Leonie Ramble: My fortune cookie message last week & I’m going to GCAP2023 (Games Connect Asia Pacific)

Shh I’m venting about social media again to get that out of the way first

Yeah as expected I’m feeling bummed that my discord, instagram, twitter and many other places aren’t reaching much people since it fluctuates around the same numbers. I’m definitely not feeling alone with this. Then again a lot of people are scattering and leaving platforms too. I don’t think there will be an all-in-one place to reach people and some people just don’t want discord nor emails understandably.

Even emails might get bounced off treated like spam. Nothing new but it is still humbling.

I was tempted many times but I’m not deleting my discord…for now it’ll just be an updates server given that there’s only 3 peeps (thank you!!) and 10 or so peeps on the email newsletter (hello!)

It really does feel like a losing battle to reach people and it’s exhausting posting at many places. People keep insisting on email lists in order to be independent from other platforms but I’m happier doing this blog approach instead (plus domain/hosting is not cheap!!) All I can manage is cross posting to social media and not use those socially due to how I don’t want my time sucked away by these vampiric, addictive mainstream platforms.

My time is already being sucked away as it is by many things and distractions already! I don’t want more ways to procrastinate things ;P

It’s hard to not tie self worth to engaged audience numbers and impressions when I still post at these platforms and it’s the only way I can get any signs of feedback (given how few actually engage at all).

It’s just saddening when it’s been stagnant for years and no growth is to be seen (except super slowly at youtube) – I’m striving to let these metrics go for so, so, so long but perhaps the only way to be free from numbers shoved in your face is to not play the platform’s game. And the next best thing is just post, hope it reaches someone and practice not giving a hoot.

Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself every time I struggle with social media engagement. I’m thinking heaps about this stuff since I just hope I can reach and share stuff with people. So…I can’t help but care as much as I don’t want to 🙁

How does a hermit artist like me reach people after all?? 🙁

I’m still posting at these places because there’s still some people sticking by! I really appreciate it when a small kind handful do engage and it feels a little less lonely :’)

Probably will stop using Threads as currently it’s a ghost town for me (no one is engaging there). I want to focus on places where there are still some engaged people following (yeah my standards are low) and I want to minimise the number of Meta apps I use – Instagram is plenty enough given how some peeps are still kind of there.

Twitter…I just don’t want to post there anymore. It feels like I should since 3-5 kind people still engage so perhaps I’ll just post today’s blog post and that’s it for now. Or post things with art featured. I really don’t know 🙁

Gosh as a terminally/chronically online lurker I definitely vent about social media too much. I’m just here shouting in my own void ;P

And I’m trying out text posts like this because I just wanted to vent my heart out to myself, process my thoughts and feelings. People can read if they want :’)

Finally adding my brief concept artist (probationary?) time at Mountains studio at LinkedIn after 5 years

I worked on one of the projects mentioned in the emotional abuse accusations People Make Games documentary so I think it’s safe? I hope it’s safe to talk about my feelings here in my little blog 5 years later :’)

Don’t worry I don’t think I have much experience in terms of direct, verbal emotional abuse during my time there since fortunately I worked remotely (aside from attending a workshop in person with the team). Another also new coworker and the producers at the time were doing their best + are great and encouraging too!

On my end workwise I was intensely not feeling enough, stressing out, watching out in fear for mistakes or misunderstandings, crunching out of my own volition because of it, misunderstanding(?) the brief that things should be at a higher standard, not fully sure if I did things right and second guessing with my work during iterations and feedback from the director. This is self inflicted (though I’m not 100% sure now), how I felt like I should be performing at a high standard and to see how long I can last. I did feel like a sad fraud back then too, kept it to myself and was expecting to be let go of the job :’)

I did feel a huge relief from the pressure, dread, insecurities and stress when the producers notified me they ended the contract early, said they didn’t need me anymore, they had enough in house artists and they thanked/complimented me kindly. Without going into specifics it felt a bit weird since I don’t know anything beyond this. I accepted that I probably wasn’t the right fit anyway.

I was not aware at the time about how terrible, toxic, abusive and stressful things actually were within the studio until a saddening twitter thread from an ex Mountains lead about his horrible experiences came out years ago, some scattered, vague subtweets from other people/artists too plus the documentary spelled it out further years later. I am incredibly out of the loop, neurodivergent who struggles to read between the lines with people I don’t know and an outcast who doesn’t want to assume so I’m not one to ask and I’d rather people who were more affected/involved to have their voices heard (like in the above documentary).

