Thursday, December 26, 2013

Dark Souls Oct 2013 Update

Yes, you read that right. I'm way behind on these. Anyway, here are the highlights.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Of Vitriol and Malcontent

I'm no stranger to coarse language nor indignant rage, but I make an effort these days to control both, (hopefully not at the expense of entertainment value). I'd like to explain why I worry about the digital aether being over-saturated with outrage, and why maybe we all need to cool our heads a bit even when our anger feels justified.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

On Various Things

I haven't updated here in a while, so I thought I'd knock out something quickly tonight. If any of these topics are worth expanding, I'll see about giving them a proper post tomorrow.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Dark Souls Update 3

I had the idea recently to further simplify these by creating a graphical summary of my pain and triumph. The image that follows is the first such summary.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Jordan Church should have counted his blessings

Since this is evidently nostalgia week for me, and Jordan's ego wouldn't let him leave well enough alone, I decided it would be fun to reflect on some of the good old times shared with my former college roommate:

Saturday, September 07, 2013

More thoughts on faith

A group of friends of varying religious backgrounds are discussing their unique beliefs. One of them asks the others, "So, what is the difference between Gnosticism and Agnosticism?" The Agnostic friend says, "I don't know." The Gnostic friend says, "I do!"

Dark Souls Update 2.5

Today we learn my greatest enemy is still gravity.

Dark Souls Update 2

Oh hey, I promised you guys something not related to videogames, didn't I? Yeah, sorry.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Dark Souls Challenge Update

I've tweeted the details of my pain and suffering thus far, but I really don't care for brevity when it's forced on me. So instead, I'm doing a full update of my progress over the past few weeks. (I might ramble on a bit, so you're encouraged to skim)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Hell on Wheels Rant

I'm not entirely sure what possessed me to write this email on Sunday afternoon, but I figured you might find it amusing:

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

A Challenge Appears

I've been forgetting to put these jump breaks in lately, so if the main page of the blog gets ridiculously long, that would be why.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

10 Outrageous Headlines That Will Grab Your Attention

Sorry to be misleading, but I don't have a list of items for you. I generally find those articles annoying, but at least I get it. There are two simple reasons why those sites use such shallow tactics: because they work, and because they have to.

Monday, June 17, 2013

About Coping

Our family cat passed away relatively peacefully. I wasn't there the moment it happened, or for the burial, but I saw her the night before. If you'd rather not read about this part, skip the next paragraph. Everything following it is more central to the point anyway.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Ghosts in the Machine

Having found the stories left behind by programmers past, I'm more than a little intimidated.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Just not buying it

Tonight's Lesson In Stuff You Should Have Already Learned In Preschool: Greed is not good.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Just one more thing

I'm going to allow anonymous comments again, with word verification still disabled. I'm doing this again because I really do want people to feel like they can speak their minds freely and easily here if they want to.

I'm also going to moderate all comments before they're allowed to be displayed on the blog, because I'd like to pretend I'm the president of Egypt or something for a while. We'll see how it goes.

Just figured self-congratulations were in order

It's been almost a year since I got out of school, but I've finally been offered a full-time job. Great pay, great benefits, nice people... I hope I can actually do the job they've hired me for. I'm pretty nervous, but prepared to dig in and do whatever's necessary.

Now might be a decent time to speculate about everything that has led me to this point, and the issues that have made finding good work so difficult (the economy, state education, the Catch-22 mentalities of major technology companies), but instead I'd rather just relax and count my blessings for now, and maybe get some studying done, because I have a good deal of new technology to learn in the near future. I certainly hope I'm as smart as the folks at the State Education Department seem to think I am.

Also, I've been meaning to practice drawing more, since it's apparently a hobby I care about a lot. I should really do that. I'll go do that just as soon as I'm finished with this.

Peace and love, readerkin. I'm sure I'll have more for you soon enough.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Just thinking about war and peace

No, not the book. This'll be much shorter.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Just a little pretentious?

