What I Learned in the first 7 months of 2016

It’s a lot easier to forget what I’ve accomplished in the year when I don’t keep written records, so I’ll catch us all up on my learnings this year.

Education Updates

I’m starting to think I should stop reading as much, and focus on just doing.  However, I’m a learner, so I use learning as a way to structure my development in art, business, and life.

Here’s how I rank my education: (Similar to Destiny’s Item Rarity Ratings):

  • Gold Tier – Items in this tier wowed me.
  • Purple Tier – Items in this tier provided me supreme value for the cost and time invested
  • Blue Tier – Items in this tier provided me a good amount of value for the cost and time invested
  • Green Tier – Items in this tier provided me some value for the cost and time invested
  • White Tier – Items in this tier provided me little to no value for the cost and time invested
  • Grey Tier – Items in this tier felt like value was taken away from me for the cost and time invested

Books

  • Dream Worlds by Hans P. Bacher – $22 – Green Tier  – Some insight into the film art that occurs before the movie.  Beauty and the Beast and Mulan are two movies this guy worked on.
  • Elemental Magic by Joseph Gilland – $40 – Green Tier – I tried learning special effects for games, and a lot of the artists in that area pointed to this book.  It does just that.
  • Extreme Productivity by Robert Pozen – $23 – Green Tier – Another goal setting book.  I’m finding them to be repetitive, but still providing me value by reinforcing how important goal setting is.
  • How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card – $10 – Green Tier – My next game will be Science Fiction or Fantasy.  This book helped a bit to give ideas on how to tackle it.
  • Keto-Clarity by Jimmy Moore – $17 – Blue Tier – I tried losing weight with this.  I like the logic in the book, but I’m just no good at sticking to weird diets.  Putting butter or sour cream on everything was novel at first, but I couldn’t stick with it.  I’m not saying it’s a bad diet; it’s just not for me.
  • Level Up Your Life by Steve Kamb – $12 – Green Tier – This book combines goal setting with the micro-rewards seen in Video Games.
  • Living Forward by Michael Hyatt – $13 – Green Tier – Goal setting and having a vision for your life/profession is one of Michael Hyatt’s strengths.  I think because I hear it so much from his blog, I’m pretty confident in this area.  Here’s a book for you if you want to learn to direct your life.
  • Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud – $16 – Blue Tier – The book explains the importance of mourning losses in relationships or careers in life.  If you need help getting over something, this is a great read.  For me, it’s getting over my burnout of the Army.
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy by Dr. Robert Glover  –  $13 – Purple Tier – I’m prone to being a person that avoids confrontation, and it’s been a part of me that I’ve hated.  Going into the infantry helped tremendously, but there is still more growth for me in this area.  The book gives insight into why our country is producing weaker men, and some practical tips on how men can restore themselves to behaving more like men, instead of how women think men should behave.  Perfect read for any passive aggressive men in your life.
  • Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg – $13 – Purple Tier – Great advice on how to tweak your thinking to be more productive and be empowered.  Not only for your brain but for your team as well.
  • The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge – $12 – Blue Tier – I’d developed some nasty habits growing up, and into middle age.  This book gives hope in breaking them.  It touches on the scientific community, and how despite their rootings in science, some truths are suppressed (in this case, brain plasticity).  The ideas of those who believe that the brain can change (plastic brains) are helping other researchers to experiment and dive deeper into mental health, and other brain ailments.
  • The Now Habit by Dr. Neil Fiore – $10 – Blue Tier – I felt overwhelmed learning about art, and compared myself to people on Arstation.  The book gives recommendations on how to defeat that mentality.
  • The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes – $18 – Green Tier – Another goal setting book.  Goals, are important, and so is your attitude on achieving them.

Courses

  • Best Year Ever Online Course – $350 – Green Tier – I wanted to achieve my goals this year.  I thought by purchasing this course; I’d realize them.  This book helped me to figure out what I wanted out of this year, but I bit off more than I could chew, and my desires changed throughout 2016.  So the course helped, but without the discipline and clarity of knowing where I want to go, I haven’t achieved all my goals.  He does mention how goals do change, and that even if we fall short of them, we did better than not trying at all.
  • Rigging Techniques – Cartoon to Realistic by CGMA – $700 – Purple Tier – I want to make 3d games.  I’m getting a handle on modeling, sculpting, and painting, but wanted practice in rigging.  This course helped with that, and while I didn’t know what I didn’t know at the beginning of the course, I now know, what I don’t know, which is a step in the right direction.  Ultimately, I’d like to pass it on to someone else when my company grows.
  • Video Game Animation by CGMA – $350 – Blue Tier – I knew generalities about how to do video game animation but didn’t feel confident in it.  This class helped me to become more confident in it, and realize it’s a role I’d like to give to someone else who is in love with it.

