Weekend Recap for August 16th, 2021

I don’t normally do this kind of post but I figured I’d give it a try. Some folks do a post about what their plans are for the weekend (or even for the month) while others do them after the fact. I’m a terrible planner so I’m going with the latter.

So with another weekend in the rear-view. and the happy fact that we’ve made it half-way through August (I hate summer since moving to the south), let’s recap!

Movie Night — Saturday night is our movie night and for the past few months we’ve been re-watching the Marvel superhero movies in the chronological order they take place. This weekend we finished that with Spiderman: Far From Home. Technically we still have Black Widow but I can’t really justify $30 to watch a movie so that one will have to wait.

It’s been a pretty fun ride since I have a terrible memory and watching the movies one per week meant I did a better job connecting the dots. We both really love Tom Holland as Spiderman, and after watching Endgame the week before it was nice to see something a little more upbeat.

Family TV@partpurple and I finished up Season 1 of The Bad Batch on Friday, which we really enjoyed. And Star Trek: The Lower Decks is back so we watched that. I remember before we watched Season 1 of that show I was SURE I would hate it because I’m pretty serious about Star Trek, but turned out I love it. I most be getting soft in my old age.

Then last night we watched the first episode of What If…? on Disney+. This is like an ‘alternate reality’ series. The first episode posited that Peggy Carter, not Steve Rogers, got the super serum and she become Captain Carter. It was really good and had us both smiling ear-to-ear. Now I want an entire Captain Carter series, though. Oh, and they got Hayley Atwell to voice Peggy Carter, thank goodness!

Now we’re in search of another series to watch. We’ve been ‘filling in’ days when we have nothing new with a re-watch of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which has been fun, though there are some really dated aspects to that show at this point.

Reading — I’m still reading the Saxon Stories books by Bernard Cornwell, and will be for quite some time. I’m on book 6, Death of Kings. I’m a terrible book reviewer so I’ll just say that I really enjoy Cornwell’s books and this series is no exception. If you’re not familiar with the books you might be familiar with the TV series, The Last Kingdom. There are 13 books in the series, though, so I’m not sure that I won’t need a break from 10th century England at some point.

Gaming — Friday evening and Saturday were devoted to finishing Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris. I think I’m ready for a break from Valhalla now although there’re still plenty of things to do in the game.

With that put to bed I finally got around to trying Hades, which hit the Xbox and Playstation last week. I’m playing on the Xbox Series X thanks to it being in Game Pass. So far it’s been fun though I’ve kind of hit a wall. I think it’ll be a game I play in short spurts now and then because I know myself enough to know that just trying to power through will lead to frustration, which in turn leads to playing worse, which leads to more frustration, etc etc.

Lastly, Bugsnax. I mostly knew Bugsnax from the trailer that was making the rounds last summer, and in particular the catchy jingle:

Bugsnax was a Playstation Plus game late last year; I think it may have been the first PS5 game on PS+. I figured it was about time to try it out and either play it or delete it from the (small-ish) storage on the PS5. I had no clue what kind of game it was. Turns out it’s a first person puzzle-adventure. It is both super-cute and super-weird. You are basically tasked with catching these little creatures (the titular Bugsnax) that are all animated food, then feeding them to these weird furry townsfolk. Alive of course. When someone eats a Bugsnax a part of their body morphs into that kind of food. So if they eat a Bugsnax based on a French fry their arm will turn into a French fry. It is not clear what impact this has; it seems to be just a visual gag. I like the weirdness of Bugsnax, but I am not a fan of the cute aesthetic and I’m not a big fan of puzzle-adventures either. I’m not knocking the game; it actually got decent reviews. I just pretty quickly decided that it wasn’t for me. To be very clear, I spent less than an hour with it so PLEASE if you’re interested in the game, don’t take this as a knock on it, and do seek out actual reviews from someone who put some time into it.

And that was pretty much the weekend, aside from some random TV. The English Premiere League season has started, so I watched a replay of a game on Peacock TV (which I subscribed to just for these games because generally that service is pretty terrible). I’ve been kicking around (pun intended) the idea of re-subscribing to YouTube TV or Fubo TV for EPL and other sports, just for a month or two. My interest in sports rears its head now and then but never lasts more than a few weeks. I’m a terrible multi-tasker so when I’m watching a game I am JUST watching the game while thinking about all the other things I could be doing with that time. NFL games are the worst for this: three hours out of my short weekend just to watch a game? That’s hard to justify.

Anyway I hope everyone had a great weekend. Back we go to the salt mines!

My Gaming History

This week in Blaugust is supposed to be about introducing ourselves. I am old and telling you all about myself would bore you to tears, so here is my ‘gaming story.’

