Category: Life

2016 Favorites

Favorite Movie

Deadpool

Was right up my alley. I really enjoyed Kick-Ass and this felt like more of the same but in the Marvel cinematic universe.

Favorite Video Game

Dying Light: The Following

Bought it at the end of 2015 with the season pass. Received The Following right when I reached the end of the base game’s story. Loved the game as a whole. Fun to grapple across the cityscape and generally aggravate the undead.

July’s Geek Beers Meetup

I don’t have a voice that carries very well. When I’m out in a crowded place, with a lot of chatter all around me, even I have trouble hearing myself.

Last night I attended my city’s monthly tech meetup, #GeekBeers, where other work-from-home types and tech enthusiasts meet up for a night of good food and drink and conversation.

Some of the conversation turned to what we’ve been doing to keep ourselves entertained in the month since we last saw each other. We covered music, movies & documentaries, television, and books. The following is what I had to offer in terms of what I’ve been reading/listening/watching and what I had recommended for those interested to read/watch/listen to.

Books

I’ve been listening to the Wayward Pines series by Blake Crouch on my 1-month trial of Kindle Unlimited. It’s a strange story that follows a secret service agent as he investigates the disappearance of two other secret service agents in the seemingly perfect town of Wayward Pines. Everyone behaves too perfect, like they’re all in on a secret. Lots of unexpected turns in the story, and I’ve been highly entertained in the series so far. I’m half done the second book in the three-book series.

God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” by Christopher Hitchens. Another audio book I listened to during my drives to and from work. I was previously unaware of Christopher, and I haven’t looked too much into his other work. I watched a few YouTube videos where he argues against religion. The book, read by Christopher himself, is basically an essay on why he thinks religion is bad.

That led me to seek out another God-related book and I settled on Penn Jillette’s “God, No! Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales“. I loved it. Very light on religion, it’s more of an autobiography structured around “one athiest’s ten suggestions”. Very funny, highly recommended. Especially in audio book form as it’s read by Penn himself. Note: It does not answer why he paints one of his fingernails red, but my hypothesis is it’s meant to distract his audience while Penn performs magic.

Movies & Documentaries

The God stuff was kicked off by http://unbelieversmovie.com/ which follows evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss as they tour the world lecturing about the importance of science. There’s an anti-religion agenda to the documentary which is what brought Christopher Hitchens to my attention. There’s a scene before Lawrence lectures at a university where he’s reading “God Is Not Great”.

I mentioned the eclectic collection of documentaries I have at home which span everything from games development (Indie Game The Movie, Us And The Game Industry, and the upcoming GAME LOADING: Rise Of The Indies) to obscure game genres (Get Lamp: The Text Adventure Documentary) and Nerdcore (Nerdcore Rising and Nerdcore For Life). Those last ones begged the question, “What is Nerdcore? And what would you recommend as an introduction to someone who wants to learn?” which I’ll get to in the music section below.

TV

I finally finished watching “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey”, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. I loved it. I thought it was pretty cool that only two days after the last episode aired on TV, the series was available for purchase in stores.

At the suggestion of another, I started watching “Through the Wormhole”, hosted by Morgan Freeman. Coincidentally, the first episode focused on the creation of the universe and whether a God was responsible for its creation. While I have in the past month sought God-related media, this one was unintentional though not unwelcome. Someone at #GeekBeers asked about the difference between Cosmos and Wormhole. Someone else told him that Cosmos focuses on the how and why of a specific topic, while Wormhole covers a topic with broad strokes, more as a documentary form. I agree. I love both series.

Music

One person, he appeared to stream most of his music through the Google Play Music service. He mentioned XX which got a, “Me too!” from someone else. I’d never heard of XX before. I was asked to elaborate on what Nerdcore was, and I struggled to give examples of what made Nerdcore Nerdcore. I used MC Frontalot, the god-father of Nerdcore, as example. But when I thought back through his catalog nothing came to mind as inherently geeky. The best I came up with is “Tongue Clucking Grammarian” and “Hassle, The Dorkening”.

I also offered Schaffer the Darklord as example (The Bender, as a nerd rapping goofy about a serious topic) and MC Chris as a more mainstream artist (Fett’s Vette, because Star Wars).

As for what I listen to, at work I mostly listen to “The Ultimate 100” channel on Songza. I’ve downvoted probably half the songs in the stream, but the ones left in rotation are great. It’s helping me branch out from what I’d normally listen to, and new songs make it into the mix every week or so.

This is all from memory, with a little more elaboration here. As I said before, my voice doesn’t carry well in a noisy place so for those there last night who may have misheard me or not heard at all, above is my summary.

