And yet here is the end of the year again. Let’s avoid the usual intro and get straight into it, because a lot of things happened.
As I’ve talked in the last post, this year I’ve finally gotten started with 3D printing. I’m so glad I finally did it, printing small gifts for friends is always fun, but the insane utility of being able to replicate most broken parts of whatever in your house in just a few hours is insane.
Printing models that someone made for you is fun, but at some point the moment will come, when you need to make a modification, or the model you want just doesn’t exist.
Being able to print is just 1/2 of the power of 3d printing. The other half comes from being able to actually model what you need, and turns out I was scared of it for nothing, it is a very simple process. Sure, it takes some time getting used to how constraints work, but after a few simple models you will have the basics down, and even if the model wasn’t made as efficient or pretty as someone with huge experience would make it, it is still your own model and it does the job fine.
My favorite part of fusion workflow, is how you are literally playing a game of "how far can I go back into the past to edit this feature on the timeline, and then edit in a way so that my future steps don’t break". The step-by-step modelling process is very cool.
My only gripe with Fusion is, that the version for arm macs doesn’t really exist/work that well, so I had to resort to modelling only under windows.
Blender is a whole other beast compared to CAD modelling, because first of all, modelling is just a tiny fraction of what blender is designed to do, and second of all, you don’t care as much about precise dimensions and what goes where, because you aren’t going to print that model. What you care about is pretty model and good topology.
In fusion you don’t really thing about how the shapes are made, or how many triangles they use. In blender you operate with triangles, basically.
And then you get to texturing, unwrapping textures, lighting, setting up cameras, rigs, bones, shading, post processing and all this fun stuff. Understanding how it all works from the code side is really helpful and makes a lot of stuff much more intuitive, for example the shader nodes.
I still cherish the dreams of making another big game one day, and I really wanted to try my hands at 3d rendering this time around, so after trying to find something other, than monogame, I ended up learning how to render 3d models in monogame anyway.
I have to say, I did not know that they have so much of the parts for 3d rendering already in place. It was a pleasant surprise. I’m still at the very early stages of creating something, that doesn’t look like a pile of garbage, but this is an experiment, that I want to see till the end.
Sadly, this year I did not really complete that many personal projects, especially not on the programming front, but the year was so busy, that it kind of makes sense. One of my favorite projects this year is my PC, I finally have a cozy setup with an ultra-wide monitor, great speakers and keyboard, and I can switch between my macbook and PC with a single button press.
In other big news, if you thought Burning Knight was dead, well, it is not. Through this year I’ve been working with folks from 2Awesome Games on bringing the game to consoles, currently I’m finishing up the work on NIntendo Switch version. It turned out to be very hard to do with MonoGame, it started running on the devkit only in the end of the year, but now it’s looking like we are going to release it very soon! Once it is out, I will talk a bit more in detail about the process, and more importantly, about the troubles.
With all my previous work, I never really worked on architectures, that were more complex, than a single server to client setup. Most of the code I wrote was either a monolithic user application, either a very simple server setup, where I didn’t really bother about the underlying network infrastructure.
But this year I’ve gotten my first experience with shipping an application to AWS, developing the architecture, balancing the loads, splitting everything into microservices, setting up private networks, local DNS, bucket storage, and so much more. I didn’t really think about the difference between a software developer and software engineer, but now it is weird to me, how blind I was to it.
Ignoring everything else, this was a huge year for my gaming. This section took literally ages to write up, it is honestly insane, how much games I’ve managed to complete.
Last year I was ecstatic about factorio and subnautica, and as much as I wish I could forget my experience with these games and play them all over again, sadly, this is not how it works.
One of my favorite discoveries this year was Deep Rock Galactic, an absolute blast for 1-4 players, where you are drunken dwarfs, that are sent onto suicide missions to fight bugs, find riches and dig up minerals. The art direction is stunning, the gamedesign is so sharp and on point, I just can’t get enough of this game, and with 100 hours in, I’m pretty sure I will add another 100-200 hours in the next year.
Stellaris took a while to get used to, but it’s also a great strategy game, that takes has way too much stuff going on at the same time.
I’m 99% sure I’m dropping a few hundred bucks on the new shiny Steam Deck OLED, I’ve started putting aside some games, that would be just amazing on it.
I’ve finally completed a terraria playthrough with my friends, we didn’t rush it, so it took almost 9 months, but it was a blast, and I’m looking forward to doing it again as different classes as soon as we finish our ongoing Minecraft playthrough. We’ve gotten into a pretty strong habit of playing for 2 hours once a week at a set time, and it really helped with the enjoyment of the experience, we didn’t burn out and we looked forward to each session with enjoyment.
Journey is a game, that I tried after a friend recommended it to me, but I hated the controls and never touched it again, until this year. I’ve finished it in one sitting, it was a magical experience. The online co-op mechanic is so insanely cool, it is a shame no one else is using it. The fact that the only interaction you have is this single tweet sound, it removes all the toxicity, all the hate and stereotyping, you are just two folks on the same journey. The emotional ark that the game put me through due to me loosing my friend is insane. Loved it.
