2020 Retrospective

David Stark / Zarkonnen
26 Dec 2020, 1:19 p.m.

What a year. I just managed to wrangle my inbox down to zero, so it's time to attempt to write a retrospective. I did one in 2019, and I'm roughly following it to keep some continuity.

Obviously the big thing was - is - Covid. I didn't get it, and I don't personally know anyone who died from it, though a friend is suffering pretty badly from long Covid, that awful post-viral fatigue thing. Still, it's really changed our lives. We've been very careful to self-isolate, usually going beyond the rather insufficient government rules and recommendations. Switzerland is actually one of the worst-hit countries in the world - it's just small and so the total numbers aren't that big.

So a lot of staying inside, not seeing friends and family, not going on trips. I don't need to describe this, you've had the same experience.

Leaving the pandemic aside somewhat, what did I get up to?

We've been doing our best to develop and grow Swiss Game Hub, our shared office and incubator for games here in Zurich. It's been tricky because of Covid, but we've made good progress, and we should have enough stamina and finances to still be around when the pandemic retreats.

I'm still working on that fabled diplomacy update to Airships, but progress is happening. About a week ago I reached the rather specific milestone that all of the features I planned for the update now exist in code somewhere, though not tested, balanced, merged, or comprehensible to the AI. It's something.

The game's now sold more than 100k copies, for which I did a Reddit AMA that was definitely fun.

I also participated in some jams: Early in the year, pre-covid I worked with my friend Philomena on Turtle Town, a game about travelling on the back of a giant turtle. Now that The Wandering Village has been announced, it's pretty obvious that this was a bit of prototyping.

Later, I tried my hand at Ludum Dare, but didn't get anywhere because I couldn't get into the swing of things. But then just recently I participated in Secret Santa Jam and made Witchcraft, a cute game about gardening and brewing potions.

In terms of playing games, my three favourites were Crusader Kings 3 (which I put probably too much time into), Caves of Qud (ditto, and oh, I made a mod for it), and In Other Waters (amazing, go play it, it's not that long).

Disappointments in games included Humankind OpenDev (gets boring after 100 turns), Imperator: Rome (messy), Griftlands (shrug), Star Renegades (overwritten, inconsistent graphics, battles not that interesting), XCOM: Chimera Squad (shrug). Oh, I also played Frostpunk, which is decent but has a hard-on for "hard choices" in a way that bores and annoys me.

Of course I have a huge backlog. Maybe I'll get into uh Children of Morta, Crying Suns, Star Traders: Frontiers, Northgard, The Next World, Stoneshard, Disco Elysium, Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Shrouded Isle, or Phoenix Point. Maybe.

I finally acquired a modern graphics tablet and started practicing with it, drawing some aliens and a weird crab.

This got rudely interrupted when our lovely stupid cat Dexter fell off the balcony and went missing for nearly two weeks. That was very stressful. We spent a lot of time looking for him, printed out flyers, and worried. Eventually we were able to lure him back with food and trap him using a cat-trap, which was needed because he kept running away when he saw us. He's now back at home and clearly very happy to be so. His health is fine too - he lost a lot of weight but he's putting it back on.

Ooh, and I did resolutions back in 2019. Continue on low-carb diet? I tried, but combined with the pandemic it was just too much stress. Blogging? Not really. I'm getting back into it now, though I'm not sure many people read this site anymore. I have posts planned on game design and audio that will hopefully be of interest. Skin care routine! I found one and then forgot to use it. Oh well. All things I can keep trying at.

Oh, and uh the other thing which I'll just put at the end of this post is that I'm now in a polyamorous triad, my partner and I having found a very nice girlfriend. We actually got together in late 2019. We're a happy set of three weirdoes in love.