In January, I wrote out a plan for the year. In that plan, I described types of articles I was going to make, and kind of like ‘caps’ on the types of subjects I would write about. I also promised to watch more anime, which was like a threat, I guess. I also mentioned the eventual Avatar update, that would serve to bring presentation on a lot of platforms in line.
Knowing that, then, how’d I go? What were the good bits, the pieces of 2022 that I think, now, you should go back and check out (and I will go back and check out myself when I’m browsing the blog looking for ideas I want to further expand on).
Big, long-term projects included a daily Magic: The Gathering card, released at first on a twitter account every day, and now being posted on Mastodon and Cohost. Those got a set of summarising posts. I also did a podcast with Fox about watching all the Disney Animated Canon movies, which we called the Disney Animated Canonball.
It was also at the start of the year that I stopped using an add-on for the blog called Jetpack. Jetpack let me do things like find out how many hits each individual page was getting, and that formed the basis of what I then, at the end of the year, would list as the ‘most popular’ stuff. It was useful to see what you thought was good here, rather than just what I liked, in hindsight. It sped things up. But I’m not using Jetpack any more, and that means that instead… I had to go through all the articles I wrote, and ask myself ‘hey, is this good?’ and ‘why would someone wanna read this again?’
Which means we’re going to look at a lot of links here.Continue Reading →
Intro paragraph! Probably too short! I have had a hard time writing this month!Continue Reading →
Oh it’s a wrapup article, those are fast and easy to belt out. WoooOOOOoo~Continue Reading →
You know that joke people tell about Billie Joe Armstrong and the end of the month and whatnot? Yeah, don’t make them.Continue Reading →
Tricks month has passed and with it, we will now begin an entirely serious discourse on things. There is no more room for tricky stories or funny jokes or wicked japes on this blog now, it is 100% Super Serious Time.Continue Reading →
July draws to a close and with it, a new semester begins. It’s a non-theme month which means like the other odd months, you can see some truly weird grab-bag of stuff finally getting attention. If you don’t check my blog regularly, you might not have caught these, so I’m going to highlight some stuff that I did this month that I think is particularly cool!Continue Reading →
Pride month is over.
Now there is only wrath.Continue Reading →
I uh, I started out looking for an icon of a jar of mayonnaise and the result I got is this, here, a blank jar.
Let’s crack on shall we?
I blog daily. I have regular features, where every week I’m going to talk about a game, and a piece of media. I’m also going to talk every month about something to do with worldbuilding, games like Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons. Chances are good, you haven’t caught everything I’ve written about this month. That’s why at the end of the month I write you a neat little summary and give you some suggestions on stuff you might have missed that I think is particularly worth your attention.Continue Reading →
It’s the end of the month, it’s time for me to point out to you all these great, corking articles that keep you up to date with the kinds of things I’ve been doing that you may have missed. I know that my particular form of blog writing isn’t for everyone, so I hope having a guide for the stuff I’m really proud of is really useful.Continue Reading →
The seasons turn, the days end, and we come once more to another full month of articles over here on Press Dot EXE. March is gone, and with it I want to take a moment to talk about what I’ve done this month; what writing is here, what you can check back on a whole month of content and see if there’s anything that stands out to me that you’d like to check out.
One of the strangest things about these posts is that they feel to me like a ‘cheat’ – like I’m doing a bunch of work on these posts, when I’m working hard to present the best writing I can on an interesting variety of topics, and then every month you get one fewer post, because there’s here, a menu.
Except then I find out how even the most obsessively interested people looking at my content tend to miss stuff, because the internet is hard and I realise it’s important to take a moment and reflect like this.
Anyway. Hey, here’s a summary!Continue Reading →
Smooch month draws to a close and with it we set aside our theme, to bound freely in the festival of stuff that is March.Continue Reading →
January has come and gone, a new start for a new year, and also a bunch of free articles that are either retrospective, or update you on things that have been happening for a while. It’s also something like a holiday month for me, a month of preparation for the new semester and a time to refocus on important, big projects.
Like, you know, a PhD, or games.
It’s also a time when I would have, hypothetically, been heading down to Canberra, to be part of CanCaon, which after much agonising, we decided to abandon, because of panini concerns. More on that later.Continue Reading →
Script follows!Continue Reading →
With that, No-Effort November draws to a close. I have a schedule I use to plan out my blog posts, to make sure that I don’t double up, or miss a Game Pile or Story Pile article, and that’s been really useful. I do use it to look at the year at a time, and whenever I find I need a time to put an article that doesn’t necessarily have someplace to go – I throw it to a later slot. December is full of of Decemberween posts (more on that tomorrow), which means that in a year, almost every single non-themed post that gets bumped to a ‘later’ spot in the yeargets bumped to November.
What we get as a result is that by the time I get to November, it’s already full – but it’s probably full of stuff that’s not really tied to anything, or is maybe just a list or a ‘hey isn’t this weird?’ kind of post. Basically, November is the corner of the chip packet all of the year’s effort shakes into.
Plus, you know, November is crushed between two pretty cool events and it’s marking season for my teaching, which means the first two weeks of November are super busy for me. Therefore, it’s a perfect time for me to declare it time to do not much.Continue Reading →
Another dread month draws to a close! Dense with content, rich and redolent with big spooks, and now let’s give you a guide to blog articles you may have missed this month that I recommend you check out.Continue Reading →
September is over! But if you’re like the majority of people who read this blog (weird), you only check it from time to time, so here’s a post that should tell you things you may have missed this month that you can go check out!Continue Reading →
And thus, the flourish, the finale, the end of the performance, and tricks month draws to a conclusion. This was an interesting month, as many of the pieces were quietly done throughout the year, and postponed to now; this created a strangely out-of-time experience as, when written, I felt ‘well, I’m going to need to explain a lot about Qanon, I guess,’ as opposed to the relatively mainstream bullshit it is now.
