I Watch the Watchmen

14 11 2008


The Hugo award winning graphic novel. One of TIME Magazine’s 100 best novels. The future full length movie. The evolution of Watchmen transcends comic books. What can be said about one of greatest graphic novels of our time? Alan Moore has either woken his dormant schizophrenia comic writing daemon from his acid consumption, and distributing in London or is a complete comic book genius inspiring countless comic writers and a whole slew of comic creators. I believe it’s a bit of both. But the book itself re-awoken the whole idea that the graphic novel  can transcend a literary form, surpassing those idle ‘toons in the backs of newspaper, which can also carry their own morals.

 1987 was the year this bad boy was made. No I’m not talking about me, but was it really 21 years ago I came screaming into this world. It was also the year the second batch of Watchmen comics came out. Man if I could of only started collecting before I began teething those comics are worth a fortune now. But that’s besides the point, I figure that comics haven’t really evolved or broke the barriers that Watchmen broke nearly 20 years ago. And like Obama says it’s time for a change. But it’s not up to the Frank Miller’s or the Alan Moore’s any (pardon the pun) more. It’s up to the future writers and designers of comics, that’s what Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics eludes to towards the end. The future is in the heart and pen of the creators.


To Think Outside the Tinderbox

13 11 2008

I was fortunate enough to see some profoundly great hypertext writers displaying their visual pieces. I was relatively new to the hypertext world but I was intrigued.  Discovering broad forms of new media to display your literary work is quite an exciting endeavor. With intricate webbing of lexia, you can throw out the conventional static texts and page turning; welcome to the non-linear pathways of hypertexual writing.

I was encouraged to start writing in the hypertext format for a project, alas the program Tinderbox only comes in mac flavor. But the idea was one that was cultivating like that creature in the Twilight Zone who would crawl inside your head to plant it’s eggs. It was an idea I had while reading a great book on psychology called Madness And Civilization by Michel Foucault. It was the an idea from that very book by a Renaissance writer Sebastian Brant. He wrote a fictional book, The Narrenshiff or “Ship of Fools” literally the drunken boat. During the first half of the 15th century social misfits ranging from criminals to the “deranged minds” were put on a ship and entrusted to mariners. This ship of drunken madmen crisscrossed seas and canals of Europe until they would reach a port and then be entrusted to the local pilgrims or sent back to sea. Now these prisoners of passage were actually on a spiritual journey also. And the water that carried their boat; purified them.

The innovation that is hypterxtuality allows for a new experience each time you read the same story. A different variable is added, changing the way someone reads a link or lexia. A cycle described as a Joycean cycle can be achieved by creating a loop of the lexia, thus allowing for different lexia being viewed each time a new loop is activating changing not only the contextual meaning but the overall correlation of the text which has now been changed or altered. The reader personalizes the text, making it his/her own experience every time they click on a different link.

My ship of fools has been replaced by the large underground asylum in the Labyrinth. The vagabonds, criminals, and the psychotics are all the social misfits embarking on a great symbolic voyage in search of their own destiny and truths. But the boat has been replaced by the asylum or madhouse.

A post-apocalyptic descent into madness. Only in hypertext could these ideas be vividly displayed. The hypertext format allowed a certain word or phrase to link to another lexia allowing for a passage which literally created a “flow” or transfer of thoughts and ideas. The relationships between the words is crafted by the author who controls each link and when they are present and the duration they are presented to the reader, allowing for complete control.

This is my personal experience with hypertext using Tinderbox.

To Inform You “Din”

5 11 2008

The Din started as an idea my uncle had thought of while we were discussing writing in proper sentence structure. See, at least 2-3 times a week I discuss concepts of writing and rules with my uncle using the classic literary instruction guide The Elements of Style by Strunk/White/ and Kalman. My uncle had the concept of a simple story of this place called Din’s 1. A raucous bar which housed a group of thieves. So that’s where my Inform 7 story originally came from.

I usually draw inspiration from my uncle, he is truly a creative man. The  Din was a good starting point for me. The best feeling perhaps, is showing him the conceptional outcome of this text based adventure game. I believe it all needed to start from a great opening sentence like a beloved novel. There was a meshing of ideas and concepts with fantasy which had been my first experience with interactive fiction on a simple windows program. The game was text based but it actually had simple graphics. It was called Kings Quest and it was very enthralling to a 5 year old who had a basic knowledge of the English language. I’ll never forget this one scene in the beginning where you walk into a room in your house and you see your cat. And of course I kicked that puss right across the room! It has to be one of my fondest game memories, which has to be up there with saving princess Peach and nuking an entire town of Megaton in Fallout 3.

