At what point are we gonna wake up, draw the curtains, put our hands on our hips and go “Yep, I’m in living in cyberpunk now.” Not a cyberpunk future, a cyberpunk Now. When an unqualified fascist takes over control of the most powerful country in the world? When a company is trying to sell us Bane’s mask in order to protect our privacy during phone calls, and a denim jacket to make the calls? Perhaps when a man has to flee his country in order to declare the government is spying on us. Maybe when it’s raining constantly? When we don’t even need our own limbs anymore? Or when every city looks like the image I used in the header of this post, of a vast, glowing Akira at night, each tower looking like a data stack on a computer board. One thing I always liked about cyberpunk as an aesthetic is that it was never a far reaching future I will never see, of aliens and spaceships. Cyberpunk was always very real, and it soon will be real.
Slight Preface: A Day 2 Play is a competition held by the University of Canterbury Drama Society (Dramasoc) where a small team of five have 24 hours to write, direct, rehearse and perform a 15-minute play. I signed on as a writer (Of course), which meant I had 12 insomnia-inducing hours of writing a script that was 15 minutes in length using what I was given. Although it has been a few weeks since then, here is what I remember of that night.
6 pm: Slightly panic because the bus is late, and wonder if I can get there in time. When I get on, accidentally sit behind the most sickeningly in love couple1. Get there in time, talk to a few people. The people who are supposed to be telling us everything are late. They get there late and we are divided up into teams. I meet the girl who would quickly become a close friend. We are told the rules and given sealed envelopes which contain a prop, a line and a situation we must use.
7 pm: Open the envelopes, where we find out what we have to use:
- Our line: “Well that could’ve gone worse.
Our situation: A very awkward encounter.
Our Prop: Eclipse.
… Eclipse? What the hell is that? My mind starts formulating ideas: Could I somehow make a Berserk parody2? And then we find out. Twilight: Eclipse. The terrible book. So, of course, there’s no way we could make a good, serious play with that. Which means that after we are ushered out to our own rooms terrible jokes and scripts are made. It soon became a goal of wondering how much cringe we could fit into 15 minutes.
8 pm: A basic plot idea is established, and then the rest of my team leave me alone to write a basic outline while they get pizza (No objections). I was left with a Surface Pro to work with, and I have to say it wasn’t too bad, although I found the keyboard somewhat uncomfortable for my style of typing. The managers of the event come in and find that I’ve been left alone, which leaves them furious. My team comes back about 50 minutes later, get a talking to about leaving me alone, but then we get pizza and begin to work on our ideas.
We eventually establish our rough plot outline: During Orientation Week at Canterbury University3, a drunken student finds a sheet of paper with Eclipse, and thinking that it is a massive party sets out on a quest to find just exactly where Eclipse is. Turns out it is just a book signing of the new book by Stephanie Meyer (Who ended up being played by me… somehow. Which was also slightly meta because I was the writer of this play who sets the protagonist off on her quest and the writer in the play who sets the protagonist on her quest.).
9 pm: I begin to head home. End up nearly going the wrong way. I see some guy walking in full black across a field and all I can think of is “Not today.”, before turning around. Get on the bus and miss my stop because I was so lost in thought thinking what the hell I’m gonna write in about ten hours. One of them being some narrative in which the main character is given a bag for some reason (Which I later worked into the storyline). Get home and have dinner, talk to my friends for a bit, see that everyone’s drinking, make some coffee, retreat to my room, open a new Scrivener screenplay project just for the play and get to working on it. Get significant anxiety as to how I’ll be actually able to finish this script in time. Wash it down with copious amounts of coffee and lemonade.
10 pm: Get a Facebook Messenger call from the other guys in my team on some of the other ideas. One of them being the introduction of some conflict: An ex-boyfriend policeman character for the main characters lover person.
11 pm – 2 am: Writing haze as I get everything set up right. Ignore the ex-boyfriend character for now because I’m not sure how to slot him in.