After learning all this over time I felt mixed like I was left in the dark, saddened, disappointed and betrayed as acquaintances/people I knew suffered and hurt in silence at the time, I questioned what friendship/acquaintance-ship is, feeling guilty since it felt like I was relatively lucky and realising some of the weird/off feelings I had, in hindsight makes more sense.

No I don’t have anymore details and it’s not my place to – I’m just talking about my own feelings and limited perspective as I recall it. I’m not comfortable bringing up more details and people ;P

In general and not implying anything about the people in the documentary but just from my limited personal feelings and experiences: I do not have much patience, emotional energy or time for people who lash out, insult, assume/judge negatively, criticise, blame, shame, victimise themselves, guilt tripping others, manipulate others since the world apparently revolves around them and their routine, who protect their public image (so only vulnerable, less influential/experienced people experience and witness the abuse), who feel entitled to other’s time/effort/forgiveness/understanding, who only value themselves over other people’s feelings and situations and who are not willing to change nor are changing for the better.

We cannot “fix” people and get ourselves hurt in the process; they have to reflect, choose, be willing, get professional help/support and actually change and grow themselves, consistently over time. They are not entitled to forgiveness either. Of course this is easier said than done and a lesson I have to keep in mind all the time with my own life since I have a family member who is verbally abusive/negative at times and I do get triggered by it :’)

I digress. It has been 5 years. Again I hope everyone involved are in a better, happier, kinder place now.

I think my brief time at Mountains studios was one of the multiple concept art experiences that plays a part in how concept art as a job gives me anxiety since I was feeling like a fraud the entire time. Maybe I’m not suited to be a concept artist with my limited visual library and ideas. I can’t pump out concepts like a machine and concept art can be frustrating when direction and things get lost, complex, conflicting and vague along the process. I don’t have enough practice? Perhaps I really don’t like the blue sky side of concept art where I’m second guessing, can’t visualise where I’m going, the scope feels too big in possibilities and am stressed out constantly.

I do like experimentation if I’m actually the one finalising/helping the art direction, ideas and style at my own slower pace though haha. I need to practice making character designs again. Many artists compete and want to do character design when there’s few opportunities (so much pressure, comparisons and doubt so I’m often discouraged)!!

So I really am in awe and appreciate clear direction, communication, moodboards and style constraints/limitations from art directors and art leads who know what they’re looking for with lots of thoughtfulness, understanding and patience at the beginning and throughout the setbacks and iterative process! Where I’m allowed a certain level of creative freedom and boundaries I can work within! Perhaps I am more of a problem solve and iterate solutions kind of stubborn artist.

As you know I’m a worker bee/grunt artist since I’m not suited to be a lead taking so much responsibility and more gamedev hats. Perhaps I’m self sabotaging myself because of negative past experiences and feeling like a fraud. Or I know my limits because I tend to hyperfocus and crunch my life away if I get involved too deep. That and I’m an anxious, overthinking hermit blob.

Who knows, it’s probably everything :’)

Managing my negative feelings and thoughts on goal setting

I’ve been feeling gloomy, depressed and lost with my life so I just write about here as it comes up without caring if people are tired of me :’) Rethinking my life choices and getting existential.

Yep it keeps coming back in waves when you’re a creative person I guess. And anxious about my own life as a low energy hermit too.

In a professional/career sense again I don’t really have a project that I’m proud of and that I have substantial creative control over (both with the weight of the responsibility and to make, express & communicate story/feelings that I resonate with). I don’t know what that looks like since that’s super intensive. And I don’t want more stress in my life.

What is a manageable personal project where I won’t stress and burn myself out for?? What is a project that I’m excited about and not feel obligated to do because it’s expected of me?? What’s fun and sweet? For a long time I’ve been trying to prod my brain to dwell on these things and not get swept away by the public highlights of other artists’ lives.

It’s been a long, long time of trying things and I’m not sure what actually sticks. Discouraging and frustrating 🙁

I hope to change it up and out of the fanart comfort zone somewhat more but so far I keep falling back into it because it motivates me to do art. While trying to make something original is more time consuming and sometimes paralyses me. And then I doubt myself on whether I’m a fraud, outcast (by choice to manage my energy) and if I’m now irrelevant, not relatable and have fell behind. I don’t feel like a game artist since I am definitely not an all rounder indie game artist who ticks all the boxes.

