Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

Best In Class

Posted by Trixter on January 4, 2015

Sanity wrote something in their Arte end-scroller that always stuck with me:  If you can’t do it better, why do it?

This was my hobby philosophy for over two decades.  It’s the philosophy that created all of the demoscene productions that I am known for, such as 8088 Domination; I’ve placed 3rd or higher in every competition I’ve entered.  It was what fueled my involvement in the Abandonware concept, which would likely have died on the vine without the search engine I created for the original Abandonware Ring (this was in the days before Google and RSS existed; without a search facility, it was cumbersome to find games).  It was what prompted me to design and implement MobyGames with my friend Brian Hirt (several years before wikipedia existed).  It created the MindCandy series of DVDs and Blu-rays.  I am proud of all these accomplishments.

This was my hobby philosophy.

I’m stepping down from always trying to be the best at what I do.  The primary reason is to preserve my sanity, as I am haunted by mistakes I’ve made.  At least one night a week, I lay awake unable to stop thinking about them.  Plus, it contributes to an unhealthy obsession (which also keeps me awake) over trying to be the very best I can be in my various hobby pursuits.  I can’t keep assigning self-worth to project success.  It both paralyzes me and tears me apart.

There was a time when I thought I needed my hobbies to deal with life and stay sane.  Today, I’m finally realizing that all of the successful accomplishments in my life were achieved when I was simply relaxing and having fun.  So that’s what I’m going to do — have some fun and work on what I want to work on, rather than try to win competitions and impress people in my various circles.  If I get another minute of fame along the way, then that’s a nice bonus, but it’s not the goal.

So what’s next?  What is “fun”?

  • More blog posts.  I enjoy writing, even if nobody enjoys reading what I write :-)  Maybe someday my kids will find this blog and get a better sense of what their father was like.
  • S00p3r sekr3t demo project.  See you at Revision!  Hint: It’s not a solo production.  Hint #2: I am the worst coder in the group — that scares me tremendously, and it should scare you too.
  • S00p3r sekr3t vintage gaming project.  Think big!
  • Personal Computer Sound Museum.  This has been in the works for ten years.  Unless there are complications, this will be implemented in Drupal 8 because I need a functional taxonomy framework and Drupal seems to be the only CMS that has one.  So, when Drupal 8 is out of beta, I’ll start tinkering.
  • A vintage computing audio podcast, time permitting.

Most importantly, I hope to make my family and friends laugh this year.

9 Responses to “Best In Class”

  1. alkivar said

    Very interested in the idea of you doing a vintage computer audio podcast… hope you follow through on that one!

  2. holograph said

    FWIW, I’ve always enjoyed your work, so the more the merrier – and yes, you should definitely stick to what’s fun to do! I’m very much looking forward to the sound museum, and would absolutely love an audio podcast. There’s definitely an audience for a more technical podcast with historical context, and I can think of no-one better to host one!

  3. I think sometimes about past mistakes but never depress too much about them. They are mediocre demos I haven’t had the motivation to continue working on. Or demos finished just for the deadline. At least they are gone and now I can work on something new. But then I do the same mistake. I see another competition with a deadline, I imagine the really cool demo I want to make and later on I mostly worked on it near the deadline (no motivation before). I cannot let it go too, like not release it for the demoparty but work more of it. I always want to bring some release in a demoparty even if it’s bad.

    But then I think about it again. What depresses me is that I never make something very good and always waste my work in a mediocre demo that was made under pressure near the deadline. Well, it will happen with Revision too, I plan to bring some stuff. But as a new years resolution (those never work :) I made this proposition to myself: Try to avoid deadlines, don’t go very enthusiast for new competitions, maybe visit less parties (that’s weird, but I am getting older and I don’t have the same enthusiasm in the last 2-3 parties I visited, maybe Revision will change this). I will make one or two contributions at Revision and then I wanna dedicate my time to few other persuits. One is some gamedev code (just for some prototype tests of ideas, not having big plans yet) and the other is some demoscene/retro/coding related youtube video series I always think about (which is something new for me, most probably I will make a pilot or two, see how it looks and only release if I am satisfied. Maybe it will never be released). I hope to divert my coding hobby to gamedev and video tutorials for a while after Revision and for the second half of this year.

    And the colors. The most painful mistakes are the colors. Because I make a demo, we look it with friends after long time and I wonder. How much more time would you need to just fix those coder colors? Lot’s of weeks on coding the effects but not even few hours to polish the design? That happens when you chase deadlines :)

  4. Hey, I love to read your posts, unfortunately some get lost in the big torrent of information I get everyday, but I do love reading it :D

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