Consider Revising

This semester, I submitted a short story that is so “inspired” by the end of of a certain game company startup that it barely qualifies as fiction. The main workshop feedback I got on it was:

  • Makes no sense for a tech founder to just give up and walk away like that, with no warning. His lack of concern really doesn’t match the beginning where he’s been such a kind mentor to the protagonist.
  • This should end on a high note when she demands and receives her last check. Why is your protagonist still worried about being a waitress? It’s an unreasonable concern at this point in her career.
Posted in Boston, Brooklyn, My Other Writing | Tagged | 1 Comment

Did You Mean:

I usually check the interlibrary loan for my textbooks before I buy them. This time, I feel like the local public library knows me just a little too well.

No, I didn’t. But, now that you mention it…

Posted in Books | Leave a comment

Keep Calm and Brew Up

I’m really enjoying this book overall, and of the most interesting parts of The Taste of Empire is about tea. The book explains that in  the mid to late 1700s, poor British workers often spent a tenth of their annual income on tea and on sugar for that tea. Upperclass would-be reformers were shocked to discover this.  Surely the uneducated poor just needed to be told that wasting money on luxuries like tea and sugar was the reason they stay poor! If only some well-meaning reformer could teach those uneducated masses about health and budgeting!

It’s the same conversation we keep hearing now. Surely, the uneducated rural poor just need to be told that they’re wasting money on soda. If only some well-meaning reformer could teach these uneducated poor about health and budgeting!  Surely, the young, working poor need to be told that buying coffee or avocado toast is the reason they stay poor. (Never mind that the fresh veg and whole grains of avocado toast are exactly what the rural poor are supposed to be buying.) Now, as then, certain reformers are sure that poor people just make bad spending decisions and would immediately change their habits if only they knew better.

Shocked reformers of 1767 failed to realize that poor British workers no longer had access to common grazing land after the Enclosures, so they could no longer keep cows or sheep. City life meant little to no space for a  vegetable garden or chickens, especially for those who’d come to the city seeking work and stayed in temporary lodgings. No woods meant no foraging for firewood, which meant a hit meal was more expensive. With no access to meat, eggs, dairy, or vegetables, many workers lived on bread. Even that was difficult to get, as the price of grain rose much faster than wages. The warmth, sweetness and calorie boost from a cup of tea was a great addition to an unvaried, not particularly nutritious diet.

Drinking tea reflected working long hours on a poor diet, with little access to nourishing meals or other comforts. This was a sign of the extreme poverty in the working classes, not a sign of the reckless spending.

Anyway, just something to think about when the next thinkpiece about those wasteful poors buying soda and coffee comes out.

Posted in Books | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Sim Builders

One of my favorite sim builder games was Nat Geo’s Doomsday Preppers. Sure, it was based on the show about survivalists preparing for an inevitable apocalypse, but this game is super cute. Even the underground bunkers of survivalist supplies are adorable. Like most of these sim games, players will start by building the basics. Build more housing, and more preppers will come, and then you’ll have a workforce for the subterranean workshops and hydroponic gardens.

I know the game’s meant to be about survivalism, but the animations of little preppers doing their tasks are cheerful and cute. Although your preppers can take on any task, they each have skills that’ll help them produce more in one of the different tasks. Specialities won’t mean much in the beginning, but later on, preppers can produce better by being assigned to their preferred tasks, and they’ll even show up and request a certain specialty.

This is a social game, which means the heavy suggestions to invite friends and the ubiquitous premium currency (What exactly are my little preppers going to do with diamonds in their bunker? Use them as very fancy drillbits?).  There are also funny achievements, for the number of preppers, gold earned, or goods built.

That might be my favorite, but I think these sim building/management games like Prison Architect, Game Dev Tycoon Doomsday Preppers, Startup Company, Oxygen Not Included, and others will always be popular.

Indie game dev Greenheart Games’ Game Dev Tycoon puts players in charge of an indie game dev studio. Players will try to manage staff and resources to design and sell successful indie games, reinvesting any profits into the company for the next big game. Then, hire more staff and more equipment for the next project.

Game Dev Tycoon also has one of the greatest anti-piracy systems imaginable: pirated copies of the game can be traced back to a build of Game Dev Tycoon with one very clear flaw. In-game pirates routinely steal copies of any in-game indie games, preventing real-life pirates from earning any money in-game. Greenheart Games’ forum complaints from real-life pirates about in-game pirates are hilarious.

Hovgaard Games’ Startup Company is a resource management / building sim, a bit like the app development version of Game Dev Tycoon. Decorate your startup office with the typical houseplants, vending machines and Ikea-ish furniture, and start hiring employees. Then bring in some contracts, to start making apps and earning some money. If your employees are starting to complain about overwork, you can boost their mood with office decor or vacation days.

This game emulates client work, so you need to keep looking for new projects and  employees need to be assigned their next task. Or you can hire a project manager to keep them at work. This is an early-access game, so more Silicon Valley paraphernalia may be added.

Klei’s Oxygen Not Included is another appealing builder sim, also in early-access, but so far, it looks like a charming sci-fi builder. Like Doomsday Preppers, your characters will need to tunnel and build underground housing. But, in Oxygen Not Included, characters need to either find underground caches of oxygen or build technology to create oxygen for survival.  


Posted in Boston, Gaming Culture | Leave a comment

London Demands Spices

London demands spices. I think that’s a pretty solid summary of the British Empire, actually.

