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Sarah Smith
266 followers -
Indie Game Developer, C++/Obj-C hacker, Artist & Writer
Indie Game Developer, C++/Obj-C hacker, Artist & Writer

266 followers
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No, Far Right, We DON'T Have to Listen Now

It appears we still have to patiently explain this. I hope recent events have shown why this is wrong for once an for all.

I had a knock-down, drag-out argument with two people very close to me: it was about the USA Presidential election, and the Trump victory. The argument was just a week ago, and despite everything I knew and quoted from my research my friends were still not convinced.

It's very frustrating that sensible people are still buying this line from the new alt-right that Trump and his gang of wreckers somehow were swept to power on popular support from dissaffected voters.

We have to listen to these disaffected rust-belt voters now.. My friends said.

They've spoken, they can't all be dismissed as racist, and they have genuine concerns we need to listen to!. They insisted.

I'm hearing the same refrain from a lot of centrist media as well. And of course the narrative from the right is replete with this sort of thing.

And it is all UTTERLY wrong.

The needle on the dial for support from the rust belt has not changed more than a flicker since Mitt Romney was beaten by Obama in 2012. There was NO surge in rust-belt support, there was no Trump being swept to victory on a tide of disaffected white votes.

Were there disaffected white votes? Yes.

1,409.467 - Trump 2016
1,408,746 - Romney 2012

( Source: http://heavy.com/news/2016/11/election-results-2016-2012-by-state-county-presidential-voter-turnout-popular-vote-pennsylvania-michigan-wisconsin-new-hampshire-rust-belt-trump-clinton-gary-johnson-jill-stein-third-party-margin/ )

A hairs breadth difference and nowhere near enough change to get Trump elected.

Russian & GOP election hacking got Trump elected

Do we have to listen to rust-belt voters woes? Yes, but we had to listen to them back in 2012 too when they were the same in number as they were in 2016 to a fraction of a percentage point.

The truth is that what has handed Trump the US presidency is Democrat voters were swayed - in their hundreds of thousands, by a massive information war assault by a collection of powerful interests aligned with the GOP; AND they were prevented from voting in their hundreds of thousands by a war against voter rights that has been waged by the GOP against minorities & voters in key states.

So to re-iterate: was the Russian hack decisive? No, it happen in concert with other carefully calculated campaigns. There's 2 main factors:

First, there's been a campaign against voters rights running from the GOP, and from groups and individuals aligned with GOP interests for several years now.

The campaign has many parts, and has resulted in thousands of people of color and poor minorities being removed from the rolls. For example a voter named "George Jackson" and another voter named "George Jackson Senior" who lived at the same address were reported as being the same voter voting twice (despite obviously being a father & son) by an initiative formed by the GOP called "Crosscheck".

http://www.gregpalast.com/election-stolen-heres/

There were hundreds of thousands on these cross-check lists in swing states and in some cases court actions had to be bought when it was discovered the voter rights had been illegally removed. It's not clear how many have been illegally removed but its in the millions across the USA.

Organizations like the DMV in those states have had to be forced to comply by the courts with their own policies for issuing voter identity papers where voters did not have a licence. Generally the bias against issuing documents to traditionally marginalized voters has served the GOP well, and their campaigns effectiveness across organizational boundaries like this shows how an operation based on influence peddling & propaganda works just as well as outright sabotage.

Second, there's been an unprecedented onslaught of disinformation aimed squarely at destroying Hilary Clinton's voter base: to get Democrat voters to stay home, or vote for other independents.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-greene/the-russian-hack-absolute_b_13656802.html

It's an egregious falsehood to claim that this information war that was conducted against Hilary Clinton had no effect. That is just preposterous. There are so many voters who fell for the "Crooked" line of propaganda that Trump's campaign relied on. Despite being as patently false, with Hilary being completely exonerated many times, and the claims being as farcical as the Obama birth certificate one we still hear people repeating this disinformation today.

Why? Because of a massive information war backed by Russian interests connected with the GOP and the Trump campaign saturated every social media and internet feed with an unending onslaught of messages with this bogus content. Eventually folks forgot where they first read it.

Did that alone cause Trump to win? No the win came by combining that information war & the war against voters. It was a two pronged attack.

The only thing that DIDN'T contribute to the victory as claimed was rust-belt support. That remained just as it was in 2012.

So, no, I am not inclined now to listen to rust-belt voters. They deserve something to address the plight they're in as their towns are vacated by steel & coal mills that squandered the chance to retrain those folks in new lines of work. The local politicians that allowed schools & community colleges to be gutted at the same time as the mills, just when they were needed the most.

So yes: they need support, just like they did in 2012. But because of what Trump and the GOP has done, and who they have mad friends with in order to steal democracy we have much much bigger problems than that.

The fact that the very first move the GOP is trying to execute on is to dismantle the Ethics Office shows that democracy worldwide is under attack, and while I feel for the rust belt we free people have bigger fish to fry.

Ken Wong Keynote NZGDC 2016

Here's an excerpt of what Ken Wong (known for Monument Valley) now, of Mountains Studio said a few weeks ago in his keynote at NZGDC, about diversity. Any transcription errors - apologies, the video is hard to understand in a couple of places. But his message is unmistakable.

https://youtu.be/-kv9-150OTY?t=21m39s

If we're able to think more progressively, that's how we can have an advantage and build a better industry. Although some of the old ways to make games are still OK, some of them belong in the past. The idea that there are true gamers and fake gamers, that gamers are these teenage antisocial boys in their basement - those ideas are in the past.

But in order to really put that into practice that requires each of us to do something a little bit out of our comfort zones, and perhaps make some different decisions. I think an easy one is for people like myself who are running companies where we are making hiring choices, where we are issuing press releases and how we talk about making games.

