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A Look Back at 2014...

Posted by A Tobias 3 years ago
The year's end is mere hours away, and as probably most people with actual lives and friends prepare to welcome the new year with parties and whatnot, here I am reflecting on my accomplishments and growth - or lack thereof - over the course of 2014.

As a whole, 2014 feels like a year of failures and abandoned projects... but also significant realisations, too. Soul searching, I suppose! I was almost pushed to suicide, but I feel like I've discovered the secret to happiness right near the year's end. I still don't have a single friend, or a place of my own, or any way of earning decent money... but I feel like I've come to understand in depth what it's like to revel in misery, and how that absolutely doesn't change any of the things that cause it in the first place, so I feel that the experience has left me wiser in a 'don't do that again!' kind of way, or something.

As a creative person, I rate my years' achievements or worthwhileness largely on the number and quality of things that I've made. So what have I made this year?

I'd hoped to release at least one game, but sadly didn't. What a shame. I did however finish Yden, quite a while ago... I just haven't released it yet, because I feel it's wiser to get MARDEK out first.

I've done a bit of art, though! On deviantART, there's this meme thing where people make a collection of thumbnails showing their progress over the course of the year. Most people use one thumbnail per month, but I - in oh-so-typical self-indulgent, overly-long form - included four per month. It turned out like this:

I wrote a long description of each months' efforts on deviantART ∞ here ∞, if you have the stamina to read it!! I won't bother to paste it all here.

Since the people who read this blog probably aren't all immersed in the world of art as I am, I wonder if things here look odd! All the nude women and such. Are there any other lines of work or study except for medical practises and art where ogling nudity is par for the course rather than perversely deviant? I wonder!

Anyway, it's interesting seeing my year in visual form like this, as I can pinpoint when I started working on certain projects, or when certain key moments happened (not that there've been many of those; it's been a mostly uneventful year of isolation, yet again).

I was in the middle of a university course for the first few months. Video Games Arts! The course itself was fine, and I got a stupidly good mark at the end of it (A+++ or something), but I didn't bond with my classmates for reasons that are blindingly obvious if you know me, so I mostly just felt even more depressed than I am when I'm by myself. I lived away from home while I was there, though, which I miss. I dropped out and didn't return for the second year - which started a few months ago - but I'm planning to study Psychology at a different, bigger university next year... I just hope it goes better for me, socially, though the ticking away of the years is terrifying; I'll be 27 in my first year (my third first year at a university...), but I hope that 'age is just a number' to most people. We'll see. I've got a lot of mental preparation to do before then. Reprogramming my mind, basically!!

I was working on Clarence RPG in January... though that didn't last beyond concept art of the characters. I did write a big chunk of the silly script, though! Maybe I should post that in a blog post at some point. Or did I already do that? I can't remember.

April was where Yden began, or at least I planted the first seed that would grow the garden, months later. At this point, it was little more than a tool that randomly generated people that could be bred. They looked like weird, stubby little goblins though.

June saw a return to Miasmon... and again, I didn't get much further than designing characters and doing basic engine setup stuff. A shame!

July and August were largely about Yden, I think, and I actually did finish that game! It's basically ready for release now... I'm just biding my time, because I don't want to release it stupidly and lose a chance to make good money from it. If it can ride on MARDEK's coattails, it probably has a much larger chance of succeeding than it would otherwise.

Also, my spacebar has been sticking a lot as I type this. You don't need to know that, but it's mildly bothersome anyway. "MUST BE COVERED IN WANK JUICE", cackles a troll. That's a clever one. You should be proud.

Speaking of which, August was an awful month where I seriously thought about suicide... but I think that falling to the lowest point I've ever been was what gave me the motivation to soar higher and beyond the problems I'd been consumed by for so long. It's been rough sailing since then, for the most part, but I feel that the year ended on a much higher note, so that's good.

I think I must have decided to reboot MARDEK while sulking, and I started doing so in September. Sort of a shame realising it's been several months since then without the first episode being finished, but I feel like I'm on the right track now. It's almost done now, actually! But I'll probably write about that in a couple of days.

Most of the final months of the year were devoted to MARDEK... but also to self-development; learning to alter my thoughts to achieve happiness without waiting for certain conditions to be fulfilled. I'm happy to say I've been doing quite well with that! I've been productive, content, and peaceful for many days in a row, and while the monsters still roam my mind, I'm able to silence them when they come over to pester me. I hope this lights the way forward for a wonderful 2015, which I hope will be a year of big, significant changes.

I also started updating this thing not too long ago, I suppose! I hope that at least some people appreciate that, and it makes me feel better in some way, too. I look forward to the point where people can actually join and comment... though I also dread it, so I'm trying to work up to it, mentally.

I wrote some New Year's Resolutions last year, which are rather specific, and odd. Since my life's in such a bad place in so many ways, I feel compelled to make resolutions a bit more significant than the typical 'get fit!' or 'drink a bit less!' mundane drivel most people probably come up with then forget about within a week (I say, oozing love and peace). How many of them did I actually achieve?

