17 May, 2012


This isn't a gaming blog, so I won't get too deep into this, but: Diablo III came out, and I am playing it. It's fun... when I can actually play it.

And I totally understand all the reasons Blizzard gives for making it a client-server game that requires an always-on Internet connection. The reasons make sense.

The only problem is that those reasons are all predicated on the client-server model working properly. If players can't log in to the servers, if the servers get overloaded beyond capacity, if the servers randomly disconnect you every few minutes (this has been happening to me for the entire last day), then all the reasons they gave for making it online-only (reduces piracy, centralizes community, enables real-money auctions) are utterly irrelevant, because you can't play the game.

"But Blizzard are experts! They'll be able to handle it!" Yeah, turns out, it hasn't been so great so far. I realize it's only the first couple of days, but should we really give game companies a pass on that? Do we really want them to take to the bank the idea that they can give players a crappy release day experience, and patch it up later? I guess we already have, to a degree.

What I've learned from this experience is that even a game like Diablo III, which I have been looking forward to for years, turns out not to really have been worth the aggravation. Which means that future Blizzard games that are ostensibly single-player, but require a constant net connection to play single player? I won't be buying or playing them. At all. I do love the properties, but I can do without. There's plenty of other, less aggravating ways to entertain myself.

I'm just one guy; I'm not going to affect Blizzard's bottom line with this. But this kind of choice is the only one that a customer can really make.

13 May, 2012

Final revision phase

So The Novel Formerly Titled Mindfire is now in its final revision phase. My lovely and brilliant wife read through it over the last couple of days and provided many insightful comments about things that dropped her out of the story, didn't make sense, or just plain didn't work. I've got some time off from my day job coming up, so I'll be rampaging through the novel fixing up all those things that need to be improved. Then it's one more quick pass to check for any obvious last-minute mistakes (typos, etc.) and I'm done.

I still need to get cover art made, and maps; figure out whether I want to go through Smashwords to publish it to all the various platforms or just start with doing it myself on Amazon; start marketing it (conveniently, Google just sent me one of their periodic "Here's $100 in free Adwords placements" cards. Honestly, I'll feel lucky if that results in one or two sales); send out free copies to a few deserving folks; promote it here; yadda yadda.

This is the culmination of almost a year's work. I've learned a huge amount along the way, and the most terrifying thing is that this is just the first time I'm going to go through it. I plan to keep doing this for the rest of my life. Godzilla willing, it'll get easier down the road.

08 May, 2012

Avengers, Dissemble

So The Avengers was amazingly entertaining, and now I am extremely pessimistic about my own skills. Joss Whedon probably sneezes, and the droplets form hilarious snarky one-liners on whatever nearby glass surfaces there are, which he probably has a lot of in his fancy Hollywood Hills home because he's a famous talented millionaire.

So I'm not bitter or anything; really, I'm not, because why would I be? Joss was writing much earlier in his life than I started, and he came from a long line of screenwriters. It's just a whole big-ass family of creative professionals. I keep reminding myself that I just have to keep doing it, and eventually I'll succeed. Or I won't. I can't succeed if I don't try; I don't want to be on my deathbed regretting that I never tried, even if I don't succeed.

I just finished the third draft. I need to rewrite the epilogue, and then there's still work to do; I've identified a number of things about the novel that need to be fixed. Mostly it's cosmetic clean-up; some characters need to be more sharply defined, some backstory needs to be elaborated upon (only slightly, I promise), certain things need to be amped up to make them more fantastical.

I'm also changing the title of the novel, back to the original title, which I alas am not going to share yet. Mindfire is neat and all but there's been a couple of fantasy novels released on Amazon lately using it, and I don't want to cause confusion. I already searched; virtually nothing is using the new (old) title. Mindfire will be the subtitle, or rather, the series name. The novel is book 1 of Mindfire.

Okay, here's a hint: the title is The _____ of ______. Can you guess? If so, please send me stock picks and lottery numbers.

01 May, 2012

Professional Crastinating

Is it possible to put off procrastinating until later? As much as I procrastinate, you'd think I'd have figured out how.

I'm a terrible procrastinator, particularly about household finances—taxes, filing paperwork, bills. I do all the easy stuff first and leave all the difficult stuff until later. Pretty typical, right?

But I've noticed that when I do manage to make myself do the difficult stuff, it's never as difficult as I thought it was going to be. So there's really just this initial hump to get over. This same hump gets in my way whenever my wife suggests we do something like go for a walk, or take the kids to the park. I really don't wanna! but then I get out of my chair and get on my shoes and once I'm outside, it's not so bad.

I'm not going to try to analyze the underlying reasons why I'm like this; I'm sure there are some such reasons, but I think it's much more productive to look at the thought processes that occur while I'm procrastinating. There's a lot of internal debates that happen, and if I could figure out how to have the right side win those debates, maybe I'd get more done.

Mostly what I want to do, when I'm at home, is write. So let's say it's just after dinner. I sit down at my computer, and the kids are still awake, and I know that if I start writing I might get interrupted, which is death for productivity. Still, writing in five-minute snatches here and there is still better than not writing at all.

But before I can even open LibreOffice, I see the pile of dead trees on my desk: the aforementioned paperwork and bills. And I think, "I want to write, but I need to go through this paperwork. But I won't want to go through the paperwork. So I'm not going to. But I certainly can't do something I want when there's something that I need to do." And the upshot is, I end up doing neither of them. Instead, I sit there switching back and forth between Facebook and my RSS feeds on Google Reader, even when there hasn't been anything new in the last ten minutes.

Sometimes I even put off things I like doing, because it requires a mental context switch to reload the state—that is, get back to where I was. Writing a novel is awful for this, because there's almost a year of work there. Granted, it's not like I have to remember everything every time I open up a chapter, but it's still a hurdle to get over. Once I actually start the writing, then it's a breeze... but the hurdle's always in the way.