Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of John Murphy

John Murphy

Game designer (Young Horses)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm John Murphy and I'm a game designer based in Chicago. I'm a co-founder of Young Horses and one of the creators of Octodad. I'm currently working on a secret new game, organizing events as part of Bit Bash, and spending a lot of time traveling and living my dang life.

What hardware do you use?

When I'm at home or traveling I Boot Camp my late 2013 15" MacBook Pro, because our Horsepower editor only runs in Windows.

Most days I go to the Young Horses office to work. I use this little white babycube PC that I built in May 2015. I should probably upgrade it soon. I have two monitors mounted on monitor arms on my sit-stand desk. I'm currently using this keyboard and this pink mouse.

While I work I listen to music on these Sennheiser HD 598 headphones that look like they are from the 70s. Almost all headphones hurt my ears after half an hour or so, but these are incredibly comfortable.

I attempt to counteract the horrible effects of working at a computer with some additional hardware. When I'm standing, I stand on this. When I'm sitting, I sit on this. When I take breaks, I sometimes play around on this.

I use my iPhone to take notes during meetings, document inspiring things in the world, and as a general repository for all of the things that my shitty brain can't remember.

When brainstorming, planning a prototype, thinking through a new game system, etc., I work that out on the whiteboard wall that I painted when we moved into the office. I then take a photo of the board with my iPhone and attach it to a Trello card. Uh oh I mentioned Trello it must be software time!

And what software?

Trello is probably the most important tool that I use. At Young Horses, we use it for day-to-day task management, bug reporting, design documentation, long-term planning and most everything else. I use Trello for my personal to-do list and life-planning. My partner Cat and I use Trello for shared-life tasks like grocery shopping and vacation planning. Trello.

I spend most of my time working in our proprietary Horsepower editor on Windows. We use TortoiseSVN for version control. I use Notepad++ for editing XML files. That's pretty much it for my day-to-day technical tools!

I listen to music on Spotify.

For moment-to-moment communication, mostly of amusing online content, I use Slack.

I store things I want to read in Instapaper. I track and categorize books on Goodreads and read them on a Kindle. I send my Instapaper notes and highlights to Evernote with IFTTT. I send my Kindle notes to Evernote with I also collect and tag other interesting stuff in Evernote.

I listen to a lot of podcasts. I use Pocket Casts because it allows me to continue where I left off at the office or in the car when I get home and connect to Sonos. I strive to summarize my podcast takeaways in Evernote, but I do a bad job of this.

I use the default notes app on iPhone to take notes during playtests and meetings, which I then convert to checklists on Trello cards. If a document has a lot of text, requires a lot of collaboration and feedback, or is otherwise too cumbersome to be in Trello, I use Google Docs and link those docs to any relevant Trello cards. I very occasionally blog on Medium. I use LastPass for password management.

Freedom stops me from entering the procrastination loop of checking social media, news aggregators and my RSS feed. It also encourages me to take breaks away from the computer. I use f.lux on Windows and the Night Shift feature on Mac and iOS to get rid of that pesky blue light in the evening.

What would be your dream setup?

If I could move my current setup to a climbing and/or gymnastics gym that would be great. Having a kitchen at the office would also improve my life considerably. Some sort of courtyard with trees? The ability to explain what I want to build to an AI that does all of the tedious stuff for me so I never have to sit at a desk or look at a screen ever again.

In the meantime, I've been thinking about putting a treadmill under this here standing desk.