Hey guys, I just got back from a week on the Greek island of Kefalonia. I was there with Ronja, my brother and his partner. I was a little bit nervous about the trip, as I was worried about how hot it would be, and then shortly before the trip the news broke that several Greek islands were on fire. But in the end we handled the weather pretty well – our accommodation was comfortable, and the car we rented had good AC too. There was one day where the smoke from distant fires covered the island, but luckily it didn’t cause any trouble besides obscuring the view from our balcony and smelling like barbecue. The only trouble we had was on the way home – our flight was 20 hours late, and we had to sleep on the floor of the airport. I read a lot of manga by Junji Ito in any spare time.
Anyway, we stayed in a roomy house in the village of Pastra for the first half of the trip, and then in the top floor of a countryside villa near the village of Agios Dimitrios. On most days we would go out and swim in the sea and then find somewhere nice for lunch and dinner. In the past I haven’t been a fan of swimming in the sea due to the salt water and sunburn, however most of the beaches in Kefalonia came with small watery caves that you could hide from the sun in, so that was a welcome perk. I didn’t do much actual swimming, as I had a painful shoulder injury – probably from playing Beat Saber before the trip – but sitting around in the water was pleasant.
Besides eating and swimming, we also visited the Agios Georgios castle ruins, Old Vlachata ruins (village destroyed by an earthquake), Drogarati and Melissani caves, Mt Ainos (highest peak on the island, very cool view), Aquarium in Lixouri (saw a cool lobster with a giant eyeball pattern on its back), and turtles and obelisk in Argostoli. I also bought too many fridge magnets – cats are popular and a lot of them looked like NoLegs.
Driving on the island was fantastic – like real life Mario Kart. The roads were incredibly steep, bendy and slippery in places, traffic rules are just suggestions, and you’d frequently find goats and pedestrians on the roads. Most roads were at the edge of a cliff, didn’t have line markings, and even the cities didn’t have many traffic lights. But it still felt safe enough as you were physically prevented from driving too fast by the environment. The other drivers were not particularly aggressive as it was hard to overtake without falling off a cliff.
Managed to complete the trip without any sunburn or car damage, and only getting a tiny bit fatter. Not bad.
Me and Ronja recently travelled to Brighton in the south of England for the Develop conference. It was a smooth 9-hour drive from Glasgow to Brighton – on our way we briefly stopped in Oxford, and spent a day in Thorpe Park. I assumed we would beat the school holidays, but plenty of kids were on school trips at the theme park, so it was way more crowded than we liked. Eventually we managed to ride most of the rides we wanted to do, except for Swarm, which broke down. It’s a shame that Saw: The Ride is so rough and painful, otherwise it would be a top-tier rollercoaster with awesome horror theming. Nemesis Inferno, Stealth and Walking Dead were good fun, as were the water rides. Anyway, I’d definitely like to visit again on a less busy day.
The conference itself was also incredibly busy – apparently the busiest year by far. We browsed some indie games at the expo, and met up with a few developer friends we knew from Twitter and other events. We met up with The Super Flash Brothers, Damp Gnat, Grey Alien Games, Lowtek Games, Space Spy, and others. We were hoping to meet the developers of Among Us, but missed them by a day – maybe next time.
Overall, time was mostly spent just chatting, eating and drinking with industry people. We also made room to do general tourist stuff around Brighton – we walked around the Royal Pavilion, rode a crappy rollercoaster on the pier, and went up the i360 tower, which while expensive, gives a very nice view of the city from 160 meters up. I’ve been to few seaside cities this year, including Blackpool, Skegness and Llandudno, and I think Brighton had the most interesting and presentable coastline to visit as a tourist.
Anyway, on the drive home, due to bad traffic, bad weather, and rode closures, the trip took us 13 hours instead of 9! That was rough. Would consider taking the train in future, but UK train prices are way too high. In the end we laughed it off and every aspect of the trip was memorable. I will definitely attend the conference again – but maybe not every year!
Hey guys, as is my yearly tradition, here’s a summary of my year, in no particular order.
• Valve sent me a free Steam Deck! I felt like sempai had noticed me. Many of the indie games I wanted to try out didn’t fully work on it, but I eventually had a good time playing The End is Nigh and Everhood on it. It’s comfortable to play for hours at a time, so I give it a big thumbs up, as long as you’re happy with a bit of tinkering. Oh, and most of my games work on it too, to various degrees.
• I finished off and published the Epic Battle Fantasy Collection this year, which involved polishing off my old web games (not fun) and adding a little bit of new content to them (fun). The collection performed reasonably well on Steam, considering the games involved are ancient, and were originally available for free online. Valve gave the EBF series a nice featured spot on launch day, and as expected, EBF5 sold even better than EBFC did!
• I helped my brother build a fence and a pergola, and a lot of planters of various sizes. I also collected a bunch of rocks and logs for his new pond. In return, I got coffee whenever I visited, and some radishes and pumpkins from his garden. It’s gonna look good in a couple of years when his trees grow up!
• I built a dog house for Ethel! It was made from recycled materials and is totally over-engineered. It’s incredibly sturdy and nicely embellished. I basically built a very small shed – and next year I’ll build a full-sized shed!
• Me and Ronja started shopping at a big Asian supermarket to try out some good instant noodles, weird mushrooms, sichuan pepper, and other new flavours. They went out of business later this year, but my instant noodles skills have massively improved.
• Me and Ronja went to Finland for an awesome and chaotic wedding, which included a cool barn venue, shenanigans with the bands, and an after party on a boat. We got a cold shortly afterwards (thought it was covid) and spent most of the holiday recovering. I was hit especially hard, and took 3 or 4 weeks to fully recover – half my hearing was gone!
