Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Process of Elimination

With NaNo looming in the next few hours, it is time to cut down my 20 ideas. Watch as I winnow them down below the fold.
  1. Build on Protagonist #1 or #2's story from last week. I feel this is cheating, since several pages of writing are completed before November begins, so I probably won't choose this.
  2. During a storm, a luxury cruise liner begins to sink, and the survivors are rescued by unknown forces from under the ocean.
  3. Comedy, modern setting. A man learns his wife has been cheating on him and makes an unexpected new friend. I hate love stories, even love stories about broken love.
  4. Comedy/Drama, modern setting. A private detective is tapped by NASA to investigate a murder in space. Potentially fun to write, but mystery-comedies are hard to do well.
  5. Medieval High Fantasy. A young squire meets a wizard, falls in love and abandons a corrupt empire. Trite, cliche, but fun to write.
  6. Kilgore Braineater, in novel form instead of as a comic book.
  7. Fantasy space exploration. The captain and crew of a long-range exploration ship lose contact with Earth, journey home and find the planet completely devoid of life and must decide what to do next.
  8. A newspaper photographer stumbles across an arcane conspiracy and is forced to learn the truth about a series of missing persons aboard a luxury cruise liner.
  9. An amnesiac wakes up in an alleyway covered in blood with a faded journal; new entries appear as he watches, setting him off to find out what has happened to him.
  10. After a widower remarries, she finds herself haunted by the ghost of her dead husband, who claims their daughter killed him.
  11. After being kidnapped by giants, our hero makes a deal with them to recover the giants' three sacred treasures from tribes of sentient rats and birds that have infested the giants' castle.
  12. People have started going missing from the local mega-mall, and the owner has hired a psychic to help him find the source of the disturbance.
  13. A government conspiracy is attempting to cover up the details involving a small town on the border with Mexico.
  14. A team of trained paranormal special operations warfighters are deployed to an undisclosed location to thwart a supernatural threat.
  15. High fantasy: As the caves in their mountains slowly flood, a race of underground people must begin their journey to the surface and their exodus to find another, suitable home.
  16. A man rescues a dog, finds love, and learns the meaning of friendship, told from the dog's perspective.
  17. A strict, by-the-book cop, is shown up again by the department's consultant, decides to quit his life as a cop to start a band. A sort of parody/send-up to the glut of amateur sleuth genre that remains popular today.
  18. A dying girl's parents make a terrible choice to save her life, and their community suffers.
  19. On her first day on the police force, a rookie cop's trainer is killed by what seems to be a werewolf.
  20. After failing out of college, a young woman decides to pursue her dream of opening an ice cream shop.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

National Novel Writing Month

With 2012 coming to a close, my page-a-fiction a day has been in stops and starts. Now, while I have no intention of joining the actual website, National Novel Writing Month is an amazing motivational tool for lots of writers. So, for the month of November, I'm going to change gears, and instead of chewing through a variety of short stories (most of which I disliked), my goal is going to be to tell an overarching, longer story. Frankly, my biggest worry is that I'll waste a lot of time writing crap.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Shameless Self Promotion & Sandy

Here is your note that regular blogging is still not back on schedule, due to Sandy. However, all plans to begin the Final Fantasy Marathon are on track, though I am having difficulties with the Playstation Network (shocker, I know.) This means Final Fantasies 3, 5, 7, 8 and 9 are currently unavailable. This should be remedied shortly.

If you're stuck at home with Sandy, here's some fiction for you to read, courtesy of me. It is bad fiction:

Additionally, WSJ is free to view today, and they say they'll have storm tracking. This is more dramatic though, and you know I love drama. I particularly love all the news stations asking for pictures of the storm, with a quaint little reminder to stay safe.
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Photos from the Zombie Apocalypse Sandy.

The wind isn't even that bad yet
... Why did they drop their cards?

    Saturday, October 27, 2012

    Potential Protagonist #2

    Here's the link to Potential Protagonist #1. As before, thoughts are in the P.S. section, and drafty copy is available below the jump.

    Friday, October 26, 2012

    Things Matt Links: Oct. 26

    Below the fold will be the link to the story I mentioned yesterday, along with a brief bit of my thoughts on it. Until then, enjoy some links. Some of these show that I am both lame and behind on my internet linking.

    First up, some science! People really do get dumber in a group, it is science. It also explains why the House is even more dysfunctional than the Senate. Either or, let's ignore their caution that we shouldn't extrapolate from their tentative findings. Be a hermit, for your intelligence.

    I don't think there are more jerks today than before. I think it is probably the Internet just lets us get in touch with them more frequently. Also: Television.

    Speaking of intelligence, here's an interesting thought. So, what have we learned? Stupid people are genetically inferior. Wait. I don't think that's the message I was supposed to get from this article. Maybe I should read it again.

