A sort-of-new process

I’m doing a serious revamp / redraft of a game project at the moment. I did the first draft in March and intended to release it as part of the Spring Thing competition at the end of the month, but following feedback from testers decided to make a lot of changes and submit it to ParserComp at the end of June instead. It was clear what needed to be changed and planning this out was very easy, but it’s a fairly big editing job, which is something I’ve never done for a game before (only for novels). It’s been a really interesting process so far, partly because I’m simplifying a lot of things, whereas usually I’m making them more complicated. I should have done the bulk of the editing work by the time of the Edinburgh Marathon, and I’m looking forward to having any spare time I can grab in June (which is a bit busier than most months this year) for polishing.

The taper moves on, and running is still short and painless – though I am looking forward to doing a final six-miler on Thursday to test out the pacing strategy one last time.

Finishing a story

I wrote the ending of the story for my current game project today. There might be some more bits to add in over the next week, but for all intents and purposes the writing is done. Looking forward to changing focus and working on some simple illustrations and a bit of experimental music.

Then I can start testing it. That’s when all the real issues will start showing up!

Pipes etc.

We had a plumber come to visit this morning to fix a leak (a task we’d been procrastinating for a few weeks). We now have a new tap and new bits of pipe under the sink, and more importantly, a greatly reduced risk of flooding the house. I’m looking forward to not having to mop the floor multiple times per day.

Other than that it’s been a fairly quiet day of writing. More tomorrow.

Day of emails and writing

In this morning’s email: email from the London Marathon to tell me I was unsuccessful in the ballot for 2022. Not disappointed about not getting into the race (I don’t really want to do an autumn marathon again for a while as it doesn’t fit into my preferred race season structure – I would have deferred to 2023 if I had got in) but slightly disappointed that they don’t seem to be doing a rejection magazine anymore!

In this afternoon’s email: approximately 30 emails from other autumn marathons saying ‘Didn’t get into London? Come and run OUR marathon instead!’.

Also in this afternoon’s email: my official certificate for graduating from TechUP. Very happy!

I’ve been working on the writing for my current game project today, which is going to take up the bulk of my free time this week. It’s such an enjoyable thing to be doing while I’ve got a bit more spare time, and I hope to be able to do a lot more of it this year.

It’s all on the list… somewhere

At times like this when I have a lot to do, I’m really glad of my fairly obsessively organised daily to-do list. I do have a good memory but it can be quite stressful to hold everything in my brain at once, and I feel much better when it’s all written down.

There are probably hundreds of non-urgent items on the ‘future’ part of the list at the moment. I tend to develop huge backlogs of such things (too many project ideas, not enough time). It’ll be nice to be able to pick and choose again when I’m no longer super busy.

Adventures in Coding: Knowing When It’s Time To Stop Tweaking

That is probably a slightly misleading headline. It’s never really time to stop tweaking in my world! If I didn’t have deadlines imposed by jam deadlines and the like, I would probably just keep making tweaks forever and never release anything as a result. This is also true for non-code-y writing, which is why I’ve always found it so difficult to bite the bullet and send out my novel pitches to agents. It always feels like things could be a tiny bit better with just one more pass.

However, even when no deadline is involved, I can still sort of tell when it’s time to stop, even if I’m slightly in denial about it. When I do yet another playtest and there’s just one or two tiny things, and I’m dithering on whether I should even change them, and I go back and forth on those tiny things for a few runthroughs without spotting anything else I want to change… at that point, I really do need to stop faffing and get the project out into the world.

This post is a result of prepping my post-comp update for The River of Blood this week. The EctoComp judging period comes to an end on Friday, and after that I’ll be free to update my game (you’re not allowed to do so for Petite Mort games while the competition is still on). Originally I was just going to fix the one bug somebody had pointed out, but then I started messing about with something else due to somebody else’s feedback, and then while testing that I found another bug, and it took me ages to pin it down… I’m done now, though, and I’m sitting on my hands with that for the rest of the week (unless anybody flags up anything else, which is unlikely at this late stage of the competition). I’m looking forward to posting that update.

It’s time to get back to playing other people’s games, which was the main aim of this week!

Morris on Borogove
In other game update news today, my most recent game, Morris, is now playable online on Borogove.

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.

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’

Is it too early for a midlife crisis?

I didn’t mind being thirty-five. Not at all.

I was still coasting along with an ‘age doesn’t matter’ attitude, and generally feeling like I was still young and pretty much at the start of my life and there was still plenty of time to achieve all my planned achievements.

Being thirty-six feels different, and I’m not sure why.

