2021 Was Trying and Wonderful

2022-01-02

I wish the situation with the pandemic was better than it was. There’s seemingly no end in sight. Like every show about a zombie apocalypse, humans are their own enemies. Despite what’s yet another year we’re looking to move on from, it was great for me.

I got married! We got married during the strictest lockdown my country experienced, so celebrations were muted at the time. But I’m now living with my best friend and I couldn’t be happier.

Sarah and Marcus, happy newlyweds kissing in San Salvador Estate!

Admittedly nothing tops this, but there were other cool things to talk about as well.

Career

The pandemic has put remote software developers in higher demand than ever before. I worked at Wepala for over 3 years, at the end they were pretty much fully remote. I left to work at a nearshoring firm, Jobsity. I stayed there for 6 months before starting my current role at Remio - a VR company. VR has been pretty exciting and I’m really looking to helping out around the company!

If you’re a software developer thinking about a switch up or considering if to get into the field, this is as good a time as any.

Jammin 2021 and Toast 2021

This year we had the biggest game jam participation for Jammin. The theme was reflection and devs were at their best, and from all over the world. I was super happy, this year could just be an anomaly but it feels like growth is kicking up. Of course, consistency is key and we got some cool things planned for next year - I’m excited! You can learn more about how it went with this blog post. And this was the first year I created a video of all the games. I figured that’s an easy way to share with everyone what was created. Check it out: https://youtu.be/fiCOIeDXIrg.

We also hosted another game jam: Toast! Jam needs toast, get it? I’m sorry. Having a game jam every year is fine, but the community could use some more engagement. Hosting a small game jam during the Christmas holiday period seemed like a nice idea. There should be some people with free time, it’s a shorter commitment so less effort and fewer expectations, and it’s another game jam! It seemed to be well received: from 20 participants we got 8 submissions.

A lot less effort was put into marketing, so this isn’t a bad return. The game jam announcements were also made in Spanish, we had a participant from the Dominican Republic and another from Argentina! It was awesome. You can check out the games and the results here.

Game Dev

This was an interesting year for Game Development. At the end of 2020, I decided to focus on Unity. I released 2 games built with Unity and made some prototypes and other games from tutorials. Unity was really helpful, it gave me a one-up when applying for my current role as other devs use it.

That said, I switched back to Godot because it works for me. 2D in Unity is a bit more cumbersome than 2D in Godot. And while I had a great experience developing 3D mobile games in Unity, I still prefer Godot because it’s just easier to use.

Overall, I’m happy with my output for this year, here are the 3 games I made:

MeTwo

This game was made for Jammin 2021, and I’m glad it came up. I think at that point I needed a Unity game to show. The 2D course I was working with wasn’t updated with the latest Unity developments at that time (they did eventually update it for Unity 2021, but after the game jam <sobs>), so I found a lot of tutorials on YouTube on how to do things input wise. Otherwise, it was fun! I was quite busy with work that week, but I’m happy I still managed to learn so much and make something that was well-received.

You can find my devlogs here:

Dodge

This game wasn’t made for a jam - yay it’s been a while! This game was based on the Godot tutorial. I wanted to do the same thing, but with fresh eyes with Unity. That way I figured I’d get a better appreciation of its strengths and weaknesses in 2D.

It became clear that Godot was better off, at least for 2D and of course, for my workflow. But I did some fun things to make it mobile-friendly. I like the tooling and mobile-specific features Unity offers. Despite those benefits, this pretty much pushed me back to Godot. I think I’ll keep some Unity things fresh, more so for networking bits that may be relevant to my current job. But for my own game dev, I’m sticking with Godot.

If you’re interested, check out my dev logs:

The Elf Job

This game made me enjoy game dev again. Coming back to Godot was fun! I made it for Toast 2021, and while it was not as polished and fleshed out as I wanted it to be - it wasn’t bad either. This is also a lot closer to the type of games I want to make as well. All in all, it was a good experience.

Check out the devlog for more info about my prep, game design, and development:

What’s Coming up Next?