I was raised in the 1960s-1970s. There were no video games when I was a kid, but I really liked boardgames, even if I had to play them solo since there were no other kids in my neighborhood. I have a brother 10 years older than I, and he and my father would play a game called Yacht Race. That was my introduction to more ‘adult’ games (y’know, moving past Chutes and Ladders). I still have that copy of Yacht Race around here somewhere.

Somewhere in my teenaged years I discovered wargames; the ones with the paper maps and cardboard counters. I LOVED those things. I subscribed to a magazine called Strategy & Tactics that came with a game bound inside it (and articles about the conflict covered by the game). At the back of the mag they always had a survey to judge interest in future projects and I remember when they started asking their audience if they owned a personal computer and would they be interested in using the computer to play games. I was still playing solo and the idea of a computer being an opponent was thrilling!

My first computer was an Atari 400 that I bought just to play Star Raiders, though of course I quickly branched out from there. I also bought a 300 bps modem and learned about online services (back then the nascent Internet was only available through colleges or the government). I got involved with Compuserve and particularly GEnie, where I wound up working as an (un-paid) assistant to Scorpia. I guess in today’s terms you’d say I was one of her mods, though my title then was “Assistant Sysop.”

Through my verbosity on the Games RT on GEnie (I assume) I was approached by a fellow named Clayton Walnum who asked if I’d be interested in reviewing computer games. Well duh, of course I would. I wrote some stuff for ST Log, a magazine dedicated to the Atari ST computers. I also ghost-wrote a chapter of one of his books called something like “Secrets of the Video Game Masters” where I did a walk-through of Bionic Commando.

Eventually I moved on to PC gaming, and though I can’t remember exactly when or why, I started doing reviews for Strategy Plus Magazine. From there I got the offer to come onboard as an Associate Editor, which of course I did. My beat was strategy and wargames.

Proof I was there!

Fun fact: Strategy Plus started as a magazine in the UK, but the owner of Chips & Bits, a mail-order game store, bought it and moved it to the US. The reason the publisher bought the magazine was because advertising was so expensive in other mags. By owning the magazine, he got to advertise for free. It’s weird how the magazine business works. When you pay for a subscription, that basically covers the cost of getting the magazine to you. All the real revenue comes from the ads inside.

End digression.

So that was the best job I’ve ever had to this day. I traveled all over the country to do previews on upcoming games. Went to the first couple of E3 shows (and a few CES shows before that). Geoff Keighley, who now does The Game Awards, was one of my freelancers (I had no idea he was like 16 at the time!). At the first E3 I was forced to meet with a bunch of kids who were walking around with a laptop showing off their new game. They didn’t have a booth or anything but had approached the publisher who sent them to me. I was annoyed since I had a packed schedule. Turns out the game was Unreal and in this crowd of kids was a scrawny geek named Cliff Bleszinski plus this mouthy guy name Mark Rein. Man, I should’ve asked them to hire me.

Eventually I was promoted from Associate Editor of Strategy Plus (by this time called Computer Games Magaine, if I recall correctly) to Executive Editor of a sister publication called Interactive Entertainment, or IE. IE came on a CD and was way ahead of its time. Instead of reading reviews, you could watch video of gameplay with a voice over. The CD also had demos of the games. Trust me that this was a BIG DEAL at the time. There was no YouTube, no Twitch. You could download some demos from GEnie or Compuserve or Delphi but it took forever and it was costing you $6/hour to do it.

The only problem was, IE was bleeding money. It just cost too much to send it out. We tried various methods but, particularly in winter when it was cold, many copies arrived damaged (the CDs would get brittle in the cold and then they’d get bent and would break) but in the end we never made it work and IE shut down.

By then “demo disks” packed in with magazines were on the up and up and I was put in charge of the one that came in Strategy Plus. My title was “Demo Wrangler” which remains my favorite title to date. Ironically sliding the CD into a bag with a magazine was the perfect way to protect it. Plus since it was a ‘freebie’ if it did get damaged it wasn’t quite as big a deal.

Then I met a woman who lived in another city and I bid farewell to gaming journalism and moved to be closer to her. I am no longer with that person and while we had some nice times together, I often wonder what would’ve happened if I’d stayed in gaming; so many of the editors from those days when into game design/development. Thus ended my gaming career.

Sort of. I did run a gaming forum, call The Jaded Gamer’s Pub, for many years. Remember when forums were a thing? Before reddit? That wasn’t a paying gig but it did make me feel connected to the community.

These days, and for the past 25 years or so, I’m just a schlub who enjoys playing games. I haven’t done anything interesting in the gaming world since the 1990s, and I am LONG forgotten by the industry. So sad!! LOL I coulda been a contender! (Though probably not.)

