BallAns – A Game About Life to Piss You Off

It’s been a week or so since I’ve published my first game on Android. It sucks. It really does. And this isn’t one of those “oh, you’re too modest; it is really great” type of fishing for compliments; the game is designed to suck.

You see, the game is about life, or rather, the story of how frustrating and futile life can be, as told by a ball. It has been a very cool learning experience for both me and several people that have played and looked beyond the initial suckage.

The Story So Far…

You may be surprised that I built a game to suck, but frankly, that wasn’t my initial intention. I wanted to build a game that showed how humanity is consuming resources until it eventually will run out of resources to survive on this planet.

So I started with a basic idea. Put a ball in a circle and force the player to consume  small trinkets to grow. The more they eat, the larger the get, but the circle stays the same.

featuredBallans

However, I quickly realized that in many ways, this model explains much of the reason why I’ve decided to retire from SharePoint as well. It was always a chase after the next project or version or paycheck. I never took the time to ask why I was doing it.

But then I started realizing that not only was these simple elements telling me about humanity and my own chase for money, it was telling a larger story about how most people live today. And when I put the game out there, the questions I got from people blew my mind and made me realize so much more about how accurately the game described the lives of many people.

The Big Questions

BallAns isn’t a game like other games. Instead, by taking away the distracting elements like points, music, or complex controls, people play a game that in many way mimics life. The questions they then pose eerily mimics the questions of life as well.

Here are some of the observations and questions people have posted.

What’s the Point?

One question a lot of people have asked is a variety of “is there a point to this game beyond getting the next piece of food and growing big?”

Think about that for a second. There are no points in BallAns. There are no levels. You eat, you die, and that’s it. In the meantime, you’re distracted form the inevitable outcome by simple tricks that make you feel like you’re doing something valuable.

There is no other outcome. You can’t win because in the end, no matter what, you die, and when you do, there’s nothing left of you. Surely, the only point there is would be to enjoy the game while it lasts.

But Why Suck?

Another common comment is people stating in various ways why the game sucks. Popular opinions is that the game is too fast and stressful; that you have too little time to relax between having to get the next piece of food.

The esthetics also get bad but oh, so accurate reviews. “I was expecting something that looked stunning, awesome, and magnificent and I got this boring thing that just looks bland”.

Also, people state that the game is very boring very fast. “I play this for a few minutes and then I’m bored. I want to be entertained and have fun; this feels like a chore”

If I was building a ‘normal’ game, yes, that would have been horrible feedback. However, BallAns is supposed to mimic life and when people make observations that are so directly relatable to life itself, that’s actually exactly what I want people to realize.

Why Not Make it Fun?

A very important comment was to the tune of “If the game was more fun, more people would play it! If people stop playing, the game is meaningless!”

You know what? I’d love for the game to be fun. If it was, however, it would be pretty much like every other distraction out there. It wouldn’t make you think about your life, and that’s what I wanted to do.

Life isn’t fun. It’s not about being entertained. You will be stressed out chasing the next paycheck and you’ll always have a bit too little time to get it. You wanted a brilliant thing made for you? Sorry, it will most likely be boring and bland.

I suggested to one commenter that maybe I could put in a couple of weeks of vacation in the game so he or she could enjoy the game then, but all I got was hammered by the downvotes.

Any Reason to Play Then?

To be honest, I don’t expect anyone to want to play BallAns. Most people play games to escape form reality’s hell, not to be reminded about the futilities of life. And seriously, if you play BallAns more than a few minutes, there’s probably something very wrong with you.

However, for those that have played it, they have almost invariably offered insights into life that are very valuable to me, and if you find that you have a few minutes to waste, feel free to download the game on Android. It’s free and has no ads and if it doesn’t piss you off, it will bore or frustrate you to tears.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.furuknap.ballans.android

Feel free to leave comments here if you have them too.

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Beta Invite: BallAns, The Game of Life on Android

I’m about to publish my first Android game to Google Play. It’s a deceptively simple game with profound philosophical meanings.

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I’ve set up the Beta program through Google Play and would like to invite you to try out the game before I publish it to production in a few days. If you have an Android device (phone or tablet) that has an accelerometer (which most do), you’re hereby invited.

To join the beta program, hit me up at furuknap at gmail.com or through any other means of contact you know. I’m looking for 10-20 people at most and already have six of them. I’m looking for feedback on game balance; it seems most bugs are fixed.

The game has no ads and costs nothing. It will remain free of charge in production release as well.

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SharePoint 2016, Like It Always Was

I’m not following SharePoint, no, but you have to be blind not to have noticed there is a new version coming out. Like I said two years ago and started describing three years ago.

Doesn’t matter. What matters is how it’s done.

Let me point out a few of Microsoft’s “here’s what’s coming” projects.

.NET Open Source

During Connect, Microsoft announced they were open-sourcing .NET and porting it to Linux and Mac. Here’s more or less how that happened.

“Hey, we’re open-sourcing .NET. It should be on Github in a few moments. Whoops, there’s the first public pull request, I was hoping to do that myself.”

In other words: here’s what we’re going to do and here it is, as ready as it is, probably full of problems, but we could really use your help in making this better. Thanks a bunch, you’re awesome!

Windows 10

A bit earlier than connect, Microsoft also announced that Windows 9 would never be, but instead would be a brave attempt at unifying all current and some future device platforms into one OS. Here’s more or less how that announcement happened:

“Hey, we’re betting the barn on this new version of Windows. It should be on insiders.windows.com in about 24 hours. It will probably break and frustrate the crap out of you, but we really could use your help in making this better. Thanks a bunch, you’re awesome!”

A bit later, they even made a video to thank those of us that have tried Windows 10:

This is Microsoft’s flagship by far; the most important piece of software, perhaps on the planet. It works great and they’ve made important changes based on the feedback from users.

SharePoint 2016

So, how is the announcement of SharePoint 2016 going? Following the same pattern? Will they look at the launches of the open early access programs for Windows 10 and .NET and learn from it? Will they finally hear what people have been saying for years?

NO!

Like earlier versions, there’s possibly something coming at some time later, maybe this year if everything goes according to plan. Want to help Microsoft make it better?

PROVE YOUR WORTH, MINION!

That’s right, rather than reaping the insane value of open early access programs like Microsoft does with .NET and Windows, the SharePoint team continues to play its secrecy game that has hurt their partners and the industry over the previous years.

You have to prove to Microsoft that you are worthy to be part of the early access group. I guess that’s slightly different from earlier versions, where only MVPs and a few secrecy-clad clients were allowed to “help out” (although in reality, it was all set in stone before anyone outside of Redmond got a say).

Will You Help?

For SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013, I spent considerable time and resources to disclose information about the upcoming versions. This time, I won’t.

The SharePoint ship is sinking, and although some people claim that is a crystal ball prediction, I don’t want to be part of it. 

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The massive success of the strategy I have proposed for six years is now proven, on scales the size of which would make the SharePoint team jizz in their collective pants. The massive failure of the app model in SharePoint 2013 could have been avoided had they told the world what lunacy they were planning. It could have saved SharePoint 2013.

Rather than listen, however, the crew of the ship, namely the SharePoint team, will go down with their decision to go against virtually the entire community and even now the evidence from their own company.

Feel free to ask me again why I think it’s a stupid idea to be in SharePoint. There was hope until early 2012. Now, all there is are far too few life rafts and a stubborn group playing violins.

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