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90 Ways To Survive being an Indie Game Developer & Entrepreneur

This past few months has been an adventure for me. This October I officially felt confident enough to launch our fundraising campaign One Million Heroes, a way to become a champion, nominate and give back to the world, but also a way to contribute to building a program as part of our Pay It Forward program. Our biggest challenge is marketing right now, to bring in 20,000 champions willing to nominate and sponsor their Heroes, champions who believe in our cause, their Heroes cause and that we have something to give them.

One of the biggest challenges I have faced is not having the funds to hire a team to help drive us towards success. Most of our Guardians of Life work more than one job and struggle to make ends meet. For me Zenratstudios is my one job, it is my full-time job, and it’s success and how far we get is dependent on my sole ability to creatively turn a lack of resources into resourceful ways of pivoting us to success. Life is all a game to me, it’s one big puzzle. Just like in any video game I’ve started with nothing. Just a few sticks and some stones. There’s a river here, and somehow I have to get across it. I run around doing side quests to level up my skills, so that I can learn what I need to learn to get across the river. All of that takes time. 90% of this entire year has been spent learning skills and building upon my mental resilience and knowledge. Things that I couldn’t afford to outsource in the beginning. Spending time learning as much as we can so we can automate and outsource has been a short-term investment for long-term gain.

Everything takes up time. Hiring people takes time, building websites take time, products take time to build, services take time to launch. There is not one feature of running a start-up that does not take time. The biggest part that takes time is motivating to care about your cause as much as you do it, lest you start to feel crazier than you already are. Despite all that is going on we’re confident that wiith creative problem solving, martial arts and some mindfulness everything always seems to fall into place.

Here is a rough list of the must have things we’ve had to schedule into our daily regimen both to maintain our sense of peace & wellbeing, as well as to maintain our sanity.

LEARN

  1. Read, read, Read
  2. Everyday pick up a book or read a short article, learn something new! (I’ve learned about SEO, Marketing, graphic design, programming, spiritual health, resilience, it’s so great to see how all that knowledge overlaps and integrating them all together)
  3. FOCUS

     

  4. Develop laser vision esp. if you’re solo
  5. Focus on 1 thing at a time, each day, in each moment
  6. Chip away your to do list, (it took us 1 year to bring a 1,000 item to do list, down to 100 down to 10- 12 /day)
  7. Break each item into tasks with their sub to do lists (so at any given moment we know exactly where to pick up and start) focus the day on that.
  8. Keep a Goal and To do list tracker/ write a list of goals before bed and waking up
  9. Prioritize your most important tasks
  10. Level up to the next tasks and their sub-tasks when complete!
  11. Track to do list and progress every day, week, and month, use this to track progress to see how far you’ve gotten
  12.  

    SPIRITUAL/EMOTIONAL/MENTAL HEALTH

     

  13. Incorporate meditation into your daily routine
  14. Don’t neglect your spiritual, mental & emotional health
  15. Incorporate mindfulness into everything you do
  16. Incorporate Rest & Relaxation into your schedule
  17. Kill two birds with one stone by incorporating physical fitness into your spiritual regimens
  18. Make Mind-Body workouts part of your daily regimen
  19.  

    EXPLORE & EXPERIMENT

     

  20. Explore & Experiment (It took me 1 year to explore and experiment, finding my voice, my identity, and clarifying my message.)
  21. Don’t be afraid to step back and try something new
  22. Detours are part of the learning experience, we call them side quests. (Just like any side quest you return to the same road giving us more insight and skills. Learn new things that can make your calling stronger than ever, and even allow you to change gears if you need to).
  23. Always keep ‘scope’ in mind, something may seem simple, but when you’re doing everything yourself that simple task can become a nightmare.
  24. Reign in scope, for what you as an individual can do without getting burnt out
  25. Write Strategy plans for everything, research everything
  26. Experiment with your message on different platforms in ways that don’t affect your brand (safe spaces for exploration are great, I like to experiment with my message by talking to people among my family and friends who are not the right audience or fit, to learn what resistance feels like, cater my voice to that audience, while also working on narrowing my message and explaining it clearer and gauging what lack of feedback feels like from good feedback right down to biased feedback!)
  27.  

    AUTHENTICITY

     

  28. Be Authentic (but what does that mean), it means be YOU
  29. (But who are you?) Take time to explore, experiment & find you!
  30. Don’t be afraid to change and grow and share those changes
  31. Don’t just focus on selling yourself to customers ask yourself are these the type of people you want to serve?
  32. Don’t be afraid of rejection for every person that hates you, there is someone out there who will love you find those people
  33. Not every customer and person is right for you, make sure the people you serve are the kind of customers you want to have
  34. Be TRUE to you
  35. You are your first customer, if it doesn’t resonate with you, you’re not doing it right!
  36. Be genuine & heart felt
  37.  

    BE AN ALCHEMIST: TRANSMUTE CHALLENGES & CRITIQUES INTO OPPORTUNITIES

     

  38. Transmute criticism and failures into positive and opportunity to learn, expand, grow and build better
  39. Always get feedback
  40. Don’t focus on ‘lack of resources’ focus on resourcefulness and creativity. Take any problem, lack of money, lack of team, and brainstorm/mind map your way to a solution, examine it, question it, play with it, integrate. Be resourceful
  41. Adapt, and be flexible, bend if somethings not working don’t be afraid to try something new whether you’ve told people about it or not, be open and honest
  42. Express your needs clearly
  43.  

    “CREATIVITY” & PASSION

     

  44. Stop the Excuses
  45. Use determination and passion to find your breakthroughs, be committed. Find it.
  46.  

    HOPE

     

  47. What is does not determine what will be!
  48. Missing deadlines is not the end of the world, EXTEND THEM
  49. Procrastination is a sign of genius but don’t let it rule you! Break the habits, focus (break tasks into smaller problems, always have a clear to do list that tells you what needs to be done next, read inspiring articles that help bring back your passion and get you going again, work in bursts, and do one thing at a time to break through procrastination or at least chip away at it, just bite the bullet and do it now when you’re due date is today!)
  50.  

    TAKE TIME TO RECONNECT, TAKE BREAKS OFTEN

     

  51. If you’ve lost your passion and momentum stop! Take time to breathe, reconnect, find your center.
  52. Meditation and relaxation is great for this
  53. Take breaks frequently and often, do work in bursts! (somehow we’ve managed to get it done)
  54.  

    SCHEDULE

     

  55. Stay organized (utilize schedules, lists, rules, and get physical notebooks with lots of pens)
  56. Schedule time for you and your family
  57. Set a time every day for your family (we have lunch, breakfast, dinner hours, and weekends are a no work zone)
  58. Create Opening & Closing Hours (our hours for social engagement are officially 12AM/9PM – 3PM Monday – Friday. For our ‘public’ work, our behind the scenes work takes place on weekends, recouping, resting)
  59. Always plan 1 week or more in advance (we try to plan one month ahead for our tasks, and then weeks if not days ahead, even if we are close to the due date we always know what we’re supposed to be doing in any given moment)
  60. Hire 1-3 weeks before your deadlines! Most people take a few days to produce work and sometimes the work isn’t satisfying, we learned that lesson the hard way when we hired a Virtual Assistant who showed up late and never did the job!
  61.  

    DELEGATE & OUTSOURCE

     

  62. Your time is a resource, every hour you spend doing something you can outsource is time you aren’t doing something else
  63. Delegate any task that can be outsourced.
  64. Automate what can be automate (outsource to machines)
  65. Utilize automation tools like Buffer starting at $10/month
  66. If you’re opening a shop and can’t afford to hire a coder/and don’t have the time yourself: Bite the bullet and purchase Shopify + Sendowl to save time, even if it’s a temporary solution
  67. Use tools like Articy Draft SE to manage complexity
  68. Use Windows Word to utilize navigation bookmarks/headers (Google drive is great too for organizing documents and teams!)
  69. Before you outsource try to build it, this allows you to gain an intimate understanding of what’s really involved
  70.  

    AFFORDING YOUR TEAM

     

  71. Outsource to independent contractors not employees when you’re broke
  72. Negotiate, barter & bargain! The right person is willing to work with what you are able to give (if that person won’t, then rest assured there is someone out there capable of doing so)
  73. Use Fiverr with caution, lots of low quality and hidden fees, often times it comes with more headaches than not.
  74. See everyone you meet as special and unique with their own gifts and talents
  75. Realize that everyone has something to offer, if one person doesn’t work out, know that somewhere someone else will!
  76. Focus on creating win-wins for people, as they lift you up, lift them up too. We are a team. Let’s not leave the other behind so that we can move forward on our own.
  77. Invest the time to build a team
  78. For every person out there that won’t help you or barter within your budget, there is someone out there that will
  79. Cut off people who believe low pay isn’t worth quality (this is frequently a problem for places like fiverr and upwork, where people agree to work for low prices but then may say they’re not being paid enough to care)
  80.  

    REACHING OUT

     

  81. Seek help, Take Breaks, Step away
  82. The world doesn’t come to you, you have to step outside and go to it. Leaving my inner cave is the hardest, coming down from the mountain is the hardest. Engaging with people is the hardest, I focus on a place of love and do nevertheless.
  83. Be symbiotic. Don’t look to compete, be and emulate the plant that cooperates and gives to the world, in a symbiotic away
  84. Keep your eyes out for mentors (I’ve contacted several potential mentors but often receive no responses or they never get back to me, I use daily interactions and reading as my mentors and learning experiences, but I still have my eyes open)
  85.  

    DEVELOP RESILENCE & THICK SKIN

     

  86. Carefully select your team but don’t be afraid to say it’s not working out!
  87. Develop thick skin
  88. The hardest part is making people care; in this world everyone asks, “What is in it for me” no one genuinely helps just because they care or want to see you succeed. You always have to find ways to make people feel like their time listening to you is worthwhile.
  89.  

    BE COMPASSIONATE & KIND

     

  90. Remember! Don’t think of people as being ‘greedy’ think of people as trying to survive! It’s easier to approach people with compassion, to understand that they need to feed themselves and their families.
  91. Try not to let your anger and stress cause you to lash out, try to look at people with compassionately even as you decide not to engage with them!
  92. Be compassionate towards yourself, most depression results from setting high expectations. It’s a symptom telling you something is off and that you need something, set that time aside to make your mission getting it.
  93. Don’t be a dictator be a Team
  94. Be strong, firm, but KIND
  95. Forgive yourself when you have a bad day or fall off the horse (your best is always changing, some days are more stressful than others, somedays are better, extend a hand of compassion and forgiveness when the best you can do today is not the best you did yesterday)
  96. Take responsibility, admit mistakes, never blame, focus only on you but be objective about it!
  97. Be objective BUT KIND!
  98.  