Let me finish by leaving us all with a good solid cringe. Look at this ad I found when searching for copies of Strategy Plus online (since dumb-ass me never kept copies)

I mean, really?

Ah Derek Smart. I spent a day with him once, working on a preview of Battlecruiser. He was living in Miami Beach at the time. He was a very nice guy. Super smart, very geeky but so not the abrasive personality he presents online. Or presented…I haven’t seen him mentioned in ages.

Checking In On Blaugust

We’ve made it to Day 10 of Blaugust. One-third (roughly) of the way through! Although I originally said I wasn’t going to try to blog every day thus far I have, and as expected it is starting to sour me on the experience. As predicted I’m starting to see writing a blog post as a chore I have to get out of the way before I can get to the enjoyable part of my day. At least I know myself and knew this would happen!

What I didn’t expect was the social fatigue that has gone along with this. I’m an introvert. I’ve been trying to stay current on the Blaugust Discord and have been trying to read (and share/re-tweet) as many Blaugust posts as I can and I’ve gotten to where I’d like nothing more than to go to an island somewhere and not talk to another human being for a month. People exhaust me! I need some quiet days now.

Also I’ve been on a mini-vacation which means finding a couple hours to blog, read & share has been pretty easy to do. Trying to shoe-horn that into a regular work day (those start today) seems daunting.

So expect fewer, or shorter, or fewer & shorter, posts for the rest of the month.

All that bummer stuff done, I’m really glad I joined. I’ve discovered a handful of bloggers I really enjoy reading, and it has felt good to write something other than code, emails and tweets for a change.

I will continue to do what I can to support the other Blaugustians out there! Y’all are young and strong and I know you can do it!

Viking Synergy

Late last year I was sitting around at the end of the day, looking for something to watch on Netflix. I picked The Last Kingdom. Turns out it was about the Danes invading what we now call England. Or to put it in pop culture terms, it was about Vikings!

Through a happy coincidence I’d just started playing Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, a game where you play a Viking invading what we now call England!

I only watched a couple of episodes of The Last Kingdom before I noticed it was based on a book series by Bernard Cornwell, an author I knew from his Sharpe series. I really enjoyed the Sharpe books (they’re historical fiction that take place during the Napoleonic Wars) so based on the generally safe assumption that the books would be better than the TV series, I stopped watching The Last Kingdom and started reading Cornwell’s Saxon Stories series. (I just noticed he now refers to this series as “The Last Kingdom” series…the man knows marketing!)

I’m not a very fast reader. I generally read when I go to bed and I generally stay up much too late, so I often only get through a dozen pages before my eyes are drooping. Because of this, 6 or 7 months later I’m only on book #6 and there are 13 books (to date, anyway) in Saxon Tales.

I’m also not a very fast gamer and I’m not really sure why this is other than I tend to be methodical and deliberate when I game. So I’m still playing Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, too.

Over the months I’ve taken breaks from both the game and the books, but invariably when I pick one back up, I soon pick up the other. It’s been really fun to read about some location and then go there in the game, or vice versa. Both the book and the game use the names of locations from the time period. (They are not always exactly the same. For example York is called Eoferwic in the books and Eurvic in the game; I’m not enough of a historian to tell you why. Danish vs Saxon name, maybe?)

The point is, the early books and the game cover the same period. Alfred is King of Wessex but wants to unite all English speaking lands into one country. The Danes and Norse are in the north, Mercia is kind of stuck between the two. You encounter the same individuals, at least in some cases. For me it’s been really enjoyable to learn (in a casual sense) about this period of history from two angles and two different forms of media at the same time. (I came into both game and books more or less uneducated when it comes to this era.)

If you played and enjoyed Valhalla I think you’d really like the Saxon Stories sage (or the Netflix series). And if you’ve read the books, you’d probably get a kick out of the game. And if you’ve not been exposed to either, it might be fun to start both at the same time.

The Blaugust 2021 Plan

Welcome to August and to Blaugust, the NaNoWriMo of blogging. If you want to know all about the program, let me refer you to Belghast who started the whole idea a few years back. Today I just want to talk about my plans and why I’m participating for the first time.

Let’s start with what I am not committing to: I’m not committing to a daily post. I know myself well enough to know that while I’m sure I COULD do this, I would come out of the experience and probably delete my blog or something. I would grow to really resent blogging as it would have become one more chore I had to do every day. I don’t think it is a coincidence that that last time I wrote any fiction was the last day of the last NaNoWriMo I did many many years ago (2006, I think).

I have done the daily blog thing in the past. Or at least the Mon-Fri Daily Blog thing. It kind of sucked but I was getting paid for it so, as an old friend of mine was fond of saying, “That’s why they call it work.” I know I can do it, but I know doing it grows resentment.

