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Hey, Come Back 2012!

cheese

Wow. Somehow we managed to let another year slip by without a look back, so to make up for that, here're some reflections on 2012 (which will shortly be followed by a corresponding 2013 post). Hope the wall of text isn't anywhere near as long as it feels! :D

2012 and Me

Homeless Fruit2012 was a big, big year. In addition to a whole stack of non-Two Lof Bees related "extra curricular loftivities" keeping me much, much busier than I expected to be, Mim and I spent most of the year in an awkward and eventually confrontational (thanks to some apparent miscommunication) housing related situation. Thankfully we managed to navigate that and eventually became homeowners thanks to some lucky timing and generosity, though all up, it was a hugely stressful year that in some ways took a toll.

Contrasting that, 2012 also brought some happy opportunities beyond the stuff linked to above!

In May, I launched a light weight Content Management System (though it's more of a content rendering system) called ParaCMS, which takes human readable plain text files, and turns them into web page content. It's not suitable for everybody/everything, but so far as having something that is super quick to deploy and have community managed content via version control systems, it's suited my needs really well.

Skating ConceptIn June, I took part in my first 7 Day FPS Challenge, collaborating with two fellow Wolfire community members to create a first person ice skating combat game called FLAT, using the Allegro game library. This was a super rewarding experience, and scored some news coverage. A couple of months later we released it as a Free Software project under the GPL.

Also in June, I had the opportunity to visit the opening of a game exhibition called Game Masters, which attempted to position prominent game designers as "auteurs". The opening of the exhibition itself was supplemented with a series of launch events featuring talks and panels from Australian and international game developers and other people associated with the gaming industry/culture. I got to meet Tim Schafer in person, who graciously agreed to attend a small fan meetup that I had been coordinating (it would have been much larger if I'd put more thought into getting the word out), say hi to Warren Spector, bump fists with a few fellow Aussie developers, and hog the mic during Q&A.

It was around this time that I was recruited as a "guest writer" for GamingOnLinux.com, focusing on covering Steam for Linux news, and my own writing (in some echo of narcissism).

Double Fine Game Club LogoIn July, I took over running the Double Fine Game Club, which was originally created as a "backer only" event for supporters of Double Fine's "Double Fine Adventure", intended to help developers and backers explore the pros and cons of adventure games. At the time I picked up the reins, development on Broken Age (the game that the "Double Fine Adventure" crowdfunding project would eventually produce) was starting to ramp up and the previous coordinator Greg Rice, Producer on Broken Age, needed to apply his attention elsewhere. After chatting with the community, we decided it'd be best if we dropped the "backer only" exclusivity and open it up to people within the Double Fine community and beyond (without this move, I think we would have suffered and found it difficult to maintain a critical mass to continue running), structuring the event as a "book club for games", and inviting developers to join us in celebrating/critiquing their games.

Wooden SnailIn August, I inherited a 5,000 member Steam group of Linux users, just as Steam for Linux was announced. After some deliberation, I merged this with the existing "SteamLUG" community, which was much smaller, but more active. By sourcing enthusiasm and talent from within the community, we were able to turn a stagnant lobbying group into a vibrant gaming community (addmittedly it's still only a small portion of SteamLUG's entire community that is actively participating, but those who'd like to watch from the sidelines or just feel a part of things are welcome too), running game servers, events, projects and maintaining a positive and open culture.

In addition to all that, I was also invited to help work on packaging an existing indie game for Linux, did some logo and mascot design here and there, and was picked up to do art assets for a 2D puzzle platformer and a sidescrolling shooter.

Since things had been starting to get so busy for me, I decided to also use Para to quickly put together a "Here's what I do" type not-quite-a-folio site.

Aaand finally, I picked up a new day job. It's interesting work, software development at a much lower level than I'd ever worked before. I feel like I learn something new every day that I'm there.

twolofbees.com

Happy Lemon (AICon)2012 was a big year for Two Lof Bees as well! We traded for the first time at a convention, got our first business cards made up, started doing some social networking stuff, and launched a shop tab. Web activity seemed to continue to grow, but in July our web host migrated us to some new hardware and we lost preceding logs, so it makes it harder to look back and get a feel for where we're at.

After scouting out the convention and cleaning up in the art competition in 2011, we decided to return to AICon in 2012 as traders/sponsors. It was both daunting and exciting to put our designs out there for people to check out. After just coming off our third AICon as I write this, it feels like we've come a long way, but we had great reception from attendees and that love (combined with breaking even) kept us coming back.

Two Lof Bees ShopAICon gave us the nudge needed to get a shop tab up and happening. We decided to go with the print-on-demand service RedBubble so that instead of worrying about taking people's money and putting things in boxes, we could focus on using our available time to make neat designs. Uptake in 2012 was slow, and we didn't have any real time to engage with the RedBubble community. We still managed to get some stickers, post cards and t-shirts out to happy people though, and activity has been increasing, which has been awesome!

