MARK KOBERLEIN

Professor of Interactive Design & Animation at Northampton Community College. Professional pixel pusher and amateur Japan tour guide.

MARK KOBERLEIN

Professor of Interactive Design & Animation at Northampton Community College. Professional pixel pusher and amateur Japan tour guide.

2021 a New Year with New Focus

by Mark on January 1, 2021

Starting the new year, with a new post. I don't feel like complaining about 2020 because I believe there was enough of that in the social zeitgeist leading up to the new year. We all lost a lot, and for my family, our house burned and we lost almost everything, but hey, that's just 2020. Now I want to start the year with more focus and clarity. There are a lot of projects and new initiatives dreamed up or started the previous year. I want the next year to be a building year and put aside the dreaming for a bit.

I don't believe in resolutions but I do believe in goals and how they can bring clarity to times when you are not sure what to do or what to work on. Here are some of the major areas I want to work on and develop over the next year.

  • Blog and stream every day.
  • Develop a prototype for Saigai Masuta (Disaster Master game) with friends and colleagues over in Japan.
  • Finish one of the apps I prototyped for courses and release it on the app store.
  • Build a learning model for Sitebuild.io.
  • Develop a slot car racing game using Godot.

I'm not promising that I will complete all of these in 2021 but my goal is to stay focused on these and document my progress through the year on this site.

Blog and stream every day.

This website has been dormant ever since I got transitioned to being a full-time academic. I'm not sure why because I have worked on managed other websites since then, but my personal website hasn't gotten any love. I feel it's time to practice and what I preach to my students about having a personal website and keeping it up to date. I know journaling through a blog would be good therapy too. Too often I find myself overwhelmed with prioritizing what to work on which leads to a lack of focus.

While 2020 was fraught with many challenges, specifically losing my home office to smoke and water damage, I was able to upgrade my workstation and recording setup for my lecture videos and online classes. I want to keep improving video lectures by streaming on a Twitch channel I started for myself. I haven't taken advantage of it but I plan to over the next year.

Develop a prototype for Saigai Masuta (Disaster Master game) with friends and colleagues over in Japan.

During my last visit to the Akashi Technical College in the Summer of 2019, I was inspired by the disaster simulators and the disaster prevention engineering that the college specialized in.  Over the past year, the experience of seeing the earthquake and tsunami simulators stayed with me and I have been thinking about designing a game around it.  I am working on a prototype of this game and once that is completed I will be partnering with friends from Japan who specialize in disaster prevention engineering to make sure that the physics and simulations are accurate while still being fun to play within the game.

Finish one of the apps I prototyped for courses and release it on the app store.

One of the benefits of teaching computer science courses is that I have started a bunch of small prototype applications to use as examples in class. Would be nice to take one of these prototypes and develop it into a real application: Spartan Tasks, Love Budget, Snapfigs, or Flip Card Maker.

Build a learning model for Sitebuild.io.

A fun research topic that I have been doing a lot of reading on in 2020 is Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. I do believe that someday the machines will take over and the only thing we can do to ease the transition is being prepared for it and use it to our advantage. One area where I believe there will be a lot of disruption is in marketing and design. A lot of areas of commercial design have become commoditized with template marketplaces, no-code design apps, and automatic page builders. I believe the next step is automatic design using machine learning.

Develop a slot car racing game using Godot.

Finally, a fun game that I have been thinking about building in Godot is a slot car racing game. I'm working on this as a prototype for an example in my Interactive Design class but this could be a fun game to complete and release on the app stores. I know there are a few of these games on the app store but I have always wanted to make a racing game and it's fun to bring back the memories of racing slot cars on a track you got for Christmas when I was young.