Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Richard Dawkins butt-slams the pope.

I have a very deeply-rooted hatred for organized religion because of its hypocrisy and bigotry, and the way it stunts the Human soul.  It is hard to articulate just how much I despise it all.  Most people do not think such distaste is healthy, or that it is unfounded because, after all, religion is our founding basis.

And I think those people just don’t realize the true evil that beliefs can have inside of them.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The grating fear of unearthed furor…

A moment in my life that should be the epitome of relaxation, of rest and contemplation, is instead punctuated by fear and panic.

I am filled with stress.  Even though every hour is one that I can direct in any way, even though I have absolutely no obligations, no schedule, I am constantly freaking out.  My mind is always racing, and I feel as though I’m plummeting down, towards some anti-finale that threatens to disassemble any sense of sanity that I have ever been able to keep.

It doesn’t help that I’m reminded every day of the piercing obnoxiousness that is personified in my family.  Living with an annoying, retarded brother and his annoying, retarded wife (and their annoying, retarded children) grates more and more on my composure.  Every day for the last three weeks, I have woken up to a two year old screaming.  Every day I have to listen to what sounds like the lobby of an inner city McDonald’s or Wal-Mart in the background noise, while I try to keep a steady stream of audial distractions.  There is no silence, anymore; the one thing I need to maintain some semblance of calm is gone.

I am neurotic enough to be disturbed by their mere presence.  I have no solitude, anymore.  All I have is obnoxious distraction.  All I have are days when I am disturbed because someone needs a favor, or days when I cannot think to myself because of the loud white trash staying here, or days filled with anxious deliberation that leads nowhere, and is usually suffocated through a mindless activity.  It’s all I can do to keep from having a nervous breakdown.

When I decided to quit my job, I had visions of a quiet time of repose.  Of not worrying about money for a few months, for I could chip away at a sizeable nest-egg.  Of sitting in peace and working on my projects, thinking about their construction and planning their future.  All I have now is a drill, slowly splitting apart each layer of my brain, until it unearths the frustrated, panic-ridden core of my being; the thing that I have tried to sedate for so long, and was so far reasonably successful.

All I want is some peace and quiet, for a change….

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I just finished Bioshock 1.  The series never entered my mind because I didn’t know they were ported to the PC, and hearing that they were the “spiritual successor” to the System Shock games, I was really hoping for an immersive environment, disturbing story elements and a solid ending.  For the most part, I got what I expected.

The levels are very immersive and well-detailed.  It really feels like you’re rummaging through the ruins of a large complex, and you almost always are hurting for ammo enough to appreciate finding a few rounds in a trash can or cabinet.  But, by the endgame, it' all gets kind of meaningless.  I never got completely bored playing, but by the last two levels I was hoping for something different, instead of increasingly redundant level design, with “go here, then go here, then go here” objectives.  All in all, though, it was a rewarding and interesting experience.

The ending, though, disappointed me somewhat.  I only played through the “good” ending (saving all Little Sisters), and while it made sense and everything, it was very short, with a detached narrative.  The last battle is ridiculously easy, which lent even more to the feeling of being short-changed.

I’m about to start Bioshock 2.  From 1’s ending, I doubt the stories will be continuous in any way, save for the general lore of the world in which it takes place.

Taking all of these negative comments, though… they are based on an ideal.  Compared to the stagnant, unimaginative stories of games nowadays, I guess it’s an exceptional game, and a testament to the fact that games don’t need to be “safe” or “PC” at all.  They don’t need to take on the same old archetypes.

So, all in all, I was very satisfied with the experience of Bioshock 1.  For the most part, it reminds me of the good aspects of System Shock 2.  The only downside is that the story is a little too linear, and the narrative a little too forced.  after the 3rd level or so, the element of free exploration was completely lost, and it felt as though I was just going through level by level.  And the creepiness-aspect of it all was very satisfying.  Maybe I just have too high a standard for the way stories are delivered throughout the game.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Morality in Game Storylines

I have always wished the stories in games dealt with the differences between ethical views.  It seems that most games, instead of focusing on ethical problems of any kind, merely try to end at a culturally positive moral result.  When the player helps an "evil" character, there is always a retraction; a justification for doing so.  When a player is given the option of being "evil", it is always "pure evil", without any justification beyond self-interest or greed.

Where are the games that are murky and grey in their dealings with morality and ethics?  Or at least interesting in some way?  I completely lost interest in Fallout 3 because of its ridiculously bland story.  Even the impact of detonating a nuclear warhead, leveling an entire city loses its punch when you play through it.  It’s all stupid, all laughably “evil”.

In writing for my game, I am using morals and ethics in a very personalized way.  The world is fucked up, and people do fucked up things.  Some societies are virtuous, some are empty.  Some worship greed to an alarming degree.

