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September 23, 2021, 09:02:05 PM

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TIGSource ForumsPlayerGeneral'Press Reset' - Jason Schreier's new book
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Sketchwhale
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« on: May 11, 2021, 03:21:14 AM »

It comes out today.
I just preordered the audiobook, which for some reason comes out in a week (can't let busy and/or blind people get too full of themselves?).

Have you read Blood, Sweat, and Pixels, his previous book?
I guess it's filled with unfortunate stories, but I've read it twice and I just find the stories delightful.

There's an excerpt on Polygon for the new book. This time the perspective is more on the minion developers, and not so much on the dreamers on big and small productions. At leas from what I read. I haven't actually checked out what the content is (or if it is available), so I'm not sure which books he'll cover.

I deleted my Twitter account, but Schreier did block me before that. I'm not sure I find him an agreeable person, but he sure writes a decent story.

Wanna talk about this? Or perhaps recommend other good game books?
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2021, 03:44:12 PM »

I'm sure the delay for the audiobook is part of a researched marketing plan/some kind of technical limitation and has nothing to do with spiting the blind or the busy.

Schreier is opinionated and somewhat full of himself which is likely a result of him getting such a "prestigious" job in the game journalism biz. Then on top of that, its game journalism which is sort of looked down on in the rest of the journalism world so he's at the top of a small hill. He actually got a job doing some stuff with some bigger outlets besides just kotaku now?

Anyway, it does seem that a certain type of personality does tend to excel in these rolls. If you aren't doing hot takes then how do you get that lifeblood of social media "engagement?" To some extent I'm envious of him being able to just spew his thoughts with reckless abandon. I'm getting there, in terms of just saying whatever, but its a struggle. I don't think the writing he does is particularly difficult but to be in a position to have access to the people he has access to is quite a thing that requires a good deal of social engineering.

That said I have not read his books, mostly because I already know what kind of stuff is in there. The game industry is a meat grinder that cashes in on the fact that again it is "prestigious" to work at a video game company. And as a result a lot of people get caught up in trying to please a power structure that doesn't care about them and just sees them as a means to making money. For every Jason Schreier who manages to make the system work for them there are at least ten people who end up getting hit and going under the wheels of this business, so it makes you wonder who are the kind of people who are on top?
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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2021, 10:36:40 PM »

I'm sure the delay for the audiobook is part of a researched marketing plan/some kind of technical limitation and has nothing to do with spiting the blind or the busy.

Nah, I bet it's unfiltered, ooze-like hatred of certain groups.

To some extent I'm envious of him being able to just spew his thoughts with reckless abandon. I'm getting there, in terms of just saying whatever, but its a struggle.

When you put it like that, I'm not sure you'd want to strive for that :D

I don't think the writing he does is particularly difficult but to be in a position to have access to the people he has access to is quite a thing that requires a good deal of social engineering.

Maybe that's just a trait of journalistic writing, but there is a certain simple elegance to how he writes that makes it a pleasant read, I don't think that comes freely at least. And he often writes in a sort of earnest way that would be me cringe if I did that myself, but it shows a real willingness (or cockiness?) that I can't help imagining must require some effort to even attempt.

That said I have not read his books, mostly because I already know what kind of stuff is in there. The game industry is a meat grinder that cashes in on the fact that again it is "prestigious" to work at a video game company. And as a result a lot of people get caught up in trying to please a power structure that doesn't care about them and just sees them as a means to making money. For every Jason Schreier who manages to make the system work for them there are at least ten people who end up getting hit and going under the wheels of this business, so it makes you wonder who are the kind of people who are on top?

The excerpt on Polygon made me think about how the former employees all continue call Ken Levine a 'creative genius', even when he threw they lives into turmoil and when they no longer have any obligation to say such. Idunno, maybe it's a culturally American thing to say such thing as that, but it made me think how I've never worked with anyone who I'd call a creative genius. What kind of person is that? I've met impressive entrepreneurs, and people I'd call genius-like in a more hard science kind of science. But to be so creative and inspiring that you can make people work on your dreams and still praise after the troubles... That must be one impressive individual.
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2021, 10:41:31 AM »

I worked with Sid Meier who I would say is a genius, but I'm liberal with the word: I think a lot of people are super bright and generally overlooked.





