Friday, February 12, 2010

Reviews are arbitrary: So here is one I wrote.

I have been thinking about my skills as a writer (or lack there of, if you are inclined to think I suck at this... and if so, please comment), and thinking I should exercise them in the worst possible way. The sort of way that if it weren't my writing skills I were testing, I might pull something, perhaps my groin. Exercise of this type is easily comparable to bungee jumping from a plane while riding an electric hybrid peddle bike with your hands on the peddles and your head firmly attached to the seat in that amusing way that the crazy-glue man's head is attached to the iron beam. I am speaking, of course, about the art (in the way a child's finger painting is considered art) of writing a review.

Now my words about reviewing are not aimed at the reviewer, because the work of one is not easy to do (nor would bungee jumping from a plane while riding an electric hybrid peddle bike with your hands on the peddles and your head firmly attached to the seat). I am quite fond of some reviewers, and their opinions I do find amusing. None the less, the very act of reviewing requires you to contort your thinking (and the way you express it - in this case writing) in positions that I do not believe are all too healthy.

To simply retell the events of the experience, the ways it delighted or the ways it did not, would be a fine expression and a healthy one too. But to do so would not be enough, for the art of reviewing is not retelling, but critiquing and explaining things too. The first part is healthy, when someone is seeking, to know what they did right, and wrong to know better. But when it is forced, uninvited, and uninformed, the results are destructive, often harmful for all. And the second part too, is healthy when needed, but can be also demeaning, insulting or just plain a bore. Combined all together, retell, do tell, and make it a bore, a review you shall have, a review, and nothing more.

To make one is troubling, and to write one a chore, but those that do do it, they will do it some more. Because saying these things in the order that they do, has a harmful effect on the review -ie and -er. One becomes jaded, puffed up, and absorbed, to think that their ideas are worth anything more than ten cents for a dozen or so, yet reviewers review, and review some more.

So this was my poem, about the art of the review. Please read it, review it, and share it until  everyone who's read it has said their point eight cents and one third. I hope you enjoy it, I know that you will, of course, thats just my review of it, and I'm biased and a shrill.

- fidgetwidget

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The continuing process of making a game

So I decided I am finally going to put my annual membership to the XNA creators club to use, and actually follow through and make a game.

I haven't spent much time programming in a few years, and while I am searching for a Job in the field (as it seems to be the only one I am familiar with) I figured I would refresh myself on the practice, and at the same time (fingers crossed and prayer sent) see if it turns into something else (it has been a dream of mine for some time to make video games for a living).

I dove in, fingers first, hitting the keys vigorously, hoping to refresh my memory of all things programming, and create something meaningful in a short period of time. Four hours later, I have moved passed hello world, and have a sprite on the screen, moving to the input of my controller and spitting out Vector2 data from the thumbstick, floats to tell me how hard the triggers were pressed, and so on and so forth.

It was fun to have my creation start to take shape, albeit what I made was simplistic simplistic, having the discovery that I might actually be able to do this was exciting. The next four hours were not as fun mind you, trying to wrap my mind around what a screen manager does, how it works, and why it's necessary. But I managed to create something that made sense to me, and did what I asked of it, giving me a menu screen, and a means of creating some more complex ideas come to life.

I still have lots of learning to do, and my creation still only consists of one sprite and a lot of text, but I am starting to draw out the game logic structure and set some goals for the project to expand. I will make something. I might not make what I am setting out to make right now, and I may not make any money doing it, but I will at the very least learn something, and have some fun doing it.

Now if I can just stop myself from thinking too far out of scope that I cease to create the noticeable progress needed to keep me motivated. Sticking to the goals you make is often much harder than defining them in the first place. Much more so when you reluctantly set goals that are easier to reach than your mind can dream up to begin with.

Such is the way of widgets that belong to a fidget.