12 Oct

Have you found your Long, Lonely Hours?

Long, Lonely Hours - Ben Bova quote

Long, Lonely Hours - Ben Bova quote

In the end, it is those long, lonely hours when there is nothing in the universe except you and your writing instrument that will determine how successful a writer you will be.
– Ben Bova

I’m tired. My head hurts, I’d like to talk away from the computer.

I don’t.

This here, right now, is where I decide my career, what I’ll be doing in ten years time. The seconds tick away, the Bollywood music plays in my headphones. My hands clatter on the keyboard. That is the sound of my future. That is the way that I create what I want to be.

There is no one stopping me. There is no one stopping you. Time? Money? Stress? Those are excuses. You can excuse yourself. You can excuse yourself from all your dreams. Just make sure to take a good look at them for tomorrow they’ll be gone. Not because you can’t fulfill them anymore, but because you chose to ignore them. You chose the way that didn’t lead towards your dreams and so you walked away from them. I know. I’ve been there. Read More

30 Sep

Spark Wednesday: What if?

Here’s an idea: what if old 8-bit computer games came to take over the world? What would happen? Would it be cool or horrible?

There are many ways to spark ideas, the “what if method” is one of them. So for this spark ask yourself “what if”.

  • What if your game changed core or supporting mechanics?
  • What if your novel was set under water (that’s the premise of David Brin’s amazing Startide Rising Amazon )?
  • What if you had to remove every fifth word from your story (that’s what Jerry Pournelle did with his classic military SF Janissaries and it became a much better book for it)?
  • Or simply  what if something strange happened?

Oh, and take a look at the originals to the Pixels movie:

07 Sep

Do. Create. Live.

Believe in yourself - Kris Rush quote

Believe in yourself - Kris Rush quoteWhen was the last time you sat down to write and came to, night turning the first shades of dawn, and you still in front of your computer, doing what you love?

When was the last time you sat down to work and came to, realizing that no matter what you did it wouldn’t matter?

When was the last time you followed your passion to create, to make something new, to live what you love? Read More

04 Sep

How Ignoring the News Made Me Happy

Undisturbed by violence quote

Undisturbed by violence quoteWhen I was 20 I went to Amsterdam. They had an exhibit in the Science Center Nemo where there was a machine that flashed images on a screen. There were calm images (a beautiful flower, a still lake, a pair of bunnies) and mixed in amongst them were disturbing images – a decapitated chicken, a pair of naked men, a hunter pointing his rifle at you. You’d put your fingers into a pair of electrosensitive cups and the machine told you how disturbed you were by the various images. My reactions were right on track for all images. All images except one.

I didn’t show any reaction to the man pointing a rifle at my head. No reaction at all. Read More

28 Aug

What I Learned from Playing Games

Learning Mahatma Gandhi quote

Learning Mahatma Gandhi quoteAll games teach. Good games keep teaching. Great games teach something worthwhile.

What did I learn from playing Fluxx Amazon? That rules can change, that loss can come suddenly, that planing is futile. Yeah, that’s not much, that’s not much at all.

I wouldn’t call Fluxx a great game. Other’s might, they might learn to laugh and cry and curse with their friends. Me, I learned that it wasn’t a game for me.

I’ve been playing games for close to 30 years now. I learned to read and then to write English from them (Kings Quest and Space Quest and Leisure Suit Larry forced me to). I learned to get along, to not get along and to click as rapidly as I could. I learned that I couldn’t play all games, that some games were too immersive for me, to the point of wiping out reality.

I learned that I wasn’t alone, that there were other’s like me, the geeks and outcasts, the unpopulars and brainiacs. Read More

20 May

How Creativity is Like Swordsmanship

Pen and Sword crossed

Warsaw Sword MaidenHow do you carry your sword?

Me, I carry mine on the hip, opposite my lead hand. That way I can draw it in one perfect motion-and-cut. Or in a stop-thrust with the pommel. I can even do a partial draw followed by a two-handed blade thrust to the side.

You know, in case my buddy suddenly decides to stab me at the dinner table.

I don’t practice Iaido. I’ve gone a few time but it was terrible on my knees and not quite as much fun as I had imagined. I don’t do Aikido. It looks fun but all that rolling around wasn’t for me. I’ve thought about LARP-ing but weaving chain-mail is a drag. I’ve never attended an SCA-meeting.

By now you’re guessing that this post has very little to do with wielding ancient weaponry and something with game design after all. You may be right. But back to the question at hand:

How do you carry your sword?

On your hip, ready for the draw? Over your back? In your hand? At the ready? Or do you carry a blaster instead?

Yeah, there’s definitely a lesson on design in here somewhere. Read More

25 Apr

A Note On Discovering Pride And Self-Esteem

Towards my dreams quote

Towards my dreams quoteThere was a light fog yesterday.

That in itself is nothing unusual, as there is often fog in early spring here. The remarkable thing is that I realized it when I noticed that the trees in the distance grew indistinct.

I have to insert a little aside about myself here. I was a geek before geekdom was cool, spending my time buried in books and computers at the fringe of the social hierarchy. I grew up to be invisible and the more invisible I grew the more I curled up and looked down. For years I never saw beyond the few feet of concrete in front of me.

I got real good at avoiding dog poop, and found a coin now and then, but I never faced the world. Read More

11 Apr

Zen Pencils – An Amazing Inspirational Site

Zen Pencils Dinosaur

Zen Pencils DinosaurIt’s not often that I come across a site that immediately clicks with me. Zen Pencils is such a one.

Zen Pencils (or Gavin Aung Than, an Australian freelance cartoonist who is the one man show behind it) takes inspirational quotes from some of the greats of the world and creates cartoons based on them.

But wait, there’s more. The cartoons aren’t your regular, internet fare, cute kitten with cliché text type cartoons. No, Than creates entire stories surrounding the quotes, stories showing (as opposed to telling) the essence of the quote.

It may not be the exact way it was intended by the speaker (for example, I don’t think that Amelia Earhart thought it terms of cuddly monsters) but it certainly is in the spirit of the quote. And it stays with you. And it’s got Calvin and Hobes (well, Bill Waterson, which is almost the same thing).

So go read Zen Pencils.

Now.

27 Mar

Never Waste Your Inspiration

Inspiration Idea

Inspiration IdeaRemember that great idea you had? The one that felt so fresh, so clean, so bleeding marvelous that it sprouted tiny butterflies and the cast of Disney on Ice came by to sing the theme?

The one you put off until you finished whatever you were doing? The one that you tried getting back to, only to discover that it was marvelous – a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away?

Inspiration has a best before date. Pass it and it’s gone, burnt out on imagining instead of doing. You can still see your idea, but you can no longer feel it the same way. Read More

18 Mar

Are your Gaming Goals the Right Ones?

Love Letter cardsI’ve come to a realization. You see, for a long, long time (like, most of my life) I thought that it would be great to get paid to play games. Would there be a better life than being a game reviewer? Just play and play games all day and then jot down some sarcastic notes and rake in the dollars.

Then I realized that there wasn’t much of a market for people who play a game once and then write down how much it sucks. Being a game reviewer, at least a good game reviewer, includes playing the game over and over again even if it does suck. Especially if it sucks.

But by this time I had become enamored with the realization that of how much smarter, better, brighter and generally more of a good guy I was than all other game designers put together. If they’d just listen to me the games would be so much greater than they were now. Read More