Also, it’s my winter break, and I’m playing Civ with Eric, just like when we were in college a few years ago, I mean several years ago, no, I mean, a decade ago, er, sometime in the past. Just for a change, this time I played England and he played Rome.

Posted in Boston, Gaming Culture | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Imposter Syndrome, Part 84,751

The last few sessions at school, I felt like I was struggling in most of my classes, especially my craft classes. Fortunately, I read insanely fast, so I didn’t have trouble keeping up that way, but when we responded to literature, my analysis was lacking. In workshops, what I submitted wasn’t that great, and I was struggling to give useful workshop feedback since my classmates’ submissions were a lot stronger than mine. So I signed up for a fundamentals class this session.

This was a truly terrible mistake.

This foundations class was not only the worst class I’ve taken at Lindenwood, by a lot, but very possibly the worst writing class I’ve ever taken. Our readings covered the most simplistic information, followed by the sort of response questions that just check for reading comprehension, not any application of what’s been read. Writing assignments were all lackluster, tired prompts. I’ve been handing my work in at the last possible second, or even late sometimes, because everything I was asked to do was so, so dull.

Worst, I brought this on myself. When I found my writing classes difficult, instead of deciding to try hard and keep at it, I concluded that I shouldn’t be there, and that the class was on the wrong level for my abilities. Wrong decision, jerkbrain.

In related news, we sold out of Takeout almost immediately after getting it on Amazon, because I was so worried that no one would buy it that I didn’t send enough copies. Impostor syndrome sucks.

Posted in Boston | Tagged | Leave a comment

Dual-Classing, or Why I Am Not Good At Casual Chats

Teaching Coworker: How long do you think my bowling activity should be? Two hours?

Me: First, you need to define the game’s parameters. How many students are coming? Are you planning to reserve lanes? With 10 students and two lanes, they will spend the majority of their time waiting for a turn, but if you have too many lanes, you’ll have smaller groups and you risk having mismatched skills, and anyway,  what’s their familiarity with the rules? Did you allow sufficient time for explanation of the game? What about…

Coworker: Right, Meg. I’m gonna go with 2 hours.

(I am great at chatting with coworkers.)

Posted in ESL, Gaming Culture | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Even Better News

First, the good news. My game, Takeout, is now available on Amazon! So, if you played the game at BostonFIG (or in our living room), we could really use a review on Amazon.

Second, the even better part of this news is that I’m now done with all the logistics of making that happen! Thank goodness. This is not at all my skill set, and coming home to do unpaid work as a one-woman accounting, shipping and distribution center IS AWFUL.

I was aiming to have the game available for Black Friday / Cyber Monday shopping, but I discovered there’s so much paperwork and waiting and approvals and waiting and mailing and more waiting that I could have imagined.  Honestly, if I’d been fully aware of how much paperwork, logistics and waiting would be involved when I started, I’d probably have just given up.  So maybe it’s better that I went in thinking it would just take a couple of days, and better than I just kept thinking, ok, this is the last setback. Almost there.

I thought I’d never be finished.  Even yesterday, I checked the tracking numbers for the packages I’d shipped to Amazon, and two them had arrived right on schedule. — Oh, I had to ship three packages of games to three different Amazon warehouses, not just one. That’s what I mean by every step that seemed simple ended up taking more time than I’d imagined. After I packed up the three boxes, with their correct individual UPC labeling and correct Amazon shipping labels, there was more waiting at the UPS store. I even got the tracking numbers for each one, and I’m not exactly a process and organization person.

Then, yesterday I checked the tracking numbers for the packages, and two of them made it successfully to two warehouses, but the third was missing. Not delayed! Just gone! Somewhere!  I’d done everything I could, including getting the tracking number and checking back to see if other people were doing their jobs, but there was still one more delay.  Because of course there was.

So, yeah, I’m pretty happy the game’s up and all, but I’m even happier that I have the distribution pipeline sorted and the paperwork sorted, and I never have to go through that again.


Posted in Boston | Leave a comment

Laptop Games

I tend to use my laptop for email, writing papers, and planning lessons. Boring things. But I also play a lot of games on my laptop.

EpiPen Tycoon: Another browser/indie game!

Browser Games: For a while, my job was playing Kongregate browser games and reviewing them for kids.  You can play cuties like Sushi Cat, and other games I reviewed for the kids, or strategy games like Rebuild (I love this one), all without downloading anything.

Slightly Older Games: One of the saddest truths of PC gaming is that there’s always a faster and better computer coming out, pretty much as soon as you get your computer home. Last year’s top-of-the-line gaming rig is this year’s MoR laptop. But that’s pretty good news, if you want to play a slightly older game on a budget gaming laptop.

Indie Games: A lot of indie games are lighter on system requirements, and, if you’re really on a budget, there’s probably a free or inexpensive beta of something cool on Steam. Or finally try one of those games you brought in a Humble Bundle and haven’t played yet…

Casual Games: Casual games, like the kind on BigFishGames, are a bit lighter. Games like Mystery Case Files and so forth will run just fine on your work laptop.

What about you? What games do you play on your laptop?

Posted in Boston, Gaming Culture | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Five Star Billionaire

Rereading Five Star Billionaire, and I found a line I highlighted last time.

China was at once lawless and unbending in its rules.

Tash Aw, Five Star Billionaire

Still so accurate.

Posted in Books, Boston, China | 1 Comment