The Making Of: Dust

Dave Johnston goes in depth about designing Counter-Strike’s Dust. Iterating and testing has existed since the beginning of, well, creativity. And it was definitely critical for a 16-year-old in 1999:

The problem was I’d been treating this brand-new gametype as if it was one I knew already – Capture the Flag – except in this CTF mode the flag (the bomb) started at the Terrorist spawn. But defusal wasn’t Capture the Flag. In fact, it was so utterly different that hardly a comparison could be drawn. Placing the bomb in the CT spawn hadn’t even crossed my mind. I made the change, and sent it back for playtests.

Playtesting is an important stage of any map’s development cycle. Without it, there’s little way of knowing exactly how a map will play when faced with real people; real players who haven’t the intricate knowledge of the map that you have. It’s playtests that inform you of flaws that need fixing before release – if the map is even fit to be released at all.

I’d be horrified to see a count of how much time I spent inside Dust and Dust 2 in high school. Or even just last summer.

Futures of text

Jonathan Libov took a thorough look at text and its role in future technology:

It can be indexed and searched efficiently, even by hand. It can be translated. It can be produced and consumed at variable speeds. It is asynchronous. It can be compared, diffed, clustered, corrected, summarized and filtered algorithmically. It permits multiparty editing.

Gets back to the idea that sometimes the best UI is no UI. Text handles a lot on its own.

Write a rapid prototype first

Terence Tao talks about using rapid prototyping when writing math papers:

I found that the technique of rapid prototyping from software engineering is useful in ameliorating these difficulties. According to this technique, one does not write the paper in linear order, and one also refrains from the temptation of writing the easiest or most straightforward portions first.

I’m always interested in reading how prototyping can be applied in other disciplines. Also nice to see that he sometimes just goes ahead and writes the fun parts:

I must admit that sometimes (especially for shorter papers) I take a very different approach, writing the “easy” and “fun” parts of the paper first (e.g. the introduction, or some simple lemmas), and try to use the momentum generated to then write the rest of the paper quickly.

Found this after reading his profile in The Sydney Morning Herald—Terence Tao: Mozart of maths.

Origami and Material Design

(This is by me and posted on Medium.) I dove into Origami this weekend. When learning a new tool, whether it’s design or development, it’s good to have a project in mind to apply your learning to. Here, I wanted to re-create some of the animations from the Material Design guidelines. They weren’t so complicated that I’d be in over my head, but they stretched me enough that I’d have to learn a few new techniques to create each one.

Origami 2.0 by Facebook

Facebook released Origami 2.0. You can view your prototypes on-device now. Huge. I think the next biggest thing is the Tutorials section. The learning curve is high and it wasn’t helping that you needed to pull good resources from here and there. No longer.

I’m working through the tutorials and they’re great so far. Combined, they’re a little over an hour and they’ll get a novice to a good point. I’m excited to really try diving in soon.

(By me) Prototyping with Form

This past weekend I started moving things I’ve written to this site. I thought it’d only take like ten minutes for each post, but it was taking way longer. Aka I  was able to catch up on Better Call Saul moving the two design sprint posts over. GIF city.

So I’m going to hold off on migrating posts. For now here’s a link to my Medium post about getting started with Form.

Form shortcuts

Laurel Wagstaff put together a list of common shortcuts for Form. Didn’t realize there were shortcuts for specific patches.

Shift+Cmd+M – Math patch
Shift+Cmd+L – Logic patch
Shift+Cmd+C – Conditional patch

Gabriel Valdivia on the Design Details Podcast

Gabriel Valdivia was interviewed on the latest episode of Design Details, hosted by Bryn Jackson and Brian Lovin. Gabriel is a designer at Facebook and they touch on a lot of aspects of design.

They talk about whether taste can be learned or if it’s innate. Around 29:30:

I do think  you can learn by osmosis. Learn by doing. There’s a certain degree of taste, but there are certain things you can do to kind of inspire taste within you. I don’t think there are people that just shouldn’t be doing design.

I really, really like that. It always seemed like “taste is innate” implies “you can’t improve with practice” to some degree. That just doesn’t make sense.

StartUp Podcast: Fake It Till You Make It

In the latest episode of StartUp, the Google Ventures design team visits Gimlet Media and they run a design sprint together. I’m really interested in the work both teams do, so it was great hearing about them working together.

Alex Blumberg talks about the differing ideas of creating great podcasts and creating a technology platform for the podcasts. You also get to hear some feedback from the user testing session.

The GV team also shared a video overview of the prototype they used for user testing. Really cool.