Don’t expect too many of these. These entries are where I am both trying to document my emotional and mental state in a way that’s useful or meaningful to others. It’s not enough to record what I’m at, I’m trying to record them in ways that’s worth sharing, to make clear the struggles that can come as a part of the work of creative endeavours and research. It matters to me that you can identify me as a person, not just as a dispenser of advice – and that means occasionally, sharing about how I’m doing.
Today, I was bustling my hump at Comic-Gong. This is a local fandom convention, and the first year that Fox and I felt, with our finances as they are, that we could get a pair of tables.
The day starts at nine and ends at four. It really starts at seven, and really, really, starts at midnight the night before when you have to start making cuts of what you get made. And then you get three hours of sleep because you push yourself all night to try and get things made.
It’s a rough night. It’s a rough night because when you’re the smallest of producers, when you’re not a proper business yet, and your entire stockpile is just a set of small card boxes, you’re left with this weird paranoia for everything. Should I stock this? what if it doesn’t move and I wasted the space? Should I not stock that? What if someone comes by and there’s exactly one person who really wants it? What if someone was holding out for this one thing?
There’s a chance that you were one of the people I spoke to today. In which case: Hi! I’m super glad you’ve taken some time checking this out. I make games, I talk about games, and I believe in your ability to make games.
I worry about my age, a lot. I keep seeing people my age doing more and being more successful, because they started earlier, or they had better support growing up, and I know those years I lost to restarting my life were more deleritous than I want to think about.
I do however, think right now, in my life, I’m doing a lot of things I want to do for my sake. I’m enjoying what I do, and I’m doing it for people who value me. I am able to put up boundaries between myself and people I dislike and do not trust, and I am able to build those connections with people who matter to me. I have seen my sister more now in this past four months, I feel, than I had in the previous four years. I have spoken to my parents, I have confronted my emotional problems, and I am doing what I can to take care of myself.
This time last year I did a rundown of every game I’d made on my birthday. This year, this would be a woefully unwieldy list. Maybe the urge will seize me as this day grows nearer. Maybe I’ll get a bright idea. Or maybe I’ll just keep on going and enjoy myself as best I can with this day where I will be going to a classroom, talking to students, hearing them talk about games, caring about games, and watching them learn and uncover ideas of how humans interact with things, what they engage with, what matters to them, and how they can show me that through games.
The story of the city of Sodom is barely worth recapping, but in case you’ve never heard it, basically there was this place that God didn’t like that was basically named Doomedsville, and the only good people who lived there were shown in one incident how they were too good to live there, before God told them the town was hecked and they left. I’m glossing over some plot points, but it’s honestly not important, because what’s really remarkable about this story is what it’s about.
See, right now, if you ask people, it’s about the sexual immorality of the city, the way that the people of Sodom used to stick their hoo-hahs into butt-holes and that’s why it was a sign of what a problem things could be. That’s why God hates gay marriage.
Except those people, these days, are also opposed by people, equally certain of their familiarity with the religious texts of the now, who want to assert to you that, in fact, the sin of Sodom was their failure to show the messengers proper comfort: That the story of Sodom was a place that failed to respect people enough, and right, and therefore, God loves gay marriage.
This is not, in any way new.
Back during the 1930s, the city of Sodom was a story about a failure of the people to care for their travellers and interlopers, brought up as an example of people who weren’t in the proper spirit of Christian Charity. In the 1940s and 1920s, Sodom and Gomorrah were known to be about the vile practice of race-mixing. In the 1890s, Kelogg was certain that Sodom and Gomorrah were a story about the foulness of indulgent humanity who ate fancy food.
Now this is no secret to anyone familiar with Christian movements: Everything in the story is just a justification for today’s latest problem, and nobody wants to read any further than the destruction of the city for their metaphor.
The stories we tell, and how we tell them, shape our worldview. This isn’t ‘media programs you,’ not a satanic panic fear-of-the-demons-in-your-media, but something slower, more grinding, more insidious. There’s an acretion of the world around you as you pass over it, little bits of the everyday. Making everyone’s clothes show ads, we thought, would be about making sure you were always showing off the #brand. Turns out that it mostly just meant people saw ads on clothes as normal and not worth noticing any more.
