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Month: November 2023

November 2023 Update

This was a really good month for getting things done.

A New Productivity Tracking Era

And that’s mainly because I’ve retired my Daily Doings 2023 Google Doc and replaced it with Sprintlog Tasklog 2023.

That’s right, I’m back to doing my doings in the form of sprints, with goals and deadlines and estimated timelines and all that junk that burned me out back in 2021 after doing it for years.

Is that going to happen again? Probably, at some point. But I was already getting burned out on my “Daily Doings” method of self-tracking. Just making a bulleted list of what I did every day, while interesting, wasn’t enough of a system for me. I needed more direction. I needed sprints.

This time around, they’re just 1 week long instead of 2 weeks long. So it’s really just, every Sunday night I make a plan for what I hope to accomplish in the next week. Wowee zowee, I guess that counts as sprints? Anyway, I’ve been doing it for 4 weeks so far, and it’s been keeping me on track.

Game Dev – Shifty Squares

For a little while back in college, I was addicted to a mobile gacha game named Puzzle & Dragons. It’s a match-three game where you can drag your selected tile all around the board, rather than to a single adjacent tile. You can thus string together long chains and combos and cascades and it’s really cool.

I’ve wanted to make a game like that for a long time now. A match-three game where you drag your selected tile around and it alters the entire board. A game where dragging the tile to the right, for example, will drag the entire row it’s in, and then dragging down will drag the entire column that you put it into, and the tiles will wrap around the edges of the board, and you can chain all those moves together to do cool combos.

A game like… this.

Seriously, I need to get some actual screen recording software if I’m going to keep doing this.

Tentatively titled “Shifty Squares” until I come up with an actual game aesthetic other than “colored blocks I made in MS Paint.”

It may be a simple concept for a game, but I don’t care. I’ve been daydreaming about it for years and it’s finally real AND it’s fun to play! And that’s with just a core gameplay mechanic and literally nothing else. So, I’m feeling pretty satisfied for now.


I’m deep in working on Porydex again! After being on and off with it since the summer, it’s now at the top of my priorities list, and it’ll stay there until it’s fully up to date again.

Unfortunately, it’s an even bigger mess now than it was the last time I mentioned it. I’ve realized I need to redo how a lot of its data is stored. In particular, move data and ability/item/move descriptions ought to have been stored by game rather than by generation.

For most of the series, any in-generational differences in that data used to be negligible. For example, who cares if the description of the move Pound changed between Ruby/Sapphire and FireRed/LeafGreen? The move still has all the same effects, PP, type, and so on. In fact, to my knowledge, the only time a move’s true details changed in-generation was Hypnosis getting a mild accuracy change from Diamond/Pearl to Platinum. A good trivia factoid, but not enough of a reason on its own to duplicate (or triplicate) all the move data across every version (or version-group, technically).

But then came Let’s Go. And then came Legends: Arceus. And now, it’s not so unheard of anymore for a move to have different effects from one game to the next in the same generation. So, in the pursuit of perfectly accurate data, the data from the older games needs to be re-imported on the new per-game basis.

Sigh. Normalized databases are a pain sometimes.

Attack on Titan

About a decade ago, this weird anime named “Attack on Titan” came out and took the world by storm and then went on indefinite hiatus to give the manga more time to finish. Okay, I thought at the time, I’ll just wait for the anime to finish and then watch the whole thing at once.

Well, it finally happened. I found out that “Attack on Titan: The Final Season: Part 3: Part 2” came out the day before, and I just kind of instantly dropped everything in my life and did nothing but binge AOT for the entire next week.

It was a good series, for the most part. Season 1 was insane and I could tell exactly why it blew up in super-popularity; it seemed almost tailor made to be a show that blows up in super-popularity. Season 4… was bad. It went in bad directions and did bad things with all the characters. And I had such high hopes after the revelations at the end of season 3…


Currently reading: the Bobiverse series by Dennis E. Taylor

Okay, technically I just finished reading it, but I haven’t started my next book yet, so Bobiverse wins this coveted review placement for now.