This february I fell completely in love with the lowpoly lowrez 3d models of nintendo DS era, and yes, I did buy myself one (a pink DSi), and it is my favorite console to date. It is so tiny, so pocketable, so slick and lightweight, and has so many great games with crunchy pixels and awesome models. Games like Mario Kart DS, Mario Party DS, Plants vs Zombies, Tetris DS, Picross DS, Mario 64 DS are all such a blast!
Nintendo Gameboy Advance SP
In the autumn I failed to resist the thought, that getting a gameboy would give me a pretty much complete line of nintendo handhelds (with holes, but pretty solid looking line up), so I grabbed an old gameboy advance sp, upgraded it’s screen, battery and shell. No regrets. Finishing up my Mario & Luidgi super star saga playthrough right as we speak.
I feel like writing a post about 3ds and ds for a while now, but I didn’t get around doing that. As much as I enjoy the feeling of finishing a post, it is really hard to force myself to sit down and actually write something. Right now I’m sitting in a coffee shop, otherwise I would be over my PC playing elden ring.
Over at the Switch side, I’ve just finished the brand new Mario Bros Wonder, it was really sweet, but also very short. If you haven’t played a short hike, it is a great game for one relaxing evening, no spoilers needed.
With another friend I’ve played through the Portal’s 2 co-op mode, and it was a blast. I did not expect to have so much fun and good time solving puzzles, but I guess it is a classic for a reason! Even tho it is hard to trust people, when they say a game is good, because there is always someone who is saying that about any single given game.
I’m generally pretty fed up with roguelikes, but somehow Slay the Spire managed to captivate me so much with the amount of cool combos and mechanics, that I’ve managed to beat it. It is a perfect game for chill evenings, because even tho the fights could be insane, you can spam hundreds of cards per turn, you can still take as much time per turn, as you want, and it is insanely relaxing.
Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom is, probably, the biggest game, that I’ve ever waited for, and when it arrived in may, well, it was a blast. Sadly, only at first. As the time went on an on I started to question more and more things in it’s design. Over the winter I got to see my great friend experience Breath of the Wild for the first time, just back to back with Far Cry primal, and it was a sight to behold. He fell in love with the game, and so did I once again. And waiting the last few months for the release of TOTK was one of the best feelings ever.
Unlike BOTW, that people didn’t really seem to critique all that much, besides the weapon breaking and some other minor things, TOTK got a lot of hate. It is very interesting to me, because you would think that BOTW + extra content would result in a better experience. But for a lot of people TOTK did not do enough, or made a lot of strange choices. I can’t really pick a side, since I see a ton of places, where the developers really took their time to improve and enrich the mechanics, add more options, etc. But at the same time, I can not shake the feeling, that after the first happy hours, it’s really hard for me to enjoy the game. The sky islands are a huge let down, they are as boring as it gets, and while the depths were insanely cool at first, it doesn’t take long to realise, how boring and repetitive they get, taking that they have one single biome, that looks the same everywhere.
The new building mechanics are amazing, but the fact that the easiest strategy to most issues is a machine from 2 fans, or a rocket glued to a shield, well, it doesn’t really feel that great. Most of the puzzles are very simple, when the game wants you to build something, it gives you all the parts already there, you don’t really have to think much. I feel like this is such a cool mechanic, but the actual implementation in the world is very boring.
This is a very interesting lesson for me in how "more freedom" harmed this game in a lot of ways.
I still can’t force myself to finish it. I really hope I will one day. BOTW was THE experience. And yes, we all are nostalgia blind and etc, but man, at first I was ready to throw out my copy of BOTW out of the window, because why would you ever need that, if the new game improved on it so much, but then I grew to understand and love the simplicity of BOTW.
I’m sure I will return to this topic, as the situation continues to evolve.
Universal Paper Clips was a great time during a very slow and boring conference, it is the shining example of a game, that is so interesting, that it does not need any graphics. I’m pretty sure it uses either none or very little CSS, and it is playable straight in your browser. The concept is very interesting, and it is highly addictive. If you are going to play it, make sure to open it in a proper browser, and not in the preview of web page, that you need to close to go back to the application!
This section is getting out of hand, so I will just quickly list the rest of the experiences I’ve enjoyed and finished this year: Mario 3D land, Mario 3D world (co-op is insanely chaotic), Animal Crossing New Leaf, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Thomas was alone, Portal.
It’s not often, that I talk about my life outside of the technologies here, but this was a big year for irl me. In January I proposed to my now wife, and we got married in the end of June! It was an adventure, that I wish I could relive again and again. I’m insanely happy, plus I got to see a lot of friends on our wedding, that I did not see for a very long time!
It was such a long year for me, that it is hard to believe, that it is finally over. My hopes for next years is to finish BK port, at least for the switch and get a Steam Deck.
Until then, cheers!