Entertainment Updates

  • Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Sci-Fi Book)- $10 – Blue Tier – An elegant take on Artificial Intelligence that lasts thousands of years, that can split its intellect, and what happens when the separate selves reconnect.  I can’t tell if there is a liberal tint to it because everyone is considered a woman to the AI and the AI finds the idea of assigning gender at birth as odd.
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell (Fantasy? Book) – $8 – Gold Tier – Perfectly uses fiction to illustrate a point on how tyrants can use seemingly healthy social and political acts intended for good, but twisted to corruption.
  • Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex: The Laughing Man (Anime) – $3 (Rent) – Purple Tier –  The idea of cyber brains, brains connected to the net at all times, and how skilled hackers can manipulate people through it.  Great ideas for Science Fiction.
  • Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex: Individual Eleven (Anime) – $4 (Rent) – Green Tier – Set in the Ghost in the Shell world, but a little more emphasis on prosthetic bodies instead of cyber brains. I enjoy these kinds of Science Fiction ideas.
  • Neuromancer by William Gibson (Sci-Fi Book) – $8 – Purple Tier –  A dark cyberpunk tale.  You can trace some ideas from the Matrix movies back to this book

Work Updates

I started revamping my side project, called Lolsum.  I’d spent time on it before, and I’d been addicted to the game again, so I’d thought I channel my curiosity into developing a second version of it.  I got a couple of emails asking about it and was making progress in learning better Angular Java Script.

With the help of my wife, I realized too much of my time was going into the game (sadly, along with my last bit of social gaming too).  So I dropped it for a week, then picked it back up, then dropped it, then picked it back up, and then finally asked Riot to suspend my account.

I wanted to try to salvage the work that I put into the app, but it would’ve been like asking an alcoholic to stock alcohol.  So I dropped that the project.  Five months of work down the drain.  I hope I learned my lesson, a second time.

One of the triggering parts of my decision to quit League of Legends was missing art.  Wanting to do art is a recurring feeling I’ve felt since starting this journey, so I jumped back into it with the classes above.  With those two classes completed, I realized that I don’t want to specialize in those fields of 3d art (though knowing how they work will help me to better direct others).  I’m returning to doing 2d / 3d concept art.  I don’t know how to tie in my learnings in art since none of them are to the standards I want, but, hey, I’m working on it.

 

Life Updates

Of most significance, my wife gave birth to our second child, a baby boy (yay, now we have a boy and girl).  It’s awesome, and being a parent is one of the greatest parts of going through life.  The newborn stage isn’t super cool for Dad’s I think, but I know this little guy and I are going to have some awesome adventures when he gets a little older.

I’ve been keeping up with Crossfit to get back into shape.  I’m getting to the point where I feel more confident in my abilities and it is something I’ve missed since becoming fat again.  Even though I tried the Ketogenic Diet (mentioned in a book above), I didn’t lose weight.  So, I’m trying calorie counting for now.  We’ll see if that helps me drop back to my Ranger School weight.

It’s been about 1 month since I fell out of my morning routine, and with the addition of a new child, it’s been even harder.  As such, I haven’t checked my goals, haven’t been writing daily what I’m grateful in life about, and haven’t been reading my Bible.  I’m glad I’m spending this entire day reorganizing myself digitally and personally, and I might need another one tomorrow.  Sometimes I feel like these are wasted days, but eventually I come back at the end of it feeling like my life is back on course.  If you haven’t spent some time setting your direction in life (not that I know exactly where I’m headed, but I do know the general direction) pick up the Living Forward book from your library or amazon, and give it a try.

Well, I’m going to give this blogging thing another shot (it was one of my goals for the year).  Talk to you soon.

I released my first game, Super Cloud Runner, and it’s not doing well

It flopped.  I’ve made less than $2.00 as of 17 May 2016.

But I’m okay.  I don’t need sympathy, I don’t need condolences.

See, one of my old high school teachers, who taught me the physics I used in the game, recently asked me to come back to my old high school and talk about my time at the academy, in the military, and making games.

Continue reading “I released my first game, Super Cloud Runner, and it’s not doing well”

What I Learned in the Year 2015

(This is a little late too.  Still catching up…Almost back to being on schedule – Bryan)

One of the suggested practices for people with the #1 Strength of “Learner” in Strengths Finder 2.0, is to keep a record of everything that you have learned.

In the course 5 Days to your Best Year Ever, Michael Hyatt suggests listing things that you accomplished and learned throughout the year.

