2017 Retrospective

David Stark / Zarkonnen
31 Dec 2017, 2:48 p.m.

Hey look, it's the traditional end of year post thingy!

As is also kind of traditional this year, let me start this off by saying that it was 1. a good year for me personally, and 2. a shitty year for the world. I didn't get negatively affected by Trump and Brexit because I'm far away from them in a bubble of privilege, but plenty of people I know and love have suffered because of them.

So what did I get up to?

Well, I was going to finish Airships: Conquer the Skies, which didn't happen. Not for any terrible reason, it's just taking longer than intended, and getting ever better in the process. It sold reasonably well, allowing me to concentrate on game development. And I'm pretty certain that it will in fact be completed in 2018.

I also made a bunch of smaller games:

  • Annulus, a game about guiding the survival and culture of a stone-age tribe trapped on a giant space station. I made this for Ludum Dare 38, and I'm really pleased with it. There isn't as much writing in it as I would have liked, because I did all the events in about 40 minutes in a Berlin AirBnB shortly before the deadline. But I continue to ruminate on ideas about games where you shape a culture, and will revisit this at some point.
  • Dryad, which I made together with Rae for Ludum Dare 39. This was kind of an experiment in using Unity 2D animations, and so a lot of work went into figuring that out. Still, I'm pleased with the graphical style, and the idea of a game that gets harder because you lose powers in ways that make the game more complex is also something I want to play around with more.
  • EARTH BLOSSOM, for Ludum Dare 40, where you are a glibbering alien blob on an invasion course to Earth. You destroy the human defenses and eat the survivors to regenerate yourself. With this one, I concentrated on atmosphere and sound design, and I'm pleased to have achieved 22nd out of 1040 Ludum Dare compo games in the Mood category.
  • Martian Immigration Nightmare, a satirical visual novel about trying to get to Mars in the face of an aggressively indifferent bureaucracy, dedicated to Elon Musk and his lack of a spine.

I also released a whole bunch of older stuff:

  • A procedural planet generator that uses a templating system and a shader to produce a near-infinite number of sci-fi planets. I basically completed work on this a year ago and then didn't release it because I was trying to package it up in an overly complicated way.
  • Asteroid Storm, my very first completed game from 2001. You can now play it again, assuming you have a machine that runs Mac OS 9 or are willing to download and install the emulator included with the game.
  • The first version of Space Exploration: Serpens Sector, the big project I was working on before Airships. SE:SS is another thing I want to return to in some form at some point, but since I'll be rewriting it from scratch, I decided to release the original.

Oh, and I also made Haunted Sex Dice, Sexy Atomic Mermaid Magnetic Hammer Queen Xorxorxa, BirdPunk (with my friend Ronja), and Storm-Tossed Sea (in a break during GGJ).

Apart from games, I wanted to get more involved in public speaking and organizing in 2017, which I did, speaking at Quo Vadis and GameZFestival, helping to organize GGJ and Gamespace, and teaching a game development course at Swiss Game Academy.

My partner Rae and I also got to travel a lot! We went to Helsinki for WorldCon, which was both a lovely city break and a great geeky experience. We went to Romania to hunt vampires, er, on a road trip with Rae's co-workers. And I'm currently writing this from the comfy library at Abisko Tourist Station, in Swedish Lapland, where we're staying to celebrate the new year and hopefully see some northern lights.

We celebrated our 10th anniversary this year, with a really nice garden party, surrounded by friends, wearing flower crowns.

Our cats continue to survive and thrive. Dexter's health problems are still there, but have been less acute this year. Sinister is a giant fluff-ball. As they get older, they are getting even friendlier and cuddlier.

We played a bunch of Dungeons and Dragons with friends, board games with others, and computer games with each other. I also helped Rae plot out their writing project.

What's the plan for 2018?

Well, completing Airships, releasing it, getting lots of people to play it.

I also want to continue doing public speaking as well as more teaching and mentorship. I helped one person in 2017 with practicing interviews, and it was an immensely satisfying experience. So if you do want any advice or mentoring on any programming / game dev topics, or help with interview practice, or anything else of that sort, hit me up. At worst I'll say "sorry, I can't help you".

I'm still pretty round, but in a better shape than this time last year, and I think that by keeping up my habits of taking long walks and going to the gym regularly, this will keep improving.

So let's hope 2018 is a year for more sense, kindness and growth!