    FACE THE ACT OF GIVING & RECEIVING REJECTION WITH GRACE

  99. Don’t attack or insult people as a person, always direct your frustrations onto the situation or action (more often than not it’s not PEOPLE who are bad, but the environment itself, what can you DO to bring out their best)
  100. Redirect and focus on what you do want to see, not what you don’t
  101. Let people go with kindness and compassion, just because they didn’t work for you or you didn’t work for them, doesn’t mean you won’t work better for someone else and vice versa
  102. Be Humble!
  103.  

    FUN

     

  104. Most Importantly MAKE Learning & Engaging FUN!
  105. Incorporate fun into everything you do!
  106. If you’re not having fun you’re doing it WRONG!
  107.  

In the beginning when I first started this balancing my life was hard. I had a newborn baby and lived on $700/month. Today I have a toddler and still live off of $700/month, and that’s before bills are paid. After bills are paid I’m scraping sometimes even getting behind on rent leaving people I.O.Us all for a dream, that we can save the world and have fun doing it too.

It was a scary prospect for me to pick up my lifelong dream, to answer the call and try to make a living and save the world while doing so. I was going through a lot of losses at the time, a deep spiritual journey, and juggling parenthood. At first I buried myself into work, learning as I went along, but realized I was missing out on my child’s growth. It seemed doing one thing at a time was futile. But slowly but surely over the course of a year my 1,000+ page to do list slowly became 500, became 100, became 10. This starting week my to do list is down to 5 focused lists, spaced out throughout the weeks.

The biggest change in my life was making the decision that my hours for social engagement and ‘active’ work are 9AM – 3PM. I might get in early at 3AM or 7AM, and I might work a little bit overtime, but I’m not required to. I set aside breakfast, lunch and dinner, that’s time for me and my family, and I make my working hours really count. Sometimes if I see an opportunity to get work out of the way I do it.

When my child is sleeping I work on a single thing from my to do list. I don’t respond to emails until I get it done. Sometimes I take a break, walk around. If the hour I dedicate to it passes and I run out of time. I move onto the next thing and continue this project later.

My biggest thing these days is to relax, the way I see it is, whatever happens is going to happen anyway, if I’m going to die, I can be sad about it, happy about it or neutral about it. In that same way if I need to write an essay, I relax into it. I choose the perspective I want to have and then I go into that situation from that perspective. I can worry that we won’t make any sales, or nothing will happen, and we’ll fail. Or I can simply relax, keep calm and carry on, like a bird singing a song irregardless of who is listening or not. Trusting that I have it within myself to face challenges, solve problems, find solutions and create better ways. Looking at a problem from different angles and focusing on them like tasks to a do list, developing unique strategies for each one.

To learn more:

Read The Press Release for One Million Here: http://bit.ly/2e66M4A
Read About Our One Million Heroes & Pay It Forward Campaign here: http://bit.ly/2fAfr22

Visit and get your Nomination Badges now: http://onemillionheroes.zenratstudios.org

Check out our shop at: http://shop.zenratstudios.org

Read Zenratstudios Press Release for hints and clues to our puzzles: http://bit.ly/2dsAjTsh

Like & Follow us on Facebook To receive daily hints for our ARG: http://facebook.com/zenratstudios

Follow us On Twitter: http://twitter.com/zenratstudios

And if you have any questions email us at: savingtheworld@zenratstudios.org , send us a tweet or FB message.

Campaigning For One Million Heroes Around The World

As much as many of us wished we lived in a world of Superheroes and mystical powers, where we could just sit by and wait for someone to come save us from the problems we see, we do not. There are no Norse gods coming to save humanity, there aren’t narcissistic millionaires building suits to defend the defenseless, there aren’t radioactive spiders to bite nerds and make them awesome web slingers, and there aren’t mystical monks who can bend the four elements at will to stop power hungry overlords and corrupt leaders from coming and staying into power.

That doesn’t mean we do not have our own heroes. Doesn’t mean that everyday people can’t step up and be heroes. We may not all be able to read minds, or heal superfast or even have super speed, but we can change the world, defend the defenseless and save humanity all the same.

Each an everyone one of us has the ability to change the world in which we live. We can change our world one person at a time.

People in our world both today and yesterday have made massive leaps in technology, psychology, philosophy and social change and each and every one of them are heroes. People have dedicated their lives to making a difference in the world and did it.

These are everyday people who had an idea, saw a need, dreamed a better way and they got to work and did it. These people are heroes. Everyday Heroes.

And we think it’s time those people were acknowledged and rewarded for their hard work because without these people life would be very different for us indeed.

So we came up with an idea. We thought that the best way to show our appreciation of the people working hard to make a difference wasn’t to throw them fancy parties or give them a golden statue (although that did cross our minds), but to help them in their endeavors.

And thus One Million Heroes was born.

One Million Heroes is a campaign that aims to give funding to the Everyday Heroes of our world. We plan to do this through a nomination and voting system using Hero Points and Nomination Badges. The people who nominate their heroes and vote are called the Champions. They Champion the Heroes of our world and bring them to the forefront.

Here nonviolent activists, start-ups for change, and nonprofits working to make a difference are nominated as Everyday Heroes and people. We use social media as a way for Champions to nominate, vote and share their favourite Hero, their cause. Once enough Nomination Badges and Hero Points have been cast, $10,000 USD equivalent will be redistributed in a universal currency of their choice to 1 – 3 of  the top selected Heroes to use to continue their great work or put their plan into action.

To keep it balanced at least one Hero must work for the greater cause of animals, and another for people. The more we raise the more we can include more Heroes into the top to receive rewards, the more we can give to each participating Hero. Champions who help champion their Heroes to victory will receive a chance to win awards starting from 100 USD equivalent and reaching up to 3k and more.

The voting system uses our Hero Point system by which users can purchase or earn points that they can then spend voting on a Hero of their choice that has been Nominated by someone during the Nomination phases starting November 2nd. Those who purchase their Nomination badge before November 2nd will receive two badges starting at the price of 28.86 USD equivalent. The price increases to 48.86 to those who Nominate November 2nd and after, with a few exceptions. You can Nominate your Hero multiple times. The more your Hero has been nominated the closer they move to the top of the nomination page. There are a total of 20,000 slots available.

We will have full transparency during this process so that all users can see where their votes and their money is going. Much of this money will be spent maintaining the systems that allow this campaign to be a reality. Including the unsung heroes and agents that work tirelessly (mostly fueled by coffee and ramen) in the background to bring this campaign to you.

To learn more:

Read The Press Release for One Million Here: http://bit.ly/2e66M4A
Read Zenratstudios Press Release: http://bit.ly/2dsAjTsh
Like & Follow us on Facebook To receive daily hints for our ARG: http://facebook.com/zenratstudios

Follow us On Twitter: http://twitter.com/zenratstudios

Visit and get your Nomination Badges now: http://onemillionheroes.zenratstudios.org

And if you have any questions email us at: savingtheworld@zenratstudios.org , send us a tweet or FB message.

Behind The Scenes: The Birth Of The One Million Heroes Campaign And its counterpart a CYOA ARG

Introduction

I was young when I decided I wanted to be a writer, 15 when I first came online and discovered MUDS and Interactive Fiction, and 16 when I decided I wanted to build games and brought my first books on programming, when I decided that I wanted to use games to make my stories come alive and in essence to save the world. I was around that same age when I began volunteering with people and animals to gain experience that I could bring back to my work. I was 19 when I first discovered digital currencies like Bitcoin, it was fairly new and not as easy to get as it is today. You had to get it online and it took days to arrive. Today with companies like Circle and Coinbase those days are over. But at the time all the steps it took to get it turned me away. I kept my eyes on it as an outsider looking in. I was 21 when I went to school to learn game development, I was only there for 2 years and it was all to grow my skill so that I could work on the project I had set for myself at 16. That project was codenamed “The Medusa Project” after the Greek “Villain” Medusa who had been the centerpiece for my research, growth as a person and the second universe to a 13 part series that was growing and expanding as I was. Medusa was a project that focused on identity, belief and demonization, more importantly it was a commentary on sexual violence, war and social conformity and what it takes to break out of that including the consequences for doing so.  I would later redubbed it to “The Compassion Project”, and not long after that I founded my game and book publishing company Zenratstudios as a nonprofit.

This past year has been a journey. It’s taken me one year since starting Zenratstudios to formulate my thoughts, define a clear message, to figure out who I am and what I want to say to the world, and what I would like us to do together. Technology is evolving fast and there is more I can do today than I could have done yesterday or even just 3 years ago. When I first entered the internet  scene, AOL was a thing, Yahoo chats were still popular and we were still using tables, and CSS3 was hard to use with a lot of hacks that I was first introduced to via Myspace. Things I wanted to do in Javascript could only be done with Jquery and were more complicated to do than they are now with a lot less libraries available for use. Flash was the way to animate and game engines like phaser non-existant. I have a love-hate relationship with programming, but I have an even worse relationship with Javascript and so for years I refused to touch the stuff. I wanted to work with C# or something similar and if it were up to me I would rather not work with any programming languages at all. This year was the year I had to face those fears and embrace my projects head on.

 

“What are you willing to do to achieve your dreams?”

During my time in school I discovered Tabletop RPGS for the first time and I was absolutely fascinated. How amazing was it that you could create an entire game with game mechanics that people people could enjoy without programming. Board games, card games, tabletop RPGs all of them were things I could do and none of them involved programming, and of the two only one of them could be created solely digitally, no need to print anything. There was only one tiny problem. I had never played tabletop RPGs with other people. So I would spend the next 3 years neck deep in a world of online RPGs, melodrama and mental illness only to come full circle in 2015.

It’s a long story of how I got from A to B but it’s that entire story put together that gave rise to Zenratstudios. The accumulation of all my years searching for answers and knowledge and integrating it together, an accumulation of my journey. Every detour always seemed to lead me back to the same road, and so here I am today.

 

In 2015 A Hero Is Born

In November 2015 I decided I was done waiting for the right moment to live my dreams. I decided to take on the task of going Indie. A common theme with me is constantly figuring out how to make money to bootstrap my dreams. For as long as I remembered I was always thinking of other ways to make money so that I could make money doing what I love, so that I could continue to give back to others that trend followed me with this company.