So after the mesh-up of these ideas and concepts of the DIn and the thieves I added a little fantasy with the objects and the halfling-orc barmaid. And I sprinkledome s religious concepts with the main character starting off on a gurney or slab in a morgue. The surrounding setting is actually Purgatory. As you descend I wanted to add a Dante-esque theme to the realms of this bar. I remember this classic Super Nintendo game Shadowrun in which you start off in a morgue I thought that was a great beginning. So you can see this mixing and mashing of plots and themes I never forgot about in my gaming career.

After that I started constructing various rooms which contained at times, sad and sadistic figures but no real objectives which will be corrected in time. So with a points based system being set into place I need meaningful items which can bring humerus results at times.

I’m starting to see a connection with ideas and concepts. I mean hey, we all draw from the same pool of ideas. But these ideas seem to be morphing. Evolving perhaps.

Also this month is write a novel month. Although I refuse to scribble down a beloved idea in a matter of a month. This time frame of one month, releases the constraints of methodical planning. Just go out and write something, I know I will start. I just need to see the Arrigoni.

Spore Study: Wadrin (2)

27 10 2008

With the Wadrin species sprouting legs it was only a matter of time before they frolicked to land. The creature were still very much in they’re simple cell-like form with the old appendages attached and fresh pair of legs the time to become land conquerors drew near.

A pack of your fiercest survivors make the journey to land. they create a sort of nests where they begin to sing and dance and procreate to further the existence of the Wadrin. So they give you the task of the explorer.Adventuring across the lands of Gaia in search for food and other species that inhabit the planet. At first I began walking straight up a large hill. On the other side of the hill was another pack of simple creatures with at least one leg and a mosquito-like features. At first they strayed from me and backed off in fear of the new creature they have discovered. But when I approached them they began to do simple steps almost like a rhythmic dance that I could copy. After imitating them I ha gained they’re trust. They now allowed me to roost in they’re nest if necessary and would even follow me in search of other creatures on the island.

So it was me and my mosquito-like companion will call me Mcfly for short. We were wondering around the planet which stopping to much on vegetation and various fruit spread throughout the landscape. Also found scattered about were bones and fossils which could be broken down to release new abilities and “parts” for my ultimate vegetarian alien. After some wondering I stumbled upon a giant geyser omitting this gas which belched from the earth. Mcfly was eager to show his courage, being that he was the alpha of his pack so he chose to step on that geyser. With comical action Mcfly was jetted up to at least 30 feet in the air. He landed unharmed but a llittle confused. I was too curious and decided to feel the feeling of flight which thrilled me so much I went and evolved and gained wings.

Now me I glided lightly hoping from hill to hill with a small pair of wings. I also had sprouted a bit of a bird-like beak which helped in cracking fossils and eating the various fruits in the area. After some more travels Mcfly and I stumbled across a pack of four-legged trunk nosed vermin. Who in first response to are arrival began to spit and spew at us. Mcfly was injured and couldn’t traverse much farther. I happened to glide away towards a more “friendlier” nest when to my surprise Mcfly had followed me diligently instead of returning home. But behind him lay the rat-like creatures on his trail following and spitting still obviously angry at us for no apparent reason. But hey folks this is survival.
So when the Atts stumbled upon the new nest they began to attack and spew they’re venomous bile from they’re lips on my new found allies who resembled a bit of large outstretched dogs, which at least two different mouths. A great battled ensued between the Cerberus like pooches and the venomous vermin. Let’s just say me and Mcfly did not stick around for the spoils of war. We withdrew to another crevice where we were bombarded with hunger. We had to find food fast because we were both fading fast. I did not want to eat my poor friend but if it came down to it…

Finally we came across another pair of fruit trees very relatively close to Mcfly’s own nest. So I bid my ally farewell for now since it was time to return to my own mate. We parted ways with a little sadness. As he left I stumbled upon a small pack of almost complete fuzzed creatures and saw a miraculous light in the sky. On of the creatures was being sucked into what looked like a giant-disc-shaped spaceship by a tractor beam. Which made me question what the future holds for  my wadrins ?
I arrived at the nest to find it abandoned. Some large predator ,no doubt, had sent them fleeing to find another reliable nest. Damn them to leave me with nothing in my absence but they did leave a bit of a trail to follow. Now in search of my wadrin I follow the trail of their own despair. My mate I pray for her passage in this rough world. May the new found wings we sprouted bring some hope to my species.