My plan is to aim for 2-3 posts per week, and if I do more that’s great. 2-3 posts still represents a huge increase in the amount of posts I’ve been writing the past few years, when months and months have gone by without me writing anything. I also feel like 2-3 posts is few enough that I can write something meaningful, at least to me. I don’t want a bunch of dull posts that were just written to say I’d written a post. Going back to NaNoWriMo, one year I had finished the story I wanted to tell and was short of 50K words so I spent the last few days of NaNo injecting sex scenes into the story. It didn’t make the story any better but sex scenes are easy and fun to write. 🙂

Now as to why I’m doing it at all. The timing is perfect for me this year. After a brutal first half of the year, work-wise, things have eased up this summer. I’m only working 40 hours & feel like I have some available bandwidth to devote to blogging. I also have been yearning to create something but I am struggling to decide what it is I want to do. I figure writing a few times a week will at least prime the pump some. And lastly, I was feeling sad that Dragonchasers was effectively dead. This is an old blog; my first post is from May 2002. I wanted to see if there’s any life left in blogging for me. If I completely fail at Blaugust it might be time to humanely euthanize Dragonchasers. I hope that isn’t the case.

Oh and lastly because at this point I’m even boring myself, I want to try and branch out a little. Originally Dragonchasers was about gaming and movies and books and food and all kinds of random stuff. At some point I got the idea that I needed it to be focused so I dropped everything but gaming related stuff. I think I had a fantasy about it becoming a side-hustle or something (though back then we didn’t say “side-hustle”). I am officially rejecting that idea as of right now. Dragonchasers is going back to being my blog about stuff that interests me. If it finds an audience, that’s cool, but if it just becomes essentially my online journal, that’s cool too. Honestly the most popular posts in the history of Dragonchasers were a couple about Green Lemonade I wrote when I was trying to change my eating habits!

Preparing for Blaugust 2021

This year I’ve decided to push myself out of my comfort zone and I’ve signed up for Blaugust, which you can read all about on Tales Of the Aggronaut. I’m usually not one to join things because, y’know, militant introvert, but I’ve been meaning to get back into blogging for months and clearly I need some kind of kick in the butt to get myself in gear. Besides my sense is that they need more console bloggers. (I’m 100% not sure if that is even true.)

I even joined their Discord. WHO AM I?

That’s really it. Basically I just wanted to see if I still remembered how to type, and to spread the word that Blaugust was happening again this year.

I desperately need some creativity in my life and hopefully blogging again will give me a taste of that.

Gears of War: Lunch

I’ve been playing through the Gears of War games recently. From a gameplay stance, they’re quite fun, but from a narrative point of view they really bug me. The problem is each campaign (I’m about half-way through Gears 3 at this point) has only a few plot points, but each plot point is dragged out to absurd lengths, with every minor task turning into a set of recursive obstacles to overcome. It is so silly that by Gears 3 even the characters are joking about how nothing is ever easy. I feel like these games could’ve been narratively stronger if there was a longer story with more plot points, but with each point being less cumbersome to achieve.

But when it Rome, right? So I decided to write the script/design doc for the next game, Gears of War: Lunch

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Act I: The quest for bread

Marcus Fenix is hungry and is ready for lunch. However when he opens the bread box to make a ham sandwich, he finds nothing but crumbs! Marcus needs to get to the bakery for a loaf of bread. For company he enlists Sam because once she reads this script I’m sure Claudia Black will sign on to do voice talent and every game is improved by the addition of Claudia Black.

Chapter 1: Trees release me
Marcus knows there’s an old jalopy in the garage they can use to get to the bakery. He and Sam leave the house only to find a storm has knocked over a large tree and it is blocking access to the garage.

Goal: Marcus and Sam have to use their chainsaws to cut the tree up into manageable chunks and drag them out of the way.

With that task done, Marcus attempts to flip a giant switch that is supposed to open the garage door. It is jammed! Sam reminds him that there used to be a remote control for the door and maybe that will work. Marcus calls control on his radio, and Anya provides him with the intel that the remote is in the basement of the house.

Chapter 2: Rats!
Marcus and Sam head for the basement only to find it is flooded. “Ah NUTS!” Marcus shouts, “I can’t get my COG-issued boots wet! We have to find a way to drain this water.” Sam suggests that if they cut off the supply of water, it should all drain away. There’s a giant valve along one wall of the basement and boxes of old Christmas ornaments they can walk on to get to it. The only problem is… there are rats in the basement!

