Well, quite a bit happened in the 16 months since I updated last.
In October of this past year, Sarah and I moved to the Seattle area and I joined the UX team at Bing, where I have begun working on things I can never tell you about. It’s the irony of all designers that are doing great work - you’ll never see it. :)
We made a huge push for NYCC 2014 and completed High Fructose Zombies Vol. 1. It was a herculean feat for us and we were very proud of the result. A few thoughts on the process:
My dad has been a better ITP student than I. During his retirement, he has managed to build Arduino-based smart home sensors and then wrote native Windows software to help run them. It’s called Sensible Living. We’ve been chatting and he’s looking to create a web interface. So, naturally, during my Xmas break, I wrote as much as I could. It’s a fresh redesign on the card view. The app was written in express.js, jade, sass, and uses some free work from CoDrops. I’m hoping to have an example page up soon on Heroku soon.
Starting in 2015, I…well, I hadn’t intended on making a list, but since we’re here:
Back in my 20’s, I had the corpses of 1000 wasted days in my wake. “Well, the script is just not coming to me today, I don’t know if it’s good anyway. I hate all the words!” etc. The older I got, the more I stood in my own way and that time adds up. Sometimes you just need to get s#!% done.
Joss Whedon said it better than me, “You know, it’s so easy to just get nothing done, but you’ve got to rock a little David Allen out to be able to get things done and break your list down into next actions.”
I read Getting Things Done and…honestly, well, I was terrible at it. To learn the same principles, I needed to learn code.
One of the many things I learned at ITP and TechStars was the need for quick, rapid iteration. Prove your hypothesis, get it on the screen, see what code works and use the console to figure out what broke. So, when I came back to writing creatively, I applied the same principles.
Boom! Magic storymaking dust!
The hope is that I’m catching my story flaws early, so that way I haven’t stacked more story on top of a flawed architecture, otherwise it’s more expensive to fix. It’s much better than before.
There’s a huge gaping hole there that I run into, which is waiting for other people. And as we all have run into, the open source ones are sketchy and the proprietary ones are too expensive. It would be so much easier to just run my comic book script through the command line and see what errors came out.
As you may or may not know, my wife and I are the co-creators of the comic book High Fructose Zombies. I was also a Hackstar at TechStars for their NYC Summer 2011 team. So, when we created HFZ, we did our best to implement a quick, iterative build process in the same way I use agile development at work. “F#$% it. Ship it.” as the kids say. I think the cat is out of the bag that most creative works are not perfect on the first go around.
This is the first of the Iterative Comic Design posts on how to not let ‘getting it right’ get in the way of ‘getting it done.’
When I wrote the first issue of HFZ, my audience was very clear: me. Generally, culturally aware folks ages 23-42, hopefully clever and smart, fun, fine with swear words, blood and guts. It is a zombie comic, right? Blood and guts are part of the minimum viable product, really.
But when we premiered our first issue at NYCC, however, Sarah and I quickly realized that a large unforseen demographic interested in HFZ were girls, ages 9-13. In hindsight, that makes perfect sense: we have a cool looking female lead character, Clea, and we have candy EVERYWHERE. Of course kids like it! Swear words were limiting our potential user base.
It was always our intention to treat the NYCC launch as a beta test and, by the very nature of print runs, we limited the release. It’s true, we get to cheat. We were able to see the user reaction in one giant weekend, rather than waiting to find usable data points from a limited base. In our post-mortem, we opted to convert all swear words to a candy-based cursing communique(“Fudge this! For crepes sake! Gumballs.”) Now when we have concerned parents who ask about language, we state with confidence that it’s AOK. The candy swearing is a stronger choice, better for world building and adults know what we’re saying, but we never would have realized that without having that initial beta release.
Thanks for reading!