yearly review 2021

another year on the ol’ orb

It’s my birthday, again - and that means I’ve lived another full year on our lovely planet! It also means it’s high time for me to write on this blog again, and take a little look back, and a little look forward..!

Looking Back

Tiny Melon Friend 🍉

Of course, one of the big topics in the early part of this year was the demo of TMFBMA! I won’t get too in the weeds about that, since it has its own pages and posts on this site after all, but needless to say a large portion of my time was dedicated to bringing my silly little idea to fruition, as it were.
As for the currenet state of the project, well - it’s on pause just now. I got a ton of really interesting feedback and have a bunch of new ideas circulating that I want to put into practice, but for now I want to take a little step away from it and work on some other things, before coming back to it with fresh eyes. I think putting a little distance in will make it easier to make the kinds of changes I want to make, and there are some big changes I need to make to the underlying structure of the game so that I can get it working cross-platform, etc. ✨ More on that some other time ✨!

SNOLF 🔵

This year saw the release of not one, not two, but three seperate SNOLF titles. I can barely believe I was able to produce so many, never mind the awards & honourable mentions that SNOLF: Tournament Edition picked up at the Sonic Hacking Contest 2021!.
It seems that a number of people really enjoyed the varying degrees of self-torture available in SNOLF, which is wonderful!
And that would have been the end of the story for SNOLF this year, until I noticed that SNOLF Zero is on the speedrun game list at AGDQ 2022! 🤯
You can see the list here. - it’s being run by @Dowolff, who has been an absolute legend and core pillar in SNOLF’s tiny speedrunning community, with world-record runs across all of the SNOLF games at the time of writing. I am incredibly excited to see SNOLF Zero take the world stage, and I hope the other ones in the series make their way to the big screen too. I cannot believe my work of videogame masochism will be in front of potentially millions of eyeballs in the near future..! Let’s hope it doesn’t give anyone any nightmares.

PsiFrost 🌄🛣🚗

I got the chance to work with a bunch of my best buds again this year for RainbowJam, and I’m really, really proud of what we built together!
Last year I wasn’t really able to produce much of substance for the jam, due to the various stresses and pressures of the then-new pandemic and my professional work, but this year?
Blam!! Some fresh and funky, stylish arcade action! Particularly, working on sound effects and visual effects was something very different and an absolute treat. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to grips with FMOD, along with using some nice sound design tools..

Pandemic Life 🦠

Well, my optimism back in April was just a little overzealous, I’ll admit; things definitely did not peter out as I had expected them to, even with the introduction of vaccines in my country. I think there were a lot of missteps at a high-up governmental level, and those involved have escaped accountability (for now); it’s enormously disappointing that not everyone had the stewardship shown in countries like New Zealand, who appear to be enjoying a much more relaxed life now, virus-wise specifically.
However!! My optimism continues, unabated. I think that as if there can somehow be increased effort in distributing vaccines and vaccine production techniques (ideally completely for free) to countries that otherwise have difficulty prodocuing or procuring them themselves, and with continued research into antiviral treatments, it may be possible to finally put the lid back on this thing.

I only wish it had not caused so many people so much terrible pain. Those responsible for first not providing an adequate response and now restricting medicinal supplies to those in need must be held accountable and punished accordingly.

Looking Forward

Professional Work 💼

I like to keep a distinction between my personal and my professional work, so I won’t provide any details on this blog, but I’m making some big changes in my professional life; I’m soon to be taking on a very different role, moving away from direct development towards consultation and development support. The opportunity came up out of nowhere, thanks to a very good colleague of mine.
I owe a huge thanks and a massive debt of gratitude to some very lovely people in my life for helping me make the switch. I’m nervous, but excited; it’s a whole new set of skills and techniques to learn and become familiar with, and a whole new set of problems to solve, so I’m really relishing getting to grips with it. I’ve always been the kind of person who loves to help other people out with tricky issues, so this type of work really caught my eye.
I’ve been exceedingly fortunate to know and work with everyone I’ve worked with in my life so far; luckly my new job is still in the same place as my previous one, so I can still meet up and eat lunch with my previous coworkers and friends locally, especially once things calm down virus-wise.
I have a number of hopes for this new job, but one of them is that with direct hands-on development no longer being my full-time work, that I will get even more joy from tinkering in my spare time than I already do. Some days, you just really don’t feel like opening up your IDE when you finish up 7 hours of doing exactly that, you know? I think my hobby will feel just a bit more exciting when it’s not my main focus all day.
Fingers crossed!

Retrocomputing & Romhacking 💾🎮

As is now evident from the last couple of years, I really enjoy working with older computers, and especially enjoy writing m68k assembly for the Sega Megadrive. I plan to keep on doing more of that sort of stuff, and I’ve had some ideas in my head for a while about doing some kind of tutorial on assembly programming for Sonic romhacks. I think a lot of people find it difficult to wrap their heads around assembly programming in general; this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since outside of specific engineering jobs, contexts, and hobbies people don’t really have any need to write it by hand themselves. But romhacking is one of those hobbies! I think a lot of romhackers find themselves avoiding it because it seems more daunting to learn than say, editing sprites. But this isn’t necessarily the case, especially for anyone already familiar with the arcane restrictions of romhacking - and in many ways, assembly is quite a bit simpler than syntax-heavy higher level programming, particularly on a fixed platform like the Megadrive.
So, this lead me to think - what if I were to do a little tutorial stream or blog post on making a very simple code edit to one of the established Sonic romhack disassemblies?
My loose outline would be something like:

  1. Checking out the repository and building the normal game.
  2. Show how to navigate the disassembly.
  3. Show how to make a small but visible change editing a couple of lines of code.
  4. Show how to make a more complex change that involves adding all-new code, logic, and addresses, to accomplish a specific goal.
  5. Show how to debug the code and where to look for learning resources going forward.

My idea is that this might initially take form as a live stream, following a basic script I write beforehand. Then, I could edit down the stream into something punchier video-wise, and write up a text post to go along with it on this very blog! If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, let me know..!

Whew..!

That’s probably one of the longest posts I’ve written so far..! If you made it to here, well done, and thanks for reading! Go get yourself a glass of water or something! 😅
All in all, I think that’s a pretty good summary of where my brain has been and where it’s going next, and I’m looking forward to 2022! See you around, folks!

– melon


© 2020. all rights reserved.