No room at the inn

My week has been very busy, in the way that a lot of my weeks have been very busy during lockdown. Lots of day job work, lots of working on my own creative projects (writing and coding), a bit of running but not as much as is ideal due to a bad hip, quite a lot of strength training to try and fix said hip, and a lot of playtesting and competition-judging other people’s text adventures (the most fun part of my day and a good way to give back to a community that is giving me so much joy at the moment).

I’ve been working really hard recently and it’s been paying off. There have been a few developments in my editing business that I’ll talk about later in the year, I’m starting to get bits and bobs of writing published, and my text adventures are doing well and getting a good reception. I hit RED day 500 this morning – my 500th day running in a row – which is enabling me to feel like I’m still achieving things with my running even though I’m having a bad time of it with my hip and a general lack of energy at the moment.

All of this has been made possible by the pandemic allowing me to sit on my sofa all day long and get things done. I am one of the people for whom lockdown has, on the whole, been beneficial – of course I’ve had my anxious moments like everyone else, as I really don’t deal well with uncertainty, but in general I have been really, really happy having an excuse to stay home. I’ve realised more than ever that I don’t actually like leaving my house, and that it’s okay not to like leaving your house. The real anxiety I have now is adapting to the world going back to normal again. I’ve said for probably a year now that I won’t just be able to jump back into my life as it was pre-pandemic; there were a lot of things I used to do that, I have realised, caused a lot of unnecessary stress. Constantly going out to group activities and classes, gigs and races every week, travelling every other weekend… I can’t go back to all that. My personal return to normality is going to have to be very gradual, and there are a lot of things I probably never will do again.

Learning to say ‘no’, to myself as much as to anyone else, is probably going to be my biggest challenge this year. I’ve found out how important it is to feel in control of my own time. It’s a precious thing, and I’m not going to give it up.

Lego USB stick
Life is starting to fit into place, gradually.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Michael Land and Clint Bajakian – ‘Opening Credits Part #1’
Whitesnake – ‘Here I Go Again ’87’*

Sunday

Patti Smith – ‘Because The Night’
Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’

Monday

Dee Cooke – ‘Outside Building’
Fisherman’s Friends – ‘Sailor Ain’t A Sailor’

Tuesday

Whitesnake – ‘Here I Go Again ’87’

Wednesday

Fisherman’s Friends – ‘Haul Away Joe’

Thursday

Pet Shop Boys – ‘Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)’
Duran Duran – ‘Tel Aviv’

Friday

Michael Land and Clint Bajakian – ‘Crete’
Duran Duran – ‘Save A Prayer’
Talking Heads – ‘Once In A Lifetime’
Ed Sheeran – ‘Lego House’

*RIP Tawny Kitaen.

A long week

I can’t believe this working week has only been four days! It’s felt like forever. Geth and I have both been really busy and the weekend is very welcome right now.

I’ve had a bad hip all week and so have only been doing short runs. I’ve done a lot of yoga to try and sort it out, and it is getting better, but only gradually. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do my planned weekend running and walking but we’ll see.

I’m thoroughly ensconced in the coding for my next game, which is really, really enjoyable. It’s a fairly big project though and I’m already looking forward to going back to experimenting with smaller games over the summer.

Still doing a fair amount of day job work too. Lots going on at the moment!

Local elections 2021
COVID-secure polling station selfie! It had just started to hail…

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Michael Land – ‘Upstairs At The Hotel’
Fisherman’s Friends – ‘Haul Away Joe’
Bee Gees – ‘First Of May’
Duran Duran – ‘Burning The Ground’

Sunday

Michael Land – ‘On The Hill’
Men Without Hats – ‘Safety Dance’
Michael Land – ‘The Brimstone Beach Club’

Monday

Fisherman’s Friends – ‘Sailor Ain’t A Sailor’
Aloe Blacc – ‘I Need A Dollar’
The Running Channel – ‘Run With Me’
Fisherman’s Friends – ‘Haul Away Joe’

