Friday, September 25, 2009

partially awake

Friday night, 7PM - I sit here at my desk, my face is getting red from leaning far and hard on the right side against my knuckles. It's very warm in here (got to be the high 80s) and I am lethargic and sleepy.

Should have got more work done today, but after yesterday's all-day meeting (and what's been leading up to it) I am a little burned out. In fact I am just tired of working on much right now - any by-the-numbers stuff I can pick up, I jump on, so it can be brainless and eat away at the time.

Things are alright, it's been a bit of a strange week - not a bad one, just strange, in a few ways. This Autumn heatwave has been taking a toll, driving lethargy, flattening my mood. My job search is flat as well, yielding nothing (I still send out applications weekly). Thankfully the unemployment is still helping out (that's a BIG thankfully!) but it is not enough to keep me going - I need income pronto. Our game is still coming along, as best as can be expected - we've got over some big hurdles, more to come of course, mostly some design touches and marketing flourish, and a whole ton of fluff - as well some technical wizardry - but overall I am excited with it. The iPhone market pisses me off and so I try not to think too much in those terms. Make a good product and put it out in the world, be as supportive as possible but don't think too much on getting solid compensation, at least for the time being.

Drifting through wikipedia, in some ways one of the best things one could ever hope to stumble across. It's making me feel a little bad, disconnected, I am reading about French Literature. I haven't paid much mind to any kind of literature in I could not tell how long, but there was a not-so-brief period in my life - dipping in and out - when reading (things that weren't just junk) was rather important to me. I would like to steer back towards that, but as with everything else, it seems like it must sit on a shelf until my life changes up.

I say that about a lot of things, making it sound like "there's just no time for certain things that I want to do," when in fact I do have plenty of time, technically, for a lot of things that I would prefer to occupy myself with. I feel like I have become horrible at managing my personal time in many ways, after all of these years - I have let a lot go lax, I am very adept at burning time in stupid ways, I am not sure how to put this. My personality has kind of dried up in some ways and it's easy to just sit back and let time (and my mind) waste, or at least concentrate on irrelevant things. I don't consider myself a lazy person, I feel it is a circumstance of lifestyle and culture among other things. I don't know how to shock myself out of that, or even if that happened if I wouldn't just revert to the usual mode. As I mention it, I don't feel particularly bothered about it though, "that's just how it goes" I guess this is symbolic of the notion that somehow my life needs a serious kickstart. Ah well. I can't feel too bad about it, as I am still quite a workaholic-

Land of the In-Between

And returning to my weekly gaming blog - things are going alright, as mentioned previously things are very very busy over here. It's been a tumultuous week as my business partner and I scramble through development of our second iPhone application, lots of highs and lows. The big news is that, about a month since the first proof-of-concept, we've finally got the main implementation of the bulk of the gameplay in place, there's much to do with bug-fixing and presentation adjustment, but overall we are both very happy to see it is coming along better than we'd planned! In spite of this, a major blow early in the week which is - well, it's a pretty ridiculous slap-in-the-face, one of the more awful things that a dev with a secret project could imagine, I will have to save this story for the post-mortem. That being said, we are doing our best to make lemonade out of the lemons -

Next week is
Indiecade in Culver City, International Independent Game Developer's convention. I am not sure how this this will be run/organized, it's my first time attending (first time I would consider myself an independent developer!) but looking very forward to the con and also to showing our new project around, and getting some feedback from our peers. Drop me a line if you will be attending and would like to meet up!

Things are alright besides. I have put my normal job search on the back burner for some time, as I am concentrating on the iPhone business for the time being. I still send out resumes and reels to the rate of about 3 or 4 a week, but there's really not much available for artists of my level in Southern California for the time being, I figure things will remain quite conservative until next spring sometime - after the 2009 Holiday receipts have come in and been tallied, generally, and the big studios can sigh a little relief and stretch out their development plans a little more. It's all airtight right now and I am not too keep to look for work out of the area (though after this small project wraps up, I will look where I need to - a guy's gotta eat!)

In the meantime it's quite humbling doing the indie gig, it is also very liberating to no longer be tethered to the extremely inefficient world of big-studio game development. I am sure I will return to that world in due time, but for now it's very gratifying to be master of my own destiny without having to answer to morons and producers who's only concerns are covering their own behinds. I detest what game development has become in the large scale, though it is quite apparent this is where things are going as it becomes bigger and bigger business (and requires so much more investment, in time, manpower, and budget). A few companies have their heads on straight and know what they are doing, but plenty of them are run, erm, "willy-nilly" I'll say to be polite - good studios who deserve respect for their past accomplishments, but who are in way over their heads in the current economic and business climates. I don't need to name names, anyone who pays more than a passing amount of attention to the industry news of the past couple of years can easily think of a few high-profile examples of what I am referring to.

