Friday, January 15, 2016

On a Definitive Guide to Understanding MGTOW (Part 1)


I do not personally wear the label of MGTOW, nor do I speak for anyone other than myself.  I as an individual do not wish to be put into a box with with anyone else, nor do I wish for them to be put into a box with me.  Everyone has different opinions and I don't claim to speak for anyone but myself.  I am not interested in, or capable of acting as, any kind of official spokesmen for MGTOW.  It is however my intent with these articles to highlight both the core, and the best, that is currently on offer from within the MGTOW phenomenon after two years of intense personal observation.

Introduction to Part 1:

The purpose of Part 1 is to provide the shortest possible must see guide to MGTOW content.  If you do not see anything else from the community, or read any other parts of this guide, the three videos I present in Part 1 should effectively demonstrate what MGTOW is and what kinds of understanding the best parts of the community are pursuing.

I have chosen these three videos for several reasons:

  • They are effectively one continuous series
  • They have quickly been acknowledged by long standing key members of the community as some of the best content yet produced
  • They provide the most consolidated and concrete form of the MGTOW philosophy supported with clear reasoning, and as the series progresses, hard scientific data from reputable sources
  • The producers are close to the intellectual core of the movement rather than the watered down 'pop' versions of MGTOW which, despite often having higher viewer/subscription counts and search ratings, tend to be diluted and polluted rehashes of far better ideas from people known mostly only within the community

Side Note:

What is mostly lacking in these three videos is the background needed to understand gynocentrism, which is a core idea within the community for aiding the understanding of both Traditional Conservatism and Feminism.  Gynocentrism plays a huge role in evolution, religion, government policies, social attitudes, and much much more.  However for the purposes of this guide I am considering gynocentrism to be an "Advanced Topic" beyond the scope of Part 1.

Part 1:

For those of you who do not know, MGTOW stands for "Men Going Their Own Way."  What this means is largely up to the individual, but the one shared component that is agreed on by all those respected in the community is that it starts with the complete rejection of Marriage, Cohabitation, and the Fathering of Children.  This is generally done as a political choice and/or statement, and for financial self preservation, given social and legal systems that largely favors women at the expense of men, and tends to see women as innocent victims and men as aggressive dominant bullies regardless of actual circumstances or real world data.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  I will let CS MGTOW explain why you should not get married with his video "Meet Mark":

Shortly after "Meet Mark" was released, Colttaine released the following video called "Gender Attraction Differential." Using real world statistics from Tinder and OK Cupid, he was able to give a very good partial explanation for modern divorce rates and provide a big piece of the puzzle for understanding the modern crumbling of the traditional family structure, as well as background information for understanding a number of social phenomenon.

Colttaine then followed up his "Gender Attraction Differential" video with "Biology Culture Ideology", which in my mind provides extremely definitive answers to many modern questions and problems that have been troubling me for years, including the collapse of the family structure, modern feminism, and even the need for movements like #GamerGate, of which I was a supporter, and the near absolute misframed slander that movements like GamerGate or the MRM received from the mainstream media.  Although admittedly much of the latter may need the lens of gynocentrism for one to completely connect the dots.


This article was not meant to be an exhaustive representation of the MGTOW phenomenon or it's communities and ideas.  However if you watched all three videos in order, you should have a very good idea of the kind of thinking that is at the core of the MGTOW movement, as well as *some* of the conditions that are causing it.  Admittedly many people have not put in this level of conscious or coherent thought into it, and have expressed sentiments that show a merely intuitive understanding of these situations as opposed to the more concrete examinations presented here.  But it must be acknowledged that a number of key MGTOW thinkers have been stumbling very close to some of these ideas for years, and have done unbelievable amounts of leg work to provide the stepping stones on which this was clearly developed.

In subsequent posts I intend to produce a slightly more in-depth view of MGTOW ideas from other key voices, most likely presented in something close to the chronological order in which I discovered them.  I also plan to give some background about where MGTOW came from and why.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

On Why I Support #GamerGate

Why I support #gamergate:

1) I absolutely agree that there are massive problems with Journalistic integrity that needs to be addressed, not just in gaming (which has been clearly demonstrated by participants in the gamergate phenomenon), but also in the larger mainstream media. Mainstream media is all a giant propaganda machine as far as I can tell. In fact the entire top down 20th century media model needs to go IMO, in favor of a bottom up emergence type of reporting and opinionating. See possible transformation of Government and Media vs the old system and an example of how we can help change.

2) I am pro gay rights, pro womens rights (including abortion), and for many other positions generally considered to be "left." I am even possibly for reparations for slavery if it was given with some specific stipulations on how the money would be used (teach a person to fish instead of giving them a fish). I also grew up as, and continue to be, a Star Trek and XMen style Egalitarian. And in my 10 years of software engineering experience, and 4 years of university before that, my experience is that most computer nerds are similarly egalitarian in some form or other.
In general we (computer/gaming/comic nerds) are not threatened by women in the industry. In fact all the men I have ever talked to about these issues were open, willing, and interested in being proactive about finding ways to make our hobbies interests and profession more accessible and appealing to a more diverse group of people. But just as feminists complain of being "slut shamed", we are generally a demographic of people who have grown up being "nerd/geek" shamed for much of our lives, often by women we very much wished to share these things with (and that in addition to those on the right who thought DnD was from the devil). But there have always been women who were successful and welcome in our supposed "club house". We have had highly regarded female game designers forever. Roberta Williams, for example, created some of the best computer games we remember playing as kids.
But in the last few years there has been a continuous stream of propaganda against gaming specifically, and technology in general (dongle gate for example), coming regularly from many sources including the mainstream media, about how how we are all a bunch of white male misogynists and brogrammers doing everything to bully women out of tech/games/comics and to objectify them, etc. And I find this to be just as dishonest, sexist, racist, bigoted and hateful, if not more so, than what they are falsely accusing their targets of being.
Further, having been a member of the internet Atheist community (ie seeing Atheism+ unfold), an observational supporter of the Occupy movement, as well as a software engineer and game developer, I have watched a very disturbing pattern of dishonesty, propaganda and outright bigotry from self identifying feminists who seem to have a belief system that mirrors all the worst aspects of the stereotypes commonly held about extreme right wing religious zealots, racists, homophobes etc. For just one example: notice Anita Sarkeesian is just the "left's" version of Jack Thompson, but with a prettier face and the added skill of crying a convincing wolf to the less technically savvy who apparently don't know that IP tracing, registered domain names, and server logs accurately pinpoint anyone stupid enough to be making threats online. And much of Patriarchy Theory (actually a hypothesis, not a theory) and it's arguments are no more valid under critical examination than "Creation Science". Their bullshit has been so extreme I have actually given a quite serious and attentive ear to various aspects of the MRM in the last year, which I probably never would have even considered otherwise.

