Summer (playing with rubber snake): ”How do they make these toys?”
The State asserts that Amendment 3 does not abridge the Plaintiffs’ fundamental right to marry because the Plaintiffs are still at liberty to marry a person of the opposite sex. But this purported liberty is an illusion. The right to marry is not simply the right to become a married person by signing a contract with someone of the opposite sex. If marriages were planned and arranged by the State, for example, these marriages would violate a person’s right to marry because such arrangements would infringe an individual’s rights to privacy, dignity, and intimate association. A person’s choices about marriage implicate the heart of the right to liberty that is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. See Casey, 505 U.S. at 851. The State’s argument disregards these numerous associated rights because the State focuses on the outward manifestations of the right to marry, and not the inner attributes of marriage that form the core justifications for why the Constitution protects this fundamental human right.
-Robert J. Shelby, US District Judge, from the recent marriage equality ruling in Utah.
So! Time for some Dwarf Fortress. For some inexplicable reason I have a sudden urge to do an LP of it. This won’t hurt a bit.
As always, when I play Dwarf Fortress, the first step is to get the newest version. It updates fairly frequently, and I haven’t played it since November, so let me just –
Oh. Okay. It’s actually still on 0.34.11, which came out last June, and is actually the version I have installed. It’s still in active development, it’s just been a while since the last version. Cool. Now to get Dwarf Therapist, which I’ll come back to – and actually I still have the latest version of that too. Well, alright then. Time to get started.
The first thing I realize is that I need to upgrade my screenshot-taking methodology. Printscreening and alt-tabbing to Paint.net every time I take a screenshot just isn’t going to work. It takes too long, and I know there are better options. Luckily, Kat and I got FRAPS a while back because we needed it for all of those coop LPs we’re totally doing. So I load up FRAPS, load up Dwarf Fortress, take a screenshot and — well, I have a very pretty screenshot of my web browser. FRAPS completely ignored Dwarf Fortress and took a screenshot of Chrome instead.
I’m already getting irritated. I know how this song-and-dance goes. I’m going to disappear down the rabbit hole of the internet, tracing some obscure bug because Dwarf Fortress does weird rendering things that FRAPS doesn’t like, and three hours from now I’m going to quit in a huff and never try anything this crazy again. I google “FRAPS dwarf fortress” and start at the top.
Five minutes later, FRAPS cheerfully takes a screenshot of Dwarf Fortress, which also now displays a Steam overlay when I start it with Steam. Well, okay then. It turns out it just took a simple change to the init file, which I found from the very first linked forum thread on Google. Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
World creation time! I’ll just take the default settings and go. As primitive as the game looks, it’s always been a very deep game, which is most of what I love about it. Plus, I have played a lot of Dwarf Fortress – I mean a LOT – but not as much in the past few years. I probably peaked around 2008 or so, which was . . . *cough* a while ago now. Man. Time flies. So there are a lot of things in the game I don’t really understand very well any more. There were a lot of version updates? I think farming was overhauled? It’s okay, I was never very good at the game anyway.
And done. A few years back one of the game’s updates changed it to where it defaults to about 200 years of history instead of, I think, 1000? 1200? It was a while. You could pretty much go and cook a nice lunch waiting for your world to generate. Now to fullscreen it, which I don’t usually do in this part because it still doesn’t support–
Oh. Oh, I guess it does. Maybe I’m biased, but man, that’s a beautiful world.
Let’s get started.
I already have a pretty good idea of what I’m looking for in a fortress site. I want somewhere on the intersection of a mountain biome and something else, preferably savannah or forest of some kind. I want a river, so I have plenty of fresh water, but I don’t want an aquifer – or if I must have an aquifer I don’t want it in both biomes. Aquifers are a pain. So looking at the map, there’s ooh is that a desert?
Hmmm. It’s a tropical savannah, actually, and while there are several sites I like (despite the sparse trees), I’m a little worried by what I’m seeing on the local map. Is that, just, like, a huge city? “Noramducim.” Eh. Keep looking.
Different mountain range, same thing. The edge just looks like the edge of a giant building. Am I missing something? Is that just what cliffs look like? I really don’t think so. To the wiki!
Eh. I spend a few minutes looking for key to the world map and decide to just look elsewhere on the world map.
Here we go. An intersection of four biomes, including a mountain and a wooded area, with a river running through. Soil, clay, shallow and deep metals, temperate surroundings. Home.I make the embark area just one step bigger in each direction, because I like to do that, and I embark.
