Pixels & Platforms

Saturday, February 22, 2020

I was about to throw it all away...

Tl;dr This is a long post about nothing.

Am I still creative?

I was on the verge, like no joke a day or two away, from posting that I was going to quit blogging. Over the last several months my life has changed pretty significantly for the better. However, as I have somewhat tongue-in-cheek already discussed, I have as a result struggled creatively. Over these last several months, my home game has come to a screeching halt (we've only played I think twice in this time). Almost everything I've posted was a finished draft I had on hold for exactly this kind of circumstance, a mostly finished draft that I gave some kind of unsatisfying finish to, or stuff that I did think were cool ideas but didn't give them the effort they deserved. I haven't done any javascript stuff, which I miss, and I'm a significantly better coder now than I was a few months ago, but I just haven't had the time to do anything particularly cool with it for the blog. Would also like to do some more RPG-applied machine learning stuff since I really have no excuse not to do that now that that's literally my profession 0.o.

I had also even before that become really disengaged with the community, which didn't help. I'm almost never on discord anymore, G+ is long over, I lurk on reddit a bit still but rarely post, I still follow a bunch of blogs and try to comment but I rarely discover new blogs unless one of the other bloggers I follow blogs about them. It seems like a lot of people have moved to twitter, and I have a twitter, but I just really don't like twitter. There's been this whole zine thing which several months back I would have been all over but now I just don't want to. I still get a few awesome individuals who will occasionally comment on my blog posts which I deeply appreciate. I don't feel as bad when a post doesn't get many views or comments anymore because I feel less engaged in general, but it always helps to get some kind of engagement.

The blog was beginning to feel like a chore. I wasn't feeling motivated to create. I felt like I was getting diminishing returns for my efforts in every sense. My fellow blogger friend semiurge discussed once, somewhere, that he felt that creativity was something that happened to him passively, and I used to feel that way, but it has been feeling effortful for me for quite some time, and as a result I haven't been prioritizing it at all.


Then randomly, just over the last week, I've been starting to feel a bit creatively energized again. We'll see how much of that actually translates to the blog, but it's nice. I get random ideas that pop into my head again and I write notes. One or two ideas I've been sitting on for a while are starting to come together more organically. I'm still struggling to get my home game together but I'm going to be starting another group with some work friends which will hopefully energize me.

I had said that after I got my career together that I'd start prioritizing commissioning art and potentially publishing something, and it took me longer to get my career together but it happened, and now it's taking me longer to get the rest of my life together but it's coming along, and I'm hoping maybe I'll soon get back to that place where those things seem plausible for me.

I've found that whenever I do these kinds of posts about things I want to do, or my mental state, that putting it out there into the world makes me more likely to actualize it. I don't want to abuse this superstitious placebo effect, but I'll briefly preview a few ideas / priorities. Feedback may affect how likely or how quickly these things happen.

Setting and/or System Idea with three possible names

This idea is one of those "darlings" that I've spent way too much time thinking about and wanting it to be my magnum opus and pinning too much of myself on it to the point that it cannot ever be what I want it to be and trying to make it that is just making it worse, so I'm trying to just give up on that and let it be something much more ad hoc and small scale. Instead of telling you at all what it's supposed to be about, I'll just tell you the three titles I'm considering and hopefully the titles speak for themselves. I might also try to fold it in with It's Okay to be a Monster.

Title 1 (original)

Title 2 (originally a different idea very loosely inspired by my thoughts on Feast of Legends that I'll probably fold into this)
Free the System: An Absurdist World of Corporate Fantasy

Title 3 (just came up with it the other day)
Maximum Recursion Depth, or Sometimes the Only Way to Win is to Stop Playing

A few Weird species for an undetermined setting

Weird fantasy, and specifically Weird fantasy species, are hard to get right. I was going to try to hyperlink all my attempts but there are too many. Some have been successful (at least imo) and others not so much. But here we are again. Isaac Asimov's The Gods Themselves is one of my favorite novels of all time, and has a really interesting trinary-gendered, totally inhuman species. I recently read Adrian Tchaikovsky's Children of Time, and it was excellent. He does such a good job of creating a species that is very Weird and inhuman, yet presented in a sympathetic way. It is partially what has reinvigorated me to try to create some new species that are truly Weird, but that hopefully can be relatable and playable. Here is a very brief preview of these species. I haven't really decided on any other features of the setting yet, it can be anything I guess.

