117: Karateka, WoW, and “Discipline is Destiny”


Here we go. Microphone is on. I’m just recording. It’s been a long time. We’ll see if I even post this. Anyway, so I’m just gonna go with the most basic plan for recording a podcast. I always think when I sit down and think about how I should do this, it is that I should write some book notes on different book quotes.

Throughout the week and then record once a week. I sometimes come to this conclusion that I should record a little bit each day, do like five minutes a day. What ends up happening when I’ve done that in the past is I repeat myself over and over and over. Um, and yeah, it’s, it’s, it made me realize how easy it is to just like forget and how quickly it is to forget that I’ve talked about something.

So the first book I’m going to talk about is called the making of Karate or Karate. Kraka, Um, not sure exactly how to pronounce it, but it’s by Jordan Ner. He is also the creator of Prince of Persia. He has these two books, Making of Kaotica, Karate Tika, and also the Making of Prince of Persia, their development diaries.

I have been really enjoying these types of books. Another one that comes to mind is, Not development, but more of like a production diary by Robert Rodriguez. He wrote a book called Rebel Without a Crew, where he talks about not the making of Desperado, but of El Mariachi the movie that he made before Desperado and just captures like his rise to fame.

Anyway so the making of Karate Rodika. From its journal was 1982 to 1985, and it’s just him talking about his freshman year, I think it is at Yale. And if he just talks kind of like week to week, he’ll just have different diary entries about what he did. Um, and it’s not, I, I think it’s not necessarily about.

Karate. Like he didn’t start writing his diary to capture that, but a lot of it is related to that because that was his main project during those years. But there’s just stuff about like what he’s doing at Yale, what he’s doing when he returns home, what he does as he begins, like exploring, working at large game companies on the West coast and.

And, and the thing that is, I guess comforting in a way, not exactly mis real love’s company, but um, just to see something relatable is, and that he can, is that he was still successful even though he went through different periods. You can see the indecision in some things about he questions. Path he should pursue.

He’s very interested in film, so he is considering like, Oh, should he just stop making games, go into film? Should he still pursue that? Um, and then you also see some of the overlap in, because he’s so interested in films, filmmaking visual storytelling, he’s able to integrate that into some of. Game development that Asia does, the game design and karate is one of the first games, maybe the first game with in Game Cinematics, of course it’s like it’s the eighties, so it’s still images with some text, but it does create this sort of, um, different storytelling then games before it had done and probably started.

A legacy that lives on today as far as having cinematics and games and getting the game play to become more cinematic over the last few decades. And here here’s a book quote. He says, July 23rd, 1983, it’s been karate, K day I v Versa, and d racked all 12 block shapes. It really is a joy to work on something I enjoy working on.

It seems too good to be true. After Alphabet. I can’t wait to get up tomorrow morning and work on it some more. That’s the end of the quote, and it just captures how excited he is to work on karate. This is July, and then he returns to school. Real life beyond programming gets exciting. He’s, he, he, he, he’s, Capturing like all his dates and that sort of thing.

But he will mention if there’s a girl at school that he’s interested in or someone that he met and just captures like, Oh yeah, real life was happening. So in the summer he’s waking up excited and in September, so in the fall, he wakes up excited, but not necessarily in the same way. So this entry is from.

Six weeks later, seven September 7th, 1983. I’m not working on karate. This is dangerous at this moment. Computer programming seems boring compared to a lot of other things. If I don’t jump back in soon, I may not want to. That’s the end of the quote. So yeah, July. It’s a joy to work on something I enjoy working on.

Can’t wait to get up to Mor tomorrow morning and work on it some more, and then six weeks later. I don’t know if I’m interested in doing this, and I know that it’s important to get back to it, or I may never pick it back up again. . So, yeah, that’s why I like this book. Enjoyed it and it, it, he does eventually release it.