Tuesday

Michael Land – ‘On The Hill’
The Undertones – ‘My Perfect Cousin’
Fisherman’s Friends – ‘Sailor Ain’t A Sailor’
Michael Land and Clint Bajakian – ‘Monte Carlo Hotel Entrance’

Wednesday

Levellers – ‘Julie’
Eric Hammond – ‘Into The Catacombs’

Thursday

Michael Land and Clint Bajakian – ‘Barnett College’
Lisa Lougheed – ‘Run With Us’
Eric Hammond – ‘Berlin (Königgrätzer Marsch)’

Friday

Fisherman’s Friends – ‘Bully In The Alley’
Michael Land and Clint Bajakian – ‘Opening Credits Part #1’

Making space

I found myself burning out a bit this week. The last couple of months have been very productive but also a bit manic, and I’ve realised I need a bit of a break, so I’ve pared down a few of my activities. I log daily or weekly streaks for just about everything I do, because I find it’s the only way I can keep up with things – I’m very obsessional about my hobbies but also very fickle, so I’ll spend a few weeks obsessed with playing videogames and then a few weeks obsessed with making games instead and then a few weeks where running is my main passion… Maintaining daily streaks such as my run streak is the best way I’ve found to make sure that hobbies don’t get neglected during times when they’re not my main ‘thing’. However, when I have a lot of these streaks going, they become overwhelming and take over my life. As such, sometimes I have to decide to let go of some of them, and that can be really hard when I’ve put so much effort into keeping the streak going for so long.

This week I had to quit the Fetchpoint game again. The game involves going out every day and collecting tokens, including a red bug token that appears daily in your local circle and needs to be collected and taken out of the circle in order to be ‘squished’. You get bonus points for a bug-free circle at the end of the day and minus points if there are any bugs remaining. If you squish your bug for thirty days in a row, you get a badge. I have been chasing this badge for a long time and very nearly had it in September – unfortunately, after I ran the Virtual GNR, I felt too ill to collect my bug for that day and so the attempt came to an end. I started playing again in March to make a fresh attempt, but other areas of life have meant that some days I just don’t have time for the two-hour walk that a bug hunt often requires. It’s been a frustrating experience, and so I’ve given up again for the time being. Hopefully there’ll be a time in the summer or autumn when things are a bit quieter.

I’m looking forward to a quiet bank holiday weekend. A bit of running and walking, but mainly just sitting on my sofa with my game code 🙂

Next door's cat
It really makes me laugh when I open my front door to find this familiar figure sitting on top of my car and staring at me balefully! He was still there when I got back from my run thirty-five minutes later.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Michael Land – ‘On The Hill’
Sia – ‘Cheap Thrills’
MC Hammer – ‘U Can’t Touch This’

And a bonus track that Geth was humming that day:

Michael Land – ‘Phatt Island Waterfall’

Sunday

Michael Land – ‘Upstairs At The Hotel’
Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé – ‘Barcelona’
Public Image Ltd. – ‘Rise’
Levellers – ‘Julie’

Monday

Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’
Michael Land – ‘On The Hill’
MC Hammer – ‘U Can’t Touch This’
Michael Land – ‘Upstairs At The Hotel’

Tuesday

Michael Land – ‘Upstairs At The Hotel’
Princess Superstar and The High & Mighty – ‘Bad Babysitter’

Wednesday

Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’
Pride & Fall – ‘December’
Michael Land – ‘On The Hill’

Thursday

Michael Land – ‘The Barbery Coast’

Friday

Cole Porter – ‘Anything Goes’
Michael Land – ‘On The Hill’

The nicer half of spring

I think (hope!) we’re done with the winter weather now. I’ve been able to wear spring running clothes for five days in a row without getting cold, and the last two ‘supermarket trip Thursdays’ have been so sunny that the car has been summer levels of hot when we exit the supermarket and I’ve had to take my hoodie off to drive home. The blossom is finally coming out properly too, and should be in full bloom within a week or two. I’m already looking forward to taking lots of pictures.

I’ve spent most of this week planning games and experimenting with code (when not running, working, or doing household chores and admin). I’m in a real game creation place at the moment and am excited about all the things I’m planning to make over the next year or so.