But such is the game industry, it's quite well-known for it's usual topsy-turviness, dating back to the days when I was a kid (Crash of 1984!) This too will level out, and then it will eventually go haywire again - studios who were huge and in charge will become top-heavy and semi-collapse, some small places will have their eyes the prize and their heads screwed on properly and take good advantage for their own shot at market dominance. And so, the worm turns...

Follow our studio's progress at

Saturday, September 12, 2009

half alarming

sat nite. 11 thirty. sitting at my desk, listening to loveline (was) and kcrw (now). maybe turn it off now cause it is kind of annoying-

things are alright. the usual ups and downs. i've got no marvelous or terrible news to report lately, things are just going on as they usually do. It's nearly the middle of the month, right about now is when I am supposed to begin sending my applications out to God knows where in search of employment (empowerment!) - I have decided to drag that out a little longer for various reasons. Not to sound like I am stalling, it does make sense though - our new iPhone game "FlipSide" is coming along very well and I'd rather continue pouring a strong effort into that, than hamstring it. We got a new build today (it's been nearly 3 weeks since the first one!) and it's coming along quite well! Otherwise, things are as follows - 1st iPhone game "iFist" sales are flat, which is unfortunate, though not unexpected and certainly not the end of the world. Funny, it already feels like so much has happened since the days we worked on that project - I guess, a lot of things have--

I am talking with a few other people about working on various other projects, some come, some go, nothing is killing it right now and so I can't really get too sucked up into any particular vessel for my enthusiasm (other then Ben + my project). It's good to have any kind of forward momentum on those other fronts, however. I will say this - and it's a little odd to write - I have been out of a studio gig for 8 months now, this is getting on to be one of my longer periods of prolonged unemployment (2001-2002 still takes the cake!) But, at this point my nerves are suitably fried that I don't feel too terrible at the thought of possibly never returning to "what used to be my career," as far as being involved in any typical studio job. I've had enough of this. I am not saying I want to leave the industry, but at it's current state it's justgetting more difficult to stomach and I don't mind running a freelance operation, smalltime independant development, whatever - it's nice doing business on my own terms - so long as I can keep making a living. That, these days, is the difficult part - but I will keep at it until something happens to make me think differently.

Hung out a bit lately with a friend who's been operating under a similar philosophy for some years now, it gives me a little hope that "you can be successful in this fashion," yeah it's a bit more scraping by from time-to-time (sometimes, for extended periods) but it is not completely unreasonable. Sigh, we will see what happens with all of this once the ecnomy "magically" turns around. The other side of it is that my industry, though it's a big cluster-f right now, is still rather rife with opportunity in different capacities, in spite of the collapse of the rest of our delicate economy. So we will see how this plays out.It is interesting (when is it not?)

Partying a bit lately, I don't think that's a good term to describe it, more like throwing booze down my gullet in order to try to forget everything, it's been some years of this by now. The last couple days were a little busy with it, fortunately I can do it without making it expensive (otherwise, can't do it) and it's a nice escape - in some ways. I'd like to turn that aspect of my life around, I don't know how to express this. I can't give up what I enjoy about the night life, but I don't like the drained and blasted leftover feeling it leaves me with. I guess that part of me always finds a way to get along with the other side of me, but I think both of them are getting pissed about some of the same things by now. Anyway, I don't really do much more than once or twice a week which is good I guess, though to be honest I don't really do this because "I am excited to" anymore. It's just there.

Things have been kinda dramatic in and around the social parts of my life lately, again it's one of those things "I kind of need a little of that energy" versus "I am getting older, crankier, more ornery, and tired of the same old bullshit." It's true, I am starting to feel a little whacked-out in the head in some ways. I mean I always knew it was there, in some kinda cartoony way or other, but in the recent years it just kinda hits me how pronounced it can be, even subjectively. Still I admit that ultimately, such things are normal - I think a lot of us feel similar and express it to one another as we get on in years (well, mid-thirties will do it). You see it in yourself, you see it in other people around you. Maybe there's a huge chunk of "unbelievably normal and boring people" out there too, and maybe I am that for a large chunk of "truly unruly and crazy people." I guess I am not that whacked - I am not a drug addict or anything like that..

