Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

It must be my time of the month again

Posted by Trixter on May 1, 2008

About once a month I look at everything I’ve accomplished, and compare that with everything that I want to accomplish, which inevitably leads to what I can never accomplish, and I get depressed. The frequency of this is relatively stable; what has changed over the years is the amplitude. It is taking me longer and longer to snap back to someone who is simultaneously cheerful and productive. Trying hard not to overstress the metaphor here, but I fear someday I will disappear into a feedback loop and the resulting shockwaves will shake me into a completely different person, one who doesn’t give two shits about all of this and will disappear into a completely useless hobby, like collecting pencils.

Oh, sorry — MORE useless than my existing hobbies.

What I cling to, what I defend to others who don’t understand dorking with old computers and demos and software and oldwarez and gaming, is that my existing hobbies are about creation and creativity. For example, I program old computers, but I am programming them to do things they have never done in their timeframe, and I release the source so that maybe one other person will gain an extra synapse from viewing it.

Three days after returning from Block Party 2008, I got video of the competitions and awards spread across three DVDs. I offered to edit them into separate files and upload them to archive.org. It has taken me nearly a month to do this in my various pockets of free time, not all of them spent wisely. During this time, I witnessed entire events blow by, such as Jason Scott knocking another one out of the park at ROFLCon. Or, more troubling, my looking at ROFLCon and simply not getting it.

The more I work at all this, the more I’m convinced that it wasn’t OOP that stumped me for three months, but rather the fact that I am really just not that good at what I would like to believe I’m good at.

I look around me and I see remnants of at least five different things I’d like to accomplish someday — soundcard museum, writing a real 8088/CGA demo, software collecting, selling excess hardware on ebay, making another MindCandy DVD — and the entire time I know that none of them will probably ever get done.

I need to release some ballast or I’m going to sink. I just don’t know what to let go of.

I’ll bet none of this is making sense to you.

6 Responses to “It must be my time of the month again”

  1. In all honesty, I’d have to say it doesn’t. Knowingly or not, some of the things you’ve done over the last few years have been a huge inspiration for people everywhere: MobyGames is still an amazingly active site with a dedicated community and is still (despite Wikipedia) the site I go to when I’m trying to find a computer game or anything to do with it. The Hornet Underground CD is still one of my favorites from my collection. I play both MindCandy DVDs every few months and relish the demos, not to mention that I use them to introduce people to the demoscene. 8088 Corruption was so damn cool that even people who are completely oblivious to how hard old machines were to program are thoroughly impressed. Monotone is a really cool sound project. I still go over the articles in oldskool.org on occasion and learn a thing or two.

    What is it you think you’re missing out on? :-)

  2. Till said

    For two years or so, I’ve been looking for a PC-Speaker based tracker from time to time. Monotone alpha is quite promising, I must say.

    At least some chiptune geek like me actually does appreciate your work. Hopefully this fact smoothes spikes in your feeling-bad-about-unaccomplished-things-function.

    Rock on!

  3. Chris said

    I guess my posting regarding an oldskool.org feature triggered this….umm….sorry about that.

    Everybody has a “to-do” list of some kind. Many grand projects are usually on them. Its normal, nothing to worry about, I myself have a ton of things on my list dating back over 10 years now. Look on the bright side, research says folks that think they aren’t good at doing something and always pessimistic tend to be the ones who are most likely to succeed in life. That thought of doom and gloom hovering over them seems drives them to complete a project above and beyond the requirements they set.

    At least the things you want to do don’t involve getting dirty. I have a 1987 Audi 4000 quattro that needs a complete suspension overhaul (an oldskool project of a different type :P). To you that might just make OOP on a XT look like an easy (and clean!) task. I just can’t wait to start debugging those German electronics though….. I think I’ll stop now.

  4. zpinzane said

    The thing that made the most sense to me about this post was the last line. That was pretty appropriate.
    I also think the previous comments here are pretty on point.
    You can’t get down on yourself because you haven’t spent the last month slavishly editing the Blockparty videos. Comparing your output to Jason’s is unfair; that’s what he does. I’m sure you wife (and child? children?) would disagree that you need to spend more time on your hobbies. And I mean all of this in a completely positive way to all parties involved.
    It’s often easier to look at the things we’re not accomplishing and feel stressed about them to look at the things we have accomplished and feel proud.
    All that being said, it probably just is your time of the month. Have some pickles and ice cream. :)

  5. Optimus said

    I can feel you.

    Seeing that my limited energy and motivation doesn’t help me even at 10% to fulfill what I was planning to do. All these years. In the demoscene. Currently I am not having any plans. I am not coding any demo these days, but I still code random things whenever I have few time left after work, like trying things I never had the opportunity before to code, but not for a release, not for a plan (even though secretly I would like to release a new demo again one day).

    For some reasons I always had the urge to release something, like being anxious about the result and not enjoying the trip, I still have it secretly but recently I decided to change my plans (after it was the 8th time/year to be anxious and depressed about my vanity). I secretly still believe in focusing into something big or my wish to release a good demo, but I am currently retired and have hope for a come back when I get better.

    Oh, and I have a job now and other things to do in my life this period so it’s getting even more hard for me. But I do want to come back, the wish is always breeding inside me :P

  6. COURAGE! *fist-o-solidarity*

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