Still, let’s have a look at the blog, shall we?Continue Reading →
July has ripped on by (and I say that because I have been on holiday, and am writing this quite early in the month, truth be told). I could say any old bollocks and it’d just be seen as me being quirky. Actually, I shouldn’t joke because the current thing is a lockdown that I have seen referred to as potentially extended to Christmas and uh fuck that.
June had four Game Pile articles this month, which is the usual number. We have two text articles, and three, count ’em three video articles:
- I made a video of me playing (and failing to beat) Hurtin’ Hermits, a minigame from the Hermitcraft server.
- I considered the works of Raven Software in light of their 1992 game Shadowcaster.
- I reconsidered the blind eye I’d turned to problems in Shadow Warrior when I looked at Shadow Warrior 2.
- I got to talk about Familiar Alchemy, and complain about ‘semi-cooperative.’
- And then a video about the Buck Rogers: Battle for the 25th Century Game, but really, just a bunch of dumping on how messed up the history of TSR is.
While that happened, what about the Story Pile?
- Sk8 The Infinity. I liked this anime of hot boys that really, really should be making out.
- Mitchells Vs The Machines. Just out of Pride month, a disappointing thing that didn’t belong in Pride Month.
- Widget The World Watcher. A cartoon from my childhood that I wrote about in January and cast to this time in the month.
- Gen:Lock, a web animation anime that kind of has no right to be as amazing as it is.
This month I also started on the project We Are The Night, which I kicked off by making a post that just explained the idea. Part of the point of making in public is making sure that you’re aware of not just the things that are done, but the way things get worked on – and sometimes that just means things stop, and that’s okay. That also led to a followup post later in the month. We’ll see how regular those posts are. This public making continued as I worked on redeveloping The Botch for a print-and-play environment.
I wrote about Feeling Superman, and about my weekendless childhoods due to the Working Bees. I also made a Masterpost of my Netflix Marvel posts, bringing them together in a nicely easily read way, all for convenient reference. In my study posting, though, I took an opportunity to explain the idea of Caillois’ axes of play, through the medium of Transformers toys.
I wrote a sad article, because I don’t like being unduly negative about Magic: The Gathering about how I’m not interested in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, which is a bummer to have written. While I was in a D&D mood, though, I also talked about The Hexblade back in 3.5, a class that’s kind of still misbegotten in 4e, and the Swallowers, a kind of jokey memey heritage of friendly non-evil Beholderkin.
As I write this, we are in extended lockdown. I had a PhD timetable written up in January, that was, based on the information presented by the government in that month, expecting that I’d have my COVID vaccine right now. This lockdown is being treated as if it’s the fault of dirty poors transmitting their viruses around, while rich people go about their days unaffected by the rules that the rest of us live under. It’s possible by the time this article goes up, things change.
But for now it’s going to be a darkly ironic note, since I’m seeing it more likely I get my vaccine in 2022.
If you’re, like me, in the Balance Of The Remainder category, you can pick up stickers or shirts and laugh hollowly.
Fingers crossed things don’t get worse.
Well, that was Pride. As we gear up to put down our Pride and pick up our Wrath, what came by on the Press dot Invincible Dot Ink blog?
June had four Game Pile articles this month, which is the usual number. We have two text articles, and two video articles:
- Secret Little Heaven. In the comments from this, I saw someone refer to the idea of the word ‘trans’ being ‘cringe,’ and that’s how I learned there’s a way to disappear someone from your comments section.
- Some interesting queer games. This was part of my effort to use this month to platform some games I can’t or won’t play during a time when that’s important. If I can’t bring myself to enjoy or engage with other small-scale queer games, I should do what I can to promote it.
- Nier Automata, which I promised back in February. In hindsight, I think my big problem is that this game promises me a lot it doesn’t deliver – like the freedom of movement and scope of the story is at odds with providing me one very small invisibly-walled city.
- Asphalt Among Ashes. A really cool little journaling game I found by clicking the links in someone’s twitter bio.
I had a lot more fun with the Story Pile, though.
- The Owl House. Let’s check out a cool queer thing Disney made, then kick them in the teeth over not doing it sooner.
- The Old Guard. Let’s check out a cool queer comics movie, then kick the movies in the teeth for this being exceptional.
- This One Fucking Episode Of West Wing. Let’s just kick Aaron Sorkin in the teeth.
- Zombieland Saga. Completely unironically, an anime that I love even if I don’t think it’s very good.
What about this month’s Pridey articles? Well there was a weird runaway in this month. My article ‘Being Asked If I Am An Egg‘ got a lot of attention, including from people I did not know and had never heard of. Some of them went ‘she sounds like an egg.’ That was kinda annoying, but, you know, take it in stride.
I wrote about Ax, from the Animorphs. I wrote about Vent, a nonbinary brawly punk City of Heroes character that makes me happy. I also wrote about how Wizards of the Coast, and their want to be included at Pride, has to be regarded with some sincerity and some immense cynicism. I also did a primer on what we mean when we mention ‘TERF’ or ‘SWERF’ with the article Welcome To ERFs. After years of umming and ahhing about it (and the comfort I had with my Tatsuhime article), I wrote about Yoruichi and Soi Fon, another of Bleach’s errant plot alleyways. I also finally got around to writing, after literally months of putting it off, the Johnlock Conspiracy Conspiracy.