 

At first I decided I would take the concept of House Flipping and flip and reskin apps instead. It was something easy that I thought could give me quick money which I could then use to fund my philanthropic endeavors. So I spent November – December researching Android, and places to go to find these apps, and then I found one place that mentioned Unity which was cross-platform and easy. Platformer pro and other solutions made it easy to put together games with minimum programming skills. So for the Month up until December and a bit into January I worked on a game called Winter Solstice about mental illness and part of a series on a blogspot page. The game ended up being a source of stress for me both because I was just one person trying to do all of it and because of losses taking place in my life. In January I put the game away, officially brought my Zenratstudios domain as a .com and began focusing on “Afterlife” a board game based on my original tabletop rpg game from 3 years ago, that turned into an RPG card game. The purpose of Afterlife was to help me heal from my pain and to discover who I was underneath it all, and so the game Afterlife takes place in a world where you’ve died and you have to pass through a series of Gates and Guardians located in the cardinal directions to reach the center. It was inspired by ancient Egyptian Senet and Inanna’s descent into the underworld from sumerian mythology. It merged the Medicine Wheel and other mythologies weaving them together. The goal was to discover all that I was by undoing all that I wasn’t and reconnect with my center, and rebuild and create my life to be what I wanted it to be.

I stopped short of publishing it because I wanted to add art to it, to test it, and because most importantly I really wanted another Game Designer and Artist to give feedback as well as play testers. I can be a bit wordy and antisocial, and to be honest wasn’t quite ready to reach out to the world as I still didn’t know me. Taking a pause from Afterlife I went through another bout of pain and in March I decided to try to make money by trading cryptocurrency. It was the first time I had decided to participate not as an observer but as someone taking part in it all. I didn’t know who I was and wanted the freedom to make blunders in the community without associating that with Zenratstudios. What I found was that most people in the cryptocommunity were actually quite friendly, enthusiastic and pioneers full of ideas and inventions. They offered many insights and I learned much.  I discovered Ethereum and fell in love with the concept despite its flaws, I took part in the DAO and I learned many lessons that I would later take back to my Zenratstudios including but not limited to viewing Blockchain as a simple technology, a tool, no different than using C# or Javascript or some other thing, and not necessarily the best tool for every situation. It is this years experience in the blockchain community that gave me insights on what I wanted to do with Zenratstudios and how to bring my dreams of “Saving the world” together.

In August I decided that my time spent focusing on trading digital currency was while fun, a full-time job for me. The markets spend more time in the accumulation phase and swing-trading was taking up all my mental energy. I wanted to make games, I also went through another emotional crisis, and it would be the last major crisis for me. In September I would begin working on my Workshop and took a detour into Astrology, web development and workshops. My focus was on learning SASS, react.js and building my websites from scratch using frameworks, getting up a site and doing a workshop separate from my company in order to make money to hire people to help me make games. It was in working on that that I came full circle again, and I recalled my Project Graveyard game that I wanted to make a long time ago in March but didn’t have the skills. I also came to realize something important. Here I was trying to make money to make money to make money so that I could give back to people…why didn’t I just cut out all the middlemen out, break the loop and cut straight to the chase?

 

And so: One Million Heroes Is Born

One Million Heroes was the simplest thing I could do with the current skills that I have and was based on the One Million Dollar Homepage designed by the man who sold 1×1 pixels for ad space for $1 each. It also integrated well as one of the main ways to monetize your blog by creating ad space and affiliating linking on your blog.

I had wanted to do something similar for a long time under the name Project Graveyard and Project Heart but I wasn’t confident enough in my web programming skills and didn’t know how to implement it until my detour into building my Astrology websites and workshops.

There was just one problem. I hate ads. I block every ad I come across. I find them obtrusive, they tend not to be quality and they are always in my face when I’m looking for something else. It’s not that I didn’t want to see ads, there were plenty of times I could think of when they were done right. Amazon for instance when it recommends books to me based on what others had read, or Youtubes recommended video features that introduce me to other contents. There are times when I’m actively looking for services but when I’m reading an article for knowledge and the blog is littered with ads or pop ups or are bluntly salesman-like, and most of the ads are for-profit to companies not making a real difference. I get turned off. Moreover it turned me off just thinking about building something similar.

One Million Heroes was born as a way to earn revenue by showcasing “Ads” but not just any Ads, Ads from non-profits, non-violent activists and start-ups catered to people when they wanted to see it, not when we ‘wanted’ them to see it. It took what I hated and was designed to make it fun. In this way quality advertisements from “Heroes” all over the world could apply during the Entry Phase. Originally there were 1 million slots and so it was called “One Million Heroes” the problem however was twofold. I was just one person and didn’t have the skills to keep up with that and I didn’t have the funds to automate the process. This was a project that would be done manually. What was the minimum number of slots I could allow, and how would I have to adjust the price to reflect this? I decided that because we were targeting companies and that these were advertisements which often cost a lot that I would charge a pay what you can model starting at  ~48.86/slot, costing more for people to purchase the header and front page and ranked less. I also decided that the currency we would use would be a universal currency such as BTC and something we were designing called “Hero Points” (originally called Karma Points).  The number of slots available would be 20,000 because 50 * 20k would come up to one million at minimum, with the option for people to give more. We would keep the campaign up until One Million USD equivalent had been reached at which point we would either give 1% (10k+) of the money raised to the top paying Hero ads right away, or we would use a portion of the funds to hire a coder to help us build Phase 2, the voting phase.

This is  where I had built in the idea that the very act of viewing games could be fun, engaging and motivate people to share Heroes and nominate them. It was a great way to drive traffic to the showcase, but also to motivate people to vote up their Heroes. People would purchase game badges or points starting at 0.99 USD equivalent and up and would then proceed to give those points to their Hero company, non-profit or start-up of choice.

To give people an incentive for sharing the people who shared or referred the most people would in turn be able to receive a small reward. And later I would integrate an extra feature, unlocking codes, secrets and new levels as possible rewards in our ARG as well.

I was integrating a lot of different concepts I had seen into one place here and I was having fun doing it too.

 

The Challenge That Gave Birth to A CYOA ARG

Now I had a concept, and I had a showcase but I didn’t have an audience.

Releasing Press releases were not only expensive but No one knew me! I wasn’t and still am not a big company or well known figure. I’m just a person coming out from the ethers of my headquarters with a mission.

This was me launching for the first time after 1 year of being official, developing and learning new skills and experimenting. How was I going to do this? I began reading every social media book I could get my hands on, and began focusing on building my social media presence and finding a team of helpers and that was a journey in and of itself. I’m a very shy and introverted person and social media up until recently wasn’t something I felt confident about, but once I broke through that barrier that was hindering me from moving forward I was able to post and feel confident about doing so. I got buffer, I began focusing on analytical tweets, I focused on twitter first. And it was while posting on twitter and building my presence that I realized, maybe I don’t need all the fancy programming and tools that I think I need to build a game. Maybe, just maybe taking the tools and skills I have right now and utilizing platforms like steem.it, reddit, twitter, youtube, facebook and more…just maybe I could…use social media itself, where retweeting and likes and shares was how we kept track of points, and utilizing tools available like qr-codes online, maybe the showcase didn’t have to have all those bells and whistles just yet. Maybe I had all I needed right now. Armed with just social media and a showcase for ads I could do this.

So that’s when I decided that One Million Heroes would be a social media campaign. There was only one slight problem. Tweets other people wrote were getting a lot of hits, people were interested. But things I was writing including notification on the campaign wasn’t getting a lot of likes or shares. It was a solid idea but how was I supposed to get it out there and by November 2nd no less!

I had made a list of influential people who I could possibly contact, but what was I supposed to do, walk up to them and say, “You don’t know me but I’m working on this project–” that’s like never calling your Mom and Dad except on Christmas to say, “Hey…so where’s my gift?” or cold calling a random person, “You don’t know me but can you do me a favor?”. The same idea followed with using forums and blogs. I thought about logging onto these social platforms and saying “Here is what I created, here’s my pitch, make a difference and buy now.”

But I didn’t want to be one of those people. I decided that the best way to tell what we’re about is to SHOW people what we’re about. I wanted to make the very act of learning about our company, our game, our products and services a game in and of itself. And not just any game, a choose your own adventure, alternate reality game, with RPG elements,  interactive fiction and storytelling design in ARG form. Leaving behind short little puzzles, riddles, varying degrees of difficulty, could encourage the community to work together, and could help people solve the problem. Oh I was starting to get so excited!

One of my biggest challenges was trying to word these big concepts in my head to share it with everyone, and writing everything all at once as a solo person, but this way I could reveal everything in pieces all around the world. I could leave clues and hints, pieces of the puzzle that people could work together and solve. I could have a game within a game, and One Million Heroes Campaign could be a part of that.

You see One Million Heroes isn’t JUST a showcase for ads, it’s the a test for our pay it forward economy that we’re developing that takes life and kindness and makes a game out of it. Similar to programming languages like Flux (parent of Redux w/React.js) it’s an architecture a pattern. What we do here can be taken and learned from for our own economy. We’re still developing the details and refining it. But every game we do is part of the grander picture, a way to save the world or at least make a little bit better in pockets hoping that the butterfly effect will carry those effects forward.

Making the very act of releasing One Million Heroes a game in and of itself served the purpose of allowing us to build community, test engagement and interest, and test our pay it forward economy as an architecture and pattern. To experiment while also introducing what we do ‘in action’.

We weren’t just going in and saying “Here is our idea let me tell you about it” but showing it itoo.

It is our goal to bridge different communities and bring them together: The Gamers and the Non-gamers, the pioneers and the newcomers. Games and stories, world-building and economies it’s all related, it’s all interconnected. Together we can build a better world and somehow our small tiny site is part of that.

It took me 2 weeks to build One Million Heroes as a showcase without the bells and whistles, but it took 1 year to develop the idea and bring it to fruition.  And it’s finally here!

 

How It Works

So without further ado, this is how the Game works!

Utilizing different platforms we’re going to be posting different hints. Some platforms will have binary codes that contain a link with an article. Inside those articles are encrypted messages each one tells a story or a description of a location that contains another clue or hint. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes not so much.  Every encrypted message has a simple key that can be founded by reading the main article or passage from which it came. The binary codes, riddles and the sort are a bit more complicated and increase in difficult. They lead to treasures and adventure around the world. Some even in physical locations.

Different platforms will have different types of messages, so you might have to do a little digging to put all the codes together.

Just like in a game people can earn points, level up, and discover unique items and things and even redeem those discovers for badges. We want to encourage people to retweet and share, and to work together and we want there to be real awards. For instance in our One Million Heroes campaign people who participate will be given an option they can take a cash reward or opt to pay the cash reward forward and instead choose one of several encrypted messages and binary codes that start a new adventure and lead to new treasures, adventure, danger and opportunities.

Hashtags will be used as “commands” similar to interactive fiction, for example, “unlockLevel” or “unlockHint” @Zenratstudios to receive hints are just a few of the hashtags used for the game. #NominateHero and #NominatedHero are other tags.

