Category: Uncategorised

Rough Days Happen

Yesterday was rough.

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.

All day.

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.

Suicide Squad’s First Seventeen Minutes Are Garbage

Image result for suicide squad

I consume a fair bit of critical pop media, like reviews for movies I haven’t seen or don’t intend to see. Part of this is convenient – it’s free – and part of it is that I like to look at work in terms of the ideas that go into it rather than necessarily their execution. One movie that got an absolute beating last year from everyone in my critical circle was Suicide Squad.

I sort of wondered why I hadn’t seen any ninety-minute piece-by-piece dismantling of the thing. The longest form critique of it I’d seen from anyone is Dan Olson who talked about it specifically in terms of editing, something that’s clearly his area of expertise. But the normal sources that dredge into these works and really stomp around on the details seemed to just let Suicide Squad go.

I thought that was kinda weird, and when Netflix sent me an email telling me I could watch Suicide Squad now, I took that insult as a personal challenge. Maybe it’d be interestingly bad.

Turns out, no, and I learned why it didn’t get that big ole teardown I was expecting from anyone. It’s too dense.

You can go through this movie in terms of plot beats and just kick each of them around for being bad or badly set up or morally incoherent or diegetically nonsensical or breaking disbelief or any of that. Not hard, not hard at all – the entire movie can be summarised as different types of bad decision. But what really surprised me is in the seventeen minutes of utter horse-butt garbage I watched, was how densely packed it was with really basic bad decisions. And some of those bad decisions were dizzying.

The opening of Suicide Squad is just watching two squad members get randomly abused by their prison guards – just two of them. Two of them out of context, which would, conventionally, suggest that these are the focal characters. Right there, you have a structural problem; why two and why just two? If it was just Deadshot, for example, you could see him being treated as the focal character, the one they have to introduce into the squad to explain things to, and use him as a Watson-like lens. But instead they introduce both Deadshot and Harley Quinn, and then don’t go on to the rest of the squad with this same structure. One, two, – fphhhhpt.

There’s a reason movies do things in threes. Threes form pleasant structure. You can even tell a little story with three – the establisher, the twist, and the counterpoint, for example. A dynamic group can be easily made with three. But instead we get two, and it just so happens to be the two who are by all accounts the best things in the movie. Thing is, there’s some surprisingly detailed flashback stuff which uh, look, if you show me a beautiful woman getting a tube stuck up her nose in that kind of detail in a movie, director, I am going to assume this is some Quentin Tarantino feet thing. You don’t need to show that, you can just cut it and move on to the next thing.

And then skinny Amanda Waller walks in through the door in a different scene and… and…

I thought I could get through the first seventeen minutes explaining bad decisions this movie makes.

I was wrong.

I haven’t gotten past the first five minutes.

This movie is really, really bad.

The Day Without Crime

I almost feel like it’s not worth saying this all over again.

But in my personal little lexicon, it’s one of three important dates at the start of December. First, it’s a friend’s HRT birthday. Second, it’s the Applerversary, the year anniversary of #ApplesForEmi.

And third… the end of City of Heroes.

It’s been four years, which is to say, I’m halfway towards having had more time after City of Heroes than I had in City of Heroes. I can remember elections held while I was playing that game. I can remember important events, meeting people, losing people, the arc of my personal life and growth, the way that I shifted and moved around that game.

… and here I am, thinking about this place that disappeared at the flip of a switch.

Avoiding A

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.

It’s so irritating.

The Failure Of Skeptics

A thought that’s been stewing away in my mind these past fortnight, one of many that I keep thinking I need to flesh out into something bigger, something with more sinew to it, is that for all the talk of the United States being a post-truth state, there’s a community that hypothetically at least cares about, and wants to do something about, a culture embracing false things.

Continue reading

This Is The Electoral Map If-

Walking through the park last night, Fox ruminated to me that she was so annoyed watching one of the American presidential candidates puffing and huffing on the television about how polls couldn’t be true, because he was drawing big crowds of support. Exasperated, she waved a hand and said “Yeah, you fill an auditorium of a thousand people in a country of three hundred million.”

Yesterday, I watched timelines quietly fill with people swapping around memes about this is what the electoral map would look like and making fun of Nate Silver. Not necessarily the same thing, natch, but still.

I sat down and ruminated on this all day. See, one of my personal bugbears about journalism is my oft-repeated notion that Journalism is the task of putting data in meaningful context. The whole point of visualisations and data maps and tweet-sized comparisons is to try and provide people with context that escapes them intuitively. Like, for example, looking at a room full of supporters of one candidate and being horrifiedly certain that he’s going to win.

