Friday, 18 May 2018

The motivation behind your ideas

Sometimes when you are trying to get creative and think of ideas you can get caught up by wanting to incorporate every single idea. Whilst you can come up with several good ideas, sometimes you just need to park majority of them and focus on one.

An idea may be good but the idea inherently adds some layers of constraint that may not be noticeable until you get so far into the project that it is too late to change. This may not necessarily be a bad thing, but simply something you need to be conscious of when deciding which ideas to go with and implement.

What's the motivation?

Focus on the motivation behind the ideas, almost like going to first principles. What is the root of the idea that gave this relevance? For 10Up, I last left you at the point where I was working through some design hurdles. If you didn't get a chance to read it see it here. I recommend it for a step by step process for working through your design hurdles. This process lead on the path of looking at the very first creation of 10Up for Windows. The design was focused around fun and cute characters to soften the "math" feel of the game.

So in this example the idea is to have "cute characters" integrated into the game. Now, to find the root of this idea and it's relevance? Well, simply, the game is meant to be a fun brain game and the root of this idea. Meaning I don't necessarily have to go with the same cute characters, but there is some value of introducing some visual characters into the game.

Let's look at another design goal that was missing from Version 1 of 10Up which was player progression. In the current version of 10Up the only progression is based on high scores, which was great, don't get me wrong, but it could be so much more.

Another goal was to keep the game free but still a way that creates an opportunity for revenue but without making the game pay to win. Using these 3 goals, the idea is now to create unique characters that will "help" you in game to solve puzzles, but in addition as you play the game or complete levels, you will have an avatar to add skins to or other characters to unlock.

Fall back to your design goals

Now this opens many, many doors and is the current design direction I am most exploring and considering,  but rather than expand (which I can do in another post) I will explain the connection. The motivation of this current idea is in consideration of 3 of the main design goals:

  1. Creating a fun brain game atmosphere
  2. Immersive player progression
  3. Opportunities to monetize without disrupting the game
So, now I have created some layers of constraint which I will design within, but, aside from completing the idea, how do I have confidence that this is the correct design to go with?
You guessed it.
The motivation behind the idea is seeded in and tied directly to main design goals.

You've got it right. Now go for it.

At this point, it is all in on developing the design within this framework and executing. Only time will tell, but I know for sure I am starting in the right direction to achieve my design goals for 10Up 2.0.

What are your techniques for validating some of  your ideas and making the choice to go a certain direction?

If this has helped you with your ideas and decision making feel free to let me know or share with your friends!

As always, good luck on your side hustles

Saturday, 12 May 2018

10Up App Development - How to work through design hurdles

Hopefully you all caught a glimpse of my previous post sharing that early stage graphic design has begun (and why and what tool). Well if you look carefully at the image there there is an image of one of the number designs.

The intention was to go with circles surrounding the number and would involve creating each digit possible and number. But there is a fundamental issue with this for when a number is not 0-9. i.e. single digits. For a game like 10Up, in theory the maximum number sequence a player could do is 9 x 9 x 9 x 9 which equates to: 6561. It would be unwise to endeavour to create unique individual digit graphics for 6561 numbers AND this doubles in effort each time I decide to add an animation etc.

This is a fundamental problem where in version 1.0 I got around by simply creating squares and adding a text field to the image. Now this is a fine approach, functional even, but one of my goals for 2.0 is a big focus on user interface and user experience.

I am working with 2 idea thought processes right now that I will work through and update here with which path I decide, but essentially I have the original original 10Up theme (Windows 8 Release) which involves unique colourful characters for each digit. and for double digits and above a special character not unique.

The other is a shape or single character holding a rectangle shaped object for which the text field would reside. (less visually appealing)

Currently both need to be explored, and neither may be the answer. But my next step will be to go back to the fundamental goals of the 2.0 update and reverse engineer from there. That's always the technique I go with when rehashing ideas and creating something new.

  1. Identify some variables
  2. Get some inspiration from other places
  3. Go back to the fundamental goals of the project
  4. Open each thought process and explore it
  5. Run through each process possibility in head
I call it VIGOR - variables, inspiration, goals, open, run. In the next post I'll share the result of my quest and hopefully have some new direction with the overall design.

So here's a question; what do YOU do to get your creative juices flowing and how do you deal with slight bumps in design?

As always, good luck with your side hustle!

Friday, 11 May 2018

10UP App Development - early stage graphic design

This is exciting. This is the point in a project where its so early that you quickly learn how many assets you need just to get semblance of anything. Before I continue, here's a quick glimpse into the first 3 items I've started designing for 10Up

Most times there is a balance here between focusing on function and focusing on how things look. Typically you argue with yourself, whats the point of how it looks if I can't figure out how it functions. If it functions - I have a game regardless of the look. Why focus on the looks?