Work has been quite busy for the last few days so I’m looking forward to the weekend.

Blossom

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Michael Land – ‘Scabb Island Overview’

Sunday

The Crüxshadows – ‘Deception’
Harry Nilsson – ‘One’
Lisa Lougheed – ‘Run With Us’

Monday

The Crüxshadows – ‘Marilyn, My Bitterness’

Tuesday

The Crüxshadows – ‘Marilyn, My Bitterness’
Mesh – ‘Let Them Crush Us

Wednesday

Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’
MC Hammer – ‘U Can’t Touch This’

Thursday

Michael Land – ‘On The Hill’
Jorge Vera – ‘Tierras Magicas’

Friday

Michael Land – ‘On The Hill’

A mellower, more behind-the-scenes week

This week has featured a lot fewer deadlines and manic last-minute things than last week did, so I’ve been able to get back to some semblance of normality in terms of the house upkeep and the exercise/training programme. It’s been especially nice to get back out for my walks, as it’s been really clear and sunny all week. This has meant that early morning runs have been a bit chilly, but afternoon walks have been the perfect temperature. Hope the sunshine continues.

As often happens when I release a game, I feel a bit bereft of my project and am already eagerly planning out the next one. This covers many things: the long planning document acts as my project for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo, and the new game itself is the full version of the excerpt I released for IntroComp 2020 and will also be entered into ParserComp 2021. Planning out the puzzles is fun, but I can’t wait to dive back into coding. I’ve got two and a half months to finish the game, so an important mission is not to get distracted by anything shiny in the meantime!

A blissfully quiet weekend awaits. Looking forward to finishing off the last of the other games from the jam (I’ve been playing the Spanish ones this week and it’s been a really fun way to get some language practice in) and also getting in some time with my much-neglected Switch Lite.

Blue sky
Spring is behaving this week.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’*
The Crüxshadows – ‘Dragonfly’
Dee Cooke – ‘Intro And Exit’

Sunday

Dee Cooke – ‘Path And Tree’
Michael Land – ‘Governor Marley’s Mardi Gras Fish Fry’
The Beatles – ‘Ticket To Ride’
Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’
Lily Allen – ‘The Fear’

Monday

Michael Land – ‘The Barbery Coast’
Lewis Capaldi – ‘Someone You Loved’
Soft Cell – ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’
Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’
George Fenton – ‘Bergerac (Main Theme)’

Tuesday

Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’
Soft Cell – ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’
The Crüxshadows – ‘Ariadne’

Wednesday

Joe Hisaishi – ‘Kokoro No Kakera’
Michael Land – ‘Scabb Island Overview’

Thursday

Michael Land – ‘Scabb Island Overview’

Friday

Dennis Martin and Takeo Miratsu – ‘If You Still Believe’
Michael Land – ‘Scabb Island Overview’
Dee Cooke – ‘Intro And Exit’
Lisa Lougheed – ‘Run With Us’

*Like last week, I have spent an embarrassingly large chunk of the last few days with my own compositions stuck in my head after making them for my game. Given that music is planned for most of my future game projects, this could become a regular occurrence.

Gaming time

I spent all of the Easter weekend working on last-minute polish stuff for my new Adventuron game. It was a really fun project, but these things always get a bit manic just before release and so I now most definitely need a quiet weekend of playing games instead of making them! As such, for the next couple of days I’m going to be curling up on the sofa and playing all the other games that were made for the jam (along with a bit of Bravely Default II, which I’ve been neglecting for the last couple of weeks!).

