One Year Without Caffeine

The first time I drank coffee as a kid, I threw up all night. I was like five years old, and I must have taken a sip from a cup from my parents. A dozen years later, I met Auri and I started drinking black tea and coffee with a lot of milk and a lot of sugar.

Over the years, we drank coffee while having a “Jause”, it’s an Austrian thing for just putting a lot of things from your fridge onto your plate, like cheese, meat, pepper, tomatoes, bread, and just eating it with your hands. Or with cake and other sweets, like Blattlstock or Sachertorte. Then we started drinking it in the mornings, especially during Winter, because it was a warm start to the day.

Slowly but surely it turned into a habit. One coffee in the morning, one after lunch, and one after dinner. We switched brands to a sweeter one because we noticed stomach issues from the brand we bought at the grocery store, and we slowly put in less and less sugar. I also reduced the amount of milk I put into it, until it was just a spoonful. At this point I drank it basically black.

Then we started noticing our sleep getting worse. There was a lot of anxiety and stress from our jobs too, but something was off. And of course, we knew it was the third coffee before bed. You might say, that’s obvious, but the third one just felt really cozy for some reason (maybe because of the dopamine?).

We found a coffee replacement - a dandelion coffee, which has zero caffeine and you can prepare it just like filter coffee and drink it with milk. So, for the third cup of the day, right before bed, we switched to this one. And I believe we slept a little better, can’t say for sure.

Then, last year, I got covid. I was practically dead for almost two weeks, no appetite, and I couldn’t smell anything for a while, and everything tasted wrong. I couldn’t drink coffee for two weeks. This was basically my rehab.

Normally, you can’t just quit drinking coffee. Usually you get headaches from withdrawal, it’s a very specific kind of headache that feels stingy and particularly annoying. Which is why coffee is such a nasty addiction. The easiest way to get rid of the headache is to just drink another cup.

But now, I accidentally escaped its firm grasp. When I got better, I tried drinking a cup, and it felt like my heart burst. I was still recovering from covid, so my body felt a bit weak overall, and a lot of things like exercising or taking walks would increase my heart rate more than usual (or at least it felt like it).

So, one time, when my taste was more or less normal again, we sat in a café, I just asked if they had decaf coffee. They did! I drank it and to my surprise, it… tasted just fine.

We looked up the brand that we drank at home and discovered that they also offered a decaf option. Auri bought it, thinking we’d never get through the whole package. When it arrived, I tasted it and it was just like the one with caffeine, only without the increased heart rate and anxiety. It was honestly such an awesome feeling! I could have my coffee again, but still sleep well.

One year later, it’s kind of boring how normal it feels to not have the usual coffee anxiety. I feel like I can have moments of calm throughout the day a little bit easier. Work can still be stressful, but I do wonder how much worse it would be with caffeine.

And best of all, I don’t depend on it. I can just not drink it if I don’t feel like it. There’s no more headache looming on the horizon if I don’t get my caffeine hit. And honestly, that is quite freeing.

As with other substances and media, it makes you wonder why this is socially accepted. Everybody does it, right? That’s what people say. I know I’ve gotten looks and questions whenever I order decaf coffee in restaurants. But, it tastes the same. Why wouldn’t I drink it without caffeine?

9 Cam by Alexis Clay

Alexis just released a new game called "9 Cam", and it's inspired by Halfquake, as you can probably tell! It has evil smilies, black and white textures, and even music by me.

It still needs ratings to not get blammed on Newgrounds, so please check it out and rate it.


Halloween Sale

Get all my games for just $6.66 in the Halloween Sale.

My games weren't spooky enough to get into the Steam Halloween sale. Reminds me that I should make a horror game at some point!

Until Death

Every day I wake up and all I want to do is work on my game. This has been the truth for many years now, in fact, that's pretty much all I can remember. Before Halfquake, I made Counter-Strike maps and experimented with music. I wrote short stories, built maps in a game called Kye, and wrote a text adventure in batchfiles.

There's a video of me as a child, sitting before a Yamaha keyboard (before my parents got divorced). My dad was filming, and my mother was standing next to me. I played a melody that I thought of, I turned to the camera, grinning and checking if dad was "getting this". My mother would then ask me if I wanted to play something from a note sheet book. I declined and just kept jamming my own stuff. Then mother would just put the book in front of me and sort of "suggest" that I play that.

I gracefully wound down my track with an "end" button (which caused the percussion to play a sort of fill-in), and begrudgingly played what mom told me to play. After that was done, I played another melody that I found interesting. Again mom would ask me to play something from the book.