Of course, it’s not that simple, and I spend a fair amount of time customizing my dwarves and my supplies. It used to be that you could load every dwarf up with ten points’ worth of skills, but now your dwarves’ skills come out of the same budget as your gear. I settle for a mason/carpenter, a grower/brewer, a grower/cook, and a smattering of useful skills in low quantities. I also bring along a breeding pair of dogs, to train into war dogs, and two breeding pairs of bunnies, so that I can eventually eat all the bunnies. Then I embark for real.
It’s beautiful. A broad, flat site with a calm river flowing through it, a sizable island of rock jutting up from the plain in the south. I already know that I will be smoothing the ramps leading up the sides and building fortifications onto the top: it’s practically a preexisting castle, just waiting for my dwarves to move in. Windreined will be a glorious hall.
I strike the earth.
Oops, I meant to post this some time before midnight. I guess that’s either (a) a bad sign or (b) a sign that Mark of the Ninja is just way too addictive. Upon reflection, I think it’s probably both.
So, having had my month of something akin to a break after the abject failure to approach 50,000 words that was NaNoWriMo 2012, I’m trying again this month because I feel like it. Instead of a novel per se, I’m aiming to write 50,000 words of shorts relating to the campaigns I run for Kat, again, because I feel like it.
Yesterday’s count was 1008 words, which is less than 1667 but nonetheless good. Considering that I haven’t actually gone to bed yet (I’m taking a break from real writing to write this) and I slept until, like, noon yesterday, I figure I’m doing pretty good.
That said, I am going to try to frontload my writing this month, and average something close to 2,000 words/day for the first week. So, by that metric I really need to catch up now, before I get farther behind. If I’m not at 10,000 words the morning of the 6th I’m going to step back and reevaluate whether I really want to stress myself out that much.
Well, back to work.
Current music: Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day, courtesy of Pandora.
It’s dead, Jim.
So I have a funny story to tell. It’s one of those funny stories that isn’t even funny — or, for that matter, particularly long — but you drag it out and call it funny anyway in the vague hope that, if someone laughs at you, you’ll be able to tell yourself they’re laughing at your story.
Well, you know, for a non-demoralizing reason.
It’s one of those stories where you pretend to be telling a joke for self-esteem reasons, basically. (The last half of that sentence has at least two possible readings, and I’ll take either of them. It’s 2:30 AM, my writing standards aren’t at an all-time high.)
The story goes as follows:
I wrote 750 words every day in August. I wrote 750 words every day in September. I wrote 750 words every day in October, but about halfway through an internet outage around midnight killed my writing streak at 73 days with a mere 100-some-odd words left to go on that day’s entry. (I cried a little, and wrote the words in a local text document, and cried a little more.) During this time I completed lots and lots of shorts for Kat, did a little planning for various stories, got some game design in, and generally became quite excited about my NaNoWriMo chances this year.
November 1st came, and I stopped writing.
Now, to be fair, there were mitigating circumstances. My daughter, for instance, got her tonsils out on the 1st, which seemed like a perfectly valid reason to slack off a little that day (though I did complete my 750). And on the second I was home with her, and it completely flew my mind. Sad, but it’s not like it’s the end of the world.
Then I looked up and it was a week in, and I had 232 words in my book. Huh. Well, crap. Time to buckle down, I guess. I mean, I just need to do like 2k a day. No big deal. I mean, not a really big one. I can still do it. Then I looked up and it was . . . what is today? The 27th? 28th, technically, and I should really go to bed.
I have 1886 words in my “novel.”
“But that’s okay!” screams my subconscious. “You only have to write -” *checks* “- uh, 16038 words per day to finish on time.”
My subconscious and I stare at each other for a minute.
“Yeah, I got nothing,” it finally says, and hops away. (Currently my subconscious is manifesting as a frog. I’ve learned not to ask questions, but I do so anyway.)
It could be worse, though. I’m basically back on the bus for 750 words/day. Between that, my pitiful little proto-novel that I’m still excited about despite a noticeable lack of noveling, and a few shorts for Kat I wrote while procrastinating, I’m at about 22k for the month. Which is, you know, good. Not exactly fantastic, but while it would be nice if more of those were noveling instead of journaling, I’m not really going to complain that much. I will say that I’ll be trying again soon, with a different project. I seem to remember there being a non-November secondary event to NaNo at one time . . . was it in February? . . . which I will be looking up, if it is a thing that exists and not a figment of my imagination.
In the meantime, I’m going to be working on lots of little projects. Short stories. Game design. Novelettes. 10,000-word proposals for novels, which is a fun idea I had a while back where I basically sit down a write a 10,000-word something-or-other which serves as a sort of very early draft / prose outline / proposal-to-self for a novel I’d like to write, mostly to see if it’s something I think could take off. (Also, if it ends up being a perfectly good story that happens to be 10,000 words long, that works too.)
