of life, and plenty of lessons for the technology-obsessed me:
Stage One: No, thank you.
My first thought when learning about the new iOS game “Running with Friends” from Zynga:
"Another endless running game, really?"
Running games on mobile are popular; Canabalt, Temple Run, Mirror’s Edge are great examples of the genre (we even prototyped one ourselves in 2011). The basic premise of an endless running game is simple. You run sideways or forward continuously, and avoid obstacles by tapping and swiping to jump and turn. The game is over when you run into an obstacle, and it gradually gets harder with increasing speed. The goal is to survive as long as possible and collect as many shiny objects as possible.
We work with technology.
We love our smartphones and tablets and thin light air-inspired laptops.
We love the shiny new app that makes everything faster, easier, cheaper, and more stable, more secure, more intuitive.
We love the new features with the upcoming version that promises to automate everything we don't want to do, to turn us effortlessly into amazing artists, photographers, programmers, designers, to create things magically with a click of a button.
I just got back from Demetri Martin's book reading & signing at Elliot Bay Bookstore. I went because I love the way he thinks, the wacky perspective on things, the comedy. But I learned more about his creative process, and that what makes great creatives is a power and complete control over one's work, in combination with great vulnerability - the part that makes it human, the part that makes it authentic.