2015 Review

“2015…I have no idea what’s going to go down, but it’s going to be an adventure, I’m sure of it!”

That’s what I wrote at the end of last year’s review, and oh was it ever true. This year has been a non-stop whirlwind. I remember back at the ETC in our first semester we had “Adventure Modules” that we had to partake in and write about. One of the lessons picked up was that adventures aren’t always fun – an adventure implies some level of danger, and the risk of getting hurt is just part of the package.

I did SO much in 2015. Quite probably too much, and I’m not even sure how to approach dividing this up. I’ll just dump memories as they come to me, I guess, because I’m having trouble with more thoughtful writing.

I learned a lot about launching a game on Steam, and how to navigate the back end and get builds working and get achievements implemented and the like.

I sat on a couch with friends as they marathoned Final Fantasy VII on Super Bowl weekend

I drove through Death Valley to Vegas, and then again from Vegas back through Death Valley back to LA, for my birthday with two of my most beloved friends. I saw the sun set and the stars and the ISS and the milky way and endured the pressure changes. I resolved to be more of myself

I unofficially went to DICE, sat quietly and observed its world, ate at a diner way too often, poked people’s brains at parties, and got to know Mike Acton way better

I had a rather painful Train Jam, though the lows are mixed with the memories of love and support from friends. I made an eye tracker game with Rodrigo and made many new friends.

I gave a microtalk at GDC

I deemed the Ludum Dare party the best and most low-key GDC gathering, though the Wild Rumpus was good for dancing, and there were the small late-night diner chats, hostel lounge gatherings, naps with nice folks in the park, and squeezing hands of friends over the edge of the bunk bed as a way of saying hello or good night.

All the same, GDC was rather overwhelming. Thank you Rich, Shawn, Jakub, Rami and Adriel for looking after me.

I was on a panel at PAX East, and thoroughly ill from the exertion of Train Jam and GDC, and napped under piles of coats behind the Vlambeer merch table, and felt safe

Home again in LA, I was so sick that I couldn’t feed myself, and kind friends came over in the middle of the day and sometimes the middle of the night to take care of me. (Thank you, Helen, Bev, and Elan!)

I partook in the greatest DnD campaign I have ever participated in, lead by the best DM I’ve ever had the honor to play under. Erich, Mike, Rowan, Josue, Cheng, and PChan – our adventures were true highlights through a busy and difficult year, and I can’t wait to Roll20 in 2016!

I went indie, started a patreon, and started doing development and design streams. They were exhausting, but people who reached out and shared stories with me about how the streams helped them individually were incredibly rewarding

Slow Down, Bull launched

I went to the ocean with a friend and jumped in its waves. The Pacific Ocean is mischievous, and strong. It plays but it plays rough. We ate Italian food afterwards and I had insights (thank you, Sarah)

I was on a number of delightful podcasts, talking about adventures in game design and the prospects of my indie adventures.

I played so much Destiny this year, and had so many feelings about it. I acknowledged my roots as a combat designer through Destiny. I became closer to friends through Destiny. I filled the missing social gap of my WoW days through Destiny. I found love through Destiny.

I made my first Twine game, and it got into a festival

I learned loads about educational games in participating in Schoolhouse Jam

I played Eldritch Horror about a billion times with a fantastic group of board game friends. We eventually reached the point where we won, “for reals,” without accidentally breaking any rules.

I did level design for Hyperlight Drifter, and learned so much working with that team, and so much about myself.

I went to the beach at night with friends and failed in starting a fire, so we asked a neighboring firepit if we could borrow some kindling, and were invited to join them. We toasted marshmallows together and learned more about the strangers and their adventures. It can be good to have marshmallows with strangers.

I gave a talk about hugging that wasn’t actually about hugging

I had regular evening “side project nights” with Lauren and Liz. We only got any work done about half the time but they were wonderful evenings spent.

I became a part of Glitch City, and took numerous walks to the nearby park for a spin on the Spinny Thing, and absorbed numerous insights from weekly Project Workshops.

I showed Imaginal at a Glitch City event at Riot, and observed strangers being moved by my little, personal game. It was surreal.

I became a vault of secrets. So many different people confided things in me this year, and I feel honored to be so trusted.

I learned the agonizing lesson of pacing myself in the face of illness, and had slow, measured experiences at E3, PAX, TwitchCon, and Indiecade. Small drinks of interactions tempered by the yearning to stay out and play with everyone. This was the most difficult of experiences, and though I’d like to say that I learned a valuable lesson about cherishing the time I was able to spend with people, however small or short, I think I learned that only in my brain. My heart still yearns and mourns.

I went to San Diego with Jakub to visit with Jake Sones. We took the train, and were lovingly hosted and introduced to San Diego burritos. We went to the zoo, played Rocket League, and I slept soundly.

I did Ludum Dare, but was too sick to finish my game

I had so many wonderful special guests on my stream throughout the summer. Thank you everyone who came and joined me!

I overworked myself, and my fibromyalgia punished me for it.

I taught an introductory workshop on game design and a workshop demonstration on fast prototyping

I launched Imaginal, and it had deep, unexpected emotional consequences for me. I still think this deserves its own postmortem, but it is an exhausting effort to put it all in one place.

I was on a panel about Psychology in Game Design

I spoke at Indiecade about Cat Training

I got close to a lot of people in the safety of several different Slack channels.

I had loved ones visit me and stay with me at various points throughout the year, which was delightful, because I love hosting friends. Rami, Alan, Jakub, Adriel, and Andrew – thank you for indulging my love of houseguests.

I drew an ink drawing every day in October

I traveled to Game City and showed my game

I went to the theater and saw a play for the first time in who knows how long. Probably since I was working in the theater myself?

I spent two weeks in Poland with Jakub, playing Destiny, sleeping, and healing. We went to the forest. We went to the zoo. We saw Sos! It was a slow time.

I spent another chunk of time in the Netherlands, among friends (though too exhausted to see all the friends I wanted), and because I felt safe there I dumped the emotional byproducts of doing way too much in a single year all over the floor like every single day. But Rami and Adriel took care of me because they love me. We cooked for one another. We played Rock Band, The Crew, and Destiny together. I drank a million juices. I got many hugs. I ventured out and visited others and had insightful chats. I cried when I had to leave.

I took a year-long gig as a game designer in residence at Harrisburg University, after having met with the students and other people involved in the program at a conference. A new adventure for the new year.

When I got home from Europe, I had second Thanksgiving with friends, because we felt like it. It was delicious and wonderful and I will miss these people.

I frantically packed up my life and moved across the country, cat in tow and my partner doing all he could to keep me from falling to pieces from the weight of everything, bless him. We did see the Grand Canyon, though.

I spend time with old friends and smiled a bunch because I love you guys so much.

I played games, read books, saw films, listened to music, drew pictures and wrote stories all throughout the year. I had insightful conversations with interesting people. I gave feedback, inspired people, was inspired.

That’s…a lot of stuff. If I seem like I have been withdrawn lately, well, I have. It turns out out when you go through like 10 life changes in a year and overwork yourself, you get sick and depressed.

2016 will be interesting, but I feel it will be more reserved. I’ll be focusing on moving slowly, getting my health back into place, and working with these students. I’m having a hard time. I had an adventurous year, and many amazing things happened, but it took its toll on me. I’m having a hard time, but I will get better.

Thank you to everyone who made this year what it is for me.