The social media feedback loop

December 31, 2019, at 06:04 AM by mgarcia in 2019, Industry, Friends, GameDev, Blog (2 comments)

Title: The social media feedback loop Author: mgarcia Date: 2019-12-31 16:04 +1100 Tags: 2019, Industry, Friends, GameDev, Blog Comments: Open

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The social media feedback loop

It's the last day of the 2010's and thought I would end the decade with this blog post.

The following is comprised from a few discord chats, I've had in the background over the last 48 hours, and thought I would share it here and credit people that contributed to it in different ways.

It began by Peteuplink sharing this image on Dino Dini's discord.

Image: Blog.2019-12-31-The-social-media-feed-back-loop

Image of workflow: Get new game ideas to Start new project to Tell people about it, bypassing Finish project and back to Get new game ideas.

Well, here are my thoughts in more detail, and as always there is a text to speech MP3 option in the top right menu.

Social media malaise

This workflow is exactly what social media encourages. But the telling and the finishing are on polar opposites.

In my honest opinion, this is the biggest 'indie' myth, that any one person can do both well and wear huge multiple hats like this.

Don't get me wrong, it's not impossible to finish and publish then market the product, whatever it is really, it just comes with a lot of experience, like 20+ years of doing it repetitively and even then, I can bet there's still some outsourcing of different skills.

In fact, some can actually do it all so well that they publish and market others, like cliffski, but he actually spends big money on marketing.

Now, the real question is why do we tell and show a lot, in our social media enriched life? that's sarcasm! Is it narcissism? modern validation? marketing? It's obviously easier to communicate , then it is to actually do the actual thing we want to do. And thus, we have this workflow, a feed back loop of nothing productive!

Your Social Marketing is BS

I'm sure some are thinking, everyone on Social Media is wasting their time but I'm just going to use it for marketing, but I hear this a lot, it's the glitter that's not gold!

Here are two recent analogies I've experienced:

I recently ate a humongous hot dog at the German Arms Hotel in Hahndorf, South Australia, I really enjoyed it! However at no point in the transaction, did I really care to know how they minced the meat, cased it and cooked it for me to eat, I was very hungry and was with good company :)

I don't doubt the butcher and the chef would have been classically trained with artistry like skills, but I still wouldn't be interested, well, unless of course, I'm a butcher or a chef too!

Now replace sausage with German beer or whatever, and the people that will follow you aren't generally consumers, but other creators, so you're just "marketing" your development to your peers!!!! and really, as your peer, I don't want to see constant marketing.

My last analogy is the hugely extended "behind the scenes" on a DVD, we recently watched the many hours of extras from the Alien movies, something NetFlix doesn't have!

Only the very few true fanatics (my wife) or movie production enthusiasts (myself) are interested enough to actually consume this, but it doesn't sell the DVD, the movie does.

If you want me to follow you, put out something of value and interest, so dare to be different, share some insight, don't just put out updates on your project. If you've done something long enough and had a somewhat interesting and diverse (in experience), you'll know what that is, and it can only come from you, you the individual.

philosophy: Art or Product?

Off topic, but if you're astute, you would have picked up on the fact that I called a commercial product, shock horror... an actual product!

This is strangely unpopular within the very social 'indie' vocal clique and is another common 'indie' myth.

Instead these self proclaimed "artist" project some kind of mystical creative value on their product. In art everything is subjective, so all lack of quality can be self validated as... art.

This ideology is of the worst kind. It's a slippery slope where at the bottom everything is art! and we should automatically just handover dollars to the egocentric, post modern artist and of course, genuine criticism is violence now, so only praise can be expressed, and yes, that's sarcasm again! 😂️

But whatever happened to the good old fashioned, humility and humbleness? There's no higher praise then a stranger to call your daily labor "art", don't take that away from your audience with your own ego insecurity psycho babble. Besides wouldn't you want to actually focus on making a living (your product and business) then perpetuating unproductive and arty farty nonsense?

This year I realized that advice, values and ideas are wrapped within different philosophical, political and ideological ideas. It's worth studying these subjects to understand were ideas come from, and more importantly the path they lead you to.

I really didn't explain that clearly as well as I'd like and I could rant about this topic a lot longer, but I'll leave it here.

The sharing of goals

I've had this blog since the early 2000's on and off, so sharing online is natural to me. The difference between a blog and social media, is that a blog post isn't just 256 characters with a few clicks to publish, it's substantially more and therefore slower, yet more powerful, like a diary with thoughts laid out on pages, rather a pile of post it notes. And yes, I do read my own blog posts, now and then, when some subjects come up which relate to a past blog post, or I want to inform or motivate myself. Through my time on twitter, I never felt compelled to read any past tweets.

So you could argue this blog is Social Marketing as described above, because it looks like marketing, but it's not, the intent of my blog is solely to express myself, like an open diary and yes I share little parts of my random tech projects.

