Those of you who follow me on Twitter probably know that 2018 was a bad year for me. It was the epilogue to the culmination of a lot of events that negatively impacted me all at once.
(Skip to “Now…” if you just want to read about what’s going on this year.)
The year before, I had been laid off from my job, a job that I had quit college to do in hopes that it would allow me to pursue a career without having to continue to go to college, which had become increasingly difficult due to increasingly severe OCD. I had been laid off just after taxes were due for my first full year on the job, which left me owing way more than was ideal for someone who had just been laid off. I had been laid off right after buying a new computer for that job after repeatedly being told that I “probably needed to upgrade.” I had a lot of debt on my plate and, what’s more, I couldn’t find another job—in fact, I still can’t. I tried running my own site for six months, but I eventually reached a point where I simply couldn’t pay for it and I had to shut it down in October 2017.
After a fairly severe bout of depression in late 2017, I started out 2018 lost. I had exhausted my options for pursuing what I had, just the past year, thought I would be doing for quite some time and I wasn’t feeling particularly motivated to pick up any of my previous interests—which I later discovered was due to the fact that I was still depressed, just a step or two up from where I had been before. I hacked on a few things, like my Java 9+ update for Fortress, but I really didn’t feel motivated. My situation didn’t improve when I was repeatedly turned down for even the lowest tier, seasonal jobs at multiple places.
Late in 2018, a few things happened. Hacktoberfest gave me a chance to pick up coding again with as much or as little commitment as I saw fit. There were all sorts of projects that I could contribute minor additions or fixes to without having to take on some massive project. I enjoyed it and ended up completing the Hacktoberfest challenge primarily by coming up with single-line solutions to various problems in Perl 6, which was fun for a bit and sparked my interest in coding again, albeit I haven’t done much in that regard just yet
I also started a gaming group with some friends, primarily playing Overwatch, which has offered me the regular positive social interaction that I probably needed (while the OCD has improved significantly since the time mentioned above, a number of factors surrounding the OCD have led to a situation where I simply don’t really get IRL social interactions very often). Fortunately, I’ve been able to play stuff with them regularly and that has helped keep me out of the depression more regularly.
This isn’t the whole story, mind, but the parts that I left out need to be left out for the time being.
It’s a new year and I’m done sitting around, letting ongoing depression rule my life. There are a few things that, at long last, I want to accomplish this year. They are as follows.
Write An Interactive Web Novel
So this is a mangled set of terms that I’m using to describe an ongoing game project that I am currently planning. You guys probably know what interactive fiction is. You probably know what a web novel is. Let me explain how I want to combine the two.
What I want to do is take a choice-based or hyperlink-based interactive fiction platform and create a work of interactive fiction that is regularly updated with new content. It will start small, with content resembling that of a chapter or two, and grow in to a sprawling adventure from there.
I don’t want this to be viewed as “oh, so it’s starting out in an incomplete/Early Access state,” though. Each new content release will ideally be polished and the release strategy will be by design. I want it to be something that you regularly check back with, rather than play once and forget about.
Getting into writing fiction has been a goal of mine for some time, but, for some reason, I’ve never quite made it to the point where I sit down and start writing. At long last, I am hoping to get around to it this year.
Right now, I’m currently weighing various engine options for this project before moving forward with it. However, I will be sure to keep you updated once I have more to talk about.
Make More Games With The Banshee Engine
At the end of last year, I got a hold of the source code for Sophie Kirschner’s Banshee Engine, which I had previously used to create ANSI Submarine Game. While I can’t distribute it as an engine, and thus won’t be doing so, I am planning to make a few updates to it that make it easier for me to make multiplayer games with the engine and possibly find a way to obfuscate or encrypt the Lua game code so that it isn’t just out in the open.
Those of you who have been following me for a while now know that I really enjoy working with ANSI art. I also feel that the actual value of ANSI art comes from the range of characters that you’re allowed to use, which are woefully under-utilized in the most prominent Google search results for “ANSI art.”
I want to contribute to bringing the art style back in some way and I intend to do that by building more games with the Banshee Engine.
In addition to various multiplayer games, I’ve been planning an RPG that I’d like to make with ANSI art for a long time now. Maybe I’ll finally get around to starting that.
Start Publishing Music Again
I published a few small works last year, but I have yet to actually release any polished recordings like I had planned to. Quite honestly, the issue was that, in my depressed state, my issues learning the erhu quickly destroyed my enthusiasm. Since learning guitar when I was younger, I’ve been able to pick up most instruments (at least on a basic level that allowed me to play songs that I was already familiar with on other instruments) with relative ease, but erhu had eluded me quite completely.
It was a failure that I wasn’t ready for at the time, but things have changed now. It’s time to get back to publishing music.
(Possibly) Continue Work On Fortress
I have an odd fascination with Sun Microsystems’ ill-fated supercomputing language Fortress. Intended in part to be a successor to Fortran and in part to closely mimic pseudo-code, it offered a completely different coding experience.
It’s completely outside of my normal scope of work and I genuinely have no idea what I’d use it for, but I would like to continue working on it. There’s quite a bit more that could be done for the language, including replacing its current input system and adding support for popular math libraries. It’s just a matter of whether I find the motivation to work on it.
So that’s where I’ve been and where I plan to go from here. I’ve spent enough time depressed, sitting around, and waiting for something to change. It’s time to get working again and try to make that change myself.