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New Unity CEO and distribute() enters public alpha

So I've mostly been off the internet in general for the past week as some life responsibilities caught up with me which I had to handle. My usage was practically limited to e-mail and other essentials.

This morning I found some time to just browse the internet and trawl through my Twitter feed, mostly looking for important or interesting stuff I may have missed. Surprisingly there were quite a few. Here are a couple which I found particularly noteworthy:

Unity announces new CEO Yes, David Helgason announced that he will be stepping down from CEO to take up another role at Unity. John Riccitiello, probably best known as the COO and then CEO of EA Games, has been part of Unity's board of directors since last year and will now be taking over leadership from Helgason. In his announcement, Helgason assures everyone that he will still "be heavily involved with the company’s direction" and that the change in leadership will not have any negative impacts on Unity's strategic vision.

This news comes at a time when rumours have been circulating about the possible sale of the company, which Unity CTO Joachim Ante has denied and David Helgason also confirmed. However one can't help but bring to mind the adage "there's no smoke without fire". Time will tell.

distribute() launches alpha access Rami Ismail announced that distribute() has opened up alpha access. A much anticipated project, over 150 developers and 100 press members had signed up within 3 hours of launch according to a post on its Twitter feed. A few "coming soon" feature teasers have also been mentioned which I think sound really interesting. I can't wait!

When it rains, it pours!

The calendar tells me it's Autumn and that Summer is technically over, but you wouldn't really know it by the temperature here in Malta which is still in the 30s. True, it rained quite a bit last week for a day or two…the first proper rain we've had this season. But knowing our climate, we'll probably still be wearing short sleeves well into November. It's been a lovely Summer though, so it's high time things started to cool off a bit.

Which is more than I can say for Pixie Software, where things have really been picking up steam! (wow…nice segue! *sarcasm*). But seriously, things have started to fall into place this year. We've grown into a well-rounded team and have just brought another programmer on board. I'm now able to start making proper plans to revive some old projects which were put on the back burner in a semi-completed state.

However when it rains, it pours, and I'm finding myself trying very hard to not let things get out of hand, and I say this in a positive, self-restraining kind of way. Things had been moving a little bit too slow for my liking. This was partly my fault, but was mainly due to certain circumstances which were beyond my control. So stuff had been piling up for quite a bit and I'm very eager to move things forward now.

Over and above all this, the rest of the year is promising to be quite eventful and hectic, with a number of local events coming up, some of which are virtually going to be back to back. Yet these will present an excellent opportunity to showcase the game we've developed as part of the Malta Digital Games Fund projects, so I'll be working hard to prepare some proper demos for the game and set up some custom gameplay modes.

I've also been planning (with some fantastic people) something very exciting for the first week of December which we should be announcing quite soon. So that's something else which I've been working on and am really looking forward to sharing with the local gamedev community.

All of this revolves around game development work though, and it is very crucial that I do not turn it into a plate-spinning exercise and lose focus of what's important. I think I'm doing OK. We're currently in pre-production for our next game, which is actually a complete overhaul of one of our "back burner" projects. We're simplifying the main mechanic to making it tighter, and then leveraging it to create some unique gameplay. We have a few early concepts and prototypes but nothing I'm really comfortable sharing just yet as it's still all a bit premature. I should have something to show relatively soon, so more on that in a short while.

Funnily enough, I've been struggling with the most trivial and insignificant of problems. I'm trying to find a suitable working title for this project which doesn't sound too ridiculous. I'm playing around with something along the lines of "Project Janus" (which I think sounds weird and pretentious). Of course it has nothing to do with the Judge Dredd franchise (I wish!)…it's more of a reference to the Roman god's duality, his transitional nature, the future and past.

My main annoyance is actually that I'm more of a Greek mythology buff and don't really fancy the Roman varieties. What a silly problem to have!

Re-establishing my online presence

So I finally got around to updating my website, which was way out of date. Well, it wasn't really out of date more than not fit for purpose anymore.

It was originally created a few years ago for me to have a simple online presence as a software engineer, way before I made the transition into game development and started Pixie Software. At this point I had absolutely no other significant online activity: I had no Twitter account, my Facebook usage was purely functional (monitoring my account just in case someone decided to contact me there rather than through more "conventional" methods such as a phone call, SMS or e-mail), and I wasn't on any other social media platform. However as I started becoming more active in the game development scene, there was an inherent need to have a more active presence online. So I set up profiles and accounts for the studio and started communicating as the studio, but it soon became clear that this was not really working for me. It feels silly, and at times impossible, to communicate with and relate to other people when it's not even clear who is speaking: yourself or "the studio". I'm finding it very strained, limited and artificial.

So I've decided it's high time I update (or actually, set up) my personal online presence and make that completely distinct from Pixie Software. After all, it's only fair for others to be able to relate to me as a person, and not feel like I'm constantly about the work and the business like some big corporate entity. There's a place for that sort of thing, but this is not one of them. This is me, Stephen, relating to friends, colleagues and other people on a personal basis. Furthermore I'd like to be able to voice my opinions and pass silly comments without them being automatically attributed to, or considered as coming from the studio. True, I'm not one to be extremely vocal on anything really, but on the occasions when I do feel like saying something, I'd like to feel like I can do that freely without having to filter it through the studio's channels.

As a result of this:
  • I've now set up this website to act as a sort of blog for when I feel like ranting on something or other. It's still in flux (don't really like its design...very bland and lifeless).
  • I've revived my dormant, single-tweet-in-2009, Twitter account to house my Twitter activity instead of the studio's account. I'm starting from scratch and have absolutely no followers, so I'd appraciate a hand in that regard i.e. follow me ;)
  • I'm also going to start using my Facebook profile a bit more...probably just repeating what I say on Twitter and on this website, or just linking to it directly.
  • I have set up an account. Don't know who would be interested in asking me anything really, but hey, it's there. Ask away.
  • Naturally there's my LinkedIn account, but that's not really all that social.
  • I'm planning on starting a Steam curation list, but having some mixed feelings on that. We'll see...
  • Twitch/YouTube...not really my scene. Again, I'm really quite a reserved kind of guy. Let's just say it's a "maybe"...something to be considered in the future, perhaps. Baby steps right?

My initial target is to shift my regular activity from the studio's accounts to my own. Following that, we'll see where things lead to...

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