Unrequested Fission Surplus [entries|friends|calendar]
Mark Sachs
Just a guy made of dots and lines.

[ website | Project Apollo ]
[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ calendar | livejournal calendar ]

A Theorem on Genre Literature [22 Sep 2015|10:32pm]
[ mood | grim and gritty reboot ]

Inspired to finally write this down by a terrible Steve Perry book I wish I hadn't paid $7.95 for:



The more your main characters "smile," "grin," or "chuckle," the worse your book is. Double penalties apply to every "crooked grin" and quadruple penalties apply to every "shit-eating grin."


I haven't quite figured out why it works yet, but trust me, it does.
5 comments|post comment

Okay, you asked for it. [03 Sep 2015|10:31pm]
[ mood | #hashtag ]

And never let the skeptics say I don't deliver... this one single specific time. Here's that bit of Afterlife Blues fanfiction I wrote a year or so back. I should note that on the rare occasions I write any fiction at all, it's always formatted like a script for a comic, because I like to pretend to myself that I'll draw something again before I die. So with that in mind, let's proceed with a little bagatelle I like to call... Read more...Collapse )

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"A monopoly on videos starting with the words, 'Hey, guys'" [26 Aug 2015|10:11pm]
So just to get it out of the way: nope, no news on Afterlife Blues or anything like that. I wish I had something for you, but I don't.

However, I could share with you a bit of fanfiction I wrote for it a while back, if anyone is interested? Or indeed, still on LiveJournal at all this late in the day?

Also, does it count as fanfiction if the artist writes it? I feel like that question has been brought up before around here.
7 comments|post comment

Books, glorious books! [23 Oct 2014|10:01pm]
[ mood | reading things ]

Thanks for the recommendations! I'm always looking for new authors and books to try. Sadly most of what I've been reading myself lately is junk from the bottom of the Kindle Unlimited slushpile -- look, I enjoy it, but I'm not gonna claim it has a lot of literary value -- but there are two things of better quality I can recommend:


  • After seeing a mention of it on Adam Warren's Twitter -- this was before I realized that Twitter was a vile blight on humanity and bailed, of course -- I picked up a copy of the first "Valerian and Laureline" comic, The City of Shifting Waters. This is a French bandes dessinés sort of thing that started in 1976, and is supposedly one of the progenitors of that era of adventure comics. I'd never heard of it, but it sounded appealing (straight up sci-fi/time travel adventure) so I decided to give it a shot. And you know what? It's pretty great! I'm going to have to get more of these.

  • I've occasionally read some blog posts from Tom Simon a.k.a. "The Superversive" over the past several years; he has an overstuffed, old-fashioned style that I enjoy in nonfiction format. I hadn't thought of him in quite a while, but then I saw his name again and discovered he's actually written two high fantasy books since then, including the first of a series he was threatening for ages. Those are on my menu to try out, but in the meantime I picked up Death Carries a Camcorder, a compilation of his essays on fantasy writing on Kindle, and quite enjoyed it. I'm not entirely certain I'd go along with what he has to say but even if you disagree he's the sort of author it's fun to mentally argue with.

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Twitter is poison. [17 Oct 2014|01:12am]
[ mood | mood ]

It really, really is. I glanced back at the place -- it was like rubbernecking at a car accident, I couldn't not do it -- and my God, I can really see how viscerally horrible Twitter is now that I'm out of there, what it does to people. I feel like I just barely dodged losing a hand in a piece of industrial machinery. I'm damn near literally shaking.

I should really talk about something else. Um... anyone read any good books lately?

3 comments|post comment

Farewell, Twitter. It hasn't been pleasant. [14 Oct 2014|10:48pm]
[ mood | finality ]

I've finally realized that Twitter was designed by a cabal of sinister alien superintelligences trying to come up with the best possible way to generate hatred and mistrust, ultimately leading to global thermonuclear war so they can move in afterwards and steal all our Hello Kitty merchandise without a fight. Absurd, you say? Just look at the facts:


  1. 140 character limit, so it's impossible to get across a thought with any subtlety, and any attempt at complex expression can be misunderstood if someone tries hard enough.

  2. Broken comment threading, so it's impossible to maintain a coherent conversation.

  3. You may think you're just chatting with a few friends, but at the click of a button some bored person with a hundred thousand followers can sic an angry mob on you. At that point every word you've ever said in your life will be picked over and used against you.

  4. No action is taken against abuse or harassment, so threats and bullying are rampant and ignored unless you've got friends in the media.

  5. A blocking system designed to generate hugboxes and echo chambers, with the result that contrary opinions that do slip through cause a violent allergic reaction.

  6. A tweet filtering system which creates the impression that we unwashed masses can communicate with, or even disagree with, our betters, while in reality that communication is unidirectionally curated to eliminate such a disgusting possibility.

  7. Hashtags create alleged "mass movements" that at best dissipate any urge to take real-world action and are forgotten within weeks while the original cause of the problem remains, and at worst act as a perfect system for funneling trolls towards their targets.

