2020: the year of discovery

Okay. Let’s put everything that happened IRL this year aside, I’m feeling so tired of everyone saying the same thing over and over again, and I do not feel like I need to mention it all. But with that said, let’s look back at it a tiny bit.

A look back

I wouldn’t call this a tradition just yet, but it’s been nice to set targets for the next year and then never actually thinking about them until the last day of the year. So let’s keep it up:

Spend less time on social media

I’m glad to report that this has been a huge success for me, I ended up removing all entertainment from my phone, like YouTube, Reddit & VK. I’ve decided to turn my phone into the most inert brick I could. I’ve turned off all sound, vibration & app notifications, and it has been a great relief for me. Now the purpose of my phone has shifted from a wide variety of tasks like entertainment, navigation, communication, etc into a small black rectangle used to listen to podcasts/music and for time tracking.

Yes, I’ve started time tracking 24/7 in the middle of August, and I honestly wish I started to do it much earlier, I would pay so much just to have the data of time spent on Burning Knight & other past projects of mine. I won’t go into too much detail about it right now, since it deserves a post on its own, but it has been a positive addition to my life, and it’s surprisingly motivating to have intentionally in all your actions instead of just doing whatever.

Write a word a day

This one is a straight-up failure, I do not remember even making a document for this project. Looking back at it sounds like a really weird idea, and I forgot about it fast.

No gamejams (except Ludum Dare)

This one was easy to do, I’ve been very busy for 80% of the year, and for the rest, I had no motivation for anything what so ever. I start to think that I’ve burned out on jams in 2018, but at the same time, I’d much rather take my time and make a more polished and original game, than make yet another movement puzzle in two days.

We now have only two Ludum Dares per year, and here are my entries:

  • Chill Garden (LD46) I’ve for once decided to make a game with a team for the jam, the other folks were all in favor of Unity, so I had to give in to their choice. I’ve initially was recruited as an artist but ended up as a programmer. Honestly, I wasn’t on good terms with Unity back then, and the result has hardly any game in it. I’m pleased with the look of it, but that’s about it.

  • Word Garden (LD47) Huh, I’ve only now noticed, how both games have "garden" in their name. Went solo again, but I wanted to mix things up and give myself a challenge for once, because I have to admit, picking PICO-8 for the jam does feel like using some kind of cheat code, I’ve never actually struggled with time on Ludum Dare before. So I decided to give real-time multiplayer a go. And you know what? It worked out pretty well, but even then I had plenty of time in my pockets for some reason. I’ve written a post mortem for this one if you are interested in more details and some cool data.

Burning Knight

Looking back at posts from previous years (kind of crazy to think how long this blog was a thing) I wish I have spoken a tiny bit about major stuff that has happened for me in those years. I was very focused on Burning Knight… Actually, about that.

I still can not believe, that it has happened. My brain is stuck in the state, where Burning Knight is never done. But yet, it has come true. After two and a half years of hard work, I’ve finally managed to release the game on June 5th. I have a lot to say about the release, how it went and what I would’ve done differently, and the development did not stop for a few good months after release due to constant bug fixing and improvement of the game. I want to talk a lot more about this matter, but I have some talk behind the scenes with a console publisher, and we do indeed sign and release on consoles, which means the epopea with the game is not even close to completion yet, and I will have to put a few thousands of hours more into it before I can finally write a postmortem and call this project complete!

Games

I thought I’d also mention, that this year I’ve finally given into playing a lot more games, and I have to admit, I have no regrets. It’s been a great help in taking my mind off work, even tho sometimes it’s hard to relax while you are planning out your next move in Into The Breach, yet it’s one of the best parts of the year for me. And the cataclysm for this event became my purchase of Nintendo Switch, and a few months after that Oculus Quest 2.

I’ve tried so many different games and genres in the past half a year, I probably haven’t played so much in my whole life. Having a separate device for playing games is also great because you have a separation in your mind between work and recreation this way. If you don’t pick up your Switch to do some work, and you don’t pick up your laptop to play some games, then your brain trains and it becomes much easier to focus on one task without the other one lurking in the back of your mind.

Here are my top games I’ve played this year:

  • Celeste
  • Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Hollow Knight
  • Beat Saber
  • Animal Crossing
  • Just Dance
  • Mario Kart 8

A special award goes to dear Minecraft, I’ve been brought back into it by a friend after not playing survival for around 7 years, and I’ve finished 4 server playthroughs with friends, I have so many great memories of each season and I grew a lot as a builder.

Next year

I want to set the target for the next year in a different way. I want to adopt CGP Grey’s yearly theme system, and instead of setting concrete goals, that might become meaningless or impossible in the next year, I will set a theme for the next year, and in my decisions use it as a pointer.

My theme for 2021 is the year of new.

I’m starting to feel like I’m falling into routines everywhere in my life, and I’m looking back to the times, when I was adventuring through the woods of the unknown, trying to wrap my head around programming and radio electronics. I haven’t stopped learning and improving in those fields, but I feel like my pace has slowed down and I’m in the phase when you are mostly using stuff that you have previously learned and you don’t have any reason to go forward.

And I feel this way about a lot of aspects of my life. So this is why I want to try a lot of new stuff out in the next year.
I’ve already started poking around with 3d modeling, composing in Ableton, network coding, and mobile development, but I want to use and improve those skills in the coming months. I also really want to dive into data science, since my splashing on the beach is nothing compared to the deep deep ocean that is machine learning, and who knows if you’ve reached the bottom of it or just yet another local minimum point.

But right now, I’m so not looking forward to doing anything of this, honestly. I’m very tired, and the only thing I can think about is the holidays. So see you in 2021!

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