BASIC Writing Goals 

If my goal is to practice writing, much as someone practices music, then I have to remind myself that these first entries are not going to be as complete and polished as I would like them to be. Reading an article about the chiptunes I mentioned in the previous blog reminded me of that, as well as recalling my own programming projects I tried to create on my TRS-80 color computer when I was ten. Offering encouragement to beginning chiptune musicians, one person wanted to remind people interested in composing this kind of music that it take a lot of work and that the first 50 tunes they created sounded horrible. (Of course, being more hip that I, the word he used wasn't "horrible" and rhymed with bass.)

As for the home computer I owned, I was ambitious; I easily spent more time coding self-written text adventures into BASIC than I ever spent doing homework:

10 PRINT "You're are in a small room. You see troll footprints, garbage, and a key to the north"
30 IF A$="grab key" THEN K=1 AND PRINT "you grabbed the key!"
40 IF A$="go north" THEN GOTO 9800
50 IF A$="search garbage" THEN PRINT "eww! gross."
60 IF A$<>"" THEN PRINT "What did you say?"
70 D=RND(10) : IF D>9 then print "you are attacked by trolls" : goto subroutine 10000
80 -- You pretty much get the idea.

I never completed any of these programs, as they took far too long to write. What's more, the best part about text adventures was the ability to fight monsters, and I could never figure out how to create a random monster that would not be either killed in single blow or would be capable of threatening your character's life without killing him outright. My programming skills were tragically too limited for my ambitions.

When I found Dungeons of Daggorath, I was entranced as only a pre-teen boy could be with the exciting promise visual adventure video games. I tried to program my own versions of walkthrough dungeons based on the lined glory that were the Dungeons of Daggorath (I had given up on monsters), and I even managed to create one small three panel sequence of movement. Yet, after that and a lot of ignored homework, I gave up.

Now it's 2003. And after thinking about it, I realize I now have an adult's capacity for patience that I lacked as a electronic dungeon spelunker. Thus, as my goals and projects have matured to wanting to be able writing great prose, so too has my capacity grown to stick with a difficult project. I've learned, the hard way, that you shouldn't give up just because something my be challenging or takes a lot of work. Of course, I also have an adult's capacity for regret, so while I know I can now stick with something much longer than I could, I can regret the fact that I gave up so easily before as a kid. Who knows what I could have accomplished by now?

16 December 2003

8 Bit Peoples 

As a child of the late seventies and early eighties, I remember the laughably silly video games that most kids today sneer at with some well deserved sarcasm. A decade later, even I wonder how a few flashing lights, blocky characters, and vector lines could have captivated me and my peers for hours. Nonetheless, we did spend hours plunking quarters into machines, steering a blinking dot through a castle maze to obtain the chalice of something or other, and fantasizing that we would become one of the almost-holy few video game counselors we had heard so much about. Imagine, someone who was paid to play video games all day--surely they were the Lords of the mythical land of electronica!

Thus, it is not really a surprise that I am a fan of this site [8 Bit Peoples] containing some amazing compositions of what I have heard called chiptunes, or alternatively, the demoscene. Musicians have turned to the 8 bit chips found in old gaming consoles and computers like the Commodore 64 and Nintendo's Gameboy to reproduce some of the more unique, yet simultaneously familiar, music I have heard in awhile. Perhaps with some of the same nostalgia for the old video games and the halcyon days of the eighties--days that seemed filled with the new wave promise of the B52's and The Talking Heads--do I encourage you to listen to some of the musical selections on the discography page of this site. Check out tracks by Trash 80, and then contrast it with Nullsleep's versions of Depeche Mode songs, the latter tracks being composed on a gameboy, I think . Right now, my favorite track is Mesu Kasumai's Algezebra. You really have to admire the creativity of these musicians who purposely force limitations on themselves to explore the form, much like poets who choose difficult rhyme schemes or traditional poetic forms to force themselves towards a more creative, and thus more unique, vision or image of truth.

I know I'm way behind the curve when it comes to being hip, so this may be something that has already come and gone, much like the currently mocked trucker hats, but since I've just recently discovered it--I am going to imagine that it is the coolest thing going [MSN], and this time, it may actually be.

Second Blog, Second Chances 

This is my second attempt at a blog, and as such, I've decided that I would try out some of the other free blog services that are out there. For example, on my first blog I have used GoStats, but on this blog I am going to try out Sitemeter. Eventually, I am going to have a comments system installed on the blog. I've tried enetation and now I'm going to try something else. We'll see what happens in the future.

As for this blog, I think that the most appropriate use for it will be trying to write creative non-fiction essay, each blog entry being a complete piece. I originally intended for my first blog to be just such a thing, but what happened instead was that I spent over time I included more and more personal information, which turned it into a full-fledged journal in the classically autobiographical sense. Maybe in the future, the two can work in tandem. Maybe not, as for right now, this blog is not quite ready for official launch. I'm not sure what links I want to include, or what my methods are going to be. I hope the future will be bright, but we shall see. All ready, I have to say that I like the physical look of this thing. Not too shabby for guy who doesn't know what the "H-E-double-hockey-sticks" he is doing, but of course 3/4 quarters of the programming credit goes to Blogger. They produce the code; I just tinker.

Inagurative Uncertainty 

This is the beginning, and as it is the beginning, there is much uncertainty about the future course of this blog. At this point, the potential is everything, affected only by the limitations of the author of this blog.

14 December 2003