Staying on Track

Keeping a 4th grade creative genius on task in remote school while also working on my own projects has been challenging at times. I am not always aware that she has an assignment due until she loudly announces, “Oh no! I was supposed to do this by [time in the past/ two minutes from the current time]!!!” Many times while I am trying to concentrate, The Child will barge in to ask questions which could have been written down and/ or Googled for later when she had time. I don’t want to ignore her, but kids at this age need to learn how to prioritize tasks on their own, and sometimes Mom just needs to finish a thought.

So we went old school. While she was sleeping last Sunday night, my co-parent installed a new 2’x3′ corkboard on the wall above her workspace. I taped cool LED lights around the edge of the board and cleaned her desk to give her a fresh start. In the morning, I gave her a stack of Post-It notes and pins. As I handed her the Post-Its, I stated they would only be used for writing down tasks, due dates, and questions related to school.

A blood oath was sworn. I retreated to work in peace, patting myself on the back for my parenting skills.

Chaos ensued. In a matter of hours, the board and her freshly organized workspace had transformed into Post-It Alley. She had perfected Origami frogs, developed an amazing new line of cartoon characters, and somehow missed even more deadlines because she was spending too much time “organizing.” To top it off, it wasn’t long before she burst into my workspace to ask this absolutely life or death question: “Mom, can I have more push-pins?”

Suffice it to say, the few remaining Post-Its were confiscated. I re-approached the drawing board, and designed a series of organizational headers and task cards for her use instead. I intentionally left a couple of blank cards in the design so she can cut out the squares and improvise as needed — ideas of projects to work on independently, plans for world domination, etc. The board looks a lot more organized, and she still has space to color and customize cards that get placed on the board.

Category headings by Suzanne Skaar, 2021. All rights reserved.
PDF available for personal and educational use at no cost.
Task card samples by Suzanne Skaar, 2021. All rights reserved.
PDF available for personal and educational use at no cost.

I am sharing the file for those who’d like to print it out here. It’s free for personal and educational use. If you find this kind of resource useful, you can contribute to studio expenses/ buy me a coffee here. You can also comment below with suggestions for additional cards/ themes. I’d be happy to post additional versions in the future. Please share this blog post with friends who might need it. And if you haven’t yet, please like and follow No, Mine! Studios on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok.

Cheers!

Suzanne

Screenshot Saturday

Good morning! Here’s a look at some of this week’s progress.

Screen capture of game progress in Unity. 2D pixel art dinosaur walking along the sidewalk past a flower shop. Music, graphics, animation, and editing by Suzanne Skaar. All rights reserved 2021.

Technical Hiccups

I’m still working out the overall music score/ sound design, and will be for some time. My laptop and some of the major DAWs are not on speaking terms at the moment, so much of this week was spent on tech boards looking up what’s going on with my audio drivers and dreading having to go out and purchase an audio interface.

I have also been arguing with the sound settings in Unity about triggering sounds only in proximity to the player, and not from the start of the scene. Imagine, if you will, the simultaneous cry of a million peeping stegos, and you understand why sound is not currently enabled in my game build.

However, I will not let technology win this war. To quote Flaming Lips:

[S]he knows that
It’s demanding
To defeat those evil machines
I know she can beat them

Process, Workarounds and Links

For those who are interested in learning more about my process, I made the music using a combination of two free programs, Beepbox and Audacity. The program I have been using to build the game, Unity, is free for those under a certain income threshold. I then used Adobe Premiere Pro to compile audio I’ve been kicking around for a while now with new in-engine footage from Unity. As I was already subscribed to Adobe Creative Cloud for Photoshop, it makes sense for me to work in this software, but the price can be a barrier for those not fully invested in the field yet. If others have suggestions for free video editing software, please feel free to make suggestions in the comments. I know there are several great options out there.

If you want to see more behind the scenes work or receive updates, please follow this blog. You can also like and follow No, Mine! Studios (nominestudios) on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook.

Thank you for your support!

–Suzanne

Big news!

And now it’s official! I just signed my Tacoma Artist Initiative Program contract. I am grateful to the Tacoma Arts Commission for sponsoring me as I research and develop assets for my video game. I’ll be giving an artist talk later in the year on the technical aspects of this project and what accessibility means in art, community, and our daily lives. I will also be sharing details on how the local community can become part of the game.

Acceptance into this program was the catalyst for another major leap. No Mine Studios LLC (named after a once constant refrain from my daughter when she was younger) is an official business within the State of Washington.

Thank you everyone who has supported me in this endeavor over the years. More updates to come!