These books are an absolute delight from beginning to end. Brief teaser summary: a cryogenically frozen software developer is woken up centuries after his death as an artificial intelligence, to be the brains behind a self-replicating Von Neumann space probe. Chaos ensues.

(Tbh, you can probably summarize just about any book with “[Chapter 1 summary here.] Chaos ensues.”)

But for real though, these books are SO FUN, and the audiobooks especially are just a masterful performance. Read them. Listen to them. And then join me in waiting for book 5, which will hopefully be out in the next few months.

Getting hyped on tools you won’t use

A few years ago, the writing app Scrivener was gearing up for its next major release. Scrivener for Windows v3.0 had been in beta for ages, with a long list of new features to bring the app (mostly) up to par with its macOS older sibling. My writer friends and I were hyped as all heck for the shiny new software, even contributing to the beta testing cycle a little bit because we were so impatient to start using v3.0 for real.

And then, finally, after multiple months of delays, Scrivener for Windows v3.0 was officially released! I cheered internally and immediately bought the non-trial version of the app… And then I forgot all about it, and never used it, because I never used the previous versions of Scrivener to begin with.


I have a problem. Maybe this isn’t just ‘my’ problem; maybe this is something that plenty of people struggle with. I don’t know if that would make it better—the possibility that this is just a silly flaw in my own brain, or that it’s a tragic quirk in human psychology as a whole. But for now, let’s just call it my problem to keep things simple.

I have a long pattern of getting hyped on tools I end up never actually using. Years ago, it was Scrivener. Years before that, it was yWriter. At some point in the middle of that, it was the Pomodoro Technique of time management. That last one isn’t even a product that you have to buy! This isn’t just about products.

It’s not even just about writing. A few weeks ago, while browsing for tools that might help me with my indie game development, I stumbled upon a really neat piece of software named Tilesetter. Automated generation of all the standard blocks in a 2D pixel art tileset, based on a few template tiles? Hell yeah! But oh, what’s this, there’s a Discord server? And the developer recently posted that the next major version is going to be released soon?! HELL yeah! Time to put on my hype hat and start getting excited!

(Although, in the case of Tilesetter, the only reason I haven’t used it much yet is because my current game project doesn’t use tilesets. My next one might, though, and I’m eager to use the existing version of Tilesetter to make those tilesets.)

In a similar sequence of events, I’m not working on any multiplayer games yet, but when I eventually do, I’m planning on using Fish-Net as my multiplayer networking package for games made with Unity. And even though I haven’t really used it yet… for some reason, over the last month, I got really into following the discussions, the dates, the bug fixes, etc. for the very recently released Fish-Net v4.0… Why do I keep doing this?


If I’m being completely honest with myself, it’s probably not even about tools. When I went overboard last year with collecting Pokémon TCG cards, my method of expanding my collection was to look for any and all cards that looked like they’d be fun to ever include in a deck of any kind, and then I just went wild and got them all. (Well, the cheap ones, at least! Haha card games are expensive.) And what a surprise, most of those cards haven’t ended up in decks yet—they just ended up in a box. Just like Scrivener for Windows v3.0, and probably a bunch of unused things I don’t even remember anymore.

Hype is weird and dumb and probably a little irrational. But dang, it sure makes life more fun most of the time.

I do a lot of things as a joke

I’ve been thinking about this part of my personality a lot lately. There are lots of things I like and/or do that are objectively silly, and probably shouldn’t be taken seriously, but I do them sincerely anyway to add to the joke.

I don’t quite think it’s the same as “doing things ironically.” There’s a very specific feel to all of these things; it’s not just being dumb for the sake of being edgy. It’s more like… an elevation of sorts. Taking a silly idea and respecting it in its own right, laughing with it instead of at it. If that even makes sense.

Anyway, here’s some examples.


I got a minor in Philosophy as a joke.

When I was studying Computer Science at Stevens Institute of Technology, the curriculum involved taking a lot of electives. I kind of liked the philosophy courses, so I just… kept taking those. Until eventually I realized I had taken so many philosophy courses that I only needed to take one extra philosophy course beyond what was required for my main degree, and I would have enough for a minor.