Goal: Trap the rats, get to the valve and turn it off

The flood drains away remarkably quickly once Marus turns off the valve. Sam grabs the remote and they head back to sunlight. The remote works and the garage door opens. They jump into the jalopy but… no keys! Sam mentions that she thinks the keys are stored in the attic because where else would you store car keys?

Chapter 3: Photographs and memories
Marcus and Sam head to the attic. It is PACKED with junk…boxes and boxes of old photos, magazines and other assorted junk. On the back wall they can see the keys hanging on a hook, a single shaft of sunlight passes through a crack in the roof and illuminates them.

Goal: This is a puzzle level. Marcus doesn’t want to destroy anything so he has to carefully push and slide boxes to clear a path to the keys. One mistake and he and Sam will be crushed by a pile of old National Geographic magazines

With keys in hand Marcus and Sam return to the jalopy. It starts! “Ah NUTS!” Marcus shouts, “We’re almost out of gas!” “No worries,” Sam says, “There’s a fuel station nearby, let’s head there before going to the bakery.”

Fade to black, cut scene of them driving through suburban streets and pulling into a gas station

Chapter 4: Hard currency

Note: This is a ‘catch your breath’ chapter. Lots of cut scenes, light gameplay.

Marcus pulls up to the gas pump just as the jalopy’s engine sputters and dies, its tank completely empty. Marcus notices a sign “Please pay in advance.”

Goal: Buy some gas (spoiler: unobtainable goal)

Marcus grumbles and heads inside, holds out his credit card. “Sorry, stinkin’ COGS pay cash!” the attendant shouts. Marcus reaches for his lancer but Sam grabs his arm. “There’s an ATM machine in the corner, just take out some cash, this guy isn’t worth your time.” They head to the ATM, Marus puts his card in but nothing happens. “That ain’t worked in weeks!” the attendant cackles. “Circuit board is fried. I ordered a replacement but I haven’t had time to get to the electronics store to pick it up.” Marcus growls, but Sam says “We’ll get the circuit board and fix your ATM if you’ll sell us some fuel, deal?” “Deal!” says the attendant, “But circuit board first, then fuel. The shop is just down the road a ways.”

Marcus calls Anya and gets GPS data to guide them to the electronics shop, but she notes the shop closes early today. He and Sam start running towards the city. This is a timed segment. They have to avoid both foot and vehicle traffic while maintaining a roadie-run through the whole section.

This level leads them into the city proper. However their way is blocked by an overturned bus. They can’t get past it! Marcus casts his gaze up to the tops of the apartment buildings that line the street. “There’s our road” he mutters. They run up to the front door of one of the apartment buildings, but it’s a secure building; they can’t get in. “Let me handle this, you lack tact.” Sam says to Marcus and she starts pushing intercom buttons at random, trying to sweet talk her way into the building. After the 3rd attempt Marcus loses his patience and smashes his fist into the intercom panel, crushing it. The front door inexplicably pops open. “Or that works too.” Sam mutters.

Chapter 5: What a super building

Goal: Reach the roof undetected

This is a stealth level. Marcus and Sam have to move up the stairs to the roof while avoiding the roaming superintendents. For some reason this building has 5 of them and they’re all in the stairwell. Marcus and Sam can briefly exit the stairwell to let a super pass. When they get to the top floor they notice it is being renovated.

Optional: There is a fire alarm when they first enter the building. If Marcus pulls it, the building will be evacuated and he and Sam can run up the stairs without unhindered.

Once on the roof the pair see that they have to cross the gap to the next building and then one more after that to clear the mess in the streets.

Chapter 6: Planks for the memories

Goal: Get to the third rooftop

Marcus looks at the gap between buildings doubtfully. “Don’t think we can jump that,” he says. “We need a bridge.” Sam says, “What about that construction on the top floor?” The two head back into the apartment building to the floor that is being renovated. They find a plank and carry it to the edge of the building and drop it across the gap.

Now they have to carefully walk across it. The player has to manipulate that analog sticks to help the characters keep their balance. Just as they step off onto the 2nd building, the plank slips and falls into the alley below. They are trapped.

The secret to crossing to the third building is that there is a pigeon coop on this roof. Marcus can push it to the edge of the roof and then topple it over, forming a makeshift bridge to rooftop #3. When he starts pushing it the pigeons get free and he has to shoo them away, push the coop, and repeat until he makes it to the edge. Finally the two can cross to building 3.

But the door to the stairwell is blocked!

The last part of this chapter is finding some repelling gear conveniently left in a corner, and repelling down to the street.

Once back on solid ground, the pair approach the electronics store… and it is closed!! There is no way to get the circuit board. “Ah NUTS!” Marcus shouts. “Marcus,” Sam drawls, “Isn’t the bakery just one street over from here? Why don’t we just hoof it?”