It’s hard to turn that kind of ubiquity into money in a pragmatic one-on-one sense. It’s difficult to monetise a brand if the main job monetising it is to be everywhere all at once, you need a certain scale for that to have an impact. You need to be Pepsi, for example. What you can do with it, though, is reinforce an idea of what’s normal, and thousands of sources doing it all the time can do a lot to shape that idea of normal.
It’s Marketing Whiteness.
CW, gunna talk about slavery and fundamentalism and whiteness and dismiss the historicity of the Bible, which just gets some people up in a dander.
I had to try to remember to write this. I even noticed when I’d forgotten about the whole thing. I got off the bus, noticed the lights, ran to it, crossed the street and headed into the food court, where I thought, hang on, what was I thinking about? It took me a moment of concentration. Then out into the produce aisle at Aldi, I thought more about it and tried to remember what I was planning to write about – then remembered it. I had to work at it, I had to try.
I don’t remember what it was they chucked. I don’t remember your shirt, but I remember it had something written on it. I don’t remember if you had glasses or not. I’m writing this after trying to commit this moment to memory to write this piece. It’s going to go into a scheduler and it’ll get put up in maybe a week, maybe a month, depending on if anything bumps it, whatever. By the time this goes up, I will not remember you or your kid or the baby or any of it. It is a comforting amnesia, a thing that our brains do, pushing unpleasant things out of the way where we don’t need to deal with them.
I need to you to understand that: Because I need you to understand how I looked.
I know I looked uncomfortable. I know the screaming kid made me uncomfortable. I know that’s how I react to that sound. Your kid was screaming, and I mean screaming, I think, or maybe it wasn’t that bad, it’s hard to remember now, but the thing is, there was a screaming baby. Or small kid. Jeeze, this is hard to remember.
I know that sound makes me deeply uncomfortable. Me, I have a bad reaction to that screaming, and I know my problem solving for that tends towards aggression – I tend to shout at little kids or get mad at them when they behave badly, and I know there’s a part of my brain that thinks ‘hitting a kid will shut them up,’ and I don’t like struggling with that feeling. It’s just this little subroutine going on in my brain, over and over. Either way, I know I didn’t look happy. I know you and I made eye contact – that I sure remember.
And I remember feeling guilty, because I knew, in that moment, you almost certainly thought I was thinking you’re a bad parent, because that’s what I know people think and say and mutter to one another about people with screaming kids.
I just wanted to say : It was a fraction of my day. It was barely a moment. It didn’t matter. And I hate that I know this minor incident, this nothing event led to a person like you, doing a hard job and trying to decipher the behaviour of a small and loud bundle of person, thinking a person like me – multiple people like me – were mad at you. I don’t know about anyone else, but I knew in that moment that I was going to forget about this. That it was okay. That the screaming of a child wasn’t going to impose on my life for a long time, just annoy me for a minute.
I get it.
I wish it was easier on everyone, but it’s hard on me for a small amount of time.
Let’s mark out some clear, distinct, achievable goals.
One completed game design a month.
One t-shirt design a month.
Daily blog posts, with weekly entries for:
a Magic The Gathering article
a Game Pile article
a Story Pile article
A video a month
That seems doable to me. What makes this complicated, though is that I’m also going to be doing a PhD. So… that might transform my workload. We’ll have to see.
So why do I bring this up? Well, first, laying it out like this is a good way to make sure I have a plan. I’ve found making something of what I do accountable is important. The other thing is, I’m going to spend January looking into launching a Patreon, which will be about:
work-in-progress stuff on game designs
group sales of games where if I can get 20~ people interested, I’ll send out bulk copies of games without postage
voting and contributions directly on future game content
raising money to hire artists!
There. That’s it. Stated. A plan.
I can’t necessarily weasel out of this easily. Weasily? We’ll see.