Perhaps it’s just that multiple things have hit me in a slightly alarming way recently. First of all, I did a fairly major accounting exercise for my business in January and realised that I can’t just blame the recent slump in takings on COVID-19 (though of course the pandemic has been a factor): it started way before that. I’ve known for some time now that my editing business is not viable by itself as my long-term career. I either need to build up something else on the side (I hoped writing would play this role, but I’m still not making any money from my writing projects) or retrain so that I can move full-time into something else. I had two academic options planned out for retraining at the beginning of 2020, but the pandemic put them on hold. If life had continued as normal, I would have been a lot further ahead with those options right now, and so I really feel at the moment as though I’m paused (not by choice) in my career, and that a considerable amount of time is being wasted while I wait for the world to restart. I’m sure lots of other people are in a similar position.

Secondly, I’ve been struggling with the loud, insistent tick of the biological clock in recent weeks. I have always known that motherhood would not be right for me or my life, and so I have never planned (and still do not plan) to have children. Still, however logical and sound my 1,001 reasons for staying childfree are, there are times when I feel them drowning under the weight of worries like ‘thirty-six is VERY close to forty; you are running out of time to change your mind’ and ‘who is going to inherit your legacy, your family heirlooms and your videogame collection?’ and ‘don’t you WANT to experience this unconditional love that everyone talks about?’ and ‘your husband is a few years older than you and you are bad at maintaining friendships due to your introversion; you will quite likely spend the last few years of your life alone and unloved’. I will stick to my plan because I know it’s the right thing to do, but the feelings are hard sometimes.

Accepting the things you can’t change is the sensible and obvious thing to do in life. It’s also really hard work. There are a lot of things I wish were different – a lot of things that I was sure I would have managed to achieve by now – and I constantly feel like I’ve let my past younger self down, and that I’m also letting my future older self down by continuing to fail to achieve stuff (or stuff that was on the ‘list’ anyway… I know there’s a lot of unplanned stuff I can be proud of from over the last few years!), and generally being a bit mediocre.

But the life I have now is the life I have now, and I’m not superhuman (even though the mind demons tell me that I COULD be if I just tried a bit harder), and I know I’m doing my best at the moment, and the fact that I didn’t do my best in the past is something that can’t be changed.

Thirty-six is still not sitting right with me, and I’m not sure when it will. But I can’t go backwards, so here we are.

This week has been quite busy and difficult at work, which hasn’t helped. I’m hoping to be able to squeeze in an extra afternoon off on Monday to make it a bit of a long weekend, but we’ll have to see what happens over the next few days.

I’m very nearly at the end of Bravely Second and should finish it over the weekend. I’ve then got the demo of the newly-announced Switch game Project Triangle Strategy to enjoy before Bravely Default II arrives next week!

Running has been short and gentle this week as I’ve been resting a hip/glute twinge. However, my comfortable run speed has increased over the last couple of days, which usually indicates that my legs are up for a nice fast 5k at the weekend. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow. I’m also hoping to do a long run on Sunday (maybe eight to ten miles?), though the pace for that will be very sedate indeed as I’ve not done anything over six miles for months and months.

Crossing my fingers for a really quiet week next week! I’ve got various coding things I want to get finished/started, so hopefully I’ll have good news on that front next Friday.

Spiky ball
It’s been a spiky ball kind of week, trying to ease the seized-up muscles in my right hip 🙁

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Backstreet Boys – ‘As Long As You Love Me’
The Drifters – ‘Under The Boardwalk’
Will Powers – ‘Kissing With Confidence’

Sunday

Revo – ‘Sylvan Tranquility’
Ray Charles – ‘Hit The Road, Jack’

Monday

Joe Hisaishi – ‘Kokoro No Kakera’
will.i.am and Cody Wise – ‘It’s My Birthday’
The Black Eyed Peas – ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’
Duran Duran – ‘Five Years’

Tuesday

Canned Heat – ‘On The Road Again’
Sarah Brightman & Hot Gossip – ‘I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper’
The Power Station – ‘Some Like It Hot’
Taylor Swift – ’22’

Wednesday

Judy Garland and Lucille Bremer – ‘Meet Me In St Louis’
Tom Lehrer – ‘Christmas Carol’

Thursday

Ewan MacColl – ‘Dirty Old Town’
Fontella Bass – ‘Rescue Me’
Coldplay – ‘A Sky Full Of Stars’
The Wonder Stuff – ‘A Wish Away’

Friday

Mike Hewer – ‘Snowman Party’
Queen – ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’

Last few days of Christmas, and a bit of blog admin

I’ll mostly be doing photo posts this week as I’ll be busy with putting the Christmas decorations away and getting back to work. From next Monday onwards the blog will be back on schedule, though it’ll be a different schedule from what it has been over the last year! With the pandemic continuing to rumble on, life is a bit too quiet for daily diary posts, and so I’ll be doing weekly life updates on Fridays instead. The rest of the week will be dedicated to ramblings about my various hobbies, which remain over-numerous.

I’m excited about a slight change of direction as there are lots of things I want to write about in more detail. More info about this next week (as I haven’t quite finalised everything yet!).

Colourful leggings
The leggings I wore for my birthday yesterday. 2020 was the year of colourful trousers and I do not imagine that will change for 2021!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Tears For Fears – ‘Shout’