It wasn’t always this way: some days I’d hit the snooze button over and over, and when I got up I felt like I hated everything until lunchtime. But a few years ago I added something that makes me want to get out of bed and greet the day. A Ritual.
My ritual began when I was working at a small startup in San Bruno, a 20-minute BART ride from my apartment. Every morning before hopping on the train I walked to my neighborhood coffee shop, ordered an Americano, and watched the other customers smile and talk.
Sometimes I brought a book and read a chapter. Sometimes I did a Times crossword puzzle. Usually I reviewed my Anki deck. And pretty much every morning I pulled out the old iPhone and played a game for 5 or 10 minutes. I felt a rush when I played a good round in Scramble With Friends, or broke though my personal record in Dots, or unlocked a new stage in Super Hexagon: it was the satisfaction of seeing legitimate effort lead to tangible results. Sometimes I thought I felt my neurons rewiring themselves.
It primed the pump: once my mental energies were flowing I felt ready to tackle anything.
My morning ritual has changed a little bit over the years as I’ve tried on some new things and phased out others. But one thing has stayed constant: I am careful to carve out a quiet, unrushed time full of things that I enjoy. And ultimately it inspired me to create the game that is now Double Dynamo.
What’s Your Ritual?
What do you do to get going in the morning? Maybe it’s as simple as singing in the shower, or hitting the pavement for a short run. Maybe you listen to your favorite music. Maybe you work on cooking the perfect scrambled eggs. Maybe you meditate or recite mantras or reaffirm your goals.
Also I want to thank those who sent me questions last week. I won’t get to all of them in this TLAA series — some topics are just too big to cover in this format — but once I’m not allocating all of my thinking time to DD I’ll put something up here or on my personal blog. And I’m still open for more.
In the coming week I’ll be working on integrating with Apple’s Game Center and tying up dozens of loose ends and last-minute tasks. It’s coming up real soon, folks!
Before I go into the usual progress report, I want to quickly check in with you, the reader. Yes, you! I’m writing these updates for your benefit, so if there’s anything specific you’d like me to write about, please let me know! Are you curious about where the ideas for the game came from? How I designed the progression of levels? Maybe you’re wondering when the release date is. Or what my work schedule is like, or what I eat for breakfast. All these and more are fair game — send me an email or leave a comment!
Last time I made a list of final fundamental changes to the basic flow of the game. In the last few days I ended up working on an item that I neglected to put on the list: high score lists. A few weeks ago I was playing Dots (which, fair warning, has a tendency to swallow up whole hours of your life), and I really appreciated the high score lists. I particularly liked your own list that lets you compare yourself against your past performance. For now, Double Dynamo’s lists are only for tracking your own progress, but eventually you’ll be able to compare your scores with friends on Game Center and Facebook, and with the entire player base.
Along the way I ran into some problems with the JSON library I’m using, rapidjson, and spent a little extra time working around them. Unforeseen setbacks like these are part of the reason it usually takes longer than expected to build software products. It’s humbling to be reminded that my projects are no exception!
As I mentioned previously, each stage of difficulty in Double Dynamo is broken up into 3 or 4 waves. The next change involves creating a new requirement for advancement: rather than playing through all the waves in a stage regardless of performance, the player will need to pass a certain threshold on each wave before moving on to the next. This will facilitate faster skill acquisition and a fairer and more meaningful experience of advancement. Following that, I’ll be adding clearer notifications of unlocks and achievements, a set of harder stages, and finally some increased variability in scoring.
And that’s the news. Don’t forget to send me your questions and I’ll do my best to answer them!