There’s a whiteboard on wheels in the entrance to the office landscape. A multitude of post-it notes cling to its surface. Someone has written a short sentence on each note, along the lines of “Store XML in DB” or “DAO façade”. The sentences are tasks referring to a step in a use case.
The notes are organised in columns drawn in whiteboard marker. Most of them have been placed in a column entitled “To do”. Some are in the column “Pending” and roughly the same amount sit under “Done”.
Each developer chooses a note from “To do”, moves it to “Pending” and goes to work on that task. When it’s done, the developer moves the note to “Done” and chooses a new note from “To do”. It’s a simple workflow, designed to promote a sense of self-direction.
Each note in this particular office landscape represents a soul-crushingly boring task. The scrum master might as well have written down every different form of torture he could think up. How could you possibly choose? Why would you make that choice willingly? Couldn’t you just lay your useless husk on the ground and die instead? In fact, wouldn’t it be your duty to burn down the entire office complex and save all involved parties from further torture?
Just write it on a post-it note first.
A former co-worker asked which NIN album is my favourite. He told me his absolute favourite was Pretty Hate Machine, followed by The Fragile and The Downward Spiral.
I think mine is Year Zero, at least currently. It varies. I loved The Fragile when it first came out, but now I feel like it’s too long and kind of meanders and doesn’t have a point. The Downward Spiral is amazing. Broken is short and sweet and noisy.
Year Zero is exciting. The whole concept is cool, and it’s fun to get an album that focuses on society as opposed to Reznor’s personal problems. The sci-fi backdrop is icing on the cake, and the songs are great as usual.
Full disclosure: The fact that it’s currently not available on Spotify might have something to do with it…
As Lun travelled the lightway, she held two thoughts in her mind: Her destination, and the place she had just left. She put the thoughts on a silver scale, weighing them against each other.
In one bowl sat the child, Primatra. He had shown affinity at a young age. He was bright, friendly, and came from a good family. Most importantly, he wanted to learn. However, as of late all signs of talent had disappeared. This didn’t worry Lun. She had seen many children apparently lose the gift only to regain it after years of hard work. In the end they came out more disciplined and with a greater respect for the Energy.
Primatra seemed impatient now, on the verge of giving up hope, but that would change. He just had to see his own potential, and strive to realise it. As long as Lun was there to guide him, offer him glimpses of the world he might join would he put his mind to it, he was bound to keep working and become a Clarion one day.
The problem was, of course, that she was not there to guide him, and could not be there. For the other bowl on the silver scale hung lower, and in it was only darkness.
Traversing the ridges along the massive shell, hopping from one moss covered bone formation to the next, Primatra felt his mind clear. He imagined himself as one of the Clarions, and the small outcroppings were mountains. He soared through the sky, alighting on a snow covered mountaintop, only to set off again, on a journey toward some mysterious and important goal.
In his mind’s eye he could see the Energy trailing behind him, powering his every step. The rush of air past his ears was a roaring wind, a storm in his path that he powered through and overcame with each jump. No force of nature could stand in his way, not with the Energy on his side.
What did the Energy feel like? The sun beat down on his forehead and shoulders as he pondered. He stopped to wipe the sweat from his face and looked up, watching the sunshine filter between his fingers. Energy shone as bright as the sun, so maybe it felt like a hot summer’s day on his skin, he reasoned. Maybe as he tapped into that well it would heat him, keep him warm on the snowy mountains and in the punishing storms. Like having the sun in his pocket. He decided to ask Lun next time.
Except Primatra didn’t know when the next time would be. When he had arrived at the temple that morning, the old man had told him that Lun had been called away, on something mysterious and important across the mountains. No one could tell him when she would return.
Primatra took a deep breath and jumped to the next ridge.
Primatra stretched his right arm up towards the sky, one finger pointing to the noon sun, his heels resting firmly in the grass.
“Higher,” said Lun.
Again, Primatra redoubled his efforts, feeling the tendons in his arm start to ache and his shoulder tremble with pain.
His jaw stiffened and he pushed himself further. Primatra’s arm was now a searing torch of agony, his shoulder numb and his back felt like it was going to break. For all his efforts, his finger moved maybe a millimetre.
Primatra finally let his arm drop, catching and cradling it with the other for fear that it would fall off. He shivered and shook from the exertion.
“Primatra,” said Lun in a soft voice. “This is the easiest form.”
“And yet no one has even shown it to me,” he muttered before he could stop himself.
Lun gave him an impenetrable look. Then she took a sure-footed stance, knees slightly bent, securing her balance. She raised her fist. And yet raised it again. No strain on her back, knees still bent. Primatra became painfully aware how sweaty he was and how serene Lun looked, and how impossibly long her arm seemed. Then she extended one finger, and it shone with a blinding golden light. It was torture to look at, and his eyes hated him for it, but Primatra couldn’t look away. Lun smiled.
“Do you see, Primatra? This is what happens when you push yourself beyond your limits. This is the Energy.”
People have a lot of expectations for what an adventure game is. Some people don’t consider it an adventure game if it’s not point and click, or it’s not an adventure game because you’re direct controlling the characters in The Cave. But the thing is, when I did Maniac Mansion, there were people who did not think Maniac Mansion was an adventure game because it was not a text adventure, it didn’t have static pictures, the characters actually walked around the screen. ‘That was not an adventure game!’
You weren’t typing in a parser because you were pointing at the verbs. So, people did not think Maniac Mansion was an adventure game, but I think adventure gamers today look back on Maniac Mansion as the seminal adventure game, so I think adventure games just evolve and they change, and I think you just need to do what’s right for them.
A bunch of indie games are coming to the PS Vita, and most of them look pretty exciting.
