As I post this, I’m preparing to dive into another day of judging USgamer’s Super Mario Maker contest entries. What a terrible miscalculation that was! I thought it would be nice to offer up a community contest, but since USG’s reader is largely silent, I expected maybe a few dozen entries. 50, tops. It ended up being closer to 150. That’s a lot of levels to play and evaluate, and SMM’s interface certainly doesn’t speed things along. But it’s a commitment, and I’m going to get it done in the next few days.
That’s the rule for 2016: Live up to my promises. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working hard on Retronauts Kickstarter commitments as well. The book turned out about as planned, and it’s pretty much ready to go once I create a nice cover for it, but the DVD… man, pure disaster. The idea behind the DVD was for Bob and Ray and I to record a handful of brief (10-minute-ish) chats, for a total of maybe 30 minutes of bonus content. But almost immediately after we got Retronauts rolling again, I had to leave San Francisco, and it made the initial plan impossible, as the three of us have rarely been in the same place to record since then.
There was this really wonderful period in my life, which spanned about four months in the middle of 2013. Once I got over the shock and disappointment of 1UP.com being shut down in February of 2013, I felt liberated—I was no longer tasked with trying to keep a site running and viable despite our new parent company intensely regretting the purchase a few months after completing the deal and struggling to find a place for it in an increasingly lean and competitive market. I finally got to have a proper wedding with my wife, as opposed to our previous city hall job (which had been essentially forced on us after Fox bought 1UP and the HR intern neglected until the very last minute to mention that my then-fiancée couldn’t keep the essential healthcare benefits that she’d enjoyed as my domestic partner during 1UP’s time under Hearst unless we were married). We went on a lovely honeymoon. Retronauts achieved unbelievable success on Kickstarter. I helped launch a promising new site where I could simply write without dealing with the drudgery of management. I was losing weight, getting back into shape after the stress of staying at the helm of 1UP’s sinking ship beat me down, feeling better about life. And then, bam, a few days before PAX Prime 2013, we were given a month to vacate our apartment and find a new place to live that would cost somewhere between two and three times our then-current rent. So we left, and everything changed… largely for the worse, it seemed.
This isn’t a celebration of self-pity, though. Things were nice, then they sucked, boo hoo hoo. I let life disruption and the resulting depression I felt after the move derail me for way too long. It took me about a year to get over the intense sense of dislocation I suffered after leaving the city that was the closest thing to a true home I’d ever felt, but right as I was getting a grip we shifted gears into buying a house, which we wanted to do before the RDU property market became unaffordable (it’s already well on its way!). And as soon as that was wrapped up, I found myself constantly traveling from April through November 2015 (at one point I had spent time in seven cities in the space of six weeks, somehow). All that in addition to matters like family obligations and my wife’s chronic health concerns mean I still haven’t been able to get ahead of things. I’m always behind the ball: At work. At home. With stuff like Retronauts obligations. Even with Game Boy World, which is an essential heatsink of sanity for me—the one place in life I can create something on my own terms, in an orderly fashion, without regard for popularity or profitability. And I’ve gotten so depressingly overweight from never having time to exercise and no longer living in a city where walking is the optimal form of transportation (not to mention no longer living in a city where the weather is pleasant enough for me to want to be outside most of the year).
I don’t have any new year’s resolutions in 2016. I’d rather simply act than make big promises. I’ve been working to clear out the Mario maker contest queue. Sorting out the Retronauts stuff—I’ve spent a ton of time over the holidays plus the past week’s worth of free time turning a podcast episode we recorded at the beginning of December into a video episode that’ll be exclusive to the DVD (or “timed” exclusive for a year or so, anyway). Next up, I’ll be producing my second Retronauts DVD segment, a 40-minute video essay on 8-bit game evolution (the script is already written and recorded). And then clearing out Talking Time fundraiser commitments, another things that went horribly off the rails almost immediately in 2013—my SF eviction notice hit something like a week after that wrapped. And then some other stuff I owe people. And then maybe I can finally get back into shape, who knows?
And of course, because life doesn’t slow down to allow people to get their acts together, throughout all of this we’re all investing a ton of effort into making USgamer better with each passing year. We’re getting close to where we want to be in terms of both content and traffic! I think we can pull it off this year.
And sooner or later, of course, I’ll be an old man on my deathbed, wondering where all the time went. But at least I’ll have that Kickstarter DVD taken care of.