I had a thought: Is it wrong to look down on someone else for the way in which they enjoy a piece of media? The knee-jerk answer is "Yes, you pretentious jerk," but I'd like to explore it a bit. Maybe I just love to hear myself write.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Just pondering social pressures

I got involved in another marriage discussion (but not that kind), so I thought I'd continue my musings here. This has to do with the way our culture likes to romanticize marriage, and why I have a problem with it.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Just going to define marriage for you

In an effort to avoid any future discussions about this, I've attempted to compile all my thoughts on the subject in this post. Maybe it's arrogant of me to think that a single blog post could effectively address every point of this issue, but I've given it my best shot.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Just needed to rant about charity

I found myself on Facebook, as I often do. A comedian I'm following posted a link which showed up in my feed. It's an indiegogo project titled Education for Rwandan Orphans, which seeks to... well, this snippet from the page itself explains it nicely:

Friday, March 15, 2013

Just ranting about the dangerous invisible man (or woman)

As I alluded to earlier, there is a reason that I worry about letting people speak their mind without having to show their face.

Just a couple of updates first

Before I dive into the subject I meant to opine on today, I have some brief updates.

First, I've been having more interviews lately, and have another on Monday, so I may yet find full-time employment soon, but even if I don't, I've signed on with a staffing company so I can start doing temp work. Data entry might not be exciting, but it's probably better than what I could be doing otherwise.

Also, I've been toying with an idea to write a book about my faith. It still surprises some people to hear that I identify myself as Christian. Well, it's understandable. There are certainly enough religious people in this world that I do not see eye-to-eye with. The way some of them talk about their religious beliefs has made me decidedly reluctant to associate myself with the term Catholic. Anyway, I've been thinking about writing a full-length book about my own experiences with faith, my previous crises with it, and the way in which I have resolved my views today. I mean, we don't seem to hear very much in the news and media from religious people who think the true wisdom of the Bible can't be grasped by getting hung up on the literal translation of individual verses. We don't seem to hear much from people whose faith brought them humility. And we don't hear much from Christians who want us to love and accept homosexuals. Well, maybe we should.

Of course, the obvious downside is finding people who would even want to read such a thing. I doubt conservative Catholics would want to hear my thoughts on our religious and moral differences, and atheists undoubtedly don't care about my experiences with faith. So, what's the target audience here? Would any of you be interested in reading a book like that? If so, please let me know, because at the moment I'm unsure if there is any point in writing it at all.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Just giving up on anonymous comments

Well, I think it's time for the open comment experiment to end. In the time since it began, I've had an unending stream of spam comments. Most of them are caught by the spam filter and don't get published, but a few slip through. Besides, whether they are published or not, I'm still bothered by their being there because I get comment moderation notifications every day now. I could just turn those off, but then I'd never be notified even when my input is actually needed, and that would defeat the purpose.

Anyway, I'm going to require a log in again for commenting. If you have a Google account or something similar already then this should be no problem for you. I still won't include a word verification, though, since everybody seems to hate those. I've never minded them, but then again, I was fine with the idea of getting a full body scan at the airport, so I'm hardly the right person to ask about that.

Really, even if spammers weren't an issue at all, there is a tremendous risk in offering people the ability to comment anonymously. The reassurance of an anonymous platform leads people to believe (often accurately) that what they say online will have no consequences for them, and frees a darker part of their psyche to express itself without censorship or reason. I could easily write a whole post about this phenomena. In fact, I think I'll do just that, but not right now. I need to go get something to eat.

So, in summary, while I do still want you to feel free to say anything you want about my purposeless ramblings here, I'd like it if I could know who you are while you're doing it. My real identity is clearly visible to you, after all. If it weren't, it might seem like I have something to be ashamed of...

Well, that's all for now. Peace and love to you, sons and daughters of Readerland.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Just added some new random greetings

Just in case anyone actually enjoys or even notices the random subheadings on this blog, I added a few more quotes, and deleted some of the old ones that I decided weren't all that entertaining.

If you happen to be one of those No-Script types, I'd appreciate it if you enabled JavaScript for this site. Yeah, the page will take an extra fraction of a second to load, but come on, I put actual work into this. And really, what's the worst that could happen to you here? It's not like you're surfing RedTube.

Anyway, if you're curious, here are the new additions:


  • "I have never been in any rich man's house which would not have looked the better for having a bonfire made outside of it of nine-tenths of all that it held." - William Morris (1834-96)
  • "Never retreat. Never explain. Get it done and let them howl." - Benjamin Jowett
  • "The higher the monkey climbs, the more you can see of its arse." - old proverb
  • "an unfortunate lunatic... a farrago of nonsense, unintelligibleness, and egregious vanity, the wild effusions of a distempered brain." - Examiner

That last one was written in a review of the work of William Blake, but it seemed oddly fitting here.