They cut through an alley, get to the bakery and see there is a single loaf of bread left. “Mine!” Marcus screams, startling the baker. “Yes sir!” the frightened man says. “Do you take hard currency?” Sam asks. “Of course we do!” says the baker. Marcus and Sam leave the bakery, bread in hand.

Fade to black.

Act 2: Hamming it up

Marcus and Sam are back at the house, in the kitchen. Sam cuts a few slices off the bread while Marcus goes to the fridge. He opens the door, peers inside. “Ah NUTS!” Marcus shouts. “We’re out of ham! We need to get to the butcher shop, stat!”

Polygon’s selective reporting of the GaymerX controversy [Updated]

UPDATE: Polygon has now set the record straight in NIS America to make its GaymerX payment ‘in full,’ conference founder apologizes. I’m so glad to see this: faith in Polygon’s editorial policies restored.

Original post begins:

In case you somehow missed it, it all started Monday night when the CEO of GaymerX, a “gaming event for everyone, but focusing on supporting LGBTQ gamers and allies” took to Twitter to share an email sent to him by an employee of NIS America, a small video game publisher that focuses on localizing Asian games for the Western market. Apparently NISA had pledged $3000 to sponsor an event at GaymerX and now this employee was indicating they weren’t going to be able to pay.

GaymerX’s CEO, Matt Conn, was understandably upset and shared the email via twitter. (Tweets have been deleted.)

Polygon covered the story in NIS America allegedly backtracks out of GaymerX sponsorship. The post was written by a Polygon staffer who disclosed that she was a personal friend of Conn. It’s good that she disclosed this fact but bad that it was she who wrote the piece in the first place. The piece included this line:

Conn noted that he felt NIS America’s actions denote a poor attitude towards queer people. “I feel awful and betrayed,” he said.

Here’s what Conn initially tweeted:
“To me, this isn’t about the money, this is about standing up against bullies”
“The whole POINT of gaymerX, the reason why I left my high paying job @bandpage was to fight for queer geeks”
“I don’t care about the money, $3000 is nothing in the scheme of life. that’s a month of pay. The big deal is a company is bullying us”
“they’re bullying us becuase they think they can get away with it and I wanna show the world that you CANT get away with bullying queer geeks”
(again, all deleted unfortunately)

Meanwhile Joystiq covered the situation too in GaymerX in dire straits after NIS America pulls pledge [update]

Joystiq opted not to make this about sexual orientation, and added an update:

Update 1: Though it has no formal comment at this time, NIS America tells Joystiq it is “trying to work with GaymerX so that we can resolve this issue as soon as possible.”

By later on Monday Conn and NISA had already begun to sort things out. Another string of his tweets:

“We are working towards a resolution on this matter tomorrow morning and I’ll be able to update you then.”
“NISA is a good company that made a small oversight and I responded strongly. We both are at fault and I look forward to a quick resolution”
“I have no interest in causing NISA harm..i just want to be paid for the services that were rendered. I have been assured it was a mixup”
“And I take them at their word. Everyone can calm down now. Call off the war train or whatever”
“I deeply apologize for implying their choice to not pay was related to anything due to my sexuaity as I’ve realized that was self projected”

In the meantime another small publisher, Devolver, offered to cover the $3000. Tuesday morning Polygon reported on that:

Hotline Miami publisher is coming to the rescue of GaymerX after this week’s funding mishap (update)

There was no mention of the fact that Conn and NISA were working towards a resolution, but did reiterated that original issue.

Devolver Digital has come to the rescue of the LGBT-focused video game convention GaymerX after the event’s original sponsor NIS America pulled out earlier this week

Notice according to Polygon they have no longer “allegedly” pulled their pledge, it is now being reported as fact.

At some point during the day on Tuesday Conn and NISA cleared things up.

“We have come to an agreeable arrangement with @NISAmerica and they are currently making things right.”
“Agreeable meaning they’re paying what was owed and we both apologized for the misunderstanding and way that this went down”
“Everything is all settled – @NISAmerica has explained the poor wording of the email which I misinterpreted very poorly, apologies and hugs”
“Please note that @NISAmerica unlike most AAA companies was willing to sponsor and be at @GaymerX, which takes extreme courage”
“I have nothing but respect for @NISAmerica and their team, this was a poorly worded email that I received and acted very strongly to”
“I apologize for any distress that I may have caused their team and anyone who follows their or my threads.”
“I will be reaching out to press to help update the story and that it has come to a positive, peaceful resolution quickly”
“I personally do feel terrible for escalating it to such a level so quickly, I felt hurt and upset by the wording and reacted far too strong”
“for what the situation called for, I’m just happy that they have cleared up the confusion and confirmed that they will fufill payment”

These tweets are still on Conn’s stream but I wanted to capture them in case for some reason he decides it’s best to delete them. I won’t embed them all but here’s the first one

So the good news is, the story ended on a happy note. GaymerX is getting their $3K from NISA, Conn seems happy, everything is sorted out.