Well, I can tell you at the end of the day, both are important. When I started 10Up 3 years ago, there wasn't any game to base off of. So, what I did was focus on function, and had some very basic design queues. This simplified everything.
Does this mean that I think if I focused on graphics the app would have done better? Well, possibly, but not necessarily. What the users decide is a good app will depend on several factors, within the context of time. Some apps are very basic with terrible graphics, but because of the way the app came in and the timing, it became the flavour of the month!

Now as an Indie app developer, of course that's the dream! Build some basic app that's super fun that for some reason goes viral. In reality an individual app developer can't beat big corporations with teams doing specific things.

SO. The focus will be bringing a great looking app to the scene as function and the game itself has been proven with 10UP in it's current state. The app had 2k+ downloads with 500 participating in the leaderboards. For me personally, I was super excited I created something like that.

So hopefully with this project it will be clear how much focus I'm putting on the design and I will share that here as it grows, and we can compare the trajectory and growth.

For those of you who are up and coming developers I can personally say to design all my graphics for this project I will be going with Gravit Designer. Do your research, but my summary is: Interface is awesome and extremely intuitive, great compatibility with output formats, cloud functionality is perfect, and the web designer is fully functional and smooth!

Doesn't matter where I am or what device I can continue designing the project.

Feel free to ask any questions on the 10UP color theme or the gravit software, or anything you need.

As always, good luck an all your projects!

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Building a Ragnarok Online Server from scratch

Ever wanted to be in charge of one of those games you played years ago?

Snake Ragnarok Online

If you read my previous post you will know I'm on a bit of a mission to make progress towards my side hustle. Part of that mission is to work on a bunch of side projects.

So here's a bit of a post that won't be a guide on developing a server but moreso covering some of the early stages of setting everything up. You can find the link to guide at the end of this post.

Now, if you are unfamiliar with Ragnarok Online by Gravity it was one of the early MMORPG games on the scene initially released in 2002 for Korea and 2003 onwards for everyone else. (About 15 years ago!) Needless to say I played that game religiously early on and have played it on and off for the past 15 years.

After the main game had lost popularity many clone servers started popping up. These servers became F2P and offered faster leveling for most players (less grind) and an opportunity to achieve levels never seen for most players, effectively giving access to some players to new content of the game without having to invest as much time.

Since then there has been a slew of private servers and even a site where you can vote for the most popular ones over at and I've always wanted to build a server. Now in a previous attempt I did manage to setup a private server but had no means of actually making it an online server. This time around there is.

A family member of mine is hosting the server and began the installation, my part of the equation will be in databases, coding, networking and the webhost.

Check out the progress of Snake RO here !

If you are interested in hearing more about this project a Facebook page has been set up. I'll post more as I learn some things about this but essentially it's good to know that network and systems skills that I have learned throughout my career will bridge the gap between setting up a local game server, to a fully hosted online experience!

The guide used for this project can be found here. If you are interested in giving a project like this a go or you were a RO player back in the days then give it a shot and tell me how you went!

As always good luck on your side hustle!

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

How to motivate yourself to work on your side hustle

If you're anything like me you have a side hustle. You work on it when you can, you enjoy it - its your hobby. But if you're anything like me then there's also this thing called life that can "get in the way".
Now, this is normal and it doesn't mean you aren't doing well in the other parts of your life. Once in a while you get randomly inspired to "do something"... maybe you watched some clip posted on Facebook, or the latest Gary Vaynerchuk rant and you decide to do something about it. For me that was to start with a post on this blog, with some intention to do some follow up work, and then blog about the follow up work.
Blog gets posted, you decide to do the follow up work where you can, nothing substantial finishes ergo no follow up post. Looking at my history I posted more regularly during 2014 and 2015, 2016 was a hiatus and in 2017 is a singular post. This post was one of "those" moments.

Motivation as a boost

Now, trying to motivate yourself in terms of hyping you up to get into your flow and get stuff done is quite a google-able task. This form of motivation as a boost may be the stage you are dealing with currently and may well be all you need to get back into it. For me, this happens in cycles and this is normal for most people and goes with the regular ebb and flow of life. The problem is when you have gone through this cycle several times and the boost motivation has got you progressing a whole lot of things over time, but you haven't finished any of them.

At this point you may think you're looking for an even bigger boost but what you are looking for is actually not more of a boost, it's quite the opposite in fact, you need to strip things down and go back to original purpose.

Motivation for life purpose

This may seem daunting, but trying to find motivation towards your life purpose does not necessarily mean you have to have found your life's purpose - that could take a lifetime to find - but whatever your life purpose ends up being you need to know how to get motivation from it and use that motivation towards it. So we need to scale things back a bit here, perhaps it may not be your root life purpose, but it could be understanding the true purpose for your side hustle anyways.
This is where you could say its for your family, or you want to achieve x, or be as good as y person. That's not super motivating (if it is stop here and GO). But once you are here there's 2 paths to go down. 1: Emotional and 2: Functional.

Let me break that down real quick.