I ate a mexican wrap and turned on the TV tonight, it's weird to turn on the TV. I really don't watch much of it at all the past - TEN YEARS, as noted so often in this journal. Being so detached from it just makes it so much weirder when I do tune in, to any capacity. After working in production, looking at any kind of project just looks like stupid low-brow crap that some pissed-off group of people shat out to satisfy this blind, bored audience. I feel like TV could actually be worthwhile, and in fact possibly other countries might have it more figured-out than we do (I suspect, don't actually know that this is true) Our junk culture bleeds through this though, and even the sophisticates wallow in it. I don't mean to sound like I am all high-and-mighty, I work in videogames which is levels of trash below the established system of TV in so many ways - I consider games (even my "beloved retro stuff" a bunch of junk in a big way as well, though there is certainly lots of potential in what games are (and could become) as well. And I suppose if things were different and I was in the creative end of some TV or film production, I could wrap my mind around that stuff as well and find "my thing in it" which would likewise give my life and career validation through such a route. Anyway, the point is, TV is gross and horrible and celebrates a lot of things that confound me. But I guess it's necessary, like religion - and star wars..

I write so much lately, I am happy to be finding myself contributing to this personal blog somewhat regularly now. It's been a long time since I've had any kind of straightness with it, and it's not gonna get back like it was, but I still feel this is really useful and I am sure I will get some kind of a kick (good, or bad?) to look back at it someday.

In closing, want to mention that today, Sept 12 was my brother's birthday, happy birthday Neal - even though you are not reading this! I suppose you could possibly read through some of this years from now, if I die before you and you need to find whatever remnants I have left behind in the world to have as a substitute, but I think it's probably a long shot to expect that you will outlive me (my bro is perpetually sick and physically troubled in some way or other at any given time) I am not trying to make jabs at him, for all the things in the world I wish he would just wake up some morning and say "Hey! I feel GREAT!" But he probably has the same opinion about me so I guess we are equal.

As for being a sourpuss, and being a stubborn pain-in-the-ass - screw it, it drives me and makes me work hard and process the world in my way, whatever that means. It got me where I am and wherever the hell it is that I am going, and that's worked well (enough) to this point that I donn't know if I could change it if I wanted to. So long as everyone else is happy (enough) around me, then that rubs off on me as well and we are all good.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

uncle jack says relax

Hello inertnet (not a misspelling). What can I do for you-
it is Friday night, been a very long day, pretty productive though. Actually, been a long week is what it has been. Lots of things going on, lots going through my head. Am I happy? I have my moments. The strange things are usually what makes me happy these days. Who cares, as long as it comes one way or another -

Working very hard on our new iPhone game, it is getting twist and turn-y. It is exciting, this is the most excited I have been about any project in a very long time. In fact I am starting to get a little full of myself with this one, delusions of grandeur-style "this is the most important game I have ever made!" It's a dinky little thing, but I am extremely proud of it and it's potential is starting to reveal itself to me, I feel like I just want to talk and talk about it. Things are still very early in this process so it's hard to get too crazy about it, but it is moving pretty fast and it's changing my mind about some of my plans. I just need to work hard to keep a solid hold on The Big Picture, so many times "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." The real game of it to me is the whole development process, the art and business of all of THAT. It is so much work. Again I respect and appreciate all of my collaborators on this game, without them it would not even be ANYthing. I owe a lot to a few people...!

Other than the game, things are kind of treading water. I have a lot of other things in my head, socially and economically.. romantically and all that stuff, a lot of it is kind of just weird right now. I feel like I am just exhausted by some of those things, a lot of stressful things have been coming up in my personal life and it's just getting to a point where it's taking this toll on me. I think I have been mentioning it in here lately - I need to find a healthy output for that stress, but also I need to figure out the proper way to fix the actual problems. I am a problem-solver by nature, but I think there's a bad (?) part of my personality that also is a problem-MAKER. I don't like to admit this, I consider it unhealthy, I don't want to accept that "I like it when things are messed up and that's all I will ever be," argh that sounds like some shitty grunge rock, but sometimes I look at these fixes I often get myself into (or put up with) and really it makes me wonder sometimes. I try to decide if other folks around me do the same thing. Is that the curse of being a passionate person, you live to stir up shit to keep things interesting - to have something to get worked-up about, some shitty drama to occupy some pertinent space in your life?