Here’s a one-part diary, one-part itinerary, one-part aspirational documentation of what I did this past year as best I can explain it and we’ll see how well we go as we go with it. This wrapup is at least in part to look at what I did, but also to try and get a handle on my own feeling of yawning lack of accomplishment. If you didn’t do a lot this year and you get overwhelmed by lists, please don’t read this because it might make you upset. On the other hand if you want a wrapup of the kind of things I do and try to do… well, hey, checkit out.
Yes, Christmas is passed, but that doesn’t mean we’re done with Decemberween. C’mon. Decemberween is a spirit, Decemberween lasts all the way to July.
Also, one thing this exercise has shown me is how few people I like and respect keep good online portfolios or presences. How many of us treat our twitter page like it’s our dang home page? That’s weird. Anyway, SAV FERGUSON!
Sav is a game developer, writer, radio presenter, and – albeit I believe amateurly – philosopher, who I met I think three times before finally, at GaymerX AUS 2017, we finally had a moment where I could finally remember who the hell I was talking to, because my memory is garbage.
A few weeks later, a Event in Games happened, and it hit close to my knuckles – and I angrily spat about how the people talking about it had no idea about the experience, because it was something I lived, and nobody I knew was talking about it from that perspective…
And Sav popped up and said ‘yeah, I know what I’m talking about.’
And then we talked about it and dissected the discourse going on around us.
Now I want you to understand how hard that particular exchange is for guys. Because I had just effectively challenged him – heck to you, you don’t know what you’re talking about – and he very legitimately shot back, saying that actually yes I hecking do. We could have just clashed against each other and stopped – but Sav’s more mature than that, and we were able to find our common ground and talk about a deeply troubling thing. I was impressed, genuinely so, especially in the middle of a time when everyone around both of us was shouting about a thing that upset us.
The most recent game release from Sav is That Boy Is A Monstr, a game about being queer and dating on a website. Check it out.
Of course I’m going to spend some time this month talking about Fox.
Fox Lee, my partner, is an artist, designer, writer and web developer. She manages our websites, writes ad copy, edits rulebooks and creates entire games on her own. Fox has made a free otome game, which is great, and I recommend you go try it.
This year, we released a game called Cafe Romantica, and I want to underscore of this 120-card, big card game, I did so little of the total product it is dizzying. Fox did the art, the backgrounds, the card faces, the wording structure and wrote the rulebook – even up to the night before the game launched.
Fox is great. Fox works hard, Fox holds work to a high standard, and Fox is often sharply contrasted with my positions – where I’ll work hard to get a product finished, she’ll hold things back to make sure they get done right. I love Fox, and you should check out her great work so you can send us money for how great she is.
Obviously I had to put this one up here, today, on Christmas Eve – because Fox sharing her life with me is the greatest gift I’ve ever received.
As with Rachel and Clay before them, I once more turn to point to someone I know, and love, and care about, who hasn’t had a fair shake.
Melissa Elliott, two ls, two ts, is one of those people who, if the 17th century wasn’t just the most awful, would have been one of those academic thinker types we sit around now wondering where they find the time. She’s done infosec research, drawn comics, built a twitter brand, built videogame AI, done some work on videogames, reverse enginered some things, won a My Little Pwnie award for her work in information security –
Now, none of these are raging successes, by the standards we use to determine success. This is in part because none of us grew up in cultures that value artistic expression, and I know that moreso of Melissa’s upbringing because she and I shared a particular horrorshow that was American Fundamentalism. This is not an experience and a place that, let me tell you, does much to encourage the creative efforts of young women.
I am grateful this year that Melissa has been part of it – the whole way. I feel like a walking firework alongside her, where she needs some degree of quiet, some emotional space, and I, with my big loud idiot elbows smack into spaces that can distress her without even trying – but despite it, she still shares with me what she makes, and what she wants, and what she’s interested in, and that means a lot to me.
Incidentally, she hates card games, and that’s okay – because when I share what I do with my friends, I don’t do it because I want them to feel obligated they should like them.
The mighty Maximum Fun podcasting network may host the entire McElempire, with both MBMBAM and their related shows of which there are roughly a fifty hojillion fold (and I like that, that’s cool), but there is one show I found from an ad in My Brother, My Brother and Me, and it’s Can I Pet Your Dog.