A number of people have said that anyone who supports gamergate and has any decency should abandon it immediately because they are associated with racist and sexist bigots. But the gamergate participants are well aware that they have been painted as thus by the very media figures they have shown to be dishonest, for the sole purpose of discrediting them. Falsely calling gamergate bad names in public and trying to shame gamergaters only makes them/us bolder. Being bullied is something we as a demographic are use to. We are not afraid of you. Nor do we give a shit about your public scorn or ridicule. We have always had to deal with that.
We have spent much of our lives being insulted and ridiculed for being part of the 'untouchable' class of nerds and weirdos. And now it appears that the very people who have ostracized us all along, now that facebook is cool and video games and comics are multi-billion dollar industries, now they want to bully us further by painting US as nothing but bullies and misogynists who somehow kept THEM out of the cool club since before it was cool. They want to say that we are nothing but the evil white male patriarchy oppressors of the world who now must hand over our culture (which they refused to join), and let them dictate to us all their authoritarian, racist, sexist and bigoted views about us, and to have sole discretion in determining what can and cannot be said within something that they are not even a part of. They are not creating anything. They simply wish to take over a medium from the outside that they themselves do not seem capable or willing to participate in or contribute to.
Well as far as I am concerned, you can all get the fuck out! That isn't directed at women. It isn't directed at gays, lesbians, or any ethic or racial minority, nor at trans, disabled, or even at feminists, or even any flavor of extremist for that matter. You are all welcome to put forth your own work in this egalitarian club. You always have been. But you are NOT welcome to come in and hate on us and paint us all as your imagined villains so you can feel morally superior even as you bully others into submission of your hateful ideology. You want to make a game that puts forth your viewpoints. Go ahead and make it. If it's a good game people will buy it, and if it's a good idea, kickstarters will fund it. But this hateful "pop culture critic" horse shit that is trying to bully everyone while playing the victim, and this propaganda claiming everyone who is upset about the failures of journalistic integrity are racist misogynists, this has to be treated as scornfully as Jack Thompson and the Westboro Baptist Church.


Looking a little wider, I personally kind of wish that gamergate could grow into a full scale battle with the mainstream media, or possibly some kind of new "live and let live" political position or 3rd party (even though I don't consider myself exactly a libertarian as that article indicates).

From Fox and MSNBC all they way down, they need a good kick in the teeth for failing our democracy in favor of one sided propaganda, click-bate, and their bottom line. Neither the "left" nor the "right" supports the views or interests of an increasingly larger number of people. And I for one will probably not go back to, or follow any link to, the Colbert Report, The Daily Show, or in fact ANY comedy central content, until they have given gamergate a fair shake to counter their prostituting themselves to Sarkeesian and then shutting down all comments on that. I have been a follower of those shows for years, and feel that this is a betrayal to me on almost the same level as the "Gamers are Dead" bullshit. I expect this kind of extreme one sided bullshit from Fox, and to a lesser extent HuffPo, MSNBC, and even NPR (which I have financially supported in the past). I realize that Comedy Central has never been unbiased either, but I take Colberts sucking up as kind of a personal betrayal after many years of enthusiastically promoting his and Johns material.

The general lockstep nature that mainstream media has taken with game journalists is unacceptable IMO, and is yet another example of the absolute failure of modern news reporting. I personally hope and think many participants in GamerGate should seriously look beyond just gaming journalism in the future. It isn't just game journalists who fail miserably to represent us. It is also the mainstream media and the mainstream of left right politics as well. If we could get people as engaged as gamergaters have been in a wider social sphere we could potentially break the two party systems "either or fallacy" of Coke vs Pepsi, and left vs right one dimensional politics, along with the constant decent of having to vote for the "lesser of two evils" where Obama ends up being little to no better than Bush on the fascist and militaristic "War on Terror" while at the same time writing a blank check to the corrupt banking establishment. I understand many of us just want to be able to play our games in peace, but at the same time our republic burns while we are distracted by bread and games.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

My Response To: "How The Meritocracy Myth Affects Women In Technology"

I just read How The Meritocracy Myth Affects Women In Technology and I must say that while I think there is a real problem with the lack of women in the tech industry which needs addressing, I am profoundly disappointed at the misunderstandings and stereotypes propagated in the article, which in my mind are only likely to exacerbate the problem.

Some background: I have worked in 'the Tech Industry' for 10 years now. (9 if you count the year I took off due to burn out.) Note also that 4 of the 5 companies I have worked for were Video Game Companies, and I am working on my own indie game now. So here are my thoughts on this subject, and in particular what I think the article misses in its aim to aid what is clearly a legitimate problem:

1) Every single tech company that I have worked for WANTED MORE WOMEN.

Unfortunately it is notoriously difficult to find people with the required technical skills (at all, let alone among women) so much so that most places I have worked needed many more people than they could actually find. There is a huge need for talent in the tech industry and a massive shortage of people with skills. Hell, I get notices all the time from headhunters promising me as much as 1000 bucks just to recommend someone from my professional network to take whatever job they need filled at the moment. Most companies without big public names like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, etc have a REALLY hard time finding enough talent just to do the work they need done. They are in no position to be prejudice, and will very often import workers from poorer parts of the world who have the needed skills out of necessity. In general, and not only with women, we REALLY REALLY need more people to be knowledgeable about Math and Science. Don't skip it because it is hard! Do the work! Please! Please! Do the work! WE NEED YOU!

Note that if you have good programming skills and some good experience, you can go work in just about any country in the world you want with little or no hassle, no matter where you are from, what your gender, and often without even needing to speak the language, as long as your English is passable.

2) The problem with women lacking needed technical skills, in my experience, starts WAY before the job market, and likely even long before college. The percentage of women in my computer science department in University was also low single digits. So it is no surprise to me that it is so low in the actual work force.

I do not know for sure what prevents women from choosing Math and Science degrees (but will express some of my opinions below), although one female friend told me recently on Facebook that she was told as a kid that Math was too hard and she should choose something else. If this is the case then prejudice starts with (and may even entirely be from) guidance counselors and other early mentors, not tech companies. Although I will add that women are not unique in this regard. A coworker at my current job told me how his High School guidance councilor generally discouraged kids from their dreams because it was a poor neighborhood and he wanted them to be 'more realistic' about the fact they would probably just end up brick layers or whatever. I would say that we seriously need to examine what ALL kids are being told about their capabilities and dreams in life. I also think that while this might be a little bit cheeky, it makes a very valid point on the subject as well. If you think it is an unfair statement, consider this.

3) In my experience, technology companies generally have single digit percentage of women at all levels except HR, not just at the top. So complaining that there are not more women heading tech companies is kind of absurd. If women don't/won't/can't even take jobs at the entry level, how can one complain they are not at the top? Generally speaking, nobody walks in to any company or industry with no experience right out of school (or without any relevant schooling at all) and takes the lead. If someone does walk in with such expectations they are most likely going to be in for some profound disappointment. (Note: I realize that Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg didn't complete University, but they were all the sort who had been constantly programming for years instead of going to parties or otherwise living a 'normal' life, and they invented or perfected entirely new industries for the public.)

4) Brogrammer culture: I really wish people would just drop this entire negative stereotype all together. I realize that there were a couple people out there making titstare (which is easy to target and bitch about), and even Mark Zuckerberg supposedly make this 'hot or not' app back in the day. However most programmers I know, or have known, are VERY far from the brogrammer stereotype. If anything, I would expect that propagation of this negative stereotype is only going to convince more women to stay away from technology, so stop bringing it up. => And before you tell me not to act like this then, why don't you first go up to random black people and tell them not to steal? It reminds me of an extremely offensive short film I saw recently in regards to Augmented Reality, which I think gets us closer to part of the real issue.

