1. Moving Forward

      written by Ray Benefield
      It has been a long time since I put out a blog post. I've been busy over the past year. But I think it is time for me to get back into the swing of things. I've pretty much moved on from playing video games, but that doesn't mean I'm quite out of the scene yet.



      Video Games: What used to be



      Video games were my life for the longest time. Ever since I entered the military, when I got to my first base I spent more than just a couple hours a week gaming. Armored Core 4 and Halo 3 dominated my first couple years in the military. And I took my gaming seriously. My level design in Halo particularly. When Reach came out I went out to make a new name for myself as GodlyPerfection. And with Halo 4 I became a part of an extended 343 Industries family and it was AMAZING! It was a great feeling being a part of that experience.



      Rough times



      And then it all went downhill. We started getting stressed for money everywhere we looked. From borrowing money from family members to scraping every last scent from recycling that we could get. It was not a pretty sight. So I put a lot of focus on school and I feel out of my gaming ways. Over the past year, I grew up... like A LOT. I went from lazy to striving to improve my skills to get myself ready for a job. I even switched to Early Childhood Education to use in Game Dev and as a career until my gaming took off. We eventually moved and my wife had to quit her job because of how stressful it became. I had to pick up the money slack. So I started applying for jobs in the beginning of august. Less than two weeks later I got my first job interview and now I'm 60 days into my first 90 days and I'M LOVING IT! I'm lucky to be where I am right now.



      Gaming in present day



      So while transitioning out of video games I got more into board games and real life friends that I made at school. So right now all my gaming is at the table. What started as getting back into Magic, became playing DnD, then playing more board games, and eventually running my own Pathfinder campaign as well as playing and collecting Heroscape. So games are still a part of my life, just the virtual side hasn't really seen the likes of me. Perhaps with the PS4 that will change, but we shall see. Let me put it this way. I went out of my way to get Armored Core: Verdict Day and I popped it in once and never touched it again... it has been about two weeks now or so. $50 down the drain. I make a decent paycheck now so it doesn't hurt, but it told me something. My video gaming "addiction" was gone, and now I can put my focus on moving forward.



      Moving Forward



      Now I wouldn't be posting here if I didn't want to make this a more regular thing. I have a 7-3 job now and I spend pretty much the rest of the weekdays with family and friends. But Saturday is mine... and what am I doing with that Saturday? I'm back to game development... that's right like round 4 now. First it was Aggro TCG with Gnappy (Marc), then it was Covet designed with the handful of people wanting it to succeed, and then it was Aggro in a 3D take that pretty much no one has seen. However that 3D project of Aggro was the most productive I had been in over a decade. Those first 3 months I learned sooo much and accomplished sooo much more. More than I thought I could. And thanks to that I have earned myself a work ethic... something that I never knew existed while in the military (kind strange, huh?). So what's in it for round 4?



      FINAL ROUND... FIGHT!!!



      That's right a round 3 reference... I'm doing Aggro, AGAIN!!! At this point I'm sure many people feel I should probably give up. But with this new found work ethic, an understanding of how I want Aggro to end up, and a ton more experience with coding around the board, I'm ready to finally get to a completed state with something. I had told myself many times before that I never wanted to get in bed with people if I didn't feel comfortable in my own ability and couldn't prove my own capabilities to the team, but now I am ready. For this next and probably final round of Aggro I'm going to approach this with a team.



      Aggro Tactics



      Before I take on a team though I'm going to get situated. And I'm doing things right from the get go. I've already setup a ticketing system, a subversion setup, and I am putting a huge focus on documentation and commenting my code now as well as keeping it nicely structured. I want to make an environment that is easy for people to jump in and know what is going on. I'm getting things organized. This will be a couple month project as I create documentation of my vision, the process, the framework for the core functionality, etc. I'm also archiving all of the past stuff that I have on Aggro from the TCG and my second attempt. I feel comfortable in this working out now that I have had the practice, the work ethic from both the last Aggro and now dedicating awesomeness to a job, and I feel comfortable with a more official approach now and I see the value in it.



      No promises... but I think it is possible



      My word probably doesn't mean much anymore with all of the things I haven't completed. From the three games I started, to the Halo projects that I took on and never finished, and the constant never fulfilled promises to the AC community. But I get excited every time I think about what is coming. I'm more busy now more than ever... but I also now have game dev as a stress reliever from work rather than something I need to do. That in and of itself will give me more passion for what I am doing going forward. Here's to taking steps forward. Wish me luck! Who knows... maybe in a couple months I may be working beside one of the few of you reading this.

      See you guys next Saturday.

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