"There are bright ones and there are those that are dim."

In general there is being known as a genius(TM) and then there is actually being smart which in America are definitely two distinct things. Here there is the branding that you are a known certified SUPER GENIUS, which is sort of a song and dance you have to do to get people to accept that it is in their own interest to call you a genius. This has only a small part to do with being smart.





At the end of the day, its all politics. If you are powerful enough people will call you anything, and a lot of people will hit exactly the right notes to rise to and stay in power. That's America Baby, if you are good enough at the cult of personality game you can be president.
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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2021, 01:12:55 PM »

Ugh. Dubs...

I worked with Sid Meier who I would say is a genius, but I'm liberal with the word: I think a lot of people are super bright and generally overlooked.

But yeah, that's the thing. A creative genius would be different from a scientific genius, right?

Did you think Sid was a genius for stuff he did or thought of, while working, or do you attribute the overall result of the work to his genius, and so the work reflects the mind of a special individual?

At the end of the day, its all politics.


And yet, is it? I mean, the people in Jason's book have very little incentive to call Ken Levine a genius, and claim that to be almost an undeniable fact
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2021, 05:59:20 PM »

I mean sure you can categorize geniuses, scientific, artistic, creative, game designer, I mean there could even be a genius at fixing toilets. One guy who worked on my toilet posted a picture of the work he did to his instagram he was so proud of the weld he did or whatever it was I can't remember exactly. It sort of waters down the word to say that some people are geniuses at opening a pudding cup or something. A genius is a genius in my semantic world.

Sid had the insight to come up with a new kind of 4X game that was a truly brilliant insight and as a result he built a company around him that works on those kinds of games to this day. That is pretty clever no matter how you slice it. More than anything I think he is a genius at writing code, though his code is out of date it is truly very clever and he uses the code to make his games quite fun, sometimes to the detriment of having an effective game engine that is easier to work on with a team.

I'm skeptical that the people who compliment Ken have no incentive. They are about to tell a story about how they had their lives upended by some guy, now they can explain that he was a genius so it makes sense that they kowtowed to him, or they can say he is a hack and then it becomes very strange for them to explain why they were so under his thumb. There is quite a political impetus for anyone who let Ken stomp on them to explain "well its because he was such a genius that I bent to what he wanted."
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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2021, 11:22:34 PM »

I mean sure you can categorize geniuses, scientific, artistic, creative, game designer, I mean there could even be a genius at fixing toilets. One guy who worked on my toilet posted a picture of the work he did to his instagram he was so proud of the weld he did or whatever it was I can't remember exactly. It sort of waters down the word to say that some people are geniuses at opening a pudding cup or something. A genius is a genius in my semantic world.

Hahah, well sure, in a day to day experience, semantically categorising types of genii doesn't really do much. I brought it up because I have experienced people whom I might call... well at least super smart :D Yet to meet someone who could be spoken of with such reverence for their creative abilities, like these people speak of Ken Levine, would be quite interesting, in that it seems to be an altogether different sort of genius.

Sid had the insight to come up with a new kind of 4X game that was a truly brilliant insight and as a result he built a company around him that works on those kinds of games to this day. That is pretty clever no matter how you slice it. More than anything I think he is a genius at writing code, though his code is out of date it is truly very clever and he uses the code to make his games quite fun, sometimes to the detriment of having an effective game engine that is easier to work on with a team.

Pretty cool. Did you work with him back when I had that insight, or more recently?

I'm skeptical that the people who compliment Ken have no incentive. They are about to tell a story about how they had their lives upended by some guy, now they can explain that he was a genius so it makes sense that they kowtowed to him, or they can say he is a hack and then it becomes very strange for them to explain why they were so under his thumb. There is quite a political impetus for anyone who let Ken stomp on them to explain "well its because he was such a genius that I bent to what he wanted."

