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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Interview with an Ideal

He's nuts.
Well, there's a fine line between
genius and insanity...
Which he was nowhere near.
He was a mental case, through and through.
Well said.
You think so?
Look, I'm not saying he didn't make some good stuff...
..though he didn't...
but still-
Seriously, guys.
You don't do all that if you're crazy.
Sure, he was sorta weird,
but look where he got to in the end!
In the end? You mean the part where he's got so little to say he leaves a post blank or the part where he pretends someone cares? No, wait, you must be talking about the part where he never actually does anything! Face it, the end result of all this moping and complaining is a big 100-post shitpile of moping and complaining. Hoorah.
Wait, wait-
Now, you're not being fair.
This isn't the end of his life you're seeing,
it's just the beginning.
Wait, just a minute!
This blog hasn't been all that bad.
He's already done some good posts, and y'know,
I bet if you looked at the other blogs from that period-
Do we really have to argue
about the merits of early 21st-Century blogging?
Okay, yeah, it was pretty bad out there.
But who cares?
You're gonna look at this mess as a work of art or something?
'Cause I think it gave up on being an end in and of itself back in December 2005.
Yeah, but it oughta go somewhere soon.


This blog so far has just been
the insane ramblings of an autist,
but somehow he's gonna end up where we know he does.
That's what makes the whole thing worth reading.

I just wanna know how long he's gonna take getting there!
(Because this is getting sort of ridiculous.)
You know what? I don't know what you guys are babbling about anymore, and I don't care. This? All this? It's shit. Ten years from now it'll still be shit. This kid keeps promising and promising, and never does a thing. All this stuff about games, and has he lifted a finger to actually make a game? Of course not! He'd rather bitch about how terrible the world is that he can't make a game in it, and how terrible society is, and how terrible money is. And when he's finished with that he comes up with figments of his imagination to pop up and explain everything, to paint it all as a little fantasy so that he can deal with this imaginary dream world he's got in his fucked-up little head and not the real world. It's all imaginary to him, all literary analyses of a silly little story, but it's NOT. And he doesn't get that. And that's why... When I came here, I thought he was gonna fuck up his life. But now I see that I shouldn't have worried, because you can't fuck up what never existed. He never had a life to begin with, and he's too much of a coward to ever start one!


Look, I don't want to sound condescending or anything, but...

Look, you don't have the perspective we have.
(Us being so far in the future and all.)
All this wasted time and craziness now is made up for by the fact that Buckman became a gamist in the end.
A good one.


The future, huh.
Just a sec, I'll get you the file...
What file?
The AI file...
They made a record of Buckman before he died.
Sort of like the photographs of your time period.
Wow, you've really never played an AI file!
It's got the personality, the memories, ...
Where is it?
No, you're looking in the wrong place!
It's in that big area on the right.

This is such a mess.
No, that other one.
Oh, right. I see it.
Here you go.
Okay, you got me curious. I'll play along.


What am I waiting for, exactly?
It's still loading, give it time.





Hey. You know who I am?
Sure, I remember you. You played my games!

"my games"
Did I like them?
No, you hated them.

Makes sense. So you're really Mory from the future? 'Cause these guys-
Actually, I'm Mory from the past. I mean, I was recorded back when- wait.
Wait, I remember writing this. Okay, right, I'm Mory from your future. This is pretty cool.



You still got your blog going?
Oh, yeah! I mean, not many people read it, but I really feel like -even with all the other games I've done and gotten credit for- I really feel like that blog is my life's greatest achievement, y'know? For the past few years I've never missed a day! Some posts are longer to write than others, so I'm always working on two posts at once- one simpler one and one big one that I give more attention to. So every single morning (I get up at 4.), I finish one blog post. I've found I need a strict schedule like that or it just never gets done. Oh, except I don't do posts on Saturdays. I can't write a post right after Shabbat because my Saturdays are so busy from start to finish I just don't have the time. Oh, but now I've gone on for much too long. I do tend to do that, but it's just because I'm really proud of the blog, y'know? And nobody understands why I care so much about a blog, they're like, "Why do you spend so much time on writing out your life by hand when you could just have an AI file" and now I'm blabbering again. Sorry. Sorry.


So... you like your blog.
Yeah. But you know, it's not really like it was back in your time, I've made all sorts of-

I don't care.


You.. like Saturdays?
"Like"? I can't live without 'em! I mean, I'm so busy all week long, Shabbat's the only time I get to have fun! I have a schedule of serials from the rest of the week playing on my computer, and the rest of the time I use to read. Then those few hours between Shabbat's end and going to sleep are the only time I get to play any games other than the ones I'm working on. I live for Saturdays!


And what have you accomplished, exactly? Are you some big games guy now?Hey. So you're Mory, the big games guy!So what have you accomplished, exactly? Are you some big games guy now?
Um.. yeah. That's me.