This month’s shirt is some candy hearts, showing things I like a lot – the Pride flags, and sincere attempts that maybe look a bit crap. You can check it out here.
Anything going on in the real world? Well, thanks to a COVID outbreak in Sydney and a possible vector into a suburb near me, my suburb is in lockdown. We’ve been told to shelter in place for two weeks, shopping for essentials only, meaning that I got to watch the toilet paper in the aisles empty out again.
May is over, and we are now in the last part of the first half of the year that is 2020 Bonus Round. What’s been happening on the blog?
As the Game Pile has matured, there have been a lot more articles about games that are contemplative or not about just plowing through my Steam archive. I’ve come to abandon the idea that every game in my Game Pile should be talked about – not because they don’t deserve it, but because there’s a lot of stuff where I don’t have anything interesting to say.
I did finally make a video about Hyperintertextuality as expressed by Hyrule Warriors, something I’ve been intending to do for a few years now. The video itself was reasonably easy to make – I wish I’d dedicated a little more time to it, to trim out some sections of the background imagery that aren’t interesting. There’s some menu-ing in the video that I would have cut out, and in the later half I might have made more diagram overlay if I’d thought about it more.
I wrote about Usurper, a game that I can’t in good faith recommend because I can’t give you an opportunity to buy it, and therefore, I had to look at as a game design teacher. I also looked at Pixelmon, a mod for Minecraft just because Fox is playing it. Finally this month, I got to look at Hard Wired Island, a game made by a couple of friends of mine that I was planning on skipping entirely.
See the thing with Hard Wired Island, is, I don’t actually think I want to play the game. It does not interest me. It has never interested me. I backed it in the kickstarter to support my friends, and figured that was it. I was going to let this game that did not interest me let go, and that be that. Except then Discourse started around this game and it was fucking boring. The discourse was ‘hey, is this huge book with lots of work and well paid contributors worth its price tag of about as much as a D&D book?’ and like… even if you don’t think it’s worth it, that conversation is really dull. That conversation wants to reduce the things the book is saying to a kind of word sludge, like alphebitising all the text in it and determining ‘too many es.’
Thus, a conversation about the game that isn’t about its price tag.
Weirdly, it was a sour month for Story Pile stuff. I talked about Moneyball, which seems to be a movie about a pretty cool moment that decides to centre itself on just a total dickhead, on Tenchi Muyo, the Star Wars Merchandising of anime, Toy Story being boomer reconstructionalism and The Detectorists, which sucks. And I also talked about BNA, focusing on the way that media chooses to create villains. My take didn’t land for everyone, though; I still like the series, but it’s definitely possible to read the narrative of a secret shadowy culture of elites pulling all the strings as playing into antisemetic tropes.
Thing is for me if you mention ‘posh elites who pure breed themselves for superpowers’ my natural inclination is to see European Royalty, not Jewish stereotypes.
What about other May articles?
I made an article explaining the way I made my unscripted videos. I used my Heretic video as a template to work as an example. There’s also a month’s worth of Daily Cephalid Card Design, a piece on the wonderful Australian animal now known as a Rakali, and a piece on Mind Control in D&D, specifically as it relates to 4th Edition’s better way of handling it. We looked at Megatron and the bodies he’s had, and ways to manipulate tests when you know you are being tested. I even went out of my lane and made fun of Star Wars a bit! And while I am making fun of the House of Mouse, I looked at the way I reacted to the Simpsons episode about Whacking Day.
This month I made a shirt because I wanted it. It’s about a pair of Pokemon I really like – Gligar and Gliscor.
I hurt my leg late this month, which sucked basically all the energy out of a whole week. That sucks! It does mean that I feel like this month just kind of blipped past me, which I may be a sign of something else going on – like as you get older, you start to notice the time flowing faster?
Oh lords, I hope not.
Thus ends Talen Month, a month which is, surprisingly, tricky to actually fill out. It’s often tricky because it kind of behooves me to make it a month of bangers. There’s no room for the ‘eh, it’s not that good,’ kind of stuff, or ‘unexpectedly meh’ kind of coverage. I’m trying to build the structure for this month over the rest of the year – any time a real favourite idea comes up, I put it in the hopper and plan on hitting it hard in April.
If you thought ‘hey the articles this month were kinda big,’ well, they were. A typical post on the blog ranges between 300 to 1200 words, with only a very few big beefy entries that crest 2000 words. This month, the average was 1200, with a full 15 articles over 1000 words. That’s even setting aside the extra media entries – three videos and a podcast, which don’t fit normal word count stuff.
This April had a lot of stuff in it! And that stuff’s real good, in my opinion!
April is a month with five Game Piles, and it seems that this month the subtheme was ‘oh hey, remember that?’ In addition to this, I talked about One Must Fall 2097 and how its design was influenced by the keyboard. I talked about Heretic and how it iterated on the Doom engine. Then I talked about Ai: The Somnium Files with Nixie, which was fun. There’s another Game Pile going up tomorrow, and it’ll be about Syndicate Wars. Yeah, Syndicate Wars, no doubt a game you’re all thirsting to hear my opinions about.
I warn you, it will not be erotically charged.