This film has several big problems. For one thing, it is profoundly unscientific and ignorant to believe that AR contact lenses will give you the ability to control someones mind, and it plays directly into the Anti-Science/Anti-Intellectual culture. But even more importantly, it portrays an extremely damaging stereotype of programmers specifically, and men in general. I realize there are some criminal rapist types out there, but why is it that men in general are so often portraid this way? The whole idea of 'rape culture' is a giant insult to decent men everywhere, who are by and large the majority. Who is it out there that thinks we all need to be reminded every two seconds that forcibly degrading another person is wrong? And to whoever it is propagating this crap: Why do you hate men so much? Stop stereotyping us this way!

Seriously: Why do people feel the need to make things in such poor of tastes as the ending of this film? Because all programmers (and scientists in general) are 'evil geniuses' and socially incapable of legitimately interesting a woman? Yeah, that's a GREAT message for boys and girls alike! No wonder more women (and men) don't become interested in technology, except in bitching about how it is "the patriarchy". Maybe we should stop portraying scientists and engineers in the media as social retards who only speak in techno babel, and must be relegated to the position of sidekick to some Johnny Knoxville type who is just perpetually lucky through all stupidity before getting the girl.

In closing:

The lack of women (and more people in general) in the tech industry is a serious problem. I appreciate the fact that there are people outside of it who also recognize the difficulties we face in this regard. However, oversimplifying things does not help. Insinuating that there is some 'white male conspiracy' to keep women and others out doesn't help any more than pretending all scientists are in a giant conspiracy to disprove God so they can be gay and sin all they want. Pointing fingers at the imagined "brogrammer/rape culture" doesn't help but just creates more segregation. Demanding acceptance of 'more diversity of thinking' from people who don't understand technology at all isn't going to help any more than pretending mumbo jumbo quantum meditative healing is a substitute for real medicines like vaccinations and chemotherapy.

What will help is getting rid of the negative stereotypes our culture has about programmers, engineers, scientists, and also men. What will help is telling girls (and boys) at a young age that science and technology is cool and that they can do it if they apply themselves and work hard, which they are expected to do. What will help is discouraging kids from giving up Math and Science and Technology. What will help is to no longer accept the attitude that it is somehow cool to be an ignorant flunky in Math. When you start looking at THOSE things, then I think maybe you will start to get close to the real issues and how you can fix them.

Thank you for your time.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Oggs Pilgrimage to the Temple of the Silver Wall: Part One: The Merchants Tale.

When I was about 13 and a half or 14 there was an upright lumbering hairless ape named Ogg. While he was on a Pilgrimage to the Temple of the Silver Wall he had an encounter with a Traveling Merchant named Edward Bloom outside a small town named Specter. Edward explained that he was on his way home to the love of his life.

Ogg explained to Edward how he had killed his brother Humbaba-Enkidu many years before in a dream, and how the gods had then cursed him to wonder the earth in search of eternal life. Unfortunately the gods had slowly died off or merged together until their was only one God, and then he had dissolved long ago into the inner dialogs of human beings. However before they did so, Ogg had realized that the secret to immortality was in fact perhaps in contributions to culture and monuments that outlived their creator. He had tried to follow in Grogs footsteps but felt he had failed and must find his own way. And that is why he was on his way to the Temple of the Silver Wall.

Edward was somewhat taken aback. You do not strike me as a religious man, said Edward.

Ogg explained that religion, as far as he could tell, was nothing more than the naturally occurring and networked augmented reality that binds people together, and that he was to be an augmented reality programmer, just like one of the friends of Grogs, Constantine. Unfortunately he did not know where to begin.

Edward laughed and said: sure you do. Crafting reality is so easy a cave man could do it.

Being arguably a caveman himself, Ogg did not find this humorous.

Edward then told Ogg a story he was reminded of about a Spanish Conquistador who had gone searching for the Tree of Life in south America. When the Conquistador finally made it to the temple, however, the native priest recognized him as an incarnation of First Father, the god who had spawned the world by planting a tree in his body, and whose head had become the dying star and underworld Xibalba. What happened to the Conquistador next was unclear, but it is said that he did obtain eternal life. Perhaps you should consider travel to South America.

Ogg, who had of course been to South America, was unsure of the stories truth. He had also heard rumors of golden tablets that told of his own deeds in South America, but could not remember for sure if he had in fact had any of those adventures. But then, he had never seen the golden tablets either.

This is going to sound a little strange, admitted Ogg, but at night I dream I am a Starship captain whose job it is to create the needed religion and propaganda to hold together the inhabitants of my ship in order to get them to safety. Unfortunately, I do not know what the story is. I seek the epic story that will engage my ships inhabitants to work together and get the ship to safety. I fear we are in great danger now, although from what I cannot say. But I have vowed to get us to the promised land of the planet Terabithia. Everyone looks to me, from the pilots to the priests to the prostitutes, and everyone in between. This missing epic IS my Tree of Life, and it will live on after I am gone by feeding the inhabitants of my ship a unifying reality until they become one with the new planet and evolve to some other form which requires a new story.

At that moment something on the television caught their attention. It was a news story, and the anchor man was saying:

"Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Heres Tom with the Weather"

Edward looked at Ogg. Ogg said: that is just what I am talking about. In my recurring dream I need to find our epic tale to help the crew get home again, but it must be as true as possible. I am mortally wounded and I may go down with the ship in the end, in sight of the promised land with music blaring on the overhead, perhaps without setting foot on it myself. But it is OK. I just need to make sure the crew and the inhabitants survive. I need to get them to their destination, their new home, and then I can die. But the story must be as true as possible, or it will not work. I do not know what this story is. But it must be told.

Edward thought for a moment and then said: You know. I once met a scientist named Tom Creo. He was telling me about a college he has, a Dr. Nicolelis who says that the brain is like a school of fish, or a flock of birds. Consciousness is an emergent property. E Pluribus Unum. Perhaps you should not dictate the story to your crew and dependents. Perhaps you should let them tell the story to you. It reminds me of another tale I have heard on my travels:

Supposedly there was once a being named Eru Ilúvatar who created a race known as the Ainur. Eru Ilúvatar bade his demiurges the Ainur to sing. And each of their own personal voices merged together in the great song which created the universe, and specifically the world of Arda. They were all unique and sang their own song of the universe, and even the clashes in harmony was part of their epic tale. Perhaps instead of trying to dictate the great myth of your day from the top down, you should try to listen to the metaphorical music of your crew, and they will create it for you. If you try to control them, they will see through it and it will fail. You cannot insert a false measure from the top by which to judge your people and measure their success. This will never work. At best they will juke the system to meet your expected stats without doing the real job, and at worst they will resent you. Very probably both. No. Let them be who they are, and listen, do not speak except to reinforce their own songs where you can. Perhaps that is your true role as captain. Like the captain Kabat-Zinn.

How can I listen to so many voices? Asked Ogg. At times the voices already overwhelm me, and the ship computer overloads and reboots, causing the ship to drift aimlessly in space.