3 am: Not feeling tired because I made sure not to wake up until 1 pm, and I’ve drunk plenty of coffee in the meantime. Figure out how to fit the ex-boyfriend character in: make him arrest the main character for ‘littering’ a hair outside a hospital. As the whole play had some Twilight themed characters ( the main character was Edward, the lover was Isabella, the ex was Jacob) I made it that he thought he was a wolf. It’s the kinda stuff you get at 3 am when you’re caffeinated and stressed. Feel for the first time that I might actually get this script done in time and of an appropriate length.
4 am: Finish off the first draft of the script, title it, put the synopsis, characters and settings in, send it to everyone else, relax on Lainchan.
5 am: The others wake up and start giving me their
criticism feedback on what I’ve written, which I fix up. Reorder scenes to make it make sense, and rename some of the characters.
6 am: Finish the script, send it off, turn the lights off and go to sleep. Well, watch a few videos on my phone first.
7 am: Finally fall into a blissful sleep.
1 pm: Wake up, have a shower, have breakfast.
3 pm: Finally get on the bus, wonder just how much the
idiots other people in my team had ruined adapted my script. Get there at 3:30, walk through the rain. Learn that while I was sleeping they established the characters: An Indian guy will play a Soviet Russian professor, the only girl will play the lead, the guy with the deepest voice will play the girlfriend of the lead, and one guy will play four different characters. Apparently, they loved my little bit about the wolf. I’m told I’ll be Stephanie Meyer, and I’m put in a flowing pink skirt (Over my jeans).
4 pm: Rehearse, rehearse, revise, rehearse. Send a fixed version of the script off. Told I’ll be the sound manager, which was slightly terrifying at first but it soon mellowed out once I found how easy and short each song was.
7 pm: Get there, get ready. Buy a coke and talk to the other groups to see just what they’re doing. Get setup on stage and do a few practice twirls in my skirt to see what it’s like (This is important).
7:15 pm: Watch the first groups play, it’s nothing special.
7:45 pm We’re up. It’s going time. I manage the sound while I see just how much cringe they can perform. Sounds easy enough to do, just gotta watch for the cues. One of the managers of the event is just cringing and looking at his phone, the other one is just laughing so hard, telling me how solid a writer I am. When it’s finally time to enter the stage I do the perfect twirl, a little laugh. Fortunately, I have no speaking lines, and the biggest thing I did was give the finger as I walked off stage.
8:15 pm: I’m fairly confident that we did better than the last guys, but then the other group step up and absolutely floor us, which I suspect is that they never even pretend the fourth wall existed in first place. I resigned to defeat in face of how well written their play is.
8:45 pm: Winners are announced, our director wins the best director but mostly for his terribly excellent Russian accent. Of course, the last team won for their excellent play. I talk a little with the winners, especially the writer.
9 pm: I get home, have dinner, and go to sleep early because I thought I had a math test the next day. Turns out I didn’t.
Looking back on this event, it was fun as hell. I may have lost, but given what I was working with (Eclipse book) and that this was the first stage play I had ever written, I am quite happy with the result. I made people laugh, cringe, and all around have a good time. It’s the most I can do with what I was given.
- Randomly kissing each other, hugging, resting their heads in each other’s laps. ↩
- For my own writings on Berserk, see my editorial on Dragonslayer and my recently published post on why Griffith has good character traits. ↩
- Which is filled with a lot of partying and very little study (Perfect way to get university students in the study mood.) Events this year included: Toga party, Mardi Gra’s, hypnotists, and a foam party. ↩
I have finally figured out a way to tell people why my name is like it is. All I really know myself is that it’s German of some description. I seriously cannot find a meaning for it anywhere.
Last Christmas I asked for a pair of aviators. Cheap ones, just so I could see if I liked them enough. I’ve never been a sunglasses person, but I’ve always found aviators appealing since my Fallout: New Vegas days. I can’t really explain exactly why I like them, except they’re big and classical looking1. I wasn’t sure about them at first on the drive to the family Christmas party. Everything just seemed too dark.
Further proof that I’m getting closer and closer to proper adulting is the fact I have now started using the excellent Todoist to keep track of what I need to do. I thought using my phones calendar was worse enough, but this really tips it. I now on my first steps to being a professional adulterer1.
