One of the great perks of being a CMU student is that you get free access to all of the amazing museums in Pittsburgh, including:  the Andy Warhol Museum, the Carnegie Science Center, and the Carnegie Museum of Art.  Coincidentally, Pillow Castle’s office (at CMU’s Project Olympus) is located just a few blocks away from the Carnegie Museum of Art.  Last week, the team made the trek over to soak in some inspiration.

Just standing inside of that deceptively gigantic museum, you can get a great feel for the presentation, sounds, and ambience of the space.  Amongst all the great work from Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, it was a simple piece that grabbed my attention the most.  I nearly missed this exhibit (pictured above in yellow) that we found in the contemporary art section.  If you look at it from one angle, all you can see is a yellow circle, but from another perspective you can see a strange city-like scene hidden behind it.  Simple, but cool.

- Mac

Concept Art Sunday - more beautiful, cryptic architecture concepts by our artist Zhengyi Wang.

…If you’ve seen the demo video, it’s safe to say that the majority of our game takes place in indoor spaces. A lot of them. Zhengyi has been working for over six months putting his BS in architecture to good use creating unbelievable worlds to live inside.

I suppose sometime soon we’re going to have to start showing folks what they look like in 3D…

It’s been a hard day at the office and its barely noon.

Albert has been like this for two hours. I don’t know what to do besides moistening his lips with a damp paper towel so he doesn’t dehydrate.

No one was ready. No one was prepared for the news. Not even me.

We have to go back to school in 5 weeks. One more semester for the Gipper.

One or more of us might not make it out alive.


-allen

Concept Art Sunday: a piece of the puzzle.
I’m going to stop right there, because so far we’ve been really good about showing random stuff that doesn’t make any sense. this piece of concept, a diagrammed part of a larger whole, is getting too close to the truth. 
they’ll be coming for me soon as it is. hopefully not before i can write everything down.
-allen

Concept Art Sunday: a piece of the puzzle.

I’m going to stop right there, because so far we’ve been really good about showing random stuff that doesn’t make any sense. this piece of concept, a diagrammed part of a larger whole, is getting too close to the truth. 

they’ll be coming for me soon as it is. hopefully not before i can write everything down.

-allen

HOW I ABUSE MY TIME, a story of failure and redemption in three parts.

Do you ever find yourself distracted? I did.

TLDR; Respect your own time, you idiot.

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PART ONE: SMOOTH SAILING

For the last two months, we’ve been working on the development of our game here at Project Olympus, tied to a schedule of our own making in order to maximize our efficiency and waste as little time as possible.

This worked, for the most part. We’ve all been pleasantly surprised by how refreshing it is to be in the same room for 7 hours a day. We all know what is going on with each other, and there’s constant communication and feedback. It’s like the barriers of communication have been torn down and replaced with a slip-n-slide covered in industrial lubricant.

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In other words, we rightfully thought we were on to something with the way we were scheduling our time.

But if everything was as smooth as butter, I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog post, eh? What happened?

Where did it all go wrong?

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PART TWO: CONTINUING THE SAILING METAPHOR, I REALIZE I DON’T KNOW HOW TO SAIL

The waves started to get choppy right around the time we started delving deeper into incorporating Pillow Castle under an LLC. Depending on who you talk to, this can either be an extremely easy process that doesn’t matter for much of anything, or the most important series of decisions a group of young startup owners have to make. That’s a pretty wide gulf, and good luck getting a straight answer about what’s the best way to proceed without the negative incentive of billable hours.

I fell down a black hole of legal information right as the narrative needs of our game were ramping up. Now not only was I attempting to reach some sort of flow state to mine the background narrative of our game, but I was also interspersing my creative work with all of the team’s communications, any production needs, and now, the business development process.

I don’t know if you’re as awful at math as I am, but 8 hours divided into five different sets of tasks turns into a bunch of mushy bullshit by the time the day is through. It’s sort of like trying to bake a cake while juggling babies in a burning spaceship spiraling out of control as it plummets through the atmosphere toward the ground below. 

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That’s the way my fucking cake was looking by the time I had to present my work to the team. What a mess. And what does Jesus have to do with this, anyway?

