Thursday, 27 August 2015

Dreaming of a richer world

Oh, Puddleglum. <3
'One word, Ma'am,' he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. 'One word. All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things -- trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play-world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we're leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that's a small loss if the world's as dull a place as you say.'

Friday, 24 July 2015

I wish we could all game in the mountains, at high altitude


Fringes are fascinating.

I tend to find that most of my better ideas occur in the grey margins between two areas of thought/endeavour. Take this realisation from last night, for example:

Developing an idea for a video game as if you were developing it for a board game means that (generally) you are placing yourself in a situation with: (A) more restrictions; and, (B) more concrete materials.
Which is a good thing.

Why? Well, these two points (which are actually tied together--they're both a direct result of the very physicality of the game board/cards/pieces you're using) create (at least, in my experience) a situation where: (A) the greater restrictions force you to be more novel/creative in your design and approach; and, (B) working with more tangible materials enables you to get down to highly basic/fundamental ways of solving seemingly complex problems.

I don't want to turn this into an essay but, as a (brief) example:

I've been wanting to design a "better" (read: more verisimilitude) lockpicking minigame than what you'll see in Oblivion/Fallout 3/Skyrim for years now. The trouble is, how do you simulate the feel of your lockpick touching & manipulating the pins or tumblers of a lock? I'll not bore you with all the ins and outs, but it's only in the last few weeks that I sat down to consider lockpicking as a board game mechanic that I finally worked out how to do it--and have now managed to reverse engineer it to work in a video game. ^_^

tl;dr

The rarefied environment of the board game (where I couldn't have sound, or even show visuals of the lockpicks at work!) enabled me to "simplify, simplify, simplify" (H.D. Thoreau) and thus crack a design chestnut I'd been gnawing on for years now.

tl;dr of tl;dr
Hurrah! It's Febuaray 3rd! \o/

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

the siege (part 7)

Done and done.

And now, amusing as this little gig has been (what with the posting every time the twitchiness grew too much; and the security guard who keeps poking his head in the door and shaking his head in wonder that I'm still here) I'm off.

Going to go beat a hasty retreat to the car for snooze-time.

Not that the car is particularly comfortable and/or warm; but it beats having the lab alarm system go off every hour.

(Seriously, who came up with that? Unless it's specifically intended to stop students napping in here? Grr).

...

the siege (part 6)

Almost, almost, so almost done.

Turns out the main reading is easier to write up. I'm closing in on 500 words to go and I've still a whole 7 hours before my next tute begins.

^_^

...

It's way too late to be doing this kind of bunk.

I need chocolate.

:<

the siege (part 5)

So.

Yeah.

Turns out I'd been writing on the wrong reading.

The optional one.

Smeg.

...

Time for chocolate.

Monday, 30 March 2015

the siege (part 4)

Mmm. Grapes. Grapes are the best.

...

Definitely going stir-crazy here in this lab, but I've now learned a lot about panopticism.

Like, a lot.

Probably more than I'll ever want or need to know.

Hooray?

...

Only 9 hours and 800 words to go.

Please.

Shoot me now.

:<

the siege (part 3)

Mmm. SPAM. So good. ^_^

More seriously though; been researching the controversy surrounding one of the more iconic photographs to emerge from the Vietnam War, Eddie Adams' picture of police chief General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executing a Vietcong prisoner, Nguyễn Văn Lém:


You'll notice I've put it in upside down.

It's a deliberate attempt on my part to break the immediate associations I assign (and have been taught to assign) the people in the picture. Just because one of them is holding a gun; just because--history tells me, although Adams didn't know it when he took that photo--one of them is about to be very, very dead; just because I (like many) view the Vietnam War to be colossal US cock-up and Loan was fighting on the side attached to the US... just because a lot of assumptions I could name all point towards labelling Lém a victim (i.e. the "good guy" of the piece) and Loan a war-crime perpetrator (i.e. the "bad guy" of the piece); doesn't mean it's as easy as that.

To quote Eddie Adams from a piece he wrote for Time in 1998:
Two people died in that photograph: the recipient of the bullet and GENERAL NGUYEN NGOC LOAN. The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapons in the world. People believe them; but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. ... What the photograph didn't say was, 'What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American people?'.... This picture really messed up his life. He never blamed me. He told me if I hadn't taken the picture, someone else would have, but I've felt bad for him and his family for a long time. ... I sent flowers when I heard that he had died and wrote, "I'm sorry. There are tears in my eyes."
See, it turns out that, in all probability, Lém had been involved in the murder of a South Vietnamese colonel, wife, and their six kids.