There was also an article about Final Fantasy VI, which got inexplicably linked to on Critical Distance. I mean, I’m grateful and glad, and I hope it holds to the principle of the site to maintain a list of thoughtful writing about videogames, but also, I guess I’ve now enshrined ‘girl hot’ as a type of proper videogame critique.
It’s been a month to consider my branding, the way my Youtube Channel presents itself. It has been pointed out to me that my Youtube Channel doesn’t really do anything to encourage someone to engage with it, I don’t do calls to action, and I don’t give the channel a clear identity. That’s something to work on.
No central theme to Story Pile this month, though! I talked about Only You Can Save Mankind, a book by Terry Pratchett that ruined me for every ‘metatextually clever’ window pane story, Robotech – a series that kinda doesn’t exist (with a followup of some disjointed stuff from the series that stick with me), the movie The Mighty Ducks, and the book The Hork-Bajir Chronicles, part of the Animorphs series (that I said you shouldn’t read). The unifying theme here appears to be ‘1992-1999.’
We only got one Magic: the Gathering article this month, but it was an article of custom made Sultai monsters. On the other hand, I did flaunt my ass by showing some of my D&D worldbuilding from years ago, and updated it to now, examining the Gods of War in Cobrin’Seil. We also looked at The Ardent from 4th Edition and the Fochlucan Lyrist from 3.5. Then we learned how to be Rock Howard, and how to do an unarmed character that doesn’t completely suck ass in the context of a game all about hitting people with weapons.
I’ve been basically daring myself to write about Bleach, a series I love deeply despite being as immensely flawed as it is. We got ourselves a Bleach weekend, where we talked about the sword as a storytelling vehicle in Bleach, then some examples of stuff it did with that.
There wasn’t that much in the way of game-making or politics this month, though I did reserve some time to talk about the fundamentally punitive way games are structured in common discourse around D&D.
This month’s shirt was a reference to Only You Can Save Mankind which also creates an interesting little weirdo totemic item, a sort of memory of what it meant to be one of the people penning these ‘important’ things on ‘important’ technology, that have all passed by and stopped being meaningful useful any more.
Beyond that? It’s been a busy one. Teaching, PhD research, and blogging, and it’s been weirdly hard to get to sleep this month. Daylight saving shifted, which normally means I get more time with my friends on the internet, but weirdly, it just hasn’t worked out that way so far.
Curse this Smarch weather!
But March is over and we’re moving on to April! March lacks a theme, which means that anything I wrote in February and went: Hey hang on, this doesn’t relate, got bumped. And thus, I present to you something you can read that directs you to other stuff you can read, that’s all fun and good.
What did we get in the Game Pile? Two videos, and two text articles. The videos were on Second Sight, and how meritocracy is fake and Games Journalism is fundamentally broken, and on how Minecraft doesn’t have anything like Goblins and how that’s? interesting? I also tackled the digital Root board game and how it isn’t quite the same thing as the physical game, but how that can be a good thing, and finally, I took some time to take down Genewars, a 1996 RTS. Man, 90s RTSes are just a genre for me to poop on huh.
The Second Sight video was something I was pretty proud of, especially because there’s some techniques in that that I was afraid would look dumb and bad and it didn’t. The process of turning a 1500 word article into a video produces a video of about that length, which I think is good, since it means that there’s no reason to just list a series of things that happen in the game and to instead try to focus on what the game is trying to do.
In my efforts to not just become an anime review blog, I wrote about some deliberately oddball stuff. I talked about Chess, a really good musical that fits almost too well into modern discourse about what gamers think matter. I briefly talked about Until This Shakes Apart, a new album by Five Iron Frenzy I’ve been listening to in parts to repeat for months now. I got a single anime article in with The Ascendance Of A Bookworm, which I love a lot and will still use to tease Nixie. I talked a little bit about the way medium influences content with the book series of the Muddle-Headed Wombat. And finally, just a few days ago, I talked about complicated feelings around the series Black Books, which was made by a dreadful dickhead.
What else do I recommend you check out this month? Well, there are two pieces that were put up as part of a sort of ‘Hi, I like you and I like knowing what you like’ Birthday celebration: my article on being Edelgard in 4e D&D, and my article on the Hindren in 4e D&D. These were both little hat-tips to friends near their birthdays, and it seems they were well received, but they also were just, you know good content for if you’re into 4e D&D. While we’re talking about building in other games’ spaces, I wrote about how I use ‘pushed’ when talking about custom magic cards and how Competeitive Commander is essentially building its own game in another game.
On other topics, there’s an article about The Games Of Orcs, which is worldbuilding for nonhuman cultures in fantasy settings. This was really fun to research and involves a lot of thought about the sheer mechanisms of what goes into folk games. I also wrote about how to handle gods based on my own thinking for the gods of Cobrin’Seil, and there’s a piece about how character creation needs to avoid Owlbear Traps because they don’t work.
Game-making practice, there’s one big one: I broke down the rules of my game Die Rich after finally, finally, finally getting a chance to playtest it with some real humans. Also, Fox and I talk about how we’d design Pokemon to fill some holes in the type lineup. It’s a long conversation, about an hour, but you might like it!
Finally, I did write about three equally important political topics; that a dedication to nonviolence doesn’t mean an abdication of a willingness to use force, that Rush Limbaugh is fucking dead, and that Garfield is probably white and Heathcliff is probably black.