It’s up and down throughout, and just seeing that that is something that can happen in the pursuit of creative project, any project. Um, it’s not gonna be that excitement forever. Even if you do find something that you. Love doing. If it’s on one single project, it’s hard to stay that interested in a single project.

Some, so probably in a single craft you can do for your entire life. But if you were very interested in playing the guitar, but then had to only work on one song your entire life, you’ll, you’d probably start to lose some interest. Um, this next quote is from a book called. The more you do, the better you feel by David Parker.

I heard about this book through an interview that Ali Ab Do, Did. He’s the, he’s a YouTuber. You makes videos about productivity. Um, Ali Ab Do was a doctor and then became a YouTuber. where he would talk about medical school and then eventually went full time to YouTube. And now, um, I think most of his business is in building courses for people who want to create YouTube channels.

Um, but he interviewed another author Oliver Berkman, who wrote a book called 4,000 Weeks. And he also used to write, I think it was like a weekly or monthly, um, Call him about kinda like productivity topics and that sort of thing. So he’s seen all the techniques all Oliver Berkman, and he wrote a book called The Antidote, which is kind of about like anti productivity.

And same thing with 4,000 weeks where it, it’s not entirely like a criticism of trying to be productive, but it is, um, more a criticism of thinking you can. Become perfectly productive. You can perfectly plan things and execute things and kind of like bend the world to your will. My main takeaway from that book 4,000 Weeks is this idea that just.

You need to at some point accept, there’s comfort in accepting that you can’t control everything. You can plan certain things, but if you want to live a life with relationships and friendships with other people, to build things with other people, it’s going to require time with other people. And you have no control over their schedules, um, or at least much less control over their schedules.

And to think that. Um, you can somehow control that. That would be a, a fools errand. That’s kind of, um, what, 4,000? My, my favorite takeaway from 4,000 hours. Anyway, so he, in this interview Ali Ab Doll asks him like, Okay, you’ve seen all these productivity techniques, Which one actually works for you?

And he says, he, that’s where he mentions this book. The more you do, the better you feel by David Parker. And the method in the book is called Jot, j o t, just one thing. , it, it sound, and even as he’s explaining, he’s like, it, it does sound so simplistic. Um, maybe dumb even, but it, it has worked when he’s tried it.

And what it is, is you only write, you have a list. You don’t have a to-do list. You just start with an empty blank sheet of paper. You write down one thing that you’re gonna do next. And then once you do that, cross it off, write down the next thing that you’re gonna do. Do that thing, cross it off. So you always only have one thing that is not crossed off on your list.

That’s the thing that you should be working on and. Um, then by the end of the day, if you follow this, you have a full paper of things that you were doing. What this does is it, it’s like getting a bunch of layups in you. You get those small wins, you build some momentum, you see that you’re completing things.

And the examples in the book are, I, I think it’s from like the early two thousands. Um, Things like put the DVD case away or put the DVD back in the DVD case. Um, and there’s some more like work related examples, but they are very small tasks and the idea is that you can. Start with like as small of tasks as you need to, to just build that momentum.

Later on you can start to do larger tasks. Keep track of larger tasks, but you never turn it into a to-do list. You keep that separate somewhere else. You’ll have a project list, task list somewhere else, but the main thing is to have a running jot. List. Just one thing, one active thing. I found it helpful.

I’ve tried it during the workday. I found it helpful for, um, I’ll just get distracted and then at some point I will look at the list and remember like, Oh yeah, that was the thing that at some point in my day I decided is the most important thing before I got distracted with this other stuff. Um, so here we go.

This is a quote from the book. The more you do, the better you feel. he says. However, as soon as that warm glow of satisfaction began fading in its place, I began reviewing, examining, and criticizing the efforts that had brought that job to a close. Why didn’t I finish it sooner? It really wasn’t that difficult, was it?