Can I Pet Your Dog is almost impressively nothing. It is a short podcast of two people talking about their dogs (in early episodes, they did not both have dogs). They are not exceptionally or exquisitely funny. I mean, they’re funny, but it’s not uproarious comedy; I don’t find myself quoting it or recommending it (except here, I guess).
Can I Pet Your Dog is, however, inoffensive, sweet, and comforting. It is funny without reminding me of gross comedians; it does not feel I’m about to stray into realms of vile jokes or random political stuff about this person or that person and how dare they. It is, when I do find the time to sit down and tune in, a balm of comforting, simple, pleasures of owning a dog.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m fond of someone I record a podcast with. To counter the claims of nepotism, I want it known that I love Clay despite him routinely making fun of me for being related to a ventriloquist.
Now, Clay’s situation is such I feel reluctant telling anyone how great he is. I don’t feel comfortable waving my arms in the air and shouting about the glory of this wonderful friend, this thoughtful man who has had to learn twice as much as I did in half the time with worse handicaps.
As Rachel, Clay is someone who makes me sure the world would be better if people like them just had the freedom to make things, to tell stories, to care about the things they care about and not deal with malarkey like the right change for the drier and washer.
Three years ago I was told it was important for men to foster stable, emotionally mature relationships so they didn’t rely on women to take care of them. I tried that, I joke, then it turns out they were all girls. Despite all that, standing out from that, there’s Clay – who has had his own path through life from similar spaces as me, making him one of the few people I know who can get a lot of the things I normally need to spend so long explaining.
This year has been our most active convention-going year. We have gone to almost a convention every two months – and every time, this year, we have done it with the company of Pendix, of Ex Manus Studios.
Now obviously I like Pendix. We’ve been friends for years, almost since high school. But it isn’t just that Pendix is reliable, and kind, and thoughtful – gee, I like a lot of people with those traits. What I want to highlight here is that Pendix is a person who craves to create.
If you sit around Pendix, idly, if there’s a table on hand and there’s just free time, he will have plastescine in his hand, and he will be sculpting. There’s a drive, an energy, a want to create going on there and I really admire and respect that. I work with fast media, I can see the results of what I do, and yet at the same time I can save almost everything I do. Pendix works in a medium that is slow and at times impermanent. If something goes wrong, the entire thing has to be destroyed.
It might just be that the man is patient beyond the measures of saints. I mean, he’s put up with me for years.
There is however, a lesson from him I want to impart: Wanting to create is enough reason to create. Pendix spent a lot of time practicing his craft before he started making models he could sell – I mean, like a decade of just hobby practice, doing things to see if he could do them. Your hobbies grow, and help you grow. They give you skills. And if you want to make things, you can just make them. Maybe one day they’ll take you places, but it’s okay if they never do.
It’s enough to love, for now, the doing of the act itself.
I am loath to be too nice, too quickly. I worry sometimes if this means that my first impression to Ettin was that I was a standoffish dick. In my defence, Ettin likes Death Note and FATE, two things I’ve been noisome about making fun of.
As a peer, Ettin is impressive. He has built community, and interest and fanbase for his work; he’s monetised it successfully, and he’s proven that he’s capable of repeating the success. He’s got good advice for anyone trying to do that and he expresses himself directly, honestly, and fairly.
He’s also done sterling work pushing back against pro-harrassment elements of the tabletop games industry. Without going into specifics, Ettin has tried to get rid of broken stairs in the industry as best he can, even when that involves endangering his own online space and infringing on his own potential for success. No, not everything is fixed, but I at least know where Ettin falls when there comes a time to Say Nothing And Get By or Tell Evil To Go Fuck Itself.
When I approached Ettin with ‘I’m thinking about X-‘ his immediate response was to try and set up a plan. He wanted to enable what I was trying – and even when it wound up not working out with the timetable we had in mind, it was still done helpfully and enthusiastically.
Ettin may have this form of deliberately self-deprecating humour that resists praise, but seriously, I’m glad Ettin helped me out this year.
