Ben Esposito


Ben Esposito

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm an independent game maker based in Los Angeles. I cofounded Glitch City, a collective of indie game makers in LA, and I'm working on a big solo project called Donut County.

What hardware do you use?

I have been developing games on a 2011 MacBook Pro since.. 2011. I love that it has a CD drive & Audio In. It only turns on about 60% of the time now, though, so I got a desktop gamer PC. This is the least embarrassing case I could find.

I use a Razer BlackWidow Chroma mechanical keyboard & a Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Mouse.

I regularly use an Intuos 4 for drawing.

For music and audio editing I use a pair of ATH-M50 headphones. They sound pretty even and work great for the price. I don't know if I should be embarrassed or not, but 99% of the time I just use my $30 pair of Apple EarPods. They're the only headphones I can leave in comfortable > 1 hour!!!

Finally, I use a ruled Moleskine notebook that acts as a daily journal / planner / concept sketchpad. I do a quick (~1 hour) journaling and planning session most mornings to figure out tasks for the day, and to dream a little bit.

And what software?

For development:

What would be your dream setup?

My dream setup is simple!! I have an adjustable standing / sitting desk. My office has AC and heat. The office has really high ceilings, there's a sky painted on the ceiling. The floor is fake grass. Outdoor ambience plays, and there's windchimes. The lighting makes it look like you're outside, and matches the time of day. There is a running stream for gentle thoughts, and a grotto for serious ideas!!


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Olivia Wood


Olivia Wood

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Olivia Wood. I'm a narrative editor, writer, content manager and game developer.

As narrative editor at Failbetter Games, I check continuity, ensure consistency with in-game lore, give feedback on whether the characters are convincing and the story is satisfying, and decide whether player choices feel meaningful. I act as line-editor and look at the phrasing. I kill darlings.

When writing – I get all this done to me, and it's painful but irritatingly useful. I work across all our games – so my fingerprints can be found on both Fallen London and Sunless Sea.

As content manager I loom over spreadsheets and Trello boards – hunting deadlines and haunting writers.

Outside my work at Failbetter Games, I write. I wrote and designed Lethophobia with Jess Mersky. I've also published a children's book – to throw my heartless exterior into sharp relief.

I also line-edit and proofread novels. I am a Science Fiction and Fantasy specialist, and have worked with authors ranging from Joe Abercrombie to Brandon Sanderson. I occasionally give talks on writing and the creative process, and give Masterclasses on 'being edited'.

I drink cocktails; caipirinha, please.

What hardware do you use?

My home computer is a custom build gaming rig/workstation. I have two 26" monitors – I can't work on fewer. The mouse is Logitech G502 – I care more about having a nice mouse than a good keyboard. My keyboard is some old one with a leg gaffer-taped on. I'm still on Windows 7 because I'm not having any of the Windows 10 nonsense. At work the setup is similar, but less high powered.

My laptop is an Acer Aspire S7 392; often mistaken for an Apple as it's gorgeous. It's almost perfect – the only problem is the battery, which insta-dies somewhere around 15%. I've tried all the fixes and now just save regularly and work with increased urgency as it fades. I only use it when working from cafes. I love cafe working – I can focus better with background noise and people to avoid talking to – but it gets expensive.

My iPad mini is invaluable for talks. I also store articles and blogs on it to read while travelling. I've occasionally tried writing on it, but I cannot type using the Apple keyboard.

Google Pixel – I can't exist without a smartphone.

I never go anywhere without a pen and notepad. I prefer to write on a computer – I type faster than I can write, but I can't brainstorm on a screen.

And what software?

Failbetter Games uses StoryNexus as our CMS. It's a powerful tool for interactive narrative, but it's not intuitive. We use Google Docs and Spreadsheets to store and share story pitches, lore and game design. We mostly avoid email by using Slack. The Narrative Director often works remotely, so – via FaceTime – he lives in an iPad on my desk. For tracking work, I use Trello and Google Spreadsheets.

I use Classic Shell and Start8 to undo the harm caused by Windows 8.

Pocket means I can save articles for later. For days when it's hard to concentrate, I've a Pomodoro timer pinned to my browser. It renders me terrifyingly efficient. A combination of Dropbox, Google Drive and 1Password means I can work from pretty much anywhere with internet.

