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Life in your 30s

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Posted by Tony Huynh.

I saw this topic on reddit written by reddit user Ass_Munch_Reborn and it reminded me of how good I’ve got it now that I’m in my 30s.

Damn it, this is the BEST time around.

It’s the best of all worlds. I still have the energy to hang with the 20 year olds, but I don’t have to eat top-ramen, worry about some stupid class, deal with stupid roommates or immature girls. I got money, an established career, and can really afford any creature comfort or any vacation I want. Basically – everything those young people are striving for.

I can also hang with the older crowd. I have all the things they have in terms of material goods, but shit, I still appreciates my new found semi-wealth. I can play with my friends babies when I need a baby fix. Go wine tasting with them. Whatever.

I am not beaten down by the world yet, but I have already gone through the Socially Awkward Penguin stage. I can discuss stock market trends and how to invest my 401(K) with some people, yet still kick it on reddit and enjoy stupid memes that would confuse 40 year olds. Let’s face it, I can watch DuckTales on an nostalgic, and ironic level. How awesome is that?

I play basketball at noon three times a week – but at work on a perfectly manicured campus. I have a fiancee who is cute and fun, but also mature enough to not have to worry about useless drama. I’m not scrambling around, trying to scare a career, but I still am learning quite a bit.

The worst is behind, and the best is yet to come.

Well, I admit, I did paint a rosy picture of myself that comes off as a little self-aggrandizing. But I guess it’s Saturday night, and I am feeling a bit philosophical. So, I will impart some words of wisdom that will most likely be savagely torn apart by obscure anecdotal evidence and bitter people, or hidden deep in this post.

So I will say this. When you are in your lates teens or early 20s, everyone is kind of the same. Poor, young, eager. You are a product of your parents and your genes.

When you hit 34, you are a product of your actions.

And I have a dichotomy of friends, those that succeeded, and those that failed. I guess I can say I succeeded. Anyway, I can see that patterns that emerged from “failures” and “successes”. I want to describe what makes a person a failure and a success (and these are the things that I wish someone told me earlier).

Characteristics of Failures at age 34:

  • Believe the world is rigged against them. The stock market is rigged against them – so they’ll never bother investing. Their genes make them fat – so why bother running. This country doesn’t do shit for the working class, so they’re doomed to fail. Being “poor” in your 20s is natural. Being “poor” in your 30s is a state of mind.
  • Do the minimum to get buy and don’t understand that much of the world’s success comes from doing what is right. They won’t stay after work to do an extra assignment to help someone. They never read a book that could be helpful in their career in their free time. They won’t volunteer their time or money to help a friend. They don’t realize that when you have good intentions ingrained into you, people notice, people pay you back, and you get ahead.
  • Believe they “deserve” everything. I’ve seen many a rel
  • ationship ruined by a demanding guy or girl who felt they deserved a Prince Charming or Super women who could didn’t exist, and then blame the opposite gender for being weird. Or, they deserve a promotion and they are underpaid, so they put in hardly any work because they feel slighted.

  • Stubborn and hardheaded. No one knows everything. We all have pre-conceived notions. The ones that stay in a rut always stick by their guns, even if they are wrong. The ironic thing is that most people claim they are “informed” and stick by their guns, in fact, purposely choose ignorance
  • These are the people who work shit jobs or are unemployed. Single or divorced. Poor or in debt. The worst part is, their actions only make their situation worse, because it also reinforces their own retarded hardheaded beliefs of a world against them denying them what they deserve.

    Charactics of Successes at age 34:

  • Natural curiosity and eagerness to learn. Why do I invest in the Stock Market? Because, fuck, I learned from the guy that created the “Binomial Option Pricing Model” to learn about derivatives. I realized that simply knowing the Security Market Line makes me more confident. When I am at work, and I see some new technology – fuck – I have to learn how to do it. I will spend my Saturday night learning web design (that is what I’m doing right now). That’s not even in my job description anymore. And all my friends who succeeded at work and in life? They do the same stuff. We are perpetual students.
  • Doing what is right is routine. This applies to your whole life. You make the bed in the morning, it means that you value your house, you value organization, you realize that a little bit of work goes a long way to bring order. All my loser friends have unkempt beds, all my successful friends have made beds. Exercise is routine. When you work out constantly, and you don’t exercise, you have feel just wrong. It’s that ingrained. Eating right becomes natural. If you treat friends’ right without any expectations in return, you will suddenly find that your friends will stick by you no matter what. You automatically save money each month, it just becomes routine, and there’s no sacrifice involved.
  • Believe they control their own destiny. They realize that while luck has a small part to play some of the time, it evens out over a lifetime. You work your ass off, it will pay off. You eat right and exercise; you will be slim, fit, and running circles around your fat 35 year olds. You tackle whatever faults you have, you will magically not have those at faults. Fuck, I’m doing that right now. I’m 34, and I’m heading to toastmasters because public speaking scares the shit out of me.
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    8 Ways to Make Your Goal a Certainty

    Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

    Fuck the Detractors
    Thanks to Berenice Limon for the use of her image.


