Playlist Pick: Arctic Monkeys, ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’

Rumours of the death of Playlist Pick Wednesdays were apparently premature. New Wednesday series now starting NEXT week instead. I haven’t had time to organise it this week with the game competition deadline and everything!

Today’s playlist pick is another classic from the mid-’00s, which is a period in pop-rock for which I have been a bit nostalgic recently.

I also thoroughly recommend listening to the Anton du Beke cover in order to celebrate his long-overdue installation as a Strictly judge (for 2021 at least…):

We did a quickstep routine to this in the ‘Strictly Dance’ exercise class I attended pre-pandemic. I will get back to that class someday.

2020 Pestos #9: Sainsbury’s Green Pesto

This one is very nice! (And not just ‘nice for a supermarket own brand pesto’.)

Sainsbury's Green Pesto
Sainsbury’s Green Pesto.

The taste is sort of a cross between a rich Sacla-style classic pesto and a pesto alla genovese. It’s got a good sharpness and is not too rich, which makes for a really nice flavour.

We don’t shop at Sainsbury’s as often as we used to, but this is always a nice option to have in.

Adventures In Coding: A Deadline Approaches

At the time of this post it’s fifty-four hours and twenty minutes until the deadline for ParserComp, which is the competition into which I’m putting my new small game. Very exciting! I’ve had some useful feedback from testers and so will be incorporating all of that into the game this evening. That gives me a forty-eight-hour ‘buffer zone’ in case anything breaks horribly. It shouldn’t, but you never know.

I’ve also been digging out a few other small projects that I’m excited about finishing over the next few weeks. I’ll still be working on my big game as well once the competition deadline is past, but at a much more sedate rate, so I’ll have time for side projects. Experimenting with several things at once (and no deadline pressure) is going to be a really nice way to spend my summer.

This wagon picture isn’t in my game, but it did inspire an object!

Of course, I’m also excited about the best part of any competition/jam, which is getting to play everybody else’s games! I’ve already tested five of the other entries, but I’m really looking forward to playing the released versions as well as all the games I’ve not seen before. Thursday will be a good day 🙂

A quick running post

I’m having a quiet weekend and so taking a break from my race reviews / race memories, but I thought I’d do a quick running update seeing as I’m on an extended break from my running vlog at the moment.

Pixel runner
Running is easier in pixels. I promise you I don’t look this fast in real life.

I am technically in the early stages of marathon training for the London Marathon, though the smattering of medical issues I’ve had over the last week or so mean that I’ve been taking it easy and not quite doing the high mileage just yet. I’m going to build it up very carefully over the next few weeks.

Though I’ve been very slow during this week, I’m still buzzing about my 10k PB from last weekend. It really proved to me that I’m not stuck on the slow path when it comes to races, and that I can run faster in the right conditions. I’m looking forward to parkrun starting again (current return date for England: 24th July), as it will mean I’ll be able to run in a race-type atmosphere every week.

July should also be a little bit easier than June in terms of my non-running life (I’ll still be coding but not frantically so, as there are no game competition deadlines!). As such, I’m hopeful about settling into a good marathon training groove. I’ll keep you posted!

The point at which it starts to wear

It’s not been the most straightforward of weeks. I’ve had a uveitis attack for the first time in two years, so I spent half of Wednesday in the hospital waiting to be seen. I’m on the usual course of eye drops, which as usual provided almost instant relief when I started using them, but they are making my vision very blurry so I’m having to take a lot of screen breaks.

There have been good things happening this week as well, though. I’m still buzzing from the big PB I got at the Sunderland 10k on Sunday, even though it really took it out of me and I’m still not fully recovered yet! I’m also in a really good place with the short game I’ve made for the current competition after putting my big work-in-progress on hold for now. I’ve just prepped it for testing and am hoping to hear back from some potential playtesters soon. My chief playtester (Geth) has promised to have a good go over the weekend as well!

Summer, such as it is, is starting to wear on me now. I always feel really uncomfortable at this time of year. The endless daylight makes me feel a bit ill, and the whole season feels a bit strange and otherworldly to me. We get (occasional) hot weather! That’s not supposed to happen in this part of the world! Also, I sort of feel like the season lacks a focused celebration. Autumn has Hallowe’en, winter has Christmas, spring has Easter, summer has… your summer holiday? Which I haven’t felt I’m in a position to take properly for well over a decade, as it’s a busy time for my business, so even when I do travel in the summer I’m usually still working from wherever I am in the world. It’s a bit of a dragging time of year, and I generally spend most of it trying not to wish time away and get too excited about the autumn. Especially when they keep releasing news about the upcoming series of Strictly!

On the whole, then, it’s probably for the best that this is an especially busy summer (well, by pandemic standards), meaning I’ve got lots of things to keep me occupied. I’ve got quite a few ongoing clients booked for over the next month, and I expect the Masters dissertations will start to arrive in August, so there’ll be no shortage of day job work. I’ve also got a lot of games to make, and a lot of games to play… and a marathon to train for!

In short, the summer might not feel as long as it usually does…

Another picture from the Causey Arch trip a couple of weeks ago. I took a lot and have used some of them for graphics in my new game!

