Remember when, in my January retrospective, I wrote "I am going to play a fuckton of Monster Hunter: World in February". Yeeeeeeaaaaaaaaahhhhhh I may have played a teensy bit more than a fuckton.
According to the game I have played over 100 hours since it was released on January 26th and I have only ever used a single weapon type. There is easily a couple hundred more hours left in the game this year alone. Hopefully I will space that out a bit more sensibly and not continue on with the life of eat, sleep, hunt, repeat.
While I may have done basically nothing but play Monster Hunter after work, my mornings were filled with bouldering or strength training and my weekends were much more diverse ranging from playing Kingdom Death: Monster to devouring Oathbringer to finally making my own hot sauce. So, without further delay, lets move on to the February retrospective.
February turned out to be an amazing month for bouldering. I continued my upward trend from January and absolutely destroyed most of the V4 routes at my gym. On February 10th I climbed four different V4 routes, one V5 and attempted a V6. On February 18th I climbed eight different V4s and on February 25th I climbed nine different V4s. I honestly could not believe the progress I was making. March is undoubtably going to be the month where I finally do multiple V5s in a single session.
Outside of the bouldering gym I continued to do push-ups, back extensions and tricep extensions before my cardio in an attempt to build strength. It is definitely helping because I was able to hit my goal of 30 push-ups at once which seemed a ludicrous goal only a month ago. I've attempted to add pull-ups and crunches to this routine but now it is starting to feel more like a standalone workout and not something to try to squeeze in before cardio. I'm not saying that this is a bad thing, just that I believe I need to take a more holistic approach to strength training and really figure out what I am hoping to get out of it now.
One thing that I am disappointed with myself is that I did not start doing yoga. I had actually checked out a studio that was a quick walk from my place. I talked to someone there, got all the information I needed about getting started, checked out their schedule and picked out some intro classes that I could go to. I was all ready and then an unforeseen health issue prevented me from starting. I don't want to do go into details here but everything is sorted now and I am dead set on doing my first yoga class this weekend. No ifs, ands, or buts!
Everything I just wrote makes it sound like things are going excellent health-wise and yet I am still not losing weight. Worse than that, I am actually gaining weight. While the majority of it is muscle I have plateaued back at 20% body fat which is far from ideal. Combine that with the fact that I have probably been way too lenient on myself with regards to food and it really isn't a surprise that this is happening. So the goal for March is to crackdown on what I am putting into my body and focus on eating healthy. I have done a solid job over the last year improving my exercising habits. It is time to put that same energy towards my diet.
And now we come to the first casualty caused by my addiction to Monster Hunter: World. While I did manage to drag myself away from the game and work on my Git Leaderboard script at the beginning of the month, I soon fell completely off the wagon. It wasn't until near the end of the month when I started working on the draft for this article that I realized how little hobby programming I had done.
I scrambled to clean-up what I had programmed and published it to GitHub on the last day of February. This was an act of pure desperation to prove to myself that I didn't "waste" all of that time playing video games.
In March I need to find a better way of integrating hobby programming into my day. I thought using my Hobonichi Techo journal to allot time would work but it was still far too easy to say "Eh fuck it. Let's do something else instead". The worst part was that once I finally started programming I really did enjoy it and got sucked in. But when I put it down for a day or two and my interest cooled it was very difficult to spark it back up again. It is the age old problem with programming where the solutions to problems are so daunting that it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But once you start and get deep into the weeds you no longer care because you are lost in the moment.
Read a book
In January I made a goal of "push hard to finish reading Oathbringer" and holy shit did I deliver. I was completely enamored with that book at the start of February and actually read for over seven hours on February 10th to finish it. I was obsessed. I just had to see how it ended and I was not disappointed in the slightest. There were definitely some lulls in the previous two books of The Stormlight Archive but Brandon Sanderson seems to have hit his stride and Oathbringer was all rise. Seriously, the later half of the book just kept building. Intriguing events were constantly occurring but you couldn't see exactly where they were all leading. When the payoff finally came it was incredibly cathartic. I am genuinely sad that I will have to wait three to four years for the next book in the series.
To help pass that time, and to act as methadone for my Monster Hunter addiction, I have decided to reread The Lord of the Rings in March. I first read The Lord of the Rings back in 2003 when the films were released and am very curious how the books will resonate with me 15 years later.
Holy shit has it really been 15 years? Seems like only yesterday I was standing outside a theatre in Kitchener waiting for the first showing of The Fellowship of the Ring.
So I really didn't play any video games this month. Spent most of my time reading, working in my garden, writing my screenplay, going to farmers' markets. You know, the usual San Francisco life.