  8. Poisonous mixture of anonymity, pseudonymity, and real identities in constant proximity makes "doxxing" an actual threat that can be made, because there's no actual cultural focus in one direction or the other.

  9. And finally, it's part of a broken larger culture where the reaction of employers to people complaining about online disagreements isn't to laugh and hang up, but to fire the targets of the complaints.

Everybody on Twitter is paranoid and violent and crazy, but it's not because they're fundamentally bad people. It's because the environment has driven them crazy. It's wrong, it needs to stop, and I'm doing my part by getting the hell out of there.
11 comments|post comment

Zomg! [05 Jul 2012|05:24pm]
[ mood | stuff ]

Wow, that one previous post got more responses than I think my Tumblr has gotten the entire time it's existed. :P That's my one complaint about Tumblr: it would be so much nicer if it had a more functional comment system attached, or indeed any kind of system at all. That reblog stuff just ain't cutting it.

So anyway I guess people do still read this LJ through one avenue or another! That makes me smile. I'll try to post here a little more often from now on. That being said, the indie game programming I'm doing will continue to be updated over at my Mayfly Studio Tumblr. I post there reasonably often and I do even have one or two things there for download, including a six-level demo of Neon Galaxy. No lie!

To answer the most common question, by the way: No news I can mention on Afterlife Blues at the moment, though it's a perfectly reasonable thing to ask about. The earliest anything could happen would probably be later this summer or early fall, after Otakon.

On a completely unrelated note, if you're playing Dragon's Dogma on the PS3 please feel free to hire my pawn, Miang (check the username "ksleet"). She likes long walks on the beach, pointing out that the tail has been severed, and calling down an apocalyptic storm of huge meteors to kill the last half-dead hobgoblin remaining in a fight.

3 comments|post comment

Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. [04 Jul 2012|01:51am]
I'm just curious if there's still anyone reading this LJ, or if Livejournal's audience has completely dwindled to its eternal core of slash fiction reviewers, Russian political activists, skeevy soft-core pornographers, and Avatar: The Last Airbender fans who are still angry about the movie. Speak up, don't be shy!
31 comments|post comment

So. [29 Mar 2011|04:13pm]
I've always found it frustrating when people I read just randomly drop out of sight so I figured I at least owed folks this much of an update.

There is a lot of personal stuff going on which I'm not sure I'm up to talking about in public, just at the moment, but it has squeezed out most of my activities that I usually talk about here. I am putting up the odd post on my gamedev blog at http://mayflystudio.tumblr.com/. Other than that, though, things are likely to be quiet around the LJ for a while.

That's all for now.
7 comments|post comment

Afterlife Blues update. [22 Feb 2011|12:49am]
[ mood | bluhhhh ]

What will happen next? Probably a different scene!

3 comments|post comment

Afterlife Blues update. [18 Feb 2011|01:36am]
[ mood | bluhhhh ]

I just wanted to draw one of those bits where a police officer picks up a gun with a pen, even if it doesn't really make a lot of sense in this context.

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Afterlife Blues update!! [15 Feb 2011|12:07am]
[ mood | bluhhhh ]

Welp, back at it then. I'd like to say I've been up to all sorts of crazy and exciting things the past few weeks but... no, not really.

2 comments|post comment

Afterlife Blues update. [25 Jan 2011|12:47am]
[ mood | bluh ]

You know, that sort of grabbiness was more adorable when Caprice was doing it.

In other news: Finally beat "More than Machine" in SpaceChem, which was brutal -- it took me days. The next sector looks completely insane.

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Afterlife Blues update. [21 Jan 2011|12:51am]
[ mood | ow ]

We're such teases.

I have now bought Seasons 3 and 4 of Stargate: SG-1 off eBay. #4 I sniped at the last possible minute -- it was totally by accident, I swear. But now I'm impatiently waiting for them to arrive because I WANT IT NOWWWWWW.

In other news, by which I mean I'm still playing SpaceChem: I've finally figured out how to avoid the problem of pipeline stalls. You have to forward all the molecules needed for a product through every intermediate reactor they arrive in, never waiting for molecules of a particular type, and only pause to assemble them in the very last one. That way, you never get the situation where the final reactor has all of Product B it can hold and is waiting for Product A, but the intermediate reactor is stalled because the pipeline where it was pushing out B is full and it can't move on to look for newly arriving A. Alternatively, if there's a recycler in the level you can just have the intermediate reactor throw away incoming atoms it doesn't want just at the moment so that the final reactor is guaranteed to receive what it needs in the order it needs it, but that does lead to a slower solution.

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One week ago I couldn't even spell nuclear physicist and now I are one! [19 Jan 2011|01:20am]
[ mood | resolute ]

One of the neat things that SpaceChem does is track your efficiency -- how many instructions you used to solve a puzzle and how many cycles it took to complete -- and then show you a bar graph that compares it against how many symbols and cycles other players took, letting you know the average time taken as well as the outliers in both directions. Often this graph is dispiriting, as I've managed to put together some hideously slow production lines on the more difficult stages. But nonetheless it's a fun challenge to try to build research reactors that are as fast and efficient as possible, finding weird techniques to squeeze out every last cycle.

