I have a lot of stuff I’m working on right now. Some are large projects (e.g. Olaf guide, Fall of Nations), some are smaller (like individual articles), and there are a few that are sort of in between (e.g. B5 giffing). If my study schedule goes as expected then I have ~8 months of less than a full-time study workload. After the 8 months is over I don’t jarringly stop all content, but I can’t realistically study full-time and do content full-time simultaneously – time just doesn’t work like that.
Over the past couple weeks or so I’ve spent quite a bit of time figuring out what and how I want to work on things over this coming 8 month window, and how long I expect each project to take.
Here are the projects – but not all of them can be completed in the initial 8 month window. I’m including a few “projects”-but-not-really-projects not because they’re content for you to view, but to give you a better picture of where my time is being put (and why it’s not reasonable for me to be able to complete everything on this list in the 8-month window). Examples of this are the top two things listed.
Some focus on force multipliers
~220 hours (150 – 600 hours, upper bound hopefully only if intensive focus)
I can’t come up with any rational plan of action which doesn’t prioritise these first before anything else. If I don’t explicitly dedicate non-trivial amounts of time and effort to this, then my productivity decreases (often substantially so when averaged out). I gotta say it’s pretty frustrating to have to spend so much time on “basics” when I’d really rather just be e.g. writing or digging through code, but for now allocating some resources here is the most efficient thing to do.
This includes such fun things as:
- Aggressively prioritising sleep (both quantity and quality), including indirect actions that help this such as improving the environment I sleep in.
- Spending time to sit down with myself and make sure I’m doing okay mentally, as well as taking steps to continue addressing CPTSD and associated symptoms / issues.
- Some basic effort on exercise and diet (and primarily meal timing for that), as these impact my mood and my sleep.
The bestest mostest funnest part of this one is that it won’t ramp down for the foreseeable future, so I get to just bleed time and effort that some other people don’t have to. Yes, I am a little salty about the lost time ;~;
Complete my 6-month course
~540 hours (400 – 680 hours)
(Assuming one of the unis accepts me – I’ve yet to hear back as of this article’s publish date), I’ll be doing an Undergraduate Certificate in IT or ICT (depending on which institution accepts me). The study workload is somewhere between part-time and full-time but closer to the former – Swinburne quoted me with 22 hours/week as an example.
Right now I make less than the poverty line (half of nation’s median income), and typically substantially so unless I get some lucky gigs work-wise. Needless to say that’s not sustainable, so studies are part of long-term goals on multiple fronts but especially the financial one.
Ensuring I put aside time for my studies is important to ensure I can survive in the medium-long term and that lets me do things like put out high quality content completely free.
500+ hours (380 – 720 hours, but the low side only if I cut content)
At around 4 million views, this is (was?) by far my most popular content piece or category, and I kind of fucked up by assuming I would be releasing it in 2019.
2019 instead turned out to be the year I realised my mental health issues were much worse and more complex than I’d previously thought (which was particularly surprising considering I’d already considered them fairly serious and have been working on them for years thinking I might be “better” in the not-too-distant future). It also turned out to be when my sleeping problems either got worse or more recognised – I’m not sure which.
In any case, the Olaf guide is much, much less than half done, and to my dismay I’ll have to redo non-trivial amounts of what was done because it’s outdated due to being written in 2019/2018 (and some parts from the previous version of the guide from even earlier than that). Large chunks of the structure / formatting are fine to re-use though, so fortunately it’s not as though I’m entirely rewriting from scratch.
Given that Riot will be completely overhauling itemisation in Preseason 11, I’m tentatively aligning the release of the Olaf guide to be shortly after that point so as to not have to rewrite what was historically one of the largest / longest sections of the guide (saving probably ~100 hours of work in the process).
I’d also like to build up regular VoDs, but regularly-scheduled content is one of the things that my insomnia and sporadic mental wellbeing conflict with the most so please be understanding if I sometimes miss VoDs for a while :(. The time estimate provided is including the VoDs, which tend to take 1-2 hours including doing the video metadata etc.
The fact that I’m expecting the Olaf guide to take literally as long as a (low level) university qualification really tells you a lot about how much fucking work this thing is. I feel like whenever I try to explain doing this for free I get judged for it, and I can certainly see where those people are coming from.