As to why I stared using Todoist, it wasn’t out of a matter of necessity but rather an act of design. A week or so before Christmas I was awake redesigning my phone home screen2, and to get inspiration for what my home screen might look like going into 2017 I was looking at what other techbloggers I admire had for theirs.
Most of them had a todo app of some kind on their home screen. Which made sense. Most of them were men in their 30’s and 40’s, they needed to remember what things they had to do. But myself, a young virile man wouldn’t dare think of that… Except I had used my phones calendar increasingly often to remember basic stuff that I needed to do. So I cleared some space on my phone and downloaded the first todo app I found for Android, Todoist. I spent the rest of the night installing Todoist on every device I owned to get an idea on how to use it3.
I started off rather foolishly just setting myself a bunch of daily recurring tasks… completely ignoring the fact that I don’t work that way. If I have to set myself a reminder to do it everyday, I’m probably not as committed enough to do it, even with reminders. Now, I’ve started adding reminders as I need to remember them. For example, remember to finally write about Todoist so you can add to the millions of voices also cheering about Todoist. Or that I need to install a useful extension for this site. Stuff I actually need to remember to do, not stuff I should already remember to do.
The design of the app is appealing and usable without any manuals, a clear sign of good design. I can see why Khoi Vinh loves the app so much, not only is it good but it’s design is flawless.
So far it has been a good app to me. I just wish I could bloody tell the app my day usually ends at 4am.
CD Projekt Red, the developer of The Witcher game series, has reached triple-A status, to become the industry leader in creating RPG video games, largely due to the success of The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt, the latest game in the series and in my opinion one of the best games every made.
Like any good large scale RPG, The Witcher 3 hosts a hefty amount of content and character, such as a playable card minigame within the main game itself, called Gwent. Gwent closely resembles a simplified version of other collectable card games such as Magic The Gathering or Hearthstone (http://us.battle.net/hearthstone/en/) and in many cases players find themselves playing the minigame much more than the epic tale of Geralt Of F####ing Rivia.
Gwent has become a fan favourite among the Witcher community and ever since the Witcher 3’s release the internet has blown up with a s### tonne of tweets, Facebook/Reddit posts, discussions and articles regarding it, including this one. One creative fan even made a mod that converts the Witcher 3‘s combat completely into Gwent: (http://www.nexusmods.com/witcher3/mods/953/?). It seems that everyone wants a Gwent standalone game. So what did CD Projekt Red do? They listened, officially unveiling Gwent: The Witcher Card Game, at the 2016 E3 game expo.
CD Projekt Red isn`t just creating a simple adaptation for some quick cash either, the game, in my opinion, looks to be born of passion and ambition from the studio to wade into the rising waters of the world of simulated card games. Despite the mild oversaturation of the genre, Gwent still feels special from the rest. To think it was initially developed to serve as a minigame within The Witcher 3 and has now garnered so much support to prompt the creation of a standalone is amazing to me.
To break it down for those that don`t, Gwent involves a battlefield with three different levels: infantry, ranged, and artillery. Each card has a numbered value and can be placed in one of the said levels. Rounds end when both players pass a turn and the player with the highest number at the end of each round wins it. Best of three takes home the win.
It’s a quick and fun, yet simple game. While other games in the genre emphasis well thought out and strategized card-based moves, Gwent promotes trickery and feints. You enter a tavern, take a seat and get to playing. When you really should be killing that drowner bounty you got off the last village`s notice board. Hmmm, I wonder how I can f### with this guy enough to make him use all his best cards quickly….should I lose the first round on purpose to make him vulnerable later on…maybe…maybe. These are the thoughts that go through your head as you play this game within a game. All the while listening to the excellent musical score of the Witcher 3 and its fun as hell.
With the standalone release, comes more features and increased depth. With a larger card selection and more focus on how the game’s different card factions will play distinctively different from one another. This is not the simple minigame within the Witcher 3 that you or I know. This will be the true Gwent game Witcher fans remember. Fun, Quick, addictive, and much, much deeper.
