VGT6: Crawford

These are my notes and comments about  “The Art of Computer Game Design: Reflections of a Master Game Designer” by  Chris Crawford. These notes are both for my own thoughts, and for my contribution to the #VGT6 discussion as (due to time zones) I may be asleep still when the discussion of it occurs.

As it was published in 1984 the book at times shows its age, but in general I find that it still gets a lot more correct than wrong. It stands out as the first book (at least as far as I am aware) to be published that looked at games as an artistic form. Thanks again to Andrew for telling me about the book.
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A Moments Thoughts on Travel

LeftInBagFrom2014Yesterday, six months ago, I had just returned from Rome.
Yesterday, six months from now, I will have just returned from Rome.
Tomorrow, I am getting on a plane to fly to California.

The same carry-on bag, different contents.
Leather walking shoes for strolling museums, not this trip.
Hiking boots for mountainsides, needed this time.

Books, however, always books.
Julius Caesar and The Comedy of Errors, to Europe.
The Art of Travel and Italian Language Essentials, to Vasquez Rocks.

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Review of “Mr. Midshipman Hornblower” by C.S. Forester

CSForesterMrMidshipmanHornblowerMr. Midshipman Hornblower is the “first” book of the British “Age of Sail” Horatio Hornblower series by C.S. Forester. The version of the book I read, published by Back Bay Books, lists it as the first volume in the series because they have chosen to release the books as they are placed chronologically within Hornblower’s life. However, this was the sixth book in the series to be written and published (in 1950, when the first book came out in 1937) and therein lay what flaws the book has.

The book not a typical novel, but rather a collection of ten short stories. The stories detail the early events of Hornblower’s naval career. The first story, “Hornblower and the Even Chance”, begins at about 1793 with the seventeen-year old Hornblower coming aboard his first vessel as a raw wet behind the ears Midshipman. By the last story of the book we’ve seen him mature as a naval officer, and as a young man, and at the end of “Hornblower the Duchess, and the Devil” he earns his rank as a Lieutenant (setting the story up for the next book chronologically, Lieutenant Hornblower). In between his experiences run the gamut from bold success to utter failure, we see Horatio grapple with the sort of decisions he has to make while in command, and suffer the consequences of his decisions.

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Review of “The Magician’s Land” by Lev Grossman

Cover art of The Magician's Land by Lev GrossmanThe third, and final, book of the Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman, “The Magician’s Land” is one of the best books I have read in a long time. Released in 2014, and still available only in hardcover, the novel brings the story of Quentin Coldwater to a close. In it Grossman does two things that I haven’t run across very often: he uses genre tropes to write serious literary fiction, and the ending of series is amazingly well written.

When the first book of the trilogy, “The Magicians” came out back in 2009 I was sold a copy of it on the premise of it being “Harry Potter for adults”, but that sold the book (and the series) far short of what it is. The story of Quentin began with him taking an unplanned diversion in life, one moment he was heading to an interview to attend Princeton and the next he was taking an eccentric test to enter a magical college called Brakebills in upstate NY. From there he learns to work magic, discovers that the Narnia’esque fictional world of Fillory is real, he falls in love, has his heart broken, fails, succeeds, and saves the world a few times along the way through the twelve years that the three books spans.

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Random Encounters

Not often that I have a meaningful conversation while waiting for the bus. Usually I am approached by people who want a cigarette (I don’t smoke), to know how long until the next bus (because I am either psychic or they are too lazy to stop texting and check on their own smart phone), or if I have found Jesus (pretty sure he is dead, not a missing person, but then again it’s been a while since I’ve seen a milk carton with missing person ads printed on the side). So I wasn’t expecting the talk I had Saturday night.

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