(Tentative Names)
The Goop: The primordial soup as a singular, viral-like superorganism that create water-goop-carcass vessels to traverse on land. Some are as large as cities and contain whole ecosystems inside themselves, others are chimera held together by carved whale bone and coral.
Hu: An evolutionary offshoot of humanity that has evolved to fill the ecological niche of ants and use pheromone-signalling and an ever-rotating maintenance crew of hu to remote-pilot Frankenstein abominations.
Freakazoids: Created by an advanced AI. They are biological but have mechanics and design principles not found in nature like wheels and treads and combustion engines, and look like freaky animal-cars, animal-bikes, etc. and do freaky science.
Unnamed Pterosaur Humanoids: The most human-like and imo, at least so far, least interesting. They're basically meant to be the closest thing to a human-surrogate since some people need that. I'll try to make them interesting without making them too "Weird". They lay eggs and have some peacocking stuff with their vestigial wings. I dunno I'm open to suggestion.


  1. If I may say so, I hope you won't stop. I think that in some occasions the inspiration might shift from being a background process to more like a tide, with their lower and higher points.

    For "Unnamed Pterosaur Humanoids" - why specifically pterosaurs (and not, say, stegosaurs)? For their more humanoid-like structure or there is some other aspect of them that is interesting to you?

    1. Mainly because of their humanoid-like structure honestly. I think there may have been some other reasons why I was interested in pterosaurs at one point but that would have been way back when I was writing the Cancerverse stuff, I don't remember exactly. They supposedly had these hair-like filaments which seems interesting. I may have read that they were pretty intelligent and it seemed possible that they could have filled a similar ecological niche as humans if the opportunity had presented itself.

  2. This is just my 2 cents, but I think that if the blog's continued existence feels like a burden or weight on you, if you find you can't do other things that you're supposed to because you feel guilty about not posting, then it would make sense to shut it down, and lay that burden aside.

    But if you don't experience it that way, as a source of stress or pressure, then you might want to leave it open, even if you think you might never post in it again. You might find that you enjoy posting less often and on a less regular schedule. You might want a break, but in 6 months, a year, 2 years, you could find that you're glad that a record of this time still exists.

    People go on hiatus, sometimes a long hiatus, then find a new reason to start blogging again. People also leave and don't come back, but the presence of their old blog still adds something. Obviously, the decision is up to you, but if it doesn't hurt you to leave it up, you might consider leaving it.

    This is one of those situations where, if you change your mind later, it's easier to close it than to reopen it.

    1. Oh no, maybe I wasn't clear, but I had no intention of actually shutting the blog down, I definitely would have left it up even if I was no longer blogging!

      While it was starting to feel like a burden, it wasn't that I felt compelled to post and didn't like that feeling, but that I wanted to force myself to work past that feeling, because I felt that the blog and what it represents to me was too important to lose. I felt, and still feel, that if I really stopped, I'd probably never come back, at least not unless the things that had changed in my life that made it start to feel like a burden in the first place didn't also change, and I definitely don't want those things to change.

      I needed to figure out how to engage my creative side even as all of these other things were changing in my life and the way I used to engage with my creativity was no longer possible. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I think I may have figured it out. I don't know if I'll be posting as frequently as I used to back in the day, but I'm hoping that at least when I do post, it's stuff that I feel good about.

      I've already drafted the first in what will hopefully be a short series of posts for that new setting focused around those species I briefly mentioned, and I think I've got a lot of other cool ideas for that setting. The other setting that's so far just a title I'm still struggling a little more with, but we'll see.

  3. good to hear you got da juice

    you ever read Peter Watts? He's good for alien mindset/biology stuff and his writing's up online... somewhere... this link works: https://rifters.com/real/Blindsight.htm and I know he used to have his Rifters trilogy and short stories on the same site somewhere but can't find 'em now for some reason... they're good tho, deeply cynical might not be to your taste

    1. He's not ringing a bell but I'll have to look into him, thanks for the suggestion!