Camen Design

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Tanner Helland Writes: #3

This is one of a series of personal letters written to / from Tanner Helland during 2003–2005. These letters cover—in immense detail—events in my life during that period, including many unfinished and aspiring designs and creations. As a person however, I have changed from the inexperienced, often immature person I was and my skills in programming and web-design have changed just as radically.

These letters have been republished to give deep insight into the way I tick, and to show a lot of background work that lead up to the concepts and skills needed to produce this website, which ultimately I failed to do so back then.


A ha ha ha—never a dull moment in the life of Kroc. I’m hoping that my first two letters (one from the states, one from Canada) have made it there okay, but who knows with smail? Oh well; it’s definitely better than nothing! :)

Things here are really, really busy. Far more so than I would’ve originally guessed. My free time per week probably sits around ~3 to 4 hours, maybe ~5 or 6 on a good week. So, I usually end up staying up later than I should writing letters and working on various novel ideas, etc. So don’t be surprised if it ends up taking me 3 or 4 days to finish this letter, har har.

Life without a computer… it’s weird, but endurable. More than anything else I miss music. We are only allowed to listen to classical music or “church” music, and even then only after 9:30pm (and we’re in bed by 10:30) or during our day off, which is from 12–6 pm on Monday. There are many times that I wish I could just crank up a stereo and work on PhotoDemon† or something, but I’m surviving :) I do appreciate the chance to do a lot of thinking. I need all the thinking I can get, heh.

Ah, the food :) If we have to cook for ourselves, meals usually consist of milk & cereal, eggs, sandwiches, or something similarly easy to do. But ¾ of the nights we have church members take us out to eat or cook us a real home-cooked meal. So I’ve been able to try out a lot of nice restaurants that I would never take myself to, so it’s good! I dearly miss the USA, however, and will be happy to go back there in 2005.†

I am enjoying my work a lot, despite all I left behind. There is something very fulfilling about being able to


help people out and discuss fundamental questions for them, like why they are here and where they came from and what might happen after they die. Most people lead frighteningly bleak lives and I feel blessed to be able to share other alternatives with them. Just telling them that there may be truth to be found about such things comes across as a shock to many :) I am loving it though. It’s much more altruistic and good than anything I would be doing at home right now. I am learning a lot and (hopefully!) trying to make the world a better place, and that’s something I’ve needed to do. It’s far too easy to become self-centered in this world of ours so hopefully I can help change that part of me. We’ll see what happens :)

As for TLA, it is only as good as the effect it has on its members. If it was bringing you down emotionally, spiritually, physically, psychologically, it’s far better to be away from it. So I am happy for you, and if the team truly was ignoring you—which they have an unfortunate inclination to do—then I am proud of you for rising above it and leaving it behind. Never take part in anything that makes you reach less than your full potential—that’s good, sound advice. Remember it :)

I’ll continue to hope that they can make something work, but I think it is time to cut our losses and give up on the TGP/TLA monster. I still know that VB is a capable game programming language, and I’ll always hold out hope that a bunch of college-age kids


can rise above the professionals and show them what’s up. That’s always been my goal, and it will continue to be my goal as long as I’m able to work at anything—music, writing, programming, whatever. When I get back, the first thing I’m going to do is type up my (hopefully) completed first novel in the “Defiance” series I’m working on and get it published.† That’s my new goal—to be a writer—simply because it’s something I can work on while I’m out here, and it’s something I can do without anyone else. Teams can be a great help or a great detriment, if you know what I mean ;)

So regardless of what projects or teams you work on, I will always support your underlying goal to improve and share your talents with the world. After all, what good does it do to have a brilliant talent for design and have to work on a project that won’t let you share that? You were absolutely right that programmers are there to realize the designs from the designers. In TGP|TLA we made the critical mistakes of blurring the lines between jobs and letting people think they should be allowed to comment on everything. We tried to fix it, but alas, it was too little too late. The only thing to do now would be to start a new project with thick, noticeable lines between the jobs of designer and programmer.

Maybe in 2005 ;). And don’t let Clint know that I think TGP/TLA’s time is up. Hopefully he’ll get around to writing me and I can tell him myself.

I’m hoping that by the time I get back you will have some kind of wonderful scheme worked out so that


we can work on a game project together and actually 1) accomplish something, and 2) have fun. You’ve got 21 months to figure it out, so don’t let me down! :)

I really appreciate the two letters I’ve gotten from you so far and hope that you’ll continue to write. Your friendship means a great deal to me and I still—still ha ha—hold out hope that someday we’ll collaborate on something big. I’ll keep praying for it :)

Best of luck with Badly Drawn†. Keep me updated and feel free to use any of my programming / music / whatever in it if you think it will help. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you, too. I don’t hvae a lot of spare time but if you want / need anything then I’ll find the time to do it.

And never forget that though he may be far away ol’ DS will always be rooting for you to succeed. I’d love nothing more then to watch you give a big “up yours” to everyone that deserves it. After all, my ongoing theme is Defiance. Heh heh heh…

So stick with it and never give up. You’ve got incredible potential, and I eagerly await the day that I get to tell people “hey—I knew that guy before he was famous.” :)

Good luck and God bless—

Your friend,
Elder Tanner Helland
aka DemonSpectre

P.S. I almost forgot—your picture is kick-a good. I feel bad you wasted a whole nice sheet of photo paper to send me a copy! I’ll have to hang it on my wall to remind me of the good times we used to—and will someday once again—have. 100% nice job on that one. You put my artwork to shame! :)