Estimated reading time: 8 minute(s)

I begin our month-in-review by wishing everyone a happy Halloween – although since most readers will find this post after Halloween, it may be more appropriate for me to say that I hope you had a relaxing and pleasant Halloween. Last year, I posted our 2020 October month-in-review on November 1 to accommodate our special Halloween article. This month, we make a little bit of New Leaf Journal history by not doing that. Victor and I each published one Halloween article today already. This makes it three articles for October 31, 2021. Not only is this the first time that we have published more than one article in a day since September 2, 2020, it is the first time we have ever published three articles in one day.

Title page for "Sonny's Halloween" video game project being created by N.A. Ferrell and Victor V. Gurbo.
Keep reading to learn about “Sonny’s Halloween”

I have quite a bit in store for our October review. First, I will recap some of the highlights from a month of new content. Second, I will list our most-visited articles from the 10th month of 2021. Third, I will preview a video game that Victor and I are working on. While we had hoped to finish a playable draft in October, we will have to settle for posting just a preview of it now. Finally, I will also preview some other things to look forward to in November.

Article Highlights From October 2021

All 25 articles from October 2021 are available in our monthly archive. I recommend scrolling through the archive to see all of our content, but for brevity’s sake, I will focus on a few highlights below.

Computer Projects

Over the summer, I began working on a project to revive Victor’s college-issued 2007 MacBook with a Linux distribution called Bodhi Linux. The process was complicated by some particularities with the 2007 MacBook’s bootloader, but I eventually managed to succeed in my mission. I recapped the installation story and my steps to configure the laptop in an article. I liked Bodhi enough to try it on some of my own computers – so you can expect a review focusing on the operating system itself in the future.

Culinary Content

October saw three articles about food around the turn of the twentieth century. The first, courtesy of Britain, contained recipes for invalids. My second article included some recipe ideas for Halloween from 1913. I returned to the 1913 magazine to choose winners from a list of state-by-state award-winning menus.

Better Homes in America

In October 1922, the Harding White House promoted a Better Homes in America Demonstration Week. I wrote about the week generally in an introductory article, and followed that up with articles on remarks drafted for the event by future presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. I found the Coolidge remarks to have broad applicability, which I discussed in an article about what “home” means in our digital world.

Long Lines

I recounted the story of the time I waited in the same line at a Flatbush, Brooklyn, Dunkin Donuts, as Jimmy McMillan – head of the “Rent Is Too Damn High” party. The story is memorable because Mr. McMillan said exactly what one would have thought he might say based on his public persona.

A Visual Novel Review

I continued my visual novel review project with a careful review of Night of the Forget-Me-Nots, an entirely free and easy-to-download horror visual novel. For whatever it is worth, it is both better and freer than the horror visual novel I reviewed in 2020, Bad End. The review is entirely devoid of spoilers, so you can read it with an eye toward playing the game if you find yourself so inclined.

Most-Visited Articles From October 2021

Below, you will find our most-visited articles in October 2021. The statistics come courtesy of our privacy-friendly local analytics solution, Koko Analytics. I will include basic information about each article and how the article ranks changed from September.

  1. The Mystery of Sōseki and Tsuki ga Kirei
    September Rank: 1 (No Change) Nicholas A. Ferrell. March 14, 2021.
  2. How to Find Substack RSS Feeds and Other Notes
    September Rank: 4 (Change +3)
    Nicholas A. Ferrell. June 19, 2021.
  3. Installing Ubuntu Touch on an Asus Nexus 7 (2013)
    September Rank: 5 (Change +2)
    Nicholas A. Ferrell. July 5, 2021.
  4. Persona 4 Golden Digital Artbook Review (Steam)
    September Rank: 2 (Change -2)
    Nicholas A. Ferrell. November 15, 2020.
  5. The Last Stand of Constantine XI
    September Rank: 8 (Change +3)
    Nicholas A. Ferrell. May 30, 2020.
  6. An Early Review of Pixelfed – Instagram Alternative
    September Rank: 9 (Change +3)
    Nicholas A. Ferrell. November 13, 2020.
  7. Reviewing the HALOmask and är Mask
    September Rank: 3 (Change -4)
    Victor V. Gurbo. December 2, 2020.
  8. A Follow-Up Post on the Meaning of ‘Blob Dylan’
    September Rank: 6 (Change -2)
    Nicholas A. Ferrell. April 12, 2021.
  9. Around the Web 〜 RSS as a Facebook Alternative
    September Rank: 13 (Change +4)
    Nicholas A. Ferrell. February 21, 2021.
  10. Performing Site-Specific Searches With DuckDuckGo
    September Rank: 11 (Change +1)
    Nicholas A. Ferrell. August 8, 2021.

Analysis

My Tsuki ga Kirei article led the monthly ranking by a wide margin for the second month in a row and the fourth month out of six. In so doing, it also posted the most site visits for an article that did not receive a significant number of views from being shared elsewhere.

My articles on Substack RSS feeds and installing Ubuntu Touch rounded out the top three, both achieving their highest single-month rankings after finishing fourth and fifth in September.

