We're in our sixth month of lockdown. We are well into our third wave. Our case numbers have spiked hard, causing the provincial government to issue another stay-at-home order for four weeks. That was two weeks ago; today they announced even more restrictions, as well as a two week extension to the stay-at-home order. It's looking grim, and I'm tired. I'm tired of this lifestyle. The new variants are running rampant through the health system. The vaccine rollout is slow. My area is listed as a hotspot, so apparently I'm eligible for a vaccine earlier than expected, but there's no indication of when I'll get an appointment. I was one of the quick ones who managed to register while the website was active, but haven't received any further information.

I keep looking at flights back to New Zealand. I'd have to fly to Vancouver, then to Los Angeles, and then to Auckland. It's expensive. Then I have to quarantine for fourteen days. Also expensive. It's an option I'd rather not take unless absolutely necessary. Also I'd be flying back into winter, and that's just depressing.

I'm tired because my patience is running out. I don't have motivation to do anything. It sucks.

(Almost) One Year of Pandemic

We're coming up to a whole year of working from home, marking what has been an extraordinarily disappointing and depressing year for many of us, myself included. Winter has been tough. What is normally a festive time with gatherings for Christmas, New Year, Chinese New Year and Random Events in March became a long, cold and literally dark lockdown over four months. I've made it clear I've struggled a lot throughout this time; I like to think of myself as very mentally stable but even this has been taxing on me. I got a sun lamp from Bed Bath and Beyond just after Christmas, and that's definitely helped. Walmart was supposed to deliver one before Christmas but they screwed up the order and it ended up getting sent back to the supplier, some random dodgy house in Seattle. I bought some bathroom scales as well, and I've lost 4kg since a year ago.

It's frustrating because it feels like I'm not doing anything with my life at the moment. I'm just passing time until everything is back to normal. It feels like a massive waste, and it's even more disheartening for me because I look back at my friends and family in New Zealand, who have enjoyed a magnificent summer and an almost COVID-free lifestyle. Our case numbers are dropping though, it might give us a bit of reprieve from lockdown as the weather starts to warm up. I've tried to get outdoors every so often, even though it's usually been below zero. Really the only reason I leave the house now is for food, be it to pick up some takeaways from my favourite neighbourhood joints, or to walk to Nations to get groceries. Sometimes I bike out to Cherry Beach along the waterfront trail, which is really nice. There's a fantastic sunset viewpoint at Polson Pier, which I've caught a few times.

Even in times like this, there's still some beautiful scenery to see around the city. But I miss travelling and going to restaurants and playing badminton and going to the gym. I guess I'm missing social interaction a lot more than I thought I would.

The Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn

I've seen many amazing astronomical phenomena in my lifetime. I remember watching the transit of Venus on the west shore of Manhattan Island in 2012 with the New York Amateur Astronomy Society. I saw Comet McNaught from Mt Roskill in Auckland, January 2007. There was one morning in 2016 I got up at 5am to see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn in the sky at once. I've seen total and partial lunar eclipses and partial solar eclipses. This year's biggest event is the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, and naturally, today it's overcast and miserable, so there's absolutely no chance of seeing these two magnificent gas giants at their closest in the sky. I did capture this photo from a few days ago, so not all is lost.

The crescent moon with Jupiter and Saturn to the right, in the glow of twilight.

Second Lockdown

I'm finding second lockdown harder than the first. I'm not quite sure if it's a combination of boredom because outside is cold, dark, wet, windy, snowing, or a combination of the above, or if it's the onset of seasonal affective disorder, or if it's something else. I don't have any fun events or social gatherings to look forward to. It's just...how can I pass the time until everything is over.

This past weekend was sunny at least, and I spent most of it biking around the waterfront. I made it all the way to Cherry Beach. There were quite a few people out, though I did wonder how many of those people were socialising outside their household bubble. That's probably another factor in my frustration, I feel like I'm giving up a lot of the things I like doing but others aren't.

And then I look back at New Zealand, where my family are, where people are hugging and high fiving and enjoying the warmer weather and the longer days. Holiday season sucks when you're alone. It's going to be a long winter.

Watch Dogs: Legion - Now With Heaps More Kiwi, Bro

My first Ubisoft game, Watch Dogs: Legion, is finally out. It gives me immense pride to see this released to the world, and I hope it lives up to the overwhelmingly positive reception it got when we announced it at E3 in 2019.

Though I worked on many gameplay systems - the AR Cloak, player inventory, character customisation, some of the gadgets and hacking abilities - there is one particular aspect of the game that will forever hold my legacy and it is this one thing that I am most proud of.

This map.

This map is shown in the game start sequence as DedSec London comes online. Observe a screenshot of this map during development, around the end of September 2019.

Yes, even my own project had committed the ultimate New Zealand faux pas - they left us off the map. I was outraged. I wrote an impassioned email to the entire project team and spoke about the wonderful things New Zealand has given the world, like Lord of the Rings, Flight of the Conchords, Lorde and Taika Waititi (this resonated well with many people who thoroughly enjoyed What We Do in the Shadows, not to mention he won People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival that year). I mentioned that subreddit and that IKEA map. I got a bug report filed for the issue, which became the most upvoted issue on the project at 85 votes.

By the end of the day, the artist in charge had responded to say that she had updated the map, and the next day, the bug report was marked as fixed and verified. I pulled a build for myself to see, and sure enough, Aotearoa was there, all nine glorious hexagons. I had literally put New Zealand on the map. I had saved Watch Dogs: Legion from being another casualty on /r/mapswithoutnewzealand, and that is my greatest achievement on this project.

#GetNZOnTheMap. Chur!