2009 wrap-up (with pictures!)

Last year was a pretty interesting year for me – and I didn’t really realise how substantial it was until I looked back on it…

I quit my job

I resigned as Vice President (Australia) at Interzone Entertainment way back in March. I’m glad that I left, because I can’t imagine who I would be if I had stayed – simply because I would have had a very different year in 2009.

I started a non-profit

Minh and I started Let’s Make Games in order to support the local game development community. The organisation ran six social events, conducted a local industry survey, produced a report based on the survey, and setup a website with a blog and links to local game developers.

Here’s a picture showing how the blog header image and background changed over the year (going from “get something up” to “make it look professional”):

Thanks to Simon for the original logo – it’s held up very well! 🙂

I became an exhibiting artist (once more!)

I exhibited various artworks (photography, mixed media, digital prints) at two exhibitions: Snapshot and Summer. I always have plenty of ideas and motivation, but I probably wouldn’t have exhibited yet if Simon wasn’t so proactive in organising these events. Thanks Simon!

Here I am in front of my “Rangers” piece from the Snapshot exhibition. This piece consisted of photos of my friends mounted inside ranger masks that I bought at a 100 yen store in Tokyo. I tried to match the expressions and personalities with the appropriate crazy names on the masks’ packaging (I was “Narcissistic Blue” and Simon was “Reliable Red”):

My other major piece for Snapshot was a wall of photos taken during my trip to Japan in 2008. The purpose of this work was to present an immediate concentrated impression of my visual experience of Japan. I was rather taken by all the different distinctive patterns in Japan – hence the prominent use of tightly cropped images:

For the Summer exhibition (currently running – go check it out!), I decided to go with something completely different. I guess that you could call them abstract graphic design. I wanted to know how far I could push one basic shape and a simple pattern, and I’m very happy with the results:

I’ve got a bunch of idea for exhibitions next year… I wonder if they will work out…

I got married and went on an awesome honeymoon

Heidi and I were married in a traditional ceremony in Thailand and we honeymooned in Korea: in Seoul and Jeju (also known as “Honeymoon Island”).

We didn’t have many photos of the morning ceremony, but here’s a still image from a video taken by Heidi’s brother, Tony – the monks are winding the string that will be used to bind us at the Lustral ceremony later in the day:

I’ve already posted a few of these, but here’s a photo from after the wedding banquet. I’m giving Heidi a high-five while our friends jump in the air (these aspects combine to form an awesome photo!):

Following are images of just two of our discoveries in Korea. The first shows me enjoying a traditional dry sauna (aw yeah):

And the second shows Heidi in front of some super-cool miniature arcade machines (they were so cute!):

I kept a very small notebook and drew a sketch once or twice a day during the trip. When we returned I mounted the sketches in a frame… I’ll have to post a photo of it sometime.

I got rid of a lot of stuff

Moving around a lot helped provide a catalyst for this, but an underlying desire for minimalist elegance and an uncluttered life was the real driving force. (That and pragmatic consideration of how often I am going to actually use things).

Here’s a photo of some of my games collection near its peak:

Probably not considered a “huge” collection, but it was big enough to feel like a burden (especially when considering all the hardware not pictured). They’re great games… but I don’t really play many games any more… and I hardly replay games.

I had a few disappointments

I intended to release a second Let’s Make Games report (for the period April 2009 to September 2009), but it turned out to be a lot more work than I expected (maybe I was being naive, but part of it was also the standard that I wanted to achieve). So I decided to roll it into a general 2009 report, which I’ll post a survey for this month.

I’ve undertaken a fair amount of independent game development, but it appears that I don’t have much to show for my efforts – aside from discarded or discontinued prototypes and a list of failed collaborations. I don’t feel a great amount of pressure to just get something out – I’d rather iterate on something until I feel that it’s ready for public release. That said, I feel that 2010 will be much more productive in terms of releases.

I learnt a few lessons

It’s very difficult to find the right people to work with (particularly when embarking on a risky venture with upfront costs and no cash-flow). You need to find others who are as passionate and willing (and able) to commit the required time and resources. Starting my own sustainable business is going to take a lot of time, effort, good fortune (in finding the right people), and plain hard work in making it all come together.

I’m looking forward to 2010!

Overall, 2009 marked a lot of transitions in my life: getting married; becoming closer to my family; working for myself rather than for someone else; giving up management for more artistic and technical work. I’ve got a better idea as to who I want to be and what I want to be doing – and I’m looking forward to getting a little closer to it in 2010. 😉