That's a good point indeed, though the narrative of the book would probably require some more explaining if it was about 200 people who were swayed help a man create something uninspiring. So yeah, from their perspective, it sounds better if he is a genius, but from a readers perspective, we would also question it if he was less than that and they still went along... right?
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2021, 10:52:24 AM »

I worked with Sid much after he invented the Civ series. He is a really cool guy and I have no incentive to say that, he really likes strategy games and writes old school code. And with Ken, sounds like the most impressive trait he has is that he impresses people and keeps the people he impresses around him.





I would say based on what we are talking about Ken is "Charismatic" more than any kind of super genius. And that means he surrounded himself with people he charmed using his charisma and used that to lead his team. There's nothing wrong with charismatic leadership, its one of the kinds of leaders there are. Then the people who worked for him were really happy to go out of their way because they had decided Ken was so special. But its more that he's using his personality to influence people into saying that he's great more than any innate ability. Then again, if someone is a genius but they are prickly and unpleasant and no one is there to see it are they really a genius? And if a ton of people decide some charismatic man of destiny is actually super smart then who's the real genius?
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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2021, 11:21:28 AM »

[...] And with Ken, sounds like the most impressive trait he has is that he impresses people and keeps the people he impresses around him.

I would say based on what we are talking about Ken is "Charismatic" more than any kind of super genius. And that means he surrounded himself with people he charmed using his charisma and used that to lead his team. There's nothing wrong with charismatic leadership, its one of the kinds of leaders there are. Then the people who worked for him were really happy to go out of their way because they had decided Ken was so special. But its more that he's using his personality to influence people into saying that he's great more than any innate ability. Then again, if someone is a genius but they are prickly and unpleasant and no one is there to see it are they really a genius? And if a ton of people decide some charismatic man of destiny is actually super smart then who's the real genius?

lol

putting it like that (I think you might be right) it sounds like me wanting to meet such a "genius", is like saying I would like to experience the feeling of being seduced into a cult. Well jokes on me, cause I'm already writing this on a Macbook Air...
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2021, 01:55:35 PM »

Never meet your heroes. I thought this guy out in LA was really cool for starting a studio and I met him and barf, what a tool. In fact, LA was so phony I couldn't handle the whole city. Anyway, I've been reading some of your blog @Sketchwhale I like your writing.

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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2021, 02:53:55 PM »

Never meet your heroes. I thought this guy out in LA was really cool for starting a studio and I met him and barf, what a tool. In fact, LA was so phony I couldn't handle the whole city. Anyway, I've been reading some of your blog @Sketchwhale I like your writing.



you mean takunomi.space ? Thank you! I don't keep track of visitors, so besides a couple of irl friends, you might be the first person to read it. Who knows!?
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2021, 07:59:50 PM »

I'm working on a mobile game, "Puzzlenox" which is still sort of finding itself and I'd be curious what your thoughts are after reading this post:

https://takunomi.space/post/Slowing-Down-This-Exact-Moment-Somewhere-in-The-Past-%28Grindstone%29

I'm still all wrapped up in other things but at some point I'll send you a build.
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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2021, 08:42:58 AM »

Cool, send away  Smiley
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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2021, 11:57:06 PM »

I'm almost done with the book. It has a much better sdtructure than Blood, Sweat, and Pixels. It's sort of the same mechanic as in A Visit From the Goon Squad. The stories themselves are generally interesting, but it can be hard to understand why so many people either are willing to take such abuse when they don't really gain the creative life they seem to seek, or are so naïve that they continually believe such obvious lies. I'm not saying they don't have good reasons, just that the book doesn't really those clear.
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2021, 10:02:52 AM »

I'm not sure if its the same reason Catholic people are used to feeling guilt, but people are desperate to feel that they are the real thing, so if a big studio gives validation to the idea that someone is a REAL DEVELOPER™ Its about validation and feeling important: "Oh I worked on [whatever special AAA game I did]!" People go nuts about if you've been credited on an AAA game in gamedev like its some sort of clubhouse.

