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Updated: Mar 20, 2021

What I don't think gets enough attention and doesn't get actively spoken about is that what we perceive as an A to B path, is actually an A to (B,C,D,E) to F path where B, C, D, E can never be truly defined. We aren't ever fully exposed to what the in betweens are so what we can perceive as an A to B path is in reality an A to F path where B through E never gets the light of day.

Do ___ and ____ will happen.

We grow up being told that if you do this, that will happen. If you do this and that doesn't happen, you probably didn't do the first step correctly. The reason why you did not get to this ideal B is because you probably didn't do it right.

But you did get to a B. Something did happen. Sure you didn't get to the B that you envisioned, but we also have to realize that life revolve around you and it doesn't have to follow what you want. There is no tried and true structure to get you to where you want to go. Just because you did A, doesn't mean you are entitled to your vision of what B should be.

I have probably stated something similar to this in previous posts, but just because I wrote about it once doesn't mean it's something I have fully instilled into myself.

I know paths in life aren't simple. But ever since grade school we have been constantly taught that if you do this, that will happen.

It has been so engrained into our minds that when the outcome we do not want happens, we get crushed. We then try to figure out why our ideal outcome didn't happen. We get caught into a self-destructive path where we our thoughts keep burying us deeper into space. A space that we can not change.

The B that we have is what we have. Now, how do we progress? Where can we go from here? What can we do to get ourselves to where we need to be?

Now this is the question that I am currently asking myself. This is the question I have been asking myself for so long.

I am currently 25 about to turn 26. I am unemployed and have been married to this idea that somehow, somewhere work will find me and I will be okay. And that's not a healthy way to go about life.

I have done some gigs here and there. But at the end of the day, when I turn 26 I won't have anymore safety nets. I will be fully and completely independent.

So where do I go from here?

I love doing video work. I love doing creative work. But at the end of the day, I do not have the drive and energy to out-create and out-work others in the video space. It's just the way it is. I love shooting and editing, but there are so many people who do it better than me out there that have that drive.

I respect the hell out of it.

But now where do I shift my focus?

What I feel like I can be successful in doing is being a resource and help build the people that want to out-create and out-work others.

I want to be a bridge and be able to create a true platform where people can create to learn, create to explore, create to create without judgement.

I want to build a platform that grounds and humanizes people's creative/professional journeys.

I want to build a platform where young creatives/professionals can look at someone successful and see themselves in them.

So now it's time to move towards to my next point in my life. My C.

I want to build this the way that I believe it needs to be built. I have to begin learning the business skills and people skills that goes along with a project like this. I need to learn from the people who understand the ins and outs of the media world. People who have a better understanding in order to get Simplex Minds to where it needs to be.

So, I am going to be changing my career path. I won't be going towards a "creative" career, for now. But with time, through my efforts, I believe I will be able to get back to it.

I am no longer focusing on getting to the end game. My C is not where I end, but where I begin. It's a new chapter to an overall overarching goal that I want to achieve. It's time to humble myself and learn.

What I want to fully achieve is something that I can not do right now. It is something that would ignorant and arrogant for me to think I can achieve by just going for it right now.

In the end, I know I will be coming back this post and hoping I made the right choice. I am hoping what I am choosing to do today, will work out in the future and that I will reap what I sow. I truly believe that this is what I need to do next.

This is my journey with the complex. I can't make the complex look simple without understanding the complex. I can't be trying to push Simplex Minds, if I'm not living it myself.

I have a lot of plans for this community. This is only the very beginning. I will get to where I want to be. But first, I have to learn from where I am.

Every Thursday night on Twitch, Four Color Zack puts on one of the most entertaining streams with a production value that rivals and/or surpasses most media companies on the platform.

Four Color Zack is a world renowned DJ from Seattle, WA. He's been traveling across the world, performing to all different kinds of crowds while showcasing his creative style of mixing. Ever since COVID-19 hit most of his gigs, like all other performers, have been cut off. Since then, he and many other DJs have moved to live streaming as a means for income and to maintain their presence within the music space.

At 8PM PST, every Thursday, FCZ puts on a variety music stream that most of the time will run until around 2AM PST. He also streams at 10PM PST on Saturdays, but for this piece we will focus on his Thursday broadcast. During his Thursday stream many things are certain that will happen. Beans will overflow the chat. Toad will perform a soulful rendition of Chandelier by Sia. Bird Peterson will destroy an audience challenged mashup in an hour (that you can listen to after the fact here). And most importantly, you will be able to get to enjoy a free live performance from one of the most creative DJs in the world.

