2019-2020 Reflections

I don’t know why, but I’ve found this post so hard to write. Almost everything I learned in the past year reinforced my belief that, for me at least, engaging in public spheres and social media, spending time and energy outputting what amounts essentially to unsolicited advice, is harmful to my state of mind and an expensive opportunity cost.

I’ve learned so much this last year – foremost of which being that my experiences are my experiences, given meaning by a multiplicity of insights and feelings that cannot be easily communicated or learned from by others. There is no one size-fits-all conclusion to be drawn from an experience, and so I have grown increasingly wary of sharing my opinions or insights, certainly publicly.  Moreover, I’ve done plenty of soul searching, and the established wisdom states rather clearly (for once) that trying to change someone’s mind or convert them to your way of thinking is a waste of time. Far better it seems to try and be a good example.

However, I felt a tension there. If I ask myself a simple question – ‘Do I want to help others? – of course the answer is yes. And how much help can I be by going completely silent? I’ve given a fair bit of advice this year behind closed doors, which means I can be targeted and in-depth, but it comes at the cost of reach. Then again – is anything in my situation worth of reach?

As you can tell, I’m conflicted. Conflicted, and busy – much as I’d like to write long form accounts of various experiences I’ve had as a narrative designer and/or as a freelancer, it can be draining to do well, honestly, fearlessly – which is the only way that people would benefit from the account.

In terms of achievements in the games sphere, 2019 saw Abandon Ship escape the clutches of the early access Kraken to a response we were all happy with – 74% positive across approx. 550 reviews. It was the first game I’ve worked on to be fully ‘out’ in the wild, and it was a relief to see streamers and fans enjoying all the world building Gary and I collaborated on. Towards the end of the year, Meteorfall: Krumit’s Tale went into early access. The bulk of the game is mechanical and art led, but I’m proud of the world building and relished the chance to write some lighter-hearted but still inter-connected flavour text. The reaction from streamers and early adopters has been fantastic, and it’s a delight to help shape such a colourful universe.

It was a very busy year in general. I completed the writing and co-directed the bulk of voice acting on Harold Halibut, the bulk of the writing and a fair old chunk of narrative design for Röki, completed a little guest writing on In Other Waters, and laid down the crucial framework of world building, interactive dialogue system, the main character designs and started on dialogue for Neuroslicers.

And of course, I signed on as narrative lead for Backbone! So all in all, it was, if anything, an overly-productive year — one of my main resolutions for 2020 is to take less on, and free up some more time for personal development and my main hobbies: birding; fermenting; and kickboxing.

2020 will be a success for me if I can continue to fearlessly audit my productivity and habits; if i stay away from twitter (apart from for the odd professional reason); keep up my non-game related hobbies; don’t get tempted into taking on any more side projects; and find a way to give back somehow.

On that note, I’ve decided to take a hiatus from my podcast, interviewing writers and storytellers on their lives and process. I find it tremendously enjoyable, and though I started it mainly to be a resource for less experienced writers, it didn’t find the audience I’d hoped, and it’s a considerable expense of time and money to maintain. So, all the content should still be available, and I’m thinking about ways to package it up into a more convenient resource.

Perhaps I’ll resurrect it when I’ve more time on my hands to also market it. For now though, I’m going to turn back inward, focus on being the best me I can be to those around me, professionally and otherwise.

 

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