    Also: Mimicry. I think this is kind of cool. Think of what terrible secrets are whispered in the deep. By Beluga whales. And/or Cthulhu.

    Score: 1 whoever made this sign; 0 Metro.

    Thursday, October 25, 2012

    Potential Protagonist #1

    Skip below the fold for the actual fiction piece; go all the way to the P.S. section if you want to read my explanation/thoughts before the fiction piece. Either way, this is a long one.

    Wednesday, October 24, 2012

    Fergie Goes Home

    I haven't blogged recently due to work and a special guest.
    She was deciding if she should stay or if she should go.

    Friday, October 19, 2012

    Rogue to Redemption Kickstarter Now Live-ish

    I love Quest for Glory; I very rarely link to Kickstarter projects. But, I am doing it now. Rogue to Redemption is already two things: It has a punny title that I love. It is made by people I love. I am always wary of giving money to Kickstarter because I don't know the quality I'll get; I know it with these folks.

    The quality? Epic. So, you know, if you loved the Quest for Glory games growing up, which I did, this seems like a pretty safe bet. Economically speaking, you're almost guaranteed bang for your buck.

    ----

    P.S.,

    I get the GOG spam so you don't have to. Quick note on marketing: When advertising bundles, make individual games clickable so that someone can see what they are getting. It's kind of a shame that I saw this the same day I saw the Kickstarter open for Rogue to Redemption, because I can only justify blowing so much money on gaming, and the Coles have been good to me since the 90s. I'm mainly posting these because if I had done my link round up on Friday instead of Thursday, these would have definitely been included.

    Thursday, October 18, 2012

    Things Matt Links, Oct. 18

    I won't be around this weekend, so here is an early edition of our links for the week. The first one is a bit of disappointment. I want to believe these are actors, I really do. But, I also know that they probably are not. Such is life. Here's another thing with the debates.

    I was unaware there was a new Bond movie in the making. There is; the question now is, will I be motivated enough to go? All clues point to no.

    I read this article and realized that the answer really should be, "Whatever neighborhood has a bunch of friendly old people." They always have the best candy. Or raisins. It is perhaps a child's first introduction to gambling.

    In science, you can lie to children. This is why I love science.

    Here's an article I linked earlier, maybe it was a Twitter only link. I could probably write a post on this article on its own, but some parts are worth mentioning, even without much context. The author says: "Most encouraging of all, Helen Lewis, deputy editor of the New Statesman, is a dedicated gamer, and she’s not even a man." She must be unaware of recent demographic trends across gaming as it is steadily moving towards gender parity. An interesting read (I had never heard of this award before), and it is always interesting to get an outside looking in perspective on something you know fairly well. There's some bias here, like, you know, describing a guy who goes out of his way to create a game as "ignoring his girlfriend for years;" gee, or we could call it "earning a living." You know, connotation is a powerful thing. Also: "Oh, you want me to manipulate a tiny guy on a little screen? Let me do this without my glasses and then complain about how hard it is." Two other things: Mass Effect 3 and Catherine seem like bad games to use to introduce people to gaming.

    Since we're somewhat in the realm of science today, here's some science about urban coyotes. Literal coyotes, by the way. Not like, desert desperadoes.

    ----

    P.S.,

    The Smithsonian sent me a letter with their Air and Space lecture schedule for the next year or so. I plan to make time to go to some of them. More details as we get closer to them.

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

    The Undecided Voter: Myth or Reality?

    I have a theory. It is somewhat mirrored by all that talk of preference cascading that's been going on at sites like Ace of Spades. I think most "undecided voters" are engaged in an epic level of self-deception.

    Rewatch the debate; each undecided voter had built in biases into their questions (the easiest to see is anti-Romney in the Bush question and anti-Obama in the Libya one); they've made a decision, they just haven't actualized it in their mind. Sort of like the undecided voter in the Fox panel who said she was undecided between Romney and not voting, or the woman in the MSNBC panel who said she was voting for Obama for reasons never mentioned in the debate.

    It's possible there are people who are really conflicted/don't have an opinion yet, but the vast majority of undecideds are simply waiting for something that brings them to realizing what everyone around them already knows. It's sort of like the cuckolded husband; he's always the last to know. Everyone else knows before hand, but him? Oblivious to the reality around him.


    I think that's the way for a lot of decision making though, and it isn't necessarily bad. People like to take their time coming to a decision, especially if there is no need to rush. Additionally, in today's hyper-partisan world, being undecided makes you less likely to accidentally lose friends and alienate people. Indecisiveness may actually be an evolutionary strategy.

    The other issue is that I think a lot of "soft" supporters of a candidate are chunked in with undecided voters. Take the two women on the panels I cited above. There's no reason to consider them undecided; they've made a decision. We're just led to believe that they are either persuadable (to change their vote) or possible to depress out of voting. That's hardly the same as what we mean when we say "undecided" voter. If I'm undecided about where to go to dinner, I have no preference. If I kind of want Italian, but could do whatever, I have a preference. It is just not strong.

