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
running in london in the winter
I like running. Especially long runs - most weekends we'll be out somewhere doing at least a few miles. I also really suck at running. I am slow. I would love to be faster, but most of the time I just love being outside more and spending time with my fiancee.
That being said, sometimes I wonder why I like running. Especially when I'm doing up my shoes, about to go out onto the dark, wet, rainy streets of London and run roads and parks that I've seen hundreds of times before. When I'm not signed up to any races so there's no reason for me to be training right now. When I could be happy and warm inside doing anything else.
At the same time though - I've got to a point where running just feels right. I get grumpy and bored when I don't run. It gives me time to think. And I'm not entirely sure what I would do if I didn't run. Plus I know that once I get out, and my legs are going and I've warmed up a bit, I'll be wondering how I ever thought I hated running.
permalink | posted by nathan on Thursday, the 21th of January, 2021, during the most productive hours of the day
There are two ideas that I've been thinking about for a while:
- I'd like to be more creative
- I'd like to have a better grasp on the events in my life and the small things I cherish
I've also had a lot of free time during this third(?) "lockdown", and so what started as a fun coding problem and wanting to improve my website has turned into this little micro-blog. The plan is to attempt to write and publish something every day. I don't think there will be any rhyme or reason to the things I talk about - just whatever was on my mind that day. Hopefully this will force me to do something creative with my time, as well as hopefully providing a nice log of my thoughts, opinions and interests.
I'm not expecting anyone to read this - but I'm hoping the public declaration of intent will force me to attempt this properly, for some psychological reason.
We'll see how it goes.
permalink | posted by nathan on Wednesday, the 20th of January, 2021, during the most productive hours of the day