Feel free to reach out to me via Facebook or Twitter if you want to carry on the conversation.

Inspiration Motivation Perspiration Activation

[Edit: Tommy of Team Meat said this all a whole lot better, in greater detail]

[Edit again: Neil Gaiman also says it better in a speech]

[Edit 3: While I’m making edits, I may as well add this one. I always go back to this one every half a year or so. Here’s Gary Vaynerchuk. It’s less in line with the other edits, and the message below, but I still find it very motivational]

I just went on a bit of a mini motivational rant on Twitter. There should be 6 links in that previous sentence there.

So the context of the rant? Basically if you want to do something, just do it. Don’t worry about the right way to do it. There is no right way. There is only your way.

I speak from the vantage point of a programmer/software developer, so I’m referring to source code when I say there is no right way to do something. Don’t let your inexperience stop you from trying. You’ll write sloppy code. You’ll paint sloppy pictures. You’ll write sloppy stories. Whatever it is you aspire to do, do it, and expect to do it poorly to start.

My biggest mental block when it came to game development was that I didn’t want to really do it until I knew how to do it the right way. And that cost me years. I got all hung up that it wasn’t worth doing unless I could do it right. Don’t worry about the right way. Just do it your way. You’ll get better, you’ll stop wasting time studying and reading and theorizing.

Practice makes perfect.

Just my rambling 2 cents. I hope that after you read this you’re motivated or inspired because it’s really not worth sitting around waiting for the right moment where you’ll suddenly and magically be good enough to do things the right way.

[Edit 4: An excellent in-line response to a HackerNews item]

Rise of the Video Game Zinesters

I’ve been reading Anna Anthropy‘s Rise of the Videogame Zinesters
and I just came across what (to me) may be the most important message in the entire book.

Perfection isn't a useful goal; if anything, it keeps amateurs
from getting their feet wet and authors from finishing their works.
- Anna Anthropy. Rise of the Video Game Zinesters. Page 125. 2012 ed.

I cannot agree more. When I met my wife and she was getting to know me, I told her “I make games”. That wasn’t entirely true. What I should have said was “I try to make games” because my struggle for perfection constantly got in the way.

I thought there was one right way to make games, and because I didn’t know the way that I should not even try. I abandoned every game I tried to make.

It wasn’t until the last few years that I finally understood that there is no one right way to make games. That the best way to make games is just do it. Give up on perfection. Expect to make mistakes. Use bubblegum and duct tape to piece your game together and cover it up in attractive gift wrap.

People don’t see your engine (the source of my anxiety, the fear that my coding abilities would be criticised). They only see your game. Don’t try to be perfect, just make something to the best of your ability. You’ll surprise yourself.

Not a Penny in 2011 – At Least Until November 1st

So I broke my New Year’s resolution. But that’s what they’re there for, right? I made it 10 months which I’m incredibly proud of.

The game that broke the resolution? The Binding of Isaac as part of the latest Humble (Voxatron) Bundle.

The toughest part of the resolution? Having to turn down $1.50 Rainslick Precipice games during Steam sales. Those Steam sales… so tempting all year long. Speaking of which, Steam should be doing a Black Friday week-long sale here soon. Just a guess.

Did I learn anything? Heck yes, I did. Right now the Magicka series is on sale at Steam for less than $7 and it seems like a heckuva deal. Last year I would have jumped all over that. Not now, no way. I learned to appreciate my current library of unplayed games. I look at Magicka (and also Oblivion currently on sale) and think to myself, “When will I play this game? Is it likely to go on sale again, perhaps even cheaper, before I actually have time to play this game?” and the answer is a most definite, “Yes, it’ll be cheaper and no I’m in the middle of 10 other games right now so I don’t need to add this one regardless of how affordable it seems to be.”

Speaking of Oblivion, I already own the game on DVDs. $6.49 for Steam cloud support (saved games stored online, accessible from any computer) sure is tempting, but what are the odds that I’ll play the game again in the near future? I’m playing the game right now using the physical media I own just so I can finish the expansion pack and the quests I had not yet finished. After that, it’s not likely I’ll want to continue by using the saved games I already have. Plus, I can just back up the saved games to a portable hard-drive.

So, yes I learned stuff. I appreciate my games. I’m not likely to add any new games to my library unless they’re games that don’t require a large time investment. In the foreseeable future I expect I’ll be “living” on a diet of quality indie titles while shunning the expensive triple-A titles that suck up too much time. I’ve got enough of those unplayed in my library already.

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