Buried Treasure

There’s anywhere from 20 to 40 video games released on Steam every day. That’s too many video games. John Walker, veteran games critic and founder of Rock Paper Shotgun is trying to find the really good indie games out that pile of what has to be a lot of average stuff.

Buried Treasure is a Patreon backed site highlighting the really good games that don’t get coverage from mainstream press. It’s a worthy endeavour. Hopefully some of these titles will get the boost they probably deserve.

Classic game postmortems

The GDC YouTube channel is chock full of talks about game development. Everything from math, to animation, to writing, to production tips.

My favourite playlist covers postmortems – a look back on the development ups and downs for making games. The postmortems for classic games are the best. are the really the best. Here are a few for your weekend viewing pleasure.

Sid Meier and Bruce Shelley talk about Civilization
John Romero and Tom Hall talk about Doom
David Brevick on Diablo
Peter Molyneux talks about Populous

Mercury, the mostest closest planet

Most of the time, the closest planet to Earth isn’t Venus or Mars, it’s Mercury. Thanks to orbital mechanics, the same is true for Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus. CGP Grey‘s pretty great explanation is all you need to be that “um, actually” person when the question comes up at quiz night.

November Tracks, 2019

I use an IFTTT applet that adds tracks that I’ve saved on Spotify to a monthly playlist. In October I tapped the heart icon 16 times.

This month is mix of all-time favourites and new-to-me songs. No Doubt’s Don’t Speak, Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead Or Alive, and Biz Markie’s Just A Friend are singalong bangers. Get Me is probably my most played Dinosaur Jr song, thanks to it’s inclusion on the first The Trip compilation.

But the best track this month has to be 16 Words, a kindof protest song by Margo Guryan, who recorded the song at age 70. The lyrics are a repetition of a quote from George W. Bush asserting some bullshit about Saddam Hussein’s attempts to create weapons of mass destruction.

I relate to Jorj

I don’t have anything to say about the fun mechanics and gorgeous art if Grindstone that you won’t learn from Polygon or Destructoid’s reviews. What I will say is that after 85 out of 150 levels I think that me and Jorj share something similar to our approach to work: We like good tools. We love that feeling of really getting a lot of stuff done. And, at the end of the day, we like a break, and maybe a drink to recharge.

October Tracks, 2019

I use an IFTTT applet that adds tracks that I’ve saved on Spotify to a monthly playlist. In October I tapped the heart icon 26 times.

This playlist is mostly tracks I’ve very much liked in the past and it’s the first time I’ve told Spotify of my fondness. 

Most of the tracks, too, were added while singing along to a Spotify radio playlist based on I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ by Scissor Sisters. Honestly, reader, I don’t think there’s a better seed song for a playlist. Every track is golden.

My favourite new track was Prelude For Time Feelers by Eluvium. It’s a simple piano-based instrumental track that slowly snuck into my head while I was working on a document. Eluvium is actually a  bloke named Matthew Cooper, who, among other things has scored at least one film. Prelude For Time Feelers would feel right at home in an action scene where our heroes die valiantly against impossible odds.

My favourite old track was Parables by Rebekah Higgs, an artist I found via an SXSW mp3 download probably a dozen years ago. I distinctly remember playing some new songs on the stereo in the other room and sorta dozing. When Parables came on I was kinda, sorta unsure if I was fully awake. Dream pop indeed. 

There’s some new tracks from the new The Hold Steady album on there. A couple of tracks from The National’s excellent I Am Easy To Find. And a bunch of britpop and songs I’d dance to if I was the kind of person who found dancing fun. 


It’s currently Shitsville

Jason Kottke recently talked about Kurt Vonnegut’s six seasons: Spring, Summer, Locking, Winter, Unlocking, and Autumn. He noted that in Vermont the two extras are unpleasant and go by different names “Stick Season” and Mud Season.

New Zealand, and especially Wellington, also follows a six season notation originally posited by Adam Shand and made into a real time calendar by @dmanww

The six seasons: 
Summer - Jan to March
Autumn - March to June
Winter - June to  Mid-August
Spring 1 - Mid August to Sept
Shitsville - September to Mid-Dec
Spring 3 - Mid-Dec to Jan

Unfortunately we’re right in the middle of a classic Shitsville season. Temperatures are cool even when it’s sunny. It’s grey and rainy more often than not. It’s always onshore at the beach. I can’t wait for Spring 2.

Used pencils

Two HB pencils. One is two short to use comfortably. The other is a couple of sharpens away from being in the same state

It’s quite satisfying use a pencil till it’s too short to hold comfortably. The longer one is just hanging in there. The shorter one is going into my nerdy work caddy for those “where the hell is my pen” moments.

I lose pens all the time but I tend to hold on to pencils so that’s generally what I have at hand when I’m writing notes in meetings, making lists, and drawing diagrams.

I pretty much always use paper for those kinds of tasks. As a computer enthusiast I’ve experimented with all sorts of digital systems for notes (Google Keep, Notes on my phone, text files, google docs), lists (Trello, spreadsheets) and diagrams Miro, Paint, Lucid Chart) but nothing works as well, especially for capturing and doing first & second drafts as an analogue system.

I was very heartened to find on Austin Kleon’s blog, a talk by Clive Thompson on pencils and keyboards, where suggested my preference for analogue is the best way for planning and for retaining information.

Thompson talks about getting obsessed with fancy pencils. I tried one of those Palaminos – it was a nice pencil but not that much nicer than a bog standard HB from Staedtler.

Fancy keyboards, though, I am on board with. Thompson notes that for smashing things out, typing is the way to go. As the owner of a particularly obnoxious mechanical keyboard this is a cargo cult I’m happy to be a part of.

Warren Ellis doco

I like Mondays as Warren Ellis‘s ORBITAL OPERATIONS newsletter drops in my inbox. The newsletter is part glimpse into the sausage making of comics and telly programmes, part advice and warning about trying to do lots of things at once, part gear/music/book/comic/website recommendation, part here’s some weird stuff, all fascinating and fun.

Ellis’s TREES and INJECTION have been highlights of the last few years. You might know RED and RED 2, the Bruce Willis/Helen Mirren/John Malkovich movies based on characters created by Ellis.

Ellis’s comics career has been long and very influential. Some of the writers and artists I really dig today can link their success directly to Ellis’s work and the community he fostered. The documentary WARREN ELLIS: CAPTURED GHOSTS tells that story.

Well worth a watch if you’re interested in comics, writers, artists, and a bit of pop history.