Monday, February 5, 2018

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

A whole year has flown by; or maybe it's fairer to say it's crawled, staggered and rushed by, depending. My intention of having a flow of work-related posts on my work site and personal posts on this blog right here just didn't come to pass, and I think it's time to remedy that.

I've had over a year now - nearly two years, in fact - of self employment and rumination time. I think I've learned more about myself in that time than in the previous decade, and it's an ongoing process.

The American Declaration of Independence contains a phrase stating that all men are created with some unalienable rights, among these the rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. I've been lucky enough to really give that a go over the last year or so - or at least to try and identify, for me, what these things mean and where the value lies.

I can tell you one thing, right now - working sucks. Or, to be more precise (because it really is relevant) - working to enable subsistence sucks. Work, in it's many forms, is awesome. Creating things of value - turning time and effort (and occasionally raw materials) into useful constructs is a wonderful pass-time. Working to pay the mortgage - not so much. I really wish that every human alive had the opportunity to live such that their passion was their goal, regardless of the fiscal value associated with that effort. I've been able to spend the better part of a year pursuing my passions (VR development, scanning technologies, learning about cool things, as well as spending time with my family) and it's enriched me hugely. I wouldn't give that up for all the tea in China.

Can you imagine living in a society where people worked because they wanted to, rather than because it was required to prove their value to enable subsistence? Note, I don't say "to survive", because I think we're already in a place where we've moved past the basic necessity of everyone putting their daily effort into providing food and shelter for themselves, their family and their tribe. Try as we might (and the culture we live in tries *really hard*) we honestly don't need everyone to be slogging their guts out to feed and clothe themselves. We already over-produce food, there's no reason we couldn't over-produce housing if our society deemed it valuable. We certainly over-produce plastic crap and reality TV.

So, what are we all working for? What are we all working towards? Are we all working to provide ourselves with an identity? What's the point of it all?

I've just finished reading a very interesting deconstruction of Banks' Culture which touches on the basis of a non-resource constrained society, and the motivations for being part of it. I'd like to think that at some level, we've already solved the Life and the Liberty parts of the equation, and should really be starting to drill down into the Happiness bit. So much of this is tied up in our self and cultural identity, it's kind of scary envisioning where our society moves to when much of the "work" becomes unnecessary, and then irrelevant.  As autos replace taxis (which they can, and likely should) - what does that mean for those who use that role as their subsistence tokens and cultural identity? What happens as the other roles get taken away?

Are we still going to live in a society where, if you're not clocking in 40 hours a week, you are "part-time"? If you're not gainfully employed in some fashion, you're lazy or worth-less compared to those who are? If you haven't read Keynes' essay where he postulates a 15 hour working week, I'd highly recommend it. One key phrase: "We have been trained too long to strive and not to enjoy."

When people begin to divorce their own worth and identity from their societal role - who do they become?

I appreciate I'm regurgitating the thoughts of a well-regarded critical thinker from nearly a century ago, but I think the coming decade is going to bring an end to the expectation that there will still be meaningful "work" for every person to do, for the benefit and advancement of society. Indeed today, much of the work that people do is centered around diverting people from appreciating the time they do have to spend on themselves, and our society is heavily structured around reinforcing the self-value of striving (working) as self-worth.

I think we've solved the economic problem - maybe now's the time to solve the other matters, of greater and more important significance.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Evryway dev blog is live!

After a hard week bashing away at the keyboard, I thought I'd get my first dev blog post up. I'll be moving pretty much all my technical posts over to Evryway from now on. Take a gander!

Friday, February 26, 2016

What a week!

This week, I have mostly been making a holodeck.

I've got motion tracking working with a mobile headset (Tango in a durovis Dive) including device input (Droidbox), gaze tracking, world-space menus and a bit more. From scratch. The Unity ecosystem that enables all of this stuff is simply incredible.

This morning I also received confirmation that I'm incorporated!

Videos to come shortly, but I'm really happy with progress so far.

Next week I'll be getting live environment capture into the device working, which I think is going to be pretty special - possibly something that no-one else has shown yet.

There's a huge amount of work ahead of me, but it's amazing what you can get done in one week, even with the distractions that come with working in your garage!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Rift confirmation

The Oculus kickstarter just asked me to confirm my address. Awesome sauce. It's coming!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Good lord, this is scary

So, I'm sitting here.

ready to begin.

I have a *huge* number of plans for things to make and things to do. Enough for a lifetime.

Where do I start?

Step 1. Breathe.

Step 2. Start a new repo!

OK, that's step one done.

A new beginning!

I'm unemployed! woohoo!

Yesterday was my last day as a Zynga / NaturalMotion employee. Lots of mixed feelings - leaving behind the Boss Alien crew has been really hard, I get the feeling I'm going to be missed which is nice. No paycheck is going to be very hard to adjust to.

I'll not be sorry to see the back of the corporate environment. The way big companies make games is just - well, not ideal. I think I have enough information now to write a book on it. Whether anyone would listen is another matter entirely.

I'm incredibly proud of the work I've done over the last 4 and a bit years. We've made a lot of mistakes along the way but we've created a game that's spawned a franchise, has over 200 million downloads across the various platforms and incarnations so far, and I wouldn't be surprised to see that double over the franchise lifetime. We've been running a live game for over three years, which is just crazy.

I've had a large number of awesome times working with team Boss Alien. Given that I was involved in hiring a large majority of the folks I've worked with, I can safely say that our "only hire people who are competent that we like" policy and our "yes, maybe, no - and a maybe is a no" policy has worked out fantastically. Or maybe it's confirmation bias. Anyway, it was the best leaving card I've had ;)

So - what's next?

VR is next! a big steaming bucket of VR!

and the first thing I'm going to be working on is a holodeck.

And I'm going to try and document my progress, pretty much live.

If you're interested in watching or participating, drop me a mail. I'll be looking at ways to fund this over the next month or two - I've got a warchest that'll get me through summer but if I can figure out a revenue stream by then I'll be able to think a bit bigger. Patreon and Kickstarter are options, I guess.

I've got a lot of bills and logistics to get cracking on next, and I've got to recreate all of my hacking and prototyping of the last year or two, from scratch, starting today.

Time to get cracking!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Last day ...

Last day today.

First day tomorrow!