    I am sick of people telling me to take the safe route and to not take chances. There will always be people that will advise you to live comfortably and not take on any risk or hardship. Get away from these people. They will only derail you from achieving your goals. Being comfortable never prompted anybody to change their situation or achieve their goals. Being comfortable should make you feel uncomfortable. People will allow themselves to be pushed around and bullied in order to remain comfortable. People will act in a painful situation to ease the pain or remove the source of that pain. Security and comfort is not afforded by a job, it is provided by your ability to produce.


    “When you are tough on yourself, life is easier on you.” – Zig Ziglar

    1. Achievement starts with a goal

    Start with a goal. Desire and enthusiasm without direction is wasted. A goal will give you a direction to channel all of your enthusiasm and desire. How do you know your goal is a worthwhile goal? Ask the question of “why you want to achieve this goal.” If your answer is strong enough, then you know that you have a worthy goal.

    2. Imagine the pleasure of achieving your goal

    Close your eyes and see yourself in the future having achieved your goal. Think about all the benefits, pleasure and possibilities that will open up to you if you attain your goal. Doing this will help you visualize in your mind and emotionally commit yourself to achieving your goal. Remember that feeling of pleasure at reaching your goal. Latch onto this image and it will help you manifest your mental creation into the physical.


    “Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” –Gloria Steinem

    3. Imagine the pain of failing to reach the goal

    Now close your eyes and imagine what the consequences are of not reaching your goal. What type of painful existence would you live or continue to live if you did not continue to move forwards and achieve you goal? Embrace that feeling of pain and let it drive you. Pain can be the greatest of all motivators.

    4. Remind yourself of your goal

    Reinforce your goal everyday. Keep you goal fresh in your mind. By doing this you will prod your mind to work out the problems in your way of achieving that goal. A goal that is constantly bubbled up in your mind will allow your genius to work on figuring different methods on how to achieve it. Never underestimate your genius.

    Some of the methods to remind you of your goal is to write your goal on the ceiling of your bed so that you wake up and see it every morning and every evening when you go to bed. The headline of my IPhone task list is always the goal I am currently working on. I check this list several times a day to keep on task and remind myself of my goal. Whichever way you remind yourself of your goal do it at least once daily.

    By keeping yourself focused on your goal you will remove distractions. I do not know who originally said this, “When you eliminate all other possibilities other than success, you are left only with success as a possibility.”


    If you look up at the sun, you seldom see the shadows. – Helen Keller

    5. Public Accountability

    Tell others what your goal is. Arnold Schwarzenegger related a story about how he used public accountability to get the burning desire in his belly to achieve. While still in Austria and with little ability to speak English he would tell people that he was going to America to be a great actor. Because he let people know his goal, he used public accountability to strengthen his desire to achieve a goal that seemed impossible. Even when he arrived in America he was told his accent was too thick and his body too weird to ever make it. Despite it all he willed his way through all of his detractors and made it by never giving up on his dream.

    Blog about your goal and give frequent updates. Here is a video of a guy that used public accountability to get to his goal. He posted a picture of himself on his blog everyday as he used public accountability to achieve his goal of weight loss.

    Make a deal with somebody you care about. For instance, you could make a deal with your wife that you will quit smoking if she does the same.

    Tell your co-workers about your goal. “I am going to quit smoking for the next 2 weeks” and give them frequent updates. Doing this will even encourage people to ask you for an update about your goal when you neglect to update them.

    6. Do something each day that will get you closer to accomplishing your goal

    Before going to bed each evening, take out a note taking device and create a stack ranked list of what you need to tackle tomorrow to get you closer to your goal. Start on the list from highest priority and focus on it until it is complete.

    By doing something everyday to get you closer to your goal you will be surprised at the progress. This will also make your progress steady instead of having peaks and valleys of activity.

    7. Fail your way to success

    People are so afraid of failing and making mistakes that it often stops them from even trying. This mentality is completely wrong. If you want to succeed faster increase the rate at which you fail. We learn more from failure than we learn from success. Embrace and learn from failure and get back up and keep swinging. When obstacles arise you change your direction not your decision to get there.