People who don’t care about the encrypted messages and just want  to use One Million Heroes as a showcase to #NominateHero are free to do that too. They can l just glaze over it and go straight to One Million Heroes but people who do care will delve deeper and further searching for codes. We intend to use the money we raise to maintaining this adventure longterm.

We’ll keep a forum or place that keeps track of the different levels, stories, and areas that have been unlocked for people to piece together the story, discover mysteries, redeem points, earn money and more.

P.S. Hidden with this article is a keyword, you’ll need it to unlock a key later!

To learn more:

Read The Press Release for One Million Heres Here: http://bit.ly/2e66M4A

Read Zenratstudios Press Release: http://bit.ly/2dsAjTsh

Like & Follow us on Facebook To receive daily hints: http://facebook.com/zenratstudios

Follow us On Twitter: twitter.com/zenratstudios

Visit: http://onemillionheroes.zenratstudios.org

And if you have any questions email us at: savingtheworld@zenratstudios.org or send us a tweet or FB message.

 

Hashtags:

#unlockHint

#unlockLevel

#HeroPuzzle

and more!

 

We’ll release documentations on the best practices on how to use those hashtags in time!

A Journey: Social Media & Launching a Campaign

This past few weeks have been an amazing time. Watching ideas come together and materialize has been an amazing and subtle thing. This year has definitely been a journey and there’s still a lot of work to do. At the start of this month I realized I needed a team, depression and the feeling of being overwhelmed was starting to wear on me. It was the first symptom that I was stretching myself thin and needed to enlist help.

There’s a lot of things I’ve had to do myself on a dirt small budget to fund an ambitious dream, saving the world, making it a better place by getting to the root cause of the problem, ourselves.

“Start Where You Are”

At the beginning of the year I made the decision that I wasn’t going to wait for the right time for me to start building my dream. I couldn’t sit by anymore listening to the news, feeling helpless about my own situation and the world around me. I needed to take action. But how? One cold night of November I was sulking about the state of my life and my dreams. I hated my life. I listened to manifestation tapes over and over again, and like a broken record my thoughts replayed over and over again how powerless I, just one person, felt to change the world or make it better, hell I couldn’t even change my life for the better…or so that is what I had thought.

My entire life up until that point was thinking and feeling there was something wrong with me and reading medical books as young as the age of four looking for clues as to what was broken inside of me. I used to get depressed because for all the pain in the world, even if I could save just ‘one’ person I couldn’t save them all. My job wasn’t done unless I could save everyone. I was depressed because I was trying to reach the moon but my arms were too small. I asked questions again and again about the universe, about life, about people, about myself, how the mind works, how people works. Why, why, why. I was always asking why. Until one day, there was nothing left to ask. I’d finally figured out the answer to my question, and just like that I began to empty my cup that I had once filled to the brim with questions and their answers. I went from wanting to fix myself, to wanting to save the world, to wanting to fix life as if it were broken – to coming full circle back to me. There was nothing wrong with me, or you, or the next person. We were each perfect as we were, like the kintsugi, our cracks and scars becoming a part of us…start where you are. This mantra I’d heard time and time again from books on programming, to Pema Chodron, to video games — stare where you are.

Somehow I realized the problem wasn’t with the world. The world was fine, the problem was with me and the relationship I had with myself, my heart and as a direct result the world. My pain, my interpretations of and reactions to it, every insecurity and belief I had built and created, how I felt about myself whether it was an over-inflated ego or a deflated-ego in comparison to others, infected how I related with others and the world around me. I wanted the world to have more love and more compassion, and less judgment. I wanted to feel more connected to the world and less disconnected, and yet there I was standing apart rather than with people in solidarity. In my mind I was somehow set apart and different a spectator constantly reacting to my observations, never realizing that I was part of the very problem I wanted to solve.

There I was judging the world for not having more love and more compassion and empathy and openness. I wanted people to stop following and take a stand and be leaders. So badly with all of my heart, and yet I laughed when anyone said, “Why not you?”

I’m no leader. I’m not qualified.

And a little voice said to me…So become qualified. Learn.

“You have all the tools you need to start right now.”

Tired and exhausted, I asked myself, “Why did I need to learn?”

“What skills did I need, to live my dreams of saving the world?”

“What were my challenges?”

“Most importantly what skills did I have in that moment and how could I use them to help me build momentum and level up?

Not having a lot of money was the biggest challenge, but I am good at learning and asking questions and finding answers to those questions, utilizing free and cheap but quality resources. I’m good at seeing the big picture and breaking it down into smaller chunks looking at symptoms and getting to the root and integrating solutions into their whole again. I’m great at world-building and I love to write and constantly utilize storytelling as a tool to test models and theories and build gameworlds–no reason why I can’t scale that up to the next level. My programming skills are weak, and I’ve never brought a webhost or launched a website, or used wordpress, but I can make table-top RPGs and text-based games and scale up.  And I do have some experience with game engines. Besides,  I had built small games on my own, never anything worth sharing but all projects that were added to my skillset, these were things I could learn. I had a laptop and an internet connection and though I’d never launched a company or gathered and lead a team…I could learn…I had a lot to learn but I had all the tools I needed to do so.

“Learn, expand & Level up”

90% of my time this past year has been spent learning. Execution doesn’t take nearly as long as it takes to learn and then organize that data. So there is a large percentage of time is spent just learning as I go along. Learning about new technologies and how they can be integrated into my projects and dreams. Learning about Javascript and React.JS and Node.JS and SASS and word press and PHP and building those skills up one at a time.

30% is organizing the data I’ve researched and pulled together, and 20% is execution. I’m constantly reading books, tutorials and ebooks around the web, constantly learning, and evolving and taking notes. I’m a library of knowledge and always trying to integrate it into something small and executionable. If I could write a book or start a workshop but then….that leads to my next problem.

“Every day I make a trade-off”

I’m just one person, and every single day I make a trade off. These are the trade-offs I often make.

  • Spend 1-2 months focusing on building & refining Website, making it mobile responsive …or…
  • Dedicate a few hours to work on a blog post this week sharing Tips I have to share, Insights, News & Developments, and so forth. …or…
  • Continue developing my sites and websites …or…
  • Get out games and ebooks that are in our queue …or…
  • Work on the Roadmap and Documentation …or…
  • Start and Launch Our Campaign and Design Posters …or…
  • Raise and set aside funds to outsource help affordable help …or…
  •  …And the list goes on…

The fine-print clause: “If this, then I can’t do that”

“Outsourcing Help”

Even outsourcing help is a trade-off. In truth, the biggest reason I decided to start the One Million Heroes Campaign was so that I could get help from people to help well, people! People who need food to live in a world that is not yet sustainable and won’t be for so long as we live with the mindset and relationship we have with Money. Think about it, climate change, war, poverty, we have all the resources we need to solve this problem, but we don’t do this because no one will work for free even if it’s for their betterment. Any non-profit organization that depends on volunteers will tell you, depending on volunteers is difficult if not iffy. Volunteers work in their spare time and aren’t always available, employees and independent contractors are because they have a reason to be.

Money is a necessary tool to build a new and better world beyond it.

Knowing how to outsource help on limited funds, and getting the right people who aren’t just there for a quick paycheck but are interested in long-term growth, progress, and improving the world is essential to the project. Finding people who are as motivated and enthusiastic as you are is essential. I can’t say it enough: Alone I can get far, but Together we can get even farther.

I realized that I had spent the past several years of my life and even this past year, trying to do other jobs in order to bootstrap money for this project. But I had all I needed right now. I recalled the One Million Dollar Homepage and I decided to take my Project Graveyard and convert it into something that represents what we do here and so “One Million Heroes” was born. It takes all of us to build a better world, and finances is the way we can do that.

“Building My Team”

The first part of my goal has been building and expanding my team. I ran into some emotional blocks that were hindering me from making progress and holding me back, fears I had about putting myself out there, so I sought a business coach. Working with him helped unblock what was holding me back and once that unblock happened I was able to march forward without limitations, the sky is my limit.

One of the greatest additions to my team has been a young woman whose enthusiasm and proactiveness in helping has been a breath of fresh air. It’s rare to meet someone who mirrors your passion even just to brainstorm. I welcome her to our team of Heroes and am glad to have her on our side.

“Getting Clear About What You Want & Refining Communication”

Throughout this entire month I’ve realized one of my biggest problems is communication. I speak a lot of words, I talk a lot, but it’s mostly noise that gets lost in translation. I’m starting to enjoy infographics, memes, posters, and I love Twitter because it forces me to use ‘short words’ to express myself short and concisely. Perhaps my style of communication will change as I continue to grow and refine this method.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned this month is that your team will only execute your tasks as good as you can communicate it to them. Getting S.M.A.R.T. and taking the time to document my goals and be concise has been a challenge but well worth it. But it’s not just communicating with the team, it’s communicating with people in the social world too, they want to know WHO you are and WHAT you do HOW you plan to do it and WHEN. As a result refining and expressing these grand visions and plans has been my focus thus far while also being productive, moving the project and campaign forward. So taking my vision and refining it again and again until it’s the barebones concept is an essential part of my journey.

It takes me a few writes and rewrites, to revise again and again, but somehow I’m starting to get there. Both with my Team and for the people around me.

“This Month’s Social Media Campaign”

Nowhere does this skill spillover than in social media. This month my goal is to expand my audience and to engage. I want get to know people, make my presence known and to find help wherever I can get good quality help from people who believe in the vision. There’s a lot of work to do and I don’t necessarily think I’m doing the bestest job or that my campaign is the most efficient, but I’m just one person and I’m doing my best to make the best of the tools and resources that I have available to me.

“Not Stopping Life”

This past year I’ve neglected my personal life. I’m a parent, martial artist and a writer. Forming and getting this company launched and running off the ground has been exhausting work, but it’s been worth it. I’m finally reaching a point where I can relax more. I breathe. I don’t let life stop. I make two do lists, one for life and one for work, and I outsource where I need to in both spheres but I also continue going to classes, playing music on my new Artiphon, meditating daily before and after bed, practicing manifestation, reading books and articles, playing with my child, drinking tea and doing things that I love to do leaving work at the door if only for a short time.

“Taking Frequent Breaks”

To do the above I just leave room for a lot of breaks. I work in bursts, focusing on a single task, take a break, work on the task again, take a break, get that done and move onto the next one. Sometimes it takes me all day, sometimes it doesn’t. But either way I make a point to take breaks.

“From Zero to Hero”

Start easy and build up has been a motto I now live by. These days I work on what’s easy first and gradually work my way up to the hard stuff. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, whether I’m learning the fundamentals to something, or whether I’m working on a project that requires doing a lot of increasingly complicated tasks. Breaking big things down into small chunks and gradually increasing the difficulty has been a great way to progress.

This year I have watched myself transform from Zero to Hero.