Ted is many things. Ted is an artist. Ted is an academic. Ted is a father, a fishmonger, a mormon, a missionary, and a friend. Ted is a person who, by the sheer mathematics of my own upbringing and perspective, I should not have become friends with. I’m a militant (!) anti-theist atheist (booo, throw rocks at him), and even then part of my upbringing included a section on hunting the cult of Mormon.
I am so glad none of that took.
Ted is a wonderful person. I talk to Ted most weeks. We talk about marking or students or research or applications, or we talk about anime, or, more often than not, he expresses incredulity at the utter ridiculousness of the latest thing I mentioned. Sometimes he consults on Asian history for game design. Sometimes he reality checks me. Sometimes we console one another about the way things are that shouldn’t have to be.
Ted is a good person, noble, and someone I am proud to know.
And okay, while I have an older sister, I kinda have a younger sister, too.
Rachel Stevens is a writer and designer, though much more world design than game design. Rachel’s writing work is over on Women Write About Comics, a website which kind of explains itself just fine.
What I love about Rachel – well there’s a lot about Rachel I love, but one of the things I love about Rachel is she’s an enthusiast. She cares about books and movies and pulp and webcomics and transformer toys and gunpla and about her Vivian and about people being kind, and about fighting Nazis and about – even considering the state of things – doing an okay job.
Rachel is a modern tragedy in that if we had universal basic income, if she wasn’t stuck working the way she is for the work she’s got, she’d be running five goddamn series and making TV shows and graphic novels and videogames and so on. There is no meritocracy where Rachel is doing anything but being able to effortlessly, constantly create the visions of a better future she wants the world to have.
I got help from Rachel this year. In Sector 86, I asked her to name all the spaceships. Not all of the names she gave me got used – you might know if you recognise them – but here’s the sheet of initial notes she gave me.
Hey Rachel. I love you, and you are wonderful, and you matter. Thank you for being part of my life, you gigantically hopeless lesbian with teen tiny hands.
I don’t do a lot of information leaking on the internet. I don’t put things out there that can connect you to People Around Me. If I take photos of people it’s either at an event with their permission and permission to share, or it’s without identifying marks. I have been, therefore, pretty careful about giving out information about my family as much as I can. It may be news somewhat to some of you that I have an older sister.
My older sister has a pair of sons.
Those sons, my nephews, are great.
They are not remarkably great. Alright? I have to level with you. They do exactly what kids do, which is they shout and they jump from idea to idea, and they don’t listen to you and they’re prone to forgetting what they’re doing in that way that, let me tell you, I would be super annoyed if a coworker did it, I mean just my word how irritating. Their fashion sense is also just awful, and they haven’t read any of the classics. Shout out to my sister for having the stamina to support the little goons.
On the other hand, they love games.
I have told this story and will tell this story many times more, but I’m putting it here. There are three games in our catalogue that I made explicitly because I went to my parents’ place and hung out with my nephews and they learned I made games. We talked about it, we talked about what that meant, and they talked about things they thought games should be about, what games should do.
Then I went home and I made those games.
Some games I couldn’t make. I couldn’t make the game called GOOD COP, LOLLY COP – which conspicuously, came about when I told them we couldn’t play GOOD COP, BEAR COP, because they were too young and wouldn’t understand it. But these kids are part of my life and I am happy to be part of theirs.
This year I made a protracted plan to try and visit my family every month – at least once. I didn’t do it every month – but the point we knew was we tried. We knew we wanted to go every month, we knew we expected to. There was one embarassing day when I turned up at my parents’ place and nobody was home, and I just piled into the bus and went home.
This year has featured an effort to draw together tighter the love and the need of my family to be connected. To shoulder the people closest to me and to know they are willing to shoulder me. There are unfortunate choices ahead of us, but I’d rather face it together.
I said I’d say something about this and I never did, and this sucks and it’s in my head and now I’m going to share it with you. For as there are good things in this world, there are dark and miserable reflections, and with Christian Replacement Media on my mind, let us speak now of some of its worst examples.
In the late 90s there was a ska boom. Ska music got on the radio. There was also the peak era of South Park, as a generation of teenagers tried to convince their parents that they didn’t care about your opinions, dude and they liked edgy, powerful, dangerous media like this thing about children talking to poop.