Since we were now being more active with regards to selling stuff, I figured we needed some business cards to be able to help get the word out. I'd had plans to make a deck of cards for Mim based on my "Two of Bees" artwork as a Lofversary present. It was easy enough to adapt what I'd planned for "joker" cards into personalised cards for each of us. By cleverly using the custom backs as fronts and the common fronts as backs, we ended up with a super snazzy playing card type look that people always comment on. Woo!

Monster RPG2 Fan ArtWe also launched a bunch of social media stuff, including an @TwoLofBees Twitter account (which I selfishly hogged until I eventually got one of my own, because Cheeseness was unavailable), and a Facebook page.

We ran a Trine 2 giveaway fan art competition thing, attracting some fun entries including a sweet little fan game titled EscargoooOOO!

Finally, towards the end of the year, we helped support the open sourcing of Monster RPG 2, which we'd like to eventually use the engine for to make a Two Lof Bees style JRPG.

Cheesetalks

First PlaceIn 2012, I published a stack more interviews, this time chatting with Double Fine, Frozenbyte, Nooskewl, Digital Arrow, Desurium contributors, Neverball creator RLK, and Linux game porter flibitijibo.

I also published articles on Trine 2, the Game Masters launch events, Humble Bundle's foray into non-cross platform promotions, the history of cross-platform support in Humble Bundle promotions, and two articles on Humble Bundle statistics that I'd gathered via the Humble Visualisations. All up, this ended up hitting what would more or less become my target of one piece of significant content per month.

I spent a lot of time doing preliminary work on revamping the Humble Visualisations, or HumVis as I'd taken to calling it, and popped the source up on GitHub. These plans took a long time to come together as I hunted for collaborators. I also had tentative discussions with Humble about possible data analysis work, which never came to fruition. I think I may have shot myself in the foot by saying that I would need to be able to continue doing the stuff I was doing (if it had come down to that, I wouldn't really be able to justify killing HumVis just so that I could have a cool job).

Pumpkin CarriageAs 2012 closed, I had lined up an interview with game designer Ron Gilbert (which would be conducted as part of the Double Fine Game Club, but have a transcript hosted on Cheesetalks), an article on Linux support in crowdfunding campaigns (with quotes from a bunch of campaign runners both successful and unsuccessful), and the looming revamp of HumVis!

My Artwork

MStycil Tuxost of 2012 saw me recreating Mim's designs as SVG for better scalability and printing on RedBubble products. I did find time to do two pieces of Trine 2 fan art, finish off On Top Of The Known World (which looking back, I feel a little embarrassed about), and take some photos of food with faces. All up, I don't feel like I really extended myself in 2012 so far as Two Lof Bees art went. Most of my boundary pushing felt like it came from creating assets for FLAT. I feel like I can point the finger steadily at the stress factors mentioned earlier in the post - it's hard enough to exercise creativity when you're busy, but impossible when there's uncomfortable pressure at work as well.

Looking back, I am really happy with some of the pencil sketching that I'd done across the year, namely Aims At Work, The Three Sisters, and Pumpkin Carriage.

It was also really pleasing to see some Stycil Tux sightings in the wild!

Mim's Stuff

Heart BubblesMim is a machine. In spite of everything going on, she found time to fill pages with cuteness, whether it be random silliness, or some really polished works showing her increasing vector illustration skills.

Mim's Honours Thesis comic found a two part conclusion, long after she'd handed in her honours thesis. The unfinished finale had been put aside to focus on other more pressing work (including starting her PhD Thesis), and it was touching to see her get a little emotional as she polished it up for publishing.

Looking Ahead

Drama LlamaAt this point in time, I have no idea where I was at the beginning of 2013. Instead of the light workload I'd been lead to expect, my day job ramped up to be a little over full time, and trying to cycle the longish commute whilst still healing up turned out to be a poor choice. My best guess is that I was frazzled, and hoping to find time to rest.

Glancing at my 2011 retrospective, Grumpy Bunny, the Loftopus, that "kinetic typography" idea, and some long outstanding website features (like search functionality) are still sitting towards the top of my todo list. Here's hoping that other things don't continue to slip in above them!

Stuff I Lof - 2012

Here are my favourites from 2012 in no particular order: Big Chin Chicken Paints, Cute Kebab, Two Fish, Little Triceratops, In The Snow, Winter Girl 2, Happy Eggs, Happy Pear, Girl In The Woods, Tentacle Love, Heart Bubbles and First Place!



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Posted By:
 cheese
Date Posted:
 22nd March 2014
Loved:
 3 times
Tags:
 Cheesetalks(6), Life(13), Yearly Reflections(7)
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