Another Year Over

1279 wc

I’m playing RimWorld in pretty much every spare moment of every day right now. This game is just amazing. If MMORPGs had even a tenth of this much interesting gameplay elements, maybe they wouldn’t be dying out. :)

Note: I don’t really think MMORPGs are dying out. They’re just evolving into the game equivalent of Marvel summer blockbusters: Designed by focus groups to appeal to the broadest possible audience, which often doesn’t include MMORPG players of the 90s, who are clearly in the minority of gamer audiences these days.

RimWorld isn’t a game that you can write blog posts about though, unless you want me to try to narratively summarize each scenario I play. I’ve thought about it, but the main problem is that I would have to stop playing the game in order to write those, and that’s unacceptable. I’m recording a ton of videos though so maybe someday I’ll get around to uploading them.

Speaking of videos, I love making game videos. It’s the only time I can talk about game mechanics and strategy without anyone interrupting me to change the subject. There’s a huge problem with it, though. I’m over 40. Nobody *under* 40 is ever going to watch a game video made by someone over 40. And nobody over 40, the audience who might appreciate videos made by someone over 40, is ever going to watch a game video of any kind, because they don’t watch videos, they read. How many times have you seen older people (including myself) say, “I can’t stand watching videos, it’s so slow! It’s so much faster to read!” Someone might leave a comment saying something like that on this very post. So it’s kind of a waste of time to keep making these videos. But I still love doing it. :) Fortunately I can watch my own videos and entertain myself because I’m nothing if not a huge narcissist.

As far as a year-end retrospective, I would say that 2018 has been one of the worst years on record for me, in terms of mental and physical health. I had a cataract removed from my right eye, I’m told I have one developing in the left eye, I’m not old enough to have cataracts in *any* eyes, I had high blood pressure, I went to the emergency room once, I hurt my hands so badly playing Dark Souls that I could barely use them for a month, my thumbs are still weak and prone to aches and pains which limits my use of game controllers and playing of guitar (no barre chords for me), *and* I had terrible back pain for months on end. To say nothing of starting up antidepressents again after a year off. There isn’t *supposed* to be a stigma about depression issues, but for people *my* age, there most definitely is. I see younger folk talking about it on Twitter all the time and I’m really jealous of them. *I* have to develop coping strategies on my own.

As I’m typing this on December 20th, I feel physically and mentally better than any other time this year, and my back feels better than it has in years. I’ve learned a valuable lesson from a few weeks of physical therapy to never underestimate the value of targeted stretches and exercises for chronic aches and pains.

Speaking of videos again, one interesting project (to me) I did during November is I recorded a daily vlog of my writing process for NaNoWriMo. I did that because I had to save the extremely little writing energy I had for writing the draft. You can look forward to hours of endless rambling about the nitty-gritty boring inside baseball details of writing fiction, and it also happened during the worst of my back pain so you’ll also find a lot of rambling about pain and baclofen. They start kind of long but after a few days I settled into a 10-minutes-per-day rhythm. I really enjoyed recording them, because, again, I could talk about a subject I find fascinating without anyone’s eyes glazing over or anyone interrupting me to say they have to leave immediately because they are dying of boredom. But again, probably a very limited audience for it hehe.

The title of this post, of course, comes from the famous John Lennon song Happy Xmas (War Is Over), and it also happens to be the name I put on a Christmas album of songs I recorded in 1999, which was roughly the peak of my home recording studio and musical days. I think I have a Polaroid photo I scanned of that room around here somewhere.

I loved that Mackie 32×8 mixing console so, so much, but it’s long gone now, along with most everything else in that picture. Nowadays you can do everything inside a computer, but nothing beats the feel of knobs and faders.

The quality of those performances is “meh” but the quality of the *recording* is fantastic! The biggest problem with those songs is I played them too slow. But I found the old master WAV files, loaded them into Audacity and played with the Tempo Change feature. I started with O Come O Come Emmanuel, which was a song that Braxwolf mentioned on Twitter. I edited out a lot of harmonica bits, which has a fantastic sound on the track, but since I can’t play harmonica and biffed half the notes, it pulls it way down. I also increased the tempo considerably so it doesn’t drag. The edit points and pitch shifting sound incredibly obvious to me but hopefully nobody else will notice. I put the end result on my SoundCloud page because I don’t know where else to put music hehe.

I was really into Celtic music at the time so it has that sort of feel to it. I happened to have access to a Bodhran, my favorite percussion instrument, so I used it and some bongos. Everything in this track is me (voice, 12-string guitar, bass, percussion, harmonica) except for the piano, which was played by a friend of mine. I had to drag a mobile recording rig to a church to record that track, but it was well worth it.

A slightly edited version of We Three Kings from the same album is also on my SoundCloud page. There’s some other stuff on there and some original music I did in the 90s too. It’s not all Christian stuff. :) I just happen to love to play Christmas music, and Christianity, if nothing else, has created some fantastic music and art. There’s a lot of great gothic-sounding music in an Episocopal hymnal. Anyway I don’t talk about my music stuff very much because a) crippling anxiety hehe b) I don’t really have the capability to do much with music production anymore
c) previous attempts to play my music for people have resulted in deafening roars of silence and indifference which crushes my ego. When you put maybe a hundred hours into recording a song, obsessing about playing every note exactly right, and mixing it exactly right, and applying effects exactly right, and people just shrug about it, it’s pretty soul-crushing, let me tell you. But I know music is a very personal thing for people, so with an adult perspective I can step back and sort-of understand it. People only get excited about music that speaks to them, which is rare. Fortunately, I still like to listen to my own music.

This post sort of got out of control, so I guess I’ll stop here. This is what happens when I don’t have any games or interesting news to talk about!

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