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Primordial soup / Re: the game designer project.
March 23, 2022, 10:47:43 PM
Architecture and Process
Primordial soup / Re: the game designer project.
March 23, 2022, 10:47:34 PM
I have made a lot of games, and somehow a lot of cool visibility has been heaped upon me! Lots of people have asked me lots of questions about how I design games, and for the significant part of a decade I have been content to answer. But how is game design knowledge best shared? I still don't really know; the ability to design is obviously not bound into one genre at a time; the hub world in Cruel World used certain principles which could be applied to a third-person adventure game.
Primordial soup / the game designer project.
March 23, 2022, 10:41:07 PM
I've fallen out of touch with the idea of having an audience. If I was trying to make money from sharing knowledge, I would care about having an audience, but where I'm at now, I have a job I really love (to my great surprise!), and now I want to figure out how to spend some of my remaining spare time on meaningful projects.

I'm not worried about sharing something great with the internet at large. I'm much more interested in having a noticeable impact on a few close friends and peers. So. How do I take steps forward in terms of my game design practice and within my circles?
What people will talk about loudly in public is not reality.
"your words need a massive essay paired with them to be trusted [embraced and multiplied a thousandfold by a vast network of acquaintances and total strangers]"
QuoteEvery instance of "this person is shit" always includes "talking about it would doom my career" and the implication that the rot goes all the way through. Like your words need a massive essay paired with them to be trusted.


Things need to spiral out of control to video essay investigation level of severity to be real or something. [emphasis mine]

Here coverage by mainstream media is conflated with reality, like the only way that something can be considered real is if everyone is talking about it. In this case by mainstream media I include non-traditional, decentralized forms of 'mainstream' such as something that is trending on Twitter, or even just something that "everyone is talking about," although the two have a way of being the same thing.

This is a major issue on a personal/individual level -- it gives away so much agency if you subscribe to an external perspective of reality. Let's rephrase:

"Things need to spiral out of control to video essay investigation level of severity .. before it's interesting enough to get a million people on the internet all talking about it at the same time on Twitter"

Social media isn't reality unless you let it be. And maybe that's alright, to allow it to become reality, but I'm enjoying choosing other realities with more of my friends in it, and fewer people in general.


Hmm. Okay, so obviously we can't just unsubscribe from reality, and Twitter is in fact something that people subscribe to as reality. Even if I opt out myself - either permanently or temporarily - I still know a lot of people who still use it, and who are members of my circles. But still. Social media is not reality. Press coverage is not reality. Words are not reality.

I surrounded myself with Twitter for a while and it took a long time to detangle myself from that virtual reality, but check me out, I'm free now! I'm not even replying on Twitter, I'm just putting my thoughts in an external vessel and sending them off into the ocean to be set on fire and die a noble death what am I even talking about
Reviews & reflections / The Valley (arrogant gamer)
March 12, 2022, 04:48:39 PM
Skimming randomly through the book to confirm my bias:

Quote from: p351"You don't have children, do you?"

"No, my nuptials were a little too brief for that." Senlin could hardly keep the bitterness from his voice.

She was not even a character. Senlin is not bitter about his relationship, he is bitter about the idea of a relationship! So annoying.
It's funny how in the Black Company there is a similar sort of strange romance for the male protagonist but I'm actually into it -- maybe because the situation is so self-aware, or because it really touches on the reality of the relationship after the pining.

Or maybe I just can't vibe with Thomas Senlin and Marya as characters.

Actually, it gets worse... the very last line of the book is "Whatever Marya's state, whatever mine, I will find her, and I will carry her home."

This kind of weird romantic ambition as fuel for the male protagonist suuuuuucks imo. Marya and Thomas got married (and in the first 26 pages, it's not clear why they got married at all), and by the end of the book he's still hung up on her. She's barely a character. He is hung up on, and therefore the reader must be invested in, and therefore the author is relying on, this dream image of Marya, rather than her existence as an actual character, an actual person.

Art is subjective. I'm just going to say it's really, really not for me, and I'm very glad I trusted my instincts 5% of the way into the book.
It may be too much of a gut reaction, having only read twenty-six pages, but there is a certain feeling about the author that I got from reading this book that turned me off.

Senlin Ascends

Quote from: p19Senlin was unprepared for marriage in every way. He possessed neither the imagination nor emotional warmth that intimacy required. [..] Here was the moon and the rocking crib and the far from prying eyes and every romantic thing a man could request, and what did he do with it? He was drowning in opportunity.

Marya lay propped on her elbow watching him appear to sleep with his eyes open. She pressed the flat of her finger against his cheek, lifting up a smile like a fishhook, trying to tease some life from him. She tugged at his earlobe, bit lightly at his shoulder, and blew on his neck. Still he lay, sometimes flinching but not responding.

Quote from: p18What sort of husband loses a wife?

Quote from: p6He imagined she had married him because he was kind, even tempered, and securely employed.


Of course, Marya had a few unusual habits of her own. She read books while she walked to town[..] She was fearless of heights and would sometimes get on the roof just to watch the sails of inbound ships rise over the horizon. She played the piano beautifully but also brutally. She'd sing like a mad mermaid[..] And even still, her oddness inspired admiration in most.

Quote from: Back of the bookMild-mannered headmaster Thomas Senlin prefers his adventures to be safely contained within the pages of a book. So when he loses his new bride shortly after embarking on the honeymoon of their dreams, he is ill-prepared for the trouble that follows.

To find her, Senlin must[..]

If I were to put it into words, I'd say that this story hinges on a sort of philosophy of gender roles and relationships that I don't subscribe to and don't find interesting. It's possible that the book will subvert them - like I said, maybe this is too much of a gut reaction - but we have Senlin, practical guy who somehow gets married to quirky mermaid girl Marya. He's all stiff and stoic and she's described in this awe-struck way as a lovely creature of beauty, and she's trying to crack through his shell, and in about the first ten pages she's fridged to motivate the hero's journey.
I made a batch! It was pretty great. Quite tomatoey and the turmeric stained the pot yellow, though...

I used whole coriander seeds, and you can taste them occasionally. Definitely want to use ground next time.

Whole cumin was fine.
Close reading / Re: Agency as Art
February 28, 2022, 11:41:09 AM
I think I'm done reading this book. All I can find are viewpoints that I find borderline reprehensible. I'm sure there is some wisdom in these pages, but the tenor has been set and I want nothing to do with it anymore.

Quote from: p211Suppose I start wearing a FitBit for the sake of my health [..] Then I become obsessed with beating my friends at the FitBit measure. Suppose that, in fact, taking a lot of steps per day turns out to not be a good path to health for me. Perhaps, given my physical history, I would have actually been far better off with a balanced program of running, yoga, and weight training. But since yoga and weight training aren't counted by FitBit, I'm not motivated to do them.


The value clarity that FitBit provides is seductive. It distracts me from my goal

The issue here is not with gamification or value clarity, but with the author's given example of submission to it. On the next page Nguyen says "value clarity can undermine my autonomy, since it runs against my attempt to form a good heuristic for my value," but value clarity is synonymous with good heuristics. FitBit provides some number of excellent heuristics; as with games, you choose to submit to its rules, and only once you're no longer participating in the activity, no longer inside the magic circle of "do a million steps," you are truly free to examine the effects.

Full, knowing participation in a system with high value clarity is a beneficial way to practice getting into a focused mindset, where the far-off goal ceases to matter quite so much. That's a valuable state to be able to slip into when necessary -- you can get a job because you need to eat, but then forget about your need to eat in order to immerse yourself in, and dare I say even enjoy(!!!), that job in the moment.

What a concept, that doing a job might be enjoyable. :/