Later that day Polygon ran another post on the situation:
The industry is trying to resurrect GaymerX, $3,000 at a time

There is NO mention of the fact that Conn and NISA have settled the issue between them, no mention that Conn himself is trying to get the press to update the press about what he himself calls a “positive, peaceful resolution” to what was apparently an unfortunate mis-communication.

If someone were to only read Polygon’s posts (and ignore the comments…I’ve been trying to fix their poor journalism via their comment system) they’d think NISA was a homophobic company with “a poor attitude towards queer people” even though the source of the comment has pointed out that NISA was one of the few companies to sponsor the event in the first place.

The bias (or incompetence, take your pick) shown by Polygon is unfathomable to me. I’ve lost so much respect for that site. I’m hoping today we’ll see the situation being cleared up by them.

BTW Joystiq also wrote a second post:
NIS America to pay agreed pledge for GaymerX2 [Update]

It included a Press Release from Conn and GaymerX. He is really trying to set the record straight. I’m not sure why his ‘personal friend’ at Polygon isn’t passing this info on to readers. Press release in full below.


I would like to give an updated statement on the events that have unfolded over the past 24 hours.

We, GaymerX, received an email from NIS America in regards to the sponsorship, which read as though there was a budget misallocation and that they would not be able to complete the terms of the sponsorship. This has been explained that that was not the case, however, they agreed that it was worded poorly and could understand how I could misconstrue the intent of the letter.

I apologized to them for escalating it to the press in the manner I did – as I have no intention of causing the NIS brand harm, and was only looking to defend our company and make sure that we were going to get paid. I realize that it would have been much better to have more back and forth on the subject before going to the press and that my reaction, while in defense of the company, was extemely severe given the circumstances.

I want to publically apologize for any pain or distress I may have caused NIS America or their team – they have been very genuine and sincere in fixing the issue and have confirmed that payment will be made in full. They have been nothing but professional during this process after the initial email, and it can’t be understated the fact that, unlike most conservative AAA companies, they were willing to take the risk of being associated with a queer event and they went out of their way to be a part of it. That statement alone is huge and I feel as though my statements were taken out of context. I in no way intended for the dialog to be that they had made this action because we are a LGBTQ organziation, my point, at the time, was that I did not feel like that email would have been sent to a larger convention or organization, and felt bullied because of that.

They have assured me that this was not the case, and that the email was just simply poorly constructed for the meaning of what they meant to say, which was: “We did not run this up the ladder properly, and we need to discuss how we can resolve this”. I did not interpret that message correctly and that is how we came to this point.

In the end, I am very happy that they have made steps to apologize for any miscommunications on their end and to pay the full amount invoiced, and I am happy to publically apologize for a) escalating the issue beyond what the situation called for b) making comments which could be inferred as that they were making that decision based on anything besides budgetary concerns.

I hope that this statement helps clear the air on this matter and myself, or NIS America, would be happy to answer any follow up questions.

Thank you very much.

NBI: How not to build an audience

Hello again, new bloggers! You thought I’d forgotten you, eh? Not so, not so…

So by now you’ve got your blog going and you’ve hopefully found a writing frequency that fits your schedule. Now maybe you’re wondering how to attract readers.

Well, I can’t tell you. I’ve been writing Dragonchasers for 10 years now and I have like 500 readers who generate less than a thousand page views a week.

Why?

Well it could be because I suck at writing, but I don’t think that’s it because on my other blog I get as many as 10,000 page views/day (though that’s not typical… about 1,000/day is typical).

So I’m going to have enough hubris to not blame the quality of my writing, but instead to blame the quality of my marketing.

I figure if I tell you what I do, you can do the opposite and you’ll probably get plenty of page views.

So the first thing I do is, I don’t care about page views. I’m narcissistic enough that I actually enjoy reading my own writing, so I tend to write this blog for myself, not for my audience. I think they can tell and so go find someone willing to cater to their needs.

You should probably be more aware of your audience and try to judge what it is they’re interested in. How? Simple: ask them. Your fans will tell you what they like and don’t like if you ask them. In fact they’ll feel more committed to you because they’ll realize that they’re important to you. You may not have a lot of fans yet, but nurture the ones you do have and their numbers will grow via word of mouth.

Second, if you really don’t want an audience, be really inconsistent. Write three posts on one day and then go two weeks without writing any. Be nurturing and rational in one post, and in the grip of a flaming nerd rage in the next. Keep the audience totally guessing about what to expect next and it’ll guarantee that you’ll never have to pay for extra bandwidth.

