I don't write much on these c-blogs. I'm usually writing on this hobby gaming blog called Analog Addiction. They're getting pretty popular these days, usually without my help. I write maybe one or two articles every few weeks, usually out of guilt for not writing anything at all (and because I have a full-time job and college, and AA doesn't pay me to write, hence 'hobby'). It's not that I don't like writing. I love writing, actually; it's one of the few things I consider myself to be good at, besides fighting boars.
I suffer from depression. Nothing diagnosed, though, because I'm good at hiding it from my loved ones and my schools growing up never gave a damn anyways (I've been to school therapists plenty of times, but that was because I got in a lot of fights). But it's true. I haven't had a single day in the past seven-and-a-half months without some sort of soul-crushing depression sneaking its way in to my life to ruin the day, and I've been depressed off-and-on for most of my life. I become unwilling to do anything, including schoolwork and hobby writing. When I'm at work, the first chance I know I'm alone I begin to sulk, and if it's a particularly frustrating day, I kick the walls and stamp my feet and scream at the computer screen (I work in a small shack directing mentally challenged truck drivers. It gets very taxing, very quick).
But I still have to write. I need to. I've been an artist all my life: drawing, animating, writing, and even a bit of game design are the only ways I've ever been able to talk properly to people. When I speak, my words don't fit in my mouth and they come out like misshapen play-doh. I need to write. How am I supposed to put fingertip to keyboard when all I can think of the moment I do is, "Fucking christ, you suck. Kill yourself, you're no good! It's not worth it! You'll die, the world will end, you will be forgotten. It's not worth it." But, I need to write.
It's why I'm writing right now. Artistic expression is all I have, so I've been trying to find ways to toss my depression to the side, or at least tuck it into the corner where it can't bother me for now.
I'm not claiming to be an expert in the field of depression and how to beat it; this is just what I've done in the past to get me started with writing while under heavy depression.
Here's my advice.
Go for a walk
Okay, so maybe this sounds less like advice for curbing depression and more like a way to get some exercise, but it works for both. I made this discovery about a week ago. I was at home and the dark tendrils of depression had me bedridden and close to trying to see if I can hang myself with my own hand (I couldn't). But my conscious mind knew it didn't want to die, and I remembered a neat little webcomic I read a few months ago, quoting the great British comedian, Stephen Fry, "Stop feeling sorry for yourself."
Well, who the hell is going to argue with Stephen Fry? I grudgingly slipped on my shoes and a pair of pants (though not in that order), and stepped outside into blinding light, the smell of winter assailing my nostrils. I began walking in the snow, still visibly depressed. I was staring at my shoes and some footprints almost the entire way, until I came upon this forest near my house. I shrugged my shoulders, and entered.
Quiet. That was the first thing I noticed. The wind didn't exist in a forest; too many trees. It was the middle of the day, so animals were not going to be happening by my way. I wasn't near any busy roads, and there weren't any other people strolling around. This was my forest.
I strolled around on a path for a while, coming to a small bridge. I opted to travel down a lesser used way, following a small river and listening to it when it bubbled over rocks and fallen trees. Then I abandoned all paths completely. I was walking through raw, wintry forest. I balanced on dead trees as I crossed rivers, watched a flock ducks get scared shitless by a single sparrow, and simply removed myself from my old world of technological overstimulation.
It was a break from my usual life. A refresher, to wipe clean my accrued data-lag. I needed to experience the opposite of my lifestyle to better appreciate it more. When I returned home, I finished my week's worth of homework in one sitting.
It's good to just get away from it all every once in awhile.
Do something useful
Immediately before I started writing this post, I finished doing my parents' taxes. This year, at the fresh age of 20, I did the taxes for my entire immediate family, and we're not small. I did mine, my sister's, my grandpa's, and my parents' taxes over two weekends, and each time I finished one, I was ready to take on the world.
I felt useful to my family; as an artist, I rarely get the chance to do anything that actually helps people. It was after this revelation that I understood that my happiness can be attributed to how much I can contribute to others' well being.
Nowadays, I'm trying to get into the habit of doing more chores around the house as well as trying to learn useful skills. I might start working with my grandpa on his carpentry projects, and I even became an atheist Minister earlier in the year so I could ruin the sanctity of marriage with straight marriages as well as gay ones.
