Taking A Break: A Retrospective

I was going to title this post Not Giving A Fuck: A Retrospective, but that’s not quite accurate. As it turns out, it’s hard not to care.

This post is also very personal, and I feel like it’s important to finally write.

Not too recently I announced on Twitter that I was going on hiatus. I found out that hiatus isn’t really working out since, like I said, it’s impossible for me to not care. I did this because of an accumulation of shit and burnout that just led to me totally collapsing and feeling like “I can’t take this anymore.”
The amount of supportive comments astounded me, and really touched me. It’s easy to forget that your work, or you, matter.
It goes without saying that having an internet presence, and just participating in internet culture (making shit), will get you a lot of hate too. YouTube videos are notorious for the hate infested troll-soup that is comments. I didn’t think it would have such an effect on me, but it really grinds you down — when the hate, sarcasm, and demands to “fix X, game doesn’t work, I am rating it -1” seem to “yell over” the support you get.

To counteract this I decided I will stay clear of negative comments, and just delete anything angry sent my way.
As a game designer you’re often told that you have to develop thick skin, and you have to read that stuff, so you know how to make your game better.
I’ve concluded that, if it’s important feedback it will be written nicer, and I will not have to “read between the lines”.

It’s really important to focus on all the supportive things people send you. That’s what matters. I mean, it’s really touching… Here:

“Time ago, before i got into college, I didn’t knew what to do with my life. But one day I found blue suburbia and i was blown away with it. I decided that i wanted to work in a creative career. Now i really love my job. Your work helped me find the way. Everything we do with heart and passion is worthy and it can help others. Nothing is in vain. Don’t worry about the bitchy ones.”

Wow, what more could I ask for? I’ve really accomplished something in life if my work has affected people so.
Over the years, I’ve gotten so much of this too. I remember people sending me comments from BlueSuburbia on how they where thinking of suicide and this site really changed that for them. Someone was victim of an overbearing mother and the site was their “escape”. I’ve often been told that people decided for a creative career because of my work…
What the hell am I doing being down? This is amazing! This is all an artist could really ever ask for.

Wow, great revelations! I should take a break more often.

On that note…

I am completely OK with death threats, rape threats, stalking, and harassment (either received at work, or online). That list is an accumulation of things I’ve had to put up with over the years.
It is OK.
Professionally speaking, it has been very hard. I can tell you all about being seen as “less” because of being “girl”, and all the things people say, and all the things you can do to make it better and “win them over”. I can also tell you all about having your creative passion/enthusiasm used, and pouring countless hours, days without sleep, of “free work” into something that the boss promises will “pay later”, and all about being threatened to be sued because I ask for the payment later. By the way, that’s dumb. Never work for free (even if payment is contractually promised later)…
It goes without saying that this is a tough industry, and there are lots of idiots running the show. You just have to find the nice ones you DO want to work with. Very difficult situations in the past have led to wonderful retrospectives, and how to “identify red flags”. I’ve grown very good at red flags, and that’s great. It has made me a smarter, better, and a more talented individual.
Being stalked (online or in real world) is not that bad either. It’s OK. It’s survivable, and comes with the job. There are things you can do. For example, learn martial arts, and become good at fucking someone up.
I equate riding a motorcycle to all this. When you learn to ride they put the fear of god in you. You learn all the wonderful ways that you can get into an accident, and all the wonderful things the human body does when it collides with something at top speeds.
You also get to hear all the wonderful accidents, and grotesque consequences from your riding friends and their friends. It is OK. This is a risk you knowingly take, and after your first accident (sort of like “first stalker”), you learn that it’s not so bad after all. You actually feel more confident about riding.

So now I come to the thing I simply cannot tolerate, and simply cannot sugar coat with optimism any longer…

The completely ignorant and dishonest treatment of anything Flash related by tech journalism.
It is nothing short of a joke. If something happens, anything, that has to do with Flash, journalists are at the scene and ready to pronounce it dead. It’s unbelievable how they can turn around nice, positive, and even exciting news about the platform, into something that reflects the popular narrative they’ve created of it being “dead” and “oh so very evil”.
Common arguments like it being insecure, and slow, have been profoundly blown out of proportion.
Equally disappointing is that the real facts about what is happening are easily accessible from Adobe’s Flash player, AIR, or platform, team blogs. It’s not hard to find. The statistics, news, and new releases, are written out in plane common English, yet fictional reality takes a life of its own and goes the opposite direction.
There are constantly exciting updates, and what I consider exciting features. Concurrency was one. Yet, we are told that it is “no longer in development” and thus dead.
The blatant lying (mishandling of “facts”) has been astounding.