Two media trends, two chances to capitalise and milk money out of other Christians? Well, of course it was time for the Christian Replacement Media machine to get involved and get involved hard.
“What,” you may be asking, “the fuck was that.”
That, my friend is the evil mirror to Five Iron Frenzy. It is the fundamentalist-enough Christian alternative to South Park’s visual aesthetic branding and opposition point to the radio’s sinful Mighty Mighty Bosstones. It is a musical Waluigi, an entity created entirely in opposition to values rather than expression of values. It is ash. In as much as art can be, it is sin.
By the way, boy, the people on the Mexican border really had a problem that they weren’t getting enough Americans telling them about Jesus. Mexico’s a country with a real problem with Christianity, right? Let’s set aside the Anti-Catholic and patronising probably-Racism of Mission Trip To Mexico and instead examine what I feel is probably their worst song, Homeschool Girl.
Public school is full of drug addicts, boring, and lies to you. But Homeschool girl, well, she’s super great.
Augh I’m listening to it again.
It literally exhorts how good she is at preparing him stuff! It holds up how smart she is by how many grades she is ahead except because she’s homeschooled that doesn’t mean anything, since the person telling you that isn’t a fucking teacher! This is literally propoganda for a lifestyle that I know’s inflicted tremendous harm on people!
Sometimes you can think about the impact of a piece of art in terms of what it made seem normal, what it impacted, who it really influenced. And I am sadly certain that there are people, right now, homeschooling their kids, who are doing it in part because when they were young teens, they heard this song and it helped to form what they thought of as ‘normal.’
Hmm, let’s see, other countries, homeschooling with some overtones of sexism, what about –
Oh yeah, Abstinence!
Fucking hell this fucking group of fucking dickheads.
Okay okay, not going to talk about the lyrics or message of this media – the pain of having had sex? the fuck, you’re doing it very wrong – but I’m going to talk about how boring this ska music is. It’s very competently arranged, but very poorly mixed, and if you listen to all this stuff in a row you’ll be struck by how all BOB songs more or less sound the same.
All their album is up on Youtube, if you give a shit to go listen to it. I think their least obnoxious track is I Saw Pastor Dancing, which is just intensely cringey.
Did I really choose that title? Is that what we’re going with? Mmh, well, okay.
If you’ve spent any time on the internet delving through the Youtube archives of people telling you about things you’d never heard of that suck, chances are good you’ve run into the ouvre of Christian Replacement media I was raised in. you’ve seen attempts to make Christian musicals, you’ve seen the Christian animations, and you’ve probably even come across the Christian superhero stories. Which suck.
You’ll see this kind of media absolutely everywhere but only once you puncture into the social space of the Christian media sphere. There’s an actual suggestion when you’re inside it that you should buy this stuff and wear the branding because it’s a good way to get people to notice you, it’s a starter of conversations and it makes sure people recognise that you’re Christian, Not Ashamed, in your pursuit of the attention of the heathens, moving about in their space and being a better person than them. That is absolutely not what happens. What happens is you go to a youth camp and see everyone wearing the same general genre of t-shirt showing off Christian bands, Christian branding, Christian media franchises and that’s all. And some of it is pretty lazy – I mean, seriously, Jesus → Reese’s is as far as that idea got.
There’s a lot of this stuff, and I know I’ve spoken in the past about the absolutely awful band Bunch Of Believers – wait, I haven’t? I haven’t subjected you, my readers and friends to that particular flavour of garbage? Well, heck, I’m going to have to work on that. Anyway, the point is, this stuff exists and it’s almost always derivative and it’s extremely weak in its execution. Often anything that calls for a thoughtful interpretation or even something where there’s a clear, useful connection to existing media, it’s not taken. Heck, it’s sometimes missed so widely you can be left wondering if the people in question are trying at all.
Which they’re not.
Know why this stuff is all garbage?