• I bought a bunch of devices for my mobile development work, including a 2015 MacBook, an iPhone 11, and a Samsung S4 Tablet. The MacBook was a pretty good purchase – It runs well for such an old computer, still has USB ports, it’s perfect for my iOS development needs, and it’s also my first ever laptop. I’ve been using the iPhone as my main phone for a few months, and I still haven’t got used to it – I’ll probably go back to Samsung for the next one. And finally, the tablet… was fun to play around with for a few days. Games look good on the larger screen, but it’s too big to hold comfortably in many cases!
• I tried out a lot of mobile games this year. Most were awful and were uninstalled in 5 minutes, but some great ones include the Dadish series, Meow Tower, and Total Party Kill.
• Me and Ronja and Ethel stayed in a cute log cabin on a farm for a couple of nights. It was refreshing to not have electricity, running water, or internet, and to live more deliberately. They did have a gas barbecue though.
• I started going to therapy for depression and anxiety. I thought I had some sort of neurological disease, as my concentration and coordination was somewhat impaired, but it turns out I was probably just stressed out by work, relationship issues, growing old, and the state of the world. I’m a little better now.
• Continued going on small trips around England and Scotland with my dad, to deliver my mum’s paintings to art galleries. Found some interesting beaches in Edinburgh, visited Bamburgh Castle but it was closed due to a storm, and sneaked into a small private castle where a wedding was being planned.
• Me and Ronja started going out for brunch at least once a week, to see new places, try new food, and just get up earlier in the morning. Brought my parents and other close family members along to a couple of my favourite places later on. Previously me and my family have been too cheap to eat out. My favourite discoveries were egg and salmon toast, and pomegranate salad.
• We also had dinner in a few fancy restaurants, but the higher the price the less I enjoyed it, due to the pretentiousness, and the food looking less like food. But I’m willing to try it again on special occasions.
• Visited the Scottish Borders with my friends for a couple of nights – this was a yearly tradition until covid hit. This time it was more tame than previous trips, with earlier nights and more moderate drinking.
• I learned to drive a modern, automatic minivan, which I borrowed from my dad. It was really easy! Big improvement over my 20-year-old, manual Honda Civic. Me and Ronja are now considering buying an automatic car. (and Ronja learned to drive this year!)
• Me, Ronja, Ethel, my brother and his partner stayed in a hobbit hole for four nights in Speyside near Inverness. Very cosy building with a strong nature theme, fireplace, skylight, telescope, bunk beds, traditional construction, wood smell, and good vibes. Luckily we had minimal rain on our visit, and did some easy forest and seashore walks. Also tried a bunch of edibles – I’m into them now.
• I finished off my Android port of Epic Battle Fantasy 5 – it was in Early Access for a long time while I slowly and painfully sorted out some crashes and other issues. I did my best to optimize the performance, but this created a lot of bugs, and in the end, many of these optimizations were not worth the trouble. Lessons learned for next time. But the game’s done fairly well on the Google Play Store so far!
• Once the Android port was finished, porting EBF5 to iOS was fairly quick. It was mostly a case of getting familiar with the iOS ecosystem, and fulfilling a ton of annoying requirements for the App Store. It took less than a month, which ain’t bad, and the game seems to be off to a decent start on the store. With some luck, EBF5 will keep selling reasonably well on both mobile platforms for many years to come, so I have no pressure to work on anything new.
• Flash is alive and well. Ruffle can now run some ActionScript 3 games, and AIR is getting regular updates with new features.
• While procrastinating from my mobile ports, I started work on a new hidden object game called Hidden Cats. I wanted to try a different (but still very much Flash) art style, and game mechanics that were focused more on art rather than coding.
• Me and Ronja hosted two Epic Battle Fantasy fan art competitions with cash prizes, and it’s been fun, with a lot of entries being submitted. We’re planning to do more competitions with bigger prizes in the future.
• I continued playing a lot of Age of Empires 2 this year with friends, and also added some Valheim sessions. Both games eat a lot of time!
• Other games I enjoyed this year were Astalon: Tears of the Earth, RUN: The world in-between, It Takes Two, and Hidden Through Time. I’m mostly still playing 2D indie games on my super powerful gaming PC.
• I donated a chunk of money to charities helping in Ukraine, and bought a limited edition war-themed Nintendo 64 Everdrive cartridge. I can save N64 roms on it and play them on a real console, so I played a few games that I never had as a kid, including F-Zero X and Yoshi’s Story. I also played a modded version of Ocarina of Time with quality of life improvements, and Smash Bros Remix, a fantastic mod of Smash Bros 64, which is made so well it feels like an official sequel.
• I started to enjoy shopping for clothes, where as previously I would buy the bare minimum needed to survive, and rely on gifts from family members.
• I finally decorated my bedroom. It’s a tiny room with little natural light, so I figured some fake plants and lighter furniture would help somewhat. Even added a Tiffany-style bedside lamp.
• Visited a lot of antique shops and markets this year, getting decorating ideas for the future. My first time at Glasgow’s infamous Barras market too.
• Me and Ronja have been thinking about features we’d like in our next house, like a double garage, wine cellar/basement, bigger rooms, etc. and we went to view a few houses for fun. We’re not actually planning on moving any time soon though, and thinking about it is more fun than the reality of extra costs and responsibilities.
• I was quite excited that Epic Battle Fantasy 5 was invited to be part of the Yogscast Jingle Jam event – this was the biggest content creator to cover the game. But in the end, it didn’t make any difference to the game’s engagement stats on Steam – much like any other type of game bundle. Helped raise some money for charity I guess.
• Hired a cleaner! No more scrubbing dirty bathrooms for me.
• Ronja’s mum visited us from Finland for New Years! Her and Ethel get along very well.
Here’s a collection of some of our favourite photos from 2022 – click to get a bigger version! And Happy New Year!