kaptainkristian's 'Calvin & Hobbes - Art Before Commerce' →
Visually engaging, thoughtfully paced, and compellingly written. Well done.
Visually engaging, thoughtfully paced, and compellingly written. Well done.
"What are some of the biggest mistakes to avoid as an indie developer?""
By far, the biggest mistake I see indies make is having unrealistic expectations of how much the market will value what they’re making, assuming they can indulge themselves in months or years of fancy construction and consumers will pay for it.
It’s easy to look at successful, painstakingly crafted, impeccably designed apps from well-known developers like Panic or Omni and attribute their success to their craftsmanship, design, and delightful details. Far too many developers believe that if they polish an app to a similar level, they’ll be successful, too. And then they pour months or years of effort into an app that, more often than not, never takes off and can’t sustain that level of effort.
The craftsmanship and design were indulgent luxuries that their successful market fits enabled them to do, not the other way around. Most people buy these apps because they’re useful and necessary, not because they’re pretty.
It’s not enough to make something fancy — it needs to have sufficient value to the market first, which can then fund the fancy design and technical extravagance you want to do if it takes off.
Although Marco's wording and examples are a bit loose here - "design" is also about focusing on the right problem, which isn't really an indulgence, and janky-feeling apps don't inspire much loyalty (see: Meerkat) - his point still stands. Despite knowing this for many years, getting caught up in the details is still something that I struggle with.
I liked this bit:
"What is the biggest roadblock to the maker movement?"
I have so many answers to this, but none I'm really qualified to give. I'm not avoiding the question, it's just that if I said something like "standardized, one-size-fits-all testing" etc, I'd want to be actually right than shooting from my hip.
Here's my thing: I know that making is the gateway drug to critical thinking, as I'm fond of saying. I'm not a policy expert, nor should I pretend to be. My wheelhouse is talking about why I think that inculcating kids early with an understanding that things don't always go according to plan is one of the most valuable ways to prepare them for life.
Here's an example of a little detail you'd hardly ever find mentioned in a traditional product review.
The device on the left is a Surface Pro 4 with this website open in the Edge browser. On the right is an iPad mini 2 with the same page in Safari. My fingers are off camera, but I'm slowly sliding up on each display as if I were reading the article casually.
Notice the jitter on the Surface Pro 4. My guess is that either Microsoft's touch driver is wonky (not surprising) or maybe the digitizer itself is less precise, but the 2-year-old iPad mini is perfectly smooth by comparison. It's still possible to read while slowly scrolling on the Surface of course, but the experience is just... suckier.
This slight suck is something that many people would just adapt their behavior to, probably unconsciously. They'd just scroll faster and less frequently, or scroll in large chunks. The difference isn't as obvious as Android vs iOS a few years ago, but it's still an unnecessary quirk that makes using the Surface as a tablet less pleasant.
I never ended up publishing my review of the Surface Pro 4, but even putting the terrible driver issues and lack of apps aside, there are so many similar annoyances (like stylus lag) that I'd be hard-pressed to recommend it to anyone looking to replace an iPad. Microsoft might fix Windows' bigger issues within the next year or two, but I have a feeling that little details like these will continue to suck for much longer.
Nice piece by Remy Sharp:
It's the web's simplicity. Born out of a need to connect documents. As much as that might have changed with the latest generation of developers who might tell you that it's hard and complex (and they're right), at the same time it is not complicated. It's still beautifully simple.
If you sit back for a moment, and think about just how many lives you can touch simply by publishing something, anything, to the web, it's utterly mind blowing. That's why I love working with the web.
I still remember the first time I right-clicked and inspected a website back in 2010. I didn't really know what I was looking at, but being able to change headlines on The New York Times' website was pretty wild. If Chrome hadn't included that option in the right-click menu by default, my life would look pretty different today.
Like Remy, the relative simplicity and potential impact of websites is what I love the most. Piecing together my Dad's site with WordPress in 2011 was difficult, but boy was it worth it. The testimonials page contains only a tiny fraction of the appreciation my Dad has gotten for his work. His articles have helped many thousands of IT pros solve technical issues, learn new things, and spend more time with their families, and that's awesome.
I'm constantly surprised by how powerful websites can be, and I plan to continue making the ones that I build faster, lighter, cleaner, and simpler to use.
A truly fascinating and well-written piece by Blake Ross.