When I accidentally saw that clip recently, I was stunned. I couldn't remember it, but I vaguely recalled the melodies I played from memory, and I sort of still understood why I liked them. And I realized that I'm still that kid.

I absolutely hate being told what to do. That is simply not what I'm here for. My mind is full of ideas, all of which are asking me to be turned into reality. And believe me, they won't shut up, not even in my dreams. Thankfully, I've found a compromise that allows me to live an adult life and still have time for my own projects.

But as time slips away from me, I'm trying to hold it closer. Knowing that my time is running out, I'm longing for even more to call my own. And I know this has been an on-going theme on this website, because I kept mentioning it ten years ago.

I'm using productivity tricks, I use lists, motivation hacks, time audits, but all that does is burn me out, so I have to take it slow and steady. At least one hour per day, that's been my motto for over 15 years now. And that is what I will keep on doing until the day I die.

Will it be enough? Probably not. But realistically, with an infinite amount of ideas, could it ever be? No, but I have to learn to be okay with that.

In Unity We Trust

In 2015, I finally decided it was time to learn a new engine. It had been 5 years since Halfquake Sunrise, and even more years since Flash died. I had a dream that I could start selling games on Steam. My options back then were Unreal and Unity.

I chose Unity because it felt more like home. It felt a bit like working in Flash, since every object could have its own little script. And I didn't want to use C++.

So, for 8 years, I built up knowledge in Unity. I released two commercial games, one even made it to consoles and had a physical release.

Now, Unity has dropped the info that on January 1st 2024 they'll start charging per install if you meet certain thresholds.

Per install.

How do they track that? We don't know, and according to people inside Unity, they don't know either. Spyware, probably. Or, just a guesstimate based on, uh, a roll of the dice.

In any case, if you reach $200k in sales and 200k installs, you pay 20 cents per install. OR - you could upgrade to Unity Pro, then those thresholds increase to 1 million in sales and installs.

Cool, but that doesn't even hurt me as a small developer, right? These thresholds are way out of reach. So what's the big deal?

This is a huge breach of trust. Not only do they change their pricing terms completely out of left field with four months until they are active, they also apply these new terms retroactively for already released games.

This hurts developers who currently have been working on games for several years. This hurts devs who have games already released, and are now expected to pay a completely random amount of money to Unity. Remember, tracking installs is complete horseshit. You don't know which install is from a charity bundle, from a pirated copy, or from a legit copy, unless you throw privacy out the door and spy on all users.

And who's to say that this is the last thing they will try? In two years, they'll say, oh damn, we're sorry, but those fees we added recently? Yeah, we're gonna need to "adjust" them. Whoops, now it's 30 cents per install.

And you know what? If Unity can get away with it, other big companies might even take note. Oh heck, subscriptions are great, but hohoho, we can also charge when the media created with our product is consumed? Ooohohoho!

It is absolutely disgusting.

Unity's CEO is probably to blame, who's famous for suggesting that reloading should cost $1 if you've played 6 hours of Call of Duty. We don't know for sure, but what we do know is that a LOT of people internally warned against ever publishing these new terms.

Apparently, prolific Unity users were in a call or in Slack channels with Unity prior to the announcement, where they also warned Unity not to go ahead. And they did it anyway.

Because ultimately - they don't care.

They planned for people to jump ship. They knew that there would be outrage, they expected it. Small fish would probably jump ship. But you know what? Big fish like Genshin Impact, Microsoft (Gamepass), Nintendo (Pokemon), Disney (Marvel Snap) - surely they'll just pay up, right?

Just imagine Unity knocking on Microsoft's door, saying, hey, uh, all those Gamepass titles with millions of downloads? Yeah, you owe us now, sorry!

Apparently, there already is a class-action lawsuit in the making. In the meantime, Unity is doing absolutely nothing in response. They're silent. People who worked for Unity have quit, and more will follow.

And you know who else will quit Unity? Game developers. En masse.

Developers such as Mega Crit (Slay the Spire), Innersloth (Among Us), David Szymanski (DUSK, Iron Lung) - they're all moving away from Unity. And if your developer community leaves, there is no more engine left.

Existing projects? Will probably be finished. Afterwards? Goodbye Unity.

And that counts for me as well. I will finish Faith in Despair in Unity because it is built on several years of existing code from other projects. But I've already looked at Godot. And it's refreshingly fun to work with. And totally free forever.

If you want even more info about this whole disaster, watch this video which is probably the best summary I've seen so far.