Anyway, I hope somebody enjoys them. Peace and love, readership.

Update:
One more for you:

"God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh." - Voltaire

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Just improving ROI through SEO, all by COB

My search for employment continues much as it has for the past 9 months. There are always at least one or two promising leads that never pan out. Rather than being further discouraged, though, this has gotten me thinking: should I be doing more to earn income through alternate sources?

Now, it used to be that you could only earn money as a writer if you were an author or a columnist. There was a very high barrier to entry for these kinds of jobs, but the reward was having the privilege of doing something you loved and calling it a job. You can still get a dedicated job writing articles for a publication, online or otherwise, and publishing books online has been getting easier (though not necessarily as profitable, depending on the path you took).

There are still other options, though. Online advertising is a source of income that many bloggers, webcomic artists, and other distributors of online content take advantage of. Most will never make enough from that alone to become financially independent, but still, many ask whether there are ways to make it happen faster. I mean, besides actually creating engaging content for your audience, because that's just too much work for some people.

This is where the idea of SEO, or search-engine optimization, comes into play. Regardless of what that terminology actually means, what it means to most people who use it is, "How can I get more money without having to actually improve my product?" The goal is not to create better content that more people will want, but to market it more so that the number of people exposed to it increases. Online marketing is all about getting your clicks. Even if only 1% of people witnessing the content would care at all about it, simply getting more people to look at it improves the chances that the content can be profitable. This is the nature of the beast.

Now, we're all guilty of this to a degree. Even if your work online is a labor of love, you want people to see it, right? And if you're creating content that potentially helps people, you'll want the most people possible to be helped by it. This is why we use tags and keywords, so that people who actually want our content can find it more easily.

The dark side of SEO is where business-oriented minds try to drive more traffic to their site even if they have nothing to offer most of the people visiting. It's all about getting their clicks, their page impressions, and eventually, their revenue from advertisers. To many of these folks, it's not about the content; it's just a toy to make money.

So, where do I sit in all this? Obviously this blog is made for my own personal amusement first and foremost. Even so, I put advertising on it. I tag my posts and share around social networks to bring in more traffic. I even briefly tried a post-sponsoring program (which I quit after realizing how many of the sponsors were hocking worthless garbage).

I think what I'm saying is, it would be nice if we could all just do things we love and not worry about income. In fact, it would all be easier for me if I didn't have debt and the cost of living hanging over my head. But there is little room for art in a world of want. I'd love to just write and develop games and draw independently at my own pace, but I need money. I need to not be a burden on my family. I can't do the starving artist thing like a spoiled post-adolescent while my parents take care of my financial problems for me.

And so, I give in to stress, and I worry about the future. Of course, worry kills more people than work, as you may have heard. Really, my problems could be solved if I would just be that enterprising guy who will do whatever it takes to make money, but I'm just too stupid and stubborn. If I can't do a thing for the love of it, I feel rotten and hollow. I can't work effectively like that; I'm of no use to anyone if I feel like a sellout. Hell, if I just robbed a bank I could solve my present money problems, just as I could if I just keep leeching off my family. The issue is not whether I can do it, but whether I can do it and still live with myself.

Wow, this got much longer than I expected. Sorry, I didn't mean to keep you. I guess what I'm saying is, I'm still working on it. I was going to say something about independent game development but this post has grown all out of control.

So, the job hunt will continue. If or when I have updates on my various other projects (the games, the webcomics, the novel) I'll share them here. In the meantime, I expect I won't get any money here through amateur SEO nonsense, but just in case:

Facebook, penis enlargement, Bank of America, online dating, lose weight fast, earn money from home...

...are all topics I will talk about in future posts. I mean, you know, eventually, probably, if I get around to it. Or not. Either way.

Peace and love, you gorgeous readerfolk.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Just a bit of irony

A little while ago, I decided to change the comment settings on this blog. Rather than requiring a log-in, it would allow anyone to leave a comment anonymously if they wanted to. The intention was to make this place a little friendlier. The actual result was my having to deal with a barrage of spam comments, which has made me feel decidedly less friendly.

