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Back From The Pit: It Was Gloomy Down There

The nice thing about being that bummed out is that, unless one has a self-perpetuating spiral of depression set up to take them deeper, one is quite likely to bounce back in fairly short order.

Though I was worried that I was working my supervisor's last nerve last Saturday, on Tuesday it appeared as though things were business as usual.   Was I more worried about my job performance than anyone else?  As the son of an accomplished worrywart, I would say that's quite probable.  In any case, I remember being told I'll have at least another couple months before they consider whether or not my probationary employment was a success or not, so the axe should not be descending quite yet.

(Well, he's saved me the effort of having to link the source.)
Going anonymous on my favorite forum hangout remains as good a move now as it was over a year ago.  It discourages people from picking fights with me, because who wants to fight somebody without a front?  It obscures me from seeming to flood the forum if I'm posting more than anyone else.  Most importantly of all, it allows me to feel less personally engaged with the forum.  I gotta break this habit, forums are such a waste of time for me, and going anonymous is an excellent weaning behavior.

These pillars of my life somewhat stabilized, I can allow myself to relax a bit at home.

I went ahead and finished cleaning up the last major corner of my room, getting rid of my old CRT TV and a DVD/VCR combo unit that I haven't used in years, as well as putting away my old Nintendo Wii and Playstation 2 that also haven't been used in years.  For that matter, I didn't need the years of dust I found under those shelves: yuck!  Having adjusted the shelves accordingly, the robotic maid will at least keep half of that space clean, and the rest I might be able to manually snake a vacuum tube down from time to time.

I don't know what's been going on with me lately, but I just don't play consoles or watch TV that much anymore.  It's possible that my lifelong computer habit has brought me early to where everyone will be in a few years: television has been supplanted by the Internet.  Sure, I could sit down and watch the quality television programming that we have out there, but I have plenty of cool stuff to see on the Internet already.  Even if it's not as professionally well done, what I can find on YouTube is simply more relevant to my interests.

Each box, someone was excited to have at some point.
As for my retiring the Wii and Playstation 2, it's not that I've stopped gaming, it's just that I don't make time to sit down and use consoles anymore.  Most of my free time is spent sitting in front of a PC, where there's no real shortage of games to play neglect playing.  If I'm not able to sit in front of the computer, where am I?  Either "on the go" or laying down, where handheld devices such as the iPad and Nintendo 3DS are much more effective than the cumbersome blocks we attach to our TVs.  It's a pity I feel this way, as I am sure there have been some awesome new game concepts on last-gen consoles that I never got a chance to play.

For the rest of this weekend (and possibly several weekends through the next month if I am allowed) I am probably going to spend equal portions relaxing and advancing my knowledge of Unity by completing the occasional tutorial and getting more familiar with the online resources for it.

I decided to give Minecraft another spin this weekend.  It seems there's two mod mixes I'm ultimately interested in right now:
  • A wholly constructive mod mix with the likes of Buildcraft, Railcraft, Steves' Carts, Forestry, Tinker's Construct, and now Minefactory Reloaded.  The main purpose of these mods is to add a whole bunch of cool new mechanisms and tools to build.
  • A high fantasy mod mix with Millenaire and Thaumcraft.  Both mods add considerably to the overall significance of the world, the former by adding non-player characters with goals of their own, and the latter by adding concrete magical forces at work.  However, if you run either mod with the likes of things in the previous bullet point here (with the possible exception of Forestry) there are balance incompatibilities that make for a rather lackluster mix.
Both mod mixes enhance the stock Minecraft game by empowering the player and providing a good use for giant piles of accumulated resources.  However, there is still a bit of cognitive dissonance here that prevents me from really enjoying Minecraft.  The main hangup I have about it now is the same hangup I had about two years agowhat the Hell is the point!?

With some awesome shaders, you can at least get some really cool new views.
If you're content with the point of playing Minecraft being somewhat like playing with LEGOs, then that's fine.  But I've been spoiled by MMORPGs which have reinforced the idea that there's supposed to be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, such as raiding the lairs of titanic bosses or other activities.  There is no pot of gold in Minecraft, just a couple of end bosses to defeat.  So you ultimately end up building your castles... in order to have a castle in a world that largely doesn't care.

It's at this point that I am reminded this is the whole reason I wanted to create games for myself: because I want to see if I can bridge that gap of a missing narrative.


Vetarnias said…
On Minecraft, I agree with you that it's rather pointless if you play by yourself. Which is why I can only appreciate this game in multiplayer, where you interact with other people, collaborate on things, try to outdo the others, or work towards a unified design. The only time I use single player is only to test things I'm going to make in multiplayer.
geldonyetich said…
Heya Vetarnias, long time no see.

Yeah, I've heard that the missing context of having much point to Minecraft could be added by playing with others but, truth be told, I'm such a craven introvert that the benefit is drowned out with having to deal with the idiosyncrasies of others. Among which, griefers and other ne'er do wells who have largely bored of being productive and now derive their enjoyment in undermining the attempts of others.

Ultimately, it seems cooperative Minecraft is best done with people you know and, perhaps more important, know where they live.
geldonyetich said…
(Tsk, I left that idea half-completed.)

More to the point, I don't know sufficient people who match that criteria for multiplayer game of Minecraft to be a viable solution for me.

But if I were to examine the idea of whether or not going multiplayer really fixes the problem of lacking context I have in Minecraft, it seems to me that it works better in theory that in practice. In theory, we can understand that there's an increase in significance to player-built content if other people actually get to see and utilize this content, the more players the better. In practice, however, we've seen a few examples of games which have tried to allow player-created content to be the fixture that make them interesting and... well, thus far, they've rather fizzled, haven't they?

I think it comes right down to the game lacking a definition of context that makes for a compelling narrative, and this issue will likely be as evident on the single player level as it would on the multiplayer level... albeit, on the multiplayer-level, some people can allow the drama of happenings to drown out this shortcoming in their perspective (and this is why EVE Online works for who it does).

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