    Yes. I just used dinner and adultery to make points about politics. Today is lazy, bad analogy day. 
     
    ----

    P.S.,

    This gets a romance tag! I'm also going back and tagging the 3-d puzzle heart with the romance tag. Now if you need a website to explain how much you love someone with low-quality photos, you can come to me! ... Don't come to me for this. What? You wanted real politics? Fine, just remember, politics is a sometimes blog topic. Also, I'm incredibly lazy and pretty much just swiped this word-for-word from a post on Facebook. Rule #1 of Matt Blogging: Easy content is the best content. Except poll analysis. Never, ever do poll analysis.

    Tuesday, October 16, 2012

    Debate Night

    It's a debate night tonight, which is a lot like date night -- two people argue for over an hour while everyone else looks on, feeling a mix of awkwardness and amusement. The question for tonight: Will the moderators continue to lose?

    Also, people have reached my blog by using dwarf runesmith (awesome!) and... "accidentally slandering someone." Not so awesome.

    Go be a good citizen and watch the debate.

    Monday, October 15, 2012

    Concurring with PvP

    What you need to read before you read me.

    Stories should have an ending. Whether it is due to author existence failure or due to a well written ending, works need to stop. The only story that doesn't end is real life. And, for a lot of reasons, that makes a terrible narrative.

    End your stories, or someone else might end them for you. And that person might be Brian Herbert.

    Saturday, October 13, 2012

    Walking Dead: Episode 4 Review

    Walking Dead, Episode 4: Review (now that I've played it.) Spoilers. You will be spoiled. Do not go below the fold.

    Friday, October 12, 2012

    Things Matt Links: Oct. 12

    Well after yesterday's debate, and this week's slow posting, it looks like it is time for a series of links for lazy posting. Yes, my commitment to Friday laziness knows no bounds.

    First, The Guild Season Six.

    All those weird unemployment numbers not making sense has finally gotten attention. I'm not sure what to do about it, but I think a new metric might be in order. Hopefully nothing so depressingly named as The Misery Index though.

    Khan Academy is an interesting idea, that I like. CNN has an interesting editorial on it.

    World of Warcraft was hacked. Oh, in this manner, to be more specific.

    Walmart is trying same day delivery. If this takes off, how will I ever live without the People of Walmart photos?

    Is there a new public editor at The New York Times? Because this one seems to be doing less water carrying for the paper and more... public editorializing. PS: Yes, it should have been front paged.

    Potential: High. Chance for disappointment: Also high.

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

    Hey Readers, It Is the VP Debate

    Starting at 7:00 PM Eastern.

    So, flash poll team Recording of Interesting Things: What gets name dropped first? Libya or Big Bird?

    ----

    P.S.,

    Title convention via here.

    Sunday, October 7, 2012

    Today in Sweets

    Have I ever made a post and snarkily noted "first-world problems?" If not, let today be the first with some news in the world of sweets.

    First, the Wall Street Journal, brings us news of something dire in the land of Starbucks. I can't think of a reason we'd be so low on such a vital product, but I do feel for those who cannot get their fix. I like that the WSJ is able to be a bit tongue in cheek about it too: "Then, a 'terrible tragedy happened,' he said. 'I placed my order, and the barista informed me that they were out. I was so distraught.'"

    At least, it is tongue in cheek, right? Right? The Romenesko quote reminds me, vaguely, of the story of Russians (or Cubans, mattering on the anecdote) ruefully thinking about the ruling class's incorrect belief that there is bread in the store because they see it in their own. I kind of want to go to a Starbucks, buy a pumpkin spice latte, and then take a picture of it to this blog with a caption: "I don't even like coffee, and I got one."

    But, I also don't want to start a riot.

    In our second bit of news for today in sweets, MSNBC brings us one of those accidents in science that might revolutionize an industry. Namely, colored honey. Except, well, the people who stumbled upon this discovery have decided that they, well, actually hate novelties and making money, and will instead turn their noses up at the discolored, but otherwise perfectly normal honey. No, really:

    "As for the M&M's-infused honey, union head Frieh said it might taste like honey, but there the comparison stopped. 'For me, it's not honey. It's not sellable,'" he said.

    Think of it like when you would add food dye to water and set some white carnations in it to get pretty colored flowers. Only, instead of flowers, it is honey. Colored honey could be the wave of the future (something Sarah Hoyt on the Instapundit blog pointed out as well.) Here's my plan. Create a bee-friendly green house filled with candy plants, a la Willy Wonka.

    Bam. We've protected bees, and we will be able to sell color-coordinated honey to people who may want green honey. Because it worked so well with ketchup. Look, I'm just the idea guy. But, if a bee keeper, an engineer and a candy magnate want to get together and make this idea come true, I'm only asking for 5 percent.

