A Shared Experience Differently OR Please Take Care of Yourself

A shared experience differently

The past couple months have been strange and exciting and filled with uncertainty. I think that’s probably true for everyone across the globe.
That’s part of why it’s exciting, in a way; there are very few times where we can really say an experience is global. That everyone is experiencing this thing. Though there’s still definitely variations, it’s all related.

That said, I’m once again reminded that everyone experiences things in their own way, through their own lenses, and with their own background.

I’ve known a number of people who responded to the “we all have to stay home for an indefinite period” with a “well that’s what I wanted to do anyway”. I’m kind of one of them. To me, staying home all the time is a luxury.
But even those of us that want to be home all the time aren’t necessarily happy with having to do it all the time. Or alone. I miss having my friends over for video games, and I’m constantly thankful for my wife, as we all still need human contact.

On the opposite end of the spectrum there are people who never wanted to be home this long, and are really not happy about the alone part; people who get their energy and motivation from being surrounded by others. They feed on social interaction. Those people are, understandably, having a very hard time with the current situation.

I also see another axis; one which describes how much you worry about the global crisis and things you can do nothing about. On one end, you have people who are not especially stressed about the virus, on the other, people who worry about it constantly.
For some of the people who seem surprisingly relaxed about a global crisis, it’s simply how they are. Some aren’t directly affected, and some just have the philosophy of “I can control only myself”. Majority of them will still do what they have to and take precautions and distance from their loved ones for the sake of their loved ones. They just don’t spend a lot of time worried.
Then there are people who worry. Some are simply wired to be worried about the situation, and to work out possible scenarios. There’s nothing wrong with these people; it’s valuable for society to have people who work that way; but they are not having a good time right now.
And that’s just a couple of the axes of the spectrum of experiences people are having about this global event. There are plenty more, especially considering socio-economic situations.

I find myself perfectly happy with being at home, well satisfied with having my wife nearby and online connections to friends, and not terribly worried about the virus itself. I’ll do what I can and it’s a big deal, but my philosophy tends towards “spending mental energy on it won’t make it better”.
Of course, I’m very lucky. My job is one I can do over the internet, which works just fine for me, and I’m not worried about my financial situation. I also live in a country that has taken reasonable precautions and has very reliable public healthcare.

Even with all that, I’ve started to notice interesting things about my mental state.

Where I’m at Right now

I work part-time as the Chief Technical Officer of a VR game development startup. I’m still having a blast doing that, and consider myself very lucky to be doing that. I spend the rest of my time building up what I guess many people would call a “side hustle”. I love that, too.
But I’ve noticed that my work hours since the world shutdown have gotten kind of crazy. At first I didn’t think much of it, as I was trying to get certain things done by deadlines, but after a while I’ve noticed that the hours didn’t really go down after those things were done.

And I’m reminded of when one of my colleagues from years ago called me a work-aholic.

I laughed at the time, as, at the time, I thought I was fairly lazy. I kept weird hours, I showed up for work later than most everyone (there weren’t strict hours), and I had plenty of free-time.

But looking back later, I realized he was probably right. I did long hours there and my free-time activities were usually more work. I spent ridiculous amounts of time working on Mystcraft, I was part of two different arts societies, and streamed and interacted with people on a 6 hour time difference, to name a few things.

And lately, again, all of my time has been working. I work at Critical Charm, I work on my own projects, I’m developing and learning art skills, and I’m learning how to play piano. I squeeze in a little bit of playing video games.

This is how I function -it’s kind of my normal- but I’m still at risk of burning myself out. I’ve worked weekends the past few weekends. It was fun, but… it was still energy expended, and I’ve not recovered energy in a while.
And right now I’m not sure how to do that.

I keep thinking about how everything must be useful. Even writing this, part of me is thinking about how to make it useful to me. “Can it advance my hypothetical future career?”
And by Jove I hope it IS useful, but not to me. I hope it’s useful to someone else who needs to hear this:
You aren’t alone, we’re all struggling in our own way, your way is perfectly valid, and you don’t have to come out of this with a side business, a six pack, or a new skill. You just have to come out of this.
When we say “take care of yourself” it’s not just “don’t catch the virus” it’s also “remember to bathe, get enough rest, sleep well, and let your brain do happy, relaxing things.”
If one of those happy, relaxing things is staring at a wall for six hours, go ahead. We all need brain downtime.

