Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Well then!

What happened to a post a day Squirrel? Come on man tighten your shit up!

I don't really know what to talk about. I am currently associated with three projects, one that is super-secret, one that is not-so-secret, and one that is me and only me. The latter of the three is on the subject of a story I have been wanting to tell for a while, and I guess from a mental standpoint it is coming along really well. There isn't much of a physical manifestation yet, unfortunately, but I think I can have something solid enough to post on this blog within the week, depending on how many games I end up buying from the Steam holiday sale, which so far is enough to keep me occupied for a long time.

So we'll see what happens there. This is just a short update and sort of a reminder to myself to actually post on this blog. Nothing substantial today, sorry!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Escapist, and why this blog exists.

For a good long time, I've been visiting a website called The Escapist. I first went for the fast-talking, swearing game reviewer known as Yahtzee, and for the longest time he was the only reason I ever considered going there. I got well-acquainted, during that time, with a few of the forum members, as I occasionally would find an interesting thread and give it a read. After a while, I began idling in their IRC, sometimes reading what people had to say.

The community really impressed me at the time. They had an air of closeness despite the forum being quite larger than any other I'd visited. Good-sized walls of text were all over the place, all on interesting topics, and I couldn't help but wonder why they apologized for writing so much. It was, and still is, quite the impressive place.

These days I don't browse the forums themselves much, but I do still idle and chat in the IRC, whose community is close-knit, even moreso than that of the forums themselves, and I seem to have become a tightly-woven fixture in this community as well.

I realized, however, fairly recently, being around three months ago, that The Escapist's weekly "magazine" was actually made up of Freelance articles written by various extremely skilled writers. I wanted in on that, so I wrote my first pitch, just dying to hear back and get some feedback.

Of course, I wasn't accepted to write an article from my pitch, but I got something nearly as good, in my mind: one of my favorite writers from The Escapist, Susan Arendt, replied back saying that, while I wasn't accepted as one of the article writers, she liked my perspective.

Here I was, and here I still am, this amateur without a published article or a real hope at a job writing in the world, being told by a professional that I had a good perspective.

I was impressed with myself. Honestly, I think that is what eventually got me up to the point I am now, and what caused me to resurrect this dead blog. I haven't submitted a pitch to The Escapist in a while, but I spent today writing several ideas out, and I can't wait to get more feedback--Or, hell, maybe I can even get myself published. Who needs money when you can have recognition, right?

I'd rather write and make nothing than do anything else for hundreds of dollars, and it's really The Escapist that is there to thank for that. So I must thank the community, some of which is undoubtedly reading this, and I must thank Susan, as she was really the driving force behind my continued trial-and-error writing.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Team Fortress 2, or, How I learned to stop scoffing and love the hats

Project still as-of-yet unnamed. Oh well.

One of my all time most played games is Team Fortress 2, and with good reason. Valve took the classic Quake mod and turned it into a beast of a game, perfectly balanced with a great community and constant updates which only serve to make the experience that much better. I've convinced friends to buy TF2, I have bought it for more than one person myself. A thousand hours total or so later, it still manages to entertain me.

What keeps people coming back? Is it the game itself? The community? The achievements? The updates? The unlocks? The latter of the bunch is probably the most true, because of one simple thing that Valve added to the game. Hats.

In May of 2009, Valve released a huge update, adding new weapons for the Spy and Sniper, and, announced at the end of the update, the first nine hats. They were a gimmick at best, and served no real purpose, but as time went on, more hats were added. People used programs that simulated idling in an actual TF2 server to acquire more hats, so Valve added an extra, free hat for people who didn't cheat to get their hats. People asked for more hats. Valve added more hats. As time went on, people wanted to trade hats, so Valve finally added a trading system with the Polycount Update, as well as adding the Mann Co. Store for microtransactions and some new hats which have added effects for wearing a full set of Polycount weapons plus a hat.

At first, I didn't want anything to do with hats. They were stupid, nothing but a small change in appearance, most didn't even look that good.

Then I acquired my Brigade Helm.

It was my first hat, save the Cheater's Lament, and it was for my favorite class. Of course I had to wear it. So I did. Then I had more hats drop. Then weapons, which I crafted into metal to make hats. I had hat fever. In the TF2 server I played on, I was known as a lord of hats, and someone who would make fair trades of a hat for any other hat, so long as I didn't want the one I was trading away. This slowed down eventually, as I got settled in with the hats I had. Hats stopped being an issue, but I couldn't help but feel a bit of nagging greed every time someone opened up a crate in my presence and received a hat, or even worse, an unusual hat. Most of the unusuals don't even look that good, but I didn't care. They were rare. I wanted them.

To this day I still have no unusual hats. To this day, I don't care enough to try to find one, nor do I have the income to do so. It is entirely obvious Valve has created a Skinner Box just for people like me, who want the rare stuff, the best stuff, no matter how stupid it actually is. Hell, I will willingly return to that Skinner Box for years to come so long as the game continues being fun and the community continues being great.

I still know, however, no matter how much I play, that I'm only still playing because of the hats.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Been a while! I cleaned out the blog, and I'm pretty soon going to begin work on my writing project(which still needs a name, goddamn) wherein I write one thing a day. It's not even that big of a deal, I just need to get started and I will come up with a name soon.

In fact, I think I will start tomorrow. Time to get thinking.