FP 3.6 :: Ends
One last chance. One last stand. One more day…
But next week… it’s all over.
FP 3.6 :: Ends
One last chance. One last stand. One more day…
But next week… it’s all over.
FP 3.6 :: Ends
Cry havoc, and let slip DOGSOWAR.EXE.
This is the beginning of the end. The last chapter of the last book of the Floating Point trilogy. Are you ready?
If you’ve ever considered backing the Patreon now’s the time. You’ll get early access to the last update, and access to the 3.7 bonus story, which will be exclusive to backers and purchasers of the final retail book.
So close. We’re so close…
Here’s a fun game I like to play. Each morning I check the top headline on three news sites… one which (arguably) leans left, one which (arguably) stays moderate, and one which (arguably) leans right.
CNN: “TURNING POINT – Travel ban fundamentally changes US history”
NYTIMES: “IMMIGRATION BAN PROVOKES CRISIS – ‘This Is Not About Religion,’ Trump Says of Order”
FOX: “TAKING AIM AT ‘TEARS’ – Trump defends extreme vetting travel order, chides Schumer and protesters”
…but let it be known I’m not one of those hyperbolic ninnies who screams “FAKE NEWS!” at everything they disagree with, nor do I believe that all media is run by scammers and cheats and liars. In the end you need to get your news from someone, and it can’t come directly from the government itself, no matter what Steve Bannon thinks — they’ve got their own agenda to push and push hard. Nations which rely entirely on government-owned media tend to resemble Orwellian nightmares. You need a third party whose entire business is conveying the facts… ideally, multiple third parties.
As much fun as I’ve made of the above headlines, I feel the best method is to read all three. But read mindfully. Read and make up your own mind, parsing the filters you’re getting information through, playing one against the other. It takes more work, but I’d rather be busy and smart than lazy and ignorant.
These are difficult times we’re going through. Let’s do our best to stay informed and stay rational.
After Floating Point is finished (and I’m cracking on 3.6, believe you me) I’ve been pondering what I want to do with my website. I’m going to be taking a vacation from actively cranking on a major creative project, but I’d hate to leave this thing still and silent. So, I’m thinking I’ll revive my blog as… wait for it… a blog. Like I used to do back in the LiveJournal days. Egads.
This may mean I’ll occasionally post something you disagree with, because I got opinions about stuff. But if you’re this deep I’m guessing you already know the sorts of biases and leanings I have, so none of it will be a shock to you.
Still, let’s start out with a softball pitch as I review, compare, and contrast two fairly old games at this point… Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley.
I love the idea of managing a small town, of customizing and personalizing your home, of interacting with a village of quirky characters and running simple quests to make their lives better. In these Dark Days of Terror it’s quite pleasant to be able to make an impact on a small world in small ways, doing small things. Even the simplicity of chores like watering your plants or making suspicious motions behind a cow are pleasant.
Each game has their own strengths…
Animal Crossing gradually unfolds, more and more facilities and things to do coming online as you go… and ohh, the customization! I was actually able to make my town a terrifying dictatorship complete with immigration processing center, mad scientist lair, propaganda broadcast tower, and a gameshow TV studio where contestants were put to death in electric chairs by the spin of a wheel! …yes, I’m still talking about Animal Crossing. Subverting that game was FUN, especially since the game carried on as if nothing was out of the ordinary, everybody was happy and carefree and having a grand ‘ol colorful and adorable time of it. Even if I hadn’t gone that route with my theming the range of ways you can personalize were quite impressive.
Stardew Valley is a bit more set in tone and theme without as much personalization, but has an amazing nostalgic feel thanks to the retro 16-bit inspired aesthetic of it and amazing music. It trades complexity of customization for complexity of tasks, with a wide variety of things you can do from farming to fishing to animal husbandry to foraging in trash cans like a raccoon. Building up relationships with townsfolk rewards you with short cutscenes and interaction moments of far more sophistication than AC, as they use a set cast of characters rather than a constantly rotating array of generic NPCs.
