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Sunday, November 08, 2009

~Training Wheels Off

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Training Wheels Off

For over a year now, I've been using a program called Access Boss to get myself to work on my games. It's a really simple program: it has a schedule of when I'm allowed to use my computer, and when I'm not it logs off my user. I used this in tandem with a Microsoft program called Windows SteadyState, which limits what programs specific users can access. I created a user called "Work", which is unable to run Firefox, my comics reader, my media player, or my most-played games. I'd tell Access Boss to kick me off my regular user at specific times, and keep me out for, say, two hours or so.

In this way I cast Access Boss in the role of employer, so that I'd play the reluctant employee and eventually get some work done. Earlier I'd cast the blog itself in this part, but I was finding that it wasn't effective enough because I could ignore the blog too easily. I only ever saw the need to work when opening my browser and browsing over to my page. The program played the boss better, but not particularly well. The trouble was, ultimately "Access Boss" was just a character I was playing myself. And due to the simplicity of the program, it didn't have enough of a personality to understand what I needed. I needed a boss that'd understand that when I say I can't work right now I don't really mean it. This one just said, "Okay, don't work.". I did work more under Access Boss than under the blog, but I would always delay the time of work and then shorten it once I'd done some. Efforts to prevent myself from running Access Boss from either of the two users didn't work, due to inadequacies with Windows SteadyState.

You probably remember my attempt to supplant Access Boss with a more fully-formed character. That was a mistake. The idea was to always keep Notepad open, in which I'd have a dialogue with this new boss character. The "imaginary girlfriend" character I'd just invented for the blog (the one written in the Palatino font) eagerly jumped in, and I shouldn't really have let her but I wanted to spend more time with her anyway so I didn't see a problem. The problem was, I hadn't figured out exactly who she was yet. She was supposed to have Asperger's Syndrome, but I hadn't even given her an affinity yet. So that fictional relationship was too weak to withstand the antagonism of a boss-worker dynamic. That aggression became the main gist of the story, ruining what could have been a fun part of the blog. (I still haven't found a way to write myself out of that corner.)

So I quickly ended that and went back to Access Boss. I wish I could say that was enough, but you've seen how slowly The March of Bulk has been coming along. Where I stand right now is that I've solved the problem with the viewports (Embarrassingly, the solution was just one line of code saying to use OpenGL instead of DirectX.), and am now struggling to fit the next step into math. (There's no question that I'll be able to deal with this, but it's taking some time.)

A week ago, I made the mistake of upgrading Access Boss. It was bugging me with one of those upgrade windows, and I thought "What's the harm?" but I should have known. My copy of Access Boss is illegal. The upgrade broke the crack, and I can't find a crack for the new version. To make matters worse, there is no one still sharing the old version on BitTorrent, so I can't get back to the way it was. (I deleted my copy of the download after installing it.) In short, I've lost Access Boss. I haven't uninstalled it yet, but that's a matter of laziness rather than hope.

So whatever happens now, I've gotta deal with myself. There's no one requiring me to work anymore.

But of course, there never really was anyone else but me. I think the modicum of self-control I gained as those three characters is still there. The way it manifests is mainly in focused depression. Every now and then while I'm entertaining myself, a little taste of depression starts to build up. The longer I ignore it, the more it gnaws at me. But as soon as I get down to work on my game, it goes away and I'm as happy as can be. This isn't a pleasant system, but it feels like a more permanent one.



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