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Reading Update #2

May, 2017

So this is the first time that I am posting on a Sunday like I had assumed when I worked out my new schedule. This being the first week of the month, I didn’t do much of anything else other than read some of the books from my Want to Read shelf on Goodreads. But before I get into that I would like to say that the reason why I did not post anything the last week of April is because I just didn’t feel like I had anything worth sharing, you know? I spent the entire week on my playstation and just generally staring into empty space. Anyways, here are the books I read this week.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, parts one and two
by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage.

I am pretty sure that some of the hardcore Harry Potter Books series’ fans are going to be really disappointed with this, but I personally loved it. First of all, this is a play and so you must not compare it with the previous books and secondly, I am glad that it is. The Harry Potter series had an incredibly sad, melancholy but satisfactory end for me and many others, I do not want another Harry Potter book. So, this was really refreshing to go back to this fantastical, magical world and its quirky characters in a more emotional, dialogue driven and dramatic rendition. This is also possibly the first and only play that I have read so I can’t really compare it with anything but I would say that I did really enjoy it. It was fun to meet, once more, Harry and the rest of the gang, to see them tackle with issues of parenthood, family and work drama and so on. This is a definite must-read for all Harry Potter fans.

Glitch
by Hugh Howey

Glitch

When a robot defies his programming, is he broken? Or is he something else? A short story of 5,000 words.

Artificial intelligence and its boundaries is a topic that is dissected to the bone and in that way their is nothing here of novel value; but Hugh Howey’s incredible writing style, fantastically imaginative work building, incredible characters and intriguing plot did turn this short read into one of my all time favourites. Although it did feel solid and complete when I first read it, after mulling over it a few more days, I can no longer hold back this feeling of wanting more. To have some way of taking a quick peek somehow just to see what happened next. But overall, an Hour well spent.

Gutenberg the Geek
by Jeff Jarvis

Gutenberg the Geek

Johannes Gutenberg was our first geek, the original technology entrepreneur, who had to grapple with all the challenges a Silicon Valley startup faces today. Jeff Jarvis tells Gutenberg’s story from an entrepreneurial perspective, examining how he overcame technology hurdles, how he operated with the secrecy of a Steve Jobs but then shifted to openness, how he raised capital and mitigated risk, and how, in the end, his cash flow and equity structure did him in. This is also the inspiring story of a great disruptor. That is what makes Gutenberg the patron saint of entrepreneurs.

You might have heard of Gutenberg but not necessarily know anything about him. He is basically the man who invented the printing machine a technological marvel that changed the world for the coming centuries. The book is quite informative and such amount of facts from so little a number of pages is always good. Some people scowl at the analogies made to compare Gutenberg’s endeavours to the Silicon Valley startups and him to Steve Jobs; but being a tech person myself I didn’t really mind it as much. I’ll be honest this wasn’t the most well written thing I have read but it was informative, to the point and if you put aside the unnecessary plug to the authors other book at the end it was a fine read overall. If you aren’t that interested in Gutenberg, the IT sector or the technology industry you can skip this one, don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.

Safety Tips for Living Alone
by Jim Shepard

Safety Tips for Living Alone

In “Safety Tips for Living Alone,” Jim Shepard weaves the stories of four families whose lives are upended when the men go to work on a dangerous and isolated surveillance platform off the coast of Long Island. After working his way up to Captain, career serviceman Gordon Phelan is offered the command of Texas Tower 4—a wobbly “box over the ocean.” Among the team of military personnel and civilians joining Phelan aboard the platform are Roy Bakke, Wilbur Kovarick and Louie Laino, three strong and dutiful men trying to ensure better lives for their families. But when a powerful storm approaches the Tower, the four men—and everyone on board—must face their increasingly probable deaths.

In his introduction, Joshua Ferris writes “There’s no better way to describe the experience of the reader of Shepard’s reimagining of this forgotten, misbegotten episode in American history” than to say one is “moved and appalled.”

Games Design Update #1

April, 2017

Being a game designer is hard, for you have to religiously invest a bulk of your time in doing two important tasks, playing games and making them.

Playing Games

When I say, a game designer must play games. I do not mean play only that one game that you really love. That won’t teach you anything, you must play all kinds of games even the one you necessarily won’t play in your spare time. When a game designer plays a game he or she dissects every game mechanic and inspects it thoroughly. Investigates why a particular design element or mechanic is part of the game? Does it achieve what is expected from it? Does it seem forced? Why is it designed the way it is? Is it balanced? What does it contribute to the game play? and so on.

It is a chaotic but educated study that happens at any and every given moment when a game designer plays a game, as a designer. That is the difference between a gamer and a game designer. That is the difference between saying “This is a good game” and “These are the exact reasons why this is a good game”.

I don’t remember the last time I played a game where I didn’t immediately stop and start analysing it. I do have to force myself and remove the designer within me so as to enjoy a game through a gamer’s perspective. I know it sounds really pretentious but it happened so gradually that I never even realised when did I transform in to a game designer from an avid gamer.

The sheer amount of games out there is mind numbing and one human being couldn’t possibly own and play all of those games in a single lifetime. Although I must say I do play as many games as I can on console and on PC. But classical and modern board games is something I have never truly gotten into from an educational or a professional perspective or even just for fun. Something that I have been wanting to do for a long time. For surely nothing is more purely a game than a board game.

This is where I give my eternal thanks to the power of the internet. It is a powerful enlightenment tool. I recently happened upon Geek & Sundry on YouTube and have been practically addicted to their Tabletop series with Will Wheaton where he plays the best of modern board games and which introduces me to new games that I do not own or have no time to play. Because I spent most of my time watching Tabletop on Youtube and reading my Bible (The Art of Game Design) I felt educated and inspired enough to set out to design board games of my own and so I did exactly that.

