New Year's Resolutions and Yearly Themes

Yearly Theme Update!

My theme for last year was “Year of Monetisation” which revolved around working out which non-job things I was doing anyway, or wanted to do, could become more job-like, and contribute to my income. I was disappointed that I put in a lot of time and effort into some things and during 2019 they didn’t really pay off.

And then came 2020, along with the utter decimation of my entire juggling/performing career. Turns out all the work I put in last year started paying back! Which is super satisfying, if weirdly frustrating that it was such a benefit six months after I put in the work. Such is life.

My theme for 2020 was “Year of Connection” with the idea that after moving to the forest outside Berlin, I’ll want to keep up my connections with the city, with friends in the city, with my previous night life, etc. Also to make new strong connections in the new community we moved to.

And due to 2020 being 2020, this has been a complete failure! It was all going to start after all the moving stuff was out the way, and I managed a single social trip into Berlin. Then I was on a work trip, and once I flew home, lockdown was in full effect.

My girlfriend’s theme was “Year of Smooth” with the idea that she’ll have a commute into Berlin three times a week, and wanted to reduce stress in other places as much as possible. Weirdly her plan has worked out perfectly! With the lockdown, she works from home now all the time, and we’d set up a perfect home office right after moving in, without knowing the lockdown was coming.

Anyway, I’m killing “Year of Connection” because it’s dumb to have that hanging around in the back of my mind. Maybe I’ll dig it out again next year if more in-person socialising is possible.

Instead I’m going back to my old routine of setting a yearly goal around the time of my birthday, which is in a few weeks time. A few years ago it was vlogging, which I did weekly for a year, and then fell back to doing it whenever something came up. Last year the goal was learning more computer programming and game development, which is now what I do as a part-time job.

And as well as a learning/doing goal, I’ll use the opportunity to do a yearly theme starting on my 40th birthday. I’ve got a few weeks to decide what the goal and the theme might be.

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Nice! What are you doing?

It would be real Netflix showey if your Year of X always bombed and then paid off 6 months later.

I’m doing game development consulting for a new indie studio. The game is a business development game/simulator/sandbox where you own a corporation that has numerous different companies that have different specialty products or business service units.

Each business quarter you take work orders, buy factories, set up production lines, sell products to shops, create marketing material… and of course train employees to do those things automatically so you can do other tasks in the next business quarter. Each quarter ends with the earnings call where you publish your quarterly results, and the in-game clock stops.

My current job is designing various systems and gameplay loops, prototyping the concepts, and putting it all into a game design document. The actual coding will start (not by me) in a few months, so we need to have a minimum viable game already designed by then, so we’re all on the same page and can guide the coder’s work efforts.

If you’re more interested, you can watch a 45 minute unlisted YouTube video where I walk through three prototype “screens” in the factory section of the game.


My biggest new years resolution was to go on a real actual vacation and outside the Americas. This is something I’ve been telling myself I wanted to do for at least a decade now but for some reason or another(until recently, not having the money to do so) have never ever done.

This game premise sounds really weirdly specific but also definitely aimed square at my interests. Very exciting.

There are definitely elements of it that I relate to as I start ramping up my own IRL mini factory and start solving individual production flow issues. There’s so much from my experiences so far that I feel could be gamified even tho the small scale of the “maker/desitner/entrepeneur” is quite different from the more large scale sort of production setting your video describes. Things like deciding when to outsource specific components that might be pushing the limits of a given machine, when to buy equipment, whether to buy long-term growth equipment or short-term stop-gap solutions, whether to make dedicated tooling fixtures or rely on general CNC code, whether your shop space is sufficient or its better to pay more rent to increase the space, whether to get more power or just run specific machines when doing specific jobs despite their being startup and shutdown timeloss, whether having a specific heavy machine will have motor start load that trips a breaker when the whole shop is at full bore, etc etc. Plus things like do I make parts slower from hardened steel or cut soft and send for heat treat? So many micro decisions while trying to balance long term macro strats. And it’s all very real, and very expensive.

In any case very cool. Looking forward to see more. The current implementations just make total sense to me even if a lot of the “machines” are very abstract at this point.

