Doing Something Every Day of 2020: COMPLETE

2020

Hellmo (Sesame Street's Elmo rising in front of flames)

Well, that was a year.

From Orbit

In 2019 I launched my first indie game From Orbit on PC, and in 2020 I worked towards completing the stretch goal: launching From Orbit on the Nintendo Switch!

I’m glad to finally be able to call this project finished!

Playdate

a render of the Playdate handheld console

An unexpected but welcome opportunity that came up this year was the chance to work on helping the folks at Panic (publishers of Firewatch and Untitled Goose Game, among other things) bring the software development kit for their Playdate handheld retro-console from OSX over to Windows (and Linux).

If you haven’t heard of Playdate before you should take a peek, it’s a lot of fun.

This project occupied the middle part of the year — which was a welcome distraction from [waves vaguely] — and hopefully helped a bunch of indie devs out there bring their cool games to it.

Doing Things

Electronics

At the beginning of the year, things were starting to slow down from the move to Japan, and I took the opportunity to dust off my electronics skills. Inspired by a visit to Akihabara, I started playing around with some ESP8266 development boards, and a few different displays and sensors.

This at least partially lead to my involvement in Playdate, although I didn’t contribute anything on the hardware side of Playdate, the project as a whole meshed nicely with my newly rekindled interest in electronics.

photo of breadboard circuit with temperature/humidity sensor and LCD display

Japanese

Kanji

One of my goals for the year was to improve my japanese skills, and while COVID-19 sharply cut into the “immerse yourself in the country” aspect of things, I did manage to stick to a regular routine of studying kanji using WaniKani via the Tsurukame app, which I found to have a very high rate of return on learning per time.

I spend around 30 minutes each morning working through WaniKani, and find it highly rewarding to incrementally recognize more kanji I see out in the wild as time goes on. It has also helped expand my vocabulary somewhat.

Reading

My understanding of more complex Japanese grammar, and verb forms in particular, is still terrible.

I started a second avenue of study in September: reading through the first novel in the series 「若おかみは小学校!」 (The young innkeeper is a grade-school student!).

I’ve attempted reading a few different novels in the past, but this one managed to hit a sweet spot for me:

When I first started, it took me 45-60 minutes to read a single page, but this has come down to the 25-30 minute range. Not only has my reading improved, but my Japanese (smartphone) typing skills have also improved as I look things up.

By the numbers:

graph of covid daily case count for japan in 2020

COVID-19 Daily Cases, Japan (2020)

Alright, 2021, I guess

Here’s what I said last year, and it basically still applies, again:

Coming off a year of accomplishing so many a few big and specific goals in my life, I’m feeling a bit adrift going into 2020 2021.

I’m particularly feeling the tension between my desire to dedicate this year to learning and improving my skills, as an artist, as a game developer on the one hand, and the internal and external pressure to Be Productive on the other hand, which to me currently means immediately starting on a project with commercial potential.

I want to say that I’ll fight that pressure and focus on learning and improving, as was my intention. But even writing that makes me anxious, so clearly I haven’t convinced myself yet that it’s the right thing to do.

Given 2020’s curveballs, it seems almost naively optimistic to plan ahead too concretely but, for the most part, it seems my plan for the year ahead has mostly remained unchanged: every day…

Bonus