Why am I so dumb? What’s wrong with me? That’s the end of the quote, those different questions that come up. Um, and I, I’ve. I, I think everyone has experienced this. I’ve experienced it recently where I’ve put off projects for a while or like tasks for a while, days, weeks. And then once I actually sit down to do it and like review what I needed to do, it’s like, Oh, okay.

That task was not as large as I thought. It was not as hard as I thought it was. Sometimes it’s harder sometimes, like there’s of course cases where you sit down to do the thing and it, it’s just as hard as you thought it would be. But there are those situations where you sit down and do the thing and then realize like you have spent maybe like 10 times more energy worrying about it.

then it would’ve actually taken to you just go ahead and do it. So start using that. The just one thing list, I found it helpful. Um, and he also includes this other quote from Deepak Chopra. The best use of imagination is creativity. The worst use of imagination is anxiety. All right let’s see. So.

That’s the second book, the third book that I’ll mention that I finished really fast as far as my reading goes. Um, it was something like 400 pages. I finished it within a week. I had some long flights, so we flew to New York and back. So there’s a lot of time to read. It’s this book called The World of Warcraft Diary by John Stotts.

This is another development diary game design diary. John STAs was. Game designer, level designer who worked on World of Warcraft leading up to its original release. So he was working at Blizzard. It was actually the first team that he joined. So that’s interesting. Just it was interesting to hear him joining Blizzard.

Coming onto, like during the interview, he’s not really told what game he would work on, and then I think not until maybe the middle of his first day or like first week. I think it’s the first day. Um, Someone like pulls ’em in and says like, Hey, do you even know what you’re working on? Let me show you.

And then it’s very, very, very early version of World of Warcraft. Um, I never played World of Warcraft. I, in hindsight, I don’t know if this is actually true now, like, you know, it’s been almost 20 years, but my memory of it was I played a lot of StarCraft, I played a lot of counter Strike. I had seen some friends get very addicted to text based RPGs.

Um, and then I saw World of Warcraft was gonna come out. I hadn’t played an mmo. Um, I think like, kind of to this day I haven’t really played an MMO with any like seriousness. Um, but I saw, yeah, okay. World of Warcraft is gonna come out. It is. Looking awesome. Like gonna, it’s gonna look, I mean, it looks awesome.

It looks like a lot of fun, but I’m also going to start college and maybe I don’t want to start playing what looks to be a very, very addictive game. Um, and I don’t know I just ended up, that was kind of the reason I remember like not playing it. So I’ve never played the game and reading this book, I wish I had, I wish I had spent like some amount of hours playing this game because it sounds like it was such a great experience for the people who played it.

God knows, I, I had time in college, so, um, Yeah. Which was probably spent play StarCraft instead. So like, I could have just been playing World of Warcraft. Um, and yeah, it’s, it’s just a great book about I wrote down some takeaways. Games aren’t exactly fun until near the end of development. The, there’s a nuance here where he talks about Blizzard makes their own.

Game engines. So that’s where it’s like most of the development of the game is in building the engine. So for years he talks about like, I think it’s like one or two years. I think it’s like even up to two years where the game is just a world where you can run around. Even like most of the collision detection isn’t there.

Um, There’s no quests. So Quest got added later. No objectives, no combat. MEChA, like no combat. There’s animations to like swing your weapon, but um, the characters that don’t have any stats, so you’re not able to damage things. Nothing, Nothing is built into the game to make it fun. It’s just a world that you can explore.

Um, But he loved that he loved game design and he would, how he got the job. He talks about like he, his portfolio was, um, these levels he made for quake on the side and that’s what he applied with and was able to get the job. And he just loved making, um, designing levels and. Um, it does remind me of like what I mentioned earlier, that karate quote where he’s talking about like, you know, working on something you’re excited to work on in the morning.

And it sounds like John STAs was pretty much excited and happy to work on level design for years. And, um, he, he does talk about the amount of hours that they worked and it is a big contrast to today where work life balance is so emphasized. And even back then, it was kind of emphasized. He talks about like, Oh, we’re, we’re doing crunch, like, crunch hours, but it’s not as bad as StarCraft.

