War for the Overworld

This early access game was on sale on steam after I noticed that Dungeon Keeper 1 was for free on Origin. DK1 is great in so many ways, I played it for a few hours (320×240 or so, ugh) and decided to look around again for a “real spiritual successor”. I already bought “Dungeons” in 2011 but was greatly disappointed. WFTO seemed to be closer to the spirit of DK so I spent the 20 bucks in the super duper deluxe version. LO AND BEHOLD, I was playing it for the entire weekend. Game mechanics are exactly the same, however the atmosphere never really got close but that might be due to nostalgic reasons. It lacks a bit the dark humour and ambiance  of DK but it’s still a great game that has been getting s lot of flak due to bugs for the first few months. 

The only weird thing I encountered was the abrupt ending that seemed to be completely underdeveloped. That was a bit sad. But since the mechanics are so close, it’s a lot of fun and it certainly is way better than “Dungeons”. Means, closer to DK. 

I didn’t encounter any disruptive bugs, just a bit of lag now and then when my dungeons reached a certain size. Taking into account that this game has been funded via Kickstarter and early access and did not have the AAA dev cash, it’s really solid. 

If you liked DK, you will like this one, too. And for the price, it’s a no brainer to give it a try. 

Hue white bulbs: pretty stupid

While testing the HUE system I noticed the following things:

  • The HUE white light bulbs white tone is very nice
  • Nobody at Philips used the bulbs at their own houses and flats before product launch

While I am not a fan of intelligent light bulbs at all (it’s the wrong approach from my perspective but that’s another story), the basic idea is very intriguing. In the case of HUE, I can’t get over the thought that their approach is half baken and as soon as a normal light switch is part of the equation (which it is in 99% of all cases), the concept crumbles less than gracefully and becomes a waste of money. 

These bulbs don’t seem to save the current state locally. So whenever you hit the physical light switch and cycle the power, you end up with the default 100% dimmer value. Not even the base station, the bridge, saves the state or reassigns the last bridge value to the bulb.

I mean, really? Who signed that off? All it would take is saving a few bytes in non volatile memory. That’s it. In essence, they took the most trivial technological interface for humans to date and made practical usability worse than it is to date with normal, “stupid” light bulbs. Do you really think I want to set the bloody dimmer manually every time I turn on the light in the hallway? On my phone? Are you kidding me? And if your answer is: buy Philips light switches.. well, NO. Nope. Certainly not. Why would I spend hundreds of dollars to have a total vendor lock in on such a basic technology level like light? A candle can do this job. 

This, to some extent, shows the struggle the so called IOT has with itself. I am all for disruption and making things smart. But for the love of god, try to use your concept yourself before you push it to market.

Sizing down

Moving is a great opportunity to size down the household to what’s really necessary. I moved a month ago and jeez, I got rid of so much trash that was just sitting around the past 5 years. Clothes, cable salad, kitchen ware, tons of paper from when I was self employed. Defragmenting my environment. Feels good. 

Empathise

There’s a pattern that is visible in the design world where people sometimes put their own visions above that of the user or client. As a result, designers complain about uneducated clients or users that don’t get it. Newsflash: not everybody shares your mindset.

I think this is kinda sad, especially because all it takes is a bit of empathy and realising that you don’t design for yourself but for someone else and ultimately a large heterogeneous group of people.

While I had the occasional “client from hell” in the past 15 years, I have always tried to foster close relationships with clients and before I even tried as much as to sketch something up, tried to frame the picture by getting as much information as I can to avoid these outcomes.

I never felt particularly comfortable in the “design community” because it felt disconnected from reality. It felt like designers design for other designers. Spending so much time talking about the theories and hot trends that the basic goal got lost in the process. I never saw myself as an artist. And I still don’t think that someone designing a thing that is supposed to be used by a large group of people should start with any artistic expectations towards himself. It’s not the same thing. Art can leave certain things open, play with expectations, simply ignore them. Design can’t.

I think it’s great to quantify design and UX because it allows for a more rational view and subsequently, decisions. However, that option doesn’t exist always. Either the client doesn’t want to spend the money or you simply don’t have the time to rush that or other reasons don’t allow for it. In those cases, you have to rely on a mix of experience, gut feeling and empathy for the end user. Putting oneself in their shoes, removing fancy designer goggles.

While design is, at the end, more a matter of quantified and explainable processes, your heart should be with the client and the end users while designing. Not with the thing you design. I see this as a conflict of interest. Sometimes I was so sure my design is kick ass just to be vaporised by clashes of taste or simply missing the point. During the past years, I had to create stuff under huge pressure and basically never had time to think about something for too long. That helps to develop a sense to create something that works and can be a first step of an iteration under difficult circumstances.

Design is not self realisation. It’s a trade, a craft. Making tools for other people to work with or create a certain facet of feelings for the viewer.