So I started this project off a couple of years ago, made a decent sprite, then finally something motivated me to start it up again a few months ago. Here’s the first screen:
While I work I’m taking the opportunity to expand my horizons in non-procedural level design. I’m also taking opportunities for tangential learning in the process of world-building. This log will follow me as I make my design decisions, both mechanical/dynamic and otherwise. Video, then more screens and musings after the jump.
In 2010, I became Catholic. “Crossed the Tiber,” as they say, because the Tiber is in Rome. In brief: I was raised Free Methodist, attended eight years of Catholic school, had a crisis of faith born from relational apathy and theological pride, and made a decision to join the Catholic Church, because I had to decide. At the time I saw it too much as a philosophical solution for the problem of doubt; I have found, even better, a remedy for living. The medicine has not been painless, not least of all because I resisted it, but also because it implies change, and change hurts.
If this essay is a joke, I am the punchline.
“Imagine that you are . . . caught in an intolerable one-on-one conversation . . . would you prefer . . . (1) That the other person become more and more witty and charming . . . while you find yourself more and more at a loss; or (2) that . . . a 7.5 Richter earthquake takes place, and presently you find yourself and the other person alive and well, and talking under a mound of rubble.”
Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos
Why do I want to remember the time I left an old friend in the snow? Specifically, when I left my friend to wait two hours, alone in her car, in the midst of a city-stopping Portland snowfall?
I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up The Tiger by John Vaillant. My friend John-Fred Pope told me it was about a man hunting a tiger, and this is true. But I also got real encounters with the tiger and all the people whose lives were tied up with its own. I got a better understanding of Russian conservation and economic difficulties. Perhaps most far-reaching was the author’s ability to receive reality and to pass it along. At the risk of backseat editing, a better title might have been The Tiger: A True Story of Russia and Everything Else.
Sometimes the things that happen to me overwhelm me with a great generosity or thankfulness. This was not that time. Sometimes my writing is too “pious” to be decent. If there is indecency here, it is likely the opposite variety.
I saw a wooden statue of Mary once at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City.* It was, for the most part, simply Mary recognizable as such. As is common with Marian statues, Our Lady held a Rosary. In pious imagination, at least, she prays the Rosary along with you, one prayer to Jesus for each Hail Mary. As is common, the statue was lovingly made, with the Blessed Mother depicted in great detail.
But something about the way her face was carved suggested that she was listening to you tell her a story, and she didn’t quite believe what you were saying.
I helped a friend get a new bookshelf a few Saturdays ago. While he set it up, I sat on the floor of a his room looking at his books. When we got to John R. Trimble’s Writing with Style, my friend told me it was the best book on writing he had ever read. I’d never heard of it before, but I borrowed it from him the same day.
Trimble writes in a preface to the book that he wanted it to be “short, fun and genuinely useful.” He hits all three targets.
Back when there wasn’t much of an internet, the way to play video games together was offline. (Friends, please ignore the possible irony in the source of the above image.)
Now, of course, the internet has opened up that great possibility of online play. But it affects us differently to play online together than to play in person. Let’s explore that for a bit.
Jonathan Blow’s Braid had a lot of things to say. I got it and played it about the same time as Portal a few years back. Needless to say, both were great experiences, and impactful in their different ways. Besides being a well-drawn and well-thought-out puzzler with well-chosen music and words, Braid asks a few interesting questions and speaks to some uncomfortable truths and ambiguities in being human. It doesn’t offer many answers–spiritual or psychological–but even the asking is valuable and beautiful.
Yacht Club Games’ Shovel Knight is an old-school platformer about exactly what it sounds like. The levels are very well-designed and they flow nicely. The game’s dynamics combine with a beautiful soundtrack, solid visuals and a great sense of humor to give a its pretend world and play a a substance, and give me the sense that I’m a knight. On an adventure. With a shovel. It was worth it just for the experience of playing, but the experience stretched to surprising levels of beauty.
Walker Percy’s The Message in the Bottle is a grouping of essays he’s written over the years about “how queer man is, how queer language is, and what one has to do with the other.” I’m not sure I’m qualified to discuss it, because I don’t really know enough about semiotics or man’s strange state. But here goes!