Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Fighting Eleven #6: Big Data

I have a severe and tremendously annoying limitation to my creativity.

Here's what happens: I'm working on something, and then suddenly, I'm frozen in place. Absolutely, totally stuck, and I can't move forward.

Over the years, I've learned that this means something is wrong, or I'm doing something out of sequence.

The problem, though, is that I don't have a process to get past this point.

Instead, I could be stuck for weeks or months (occasionally, even years), and then I have an "Ah ha!" moment where I realize what's wrong.

Sometimes, when even that doesn't happen, I do something I call Nibble Around The Edges, where I will gently poke and prod and see if I can shake something loose.

I mention this because I've been stuck on the recruiting prototype for several weeks now, even though it seemed to be designed to the point where I could code it.

I was stuck, though, and couldn't figure out why.

The "ah ha!" moment didn't seem to be anywhere in sight, so I started nibbling around the edges. I thought I would put together a rankings database in all the various badge categories for about 15 teams, which should be enough to support the prototype.

I have a hard time doing vertical slices and partial functionality, though. It's uncomfortable for me mentally, if that makes any sense. I'm much, much more comfortable drilling a mile down into a tiny bit of functionality, because I know it's complete when I finish it.

It's whole.

That's what was stopping me this time. I was trying to do subset functionality, and my brain doesn't work that way.

When I remembered that, I decided to go all in. I created a database with all Division One football schools and found rankings for all of them in various categories (academics, fan support, stadium quality, head coach, conference strength).

Now, with all that data to work with, I can create a recruiting prototype that has the qualities I want it to have in the full game. Of course, that means I'm creating roughly half the game here, but that's okay. I'd rather do that and be able to work through consistently than try to create some partial thing that I'm constantly losing time on because I keep getting stuck.

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