The Weekly Update #7

Once again, I bring you the weekly update. If it was a TV series, right about now, it would have built up a small but loyal fanbase that would go apeshit if the series went off the air.

What I’m Reading Now: Neuromancer, but very slowly.

What I’m Writing Now: Still working on my newest novel and toying with the idea of eventually maybe perhaps someday (if the weather is right) revising Sirens.

What I’m Playing Now: The only thing of note is SimCity, the old, old, old original version from the early ’90s.

My Inspirational Thought of the Week: “Hard work is sometimes its own reward. And even when it’s not, the ability to lounge around and do absolutely nothing after your hard work is pretty rewarding, too.”

This Post Was Too Long for Twitter

Like many creative people, I’m mildly insane: When I find that someone had an idea that’s very similar to an idea I’ve had, and the person happens to look a little like me, I often wonder if the person in question is a future version of me who traveled back in time.

The Weekly Update #6

The weekly update returns! If it was a movie series, right about now the former fans would be wondering how the hell I keep finding studios willing to produce this crap.

What I’m Reading Now: Still technically Neuromancer, I suppose, although I’ve mostly lost interest for the time being.

What I’m Writing Now: I may or may not be preparing to send the first chapter of a new novel to a few publishers to see if there’s any interest out there. And I may or may not keep you updated (depending on whether or not anything interesting happens).

What I’m Playing Now: An assortment of random crap. Mostly Burnout, and a couple of old-school games like Theme Hospital and SimTower. Also a little bit of Moonbase Commander, because I am apparently a masochist.

My Inspirational Thought of the Week: “Your parents and your teachers were wrong: by and large, the punishment for every mistake is not suffering, misery, and homelessness.”

The Writings Page is Back Up

As far as this site goes, this was a pretty excellent turnaround time. I’ve removed a few of the stories I thought were crap or at least in need of revision, and added two new ones. Enjoy! (Note: I may very well be posting the first chapter of my novel Sirens as soon as I get it revised, although I don’t know if I’ll post the whole thing).

AdSpace — The Internet had finally become the great electronic universe it was always expected to be, a place where great minds could come together and do great things. Then, in a flash, the evolution of advertising wiped it all out, and Shiva spends his days zealously hunting spam in the ruins of cyberspace.

Bugs — Josh and Sandy Richter were enjoying their generic domestic life together until the old man downstairs killed himself. Rumors spread that a battle with bedbugs drove him to suicide, and soon, the super is ailing, too, and anything that crawls becomes a horrific menace.

The Writings Page is Down

The title says it all. It’ll be back after I get around to editing out the links to all the stories I’ve now decided are rubbish. Just thought you should know.

The Weekly Update #5

The saga continues to continue, although a day late this time. Sorry about that.

What I’m Reading Now: William Gibson’s Neuromancer. I think it’s supposed to be what jump-started science fiction’s cyberpunk phase, and where we got the term cyberspace. It’s decent enoug, although I’m only halfway through and it’s gotten a little tiresome.

What I’m Writing Now: Mostly, I’m just fiddling around with different ideas. If any of the stories based on said ideas ever get finished, I may or may not post some of them to the writings page. Also, I’m still technically revising Sirens, although the revisions have stalled for the moment.

What I’m Playing Now: Waaay too many games. I am, of course, still playing Burnout and Fallout, but I’ve also been fiddling around in SimAnt and a dumpy little strategy game called Moonbase Commander that I got at a discount store a few years ago.

My Inspirational Thought of the Week: “If you can’t stop worrying about something you can’t do anything about, then the next best solution is to tell yourself that, somehow, it’ll be taken care of.” Perhaps not the psychologically soundest solution, but I find it gets me through those dark days.

Game Review: “Burnout: Paradise”

As I mentioned in my most recent Weekly Update, I finally broke down and bought an Xbox 360. Since the games and the console were both ridiculously expensive, I was only able to buy two games. One of them was Burnout: Paradise.

The game is visually stunning. Compared to some of my previous racing game experiences, playing Burnout is like having undiagnosed myopia for ten years and then suddenly getting glasses. Everything is pretty and bright and shiny. But that’s not the reason I bought Burnout. I am and have always been a fanatic for racing games with an awesome damage model, and in that regard, Burnout is the game I’ve been looking for since I first played Rush on the Nintendo 64 back in the late ’90s. If you run into an obstacle with sufficient force, the game cuts to slow-motion and places the cameral optimally while you watch your car crumple and twist (dynamically! That’s right, the impact determines the damage, and no impact is the same as any other. Like I said, I’ve been waiting for this for a long time) and eventually crunch to a halt in a shower of wheels and metal fragments. And since every street is lined with pylons and buildings and populated by slow-driving idiots, you’ll experience a lot of these beautiful, cinematic crashes. At times, it does wear a little thin, but that doesn’t happen as often as you might think.

The game has a few different kinds of event you can participate in. There’s the standard race — which (and Yahtzee, curmudgeonly bastard though he is, got it completely right in his review) is rendered almost intolerable by having to plan your own route using your minimap — and then there are other events like Marked Man (escape from the cars that are trying to kill you) and Stunt (do a bunch of random tricks to build up points), and my personal favorite, Road Rage, which demands that you do what I’m best at: make other people crash before they crash you.

