January 2019 Update

(CW: medical/neurology, mental health)

Hey, everyone, it's 2019! Here's the current state of affairs:

- I spent the majority of the last three months of 2018 awaiting results from a neuropsychological diagnosis exam. The results ended up being unsurprising in more ways than not: generalized anxiety disorder and an unspecified depressive disorder (which I knew I had), but also an unspecified neurodevelopmental disorder, due to a few testing areas in which I did astoundingly poorly (verbal recall and processing time); it explains why I've been having trouble communicating or keeping ideas in order, as well as the discomfort I've felt on the occasions where I've had to speak in a professional persona (rather than as my authentic self). I've been referred to get a neurological workup done to find out whether it's the result of a treatable medical problem, so I'll be doing that ASAP. If the tests come clear, I'm going to assume the problems that have come up recently are side-effects of my antidepressants, and I'll be speaking with my doctor to figure out alternative options.

- The exam was a grueling 16 combined hours of unpacking my life circumstances and doing menial tests; since I've got anxiety, the wait for results was a hard one, and it seemed to me once the testing was over like I wasn't going to get a clear path forward from this approach, so I looked for other options to improve my mental health and stay productive. I was able to come up with a morning routine I've been following daily, which involves 45 minutes of blue light therapy from a seasonal affective lamp and my partner helping me get motivated to exercycle as often as they do. This started in early December and has been going strong ever since; it feels at times like I'm a slave to my schedule, and moving between tasks can take a while, but I'd still call what I've got a major improvement over where I was at a few months ago.

- As a holiday gift for my partner Phen, I put together a 3D model of their fursuit character: '90s punk skater Apogee Westwood, for Phen's exclusive use in the community-built fangame/mod THUG PRO. This was built from the ground up to conform to the proportions and limitations of the Tony Hawk's Underground 2 animation armature, resulting in a character with 100% hand-painted textures that looks pretty decent ingame. It was implemented with very little testing, however, which meant all sorts of small issues cropped up in the media Phen put out in the excitement of the days that followed. So, over the next week I'll be fixing the vertex weights and tweaking a few other things, and I'll post a detailed postmortem here afterward.

- Following that, Apogee seems like a good test case for expanding my horizons in 3D modeling (actually finishing models). The positive feedback I ended up getting from the intro video and screenshots was a welcome confidence boost, and it relieved my worries that I wouldn't be able to render appealing-looking characters in 3D.

- My last update (back in March of last year, wow!) made it clear that I wanted to make 3D models of my characters that'd fit in alongside the finest in anime-styled videogames, and that ambition has not changed in the slightest. The models following Apogee will be different; since they'll be made for my own renders of artwork done in Blender itself, their look will be more driven by materials and built-in polygonal details than by lighting baked into texture data, which should allow them to look in place in all sorts of renders. At the same time, this is a clear recipe for perfectionism to take hold, so I'll have to keep that in mind to make it possible bring future models to a finished state.

- For fun (not for profit, I promise), I also started streaming video games a bit more often on my Mixer channel. This started in early December with a full playthrough of a modded copy of EarthBound, and continues in January with the start of a full playthrough of NieR Gestalt. I think future streams are going to be of even more media I'm already familiar with, since I've reached that wonderful age where I get to introduce the things I'm most fond of to an audience of adults ten years (or more) younger than I am.

- Finally, I've made a Trello board of current and queued-up projects and personal goals. I've been checking and updating it daily, and I find it's a pretty good method of keeping track of past victories and current priorities. It's public, so feel free to check in on it to see how I'm doing and what I've currently got going on.

That's it for now! I'd like to resume doing these monthly, though I must insist that my creative efforts are not dependent on patron income in the slightest. Additionally, since this is a cumulative update, future monthly updates will probably be shorter. As always, feel free to adjust or drop your pledges as necessary; thank you all for your friendship and support.