Next up, here’s this month’s T-Shirt. Thanks to 2020 I never got to show students my original Naruto-style did you check the subject outline, but I wore it to class this year and they loved it, so it inspired another, updated version of the same idea. I expect I’ll make more on this theme.
March has featured some illness, which in our current situation kind of slowed things down more than I expected. I have two classes going this semester, and they’re both exciting and interesting and I’m talking to students who seem to be split into ‘let me pass and let me out’ and ‘I am genuinely interested in this,’ which is a good split to have. An important piece of PhD documentation got completed and handed in and now I’ve been working on the research part of that, which is exciting. I’m basically finding I have a little more time than I thought I did – that the kind of administrative work of the research project is less arduous than the work I’m enjoying doing, which kind of stands to reason. I even participated in a twitter event with other educators, about games, and got to get them to read ‘Gamification is Bullshit,’ which is
Weirdly, I know I said this last month, but another friend had to bow out of a game I was running. In this case, it wasn’t mental health, it’s that they’re a parent to a two year old, and time in the evenings has become precious. Oh well!
February is over, my Twitter avatar is going to change, and our Smoochy Month is past! Back to regular posting tomorrow, but let’s give you a reminder of what happened this month and what you may have missed!
What did we get in the Game Pile? This Smooch Month’s game roundup was Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, Arcade Spirits, Monster Prom and Leather Goddesses of Phobos. Its the nature of Smooch Month that the Game Pile is a special struggle, but I hope that this gives you an interesting variety to read – particularly, I’m very proud of the Arcade Spirits review. It is huge, and it’s thorough and I think it touches on some ideas I struggle with as a critic of the genre. Some angst about my place in the world, you know?
It also involved me considering via the Leather Goddesses that next year, I should write about procedural rhetoric and do articles examining other Game Pile games based on their romances. After all, it’s not like when I wrote about Mass Effect I ever spoke about how those romances felt to me.
Story Pile wound up being very anime this month. No idea why, but it means that we got Story Pile videos on Always Be My Maybe, a funny romcom movie with a killer cameo and hilarious ending rap track, Haikyuu, an anime that deserves attention for its dedication towards making a range of boy characters who are actually romantically interesting, Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, and The Quintessential Quintuplets.
Other articles we have this month include a piece explaining hyperreality in fandom, in Akane Tendo, Baudrillard’s Tsundere, something directing you to go exploring for a new form of creative work you can check out and maybe even make with Smoochy Audio Plays, I waded into the tedious form of ‘what if we act like the answer isn’t obvious’ with Why Do Movies Have Sex Scenes?, and I considered some ways to depict romances in games with ‘Ship’ Building. I also wrote about some things I like in Media, being Yandere characters, the ship Tatsuhime from Bleach, and how much I enjoy being mad at Buffy the Vampire Slayer for doing a bad job with a trope I like.
There, that’s some reading for you if you wonder what I hope you noticed at the end of the month.
Next up, here’s this month’s T-Shirt, which is an attempt to make a nice candy-heart themed shirt with some messges that I think are nice, and sweet, and maybe the kind of thing you can give someone.
Personally, I am pretty happy with this month. I was worried that January would be a frantic burst of energy thanks to a rollover of a date, but this February was the recommencement of things like PhD meetings and University planning. That meant that I was weaving workloads together, and while yes, there have been days where I’ve been exhausted and just dealing with life in this situation, I’m still hitting goals and meeting obligations. Some days, not much gets done, but enough does get done. That I’m happy with.
Another small thing is a friend told me they had to quit a game we played, because it was proving too much of a problem with their productivity and mental health. It was a bummer, but I was able to tell them that I would miss them, but I would always rather they leave and do what’s best for them rather than them spend their time feeling bad about wasting time they weren’t enjoying spending. I hope we find another way to keep spending time together, but if we don’t, we don’t, and that’s okay.
I also had a lot of fun this month hanging out with a couple of friends on discord. It’s just been a time to actually use this mic setup, watching friends play games while I do written work around them.
oh and there’s a flag thread.
Gosh, January’s already over! And some things that have happened in it that were not ‘literally everything getting worse the whole time forever,’ and like, that’s good to know.
What did we get in the Game Pile? We talked about Katana Zero, Tinderblox and Kittin, Wingspan, and two ‘meta’ Game Pile articles about What Left In 2020? and What Making Gaming Videos Is Like in 2021.
What did we get in the Story Pile? I talked about Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) which I liked a lot and I think my review with the shocking idea of ‘what do you iexpect ithis kind of thing to be like,’ Star Trek Discovery, Season 3 which I also liked a lot, The Bletchley Circle which, again, I liked a lot, and and a meta article about the stuff from 2020 that was so bad that I ditched it, Flushing 2020.
There are some other articles I like a lot that I put this month. I reflected on the funny story of the The Beaver Drop. I put out a long form article on an idea I have for developing White in Magic: The Gathering, with The Case For White Copying. We talked about D&D with both a piece on The Paladin’s Plight and a piece on The Cleric Archer. I also ruminated a bit on what we say when we wear a mask right now, with What Does A Mask Say? I also spent some time to finally put down some thoughts about one of my favourite arcs in the Haruhi Suzumiya idea space with this article about the Endless Eight.
Also, despite my desire to keep out of politics, I did write a piece explaining What’s a Condorcet Winner?
In fancy-pantsy academic making and writing, messaging and signalling studies, I talked about Fuzzy Games , which relates to my ongoing studies, Practicing Practice which is how I approach helping students engage with making, and an oblique interrogation of interfaces with Does the Audience Play?
