Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Positive Introspection

I'm procrastinating again.  The moment I have a deadline for my setting project I just collapse.  I can guarantee I'll have something passable by Monday (my deadline), I can work on Thursday and take notes Friday evening during game, and even maybe do some brainstorming over the weekend, my Sunday group is a bunch of lightweights, so I'm sure I'll have hours in the evening and morning.

But the procrastination isn't really what this post is about.  Perhaps it is the initial spark, but as I was perusing the blog, checking my old comments, I read the last one.  It was a long time back talking about things I carry with me always, and very personal.  Reading the end, I think now is a great time for a follow up.  Probably one of the last paragraphs.  Right now it's 8PM so I'm well before the damn 2AM depression/insomnia window.

I put down many things I might talk about at the end of the post.  But I think I would like to talk about my successes.  As usual, a stream of consciousness, but it's going to get personal, and specific.

I think if I look backwards, far far down the line, some of my favorite memories are of games.  Playing computer games with my father, I was proud to do so.  Of doing the jumping part on Super Mario Brothers that the baby sitter's daughter couldn't do when we hung out (she probably could, but also probably was boosting my young ego as some do.  Keep me involved and whatnot.)  I can remember when I first beat Oregon Trail, just as they called me in to collect my birthday pencil in elementary school.  I can also almost remember the proud moment when I pieced together a 386 that was my first computer.  Although that was well past elementary school.  And then there was when I made my own cyberpunk system for playing with my neighbor in a tent in his back yard, and he enjoyed it.

I knew it was crap, as I had played a full fledged D20 system who's name I cant recall at the moment and the neighbor would follow me into a den of hungry bears, but it is one of those strong memories.  It was games that stuck with me.  I played sports, but I never had much pride in it.  Sure there was stealing home and winning the game when the coach told me not to run, and there was playing a goalie in soccer and scoring goals every once and a while, but they didn't stick.  For me, the big victories were in games, in sharing them, beating them and building them.

One of the oldest games I 'made' that I can remember never saw multiplayer.  I would take Jenga blocks, RISK and monopoly and make them into soldiers that fought each other, and you had to buy the blocks and soldiers based on your performance.  Simple, but it still had structure, form and customization.

Another great success in my life was my being nominated for a big event in Texas called the Youth Technology Leaders Summit.  In retrospect I know the reason I went was because the prior kids couldn't afford it, and somehow my parents could, I still will never know how.  They supported my education throughout my life and I owe a LOT to them.  It was an even where many different 'kids' got together and shared their skills and attended seminars.  The culmination of the event is to solve some world problem.  It was pretty amazing, and after 9/11.  The towers were downed and we were bundled inside and hidden from the terrorists, even then I knew it was bullshit, but fear is fear.

There were other small successes, a smart trick in Boy Scouts during a one sided camp game, a pinewood derby car simple but efficient, a science project of a spinning atom, a catapult that bent 1/4 steel rods that had to be replaced after multiple shots, going from the worst unreal player in my class to dominating everyone...  Lots of small things, nothing stands out much in that period.

College however opened up a lot of opportunity for successes with meaning to myself.  For one thing, graduation.  High school graduation made me angry, college, knowing I had to fight for it  made me relieved, and lost.  But it was a hard fought victory.  Incompetent and self absorbed teachers were rampant, and good ones were always there to help.  My poor memory skills brutalized me in GE and Art History, but I still prevailed.

It may not have gotten any GE requirement, and most people wouldn't understand, but my D in human anatomy is the grade I am most proud of.  That class was the epitome of everything I am weak at, but I put in the hours and beat out 50% of the 50% of the class that DIDN'T drop the class.  Had they all stayed that probably would have been a pretty damn good grade.

I am proud of standing up against two of my incompetent professors, one publicly in front of the whole class.  By building a polished sculpture of a hand flipping off the viewer.  Specifically facing the professor who ruined two of my projects.

I am proud of the time I came to the office hours of the shitty programming professor and told her that I had come to her office hours every week for the last 2/3 of the class and not gotten a straight answer on why the program I made that the entire class was based off was not working for her and did for me.  I am also proud of the final project I made despite the issue, the project I put in my portfolio for getting a job.

