There’s a saying about old dogs and new tricks isn’t there? In this post, AppyLab’s technical leader, Kieron, talks about learning how to build fun for the first time, and why I should not be calling him an old dog.old dog balancing on gym ball

I’m going to start by saying that learning something new is a terrifying prospect. Perhaps it’s my age, a mid-thirty something, or perhaps it’s the idea that, in this instance, I’m going to need to unlearn a couple of decades of on-the-job training.

Learning to build apps and games is nothing at all like my day job. I write software for corporates, which has a certain comfort in its inevitable challenges, a predictable rhythm of progress and problems that I know how to approach and get the right results from my team.

So give me a big enterprisey system that can do things like work out your pension contributions, figure out which fund is best to invest in or help your employees manage their performance goals within your company, and I’m like a foot in an old slipper. Comfort zone central.

Not one of my many years doing those things has taught me how to build fun. And fun for children at that; the most demanding audience on the planet.

Lesson number 1: Keep going and eventually building fun is, umm, fun.

Despite spending a lot of my evenings sat in front of Unity 3D with a pained expression on my face,  there’s no denying that watching the Lairies come to life on my computer is an incredible ride. Seeing animations breathe life into these naughty little creatures quite easily makes me forget how challenging it can be, and focus on the ride instead.

Lesson number 2: Other people know more than you and it’s fantastic.

Some of those people are much younger than you. You’re going to have to get used to that when you decide to learn something new and cool from scratch.

People have turned out to be brilliant (looking at you Gareth), often spending loads of their spare time trying to help unravel issues, offering advice, sharing experiences.

Lesson number 3: There’s no zero to hero scenario.

Learning something new takes time. You’ll lose days tweaking one tiny thing to get it just right and that will be infuriating. Which leads me to…

Lesson number 4: Don’t stop trying!

If you get stuck, move on to something else for a while. You will get good at this, it’s going to take a while, that’s all.

Lesson number 5: You’ll love it when a plan comes together.

For that to happen you’ll need a plan to start with. Many rabbit holes appear when you’re trying to learn something new without a solid plan and you can lose months in those maze-like burrows.

So… this is my journey, one I’m sharing with some other old dogs trying to learn new tricks (sorry Ali and Dan).