Because I didn't think you could get there.
Well, it was always a struggle. Nothing comes easy in life. But it's like I always say: Anyone can be a gamist if they really want to. With gamism being as healthy as it is today, any type of artist can carve out a little niche for himself just by doing what comes naturally! Though I must admit, back in my day- it wasn't nearly so easy. Not at all! Well, it all turned out for the best in the end.

"what comes
It comes naturally to you to make games? This is news to me.
What- you think I can't make good games? I'm not quite sure I get the insult. I mean, I know you didn't like my games when you played them. I remember that. Sorry, they're not for everyone. But I don't see why you'd question how I made them.

When you were younger, nothing came naturally to you that involved getting off your ass!
I've changed.

Wait, you said games are doing really well now? I mean, not that I don't like how they are now but do you think your games had something to do with that?
Well, I like to think so. For instance, I think my work with interactive fiction paved the way for more mainstream stuff like the interactive romances that are so popular these days. Well, it was really Jeffries that did that, but to a certain extent he was using what I'd built up.


Oh, what a help to games: you helped other people make some games for chicks! *snort*
Hey, don't dismiss romances. I would've made one myself back then, if I knew how. It's definitely more important in the long term than a sci-fi action story!

How do you figure?
Well, I think the interactive romances, set in the real world, were when people stopped seeing gamism as a niche. Only now is that change really starting to increase the variety of games, but it wouldn't have happened without getting the romance-fans interested.

Oh yeah? WSo what games did you make?
You know, Through the Wind, Present-Self Defense, Dreams of a Fractured World, a bunch of little anthologies. Not exactly masterpieces, but I'm pretty proud of them all the same.
And you said you made actual games?
Well, the first few games weren't actually in stores -I let them out for free- but yeah. I made a platformer, two adventures, a big epic RPG, a bunch of random anthologies. Not exactly masterpieces, as I'm sure you'd agree, but I'm pretty proud of them all the same.

And I guess you made these games all by yourself?
Of course not! I work with an extremely talented team of developers living all over the world. Sometimes parts of the group will be working on other people's projects, so I use other parts. It's a very big team, and it's all very professional.

So what were your games like?
You want to know?
So what were your games like?Sure.What were they like?
I don't understand, aren't you- wait.

Wait, I remember writing this. Of course, this is the blog post with the interview! Wow, that was ages ago! This is pretty cool.
So what were they like.
The first one was a platformer- Well, actually the first game I made was a little two-minute interactive fiction, and there were a few other little things then, but Through the Wind was the first serious game I made, and that was a platformer. Present-Self Defense was an action adventure. Don't Miss was called a "collection of worlds"- now there was a financial flop. But I was proud of that, and the other little anthologies. And I just finished Dreams of a Fractured World, which is an RPG using "sequential art" as a base. They're all very personal projects, because it's just not worth it to spend all that time on a game you don't care about. If it were any other medium I might be open to the idea, but with games you have to make the whole foundation first, so there's twice the work. It's only worth doing that if the content means something to you. Sometimes years will go by without any major work because I'm stubborn like that, but I spend every minute I can spare of that time writing up my next big design document.

So all the games which I designed myself were very personal. They told stories about identity and change and all sorts of vague philosophical concepts. And with each one I also looked at whatever its art form was and said, "What needs to be done to make sure that that art form will have a clearer and healthier future?". And then I did that. So I'm told I'm arrogant from two directions: first, for these self-involved plotlines which the players aren't really controlling, and for acting like I know what I'm doing messing around with established forms.

Though just between you and me, I do. Know what I'm doing, I mean.

"healthier future"
Yeah, it sounds like you do. Huh.

"healthier future"
What was wrong with all those genres the way they were?But why mess around with all those different kinds of games? They're fun already!
Well, they had their charms, to be sure. And I admit that I took out many aspects that people liked each time I reworked a form. But they were unfocused. The gamists who were working on them (and often doing excellent jobs, to be sure) didn't seem to know what the forms were meant for, or where they should be going in the future. They just imitated the past successes and changed little bits here and there just to keep things fresh. So there were all sorts of elements there that were redundant - I took those out entirely. And there were some elements that were actually getting in the way of what I saw as the forms' potential, so I got rid of those too. A lot of other little things had become too rigid, like gamists were afraid that if they changed anything they'd mess something up. I changed those as much as I could, to demonstrate the range of possibilities. Because people thought that what had already been done was all that could be done. So I changed those elements recklessly. It always caused controversy, like when word got out that I was making an RPG without numerical statistics. Or when I made an adventure without any puzzles or exploring at all. But now we're starting to see games which, they aren't really imitating me, but they're doing things that those gamists might not have thought of before I broke the traditions.