But if you want an audience, you should probably find a voice and try to stick with it. Being angry is fine if that’s your shtick. There are plenty of popular rage bloggers out there. If you want to be wacky and weird, go for it. Again, plenty of wacky and weird bloggers have devoted followings. Ditto thoughtful bloggers who talk about game theory or what not. Just don’t mix these things up. Don’t go from philosophical musings on the nature of gaming to talking about how you want to build a sculpture of your favorite character out of navel lint and ear wax. People find that jarring. Once you’re established you can drift a bit, but even then it’s worth it to preface ‘out of character’ posts in order to warn people that they’re about to get a taste of something different.

Third, I’m an asshole on social networks. People block me all the time. People who block me certainly don’t read my blog. Mission accomplished!

In order to build an audience, DO get involved with social networks but remember that now you’re selling yourself. People absolutely will remove your blog from their RSS feeds and unfollow you based on one outburst. We all have more things to read than we really have time for and in some sense we’re all looking for excuses to cut down on sources. So don’t be a doormat, but do remain rational and respectful on social networks. You probably do this anyway because you’re probably not an asshole.

Fourth, swear a lot. Some people hate swearing and many will get nervous about reading your blog at work if you’re filling their screen with 4-letter words. As soon as I finish writing this I’m going to go find a nice jpg of a naked woman to insert into this post. I bet I can get 50 people to drop me from their feeds if the image is raunchy enough.

For you, keep a lid on excessive swearing and provocative images. None of us can admit it, but most of us do a lot of our blog reading at the office. Don’t make your audience nervous about opening one of your blog posts within sight of their co-workers.

Fifth, and I don’t do this one, but plaster ads all over your blog. People hate ads and they’ll avoid you in order to avoid them.

For you, skip the ads for now. Not everyone is sensitive about them, but some people are, and until you’re established you’re not going to make enough for it to matter. In particular stay away from sponsored posts or links because they make you look like a sell-out in some people’s eyes.

Bandwidth ain’t free and the best way to keep your costs down is to keep your audience down. So follow my plan and you’ll never have enough of an audience to worry about.

Or if you’re one of those crazies who’d like an audience and maybe to grow your blog into something more than a hobby, use me as an example of what not to do. Work hard, be true to yourself and your audience, be consistent, and before long you’ll have a huge number of devoted followers.

I can’t believe you want that kind of pressure, but whatevs.

NBI: New Blogger Initiative launches!

It’s the first of May, which means it’s time for May Poles (are those still a thing?) and the time to celebrate Beltane for my pagan friends. But for bloggers and in particular wannabe bloggers, May 1st means the start of the New Blogger Initiative (NBI).

So what is the NBI? It’s a program run by Syp of Biobreak that strives to invite new writers to try their hand at blogging (and to give them some help and guidance getting started). Maybe you’ve been meaning to try your hand at blogging but you’re not sure where to start, or even HOW to start. Well then the NBI is for you.

During the course of this month you’ll be seeing NBI posts pop up all over the blogosphere: Syp says over 70 blogs are participating! All of us existing bloggers will try to share what we know (or even what we don’t know) in order to help you get your blog off the ground.

But I’m going to spoil the event on you and tell you the deep dark secret of blogging: There is NO SECRET! If you can write a comment or an update on Facebook, you can blog. If you’re worried your writing isn’t strong enough, don’t be. First of all you’re probably better than you think you are, and you’ll continue to improve with practice.

OK end spoilers.

As a participant, I’ve agreed to write at least one post during the month giving advice on getting started. I’m aiming for the middle of the month for mine. (If all 70+ of us write just one post, that’s still going to be plenty of advice.) So who am I and why am I qualified? Well I’m qualified because Syp asked me to participate!

If nothing else I have longevity going for me. Dragonchasers is celebrating its ten-year anniversary this month. My first post was in May 2002 (though there’ve been big gaps at times when I took a break from writing for a while). Before Dragonchasers (long before it) I was associate editor of a now-defunct PC gaming magazine, Strategy Plus and executive editor of a multimedia magazine (it came on CD) called Interactive Entertainment. I’ve also done some freelance writing and in addition to Dragonchasers I write a personal technology blog for ITworld.com.

And that’s all I’m going to say about me, because NBI is about you: the person who has something he or she wants to say and is thinking a blog is the right place to do it.

So how do YOU get involved? Step one is to head to the forums set-up for the event, NBIHQ, and register there. Then head to the Newbie bloggers instructions thread and follow the steps to get started. It’s easy!

I can’t wait to read your new blog!