crossword puzzles and the personal self

photo of a crossword puzzle book

I took to doing cross-word puzzles about a couple years ago, and feel that latently I enjoy them because they mirror the structured frenzy of my mind: puns, things that don’t make sense, associations, abbreviations, random non-sequitors, topicalities, themes.

I also feel that they have reciprocally, albeit differently, changed how I think outwardly about the world: there are tricks to learn, patterns to recognize, and noticeable individual authorial styles within what would otherwise seem like a heavily-constrained medium.

The first crossword puzzle I ever really tried my hand at was on a flight from San Francisco to Portland. Not a long flight, to be sure, but it was the shortest not-a-long-flight I’ve ever had, because the uniquely unfurling temptations of an in-progress crossword are strangely addictive.

insomnia dream reversion

argh, can’t sleep. but at least i’m remembering my dream from last night: following an epic Open Range style shootout in an idyllic river-town the likes of which i’ve never seen, the dream transitions into a showdown in some opulent ancient ruins with beaming sunlight filtering through sky-high trees onto the crumbling stone below (a strong Tomb Raider theme (the game, not the movie(s)) is also present here).

the duel is between me and a master, in the style of a hybrid (tribrid?) Jodorowski, Tarantino, and P.T. Anderson film. actually, maybe exchange Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon for P.T. and the battle goes on for a while. it’s mostly quiet, except for various projectile ricochets. i eventually have to commit honorable, warrior-grade, mid-air, slow-motion, blade-induced suicide as it reaches a point where I surely have lost versus my superior and am falling to an almost certain doom anyway. maybe the outro slo-mo is a nod to Wes Anderson. yeah, let’s go with that.

this, naturally, signals the end of the dream.

my futile attempt at analyzation involves my want to see PT’s The Master, my chomping at the bit waiting for QT’s Django Unchained, recently having heard CTHD‘s score mentioned on my buddy’s podcast (Matt Knudsen, i was playing catch-up with the top 10 film scores list episode of We Like Movies. tho yes, it was Oscar’s pick), thinking Moonrise Kingdom was just dandy (its/his techniques still linger with me), and probably having played way too many video-games for several lifetimes over.

post-script: i’ve never had a dream in space. if that’s not hella weird (or whatever modifier is of equal or greater pertinence than “hella”), then i clearly have not been tricking my brain with skills commensurate with my dreamtime desires.

Games

A while back I was playing the lauded World of Goo on my just-gifted iPad. Talking about a ~two-year old game isn’t exactly fresh, but it was something that stuck with me. Though not noticed at first, I feel that WoG is a lot more scripted than people may realize. For those that don’t know what it is for a game to be “scripted”, it basically means that the events that happen in the game—the things that you as a player cause—are actually the result of a careful set of conditions set up by a designer, or “scripter.” The things that make you laugh, feel angered or rewarded, perplexed, giddy, surprised, frustrated, etc., are actually carefully crafted most of the time. While there are moments of discovery, or experiences that were unintended, many games tend to be “on rails” in the sense that you’re following a carefully laid-out path, getting from point A to point B. Along that path a lot of things are supposed to happen, otherwise the game would probably not be that fun. Granted, some games, especially some truly compelling ones, are more “open world” in the sense that you can forge a more amorphous path, and thus are less scripted.

For a little backstory, I graduated from college directly into the role of a scripter intern at Treyarch, working on the Playstation 2 & Xbox title Call of Duty 2: Big Red One. I converted into a full-time position, and over the course of four years I worked on, in addition to CoD2:BRO, Call of Duty 3, and Call of Duty: World at War. I left after CoD:Wow to move to a new city, take time off, and explore some other passions. I ended up in Web Development, and am now immersed in one of the most rapidly evolving and important sectors. But lately I’ve been missing the role of game designer/scripter: the experience changed how I approached problem solving, productiveness, paradigms, and user interaction. There is a substantial difference between an ok game designer and a great one. So much of my life, including childhood, was spent immersed in the world of games. Technology puts things in perspective in an increasingly noticeable manner, and the evolution of games, be it their graphics, their interaction model, or their multiplayer capabilities, we are seeing that few things have such a wide arc of change and popularity as games do.

Well, I meant to segue into talking about Portal 2, but I’m going to truncate this post and maybe expand upon it another time.