I am proud of knowing when to swallow my pride with the logic and critical thinking teacher who remembered me 4 years later when I came to talk about that one assignment he had refused to grade as I had apparently insulted him in it.

I am proud of taking the reins on my final game design project and making it happen despite 1 of my two partners was completely incompetent.

I am proud of how well I eventually drew still lifes and figures in hand drawing, and how well I actually painted in painting.

I am proud of doing black and white photography in a dark room by hand.  I am proud of the art that came from it.

I am proud of having attended regular events at the local comic shop and befriending the owner.

I am not proud of what may be one of my greatest successes, accepting my partner of 9 years' proposition of getting together.  I am proud of the results, but honestly I was betraying a friend who was interested in her.

College was good for me.  But there was more yet to life.  I still had to find a job, and that came with new opportunities.  I spoke of my previous job when I was still at it.  When it had rotted and become fetid with neglect pending a buyout by a larger company.  These were dark times and did not make the last post any brighter, but they had many bright times too.

I was chosen to be hired for one.  That was a great success as at the time jobs were hard to find, and competition for the spot was actually existent.  I was station 13, I was proud of my work and I worked hard.  There were times I even slept on site because the train stopped running when we got off, then I started work again the next day.

I managed to be picked for a particular project.  Getting chosen for this project actually was going to change my life forever.  One of the leads advised all the testers to learn a skill called Compliance Testing.  I was the only one to do it.  I am proud of this, it opened a gateway to save the day on another project when the normal Compliance Testers were out.  This I am very proud of as it got me a permanent job as a Compliance Tester.

During my job I got sent to Microsoft in Seattle, decreased the submission rate to 1:1 (submission to passes) and was the gatekeeper to ensure that a multi-million dollar company did not miss deadlines or pay fees on a 2-3 year project that all hinged on a short one week process.  I did this many times before I got my last position on an unreleased project for the company.

I became an assistant lead.  Technically it was a demotion, but as there were few projects and even fewer positions available, I watched as many other testers, some I was good friends with, were let go.  I even had a bit of survivor's guilt, but was kept on.  I am not as proud as I should be perhaps, but I still haven't seen most of those people since.

I took up a position where I learned new skills, made new processes, forged new ground and established new guidelines.  I built a level for the game, I consulted on the design and had meaningful talks with VERY important people on the project.  I am still in communication with the creative director on it (hopefully he'll be in my Sunday game).  AND I still did compliance work.  It was the most important I've ever been at work.  I touched everything and without my hands, everything would have been off schedule and everyone would have been hindered, from the designers to the producers to the programmers.  I even eventually got my own employee (minion) to manage.

I type slowly now, fondly remembering the time with nostalgia.  It did fade and rot as it became more and more clear the game would never be released.  I am proud I stood my ground and did everything in my power to ensure it still did and was ready should it be given it's chance.  Still sadness remains at what never was.  Years of many people's lives lost.

But enough of that.  I am proud I sought work with a strong morale and purpose.  I am proud of how many people wanted me to work for them.  Especially of one friend who's opinion I greatly value, and of how his co-workers greatly desired me to work there and even asked about me (I had turned it down previously as I was still employed at my job and felt it would be wrong to leave when they needed me.)

I'm proud that I have friends who at least tolerate my presence.  I am proud they still wish to stay in touch with me and value my opinion.  I care about them.  In all honesty that is in my mind now.  I don't know if they feel the same way, but I honestly care about them.  I fear that I may seem to distant and cold.

I am proud of some parts of my new job.  I still have doubts that it is what I want to do for the rest of my life, but I am proud they value my opinion there.  That they value me enough to pay more significantly more than minimum wage.  That I have taken charge on a development tool and improved it greatly.  That I am learning new things and managing outsource testers and taking on new roles and skills I never have before.

And now I am here.  I am proud I have a group of players who want to play my game.  So much so that on their Monday off, they want to spend it with me.  Playing in my world.  I'm actually tearing up a bit right now.  But that might just be from the emotion thing in that other post.

Oh and I'm very happy tonight as my partner is coming home with In-N-Out.  Maybe she'll even play Magic with me if I'm lucky.  Sometimes it's hard not to feel how wonderful my life is.  Sometimes it's the opposite.

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