What we can learn from FCZ's approach to streaming:

There are many things that FCZ does well with his Thursday stream. We will be focusing on his ability to create a highly interactive audience with his creative use of segments, his purposeful choices in subscriber emotes, and overall broadcast flow.

FCZ, like many of other DJs, performs live music mixes on his twitch channel. He shows off his musical creativity like so many others but, unlike others, breaks the monotony of the stream with many different personally produced segments.

His segments include:

  • Mash Mountain

  • How 2 Life Good

  • Skynet Jr.

  • Bird Peterson's 1 Hour Remix

  • Wrastlin'

  • and so many more.

Each segment's run time can be as little as 5 minutes to as much as a couple hours. The benefit Zack has from doing this on his personal stream is that he is able to run whatever segment that feels right at the time. There is no time crunch. There is not a specific order he needs to go in. He can just jump from segment to segment depending on how the chat is feeling for the night.

"Have I missed anything?"

With Zack's use of segments, if you tune in late and can miss so much. You can tune out for an hour and miss a trip to Mash Mountain, a land of meme musical mash ups that maybe shouldn't have been made. You can sign in late and miss Bird Peterson's Remix that he made in an hour combining two different musical genres that definitely shouldn't work, but because it's Bird it does. You can go to sleep early and miss the innovative humor of kindergarteners in Skynet Jr.

By using segments as an essential part of his broadcast, he is better able to retain viewers and keep the stream fresh at the same time. There is always something new happening during his stream and you never know what you will miss.

Now, let's move on to his subscriber emote choices.

Twitch gives every partnered or affiliated creator on its platform an ability to create custom emotes for their chat on their stream. These emotes are only accessible for the creator's paid subscribers. Basically, in exchange for the viewer's monetary support, the streamer gives the subscriber personally customized emotes to use on the platform.

Here are FCZ's current emotes at the time publishing:

We can categorize his emotes as the following:

- Reaction emotes (green)

- Segment emotes (pink)

- Inside Joke emotes (light blue)

- Self emotes (orange)

(Most of his emotes can really be multi-categorized).

Zack does an amazing job with implementation and usage of his subscriber emotes. Every one of his emotes serves a purpose and is useful for interacting with his broadcast.

The reaction emotes allows chat to show Zack how they are feeling at they are feeling at the moment. He allows a wide range of different kinds of emotes that can be used in different situations. Each one adding to overall personality of his stream.

The segment emotes can show chat's eagerness, anticipation, and then celebration. Eagerness when used by users who want to go to that specific segment. Anticipation when it starts to be spammed right before the segment starts. Celebration when the chat is flooded with emotes when the segment begins.

The inside joke emotes help perpetuate a sense of community for those that do show up week after week. When a new emote is dropped that relates from a joke from the previous stream, it brings another sense of excitement for the regular viewers.

The self emotes gives the viewers a fun way to connect with Zack as a person and can allow the audience to feel like a friend to him. His self emotes are pretty silly so it can help promote the sense of a jokingly roast among friends.

Whether it's getting the chat to spam the Mash Mountain (segment) emote to hype a trip to the meme music mash up depths of the internet or allowing chat to collectively spam Klompula the vampire to "dance" along to his live performance (a reaction). Every emote he has purposefully adds to the community's unique experience and to the overall personality of his stream.

By putting purpose and thought into each emote, he creates another level of interaction and person-ability between him and his community. This in turn makes subscribing to his channel more enticing for viewers than many other streams on the platform. There's subjectively more value for a viewer to subscribe to his stream than other streams because you will use Zack's emotes more frequently than most others on the platform.

We've highlighted his use of segments to keep his broadcast fresh and his purposeful use of emotes to create a unique, interactive viewing experience. Now we'll jump back into the flow of his broadcast.

Zack's broadcast is a very fluid, organic stream. He is able to do this by keeping up with, interacting, and understanding his chat consistently. He will get into a zone while he is Dj'ing, but will never forget about chat.

Zack, has every portion of his stream planned out, but he doesn't plan out the order of which each segment will happen unless it involves a 2nd party (ie. How 2 Life Good and Bird Peterson's 1 hour remix). Because of his choices of emotes and ability to "hang out" with chat, he is able to understand the vibe of the stream and is able to choose which segment or clip to play next depending on how the chat is responding. Besides the couple of segments stated earlier, he doesn't have a specific timeline he needs to reach and can do any segment whenever it feels right.

