Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Revitalization

For the past few years I've been keeping a tradition of writing a post summarizing my goals for the upcoming year. This could be considered participating in setting "New Year's Resolutions" but I feel that these are often newly created ideas and therefore are much more difficult to stick to. I much prefer the practice of continually reviewing your priorities in life as things happen and instead view this yearly tradition as an opportunity to write down where I currently am. Recording my thoughts gives great insight into previous years; being able to reflect on what I accomplished, what I did not and why.

Creativity & Passion Projects

Anyone who knows me will be aware that I've always got a few projects cooking on the back-burner. Even though I haven't had much success releasing projects, it's fun to tinker and I can't go very long without some form of creative expression. This past year has been filled with many challenges between my career and social life, which unfortunately left me completely burned out and unable to really pursue my passion projects.

That all changed one foggy morning when I opened my inbox to discover that Hextraction was Accepted into Greenlight! This was a project which those of us at ComboMash Entertainment Inc had put our heart & souls into through Kickstarter (one which I quit my job to pursue), but it ended up flopping miserably. We learned a lot from the experience, but the next 7 months were pretty tough for us all and we pretty much abandoned the project. Receiving that email was like finding the golden ticket to the Wonka factory, and immediately gave us the boost we needed to get back into the swing of things. Knowing we'll have access to the most popular online sales portal for PC games when we finish is a pretty big motivation factor, after all!

Riding this wave of motivation & renewed creative energy, I'm going to be focussing my creative efforts for the next year in three areas:

  • Hextraction - Working with the ComboMash team to bring new life to our game as we work towards release. We've already got a much more solid & mature concept in place and have begun experimenting with Unreal 4, so I have high hopes we'll have an awesome project given enough time & effort.

  • Oculus Rift - Having purchased a DK2 and began experimenting with developing for VR I can safely say this technology is going to explode in the coming years. Not with the big clunky headsets of today, but with the sleek well designed minimal glasses we'll see 5 to 10 years from now. Learning how to create engaging experiences for VR has huge potential so I'll be jamming out some small projects to start experimenting. Might even try to do One Game a Month challenge, focussed exclusively on VR experiences, if time allows.

  • IP Development - I've always enjoyed creating unique, off-the-wall, somewhat risqué characters & story-lines. Yeah okay, I'm basically just talking about Pole Force One, a project I've had in my back pocket for years now. What I've learned from it though is that I should focus less on building something for a specific medium (such as a game) and instead get into the habit of creating compelling universes that could be made into animations, games, merchandise, comics, etc...

Exploration, Nature & Freedom

I'm not a city person, can't stand being around concrete and given an ideal world would be out living in a cabin in the woods only emerging to go to work or spend time with friends. Unfortunately that doesn't seem possible here in Vancouver, so instead I'm going to try and focus on finding some compromises that will allow me to get out into nature more often and get that sense of freedom.

  • Motorcyle - After chatting with a friend who rides, and looking enviously at the beautiful landscapes she gets to see while out riding, I decided now was the time to get my license and purchase a motorcycle. I've already picked up some protective leather and have booked lessons in February, so I have no doubt that come summer time I'll be out riding deep into the mountains and enjoying the beautiful landscape the west coast has to offer.

  • Long Distance Cycling - I suppose I enjoy being on two wheels? I'm going to start building up my stamina, learning to do on the road repairs for my road bike and will be doing a few long distance treks on the bicycle. After doing a 200km charity ride last summer, I've got the itch to strap a tent to my backpack and ride off somewhere far away; just me, my bicycle and whatever I discover along the way.

  • Hiking - Okay, so I already do this but I'm hoping that the above two goals will help me do this even more often. Even if it's just cycling up to the Grind every other weekend and demolishing the tourists trying to do it in jeans & flip-flops, I think that would be enough to keep me satisfied for now.

I had a few more items that I wanted to write down about relationships, friends, health & fitness... but I think I'm satisfied with my entry for today. The other areas are just as important but I feel writing about them would be less tangible. They're far more circumstantial and part the continual process of self development that everyone goes through. Happy New Year to anyone who happens to be reading this!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Rolling the Dice

I'm not a gambling man, or at least that's what I thought. I've been to the casino a couple of times and played around with $60 in total before realizing it wasn't terribly exciting. I've bought a few lottery tickets, but am obviously not rolling in cash so it's safe to say I didn't win. However, in a more true reflection of my personality, I'm horribly addicted to a specific kind of gambling: entrepreneurialism. And yes, that is totally a word, despite what the red squiggly spell check is saying right now.