But… eventually I fell out with both games. While I liked a lot of what they delivered, some small annoyances just crept right under my skin and made me realize I had way too much else to do with my life to keep on with them.
Animal Crossing’s breakpoint was its decay factor and chore slog. Unlike SV’s chores which can be done in a few quick minutes, AC requires you to scour your entire town looking for randomly placed things that spawn once a day… but doing so can actually ruin your town, as running around on the grass kills grass, and it barely ever comes back. And speaking of ruin, all those carefully placed streets and avenues to villager’s houses? Ruined if you don’t find the ONE randomly selected person in town each day who’s thinking of leaving, and talk to them, pronto. Assuming you can find them, as they have varying schedules which key off a realtime clock. If that person leaves a new one moves in to a random location, wrecking your layout. And God help you if you take a few realtime days off from playing — the amount of decay you’ll face will be crazy. I’d resorted to resetting the system clock to only advance time one day each time I played to avoid that. The game’s constant demand of your time and attention lest everything fall into chaos and disrepair meant once my town was exactly as I wanted it to be, I had to STOP playing, cold. Couldn’t boot it up on a whim months later or it’d be a wreck.
As for Stardew Valley, I fell out of that one pretty rapidly. Having a set cast of characters, a set town, and little customization meant a richer experience… but only so far. Outside of triggered relationship events not much actually happened worth note. The only thing to keep you playing was to unlock various town upgrade bundles by providing one of nearly every item in the game to the Community Center… which required massive time optimization to ensure you grew one of every plant, cared for one of every animal, etc. on a season-by-season basis. Did you miss a Spring crop? You’ll have to wait a whole in-game year to take another crack at that. And if you aren’t playing for those completionist-oriented quests, well, there’s not much else to work towards.
All of this lead me to think, well… what do I WANT out of a game like this? The answer seems to be a hybrid of the two, without the annoyances.
My ideal game would allow heavy customization and self-expression (AC), but coupled with a strong and stable cast of characters (SV). Allow me to restyle my home and my town, but provide better NPCs than AC’s generic templates. While I like the quest systems in both I wouldn’t make them as wildly demanding as SV’s quests, or as random and time-consuming as AC’s. And above all… NO DECAY (AC) and no rapidly advancing doom clock (SV). Don’t punish me for not being addicted to your game and putting in an hour or more a day, allow me to set my own schedule. Don’t punish me for having fun doing something past my virtual bedtime.
“Okay, so if you know what you’re looking for… why not just make that game?”
Oh, I’m not planning on making that game, in particular. It’d be nice, but I’ve got other plans.
And that’s your hint at what I’m thinking of accomplishing later on in 2017.
FP 3.5 :: Fire
There is no leader of the Nobodies. Everybody is the leader of the Nobodies.
A day late (oops) which sucks since this would’ve been nicely appropriate yesterday. But, here it is; the oft delayed and difficult chapter, now complete.
3.6 is in the works, and should be rolling in 1-3 weeks. If you’ve ever considered backing my Patreon now is the time, as it’ll be going dark for a bit while I take a creative break to recharge after this book… and you’ll want to see the 3.7 bonus chapter, exclusive to Patreon backers until the book’s retail release.
FP 3.5 :: Fire
Money can’t buy happiness? Guess I’ll have to rent it.
The next story update may take two weeks instead of a week. Not sure yet, I’m still in the middle of writing it, since I had to toss my original plan.
FP 3.5 :: Fire
Jet fuel can’t melt dank memes.
Here we go, folks. I’ve finished completely retooling this chapter — instead of a boring and slightly impossible story about visiting Earth, you’ll be getting a chapter in one of my favorite styles… three short stories, told from first person perspective. Only this time… it’s characters we haven’t heard the inner voice of quite yet.