Blizzard learned you can burn out the team beyond repair. With StarCraft they were doing crunch hours, but for World of Warcraft we’re only doing two days a week. So Mondays and Wednesdays you have to come in and work late and you get Tuesdays and Thursdays to recover. And then, um, Yeah, it maybe you come in on weekends, um, and work a full day then and that’s, that’s kind of like what it is.

That’s what’s, what’s, what’s expected. And then they have the crunch month leading up to different releases, different big dates. Um, Anyway, Excellent book. I it was, yeah, just like fascinating to learn about how a game is put together. I have some understanding of like how software is put together with new parallels to like a game development team.

Not exactly the same, but understanding there’s like engineers working on different things designers working on different things. The difference is probably there’s artists, like a large team of artists, and then. Product manager is similar to game development. There’s the producers. It sounds like they have similar roles.

I haven’t done game development, so I don’t know if like, I, I’m guessing this is like pretty similar. Um, and here we go. Here’s the quote that I have here. Alan, Adam. Had long maintained. It was amateurs who felt compelled to be original. These were the guys trying to impress journalists with novelty and who rarely asked themselves if their new approach was better.

For years, Blizzard had shrugged off accusations that we never invented anything. We treated games seriously as a business, not as an opportunity to be AvantGuard. That’s the end of the quote. This is from world. The World of Warcraft Diary by John Stocks. What he’s talking about there is, um, Alan, Adam, he’s, I think one of the founders of Blizzards or, or of Blizzard or, um, I, I should look it up.

Um, let me see. I’ll do a quick pause. Here we go. Okay. A Adam is an executive producer and one of the original founders of Blizzard Entertainment. And yeah, so. Um, yeah, the reason I highlighted that was probably just, um, in thinking about creativity and what that means and that oftentimes it’s combining things that exist.

And if you are trying to create something entirely original, that can be difficult. But there is the balance of, um, how much you are combining from different things. If you’re only. You know, taking like 90% of something that exists and then combining it with like 10% of something else, maybe that’s not enough to, um, be like adding value to the world.

But this mindset of creating the best of something that exists is, has worked for, or worked for Blizzard back then. I have not followed games as closely these days, but um, I did see like people were mad about like Diablo being like mobile or a mobile version of Diablo and now everyone’s waiting for Diablo for hopefully they can get back to their roots.

I have no, um, say in the matter, I haven’t followed it much beyond, um, beyond that. That’s like kind of what I know. Um, and it does remind me of say, Apple and how the iPod was not the first MP3 player, but it became the best one. Um, and now the last book this last quote is from, I’m reading this one pretty, pretty quickly as well.

Um, have the audio book and yeah, I’ve just been like listening to it. Fittingly, like while working out. It’s called Discipline Is Destiny, The Power of Self Control by Ryan Holiday. One of my favorite authors, I, I’d listen to the Daily Stoic podcast and have read a number of his books. Um, And yeah, if, if you like, ego is the enemy and Obstacle is the way or any of Ryan Holiday’s, books, I think you’ll really enjoy discipline, his destiny, the power of self control.

I’ve really enjoyed it. I think it’s, um, just a good time for, I, I was really like looking forward to it, probably more than any of his other books and more than any, Book that I can think of like recently and say like the past year for like a non-fiction book, like , like waiting, waiting for it to release.

Like the week of like, Oh, I hope I can’t wait to start reading this thing. And then of course like thinking my head okay a little bit, like I know it’s not true, but then there’s always that feeling of. I’m gonna read a book, a book about discipline, and then become perfectly disciplined after. And then, um, you know, live a perfect life after that.

And I know that’s not true, but hopefully I’ll be able to apply a little bit of discipline. I, I feel like, um, this year there, there was just a lot. We did, um, the house hunt at the beginning of the year. That was like the first three months and then the next six months it was hard to. Footing because it’s like trying to settle into the house and then every month there was a wedding, um, some months, multiple weddings, and it was just a lot of traveling.