Master+ in LoL
~360 hours (300 – 600 hours)
This is mostly a subset of the Olaf guide; I feel quite strongly that if I can’t get at least Diamond 1 (preferably Master and ideally GM) while playing Olaf top with some regularity, I’m fundamentally misunderstanding some key aspect(s) of playing him – particularly given my prior rank history. Setting the goal at Master hopefully also brings along with it an improved understanding of the game in general, which should be useful for the guide.
On the other hand, grinding out solo queue means often (but not always, of course) having absolutely awful games with people who ruin the game and then walk away scot-free, owing to the soul crushing attitude of many members of the ranked playerbase. Not the best for one’s emotional state, but we’ll see how I go. I think I’m better at managing this than I was a couple of years ago, as I realised that some of my anger was due to associations of unfairness linked to my CPTSD history, and not just from the situation at hand.
Compared to most of the other things on this list which I’m feeling pretty neutral on, getting a higher rank in LoL is something I’m actually feeling kind of optimistic about. I think after ~120 hours or so of well managed practise I should be close to where I previously peaked skill-wise. Time will tell if this optimism is warranted or not.
Fall of Nations (small Rise of Nations full game conversion mod)
~350 hours (200 – 500 hours)
This is a “tech demo” mod that’s intended to push the boundaries of what people think is possible with RoN modding, as I was some combination of surprised and disappointed to see that other modders weren’t taking advantage of certain things. I started working on it in May, but I do work on it in bursts rather than regularly – that way I gain the efficiency of immersion within the (complicated) systems I need to manipulate.
I think most of the work I do on this will continue to be done in week-or-three-long bursts (with longer breaks between to work on other things), with hopefully each burst resulting in a new major update being pushed out.
The scope of FoN is poorly defined compared to my other projects. I have a reasonable idea of what I want to include, but insufficient experience to know how long doing it all will take – and it’s possible I’ll end up adding and/or removing things as I progress further. Getting a custom CTW campaign working and making custom scenarios for it (with all the scripting to go along with both) is an area where I have a particularly high degree of uncertainty about time expenditure. Problematic given that I think that’s the bulk of the remaining work.
Given that this is the least time-sensitive of the 100+ hour projects, I will not be priorisiting completing it during the 8-month window. Instead, the goal for that window will just be to get the absolute skeleton completed (e.g. custom campaign map, but maybe the bulk of the missions have 5-second win conditions or something similarly no-dev-work-required). Anything more will be a bonus, but due to time constraints such bonuses would probably be detracting from other projects that are more time sensitive.
I’m aiming to have at least one major update pushed out by the end of September, and will be adding this to my calendar so I can get a reminder if I forget about the timing. I think it’s important that I don’t leave too long before I pick up working on it again, as I find it quite plausible I’ll forget important elements of modding structure / process after too many months of not touching it.
Babylon 5 Gif series: Sheridan’s Secret
~150 hours (100 – 350 hours)
Amusingly a bit like JMS himself, I have a few different areas of content, and the people in each generally don’t know that much about my work in the others.
Sheridan’s Secret is either a sub-plot or the main plot of my “Good Fact” gifs (I haven’t fully decided), where I spin the good guys from the series Babylon 5 into a negative light.
Sheridan’s Secret is by far the most complex giffing I’ve done, as I’m having to storyboard and mash together cohesive plots in both the short term (<5 minutes of footage) and long term (across the whole gif series put together) using existing footage. It’s almost like if I was the editor doing the cutting for the show itself, except I don’t get access to the footage that shows the story I want!
Splicing together elements of multiple episodes out of context while keeping it cohesive is.. time consuming to do, and so far the further along I go in my “fake” storyline, the more time consuming it is to ensure the scene I’m working on ties in properly to future scenes in the series. I’ve storyboarded (with footage timestamps) the majority of the arc to a draft-level, but each gif (or set of gifs for one section of story that doesn’t fit in a single gif) requires a lot of refinement and I frequently have to get later scenes past that basic draft stage in order to ensure I have long-term consistency.
