In other news…

I’ve started drawing again. And this time, I’m being compelled by a very different reason that the times I draw before.

Back in the days of yore when I first started drawing, it was under the childish assumption that eventually I’d be able to draw better stuff than everyone else, whatever that means. I had that world view when I drew the first edition of Tide of Avalance and put it on the web.

Then there was a period when I was under the wings of the URD community. I was a little older, a little wiser, but still just as arrogant as ever. I was still trying to be a crop above the rest, and I’m fiercely jealous of anyone who can draw better than me. A lot of my angst came out as “friendly critiques”… I’d take anything that’d knock my opponents down a notch save for admitting that someone is by all means better than me.

The crazy summer of 1999-2000 put an end to that era, and off to college I went. There I met a crew that’s quite intoxicated with Anime – the recent stuff, the good stuff, with art that easily humbled me and put me in shame for all I’m worth. There’s many distractions at that time… school, anime, games, DDR. I admit defeat and put up the Fred Gallagher’s Piro persona. Afterall, if you admit defeat before anything starts, it can only get better, right?

Then I graduated. And there’s nobody to showcase my sketchbook anymore. WoW owned my life, and so I’ve conveniently discarded drawing altogether for the past two years. And now, with everything else turning sour, here I am, at it again, but there’s some inner joy involved with drawing this time. This time, I’ll do it for myself, for my spiritual health, so to speak.

I’m a big dreamer – I love crafting worlds, and then put everything about that world in quantifiable numbers and statistics… still, visualizing these worlds in the brain is nice, but it just doesn’t cut it. These ideas, however, becomes crystal clear in pictures. Who cares if they’re not the best stuff in the world. Who cares if nobody else appreciates it (although it certainly wouldn’t hurt). This is my stuff, I alone shares the unique bond with it and the story that comes behind it. Nobody can take those away from me.

So I’ll repeat myself: here I am, at it again.

Written in Stone

On my table right now is a magazine where, for the first time, I’m being quoted and my name appears on an article. There are times in the past when I dream that one day this would happen, but when it happens… in such bizzare circumstances, I certainly wish I didn’t say what I’ve said. So no, I’m not going to tell you what this magazine is or what my quote was.

In fact, I wish there’s a rock that I can crawl under and never be seen again.

My job is at one of its low points right now. This, compounded with the sickening feeling of my “second job” (WoW), makes my life all the more miserable at the moment. I’ve kept my end of the bargain and made games, as I’ve said before, but the thing about it is, admittingly, most of the end products are not very fun.

I can try to blame it on a multitude of things, chief of them being that this is my first big project and the planning stage was a complete mess, but still. I look at the finished product and I want to turn away from it, and if I’m repulsed by my own games I can hardly imagine they’d be appealing to anyone else.

If, say, this is a personal project that I do on my own time, everything I’ve done would be scrapped, destroyed, never to be seen on the face of the earth again, but this is out of my hands, the stuff is paid with hard cash and the show must go on, as the saying goes.

Insert ASCII art of hand over forehead here.

DDR Supernova

So tonight, after running in a loop killing mobs for the umpteenth time, I’ve decided to yank myself off and say “fuck it”. I’ve decided to finally look up the new DDR Supernova, and lo and behold, there’s a machine that popped up in the nickel arcade next to my house. Since it’s being added recently that must mean the machine was spankin new (and it is), so off I went~ the night went better than if I had stayed home and grind my brains out.

After playing In The Groove since DDR’s demise, there’s a certain feeling of elation to playing all the new songs in a new DDR machine… although, I feel like I’ve cheated myself a little out of the excitement since I’ve played most of the good ones when the beta test machine was in Boomers! in Irvine. There is no doubt that this is a DDR game: the music are actual music and not a midi sound test; the steps are mostly intuitive and fun to play, instead of being a stomping test. The timing issue is a little annoying but tolerable, some of the unskippable sequences can also rub you the wrong way when other people are trying to get in the game right after you, but really…

The biggest thing that I miss about the game are the people who used to play it with me.

The fun factor of playing a DDR game is just gone without the people who used to play it with me. There’s no more Cindy or Sid to race on the hardcore Onis; there’s no more Justin stomping out the beats to triple A a song; there no more George who’d put himself and me through the double torture tests… playing the game alone, the game feels like a shadow of the past, and I’m not even sure if I’d bother to go back and try out the mediocre 6 and 7 footers anymore. There’s no point.

At least with ITG, there’s a definite sense of progress and there’s still challenges that I can put myself up for. Elitism be damned, there’s at least a feeling of putting yourself above another when you can pass a song as opposed to not passing it, even if you keep that fact to yourself only.

And in the end, unless the zot crew mysteriously come back together again, I’m probably going to go back to playing ITG2 and make Supernova the practice machine inbetween rounds of waiting for others who play ITG.

Moving with the Crowd

First of all, I’m offically very sick of World of Warcraft… although, this is not an indication that I’ll stop my subscription and stop playing, because for the most part I literally can’t.

MMORPGs are strange monsters. They are, under a thin veil, called games, but there’s so much more behind it that makes it tick. There’s economics. There’s politics. There’s friendships and dramas. You have to “get a job”, “earn your keep”. Essentially, it’s a second life complete with its own set of pleasures and problems.

Early in the game, this is not apparent… you level up at your own pace, often alone, and there’s a sense of progress no matter what the hell you do. Screw around? Sure. Explore new area for he heck of it? Sure? Lead an army to attack the enemy’s capital city for no reason and nothing to gain? Sure!

Then the “End Game” monster creeps up on you. You join a guild. Now you have to share 5 hours of your life a night with 39 other people, and pray to god that all of them show up and in their best behavior, because all the contribution you give wouldn’t matter jack in the big bad raiding machine.

When you’re off from raiding, you’re expected to earn your keep. That means endless hours killing the same mobs over and over. I even worked out this circle where I can just run round and round like a monster juicer, turning virtual pixels into virtual currency – all this to keep your armor repaired and potions stocked up.

And unlike any other single or multi-player games, you can’t stop. The world continues to move, with or without you. If you stop playing, it becomes harder and harder to catch up, until at some point you’re so far behind that you feel like you’re trying to move forward in the game in balls and chains, and there’s blood coming out of those shackles and you keep moving, moving, because you have to, because you don’t want to fall behind.

From stage to stage

Somehow, I really want to go back to writing daily on my Livejournal. It’s an indication that I’m thinking again, that I’m beyond a monkey cranking out content, that I’m somehow still a human being and not a cog in some sort of freakish world machine…

but I digress.

There’s a few sensation today that I feel worthy to write about. It’s vastly different experiences about various different topics but I think I can tie it up nicely into some sort of logial conclusion… okay, here goes.