This week’s earworm playlists:


Eric Hammond – ‘Berlin (Königgrätzer Marsch)’


Michael Land and Clint Bajakian – ‘The Crab Raft’


Dee Cooke – ‘Outside Building’
Duran Duran – ‘Ordinary World’
VNV Nation – ‘Genesis’


Koichi Sugiyama – ‘Dragon Quest Town Theme’
Andy Taylor – ‘Night Train’


Roxette – ‘Fading Like A Flower’
Laura Branigan – ‘Self Control’
Alice Cooper – ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’


Michael Land – ‘DeSinge’s Theme’
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – ‘Locomotion’


Koichi Sugiyama – ‘Dragon Quest Town Theme’

Phone Box Thursday: Woodside Lane, Greenside

Here’s a phone box that we spotted while out on a family trip a couple of weeks ago, when Mum and Dad were visiting!

Red phone box
Red phone box, Woodside Lane, Greenside, 13th June 2021.

(Coordinates 54°95’65.7″N, 1°78’20.3″W.)

The phone box is a recent addition, as it doesn’t show up in the Street View image. It’s in the garden of a location that looks like a B&B or similar. It would certainly make a good B&B location as the phone box would be a real talking point!

It doesn’t look like a working box – it’s being used as an aesthetic feature. Which is certainly a better use than being scrapped, like so many phone boxes sadly are these days!

Playlist Pick: John Carpenter, ‘Halloween Theme’

This will be the last Playlist Pick for a while, as I’m starting a new Wednesday series next week!

I put a few tunes together for my current game on Beepbox yesterday and had to work fairly hard for them NOT to sound like they were aping John Carpenter. I don’t think I succeeded with all of them. Geth kept telling me he was visualising pumpkin lanterns.

It is a classic, though….

…and I found myself staring at my lineup of Halloween DVDs on the shelf this afternoon while lying down to start my recovery from Zombie Eye III: The Reawakening (my first uveitis attack in two years). I think the film may be getting a run out soon. Possibly even before this Hallowe’en.

And while my current game mostly doesn’t suit a Carpenter-esque soundtrack, there will be plenty more suitable opportunities in the future…

2020 Pestos #8: Asda Reduced Fat Green Pesto

While pesto is my favourite food, it’s also fairly calorific, and so I can’t eat it every single day (much as I would like to!). As such, I usually give lower-fat versions a try when I see them. They’re not usually much cop, but I live in hope!

Asda Reduced Fat Green Pesto
Asda Reduced Fat Green Pesto.

This Asda version was… no exception. Tasteless and a bit unpleasantly chewy. My search for a tasty low-calorie option continues! In the meantime, I’ll continue to save pesto for a weekly treat.

Adventures In Coding: Not My First Rodeo

Way back in August/September 2019, when I was learning Adventuron for the first time with the aim of entering the first Adventuron jam, I spent about three weeks making a game called The Cave of Ponies.

With about five days to go before the jam deadline, I realised that there was no way I was going to get The Cave of Ponies finished in time, and so I immediately switched to a much shorter game that took place in a small subsection of the Ponies map. This shorter game was The Cave of Hoarding – a far worse title and a much less ambitious game, but something I was able to finish and polish enough that it was releasable within the deadline.

This has been a bit of a theme during my two years of game creation.

There have only been two Adventuron jams (out of six) where I have entered the game I originally planned for the jam. Those were jam 2 (Hallowe’en: Night of the Misty Manor) and jam 6 (Barry Basic and the Quick Escape), and in both cases I (a) absolutely killed myself getting the game finished and (b) would never have been able to do so had there not been an extension to the jam deadline. For jam 3 I originally planned to enter a game called Goblin Quest but instead went with Goblin Decathlon due to an athletics obsession moment (I did eventually finish Goblin Quest a couple of months later!). For jam 4 I originally planned a much bigger game based around the character of the Champagne Lady, but very soon realised it wasn’t feasible and instead had her as a mysterious antagonist in One Last Thing… (I did manage to release three different versions of the game as well as Barry Basic and the Quest for the Perfect Port before the jam period was up, but I’m still certain I wouldn’t have had enough time for the originally planned game!). Jam 5 saw the complete planning out of a fun North Pole adventure for Christmas, but that was too big as well (which was for the best as it would have had a similar theme to about four of the other games in the jam!), and I ended up going with Day of the Sleigh, with the hope of making the original game idea in time for Christmas 2021 instead (50% chance I reckon).

As you’ll be aware if you’ve been following these sporadic Monday game creation updates, since the end of the last Adventuron jam I’ve been working on a big game called Marie. This has been planned as the expansion and continuation of the game excerpt Pre-Marie, which I entered into IntroComp last year. The aim was to finish and release it as an entry into ParserComp, as the deadline is the end of June and you’re allowed to enter completed IntroComp games. I thought three months would be plenty of time to get everything finished. However, it’s a really big game, and in the last week or so, I’ve come to the realisation that rushing to get the game finished in time for the deadline would mean that I wouldn’t be doing the game justice. I’ve put a lot of work into it, and I want it to be perfect before release, so I’m going to take my time finishing it and hold it back for a future competition instead. Although it’s now likely that Pre-Marie will form a prequel to the game rather than its first chapter, having emailed the organisers of IFComp it sounds like the two games would be a bit too closely related for Marie to be eligible for that competition, so I may well end up holding it back for Spring Thing, or ParserComp 2022 if it runs again.

I’m a little disappointed that I won’t be getting it finished this month (or possibly not even this year), but I know the game will be much better and meet its potential if I take my time over it. In the meantime, I’m still entering ParserComp! I’ve made a short game that I’m really excited about, and I’ve still got over a week to finish polishing and playtesting it, so I feel more relaxed about it than I’ve felt about any competition or jam game since… possibly ever. It’s a very nice feeling to have!

The night is a different world.

(I still have the code for The Cave of Ponies. The aim is to finish and release it… one day.)