I still have a LONG way to go, but it’s happening and I know that if I can get this far so can you.

“Signs I’m on the right Track”

People tell me that my energy and enthusiasm is contagious, that I’m the most ambitious person that they know, and so on. These are signs to me that I’m on the right track, particularly when people meet me each week or the week after and see how much progress I’ve made. Even though I can’t always see it, if I look at my to do list from one week ago let alone one month ago and compare it to a year then how far I’ve come is amazing.

Sometimes I may spend a month working on a theme and learning and refining and may come back to it another month. But keeping a journal tracking my goals in present tense (being as specific, short and concise as possible) and my daily to do lists, prioritized and focused, and then frequently meditating and leaving room for visualization of myself, and my goals has been essential to my continued progress and ultimately success.

That and my ability to learn from failure, refine, and move forward.

“I relax and somehow things get done.”

I have all the tools I need and am more equipped now than I was even a year ago when I first started Zenratstudios. In this hour I’ve made a trade off in time. Now it’s back to writing posters for me. Hopefully I’ll get to refining the documentation soon and clarifying some visions and coming up with creative and fun ways to solve the challenges ahead!

Stay Tuned and Grow With Me!

Follow us on Twitter: zenratstudios@zenratstudios

Can a pay-it-forward system really work in a world where people live with a ‘what’s in it for me’ Mentality?

 

October is the month where we begin marketing, campaigning, hiring teams on limited funds and putting ourselves out there. Our campaign, One Million Heroes, a showcase ad that will add gamification elements to help fundraise money to build what will be a book and game publishing company as well as home to a pay-it-forward ecosystem built on blockchain.

To give some background. I grew up volunteering, I’ve won awards for my volunteer work in the community and I’ve learned many important life skills and lessons. I once said that I wanted to be a professional volunteer and to take my volunteering to the next level I began to travel and WWOOF with the goal of working my way up to the Corps (or at the very least as an alternative). I read Jacque Frescoes vision and explored bartering systems and money-free lifestyles, traded my time to learn how to build yurts with wonderful people who were conscious of money and how many hours were worth how much. That was my first taste of how obsessed people were with money, and not for no reason, people needed money to live and to eat and their family was struggling work-exchange helped them get something back for their time.

I admired Daniel Suelo and tried to give up money myself, I went to WWOOF and met a family who were the perfect example of what it meant to live on a farm and to take in interns, and introduced me to the mindset that all farm animals and people had to pull their weight, if they weren’t producing they were eating money and had to be killed or sold if they were animals, or let go if they were people. I learned that they didn’t accept WWOOFer’s with children because children didn’t work, they ate food but weren’t able to pull their weight and this mindset was common across the board. To my horror I would later discovered the foster care system had its origins in this philosophy and mindset too, there is a reason why abuse occurs so frequently in these types of homes but that’s a story for another day. Prior to this experience I had volunteered with companies that were run predominately by volunteers who were passionate about helping people and giving back and I saw first-hand how non-profits struggled to raise money in a world that was becoming increasingly jaded, self-centered and slow to give.

I recall a year ago when I was homeless due to mental illness having no place to go. No one would take me in, nor would I have accepted it from anyone were they able. I was agoraphobic and terrified of homeless shelters and I remembered a story where a woman donated candy and junk food to the homeless shelters because they were too unhealthy for her kids. People believe homeless people should be grateful for what they are given and so they must accept anything, ‘beggars can’t be choosers’, and at the same time I recalled a woman who had started a community garden and began giving free food within her own community, and not just her but the people at Unsung. People with a mission to help make the world a better place.

For me the concept of working for free or for little pay solely to make the world a better place and to help someone was not new to me. I was well aware of people taking advantage of others, and had been a victim of this myself, but I thought about it differently than others did. I think about life differently. Only in running my business and seeking help has it become more clear to me that people won’t help you for free, there is always a catch. Codementors a great place where you can meet experts, whether you just need help with something very small and tiny for 15 minutes, or something big there’s a person available, but no one will help you the way they might on a forum out of the kindness of their heart, everyone had a fee attached even to write just 3 lines of code. Afterall everyone has a family to feed, no one would be there if the reward wasn’t worth it.

In my exhaustion from coding I went on fiverr, I’ll have to write about my review of that site later, but what I found was that almost nobody offered anything of value for $5 and people laughed at me when I asked them to assist me for $15 for 2 areas of code. Find someone else one person said, and on craigslist the reply: You will find no one experienced in Foundation Zurb to help you for just $15. I just wanted to know why my columns were collapsing in foundation zurb which was supposed to be responsive by default and to receive help. What had I done and what needed to be adjusted. It wouldn’t take me more than an hour to do maybe less myself but I was beginning to feel burnt out and funds were limited. I had hired three people already on the short-term and my budget was starting to run out. But the issue I faced brought attention to a larger one, a question in the back of my mind. Something that had been haunting me from the beginning. It’s then that I began to realize the biggest problem we face as a people in building a pay-it-forward platform is building a community and environment where people who want to help others genuinely help others out of the kindness of their heart. They pay-it-forward because they know that it may not come back to them directly from the person they are helping, but that it will eventually come back around to them in some way, shape or form. This was Karma in action and it was the very foundation of my entire life and how I had lived.

You see suffering and sorrow and pain has been the very foundation of my life. I have an intimate relationship with sorrow of observing it, understanding it, studying it, I feel sorrow and pain deeply in the eyes and hearts of others, and deeply within myself. I’ve struggled with abandonment and feelings of being unloveable, of unworthy. And like many I went on a mission to find myself, to accept myself, in freedom, to discover me, to fix what was broken in my heart. At times I felt I needed permission from those I loved to be free, to find me, to love, and there were times when I had to let go of their acceptance and walk alone so that I could drop all that I am not and be accepted for all that I am. That journey has led to what has now become been part of my mission, my motto in life, my work. No not saving the world one story at a time, though it’s certainly one of my mottos, a different mindset based on the law of you receive what you give.

If you want love, give love and be love itself, if you want understanding give and be understanding itself, and so on. You get what you give back. If your heart is full of selfishness and hatred that is what you will receive. Fundamentally I began to realize what the problem was. The problems we faced in this world were symptoms of our flaws at our very core. Our Human Nature. Ourselves. We as humans with all our ego, self-centeredness, me-first, survival-based mentality are part of the biggest issue we face in achieving happiness and peace, everything else is a byproduct of that mindset.

My company Zenratstudios was founded as a way to tackle these issues, through games and stories we uncover all that we are by discarding all that we are not, we focus on building compassion, empathy, and love and more. We try to make giving fun, and we work on developing a built in reward system. The biggest problem is philosophical can true altruism arise from this system? Can we make and build heroes or can we only call out the Heroes in our world, the rare leaders, the rare people who want to make a difference?

There are many challenges we face as a company, many human challenges we face as a people in building a system that is meant to help people, to be a solution to the problems in the world around us. But I truly believe that it is possible to build something that can benefit the world and reward people at the same time for being good people. Can we train people to give just for the joy of giving, teach them how the laws of abundance work. I believe we can, or at the very least I believe it’s worth it to test, experiment, and try.

This Month I am bringing together a team to help refine, test, market and launch One Million Heroes, which at its heart is both a fundraiser and a showcase that shows in action the roots for how our system and philosophies work. Raising awareness to the Heroes in our world, taking revenue we earn from the services and products we create and redistributing back into the people, back into the community we serve.

I’ve spent the past year building the roots and the foundations for this company, but now I’ve hit a wall. Working on my own I have quickly become burnt out and exhausted, signs that I am doing too much and need to call together my team. Alone we can only go so far, together we can go far.

For all those out there who need a hero. Please join us on our journey, and our mission to save the world, one story, one adventure, one person, one you at a time.

The Bane Of Building Responsive Sites

I sat proudly looking over the site I had built over at One Million Heroes, excited to begin asking for Beta Testers and gathering feedback, and writing articles explaining what it is about. Refining my message. I had resized the page during building on my PC only to look at my phone to see both my site Zenratstudios.org, and my site One Million Heroes built in Foundation Zurb had columns that were collapsing on small.

No problem Media Queries could fix this I said to myself, but then just the thought of having to leave content writing mode and marketing mode to go back into programming mode was starting to make me sick and nauseous. I needed a mobile responsive version of my site, and I needed something fast. I clumsily thought of my options and my budget for the month. I could go in and create a mobile version of my site, I could start hunting down people and setting aside finances for a mobile version — or I could just leave it alone and focus on outreach and raising funds.

I tried to log onto Foundation Zurb’s forums to ask for help but their sign-up sheet is missing and my email address says it doesn’t work while support is telling me my email is in the system. I take a deep breath feeling stress and I walk away. I ponder for a moment adding a disclaimer, or taking another weekend or what do I do to fix this. I recall Wayne Dyer’s theirs a spiritual solution to every problem, and I begin to meditate. Can I just focus on what I want to do, what excites me, focus on refining my message, and content, can I just walk away from programming for a while, please? If I put myself out there, marketing, and people access the site from their phone and see a terrible website won’t that affect my message badly?

I don’t know. Building websites and factoring in the different window-sizes (mobile, tablet, desktop, and larger), the different browsers, the frameworks, the CSS hacks, has never been my favourite thing to do. It’s always been something I have done out of necessity. It’s fun to learn about and to say “I can do that”, but it takes up valuable time that I would otherwise prefer to be spending on writing.

I sit down at my desk and lament that I can’t continue finishing up my Novel, Editing it and seeking reviews, or writing the content for my games because I’m so wrapped up in the programming itself, from the website, to the foundation, to the marketing. I take a day off Saturday, and on Sunday I move slowly. It’s starting to feel like an uphill climb and so I take a moment’s pause to walk, smell the flowers, and enjoy my life. I let it all go to regain my energy, I take a much needed break to keep myself from working myself sick.

This months task: Putting together my start-up team to help communicate our vision and make this project a success! Afterall a business is only as good as it’s team. I’ve made it this far, laid down the initial bricks, I can only go so far solo, outreach and planning phase to launch.

The Birth Of One Million Heroes

It’s 5AM in the morning and I know if I don’t sit down to write this then I never will. When I first started this blog I wanted to give tips that I had learned for myself on combatting mental illness, tips I’d gained from programming and learning as I went along, and more. But somehow I ended up having just enough time to focus on development, and getting through the ups and downs of leading a start-up and building the initial foundations of a dream.