Please tell me you didn't believe that. You know what I did this month. I played Monster Hunter: World until my eyes bled. I would hook that shit up directly to my veins if it was physically possible. I averaged 2-3 hours of Monster Hunter: World a night for Christ's sake. And even after all that time I have still only used the Charge Blade and not managed to beat the tempered Kirin quest to unlock my hunter rank. It never ceases to amaze me how much content Monster Hunter games have.
There was only one game that could pull me away from Monster Hunter: World for a night and it is called Into the Breach. It is the sophomore outing of Subset Games who became indie dev royalty with the release of their first game FTL: Faster Than Light.
Into the Breach is essentially Pacific Rim meets Advanced Wars. Kaiju erupt from beneath the Earth and you need to pilot three mechs to stop them from destroying cities. The combat is incredibly simple yet deceptively complex. After two and half hours of playing this game I can already see dozens of other strategies I want to try which will eat up tens of hours of playtime. Also playthroughs are an hour long at most so it is really easy to try out a play-style, fail and then jump right back in again. The game encourages experimentation which is a welcome thing to see in this day and age.
It is impossible for any game to take my game of the year award away from Monster Hunter: World. But I am having a hard time seeing how anything else this year is going to take runner up away from Into the Breach.
Plan out my day
I failed horribly at this because every day just became "exercise, play Monster Hunter: World". I even stopped writing the goals down because it was so obvious what I was going to do that day.
In March I am going to force myself to write a little blurb about why I want to complete a goal so I can look back and see my motivations each day. I also want to force myself to write why I didn't complete a goal so I can also start collating those reasons. In my mind the answer to everything is "it was a tough day at work and I just wanted to relax" but I suspect that if I start writing down the reasons why I will discover things are much more nuanced.
I thought my Monster Hunter addiction was going to stop me from completing my goals but I did a good job at carving out at least a little time to complete most of them.
An unforeseen health issue prevented this but everything is good now and I promise that I am going to start yoga the first weekend in March.
Do thirty push-ups in a row.
Amazingly I did this on February 16th and repeated it on February 24th. I thought this was going to be a stretch goal primarily used for motivation but my strength improved faster than anticipated.
Build script for generating iOS framework projects.
How many months in a row have I failed at this now?
Publish Game of the Year 2011 article.
It took over four hours to write but I finally completed it. I really need to find a way to stop spending so much time on these things. I still got five more to go.
Hotlink at least two articles from different media sources.
I linked to the Burnout Paradise: Remastered trailer and an excellent article about testing asynchronous code in Swift.
Make a hot sauce from scratch.
I followed this recipe except I substituted apple cider vinegar for white vinegar and it turned out amazing. In March I plan to kick it up a notch and try one involving habaneros.
Defeat the "final boss" in Monster Hunter: World.
Oh Lord we did this on February 8th and got to the point where we could kill it in like 20 minutes.
Play year 3 of Kingdom Death: Monster campaign.
I hunted the screaming antelope and did not have as much trouble as I anticipated. One of the survivors did murder my character and then Elsie's character proceeded to drink my blood to gain my power but that is pretty standard for Kingdom Death apparently.
Push hard to finish reading Oathbringer.
Absolutely devoured this book. There was no need to "push hard". I couldn't put it down.
I started out writing this article thinking it would be all excuses as to why I didn't get anything done but I actually did fairly well. While my evenings were mostly Monster Hunter, my mornings continued to be incredibly productive and I did make good use of my weekends.
If I continue along this path but dial back the Monster Hunter, spend a bit more time programming and watch what eat I think I will have a very successful March. Speaking of which let's take a look at my goals:
- Do yoga at least eight times. The studio I want to go to is a quick walk from where I live and they have a plethora of classes scheduled so I have no excuse.
- Do three reps of thirty push-ups each. I want to continue working on my strength and this seems like a nice raise of the bar.
- Build script for generating iOS framework projects. Carrying this one over from January. There are no excuses after this month. Either I work on something involving iOS or hobby programming has died again.
- Publish Games of the Year 2012 article.
- Hotlink at least three things.
- Make a hot sauce from scratch using habaneros.
- Write about the motivations behind the goals I set every day and about why I failed to keep them.
- Play a new video game. I am thinking either Burnout Paradise: Remastered, Bayonetta for Switch, or Far Cry 5.
- Play year 4 of Kingdom Death: Monster campaign.
- Read at least half of The Lord of the Rings.
- Build the Gundam figurine Elsie bought me for Christmas.