Life in Azeroth

Archive for the tag “personal”

A Late Starter

So I’m enrolled on a Coursera Unity course and I’m loving it. I’ve completed a Solar Simulation project to my family’s amazement (perhaps they humour me) & I’m part way through a Rollerball project. I’m getting my head around the X,Y, Z axis (is there a plural for “axis”? – yes, looked it up, it is “axes” –  I may have just grown a brain cell). I’m learning  the difference between Materials & Textures (not the same thing apparently – you put a Texture onto a Material but something could be a Material with no Texture  – I think – although it’s now reading like something the Riddler would send to Batman). I’ve also learnt about Game Objects, Assets and Prefabs. It’s a great course – the instructor is easy to understand and each stage of the project is broken down into nice bite size chunks. I feel like I’m learning new and interesting things. So why then am I  feeling so guilty about the whole thing?

The answer lies in the reason for doing the course. You see I’d like to make my own game. I’ve wanted to do so for awhile but aside from making a couple of little games in Scratch (as part of another course) and dabbling a bit in RPG Maker  I’ve not really got very far. And I’m no programmer – I’ve completed two beginner Coursera courses on Python but that’s it. One poor version of Pong does not a programmer make.

So I’ve thought about games development a lot but have always stopped myself either before starting out on anything or part way through whatever I’ve enrolled on (or checked out from the library).  And the reason for all this is that I feel very foolish about wanting to do this (even worse now I’m putting it out here on the blog – but where else but my Bravetank blog for a post about me being foolish?).

I try to be my own cheerleader of course. I tell myself  – you’re never too old, you should always pursue your passions, you’ll never get anywhere unless you take that first step. I’ve said all these things. I’ve even done a Rah Rah at the end. But still the fears and doubts come :-


I’m in my early 40s so probably too old

The world is awash with games – who needs mine?

People already complain about all the dross on Steam made from Unity  – why add to it?

To make something really good would require more knowledge, skill & ability than I could ever hope to develop – particularly at my age with brain cells dying off every second (although I did just grow one a moment ago).

I should be doing something more useful instead.

When do I intend doing all this – particularly come January when my work/life “busyness” is going to increase hundredfold?


So I have all these thoughts whirling around in my head making me feel silly for starting this Unity course. At my time of life I shouldn’t be feeling all pleased with myself for applying a Texture to a Material (or was it the other way round?) and oohing and aahing about my rotating planets. I’m being silly, deluding myself & wasting precious time. Maybe.  And in any case it’s going to take me ages to learn enough Unity & programming skills to create any type of game, let alone the one I want to create.

But I read something the other day about setting ourselves a 10 year plan. The idea is we shouldn’t be put off starting learning something new because it’s so hard and/or would take ages to reach anything approacher a mastery of the subject. We should tell ourselves that if we practice something new every day in about 10 years time we’ll have a lot of it figured out. I think I can commit to a 10 year plan – while accepting that we plan and God guffaws till his sides split, and all that. A ten year plan would take me to my early 50s. If I could create something that I want to create by my early 50s surely that’s worth doing or at least attempting? Sometimes I think I hit my peak too long ago – 11 years to be precise when I completed my PhD and published a book that was well received.  I left academia not long after. I didn’t want the academic life – too much travelling, too many conferences, too much home sickness. But I sometimes regret that decision. I’m proud of the book – it’s very occasionally cited in other academic texts on the subject and that gives me hope it will be around long after I’m gone. But I feel frustrated too. I feel that there’s still more in me. But I don’t really know what that “more” is. For awhile I thought it was writing – I self published some books on Amazon a few years ago but I pulled them all down not long after. I lost my nerve.

So will games creation be the same? Something I will try, get so far with and then chicken out from?  It’s not that I lose the interest. It’s that the fear becomes overwhelming. Fear of  screwing up in a conference, fear of travel and homesickness, fear of bad reviews, fear of ridicule. All I know right now is I keep thinking about creating a game and then I admonish myself for these thoughts. I tell myself that games creation was a road I should have travelled in my 20s.  It’s all so confusing. Roads travelled and not travelled, and the constant fear I’m now at a dead end.

So anyway I’ve enrolled on this Unity course because I have an idea for a game and I have to start somewhere. But I’ve had ideas like this before and I’ve talked myself out of them before. I’m hoping for once I can just shut up for a moment and let myself enjoy what I’m doing. And maybe that way I’ll find my way onto  a road I often wish I’d taken a long time ago.


Facing Your Fears

As many of you know for the past couple of months I have been training to row a marathon to raise money for Changing Faces – a UK charity that represents people with disfigurements.

Yesterday was the big day. Here you can see me at the start – fire extinguisher behind me in case the speed of my rowing proved combustible (it didn’t).

I did the row in the local leisure centre (Penlan). The staff were absolutely fantastic. They put me and the rowing machine in reception so everyone could see me when they came in. And it was amazing. The row itself took rather a  long time  (in my defence it  was 26.2 miles  but  5 and a half hours still tells you a lot about my pace – slow!). I played various internal games to get through it. First reach 1000m and celebrate with a song (listening to a song I mean – I would have  cleared the leisure centre if I’d started to sing my way through the row); next reach the 10k mark and have an energy bar;  next the half marathon milestone and a dash to the toilet etc. – all little treats that keep you going (yes even a toilet break was a treat!). And when even those blocks were too large I’d aim just for next 500 metres or even 50m. Each bit took me closer to my distance- however small or insignificant it was all part of the larger whole. Like everything we do in life really- if only I could remember that.