We are not good at making these judgments intuitively. What our brains do when they sort information is check for the things that are easiest to remember and turns out that it’s super easy for us to remember dealing with a super racist asshole. This is part of why cops are so inclined to think of people as criminals – it’s really easy for them to remember times when it turned out Someone Was A Criminal, so they tend to bias towards that. It’s why experts academics are likely to think problems are caused by The Area Of Their Expertise. You find what you’re used to looking for.

Visualisations and data points are not here to solve everything, they’re here to try and give your mind ways to anchor to information that’s otherwise hard to put into context.

You’re Not A Good Man, Are You, Mr Pence?


You tell yourself that you are, of course, in that middle-management, get-by, Church-once-on-Sunday kind of way. You know the framework you have to deal with, the general ideas of what make a good person and you tell yourself you’re doing the best you can in that spectrum, that nobody’s perfect, that it’s all forgiveable and Jesus will carry away your sins in his blood, and you have to tell yourself this because you know as you stare into the glass of the case that you’re not actually a good man.

You stare into the outlines, the ghost of the man in the reflection, and you think to yourself that you’re still there, that there’s something to you. People were so happy with you after the Vice President debate, you put Kaine in his place, you – you did well, and you came back to the base and dealt with him again. Dealt with the bluster and the low-key fury, the snarling way he treated his wife when she showed him up and you told yourself that it was fine for him to treat you that way (though probably not a great thing that he treated her that way) and you tried to put it out of your mind like all the other things, like all of them, over and over again, while you adjusted your expensive tie and expensive suit and tried to forget for a time what you were actually doing, frame it just as gearing up for 2020.

Then the news.

The staffer telling you what the audio was. Did you ask, then, for details, stop yourself when you realised no, of course you didn’t want to hear that, and then looked at the staffer –

“How bad is it?”

The look of the young man, hand folded over his phone, like he was about to throw up, because to him this isn’t ambitions and long term power plays and it isn’t about him it’s about a job and he’s not getting paid enough and he’s going to have to go have a bunch of journalists remember him as that guy from that time when everything started to fall apart in a new and terrible way, and he murmurs, “It’s… it’s real bad, Governor.”

And you sighed and looked back into the glass.

At the hot dog bun.

With Trump’s name on it.

Did the metaphor bowl you over?

Did you stare at the preserved, artificial breadlike structure that was only there to make sure people could handle the grotesque mystery meat of pounded pig rectum and sawdust in an offcolour casing, the thing renownedly hollow and forgettable, something that you were here to look at, and smile about, and be impressed with and see once again another sodden symbol of the beast whose milk you were drinking nightly, with his name on it, and realise that you were the next Palin?

You can’t shake the devil’s hand and say you’re only kidding.

Targets and Objects

So in case you missed it, yesterday, someone well-naturedly reporting on some information put my name, along with the name of John Kane of Gritfish games, in a collection of tweets from developers ‘dropping Oculus support’ in light of the news that there’s a white supremacist* behind the device and its success.

Anyway, the only thing is, I wasn’t developing an Oculus rift game, because I make card games. Neither is John Kane – he’s making a sliding jumping puzzler called Mallow Drops, which is amazing and great and hopefully it’s out soon. Anyway, point is, our tweets about dropping support for the Rift were jokes. They were jokes, and they were jokes you could easily find were jokes. A quick check of my online presence shows almost nothing to do with the Oculus Rift – a single joke, in fact, over a year ago. In this case, I think the journalist who reported on us – and put my name and John’s coincidentally in the middle of an image – made a mistake, and honestly, the kind of mistake they shouldn’t make. It’s not hard to do a little bit of a followup before doing a headline based on tweets: Who are these people, what have they developed, and what does it mean? Nonetheless, it’s a forgiveable, slightly funny mistake. I make a tweet making fun of it, pointing out that it got attention from shitty people directed at me.

Shitty people? Well of course – the Usual Suspects got involved. Yes, those people, from that place, the place that you probably went, even if you don’t consider yourself part of the culture, etcetera. They really hate this journalist for making this comment, because this journalist is Bad, and they hate him, and whatever. But here’s the thing.They retweet and share me pointing out the failures of the journalist (mostly blocked by now), and post garbage at me about my games in that same place. Ie, where I point out that no, I don’t have Rift games they are telling me my rift games are garbage.

By the way, two other sources contacted me via email and DMs to talk to me about what I said before they put me in headline columns. Also, so did TechRaptor, who I again, made fun of. I’m sure they’ll take the joke well, because as Barthes said, “We have all had a cow, and the cow is dead.”

It’s a nice little object lesson for those that can follow it: These people are not good faith actors, and if you pay people to shitpost, you will buy large volumes of shit. If you coherently look at my post you could be using it as ammunition against the Journalist for the very reasonable mistake of putting two people in a spotlight because you failed to put information in a correct context.

Instead?

Racist frogs vomiting turds thrown at me, to try and make me feel bad about my place as a software developer.


Continue reading