A Pet Project, Euthanized

By Shamus Posted Sunday Nov 23, 2008

Filed under: Personal 25 comments

You may recall some earlier posts where I whined about how video editing software is either bare-bones useless, or more expensive than having platinum dental work done on a cloned T-Rex. There doesn’t seem to be any real mid-range software available for people who just want to dabble. I’ve had a video project that I’ve been tinkering with for some time now, and I’ve been trying to line up the tools and assets to make it work. When The Escapist film festival came along, it seemed like a good time to buckle down and make it happen.

Between the day job, this site, and Stolen Pixels, (and the videogames required to supply the latter two) I just couldn’t come up with something in time for the film festival. But even after the deadline for the film festival ran out, I didn’t want to give up on the idea. I was still holding out hope that I could scrape together some time and finish it, even if all I did was put the thing up on YouTube.

This last Friday I got some news from my employer: We’re beginning a large project right now, and it’s going to run well into the new year. It’s also going to require a lot of overtime. Now, I have a policy of not complaining about my employer or my job in public, but this is the third year in a row I’ve had a stretch of overtime that ran from Thanksgiving to New Year, and the only nice thing I can say about it is that it’s a good alternative to unemployment.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen around here. I might be posting less often. Or never. Or just rick-rolling everyone once a week. We’ll see. You can pretty much duplicate the functionality of this site by making an RSS feed that randomly links to newly released games along with some text that says, “DRM sucks and I hate it! BLARG!” So maybe somebody can make one of those in PHP or something.

But more to the point, the video series is shelved for sure. So, I want to write about it here as a way of getting it out of my system so I can stop thinking about it. I realize this is sort of a jerk move on my part: Here is something I was going to do and now I’m not. Now you know what you’ll be missing. Hope you don’t like the idea too much, ha ha!

My vision was for a series that would distill complex issues (technical or otherwise) into easily digestible videos salted with a little humor. Unlike my writing here, they would be less op-ed and more informational. Videogames arguably turned fifty this year. Their history goes all the way back to 1958. (And perhaps even further, if you want to expand the definition of “videogame” to include any kind of game mediated entirely by a machine.) There is a lot of history there. and most of it is too far away to be easily remembered yet too close to be a part of history class for most of us. These popcorn documentaries would run about ten minutes apiece and would cover some of my usual topics:

  1. Escalating development costs. (Why they’re going up, and what that means to videogames.)
  2. The rise of indie developers.
  3. The consolidation of development houses into sharecroppers for monolithic publishers. (Heh. Maybe a little op-ed would sneak into that one. *cough cough*)
  4. The demagoguery of videogames in the media, juxtaposed with Rock N’ Roll, Movies, and novels.
  5. DRM
  6. Evolution of graphics technology, from 1958 to present.

Looking back, I don’t know if this would have fit in a The Escapist film festival (which seem focused on just humor) but I still like the idea and I’d still like to give it a go at some point. Maybe I’ll try again in January.


EDIT: Sorry for the melodrama. I’m just blowing off a little steam in frustration. It’s not the end of the world. I’ll probably just be posting less. We’ll see how much in the coming weeks.


From The Archives:

25 thoughts on “A Pet Project, Euthanized

  1. Saint Rising says:

    Poor Shamus. Good luck on everything, though.

    Edit: Holy crap, first. :O

  2. Robyrt says:

    Ouch! When my company gets a request for a project of that nature, we say, “How does February sound? Because that’s when you’re getting it.”

  3. OverlordDan says:

    Wow. I’ve been reading this for couple years now, and although I have never posted anything (never had much to add, so didn’t want to clog up the site), I want to say this in case you don’t post again.

    Thank you for the articles. They have provided me with hours upon hours of entertainment, and I will be sorry to see them go (if that happens).

    Thank you so much for your well thought out and written works.


  4. DaveMc says:

    Oh, no! It’s the end of the world, it’s a game-changing melodrama, it’s . . . Oh, I just saw your edit. Phew. Well, that’s all right, then.

