Video game writing

Heya,

Video game writing is … different. I’ve been playing around with it, and with an idea I have for it, and it’s just very different.

Writing is making decisions. And it can be really exhausting. Every decision that we make from the moment we wake up saps a bit of our energy. We have to decide to get up. We have to decide what to eat. We have to decide what to wear, what to watch, what to read, whether to drive or take the bus, is it raining? No, it’s cloudy, you should bring an umbrella.

Writing presents it’s own collection of decisions. Would this character do this? How would that character respond to what the character just did? What is the larger context for the character’s behaviour? Where are they? What is the history of that place? If the place is made up, there are even more decisions to be made.

What’s interesting and strange about writing for video games is that you still have to make choices but, if you’re operating with a storyline/gameplay model that privileges in-game decision-making on the part of the player, there is an expectation for multiple options to be given which all gradually add up to different endings. The depth and subtlety of the variations offered is another decision to make.

There’s also not a standardized form for writing video game scripts. Which in a sense is great, because it gives a great deal of freedom, but adds it’s own kinds of difficulties. I’ve been playing around on a site called Inklewriter, which is a free and open way of writing interactive stories. It is still in its beta phase, and has some good utility to it, but also has some notable limitations. Or, possibly, there are some gaps in my knowledge when it comes to using this system. Maybe I should email the developer. It is in the beta phase, maybe it would be helpful…

At the very least, I’ll tell you that one of the problems that I’m having with this program is that it won’t let me set up nodes, our blank table outlines to work my way up to. I can create unassociated links, keep them in the sidebar, and move them over when the time comes, but I’d love to have the ability to draw a line down from one part of the story to a point that I’m planning for that story to lead towards. It also doesn’t lend itself intuitively to script conventions, which is how I’d prefer to write this story.

It’s also interesting to think about the user experience, though I won’t claim that it’s something that I’ve thought about too extensively. It’s not something I know enough about for consideration of it to do anything other than impede me in terms of story-telling. And I’m facing enough challenges with this form without throwing another wrench in the works.

I should note that I’ve played a bit with other programs (all free ones, some of which I found through references made in the InkleWriter comments), and that my go-to program for novel and short story writing is Scrivener. Which is an awesome program, by the way, but not free, and it while it offers numerous formats for writing, it doesn’t really lend itself to the kind of mental map, serial killer’s wall of a story. Maybe I just need to get a really bit bulletin board and just do it. Bite the bullet and become the crazy person.

Love,

B

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My social media rules

Heya,

I’m not a social media aficionado. I don’t Tweet much, I don’t regularly post incomprehensible Facebook statuses that make my friends think that I’m in a state of personal crisis when really I’ve just discovered poetry anthologies, I don’t post much on Instagram at all, if I suddenly repin a bunch of stuff on Pinterest I’m probably waiting to meet up with someone and I’ve run through all my Candy Crush lives. Oh, and I don’t get Tumblr at all. I mostly just use Tumblr to search relevant tags when I can’t think of what to do next in a story. And to scroll the Benedict Cumberbatch and Sherlock tags.

I’m human, sue me.

Anyway, what you should be taking away from all of this is that I am not someone you should look to for social media advice.

That being said, here are the social media rules that I follow (or try to).

Facebook

I remember the old days of Facebook. Of poking and throwing sheep and giving beer. A friend and I had a baby on Facebook in high school. He was blonde and had green eyes. I can’t remember what his name was, but I feel like it was something very normal, like “David” or “Kyle” or something. I don’t know. I quit Facebook in 2008 and I think that feature went the way of many Facebook features that I remembered. When I came back in the summer of 2012, after completing my undergrad, Facebook was … less fun. My grandma is on Facebook. So is my mom, but just so that she can play Candy Crush. There are two things that I use Facebook for now:

  1. Events
  2. Group messaging people to figure out logistics of events

That’s about it. That’s most of the utility that I get out of Facebook.

Twitter

My rules for Twitter are sort of related to my rules of texting. I don’t text a lot, but when I do I try to be either funny or helpful. If I learn something that I think someone might find interesting or useful, I’ll send them a text about it. If I think of something that a friend will find funny, I’ll text it to them. And recently, when I send someone a link to something that they’ll find interesting or funny, I’ll also Tweet it (assuming it’s not super personal). Also:

  1. Don’t Tweet your bowel movements
  2. Don’t use a bajillion hashtags, it makes me think you’re a bot
  3. Don’t say “follow me, I follow back” in your description, it makes me think you’re twelve
  4. Don’t just promote your own shit
  5. Do interact
  6. Be funny, if possible
  7. If funny isn’t possible, be helpful. Retweet and link out to good, interesting content
  8. Don’t blow up my feed

Instagram

  1. If you didn’t cook the food you’re taking a picture of, don’t post it
  2. If you didn’t make the dress you’re wearing, don’t post it
  3. If the food or the dress is disgusting or ridiculous, post it
  4. Don’t take daily pictures of yourself from the neck down after exercising. It makes me think you’re taking pictures of other people at the gym, which makes me uncomfortable. For both of us.
  5. Don’t use a bajillion hashtags
  6. I always want to see your puppy. Take more pictures of your puppy. And videos.
  7. If it happened yesterday, it’s not a Throwback.