    After Thomas Edison failed 9000 times trying to create a practical electric light he was asked by a reporter whether he felt like a failure. Edison replied, “”Young man, why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitively over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.” Edison invented the practical incandescent, electric light after he failed 10,000 times.


    “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!” – Rocky Balboa

    Each misstep is an education. There are two reactions that a person can have when hit by an obstacle. One, give up. Two, redouble your efforts. When you get knocked down, how you react to it shows your character. Bottom line is: do not be afraid to start something because you could fail and if you do fail learn from it, get back up and attack. An example is investing in the stock market. Invest slowly with money that you are not afraid to lose. If you do lose money do not let it stop you from investing, instead learn from your mistakes and consider it as an educational tuition fee. You will never learn, let alone succeed if you never try.

    8. Create a mantra

    Mine is: “I will do what it takes.”


    We need more people that don’t know what can’t be done. – Henry Ford


    May all your dreams but one come true. – David Gemmel

    This has been my most personal blog to date and I was very hesitant to publish it. Nonetheless, I hope this post is helpful to you.

    If you enjoyed this post you might be interested in my other articles:
    Why and How I Broke My Addiction to Caffeine
    Bet on the US, I am
    Money: What Steps I Have Taken to Save It


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    Become a Video Game Designer: Everything You Need to Know Part 1

    Wednesday, October 29th, 2008



    Introduction
    I have been asked the question of “how do you become a video game designer” countless times. Instead of answering each and every time (like I had been doing), I decided to write this article. I hope this is helpful to you.

    What is a game designer?
    More so than any other discipline in the video game industry, the game designer is the most outwardly glamorous position. You are the linchpin that holds animation, art, and programming together. There are a great number of rewards for being a game designer, you get to see your ideas and creations take shape and come to life on the screen, your work gets seen by a lot of people, there is no dress code and work hours are usually very flexible. Since I love games and presumably you do too, you get to work in an industry that creates things that you love and is your favorite hobby.

    Being a successful game designer is not without sacrifices. Despite the EA spouse letter, the industry as a whole is still terrible at work-life balance. You can expect to put in a staggering number of hours. Also, since most full-time workers are on salary, you will not be paid for overtime. I am not complaining about this, only that this is information that you should have before you commit to a career in game design. As a game designer I usually put in 50-hour weeks and this ramps up dramatically before monthly milestone deadlines and the inevitable crunch period that occurs before a game ships. The crunch period starts up to six months out from a game shipping. During this time you can expect to be putting in 12+ hour days 6 or 7 days a week up until the game ships. I have been in some really bad crunches where I was averaging over a hundred hours every week for months at a time without a break.

    If the above warnings have not deterred you and you have decided you still want to be a game designer, your next question is probably “how do you become a game designer”.

    Work ethic
    You will need drive and determination. Game design positions are extremely competitive. Getting in requires an unquenchable desire, dedication and the ability to keep going despite setbacks. Only those of you willing to claw, kick and scream will make it. In order to get the drive necessary to succeed you should first answer for yourself the question of “why you want to become a game designer”. Your answer to this question should be something so strong that you can cling on to it in your bleakest hours and it will keep you hungry to succeed. Once you have the answer to this question, you will have the reason for all the hard work you are about to put in to be able to overcome any obstacles in your way.

    Now that you have the proper mindset and work ethic required, we can start talking about how to best direct your work with the goal of obtaining a job as a video game designer.

    Find a company to apply to
    The next question you should ask yourself is what genre of game would you like to make? Select a genre or genres of games that you are drawn to, are knowledgeable about and enjoy playing and then find out and list all the companies that make these types of games.

    The gaming industry as a whole is heavily situated in a few areas in the United States. If you are not currently residing in one of these areas, you must be willing to relocate to get the jobs. Some of the places in the United States with the most densely populated game studios are Southern California, Seattle Washington, Austin Texas and San Francisco California. Again, you will want to focus on the companies that specialize in the genre of game that you want to work in. Do not apply to a studio that makes first-person shooters hoping to work on a real-time-strategy game.

    Once you have a list of studios, learn about their previous titles, the history of their company, the names of the founders, how their stock is doing, etc…

    Education
    Although you do not technically need a degree, I have found a rounded education to be very valuable. To be a successful game designer you will need a broad education. In fact, I became a game designer because it is one of the few professions that allowed me to apply my diverse interests in writing, history, movies and games in one job. If you are self-motivated to constantly learn about a broad range of topics and expose yourself to new things, you will be able to get by without a degree.