I’m not sure how far I have to progress in the storyline until the overhead of making sure it’s cohesive reduces. As such the upper-bound of my estimate is pretty high, just in case I’m completely wrong about my estimate on that.
There’s also a chance my idea falls apart and I can’t find a way to continue with the cohesion of the story, in which case I guess I’ll be forced to drop the series lol. I haven’t factored that scenario into the time estimate. That estimate does include working on a handful of shorter gifs not within the Sheridan’s Secret series though, as those generally only take a few hours each average, and have no complex cohesion overhead.
Babylon 5 giffing guide
~12 hours (8 – 28 hours)
I’ve been wanting to do this as a companion piece for my existing “Game to Gfycat” guide for a while, as the VP9 part of the process is similar between the two, and that’s the bulk of the unique angle I use for my B5 gifs and gameplay clips that most others don’t.
I don’t consider this project a time priority (anymore at least), but it could be a nice way to procrastinate working on other things if I need a break but still want be productive. Some of the estimated time can be shaved off by working on this at a time when I’m already doing B5 giffing (in the same time period, not literally at the same time) and so some of the stuff I need to write about is already in my head. It’s easier to justify the time loss if it takes half the time to produce the same result, so while I don’t want any enthusiastic B5 giffers to expect this guide soon, I do feel it’s quite likely I’ll release it at some time during the next 12-18 months, even if I can’t do it in 8.
~125 hours (110 – 180 hours)
This is just personal learning for me and doesn’t relate to content creation, but since it’s a decent time sink I’m including it on this list.
There’s a handful of short courses I want to complete alongside my more formal studies, particularly before I move onto full-time formal studies. These are primarily 20 hours or less, and I’m plotting to do around one per month. This is also somewhere where I’ll be quick to sacrifice a significant part of the total “project” (cut some of the courses) if I feel overwhelmed time-wise, as I consider this one of the least important things on the list.
~160 hours (80 – 200 hours)
Towards the end of last year I started learning German1 and Chinese (Mandarin). I’d like to continue to do so, although I might drop German2 once I feel like I can read/write/speak in sufficiently not-too-broken German that I could interact using only German in simple contexts. It’s unlikely I’ll get to that point within the 8-month window, but if I do then the time investment required on it decreases since I can just go do less time-costly “maintenance” by revising my existing knowledge.
If I really can’t spare the mental effort I could also drop Mandarin (which is much harder for an English speaker to learn), but it’s also a significantly more useful language – particularly in Australia.
Media consumption + non-competitive gaming
~800 hours (500 – 1200 hours)
I have, in increasing order of length, lists of books, movies/tv shows, and games that I want to get through. Once in a blue moon you might see me do one-off tie-in content when I get through some of these (including perhaps streaming one or two of the games maybe perhaps), but for the most part this is also something without direct bearing on the content I produce – it’s just a time factor.
This also includes just playing games with friends in a way that doesn’t have much bearing on my content (i.e. not ranked solo queue).
As you might expect, this category tends to balloon out. It’s super easy to just spend an extra couple hours playing or watching here and there, and then that becomes the new normal. Sometimes a book will have the same effect, but luckily (in a way) a lot of the stuff I want to read right now is pretty dry, and so it’s hard to spend more than 30-60 minutes on it at a time.
Still, that’s why the upper bound is quite high, particularly when you consider times when I just feel the need to take a break from nearing-robotic levels of work to get all of the content done. This may be amusing to some people, but I actually want to really avoid spending too little time on this category. Not just because some play/work balance is important (which it is), but because by my estimate if I don’t average at least a couple hours a day on this a day, I’m going to die of old age before ever getting close to getting through all the stuff I want to.
I currently have 16887.68 hours of gameplay left on my list of games, which would take 27.87 years to get through if I played 14 hours a week. The figure goes down when I play a game and realise I don’t like it enough to continue/finish it, but then you need to still factor in the books / movies / TV shows etc. That’s a lot of time, and as more cool stuff is released and I become aware of more media that time figure only increases.