Yes, Isaac Newton came up with a bunch of stuff during his quarantine in the 1600’s, but he was also a student at Cambridge self-isolating on his family farm with plenty of resources at his disposal. If you are stuck at home and not sure how you will pay for food in 3 months it’s hardly a fitting comparison.
Most people during that time just worked hard to survive. And it took Newton 7 years to actually take what he’d figured out and be able to formalize and explain it. Another 30 before it was actually published.
So if you notice something neat you want to spend time on, you’re even with Newton. If, in 10 to 20 years, you publish a novel you started during the pandemic you’re doing better.

For myself, I’m going to try to get more sleep and I’m going to push some of my side stuff back a bit.

Take your time. That might be one of the few things many people really have more of right now. Don’t worry about using it, just enjoy it.

Cue imagery of a vampire rising from the dead

Seriously, I should have waited until Halloween.

I won’ say “I’m back”, because my track record is poor on that account.  Instead, I’ll focus on what’s happening.

  • Mystcraft is updated for 1.12. (With many thanks to HellFirePvP)
  • We have a Discord now (specifically for Mystcraft).
  • I’m getting the website back into a smooth working order (you can see it, so that says a lot!)

Next up I’ll look at cleaning up the wiki and getting things sorted for the data bases. There might be some website downtime during all this, but that’s nothing compared to being down entirely. 😛

I’m feeling positive and enthusiastic. 🙂

What happened to the website?

Sorry for the long downtime. My previous host went poof. I have no idea what happened.

As such, that puts an absolute answer on what to do with the old forum data: Lose it.
Yup. The forums are gone. I’m not sure how far back the last backup of it is, but I don’t have a recent one. As such, we’re free to start with an all new forum/communication channel. More on that soon.

This is an entirely new server with completely new installations. The links have been reshuffled a bit but I added some mappings so things should move over fairly seamlessly; always expect the occasional hiccups, though.

A huge thanks is owed to the folks at CreeperHost for hosting me.  I should also apologize to them for dragging my feet on getting everything moved over.  They’ve put up with me through that and even helped me out. 😀 You guys rock!

I’ve also set up a new wiki for Mystcraft. I’m not sure signups are working, so give it a test and let me know.

I had actually moved over everything but the forums, so that’s the only thing lost.  Not my first choice of thing to lose, but there it is.  I’ll see about getting some kind of forum solution up in the near future.


Random History note: The last blog transition happened in July 2012, from my own blog implementation to WordPress.(http://blog.xcompwiz.com/2012/07/15/new-system-same-old-music/). Keeping all of the posts was a lot easier this time! 😀

Trello Boards Changes

(This post was written some time in August but never made it to “Published” for some reason. Here it is now. :P)

While playing with Trello, I realized that archived lists are not viewable unless returned to the board. I tried playing with archiving the cards independently, but that just gives you a list of all archived cards… not so useful.

Since I’d like to leave an archive of what was completed when and make it publicly viewable, I tried to find some solution to this. The best I could find/come up with is to use two boards; one for upcoming and one for completed. Thus the Mystcraft Trello board will stay about as it has been in terms of roadmap, but now a new board exists to show the releases.

I think the process for this will be roughly the same, where I move completed tasks to a list as I do them, but now I’ll move that whole list to another board when I release it.

Should be a functional system, if I can remember to do it. 😛

Let me know what you think of this process!

Mystcraft & LookingGlass

The maven repo is up and running again! 😀 Whoo!
I have some bug fix builds for you all. Nothing monumental just yet, but progress has been made. I’ll be looking at the instability system rewrite (see the Trello Board) next, and debating the order in which to update Mystcraft and LookingGlass to a more current version of Minecraft.

Still getting back into things, but it’s getting there. The progress on the server helps a lot.