Finish Alora Fane: Creation! (Sort of done?!)
I planned to finish this one specific game this year, since it seemed very doable and wise... but I suppose it didn't go that well. It works and everything, and I imagine people would get a lot out of it if it were released in its current form, but I ended up spending like a month on a story-based thing for it, which was not received well at all by the people who played it. Embarrassing, and sort of devastating... I feel uncomfortable thinking about AFC now, though it's something I should definitely release at some point. Maybe when MARDEK brings people to this site, I can have it as a feature to occupy them between MARDEK episodes? I need to figure out how to make money from it though, probably. I wish I didn't have to worry about money... and if Patreon turns out well, I won't! But how generous are people going to be, I wonder...?

Make my first 3D app in Unity! (Abandoned)
I intended to switch over to mobile devices, because I felt that's where the money was. I don't know about this anymore, though. Switching to 3D would be too much work if I were doing everything myself, and I can't imagine the app market is easy to break into; it must be very oversaturated, as everyone seeks the same path to glory.
I'm hoping instead that MARDEK might gather a following much as popular webcomics do, then I can rely on Patreon and receive funding as an artist, rather than selling a product to people.

Comment more on deviantART! (I tried!)
I wanted to comment more on deviantART specifically because I like the idea of getting to know fellow nerdy creative types, and they're abundant there (the fact that most people I come across on deviantART are female is a huge factor too). I've been there for a decade, and I met my ex-girlfriend there, so it's been a big part of my life for a long time.
My commenting fluctuated, though... I did make efforts! But I always end up falling back to a point where I stop replying or commenting, and the relationships I'd started building up fade away from my neglect.
I need to get better at commenting and replying in general, everywhere. I'll talk about this more in a post tomorrow, though.

Overcome my fear of males, at least somewhat (FAILED)
Those of you who have been following me for a while probably know that I'm less than fond of males... I also know though that this isn't fair, and I really wish it wasn't the case! It came about as a result of a lifetime surrounded almost exclusively by guys, and copious amounts of bad experiences with them; macho toughness or cold intellectualism doesn't tend to work well with my ~sensitivity~ and such. I'm just too easily offended...
Most girls I've come across (basically all online) have been more encouraging and supportive, rather than critical or argumentative as most guys usually were, which led to my mind deciding that self-preservation could be achieved by avoiding guys and talking to girls exclusively...
I really dislike this, but it's hard to fight. Like picking up a spider if you're an arachnophobe, or something. I know that most of my followers are probably male - and I imagine always will be - and unless I learn to like that fact, I'll probably never be happy... It remains as a big challenge to overcome, though, and sadly I don't think I made any significant progress this year at all.
To be clear, it's not that I hate someone because they're male, as such; rather, when I encounter a stranger and they happen to be male, my mind comes up with a ton of negative assumptions born from past experiences, and tells me that the risk isn't worth it. This is how minds tend to work, after all; 'triggers' and such.
Most famous people I admire are male, and I think it'd be nice to have male friends at some point... I just need to control the reaction that immediately brands any internet stranger as a threatening, argumentative troll... If only I'd had nicer experiences in the past!

Make at least one friend (FAILED)
SIGH. I really hope I'm not doomed to a life of solitude. I imagine there are tons of people who'd want to be my friend... but they're probably all guys, and the thing I just talked about gets in the way there.
The main reason I have no friends still, though, is social anxiety... but also the fact that I have nowhere to go every day, in person. It's the biggest downside of my working-from-home approach. Oh well.
I know I can find friends online... I just need to tame my pickiness, and my insecurities, and keep responding to things for long enough for a relationship to actually develop, rather than losing energy and giving up after less than a week... However:

Be less miserable (DONE!)
I think I've actually achieved this, right at the end of the year! Though this year did have that deep dark despair in the middle, I really do feel like I've found the recipe for peace and happiness, and it feels so wonderful.
I hope that this will lead to friend-finding in the year to come.

Get even better at art!!!1 (I suppose?!)
I didn't get WORSE, at any rate!

Decide on an art style (Meh)
I didn't really do this, though. My style is still all over the place... I feel like I'm getting a lot closer, though. I know that I want to draw stylised, emotive humans, whereas before I wasn't sure whether I wanted to do realism, wolves, dragons, or whatever.

Make more finished pieces (Meh)
Another art specific thing, which didn't work out too well. I did do a few 'finished pieces', but nothing major. I'm wondering though whether it's even important to me; I'd much rather spend many hours working on something like MARDEK, rather than a single static picture of a sunset or whatever. I suppose my art - such as it is - will probably always be a tool to me, for games development, rather than an end in itself. That suits me fine, though.

So yes. This year could have been much, much better... but I feel like it has been valuable, and like I've learned a whole lot about myself. I feel like it's prepared me mentally for a 2015 full of big changes... but I'll write about what I want to achieve next year in a post about my new resolutions tomorrow.

I'm just glad I'm happy here at the end of the year! Back in August, it seemed like I'd never, ever be happy again... and yet here I am. There's always a light at the end of the tunnel. I intend to let this one guide me forward to a better life!
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