When working on novels, I use Microsoft Word. It's not perfect, but it's ubiquitous, and has a good combination of comments and change tracking. I'm still using the 2007 version.

For fun game design stuff, I play with both Twine and ink (with the Inky Editor).

What would be your dream setup?

I'm pretty pleased with what I've got already. A gentle wish would be for a more powerful PC that I didn't have to dust. I'd like the same laptop, but with better gaming capabilities and a near-infinite battery. An actual dream setup? What I've already got, but ski-in ski-out – while still being based in London. Oh, and someone to yell at me to sit up straight. My posture's crap.


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Jenny Odell


Jenny Odell

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Jenny Odell, and I used to call myself a digital artist, but I think I might actually be a conceptual artist. I'm based in Oakland and I teach art at Stanford.

What hardware do you use?

Because I seem to spend 80% of my life commuting on public transportation, I have all my stuff inconsistently synced among my computer, my school computer, and my computer at Facebook (where I'm an artist in residence right now) – all MacBook Pros. Wherever my studio happens to be at the moment, I keep a 22" Cintiq monitor to cut things out on. I also have a regular Wacom tablet that travels with me when necessary.

At home, I have a big, cheap Dell external monitor only because I tend to have a million windows open at the same time. I use an Apple Magic Mouse I found at the dump and which connects to my computer as "Laura's Mouse." I also rely on a pair of Bose noise canceling headphones my dad gave me six or seven years ago that have been slowly falling apart. Currently the foam is exploding out of the left ear, but as long as I can still smush them against my head, I will wear them.

To take pictures (usually of trash, as part of The Bureau of Suspended Objects), I use a Canon EOS Digital Rebel, a Sunpak tripod, and some unglamorous box lights. To type up the Bureau's research, I use an electric blue Royal manual typewriter from the 1960s that was recently brought back from the brink by the only typewriter repair shop in the South Bay.

At Facebook, I've been using a risograph machine, sort of like a cross between a photocopying and screen printing, since you can only do one color at a time. Someone told me the other day that it's so named because "Riso" means "ideal" in Japanese, but that seems hard to believe after wrangling with the printer's mysterious needs and requests.
Lastly, I want to give a shout out to my very satisfying Alvin Draf-Tec 0.5mm mechanical pencil, which I use with a regular black spiral bound notebook.

And what software?

Photoshop is my mainstay, for cutting things out and making animated GIFs. I use InDesign to make books sometimes. I've played around in p5 a a bit, and lately I've been rendering some 3D blobs in Blender. I use Dropbox to (attempt to) sync things among my several computers. I often give talks that have a lot of GIFs and videos, so Keynote's been useful.

What would be your dream setup?

My friend and fellow artist Liat Berdugo recently observed that screens "ask the body to be fixed in space"; my teaching mentor Camille Utterback has also noted that digital interfaces aren't very generous or forgiving to the human body. Basically, my dream setup exists in the far (or maybe not so far?) future, where I don't have to sit crouched in a vise-like position, poking and clicking at things all day. Is there a way to make digital art by running around outside and doing cartwheels? I really hope so.


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Matt Lubchansky


Matt Lubchansky

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Matt Lubchansky, and I'm an illustrator and cartoonist based in Queens, NY. I've been making my comic Please Listen to Me once a week since 2010. I'm the Editorial Assistant and a weekly contributor at The Nib. I've done freelance illustration work all over the place. I'm also the co-author of Dad Magazine (Quirk, 2016).

What hardware do you use?

At home, I work on a 21.5" 2015 iMac and a Cintiq Companion 2 tablet (13"). I switched to working digitally about 6 years ago and I basically never use paper anymore. I also have a Toshiba 13334 Chromebook 2 laying around that I use mostly for writing comics if I feel like I need to get away from my actual desk. When I've got to work out of an office or a friend's house or a hotel room or whatever, I rig up a little studio with the Chromebook and the Companion side by side. I end up writing all my ideas down on my iPhone in the middle of the night mostly.

And what software?

