Looking for a new technological identity

I’m in the process of thinking about what it is I really care about doing.

It might sound like it signifies some major shift in my life, but it’s doesn’t – my company is simply going to narrow our focus to the lowest hanging fruit for a while. We’re going to finish some of our internal flash game projects, and put all other internal projects on hold while we do it.

I don’t really care about flash. I think it’s a technology in decline. A slow decline, sure. I don’t love developing stuff with it. It’s sloppy. It’s position in the total stack of software is uninteresting to me. Single-vendor technologies are generally of pretty limited interest to me.

The change in focus happened at my behest, so it’s certainly not something I’m unhappy about. It was spurred by returning from PAX where I met a lot of indie developers. They broadly fell into two categories:
1. Those who spent approx 3 years on their game, and wrote their own tech.
2. Those that used Unity or similar technology and spent ~6–8 months making their game.
As Dan Cook has repeatedly stated, it makes most sense for a tiny developer like us to use third party tech. Even if that leaves me personally cold.

This leaves me in the position of thinking about what I really care about doing, because the things I know I love are not really useful to my company right now, and probably wont be for a while.

I’m a broad generalist and I pick up thing pretty quickly, so I can fill pretty most of the roles we might need. Which means I need to figure out more broadly what it is I like doing, and then finding the boolean intersection between that and what is useful to my company.

First step is to more thoroughly examine what makes me tick.

So far, this is what I’ve come up with:

  • I like making polished products that people enjoy using
  • I especially like when these products are for developers (APIs, tools , tech), or for other creative fields. Stuff that is used by others to create things with.
  • I like bridging gaps, making hard or time-consuming things less difficult to accomplish
  • Even when I am making actual games, I am mostly using using it as a case to write tech.
  • I like tinkering and learning. Preferably in the context of building a product.
  • I like long term strategies and making everything contribute towards very long term goals.
  • I like analyzing and deconstructing things, like business models or game mechanics
  • I like writing
  • I like the human part of developing our business: Meeting people, forging new relationships, hearing what people are about and explaining what we’re about.

And a few constraints / preferences:

  • I prefer working at technology abstraction levels where all the load-bearing lower level abstractions are solid and thoroughly established
  • I strongly prefer when technology is not so bound to a single company that they can effectively make the tech obsolete tomorrow due to a change in focus.
  • I like the load-bearing technology to be open, because open technology usually is better at molding itself to real developer needs, rather than trying to force or shape them.
  • I strongly prefer working on stuff that will survive our next shipping product by a very long time.
  • I can’t do “soft” stuff like business, writing or anything else all the time. I need to be creating something tangible, that involves more concrete problem solving and clever thinking at least part of the time.

There are certainly more things that belong on this list, but that’s what I got for now.