(blows dust off blog)
OK, so: I was on vacation last week, but given certain recent events both personal and professional, I apparently needed to unplug from the internet for quite a bit longer.
It’s hard to write about games when you’re not playing anything; it’s hard to write about music when you’d rather have people actually hear what you’re doing instead of poorly describing the process of creating it. Also it’s hard to write, in general, when certain professional obligations make it impossible to do so.
But: I’m back from vacation now, with my batteries somewhat recharged (it’s hard to fully relax when you have a two-year-old who’s favorite words are “No!” and “Stop!”), and I’ve returned to a day job that is considerably less stressful now than it was before I left. These are good things! Hopefully this means I’ll be writing here a bit more frequently than in recent weeks.
I’ve been thinking a lot about loops lately. I’ve been watching my two-year-old son get into these “fun loops” at the local playground; he’ll climb up a ladder, run over a bridge, climb some steps, go down a slide, and then run back to the ladder and do the whole thing over and over and over again; he will not be deterred; if a kid gets in his way he either waits for them to pass (if they’re bigger) or steps around them (if they’re smaller) and then continues along his path; he’ll accept a brief respite for me to wipe his nose but that’s the only interruption that’s allowed, and he screams bloody murder if it’s time to go.
Maybe he gets it from me. I’ve had a thing about loops ever since I can remember. Not just in terms of games or playing, either. I remember when I was first getting into music – like, really getting into music, during endless adolescent afternoons, when I would just tune out the entire world and get thoroughly absorbed in a cassette tape – I’d get to a favorite part in a song, and as soon as it was over I’d have to rewind and hear it again, and I’d do this over and over again until I memorized exactly how long I needed to rewind before getting to the beginning of the section. (I still do this, of course, but instead of memorizing rewind time, I’m now memorizing timestamps.)
The point being: that famous Halo quote about “30 seconds of fun” would appear to be something that’s hard-wired into our brains from an early age. Speaking of which, that link above gives that quote a bit more context, in that the guy who said it didn’t mean to imply that in Halo you’re doing the exact same thing over and over again, but instead they’re switching the context on you so that the 30-second rush is constantly new and fresh. This applies to the music analogy, though, too – if I get caught up in a favorite music section, I’ll listen to something once and then focus on a specific part, and then rewind and focus on a different part, each successive time my brain holding on to something new and different.
I did play some games on vacation – and on my Vita, too, which is nice. I’d bought a few things before we left – Shovel Knight and Titan Souls, while also still staying heavily engaged with Stealth Inc. 2 – but as it turns out I ended up getting sucked back into SteamWorld Dig, for some reason. That game is pretty neat, I think. I’m still very early on, but it seems to be doing this very neat open-world Dig-Dug thing, which I find very pleasing and enjoyable.
I beat the first boss in Shovel Knight, and that game is fun, but – as I’ve said elsewhere – I don’t have that much nostalgic fondness for the 16-bit era that it’s clearly emulating, and so I’m finding that while I appreciate its slavish devotion, I’m not necessarily hungry for it the way everybody else is. (Same thing goes for Axiom Verge, too – and where’s the Vita version of that, I wonder?)
I’m not sure Titan Souls is for me, though I don’t want to dismiss it out of hand so quickly, given that I’ve only actually beaten the very first boss.
Last night I felt a bit restless (for reasons I’ll explain at a later date, if all goes well) and downloaded Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China for the PS4. It’s an absolutely gorgeous 2.5-D stealth platformer that makes me really wish I was playing Mark of the Ninja 2; it’s still very Assassin’s Creed-ish, which means the controls don’t always work the way I expect them to, and the UI is still very crowded (which is annoying, given the aforementioned graphical beauty). But it’s at least not the same old thing, as far as the AC franchise is concerned, and so I’ll try to stick with it for the time being.
Over the vacation I finished the Valis trilogy by Philip K. Dick. That’s the first PKD I’ve ever read, by the way, and I’d probably guess that it’s not the best way to start off with him, especially since I’m not what you’d call a religious person by any means. It’s certainly very interesting and thought-provoking, of course, and after reading VALIS I’m certainly interested in at least thumbing through PKD’s Exegesis, though I know that’s probably a bit too much for me to chew right now.
I did end up breaking my “no new books until I finish the backlog” rule. (Look – when I go on vacation, I tend to splurge – and given the sort of emotional stress I was going through before we left, I maybe went a bit overboard.) I bought a bunch of stuff, all of which I really want to get to, but I ended up going with Arthur Phillips’ “The Song is You”, which is exactly what i’d hoped it would be (I really liked his “Egyptologist“, and when I’d read the description of this book I knew I had to read it as soon as humanly possible), and it’s also feeding me lots and lots of lyric ideas, which is useful, given that I really need to get back to work on the album.
OK, so, that’s it – I’m alive, I’m well, I’m getting back to work. (And if you can, please cross your fingers for me; I’ll explain later. It’s good news, if the finger-crossing works out, is all I’ll say.)