Here’s this month’s T-Shirt, modelled on the Blue Shell of Mario Kart fame.
I feel like overall, this month, I did a lot of work – the articles are longer than usual. But I also was able to bring my backlog back up to a healthy 32, rather than the lower number it was languishing at. This is really heartening, and because I have a full year of possible slots in front of me, any time I get an idea that relates to a theme, I can throw it forward into the future for that theme.
Hopefully you’ve been enjoying!
Obviously, a normal wrapup each month is ‘hey, here’s the best stuff I did this month.’ Except I didn’t do the normal kind of article this month – it was largely easily-accessible media that you can check out during this month, praise for my friends, and at least one embarrassing story where I look like a cowardly dipshit.
Each year, I look at this chart now and I have a weird moment. Like, hey, this is cool. This is a long, dedicated, protracted practice. This year the schedule has at times gone up to 60 and down to 16. Given the year, that seems pretty reasonable. The average blog post is 913 words, and I get about 100 views a day. I’m at the point where WordPress Dot Com is offering me ways to monetise the blog.
If you haven’t noticed, this year I’ve done more writing about running tabletop games in general and more about D&D in specific. I try to limit myself to two posts about D&D a month – my current method for doing it is to pull a book from each edition out of my bookshelf at random and see what the book reminds me of, and then share those thoughts.
- Oaths, Pacts and The Moral Failure of Trying
- 4e: Claw Gloves
- When D&D Got Horny
- Power Word: Kill
- Utopian D&D
- Murder Hobos Are A You Problem
- In Praise Of ‘You Meet At An Inn’
Magic: The Gathering Stuff
This was a rough year for The Greatest Game or whatever. Lots of bannings and the delays on schedules, cards being kicked out for being racist, an entire mechanic getting rebalanced because it was too strong, lots of problems. Still, I wasn’t playing in those spaces so I didn’t really follow that, and instead focused on custom card design this year.
- MTG: Stop Designing White Counterspells
- MTG: White Ramp
- MTG: Reimagining The Nephilim
- MTG: MTG: Dinobots (Not The Transformers) Commanders!
Game Dev Posts
Despite the great wheel turning slow, and the PhD crawling along, I have still found some time to talk about game development, and some of those posts made it into the top of the heap, or I had a personal reason to want to put them forward.
Posts About Living
There’s not really a good term for these, is there? There’s a bunch of posts I’ve written about emotional issues and about the way we look at our lives. Often these are about queer culture, and about the way we live as queer people. I don’t have a ton of experience with the things we consider ‘queer culture’ – so instead I make do with looking at how we relate to media, and how that media relates to my queerness, and maybe your queerness.
And it turns out that queer folk have slightly weird life experience that relates to odd social behaviours, too! And thinking about that sometimes gets blog posts made.
Then, when all those other categories are covered, what else do we have going on this year? Well, here’s stuff that got decent hits, sorted for the ones that I personally think are the most interesting.
- Top Five Pokemon Gym Leaders That Show This Game Is Incomprehensible For People Over Five
- Just How Bad Is The US State Flag Problem?
- Poison Ivy
- 5 Things That Actually Happen In Ranma 1/2
- The Giant of Kandahar
- JJ Abrams’ Mystery Box
- What’s Fanagement?
- 10 SCPs That Suck Ass
- 10 SCPs That Talen Actually Likes
As for what we’re going to do in the coming year…? Well, check that out tomorrow. Thanks for reading this year, thanks for being part of my year, and I hope I’ve made this year at least a little bit better. For you. This year. Year.
Aauuuup hot damn! November’s done with and now we’re sailing on into December! That’s some good news! Why is this article coming up now with two days more in the month? Shut up, that’s why!
First up, articles from November! What did I have going that I was proud of? I got to show off the excellent Commander Keen 4 and apparently continued what is now pretty much going to be a Commander Keen Retrospective (no, you probably won’t get that, who cares, whatever). I presented an examination on the character of dril, a post that was beaten out by CNN of all people. I also was pretty happy with the interesting question of my Wallet Game worker placement idea.
Then, there was a video, about Beyond Zork:
And there was a shirt! This shirt!
Anyway, back to marking for me. See ya tomorrow!
Woo~ooo~Ooo~Oooo it’s trick-or-treating niiiight. Which it wouldn’t be wiiiise to dooo~oo~oooOOO~~ because of the globaaal pandeeemiiiiiiic~ You know now I think of it, it is a little weird to not see more Zombie fiction set on Halloween where they have to work trick-or-treating into the plot somehow. Anyway!
It’s Halloween and it’s the end of October, so it’s time to run down what I got done this month in amongst many other things.
First of all, articles. We did some interesting and different stuff this month, didn’t we? First, there were my readings of Hp Lovecraft writings with some critical response afterwards; I read Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn, aka ‘My Ape Grandma’s Grandson Was A Racist’, The Colour out of Space, aka ‘Space is scary and hicks don’t know when to be afraid,’ Nemesis, aka ‘hey, not so much racism this time,’ and The Statement of Randolph Carter, aka ‘behold the ancient days of a century ago.’ These were fun to do and reasonably easy, so if you want this kind of stuff, I’ll consider doing more readings on theme months.
I interviewed Erik the Bearik about Brinkwood: Blood of Tyrants, and that was lots of fun. I vented for a bit about ‘ghost hunters‘ and ‘real mystery‘ media, where I pulled my punches and avoided swearing about exploitative nonsense. I also wrote some companion pieces to my SCP Wiki video (and we’ll get to that), where I listed some SCPs I dislike and some I like.
