Thursday, 7 January 2016


Ok this is one of those "end of year / new year" posts you know the deal. For me 2015 was a Good Year and now I will tell you about it.

January, I finally got the PC version of 868-HACK out. Yann helped me make a really cool trailer for it (that's his office not mine!). Along with having released Helix in late 2014 that was the end of my "working on too many different games at once" clog. (Well, SMESPORT is still hanging over me but I can't work on that again until I live somewhere so never mind.) I am ambivalent about the value of porting to different platforms but I don't want to rant about that right now.

Then in March Tara's job in Scotland finished so we had to leave - visa restrictions decreeing that we had to be out of the country 2 weeks after her contract ended. We'd had a good stay there - we moved there for a short-term contract but it ended up getting extended a few times, three and a half years all up. Long enough to feel pretty settled. With no particular place to be we decided to go travelling - Tara could finish writing up papers and applying for jobs and I could keep making games from anywhere. So we spent most of the year backpacking around Europe. The New Zealand passport is very strong so we can travel quite a bit without visas or anything, the only problem has been re-entering the UK because they get very upset about the idea that someone who used to live there would ever want to go back; that part has been stressful. We're mostly visiting people we know rather than doing the tourist things. It's been pretty great. Highlights include scaling castle walls on Inishbofin island with a bunch of Irish game developers (lovely people all), dancing in an abandoned railway shack somewhere outside Prague, watching intense flamenco dancers in the streets of Granada and then smelling every tea in the tea shop, collecting the most colourful trousers I could find in every market.. so many things I'm not going to list. It's been pretty great.

I've been working on Imbroglio (yes it has a name now). I was going to write a summary of where it's at here but maybe I'll split that off into a separate post. I've found that while I can work while travelling, I'm slower. I don't always have the time and space to sit down and focus on a problem when I need to. Also I just haven't been able to do jams or make prototypes, I start things but then when I come back to them I've lost the momentum. I'm not sure if I could start or finish a project like this, but it's been fine for the iterative middle. But yeah even though it's slower than it might have been it has been coming along and I should be able to get it out in the next couple of months.

I mentioned I'd been getting into dancing (mostly blues and a bit of swing - historical African-American partner dances). I've never taken any physical discipline seriously before, I got put off sports early on in school because I was younger and therefore less physically developed than my classmates and feeling like I was Just Bad at it discouraged me from trying. So I've gone through life carrying a body around without knowing much about it. But it turns out bodies are really complex and interesting! I'd been missing out on a lot. It's hard work to train myself out of a lifetime of bad habits but I've made significant progress over the last year, there have been a few moments where something has just clicked into place and I realise I've let go of a tension I'd been holding onto for decades. When I was small people would tell me I had bad posture and I should stand up straight but it was always clearly nonsense because they were unable to give any practical advice on what to do better. But with some understanding of the counterbalancing forces in my body and how to gradually reshape them (rather than expecting instant results with "stand up straight") my posture has improved and it actually makes a lot of difference to my general quality of life and ability to deal with stress. Sometimes feels like having a whole new body. The dancing itself has been great too, it's a very close community with a lot of people who travel to different events so it's provided a sense of continuity/home in seeing the same people sometimes while travelling.

We still don't know where we'll be living next. Hopefully Tara will get another academic job, but that could be anywhere. But after having spent most of the year living out of backpacks, sleeping on floors, busing across borders that uncertainty doesn't feel like a big deal. We're living off 868-HACK money now, hopefully Imbroglio will do okay too and then I can keep going with the next thing after that. Otherwise there's still a chance I'll have to get a real job one day, that feels a very alien prospect and I don't know how I'd handle it, I don't know how they'd handle me, I've grown wild in my years of freedom, strong and reckless and stubborn in chaos.

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