Saturday 27 January 2024


The 2023 retrospective has been delayed a little...

Listing "what I did last year" is not now very appealing, but I'll try to keep up the tradition.

Programming, graphics

The year started with the release of Multipaint 2023 with Vic-20 modes and the beginnings of a large internal overhaul. Every export and import of native formats is handled through external scripts, and I hope to extend this idea to a few other facets of the software.

Still, the most ambitious programming task was the Commodore 64 game Lancess Priya, which had been brewing from since 2022 summer. The semi-vector graphics routines make it more of a technical exploration than a proper game. I found the energy to port the game to Commodore plus/4 too.

ZX Spectrum Next... but what's wrong?

Of old computers, Sinclair Z88 inspired me for a while, fostering thoughts about focused, keyboard-based text-only computing, but the computer eventually became just another oddity in the pile.

In December, at long last the ZX Spectrum Next arrived from the 2020 Kickstarter batch. The final moments of the year were spent tinkering with the Next and getting Multipaint to do 256-color graphics.

As the "Z80N" processor has fantasy extensions, there's really no way to build a similar computer by putting together a real Z80 and an FPGA for video/sound chip. But despite some quibbles about the authenticity of this new "Spectrum" it has been enjoyable to explore.

No Escape

The retro graphics output was modest this year, although notably it does feature the first official ZX Spectrum gfx compo outing, No Escape, a remote entry for the Edison 2023 demoparty.

For me this is somewhat humorous moment, as I originally made Multipaint to create ZX Spectrum graphics, way back in 2013. Well, okay, the one-screener Unhanged Speccy demo already featured my gfx.

This and the Vammala Party piece New King were mostly left-overs from earlier times.
Applescii Macscii, happy 40th, Mac!

Although the old computers never really left me during 1990s and early 2000s, it has now been a more dedicated ten-year journey with exploring 8/16-bit computers, PETSCII, bitmap graphics and programming.

I sometimes think this "phase" is winding down rather than going to higher gear, but something new comes up all the time. The balance of the hobby may become shifted but apparently there's no real end in sight.


No sooner than I thought the year would not have much gaming in it, I found myself playing Eurotruck Simulator 2, Carrier Command 2, Mudrunner, Lake and Just Cause 3, as documented in the blog.

I did touch Disco Elysium, but despite all the accolades it didn't look like a game I would play. Too wordy and narrative-driven for me. Before 20 minutes had passed I switched it off.

I also started with the 2009 Bionic Commando, and although it looks solid enough it will have to wait for another time. 

Again, Proton/Linux with Steam largely enabled all of this. I'd perhaps nominate Carrier Command 2 as the most interesting game experience for my 2023, despite all its flaws.


In addition I would play the occasional vintage game, and a few games on the aforementioned ZX Spectrum Next platform. Perhaps the tiny tower defense variant Next War took most of my time.

I finally became fed up with chess, at least the online variety. On self reflection, what began as a slow alternative to computer games, with focus on physical pieces, boards and paper books, ended up as an online grind with diminishing returns, sense of wasted time and increased irritation. I will return to it eventually.

TV, Books, Films

Star Wars: Ahsoka was not that bad, but it's not my generation's Star Wars anymore. Perhaps it is made for those who grew up with the prequels, Expanded Universe novels and the animated Clone Wars and Rebels series. Now instead of having rare encounters with Samurai-like Jedi, we're now treated with 1-2 light saber fights every episode.

Ahsoka. Not the series.

The first resurgence of what should be the post-slump Doctor Who has arrived, and although it looks promising, I'm wondering if the re-invention is sufficient. Soon it's 20 years since the renewal of the series, and one can say there's already nostalgia building up for those early 2000s times.

Dark was the most memorable TV series I watched this year, even if the third season went off a tangent and mostly just stalled the outcome. It started out looking like a poor man's Stranger Things, but had its own clear voice after all.

More recently, Umbrella Academy has proven to be entertaining enough, following on the footsteps of Watchmen and the like. I don't too much care about TV or film format superhero adventures, having read the stories in comic book form long time ago. Again the third season meandered and stalled around a plot point that was already evident in previous season. Such is serial TV these days.

Talking of TV, my mind is rather blank about 2023's TV. Perhaps the increasingly splintered nature of streaming TV is something that puts me off watching more. Want to rewatch Twin Peaks or a few episodes of McGyver on the spur of the moment? No, not possible.

I managed to see about 70 films (not counting re-watches) in 2023, starting off with Koyaanisqatsi and Lawrence of Arabia. Koyaanisqatsi is less artsy than its makers probably intended, but at least it sports the Philip Glass soundtrack that eventually mutated into the C64 Delta tune in Rob Hubbard's hands. I could see Lawrence as an important and influential film, but the "grand historical epic" format dragged it down somewhat.

Truman Show could be added to the list of films I really ought to have seen before, and whatever one thinks of Jim Carrey I thought the concept was more interesting than the one in Matrix. Oh, and I did see the clever Barbie, but Oppenheimer is still waiting.

I saw more than the usual amount of Finnish movies in the theater, partly because of research purposes.  The new Hirttämättömät (Unhanged) and the Spede biopic were not all that impressive but were mandatory viewing. In addition I saw Je'vida, a not too happy film about the integration of Sámi people in the 1950s.

Aki Kaurismäki's Dead Leaves (Kuolleet Lehdet) was the same usual what Kaurismäki does, but the new actors made it feel fresher and less of a "one man's odyssey". Aki's films are often set in an ambiguous time period  Man without Past looks like it could be 1950s, but suddenly you see a computer terminal in a bank... Dead Leaves is set to a specific year with laser-precision. Also, weird to see some of my neighborhood, so recently filmed, in the film.

This new year is unlikely to be very film-heavy.

Nearing the end of the year I read what felt like a ginormous amount of sci-fi, but in actuality it was a generous handful of books. As a kind of literary highlight I read Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, a monumental and not entirely enjoyable task. At least afterwards I could easily read normal-sized sci-fi paperbacks in one evening or two.

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