The Longest Blink

You know when you blink sometimes and a short amount of time passes? Well it seems that 2020 passed through one of the longest of blinks and some or most may share the same feeling that it wasn’t the most spectacular of years. We all from a world-wide perspective and still do for this moment in time, know that the pandemic has shocked every aspect of our lives. Staying in, is the new, if at all possible, saving yourself and those outside of our homes until the virus subsides and vaccines protect our immune systems. And for those that have left us, we can but keep their spirit alive by speaking their name and remembering them as we did upon this fragile Earth. ❤

Ever since working from home, I have felt more exhausted than I ever had commuting in my car and never forgetting a day from a few years ago when it took me three hours to return to my front door when an accident on the A34 clogged the artery roads back towards Oxford. 😞

Keeping ever focused on hobbies and things alike, I made a few changes in the small bedroom that is a small office / study. Back in October 2020, I decided to change my desk which had been in the flat since my wife Mary and I moved in back 2007. To be honest, I wish I did this years ago, as it has given me much more surface space and room for computers old and new.

The old Wooden Desk
The new L-Shaped Desk
All setup and ready to go!

The new desk has an additional Monitor riser for the silver Laptop, which was added after this photo was taken. My work Laptop sits covered and snug until the next time. And the funny thing about all of this, is that the old desk currently resides in my living room, as it hasn’t been collected or disposed of because the current situation and the multiple lockdowns and tiers we are now living with. To deliver isn’t a problem, but to get items removed or taken away, is a different matter! It will go in time! Eventually! 😲

You will be pleased to know, that my passion to code has resumed and over the Christmas 2020 period I managed to release a shoot’em up called ‘Arista Blasta’ on PC. It was coded on my faithful programming tool, GameMaker Studio 2. The concept idea has been floating around for well over a year on the Commodore 64, which had been put on hold. So, I guess you can call this a kind of realisation of what it could become.

The full game can be downloaded from my Alex Aris Games site, which has a brief instruction PDF included. Whilst you are there, why not take a look and download some of the other games.

About a year ago or maybe even longer, I decided to remove all of the videos from my YouTube channel. It used to contain LEGO speed build tutorials, unboxing videos, Dashcam car journey’s and poetry. From what I can remember, changes with Google terms and conditions for content creators created a shift in peoples perceptions because of advertising and the younger generation using the platform. I found it all to be very confusing and just found it easier to removed all my content and just use YouTube to just watch gaming, music, technology and tutorial videos. Well, over the last few days, I felt the need to just start using my channel again for game development related content. So, from today, I managed to screen record the first five games I created or was involved with uploading a few minutes or less per game onto my channel. I am hoping to screen record all of my games, so everyone will be able to see them in action before playing them. Not only this, but I’ve also setup a Ko-fi account for voluntary donations if you the need or want to. I do love game design and feel very privileged to be able to create games, even if sometimes it takes a while or with ‘Arista Blasta’ only a week over Christmas, because I had the time and life permitted it. 😊

Just to break up the previous paragraph a little, I was fortunate enough to be able to crowdfund via Kickstarter the ZX Spectrum Next Issue 2. What fascinated me about this the most was the specifications of the machine and the fast BASIC language. So, August 2021 is the hopeful shipping date. Between then and now, it will allow the team producing the hardware to make it as glorious as the first issue or better. I do hope to code a version of ‘Arista Blasta’ with the ZX Spectrum Next as well, if it is a cut-down version. For the time being, I can get used to what it has to offer via emulation with CSpect and Zesarux.

I’ve got two other ZX Spectrum related items that I funded via Kickstarter as well …

ZX Spectrum Crash Annual
ZX Spectrum Game Review Cards

Some might find it funny that I have taken quite a shine to the ZX Spectrum, when from the age of 13 my first home computer was a Commodore 64. Although, I will be a pretty much hardcore Commodore fan, the Speccy has a certain charm about it and I do particularly like what it has to offer. I really do love the AY Sound chip, even though the Commodore SID Chip is engrained into the musical synthetic of my mind.

I hope the next blog post won’t be so long in coming, the last 12 months have been truly surreal. Stay safe and take care of each other until I type again! ❤

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