Anyway, I may leave it as-is a bit longer, but if this continues, I may just have to switch it back to requiring an account or word verification. I realize that could be a bit of a pain for actual readers, but it's a much bigger pain for me to moderate all the spam comments coming in each day.

So, to any new readers who may happen upon this little blog of mine, if I come across as unfriendly to you, that's just because my mood has been so soured by the parasitic scum of the Internet that my overall opinion of the human race has necessarily been impacted. There comes a point when I simply don't care that much what you have to say anymore. Even so, there are a few people out there who still give me hope. I should be thanking them every day for that, and I probably would if it didn't seem like such an odd thing to bring up in conversation. "Good friend, I just wanted to say thank you for helping me believe that human society may not actually rip itself apart with greed and apathy. At least not this week."

To those of you who are reading this now, thank you. If you ever wanted to leave a comment but felt it was inconvenient, I apologize, but let's face it: on my blog, what I have to say is more important anyway.

I guess that's all. Peace and love, all you reader people.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Just wanted to talk about an indie game

I haven't talked about Lone Survivor before now. Probably because tonight was only my second time playing it. I don't take to survival horror well, apparently. Or maybe I take to it too well. I'll get to that. The point is, this is a game I will likely reference a lot in the future and say "See, this is how survival horror games should be made, and this is why."

Now, I'm not going to write a review on this. For one thing, more credible gaming-columnist-types have reviewed this fine piece of indie gaming before. For another, I've only logged just over an hour, and I play very slowly, so I can't exactly review the product as a whole.

(image borrowed without permission from pocketgamer.co.uk, because come on, it's not like they made it)

So, why am I going so slowly through the game? Well, aside from being a bit of a wimp, I seem to worry a great deal about the main character's well-being. Really, that's a good thing for a horror game. A lot of modern "survival horror" games are really just action games with creepy monsters, because that's what big developers think people want.

Here's the thing: you do encounter and sometimes fight monsters in this game, but in the time I've played, one of the more unsettling parts of the game in my opinion has been the creeping dread that my character is going to slowly starve to death because he's been stuck in this apartment building for a week and has barely found any food. That's putting emphasis on the "survival" in survival horror.

Tonight, I ate the last of the beef jerky I found the other day and was still hungry shortly thereafter. I tracked down several cans of goods but was without a can-opener. Meanwhile, my character complains constantly of hunger and is acting delirious. I wound up popping some mysterious pills out of desperation. You can't imagine the wave of relief I felt after fighting my way to a neighbor's kitchen, where I found the sought-after can opener, and a fresh ham. Never in my life have I been so elated by the sight of ham. Now, if only any of the ovens in the building were working...

That brings me to the other half of what's great about this: there really is no clear metric for how well your character is doing. You know you need food to survive, but don't know how much is enough or when the hunger will go from a minor annoyance to a mortal concern. The same is true of sleep. You know the pills you find can probably be useful, but it's not clear how, and they probably have nasty side-effects. You know monsters will hurt you but you don't know how much. Your odds of survival are always an unknown.

On the other hand, you're keenly aware of the amount of charge remaining in your flashlight, the number of bullets left for your gun, and the number of edible food items you've located, all of which are ever dwindling. Well, at least there's a stuffed animal I can tell my woes to.

So, to my point: many games are popular because the player gets the opportunity to control a powerful avatar and go on epic adventures. But when you're making a survival horror game, you want to go the other direction and make the player feel relatively powerless. Cowering in the dark, eating rice pudding and talking to your stuffed animal might not sound like great fun, but it makes for a very engaging horror experience.

Obviously, this can be tricky, because if a game makes the player feel too powerless and lost, they'll just get frustrated. That's why it's important to remember the power of that fresh ham in the refrigerator. Those little moments of hope can keep the player going. Couple that with a story that is slow to betray the secrets of the world we're trying to survive in, and you'll keep players intrigued and emotionally invested in the game.

Anyway, that's about all I wanted to say tonight. Hopefully I'll have something more universally engaging to talk about soon. In the meantime, I need sleep.

