Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I Suck At Geography

Somewhere in the domestic male brain, crammed between 'How to Change the Oil in a '74 Chevy' and 'Best Southpaw Pitcher From Idaho' is 'Ability to Speak Coherently about Local Geography'.

That entire part is missing from my brain. I'm not sure what replaces it. Maybe 'Consistently Typos Teh' or 'Uncontrollable Desire to Own A Laser Blaster'. This is the predominant preoccupation with me, and, I think, anyone of my age group, that we're not quite adult yet. I might be resolved to never be an adult. Not that this was ever a goal, more like an eventuality, like  calling kids "champ" or developing an unfeigned admiration of Patton.

But on occasion I'd like to fake it.

I divide the world  into Places I Drive To and THAR  BE DRAGONS. It doesn't help that my memory has never been that great. I've been known to forget my own birthday. Or forget the names of neighbours I've had for years. It's quite possible I've avoided a dementia diagnosis soley by not having an overlong conversation with a clinical psychologist. So it seems likely that I'm not going to remember what highway I need to get to that little out of the way municipality east of Kelowna known for its blueberry jam.

The distressing thing is that this is a fallback conversational item, not far off The Weather. And seeing as my ability to make believable, comfortable small-talk lies somewhere between that of a domesticated pygmy ant and a ulcerated hernia, my inability to contribute socially acceptable mouth noises does sometimes induce panic.

The names wash over me into recognizable but ultimately meaningless sounds, Castlegar, Salmon Arm, Oshawa, 100 Mile House, Oklahoma.  Each one hiding a knowledge trap ready to reveal my inexcusable ignorance.

On the rare occasion I've attempted to keep up with a Geography Conversation, it's always ended in embarasment, puzzlement on both sides, and me biting back the conversational rejoiner I would have liked to add in, like "Remember that time when Apollo went up against that lone Cylon called Redeye, damn his laser blaster was so coool."

Monday, August 13, 2012

Making Games

My current hobby is making video games. Ugly horrible 2D abominations that look like really drunken Atari remakes in MS Paint, they play worse.

But its fun making them. OK, mostly infuriating and frustrating and an elaborate experiment to make me feel stupider than usual, but when everything ends up working and you have something that you'd still be too embarrassed to show anyone while sober, there is a tremendous feeling of accomplishment, like baking a cake when all you've done before is make a rather tepid mug of Horlitz.

It's also nice to be working on problems that are unlike the problems I deal with at work, which is roughly, getting information from point A to point B.Where A and B can be a user, another machine, some server run by some other company, etc, etc. It's not uninteresting, but I've beendoing it for... a very long time, and isn't as interesting as something you can, at the end of the day, load up and play.

There's also lots of other types of thinking that goes into it, more than 'how do I get the spaceship to go across the screen if I press up', more along the lines of game design. How do you make a game interesting, what elements to put in or leave out. It can be dizzingly complex and often I'm left with a mess at the end that's not altogether fun.

Future posts will be me blundering through game design theory, possibly some horrifying screenshots of my games, and, likely, some posts about the family.