The people who write game storylines must be afraid to do anything really edgy, or they are just so unimaginative that they don’t know how to be.  But that is what I would like as a player.  Not the predictable good and evil, and not the 180-degree twist that ends up being ridiculously planned.  These things need to be more realistic.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Paranoia of Gaming Corporatism

While looking at different game torrents (looking, not downloading of course), I found this except of a description from a Prince of Persia ISO:

Release Notes:
A little statement about the work involved:
To clear the minds of the individuals who think: "Game x was
done fast and this one taking ages" etc. The way the Ubisoft
DRM works, makes it so that every game is like a brand new
challenge. What it does do, is offload certain parts of the
game to a server, game then requests those things at runtime.
These parts can be anything that the developer wants. In the
case with Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, those things
- Levers logic
- Door timing
- Upgrades
- Abilities
- XP & Levels
- Area codes
Every time you step on a button "in game", it sends a request
to server asking what to do. Server then sends the door code
to open, including how much time it stays open. Levers work
similarly, every time you press the "TAB" button to display
skills, game asks again server: "What skills do player have",
and so on and on.
All that stuff takes a lot of time to implement right and we
do implement it like the original do. All our doors open and
close with exact same time factors as the retail do. We just
wanted to clarify a little how the Ubisoft DRM really does
work, because a lot of those individuals we mentioned in the
beginning of this statement didn't seem to understand, yet
what kind of monster this is. It's not some simply "Values"
going around like it were with Assassin's Creed II.

The only thing more amazing to me than the painstaking efforts that pirate groups go through to deliver an authentic game to the thieving public is the ridiculous amount of effort UBISoft went through to “ensure” copy-protection of their game.  Of course, the end result is that it was pointless, and all it really did was help a bunch of game-rippers display their incredible hacking skills.

But is any of that really necessary?  As an old-school PC gamer, needing a live internet connection while playing a single-player game is ridiculous and far too intrusive.  I understand the desperation in their efforts, but when it comes to such ludicrous means, doesn’t that really just show that the financial models of computer games is archaic and ineffective?

Personally, I abhor any game company that manipulates the consumer so much, just to secure their profit.  In my mind, the problem isn’t that people pirate games.  A lot of game piracy comes from experienced gamers knowing that most games released are buggy, have major compatibility issues, or is only done by people who couldn’t/wouldn’t buy the game anyway.  Quality games that are made with passion are usually bought, regardless of how easy it is to pirate, because consumers actually enjoy supporting the developer.  All of the paranoia here comes from the publisher, not the developer.  In my opinion, game publishers are obsolete and unnecessary, just like recording labels.  They aren’t needed to market products like they once were, and the means of marketing a game or CD is much different (and much easier) with the internet.  Also, it is due to the exponential inflation of the costs that go into creating a game that make companies so obsessed with protecting their profits – after all, they spent millions of dollars creating the game.

Hopefully, the trend with games will be that they will become cheaper and easier to create, market, and distribute.  All of this is already possible, but because of the entrenched monopolies involved, it hasn’t really caught on in full force.  When publishers are knocked down a few pegs, and developers have more freedom and power, then maybe games will be created for the art and joy of it – instead of the possible profits of selling a “product”.

Friday, September 3, 2010

My Grand Writing Project…

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to approach my next project – even though I never formally finished my prior on (short story, “The Steel River”).  I am planning on returning to finish that in the near future, though.

The writing project I am undertaking is writing the script for a game.  Since I am working on a programming project as well (a 2D Role-Playing Game), I have been wondering on how to approach the writing for it.  While I would like to do an ultimately open-ended dungeon-crawler, I gravitated toward something else.

I grew up on the Japanese RPGs, like Final Fantasy, Secret of Mana and Xenogears.  While these were all RPGs at their core, they were different than western RPGs on a very key detail.  The storyline in most western RPGs (of course, there are exceptions)  is just a placeholder; not that it’s insignificant, but it is not the main vessel of the game.  The primary function is a means to allow exploration, and open-endedness.  Japanese RPGs are much different, because they are much more cinematic, and large portions of games are very limiting in the player’s freedom, so that a story can be told.  While this can be bad if you want an open-ended game, I really love that aspect of J-RPGs.

So, the writing for my game will basically be a script, a screenplay that will serve as my writing project.  It will be a novel, set to a game.  But more than that, it will also allow me to write extensive lore and descriptions of different characters, factions and locations in the game.  Basically, I want to create an entire world through writing, and implement it in a game.

It sounds very heady and over-ambitious, and I am somewhat remiss to lay my plans all out here, because I read something that confirmed a suspicion of mine.  People who tell others of their grand plans for the future are less likely to carry those plans out to fruition, because of a quirky aspect of the social mind. (look it up)

I have a different blog that I am keeping for this purpose, to slowly shape the fiction of this world and its characters.  I have a lot of ideas swimming around in my head, and am very anxious to get into the meat of it.  But, for some reason, I have not yet found the necessary catalyst to jump into working on it in a serious way.  I just let the ideas percolate, and to my surprise, they get better and more detailed every day.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What Fallout 3 should have been…

Randomly wandering the internet, I found a tech demo of an old engine made by the original creators of Fallouts 1 & 2.  I believe that in some parallel existence, this engine was used for Fallout 3, and the rights were never sold away.  This is why I hate the game industry:  Things that should be works of art are treated like any other product, and intellectual property trumps everything.  If only all kinds of designers had the freedom to use their resources to make the games that really should have been made….