There is no current implementation, what that video shows is what I made in a single day to test out the concept. What is very satisfying is that even using the Unity hierarchy and views as the user interface, that part of the game is already a lot of fun! And that’s without even having the goals of the business quarter set.

The weirdly specific premise is what made the game appealing to me to work on. And once we have the single player version up and running, the plan is to make a board game style version where you play against friends or on an open server.

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Yearly Theme Update… Update?

As per a previous post, Year of Connection is out due to 2020 being fucking drag on in-person socialising. Instead I’m going back to my birthday-to-birthday timeframe for themes and long-term projects.

The theme that’s hit home is Year of Completing.

At the high level, this is because I’ve got loads of medium-to-big projects, each one I’ve put hundreds of hours into, and they are sitting there 75% to 90% finished, but I’ve never gotten them over the line to a level of completion where I’m happy to say “that’s cool, that’s good, I’m now going to share it”.

For example, I have a juggling act that is has the juggling set and fully solid in practice, and the concept and choreography is done. I need four pieces of music, and I already have two pieces set. All I need to do is pick the final music, get the juggling nicely fitted to that music, and it’ll be complete!

Due to not having an opportunity to perform it, the act is just hanging around in the back of my mind. It would take about 10 hours to get it complete, and I could video it, and then that can be the record for the “final” version when I next have an opportunity to perform.

But do I spend 10 hours to get it completed? No. I sit on the couch and watch YouTube videos for 10 hours instead. Which I love! Watching YouTube videos brings me so much joy! And yet, I think having completed the journey of this juggling act creation will bring me a different kind of joy, and one that will last longer than the immediate serotonin hit of “completing” my Watch Later YouTube playlist.

I can apply this to other projects that I’m super proud of, but have progressed only to a 75% level of completion, and are now hanging out in the back of my brain.

Years ago I finished a musical based on Groundhog Day, and it’s complete. There’s no more work to do on it. It’s out in the world for anyone to watch/listen to and enjoy. I listened to it a few days ago, and I’m still super proud of it. Great!

But what about the musical based on my own story and characters? It’s about a space ship on a journey to colonise a distant planet, and on the way the ship gets infested by intelligent velociraptors. It’s so much fun! I’m super proud of it! I’ve written 75% of the songs, and have recorded the entire first act.

Nobody but myself and my partner have ever heard that first act.

I don’t need to learn a new creative skill this year. I need to have a reason to do more of what I already know I love doing. Making “Completing the Projects” part of my theme for the year to come will hopefully nudge me into getting them done.

On a more day-to-day level, Year of Completing means “just finish the job you started and is 95% done already”.

You moved into your apartment in February. Everything is installed and you can live your daily life no problem. But…

The bathroom door is loose. You know it’s a 10 minute job to secure it. Why isn’t that done?

The kitchen is totally done except for the edges of one work surface. It will take maybe two hours to go shopping, buy the edges, and fix it in place. Why isn’t that done?

The cabinets in the office need doors. You didn’t buy them at the same time as the cabinets because you didn’t know the style or size you wanted. It’s now 6 months later. The cabinets work without doors… but why not finish the job?

You decided to clear your work table. You did most of the job, but you left a stack of old plates because you weren’t sure where to put them. Seriously, why not find a place or just throw them out? It would take you 30 seconds to finish the job! Finish the job!

For eight years you’ve been rating every movie you watch, previously in your own notes and more recently on Letterboxd, and sharing a two sentence review on the FRC forum. But a few months ago you just stopped. It would take you maybe an hour to catch up! Why not do that instead of watching three YouTube videos about civil engineering?

For clarity, it isn’t “Year of Done” because you can be done with something by just abandoning it. It’s not “Year of Finished” because that has a sense of finality. It’s more about getting a project or task to a level of completion. That could be “done” or “finished”, but also completing a step along the way or reaching a goal. Like “complete the demo songs for act two, and then you can share the entire musical”.

So join me on this journey of completing the project, finishing the task, and being done with shit.


I really enjoy Luke’s Two Sentence Reviews.

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All caught up! No more movie ratings or reviews sitting in the hopper.

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A short New Years post about memory, from my old professor. (He’s Jordan in the story)