I submitted the game on Wednesday and have just been catching up with day job work since then. I’m looking forward to a more normal week again next week and am excited about getting out for my nice long walks again 🙂

Easter tree
My Easter tree (all the rage this year from what I’ve read!). The LED lights have started to go a bit dim as the batteries have worn down but they were really bright last week.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Joe Hisaishi – ‘Kokoro No Kakera’
Clean Bandit and Louisa Johnson – ‘Tears’

Sunday

Michael Land – ‘Herman Toothrot’
The Goodies – ‘Funky Gibbon’
Michael Land – ‘Club 41’
Duran Duran – ‘Planet Earth’

Monday

DNCE – ‘Cake By The Ocean’
Johann Pachelbel – ‘Canon In D’

Tuesday

Joe Hisaishi – ‘Kokoro No Kakera’
Walk The Moon – ‘Shut Up And Dance’
Lisa Lougheed – ‘Run With Us’

Wednesday

Michael Land – ‘The Underground Tunnels’

Thursday

Lisa Lougheed – ‘Run With Us’
Dee Cooke – ‘Monster’*
Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’

Friday

Soft Cell – ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’
Lisa Lougheed – ‘Run With Us’
The Firm – ‘Star Trekking’

*Yes, the tunes that I composed on BeepBox for my new game have spent a lot of time stuck in my head the last few days. It’s good that they’re catchy… right?

Slowing down… and a much-anticipated break

It’s been a busy week getting everything done in the run-up to Easter weekend. At the start of the week I was frantically finishing my jam game, but we’ve got a week’s extension for that so I’ve been able to take my time a bit more – I’m looking forward to settling down and getting it finished over the weekend. I also had a lot of day job work that I needed to get cleared before the holiday, which has been pretty much full-time this week.

Still, I got everything done yesterday, and today I’ve been enjoying the time spent drawing graphics!

Running and walking has suffered a bit this week, as I didn’t have as much time for it as I usually do. I’m looking forward to getting out exploring on longer routes over the weekend though.

I hope everyone has a great weekend, whether or not you are celebrating Easter or anything else 🙂

Street art
Some street art I saw in north Newcastle this week.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Stormzy and MNEK – ‘Blinded By Your Grace (Part II)’
Slade – ‘Run Runaway’
Pet Shop Boys – ‘Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)’

Sunday

Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse – ‘Valerie’
Johnny Hates Jazz – ‘Shattered Dreams’
Clean Bandit and Louisa Johnson – ‘Tears’

Monday

Revo – ‘Savalon Desert’
Tim Heintz, Randy Petersen and Kevin Quinn – ‘Sister, Sister (Main Theme)’
Charli XCX and Troye Sivan – ‘1999’
Scandroid – ‘Thriller’
Lady Gaga and Beyoncé – ‘Telephone’
Michael Land – ‘Governor Marley’s Mardi Gras Fish Fry’

Tuesday

Alexandra Burke and Flo Rida – ‘Bad Boys’
Lady Gaga and Beyoncé – ‘Telephone’
Dawn Penn – ‘You Don’t Love Me’

Wednesday

Steps – ‘One For Sorrow’
Marilyn Monroe – ‘I Wanna Be Loved By You’

Thursday

Owl City – ‘Fireflies’
Blur – ‘Parklife’
Sacre – ‘The London Marathon’
Tim Minchin – ‘White Wine In The Sun’
Lady Gaga and Beyoncé – ‘Telephone’

And a bonus track that Geth was humming:

The Human League – ‘Human’

Friday

Michael Land – ‘The Drinking Contest’
Olly Murs and Flo Rida – ‘Troublemaker’

And a bonus track that Geth was humming:

Counting Crows – ‘Butterfly In Reverse’

Finishing off the month

A fairly hectic week this week as I’ve had a lot of things to get finished before the end of the month. My ear is feeling a lot better after finishing my antibiotics course, and my energy has seemingly returned, so I’ve been able to start improving my running speed again.

My main focus this week has been getting the bulk of the work finished for my current Adventuron jam game. I’ve spent this week finishing off the coding and am looking forward to getting stuck into the graphics over the weekend. I’m really excited about getting everything put together and spending a few days working with playtesters before the deadline!

I’ve also been continuing with my long walks and increased-distance runs, which are really nice now that the spring weather has arrived. It means that I’ve pretty much doubled my pace on the LEJOG challenge I’m doing and should be well on track to finish by the end of the year!

There’s been quite a bit of day job work this week too. Business has picked up a bit recently after last year’s slight COVID slump and I’ve got some important plans for going forward that I’m going to start implementing soon.