The point is, from here* to the end of the year, I’m going to be focusing on short fiction for a while. Because I’ve been doing some for a while now for Kat, and you know what? It’s fun. As much as I love long fiction, it’s a lot of fun to sit down and churn out an idea in a couple of hours. It’s a lot of fun to have seventeen ideas and write them all this month, instead of scribbling them in a document somewhere and maybe trying to make a novel from one of them in a couple of years.
So that’s the plan. Also possibly more frequent blog posts, to further differentiate this as a live blog, as opposed to a dead blog. Granted this can only end in zombie blog, but it’s 3 AM and I’m having trouble caring about the impending zombie ablogalypse.
* Because as much as I keep thinking I can maybe save it, this year’s NaNo is not getting done by the 30th.
So, I kind of haven’t posted anything this month since starting my 50k warmup challenge. Mostly that’s been because I haven’t gotten around to it. I have been working on the 50k challenge; it went very well for a little while there at the beginning of the month, then took an arrow to the knee somewhere around the 10th. I’ve kept up with the base 750/day come hell or high water, though (I’m up to a 60-day streak! Woo!). The upshot of all this is that I’m currently at around 36,500 of the 50k I was aiming for by month’s end. This isn’t a hopeless case – I’m going to be putting in lots of writing time in today and tomorrow – but it’s pretty grim, from the standpoint of 50k being a firm goal.
That’s not the standpoint I’m taking, though. I’m taking the standpoint that, as a warmup to NaNoWriMo, 36,500 is pretty damn good. I’ve been motivated to write this month more than I have in a long time. I haven’t gotten any work done on long-form fiction (not exactly, but I’m getting to that), but I do have _ideas_ for long-form fiction. Ideas that I’m excited about. Ideas I’m going to base this year’s NaNo around. These are all good things. And, you know, last year I called my NaNo at 22,974 words. So there’s that.
I *have* been working on a lot of fiction this month, but it hasn’t been long-form. Instead, I’ve been writing a lot of shorts related to Kat’s campaign, expanding the world and characters and letting her see things she normally wouldn’t, working from her character’s perspective. It’s actually a lot of fun and, more importantly, it’s really low-pressure writing. The shorts are written for an audience of one – my wife – and if one of them kind of tanks or just doesn’t take off, it’s not really a big deal. It’s better than just writing fiction that will literally never see the light of day (by one person, granted) and because it’s low-pressure, there’s very little barrier to entry when I sit down to start writing. Because I have Kat’s reactions to look forward to, it’s much, much easier to get motivated to actually write them. These are all good things.
Both of these have been so successful that I’m going to keep them up after this month – that’s probably a bit of a “duh” in the case of the shorts, but I’m going to keep angling for 50k words/month as well. It’s a fun challenge. It’s kind of relaxing in a really roundabout way, too; I’m not sure I can explain it exactly, but it is. Probably that’s just me remembering that I love to write or something.*
Current music: an amalgam of old playlists, currently playing “Anywhere” by Evanescence.
*So** funny story; I sat down to figure out what I’d need to add to my writing goals to hit 50k a month, and it turned out to be . . . nothing. Yup. Currently I have 20 taskdays/month on which my goal is 1500 words of prose, and then 750words every day on top of that brings it to about one or two thousand words over 50k, depending on the month. I just never noticed because I’m still playing catchup and ramping up and stuff.
**So do me a favor and don’t count the instances of “so” in this post. And, you know, if you do, that one in the quotes right there doesn’t count. Holy verbal tic I don’t feel like editing out right now, Batman. Does it count as a verbal tic if I’m writing? Is it a textual tic? Just a bad habit?
Years ago, we lent out our copy of Katamari Damacy, never to be seen again. Last night we picked one up for $12 (!) at a Vintage Stock. This morning, Kat showed it to Summer.
Summer calls it “cleanin’ up outside with a ball.”
She wants one so she can clean with it.
She is sad that we won’t get her one.
It’s been a long time since I talked about 750words. I use it off and on – or I should say, I’ve been using it off and on. I theoretically aim to write in it every day, but in practice it works out to about three times a month, clustered around the beginning when I sign up for the monthly “write 750 words every day this month” challenge.
Well, that’s been the pattern, anyway. Last month I decided to do something radical and actually take the advice of offering myself a reward if I finish – specifically an xpac for The Sims – and lo and behold, on Friday I finished writing the 31st batch of 750 or more words for the month of August. Funny how that works, eh?
