2020 has been a strange and tough year for just about everyone, and it brought about a fair number of changes in my life as well. On top of all the global happenings, Mary and I became parents as Tobias was born in June, we moved into a new house, and I started a new job! Amidst it all, I still made an effort to keep up my creative endeavors, and it is time to reflect on all that I worked on in the past year. As always, it gets me excited for what the next year has to offer creatively!
Ludo Lodge YouTube Channel
Easily the biggest creative effort this year was starting the Ludo Lodge YouTube channel. I had used Ludo Lodge as a personal blogging brand for a while, but decided to split my personal brand to this site so that Ludo Lodge could really focus on content aimed at game designers. Along with that came the big decision to really commit to primarily focusing on video content.
Since uploading my first video in February of 2020, I posted a total of 30 videos over the course of the year and was able to grow to nearly 1000 subscribers. It has been a great way to combine my passions of game design and teaching, and it has been very intrinsically rewarding to see how many people I have been able to help with my videos. It is certainly a big time commitment (I have settled on publishing two videos each month), but I am excited about the future of the channel. If you are a game designer, consider subscribing and let me know what kind of content you’d like to see!
2020 marks another year of my brother John and I working very slowly on AlphaNoodles, our puzzle game about finding hidden messages in your pasta. Part of the slowdown was due to taking some time to rebrand our collaborative efforts (rather than releasing games in the app stores under “Ryan Langewisch”), and we landed on Bullet Squid. If you would like to be notified of when we release games under Bullet Squid, consider signing up for our mailing list over at BulletSquid.com (we appreciate it!).
Last year, I think I claimed that AlphaNoodles would be released in 2020. I think I can now say with high confidence that it will be released in 2021. It is really coming together as a puzzle game that feels different from other word puzzle games I’ve played, and will also have quite good replay value with over 1000 puzzles, each with dynamically generated solutions.
Temple of Xibalba
On the board game design front, I collaborated with my friend Tyson on an entry for the Button Shy “18 Card Legacy Game” contest, with our submission Temple of Xibalba. It is always fun to work under the constraints of a design contest, and this one, in particular, was especially constraining with just 18 cards and some sticker sheets at our disposal. It was also fun to truly co-design a game, and it ended up being a very positive experience that has me excited about the possibility of collaborating on more designs in the future. Our entry ended up as a finalist but didn’t end up finishing in the top 3. I am still proud of what we created though, and see potential to develop the design further to a point where it could be publishable.
Other Board Game Designs
I worked on and off on a few other board game designs, namely my “Racing Game” and some initial ideas for a “Rock Band” co-design with Tyson. I feel that the Racing Game has some really solid ideas and has come a long way, but it kind of fell off my radar a bit when the wave of quarantine/new baby/new job hit. Hoping to return to it at some point with a fresh perspective!
I really want to work more on board game designs in 2021, whether that is continued work on these games or pursuing new ones. I am still figuring out the balance between creating video content for Ludo Lodge, working on video game projects for Bullet Squid, and working on board game designs (amidst other life responsibilities), but I am slowly learning what works best for me.
David Papercraft Statue
We moved into a new house this year, and it is a house that happens to have a lot of cool shelves and alcoves built into the design. The previous owner had a lot of artistic pots and other three-dimensional display pieces that utilized this space, but we weren’t sure how we wanted to use it. Once quarantine hit, we had the idea of purchasing papercraft designs that require you to cut, fold, and glue cardstock to create low-poly models. We certainly didn’t ease into the difficulty as we selected David by Michaelangelo as our first one, but after many hours it actually turned out really well!
I love playing the piano, and I try to always work on learning a new piece. In 2020, I learned two songs well enough to record them:
Personal Blog Posts
After splitting Ludo Lodge into a separate entity from my personal blog, I still kept up some of my “favorites” posts that I try to put out every year:
- My Favorite Movies Watched Since Last Year – 2020
- My Favorite “New to Me” Albums Since Last Year – 2020
- My Top 40 Board Games (2020) – #40-31
- My Top 40 Board Games (2020) – #30-21
- My Top 40 Board Games (2020) – #20-11
- My Top 40 Board Games (2020) – #10-1
- My Favorite Books Read Since Last Year – 2020
New Fragile Glory Impressions Website
My wife Mary is a full-time artist and has been running her art business for over 15 years now. This year was time for another website refresh! While it mostly utilizes premade templates and styles, there was still a lot of creative work that went into structuring her business’s presence online. Check it out at FragileGloryImpressions.com.
Moved My Life to Notion
This year I discovered Notion and quickly fell in love with its powerful flexibility for storing digital notes, project/task management, goal setting, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Historically, I had been using a combination of OneNote, Trello, and Google Drive/Docs to organize my life across these use cases, but Notion was able to replace the bulk of my usage of those other apps.
I include this in my Creative Review simply because there was a lot of work and creativity that went into learning Notion and really optimizing my Notion workspace into something that serves my creative work effectively. Those that know me know that I meticulously track my habits and goals, and I was able to transfer all of those systems into Notion in a way that is more powerfully connected than ever before. The wide-open sandbox of building blocks provided by Notion may not be for everyone, but it is pretty much the perfect program for me.
Old Game Playthroughs
Near the end of the year, I was reminiscing about old video games that my brother and I made dating back to middle school when we first discovered Game Maker and taught ourselves how to program. I realized that while I still had access to the files for most of those games, they are becoming harder and harder to play on any modern computers. Since I happened to have Parallels for Mac which allows you to run Windows virtual machines, I took the opportunity to install Windows XP and configure a setup that allowed me to run all of the old games.
I decided the best way to preserve those memories was for me to record playthroughs of them so that I at least have the video footage when they are no longer playable. This is no small task with over 40 games on my list, but I committed to start knocking them out chronologically. You can see some of the oldest games in the playlist so far, and hopefully I have them all recorded by March of 2021.
I enjoy writing this post for two primary reasons: it reminds me of all that has happened in a year, and it also gets me excited about what I am working on this next year. Don’t hesitate to make 2021 the year that you pursue some goals that you are passionate about!