elega Elega Corporation

Elega Corp January 2019 Update

This will be an exciting year for Elega Corporation. In this post, I'll follow up on many of the topics covered in the previous update. In addition to discussing a little bit about Project Papa, Pluralsight courses, the work done on Age of Nomads, I will be talking about at least one new project that has not been discussed here on the blog yet.

Project Papa

For those unfamiliar with Project Papa: this is a software project that I have been hinting around for many months now. I said that Project Papa would have an announcement this month, and it is coming. Other than that, I really cannot say much. I suppose one other hint I could drop before the announcement is that following the reveal: there will be yet more silence on the project for quite some time. This is a large scale project that could span the rest of 2019, although I would like to get it to a completion point that makes sense as fast as reasonable possible while still having a high level of quality.

The Latest Course for Salesforce Admins

The course I am working on is kind of a course for absolute beginners. This one is important for many reasons but I think one of the biggest benefits to the course is that with its release: there will be a special kind of cohesion to the course catalogue on Pluralsight around Salesforce courses. The selection has already been exploding and is incredible compared to when I first started - this will be the cherry on top for those who are starting from absolute scratch.

When it's done, there is some content I would like to put together to better promote the courses. Perhaps some video content, and some blog posts here that can guide you through how to start on a given skill track, or why you might benefit in special ways from the individual courses.

Age of Nomads

Yes, it is time for another update on Age of Nomads even as the project remains on hold. The reason for this is that the project will get a major reboot, of sorts, in the future. Do not get too excited! I am not taking the project off hold, really, but it occurred to me not too long ago that amongst all the work that went into the project from 2015 through part of 2017: there are valuable lessons that were learned while working on it.

In a new special sort of mini-documentary video now in development (in the background) I am wanting to assemble a way to describe what was done on the project. Originally I was going to keep it all a big secret, or something like that, but with everything I have learned over the past year I know that when I return to work on Age of Nomads I will be gutting a lot of what has been done to redo it better.

This video will show, in detail, some of the philosophy I have when approaching the project and why I chose a cellular automata approach to the terrain engine. I'll also be showing some of the pre-alpha work done on the game, with a demo from within the Unity game engine how the terrain engine works, or, at least: how it works before it will be effectively destroyed in its current form to be made into something better.

Prototyping a New Game Next Month

As I proceed to churn out new products and ideas, there will be times when I am highly transparent about what I am working on and other times when I am very secretive. A new project, which has been sketched out here and there in pieces on paper is currently codenamed Project City. This is a new city simulation game I plan to prototype late next month that takes place in a medieval fantasy style setting. Unlike some of my sort of funny codenames: Project City is actually somewhat reflective of what the project is about!

Depending on how interesting the game is to play, that will determine its commercial viability and whether I put a certain price on it. Essentially, I am planning on taking a short break from Pluralsight to put together this city simulation game as an experiment. It could be a total disaster, so this is not exactly a new product announcement right here, more so the documenting that a new product might form out of the time spent tinkering.

I am pursuing this prototype for a few reasons. 1) Almost every single successful indie game developer out there has said that you need to scope small and ship often, and thus far I have ignored that advice (probably at my own peril to some degree). 2) This is an idea that struck me very strongly when it first emerged and I have a strong desire to work on it. 3) As much as I love Pluralsight, I am mentally pretty drained of producing courses and could use a bit of variety in what I am working on day-to-day, so there's a bit of tiredness there.

As a part of this experiment, I suppose I want to stress that if this experiment does not work out then I very well may choose to pursue a different direction for a few months. In the event that the experiment does not work out, I will likely pour myself into research. Research, very curiously, seems to always yield new opportunities that are worth executing on even if at the start you are not really sure where the oppotunities will come from.

How Is Research Going?

Jake Birkett of Grey Alien Games recently prototyped a small game inspired by Cybernoid using the Pico-8 fictional console virtual machine. For several days, this lead me into a small obsession about the Pico-8 itself, which closely mimics the capabilities of a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) era videogame console: complete with 32 kilobyte sized cartridges and a tightly restricted 16 color palette.

The Pico-8 spawned ongoing inspiration and motivation for me to continue investigating what is possible with the very small, and the very limited. There are numerous stories out there of folks who have built their own 8-bit computers, or hand made CPUs. As someone who had no formal training in computer science, this was fascinating to me, and it lead me into reading about how integrated ciruits are made, which are basically always used in these homemade CPU projects.

At some level, I want to come to understand how instructions are programmed and then made into a readable language by the machine. Somewhere between logic gates, integrated circuits, the flow of electrons, and so many other components: we have what we have today in the form of modern microprocessors. From an original 2Mhz processor in the 1980s we live now in 2019 with machines that wield multiple 2.2Ghz+ processors.

This is kind of a holy grail for me as a learner because I feel that it would yield certain advantages. For one, I would come up with a lot more ideas for what to work on, and that almost always uncovers some sort of hidden opportunity. But perhaps more importantly: one is often told by others that no one person can just sit down and build a CPU. And yet, some do it. Yeah, they do 8-bit processors. Some accomplish 16-bit CPUs.

But people used to tell you very similar kinds of things at different points in time about your ability to do almost anything that is seen as high tech. You cannot make your own games: games are made by multi-million dollar companies. You cannot record your own music and succeed without a record label. You cannot self-publish a book. Yet, today: almost anyone can enter the market doing any of these things fairly easily. Getting people to like what one does is another story, perhaps, but the point is that creatively one can do what they want.

So what? Do I want to build my own CPU or something? No, not ncessarily. The real point is: you never know how useful your knowledge will be until all of a sudden, it just is.

Conclusion and 2019 Goals

Obvious to me now is that for this new year there is a lot of variety emerging in what kinds of pursuits Elega Corporation has under its umbrella. And this is the way I like it. My hope is that over time, we can construct a portfolio of digital (and physical) assets that is very diversified and spans across multiple industries.

This does not mean, of course, that I will enter lots of different industries with the business. Naturally, no, it will make more sense instead to perhaps invest in different stocks, different properties, and so on. Nonetheless, starting with a mix of games and courses seems like a fair start. If I can add a little bit of video into the mix and make that work with the other endeavors and assets then all the better.

For 2019, after following the lessons of 2018, I have created some new goals:
* Release at least 2 Pluralsight courses
* Ship a game, even if just a tiny one
* Write 6 blog posts (1 down with this one!)
* Produce 2 videos that have timeless attributes and high quality
* Put in 200+ hours to Project Papa.

Happy 2019, all, and here we go!