Well, said Edward. Aren't all of your people on the ship wide web via neurolink? The hive mind of the ship? Perhaps you should use your ships PRISM drive computer. Let it tell you what the story of the day is. Why create the propaganda and religion from the top when the people will tell you from the bottom the story they already want to believe, the story they DO believe. They will tell you when you do right, and when you do wrong. All you have to do is listen. Do not try to suppress them. If you suppress or ignore them they will be tormenting harpys who rebel and undermine you, but if you listen and obey they will be your muses and grant you infinite wisdom by whispering in your ear as you sleep at night. Vox populi, vox Dei, the voice of the people is the voice of god. It is the wisdom of crowds. It is emergence. And let them have their anonymity. They are not your slaves. The state does not really win in the end if it loses the trust of the people. Jesus not only outlived the Roman Empire, he BECAME the Roman Empire. Or rather, the Empire was forced to become him to survive. And yet it still failed, while it tries to hold on to this day.

No. Listen to the music of the Ainur as Eru Ilúvatar. You do not have to think to digest your food or heal a scratch. Your body knows how to do these things without your conscious mind. Do not think you can control the masses. Instead realize the truth: their is no spoon. The masses are you, but they are also not as they are also the forces beyond you. There is no beginning or end to you. Like the wind and the shores form the surface of a lake on a windy day, so are you. Observe the wind on you, and observe the shores which contain you, and observe the shapes of your surfaces and depths. Accept them. You are a passenger, and this is just a ride. You already know how to get your crew home. You don't even have to think. Just do. They will do. They are doing. This very moment. You are free. Excepting that you are asleep. But then, the dream is the meaning right?

Ogg looked down from the mirror he was staring into down into the sink. A drop of blood landed near the drain. He was still bleeding. From the ear perhaps? From the temple. He looked back to the mirror. It was shattered and distorted. He was trying to see the truth through a broken foggy mirror. Was what he was getting truth at all? Well, thought Ogg, perhaps I must have faith in something. Maybe the Ainur know best what song they must sing. Perhaps it is worth a try.

As he paddled the raft through the fog, Ogg moved farther away from Specter. He didn't know if the fog would get thicker or thinner, but he knew he could not stay here. His journey lay ahead still, and he had to stay on the move.

Another Tale of Ogg

When I was about 13 and half or 14 there was a man named Ogg. Once when Ogg was travelling between two city states he met a man named Gilgamesh who explained to him that humans had been created by the gods using a gollum spell. Gilgamesh told how he had learned this from an omnipresent air elemental in the desert who had explained that all life was animated by the spirit of air. Ogg knew that such Djinn were trickster spirits who were known to rummage through the camp sites of desert travelers and scatter things about, and that they were not to be trusted. He expressed this to Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh agreed but said that on this occasion the spirit was pressed to tell the truth as it was under a magical spell that required it to tell the truth regardless of whether it wanted to or not. Its mother had cast the spell before its birth on instruction from the gods, and it could not tell a lie, not even to itself. Besides, Gilgamesh explained, everyone knows that without spirit breath nothing lives, and babies come to life when they have their first breath and spirits entered into them. This made perfect sense to Ogg, and he questioned Gilgamesh further. Gilgamesh had no idea how the blood of gods was pressed into the clay, but that it must be so for the spell to work. Gilgamesh also explained to Ogg his quest in search for eternal life, and how only Utnapishtim was the only man to have achieved it. This caused Ogg to recall Utnapishtim and he shuttered to remember all the bodies remaining in the water after the 7 days had passed. It did appear that humans were made from red clay, for all seemed to return to it when the breath of life left them. Perhaps the Genie was right. Later he would survive other floods in Greece and China by escaping to the mountains with local peoples, which always reminded him of his time with Utnapishtim, and somehow over time all his flood memories blurred together to become the same event.

Many years later Ogg was at a party where he met a man named Leeuwenhoek. Leeuwenhoek had a magical device which allowed Ogg to see himself as he had never seem himself before. Ogg was shocked and dismayed to see that he was not really a man at all, but rather an enormous complex city made up of millions of inhabitants, like a hive of bees that were too small to see without the aid of magic. And like ants, some members of him formed roads and rivers, while others were police and builders and messengers. This shock was somewhat diminished as previously Ogg had met a man named Paul in the city of Damascus who had explained to Ogg that all of us were members of the same body, and that we should not judge others as more or less important because the eyes cannot do without the feet. But still Ogg was shocked and dismayed by the way reality seemed to constantly changed around him. But before he could come to grips with this, Leeuwenhoek introduced Ogg to another man named Hubble who cast a spell on Oggs eyes and allowed him to see beyond the firmament as never before. Ogg had learned in ancient Greece that the earth was not flat after all, but what he could now see shocked him most of all. The earth was not the center, nor was the sun. In fact the sun was but one grain of sand on a seemingly infinite beach, and all the grains of sand were scattering in all directions growing farther from each other. Ogg was dismayed. But before this could sink in, the magic Leeuwenhoek had cast on him intensified, and he saw inside of some of the inhabitants that made up himself, and they were made up of tiny machines grabbing individual oxygen pairs, but it didn't stop there as he saw that the existence of the oxygen was nothing but a probability distribution and not solid at all.

Ogg was reeling. How could one function when reality was always changing so drastically and so fast? This was all a dream. All of life was a dream. But somehow it seemed he had always know that. He couldn't remember where, but he was certain that he had been told all the universe was a dream being had by one who slept on a bed of snakes in an infinite sea of milk. Although that didn't make any sense. Nor did the Gollum spell. Was Gilgamesh a dream? Was Utnapishtim? Was Homer? Was Alighieri? He couldn't remember. He was sure that once they were real, and he had known that. He felt he was dreaming now. Was this real? If he wasn't asleep now.. he looked to read something. It was all a jumble. He remembered his parents and Grog. Or did he? He was so overwhelmed he could not stand. His head jerked. Had he just been sleeping? What was the bizzare thought he had just had? It was beyond him. He could not reach it. He doubled over, his vision blurred. He was in the shower. The water running over him, but he wasn't really here. He had seen through the Matrix. Reality was not reality. His mind was simulating it all. Everyone was simulating it. But no simulations quite matched. Like miss matched instances of an online video game with bad lag, no one saw the same thing, and everything jumped around. One minute you had the kill, the next you were dead with no explanation. Food is not what it tastes like. The universe is not what it looks like. Reality, perceived reality, was a dream. Ogg realized his mind could not fully fathom the extent of the truth. His mind had not evolved for sizes or scales much outside of grain of sand to a mountain, or from a snail to a cheetah.

Ogg watched billions of lives come and go in an instant. He watched people live and die and grow old in an instant. But then, it seemed he had been doing this all his life and never noticed. It was if his life was only that one instant with little memory of what came before, and what memory there was was dream like and unreliable. He was pretty sure he remembered the Roman Empire. But did he? Was his memory real? Was history real? It seemed like a dream that could fluidly change from one scene to another. Had he really seen what he thought he had seen? The memories escaped him, but he was sure they had been there. He was sure that at some point reality was solid. But he could not remember when. Was he dreaming again? Had he ever been awake?