    If you could just post something every few days, even if it’s just of the form “DRM. Discuss.”, I’m sure we can keep one another entertained, here in the comments. We’ll miss your insightful posts, of course, but we’ll survive.

  5. guy says:

    I’m still waiting for a Twilight of the Arnor review.

    You mentioned it being on the list at one point in the distant past.

  6. DM T. says:

    It’s been Crunch time over here for the last couple of weeks and we’ll be carrying it until the 15th of Dec.

    Good luck Shamus, I’ll be waiting for the new posts on the other side.

  7. Hal says:

    Shamus, would you ever consider having guest writers when you’re too busy to keep up with things?

  8. Don J says:

    @ Robyrt:

    You guys are generous. When my company gets a request of that nature, we say, “How does 2012 sound? Because that’s when we can fit it into our development plans.”

    Of course, we do highly specialized engineering software for a niche market. It does change the rules a bit. :-)

  9. Huckleberry says:

    Shamus —

    I really like DaveMc’s suggestion. In case you do have to cut back on your own writing for a while (and I am keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t happen), you could think about providing your faithful readers with space and a guideline to entertain themselves: topics for discussion could include, for example:

    * favorite fantasy/sf/somehow rpg-related books for your christmas wish list.
    * rollcall: what are you playing right now?
    * how to invent/develop memorable NPC characters
    * NPCs characters who join the heroes: yes or no?

    (I could think up hundreds of these: there are TONs of issues where I’d like to read what your fantastic group of fans think…)

  10. illiterate says:

    My work isn’t requiring overtime per se, but I’m wanting to do some extra projects to get my ass out of support and into documentation..

    Support is pretty damn busy right now (and has been since I started), so the special projects are going to be happening on my own time.

    Shamus, I applaud you for making the decision that the work overtime will cut into the blog and personal “fun” projects, and not into time with your family.

    Hope I make the same decision consistently. It’s easy to make a big decision “I will do this every day”, but I find it very hard to make the little decisions “I will do this today”

  11. Claire says:

    Oh gosh, you should totally solicit guest-postings. Also, you should find ways to repurpose paid-hours for personal projects.

    By the way, why can’t I get hired anywhere? :’P

  12. Adeon says:

    The company that I work for is the exact opposite. They encourage people to take as much time off as they can between Thanksgiving and Christmas since business tends to be slow then.

  13. Heph says:

    Guest writers – or regular links to other blogs/articles we might find interesting – could be useful.
    After all, one or two posts a week, plus a Stolen Pixels, plus, say, once or twice a week a “Topic. Discuss.” type post, pluse once a week a blog dump (like you’ve done a few times in the past when you didn’t have a lot of time) would still even out to 7 posts a week :-P
    Not that I’d even dare to grumble if there was only one post a week, of course ;-)

    Good luck with the job, and…well, I know the feeling. It’s usually not overtime but “this suddenly came up and I have no-one else to do it! Please help!” from my boss…Concerning this evening, tomorrow morning at 5 am, or whatever. And if I say no, of course, it’s sad that I don’t have a heart for the company, and my next two or three vacation requests will miraculously never work out, so…yeah.

  14. Cybron says:

    We’ll keep ourselves entertained, Shamus. Do what needs to be done.

  15. Rustybadger says:

    Shamus, I am more than willing to help out with your video project- I have two editing suites (one at work, one at home) and an army (ok, one guy) of government-funded intern(s) that need work in order to get trained (think practicum situation). So chances are that for zero dollars (I am the Freetard, after all!) we could get something out the door once a week for you, if you had the time to do the writing for us.

    It’s the least I can offer for all the hours of entertainment you’ve given here.

    Have your people call my people, we’ll do Skype.

    PS: In case you’re worried, the camera in my picture is not the one I use for production!