Now, I didn’t actually think a minor in Philosophy would be worth anything, or that it would even grant me any kind of authority in the subject. But, the idea of taking just one extra class and then for the rest of my life being able to jokingly say “WELL, as someone with a Minor In Philosophy,” whenever I was in a remotely philosophical conversation that no one was taking seriously? That was the funniest shit ever to me.

So I did it.

And it’s been minorly paying off ever since.


A few months ago, I was working on a clone of Pong for practice getting started with game development. While I was wrapping up the basic functionality of the game, a thought struck me: “Biblically Accurate Pong Paddle.”

And I thought that was the stupidest, funniest idea. Immediately, I knew I wasn’t even close to being done with making my Pong clone. Not until adding an absolutely over the top final boss fight against a giant eyeball surrounded by multiple layers of rotating pong paddles, with cliché epic choral background music.

100% worth it.


Many years ago, a handful of my writer friends and I made a Skype group to collaborate on a bunch of cool stories and novels together. (We were all in high school/college at the time, and didn’t realize that our plans to simultaneously write multiple collab epic fantasy trilogies was completely unrealistic. But it was still a really fun and awesome time.)

One night, I had a dream that I was just chilling in the group chat, during a normal conversation, and nothing was dream-like or out of the ordinary whatsoever… except that in the dream, the official name for our group was Bloodwriters of Sol.

Holy shit, dear reader. That name is just so incredibly ridiculous that I couldn’t help but absolutely love it. So later that day I told the group about the dream and laughed with them about the dumb-as-hell name—and one of them changed the actual Skype group name to that. We continued to call ourselves the Bloodwriters of Sol for a few years, and I was not-so-secretly delighted the entire time.


When I was 11 years old, I tried writing a fantasy novel. Chronicles of Yabachi: Orbs From the Core – the epic story of the heroic warriors Ktalaki and Nanor, who go around defeating “evil.” (In the world of Yabachi, “evil” mostly means people who announce that they’re evil and then run off to an ancient hidden castle to brood and wait for a hero to fight them.)

It was… not a good story. But the combination of the literal child-level writing quality, along with the absurd plot movements, over time made the novel and its world endearing to me much in the same way as Axe Cop is.

A little over halfway through the book, my 11-year-old self thought it’d be super cool to have a two-part chapter: “The War of Yabachi, Part 1” and “The War of Yabachi, Part 2”—in which the two continents of the world of Yabachi go to war, and Ktalaki and Nanor (having just gone through a devastating broken-trust best-friendship-breakup) become the opposing generals of the war.

An entire world war… in just two chapters. How did I think that could possibly work? Maybe it was a better idea in the original vision of the story, where the chapter outline was actually an “Anime Episode Guide.” Even then, probably not.

But it ended up not mattering, because child Jesse fell off the writing wagon an arc and a half before the asinine war plot, and Book 1 of the Chronicles of Yabachi series was left unfinished for the rest of time.

… Or it would have been, had I not decided to finish writing it 17 years later, as a joke. Sticking religiously to the original chapter outline, hamming up the action scenes and the dialogue alike, and intentionally emulating my inexperienced childhood writing style… with one fundamental exception. To add on to the joke, I decided I would in fact write the two-part war arc with the original two chapters… but with all the sincerity and actual skill of writing quality that I could muster.

Hidden deep within a blight of a novel, where the average chapter was a page or two long, the two-chapter war arc was a straight up full length novella, where every character actually wrestles with the tragic backstory that the overall novel implies they should have. Ktalaki, the orphan who broke out of childhood slavery and rescued his people from a dragon tyrant, is now fighting for the dinosaur island to retain its territorial sovereignty. Nanor, the “good” child of an “evil” parent, is desperate to prove his value to the surrogate father he found in a politician who only cares about conquest. There are epic battles, tragic deaths, deep philosophical asides about the true nature of good and evil—

And then, right after the war ends, we go right back to the emulated child writing quality of the rest of the novel, and Ktalaki and Nanor become best friends again with ease. Chronicles of Yabachi: Orbs from the Core is perhaps my crowning achievement of stupid jokes.

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