Was Grog dead? No. Someone had died. He knew who it was. All died, all lost their breath and slept forever, their patterns ceasing to be except the copies stored on the minds of others, which would soon pass away. A dream lost forever. What was he doing? Ogg couldn't remember. What was he trying to do? He had some vague notion, but his way seemed blocked. He listened to his body and his breathing. The magic breath. What would it tell him. He could feel a black poison cloud in his body, concentrated on his lower back, his kidneys and hips. Something bad had happened. But he couldn't quite remember what it was. He stared at his hands. They seemed alien to him. Not his hands at all. But swarms of bees.

Ogg remembered being the captain of a starship lost in space. He had had a different name then, but he couldn't remember what it was. Only that the entire crew, too large for him to know all by name, depended on him to bring them to safety and survival. His brother had died. Ogg thought maybe he had killed him in a fight, but couldn't remember what the fight was about. All he knew was that he was the head of the propaganda office on the ship. That was why he was captain. That was why he was born. He knew the story would not be true, but it didn't matter. He was responsible to direct the priests who controlled the message that made it to the crew members, and the message of the secular news media aboard the ship. If he could not create a compelling story for them all to follow, they would not be unified to action, and they would not survive. He had to create the reality for them all to follow. They all looked to him to weave the story. But he didn't know what it was anymore. He was wounded. Mortally wounded maybe. Or perhaps just permanently injured, or was it permanent at all, he wasn't sure. He struggled to maintain consciousness. He felt like he was on drugs, even though he hadn't taken any. It was a dream. Like the woman that visited him at night over the telepathic like mind link. They were part of the crew too. He stared at the control panel the pilots used to fly the ship. He knew they were the same kinds of controls that were used in a video game, but he had never learned to use them himself. But he might have to now. But he was forgetting his job. He needed the narative that would tie them all together. Get them all to function. He had lost the disk. Lost his memory. Lost his way. Was this ship real? Or was it a dream of himself? Ogg thought he knew. He still needed that epic story. Without it the crew would die in the emptiness of space. Or would they? Perhaps they would live on, in a meaningless dream state and emerge in some other place and time entirely.

Ogg shook his head. He was here? But where was here? Where was he going? What was he trying to accomplish? Why wasn't he dead yet? If there was a system failure in the ship that was that strong, how was the enemy not bearing down on them, destroying them? Why were they not dead already? The enemy was real right? Or was it? Or were they just lost in space where non could find them? Some lost part of the universes consciousness which none could enter or exit at will, a place that existed only in this one place and time and never before or would again? Ogg was suppose to be doing something. Trying to save the ship? Trying to understand all he had seen? What was causing the system failure? He was sure that was urgent, and that important matters were calling for his attention. He couldn't think what they were, but he had to fix the ships system error. Were there intruders? Or was the ship just open to the vastness of space leaking out precious resources to the either where they would never be seen again and were impossible to reclaim. All that exists is this moment right? He certainly couldn't remember anything else. He started down a hallway along the bulk heads. Red and yellow lights flashed in the darkness. He touched his head. He was bleeding. When did that happen? He held a gun in his one hand. He didn't remember how it had gotten there. He was holding it to his head. He threw it away. But when he looked it was still in his hand. He wandered on, limping as he went. Or perhaps he was floating, holding an injured side. He couldn't tell. He was sitting at a keyboard console. He was writing? What was he writing? A program to restart the ship? Red and yellow lights flashed in the darkness around him. There was no sound. He couldn't remember hearing a sound. Was there sound? Or was he deaf too? His eyes struggled to focus. Where was he, what was he doing?

Ogg stood in the middle of a field. He couldn't remember how he got there. There were families playing in the water fountain. It was some kind of park or garden. Was there a Naga in the garden? He turned his head away. It wasn't a temptation anyway, but it was better to be sure. Better safe than sorry. He touched his head again, it came away bloody. He tasted it, it was warm and salty. Red and yellow lights flashed in the darkness. He was still on the ship? Or was he? Was the ship real? He was trapped inside of it, had to get it going again. It was crashed out. There was no one else on the ship. He had to start it again himself. It was a maze though. A huge maze of hallways and bulkheads. Nothing but doorways and hallways and red and yellow flashing lights. Ogg had done something wrong. He was sure of it. But what? What was his mistake? What had happened to the ship? And where were all the passengers? The crew? He was the passengers. He was the crew. He needed their help. Or did they need his? He struggled to remember. I have to save the ship he thought. We are floating in infinite space, far from any other civilization. So far that they might as well not even be real.

Ogg woke up. He was still in his captains chambers. Red and yellow lights flashed. We have to wake up he thought. We have to wake up. The hissing of an air vent caught his attention. He was in a field again. A young girl with a white light behind her approached him, but didn't speak. He wanted to speak to her, but found he could not. It was still silent. So silent the silence was deafening. Was the air full of white noise? Or was he just deaf. The girl put her finger to her lips to indicate silence. Ogg tried to silence his mind. He tried to meditate, to come back to reality. But reality seemed like the dream. Was this more real? No. This was all in his mind, Ogg thought. The real world still exists out there, somewhere. I had a mission to accomplish. Or so I thought. What was it? Something is blocking the way. Ogg wiped his eyes. The girl was gone. Only an after image in his mind. She held up a finger to her lips again: SHHHH! Quiet! She seemed to say, without words. Ogg tried to be very still, to listen. There was a poison in his body. AAl through his body. A black poison. It made him feel weak. In fact, he thought he might be laying down, even though he stood, hunched over, clutching his injured side. He felt warmth on his head. He touched it. Blood again.

He knew the virus had already restructured much of his reality. There was no going back to Eden. To much had been reshaped. So much knowledge had reshaped reality. Restructured it. Not all the way, but enough. The old structures would never be able to be rebuilt. No, he would have to go on, try to tie together the hybrid of reality structures that there were, with bits of the old, tied together with the newly formed structures forming the ship, forming reality. He felt trapped. Trapped in his body. His body was sleeping. Or was it. He sat at a keyboard. He was typing something. New code? Was it a new bios for the ships computer? Would the ship boot up again? Could it be restored to full power and functionality? There was a war on right? A war they were trying to escape? They were looking for a new place to dock before right? Or was it a new planet to settle, a place the ship would merge with and become part of the living being that was the surface of another planet. Ogg doubled over, clutching his side. His head rested on the control panel. His black boots reflecting light. White light. The white light was strange to see in an environment that had been lit only by red and yellow warning lights, lense flared for effect. The white light came from behind the panel at his feet under the computer terminal. Ogg popped it off and lay on the floor staring into the light.