Hey I still feel like a sad fraud now :’)

I’m feeling envious of people who have dreams, direction, feel fulfilled with their lives and they’re thriving right now (grass always seems greener on the other side). People who have friends from different baskets so they don’t get anxious, obsess and depend all of their emotional needs met just by a few people. People who have lots of things in common.

Yeah I have lots of anxious, sad, hopeless, unfulfilled, negative thoughts. I do have things I’m grateful for while lots of my self doubts, insecurities and fears resurface often.

And then this song comes along by Tom Cardy and cheers me up a little bit with some encouragement.

And then I came across a philosophy (I don’t know who this man is nor about the terminology) that one can “learn from the past, live in the present, plan for the future but keep changing it with an open mind – living with constant uncertainty and adapting is not comfortable and takes ongoing practice. (from a commenter)”

It relieves me because I’ve been doing this all my life but feeling like I shouldn’t be living my life, career and art this way.

I’ve been going with the flow without a “future plan” (since it always goes haywire and I really cannot predict the future) but I get horribly depressed, anxious and stressed when lots of advice is all about planning, goal setting, milestones and dreams (which do help in a general sense). That all burdens me because I am terrible at time estimates and I find myself resisting to “goals” I feel obligated to set for myself. For instance, I have no confidence in having a substantial audience and business skills to justify actually making merch, art books, products, a business, etc right now. Yes I have tried with stickers and prints in the past and I don’t have that “influence”, charisma or business skills to make it financially viable back then.

At the moment I just aim to finish a piece of art, a bit of study or progress along a course/resource instead. In my own time I’m driven by things I want to make or learn and hopefully grow as an artist and person that way. Maybe streaming is the best way to support this.

I do want to stream, practice through my performance anxiety and later get better at verbalising things. I am not sure if I would grow to enjoy streaming to 0 viewers but at the least I can make some videos without having to edit if I stream on Youtube ;P Not sure about gaming streams on twitch yet.

Gosh it’s hard to believe what I’m doing is fine. If I’m trying to learn & grow I need to have patience (as usual) as I take my slow time to change some things up :’)

Whelp I feel like I want to learn lots of things but I don’t have the time to do it all! Noooo

My knee injuries and chronic pain update from my last post + physio at last!!

I’m trying to heal from my knee/leg injuries (pain, tingling, stressing, later resting and hobbling like a duck in the past month) and pains too (rhomboid/back area, trapezius/shoulders area, arms, lower back and jaw pain). I have been waiting & holding on all this time for over a week so I can hobble over to the physio for yesterday :’)

Since my last post I continued crash course learn about how to rehabilitate my mobility and get stronger since what I’ve been doing isn’t enough :’) Then I got tired from all the videos and waited for professional help before I dive into that rabbit hole too deep.

I wasn’t sure if I could do anything and given how slow healing is – and if I can even try and go to GCAP this year. I was considering crutches but I’d rather let my legs heal instead of straining and stressing myself out…ughhh

At the moment the dull aches and pains come and go but it’s not constant anymore.

And after much communication issues and getting my appointment cancelled, I got my physio appointment anyway as I rushed there within 28 minutes right after waking up the same morning oof I had a lasting headache after that yesterday :’)

There was a lot to deal with my body pains so the physiotherapist only focused on my injured knees for my first session. I learned that as long as I strengthen, practice and train my legs daily I can work myself up out of my hermit cave/comfort zone and actually go to GCAP (first two days only) and actually/maybe meet some people (more on that below).

Prepare myself to take trains, keep myself balanced and walk about a lot…eep! Also I haven’t been to the city since pre-pandemic so it has been years – I know most won’t but I’m definitely masking up at the conference/outside.

I hope from now on my new physio will help and educate me more! So that I can manage my body better, keep my stiff/tense posture in check and that I’m not hurting myself anymore :’)

Yes as mentioned I’m going to GCAP 2023 (Australian game industry conference)

Yeah I caved since I’ve been a hermit since 2019 and I’ve never been back in the city.

I’m pushing myself to at least go this year. I’m taking a covid booster shot beforehand too!

Wow and then I can actually see how the city changed…

For those new here the last GCAP I went to was 2018 and I’ve been from 2014 to 2018 (6 years). Then I decided it was too much of a burn out for me, I got too jaded, it’s too expensive for me, then the pandemic happened. Documented all this at this blog too.