I try to get all my ideas down in Google Docs so I've got it on all my devices because I end up working all over the place. Every so often I'll write a script in TextEdit if I need to turn off the internet and just grind for a bit. I lay out panels, letter, sketch, and ink in Manga Studio EX 4, and then do all my colors in Photoshop CS6. Manga Studio 4 is pretty damn old and I'm pretty sure it's not even supported anymore, but I got very used to it before I went full-time as an artist and the learning curve of a new program freaks me out. Every so often it'll break and I have to plug a disc drive into my tablet and reinstall it with a physical install disc – one day it's definitely going to die and I'm going to have to go live in the woods.

What would be your dream setup?

In my wildest dreams I probably have one of those huge Thunderbolt displays with a Mac Pro and that stupidly massive 27" Cintiq that nobody actually needs. I've been working off a 13" Cintiq for years and having one of the giant ones with a huge articulated arm bolted to the wall sounds nice. For traveling, I'd honestly stick with the setup I have probably!


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Daniel Schauenberg


Daniel Schauenberg

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hi! I'm Daniel Schauenberg and currently I'm a Staff Engineer on Etsy's fleet management and provisioning team. I've previously worked on the DevTools team at Etsy and in former jobs I was an embedded systems engineer and a network/systems administrator at a chemical plant before that.

What hardware do you use?

In terms of hardware I use an 11" MacBook Air as my personal laptop, and have the same model for work in conjunction with a 27" Thunderbolt Display, Apple Wireless Keyboard, and Apple Trackpad. It's honestly the best laptop I have ever owned, and I can't imagine ever going with a different size (although Apple's current laptop lineup suggests that I will have to at some point).

I have Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones at work and also burn through a pair of Sennheiser CX 300‑II in-ear headphones about once a year. But they are still the best ones I've found so far.

I recently acquired an iPhone SE after my trusty, almost 4 year old iPhone 5 got too slow, and I have a 1st gen iPad mini that I barely use. My phone is connected to a Pebble Time but I have most notifications disabled. I have a root server at Hetzner that hosts most of my stuff, an HP microserver at home for backups, and built my own homerouter on an apu1d4 board. And I love my YubiKeys (I have a 4 for work and a NEO for personal stuff) which I mostly use for 2FA on my servers and home router (via Duo Security) and for signing git commits.

And what software?

A lot of my work revolves around text files (code, journal, notes, ..) so the two pieces of software I probably interact with most are vim and git. Most of the time I write bash, Ruby, PHP or Go, and I use Make religiously to automate as much as possible, sign git commits with GPG, read email in mutt and generally live in a bunch of nested tmux sessions in a fullscreen iTerm2 terminal. I use Ledger for my accounting, which stays with the theme of being a bunch of text files, tracked in git, and automated with make.

For productivity and tracking what I have to do I rely a ton on OmniFocus, for which I have some scripts to pull in things from JIRA at work, GitHub issues (.com and our enterprise install), and email I need to reply to.

I listen to music in either iTunes or Amazon Music (RIP Rdio) depending on what I want to listen to. I use a version of Skitch from 2012 that still supports WebDAV uploads so I can host my screenshots on S3 via s3itch hosted on Heroku. I also run my own URL shortener on there. I use macOS on the laptops and run FreeBSD on all my servers. I try to run as much stuff as possible myself, so my personal infrastructure is made up of things like ownCloud (for WebDAV, CalDAV, and CardDAV), Sendmail, Dovecot, Nagios, Graphite, procmail, and Fetchmail. All my servers (including my home router) run ZFS and are managed by Chef.

On my iPhone I mostly use Tweetbot, Instagram, Reeder (<3 RSS), Calm, and a combination of Working Copy and Editorial to clone git repos on my phone and take notes or write blog posts. I also use Pocket a lot, to the point where I had ~2000 articles backlogged. So I wrote a tool I called pocketcleaner which runs on one of my servers and trims down the list to the 20 newest entries every Sunday night.

What would be your dream setup?

I basically have my dream set up in a lot of ways. It would be awesome if I didn't have to charge my MacBook Air so often, and I would love it if macOS had kept closer to its UNIX roots. But otherwise I'm really enjoying my setup.


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