Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Best Mouse I Ever Owned


My beloved laser mouse has died. It was a ten year old Logitech RAG97 and simply the best mouse I’ve ever owned. I’ve just checked the websites and £50+ for the latest model is just too much, especially since I can never see myself wanting to use a mouse on glass, which seems to be the proudest boast of the current model. Instead, I’ve settled on a cheap but actually rebadged Anker mouse which promises to be suitably heavy, big enough for my big hands, and comes with a long six foot cord so it might take me a little time getting use to old-fashioned mousing. I hope it arrives by tomorrow. Doing everything by keyboard and stylus is driving me nuts.

Around 2am this morning, desperation had forced me to dismantle my Logitech following a Youtube lesson in how to fix broken mouse buttons. The fix worked for a little while and then stopped again and I was soon dragging the entire contents of hard drives into Photoshop when the button stuck. It means I’m now stuck waiting for the new mouse to arrive and with time to write instead of code, which is what I’ve been doing for weeks now.

Speaking of code: the game is going quite well. I’m utterly addicted to Unity which makes 2D game coding so easy. My game won’t be anything special but seeing the video of Murasaki Baby running on the PS Vita and also written in Unity, inspires me to throw everything into my work.

The day before yesterday I added a free look function which allows players to scroll around the world and yesterday I took the big step of changing the gameplay mechanic so it dealt with screen gestures rather than the buttons I’d previously been using. I also took an even bigger step of completely changing the game logic, distributing it around the individual game objects instead of putting everything in the single object simply because I didn’t quite understand the beauty of the Unity model.

The more I work on the game, the more I realise how much work still needs to be done in even the simple things like getting a score looking good on the screen. I also have to design enough playable levels to make it challenging and worth downloading. Today I intended to fine tune the physics of the game, to make it less realistic and a little more fun to play. And that has become my mantra. I don’t care about rough edges and even the logic of the world I’m creating. I just want it to be funny and fun to play. It’s a lofty goal and one I’ll undoubtedly miss but I want my aspirations pointing in the right direction.

Speaking, tangentially, of the wrong direction: on the freelance front, I’m currently being pestered for a photograph. The people I work for want to update their website with an organisational chart of their employees. I think I’m the only person holding out on providing a picture and I’m sorely tempted to provide a photo of Robert Redford circa ‘3 Days of the Condor’. The simple fact is that I don’t have my photograph anywhere on the web and I hold that as a point of principal. I detest Facebook, Google+ and Twitter which would have us believe that the entire world is made up of extroverts with great body image and sense of self. The last thing I want is to be doing is looking at pictures of myself but should I ever to decide to start posting photographs of myself, it would be to this blog and not to some completely fake organisational chart.

Some days I wish I could just give in to the whole ugly business of being a team player and just going with the crowd. But I guess the world is run by extroverts and there’s no place in it for an introvert who value his individuality. I always seem to be swimming against the tide. Every day I wake to find new motivational emails from the other members of ‘the team’ and one on Saturday actually made we wince. It was a supposedly poignant series of observations about life which included the thought that ‘I’m glad to have washing up to do because it means I’m not going hungry’. That’s not so bad but another was ‘I’m glad to pay my taxes because it means I have a job’. There were others and it made me reflect on the relative luxury afforded to even the poorest of us living in Western Europe with a relatively prosperous economy. My sympathies have increasingly swung, in recent years, towards the plight of the worker. I see it around me where people are exploited by a system that has found ways to ignore rules about employment rights. For example, I quite like the concept of getting Amazon deliveries on a Sunday but I also know that this luxury will eventually come (if it’s not done so already) at the expense of our right to have at least one day’s holiday a week. I know of a teacher who teaches at a school where staff voluntarily go in on a Saturday to teach extra lessons. This teacher refuses to do so as it’s not in his contract but feels increasingly pressurised to sacrifice his weekend. Of course, it will never be grounds for dismissal but he knows that there will come a time when his refusal will be noted by those in management and ways will be found to make him move on.

Yet, perhaps that’s the way of the world. Perhaps individuality is a decadent luxury. My problem is that I can never sacrifice the things I want to do – write, cartoon, or, currently, making a very silly computer game – simply for money that might make the hours left to me after work a little less miserable. My time is more precious to me and it’s deeply painful giving up time to serve other people’s ambitions. It perhaps explains why I have so much trouble communicating with my employers who aren’t in this country or even this continent and constantly feed me propaganda that denies the individual in favour of the team.

I’ve never been a team player. I’m an individual. An individual with a dead mouse and very little hope.

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