As of now CD Projekt Red hasn’t announced a release date yet, but we know it’s going to be a free-to-play title with in-game transactions. There is currently a closed beta, which I myself have applied for, find out more here: https://www.playgwent.com/en
Okay, I’m about to tell you something outrageous here, and I want to make sure that you’re going to be alright when I tell you.
Make sure you’re sitting down when you read the paragraph after this. I would not recommend reading this on your phone while walking home from the bus when you live on a busy street and you know you should really be looking where you are going. Grab your cat and pull it over. Make sure you have a firm grip on your cup of coffee. Unless you’re one of those weird people who doesn’t drink coffee. In which case, yuck.
Anyway, for the thingy: Twitter, and its 140 character limit, is actually alright.
It is now three weeks later. I’m being hunted for mass murder just by saying that. Yes, it was a fucking mistake ever typing that. I realise that now.
I’m sitting on my bed, typing this out and waiting for my door to be kicked down by the angry mobs who need to tell me why Twitter needs to expand its character limit to something like 10,000.
I never could really understand why this is a thing that we need to do. Twitter is a microblogging service, and always has been. It’s for content that is more like text messages more than long form blog posts.
Once we remove that we remove part of its appeal because we’re apparently getting shorter attention spans or something like that. But I think this is a load of bull because OH MY GOD LOOK AT THAT SHINY THINY OVER THERE :D!
And there’s another appeal in a tweets shortness. Not just in the fact that your single tweet could somehow hypothetically reach millions of people, but in its limits.
I like to call it writing in tight corners. You can make your own little poetry and cut down the words to only what you need. For example:
If a character’s true form is an amorphous and shapeless black shadowy blob thingy can I consider the thing a waifu?
Can be cut down to:
If a character’s true form is a shapeless black shadowy blob can it still be considered a waifu?
The second one is more succinct than the first one. It gets the point across all the same.
Or I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong and it will bomb spectacularly unless it improves, and we’ll all move to something like app.net or our own microblogging service that we make on our good old fashioned blogs.
I’ll check back in another ten years and see how it’s going.
After a conversation with Wayne, I am now playing Shadowrun: Dragonfall after nearly a year of owning it on Steam but never playing it. I bought the original Shadowrun Returns on Steam nearly three years ago now, and I loved the hell out of it. It was a cool blend of gritty futurism, sci-fi and fantasy that instantly drew me in, and I finished it quickly.
I’ve written before how I don’t really play games anymore, but Dragonfall has drawn me in for a couple of reasons. When I view any text, I have a descending order of the things that are important to me: Narrative ➡ Characters ➡ Action. Dragonfall excels at the first two more than the original did1, while still maintaining the tight, fun turn-based RPG combat system, but another thing it also does well is little details in the environment.
In the original Returns2 your in between missions haunt was a bar that doubled as a Shadowrunner base. It was fun and interesting, but at the end of the day, that’s all there was to it. There was no exploring or anything that made the world outside the bar, aside from the missions, seem real.
Meanwhile, in Dragonfall you can move around outside your main base, a renovated shop into a small part of Berlin, now known as the Flux State. And this is what I love mostly about Dragonfall as opposed to the original, this little corner of Berlin makes the game feel much more alive and real that Returns did. In between missions you can talk to the people in your team, and regular people on the street. Slowly you learn more about these people and their background, their desires and their goals.
Or, you can go to the coffee shop and order coffee.
It has no purpose. You lose 5 Nuyen (The currency) for buying some Soykaf, and then that’s it. There is no stat advantage on the next missions, you don’t get a caffeine hit or anything useful, you can just buy coffee.
On the bottom left corner of the map, you can tip a dancer who is always there. There is no reason to tip this dancer, but I do every damn time I’m in Berlin. Just because.
And you get a dog. Why do you get a dog? Because dog. If you talk to this dog it will follow it around. For the post part, it is simply following you around because dog.
Of course, useless additions? You could argue that. But also in maps, on missions there are useless little rooms, like this one:
This mission takes place in an orphanage, but of course being Shadowrun this is not a nice place, however soothing the music may be. There is a bathroom, and there is nothing in this bathroom, except it builds the world. The area is not to fight in. It is simply an area to add to the overall detail of the game.