It’s been an intense and crazy year and we’re now in October, one month away from November when I initially came up with the idea to begin, and two months away from when I first stopped researching and brought my domain, building this site. I am truly excited. I have just spent the entire of September going through with the project that initially began as “Project Graveyard”, I took that concept and created “Project Hero”, inspired by the one million dollar homepage, and is a campaign called “One Million Heroes“. It is probably the one most significant example I have of my vision in action, and is the essential foundation for how my entire company Zenratstudios will be run. Using profits to build a better platform and redistributing the rest of the earnings to our Heroes in the worlds, the non-violent activists, the not-for-profit companies, the start-ups in this world.

One Million Heroes isn’t just for Bitcoin companies, it is for anyone willing to apply with BTC. I imagine that will be a lot of young people and early adopters. The entire gallery was built with React.JS, and is currently only built for displaying ads. My goal right now is to get enough applicants so I can hire someone to help me build a gaming system, and ID system with the features I wanted.

Without further ado here are things I learned recently.

You Can’t Build Rome Alone

Start Where you Are

Every Great Leader needs help. I live on $700/month, after bills I am left with $150 sometimes not even. Initially because I had limited funds and at one point was even homeless my only and greatest asset was figuring out how to make money so that I could do what I loved, while also learning the skills I needed to build as much as possible on my own. I spent almost an entire year just trying to learn new skills, expand old skills, and gain more confidence. I spent 1-2 months learning wordpress and building theme after theme, adding a new feature and concept with each new theme. I spent another month working with Android and then Unity and then Phaser and then React.JS, with 500 pages worth of NOTES in my physical notebook and in my word documents. I fought depression and mental illness, ups and downs. I even took a moment to explore blockchains and communities, and started swing trading hoping to raise enough money to live this dream. At some point towards the end of August I began making a list of all the knowledge I had and could share with others, and then decided to build a workshop only to end up round-circle back to the same place, here.

I took a list of my skills and abilities, all the things I could do and all the things I couldn’t yet do or wasn’t so great at. I had spent so much time investing in myself and growing my skills, knowledge and ability that where I was now while not great was just the right amount of tools to get the job done. I had all the tools I needed right here, right now to build something in 1-2 weeks and begin marketing. I didn’t have to make money so that I could have money to do what I loved so that I could make money to do more of what I loved to do. Problem solving and saving the world. I could cut out the 3rd wheel and just focus on what I love, the vision and spreading that, building a community.

I simplified everything and One Million Heroes was born. It was the most simplest thing I could build, the most simplest service I could create that could still give back to others, while also allowing me to raise revenue for my work, and at the same time showcasing exactly what Zenratstudios is about in action. My Start Where You Are was simple, and yet profound.

Outsource, Delegate, Hire

Because my funds were limited I had to build a lot myself in some areas, and had to view what I did purchase as investments. During September I went to Codementor and I hired a mentor to help me figure out how to do a specific thing using React.JS, I gained knowledge and was able to build my gallery. Outsourcing and getting help from someone in real time was the best thing I could have done. It was $20/15 minutes and cost $60 for the help, but it was the best help I had ever received, and an investment that would give me all I needed to build my showcase of heroes.

I began looking for help on Fiverr but my issues with that and some of their deceptive practices are for another day. There are some things they are good to reach out for help on, but there are better places to seek help. So I made a commitment to setting aside money to outsource help on projects to get things up and done quicker and more efficiently and to do so in a price effective/strategic way.

Expand Gradually

I decided that I needed to hire a Virtual Assistant, Programmer, Artist (UI/UX & Graphics designer), and a Business Mentor. So September I hired a coder for help, October I hired a Business Mentor, and next month I plan to hire a Virtual Assistant, and use money set aside for a Programmer to help build the voting system and add unique “IDs” to my react.js gallery. Last on my list but necessary is an Artist who I want to hire and bring onto the team, for the starting team.

Get Support

Initially I sought a mentor. One of my desired Mentors was Jane Mcgonigal, one woman who shares many of the same visions that I do. I tried everything! Facebook, Twitter, Email, applying to her hero site but I didn’t hear back. I purchased a mentor from Fiverr for $50 ($45 after my discount with Honey), and his emotional support was great.

I applied for Score and shared my vision and essay, and received the reply, “I’m not the right coach for you, I only do sales”. I thanked him kindly and waited for another mentor to come along. So I haven’t had as much support in the way of business mentoring, but I’ve set aside the time to search for mentors while also meditating and seeking my own inner wisdom and strength while I steer these ships in unknown territories and waters.

But even without business coaches, being surrounded by successful people whether it be in business or in their life (people who are employed), and being able to post on facebook and share the ups and downs and struggles and receiving feedback and warm comments has been great for me. Family & Friends at least cheering me on even if they are tired of listening gave me a great boost to my confidence.

Therapy and crisis hotlines during times when I needed emotional support the most and just talking about this reignited my passion and reminded me why I was doing all that I was doing.

And More

I want to write more but it’s 5 in the morning and I want to go to sleep before I get up to begin my day working and so on. This blog post has been long overdue but I am truly excited to have One Million Heroes up and so ready to test it, and begin receiving feedback from as many people as possible, marketing and campaigning. I’m excited, I’m nervous, and ready with all my heart.

 

A World Can’t Be Saved Alone

This past September has been brutal. Back in August during one of my lows I found peace and awareness. It took up a lot of my time, but when I came out of it I had a renewed sense of purpose and strength and awareness. I created my Karmic Debt Astrology and I began to work on and develop that aspect of my life, and discover the identity I would use to lead this company as the Founder. I wrote up a Bio and many things that I still have to write, and began working on my page.

I set a goal for myself to create a new WordPress Theme before beginning my workshop series. I felt like the initial website was either dated or needed to be expanded, and more of what I’ve been building needed to be shown. But building a website is a lot of work, and it is just me with limited funds. It took me 14 days of September and began to cause severe depression, as it set me back in all my other work trying to perfect my About Me/Portfolio page. I wanted to create an interactive scroll site that showcased my skills and my work, and became completely depressed that it was taking me so long to put it together. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do it it was that I was, and that my weakness “UX Design” was really starting to show. It’s hard to wear all the hats: Writer, Programmer, Web Designer & Developer, and Lead Founder/Developer, Researcher. Each individual aspect was taking up time. Designing a portfolio to impress people was holding me back. So I let it go.

After a low forced me into despair I began to consider suicide. What makes me think that I can save the world? What makes me think I can build this. I don’t think I am doing anything right. I can’t even market and put myself out there on social media. Should I be focusing on my Hero Ads, should I be focus on sharing the vision with people and amassing the funds, and the skilled teams and people to help me? I feel alone. And the truth is I was alone. I needed to organize a team and rally them around this vision. But I also needed to continue working.

So my goal became to make a website that shows AS MUCH information on what I am doing. To Launch our Hero Ads which are a big part of our company, and to continue on with the Workshop and Karmic Debt site AND MORE. To keep building everything but to most importantly build a team and find an experienced Mentor, someone who will listen to me and what I am trying to do and give me guidance.

More recently I encountered great depression. The most recent trigger for this sadness has been my work. I am a high achiever. I love sharing my projects the challenges, the setbacks, and the growth aspects. I love talking to people about it, but it’s come to my attention that because I am so passionate and so brimming with ideas and plans that I need to reach out to a Mentor who can help guide me in these charted waters. Part of my depression was signaling how overwhelmed I was managing and doing it all alone.

I am currently building (from scratch) an interactive website or it was initially going to be interactive I don’t know if it will now with a roadmap that is meant to reveal everything I am doing and that I plan to share with anyone who has expressed interest or who may have some interest in it. The type of games I make are meant to be free, and they are meant to help people discover who they are underneath it all, Research & Development, to explore actions and consequences, and to discover themselves by letting go of all they are not. I am very excited about building this. These games also lead into a pay it forward game/economy that I’m building based on blockchain technology (though whether it will use blockchain or not remains to be unknown, all blockchain is is a ledger, do we need to use that type of ledger?). I am truly excited. The whole purpose of what I’m building is to bring out the Heroes in our real world. A Call to Action to the Hero in each of us, that will encourage us to be the change we want to see. That’s where my ARG comes in. An ARG is somewhat similar to Pokemon Go, by which the world becomes the game around you. What I am building is a way to reward people and non profits and activists and people in the community to fund them while also helping people in our own community. I’ve been joining and traveling different games and different online ecosystems and trying to merge them altogether into a solution to a problem that I see.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s an entire ecosystem and community designed to give to those who need it and to reward the givers, it’s not just a game and book publishing company but a community for the Heroes inside of each and everyone.

My depression has been natural entrepreneur depressions. As an solo entrepreneur and founder laying down the foundations is a lot of work. Steve Jobs once said you have to have passion for what you do because it can get so hard and difficult that any sane person would quit. Combined with my passion I also struggle with bipolar disorder and other comorbid mental illness that can compound the natural ups and downs. Of course there is a spiritual solution to every problem and my depression when triggered can snowball into despair and low self-esteem with words like I can’t do this alone, and how stupid was I to think that I had it in me to do this, and on and on. But after the advice of a very good friend of mine, I’ve decided that I am going to find and reach out to a Mentor. I’ve created a list of possible Mentors, kind of like a list of colleges, with my most wanted Mentor at the top, the ideal and so on down the list.

I really believe that games and books and stories can make a difference, that we can save the world one person at a time, and I really believe that this path I am building can work. A future where we don’t wait for the president to save us but become the heroes making the difference in our communities our selves. To call out the leaders and give a clear path for the followers. I am so dedicated to this.

Today I am working on my letter to one of my chosen mentors and pulling together all the writing resources I need to present to her, while also preparing to make contact with others on my list, and to continue forward. I don’t know if the Mentor I have initially selected will be available, but I am looking. I’m also focusing on developing a model for bringing together a Team who is as passionate as I am at saving the world.

Some of these documents I have to write and I am working on that. I will spend the next week or so working on doing just that. It’s ok sometimes to say you need help. They say when the student is ready the teacher will appear. I feel like this is it.

This is my dream to do the same and I’ve spent the past decade of my life acquiring the skills and continue to do, to do just that, that’s the past 10 years alone trying to acquire skills, and have been dreaming up since 14. I’m trying to communicate my vision with the world and branch out. This is new territory for me. Help is wanted.

The Roadmap to victory: Paradigm Shifts & Service Emphasis

 

Introduction

This past few days I’ve been thinking about how far Zenratstudios has come, and how it’s strength has directly correlated to my levels of awareness, spiritual growth, and mental paradigms. I’m very excited about where we’re headed, what changes will be made, and what this company will look like in our end-game, perhaps even things I cannot foresee.

I’d like to share my journey since my company is directly a product of that journey and as such in these founding moments our fates are currently tied.