That's what I've tried to do- break the traditions.
So what else do you do with your time?So what do you do these days, changed guy?
I create! I spend almost all of my day working on things. The blog, obviously, and any other games I'm directing, or helping out with games my team-mates are directing. I write music, too. Sometimes for the games, sometimes just because I've come up with a theme I like. Sometimes I meet programmers I'm friends with online, and throw ideas at them just to see if they can pull it off. Sometimes this stuff gets me inspired to write new designs, so it's not just for fun. Like right now, I'm working on a little experiment called Kwrk which evolved out of this little demo one of my programmers worked up. Those guys are just amazing.

When I'm not creating, I'm studying new languages. I'm already reasonably fluent in English, Hebrew, French, Russian, Japanese and Aramaic, so now I'm learning Arabic.
What do you need so many languages for?
Not everything good is written in English.
But still! There's no way you use all those languages.
Well, it's not like I use them all on a regular basis.

Okay, so maybe I haven't been using Aramaic a lot lately. And I don't expect Arabic to be so useful either. But I just like learning new languages.

And it really came in handy when I was making up languages for Dreams of a Fractured World.

I like the traditions. You know, they're popular for a reason.
Okay. It's not like old-school games aren't still being made, occasionally.


Have you had any other jobs, or did this dream job fall out of the sky with your name on it?
"Out of the sky?" You are strange.
Just, have you had any other jobs?
A long time back, I worked at this online library. I loved that job. Organizing all the games and books and movies and comics and music and old TV shows...

See, I've always loved to organize stuff. And I'm also naturally the sort of guy who's looking to give everyone else new experiences. I meet someone, first thing I think is "How can I give him a game or something that he'll like?". It's just what I do. So to mix the two together- that was tremendously fulfilling.

And you've gotta understand, this was coming off of the worst part of my life. Because before that, I did have other jobs, lots of 'em, and they were all terrible. So I kept to a schedule of writing my game designs on the side, and that moved forward quickly, but I never figured out how to get them sold until the middle of the library job. So I was just really depressed for years, and I felt like I'd never get anywhere, and then KFLUMP! -From out of the sky (like you said) falls this amazing job that gives me everything I need and makes me useful.

It was hard leaving that job, but I couldn't keep it up and have a serious career in gamism at the same time.
Have you got any friends these days, or do you still just hang out with your computer?Hold on- did you say you've got actual friends?
Sure, plenty of 'em. Only a few really good friends, but plenty of other people who I guess I'd call friends.

I do have a pretty nice computer, though.
And you got yourself a girl, too?
No. No, I don't expect I will.
Where do you live now?
In my dream house!

It's in a lovely little secluded forest, with lots of nice trees for climbing. And it's got the big theater room and the bedroom in the attic and the computer ten times bigger than it ought to be and all the other things I've always wanted.

It's not in Israel, though. I couldn't find a place for it in Israel. I do feel guilty about that.
Nice story.
Thanks. ..I think.


Sum Up

Don't get me wrong, this is all very interesting, very impressive. But, see, the Mory I've met wouldn't get to any of this. So I'm wondering, exactly when did you turn from lazy-ass lump to all-around role model?
Ummm.. Well, one day I just realized I needed to actually do stuff, and I decided to start making games, and if you want something enough-
Bullshit! Listen to yourself, man, you're like a broken record!
VI, because...
VI, because...
VI, because...
I don't-
I admit, you had me going there. All these impressive answers you've thought up, very good. Bravo. For a moment there, I almost forgot it was all bullshit. So, bravo. But you blew it by repeating that old idea.
You've lost me.
Don't you fucking play around with me, I'm talking about when you make it all a story in your head, just like I said before! You don't want to actually do anything, so you convince yourself that all you really need is a thought, all you really need to get from here to there is the right thought, the right idea, the right string of words to throw onto the shitpile that is this blog, the right excuse!
All you need is a title, or a psychoanalysis, or a story from your childhood, or a promise, or a goddamn blog post, and all those pesky things to do will just sort themselves out! But it's not real! This post isn't real, and your future guys aren't real, and you're not real!
But I'm real, and I'm telling you-.. Oh my god.
Look, it's not-
I'm not real, either! You just put me here to be a part of your sick game, to turn all the real things you don't want to deal with into another fiction you can ignore! Well, fuck you and your interactive blog post and your delusions!
Hey, I don't need to put up with this!

Well, that was...
He was a mental case.

I wonder when the blog gets to the good stuff.



I just fixed a bug in the post. At least, I think I did. With a post this complicated, it's hard to be sure. I might have accidentally made a whole bunch of new problems. So if there are more than three buttons somewhere, or less than three, or if something's activating something it obviously shouldn't be, let me know, okay?

You're a great writer; your words are true as they are entertaining.
You say you want to become a gamiest, I think you need to go learn the trade (game programming languages which ever they may be)
You obviously have the Ideas, you just need to learn how to ACTIVATE them.


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