Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Importance of Being Backed Up

I absolutely know that this should go without saying,  but if you are doing work that is important to you on a computer, back it up. 

Learn from me, my name is Becca and I trusted the one copy I had of a project I was working on. That one copy, yeah, I lost it. It was entirely deleted. Don't worry, this story has a happy ending, thanks to Andrew (he literally is my better half when it comes to electronics).

Recently, I had been working on the death animation and also making changes to the sprites I had previously completed. It's a lot of little things and still a learning experience for me, so it all takes quite a bit of time. I'm not always the fastest at learning the ins and outs of a program, and editing in gimp is pretty easy, but there's always something new that I'm learning. That's a story for another time though.

Three frames of the original animation
For the death animation, each "frame" needs to be separated into six layers (hair, skin, shirt, etc. ), colored, and then exported as a specific file type. I have to take my time and make sure every piece of every layer, falls in a way that looks natural, has the right coloring, and stays in the proper visual order. For example if I want piece A to be in the front of piece B, I need to arrange the layers of the animation accordingly for every frame.

Needless to say this takes a bit of time for me to do. By "a bit of time," I mean hours. It took me many hours to do this, and get it just how I wanted it to be. Once I had all the layers saved, I also had to organize them which took time. Overall it was a long project, but like the majority of projects that take time, the final product was so worth it. When it was done, it was beautiful and I was filled with joy.

Fast forward to last night.

Somehow doing a simple copy and paste of a parent folder deleted this specific sub folder. As soon as I realized it was gone, I scrambled. Frantically I clicked through the maze of folders we have. I searched every digital nook and cranny. I looked in all the places I thought I had saved the information, I even looked in all the places I didn't save it just to be sure it didn't somehow get misplaced. I checked the recycle bin over and over. Finally in desperation I whispered "It's gone."

To people this might not seem like a big deal. They might think "It's just some pixels, that's like nothing in the grand scheme of her life, let alone this game." To those who think that, may I just say, I'm shocked you can even read this from all the way up there on your high horse. I absolutely know it's not the biggest part of the game, or my life, probably not even the biggest thing I'll do this month. I have a lot on my agenda to do this month (with my personal life and with the game). However, at the time, this felt like a catastrophic loss, because it was entirely my fault. There was no one to blame but myself, and that's what stung. It was almost as if I heard a loop of every time Andrew had asked me if I backed up all my work over and over in my head. When Andrew hugged me, the tears fell. 

I was a failure. I was to blame. All that beautiful work I did was gone into the ether because of one careless mistake. In copying the parent folder a notice I had seen before told me I needed administrative rights to make that change. I barely read the message and pressed continue as I had about 100 times before on this computer. Apparently this is the time I should have paid more attention as I'm 99% confident this was my downfall. I cried and told Andrew how upset I was that all the awesome work I had done was gone forever, and I would never be able to get it back. He agreed that my work was awesome (which felt good), and he let me cry a bit (which was good for me), he hugged me tight and made me feel like somehow this could all be ok. I mean, I made it once, so I could obviously make it again, right? 

The thing about this situation was, I was so proud of what I had made, that if I did make it again, it wouldn't be quite the same. Also, it wouldn't be quite good enough, because I would know it wasn't the original. I cannot say this enough, I knew that this was all my fault. It felt to me as if I built this elaborate and beautiful dollhouse in a garage, and then because I didn't pay just enough attention I ran over it with my car.

Four more frames of the original animation
Andrew asked if he could switch me seats. I obliged him, still crying. I sat at his computer not touching anything, because I didn't want to somehow delete something really important to the game. I tried not to look at what Andrew was doing because I didn't want to get my hopes up just to have them dashed away. I sat in my sadness for a little while, then I saw it. On my second monitor popped up a little window that had the missing folder on it! All the hope rushed through me at once. Andrew explained he had found a recovery tool that was able to recover the missing folder. 

Andrew saved the day, he was my hero! He also set up a better backup process for me. I am going to stick to this new process, instead of my old process, which really was no process at all. I'm so glad to have my work back. It was a really scary lesson to learn, but I'm glad I learned it this way. Instead of learning it through losing something I can never get back.

Moral of the story: Back up your things. Multiple times. Every time. Forever.

-Becca