While I’m vaguely on the topic, let’s start with my current expectations for game-related content in the next 8 months that’s not already listed above:
- LoL articles will be sparse if they exist at all, as most of my LoL-content time is being focused on the Olaf guide. I may pull some sections out of it to publish separately if they feel like they work well standalone, and then I can link them from within the guide (Alacrity vs Bloodline is an example of this kind of thing that’s Olaf-related but tending towards too granular for the guide, but I could also have something that’s less Olaf-focused like warding etc).
- RoN content will come out here and there. I still have a few articles I want to write up, and will try to balance those efforts alongside work on FoN when splitting RoN work-time. The video projects I have (like the tournament game commentary / review that is still pending from a year ago) will take lower priority than FoN or written work, as I feel that RoP (and others) are already providing some good video content and I think it’s more valuable to first funnel resources into content that’s currently absent or most lacking i.e. modding scene + technical articles instead of gameplay-centric video content.
- Content for R6 Siege is now paused the same way that Alien Swarm content has been paused for some time, as I generally don’t write content for games that I’m not currently active in. I may at some future time return to either, both, or neither of these games. My friend groups have dropped both games (that’s why AS content paused a while back), so it’s not as rewarding to pick them up again given that I would be playing alone. If I had 36 hours in a day I’d love to get back into Siege to finally chase down plat, but as you can see my hands are already pretty full.
- Streams / Let’s Play (aka “Casual-T” since VoDs center around Tues/Thurs) are.. very draining for me. It’s hard to be “on” for the camera, and I also always have to worry about my own privacy if I want to reduce the chances of accidentally leaking any personal information while live broadcasting. So no current plans to do this with regularity, but I do want to do more streaming at some point, and I think that the more I do it the more I’ll get used to it and the less taxing it’ll be. It would be really cool if I can get sufficiently used to being “on” that it’s not a big drag for me but I don’t know if that’s doable or not.
Tech articles will continue to be ad-hoc and largely based around things I’m already doing anyway (like PC builds and some of the more bizarre troubleshooting), and I do have at least 4 tech-related articles in the pipeline right now. However, I suspect a couple of those will be retired to the document cache (for $5+ patrons) rather than released since I could never quite get them right.
And then there’s all the day-to-day minutiae like eating, reading messages, managing finances, checking the news, and actually sleeping3 etc, none of which are factored into any of the project categorisation above.
(Assuming my quick maths is right in the following paragraphs:) When you take the hours in each day from the start of July 2020 to the end of February 2021, you get 5,832 hours – ignoring for a moment that the first half of July is already over. From there if you take off 2,430 hours (10 a day) for a fundamental non-negotiable minimum amount of time required to sleep / eat etc, there are 3,402 hours left.
If you add all the projects listed above (minus the “Everything else” broader category), it adds up to 3,225 hours (give or take). Then take out 18*10 hours for the first fortnight of July passing by and I have 3,225 hours allocated out of 3,222 remaining hours.
So yeah, I have literally no wiggle room whatsoever if I my expectation was to get everything done. If I, for example, just feel depressed for a week and so get not much done on anything during that time (which has of course never happened before in my life q:^)) then then my buffer of -3 hours,4 even excluding all the random extra time that I’ll probably end up using to do things like have a social life outside of just playing ARAMs.
What that means is just that I expect with a fairly high confidence that I won’t get everything on this list done. To think otherwise after the last few years of trying to do much the same but with even less content to create (albeit with weaker self-management and time-management skills) would be incredibly foolish. For better or worse I’m not a robot, and over the past years have regularly lost significant periods of time due to mental health deterioration / breakdowns, insomnia, and sometimes even just picking up new projects (like how FoN was added to this list only a couple of months ago) or getting unusually engrossed in a game (which has happened to varying degrees with Rebuild 3 and King’s Bounty: The Legend this year already, each).
Even certain maintenance tasks not on this list will add time loss into the mix – as an example, on the days leading up to publishing this I spent large chunks of my days dealing with personal finances. Worth the time to do, but it’s not something included in the estimated time expenditures above.
So that’s the next
8 months 7.5 months. Let’s see how we go.
- Technically I picked German up again having previously started it a few years prior.
- (it’s not the most useful language to spend time learning)
- As opposed to actions that assist with sleep rather than actually being sleep themselves
- ((Which, to be clear, I know is not anything close to an adequate buffer if it was supposed to be a proper buffer))