Peace and love, you wonderful reader people. May life hand you a fresh delicious ham when you least expect it.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Just a quick one-off about guns

I hope my previous post regarding gun control didn't give anyone the impression that I think I'm somehow above discussing gun control or guns in general. Really, I love to shoot my mouth off about guns. I do it all the time. Just about anything can trigger it. You could almost say the urge to talk about guns is semi-automatic. It's always a barrel of laughs though, and the people I discuss it with are of the highest caliber. I've had so many engauging conversations on the subject, it's hard to keep stock of them all. I'd have to rifle through my chat logs to give you a solid number, butt I almost always make a strong bullet point, and my reasoning is nigh impossible to assault. Remington.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Just remembered I linked here from Monster.com

Yeah, that turned out to not be a great idea.

Well, on the bright side, I talked to a recruiter today who thoroughly surprised me by being genuinely helpful. I can't think of another recruiter I've talked to lately that I could say that about.

I'm not sure whether this was genuinely a factor, but even so, I kind of wish that everyone I meet in my professional life could be just getting back from a vacation when I talk to them. I think most people are in a better state of mind in that time period. I'm just speculating, of course.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Just a bit on why we need more gun control


I find that the fun of reading an article online is easily spoiled by people who have not done so, but feel the need to leave their self-important gripes in the comment section anyway.

I hate all the hyperbole associated with it anyway. The loudest gun control advocates live in some kind of fantasy land where violent psychopaths somehow can't circumvent the law to hurt people, and the loudest gun control opponents have the kind of unresolved rage issues that make me unwilling to trust them with lethal firearms. If I ever want to talk about gun control, it'll be with the quiet reasonable people that never get the attention of lawmakers.

In truth, though, this post has nothing to do with gun control. I don't even want more gun control legislation in this country, I just wanted to see how many people would fire off a comment as soon as they caught the title. That's what this rant is actually about: paying attention.

What actually sparked this post was an article on Kotaku about a game in development on Facebook. I don't care about the game much, but I found the subject matter kind of interesting. Then I got to the comments section and was reminded that I share my gaming passion with a lot of really immature people.*

*: As obnoxious as most of the anti-Facebook comments were, there is certainly an argument to be made for why game developers should not turn to Facebook as a gaming platform. That argument was not being made effectively by any of those people, but that's besides the point. At least their thoughtless complaints were relevant.

One comment really jumped out at me. In addition to refusing to play any game on Facebook for poorly defined reasons, the person said they're not interested in playing that type of game on a keyboard (which is a valid concern), and then the question that made me furrow my brow in disappointment  They asked whether the game will be available elsewhere.

You may justly wonder why that disappointed me. If you didn't read the article (much as this person didn't), you are likely unaware that the writer of the article specifically said "It'll eventually be on Android and iOS."

You know what will always make you look bad? Asking a question that was answered moments before you asked it.

The writer of the article also mentioned that the game was made with Flash 11, "which should one day support an Xbox-style controller." So, while the commenter's point about preferring to play such a game with a controller is a valid one, it likely won't be for long.

Really, I can't comprehend how people take part in behavior like this without even realizing it. Consider this: if you were talking to me in real life, and I decided to ignore the key points of what you were saying, because I was just waiting for you to take a breath and allow me to express the opinion I already had in mind, would you value my input? You'd probably just think I was a rude, egocentric person and you'd stop talking to me.

This is just one of those things about the human condition that always baffles me. It's like when professionals stress that their employees should display "active listening" skills. Active listening is not a skill, it's a basic component of human communication. It's what separates the beautiful art and science of human discussion from, say, the instinctive guttural bleating of sheep.

I guess it's to be expected somewhat. I've heard of studies about how people on average have much shorter attention spans these days. I mean, I've heard bits of them; I never bothered to follow through and hear the whole thing. I think that in itself may legitimize the findings, though.

This is part of the reason only a select few of you are still reading these words right now. I would applaud you for sticking with me, but I kind of thought the act of reading words for any length of time stopped being an impressive feat sometime after the Dark Ages.

At any rate, I thank you for your attention, and I hope you appreciate the point of this post. The act of commenting should not be a one-way process. You're meant to take in information as well as expel your own thoughts. So, the next time somebody tries to talk to you, but makes it clear that they don't care enough to pay attention to you, let them know in no uncertain terms:

If you can't actively listen in a discussion, then nobody is going to listen to you either.
If you don't care what I think, why the hell would I care what you think?

That's all for now. Peace and love, my wonderful readerkin.