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Because A.J. wanted a follow-up…

KRAG’s Law of Hype Lensing:

The Perception of an Object is distorted by the sum of the object’s anticipatory Hype and the engagement level of the observer’s Imagination.

The hype for No Man’s Sky was intense. As if three years of visionary promises and a truly groundbreaking approach weren’t enough, when Sony opened up its gargantuan wallet and bet its money on Hello Games — a tiny, 15+ person development company with only a cheesy little platformer app to its credit — all speculation was punched into warp-drive.

Usually, in such situations, I see the hype for what it is (i.e., marketing) and my Imagination compensates, essentially canceling out the effects of Hype. This way, when the game is released, it’s pretty much as I expected and disappointment levels are kept to a minimum.

In the case of No Man’s Sky, however, I made a tactical error. I figured that a small, independent company like Hello Games, run by a plucky band of earnest boys and girls from Surrey, would not yet be infected by the callous, avaricious cancer of corporate greed. I took them to be sincere lovers of games who were trying to be transparent about plans and features.

My bad.  Continue Reading »

Bumper Crop

PlumsKnife in hand, I begin my work.

The plums are warm from their rest in the summer sun. I select one. Its dark skin, freshly washed, stretches taut over soft flesh. I slice down its back, then prize it open like a clam, revealing the yellow-green flesh and the hard, brown stone within. With a twist, I free the pit and toss it aside; the split flesh I keep.

Next.

Bees bumble by, drawn by the honeyed scent of open fruit. They helicopter down into the basket to sip at the fruit-flavored dewdrops. I take care not to disturb them as I select my next victim.

The hummingbirds zip in with a buzz, grouse at me for being too close to their feeder. I move with deliberate slowness, encouraging them not to fear.

In the spruce above me, a dove mourns. She weeps until her boo-hoo-hooing annoys her neighbors and the ravens chase her off with a flap of feathers.

My hands grow sticky with juice; my fingernails are stained by the blood of slashed skins.

The drying racks fill.

Split plums, dark-winged butterflies, packets filled with long afternoons and the sun of summer, they will warm my soul come winter.

k

On Release Day, I spent a few hours playing No Man’s Sky.

It’s not perfect, but damn, it’s close. Continue Reading »

Tomorrow’s the day.

No Man’s Sky, the game that tipped the scales and convinced me to buy a PS4 console delivers tomorrow.

The hype for this game — in my little world, anyway — has been intense, and with good reason. It’s truly unlike any other game, both in construction and in scope. Nothing exists until you (or someone else) discovers it. Planets, environments, flora, fauna, it’s all built on the fly, procedurally, the moment you encounter it. Once a gamer has discovered it and uploads her findings to the “atlas,” it becomes permanent and available to all other gamers.

It’s been a long wait — more than a year, for me — but as usual, some spoonhead decided to spoil it for others.

Continue Reading »

I spent the week in San Francisco.

I spent the week in 1949. Continue Reading »

Godfather G

Thanks to those who’ve taken the time to follow these posts. It’s been a bittersweet journey, but a valuable one for me.

This week, I went down to help my close up shop on my father’s life. For a poor kid from the backwoods of western Marin, grandson of an Italian immigrant, a high-school dropout who left home at thirteen and slept above the lanes when he worked as a pin-setter at the local bowling alley, he did pretty well.

His life was filled with love and grief. He had four talented children, but saw one of them succumb to addiction. He loved two wives, but saw them both die before him. He did not have a great number of friends, but those he had he treasured deeply.

I will miss him. I already do.

But all his troubles are now become as smoke, leaving him once more free of pain and worry.

Ciao, Papa. And thanks.

k

It was not until my high school years that my father talked to me of love. By that time, of course, I had succumbed to my fair share of crushes, passions, and fascinations (including one young girl who treated me so ill that I carved “LD” into the sole of my boot, that I might grind her initials into the dust with every step I took.)

By my sixteenth winter, though, the tenor of my heart had grown beyond such childish attitudes and sought more meaningful relations. One girl in particular had affected me deeply, and though my feelings were built of fragile glass, it was my first true adult love and I felt it as deeply and soberly as I was able. The day it all crashed down, the day that I at last admitted to myself the futility of my unrequited suit, I retreated to the blue shadows of my downstairs room, threw myself upon my bed, and wept.

Hours later, after I’d grown quiet, my father came downstairs and knocked upon my door. He came in, sat on the edge of the bed and, unexpectedly, he asked me about the girl: who was she? how did I feel about her?

I told him all.

When I was done, he did not try to cheer me up. He did not say I would “get over it” or that there were other fish in the sea. He did not tell me that the pain I felt was just a phase or that it was anything less than love. What he told me was:

“When your heart gets broken, it’s bigger when it heals, and the next time you fall in love, it will be deeper and stronger than the time before.”

This has proven true. Each time that I have loved it’s been the deepest, strongest, greatest thing I’ve known. Each time, the newer love puts former passions all to shame for pallid renderings of true adoration. And each time, I wonder if before I ever loved at all. The dark side of this lesson, though, is that with deeper love comes the risk of greater pain, but if not for love, what else is worth the risk?

k

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