The Setup


What do people use to get stuff done?

David Sirlin

David Sirlin

Game designer (Sirlin Games)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm a game designer. I used to work in video games and I was lead designer of Puzzle Fighter HD Remix and Street Fighter HD Remix. Now I run my own company, Sirlin Games, where I've published several tabletop games such as Yomi, Puzzle Strike, Flash Duel, and Pandante. The online versions are at I also wrote the book Playing to Win.

What hardware do you use?

My main tool is a 2009 iMac, with whatever the highest specs were available at that time. Upgraded to 24 GB of RAM. I have two 2 TB G-Tech external hard drives. One is for data and the other is a scratch disc for Photoshop. I'm using a Diablo 3 mouse. I used to use the Apple Wireless Keyboard but I switched to the Logitech Bluetooth Easy Switch Keyboard K811 because it allows me to easily use a keyboard with my Apple TV. I ditched cable TV and I just use AppleTV now, by the way.

I also have a mid-2011 13" MacBook Air. I use it mostly for web browsing, online chats, forums, social media, and sometimes writing and I take it with me when I travel. I also have an iPhone 4s and an iPad 4.

I print a lot of prototype cards for my games. For that I use an HP LaserJet CP2025dn printer.

For backups and as a router, I use the Apple Time Capsule.

For playing fighting games, I use a Madcatz TE joystick and a Sony 55W900A LED TV. It has the lowest input latency of any TV of its class, which is important for fighting games.

And what software?

OS X as my OS. My main software is Photoshop CC, I do way more in it than I should, and use it for crazy things it was not intended for. I have an important file that has over 10,000 layers, for example. I also use Illustrator occasionally, but I try to avoid it. InDesign confuses me, so I don't use it. For page layout I use Apple's iWork Pages. For spreadsheets I sometimes use Apple Numbers, and other times Google Spreadsheets. I also use Google Docs for some documents, Pages for others, and TextEdit for others. I have lots of documents and I'm not really that organized.

To make contact sheets of card images, I use Adobe Bridge CS6 even though it's old. The newer Adobe Bridge CC mysteriously can't output anything anymore. (Literally, it no longer includes the "output module", WTF.)

For instant messaging, Adium. For interviews, Skype. For stuff involving PDFs, Adobe Acrobat Pro. For backups, I use Apple's Time Machine. I have only ever had to actually use Time Machine for recovery about 3 times, but each time I was incredibly relieved that I had it.

I use Dropbox a lot as well. To link pics and files to friends, to transfer large files to and from contractors, and a bit for backup as well. I should probably use it a lot more for backup. It's generally really great. It would be too bad to have to stop using it because the Dropbox company invited Condoleezza Rice onto their board, a person who participated, condoned, and facilitated 4th amendment violations with warrantless wiretaps. I mean seriously, what the fuck? Way to make an amazing product and erase all your goodwill in one move.

What would be your dream setup?

I plan to get a Mac Pro soon. I've just been waiting around because of the lack of Thunderbolt 2 SSD options and the lack of an updated Apple monitor. I'll probably get the LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2. Still not sure what to do about monitors - I might get the super wide LG monitor if Apple doesn't come out with anything.

That's more of an answer of what I'm actually going to get very soon rather than what my "dream setup" is, though. My dream setup would be that I wouldn't be limited to tiny monitors like that 34" one I linked. We currently live in a time where that is seen as "large" but it's a pathetically tiny number of pixels. I'd rather have all my walls and tables be able to display things. Every surface, really. And not limited to surfaces either, but floating displays in midair anywhere I want, as large as I want. So I'd like more than 1000x the display area we have today, basically. If you're thinking "I can't imagine how I'd use that!" then you have a serious lack of imagination and you should look into that. Maybe we'll live in virtual reality eventually where it will be even easier to have everything be a display. Basically I want a lot of displays.

You know what else I need? A way to print out some damn cards. On real cardstock, and a way to die cut them with automatically, with rounded corners. I'm pretty sure all of that is doable right now, somehow, I just don't know how.

My dream setup also involves a version of Photoshop that can handle a 10,000 layer file without taking 30 mins to save and also new software designed specifically for me to layout complex card images such that I don't use any 10,000 layer Photoshop files to begin with.

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