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PART THREE: BUILD A HELICOPTER AND GIVE THE SAILBOAT THE FINGER

One of our team’s closest advisors, Jesse Schell, is notoriously structured with his time. He gives a talk every year at our graduate program about time management that essentially breaks down to this: “Schedule out every minute of your day into what you want to be doing during that time. If it doesn’t fit into that schedule, fuck it.”

He doesn’t answer e-mail outside of a scheduled period time. He doesn’t have work meetings interrupt the middle of a morning work period. He never misses a scheduled meeting, given proper planning.

Okay, that last part is a lie. He has a kid and such, and life is a fickle salty ocean of uncertainty (metaphor!) but he manages to seriously control his time in a way that creates self-respect and demands others respect his time in the same manner.

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It works, in other words.

So starting here soon, I’m going to be taking up the method to divide my various work days into specific “fields of inquiry”. One day a week for business development. One day a week for community outreach. A day a week for production and scheduling, and two days a week for creative development work that actually goes into the game.

I will respect these divisions of time that I’ve made for myself, and part of that will be demanding that others respect that division. Don’t tread on me, brother. Let’s tread on the stupid bugs plaguing our development process.

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I cannot let these motherfucking sheep near those lazy-ass cows, man. Can. Not.

This idea is a rough breakdown, for sure. And I imagine I will end up subdividing these days even further based on the needs of the project. Ideally, things like our business development issues will calm down once we’ve made our connections and made decisions about our direction, but as I a wise old sailor once said “shit never gets less complicated.” (once more, metaphor, for feeling.)

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PART FOUR: I LIED WHEN I SAID IT WOULD BE THREE PARTS

Here’s my takeaway for other developers out there: be careful with your time. We have to do so many different things in our journeys from lingering game ideas to successful product with sales that it is INEVITABLE you will become distracted from your goals.

The thing I’m realizing, though, is that it’s not a victimless crime to allow it to happen. Work gets worse. Your brain isn’t built for solving 18 disparate problems at once. It wants one or two juicy ones to mull over for a while… and every time that phone rings, you get further and further away from any sort of answer for the real problem at hand.

Be mindful. Be aware. And don’t let the other needs of your work become noise you find yourself slogging through every day. Partition your work. Separate your head space. Respect the division. Make others respect it. Sail that ship into the sunrise.

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OCEAN METAPHORS!

-Allen

Sometimes you play around with some random mechanic you just implemented…and it’s kind of fun…but then you realize you still need to finish the rest of the game.

- Albert

Sometimes you play around with some random mechanic you just implemented…and it’s kind of fun…but then you realize you still need to finish the rest of the game.

- Albert

It is a shame more people don’t know about the work of composer Clint Mansell.  They most certainly have heard his work ‘Lux Aeterna’ from the disturbing and powerful movie Requiem for a Dream or perhaps his epic composition ‘Leaving Earth’ from Mass Effect 3.  There is something very special about Clint Mansell’s work that lingers long after the last note has faded.  Here is his evocative piece entitled ‘Dead is the Road to Awe’ from the underrated film, ‘The Fountain’.  Much like his kindred spirit and long time collaborator/director Darren Aronofsky, Mansell isn’t concerned with sounding nice, but rather in making you feel something.  - Mac

Concept Art Sunday - Live from Maine!Allen here. I’m supposed to be on vacation, but we just got to our cottage here in Washingtone, Maine and discovered it had wifi.
There is no escape.
Which is a good thing, because no one else posted concept art today. So here’s some color theory Zhengyi was playing with a few weeks ago to try and determine some kaleidoscopic radness.
Okay, seriously, vacation is starting… as soon as my pooch stops growling at the bullfrogs getting their freak on outside.

Concept Art Sunday - Live from Maine!

Allen here. I’m supposed to be on vacation, but we just got to our cottage here in Washingtone, Maine and discovered it had wifi.

There is no escape.

Which is a good thing, because no one else posted concept art today. So here’s some color theory Zhengyi was playing with a few weeks ago to try and determine some kaleidoscopic radness.

Okay, seriously, vacation is starting… as soon as my pooch stops growling at the bullfrogs getting their freak on outside.

cooper hates these damn frogs! get these motherfucking frogs out of this motherfucking forest!