I also did something special this month with videos! Since I’d been doing a lot of experimenting with video this year, I figured I’d bring them together and do five ‘different’ kinds of video.
For Halloween Forever, I talked about the game and about my relationship to Halloween as a cute, fun thing to be enjoyed. This was done by playing the video, then unscriptedly talking about the way the game made me feel. This was really easy to do!
For the SCP wiki, I made a simple video of a series of animations with minimal visual data, but with useful, clear iconography. This works well for representing text media, so maybe this is how I’ll tackle text adventures going forwards. This was also scripted pretty thoroughly before I made the video.
For Scarlet Hollow, I made a very quick series of pan-and-scans over stills from the game, which worked out well for explaining the ways the game worked. This was lightly scripted, but I did do a fair bit of editing to get the right flow down. This meant I could promote the game on kickstarter in an appropriate window, instead of holding things up. This also helped overcome my big problem with visual novels, where I often feel like I’m ‘wasting’ the medium to use video and voice to talk about a primarily textual medium.
Finally, Ai: The Somnium Files is like one of your more typical ‘essay-ish’ type videos, though not using the game to make some greater point. I scripted it out, read it, then used a loop of gameplay visuals which I overlaid with graphics to present more information about the game. I was able to weave in video footage and some captioning, which worked out okay, and I liked it.
I think I just talk faster than most video essay people. This video script is 2200 words, and the video is about ten minutes – but a typical audio reading, according to audiobook resources, is around 150 words a minute. Ostensibly, this should mean that this video should be about 15 minutes if I just read slower.
I’ll have to work on that.
For Gloomwood, this was much simpler to make. I recorded myself playing the game, as is, the first time. Everything is here – me messing up, me learning game mechanics, me exploring how the game worked from record to end record.
Aiba is a real sweetheart of a character, and I’m really glad to have gotten to play this game. When I make shirts and stickers, it’s often as ‘merch’ of my interests, and so this time I’m glad to be able to make merch of my love of this game.
And finally, personal life stuff? Well, October was busy – I’ve been marking pretty much every week of the month, and the marking has taken up a lot of time. I have a lot of students this semester, and they’re under a lot of stress, which has meant there’s been a lot of late-night mix-ups, or two AM calls from students worrying about how to get things working.
October was nonetheless a lovely month to catch up with some movies and shows I really liked, it was a wonderful experience in video making, and I enjoyed my recordings as well. Let me know if any of the content this month stood out to you as a fave and I’ll see what I can do going forward.
Bring out yer alive!
This is our second-last unthemed month of the year, and with it came a scattered arrangement of posts, some that had been written months ago and only came out now, cast off into the far future when I could forget about them. It’s also when I wrote about how to handle money in your game design (and how weird it is that it’s how we handle it in real life, almost like life is an unfair game, odd), about how Elite Beat Agents expresses difficulty, and I put out my article on the charming and interesting Magical Land of Yeld.
This month’s shirt is a pie chart reference to a song! The big shakeup in the store is how I took down some Harry Potter themed merchandise which I once upon a time made as meanspirited jabs at a fandom I wasn’t into, but was willing to sell them, because it didn’t matter if their fandom was bad to me, it was important to them. The thing is, now, selling that stuff can be seen as if I’m okay with JK Rowling’s behaviour, and I’m really not.
This month’s video is another short experiment; an unscripted article on Void Bastards, which took me a very small amount of time to make for a game I’d already pretty much beaten. I quite liked doing this, and I’m hoping it’ll work for some of the other games we’re going to look at going forwards.
This month, I hurt my foot, and that snarled up my grading and that means everything’s been done with not enough time, oh no, oh dear, anyway.
And just like that, poof, August disappears!
August, with its theme of magic – which I tend to expand to be about manipulating attention and tricks, so eventually we wind up talking about heists – is pretty hard for me to work with when it comes to games or movies, because I already did The Prestige and Ricky Jay’s TV special, but after that. It’s great (in my opinion) for the other articles of the month, because I can almost always find other stories about the wonderful weirdoes involved in magic, the techniques of magic, the tools magic gives you access to, and that means that I tend to wind up with a lot of articles I’m happy with while Story and Game Piles kinda suffer.
But that’s okay!
By expanding to heists and stealth like I did this year (the art of controlling attention), I got to talk about Logan Lucky, which is great. I got to talk about Breach, which I still really like even after finding out it’s basically copaganda for the cop’s cops. I also got to talk about Volume, a game that I really like, and has gotten a lot better in the five years since its release because the idea of a Britain fallen to classist fascism in an information economy really isn’t very farfetched.
I also wrote about some useful general principles for dealing with people. One of them was confabulation, the way your brain justifies dumb things it does, and that you may literally never realise you were doing, about slugs and loads, and about forces. The forces article even has my favourite line of the month:
The force is not there to set up the trick: The trick is there to hide the force.
This month also was when I slipped out some of the lore of a Scum & Villainy science-fiction setting, with The Synthetic Mystic and the Century Ship. These are going to become important later, but you’ll find out why. Basically, creative content for you to share and enjoy.
I also hammered in on the absolutely unforgiveable Tome of Magic from 3.5 D&D, which is not a good book and full of not good things, but still deserves a tiny star for trying. I did a How To Be about the amazing Sumireko from Touhou Project. I love when I get to do something meaningful about Touhou Project, because the Touhou fans mark out in just the best ways.