I look at my job and it is ALL ABOUT taking these weird situations and putting pieces together in ways that maybe they weren't designed to be, and getting them to work - and fundamentally so much of that is hacked-together, achieved by going the lonnnnng way around (and sometimes to ridiculous lengths to get there) but it works "my way" and I am this self-fulfilling prophecy in that way. It's how I process the world and how things make sense to me, and then I just keep building off of it. I look at this as a metaphor for my career path in general, and even my friendships and relationships and how I deal with all that stuff, and it just kind of confounds me. At 34 I am what I am (apologies to Popeye) and that is life, but sometimes I wanna (don't say it! Don't say it!!!!) hit or at least come close to that jarring rock-bottom point of my life again where I revaluae things and snap the hell out of it. Anyway.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

steal me some lemon

Hi blog. It is me again.

Wow it is September? For real? Holy crap. How does this happen. As I type it I note that I started this blog (on myspace) exactly 5 years ago. FIVE YEARS. That's a lot of typing. I think I am somewhere just past 500 entries in this (my personal) blog. That's not considering the two other blogs I have (business-related). Mind you this is the only one I "care" about- anyway with all the writing I need to do in general, for the biz stuff, it's probably little surprise that I seldom get a word in here more than once or twice a month. It's too bad, but at the same time - I have written enough! I spend a lot of time going back and forth over a lot of the same material, I suppose.

Anyway, things are going on as usual over here. Not a lot to say. I am now 8 months into unemployment, which is not good. I have been very busy with my time, and I have a lot to show for it, but it's a rough thing and honestly it is hard to believe it's gone on for so long. I will not be happy if I make it a full year and everything is exactly the same, that will be pretty pathetic. Anyway I don't plan to allow that to happen, no matter what it takes.

I am giving it two more weeks for things to shape up drastically, and then I will begin making plans to uproot my life as necessary to see what else can be done. I am starting to investigate things and talk to people about seeking employment outside of my home here in Los Angeles. It's not a happy thing, I know I have ranted and raved about wanting to do that a lot in the past, but it doesn't really feel like "what I want to do with my life" at this stage. Still, if i can get a job then I will feel fortunate, wherever it is.

I am still pushing forward with my independent developments, that's a hard and risky prospect as well but it is worthwhile and I am too far into it to want to pull out now. There's a lot of reasons to pull up stakes with that and use my energy for other things, but I still have a feeling that it can be of great use to me to continue. I am getting a lot of good feedback with all of that and it feels like a good prospect, though I am trying to maintain an air of realism about the whole thing. It's such a new and weird market, and so many people other tanme are likewise scratching their heads trying to figure out what, exactly, is the proper way to deal with it. I have seen some people close to me have some degrees of success with things - and I feel like we are on a very good route to some potential goodness as well. It's a big fight though, so we will see how things play out. Just gotta be sensible on it, and keep working really hard (and smart).

Otherwise, things are okay. Life has been very stressful socially for me lately, the things mentioned above don't do much to alleviate that. A lot of stuff has been going on with my friends, my relationship, that are just - well it's a lot of drama and I can feel all of this stuff starting to build up and seriously rattle my nerves. I was driving yesterday and damned near blowing up in my head from everything, it was the fullest feeling of rage I had felt in a long time. I have had a few moments like that lately, and no doubt a few more are in store. I settled down and came to grips with what was eating at me, but for a few minutes I was really ready to just say some pretty choice things to a good few people-

I guess the heat doesn't help. It is HOT OUT HERE. This is the hottest weather I have ever experienced in my life, thankfully I am living inthe city and no longer in the valley, else I would likely have died from some kinda brain damage or heat stroke or something by now. It's pushing or in excess of 100 degrees every single day. I wake up around 10:30 in the morning and it's so uncomfortable in my oven of a bedroom (upstairs) that I just need to getthe hell outta there. Fortunately the nights are much, much more forgiving.. there's big fires raging just outside of the city ("cue the fires!") and that is also super-wonderful, eh! My folks called me all worried that LA was gonna burn away...

In spite of my stressed mood, I am very happy with some of the potential things unfolding in my life. It is exciting and I feel like I am on a good path and putting my energies into a worthwhile effort - not just sitting around and wasting time. Everything is a lot of work, but it is rewarding and I am able to look at what we are doing and feel quite proud of it. As well, I must commend my biz partner as putting in a lot of work and being very easygoing to deal with, he has a lot to deal with as well and I understand that it's never easy on that end as well. I am glad he and I are working together and I am confident that only good things will come out of our partnership!

Well, it's late and I have some more work to do. Hopefully I will hit this journal again sometime before the next couple of weeks have passed, and there'll be some good news to lay down in here..