Here's a few of the tricks I've come up with when optimizing the simplest reactors:

...behind this cut.Collapse )

All this is very nice and I've managed to create some very small and fast solutions to research problems. But, those tiny little bars at the far left of the chart, to the left of my best times and symbol counts, still taunt me. Someone completed "Double Bonds" using only seven symbols, better than my nine. Someone has a trick that let them do "A Complete History of SpaceChem" in less than 70 cycles, compared to my 107! It's driving me crazy. I must figure it out.

4 comments|post comment

Afterlife Blues update. [18 Jan 2011|03:13am]
[ mood | bluh ]

"With all due respect, sir, you're a giant doodyhead!"

Man I love that show. Perhaps this is too fanboyish of me to say, but watching SG-1, it really just feels like this was more than another job for everyone involved. The writers, the actors, the producers, set builders, effects people, costumers, they put their all into it, and it comes through in the overall quality and cohesiveness of the end product.

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Afterlife Blues update. [15 Jan 2011|02:29am]
[ mood | bluh ]

It is a page. You can probably tell from how sloppy the inside of the car is rendered that I really am tired of drawing that thing. That being said, I'm very pleased with Panel 3 for some reason (the station wagon pulling into the garage next to an armored embassy limo.) It's a more "high concept" panel than I usually try to draw, but I feel that it worked. At least a bit. COME ON JUST LET ME HAVE THIS.

In other (brief) news, a visiting co-worker wanted to see Neon Galaxy, so I actually spent a half hour slapping together a real test level instead of just the big pile of test levels I'd had up until now. And, you know... it's actually fun. The game genuinely works! That's pretty cool, not to mention a bit of a relief. Hopefully I can record a video of a level playthrough sooner rather than later and share it with y'alls.

10 comments|post comment

Afterlife Blues update. [12 Jan 2011|02:28am]
[ mood | bluh ]

It is a brand new page just packed to the gills with subtle implications about the global political order in the looming future! Please enjoy it, assuming you can wade through the snowdrifts to reach your mouse and click on the link.

I like that phrase, "looming future." I'm pretty sure I first saw it in a Don Simpson comic.

6 comments|post comment

I cede the balance of my time to the instrumental bit from Freebird. [10 Jan 2011|12:32am]
[ mood | bluh ]

So today I reviewed the list of enemies in my Neon Galaxy design doc and was rather shocked to see that after today (when I added burst fire capability, actions taken upon receiving damage or dying, and the ability to pick up items) I've implemented, at least on a basic level, all the AI features I need for every single enemy on the list. That's crazy! How could I have gotten so much done??

This is at least an appropriate moment to consider the whole Mayfly Studio Tumblr thing I've been doing for the past several weeks. Now, on the one hand, I really like using Tumblr. It's so convenient to just toss a screenshot into the hopper, type a few words, and off it goes, that I have to restrain myself from putting in an update whenever I implement every little thing. And it's also nice to review it and see all the NG updates in one convenient place; it reminds me of how much progress I've been making on the thing. But on the other hand, I get orders of magnitude less feedback on the Tumblr than I used to do when I posted the big updates here on Livejournal. I guess it's part due to the friction in asking people to head over to another site to read something, and part due to Disqus being pretty terrible for writing comments in (and don't get me wrong, I'm not trolling for comments here!) but either way that's still too bad.

Realistically, I suppose I should just stick with the Tumblr and work towards getting the game in a state where I'm comfortable announcing it in a larger forum, such as TIGsource; no doubt that'll get more people reading about it, and at that point I'll be glad to have a focused blog for the game.

On an unrelated note, holy cow the new OMD album. I can't stop listening to "History of Modern Pt. 1" over and over again.

2 comments|post comment

Afterlife Blues update. [07 Jan 2011|02:17am]
[ mood | bluh! ]

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand scene.

So one thing I thought was important about this bit is that despite her breezy attitude Faith got kind of beaten up and had to flee the scene leaving vital clues behind. This is a good thing. Not because I want to see Faith getting beaten up in and of itself, but because it's important for the heroes to be genuinely impeded. I've read too many lousy stories, fanfiction especially, where the protagonists win every single fight, each villain is killed off the scene after they appear, and the only time anything happens to interrupt their unbroken series of victories is the equivalent of a cutscene in a video game, where due to some absurd contrivance the bad guys get to kill some minor characters and burn down Good Guy HQ or whatever to add a bit of pathos before it's back to the unbroken triumphs. Having a bad guy who can cause legitimate grief is a part of avoiding Cutscene Syndrome.

Ya know, I've meant to write a little essay about that topic for years. I think I basically failed just now, but oh well, at least it's out in the open.

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