There were few big surprises in October, unlike the unusual appearance of my February article about the hair color of an anime character named Iroha Isshiki in the September top 10. One notable performance was my May 2020 article about the last Byzantine Emperor, Constantine XI, which finished in fifth place – its highest ranking since May 2021. It was a good month again for 2020, with four articles from the New Leaf Journal’s first year continuing to feature in the upper-echelons of the 2021 view charts.

I have a feeling that we may see some new articles and surprises in the November ranking, but time will tell whether that is the case. In any event, my article on Tsuki ga Kirei looks poised to hold the top spot for the foreseeable future, barring some major surprises.

A Halloween Game Project

Victor and I are working on a very short game project for Halloween. Victor, as usual, is handling all aspects of game design in RPG Maker. For this project, I took the lead on the initial drafts for story and dialogue before we worked together to hammer out a final script.

We had hoped to publish a draft for Halloween, but outside work prevented the game from being completed on an accelerated schedule. The plan now is to release a prototype when it is complete (we hope in November) and turn that into a more full-fledged (but still short) game for Halloween 2022.

The main character in our game is Sonny, a young man who does not handle scary things well. He had a rough Halloween date the year before, passing out at a Halloween party with his girlfriend. That relationship fell apart – Sonny blames it on Halloween.

Scene in draft video game project being created by Victor V. Gurbo and Nicholas A. Ferrell wherein we learn that Sonny's girlfriend went to Halloween as "the girl next door" instead of Cinderella after he spilled popcorn on her.
Things happen.

The game picks up on a new Halloween. Sonny has been set up on a first date with a friend of a friend, but the date falls on… Halloween. No matter, this is his chance at redemption.

Unfortunately, Sonny oversleeps, and has to run to make it to his date. So singular is his focus that he does not notice that something strange is happening, and he seems to have been transported into a sort of creepy dark hour where Halloween creatures are real (fortunately, they’re mostly harmless).

Scene in draft video game project being created by Victor V. Gurbo and Nicholas A. Ferrell wherein Sonny oversleeps instead of getting ready for his Halloween date..
Don’t worry about it.

The player will have to guide Sonny through a series of events that involve choices and quick-time events to get him to his date on time.

Where Does the Project Stand

Victor and I have completed the script for the project, and Victor is currently working on turning the script into a game. The script includes all of the choices and events, so all that is left is putting everything into practice.

Victor finished a draft of the prologue today, which features Sonny oversleeping and a narrator filling readers in about Sonny’s frightful past. I tested it for him and, other than a few small recommendations, I found that it works well.

This project is intended to produce a fun, humorous, and light hearted short game that tests some ideas that we will use for bigger projects in the future. Those who read about some of Victor’s very early projects last year (Jingzi Jingzi is still on our radar) may note that we have taken some ideas from those projects for our Halloween game about Sonny.

This concludes the brief preview – and I hope you look forward to trying an early version of Sonny in the next few weeks (or find it on The New Leaf Journal if you are reading this article well after October 31).

Site Updates

On October 30, I finally made a new Series Hub page after I changed how we manage our series from using a plugin to using native WordPress categories and tags. You can use the Series Hub to find collections of articles that are relevant to you. I will work to keep it up-to-date as I add new series or the status of individual series changes.

Other than that, The New Leaf Journal functions how I want it to, so my focus for the time being remains on content over site structure. I do plan to expa

nd our RSS Feeds section and add RSS feeds to our Category Directory and Series Hub, but that project is not a high priority at the moment – in part because I think that most RSS feed subscribers will be content with our main RSS feed.

Looking Forward to November

November 2020 turned out to be the most significant month in The New Leaf Journal’s first year in terms of content. Two articles from November 2020, my review of the Persona 4 Golden Digital Artbook and my review of Pixelfed Social, continue to feature high on our list of most-read articles one year later. Both reviews played a significant role in the growth of The New Leaf Journal.

This November, I will follow in the review tradition with several new reviews, including some that I marked as possible targets for October publication. My top priorities are reviews of the /e/ OS TeraCube e2 smartphone and Ubuntu Touch (as it runs on a 2013 Nexus 7). Other review targets for November are the PocketBook Color e-reader, Bodhi Linux, the YunoHost operating system, and the Pine Time smartwatch. However, the “other” targets are not top priorities for November, and some may end up being reviewed in December.

November will not be entirely dedicated to reviews, however. Since we are in the heart of autumn, I look forward to publishing some autumnal and Thanksgiving-themed content. Victor and I will work to publish a demo of our new game and some content about it, keeping the Halloween spirit alive into November in a fun way.

Finally, I will work to publish at least a couple of long-form essays, something I have not had a chance to do as much as I would have liked to in the past few months.

For November and December, I hope to produce a few new foundational articles that will bring new readers to The New Leaf Journal as we roll into 2022.

Conclusion

Thank you for taking the time to read through our October 2021 Month in Review, and I hope it helped you find some interesting content. I look forward to publishing plenty of new content in November and bringing 2021 to a strong close.