As of this writing I’ve got this week and next week’s posting in the tank, ready to go. The third part, that one’ll be tricky, so it MIGHT be delayed. But it might not. Hang in, folks, we’re almost at the end…
I’m on vacation from work this week, and that means having time to get to work on the newly revamped FP 3.5. (See my previous blog post for details on that.)
To set the stage for the new 3.5, I’m revising 3.3 and 3.4 accordingly:
So, yeah, not much. Just a minor tweak. Not a major cliffhanger which totally rewrites the rules or anything like that. Don’t even worry about it; everything is fine.
Can’t say when I’ll start posting 3.5, but as always, Patreon backers get an early peek. If you want to back, now’s the time — not only will you get early access to 3.5 and 3.6, but you’ll also get a paid update with the bonus story for this book, which takes place years in the future.
And then… well, I’ll be going a bit dark, as I take a vacation. As is obvious from the slow release pacing of this book, I need some time to recharge my creative batteries. But I will return, make no mistake. I could never quit you.
Before anybody freaks out about the title: I’m not cancelling the book. I’m just replacing the upcoming chapter 3.5 with a better one.
See, a long time ago, someone gave me this bit of advice about creative work: Don’t be afraid to kill your darlings. Meaning if something isn’t working, if it’s bloated and reeks of failure no matter how much you simply adore the idea… you get rid of it.
Me, I don’t really like this saying, because it seems kinda negative. My spin on it is: Drop back fifty yards and punt. I have no idea if this is a legitimate football metaphor or not, but it describes a time when something just isn’t working, but rather than huck it in the trash, I back away from the idea that’s broken and try a different play.
And frankly, Floating Point chapter 3.5 is currently poopbutts.
(Like, poop, from a butt. That’s the worst kind of poop.)
I’ve been putting off writing it because so many other hobbies and self-care needs called out to me, but by this point, the honest truth is I don’t wanna write it because it’s poop. I’m eagerly looking forward to 3.6 but 3.5 is just utter poop.
The original idea called for Spark to be loaded into an Amazon Delivery Drone style robot, FTL herself back to Earth, and steal a 3-D printer that makes server hardware. Because Netwerk 2.o’s gonna need that, you know? I had this somewhat awkward adventure planned, with a fairly contrived reason why she wouldn’t just stuff a copy of herself into the drone and had to fully transfer herself, which is poop. As much as Spark hates copying herself for obvious reasons the idea of hurtling into the void and leaving everything behind when you could just multitask up another copy makes no sense, even for her. Plus, this’d keep her out of the endgame of the story, because in realtime she’d be on Earth while everything goes down in Netwerk.
So… yeah. Nothing about this works. It’s a neat idea, and it’d give me a chance to show an Earth utterly ravaged by climate change and capitalism gone wild, but I think we have enough hints of that through Juno’s dialogue already. A chance to see it in person — and not even really see it, as she’d be dorking around in a computer factory — isn’t worth the amount of flaming hoops of death I’d need to jump through.
Okay, so how do we make it less poopy?
We’ll take it as a given that Juno’s gonna be able to wrangle up a 3-D printer for our gang. Honestly that’s the only piece of the puzzle that’d matter by the end of 3.5, so we’ll just say it happens offscreen.
And meanwhile… I’m going to take some of the confusion, rage, fear, and anxiety that’s been building up in the world over the last few months and bring it to Netwerk. Because that’s what Netwerk is, it’s the worst of us and the best of us given life and form, mimicing our every move, holding up a mirror to human society. And I know how to make that make sense. I’ve got a workable idea… not a full plot outline, but the start of something that could really take off.
There’ll be more delays as I put together a complete replacement of this chapter. Hang in there, folks. Please be sure to check back here now and then and don’t forget your friends in Floating Point. They will return, and be all the stronger for it.