What I learned Working

  • Having a Changelog Helps
    • I couldn’t remember everything I did in 2015 year when writing this post. When I checked out my changelog, it helped tremendously, which is why I wanted to make sure I completed last month’s review (even though it was a month late.
    • Here are the Total Books / Courses / Resources Learned or Completed
      • Art – 32
      • Business – 25
      • Designer – 10
      • Marketing – 10
      • Programming – 5
      • Life – 11
      • Politics – 6
    • Just looking at that list makes me feel good (that I learned something…anything!) and the year wasn’t a waste.
  • Finding Focus Takes Time and can be Painful
    • When I look back on my recording for my Marketing Metrics in 2015, I found that I was increasing viewers to the website up until April. When I realized I wasn’t heading in the direction I wanted, I pivoted, and all the rush of gaining followers, of creating steady consistent blog posts, fell to the ground. If you review the spreadsheet (the Week of 25 April) you can see my stats start to fail from then on.
    • It’s painful to see the pivot. I floundered trying to figure myself and my business out. I continue to flounder, unsure of myself and the proper direction to go in, but at least I know I’m not headed down one wrong direction.
  • Having routines and rhythms is super important
    • I learned this at the end of the year. I wouldn’t stick to my own commitments for my business, and place others above it. Family, friends, relaxation, are all important, but if I’m not making progress towards becoming the person I truly want to be, then it’ll get me down.
    • I’ve started sticking to my rhythms with friends and family, and even my own personal random desires to help build momentum in the direction I want to go in.
    • Of all the routines, the most important one for me is completing my morning routine. It helps me prioritize my day, and keep me focused on my goals. I’ll write about what it consists of eventually
  • Track Everything that’s Important to You
    • This started with Mini-Habits. I tracked some of my habits to better myself in some areas, and they really helped give my confidence back after failing my goals in 2014.
    • This year, after taking Michael Hyatt’s course, I daily review my goals, track my progress in them, and then at the end of the week, review the whole week and plan the next one. Doing this weekly review, is essential to keeping me on track, and building momentum in the areas of life I want to make progress in.

While there are many more smaller things I learned (like not letting your cats and dogs hang out in your work room because they are too distracting), this are the big things I’ve learned in work, which I wanted to share.

What I learned about life

  • Kids are Awesome
    • They sure do take up a lot of time, but kids help bring perspective on life. My daughter turned 2 this year, and while the first year there isn’t much interaction, this year has been amazing.
    • If you believe in the Bible, you start to understand the Father’s love. Suddenly, when you look tenderly at your child, and are amazed at them, you catch a glimpse of the immensity of God’s love for us. It also means you understand how, although His discipline may hurt you, you know it’s done because He loves you, and He really does know best.
    • Plus you get to understand your parents, and other parents more. You start to be able to empathize with how painful it would be for friends whose parents have gone astray, or even died. You also understand why your parents never stop talking about you, why they keep bringing up funny things you used to do as a child, and it gives you a glimpse of how when they look at you as an adult, part of them must still see the child they played with, fed, and held at night.
  • Socializing is Important
    • At some point, I wanted to work real hard throughout the year, and I stopped going to the only social function near me (I live in the middle of nowhere).
    • Because I work from home, and live in the woods, I don’t get out much.  Having only my wife and child to interact with, and my parents on Sunday, started to drive me a little crazy. I’ll take those five hours of productivity during the week and happily trade it for my sanity.  Even though I like being introverted, I don’t want to be a hermit.
  • Don’t give up no losing weight
    • This was the year I was supposed to get back in shape. I found the most gains when I started to read books, and understand how the body works. Great gains there in my eating habits!
    • I never gave up on losing weight, or finding an activity I would enjoy that was physically challenging. After years of searching when getting out of the Army, I found that doing Crossfit, with other people, helped me find the fun I was searching for in physical fitness. I tried to buy my own weights and do it alone 2 years ago, but the fun of being able to talk about it, and the camaraderie built from going through hard workouts together, ultimately is what lead me to enjoy it the most now.
    • If I hadn’t just totally given up, consented to the fact that I’d never get back in shape, and that losing weight was just too hard, then I wouldn’t have found the joys of being able to move my own body again that I so easily had when I was in the Army. I’m looking forward to making great gains this year.
  • Reading my Bible helps me keep everything in perspective
    • I think I would’ve cracked from stress of trying to put my life in order if I didn’t have my faith. Those times when I’ve been worried that I’m not creating enough income for my family, or worried about family and friends going through hard times, has all been soothed by getting it in perspective by reading my Bible daily (that’s what I plan for, but miss about one day a week)
    • In addition, I also go over a list of Bible verses, asking for deliverance for my business, and a list reminding me of the ways the Lord’s delivered me in the past (Safe from 2 war zones, Graduating West Point / Ranger School, child’s safe delivery, etc).