Conferences are a terribly draining, overstimulating, stressful, anxious environment of networkers, hustlers, job hunters and industry peeps just hanging with their own while I just don’t have the energy for long to exist in social group situations. I’m always overstimulated/quiet/head empty/low energy/slow/tense/anxious/overwhelmed when I’m outside and at social environments so please don’t take it personally if I don’t have much to say with my deadpan face!

I’m an autistic hermit who is I’m happy to listen, nod and talk a while :’) I zone out often when I’m out of energy so I can’t promise that I’m fully alert and focused all the time.

I’m going to face the music this year (much thanks to my supportive place of work – Hipster Whale!)

I’ll only attend two days for art talks with my mask on and social distancing (I have to manage the health risk + there is a family member who is at the “at risk” category so I need to eat somewhere else & away from too much people eep)

Maybe I’ll talk a bit and wave at people I haven’t seen in years during the downtime? Then I’ll avoid night time activities to recover and manage my anxieties, overstimulation, exhaustion and low energy. That’s my current plan.

Yes I understand that by now, nobody/almost everyone won’t wear face masks. To my understanding people tend to get sick every time at these events (I’ve gotten sick before too!!) and I’d rather take precautions and physically keep some distance from people (though I’m not sure if I can if I want to hear people speak). I don’t think I’ll eat at the venue either…I shall have to figure out food in advance since the food around that area are so expensive! I’m a stingy butt ;P

I know “making friends/connections” and some “clout chasing/hanging out/transactions/business/job hunting/paying things forward” happens the most at the parties/meals/catchups outside of conference talks but as it is, I am just passively existing and conserving my energy when I hang around at group social things.

In the past people don’t know what to do with someone with no energy like me so either they move on or I end up being an extra while they talk to someone else (which is fine depending if I’m comfortable with the company – I can just zone out haha).

One way to describe the overstimulation from memory: it tends to be a lot of “looking around and everyone looks like a huge noisy, intimidating, overwhelming mass of complex shapes and colours”. Perhaps I’ll do a few attempts to see familiar faces. And then I want time and space away and feel gloomy and guilty about not making the most of talking with people :’)

Oh if you’re reading this and you’re going to GCAP, I’m not conversational person (especially in social groups/situations) so again please please please don’t take that personally if I’m zoning out, head empty, deadpan and quiet. I am not trying to be rude, not trying to make you feel horrible nor trying to judge you with my resting tense/serious face. This is normal for me in a social, crowded, overstimulating environment (or when I’m not hermit mode). I’m just an anxious, sad, slow, neurodivergent hermit who is not used to this at all! And consequently drawing a blank on what to say and/or I just don’t want to talk!

For me I am jumping into the deep end here and pushing my personal limits :’)

I end up drifting around feeling lost/isolated/abandoned on my own because of this for better or for worse. It’s normal anyway since naturally people move onto people who can engage, talk and connect at social things. I used to feel horribly guilty for not being engaging enough to have people to stick around. And hey, sometimes I also don’t want to stick around too long around and would like to move on too (like when I wanted to draw GCAP speakers years ago and had to sit closer to the front, or when I’m just simply too drained to speak, or when I get really uncomfortable, creeped out and/or don’t vibe with someone).

Yeah I need to relearn/experience/practice people coming and going in my life again. And not take that personally/seriously. I’m honestly kind of melancholic, insecure and sad as people leave/change while I’m not sure if I’ve changed much :’)

I don’t expect deep, meaningful 1 to 1 catch ups here…conferences are a lot! While sometimes some people do hang around longer than just a few words or phrases and it’s nice! It’s not expected nor an obligation!

Perhaps a greeting or a wave can suffice since some people don’t really like texting or calls or social media or emails to keep in touch. Hey social media is always a complex mess.

If the social stuff still ends up being a mixed bag, I hope to learn and get some insights from some art talks at least! :0

I do plan to meet/hang around my coworkers in person for the first time too!

And no, I’m not going to PAXAus, the awards or any of the other night/daytime events or activities – two days is plenty for me! I don’t want to burn out too much. Nor am I interested in the drinking kinds of parties…they’re boring and overwhelming to me ;P

I want to go back to my tortoise shell after two days haha

Anyhoo who’s going to GCAP this year?

Aside from coworkers and probably a few friends do I know anyone who’s going? Hmm I don’t know if the people I knew from previous conferences are around anymore. Or they’re going to the other social events I can’t go.

Let me know if you’re keen to say hello at least! Feel free to wave, hang/zone out without talking or chat a bit :0

At least I tried – I don’t think I’m reaching much people anymore.

All the same I’ll be a quiet, overwhelmed blob :’)