Spore Study: Wadrin(1)

24 10 2008

Recently I have purchased Will Wright’s revolutionary computer game Spore. But rather then break it down or review it in the traditional sense, instead of discussing things such as sound or gameplay, I will develop a story creating two very different species in this remarkable game.Will Wright of Simcity and Sim’s fame is no stranger to putting the player in control of every detail in the sense that the player is also the creator and perhaps even the writer. For the stories that emerge from the creation of an endless array of species is remarkable in itself.

You simply start by clicking on a planet, there is a wide variety of settings and landscapes from a traditional Earth to dark recesses that can only bear a resemblance to classic Startrek planets such as Vulcan or Starwars’ Tatooine for that matter. So after selecting a planet you name the planet. I named mine simply Gaia(Greek for earth) which is appropriate because they’re is lush vegetation and plenty of water on Gaia. After that you pick an evolutionary stage to start.I want to start at the begging and further stages will be explained as I progress through them. So I chose to start from the beginning at the Cell stage. After that you are prompted if you would rather be a herbivore or a carnivore. This is where you choices will significantly alter you abilities and the way you play the game. So these journals will be of the race of creatures I have created called the Wadrin( an anagram of Darwin)who are strictly on a plant diet. The race of species will be covered latter for their story is very different because they will be galactic warlords and meat eaters. The Wadrin are in fact very different but they’re evolution now rests in the hand of me.   So without further ado; a story of life, a story of creation, the story of the Wadrin evolution.

Floating spilling into the primordial liquid of life the first of the species known as the Wadrin is alive. With a quick shreek the Wadrin goes about swimming and looking in its vast primal ocean. The creature is but a simple amoeba-like specimen. The prim is flowing with life of all kinds. Some very large creatures floating and collecting krill and other vegetation in their large jaws sucking and gasping to extinguish life. Other creatures float to other large branches which contain fragments of plant life budding with algae and plankton. Being a consumer of plant-life I swim over to these patches but I must hurry, other specimen understand the importance of food and they’re existence. After eating my fill I witness the death of a unique creature which leaves behind a glowing token of some sort for a boost in the evolution. It’s time to start climbing the ladder. It’s time to collect more plant life.

After a few narrow misses I am finally killed when a pack of ravenous creatures attack a group of my own species I interfere and soon become fish food to they’re gaping jaws. But not to worry, I am quickly respawned and the evolution can commence, but now it’s time to mate! After finding a special mate, I am given opportunities to help my species by evolving and “growing” new parts. I arrange my own vertebrae and make a squid-like creature with writhing flagella to trap plant life in my mouth. I have tentacles on my back used for gripping and propulsion’s through the aquatic abyss. Cilia on the side of my head which act as rudders which help to steer this vassal of a creature. Also on my ass I have to latest in jet-propulsion to jettison me through the water to avoid the numerous predators. Let’s not forget my two button eyes. Now unleashed on this world with more to match up with the predators who are left in my trail of bubbles. But the occasional giant monstrosity can always attack and follow me for long period of time less I avert they’re attention on a pack of other helpless sea brine. With the new tools equipped and evolution in my sights.

More plankton and algae is consumed and I’m on my journey to collect more “parts” to evolve through broken masses of meteorite that crash into the pools. Sacrificing protection and an offensive attack for speed and evasiveness I kept coming back to the basic animal instinct to fight or take flight. I choose the latter when it comes to these denizen of the deep. After a period of at least 600 million years(time flies) the Wadrin can finally sprout legs and race for the surface/ But what horrors await the simply minded Wadrin on land? IS the future simply ready for the Wadrin, or is land a whole new adventure in itself. Tune in for more entries as this evolution continues and check back for the next line of galactic marauders in my Spore stories.