I live for the thrill of looking out to a world full of potential opportunities, experimenting with a new venture in hopes of creating a profitable career which fits who I am and what I value in life, on my own terms. To continually challenge my creativity, intellect and interpersonal skills is what keeps me sane. Don't get me wrong, employment can be quite pleasurable and challenging, I'm not knocking it. The whole regular paycheque and clearly defined scope of work takes a huge load of stress off my shoulders. But if you know me well you'll know that I don't last very long in the typical 9-to-5 environment. When working under rigid conditions, doing the same thing every day, I'm like a kid with A.D.D. sitting in class; fidgeting and dying to go outside and play in the tree. The world is my tree, I must climb it!

Okay Grant, we get it, you write one of these posts like seriously every few months, what's the occasion this time? Fine! Geeze, relax a little, I was getting to that part!

Hextraction on Kickstarter, April 21st! to sign up for Kickstarter notification!

I'm once again jumping back into the world of indie game development with my company ComboMash Entertainment Inc! Last time I jumped I spent a significant amount of time building up the company brand & identity while starting to put together some early game prototypes. Not to mention doing a lot of research into how to make the venture successful. However, my personal savings started to run out and I was missing a few key ingredients so it all got put on hold temporarily while rejoined the "unselfemployment" work-force, as my buddy Eric classified it today.

This jump though, this is the big one. I've recently partnered with my friend Neil and together we have been working on a solid business plan to move the company from non-existence to developing out a small library of games over the next few years. Our launch title Hextraction - a procedurally story driven strategy game about mercenary oil riggers going to alien planets and stripping it of resources - has been designed from the start to be of a relatively small scope such that two people can complete it along side a few key freelancers. We're pushing for a strong start and going straight to Kickstarter on April 21st, with the intent to deliver the game this calendar year.

I'll be sharing more specifics, teasers and details about the game and our progress at ComboMash on our social media pages (links below). Suffice to say that the ventures I've embarked on in the past haven't proven significantly fruitful, but I have a gut feeling that this time it will be different. I've fallen out of the tree enough times to know which branches to avoid and which have a sturdy foundation, allowing me to climb higher. This time, I'm going straight right to the top!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Minimalism, Balance & Quality

Over the past few years, I've gotten into the habit of reflecting on my life and creating goals for the new year. Reading through some of my previous entries on the subject, I'm actually finding that I tend to follow through and accomplish the majority of what I set out for myself so I feel it's become an important habit that I'm going to continue. In my opinion, New Years Resolutions are less about setting new goals and more about discovering the desires you already have and acting on them.

The Theme for 2014

This year, the theme for all of my goals are minimalism, balance and quality. I intend to continue learning to be happy with fewer material items by overcoming emotional attachment to them. To practice a happy balance between all areas of my life and not pursue any single goal disproportionately, something I struggle with in my bull-headed stubborn nature at times. And to seek out quality in all things, experiences and relationships I desire. This year will be more about adopting a way of being rather than any one particular thing to check off a list. Now with that said, here are a few specific goals I'd like to work towards. What's the fun in going after a lofty, ambiguous goal if you don't have some concrete examples which will help push you in the direction direction?


I took some time off work to get my company, ComboMash Entertainment Inc, registered and began work on the Pole Force One prototype. After a couple of months I quickly found it wasn't satisfying because I was only focusing on this one thing in my life. Even though I made some awesome progress on the game (see video below), balance in all areas of life was needed to be happy and productive. So I'll be working on my creative projects at a more leisurely pace while outsourcing portions of the work to other artists where possible. Still planning to launch a Kickstarter early next year though!

Backpack Living

As part of my desire to live a minimalist lifestyle, I am going to aim for the ability to live out of a backpack. It's not that I actually plan to live out of a backpack in my daily life - I quite enjoy furniture and electronics - abut rather having this goal will force me to only acquire and keep things that are of high quality; things that only add value to my life. I intend to build a more transient relationship with everything else, where they can come and go with ease based on my needs at the time. The added benefit is the freedom to travel and move without any significant obstacles due to "stuff".