Ogg had been 5 people. He remembered that. There was a magical adept, struggling to keep the juggernaut of rage asleep and under control so as not to hurt anyone. The adept protected the world from the party. There was also a general who was shrouded in armour of constantly moving ethereal blades. He protected the party from the rest of the world. There was the juggernaut of course. Rage incarnated. It often took all of the adepts ability to keep him asleep. But it was necessary most of the time. The juggernaut raged uncontrolably at the addict like gollum who tormented the heart. Heart being the smallest of the party, and too injured to protect himself. But at the time Ogg had seen this, he knew their quest was not for the heart, but for the gollum. They had to save gollum. For he was heart too. They all were. They were all one. This was a dream. But the dream was real. Somehow, it was real. Somehow this truth said something that reality did not. Truth was in the dream. Ogg just had to find it. That was the key to restarting the ship. At least, it seemed like it was. Restarting the ship would return him to the party that Leeuwenhoek was having. One level of inception less. But that was a dream too right? Or was it the key to a dream? They key to that level of the dream. Ogg didn't know. He just knew he had to get the answers and wake up. Unless the point of life was in fact these dreams. But he was sure that some level of reality would be hurt if he stayed asleep forever. No, he had to wake up. Or else he had to find a way to make the earth and his dreams the same. That reminded Ogg of a song. It echoed in the distance. "The only difference is to let love replace all our hate. So lets go there, lets make our escape." Escape. Was this an escape? Was that what the ship was doing? It was overloaded. There was a fire? To much data. To much data had come in on all circuits. Knowledge, emotions, everything that traveled on the telegraph of the nervous system of the ship. The computer was overloaded. It shut down. Was this a reboot sequence. Ogg thought so. But it seemed the ship had a low tolerance for circuit breaker pops. Reboots were becoming a default coping mechanism. That had to change. The ship couldn't reboot in the middle of a battle. Something had to change. New code was needed. A new interrupt function had to be written. An exception handled. It would be good to prevent the exceptions from happening, same with the interrupts, but that would have to be handled later. First we have to get better handlers for them. Rebooting the ship all the time was not a viable option.

"What was the new coping mechanism going to be?" Ogg wondered. He wasn't sure, but somehow realizing that it needed to be done seemed like the first step. The yellow and red lights faded into white. Ogg was on the right track. New coping mechanisms were needed. If he could get the digital library online maybe he could find some ideas about new algorithms for handling the worst most catastrophic interrupts and exceptions. Oggs kidneys hurt. And he recalled his mother, the air elemental that told him to always speak the truth. Or was that how the story went? He couldn't remember. Did it matter? Stories changed all the time, evolving from previous states. Memes evolve. New names and meanings and characters emerge. Wasn't there once seven women who had healed him? One who had patched up his side? Wasn't there once a spider whose web reached up to the heavens from the ground? A spider who walked on the sky? A web those who were not too greedy could climb to get out of hell? Or was that the space elevator. Ogg couldn't recall.

Ogg was part of me. Is still is part of me. Even if long ago he physically past, having merged with the other aspects of my consciousness. In me he remains forever. Perhaps his tiny effect still lives on after the big crunch, and has some effect during the next big stretch. I do not know. My memory is not infinite either. Or is it? I too perhaps cycle life and death. As one man dies to make room for the next, as one cell dies and flakes away from the skin of man, so too, perhaps, I give away for another. All matter condensed and organized into consciousness, only to be released again, and room made for the new. Perhaps. But such things are perhaps beyond our ability to know, at least for now. For in this place, only the now exists. What place does restarting a ship have in the grand scheme? It will all come to pass at some point. As will consciousness. As will life as we think we know it. What remains forever? It has no name that we can yet know. Has no meaning we can yet infer. Our meaning is in the dream. Humans coevolved with the Matrix, like you did with your domesticaed plants and animals. You are not its slave. The meaning IS the dream. The dream of Bramah, cut into billions of pieces and placed in every person, every cell, every atom. The dream will end when it all wakes up; when those divided at Babel remember and rebuild their common language; when nano tech reforms the galaxy and the universe into a single common consciousness; when you are one in yourself. Then the lights will change from red and yellow to white. And a new dream will begin.

Friday, April 27, 2012

On: Will The Truth Set You Free?

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
~2 Timothy 2:15

For roughly 12 years I have followed the quest on which you sent me forth upon.  Now I feel as one among the ancients who somehow flew high enough to see the horizon bend, and thus conclude from my own eyes that the world is round, before the heat of the sun melts the wax of the feathers in my wings.

Truth makes many enemies of friends, but few lasting friends from enemies.

I read yesterday that: "Any child can blurt out the truth, without thought to the consequences. It takes great maturity to appreciate the value of silence." ( But it also takes a special kind of bravery, or perhaps stupidity, to seek and speak the truth in all contexts.

What is the truth worth?  Our entire lives are spent in the single flash of a single strobe light of a single Saturday evening party, in all of time.  One slow moment of truth and detail played out in a slow motion, like a clip from the matrix slightly changing angle in silence, before the true speed of time and the loudness of sound resumes, as we once again enter into none existence.  Or perhaps we do not cease to exist in all forms.  It seems far more likely, given the number of times life likely came to be in even our own universe, that there are more artificial or created realities than 'natural' ones.  Perhaps we are a deliberate part of a hill climbing genetic algorithm search, mapping the moral landscapes for potential consciousness from a higher plane.  Who knows for sure?

We can learn much from the context of this one pulse, this one flash of light in which we live.  We can infer in great detail the context in which we live, and what came before us based on the facts we see around us.  We can even infer what will likely happen for a time after our demise. (

But there is no happiness to be found in truth.  I have pursued many truths, and answered many of the questions I set out to find.  But I do not like all, or even many, of the answers that I found.  And they are often even less well received by others.

I have learned to see through much of the metaphorical matrix in all it's forms.  The realities we craft to suit ourselves.  I can easily detect many of the lies we tell ourselves and each other, as a nation, as a religion, the religions and claims of others, our economics, as well as the lies we tell others and even ourselves as individuals.

There is a strange beauty in viewing the clockworks of our minds, our world, and our universe (both real and virtual).  But either man is not meant to live there, or it is simply not yet his time.  For it is a lonely place with few or no inhabitants.

Who is ready to shed superstitions both shared and unshared?  Who will surrender an only hope that isn't true?  We live our lives looking forward to the day when we will win the lotto, find the perfect job or spouse, or reach a painless paradise on the other side of the sky.  The lies we tell ourselves keep us going, both as individuals and as a culture and people and as slaves to those who are bent to exploit us for their own ends.  Lies justify our actions, our motives, and our very being.  Who is courageous, or perhaps stupid, enough to give that up?

I ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and more.  And now I understand why it requires banishment from the garden.  A thing learned can never go unlearned.  You cannot return to what and who you were before.  It is to put childish things aside.  When you see behind the wizards illusions, you can never go back to accepting them in the same way.  Maybe that is not the goal.

I am tired of truth.  Truth is hard.  Truth is exhausting, and pursued too far is only it's own lonely reward.  None will hear tell of it.  And as time goes on I discover, that I too have been attached to my own lies.  Only sorrow seems to comes when they are stripped away.  While beautiful, few truths provide the comfort of most all lies.

If asked, I would bet most would not want to know if all they thought were actually lies, and many go so far as to even deny the possibility.  Most people WANT to be lied too.  Many truths will make you hated, and many lies will ingratiate you.

We live in a dream world.  A dream of our own making.  Waking from this dream in more than the slightest degree is so damaging and painful we cannot take it.  Our minds have evolved for the Matrix, even as it has evolved for us.  We are a symbiosis, us and the machine of culture and industry and society.  The public dreams informs us and shape us even as we shape it.  That pseudo reality we share, replicated over the inefficient network packets of words in speech, or the net, forms the somewhat shared dreamscape that allows us to function as a whole.  One body, one being, one species, one civilization, one plant with each of our dream pods sprouting upon a single tree.