August, I made another pair of shirts (though like, technically, it’s four shirts), showing both a math puzzle that’s part of a magic trick (in white and black text), and a reference that’s not actually vague, but you know, you could pretend it’s vague (in white and black text).
This month’s video was a half hour attempt to get started on Jane Jensen’s Gray Matter, during which time I talked about trying to make Narrative Adventures work, and the ways that you can have problems if you’re just creating flag-based trigger messes, the Australian side of the Steam store, and
Teaching started up this month, and that’s been great fun to do. There’s been some concerns about managing workload, but I’ve also been trying to dedicate more time actually building and playing things, rather than trying to manage my life so I’m just getting by. Also, with some things opening up, I’m getting to see my family more often, which is nice.
Hey, July’s down. We’re getting this year done, day by day, people. If you’re still here with me, thank you so much for that.
This month seems to have had a theme of catching up; the writing schedule has been better, in general, with very few days where I fell behind, and there have been some articles that I wrote months ago that I threw forward into July, the ‘infinity away’ year. Also it was time to dust out and finish off some drafts I had been leaving alone for literally years.
Comically, this did mean one article came out just after a major conversation about its subject matter despite being originally written like, a year ago. Oops. That was the Cards Against Humanity article, because every year I teach students about making games, I see more variants on it, and they’re almost always weaker games because of the overwhelming presence of Cards Against Humanity. Which is a bummer!
I also finally did my set on the Fullmetal Alchemist franchise, from manga to the first anime to the second anime to the live-action movie. There’s more, of course – a few more movies and videogames, and man, there’s probably a card game or something – but I finally got my feelings out there about what is, again, probably the best series of its kind that nonetheless has some ways it’s bad.
I also finally penned that piece on Brolonialism, which has been waiting for years; I put out some thoughts about how ‘cancel culture’ isn’t really a thing, looked at tackling the Nephilim from Magic: The Gathering, which is maybe a month old at this point, and even did a writeup of my character Moonheart, from City of Heroes. Also, because I try to keep myself to one 3rd ed D&D article per month, I spent this month banging on the Spelldancer, one of the most hilariously broken loops you can have in a game that normally abhors loops.
July’s shirt continues on my theme of Loss-themed shirts! There are two new additions to the Loss Collection: a lettered and numbered version of the same idea. It’s not a complicated design, but I’m very happy with being able to use the simple elegance of it, in a way that works as a design even without being able to see the Loss element to it.
Video? I did put up a small video explaining a Minecraft thingy I made, a Hopper Loader. But that’s not the ‘proper’ video for this month, no no. This month’s video is a game pile video, which you shouuuld be getting to see tomorrow. Keep your eyes peeled.
Personal life, hm, hm, hm, well this is a break month between two semesters, during which time I’ve been doing set up and consultation for my various work arrangements. I’ve felt obviously busy, and dealing with a lot of best practice stuff about health and contamination, which gets more awkward as schools open up and second waves of infections kick off. I try not to talk about the pandemic much here, but it is affecting me, and I’m trying to make sure the content I put here is an escape from gloom rather than an embrace of that feeling. You know how it goes, and I hope it’s been helpful, even as I’ve been doing my best to be honest with you about my work process.
June’s down! It’s been a bit of a fog right now, in no small part because some of my plans got spiked. One of my plans was to do give aways and spend money sending people my silly pride themed t-shirts that yes, I am proud of, but also, maybe, now is not the time to be making people do competitions for silly queer shirts. Generally, I feel now is a time to keep my head down, to try and promote some uplifting stuff, and not do things that make me seem like I’m trying to take advantage of this moment.
There were some articles I was happy with: The Speed of Crowds, which was meant to coincide with Games Done Quick, talked about the way that speedrunning was collaborative orchestral art. Holding On To Pride wound up being, it seems, very well-timed to suggest that folks had to be kind to themselves, and why Pride even matters at all. And the somewhat basically named Post About Being A Cis Boy explored how being aware of trans women’s experience did not require some mystic spiritual insight. I was also fond of my article about Burnwillow, who remains a character I think about from time to time when discussing the way we make limited assumptions about what things like trans and cis mean.
There were lots of shirts this month – I’d been banking designs so I could do them all in Pride Month like Last Year. That means we got four designs, one of which was about thirty designs, one of which was a much smaller nine and two more classic designs: Diceheart, This Shirt Says Trans Rights, Pronoun Stamps and Gay Wrath Month.
Here’s this month’s video, about Lore Finder! I really liked this game demo, and I’m really glad it dropped when it did, so I could spend my Pride Month game watching a nonbinary person bicker with their parent and turn into a tentacled slimebeast.
June was a month in which teaching came to a conclusion (for now) and my workload got weird (for now). I got to mark student projects, which I do genuinely like doing, because students are great. It was also a month for articles about Pride Month.
Pride month articles were great for everything but the Piles. I hit my limit real quick on the non-Pile articles, and I have been bubbling to see the reactions to this month’s how to be for… some time now. The Story and Game Piles – well, I figured what I’d do is save up all the really queer games and movies from 2019 and early 2020 and pick the best of them to Pile in Pride Month. That just didn’t seem to happen, though, which was a real bummer.
What’s more, I save some slots month to month so that when I hit the themed months, I can do things based on the reactions to existing articles, and uh, you know what hasn’t much happened this month? Everyone has other stuff on their mind.