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Month: November 2016

Second full-length album coming soon!

Storybook Overture

I hope to release my second full-length album next Friday, December 2nd, 2016. A digital version will be available through my bandcamp page, and I also hope to try releasing an audio CD through Amazon’s CreateSpace. I’ve never tried their CD service before, so I’ll be interested in how it turns out. (That might take a little longer as I don’t know how long it will take for them to send a “proof” copy… we’ll see.)

STORYBOOK OVERTURE, the title of one of the tracks, seemed like an appropriate album title, as many of the tracks were inspired by my book series, Insane Fantasy. You’ll also see I’m reusing the artwork I did for the book on the album cover.

Here’s the track list:

  1. The Storm Cometh
  2. Storybook Overture
  3. A Stargazer’s Lullaby
  4. The Stormbringer’s Apprentice
  5. Broken Wings and Distant Things
  6. Journey by Moonlight
  7. Lullaby of the Westwind Woods
  8. Secrets of the Ancient Seas
  9. September Ends
  10. Lullaby for a Quiet Village
  11. Fairytale’s End

As you can see, I’ve already released all but tracks 9 and 10 to YouTube (and track 10 will probably be my next YouTube upload). The total playtime of these tracks comes out to about 70 minutes, so it’s a pretty full album.

It’ll probably be a while before I get the album on iTunes, Spotify, etc., as it’s not really worth the cost with the amount of listens I get (less than 1,000), but I’d like it to be on iTunes and Spotify eventually. It’ll just have to wait for a bit.

Also, I’ll try to email free bandcamp download codes to any Patreon supporters I have at that time. (They can already download most of the tracks on Patreon anyway.)

Can anyone honestly explain “privilege” to me?

Seems like the Trump victory has brought out all these fears that Trump is Hitler and that there’ll be some kind of terrible purge or something. I don’t understand what sort of powers some imagine the POTUS has.

One thing that’s popping up quite a bit in my Facebook and Twitter feeds is this notion of “privilege.” I usually see it in the context of ad hominem attacks. (e.g. “You have white privilege, so you cannot understand why this or that policy is racist, and are not allowed to have an opinion on it.”) I think we can all agree that that sort of ad hominem attack gets us nowhere.

But now I’m seeing it come up in otherwise heartfelt comments seeking understanding.

So, for the sake of understanding, can someone please explain what exactly this “privilege” is?

My current understanding is that “privilege” is the idea that a person of a certain sex, race, religion, whatever, naturally experiences more societal privileges, the idea being that these are unfair and must be counteracted.

If they’re not unfair and don’t need counteracting, I’m not sure what the point of the term is. Men can pee with more convenience, for instance, and are on average naturally physically stronger and thus more capable of being construction workers or joining the army. These are “inequalities”, but they don’t make one sex superior to another.

Are these sort of inequalities considered “privilege”? Are we supposed to do something about them?

Wikipedia makes it sound like a conspiracy theory:

According to Peggy McIntosh, whites in Western societies enjoy advantages that non-whites do not experience, as “an invisible package of unearned assets”. White privilege denotes both obvious and less obvious passive advantages that white people may not recognize they have, which distinguishes it from overt bias or prejudice.

If it’s “invisible” and “less obvious” and distinguished from “overt bias or prejudice”, then how can we ever know it exists? It’s like Freudian analysis, defined in such a way that it can never be disproven and everything can be analyzed through its lens.

Am I supposed to believe that I have some sort of natural privilege by virtue of being a white male? What “privilege” do you think I have? Are you assuming that I have suffered less and therefore owe you something that you don’t owe me also?

Because of course all humans suffer, and suffer differently depending on their circumstances, but so what? Is suffering supposed to be equally distributed? If you feel others are suffering less than you, shouldn’t you consider that a good thing?

If you are being treated unjustly, whether or not it’s because of your sex, skin color, religion, etc. isn’t that the real issue? Such behaviors are unjust precisely because all men and women are equal in terms of natural worth. But I’m not sure I understand how sexist or racist behaviors are the results of “privilege.” They’re the result of people being sexist or racist, aren’t they?

(Or am I to assume everyone is naturally sexist and racist even if it can’t be shown, because they just are?)