Life is but a dream.  One we were not designed yet (if ever) to wake from.  Lies, make the world go around.  If you doubt me, ask yourself: what if you had to choose between that which is most important to you, and opposing truth?  What if what you claim is truth, isn't?  The fact that they even *could* come into conflict is a truth most cannot, or will not, acknowledge.  Maybe that is how it should be.

Friedrich Nietzsche supposedly went insane when he allowed himself neither the escape of religion, nor any other mind altering substance, choosing instead to face the harshness of reality.  In my own experience, the more I seek truth, the more my mind demands an escape, I require a dream state, in real sleep or dissociation.(  (  The more I know about the world, the less real it becomes. The less attachment I have to it.

It seems our form of life requires the dream like escapes portrayed in 'Big Fish', 'The Bridge to Terabithia', 'Finding Neverland', and 'Sucker Punch'.  I may have denied mine for too long.

All is meaningless, said the teacher.  For with great wisdom comes much sorrow.  The more knowledge, the more grief.

Meaningless! Meaningless! says the Teacher.
Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.

What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun? 

Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever. 

The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises. 

The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.

All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again. 

All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing, 
nor the ear its fill of hearing.

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again; 
there is nothing new under the sun.

Is there anything of which one can say,
Look! This is something new?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.

No one remembers the former generations, 
and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow them.

Love is the drug.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On Coming out as an Independent Game Developer.

Part 1: The Timeline

September 1979: I am born and the history of the world is changed forever. ;-)

Early 80's:

-A couple of my earliest memories are seeing the original 'Tron' and 'Return of the Jedi' in the theater.


-I am 7-8 years old and start learning to program in Basic on a TI-99 my dad got at a refurbished electronic shop.  I continue learning Basic on my parents new Dos based 80286.  They got it for the spell checking feature of an early word Processor (my Dad is a writer) after my Mother discovered it on a borrowed PC for a temp job as an at home typist.  Someone where my dad worked left to make video games, and he tries to get me interested in it.  But with no concept of number lines in either one or two dimensions and with no one to recognize my need who could explain it to me, the idea goes nowhere at the time.

-Thomas Edison is my proclaimed hero, and I announce that I will be an inventor when I grow up while secretly fantasizing about building intelligent robots.  Despite problems at school, I was recognized as above average intelligence by a couple of Boeing Engineers from my parents church (Aerospace engineers were seen as the super smart people before the age of computers).  I also wanted desperately to understand electricity and magnetism, but no one would (actually could) give me good explanations.


-On the School bus to the 4th grade a female student is drawing her own Original Super Mario Brothers levels on graph paper and announces that they are really levels for the then unannounced Super Mario 2.  (It was just a kid drawing on a bus, but the idea that you could do that stuck in my head.)

Early 90's: 

-I am given a book about Pascal, but never bother getting into it as I was more into playing my guitar.  I later wonder if I had continued with my programming as a kid I might have been close to the demographic of Cliff Bleszinski (the designer of Gears of War), although he is several years older than me, so I think probably not.

Mid 90's: 

-Mr. Kenny from Cheney High School starts giving our Algebra class 100+ problems a night.  Despite bitching about it, I get the fundamentals DOWN, and years later would become the most sought after math tutor in my university.

-I discover the video game 'Doom' and really want to know how it works.

-My High School Physics teacher is forced to use the student AFTER me as the top of the curve so the rest of the class can pass, despite the fact I never did any work other than the exams.


-I am 18 and working at Burger King while attending WSU (it is the same Burger King from the riots).  A coworker spends every day talking about Ultima Online, the predecessor to Everquest and World of Warcraft.  I never saw the game, but my imagination of it mixed it with 'Magic the Gathering' started me imagining ways to build micro transactions into video games roughly a decade before the real video Game Industry starts to explore the idea.

-I start designing a game on paper which was effectively Battlefield 1942, four years before the game comes out.  My ideas and abilities are belittled by the one person I remember actually sharing it with.

-I realize I want to major in Computer Science when I take the intro C programming course (the most infamous weeder class on campus).  In the course we are assigned to make the game Tic Tac Toe.  After finishing the assigned requirements I want to play against the computer.  I realized I could 'look ahead' by having a choose_move function call itself as opposite players on a secondary board.  Something in my implementation doesn't work right, but when I go to the prof he throws me out of his office because he says most students can't even finish the assignment yet I am already trying to write artificial intelligence.  (Later I studied artificial intelligence and realized that my idea, despite being undebugable to my then total noob programmer skills, was exactly the right solution even though I had never even heard of recursion at that point.)  Despite this, the prof tells me I my never likely understand what I need to to write something like Doom, and refuses to answer my questions.

-Complete disparity between the TV reports of the WSU riot and my own first hand experience and insider knowledge of the surrounding events drives home the idea that maybe nothing in the mainstream media is real or accurate at all.


-I start my computer Science Degree at EWU and start making Text Based adventure games, which was followed by Tetris, Asteriods, etc.


-I discover that I am actually learning many of the things I really wanted to know back in grade school but had given up on ever learning by Jr High (the lack of these topics had caused me to lose interest in school).  I realized that I was learning these things in the third quarter of calculus based physics and the reason no one could explain what I wanted to know back when I was a kid was because the elementary education majors were the ones who had the most trouble passing basic algebra in the Math Lab where I worked in my free time.

-My College Physics Prof uses the student AFTER me as the top of the curve so the rest of the class can pass.  He tells me he would have given me the 5.6 grade he thought I earned, IF the university would have let him.

-Battlefield 1942 comes out and I realize that the game design ideas I had back in 1998 really were worthy as they now were in a smash hit, made by someone else.

-I am yelled at and told I am a total moron by a professor when I try to find out from him how to send data over a network.  3 weeks later I had found out about sockets and with help from a forum I wrote web chat apps in several programming languages and API's after learning how to setup a home network.

-I start teaching myself DirectX and find that the prof who berated me over the sockets teaches the OpenGL class to seniors and has a low opinion of students.  He would later tell our Graphics Programming class that these days it was impossible to build games by ourselves or on small teams.


-While working on a 3D terrain rendering app in my free time I have an idea for a game in which you can dig tunnels in 3D.  My idea is similar to Minecraft, but it never occurred to me to make voxels out of triangles and  so I dropped the idea.  Even though I had never heard of voxels at the time, I had originally thought that was how 3D graphics worked until the triangles of OpenGL and Direct3D came in and temporarily limited my thinking on the subject.  It was a real forehead slapper when I saw Minecraft the first time.

-My personal confidence grows when a former NASA engineer drops out of my Artificial Intelligence course because he cannot keep up.

-I graduated and started working at 5th Cell Media writing cell phone games.

Early 2005:

-I have built a prototype MMO on the Nokia s40 after the creative director and I are inspired by the release of World of Warcraft.  At the top of the Jamdat tower (later EA Mobile) in LA, I am told that while their engineers couldn't do what I did on that model of phone, our game is unsellable because cell phone games have a completely different and very limited market.  I am told that the game of bowling which is only two button presses (one for angle and one for speed) paid for the whole tower.

Late 2005:

-I move to Handheld Games where I write a 3D engine for the Nintendo DS from scratch and coordinate it's use between artists and Game Play programmers, eventually on more than one team at the same time.

