Learning 3D modelling
This year I was able to really dive into some topics I always wanted to, the biggest of them learning 3D modelling. I always wanted to, but felt that this is an area of expertise too big and complicated for me to master — I was intimidated.
Nevertheless it was one of my goals for , to really learn 3D, so I started. A tutorial here, some experiments there, starting a bigger project. Learning modelling, about UVs, texturing, baking, and animation, and I’m loving it. It is still intimidating, though a challenge I like to take.
Starting a blog
I also wanted to blog, creating this blog at the with my first three posts. Though, I wrote nothing for a while, until I agreed with a friend to post at least once a month, to push ourselves. And lo and behold, this actually helped.
Since then I created at least one post per month, sometimes more. Writing about code, me learning 3D, cassette futurism, or whatever came to mind. At first, I just wanted to blog to get better at writing, looking back at previous posts I'm quite happy with my progress on that, but over time it became genuine fun. Blogging pushed myself to learn new things, learning helped me write new posts, that then reinforced my learnings.
Changing my job
When me and my wife moved to Sweden in , I started a job at Klarna. Unlimited grateful for the opportunity and help on getting settled in, I nonetheless was looking for something else after 3 years. I was in a great team, but professionally I was looking for something different, changing direction for what I want to do in the future — back to tool development and a stronger focus on learning C++. At the end of I left Klarna and joined King .
I love games, I love tools, I want to learn more C++; King gave me all of that. Even though it is still "fresh" after half a year, I found an amazing company and team, and all the support I need for my future. I even went into parental leave for 2 month after I started, with full support from everyone, always giving me the feeling that my family and my well-being is priority.
Continued learning C++
One of my goals for was to take learning C++ serious, and besides changing jobs to leverage this on a professional level, I studied a lot in my free time, or rather at night when my daughter was asleep. Not all the time, only when I felt like it, as family has priority and there are other things I wanted to learn as well, on top of reading, gaming and so on — still I took a lot of time to broaden my skill-set.
If I had to pick just one book I've read over the year, that I come back to again and again, it would be Beautiful C++ by by J. Davidson and Kate Gregory. After reading it I tried to apply the contents to what I do in C++, first and foremost at my private project Litr, a task runner. It really helped me feel more confident in the C++ code I write, removing code smells, and hardening my application. Not that it's perfect, far from it, but so much better than at the end of .
Fun with game development
Even though I always toyed around a bit with different game engines like Unity or Godot, I never really took the effort to properly learn one. In , I wanted to pick one and learn it, making a small game. I didn't. I kept toying around, but with more engines. I wrote a little prototype in Unity, one in Godot; I went through some tutorials for Unreal Engine, some for CryEngine; never really committing on one, thinking that there could be another one better suited for me to learn.
It is a trap, a deep one. I went through videos, blogs, and books, to many to name them here*, any learning material, even building my own small engine supporting 2D and 3D, in C++. It was an enlightening experience, learning a lot, but never really getting closer to my goal of actually making a small game.
But it was fun, and that's something. Nevertheless, I want to learn one engine and make a game, therefore I started to focus on Unreal Engine. Different reasons, two of them being that I want to do more C++, another that it seems like a good choice to push my 3D learnings.
A growing book shelf
I did always read a lot, for years twice a day, 5 days a week, at least. But since we moved to Sweden this dropped hard and, even though I was still reading, I struggled to give myself time to read for no apparent reason. Until my wife had a simple idea. Every Wednesday night, after our child is in bed, we read, at least one chapter of something. It did not take long for this idea to make us both read again regularly, not only on Wednesdays.
I've read quite some technical books, about C++, Lua, game design, and more; finally managed to continue The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, finishing book 9; read Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir; am currently at book 3 of The Expanse by James S. A. Corey; and a lot more books I will skip here, to not make this a book report.
What I played most
I love video games, and I played a bunch in . Here are my personal top 5 :
1. Cyberpunk 2077
I played Cyberpunk 2077 on release in on my PS4, and it was rough. Nevertheless, I loved the game, the story, characters, the music. I played it again when I had my PS5 in , new life path, new choices. But in I went overboard and made it **my most played game of the year**. Besides getting the platinum trophy, I wanted to explore more of the world, the lore, see all the endings, etc. — and I can barely wait to play the DLC "Phantom Liberty".
2. Horizon: Forbidden West
Horizon: Zero Dawn was my absolute favourite game in , and I was more than anticipating the release of Horizon: Forbidden West in . It delivered, my personal game of the year . It does look gorgeous, unmatched facial animations, the intriguing story, the world, the score, and overall polish of the experience.
I can throughout recommend the GDC talks from Guerrilla Games about Horizon, my favourite being Creating a Tools Pipeline for Horizon: Zero Dawn, in awe with there craftsmanship.
3. God of War Ragnarök
God of War () is grand, and finally playing the continuation, God of War Ragnarök, was well worth waiting. Even though I liked the smaller, more intimate story of more, I annihilated the finale of the Norse saga, loving every bit of it.
4. Ghost of Tsushima
Even though Ghost of Tsushima came out in , it took me until this year to actually play it — what a game. I had some reservations initially that were blown away quickly. A meticulously crafted open-world that throughout hooked me with its game mechanics. Especially not having quest markers, finding your way through the world based on clues in the world and the help of the guiding wind.
You play a cat, you meow, you can scratch sofas and drop buckets. Don't let Stray fool you, it has a wonderful story, but those points alone, as a cat owner, do it for me.
I don't think I could have done anything of this without the support and help of my incredible wife. She convinced me that the new job at King could be the right thing for me, and she was right. She always supported me on my learnings, guided me with thoughtful advice to stay on course.
Together we visited family in Germany, travelled with our daughter, who took her first steps in summer, and then we switched parental leave, so I can onboard our child into Kindergarten — time together I do not want to miss. And now, the holidays, it is just the three of us, and I couldn't be happier.
No predictions, just goals for the new year I hope to achieve.
1. Having fun
The most important one, as always. Sure, sometimes things are tough, days can be hard, but if it's any type of fun, I will keep on keeping on.
2. Learning Unreal Engine
I finally settled on one game engine, Unreal, and I want to start working on my first small game with the goal to actually publish it (though that does not need to be in ).
3. …D, and more of it
I want to continue learning 3D and the many things connected to it. Next up will be a new article in the Bulkhead series, learning rigging and animation. Here a small teaser of what this will look like.
4. Litr version 1
Using Litr as my go-to project for learning C++, I want to finish the alpha and finally get version 1 out.
Continuing blogging, I want to keep the "publish at lest once a month" routine. I already planned a couple of articles, like a 6-part series about Lua, extending my first Lua article.
6. Dead Space remake
Looking forward to the Dead Space remake; the original is still one of my favourite horror games, and I hope the remake can spark that anew.
7. Surprising myself
At last, I will see what brings. Maybe I will change goals, maybe I will find something new, I do not know. Whatever will happen, family, job, hobbies — I hope for good, fun, intense, happy, intriguing, exciting, positive, exceptional, hard, marvellous, surprising, … moments in .
Until then 👋🏻