Snapshot originally looked like it was strictly a PC project. Its photo capture gameplay is reminiscent of Portal, but the time freeze aspect might make puzzles slightly less stressful.
Retro City Rampage began as a homebrew demake of GTA III on NES and evolved during the last decade into a full-blown 80s homage multi-platform game.
Wizorb debuted on Xbox 360 and Windows, eliciting extreme jealousy from Mac/Sony nerds such as myself. It’s a combo of Breakout and classic console RPGs, with amazing pixel art.
Guacamelee! is a nebulous project with one of the most promising trailers I’ve ever seen. The style, the music, the Metroid-vania exploration and upgrades, and the humour will hopefully add up to something memorable.
“Hi!” As the word echoed across the square, he realised it was much too bright a greeting between perfect strangers. He felt his neck burn with discomfort.
“What?” she snapped, looking back at him over her shoulder.
“Oh, er hey. I was just— I just wanted to talk to you.”
“What about?” She still wouldn’t turn all the way to face him.
“Well, this might sound stupid, but I was looking for, like, marijuana?”
“I don’t have marijuana.”
“Do you know who does?”
“You got money?”
“Yeah,” he said, hoping that he’d brought enough. When she finally turned toward him and smiled he wondered if he had just made the biggest mistake in his life.
“Well, let’s go!” She immediately set off in an unbalanced shuffle that wasn’t quite a limp. Maybe she’d broken something long ago. Her smile was almost dazzling, and he could tell that she must have been very beautiful at some point. Drugs had probably stolen that from her; drugs and time, although he couldn’t even guess at how old she was. When he’d seen her wandering the square listlessly, wearing an intense mask of concentration, she looked anywhere between 30 and 50. Her smile belonged to a 20 year old. Maybe he had it the wrong way around; maybe she was 50, and she’d stolen the beauty of a young girl? It was a ridiculous fantasy, but it was a convenient way to keep his nerves in check as he followed her into an old apartment building constructed during the million programme.
She knocked on a door. It didn’t have a name on it. Someone yelled something from inside, and she opened the door and stepped inside. Gary followed her and carefully closed the door behind him. He was starting to feel very conscious of the fact that he knew nothing about this woman; not even her name. She may very well be taking him into a killing room lined with cling wrap, like in Dexter. Gary could almost feel the signature needle pierce his neck. He scratched the imaginary needle prick and walked into an untidy common room where a guy was playing Xbox. The guy looked up for a split second and then turned his attention back to the flat screen TV.
“He wants to buy weed.”
“And you brought him here? Stupid fucking bitch.”
“Hey!” She sounded genuinely hurt, and the force of the insult swept the smile off her face in an instant. Suddenly the decades piled back on, and Gary could almost see her physically hunch down under the weight of time.
“Fuck, let’s get this over with.” The guy who Gary assumed was a dealer paused his game and stood up. The dealer wasn’t a big guy, but Gary immediately felt intimidated. Now he didn’t know what to do with his hands. If he kept them at his sides they’d just hang there limply, and that seemed ridiculous and uncomfortable. If he folded his arms, that might look stand-offish. In the pockets? Maybe the dealer would think Gary was going for a knife or something and get nervous. Gary settled for clasping his hands in front of his junk, which when he thought about it looked like he was lining up in front of the goal during a free kick, but it felt like the safest and least ridiculous option.
“How much do you want?” This was the question Gary had been dreading. He’d hoped that it’d be a multiple choice, maybe even a menu of some kind. Cannabis à la carte. He had only a very rough idea of the going price for this stuff by googling and reading the Flashback forums, so what the heck was he supposed to say?
“I, er, I’m pretty new at this, so I guess I just need like, one… cigarette?”
“I don’t roll them for you. I can sell you a bong and a bag of the stuff, you figure out the rest, ok? Look it up, they got tutorials on YouTube, for Christ’s sakes.”
“Oh, ok, yeah. How much is that?”
“An even thousand kronor for five grams. I’ll throw in the bong for free since you’re new.”
“Oh, cool.” Either the price had gone way up since Gary checked this stuff on the web, or this dealer was ripping him off. On the other hand, maybe it was some kind of high grade super weed, how the fuck would Gary know? Or it was a really nice bong. So what now? Try to bargain and maybe piss this guy off, or just go along with it and look like an idiot with too much money to spend, or worse, someone who had ulterior motives to get on this guy’s good side? “I, uh, shit. I don’t have that much on me, can I get like one gram?”
“That’s not gonna last you very long.” Was that a note of suspicion in the dealer’s voice? Probably not a good sign. And where the fuck did that woman go? Was the room shrinking? The dealer was still standing by the sofa, and Gary was still practically only half way through the door, but it felt like their faces were centimetres apart. Gary’s clasped hands started to sweat and he changed his mind again, maybe it was better to just let them hang limply.
“Oh. So, how much should I get? I don’t know how much is enough, or how long it’ll last me. Like, how much do I even use? Like I said, I’m new, so I’m probably a lightweight. I don’t even know how I’ll react.”
“You seriously never lit up before?”
“No, I just… I’m not exactly a party animal, in fact I’m pretty damn asocial, which is partly why I’m here, I’m starting to feel like I’m really stuck up and that’s not getting me anywhere in life, and I don’t have a girlfriend, and I’m 32, so I just thought maybe I could smoke something, maybe unwind a bit, you know? Sorry, it’s, those are my problems, you don’t wanna hear my life story.” Gary felt panic wash over him like ice water on his skin when the dealer suddenly approached and put a heavy hand on Gary’s shoulder.
“I’ll fix you up, man. Don’t worry.”