Ofc, killing isn't justification for more killing, and it's more than probable (I haven't done my research on this) that there were channels that Lém should have been fed through (rather than being executed); but it does lend another angle to the picture that's not really apparent when we look at those pixels, bereft of context:

For Loan, this wasn't an act of cold-blooded murder.

It was justice.

Scarily swift, yes. Brutal, yes. Probably crossing the line over into vengeance, yes. Not to be condoned, yes.

But in a broken, war-torn frame of reference it was also possibly the sanest (or at least, the most human) thing he could do.

No, I'm not being glib with my choice of words there.

I typed "sane" and "most human" quite deliberately.

Because, as Adams asked:

Would you have done any different?

the siege (part 2)

I have supplies! \o/

Wasabi peas, chocolate, grapes. Also SPAM, instant noodles, and a bottle of bloodorange juice that was on markdown. Oh, and a few breakfast shakes for tomorrow (and some energy drinks that were on special. Because, um, reasons).

The lab has been invaded by a late-night tutorial group; however, I have deployed earphones utilising the wonderful sound of a summer thunderstorm.

Silly first years.

Go back to discussing your lecture and stop asking me questions about my hat.

You can't distract me that easily.

I have wasabi peas.

...

First task is to cover the reading for tomorrow's HIST tute; then hash out a brief outline of the required reflection.

And then dinner.

Because actually beginning to feel hungry.

<cue Henry V,  Act 3, Scene 1>

the siege (part 1)

A long night awaits me.

After failing to get in touch with my bed provider for this evening I have decided to stick it out in the computer lab.

Retreat to the car remains an option (if I can't convince the security guy to let me nap under one of the desks), but I hope to hold here as long as possible.

With 13 hours and 1500 words between me and the next tute, this is going to be a protracted engagement where mental fatigue (and the inherent twitchiness that sitting still for longer than 15 minutes brings out in me) will wage war against heart and nerve and sinew (and the very real desire to not flunk my classes).

A siege, if you will.

I better get supplies.

...

Saturday, 14 March 2015

African Dispora

Been studying an English unit this semester called African Dispora; which basically looks at ideas of Africa, dispora, and a shared "African Imagination" that results in a genre of textual works that seem to ignore a lot of the rules of thumb regarding genres, etc.

Something that was raised in a tute by another student was the idea of "African video games". Or rather, she wondered aloud how one might go about making a game about being a slave captured and taken from Africa to the Caribbean; I, otoh, was less fussed by a single game and more struck with the realisation that, while I've never been an obsessive observer of games' origins, I've never really seen a vidya game that I could (having just spent the last two weeks brushing up on my terminology) I could happily include as an outworking of the African dispora.

I'm wondering if The Journey Down might qualify; but I confess I haven't played it, so can't really say. Not really aware of any other potential candidates, although that means little given my surprime ignorance to the wider game-scene.

Been pondering whether the lack of "African" games might be due in part to a similar effect as played out in film where it was only as the medium matured that non-generic, Western views and understandings began to be explored. Dunno though--not an informed opinion; just some rambling ponderings.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Blog update

I've been thinking about how I use (or, more to the point, don't use) this blog and the conclusion I've come to is that I'm just not very good at writing out pieces of any reasonable size for the rest of the world to read without a lot of fussing over the look, feel, and overall tone of the piece--to say nothing of the proof-reading to try and catch errors in grammar & usage.

And so, without further ado, the solution I've come up with is to simply stop writing.

Or, to be more accurate: to stop writing anything that feels "significant", and thus would require the effort/time investment that I'd normally plough into a work of anything greater than, say, 200 words.

So. Yes. That's what's happening.

...

Oh. I also changed the subtitle on the blog from "extracts from an absurd mind" to "snapshots of an absurd mind". Only a minor change, really. But I felt it better reflected the mode I was attempting to step into--shorter posts, probably more frequently, but definitely only bits/snatches of where my thought process is up to that day/hour/moment. Should be entertaining. Plus, if people are confused about something they can always, you know, ask. I hear two-way communication is all the rage these days. :^)

...

Double oh. I've also given up on using tags/labels. The ones I currently have are annoying me. Prolly will fix them at some point. Maybe even soon, if they keep bugging me. :v

Sunday, 1 February 2015

The Call

It starts out as a twitchiness.

Restless, nervous energy that makes setting down and focusing on any one task impossible.