I had my iPod on and at various intervals (usually 1000m) I would switch to a new podcast so that I had something different to listen to. Over the course of the 5 and half hours I listened to Jillian Michaels (she is strangely engaging), Livin La Vida Low Carb (athough I’m fast becoming  disillusioned with Jimmy Moore I like the interviews for some reason), fantastic running podcasts (Runner Academy with Matt Johnson was my favourite), a variety of podcasts on Zen Buddhism (when I felt the need for some internal tranquility – i.e. when the stabbing pains in my buttocks started) & life coaching (when I felt the need for inspiration – i.e.  when I could no longer uncurl my hand) & now & again some music (Glee – you never fail to motivate). All around me the usual Saturday morning leisure centre activity was going on (in the main bleary eyed parents taking hyperactive children swimming). It was curious being there & seeing it all, but at the same time not  being there-  in a very different place inside – a place where 50m was a cause for celebration and where 3 hours in I realised exhaustion had taken away my ability to count. But through it all I just rowed, and then rowed some more.

People were so generous and kind. They’d encourage their children to come put money in the bucket & the children beamed at the tinkling sound of the coins hitting other coins (as did I!). They’d all smile & say good luck. A few came over and asked how long I’d been going, how long was left etc. The support was truly moving. I once wrote about the Kindness of Strangers in regard to a new guild I had joined- an online in-game kindness that felt so different from what I normally encounter in dungeon groups. Well yesterday I discovered the kindness of strangers in my own local community. It’s something I’m usually oblivious to. In fact I think we all are. We see people but we don’t know them. We  walk past each other daily with barely a sideways look. We are all getting on with our own lives. But yesterday showed me that put something a little different in front of people (some crazy woman rowing away in reception for a charity) and people will connect. The barriers are immediately broken down, there are smiles and good wishes. There is hope. We see and hear such awful things in the news everyday – we are in danger of thinking all that is  representative of humanity as a whole. But it’s not. Most ordinary people are just getting on with things. Yes they  are busy. Yes they are  often absorbed in their own lives and concerns. But uncaring and unkind?  Absolutely not. Everyone yesterday showed what good hearts there still are in this world. It was truly life affirming.

And as for me- well I got through it. It was quiet when I finished – the morning swimming rush was over. Husband was stood behind me watching the final meters as they appeared on the screen. We cheered at the end – the two of us and the leisure centre trainer  manning   reception. An understated finale to be sure but perfect too. I stood up, winced (everything hurt), said thank you to the leisure centre trainer for everything he & all the staff had done, packed up my things & came home. Husband spoiled me for the rest of the day and we did indulge in a pizza I have to confess- I needed to replenish my carbs after all. Today I feel great. Actually so great I’d love to go up the gym for a run (couldn’t face a row!) but husband won’t let me – he is advising rest until  Tuesday – and for once I will listen because I don’t want to get injured. On Tuesday my marathon running training starts. I have proved to myself I can dig in  and row  for over 5 hours no matter how unhappy my body feels. I have overcome a fear – my marathon fear – and now I’m ready for more.

Next week it is Changing Faces “Face your Fears” week. Changes Faces is a fantastic charity- it is changing people’s lives. If you can donate something please do so- the link to my Just Giving page is  here  or you can donate on the site itself. But also consider taking part yourself in Face your Fears next week. People with disfigurements very often have to face challenging social situations. And very often they have no choice- not if they want to live their lives. And so they do it – daily – no matter how hard. Next week is a chance for  all of us to think about the fears we have, whether we are letting them hold us back and if so what that means for the quality of the life we live. And then we’ll be left with one question – do we want it to change? And if the answer is yes it’s time to deal with that fear. Yesterday showed me  that there will be plenty of people around to help you do this – people who you might not even know.  And once you realise that then there is no fear.

Hear me Roar

Bravetank finally reentered the dungeon world today after quite some time away. I decided to go into my old favourite Dire Maul – Gordok Common. I’ve been in there so many times some of the mobs no longer attack me and instead give me a little wave. I have after all been crowned their king over a hundred times. So it’s nice there. I take treats for the dogs.

The group was friendly. Someone said “Hi” so I knew we were onto a winner. And when we wiped at one point (I hadn’t given healer husband enough time to loot so was left to die at the hands of 5 angry mobs as punishment for my tanking sin) no one moaned (apart from me, to him, a lot). At one point I messed up & over pulled (a great mass of mobs came running towards us such is the range of my Avenger’s shield). I apologised & one of the dps said it was all fine. Maybe he was amazed at a tank apologising. I’ve certainly not seen it much. So a really nice group. Drama free run. Was still nervous as hell though. Why is that? Why am I still nervous when all is going well? Why am I still nervous even when running with people from the Raggy Dolls guild which was set up to support people like me? Read more…

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