It really shouldn’t be a shock that I’m not particularly thrilled with the outcome of my country’s election. Anybody who’s deep enough into my writing to be reading these words knows damn well how I lean — I’ve never pretended to be politically neutral. As an author, my views on the world are laid plain in my creative work, and that work would suffer if I made it refuse to take a stand on the problems society is facing.
Right now, we’re looking at a single party in control of the White House, the Senate, the House, and likely soon the Supreme Court. That’s gonna play merry hell with the concept of checks and balances. As someone who wants to believe a moderate and cooperative perspective will bring balance and harmony to the chaos, we’re not exactly in a great situation for that to occur anymore. Extreme partisanship has ruined our chances at finding the way ahead.
Most disappointingly, the Trump campaign has come right out and flatly stated they’re planning on rolling back decades of progress that we’ve made towards balancing our society. Removal of LGBTQ protection, crackdowns on immigrants, revoking legal abortion, and withdrawal of affordable health care — the latter of which many of my friends literally need in order not to die. Decades of hard work flushed down the toilet, with no one left in power to stop it. On the surface it’s all in the name of “smaller government,” keeping regulations light — and while I believe small vs. big government is a worthy issue for debate, the fact of the matter is that removing what little shield we have against systematic and direct oppression is not the way forward.
Two things immediately come to mind, when trying to parse what’s happened through a perspective of rational middleground. One good, one bad.
The good news is I believe we’ll survive this. While I’m deeply disappointed in our nation, I can’t say I’m terrified; we survived Nixon and Bush, didn’t we? And both were involved in literal international wars during the nuclear age, the ideal go-to conditions for global omnicide. We’re going to endure setbacks but we’ve endured setbacks before, as a society, and returned strong. And while I can’t pretend to think that the supreme majesty of our creative art alone will spread love and turn the tide — the sixties didn’t end Vietnam through pot and protest songs — I do know that the flame will be kept alive by those who believe in it.
The bad news is more immediate… Trump’s win has rallied the forces of absolute cruelty. Whether he sought their support or not, the KKK supports him, and they’re happily stepping out of the shadows as a result. We’ve already seen street harassment and beatings of immigrants and women on the rise in just two days into the proto-regime, as Trump’s supporters “celebrate” by brutalizing the Other that they loathe with a burning passion. Obviously not everyone that cast their ballots for Trump was a diehard bigot, sitting there grinning and tapping a baseball bat in hand while waiting for the go-signal to start murdering brown people… but those bastards DO exist, and they’re happy campers today. And like it or not, all those who voted for him also indirectly encouraged this wanton violence.
We need to go to work against this chaos — ALL of us, Democrats, Republicans, indies, everyone. This is a matter of basic human dignity. Report incidents, push back against a system that protects offenders, make sure it’s clear we won’t stand for irrational hatred. Speak up and be heard so that the country knows you will not tolerate this. Republicans, we may disagree on specific policy decisions, that’s reasonable in politics… but know this. If you’re also willing to excuse, ignore, or condone violence… if you want to actively ruin another’s life and happiness just because they’re different from you… you lost the right to claim you’re in the right. You lose the right to call yourself an American. Stand against brutality, or stand aside.
Everyone, do not give up. Do not embrace the great beast of the 21st century: apathy. Don’t throw up your hands and say “Well, that’s just how it is, I guess.” Boys will be boys, the Internet is always going to be hell, people are just evil bastards at heart, nothing can be fixed, don’t even try. All those familiar apathetic excuses for the status quo maintain the status quo. Reject apathy in all forms. Work to solve the problem, and be seen solving it.
Dark days ahead, no doubt. While I’m hopeful for the long term, for when the decrepit and fading legacy of hate finally gives way, we need to survive the short term together. Do what you can, do what you must, and I’ll be doing the same. Thank you.
(For folks who read that whole rant and just wanna know when Floating Point 3.5 will be coming, Soon(tm). Outline’s basically done, I just need to get in the right frame of mind to write it. Whether or not this fresh hell has put me into the frame of mind or taken me out of it, I do not know.)