Even now on twitter I'm seeing tweets about if QA counts as a DEVELOPER as if its some sort of sacred thing. Very few people get self worth from the quality of their own work, they need some external force to say "GOOD JOB" in order to feel like they have done a good job. But in my world its what you do that matters, back to my quote "there are bright ones and there are those that are dim" Talent doesn't need any external validation in order to be realized, and there are QA people who are doing more for the design of a game than the actual designers. This is likely part of the reason I don't make friends in gamedev easily, because I don't accept that some people who are politically valid are actually big shots because they don't do any meaningful work.

So as I predicted, the book and the reason people take all this crap is about the personality cult: "Oh our lead is SPECIAL so that's why I put up with it: because it makes me special, now I'll read the manual for Mega Man out loud 10 times and confess my sins."

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michaelplzno
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« Reply #15 on: July 02, 2021, 10:16:15 AM »

I'm just remembering this story:

There was a dev who worked at Irrational when it was shut down and he went to an indie gamedev meetup and I introduced myself as an indie dev and he almost sneered out loud at me and explained that he works on real games. Now he likely thinks Ken is such an Übermensch and as to me, I didn't charm this guy with status, power, charisma, etc. I could have introduced myself as "a better coder than Sid Meier" and maybe this guy would have taken me seriously? Its all about personality cult, this guy loves Peacocks who strut their stuff and that's how Irrational's power structure works.



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ThemsAllTook
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« Reply #16 on: July 02, 2021, 11:17:42 AM »

Is that someone you really want to take you seriously, though? To me, that sounds like someone insecure and confused, putting up a front of bravado to avoid confronting the ways the world doesn't make sense to him. I wouldn't be able to take him seriously.
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #17 on: July 02, 2021, 11:58:31 AM »

In terms of my pathos and pathology: I want to be loved and respected by all. Sadly that isn't in the cards for me obvs. But yeah, as far as industry respect that guy was probably not worth my time. It just sucks because a lot of stories I have where I say hi to someone turn that way and it makes me sad.
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ThemsAllTook
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« Reply #18 on: July 02, 2021, 12:25:18 PM »

I feel you. I've been going through an arc recently where I've trained myself not to value approval and disapproval from other people, and it's hard to tell if I've swung too far in the other direction. On the one hand, it's real nice not to experience anger or frustration anymore from things I can't control, but on the other, there are some polite niceties that don't really fit into this mental model. I feel like I might be coming off as rude or inconsiderate in some cases, and having a negative impact on some of the people I interact with.

If I were in your situation, I feel like the question in my mind would be whether the problem is who it is that I'm saying hi to, or how I'm presenting myself when I say hi. Maybe it's some of both? When an outcome isn't what I want, I try to first look at the variables I can control, and work on those as much as I can while not bothering about the ones I can't.

This kind of thing is a lifelong journey. I'm 37, and I don't feel like I have people figured out at all. There are patterns of behavior that are learnable, but ultimately every individual is unique, and what works for interacting with one person might not work on another.
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #19 on: July 02, 2021, 05:02:27 PM »

Thanks Thems, as a moderator you have to really be above the cheap stuff. Grant me the serenity: I'm on a life long rant about The Serenity Prayer:





I generally feel uncomfortable manipulating how I behave in order to get other people to like me or act favorably. I know its sort of a dance, I even call GDC cotillion. I AM NOT A DANCER. But its sort of a groundhog day kind of thing: maybe I'll have to learn one way or another. Perhaps one of the things I cannot change is that people like to dance around whatever is at hand and being blunt, direct, and cutting to whatever is on my mind is just not the way.

It feels like acting or psychopathy: I hear someone say something that bothers me and I just have to ignore it, or even tell them that I think something that offends me is good. Sigh, I don't want to feel like social interactions are about "getting results" but rather that they are organic. But I guess you cannot change that?
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