What I’ve been up to (September 2016)

We never step twice into the same river. Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis. And other such clichés which, you know, just because they’re trite doesn’t make them any less true. Every now and then I think about the person I was a few years ago and I’m overwhelmed by how much I’ve changed, even being as young as I still am. I’m overwhelmed by the chasm between that person’s opinions and the ones that define me today.

The thought that follows is that no doubt some of my current opinions differ fundamentally from the ones I’ll hold a few years from now. The following thought is that the same must be true of all people.

Now then, for us to be overwhelmed by the changing self, we need an equally strong constant self: the only reason why I’m stunned by how different I am from last year’s David is that I feel identical to yesterday’s David. And I know yesterday’s David felt identical to the one from 48 hours ago.

I updated this blog with my creative life’s status back in June, that is, three months ago. I talked about my text games, about my 2D games parodying games by my friends, about Matajuegos, about my general emotional ill-being.

I am not the same person I was three months ago. Moreover: I am not the same person I was one month ago. Even more: one month ago I had the sudden feeling I was not the same person I had been 48 hours earlier.

The time is right again, then, for me to rhetorically ask myself: what have I been up to since the last time I showed signs of life?

Quit in July

Chronologically, the first thing that’s worth mentioning is I quit my job. Since late 2013 I’ve been occupying most of my time with full time jobs that have nothing to do with my creative interests, to my freelancer friends’ dismay.

No doubt there are people with bigger problems in the world, but 60 hour work weeks are no fun. 45 hour ones where you get up every day at 6 AM aren’t either.

I left the place I was working at, then, partly because the work wasn’t gratifying enough, partly because my freelancer friends insisted that putting up with an ungratifying job wasn’t the best possible plan, partly because taking care of my emotional state became a greater priority than being able to move out in the near future, partly because two and a half years of savings gave me a little breathing space. Just a little.

I gave notice in early May and left by the end of July.

Teaching in August

Fundación Telefónica organized a videogames workshop in collaboration with the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) oriented toward people who had never made a game in their lives. The workshop consisted of four three-hour-long classes, every Wednesday of August, and was lead by Agustín “Tembac” Pérez Fernández, who had the kindness of inviting me as an assistant.

I had the fortune, then, of earning some money teaching games before I even started looking for a job.

Most people who came to the workshop were women, and regardless of gender most were teachers in subjects unrelated to videogame development. We used Game Maker and Twine. I have no problem teaching Twine to whomever in whatever time is available, but right from the start I told Agustín my experience with Game Maker is very limited, and when it comes to simple tools for making 2D games I’m more of a Construct 2 guy. He told me no deep knowledge of the tool was required. And he was right, for the workshop we mostly worked with the intro tutorials.

It’s always unsettling talking videogames with people from outside the space, people who are interested in the subject but are alien to the controversies, the common sense, the celebrities, the memes from the world of videogame creation. The first thing I feel is they are luckier than me. The second thing I feel is they are luckier than me, but sarcastically.

Bringing them up to date involves enunciating a number of principles from common sense without the nuance other contexts would require. I don’t tell my friends the cake is a lie, for example, because they’ve heard that joke a thousand times, but there’s people I wouldn’t tell it to because they never heard it. The hope is they’ll get interested enough to make their games and learn enough of our idiosyncrasies to enjoy the tweets by Merritt Kopas about what it would be like being Jonathan Blow’s child.

Crack Bang Boom in August

Another thing that happened in August, on the weekend between the first workshop class and the second, was Crack Bang Boom, an annual comics convention in the city of Rosario.

Ever since Force Awakens came out, an unignorable amount of individuals have pointed out to me, both in person and though the web, my relative physical likeness with the film’s main antagonist. What began as a joke quickly turned into a bigger joke when I finally saw the movie and became amazed with the character I was supposed to look like: Kylo Ren.

The absurdity of his failures, his emotional instability, the pretension of being a tough villain which faded away the moment it was challenged… I was really needing those qualities to be presented in a work of fiction as features of a serious, powerful, clearly-oriented character.

What began as a joke and turned into a bigger joke, then, also turned into a very serious plan of cosplaying Kylo Ren at Crack Bang Boom. The plan involved leaving the Buenos Aires Province for the first time in my adult life, finding accommodation in Rosario, sleeping in someone else’s house for the first time in many years, and dressing up in public for the first time since high school.

My sister’s mother had the marvelous disposition of telling me which fabrics to buy and making with them a full Kylo Ren outfit (minus boots and helmet: the boots I bought near my house and the helmet I skipped so people could see the resemblance). I’m eternally grateful, both to her and to the kind Rosarino, Tozy, whose home was my refuge during those four days in a formerly unknown city.

Crack Flauros
Photo by Flauros Geek Photo
Crack Shinobi
Photo by Shezo! (Shinobi News)
No idea who took this photo
No idea who took this photo
Reproducción de Mer Grazzini
Reproduction by Mer Grazzini

The Cuore in August

The Cuore

Back in February it had occurred to me that my next parody game was going to steal its mechanics from the upcoming The Core. It was going to be a funny game about being sad. The mechanics I built easily, but level design isn’t my thing, and Construct 2’s tilemap editor is not that good, so back then I finished three levels, the second of which was the only one that could be called such, and I left the project in standby.

The thing about this parody is, it’s a game conceived by a sad David, and because of a series of events related to having met a special person in Rosario during Crack Bang Boom, “sad” is just not an emotion I’m relating to a whole lot lately.

Since the parody, besides being sad, was funny in a singular and very-much-my-own way, the project kept retaining my attention. Put another way, the game was close enough to me that I would not bury it forever, but distant enough that I wanted to get it off my back with as little effort as possible.

I built one more level than the ones I already had and ended up uploading it, to everybody’s content. It’s called The Cuore and it works.

Teaching in September

Remember when Agustín contacted me so I could help him with the workshop at Fundación Telefónica and I told him that I’m more of a Construct 2 guy? Well, those days Nico Castez from Avix was just looking for someone to help him in his Construct 2 classes at the Escuela Da Vinci de Arte Multimedial, and Agustín knew to bring up my name.

The audience at Da Vinci is a bit younger and more versed in tech and games. Construct 2 makes it possible to create simple prototypes with familiar mechanics in the two hours of a class, with the comic, expressive and personal value of everybody having to draw every game element with their mouse on the spot. Generally there’s even time to talk design and theory and expression.

This last Saturday Nico couldn’t come to Da Vinci for bad and good reasons (the good ones having to do with winning an Awesome Game Award for Best Mobile Game 2016 at EVA Córdoba with Avix’s Thumb Fighter!) so I took charge of his classes, plus a free Construct 2 workshop only for that day as part of the Bit Bang Fest.

It was my first full day of work since I quit my previous job and I ended up very tired and very happy.

What does the future hold for me?

Nothing but good things.

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