There are two basic reasons that the Christian Replacement Media is low quality. The first is it’s an industry; it wants to churn out things with as little effort as possible to scoop up as much purchasing power as it possibly can from the networked church system of industries, and it wants to do that as cost-effectively as possible. People aren’t buying clever or good, they’re buying in-group markers. The other reason, though, and it’s the reason that makes so many of those tv shows and the like look so bad is because they’re often aiming for an audience that has no idea about quality. They’re not dealing with audiences who have seen and tried a lot of things – they’re dealing with some audiences who have only really experienced the Christian media landscape, people who are dismissing non-Christian media out of hand, and people who are trying to insulate their family – usually children – from the harmful influence of Things That Exist.
These things exist to suck because they literally do not want you to have anything better to compare them to.
Let me tell you something that’s just the dopest hecking poop.
Today, Fox and I got talking as we had lunch, offhandedly, about Scythe. Specifically, about a random component of Scythe. Then the discussion was about how messy the box might have to be to need that, then suddenly we’re discussing the problems we see with Scythe – not with playing it, but with being cautious about even wanting to design a game like that.
Then suddenly we were chewing on the problem, as we chewed on our sandwiches. One idea – what about units with stacks of tokens on them, attacking them flipped tokens, what if you had to move pieces by hand, what about dice rollers, what about dice rolling work pools? What about –
I came home, I sat down, and took notes and detailed out some ideas and checked the progress and release on some games, and then realised I had four or five really good ideas I could use for games, for other games, for ideas that could be the basis of games in general.
Find someone you can talk to about games. Find a few someones. Find people where you’re not going to be thinking I can’t share this idea with them or they’ll steal it. Let go of that. Find a place to talk about games where you’re not defending your ideas, where you’re not going to have a reddit-style well actually argument. Find a way to share ideas, and you’ll find it fosters and creates and nourishes you and helps you make, and it makes you happy.
I’m job searching right now, working on finding some work leading up to the new year. It sucks, trust me. Today – when I wrote this, not when this goes up – I did a bunch of things.
I did a preliminary rulebook for Sector 86
I contacted a number of businesses about job opportunities (five)
I cleaned up the house
I brought in the laundry
I wrote three articles for the blog (which is why this is so far ahead!)
I developd a schedule for posting MTG stuff to my blog
I had lunch
I walked the dog
I gave the dog his worming tablet
I made a slow-cooked dinner for Fox
I updated my blog’s opening presentation, which is like, a resume element
I set up a twitter for a new podcast that’s coming
Tried to do more work on my PhD submission
And despite all that, I’m sitting here, at six pm, fizzing quietly, and wondering to myself… have I done enough today?
I’m not feeling great these days. I’m riddled with anxiety and I’m stressed and I’m feeling unproductive. But when I sit down and write out a list of things I did today, it always is that I ‘waste’ a lot of time doing things.
You have to get into the habit of determining what your goals are. You have to be able to set yourself limits and say today I’m done with this.
I lived, from the age of four to the age of fourteen, in a suburb of New South Wales called Engadine. Engadine is where I learned how money works, how to read, what a library was, how to talk to a doctor, about family restaurants and VHS tapes and watched the Beta cases slowly disappear off the shelves. It’s the place I walked with my mother as she went to a business to pick up an actual physical paycheque and hand it into an actual physical bank. It’s the place I tried a paper route.
Engadine has a KFC and a McDonalds on the highway, meaning that on a long con drive out of Sydney, it’s a place to refuel and restock, and also, crucially, a place where you’re not going to get caught up in a brutal Sydney snarl of traffic if you stop for a while and sit down.
Dad used to say Engadine had a lot of flat ground – it was just all vertical. The terrain of Engadine is all hills, homes perching on uneven backyards, with the biggest flat areas being the football pitch, the mall, and the public pools, which sat across from the school I went to. We would cross the road and do sport on the big field, or in the public facilities to play hockey.
I really do love the public works part of Engadine, in hindsight. There were so many things that were available to me that I didn’t know, or didn’t appreciate. There was a walkway to the Train Station that went under the road, so as a child, I could safely make my way to the station without having to go up a huge number of stairs or some other way cross six lanes of highway.