Here’s to Next Year

2015 wasn’t that bad of a year looking back. I’m definitely moving forward, and looking forward to learning new things, taking on challenges, and achieving my goals this year.

Good luck to you as well.

Bryan

What I Learned in December 2015

(I know this is late, but I’m catching back up, and will hopefully be on schedule soon. – Bryan)

December was a month of growing clarity and focus.
It seems like the past five months of wandering started to come together.

Education Updates

Learn Squared Introduction to 3d Concept Design by Jama Jurabaev – (Art, Purple Tier) – 3d Coat was a program that is non-intuitive, but the techniques Jama teaches helps bring together the ability to do concept art in 3d. Since I did the $200 package for learning, I got to see how Jama’s apprentice, Anthony Jones (another professional), learned 3d. It was neat to see where he struggled and brought his personal touch to the 3d concepts.

Learn Squared Futuristic Character Design by Maciej Kuciara – (Art, Purple Tier) – I’d purchased some of Maciej’s tutorials before on Gumroad, and they helped a lot. Seeing how he combined 2d and 3d together, while also introducing me to Fusion 360, made the course worthwhile. With the $200 package, I got to see how Ash Thorp (another professional in a similar field), brought it together. It’s encouraging to see that even professionals go through difficulties learning new software.

5 Days to Your Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt – (Business, Purple Tier) – This course helped me create, find the reasons for, and focus on my goals for 2016. I really do believe that goals are important.  A lot of the business books I read talk about how setting goals leads to success, helps you grow, makes you happier, and makes you feel more fulfilled. I’m off to a fresh start, let’s see how I do this upcoming year.

Truth Overruled by Ryan T. Anderson – (Politics, Purple Tier) – “Because the Bible says so,” isn’t an argument against Legalizing Gay Marriage for those who don’t believe in the Bible (even for some who do believe in the Bible, it’s not enough). The author of this book breaks down rationally for why marriage should be legally reserved between a man and a woman, the dangers of judicial activism that overruled state’s freedom to choose, and how to go about defending the movement to restore it to a state’s decision.

Prager University’s Youtube Channel – (Politics, Blue Tier) – Simple 5 minute breakdowns on Conservative beliefs. Some 2d animations make it slightly more interesting than the usual boring way to learn politics as a conservative, although, it’s still not very young and trendy.

Work Updates

I successfully submitted my game to the Apple App Store. Unfortunately, they were on vacation for Christmas and New Years, so I’m looking forward to making progress with that next year. I feel determined to beat the resistance, and get this game out for multiple platforms (iOS, Apple TV, Android).

Upon going through, (though not completing) the educational courses stated above I felt really encouraged to start creating 3d assets for a new game I want to make. I met with issues in the technical side of it for four days, and got really down. Eventually, I consented to ask for help on the 3d Coat forums. A swift helpful response altered my belief about people on the internet, and am looking forward to fixing my mistakes. There’s some personal growth there, as I’m someone who often tries to figure out things on my own.

I started working on my third project, a remake of LoLSum, the side project that so far has made me a few dollars through advertisements since its release in the beginning of the year. While I might worry that I’m sinking my time into something that might not yield the results I want again, it’ll help sharpen some programming skills for developing an app in the future I’ve been wanting to make. One of the alternative branches I thought about pursuing in the Army was to be a statistician. Even though I thought I wanted to leave the Math / Engineering / Programming side of me behind, I still find myself drawn to it. Hopefully, I’ll succeed in marrying my left and right sides of the brain someday.

Life Updates

Taking Michael Hyatt’s Goals course stated above helped me to focus more on building momentum. This month, I curtailed taking time off for other reasons and tried to create my rhythms, routines, and momentum. I’m hoping to build this up and achieve my goals for the next year. I returned to finish this post by the end of January because I want to achieve my goals. I’m putting more effort into time management, and goal accomplishment. I realize this post is almost a month late, but hey, better late than never.

Also, I’m starting to gain back my energy since taking up Crossfit a few months ago. Some days I get down about how in shape I used to be, as well as the kind of discipline I used to have, but it’s nice to return to it. Maybe I should start posting my workouts on Facebook (haha, just kidding, that’s an annoying practice by some Crossfitters).

Here’s to Next Month

I’m really looking forward to the next months, and year of building momentum in my projects and life.

Bryan