It drives me to walk around the house; at a loose end and confused by the sudden need to eat, to visit the bathroom, to seek out peoples' company--confused because satisfying these urges does not satisfy, and because even as I do the very things this desire calls me to I am not sated but rather hunger ever increasingly for things that do not fill or fit my need.

Desperate. Utterly unsure and undone by this rising need for the unknown and, apparently, unobtainable I seek distraction and refuge from the now gnawing understanding that I desperately, desperately, desperately need to be somewhere else, doing something else; only I know not what.

Immersion, deep and demanding, is where the need to hide from the pressing need within my brain drives me. Books, once and often my favoured companions, do not command from me so much attention that I can shut the doors to in and out and find solace in the quite and isolation. Music, my violin and my voice, supports me for a while; but eventually sore fingers, shoulders, back, arms, throat and soul force me to stop and I find myself once again faced with a now howling thirst (ho, thirst sounds far, far too timid for the cacophonous lack driving me from before) that has grown in the waiting--grown and fed by the very sounds I sought to hide in.

In the end, abnegation seems like the only cure. To sink myself so deep in story, puzzle, challenge, or experience, that eventually the storm passes and I find that, like in the Bene Gesserit litany, I am all that remains.

All that remains.

I, and rare knowledge that I did not hear; though I claimed to have ears.

...

It's always definite, the call.

Steady, undemanding, and dreadful as the dawning conviction of present opportunity--it rings gently in my heart and my mind:

The call, to put off present weakness and step out in greatness that will shape the course of things to come.

For we are what we do repeatedly; our minds and hearts and spirits' sinew--they all have ruts in them we've worn from days and weeks and days of treading out our lives in the moments and the instants that make up our time.

Mediocrity is but a step away; churlish disdain for what might, what aught, be effected with just a moment's moment's effort spanned over duration's endeavour. Toil, is hard to come by when rest is near at hand; and any sign of shinings and great achievement is too distant but for a dream.

But the call.

The call.

The call.

It remains, clear and consistent; though buried in muck and dust and life's dower gloom it might be. The call to put off lesser things; to honour and esteem those things that seem remote and distant; to seek to know, like Paul before us, to know the power and fellowship of crucifixion and painful suffering--and to glory in its Author's Name.

Lesser, baser, things arise to fill and take the place of the call's hunger and its thirst. A restless, nervous energy and a hollow, driving, drive.

But the call is still consistent; not to bury, hide, immerse me; no.

It's calling me to fly.




Friday, 30 January 2015

Mark 4:25

For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.

If I have but sorrow, then being bereft of joy and hope you will take my sorrow from me, O Lord. And then, having nothing save yourself, my God, you will give yourself to me, which is everything I could possibly have desired.

Thus the LORD gives, and He takes away.

The name of the LORD be praised.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Australia Day 2015

Mmm. Been a while...

This article: http://theconversation.com/the-day-i-dont-feel-australian-that-would-be-australia-day-36352

...

Is a good article.

Makes some good points.

But, sadly, I'd have to agree with the PM on the arrival of the First Fleet as being “defining moment” of our national identity.

Only...

Not for the reasons he thinks.

The FF was the point from which took root the absurd notion (that is, I fear, often at the core of many Australia Day celebrations) that you can unceremoniously dump one culture on top of a second, pre-existing culture, and somehow, magically, have everything work out OK.

The moment those ships arrived with the intent of setting up shop for keeps, they set in motion wheels that are still spinning today. Wheels that spin out the lie that Australia is a place where the disadvantaged, those who have been marginalised by the powerful accruing more power, the 'underdogs'--get a 'fair go'. Wheels that tell the tale of "Australian history" like it started in 1788, and that moments like the Stolen Generations, the various assimilation policies, and the constant degradation and exploration of Indigenous culture and heritage for the gain of everyone _not_ Indigenous-- that moments like these are just that: moments. Small blips on the larger radar of Advance Australia Fair--rather than the hot, bright (dark?) points in a centuries long travesty of fear, ignorance, and multiple attempts at genocide.

Wheels that, like the spinning jenny of the Industrial Revolution, cripple and maim the hopes of future internal peace and accord on what it means to be "Australian" (defined in *all* the pain and beauty of the past 50,000+ years right up to today)--wheels that destroy that future for the infinitesimally vanishing benefit of maintaining current prejudices and power structures.

Abbott is right, when he calls the First Fleet the“defining moment” of our national identity. And I weep every time I know it to be so.