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Monthly Archives: December 2014

I’ve been slowly, slowly winding my way back through Lost Garden‘s archives, and his thoughts on game design and the mechanics of creating joy are always a treasure to read. Today I picked up Road Not Taken, which is currently about $7 on Steam.

In my first playthrough, I spent six winters meticulously saving all the village children from the cold and dark of the woods. No child was to perish on my watch. I was pleased with myself. I grew cocky.

The seventh winter, I took the hard path, and I struggled. I wasted precious energy moving boulders around, fruitlessly. At last I pressed on, pushing with my last chilled breath to the final clearing, where the last child was shivering, huddled – surrounded by a pack of wolves.

“Something terrible has happened here,” the game told me. Unthinking, I leapt into the fray, hoping against hope that I could prevent a tragedy, but I was immediately torn apart. Game Over.

The art strikes a delicate balance between creepy, cute, and absurd – importantly, the exact balance struck by the mechanics, and the story, and the presentation. The game feels uncommonly cohesive. Rarely do I experience dissonance, even when I’m learning the recipe to create an axe out of three fire spirits. There’s such an aura of mystery that the inexplicable or weird aspects of the game feel like part of a ritual I have yet to learn, for some dark purpose I have yet to gather.

Someday, if our species can survive long enough to realize a hundred-thousandth of the potential of interactive art, it will be games like this that we will look back on and say, “This allowed us to become what we are now. We let it seep into our bones, and we let it change us, and now we are ourselves. And look – Look! At all we have accomplished.”

Until then.

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In a sense – a felt sense, for me personally – there is no continuation. There is only a sharp, staccato blur of re-creation, existence mimicking itself near-perfectly, moment by moment, until what we have is but a copy of a copy of a copy of something we barely remember.

I’ll be around, for certain values of “I”, and I want to be around in a new way. Only the beginnings of the plan exist as of yet, but there is an intention to create a plan, and to create with forethought and purpose.

I am trying a way of being I call Slow Sprints. That is where I have a finish line – a goal – a purpose – something tangible I intend for myself – but I do not rush hastily toward it. I act with care. I choose deliberately. I allow the small voices of the moment to speak to me.

At the moment my goal is to assert my existence, in whatever twisty, wispy shape it takes now.

During the month of November, I wrote fifty thousand words of a thing I might hesitantly refer to as a “novel”. It caved in on itself, and I built it up from scratch, over and over again. I do not think the Fast Sprint is the way I want to approach creation, or indeed life.

During 2015, I intend to write something that does not fall down. I intend to write something that hangs together very beautifully, and intricately. That will be my way of assuring myself that I exist.

What is the Self, after all, but the most laborious construction project ever undertaken? And what is it built on but hopes and dreams and wishes? Pull one tiny thread in the web of relationships that holds your Self together, and the whole ridiculous edifice comes crumbling right apart.

In any case, here I am, Internet. Let’s be friends.