  16. radio_babylon says:

    been there. it was the same for me at my job, three years in a row of insane 12-16 hour days, 6 days a week, for three months from november through january. i finally decided i couldnt take it anymore, and told my boss that that bs was OVER. i was 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, period. he could either hire someone else to help with the load, learn to set the client’s expectations accordingly, or find someone to replace me. he took the second option, and for the last two years, its been great. its amazing how much better things can be once my boss learned to stop telling every client everywhere “yes” to EVERYTHING.

    unfortunately, right at the moment we can hardly scrape together enough work to keep any of us busy for a full day… yay economy.

  17. Deoxy says:

    the only nice thing I can say about it is that it's a good alternative to unemployment.

    Depends on how nice a severance package you get… I’m going through that right now, and it’s pretty nice (for the moment). The trick is making sure you have a job lined up again by the time the severance runs out…

    Of course, there are several other perks of working for that company IIRC (like working from home).

    But seriously, a company that has that particular problem at that particular time three years in a row has other problems – either in time management or in management in general.

    EDIT: “its amazing how much better things can be once my boss learned to stop telling every client everywhere “yes” to EVERYTHING.” That’s the nicest sort of problem I’m talking about. A boss with that problem can be worked with (in most cases).

  18. Matt BLB says:

    I would call OXO running on EDSAC as the first videogame ever. That goes back to 1952.


    You can emulate it today, using the original source. I did it, just to say I did it. Amazing, really.



  19. Stephen Borchert says:

    On the other hand, this is the time of the year when the internet content dries up, except for inane “Year in Review” and “Predictions for Next Year” stories from most sites where the content creators are on vacation and have left the second string in charge. Have you ever called Cisco in December for tech support? Oh well, they need the practice, too.

  20. Loneduck3 says:

    Don’t worry about the readers. This is something outside of your control that you have to do. If you aren’t satisfied with the job in its totality, look for another form of employ. If overall, you are satisfied, then tip back a shotglass, cut a turkey, and eat some cranberry sauce. Wasn’t gonna check your site during TG week anyway, so Happy Thanksgiving.

  21. Viktor says:

    Damn. Yeah, your boss definitely needs to learn to schedule. If you need to go on hiatus or something, I doubt any of us will begrudge you. Though I have to agree, I love the community here, and I’d love to see it stick around even if you don’t.

  22. Rats says:

    Happy Thanksgiving (for thursday) Shamus, and thanks for all the entertainment you have given us all. I dont understand (although I really appreciate) why you spend time on this blog when you dont have time to do so, and appologise when you have other commitments. It happens.
    Good luck with the project, and I hope it doesn’t eat into your family time as well.

  23. Ambience 327 says:

    There doesn't seem to be any real mid-range software available for people who just want to dabble.

    Shamus, have you looked into Adobe Premiere Elements? It is a fairly powerful video editing suite, including tools for doing audio and authoring DVD’s all in one convenient package. It runs approx. $100 (or you could get the Premiere Elements/Photoshop Elements bundle for $150), and you can download a free trial version to see if it will work for you before you buy it.

    I’ve been using Premiere Elements for several years now, starting with version 1. I’ve upgraded twice now, and never regretted any of the three purchases. It is a simple to use program, but it offers a broad range of tools, and powerful keyframes which allow you the most minute control of every transition, effect and movement, frame-by-frame.

  24. Kevin says:

    I for one would enjoy reading posts from others in this little (or not so little) community you’ve created here Shamus. If nothing else it would be a pressure valve for you just to know the option is available.

    Sorry you’re going to have to postpone your project again. I’ve been there before. I can see it’s an item that means something to you, but that just means that you’ll continue to think about it, and be even more ready once you are finally able to work on it again.

    I’m thinking that maybe you keep getting roped into these big projects at work because you’ve always been willing to do it. Some unsolicited advice? Make plans for next year now, and be unavailable to ruin your holiday.

  25. Illiterate says:

    *cough* forum* */cough*

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