As we put this tire fire of a last year in the rear-view, I want to be thankful for something big I got out of it. I didn’t go the steady course in 2020. You wouldn’t have recognized me; I grew my hair out, I invested in crypto, I flew with Concorde pilots. I bought a Dremel tool.

2020 was also the year I got serious about my habits, my responses, my motivations. I decided to put myself under a magnifying glass to get more deliberate about doing more of what made me happy, and less of what didn’t.

They’ve stuck the old city trains in a backlot you don’t get to see unless you catch it in the last two degrees of vision on your way out of the city of Naples. On a sunny day like ours, the hulking graffiti letters really stand out, the trains spray painted top-to-bottom with overlapping sigils. At least a dozen trains, all identical except for their user-sourced paint jobs.

Newer trains, like the Trenitalia Freciarossa, the Red Arrow, with 300 km/h regional service and little mini bottles of Prosecco with the morning newspapers, heralded the unstoppable, rampaging future; business was coming…

I’m one bite in and I realize two things at the same time: over here, they make carbonara with egg — which isn’t bad, and, they’ve over-salted the hell out of this pasta — which is bad. Inexcusably bad.

But I’m smiling. I figured something out.

“Only a slow train from Milan at that time.” — Lord Marchmain

Rome, IT — September 2016

Call it a consequence of my newly-defensible mid-thirtiesishness; I’ve grown tired and stayed tired of the all-encompassing search for cultural authenticity as the latest watchword for disillusioned American professionals like me seeking renewed purpose and principle in…

…And all I do is keep refreshing the news sites, hoping something is better.

It hasn’t gotten better yet.

Or ever.

If The Grand Chessboard taught me anything, it’s that populist national decisions — including those regarding neighboring nations — are structured largely on sentiment, not fact, and ripped down the pre-perforated edge of history, not folded on potential future value.

This disconnect between narrative and reality is bad in the best of times, but right now, as so many lie senselessly murdered and many more pray in vain for some semblance of a meaning to it all, our inability…

Note: Originally posted in the early days of Habitat, I realize I neglected my own advice in the headier times of 2014 with a big full-time team, and failed to be an engineer, opting instead for being a “manager”. Finishing the game now, I am paying for that lapse. Indie game makers, take heed. -C

Holy crap, I’m still alive. Sorry, that’s just the first thing I always think when I wake up on New Year’s Day. The world didn’t end (every year since 2012 is another quiet little victory over that horrible Roland Emmerich movie), but I’ve got a…

Note: This was originally posted on my blog in 2012. After appearing on Gamasutra and making headlines elsewhere, two years of reflection have — at least to me — validated my stance. I consider this post, and its message, to be more timely than ever, and a core part of my own personal statement. -C

Microsoft has a term they like to throw around: a Career-Limiting Move (CLM). Refuse to take point on a major project from your manager? You’ve just committed a CLM. Accidentally send that witty, opinionated email to a wide audience that includes your Group Manager? CLM…

Note: This piece originally appeared in December 2014 — as Habitat nears completion it feels appropriate to revisit. -C

As the chill winds tuck in to the coast and all of us here prepare for winter, I’m taking a second to reflect on the year’s work and the close of the conference season.

Oddly, the most poignant thing I noticed about this last year would have been no more than a passing bother if it weren’t for the context.

Ripped jeans.

“Wok — wok?”

Ripped jeans. Exactly.

It’s a weathered, separated, dime-sized patch just on the right kneecap; I noticed…

A colleague of mine stands on what he considers the far shore of game development. A career of developing tangential services, platforms, noble efforts and needed technologies, but he tells me he’s missing what he feels is a deep connection, a signal to the closer liquid core that he is sure must exist; where the real work, the narrative challenges and development hurdles meet, heart and hardware. He feels like an outsider, denied entrance to an elite stratum, ever-reaching for the Legit Game Job.

Then I met others at this year’s IGDA Leadership Summit here in Seattle this week that…

Charles N. Cox

Game Development Special Executive — Founding Member of the Union of Orbital Constructors 509th

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