All in all, Burnout is a very amusing game, and good when you just want to be viscerally entertained. However, it has problems. For one thing, although the crash physics is incredible, the actual driving physics is clunky and feels unrealistic. And speaking of crashes, you have the cinematic ones so often that your little physics-inaccurate fender-benders are yawnworthy and annoying by comparison. And, speaking of annoying (I promise I won’t stick another “and speaking of” on the end of this one), the music is largely rubbish, and there’s a yappy, snide prick of a DJ called Atomica (who you have to imagine walks around wearing a pop-collared pink polo shirt) who only occasionally says anything even mildly useful.

Aside from that, though, Burnout is fairly awesome. If you’re not a complete simulation freak (or if you’re like me, and can turn off that part of your brain when needed) and can tolerate some inaccuracy and clumsiness, it’s a fun game, and the cinematics alone might be worth it (may I be struck down if I ever say that again).

Visual Numbers #3

It’s been nine months since Visual Numbers #1 and #2, and now, thanks to one sleep-deprived evening of daydreaming at my parents’ house, I bring you #3. Sorry about the images’ weird dimensions, but the reason for those dimensions will become clear.

Binary Progression: The numbers from 1 to 500, converted into binary and drawn as black and white squares. Each number is a series of 1s and 0s, and the 1s are drawn as black squares and the 0s as white squares.

Binary Primes: The prime numbers between 1 and 5000 (I think), graphed in the same way as above. I was kind of disappointed by this, honestly. I was kind of hoping all the squares would spell out “CONGRATULATIONS, YOU FOUND A PATTERN IN THE PRIMES” or something.

Binary Squares: The squares of every number between 1 and 500. Note the interesting fractal pattern.

Binary Cubes: The numbers from 1 to 500, cubed and displayed in binary. Notice how this one looks a lot more chaotic than did the last one.

The Weekly Update #4

The saga continues!

What I’m Reading Now: I finally finished Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. As I’d feared, it had the same problem as   Christine: a lot of build-up and an unsatisfying climax (not much innuendo intended). I commend King for concentrating on the characters rather than the horror and excitement, but I was reading it for the horror and excitement. I’m also working my way through Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly, which I use to alleviate boredom while I exercise.

What I’m Writing Now: I’ve written a couple of short stories lately and may (possibly) have started on my next novel. Revisions on Sirens have stalled for the moment, but I’m about to re-start them again.

What I’m Playing Now: Having finally decided to get my ass in gear and move with the times, I broke down and bought an Xbox 360, and I’ve been playing an unreasonable amount of Burnout: Paradise and Fallout 3. If you want my opinion on those games: they have their problems, but as far as I’m concerned, there’s so much awesomeness sitting on my TV stand that it might burst into flames at any moment. (Also, be expecting a couple of micro-reviews in the near future).

My Inspirational Thought of the Week: “Never, ever, ever do something without a good reason. If you’re doing something for a reason other than the fact that you want to do it, take a break and reexamine things.”

“Yo Dawg…”

I’m sorry to say that I’ve fallen victim to an internet meme. In case you didn’t know, there’s a Pimp My Ride meme floating around. Also, in case you didn’t know, a few months ago, scientists announced the discovery of a weird little virus called Sputnik which (apparently) infects another virus (the Mimivirus). This morning, as I lay in my irrational post-sleep stupor, the meme and the Mimivirus stumbled into each other, and this was the result:

Sorry…I couldn’t help myself. I don’t know what came over me. I promise it will never (never) happen again.

The Weekly Update #3

Hard to believe I’ve been doing this for three weeks already…stupid time, marching on like that… Anyway, happy Whatever-the-hell-you-celebrate, happy New Year. May all your dreams come true in 2009.

What I’m Reading Now: Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. It’s a creepy book and pretty good, but I’m worried it may have the same problem that Christine had: too much build-up to a climax that is way too small to satisfy (no innuendo intended, I promise). I finally finished Ender’s Game, and I finally understand why it’s so famous.

What I’m Writing Now: I’m aimlessly pecking away at a few short stories while I recover from a nasty bout of insomnia. I’m also working on the revisions for Sirens, the first novel I’ve ever finished outside the NaNoWriMo contest. So far, Sirens looks like my best bet for getting published, once I get the damned revisions finished. Wish me luck!

What I’m Playing Now: For most of the week, I’ve been fiddling around in Sim Farm, an amusing retro classic from back before Maxis teamed up with EA and went peculiar. There’s something a little unsettling about playing  a simulation whose default starting date is in 1994, but all in all, Sim Farm is pretty awesome, and I’m growing some kick-ass imaginary strawberries.

My Inspirational Thought of the Week: “Never use the ‘There are starving children in Africa,’ line to trivialize your own suffering. Suffering is suffering, so deal with it, allow yourself to admit that you’re unhappy, make yourself feel better. Then maybe make a donation to Doctors Without Borders or something.”

And for those of you with exceedingly good memories: remember my Visual Numbers series of posts? Well, get ready for another episode!