Um, and yeah, lot of traveling and yeah, just, it does become hard to. I’m making it is an excuse, um, or like a reason, but it does become, you know, you’re, you’re with friends. There’s a lot of social events for these trips. Get the mindset of like being on vacation. Um, and I say their excuses because it’s clearly like, Oh, I could have approached it as, um, Time to double down.

Like I’m gonna take a trip. That means I have to be diligent about working out, like in the hotel or whatever it is. Making sure to set up some rules to follow and eating with friends and, um, and all of that. And, um, hopefully I can do that in the future. But just didn’t do it this year. Um, Have at least been like pretty consistent, I think with working out, but it was, Oh, also I had like elbow pain.

There were just a lot of reasons, but I’m hoping I can build some discipline, get back on track, um, and the year, right. Um, in better health, better shape. Um, and yeah, whole, I I didn’t even talk about the book yet, so, um,

Here’s a quote and one I think I want to keep in mind. We’re gonna go on. Trip in a couple weeks to, or actually next week to Europe. So it’ll be a nice time for me to try to stay healthy. Don’t let myself go entirely. And this is the quote from the book, Discipline is Destiny. The body is stupid. You have to understand, and our en, our temperament has to save it from itself.

The body wants to eat until it is full, but it ends up way past that point. The body wants to drink until it is drunk, but we only feel that way when we’re well beyond drunk. The body wants to be numb. It can put up with horse piss if it works. As Kennedy said, the body wants what it wants now, it can deal with the consequences later.

That’s the end of the quote and yeah. Really enjoying the book, and it’s, it has probably like what you expect it to have. He talks about practice has some descriptions of musashi and muhi practicing with a sword Lou Garrick and his practice. And, um, just that resilience to be able to show up every day.

You don’t have to. Lift mountains every day. You kind of just need to show up, do the work. It’s not always gonna be great work. Um, and it reminds me of workouts where, um, I listened to Pat Flyn and Dan John. They have a podcast together. Um, each of them has a podcast and they’re big on kettlebells. Dan John invented the goblet squat, so, um, Maybe wasn’t the first to squat with a go, like with a kettle bell, but um, definitely is credited for popularizing it, naming it.

Um, and yeah, they have this term called punch the clock workouts. These are, um, the ones to keep in the back pocket. You. Come in, you know, even if your mood’s down, you’ll be able to do something worthwhile in like 10 minutes to 20 minutes and come in, punch the clock, get out, and you’ve improved yourself a little bit on that day.

And that’s something that I’ve been trying to do. The past week the past month or so I’ve been doing, like getting back into barbs. But um, for the past week I’ve been like, leading up to this trip. I just wanted to start to. Into, I, I was missing daily workouts, the barbells, it was every other day. Um, and then I was just not really enjoying the days off in, not, not in a no days off sort of thing, but I do feel better when I workout.

So I was trying to think of like, let me just start doing, finding like a daily workout. So I’ve been doing like a 30 minute workout with Kettlebells. It’s. Written on the wall. Nice thing. Easy to follow. Have been doing that and I’ve just found it is something I look forward to. And after I’m done, I feel good.

Um, anyway, so hopefully I can build some discipline, hopefully. Um, I’ll record more podcasts in the future. I think I let things get away from me. I guess like create in the like side projects, creative work, um, because like actual work was getting like kind of hard also. So, um, thanks for listening this far.

Um, Podcast is still alive. I think at some point I’m going . I I did buy the url, active-recall.com. I need to switch it back. The reason being, I’ve started to make some YouTube shorts and I really don’t want to change the name. I have like youtube.com/active recall. So I’m just gonna make it, bring it all back to Active Recall and then me and Wally, at some point we’ll record again, as usual.

Thanks a lot. Thanks for listening. Read on or something. Go, go read a book.