With the emotes, he will know when the chat is itching for a specific segment. He then can put specific requirements he wants chat to fulfill before going to that segment. (ie. subscription goals, hype train completions, etc.). These requests would normally be seen as excessive on most other streams, but viewers will gladly and proudly fulfill these requests. The main reason this works is because his community appreciates the work he puts into the stream and Zack over delivers on production value and entertainment for what in reality is a free stream.

We've gone into his use of segments and his emotes, but we didn't even get into the amount of time, effort, and work he has to put in for each segment for his stream. From curating content to organizing it into a consumable format to developing it into an actual segment to completing each segment to what we see on screen, much of the work he actually does is never fully seen by the viewer.

Zack puts in countless amount of hours into planning out his Thursday streams to give the viewers the most entertaining stream he can. He only streams twice a week, but puts a week's worth of work into those streams.

FCZ is innovating and many creators should take notes on how he is able to do what he is doing. He creates an environment where people want to stay tuned in and stay active in his chat and at the end of the day that is the recipe for success on such a platform.

Four Color Zack is making the complex look simple. He is doing the job of an entire broadcast crew while also performing live to an audience seamlessly. He stays in tune with the needs of the audience, while truly not missing a beat (pun intended). He understands his audience and curates the best show he can for them.

This Thursday, tune into his stream: Look at the unique and interactive community he has created. Appreciate the work he has put in behind the scenes. Understand the specific choices he has made.

Even though COVID-19 has made life difficult, we would not have the Four Color Zack streams we have today without it. With hardship brings innovation and Four Color Zack is definitely innovating.

I'm going to be honest, I haven't made a logo before. I don't have the money to hire someone, so I'll just have to figure it out on my own.

First session:

Going into this session, I wanted to create a symbol that encapsulates Simplex Minds.

What is Simplex Minds?

It's a platform for people who are doing what they can to make the complex look simple.

So my thinking was to create something complex out of simplistic shapes.

What complex shape should I aim to make? A brain.

A brain as a symbol makes a lot of sense here. Simplex Minds is about learning and progress. It's about turning what you have learned into something new.

I found a brain vector online that was semi-simplistic and used it as the base for the logo. Then I used the golden ratio circles, shown in the left and began to roughly outline the brain. In the end, I got the symbol on the very right.

With this session I was kinda happy with the results, but I wasn't satisfied. It makes sense for "Simplex Minds," but it didn't feel right for what I wanted to try and portray. It didn't feel simplex. It didn't have that energy, that I envisioned, so I moved on to a 2nd session days later.

Second session:

With this second session, I wanted to go a different route. I scrapped the brain idea and just wanted to build a symbol that I felt represented the word simplex.

Here's some of the requirements I put in place going into this logo building process:

- Has to feel appropriate

- Needs to be distinctive/memorable

- It has to be simple enough to be able to draw

(These requirements mostly came from videos by The Futur on YouTube).

I first started with just drawing a bunch of different simplistic polygons next to each other, intersecting each other, until I found something I thought was interesting.

This unfinished cube caught my eye, so I decided to try and expand on that.

I am not sure why, but none of the symbols I was working on felt good. I was changing stroke widths, rotating the symbol, but the squares just didn't feel right. It was too sharp. The corners felt too clean cut. It felt like there was a specific start and end to the symbol.

I always thought of simplex as a more circular kind of concept. So I started to mess around with circles instead. (As seen through the bottom two rows). I tried to use the same connecting concept of the squares with the circles and it still didn't feel right. I liked how in the first column, third down it had a subtle "S" in it. But still, it was too clunky. It felt like it was trying to hard to be something it wasn't. Then I deleted the connecting lines and adjusted the stroke length of one of the circles (2nd column, 4th down) and it started to feel right.

Liking the way the skinnier circle felt more like a sketch and the thicker circle feeling more finished, I took it to a new doc and worked on it there.

I decided on the bottom left design, and it just felt right. The left circle feels very much like a beginning idea. Whenever you have an idea, you begin with a "sketch" of what you want to accomplish. Do you necessarily know exactly what it is going to be? Not really. You put down a blueprint and you work on it until you get the final piece, which is the corresponding right circle.

Now back to the criteria I put in place:

Does it feel appropriate? Yes.

Is it distinct and memorable? Well, I guess you will have to decide that.

Is it simple enough to draw? Yes.

Overall, I am really happy with how this process went and I feel like I learned a lot throughout the whole process. This was my first go around with making a logo. Simplex has been with me for a while, and I wanted to be able to symbolize it in a way that was simplistic and made sense.

Here's the first official word mark and logo for Simplex Minds:

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