I don't ask for validation, follows, likes or re-post, so I don't expect it, it's just my thoughts and my story.

I write really not for motivation though, not for advice (unless I've asked for it), but just in the spirit of sharing my opinions and ideas, there's only one me on the internet after all, and only one you of course! :)

The lowest common denominator internet wisdom is to share your project openly and this will be motivating for you. I agree to a point, I think little effort stuff is fine, you can look back on it and see your progression. But I would only talk and show my projects in any detail to like minded peers, people that I trust and value their opinions, not random people on the internet. This is for several reasons, but to be honest I expect very low quality, general and vague, group think information from social media, or it's a dumpster fire, outrage flame war. Neither have any value to me, and nor am I motivated by it's popularity contest. Alternatively, a person that's read this blog post, and able to have understood it, is in a position were I would listen and respect there ideas and opinions, especially if it's counter to mine, this is how we learn.

From Harold Serrano's discord:

lol exactly its funny in psychology they say if you want to actually encourage yourself to finish something never tell anyone about your goals just do them.
hmm.. that's interesting.. where did you hear that? I keep hearing the opposite.. to tell others, it's just that most confuse it for marketing and dollars $$$
Harold Serrano
I've heard that if you tell others about your goals, then it creates "accountability". I have a bit of a problem with that. If you have a goal, then go and do it. period. If you share your goals so that others can hold you accountable, then there is a huge problem. If you like to share your goals, sure, go ahead but don't depend on the "accountability" to complete your goals.
I'm for sharing of goals, I just don't think "others" means "everyone"
I like to keep my goals hidden for as long as I can. Mostly because the process of achieving the goal requires the daily grit, consistency, and adjustment to failure that others don’t expect. I suppose a really great friend might see you through that and encourage you but most people in my experience either see your temporary failures & hard work and assume you’re not going to succeed or don’t want you to feel pain so they make it easy for you to quit. I think the inner voice is the best guide since it will keep pestering you to achieve your goals.
I’ve also found that, when it’s an important goal, I actually practice rewriting it almost everyday. It helps a lot to keep remembering them and the purpose for them.
My wife points out that I write my goals like a crazy person sometimes. I’ve written entire notebooks of my goals over and over again.
I’ve just had quite a few failures that I’ve learned from. Hard lessons you’d not want to repeat.
Reviewing them works for lot of people. But there are some who need it itched a bit harder.
It has paid off though.
If you tell others about your goals, it tricks your brain and gives you the effect that you already have achieved it.
@SumoFat damn.. that's some really interesting psychology right there! wow
If you're not working on the goal and too busy talking about it.. then yeah I would have to agree 100%
oh and the guilt.. but the Social Media intellectuals would dismiss it as 'impostor syndrome' and you'd be encouraged to continue the cycle :D

Image of mind blown.

That's some great and insightful feedback, especially SumoFat's: If you tell others about your goals, it tricks your brain and gives you the effect that you already have achieved it.

I can personally relate to this, a few times I've had some very old thoughts of doing something, but I wasn't 100% sure if I actually did them or not. I've tried and catch myself at the moment when I have a good thought to preserve it somehow, like Johny says writing goals/ideas down or just acknowledging it and leaving it at that, in the hopes it might stay in my mind and bubble up when needed.

Impostor Syndrome

I mentioned the overuse of 'impostor syndrome', this is used to validate the insecure. Yes we all start at the beginning and it's hard not knowing what to do the first time doing something, but you wouldn't feel like an 'impostor' if you didn't pretend in public to be something you are not.

I've familiar with this syndrome, I recall the first occasions felt it, but wasn't a negative feeling. I was learning to ride a motorcycle, I bought it on my learner's license, I wasn't meant to ride it by myself, but I did in between lessons at the motorbike school. I remember telling myself to pretend to be a motorbike rider, to look and ride the bike like a pro, with everything I've learnt, it worked, I remember having a police motorcycle behind me once, but I didn't give him reason to pull me over.

Other times relate to my early work experiences, after leaving university, playing the role, assimilating into company culture, using the business and tech words, etc. I think this is normal when doing new things in public and it doesn't have to be a negative experience, there's no guilt in learning something and taking it to the public.

In both examples, I was trained by professionals and followed their teachings, but the other time I felt Impostor Syndrome was while studying, my close friend and I would go to the local pub for karaoke (way before TV singing shows were a thing). Not knowing anything about singing, I'd go up and make a fool out of myself, I felt some kind of guilt especially when most sounded like wannabe rockstars, until I discovered I got up for different reasons, to me, good karaoke is meant to be 'so bad it's good', it's about fun not how pro you sound.