Personal Growth

Spending time and effort to improve myself as a well rounded person. Until now, I would have to say my focus has always been on education and intellect. Things like fashion, culinary arts, healthy living, exercise with actual results and all sorts of other "life skills" I didn't have the opportunity to develop when I was younger will be explored.


If you read through the INTJ MBTI personality type, you'll notice it mentions that personal relationships - particularly romantic - is the Achilles heel for an INTJ. I would largely agree. My goal is simple, to foster higher quality relationships through effort.

Environment & Health

In order to accomplish these goals, I absolutely require an environment which supports these goals and acts as a place to re-group and contemplate further. Yesterday I moved into a new apartment where my sister and I will live, where we intend to create a peaceful, quiet and healthy atmosphere. It's been a long time since I've felt a sense of "home" where I was living, my goal is to create that feeling once again.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What If Money Were No Object?

I came across this video a while ago and I often re-watch it for inspiration. It's an excerpt from a speech made by Alan Watts, a philosopher, writer and speaker. Every single time I watch the video it reminds of just how important it is to pursue your passion, no matter what that may be. The message perfectly captures what I have always believed at the fiery core of who I am and what drives my decisions. Doing anything other than pursuing something you love is stupid; you are literally wasting the only life you have to live.

I will admit, it's not an easy choice to make, in fact it's downright scary. For many, the pursuit of their passions means not having a clear answer on how to live the comfortable life we're all lead to believe is the pinnacle of achievement in society. When faced with this uncertainty doubt begins to creep in. You will tell yourself that you'd never be good enough, that there is no way to succeed down that path, others will echo the same old "you can't make a living doing that" rhetoric, parents will caution you to go after the "sure thing" so stop being foolish, and our society as a whole will be against you at times. More often than not, people will give up on their passion. After all, it's too difficult to face that kind of pressure and better to live a life of mediocrity so long as it's comfortable, right?

Not even a little bit. I've been going after my passions for close to a decade now, and while I haven't experienced any kind of significant financial success, and I may never, I wouldn't trade the joy and freedom I get every day for anything. If I were to suddenly have a million dollars, I would be doing the exact same thing that I am doing today; exploring my own creative projects and ideas. That's my passion, that's what I love, and I am doing it. The only difference between who I am right now and this hypothetical situation is a small difference in materialistic comfort.

What do you really need to be happy in life, honestly? Let's take a look at Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Physiological, I have plenty of food, a roof over my head and access to drinking water. Safety, I live in a safe country with health care and am in no way struggling to pay the bills. Love/belonging, pretty sure at least a few friends and family will be reading this. Esteem, sometimes I struggle with this but generally speaking, I'm fairly confident in myself and people respect me and my skills. Once you have all of those, what is left? Self-actualization, the heart of what I'm talking about. The aspect in all of us that emerges once all other basic needs have been satisfied, the desire to realize your full potential. Unique to the individual in both definition and expression, this need emerges in all of us in some way.

The way I see it, when someone gives up their passion they are effectively removing (or at least reducing) the top portion of this diagram. They are replacing a need with a want. Everyone has wants and there's nothing wrong with satisfying those desires when you have the means to do so. It feels good, it's fun and brings a little extra joy to life. But there is a monumental difference in the joy you get from satisfying a need versus a want.

I've seen too many people limit themselves to satisfying their wants while giving up whatever it is they are passionate about. Often they live relatively happy lives (not saying you'll be miserable), by jumping from one momentary experience, new purchase, or high to another. Every single one of them will have a time when they look at the life around them and begin to wonder, "is this really all there is?" Mark my word, it will happen, I've seen it countless times. They'll know something is wrong but they've been too distracted with satisfying wants to recognize the missing element.

Given the choice between these two scenarios:
  1. Working all day doing something that's just okay so you can have nice things, enjoy a fun activity at the day's end, escaping your life through vacation, never really feeling motivated to succeed beyond what monetary gains you can get out of it
  2. Working all day doing something that brings you joy, something you would do whether you were rich or poor, but maybe having to give up some of life's comforts as you naturally master your vocation through hard work and self-motivation
I'd pick #2 every single time, because I don't want to have that horrifying realization later in life that I've wasted my time on this planet doing things that I don't want to do, to get things that don't really matter. Passion comes in variety, think about it and explore yours.