The plan is to re-do my Phaser games in Godot. They’re all fairly small and can be tweaked and expanded pretty quickly. This should occupy me for the first half of the year. In the second half of the year, I expect to be focused on 3D games with Godot. I don’t have a lot to show for 3D work, and I enjoyed the other dimension in Unity so I’m sure I’ll enjoy it as well in Godot. I’m thinking this would be my last year of small simple projects, and by next year I’ll work on deeper, more complicated ones that span a few months instead of just one. I think my portfolio would be a lot better for it!

Games

Between planning a wedding, being married and career changes - I barely had time to play games. Well, that’s not entirely true, I did have time to play some games but much less than before. Nintendo stats showed that I played 65 hours on my Switch. Last year I played 126, that’s a drop! That said, I was able to beat a few games still:

  • The Touryst
    • Really fun, beautiful puzzler. I adore the visuals as well.
  • Pokemon Sword
    • Underwhelming, too easy, unpolished, and extremely anti-climatic. No zeal to pick this up again.
  • A Short Hike
    • Amazing indie title, I got hooked and played through the entire thing in a weekend. Charming and relaxing!

I also played a few super short indie games on itch.io. Their run times are like 20 minutes max, but they were quite nice:

I also started a few more games: Octopath Traveler (Switch), Pokemon Brilliant Diamond (Switch), Ghosts of Tsushima (PS4), Final Fantasy 7 Remake (PS4). Minus BotW 2 and the new Pokemon game (pending good reviews), I think I’m set game-wise for 2022!

Books

This year I finally finished a book! It’s been hard to get back on the reading train, but I’m happy that I am:

  • The Power of Corruption
    • Author: Dan Fulani
    • Things got wild, and quickly lol. Not a serious read, but some nice quick fun and a slice of Nigerian life

I also started “Believe in your own Fairytale”, a motivational book by my high school friend Kay-Marie Fletcher, and Watchmen by Alan Moore. I should finish both of them fairly early on, so I’m happy to go through my backlog when I’m done!

Anime

I watched a lot of anime in 2020. Well, I watched a lot of Studio Ghibli movies. Princess Mononoke might be the greatest anime I’ve ever seen. And one of my top movies. What a movie! Porco Rosso and Spirited Away were instant classics as well. My wife and I watched a lot of Ghibli movies, I was pretty happy.

This year we watched a couple of anime movies:

  • The Wind Rises
    • A bit long but so good, has strong emotional punches and is very satisfying. Great scene with the earthquake at the beginning as well.
  • Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop
    • Nice feel-good anime, an easy watch that’s an easy recommendation.

And a few shows:

  • Violet Evergarden
    • One of the better emotional animes, with excellent visuals. Strong emotional notes pretty much every episode, and it got better as it went closer to the end.
  • The Way of the House Husband
    • Pretty funny, wife enjoyed it! Gag anime with a Saiki vibe.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica
    • The critical acclaim was well-deserved - really good anime that got dark suddenly and kept the intrigue. The lore has depth, loved it!

This year I’m hoping to catch up on My Hero Academia, and I guess look for other single-season wonders. At this age, I prefer animes that have a quick end in sight.

Online Courses

I spent a good bit of my time with online courses, and I was more determined to finish those I started:

  • Discovering Godot C# - Make Your First Godot C# Video Game
  • How To Get A Job In The Video Game Industry
    • https://www.udemy.com/course/gameindustryjobs
    • A great course that’s good for those who aren’t even interested in the game development industry. It helped me a lot expand my network and was crucial in getting me ready for my current job. Great community as well!
  • Unity Mobile C# Developer Course

Since I’m back in Godot, I’m not looking at courses like I did to get up to speed with Unity. I have a beginner’s grasp of the engine that’s good enough to make things. I do have some 3D modeling courses I’ll be using this year! Some on YouTube with Asset Forge, and a couple of Blender ones. I’m excited!

On to the Next One

Last year has been exciting for me, despite some truly horrendous situations around the world. I’m grateful, and I want to continue the upward growth in all areas of my life.

I’m enjoying my current job, it’s still quite new but I’m motivated to make an impact on the business. Remio has an awesome product and an awesome team. I love seeing the Jammin community grow, and I want to help out more. I’m writing a JavaScript book and an epiphany I had about it might just make it awesome! Travel restrictions are kind of easing up globally, so hopefully, that means my wife and I can have more adventures.

It’s looking great, and I hope it’ll be awesome for you as well!

© 2022 Marcus Sanatan