So, why does it get to me?
In doing so you are dragging tech news into the mud. You are misrepresenting journalism, and discrediting your profession. I cannot read anything anymore without second guessing the motives behind what is written, and this is coming from someone that used to look up to these people/sites.
Also, it makes it hard for me to be a Flash developer. On one end you see what is written, and know that it is false, and on the other end you have to argue with people that fell for this garbage. There is no way of convincing them that it is false because this “reliable” news source said so.
It has gotten so bad that I try to hide the fact that this game, all this artwork, animation, etc… has been created in Flash just to spare myself the conversation I might have.
It’s interesting to note that players, and end users, do not complain or care (especially if the product is good), it’s just peers and ignorant managers that fall for this.

As a creative professional I want to be proud of the tools I use. I want to exchange tips, and have technical conversations with peers because that’s so fun and exciting. I want to share positive news about the platform. I can’t because the environment has become so toxic.
Like I mentioned in my previous post, it will even get you visibility/attention/awards for saying “Flash is dead”. It’s so cool to say it. If I said it, and wrote a big article on how dead it is, and my pet peeves with it, I am more than certain the article would get featured.
Positive articles, written by people that really use it, and know the platform, will not get that type of attention.

So here is something…

In advocating for the death of a technology, you are advocating for the loss of choice.
You are calling for the murder of an entire mentality, way of creating, community, language, history, and massive amount of legacy content (games and art), simply because “it rubs you the wrong way.”

By “rubs you the wrong way”, I mean: because it “doesn’t suit your production purposes”, It’s cool to say “kill it” and I want to be part of the club, “famous person X” said so and I don’t have the intelligence to go do my own research, and “respectable reporter said so”… Should I go on? It’s shit.
But seriously (sarcasm), it really helps in promoting your own “alternatives”! Does Haxe really have to kill something in order to be better? If Haxe is advocating that something should die is it better? How about just showing your features and not calling for death, or prophesying death. Let me choose. This is not good marketing, and you’re being childish.

But I digress…

Furthermore, you are also advocating that the web should not be open or free.
We have this horrible “one way or no way” mentality. HTML5 or die.
On one end we say the web should be open/free, on the other we are only allowed to use a certain set of languages, certain principles, create according to very restrictive standards, and you really can’t step outside that. The only thing that is dying here is the web. Creativity on it, experimentation (for real experimentation, not just another fluid layout), and new ways/mindsets of doing something, are becoming a thing of the past.

On another note…
If you use Flash (and by Flash I mean you are an actionscript 3 developer, AIR, or developer outputting work to .swf), and are outgoing about that, as well as willing to defend it, you will receive constant arguments like “learn whatever.js”, “you are evil, flash so insecure, you are the cancer of the web”… There’s lots of crap.
Being a developer that uses Flash is a constant conscious decision.
You have to be a very passionate programmer to see through all the hype, and hate, and continue doing what you love.
I don’t think I will ever find a community of people that are so brave to continue doing this despite what they have to put up with.
The dedication I have seen from the team’s responsible for the Flash Player, AIR, and Flash Professional (now Animate) is also astounding. They just keep doling out new shit, and keep getting bitched at for not doling out new shit.
This is a community that really cares about the technology.
So… for once, journalists, please stop making us out to look like idiots for “continuing to make this stuff”. We are not stupid or naive. It would also not hurt to learn about what you are hating.

As I have said in my previous post (this post is an extension to that), I love using Flash. I’m also happy it’s now called Animate so I can be more outgoing about what I use.
I am also very relieved, and more encouraged than ever, to hear that AIR and .SWF will remain first class citizens.
Creating content that runs with the Flash Player (as well as AIR) is close to my heart. I do look for alternatives that run as well, look as good, and are as flexible, but I always return to that being my choice. As long as Adobe continues supporting Flash Player and AIR I will continue making games and interactive art.