Just after Liam's talk on stereotypes I read a tweet about someone working on a game about game development, and in it all the main developers are all men. And people were getting angry about that. The developers of this game about game development were saying "That's the reality: most game developers are men."

But as I look around this room, I don't see that; I don't think that is the reality. And I don't think that is where we're heading. We have to believe that we can make a better world, build a better industry. We have to speak up and say there are women working in games, there are queer people working in games, there are people of all sorts of minorities and games should be for everybody.

I think that it's up to us in a privileged role to deconstruct the machine that gave us the privilege and help those who are less fortunate. Whether you are an artist, a producer, a journalist, a student.

That's how we are going to become a better games industry.


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Burn your GANTT Charts & Deliver Game Releases Like a Boss
We all want to have our teams be treated as the awesome creative people they are, but there's deadlines  and as producers & studio founders responsible for making sure the place stays afloat, how can we deliver our games on schedule ? How about setting fire...

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Save London!

Got an iPad or iPhone and love word games? Check out my new FREE word game with a TWIST, "Pandora's Books". It comes with War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells as the first book and you can unlock others including Wuthering Heights and At the Mountains of Madness.

http://pandorasbooks.co/install

Every word is drawn from a quote: study the quote to get ahead of the curve, then dive in and solve the puzzles. But don't dally; the monsters will quickly gang up to destroy the city!

It starts off pretty easily, but gets harder more quickly. Collect clues with each level you win, and use them sparingly to help you with those "impossible to solve" words.

I'd love to hear what you think! Please give it a try!

If its a success, we plan to go to other platforms soon. Your support means a lot so please share and if possible give it a try & review. Thanks!
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What's in a Game?

There's a lot of talk around with #NoMansSky right now about how much game got delivered versus peoples expectations. I suggest taking with a very large grain of salt any pronouncements about this from those who have never been part of a small team who actually shipped a game. I understand how folks feel when they are excited about the game and do not get what they wanted. By all means express feelings and frustrations. But if they want to avoid looking foolish in the eyes of every indie developer ever commentators would be well advised to resist the temptation to pronounce opinions on what the developers ought to have done.

In particular claims like fell short of what was promised and not that good compared to the hype and multiplayer and other features are easy mean absolutely nothing, regardless of how many computer science lectures you've been to or what IT or large games company you work for. Regardless what a commentator thinks they know about tech, or about games, if that person has not been part of a small team shipping a real indie title out the door onto a platform then you do not know what the exigencies of that process can do to the final product that arrives.

Trying to get all of your marketing material aligned exactly with the final functionality that winds up in players hands is Very Very Hard ™️.

Don't ascribe malice when misfortune is an adequate explanation, to paraphrase the aphorism.

To be clear, I'm not claiming that I'm some sort of guru that always delivers what I promise. I've learned the hard way that the only strategy that works is to be resilient to things failing and remain standing as the punches come flying in your face.

In indie game development, as in start-ups in general, the thing that defines our success is not the beautiful, ingenious things we plan, but how we recover when our plans go wrong. Because no matter how good you are, or how many times you do it, they will go wrong. The best you can do is stay standing, and recover from it as well as possible.

Even being part of a big company, even a games company, you're a small cog in a machine where you have the luxury of just doing the thing that you're good at, for example programming, art or animation, and you've not had the experience of having to stop coding because an invoice came in that had to be paid, and you spent 2 hours trying to mess with international exchange rates & PayPal, and an accounting program like Xero instead of advancing the features your game needed for the upcoming release.

Then you think you're going to get some coding done and your calendar goes off because you have a Skype interview with a journalist who wants to run some angle on a story that they might just print, and finally its 6pm and you still don't have a build ready to test for the feature you were trying to get done that day.

It's easy to do a feature badly. I saw a bunch of student games yesterday and was thrilled to see the great efforts of a young folks working to bring a game into the light, over a month or two. Those people are beginning to understand.

There's every compromise you have to make, every feature that you had to cut. The things that weren't working in time and had to be left out.

With 15+ years in software development I have learned about what can be done in time, and now I don't start things I can't deliver to a sufficient standard that it can go in the release.

Predicting ahead of time what those things will be, how well they're match the ambition you had a year ago - that is utterly impossible.

Yesterday was the launch of Pandora's Books - a darkly curious word game & monster shooter in one!

You can check it out on iOS here: http://pandorasbooks.co/

It was built by me, in code, in 6 months. As well as writing the game, doing the designs, running the studio I also had to find time to be constantly promoting the game. I had a 1/2 time artist (Wren), and 1/2 time marketing person (Jane) to help me over that time. In the middle of the year I took on a 1/2 time QA & Community person (Crystal).

This is the third game I've shipped or partly shipped. I'm more proud of what I've left out of the game, than what I put in. Leaving things out, planning your ambition level, against the resources you have available - that is the key to making games that hang together and work as a whole.

Once you have a game shipped, you can make updates and make it better. As players if you take one thing away from reading this I would like you to just cool down on the sweeping motherhood statements about game developers ripping you off, and just give them a chance.

Give them a chance to recover from the punches and deliver on the things that no doubt hope as vehemently as you do that they can one day put in the game.

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So close now! The launch is this Thursday!

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Manufacturing fear to control the populace. We are living in Terry Gilliam's "Brazil".

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Love her work.
Introducing Emily Bronte. Author of Pandora's Books second book "Wuthering Heights". Born in July 1818 and died in December 1848 at the age of 30. She was the fifth of the sixth of children. Emily's first book Wuthering Heights was first published in 1847. To find out more go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Bront%C3%AB
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Bug fixing

Hey guys we're doing some bug fixing this week, and we'll plan to push out a new build next week. Watch this space.

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A Personal Message to our Brave Testers

https://youtu.be/87naFmASJ0k
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