    Needless to say you will need to play games. A lot of games. As a video game designer you should have an encyclopedic knowledge of games from all genres. Do not only play games that recently came out that received high marks, but go back and play older and lower reviewed games. As you play these games, write about why they are fun, what they did to promote replayability, what was not fun, what would you do differently to make a better game, what mechanics influenced the level design, how did the enemy and weapon placement affect the way you played the game, study the weapon balance, controls, interface, pacing, audio, etc.

    Communication
    Learn how to communicate effectively both written and orally. A major part of a game designer’s job is to communicate the design vision to their team. To do this effectively you will need to have good social and communication skills. These are skills that you will want to place an emphasis on to practice and develop if you do not already possess them.

    Read books
    Read everything that you can get your hands on about storytelling, game design and the process of game development. In subsequent articles I will be covering specific books in my book review section, but here is a list to get you started.
    http://www.edge-online.com/features/50-books-for-everyone-in-game-industry

    Read part 2 of Become a Video Game Designer: Everything You Need to Know

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    Become a Video Game Designer: Everything You Need to Know Part 2

    Wednesday, October 29th, 2008



    <-Go back to Part 1 of Become a Video Game Designer: Everything You Need to Know

    Tools of the Trade
    Game design is an increasingly technical field. Here is a list of programs that will get you started. You should know at least one from each of these categories.

    Commercially Available Game Engines
    The commercially available game engine tools are the most important piece of software you can know as a game designer. Learn one of these suites inside and out. Even if a studio you will be applying to does not use a commercial game engine, it will be a solid foundation for whatever proprietary engine they do use. The great advantage these engines have are that they are shipped with games that are on the market and there is plentiful documentation and even tutorial videos to help you learn them. Here is one of the sites that helped me out when I was a new designer learning Unreal: http://www.3dbuzz.com/.

    I will be covering this more in depth in the portfolio section of this article, but you should be trying to make a playable level with the engine that demonstrates your knowledge of the engine tools as well as shows off your design sensibilities and skills.
    Examples of commercial engines: Unreal, Source, Radiant and CryEngine 2.

    Top-down Level Layout Software
    Using specialized software to create level layouts is very efficient, quickly conveys your level ideas and shows off your design sensibilities. While I much prefer using Adobe Illustrator, I have seen other designers work magic with Microsoft Visio. Visio is also great for creating flowcharts for events or AI behaviors.

    Programming/Scripting Language
    Learning to script and think in pseudocode is a very valuable skill for game designers. The syntax of the language is not as important as the thought process involved. Nonetheless, each of these following programming languages are popular and actively used in the game industry and it would benefit you to learn one of them. Examples of programming/scripting languages: LUA, Python, Unreal Script/Kismet, DoomScript and C++.

    Microsoft Office
    Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Outlook are all indispensable to a designer.

    3D Modeling Programs
    With so many commercial engines now shipping with built-in BSP editors more and more development studios are moving their designers away from dedicated 3D modeling programs. While this is a trend in the industry, quite a few development houses still require you to know one of these programs. So it will depend on the particular developer you are applying to. Examples of 3D modeling programs: Maya, 3D Studio Max, and Sketchup.

    Portfolio
    As a designer who has poured through numerous portfolios and resumes and conducted countless interviews, I can tell you that the portfolio and the interview are the two most important aspects in being hired. The first step is building the portfolio, as a strong portfolio inevitably leads to the interview. A portfolio is used to demonstrate your skills and design sense. While a portfolio can consist of any number of different things, I would recommend samples that demonstrate your knowledge of the above listed programs. I would also recommend creating a sample tailored towards specific companies that you are applying to. An example might be creating and including a level design document for a game that a studio had previously released. A level design document should include a write up of your level idea, the events that will happen during the level and any puzzles that the players must overcome. This should also include top-down maps outlining how the map will look, where the enemies are introduced, where weapons and powerups will be placed. This document will show that you are capable of good design as well as possess the ability to communicate effectively through documentation.

    More important than the level design document is the playable level or game. Pick one of the commercially available game engines above and create a playable level or game. If you choose to build out a level, if applicable, place down cover for the player to hide behind to create a front, place weapons, place powerups, place enemies and script their behavior. Think about pacing, encounters, what the player is feeling while playing and what choices are available to them. Remember that Sid Meier defined gameplay as “a series of interesting choices.”

    Creating a thorough and polished portfolio is difficult and time consuming. When trying to get my first design job in the game industry, I would work a full time job and then immediately head home to work on my portfolio until 2AM everyday. Weekends were huge and I dedicated my entire weekends to improving my portfolio. With the singular focus of completing my portfolio with every free moment I had, it still took me over six months of constant work to get it to a spot where I thought I could show it to others. This may seem like a lot of time, but this is one of those sacrifice things I was talking about earlier.