Emotional assessment of the true purpose for your side hustle

Explore a few things in your head (depending on what you chose as the reason for your side hustle) maybe its for yourself or a loved one or a random, regardless, consider both never in your life ever achieving that goal, then take it further and imagine it being worse. Now also imagine the life where you did achieve this goal, then take it further and imagine achieving it instantly, at a reasonable time and at an extremely long time frame (without it being unattainable).

Thanks... so what was the point of this?

Well, at best, you have gone deep enough to validate your reasons and quell your excuses for now, at least enough to go back to "motivation as a boost" and finding your nearest inspirational video, watch it and take some action... and at worst you have confirmed the level of seriousness and or criticality of this goal.

If the criticality or seriousness is not too high then this would explain why the emotional motivator was not enough. Lets now continue on to the functional approach to assessing the true purpose for your side hustle.

Functional assessment of the true purpose for your side hustle

What does this even mean? Well, what you want to do here is reverse engineer from the "why" how you would achieve that. Do you end up back at your actions being the original side hustle? For example, you decide to work on an app as a side hustle, you've now defined that the true purpose for your side hustle is to give yourself some financial freedom.

Start from this point and logically think out the steps that lead you back to working on an app as a side hustle. If it aligns this is where you become specific and think about it in such detail that you can break it down to individual tasks that need to get done to progress to the goal. For the example it could be selecting the color theme of the logo.

Hopefully this does one of 2 things at this point. First you have broken down things to where you could spend the next day selecting the color theme of the logo and have peace that you are actually doing something that helps achieve the goal and feels super easy, leading onto gaining some momentum and motivation. OR it lets you re define your side hustle and takes you back to square one, breaking your motivation cycle.

Bringing it back

So does any of what I have said so far made sense to you? Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't feel free to discuss. This is one of those things that are an ongoing life battle with no wrong or right answers as long as it works for you in the end.

How I'll be specifically applying this and the area which I will be focusing on is my side hustle as an app developer. I've decided now to focus back on 10UP 2.0 and build out full functionality for it using Unity 5. This will be both an Android and iPhone release (and hopefully more!)

My why is for multiple reasons: 
  1. to develop more skills and expand my experience as an app developer and an engineer
  2. complete a game I found fun so that my future kids can enjoy it
  3. generate additional income to provide some financial freedom for my wife and family
Lastly, I would also like to help other upcoming engineers out, sharing my knowledge and discussing current engineering issues and trends. This is why I have made the decision to commit to SarioDev and am now the proud owner of the domain

I will use the development of 10Up as a kind of muse for the blog and discuss more and more topics on the back of this project.

Accountability is good, documenting is good, and practicing communication skills is another positive part of developing as an engineer.

So with that, I wish you all good luck in your careers and get back on your side hustle

Monday, 23 October 2017

Moar Blogs ! - Engineering Blog?

It's all in the title.

I've been working on a whole bunch of small projects throughout the years, many of which I have shared and had great discussions with people in the past.

Well it turns out that at the end of the day, my favorite topic that's embedded in all my project is Engineering, which turns out to be also what I'm good at.

As I've developed as an Engineer my side projects have been a part of that growth and also been a creative outlet. Daily I teach other up and coming engineers what I know whilst at the same time honing my skills. Thinking back I believe it's starting to get to the point where I want to discuss more with other engineers and also share what knowledge I can as well.

Now I follow many engineers, big engineering projects and listened to a few podcasts and followed some engineering focused Facebook pages, but I still feel there's many gaps.

I believe that engineering is the best job in the world and if this type of discussion interests you, feel free to contact me. I've worked with quite a wide range of engineers and whilst my experience is increasing, I'm still quite connected with engineers who are just starting their studies in the topic and also freshly graduated engineers too.

I'm keen to help solve problems, answer questions and also give some tips that will help you grow as an Engineer.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

SarioDev Submits Rejected Basketball to Android Play Store!

Public Announcement

Exciting News! I have just published Rejected Basketball to the Play Store. After a successful initial testing round, I am proud to announce Rejected Basketball will be coming to Android!

Other platforms to follow.

Ballers, NBA fans and all casual gamers alike are anticipating the release of this app. Don't miss out on your chance to be one of the first to play this game. Get in NOW.

Stay posted here on SarioDev Apps, or follow our Facebook Page.

#Rejected Basketball

The app will appear on the SarioDev apps play store page.

Progress Report

As promised, here's some insider information for those developers out there, or simply people interested in this app projects progress.

To get from the previous blog post, to today's release involved the following:

  • Beta testing
  • Feedback rounds
  • Updating of the logo
  • Adding  a Start Screen
  • Cleaning up the block power label
  • Creating several audio clips
  • Preparing screenshots
  • Preparing marketing pieces

 You notice that most of the above items have nothing to do with coding. Which brings forward the different facets involved with app development beyond the programming. I personally enjoy developing all aspects of the app, including audio, graphics, content, coding, marketing and publishing.

All these aspects take time and I use my spare time to work on it, but I enjoy it and hope that my apps can be enjoyed by all.