Pinterest

I don’t actually have any Pinterest rules. I mostly repin DIY projects that I’m never going have time to do.

Tumblr

I also have no tumblr rules. It would be pointless to have Tumblr rules, since as far as I can tell, Tumblr doesn’t have any rules. It’s the wild west out there. And every cowboy is Benedict Cumberbatch and Misha Collins.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got for you today.

Love,

B

Sick day movie marathon

Heya,

I am feeling very sick and somewhat nostalgic. What I used to do when I was sick was watch a lot of movies and make chicken noodle soup, because it was the only thing I knew how to make when I was a kid (the recipe, by the way, is as follows: get a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, open it, dump it in a pot, add another can of water and stir occasionally until it’s no longer can temperature).

My Ten Most Viewed Sick-Day Movies

(not always watched consecutively, though I can’t say it’s never happened)(warning, all links go out to trailers. Don’t click if you’re somewhere you can’t have noise)

1. The Princess Bride

Simple. Classic. And the kid is sick, too!

2. The Princess Diaries

The first movie I ever saw Anne Hathaway in (I think), and Julie Andrews in this reminded me of my grandma.

3. A Little Princess

I swear this isn’t a Princess themed list.

After watching this movie, I am inevitably moved to call one or both of my parents and tell them how much I love them.

4. Drop Dead Gorgeous

Don’t watch the trailer. Don’t read the synopsis. Just know that this movie is awesome, and if you haven’t watched it, I am sad for you.

5. A Knight’s Tale

Heath Ledger is a peasant who pretends to be a knight and is very good at it and falls in love and stuff. Paul Bettany and Alan Tudyk are just hilarious.

6. Pleasantville

Two youths get sucked into the TV and have to live in the black and white world of a ’50s sitcom.

7. Shaun of the Dead

The first in the Cornetto Trilogy, takes on all the tropes of the zombie movie. I’m literally watching this movie right now.

8. Resident Evil

Another zombie movie, this one a bit more fight-y. I can defeat the virus, too! Or at the very least, I can do karate hands on the couch.

9. The Mummy

And if I can’t beat the virus, maybe I can be resurrected by some ancient curse that someone will foolishly read from a book that gives you a heads up in it’s very title. Let me just read aloud from “The Book of the Dead” shall I? Yes, that sounds like a capital idea.

10. Young Frankenstein

One of Mel Brooks’ best.

That’s it. That’s my most viewed.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go view some of them.

Love,

B

Five hundred small necessary tasks

Heya,

In the process of completing my master’s degree, I have gradually acquired a pile of boring tasks to do, which I haven’t done because there hasn’t really been time.

Also because they’re boring. But mostly because there isn’t time.

Well, that’s not entirely true. There have been chunks of time where I could knock off one or two of these things, but never the whole mess of them, which is how I would prefer to do it. I like to try to arrange everything boring that I have to do so that I can get through everything in one go and be left with a clean slate. Rip up the to-do list and dance in the confetti.

Which I haven’t actually done, but as someone who doesn’t feel great personal satisfaction from checking things off a list, I think maybe if I did dance in the confetti of my to-do lists, I’d be more inclined to complete everything on them.

Though then I’d have to sweep up the confetti.

Or I could just add it to a new list of small necessary tasks to complete.

I’ve read a lot about productivity. As veteran of the Great War of Procrastinators Sitting on the Couch and Thinking about Maybe Sometime Doing Something, I enjoy reading about efficient people. I like to think that I could be one of them someday. I read this article from 99U the other day, and it’s given me some hope, in part because what it suggests involved self-deception, something which I, like all of us veterans of the GWPSCTMSDS, am very good at. In case you didn’t want to click the link because I’m a stranger on the internet, the article talks about structured procrastination, which is sort of like steering into the skid. You go with your desire to procrastinate, but trick yourself into distracting yourself with something other than Tumblr or checking your email. Instead, you detour onto something else from your to-do list, just something somewhat less urgent. When you do eventually have to get to that really urgent thing, you just trick yourself into thinking that there is a more important thing, and that the original really urgent thing is procrastination.

I’m going to try to apply it to my five hundred small necessary tasks, see what happens.

Love,

B