Well, and there’s a higher goal I’m aiming for here, as well. Historically, the times in my life when I’ve been happiest are when I have a solid, difficult goal to work toward – when I was in ASMSA my goal was basically “graduate,” which is actually quite the trick there, and when I was working on Derelict I was happy as well. The more rudderless periods of my life – the year after graduating ASMSA, the couple of years I haven’t been working on Derelict – these tend to be the times when I’m depressed. It’s one of those things that looks a lot more obvious from the outside, I suspect. And it’s worth noting that it’s very possible that the causal arrow points the other direction – that I’m more able to work on long-term goals when I’m not busy being depressed. There’s definitely an element of feedback loop either way.
Regardless, long-term goal it is! And my (very) long-term goal is this: Make a living wage writing. Whatever it takes. Just writing books is probably insufficient – not only is it a tough thing to break into, it’s not exactly guaranteed to pay large amounts of money. No, ideally I’d be cultivating multiple sources of income, per Scalzi’s advice. What will those be? Eh. I have ideas. Some of them will get more love than others, I’m sure. I’ll talk about them at some point (obviously), but not now.
For the time being, my biggest problem is that I’m not getting any writing done, period. And while “support myself writing” is a pretty long-term and difficult goal, it’s one of those things that handily supports breaking down into short-term goals. Goals such as “keep up with 750 words all the time,” and “update the blog with some semblance of regularity or at least frequency,” and “complete NaNoWriMo this year.”
On that topic, I’m going to mention what my current short-term goal is. 750words is not a place where I compose prose – it’s not ideal for it for a number of reasons, though it’s not bad for quick drafting if I get an idea while I’m journaling – but mostly it’s for, well, journaling. It’s unfiltered writing about what’s on my mind so I’m free to focus on writing other things. I think of it as flushing the buffer before I sit down to write. Because my blog is also mostly about what’s on my mind, 750words entries often find themselves bootstrapped into being rough drafts of blog posts. That’s not really a bad thing, though.
So 750words has achievements, which it calls badges, and one of them is “The NaNo,” or something like that, for writing 50k words in one month. I thought it was specifically in November, but it turns out it’s _any_ month, so about halfway through last month I decided what my stepped-up challenge for September would be: Write 50k words. Earn that badge.
Again, it’s basically journaling – it goes much faster and easier than prose – but it’s a good way to step up how much I’m writing, especially if I let myself do a lot of rough drafts of various things in it this month. And it makes a good warmup for doing NaNoWriMo this year, which I intend to do, and which I intend to win.
So that’s that. I’m basically on track at the moment – 500 words behind, technically, but I’m not done yet today.
This is a story most of my long-term gaming friends have heard at one point or another, but I’ve never shared it on my blog. It came up while I was writing another blog post, and it kind of got away from me until I decided it didn’t deserve to be relegated to a footnote.
I grew up around Dungeons & Dragons, and have been GMing (for various values of GMing) from a very young age. I GM’d my first games when I was four or five years old. They involved cornering an understanding (or, more often, trapped) relative with a crossword puzzle and having them work their way through a “dungeon” of arbitrary challenges with arbitrary results, trying to get to the bottom-right square. They were . . . not well received.
Through elementary school and into middle school I ran traditional dungeon-based games in what I called Dungeons & Dragons, but was actually a bastardized homebrew mess with whatever tables looked interesting hurriedly copied out of my dad’s books when he let me look through them. Throughout this period most of the adventures took place in the same dungeon, called the House on the Hill, which lived in a three-ring binder and got larger, more deadly, and more bullshit every time I had a few minutes and a pencil. There was a town nearby, and a river running down through a ravine past the caves leading to the entrance, and I often developed a world for it to sit in, but all the campaigns ended up at The House on the Hill within a session or two.
Well, in middle school I finally got my hands on some actual D&D books with the release of third edition, and I wasted little time getting a game started over recess. My first two players for this particular game were sisters who both decided to play druids, and one of them chose a horse as her animal companion. I want to say they were both horse-riders, but I’ll only swear to one of them having been – it’s been over a decade at this point. The point is, I brought them down the river to The House on the Hill, which was of course the center of the campaign, in roughly no time flat. I had dropped a few hints to the effect of “the adventure takes place in there,” which had always worked before, and I had the maps of the entry caves ready and newly stocked with 3.0 monsters. I got them right up to the entrance of the caves by about the second session. Everything was ready to go. And then . . . they didn’t go in.
The horse(s), apparently, would not want to go into the cave under any circumstances. My suggestions that perhaps these horses wouldn’t mind too much were swiftly and thoroughly rebuffed. My players, as it turned out, knew a whole fuckton more about horses than I did, and they couldn’t in good conscience leave them outside or anything. Instead, they did what no previous group had done: they turned and walked away from the dungeon. After a few minutes of being thunderstruck I closed the old Trapper-Keeper and started flying by the seat of my pants.
And that’s the story of how I stopped running dungeon adventures.