I procrastinate. I think my two settings of work are 100% or 0% - if I am inspired, or understand how to get from point A to point B, I can give things my complete focus. Otherwise, I think it's difficult for me to make progress on anything. YouTube is my biggest time waste - I had a fairly nasty habit of watching videos when I was stuck or confused at work.
On the flip side - I also feel a need to make my free time productive. I feel like I need to relax in the most efficient way possible; that I should be ingesting the highest quality media, or being personally productive in side projects. This usually ends up with procrastinating on deciding what to do, and doing the lowest effort thing - which ends up being YouTube binges. And then I'm neither relaxed or enjoying myself.
I don't have a solution to either of these issues. I don't think I can just think my way out of them: using sheer force of will doesn't seem like a long term fix. But perhaps admitting it and writing it down will highlight the absurdity of the situation.
permalink | posted by nathan on Tuesday, the 2th of February, 2021, at some point in the morning
I love Celeste. I got it on my Switch after hearing some of the hype around it, and I genuinely think it's one of the best games I've ever played. I've collected all the strawberries, beaten all the B and C sides and the ridiculous Chapter 9 as well, and even got a few of the golden strawberries (where you beat an entire level without dying). I think I'm fairly decent at the game as well - but speedruns of the game are another level.
TGH was WR holder around the time I started watching runs - I remember watching his first sub-30 run and being blown away. The world record right now is around 27 minutes - it's impossibly precise and is just a treat to watch.
I started attempting speedruns of Celeste in December. My first run was a bit under 2 hours, and I thought with a bit of practice sub-hour would definitely be doable. It was! I got a 58:35, which currently puts me 1497th in the world. I think I'd still like to keep going. Sub 50 definitely seems possible without too much work on strats and technique, just less deaths. We'll see!
permalink | posted by nathan on Monday, the 25th of January, 2021, during the most productive hours of the day
It almost never snows in London, but it really transforms the city when it does. For some reason, it really gets people to let their guard down and enjoy themselves as well. We had a random chat with a Canadian guy, and everyone just seems happier in general. Maybe I'm just projecting.
permalink | posted by nathan on Sunday, the 24th of January, 2021, during the productive hours of the afternoon
We bought road bikes during the beginning of the pandemic. I'm not entirely sure what we would have done without them. Long, chill rides have been a great way to pass hours over slow weekends, and allowed us to get out and see some countryside. Some of our best friends are also very into cycling, so it's been nice to be able to meet up and cycle when we've been allowed.
Richmond Park has been a staple of these cycles. It's a classic cycling location for Londoners, as an oasis of countryside within London. I've even managed to get up before work and cycle there a few times (which is usually not something I do).
I've also been to Richmond Park many other times. Picnics with my partner, long walks, longer runs, time with friends, cross country - so much has happened in one place.
There's a short lap and a long lap we do when we cycle around the park. The long lap goes round the perimeter of the park, whilst the short lap skips most of the park by cutting up a hill in the middle. At the top of that hill, there's a view that looks down onto a lake in a dip in the landscape, and back up again towards one of the gates. The other direction looks towards a wooded part of the park. From this viewpoint, I can see so many parts of the park that I have so many memories of. Even some from this year, when sometimes it's so easy to think so little has happened. So it's nice, sometimes, to take a second to enjoy a pleasant view.
permalink | posted by nathan on Saturday, the 23th of January, 2021, getting inspired before falling asleep
a day at the park
I had three weeks off work during Christmas 2020. We had planned to visit family, but new restrictions meant we were stuck in London. To top matters off, we were also self isolating, waiting upon a CoViD test result (which came back negative after about a week(!)).
Putting it all together, we had a lot of time inside, without a lot to do. I had a real itch to do something worthwhile with my time, rather than more Rocket League or Factorio. A friend suggested I check out some game jams that might be going on, and that led me to the bitsy jam 45.
I hadn't used bitsy before, but I'd seen a couple of games made in it. It's a tiny world/game/experience builder, with extreme limitations - 3 colours per screen with 1-bit sprites/tiles, 8x8 sprites and tiles and strict 16x16 screens. It really is small - but it seemed perfect for a week's jam, and to get on with making something.
bitsy seems to me all about creating worlds to explore and interact with. It's about the experience of being somewhere, or about sharing the feeling and emotion of a particular idea and place.
I'd been spending a lot of time in the park next to where I live, and on a walk one day I realised that (and this is going to sound super cheesy) I just really like parks. I grew up near (and went to school next to) a really nice park, and spent many hours in London's expansive parks. There's just something really great about that kind of curated nature, a shared outdoor space.
The game idea (as simple as it is) came to me pretty fully formed whilst on the same walk. I knew I wanted to make something light, with a relaxing setting and with interactions that would make you remember that, most of the time, people are nice.
bitsy makes it so easy to just get started building something. I had the first few screens up easily. The art was the trickiest thing for me, but only having 64 pixels and 2 colours per tile really helped - both in terms of simplifying what you can do, and also reminding me not to make things too detailed. There are definitely some rough spots in the art, but I'm pretty happy with what I did, and it challenged me enough to be fun.
The scripting is a little finicky at times, especially when you want to make some more complicated conversations. I would have liked to have more interactions with the various park inhabitants, as well as potentially a more complicated chain of items to find and people to deliver them too, but I ran out of time. At the end of the day, it was the park itself I cared the most about, and that's what I'm happiest with.
I'm really glad I managed to get something made and finished. This was my first solo game jam in years, and it was nice to get back to it in a more relaxed manner. I enjoyed bitsy as a tool, but I'm not sure I'll make any more bitsy games unless I have a specific idea.
You can play the game here if you'd like: https://natpat.itch.io/a-day-at-the-park
permalink | posted by nathan on Friday, the 22th of January, 2021, while on his lunch break