When we revisit Engadine, though, the thing that blows my mind is how little it changes. Storefronts have changed – different businesses have come and gone and I’m sure nobody there remembers me, nobody remembers what I did or who I was, some nondescript little church kid with a bowl haircut reading Pratchett novels in the foyer. But the shape of Engadine is the same.
I think a lot of this is because of the roads. Engadine’s roads are all… pretty much the same? The big Woolworths is probably a Coles now, the NeoLife offices aren’t there any more (because the bastard who ran them is dead), but the businesses and the people have to follow the shape of the roads, the roads that are laid out on the land as best they can be.
I remember when I lived there I was genuinely confused as to how there were any other places in the world. How would you get there? The first time dad drove us out onto the highway and I saw that that little road I thought went nowhere in fact went everywhere, it blew my tiny mind.
But Engadine is still Engadine. It is older and it is different and it is dressed differently, but it is still a place named for the people who we took it from, wearing on its roads the scars of a culture that should never forget what we did.
This blog post and subject was suggested, as above, by @Garlicbug on Twitter. If you’d like to suggest stuff you’d like to see me write about, please, do contact me!
I’m fascinated by the lies we tell ourselves, and I’m fascinated by the lies we tell one another. I’m fascinated by the stories we tell one another which we know aren’t true, but we admit that up front and what we say is a shared lie. I’m fascinated by the lies we tell ourselves in huge swathes that only some of us believe. I’m fascinated by lies with data and lies without data. And I’m even more fascinated by the tools and systems we have that enable us to affirm truth in this billowing spectrum of nonsense and fluff.
I don’t hold it against the liars. I’m one of them. I lie to myself (I can handle this, that won’t be so bad, I don’t care that she thinks that about me). I lie to you (I am certain that the Tiberan empire does not exist) and I even lie to my mother (I’m fine!)!
Yesterday, we did Day 1 of 2 at LFG. At that event, I did some win-and-plays of my games; I spoke to a lot of people; I crewed a booth, I worked hard, and then, at the end of it all, we checked our newly made sales sheet and found we’d sold… one unit.
It was a real demoraliser – I’d spoken throughout the day with people about funding and advancing my projects and getting into the next step of game development and becoming a professional or a consultant. Overwhelmingly, money and the future were on my mind. It was as if at times the sign of my coming doom that, yeah, one sale.
It hurt. I came home in a funk and had a hard time sleeping.
Then, today, we got up, we went in, we rolled with it, and we sold a lot more. We made up for it, and we came out ahead and we made contacts and hopefully, we’ll be able to move on. We made table costs, we made a little more, and we came out of it with tools and opportunities and, I hope, fans.
I understand it’s a little embarassing or shameful to talk about your sales or your successes or your failures. I’m not sure why; it seems that that works best to ensure nobody has a good idea of if they’re doing well or not. More than that though I think it’s important I share with you, if you’re reading this, that I have bad days. Sometimes I’m up to two anxious.
Sometimes, I feel, it’s very important to share a simple truth: There are rough days. And even they don’t get less rough because the next day is Good Enough.
The a key on my keyboard is a little bit hinkey right now. It depresses fine for a few minutes or so, then it starts to sit, sunk down and lower in its space. What this means, what this does, is small. It’s almost imperceptable.
But it, holy fuck, it’s annoying. It’s annoying because I’m so used to the experience of typing on this keyboard that that single thing being wrong, that tiny little error, a glitch of the brain, a missing step that I somehow don’t fall over, just itches at the edge of my consciousness.
Yesterday I watched Deadpool, which is to say, I went to a movie theatre, which surprised me as much as anyone else. It was a decent, fun movie, and I think I may have some more thoughts on pulling it apart, but you know what really stood out to me?
The movie theatre wanted to charge 740% of the bloody price of a frozen coke down at McDonalds!
It’s one thing to write a thousand words a day. It’s trickier to write a hundred good words in a day.
I’ve been producing work for a friend’s website, which, hypothetically, will be paid, though I find myself completely apathetic to that. I’m working on games, but feel like I’m pushing a rock down a drain. I can light up enthusiastically when I’m trying to engage someone, particularly my teachers as it is their care and fostering that has helped create these products.