Major business advancements

  • The Decision to Break Zenratstudios down into subdivisions
  • The addition and acquisition of “Karmic Rivers” one of our spiritual subdivisions (as opposed to our Writing & Game Development divisions which target a different type of audience)
  • Shifting and Developing Services over Products as a way to raise funds to produce better more quality products
  • Developed better and more efficient fundraising plans and non-obtrusive advertisement goals
  • Narrowed our Market/Target Group
  • Found my identity, voice and authenticity
  • Reassessed whether blockchains will be good for us and -when- to implement them in our timeline
  • How to get the different subdivisions to work together as a whole
  • Found a way to offer services for all income groups on a sliding scale
  • Developed some clearer strategies based on experimentation with ideas, concepts and more
  • Exploring a pay what you can model/ hybrid and also a model for our hiring process (how to limit costs while in the initial low funds stage of our company but also benefit the people we bring in, got some nice strategies to share!)
  • I viewed myself as an asset and as such focused on skill-building: building wordpress themes, learning and using languages like PHP, React.js, typescript, SASS and more.
  • And more.

 

Major Spiritual advancements

  • I undid all that I am not, and uncovered all that I am
  • I integrated my knowledge into my heart as wisdom in a process of emptying the cup
  • I healed many of the old wounds within my heart and found my peace
  • I transmuted my relationships from something painful to something enjoyable
  • I fully embraced my values and message
  • I came down off my mountain, no longer seeing myself as separately aware of the world, but each of us as all on this earth in this chaos together, trying to do the best that we can with the tools that we have available to us; living out our own karmic debts and so forth.
  • And more

 

Part I

Business

The switch from Products to Services

It’s not really a switch but a strategic decision. One way to bootstrap our company in order to build better projects is to offer our services to the community, building community and helping people. We can then grow our finances that way and reinvest both in the community and in creating and hiring the people required to help get more of the products out there. Services are easier to offer because I have the knowledge here to share and can easier distribute information, whereas it takes a longer time and a team of people to get quality tested products out to people. And because we don’t have just one single product but many to offer.

Pay What you Can Hybrid Revenue Model

I’ve been researching revenue models, ways to raise money for this company while also giving back to the community. One method of maximizing profits to increase the revenue so we can give back is a pay what you can hybrid model. It’s hybrid because I’m not entirely sure if every product we produce will be available under this model; for example offering a Pay what you can hybrid model for our workshops is something I wanted to do for our sliding scale fee; but then I wasn’t entirely sure if that would be appropriate.

For Products like Games and Novels books and games will be available under a Pay What You can Hybrid Model, and if you can’t pay we’ll offer options to view advertisments and affiliate services that you might want to pay for at some point. These advertisements would be quality advertisements that consist of non-profits and helpful services or start-up companies and entrepreneurs, small indie developers who have paid anywhere from $5 – $10 to place their ads with us. We may even offer a donation option, whereby you can donate to the author and a portion to a cause you believe in. So maybe viewing an advertisement of your choice, looking at an affiliate link, or signing up to something (if you want) would be an option. A portion of that revenue will then go to the author. We would offer the book or download for anywhere from $1 – $15.00 with a custom option. $0.00 would not be an option; but the option to look through some books would be an option. The reason for this is to make sure the people who buy our advertisement slots know that we are encouraging people to look through their projects. You could also opt to pay it forward instead and we can reward you or give you some bonus or a gift that you can take or pass on. We want to emphasize the time and costs it took to create the work and to support our families while also understanding other people’s needs and positions in life. We also want to emphasize that what they give directly goes back into our work and allows us to give more back.

For Workshops there is a different model. I’ve considered offering the workshop on a sliding scale fee, or on a similar hybrid revenue model as the above. Workshops are tricky because they involve direct interaction with people and a time commitment. The price range for this would be $50 – $250 and may possibly have a minimum allowance of $26. Though in time I’d like to offer free workshops, in the beginning not yet.

Pay what you contribute Hiring Model

I was trying to think of a way to Outsource and gain quality service. There is more to write on this but essentially a model being worked on is ‘pay per post’, that is we’ll be hiring qualified individuals to log on and reply to people but it’s not economically to offer $5.00 per post with many students for a month. The current model that I will be testing is posts are 0.10 – 0.20 cents but the value goes up based on the quality and length of the post and based on whether the student found it to be valuable. Think of it as something similar to steemit, but for our forum. Only people who submit a resume and are accepted wil have the option to get paid to post in this capacity. This way people are brought in, encouraged to write, but instead of paying them upfront before they contribute they are guaranteed to get paid money that correlates directly to their input and time, while also giving them experience. We may even have an option for students to ‘tip’ employees if they found their input particularly helpful. More to come.

 

Workshops as service

I’ve decided that I have the knowledge, tools, and resources available to build a workshop in these initial 3 areas:

  1. Writing
  2. Web & Game Development
  3. Spiritual Growth, Problem-solving & More
  4. Bonus: Stocks & Trade, Cryptocurency & ways to make money online (but that’s a workshop for another day)

I am currently building a site based off of Moodle. I chose Moodle as opposed to building my own site from scratch because I don’t have the time or resources to create all of my products, and these are people who are focused on building this site. Maybe one day I will make a modified, improved and gamified version of Moodle or maybe that is my next project but for now just getting it set up.

This will require a learning curve so I’ll probably be focused on getting that set up in between my other stuff.

Community based Advertisements

I’m working on a new type of advertisement model inspired by the Million dollar homepage as a fundraising tool, the current dependency of using advertisements to fund a site without people have to pay, while at the same time giving users a choice about how they view their advertisements and when. I realize that we all actually enjoy looking for services and products that meet our needs, but there is a time and place. When we’re on Amazon and we’re looking at a book, it’s appropriate to see recommended books we might also like based on our view of that particular book. But when we watch a movie or go on Facebook we’re bombarded with advertisements while we’re in the middle of reading articles and the like. That’s not the appropriate time and is somewhat intrusive.

I had a project called Project Graveyard and Project Heart, one was geared towards non-profits and the other was geared towards people burying their pain on a site, but now I actually think that I may have a system for displaying ads and recommendations and I’m truly excited about getting started on that. One thing at a time however. Many things to cross off my todo list and this is one of them.

 

Building a React.JS Text-Based Game Engine

One of my current projects is building an open-source text-based game engine for Zenratstudios needs. This is a project, and the more money I can raise via services the more I can get started back on game projects and the like.

Astrology & Spiritual Counseling as Service

It’s not really a secret that Zenratstudios is a company that is open to all beliefs and religions. I identify as an omnist agnostic and more recently began coining the term: Omnididact. It’s a play on the term autodidact (self-taught learning). I have always loved to learn, always loved to ask questions and want to know.

Aspiring Not for-profit organization

Long-term goals right now are to get incorporated and to become an official non profit organization, to raise funds and to build a pay-it-forward community that attracts those who hear the calling to help make the world a better place but don’t know where to start. I want to build an online community and social network that requires no sign-up and yet is connected. Pokemon Go interests me, but we need to do something similar but different and without an app. I’m still working on some underlying models.

Blockchain as long-term future plan, but not starting off

I currently have to redesign the zenratstudios.org wordpress template as well as the initial website. Fix broken links, and to make clear that Blockchain is a long-term goal. It’s not something we can do overnight. Developing on the blockchain is something we would like to do, but after the hack of Ethereum and the DAO and noticing some of the challenges that come with this technology and looking into Second Life and various ways we’re decided that we do want to use Blockchain, but whether we will create an altcoin or personal asset through it, what blockchain or sidechain we’ll use for our community to reward groups or if we’ll use bitcoin remains to be seen. What we want is to develop something that has freedom of movement, is beneficial to our communities and people, while being unable to be obstructed or shut down easily by government censorship. We also want to be responsible, emphasizing compassion and community service to our fellow brothers and sisters and more. To truly be a global citizen and company is possible with the blockchain. In this way I truly see blockchain as a way to do that. But I also envision that there will be many legal challenges and obstructions on privacy and so on that we’re not yet ready to face without the right fundraising and tools. We want to grow into blockchain and build steadily. Growing slowly and working our way up and adding features can help us control growth and handle problems as they arise one at a time, as well as build a steady legal system to protect our “Guardians of Life” as I now dub them. So there’s work to do on the main site.

Overall Goals

As a company my goals for Zenratstudios are vast. I envision Zenratsudios as having a pay it forward system built into it, designed to directly contribute to the community and to offer low-cost and free education opportunities, obliterate homelessness, support other companines, non-profits and entrepreneurs, and to have fun doing it through games and storytelling. I see many companies doing things like this too and long-term I hope to team-up with and support their cause.

Zenratstudios is designed to pay minimum taxes legally, out of a core belief that the government has mismanaged the money and that we as a society can do better. We directly redistribute the funds of our company back directly into the community while promoting non-profits in what will be part of our Guardians of Life. We have two types of audiences: Our services are designed for Entrepreneurs, these are people who have a calling but feel spiritually or emotionally blocked in some way, need support and guidance. The types of Entrepreneur’s I have a lot of interest in are self-publishing Authors, Indie Game Developers and people who want to heal in someway, spiritual leaders, counselors, psychologists, mentors. My workshops are being designed for these 3 types of audiences.

The second audience I have are the people I create products for. These are just everyday joes who want to play games for the experience or fun of it, but don’t want to be leaders in their society.

There is one more audience to mention, a third audience I haven’t been able to touch and is part of a long-term plan that involves the blockchain. I’ve got this dream that using blockchain technology we could even create an ecosystem that encourages people to make a living doing what they love so that all people have the opportunity to live well. Imagine if companies that made all the wealth they made directly put that into society around them. Imagine if individuals tooking control of their life and their destiny, not waiting for presidents to save them. Imagine if we could help people who are mentally ill, who want to get better, if we could bring services to our communities and fund our neighborhoods. Imagine if people could get paid to do what they love….imagine if we could get to the root of our problems as a society and build a better world.

It’s a long journey a far stretch and one step at a time we are going to make it happen.

 

Other Things to Add

I spent some time this past month learning and getting comfortable building wordpress sites and themes from scratch using foundation Zurb and Materialize css and Sass. I installed wordpress locally using wamp and began building my site. My weakness is getting footers to stay down and custom navigation menus, but structuring a page isn’t too hard and there are plugins available from people who are great at footers and navigations to make up for my weakness. Still my strengths are putting together websites and elements that I like and building something custom fit to me. PHP programming is new to me but I found it easy to pick up. I am going to be working on a PHP based template that prints to pdf for some of my forms to use as tools in my workshops (to bring all my knowledge together).

I also have a few mindmaps using Xmind that may come in handy for visualizing data, so there’s that. I use node.js + httpserver when working with react.js and phaser and so I’m feeling pretty excited with the skillset I’m learning. I would call myself predominately a front-end developer who builds wordpress themes and creates web apps, who has some back-end knowledge though I am gaining those back-end skills increasingly as I go along and as the need requires. Working locally and building templates and plugins has required using some back-end languages and that has been enjoyable. I find programming is as complex or as simple as you need it to be.

