All posts by Daniel Shumway

About Daniel Shumway

Lead designer and publisher for Eyes Open

Possible Lightening Talks

One of the things we’re allowed to do in my FOSS classes is to give lightning talks, quick presentations on a single topic that need to be below 5 minutes.  The goal is to be as quick and concise as possible.

I’m still not really sure how I want to approach them. Presenting in a group of people you don’t really know is always a tricky proposition; you want to make sure that what you’re talking about is actually going to be interesting to them, and you also want to make sure that you know enough about the topic that, compared to their own thoughts, what you say doesn’t just sound juvenile or stupid.

That being said, I like the concept, and I want to do at least a few, and possibly more.  If nothing else, lightning talks give extra credit, and I already know that I want to stack extra credit this semester if for no other reason than because right now I’m craving some predictability and  and bonus points sound like a good way to get at that security blanket.

So, ordered by what I’d really like to do to just what I’m thinking about -

Javascript: What ‘this’ means and how you can abuse it : An explanation of exactly what the ‘this’ keyword means in Javascript, and some interesting tricks you can perform with that knowledge.

How Open Source games cheat Death-by-Community : An attempt to explain why, if designing and building a game with broad and diverse input makes a bland and fractured experience, some Open Source games are actually really good.

Programming practices aren’t good or bad : An appeal to developers and designers to stop phrasing best practice as a moral absolute.

If I do end up putting any of them together I’ll either record them or put writeups on the blog. In any case, feel free to either share suggestions or tell me that they’re bad ideas below.

FOSS posts: structure and content

I’ve signed up for two different courses at college dealing with Free and Open Source Development: Humanitarian FOSS and Advanced FOSS.  You know what that means: blog posts!

My format for these classes is going to be a bit different than how I normally write, so I want to give a heads up.

Just in case you’re unfamiliar with this blog, my normal posts universally tend to take on an essay-like format.  My usual approach is to spend around 1-2 weeks thinking through a topic to make sure that the subject is both somewhat interesting and that I have a clear point to make, and then anywhere from 3-4 days compiling those views and writing the post.

It’s not uncommon for me during that process to partially finish a post and then leave it for as much as a month while I rethink what I’m saying, or just check to make sure that my views don’t change.

When a post is finished, I’ll usually sit on it for at least another day both as a final check to make sure my views don’t change last minute and to try (often unsuccessfully) to catch any errors in my grammar or structure, as well as do a little bit of revision for readability.

With FOSS posts this semester, I can’t do that, because I’m going to need to do on average somewhere between two and four of them per week – and obviously my normal approach is not a good fit.  So in this section, we’re swapping things around a bit!  I’m looking to make much shorter posts: anywhere from around 2-4 paragraphs, or at max 400-500 words (yeah I know I broke it already).

My goal with the longer format has always been to make sure that I tackle every subject I present wit h a large amount of breadth and a large amount of detail. I like to address edge cases, and I worry about not addressing or clarifying possible points of contention – and I am more than willing to sacrifice brevity, clarity, and structure to avoid oversimplification.

One of the problems though is that these posts tend to be very weighty, not necessarily in content, but in tone and style.  With FOSS posts I want to focus more on brevity and on information density.  I’ll spend less time editing, and a ton less time on preparation.  In exchange, I’ll try to make the posts easier to read, and to cover a broader range of information – more code samples, ideas and theories rather than conclusions, and so on and so on.  And of course, the frequency of updates will pretty much skyrocket.

In case you like the old format, it’s not going anywhere; in fact I’ll probably cross-post between FOSS and my normal stuff occasionally if I run into a topic that I feel like would be interesting to tackle in more detail.

I’ll give some more updates with that as I figure out exactly what I want to do though.  I have some plans, but nothing concrete.

One last thing: I’ve always been clear in everything I write that my views on these subjects are highly dynamic – anything I write represents only a snapshot of me and what I believe, and nothing I write captures those views in entirety.  On top of that, many of the subjects I talk about are complicated, multifaceted and interdependent.  I write 1200 word posts because I can’t write anything longer – not because I ever believe that I have addressed everything that needs to be said about a topic.  I will frequently say things that are wrong and stupid, and it is perfectly OK to cherry pick views you agree with and disagree with.

I bring that up, because all of those rules go quadrupally true for anything I write in here.  One of my hopes with the FOSS page is to provide more of a steady stream of thought and less of a highly edited and self-censored message.  As a consequence, and indeed by necessity, I’ll be spending far less time thinking about what I post here, so you should know that going in and adjust your reading glasses accordingly.

Culture Shock

Mid 2013, I participated in a Microsoft sponsored development jam with two of my roommates, Robert Adams (The Organizer) and Sean Brennan (Eyes Open).  Sean wanted to do something with AI, particularly with how an agent might see something happen and misinterpret what was going on, so for 48 hours we played around with that concept and the result was Culture Shock, a simulation of cultural conflict and individual biases and preconceptions. Continue reading

Worldview-Centric Design

I tend to write some type of essay or blog post about this topic around once every year. Like most of my views, my opinions on game design are constantly being revised and developed. This post may not accurately reflect all of my current or future beliefs about design.

You can read an updated version of this post at Gamasutra.

Definitions

Normally I would start a discussion like this by going over some definitions. That’s a little bit tricky with this topic, because what I’m trying to do is explain some of the origins and reasons behind the definitions and heuristics that I use. There are only a small number of things I want to clarify before getting into the actual interesting bits of design philosophy. Continue reading

Javascript : Functions are Objects

Let’s talk about the different ways variables can work in Javascript. This stuff confused the heck out of me when I first started learning it, so I’m going to go over a lot of the different edge cases and try and give a more complete overview of what’s happening when you declare a variable.

What you should know going into Javascript is that it works differently than a typical object oriented language.

Continue reading

Let’s Plays and other Videos

I’ve noticed that a lot of my posts recently have been somewhat abstract and esoteric, so I thought I’d talk about something a bit lighter both that I’ve spent less time thinking about and also that has more room for conversation.  I’m a big fan of the Let’s Play communities on sites like youTube, and I find myself more often than you might expect trying to explain to people in my major what the appeal of a Let’s Play video actually is.

Obviously, this is a much broader topic than what I’m going to talk about here, so if I miss something you feel is important, feel free to mention it in the comments.  I’m also going to be talking less about Minecraft or other creative mediums, which would warrant a post in and of themselves, although there are certainly some interesting discussions to be had there. In terms of something straightforward though – a game with a definite beginning and end – why would someone watch that?  Why would someone look at a Let’s Play for a game that they could (or already have) just played themselves? Continue reading

Eyes Open Kickstarter Postmortem

The Situation

We ran the Eyes Open Kickstarter from August 2nd to September 1st, with a funding goal of $8,000.  By the end of the campaign, we had raised just over $5,000.  “We” was three people from my college, the Rochester Institute of Technology – Sean Brennan, Sarah Armstrong, and myself.

One of the goals we had going into Kickstarter was to document the entire process.  We wanted to be able to show people the experiences we had, so we spent a fair amount of time trying to document our Kickstarter strategies and situations as they happened. Continue reading