And I love it for it.
To follow-up what I just wrote about, can we talk about how weirdly good baths are? I’ve only just started having them again after six years of avoiding them like the plague1 and the first thing I notice is how weird they are, but also relaxing.
After six years, you get used to the feel of scalding hot water rushing down your back and over your shoulders, before being replaced with new water. The constant stinging pressure is a reminder that you are being cleaned, there is no time to relax and you should get out as soon as you are clean.
But there’s none of that with a bath. Once you are in the scalding the scalding remains. It is hot and stagnant, with whatever bubbly stuff you used to get the required bubbles2 somehow mysteriously moving into a place which makes the scene as PG as possible for when anyone for some reason decides to walk in.
And it somehow is relaxing, the constant warm caressing you like a blanket, against the near freezing cold you feel when you remove yourself despite the fact it’s not to cold tonight. And when you get out, you feel even more sleepy and relaxed then when you got in there. You climb into bed, pull your laptop towards you and start writing an article for your blog when there’s more productive things you could be doing.
WHY IS THAT? I’ve only been awake for nine hours at time of writing, but I feel like wrapping myself in a blanket and sleeping for a long time. This is not right. I am a writer. Writer’s do not even consider sleep until they sit on the indefinite hour where you’re not sure whether it’s very late at night or very early in the morning, and shouldn’t wake up until the time period known as the magic hour for photographers has long since past and all traces that there was something other than a giant ball of plasma in the sky have long since retreated.
But instead here I sit, half my body covered by a heavy-ish and very comfortable blanket writing into my blog, looking up and giggling a bit back when the word count was 420 when I last took a glance at it. I also had a coffee when I took the bath, so you would at least think the two would cancel out. But nope, I’m feeling very sleepy, even though I probably won’t actually stop staring at this screen until about 3am.
Writers life yo!
Over at The Verge, Paul Miller wrote a piece I can connect to on a spiritual level, Life in airplane mode.
He chronicles a struggle I know all to well, the struggle of having a phone that is effectively useless without the internet. But really, it’s less of a struggle and more of a lifestyle you accommodate to. When I got my first phone over a decade ago, a Motorola Razr fliphone1, it was a credit phone, and when I got my first smartphone, the iPhone 3GS, it was also a credit phone. Even today I still have credit, and I have no desire to move onto a plan.
But really, I don’t feel as disadvantaged by this as the cliché teenage girls would be. The amount of time I actually spend away from a reliable internet source is marginal on a weekday, less than an hour on a normal day. And what do I do with my phone during periods? I read articles I’ve saved in Instapaper, I write in iA Writer, I edit photo’s in Snapseed. Instead of inanely browsing witty quotes on Twitter, or attention grabbing headlines on Facebook, or looking at quite cool stuff on Reddit, I’m actually doing something productive. Or I might ditch my phone altogether and read a book, or just observe the life going on around me.
The two disadvantages to this lifestyle are, of course, the lack of connection. In the rare times I’m not in range of a reliable internet source, I can’t contact anyone. But this is a minor and obvious point, I’m always at an internet point. The other disadvantage is that I can’t play Fate/Grand Order on the go, one of the few mobile games I play2, as it requires an active internet connection.
But really, the small disadvantages to this is tiny in the overall grand scheme. I’ve had credit plans with insanely large amounts of data and texts on them, but to be honest it’s hardly even an issue for me. When you’re out and about, In between swinging between WiFi spots like a modern hipster Tarzan, you actually do normal stuff. You’re not waiting for an email or a Discord notification. No, you’re simply going about your life like a normal person.
- Which I gave to my Grandad three years ago. He still uses it to this day, barring a brief period in between where he tried to use an iPhone 4S. And god, when I first gave it to him all he would do is play Billiards on it until three in the morning. ↩
- And uh, I’ve also gotten into Pakka Pets lately. Fun game, especially if you never stopped loving Tamagotchi’s like I did. ↩