The analogy here, is that there are a lot of people online (especially on Social Media) wanting to sound like rockstars, educators or knowing enough to give "advice" but in reality have no clue what they're doing because they just started and are just rehashing the same generic advice because they don't have any real experience, they just make it up or copy others as they go. Or alternatively, they are so focused on "marketing", that the actual 'work' is really nothing more then a background topic. This isn't 'impostor syndrome', it is the act of being an impostor and their guilt is real, the guilt of deception.

Anyway, always question people's background, see what gives them the credibility to give "advice".
In life, the best lessons are your own, decide to walk your own path, and don't blindly follow the most popular "wanna be rockstars".

But the most common form of guilt I get these days is doing something that's not productive, when I should be, ie like this blog or taking a break. When I get this feeling, I tell myself that it's okay to have a break, to enjoy it because productive days will be around the corner.

Perpetual Procrastination

The flow chart is both nihilist and narcissistic, in fact when I first saw it I thought of "It's fun to lose and to pretend" from a famous nihilist philosopher.

Image of Kirt Cobain saying "Hey, Shut up".

And now, to the real point of this blog post, regarding the social media feedback loop. There is a very recent case in point, along with the flow chart, it's what really motivated me to write this blog post. The conversation below was posted on a very serious video game platform's developer support forums, names removed to protect, well myself.

Opening Person
All I wanted is to be more social so I could have a bigger reason to develop games here.
I really want to make games for this platform but no one is supporting me so I could focus better.
Maybe I'm old.. but I'm seriously trying to understand this :?
This is a forum for technical support not a social platform, or is it?
I guess it's off topic so there's no harm.

Traditionally, social relationships come from purposeful interactions, ie I have a technical issue and someone helps and visa versa.
I don't follow the unity3D forums, so maybe it's there for you?

Where do you expect to get emotional support from online?
And how does it relate to being productive?

Wouldn't focusing on being productive, result in what you want?
Rather then being 'social'? which results in? I don't know, I had such a bad experience on twitter.
Are you looking for external validation? or thumbs up or something social platform related?

I'm sure I told you many months ago, to get off social media and read 12 rules for life, maybe it was someone else though.
Don't think it's just you, I've come across this a bit and your message, made me think. 
Opening Person
Maybe the reason I'm asking is to be encouraged to focus my work power on one thing.
That must be what I'm asking for but I'm not social enough to ask for it.
My self esteem isn't very big so that's why I'm asking for cheers from fellow developers.
Or maybe I'm scared.
Yes, focus your work power on one thing, your gamedev.
Maybe stop procrastinating.

It was you, maybe read my post to you again.

Maybe read this also:
To stop this cycle. (image of the workflow)

For prosperity, I've included my previous post to this person below and yes, of course they didn't use a real name.


To be honest, I was questioning the role discord has in my online life, I liked the candidness and randomness of it, but finding a group of peers that isn't too big or too small AND one which others genuinely participate in, is well very rare.

Me in 2020

I'd like to podcast or do a quick slide presentation of my thoughts rather then just blogging. This is for a few reasons, it's more expressive, honest and intimate and I would like to actually talk to people as well. I don't know if I will or not do this, it's just an idea for now.

Regarding my youtube, I feel like in the future no video will be safe on that platform, so I want to use a lot more.

I want to read more physical books, take more photos and videos.

Well that's it, thanks for reading, happy 2020 and happy new decade!

Bonus: Some feedback!

An astute commenter that chose to remain anonymous writes:

I honestly don't think that's a social media problem. That's a real, observed psychological phenomenon where telling people about progress on something can sap your energy to complete it or cause increased pressure and anxiety to complete it because of now perceived public expectations ultimately leading to abandonment altogether. This happens with everything (fittingly, new years resolutions are a common example).

Game development exacerbates this because most ideas don't work in practice. Games change drastically from imagined to real product because of practical problems in game design. Most ideas sound more fun or easier to implement than they are. So right around the time that you've made enough progress to have something to talk about, but not so much that you realize your idea won't work is when you start telling people about your game. And then you get frustrated, stressed, and start thinking of new "easier" ideas and the cycle starts all over again.

Anyway, all I'm saying is twitter and facebook don't really cause this so much as the act of telling anyone about something you're working toward. It happens if you tell just one friend in person or 2000 followers online.

Here is my reply:

"sap your energy to complete it or cause increased pressure and anxiety to complete it because of now perceived public expectations ultimately leading to abandonment altogether."

That's good insight! I totally agree!

"I'm saying is twitter and facebook don't really cause this so much as the act of telling anyone about something you're working toward. It happens if you tell just one friend in person or 2000 followers online."

I think there's a big difference, the platforms.. they validates with likes, ups, reposts etc etc. and that's the point of my blog post, it incentivises the feedback loop, to the point that the telling becomes more important then the doing.