If you can’t point out specific behaviors because the effects of “privilege” are more shady and invisible, then how can you blame anyone for not quite buying into the notion?

I honestly fear people are making themselves more miserable by imagining society is just naturally against them by virtue of their sex or race or whatever, and then whenever they suffer something, they blame, even if only in part, the nefarious shady “privilege” of others. But if we can’t point to specifics, even if everyone understood and agreed with the notion of “privilege”, how would anything get better?

Regardless, isn’t the “remedy” for “privilege” to just do what you should be doing anyway, which is what Christ taught? :

Jesus replied, “This is the most important: ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is One Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

Treat everyone with love, kindness, and respect.

Not real arguments…

“You’re racist, sexist, this-and-that-phobic, intolerant, bigoted, hateful, prejudiced, privileged, I’m offended, that’s hate-speech, etc…”

None of these are real arguments. Just personal attacks.

If there’s any silver lining in regards to Donald Trump winning the presidency, I hope that maybe, just maybe, it’s a sign that the effectiveness of these sorts of attacks is already beginning to diminish. We should be capable of having civil conversations about our disagreements without assuming that the opposition is just bigoted and hateful, naive and stupid, privileged and racist, etc.

Eh, maybe it’s only a fool’s hope. But it would be nice.

Game programming…

Last year I learned the basics of jMonkeyEngine, and though I intended to create a 2D game with it, I only ended up creating the MIDI animator mentioned in my last post. But for a tile-based 2D game, it’s really not ideal. It’s certainly capable of producing such a game, but as an engine, it’s not really designed for it, and I realized I’d have to spend a considerable amount of time just programming a custom framework for such a project.

So last month I began learning LibGDX, which is certainly better suited for the sort of tile-based 2D adventure game I’d like to create.

So here’s what I’ve got so far (the art is temporary, simply a free tile set I found out there, though I think I’ll be aiming for tiles that are 16×16 pixels as well, so this represents the size I’m hoping for):

screenshot

Doesn’t look like much, but I’m still learning and programming the basics I’ll need before I actually start programming the actual game play. What I’ve learned and/or programmed so far includes:

  • loading and displaying a tilemap (a .tmx file from Tiled)
  • dynamic window resizing (or resolution changing) without completely screwing up the aspect ratio (trickier than it may sound)
    • basically it will always render with a resolution of 1280×720, which is then rendered as a texture to whatever resolution the user sets; handy for Android devices which may feature differing resolutions which cannot be changed
  • using Ashley as an entity framework
  • using Box2D for character movement and collision detection
  • animating the character as he walks (much easier with LibGDX; I had to program a custom shader with jMonkeyEngine)
  • real-time A* pathfinding (hope to use it with NPCs)
  • text (as you can see at the bottom there) to be used with menus, dialog, etc. (nice little font called Munro) (this is also much easier with LibGDX)
  • custom shader to make object tiles “light up”

Still lots to program, but I reckon that’s an OK start. The to-do list before I can actually begin programming the actual game-play logic includes:

  • have interactable objects “light up” as the player nears them, along with a small pop up menu with available actions (pick up, talk, examine, activate, etc.)
  • design and implement a menu panel / status bar (along the black panel along the bottom)
    • this menu will switch to a “dialog mode” when the character is talking with someone (as in The Secret of Monkey Island, for example)
  • pause menu with save, load, quit, settings, etc.
  • camera movement for when the player walks off the screen
  • loading another tilemap for when the character leaves a village or enters a house, for example
  • I need to try sticking an NPC in there and having it play through some scripted material, utilizing the aforementioned A* algorithm as necessary
  • real-time combat system
    • cast a spell or swing a sword to injure attacking enemies (the combat will be simple in this game, nothing fancy)

That’s all I can think of at the moment, but that’s plenty, isn’t it?

The game itself will be pretty short; I’ve tried to keep it short on purpose since even a short game is a lot of work, especially when you’ve never done it before and don’t have a pre-existing framework your familiar with to use. If I manage to actually succeed in this endeavor, I hope it will be easier to create new adventure games and/or RPGs in a similar style without having to reprogram these basics again, at least not from scratch.

The tentative title for the game is Memory of a Thousand Kings, which began as a half-plotted fantasy novel, but I think it will work better as an adventure game.