2021: We Made It
Good evening, and an imminent Happy New Year!
I imagine you have something better to do tonight than read my newsletter, but I hope it finds you well when you get a moment to peruse.
A Year In The Mousehole
It’s been an odd year for Mousehole Press, but we got it done nonetheless!
We started with a mad scramble to get Orbital finished before ZineQuest, and then Bucket of Bolts went absolutely gangbusters. That success turned the project into more of a beast that I’d anticipated, and as such the ratio of design+writing to emails+finances has leant pretty heavily towards the administration side of things over the past ten months. With me also going back to my full-time job as my parental leave ended in April, I’ve definitely had less time for actually working on games this year than I would’ve liked.
It is, of course, hard to be too upset about the successes we’ve had this year—and it’s great to see Bucket of Bolts finally making its way to print. I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved despite all the setbacks & slog. Yet still, I’m actively thinking about how I can structure my time differently next year to spend more time making games—both weird jams and the bigger, shinier projects. My backlog of possibly-good-ideas is getting dangerously long.
A Year In The Maelstrom
2021: another pandemic year, not quite as oppressive as the previous one but challenging nonetheless. There it is again, that funny feeling.
We’ve all made adjustments to post-pandemic life now, whether it’s learning to cut your own hair (I’ve gotten pretty good now) or developing a crushing tendency towards eschewing all social engagements out of habit and a desire to be ‘responsible’ (it’s gotten pretty bad now!). These skills and modes are ingrained within us, even as we sometimes let ourselves believe like it might all be over (uh, guess not).
We finally got around to watching Inside the other day, and I was struck by how much of an outsider I felt to Bo’s experience1. Specifically, the way he breaks down after spending so long doing the same thing in the same small, shitty space for so long—solitary. It seemed to really hit hard for friends of mine that went through the pandemic alone or otherwise isolated.
Turns out, having two loud, wild, growing children in the house was a really good way to keep those demons at bay, for us2. It was (is?) difficult in its own way though: frustrating, draining, worrying, and of course entirely exhausting to the absolute core. I write these letters in two halves, roughly split between work & home musings, but of course the two are deeply intertwined. Every hour of uninterrupted games writing time is hard-won, but I’m hoping (and a little bit hopeful) that next year will be easier on all of us. With a little luck, I might even find the time to write more than one game.
Here’s to more time to do the things you love and see the people you care about next year 🥂
3. Good Stuff
I received this very fancy electric milk whisk thing as a gift this Christmas, and even with my nascent microfoam skills I’m really enjoying the coffees it enables. I usually drink black filter coffee at home (Clever Dripper is the ultimate effort+cost→result product!) and save the milky drinks for the professionals, but times may be a-changing.
I’m too old for predatory mobile games and too young to worry about my kids interacting with them, but this video from People Make Games about Roblox still had me shook. The way it lays out how we’re seeing all the ‘greatest hits’ of financial fraud played back to us in the digital space is fascinating (and chilling), especially as now it seems to be far easier to target vulnerable markets like children. The follow-up is good too.
We’re all falling pretty hard for Wet Leg in this household3. They’re a local band4 and their innuendo-laden rock is worming its way deep into our ears. This includes our eldest, who is (possibly worryingly?) really into their breakout hit ‘Chaise Lounge’. Nothing like a three-year old innocently singing about buttering muffins! Anyway, check out their Tiny Desk if you wanna see them having fun together.
We still really enjoyed it though!
I entirely appreciate that parenting is tough as shit and in no way prevents depression, but in our life it’s helped us avoid those feelings of inertia or disassociation that seem to have defined a lot of people’s pandemic.
A band, in case that wasn’t clear!
Sort of, the Isle of Wight is kind of its own strange domain.