Having a normal conversation without a social platform, ie family, friends, that pressure really isn't there, unless of course you're talking to a mentor or peer, in which case you can talk to them for advice this is normal and good. But on Social Media, people rarely talk genuinely and in depth, we just can't, we don't know each other and nor do the platforms reward that relationship.

To your first point "sap your energy to complete it or cause increased pressure and anxiety to complete it " I think the opposite is more common though (from what I've seen anyway), where the social feedback loop is more important then their work, ie people giving up because they never got social traction or validation, like it means something???

Special cool bonus: My messages to a random guy that doesn't know what he's doing!

I think there's space for everyone and their skills.. and you've been here since 2016, were you really going to get a test unit? I mean.. it's not the money, they're cheaper then a retail unit!

The platform is a calculator by modern standards, you can't do anything good without being a seasoned pro, that's why all the dev's (good and lazy ones) have moved to a next gen platform.

I don't know why others are still here, but I've always been a bit masochistic with computer science and it's application to gamedev, since 1999 when I got my Net Yaroze - pain is love, love is art! :D

Social media is 100% garbage, get off it, it's nothing but marketing or outrage trash! Whatever your skill sets are, focus on them and "get gud".... stop being a "gloomer". Get a selfhelp book, like Jordan Peterson's 12 rules for life and take some responsibility.

Anyway, Good luck!

Don't look for shortcuts.. I doubt you'll find an open engine or framework that 'just works' with the platform.

Search the forum for SDL, it's there but there's a lot missing, but serves as good documentation.

So your options are using unity or using the platforms C++ frameworks, OpenGL isn't worth it IMO, search the forum or read the docs to find out why.

If you're wanting to do 3D (what I'm doing, see my posts) and wanting to target the OG (also hopefully), you'll be doing a lot of low level (cache etc) optimization, the newer platform, probably a lot less as there's more CPU Mhz, but it's still a big learning curve.

If you want to do 2D look at Matt's Sample, it has everything you need, and very understandable, focus on that!

Read the docs, understand the platform samples also, and search the forums before asking things, show that you made some level of effort before you can expect others to make an effort for you.

so, no C/C++ no test unit Can't read the manual

Don't waste your time on SFML/C++, stick to unity3d or lau or gamemaker etc. If you want to target retro consoles, which lets face it this platform is, I'd suggest learning on something made specifically for learning both SW & HW. I just backed a kickstarter called 32blit, it's a retro handheld made specifically for learning, but using low tech so it's "real-ish" retro.

When you're familiar with lua/C# on a device, then the jump to C/C++ is still huge, but at least you know the hardware API.

Anyway, that's just one example (Pico-8 etc), there's many other gamedev places to learn.... unfortunately, the platform forum's isn't one of them.

I would say, stick to whatever you code in now and forget this platforms and C++! C++ is a beast, it's not just the language that's a huge mind f'ing mess of a language, but the toolchain is also complex.

My recommendation to a C++ noob is start with a C subset to begin with, yes even learning pointers is easier then C++ OOP!

2 comments on "The social media feedback loop"

  • Levi D. Smith @GaTechGrad: 2020-02-08 18:59 +1100
    I have so many unfinished projects. However, with games is anything ever truly finished? I've started watching speed running recently, and almost every game has glitches that can be exploited. I guess if you set out to write a game with a finite set of rules, such as tic tac toe or tetris, then you will know when you are complete. However, polishing a game could take an infinite amount of time, because what "looks good" is subjective and different for every person.
    I completely agree about the "impostor syndrome". I think it was probably coined by some do-nothings to prop up and promote their "chosen ones". Same goes with the "rock star" label. I remember hearing Leo Laporte refer to some people (I won't name any names) on his podcasts as "rock stars", but if you look into their backgrounds, they never really accomplished anything and were just good advocates for whatever topic or cause they were promoting.
  • mgarcia: 2020-02-27 10:33 +1100
    Hey Levi : )

    Yeah I cringe at the level of "rock star" these days.. it's set very very very low.
    I think in general the "gamedev industry" is stale and to be honest, boring...

    With the rise of script engines, the focus changed from pushing yourself and the industry via hardware and software smarts, to pushing virtues, ideology, game like objects, click bait, etc, etc... as "content creators".

    I know there exist people that still push themselves (ie yourself) to do really cool things and to learn and get better, but sadly it's an exception.
    I wouldn't call myself a real expert at anything, but you know there's something wrong with the internet where the 'social experts' don't even know the fundamentals of programming, nor even care too.

    I left this comment on cliffski's blog, a blogger worth following ;)

    "Yeah, I see this a lot, it frustrates me seeing young programmers being encouraged to use a script engine.

    Well, here’s an analogy, using a 3rd party engine is like using porn... if you’ve never had sex and you get addicted to porn, you’ve missed the point."

    anyway.. it's hard keeping motivated when everyone assumes programmers are content creators, sigh :/

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