Mystcraft is available from CurseForge.
LookingGlass is available from CurseForge.

Mystcraft Changelog
LookingGlass Changelogs

Servers: Update and Progress

Greetings! 😀 I’m steadily getting back to all the things involved in modding, including my website and server stuff.
Particularly, I’m putting my maven repo back together. 🙂

Sometime late April, when I was starting my return to modding, I tried making a build only to find that my maven repo was gone. Guess that happens when one is away for half a year.
Outside of the loss of data I wasn’t too worried; the community around Minecraft has a number of wonderful elements, and one of those is those groups willing to provide productive modders and creators with hosting so we can focus on making cool things. Really, every group that is willing to do this is awesome for it. 😀

I’ve ended up with two such groups offering to help. This puts me in the uncomfortable situation of needing to choose which one I partner with. I have no one to blame for that but myself, though.

Almost entirely out of personal preference stemming from the fact that I know more people there, I’ve decided to partner with CreeperHost. I’ve known many of them a long time, now, and they have some really impressive hardware they are going to let me use. Thanks, guys!

This new server should be a really cool thing for my website and stuff. Ultimately I’ll be moving all of my website and server usage over to the VPS they are providing me, but for now it just has a maven repo set up on it. This means my maven repo should be back in working order soon… though it doesn’t have the old builds on it for now. I’ll see about putting them up if anyone wants them, but since I was the one to find out the maven repo was gone I expect everyone who wanted to use it already had.

As always, I am slowed by my eternal enemy: Time. (See what I did there?) How fast I manage to get all of this done depends on how much time I have to spend on doing it. Wish me luck.
In the coming weeks I’d like to put more information up for how others could help me out. The more people engaged in seeing Mystcraft and LookingGlass evolve and develop the faster I’ll be able to create things. 😀


That Felt Good (Mystcraft

I just pushed the first Mystcraft build since November, and it felt really cathartic. 😀

I must admit, I was a little worried about whether I’d remember how to do anything, particularly with the Gradle build system. Turns out, I don’t seem to have forgotten any of it. Which is good, because lots of it has forgotten itself.

For starters, I had to set my dev environment up on my new desktop PC. Fortunately, I remember all of the setup commands (probably through having to run them so much in the past) and had this up and running in little to no time. I also have the old setup running on the older computer beside me, so I can reference it easy for the really specific values and things (Eclipse run configurations, anyone?).
Then I went and did a bit of debugging and fixing. The longest challenge was finding the fastest way to check a srgname these days. Still MCP bot, so I had to install an IRC client (this computer is REALLY new).
I made my fix and went to build… and it failed on trying to pull the LookingGlass API from the maven. A little investigating revealed that my maven repo server was just gone. I spoke with Nick over at ReasonantHost and he’s already getting me fixed up with a new one. Thanks guys!
Regardless, I was still out a maven repo, so I just manually bypassed that and ‘viola!’, I have a shiny new build.

It wasn’t easy, and that’s what made it feel so good. It wasn’t really hard, either, which probably helped.

Now, the build itself is fairly minimal; I just made a single change to try and deal with an error I’ve only ever seen once. The idea was that it was a reasonably straightforward issue that I could tackle directly and push a build for. My goal was and remains to get back into modding at a reasonably slow pace. Leaping in head first is fun, but I don’t want to fry myself again so soon after returning.

So here’s to the return of Mystcraft and LookingGlass.

EDIT: Whoops! Missed my usual end text:
Mystcraft is available from CurseForge.

Mystcraft Changelog

The Dawn of the Fifth Day

OK, I know it’s been a lot more than five days. And, no, you weren’t holding Helm’s Deep during this time (which is probably for the best).
Just let me have my Gandalf moment, OK?

It’s been a while. This post is to serve as a recap and explanation as to why. It’s also the announcement of my return, I suppose.