Imagine your phone buzzes with breaking news: WASHINGTON SCIENTISTS DISCOVER TAIL-LESS MAN. Well then what are you?
This aphantasia community site also explains it well:
Aphantasia is where a person is unable to create imagery in their mind's eye. People with Aphantasia are unable to synthesise senses in their mind.
Aphantasia appears to be a spectrum condition where the degree of Aphantasia varies, just like the degree to which non Aphantasmics can visualise to differing amounts.
Certain people are unable to create any images, sounds, tastes, smells or touch within their mind. This is known as Total Aphantasia.
Research to Aphantasia is at an early stage, so the more people we can find the better placed we are to start making progress into understanding this condition.
I've never thought of my mind's eye as an optional ability. As more people come forward it'll be really interesting to see what the full spectrum of aphantasia looks like.
In 2011 I was surprised to find out that my typing speed on a flat touchscreen wasn't much slower than my speed on a traditional keyboard. For science's sake, I've been recording my typing speed on various devices ever since.
My 2011-2014 tests were conducted using the TapTyping iOS app. Everything since then has been done with the popular AOEU typing speed test website (which also has a great histogram of typing speed data). TapTyping's inclusion of words like "thou" and weird character names from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea often tripped up iOS' autocorrect, so I switched.
My method is pretty consistent - comfortable position, no distractions, not tired, and no do-overs unless errors start to snowball.
I'll continue to update this article roughly once a year with whatever devices I'm using at the time.
57 wpm - iPhone 4
60 wpm - iPad 2
71 wpm - Apple Wireless Keyboard
63 wpm - iPhone 5
75 wpm - iPad 2
82 wpm - Apple Wireless Keyboard
63 wpm - iPhone 5
72 wpm - iPhone 5
73 wpm - iPhone 6 Plus
80 wpm - iPad 2
91 wpm - Apple Wireless Keyboard
72 wpm - iPhone 6 Plus
80 wpm - iPad mini 2
79 wpm - Surface Pro 4
93 wpm - Apple Magic Keyboard
Tested's coverage of VR has been excellent these past few months, and their expertise is evident in this comparison. Well done.
My takeaway is that this first hardware battle is a close fight, which is great. Close competition is much better than an immediate incumbent. Content and unique experiences will be the battle for the next year or so, and the second generation of hardware should bring big steps forward.
Here's the launch trailer for the Oculus Rift (careful of the volume):
Loud music paired with a deluge of brief game clips from a first-person perspective. To the layperson who's only barely familiar with VR, it's inscrutable. It doesn't convey what VR actually feels like, and it over-emphasizes the headset (and dinosaur cliché).
Now here's SteamVR / HTC Vive's launch video:
It's longer, sure, but it's far more enjoyable to watch and explains everything from the setup process to the safety grid while gradually building up excitement.
Using a green screen was extremely smart, and so was using realistic groups of relatable people. The experience and fun of VR is emphasized instead of the goofy-looking hardware, and it concludes with people enjoying their new headsets at home. I can easily see segments of this video become ads on TV, and blow peoples' minds.
This is how you sell VR.
This is awesome.
Remember Kinectic Energy from four years ago? The "visionary" future it depicted has already been reached and surpassed. Functional demos like the one above seem to pop up every few weeks.
VR/AR is accelerating rapidly, and I think it's going to be big.
Side note - notice how Shahram reaches out to steady his daughter as she climbs the chair around 2:55. I have a feeling that wasn't scripted.
My favorite part from Maciej's roast:
In May 2015, Facebook introduced ‘Instant Articles’, a special format for news stories designed to appear within the Facebook site, and to load nearly instantly.
Facebook made the announcement on a 6.8 megabyte webpage dominated by a giant headshot of some dude....
Further down the page, you'll find a 41 megabyte video, the only way to find out more about the project....
Facebook has also launched internet.org, an effort to expand Internet access. The stirring homepage includes stories of people from across the developing world, and what getting Internet access has meant for them.
You know what’s coming next. When I left the internet.org homepage open in Chrome over lunch, I came back to find it had transferred over a quarter gigabyte of data.
Surely, you'll say, there's no way the globe in the background of a page about providing universal web access could be a giant video file?
But I am here to tell you, oh yes it is. They load a huge movie just so the globe can spin.
This is Facebook's message to the world: "The internet is slow. Sit and spin."