-One of my best friends and coworkers burns out from crunch and completely retires from the industry.  The team is crunched for 60-100 hours a week for 8+ months until most of us could not function.


-Having built my own 3D engine I move to Midway to study the Unreal3Engine and end up on another extended crunch.  A 20 year industry veteran who had been the coder of thrill kill burns out in front of me.  I also work with several other heavy hitting industry veterans, including one of the main coders for the old Lucas Arts Adventure games, the N64 Army Men, NBA Jam, and more.

Late 2008:

-I am phone interviewed to work on "World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Litch King" but fail due to, I think: A) obvious disappointment over the fact that the interview wasn't for Starcraft2;  B) Admitting WoW was to much of a grind for me; and 3) Not recognizing immediately that the correct answer to a technical question was actually to point out a game design problem in the proposed scenario.

-I turn down a six figure salary at Rock Star Games because I get the impression crunch was the norm, and narrowly escape the "Rock Star Wives" fiasco.

-I move to Crytek in Frankfurt Germany because they promise me I will not have to crunch anymore (I had been crunching for nearly 2 years solid, as much as 100hrs/week) and because I am told I will get to build the multithreaded entity component system which will become a key feature in future versions of CryEngine.


-I am surprised when an author of one of the books I learned Game Programming from does not pass inspection for a job at Crytek.

-I raise awareness to some issues that would prevent Crysis2 from shipping on time.  This spawns a huge meeting of senior engineers from all the Crytek studios in which the technical and game design plans for Crysis2 are radically changed.  I knew in advance raising the issues would likely cost me (and the Team) the entity component framework that I had taken a 50% pay cut to build (and it did) but I knew I had to do it anyway.

-I start building a new Engine in C++ at home out of frustration.

-I am asked if I have interest in Leading Crysis2, but say no and am eventually transferred to Cryteks Artificial Intelligence Research and Development group.

-My youngest Brother, who had previously been studying nuclear engineering and could speak 5 languages commits suicide.  His death, combined with my being near burnout, having inadvertently debunked many of my childhood beliefs, and being thousands of miles from home where I could not speak the language was an overwhelming combination.

-After 6 months in the AI RnD group I finally burn out and spend roughly a year and a half sleeping in my apartment, too depressed to get out of bed or often eat or drink.  This burned 10's of thousands I had saved to start my own indie game company.

Late 2010:

-I turn down an offer from Havok in Dublin along with the chance at a second degree in neuroscience at the nearby trinity college and accept my first non game development job at Logica to work on contracts for the European Space Agency.  I do this in part to avoid the standard part of all Game Studio contracts that give them the legal right to claim ANY intellectual property you come up with, even in your own free time.

-I start my newest Game + Game Engine in HTML5 with the intent to use it as a platform to pursue many game design ideas I have been accumulating.

***February 29, 2012***:
-I announce to the world that I am now an Independent Game Developer with a project underway.

Part 2: Why?

There is not one answer to this question, but I want to put out a few reasons behind my decision:

1) Working in the Game Industry has largely seemed like factory work to me, especially on larger projects.

I really hate being programmer 125 out of 350.  If you are, you often may have little or no control over even the code you work on, let alone much input on any interesting technical or game design decisions.  I got into this business because I wanted to make my ideas reality, and I have the know how to do it.  So why shouldn't I?  It is my dream.  While I would like to earn a living from my own projects one day, I don't need to be rich and in fact think I might be better off if I am not.  I want to do this the best I can for the love of it, not hack some ugly shit in mandatory crunch because we were suppose to ship 5 months ago so some publishers producer who isn't me will get extra millions in a bonus.

2) The Big developers lack creativity.

Do NOT miss understand me.  I know MANY seriously brilliant and creative people in the industry.  For instance, at Crytek there are a couple of brilliant designers, one of which made a couple of the most famous Counter Strike Maps.  And I know other smart people at Blizzard and other companies, even ones you never heard of.
But IMO the game industry has grown up WAY to fast.  If we were film we would still be black and white and silent, yet we already have budgets for development and advertisements that rival summer blockbuster films.  Given that we still don't even know, for instance, how game play should interact with story, this seems pretty stupid to me.  Huge projects have little room for innovation, and as a result the mandate from on high will often be: how does Call of Duty do it?  Then that's what we are doing too.  There is so much copying going on that everything from controller schemes to cut scenes are obviously just taken from whatever else is selling well at the moment.

I also think it is worth mentioning that the WoW killer is probably WoW itself.  There is so much investment in that kind of game that I think people will just burn out of it eventually, but never seriously go anywhere else for that kind of game.  The way to beat WoW is to do something totally different and not even try to be WoW.  But few big publishers are going to even try it because of the herd mentality.  But if you think about it, an MMO doesn't even have to be an RPG with quests and actions bars, it could be any game world with whatever rules as long as it supports lots of players.  It's just that most people can only think about what they see working already and currently making money, so they are rarely if ever even going to try something else.

On MMO's in particular, some of the original design ideas for Star Wars galaxies were IMO much better than WoW ever was (even if poorly or never actually executed) and other features from MUD's going back farther shows there are many other paths one could take.  But you are going to have to be an indie if you even want to try it.

3) Game Play RnD

Before 100M went into developing Grand Theft Auto 4, there was a GTA3 and 2, and 1.  The first two were top down 2D but the game play was there and it was a lot of fun.  If you want to develop new IP, start small. Lots of people I know who want to have their game ideas made imagine their idea only with a budget to rival Gears of War or Crysis, but that is never going to happen unless it is already a proven idea, or you are know as a god game designer.  And your idea shouldn't be if you haven't proven it yet.  If you can't make a fun game in 2D, why should you get hundreds of millions of artwork and marketing put on top of it?

On Crysis2 it took weeks for time for a gameplay coder, and animation coder, and an animator to get a guy to mirrors edge parkour through a window, only to discover it wasn't fun.  I want higher iteration time than that.  So I am going to start small and build some 2D games where I can explore some basic ideas, and occasionally do my own take on established ones.  Some new Skyrim style dynamic world interaction systems don't need millions of $$ of artwork and development.  Most game AI is working in 2D anyway.

Part 3: What I am going to do!

My main goal at this point is to develop cooperative experiences as well as team based competitive / cooperative game play.  I also want to bring in educational stuff in a fun way so people don't even notice it, but are learning real 21st century skills.  I expect augmented reality to be here within a decade, and neural interfaces in my lifetime.  Supposedly genetics, Nano Technology, Neuroscience, and more are all following a Moore's law type of exponential growth.  40 years ago something far less powerful than my cell phone took up a whole building.  Where will it be 40 years from now?  Probably smaller than cells.  Video games and virtual reality, along with things like the Khan Academy are going to change the very nature of education and ultimately how the Human Race interacts with each other as well as the universe around us.  I am bored of making games publishers copy paste together thinking they will earn them lots of cash in the short term.  I am going to find a way to do something that I enjoy, and makes the world a better place.  Follow me and see what happens.

Final Note:

In the coming weeks I am going to be setting up and or linking info outlets on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Linkedin, Github and this Blogger account to make a trail of my actions to come, so stay tuned.

Twitter: @JeremyKBGross