    ---

    Edit: Today in sweets, ice cream goes to space. It is like the world always conspires to give me the best link for any post after I hit publish. No matter. This is the internet, and I can edit to my heart's content. The coolest part of this is that the freezers storing the ice cream double for science research once it gets to space.

    ... Did you see what I did there?

    Saturday, October 6, 2012

    Choose Your Questions... Carefully

    Standard politics disclaimer; skip if you'd rather avoid politics.

    The Washington Post engaged in a bit of silliness today. Now, Ace of Spades has some fun simply gawking at the WaPo's stupidity. Allow me, however, to illustrate an important point any budding debater, political reporter, blogger or really, any person who doesn't want to look stupid should learn.

    Do not ask questions you do not have the answer for. As a reminder, here is the headline question: "Mitt Romney is worth $250 million. Why so little?" My answer appears below the fold.

    Friday, October 5, 2012

    Things Matt Links: Oct. 5

    Before I get to the links below, allow me to teach you about IRONIC OPPORTUNITY COST via gaming. The more points you spend to make a character intimidating, in most point buy systems (or more resources in a feat/skill point by level system, etc.), the less actually intimidating they are. This is because you only have so many points to spend, and so to get one thing (Intimidation scores of reasonable levels) you must suffer mechanically elsewhere. In any real world application, simply being actually more dangerous would be more intimidating, yet, by electing to be less dangerous you can make yourself appear more dangerous. With your mind suitably blown, onward to links.

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

    On Secrets and Worlds

    So. My hiatus on the Secret World has gone from "unknown" to "probably permanent." It isn't that The Secret World is a bad game; it does a lot of things well. Character customization is fun, when you can find groups dungeons are quick, fast and challenging. The plot is that better than most MMOs, and stronger than some single player games.

    I don't want to rehash everything it did wrong and that it did right. It was an ambitious title, and it succeeded in delivering a lot of things (and failed in others.) This is not a knock against The Secret World, but I only have time for one MMO, and sadly, Guild Wars 2 is that MMO. I like what both are bringing to the genre (that is: more customizable characters, more detailed worlds, ways to dip to play with other characters, etc.)

    If someone were to write a history of MMOs, the Secret World deserves an honorable mention. There have been a lot of forgettable MMOs, and a lot of MMOs that promised a lot and petered out. But, from the word go, you could tell The Secret World was a labor of love. Either way, I think that it was a brilliant game (and still is, actually.)

    Oh well. Tomorrow, links; next week, back to normal blogging.

    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    Pick Your Poison

    Much of gaming comes down to opinion, really, I think. I had been kicking that idea around when I talked about game reviews, but then, I came to the conclusion that there were objective measures by which you could review games, besides, you know, popping the CD/disc/.exe file in and seeing what happens.

    I kind of like this multilevel bifurcation of gaming, because I think it shows that it is more than just technology that is evolving. There has always been a wide variety of games, but just going on Steam today, I saw the wide variety (in genres, art styles, themes and quality) available.

    Really, some of the games I have installed: L.A. Noire (have not played), The Walking Dead, Transformers: War for Cybertron (also have yet to play), Sanctum, Magicka, Bastion (also unplayed), Mass Effect 2, League of Legends (which I guess is not a Steam game... but whatever), Dragon Age: Origins, Hack Slash Loot, Left 4 Dead 2 and Hero Academy.

    It used to be that the 16-bit era was something of a high-water mark for gaming in my mind. I think the digital distribution model, though, will probably be the next major chapter in video (or should we be calling it digital?) gaming history.

    ----

    P.S.,

    Also, here's picking your poison in a political sense for watching the debates.

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

    Walking Dead Game Episode 4 Trailer

    Telltale's Walking Dead has a trailer up for Episode 4 (warning, below there be spoilers.)

    Monday, October 1, 2012

    The 9 Percent

    You've probably already read this. Apparently, only about 9 percent of people respond to polls when called. That's an incredibly low amount, but makes sense. I don't know a lot of people who have ever been polled, and most people I talk to (myself included... wait, that came out wrong) actively avoid being polled. Per Slate, though, it seems that the random sampling manages to avoid being biased too much one way or the other, but it is still interesting to keep in mind.

    Telephone polling is easy to ignore. I bet if I got on the Metro this Saturday and asked random people to marry me, provided I was not arrested for harassment, I could get a higher than 9 percent response rate (note: This is a response rate not rate of yes responses.) There's something about being asked questions in person that prompts people to respond more, even when the question is absurd. Maybe if the question is extremely absurd, it is easier to respond quickly and negatively than questions dealing with deeply held beliefs.

    Of course, I can't say for sure more people would break my heart than respond to political polling, but I have a good feeling that they would. Maybe someone would like to spend some money on a study, for science?