Matthew David Rodgers


Entry 8

The weeks are starting to drag. Maybe it has something do with things opening back up and vaccinations rising– trying to get through friday while sitting still through virtual meetings is a herculean task. Thankfully, summer fridays (we get off at 1 on friday) are starting at CAA. Just in the nick of time.

And with my new fully vaccinated status, I went to dinner last week! At a restaurant! With other people! There are many things that still feel very weird and alien, as if I’ve forgotten how they ever worked, but this is somehow not one of them. The whole experience felt euporic and familiar. Just wonderful.

Still on The Story Of A New Name, but making really good headway through it. There is an HBO show modelled after the first book, but I wonder if I’d even enjoy it? The novels seem so singularly wonderful, I’m not sure I want much else.

Also dragging through Half-Life 2. I’m honestly quite bored of it. For all everyone’s focus on these games as “narrative first person shooters”, I’m finding them quite lacking on the narrative part. The story is repeatedly “You are separated from the other people. Shoot the things in your way.” Which is all well and good if the FPS part is great, but again, I only find that as “meh” here either. I don’t have all the context in which these games were released, obviously. But they feel quite less momentous than I’d expected.

In between trying to commit to Half-Life 2, I’ve been replaying the Doom Eternal campaign on the hardest difficulty (although there’s actually an even harder way to play, where you must play the entire game at the hardest difficulty and never die even once. I, however, am not a masochist). I’ve written about this game before, so suffice it to say that this game lights up all the happy pathways in my brain.

My one interesting note is: while some things that were simple obviously become harder, some things that stumped me in an easier playthrough were simple to breeze through. I chalk this up to the harder difficulty forcing me to keep up, making it impossible to play any encounter without being totally dialed in, so sometimes I’m simply just ready for the harder challenges.

I bought a copy of Pico-8 this week, and have had a lot of fun dicking around with its systems. I think Pico-8 has the absolute perfect amount of magic. I try and avoid magic when learning something new– and game development is really tough on that front, because many tools are stuffed with abstractions or hide the details of what’s happening. But if you try and go in the other direction, and learn from truly first principles, you’re interacting with windows apis or unix syscalls to interact with devices and their drivers, and you get absolutely nowhere.

Pico-8’s first principles are a few apis that paint pixels or whole sprites to a buffer, and 3 hooks (the lua _init, _update, _draw functions) that provide a bare gameloop. So a pixel buffer and recurring functions. Just enough to make sure you’re not reinventing the wheel, but it still feels like there are no limits to what you can build. And people have built fascinating things! I mentionted the POOM (Doom on Pico-8) write up last week, but there’s a also a fascinating one here about FUZ, a FEZ “de-make”.

To close, I will loudly declare that I LOVE the Olivia Rodrigo album. Fun from start to back. And Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen released a duet called Like I Used To that I have listened to so many times now, and will listen to so many more times to come.