About a year ago (Jan of last year) I was in a bit of a predicament; my residence permit to live in Finland was to expire as February ended. Since I didn’t want this to happen, I needed a source of income to apply for a new permit.
At this time I had been trying to start a PhD for some time. I had managed to find some potential supervisors, but funding was much more scarce. It never pulled through.
So, as February rolled around I basically entered panic mode. Bailing on getting a PhD position, I simply tried for any research or teaching position I could get. Fortunately, this tactic worked much better, as someone who recognized my name called me up wanting me to build cool things for him. I counted myself very lucky.
so, for the past year (Feb to Feb) I was working as a researcher on an interesting augmented reality project based out of Padova Italy. The work was interesting, the people were fun, and I learned a lot. I don’t think I could have asked for more given the circumstances.

Some of the more attentive folks might be able to correlate March with a sudden boost to my modding time and productivity. Essentially, I suddenly had the time and comfort to enable me to be more creative. Unfortunately it didn’t last. Come August I was informed that my contract would not be renewed when it expired in Feb. This coupled with the project needing to finish soon and the theatre group I’m in starting it’s latest production (in Sept; performed last week) pretty much killed all that time and desire to work on my personal projects.
And that’s when the big gap started.

I managed a few sporadic fixes and updates since, but I honestly had some difficulty wanting to work on anything due to the stress I was already under. I will honestly tell you that making a mod as big as Mystcraft is stressful not for the work doing it, but for dealing with the community around it. I didn’t want to interact with that source of stress, and so I distanced myself from all of it.

Leap forward to January of this year. I, once again, found myself with an expiring residence permit. I’d been doing the same as the previous round, trying to start my PhD, but the climate for that is even worse now than before.
And so I bailed on academia and went looking for a job at a game company.

In the end, come late Jan/early Feb, I secured a contract with Mindfield Games here in Finland, and I could not be happier. It has been so much fun and is exactly the kind of work I love doing and am well suited for. The peopel I’m working with are awesome as well.

Thus ends the Workplace Saga. At least for the foreseeable future, as this contract is indefinite. 😀

However, February and March ended up a very busy time for me. Between the new job and the theatre production (which I’d now been upgraded to both a main character and the producer for) I simply didn’t have any real free time. (One thing to another, my life is.)
The shows (Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards! adapted by Stephen Briggs) occurred last week. I spent Easter weekend recovering.

And now I’m back to being able to do fun stuff.

There’s a small hill of things I’ve been putting off that I’ll be working through (including setting up/finishing building a computer I got over Christmas) but I’m looking forward to getting back into the groove of Mystcraft and LookingGlass. It’ll be slow for a while, but I’m on my way back.


Hey, XComp, where’d you go?

(This post is very “personal life” oriented. Steer clear if you don’t care.)
I’ve been staying pretty quiet about my hiatus. It wasn’t planned (or I’d have given warning) and has lasted much longer than I’d have liked.

The reasons are pretty mundane. I’m not dying (any faster than usual; at least such that I can tell). I’m not sick. I’m not even getting married or something significant like that (I’d probably have mentioned that if I were).

I’m just working full time on a project (for work at the Uni) that has been in crunch mode since about August. Keeps one busy.
At the same time, my motivation has been a little upended. This has to do partially with work as well, but the reverse direction.

About August (what is it with August this year?), I was informed that at the end of my current contract I cannot be guaranteed funding. This isn’t the problem most people would expect for me. While, ya, not being paid is problematic, I could try to get money from other sources (I could mod more and depend on Patreon again). The problem for me is residence permit. In order for me to get a permit to live in Finland I need to have an income. Thus, no funding means I can’t get a residence permit beyond my current contract.
I don’t think I need to say that the possibility of being kicked out of the country one considers home is a bit stressful.

Thus I’ve been looking for other ways to stay here in Finland. The first looks were how to stay in academia, but I’ve largely given up on that. There isn’t any money in the universities here and most of them are in a recruiting freeze because of it. At this point I’m trying to get a job “in the real world/industry.” It’s made a little more complex by wanting to stay in Finland.

I have some time, still, before “Volcano Day,” but it’s still stressful to the point of deterring me from working on Mystcraft.

I just felt that you all deserved to know why Mystcraft stopped updating around August and where I’ve been. Thank you to everyone and I hope I can be back on playing around with Mystcraft fairly soon.