But more on that to come.

I’m not yet ready to market and advertise because still getting everything cleaned up and narrowed down; but I’ve found my voice, my gifts and skills, and we’re getting to a good place.

Part II

Spiritual Growth

Spiritual growth is a lifelong process and my success in life and work is directly dependent on my spiritual growth and success as an individual. When I started Zenratstudios back at the end of November, and launched the website around December – January, I was in a lot of emotional pain and turmoil and going through a major spiritual shift. I’ve gone through at least 3 spiritual paradigm shifts since that time, and more recently was this past August by which the result was a sense of peace and understanding that I have only had glimpses of before.

Understandings about myself, the world around me, and my role in life, our role. It was as though I had spent my life asking questions and had finally reached a new chapter of my life by which I didn’t need to ask anymore questions; It was time to simply empty my cup, of all my beliefs, and judgments of people, to empty and just be with people, to be one with them, to view the world as my people, to accept myself too flaws and all – I reached a magnificent and down to earth place. Even my delusions fell away, and my pain became directly transmuted into fuel for bridges and my work. I’m no longer effected by my pain in the same way because I understand it now.

And that’s all I can really say right now about that journey, mostly it’s the result of that journey and how that will manifest into my work and how it manifests currently with the people around me and my family; it just feels better, and that’s a place that I like.

There is more to mention and to write with this business but every minute I spend writing here I spend away from developing and creating the services that we all need in our lives; that will pave the way to the growth of Zenratstudios.

Building a Text Based Game with React.JS

 

This month or last month rather I began working on some of our projects and researching alternatives to PHP Games and SQL in order to make some of my text-based games. Let’s break the journeys down.

Blockchains

The first part of the journey began researching “Blockchains”. One of our games “The Guardians of Life” was designed to utilize a Blockchain to create a tangible asset for our pay-it-forward a game in the real world (ex. perhaps something like Pokemon Go, Ingress, but safer). The idea was to create an ecosystem (soon to be revealed) between Writers/Authors, Users, and Activists. At some point when I finish editing our blockchain “Guardians of Life” document I’ll post it here to describe how it would have worked; and how our ARG played into a system we hoped would help eliminate if not reduce poverty for some people and to promote non-violent, peaceful activism, while also creating a system to segregate Bad Actors.

For this project we looked to: Synereo Amp, Steem & Ethereum (our first real encounter with an alternative blockchain). We also looked at types of governance models for our companies and trust. This led us to “The Dao”. For those who don’t know “The Dao” was a decentralized autonomous organization, a company without leaders, fully democratic. Everything was voted on. It was promoted by the Ethereum developers who also ‘distanced’ themselves from it, while helping hype it. It was created by the Slock.It team and its creation revealed badly written Smart Contract code; and the idea that (1) Smart Contracts can replace lawyers and people, that the Code is the law, and (2) That if you can’t read Code then you shouldn’t use it. (3) That badly written code designed to be taken advantage of combined with a badly written language, means blockchains or Ethereum at least weren’t ready for this.

It also revealed to us that not anyone as Ethereum touted ‘could’ become a blockchain developer. That there was real security involved, and people had to really know and understand what they’re doing.

Since then some of my concerns have been:

  1. Do we need the Blockchain to create assets and implement our goals?
  2. How secure is “The Blockchain” and what can make it secure?
  3. How much will it cost to maintain the Blockchain?
  4. How can we remove Trustless and add “Trust” to our Blockchain and Service?
  5. How do we build a community with an economy around it?
  6. Which blockchain should we use?
  7. Should we focus on Blockchain as Services and Platforms coming out (There are blockchains as services and platforms (Microsoft Azure, Stratis, etc.))
  8. Is a Blockchain built on Javascript reliable enough? Should we look to something other than Javascript?
  9. How do we deal with Hackers and Security – just like we hire beta testers do we have to hire Hackers to test our security?
  10. What is a dAPP? What is a Web Application?
  11. How does a Web Application differ from a Computer Application?
  12. What is Meteor? (P.S. It’s a framework for Node.JS)
  13. What is Node.JS!!! (P.S. It’s a Javascript alternative to PHP)
  14. Why would I switch from PHP to Node.Js???
  15. And so on.

This is a big topic and its implementation requires some money initially. We plan to post our vision for our company and the Guardians of Life at some point, but for right now our focus has been building and developing tools, writing and creating games to add to our companies portfolio and to raise money.

Raising Money = Building Skillset

I have not been as focused on socializing and putting myself out there; this is because we’re not ready as a company. There are a lot of things I want to do before I go completely public. I want to have some tangible products out there so when people come to visit we’re not just showing them a dream but showing what we’re capable of building and how we’d like to build onto that.

My main priority is to build and strengthen my skillset, so that as the leader I am not just promoting an idea. I would like to hire people to delegate tasks like this ‘blog’, ‘posting on twitter’, etc. to them. All of this costs money. I feel that gaining skills and building some initial products and websites can help us with that. But since I can’t afford to ‘hire’ people, I’ve looked to other outlets.

Investments in Forex in the Cryptocommunity. This has been fun, but slow. I love it and using a combination of tools I’ve made some profits, but because I have not been paying attention it’s more like a long-term hold. It could be years until I see anything from those investments and that’s IF things don’t collapse. So there’s that.

My other focus has been simply building my skillset. I am an HTML5 Game Developer and Writer. I am not a very strong Programmer, but the one thing I love to do is creating and building up worlds, timelines, universes, and then making them real. I have a degree in Game Development & Simulation and I have programmed on and off for the past 10 years. I’ve been building websites on and off since Tables were used to build websites. I remember when the things I wanted to do on the web with just CSS and HTML couldn’t be done, and Jquery was the only Javascript library. Now in 2016 there are tons of tools open to me, and I’ve given in to the idea that the language I once hated Javascript is now the only language of the web, with its many libraries.

I’ve gone from wanting to create games one at a time for certain platforms: Android, Windows, etc. To shifting focus to Web Development. I always wanted to do that, to make my work as widely available to as many people as possible. But I can’t just have an idea, I have to have the skills to at least build the foundation if I don’t have the money. Or at least having a foundation in place so that the people I hire have something to look to as an example.

My current skillset projects: Web Applications

  1. Learning and building my Developer’s environment or Stack, the tools I will use to build this company on.
  2. Learning Node.JS and how to use it as an alternative to PHP Games
  3. Picking the right Text-Editor and work-flow: (We chose Brackets)
  4. Learning frameworks for Node.JS: Pure Node.Js, Meteor.js, Sails.js, Horizon
  5. Learning the database that is right for me: RethinkDB, etc.
  6. Learning a Javascript library that is the right tool for the job: React.js with Redux
  7. Learning how to use Handlebars for our work.
  8. Learning & Using the Game Engine we’d like to use: Unity 2D, Phaser-Engine w/Typescript
  9. Building a Framework or Template for our text-based games.
  10. Finding an affordable place such as Heroku or Microsoft Azure to host my applications
  11. Learning and getting comfortable programming in our language of choice
  12. Building company specific assets and tools for our Games.
  13. And more (like picking up SASS and the preprocess Myth so that we can use ‘variables’ in our CSS and make our work clean and DRY (don’t repeat yourself))

Learning the hard stuff now, and building off of it. Starting where we are and building on top of it.

If I could invest time into something that could guarantee the success of this company, what I would invest would be in myself. Acquiring the skillset and tools necessarily to lay down a foundation before bringing in extra workers to help build on top of that flow.

Text-Based Game “Books you can Play” Built with React.js

We are currently developing a text-based game with React.Js (and possibly Redux). I think I spent the past few years trying to settle on an Engine, and felt limited by the framework and engines I worked with. Inform 7 was a great tool, but learning how to add pictures and animations to create atmosphere and affect was a problem; figuring out how to put it online another problem; but the biggest problem was that you couldn’t separate larger works into separate files, an entire game had to be contained in a single page and that drove me crazy.

I switched to Tads 3, but my problem with Tads 3 was that in order to remove the ‘command’ line and focus on keywords and menu systems I had to greatly rewrite or hack into it. I didn’t want to do that. So I looked into Ren’Py which was art heavy, Choice of Script, Twine, Undum, Squiffy, Quest, all of these were great…but somewhere in all of that I just decided that I wanted to use and build my own tool that was designed specifically for me and what I wanted to do for it and with it.

I wanted a pure HTML5/CSS3 Text-Based game or “Book you could experience and play”.

  1. I wanted to add atmosphere to it similar to the Lost Odyssey “dreams” that you read with Kaim. Subtle, little leaves falling across the page when you pick up an old book, gentle music, fog. Interactive and engaging with what you’re reading.
  2. I wanted a big world you could explore like Mass Effect, but text-based in Blue Lacuna style.
  3. I wanted an Oregon Trail style ‘learning’ adventure with a menu system, while having a deep world you can explore and learn about like Sid Meier’s Pirates.
  4. I needed it to not only be friendly to people who were new to Interactive Fiction but also to attract people who enjoy interactive fiction in general.
  5. Most importantly I needed the flexibility to use that template to create other games and to build upon it.
  6. It also needed to be KISS (Keep it simple), Reusable components and programming code, DRY (don’t repeat yourself), Simple, Small.

The idea is that create LESS code to output more work. To do this I am learning skills that are initially hard and new, but the learning of them will create LESS work overall. This means React.Js and Redux will be what we use to build our User Interface for the game, we want a tiny bit of code to go a really long way. Zen. Simple. And that’s the type of engine I am working on creating in the background which will be the foundation for all future books you can play that we put out on our website.

I am excited to be working on this project, and that the skills we are using are being used to build ‘this’. We have other games on the work; but for the most part this is where all our attention and resources are at right now. Occasionally we focus on writing, but building this template is where it is at.

 

Parenting & Spirituality

Juggling parenthood, meditating daily, growing as a person and integrating that into my lifestyle is a process, it is my work. For the most part I know that my work is part of my lifestyle, and will always

When we say spirituality though we are often referring to Emotional and Mental Health and well-being, but also concepts like meditation, mind-body, Zen, love and compassion, and sometimes energy or the universe. Not everyone will be attracted to this mindset or like that, but that’s what fuels our work. My life is constantly balancing my thirst for maintaining Wu-Wei, effortless effort, Zen, compassion, love, growing, learning not to analyze and judge, to just be with people. Translating those experiences. Parenting while also building a dream or a vision. The best way I know to do that is to integrate everything together into a single lifestyle as a whole. And this is the product/output of that.

Naturally this blog gets neglected at times, but behind the scenes we are busy, busy, busy.