Finally, I’ve made sure to get some quality downtime with videogames when possible. I’m still really enjoying Bravely Default II and expect it will take me a good couple of months to finish. So many games on the list afterwards that I can’t wait to play…

I would say I’m hoping that next week will be quieter, but there’s a Camp NaNoWriMo month starting and I expect I’ll end up doing something for that! Maybe not with a super high wordcount this time though…

Jesmond Dene
Still enjoying my spring return to Jesmond Dene!

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Bucks Fizz – ‘My Camera Never Lies’
Sting – ‘Englishman In New York’
Jason Derulo and 2 Chainz – ‘Talk Dirty’

Sunday

Camila Cabello – ‘Liar’
Captain Ska – ‘Liar Liar Ge2017’
Kevin Gillis – ‘Run With Us’

Monday

Lauv and Troye Sivan – ‘I’m So Tired’
Revo – ‘Savalon’

Tuesday

The Midnight and Nikki Flores – ‘Because The Night’

Wednesday

Revo – ‘Savalon Desert’
Kirsty MacColl – ‘Days’
Lauv and Troye Sivan – ‘I’m So Tired’
Coldplay – ‘Fix You’
The Midnight and Nikki Flores – ‘Because The Night’

Thursday

Demi Lovato – ‘Heart Attack’
Jason Derulo and 2 Chainz – ‘Talk Dirty’

Friday

Sia – ‘Cheap Thrills’
The Proclaimers – ‘Make My Heart Fly’

Up and down energy

It’s not been a bad week. The only thing slowing me down has been an ear infection that I picked up last week (god knows where from given that I never see anyone at the moment!). Following a phone appointment with the doctor, I’ve managed to get some antibiotics, but so far I’ve been up and down with them – hoping it settles down over the weekend. I’ve also been feeling a bit stiff and achy again, so there’s been a fair few evening yoga sessions over the last few days!

Work-wise I’ve been trying to do focused days this week rather than trying to do a small amount of ten different things every day. I feel like it works a bit better when I can just sit down and concentrate on one thing for most of the day rather than chopping and changing and trying to squeeze everything in.

I managed a day off on Wednesday, which was great, as I wanted a bit of time to sit down and play videogames (I’ve not had the energy for it in the last couple of weeks, which is usually a bad sign). Wednesday is a good day to take off if necessary, as it’s the weekday when I’m least likely to have urgent work from clients.

I’m playing the Fetchpoint game on Fetch Everyone again, which is kind of like virtual geocaching and involves collecting lots of invisible tokens around my local area. This is getting me out walking more often (and helping to vary my running routes), which is a good thing as we move into spring.

I’m mostly concentrating on the Adventuron jam this month, but in April I’m hoping to have a bit of time to work on my business website – I’m going to be changing a lot of terms soon and need to revamp the site accordingly.

A big week of game-creating ahead as we’re reaching the final push of the current jam. Fingers crossed I can carve out lots of time to get it finished!

Jesmond Dene
Geth and I went to Jesmond Dene for a walk last weekend. It was so nice to be back in the Dene for the first time after the winter.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Simply Red – ‘Money’s Too Tight To Mention’
Kanye West – ‘Stronger’

Sunday

John Newman – ‘Love Me Again’
The Boomtown Rats – ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’
Kesha – ‘Tik Tok’
Frankie Miller – ‘Caledonia’
Girls Aloud – ‘Sound Of The Underground’
Matthew Wilder – ‘Break My Stride’

Monday

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton – ‘Islands In The Stream’
Joe Hisaishi – ‘Battle’
Soft Cell – ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’

Tuesday

Kanye West – ‘Stronger’
Muse – ‘Feeling Good’
UB40 – ‘If It Happens Again’

Wednesday

Joe Hisaishi – ‘Battle’
Cheryl – ‘Call My Name’

Thursday

Bros – ‘I Owe You Nothing’
Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – ‘Human’
Let Loose – ‘Crazy For You’
Demi Lovato – ‘Heart Attack’

Friday

Revo – ‘Halcyonia’
Kesha – ‘Tik Tok’
J Balvin and Willy William – ‘Mi Gente’