As MacRumors explains, there's good reason to believe Energous is working with Apple on this for either the iPhone 7S or 8. It clearly beats currently-available alternatives that require large coils and mats.
In addition to performing poorly on many devices, fancy animations on the web have accessibility implications as well. Val Head provides some good guidelines.
Different people have different conditions and reactions, of course. But these examples show that the triggers are more nuanced than one might think if one simply assumes that any or all animation will be problematic. Three factors, in particular, play a big role: the relative size of the movement, the direction of movement, and the perceived distance an animated object covers.
A bit late to this, but it was nice to see the discovery of gravitational waves talked about so widely last month. Brian Greene's segment on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert was particularly well-done.
Impressive engine improvements, and a really neat launch trailer. It's surprising how much better Leap Motion was able to make their 3-year-old device without new hardware. This comparison video from UploadVR shows off the myriad of occlusion and tracking enhancements.
Another cool note, via The Verge:
In the second half of 2016, particularly during the holiday season, Leap Motion expects "several" VR companies to release headsets that incorporate its Orion sensor.
So the day after Firewatch ships, Steve and I fly down to San Francisco and head to Thee Parkside, a tiny little dive bar that shares a wall with Campo’s office. We drink and joke and eat a lot of corn dogs and I profusely thank everyone on the team, one by one, probably a little bit too emotionally (but I really meant it!), thanking them for their sacrifices, their creativity, their hard work, their brilliance. Sean Vanaman and Jake Rodkin of Campo get up and give a real nice speech, which is never easy, to everyone in the room doing the same, and it’s lovely. All of us find ourselves in the same weird afterglow of actually having done it, something I think feels weird and almost hilarious to all of us. How did this happen? What are the odds? We made this thing. So I give Sean a hug, and he leans in and says “let’s do this again.” That’s how Firewatch really ends.
This post feels like the written equivalent of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's Oscar acceptance speech. Surprise, excitement, thankfulness, and emotion. Very well-deserved.
This video by Lazy Game Reviews of the in-game photos you can develop is also great. The team at Campo really put themselves into every detail, and I'm really glad to hear that they're continuing.
The coolest new iOS tweak since iOS 8's screen dimmer. Via vista980622 on reddit.
Animations will resume when you reboot, but until then things should feel a bit faster. The official alternative is to use Accessibility > Reduce Motion, but that still adds a few milliseconds of blur animation to every action.
Monumental, pivotal, and unprecedented.
Tim Cook's letter goes way beyond PR. This is leadership.
Firewatch is a beautiful, engaging vignette of a summer relationship between a man avoiding his future and a woman dodging her past in the vast wilderness of a 1989 Wyoming.
It plays like an interactive version of the movie her, but replaces loneliness and futuristic technology with isolation and a pair of two-way radios. It evokes joy, fear, melancholy, disappointment, and peace within the player entirely via ambiance and conversation. The characters and the world feel real.
Although Firewatch could have had a novel-length plot with greater exploration and additional story arcs, Campo Santo deliberately chose to keep their first game short, focused, and engrossing. Gamers may balk at the 3-4 hour runtime and $20 price tag, but both the price and the time commitment are just right for the 20-to-30-year-olds this game would appeal most to. It's an experience best enjoyed in one sitting, while disconnected from the outside world.
I enjoyed playing Firewatch thoroughly, although your experience may vary on lower-end PCs or the PS4 (for the moment). Some reviewers and players find the ending to be disappointing, but to me it feels complete. It feels realistic, honest, and fully closed.
That said, I can't help but wish that Firewatch's story did move into deeper, bolder territory. I would've liked to learn even more about these two characters while star-gazing, or holed up during a storm. The characters feel so human that we want to learn more about them, listen to their thoughts and struggles, and think about life together with them. Firewatch offers a peek at what a her-like game could be, but is forced to move in a different direction to complete its story in time. I would love to play something bigger.
And that, perhaps, is the best reason to buy this game, and for its full $20 price; to support a new developer that's pushing narrative storytelling forward in the right direction - Campo Santo, and Panic. Firewatch is proof that Campo Santo could make the game I/we want; a "game of the year" candidate that nudges gaming in a direction away from the massive triple-A shooters that dominate the industry. I'm excited to think about what they could do with more time, money, and new technology like VR.
Firewatch, for what it is, what it evokes, and what it supports, is worth your $20.
Convenient way of keeping the tracks that Spotify adds to your Discover Weekly playlist for longer than one week.