Making Games

I had so much fun making board games and me and my family have been playing them non stop for the past week. One of them is a quick card matching game and the other is a tile placement board game. They are still prototypes meaning most of the game pieces and cards are just cut out pieces of paper coloured in with sketch pens and it does not look pretty. But still I will update the complete rules and final art when it is done in the future. But for now here is a quick overview of what these games actually are,

Game #1 – Super Market Rush (Working Title)

Time – 10 to 15 mins

Super Market Rush is a quick card game where 2 to 4 players try to be the first to complete the set of items on their Shopping List either in hand or on table to win.

Game #2 – Zoo Mania (Working Title)

Time – 60 to 90 mins

Zoo mania is a card and tile placement board game where 2 to 4 players compete with each other to create the most amazing zoo by building unique Habitats and adding cute Animals that live there. You get bonus points for creating special combinations of Habitats and getting special Animals to live in your zoo.

I will probably now continue to work on these games a little bit more, play test them with my family, watch movies and Table Top, write and read something new and pondering over the questions of the irrefutable existence of the universe.

Peace.

Reading Update #1

April, 2017

This month I was not able to read as much as I had hoped but still I was able to finish two very short but amazing reads namely ‘The Call of Cthulu by H.P. Lovecraft’ and ‘Guns by Stephen King’ I also read ‘The Art of Game design : A Book of lenses by Jesse Schell’ but that book is more of a bible, in that it is referred to almost every time I design a new game.

The Call of Cthulu
by H.P. Lovecraft

The Call of Cthulhu

The Call of Cthulhu is a terrifying trilogy of horror stories that has influenced writers like William S. Burroughs, Ramsey Campbell, Thomas Ligotti and Stephen King.

This story highlights many of the, now famous, lovecraftian themes like pre-human civilisations, occults and secret societies, lost or forbidden knowledge, old gods and unspeakable horrors. This short 32 pages book is a must read for any fan of speculative fiction, horror or someone who just wants to know how to write a story that keeps your readers stuck on your every word from the beginning to very end.

A quick google search will give you many images of Cthulhu himself but none will terrify you to your core than the image that Lovecraft paints in your mind with his words. I literally jumped off my bed when I heard a low grumble from my neighbours apartment. This is my first Lovecraft experience and I can’t wait to read more by him. I Can’t recommend this book enough.

Guns
by Stephen King

Guns

In this essay Stephen king sets down his thoughts about gun violence in America. Me not being an American slightly had difficulty to wrap my head around some of what Mr.King was talking about. I did try to research almost all the shooting incidents that were mentioned and read as much as I could about the people involved and I was already aware of the Sandy Hook tragedy. I am personally in favour of banning all guns outright but as Mr.King points out that is just not going to happen (which I don’t really understand but I also don’t mean to offend). King, who is apparently a registered owner of three handguns and have written ‘The Gunslinger‘ Series, gives his opinions and facts on America’s ‘Culture of Violence‘. He also mentions a book that he authored in his teens called ‘Rage‘ which was found in possession of multiple of these young shooters and he felt responsible to take it down, which he did. Regarding which he says,

” I didn’t pull Rage from publication because the law demanded it; I was protected under the first Amendment, and the law couldn’t demand it. I pulled it because in my judgement it might be hurting people, and that made it the responsible thing to do. Assault weapons will remain readily available to crazy people until the powerful pro-gun forces in this country decide to do a similar turnaround. They must accept responsibility, recognising that responsibility is not the same as culpability. They need to say, “We support these measures not because the law demands we support them , but because it’s the sensible thing.”

If you are concerned or even aware of the seriousness of the state of America’s gun control you must read this. Because in most cases the lives lost are regrettably of young children who didn’t even had a chance at life.

2017 – A change in plan

Moving from digital art into writing and design

2016 has been a year to remember for all of us. The world around us has had a profound and significant change in ideologies and thinking. Never before have we felt more strongly about what we believe in and what we wish for the future of others around us and ourselves.

I had my very first professional game development experience last year. For three months i worked with two of the the most awesome guys i have ever met on a game that is just as awesome as them (maybe more). It was one of the most incredible experiences i have had yet to finally be able to say that i am a professional game developer something that has been a dream of mine since i was 10 and i realized that making video games was a thing.

Most of my work involved modeling and texturing environment, character assets. Here you can find out more

Ogre head studio

Asura

During this time i was visited by an old friend who once, a few years ago, stood with me and held my hand firmly as i obtusely dawdled on the precipice of sanity looking over the abyss of insanity below me, the ‘written word’.

In 2013 i started reading philosophy and poetry and composed poetry (a couple, not a lot) while i was away from home. I cant really place the exact time or reason why or how it came back to me now. Maybe i felt similar feelings i felt three years ago, and perhaps that rush of feelings (probably hurtful) bought with them the antidote itself. From summer through to the final quarter of 2016 i took it upon myself to write a book of poetry. I made deadlines and personal assignments, i experienced great works by writers and poets from the west to the far east and through the ages from Li Bai to Tagore to Ginsberg to Akira. By the end of 2016 i already have over twenty original poems composed.

Now 2017 is upon us, its a new day.

Having just bought my first kindle i am spending even more time reading about writing practices in the video-game industry, trans-media, and other fiction, non fiction, and of course the incessantly mentioned poetry (sorry, but i cant help it). The kindle and i have been practically inseparable, that’s not sad is it ? I also completed my final year exams for my Bachelors degree and now all that remains is the long wait for the results.

Meanwhile i have decided to continue writing and honing my craft moving forward and branch out into writings other than poetry whilst actively searching for a job. I am not making any promises, but getting a job and having a poetry compilation published are two goals that i am striving for this year.

Wish me luck.