    Unless specified on the job application website, a portfolio is best presented in website format. This will save you the time and money creating DVDs or whatnot and the mailing postage.

    Resume and Cover Letter
    I will not be spending time covering the process of making a professional looking resume because there are so many sites that cover this already. The cover letter in many ways is more important than the resume. The cover letter is your opportunity to sell yourself to the company. Introduce yourself and your skills and emphasize how you can help fill the company’s needs and realize their goals.

    Interview
    Here are some interviewing tips I have picked up over the years.

    If you have followed the advice written above, at this point you should be very knowledgeable about the company you are applying to. I am reminding you again to learn about the company you are applying to because I cannot count the number of times a candidate has come into an interview with no clue what the studio has worked on in the past or what announced game we are currently working on.

    Practice
    Do not neglect the interview portion. Acing the interview not only means getting the job, but also gives you greater room to negotiate your salary.

    One of the most important qualities I am looking for in a candidate during an interview is how well they communicate their ideas to others. Use cue cards to practice answering questions. Practice will make you more comfortable and will lower your anxiety levels and improve performance.

    When asked about your previous employment, do not attack your previous company or co-workers during the interview. I am looking for loyalty from the candidate.

    Dress
    The gaming industry is one of the few places where it does not benefit you to come dressed in a three-piece suit. In fact it may harm your chances. We are looking for people that will fit in well and as there is no dress code for developers, wearing a 3-piece suit into this environment is a mistake.

    My recommendation is to dress in a collared shirt or sweater, trousers and some comfortable shoes (no flip-flops) for men and a suitable top (not too revealing) and trousers or skirt for women.

    What to bring to the interview
    Bring several copies of your resume, some examples of your work, something to write with, a notepad, water and energy bars. I like to bring energy bars because interviews at a lot of game companies are structured with multiple interviewers over an entire day. If you need to, snacking in between interviewers will keep you energy level up.

    Quality Assurance
    Lastly there is Quality Assurance. QA is the “mail room” of the gaming industry. This is usually where most people get their first taste of the industry. A position in QA has a lot to offer to an aspiring game designer. Being in Quality Assurance will put you in an environment with others who are also trying to advance their game careers. Team up with them and work together to polish your respective portfolios.

    Some of the other things you will learn are what bugs are and how to communicate them effectively to other developers. If you are working on console games, be sure to etch into memory Sony’s Technical Requirements Checklist (TRC) and Microsoft’s Technical Certification Requirements (TCR). These are industry requirements that a game must pass in order to ship on these respective platforms and you can learn to avoid these violations while designing your future games. You will also witness and be a part of how a game changes through the development cycle.

    If at all possible, try to get hired in the QA lab of a game developer instead of a QA outsourcing company. This way you can hound and possibly show off your portfolio to developers and get feedback.

    Lastly, work harder than everybody else around you. Volunteer feedback and stay late on your own. If you can get a QA position testing the game engine tools, be sure to learn them and start creating levels with them.

    Conclusion
    Most importantly do not give up. If faced with a setback, learn from it and redouble your efforts. Hang on to the “why” you want to be a game designer and let that drive you. So now that you’ve heard what I have had to say on the topic, it is time for you to get to work. Good luck! If you leave any questions in the comments section, I will try to answer them to the best of my ability.

    <-Go back to Part 1 of Become a Video Game Designer: Everything You Need to Know

    See my other related articles also:
    10 Greatest Video Game Designers Part 1
    10 Greatest Video Game Designers Part 2
    Low Skill Cap and Luck (RNG) in World of Warcraft PVP
    Top 5 Greatest Moments in Competitive Gaming (eSports)
    What Video Games Taught Me About Life
    Roger Ebert is Right: Games are Not High Art…Yet
    What’s Bad About Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Multiplayer Mode?
    Dead Space Through the Eyes of a Game Designer
    Call of Duty: World at War Through the Eyes of a Game Designer
    Gears of War 2 Through the Eyes of a Game Designer
    Best Games of All Time by Genre Part 1
    Best Games of All Time by Genre Part 2
    8 of the Most Underrated or Overlooked Video Games of All Time
    Pimps at Sea err I mean Age of Booty & Gen 13 Cosplay
    My Student Films 2: EverQuest Documentary and Guilty Gear Isuka Trailer
    Best MMA Fights & Genki Sudo: Real Life Video Game Character

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