A study in”Good Writing” for Games

1 10 2008

Writing for video games is diverse for the interactive nature of video games is not JUST something that informs the player of the story;it’s the proposed foundation of the process.It must enhance and compliment the gameplay. I want it to alter the story depending on my actions.The players actions must define the story, amplyfying the game mechanics and giving purpose to the player. I want control over the fate of the character in a non-linear fashion, as I am the active participant of the story. I believe a strong narrative is very important to a game, the players must interact with the narrative. Both the dialogue and cutscenes are used to help convey the story more now then ever in video games. Cutscenes and dialogue which break the game into segments coincide to shape the outcome. A video game writer must maintain strong narrative them while making changes necessary to compliment gamplay. Move away from long CG movies and cut to the freedom of conversations. Dramatic storytelling serves the need of the gamplay.

Muzzy Field: A baseball throw away (2)

29 09 2008


Brendan Finn

Steve Ersinghaus

23, September 2008

New Media

Step outside on my front porch and you can see the athletes through the surrounding pine trees. The band has begun and the cars are piling in. This bustle of activity can be attributed to a local high school sporting event. It is the weekly games at Muzzy Field under the Friday night lights which shine through my upstairs window and into my room. Muzzy Field has always been an important structure to me growing up. Many a nights I traversed up and down the wooden benches during a football or baseball game. Just last week they set up huge projection T.V to display a grand production for the community. It’s hard to avoid the turmoil this place conjures in it’s stands. The cheering and the pounding of the drums. Like some classic Roman coliseum with it’s grandeur, the sports and the spectating is but a baseball throw away.

The field itself is located across from Bristol’s Rockwell Park.The entrance to the park is located at the end of Muzzy Street across from an Italian bar/restaurant Sabino’s.The entrance is comprised of two 12 foot stone columns which connect ingraved are the words Muzzy Field. Usually in the front there will be one police officer and two to three park admission workers to help regulate the flow of the crowd. To the left of the entrance will be a ticket booth with two separate ticket tackers waiting inside a brick hut to disperse tickets to the masses that gather in front.The new addition added to the front allows more room for the spacious crowds that gather on Thanksgiving. This is important due to Muzzy’s large seating capacity which seats around 4,900 screaming fans.

Once you make it through the columns you are greeted by Muzzy’s majestic brick-faced grandstand. At the top you will notice four large windows which support a view at the top through the mire meshing. Straight ahead parents and supporters of the teams hand out fliers and lineups. Usually behind them they’re will be a door which leads to the home teams lockers rooms.  On the left of that doorway is a ground keepers room filled with equipment to chop the grass and thin the circling pine trees. To the left of that doorway is a ramp which leads to the lower level of the stadium. Keeping to the left you will see an alley which leads down towards the stands occupied usually by the player’s parents. There is also a concession stand which sells popcorn and hot cocoa in the winter. Past the food stand is another ramp which leads to the home field stands and seating for band members. Further along the path is a stairwell which leads to the announcer’s box.

Back at the front of the entrance this time to take a right. This leads to another ramp which connects to the lower level of the stands. Next to the ramp is a an entrance to the field to be used by umpires and medical units . Another concession is located underneath a tent and is also conveniently close to the bathrooms that line the right-hand side. Right beside the bathrooms are a pump station a room used to control sprinklers and regulate flow of toilets and water fountains(hope they’re not linked). On either sides of the bathrooms are ramps which lead to another section of seating. Going past the bathrooms to your right is an opening in the fence which is opened in the 7th inning of baseball games or the 3rd quarter in football games. Emergency personal and vehicles are waiting to cart off injured players or spectators.The entire field is surrounded by large fencing at least 9-12 feet high. Probably used to keep out stragglers and non-ticket holders, but you can still scramble up-and over in the back near the loading gates, to avoid paying the $3 for admission.

The flow of the crowd moves to the ticket booth to gain admission while packed in crowds and surrounded by roped lines. The line itself is the origin and the ticket booth is the lexica or the introduction to gain admission to the hypertext or the websites homepage. The movement of people is dispersed and then concentrated through the people and admission who keep the line orderly by minimizing the space to pass through an area which is very similar to a filter. This can be the links or the paths we take by common association through the hypertext. Whether we’re craving for food or we have to use the bathroom this common association can lead trails of your preference. By sitting in the a seat you manipulate the space in a sense. But the highest interactivity comes from the players on the field. They “modify” the field by tearing and kicking up dirt and grass. Also the scoreboard in the back can be manipulated in the announcer’s box  and only the players performance can alter the display of the board.