It may not be in your bag to do anything other than your craft, and that's fine. We need people like that. I just need to keep my hands busy in order to get through a day.
Just start writing
Obvious and sometimes overplayed, but just sitting down and writing a pageful of complete nonsense is a great way to start writing more constructed articles.
It's really easy, too. You just get a pen and paper, or a computer and start writing. Make sure it's complete nonsense and that you don't stop once until you have a full page. Just let a complete stream of consciousness flow from your hands without thought, and the words will eventually start making sense and you'll gain your sea-legs (in writing terms, that is).
Now, I'm not some sort of beloved or talented writer whose words will have any far-reaching effect on people at large. I'm not even sure if this will help a single person. But I need to write. It's thoughts like, "No one cares about what I write." that are the main reason I stop. I told myself that, no, the fact that people don't care are not a reason to stop writing. There is no reason to stop writing. Whether this turns out to just be a reminder for myself, or a guide to help other people, I don't regret writing this. I needed to write, and I wrote.
Creepypasta. A word that draws both ire and terror from those who hear it. As a copy-and-pasted horror story that circulates the internet, creepypasta has taken over as the new fireside horror story. Wether short, long, supernatural, realistic, or psychological, a good creepypasta can strike fear into the heart far more effectively than any hollywood-horror movie or AAA survival horror game has ever done. There's the well known "Squidward's Suicide" and "Suicide Mickey". Slenderman, once a post on a create-your-own-monster thread on the Something Awful forums is now a cultural phenomenon. Even the hilariously bad "A skeleton popped out" or "WHO WAS PHONE!?!" still resonate in the internet culture (although in different ways from the other creepypastas).
Then there are the real scary stories. Sometimes these are indistinguishable from a good copypasta; they chill you to the bone and make you check behind your back more often than you'd like, but you still know it's just a story.
I really hope this is just a story.
I got home from seeing some friends about an hour ago at 2 AM. I pried open my laptop and logged into Facebook to see what people have been saying (or, more specifically, what they've been saying about me. What narcissistic creatures we are). There was a post by one of my friends. Let's call her "K". This is what she posted:
If you can't read that, she's says that her xbox, while on the dashboard (she confirmed this in a later post), crashed, went black and had white text scrolling across the screen. It read "LOOK. A DEAD BODY". Then the screen flashed random colors, as though a game was glitching out. She then heard a male voice repeating the words "Look. A dead body."
Now, I know K. Her husband, "C", was also a witness to what happened. I trust them both very much. They have never been the kind of people to drum up attention in any way. They've just been quiet, live and let live geeks (in the best possible way) ever since I met them. I don't think they would ever do something like this just for the attention. Besides, this kind of shit is difficult to just make up on the spot.
They left their xbox on the dashboard for over an hour to see if it would happen again. It didn't. I made jokes about how their kinect is sentient/haunted and that it's predicting her death. She cursed skynet for making such a cursed machine and then we went into a conversation about the pros and cons of kinect (I think it's great for anything that isn't games, like ghost hunting and such) and the conversation died from there.
If anyone has had any similar experience, let me know. It would probably comfort my friend to know that her case isn't isolated.
And if she is killed by her kinect then we'll know which apocalypse we have on our hands.
Title: Piglet's Dreams
Genre: "Spot the difference"
Author(s): Konstantin Timofeev (?)
Price: Free. Browser-based.
A night or two ago when I was at work listening to Podtoid (I'd hardly call what I do 'work', but a job's a job), I got the idea in my head to become a game reviewer or a game critic and I knew two things about breaking into game journalism:
1. Write something before you ask for a job
2. Don't review popular games. That's what editors do (elitist bastards).
So, with that in mind and no money in my pocket I came to the conclusion that I should review free flash games from Newgrounds and post the results here on my favorite game journalism site, Destructoid. Since Newgrounds was blocked at the site I was working at and I was pulling two twelve-hour overnight shifts, only now am I able to review Piglet's Dreams, a game that totally wasn't the first thing I saw in Newground's flash portal.
Dreams's credits lists someone named Konstantin Timofeev for 'Game Idea', which, knowing what type of game this is, means that having the idea was most likely his only contribution. You see, Piglet's Dreams is a very basic "Spot the Difference" game. For those not in the know (or if you never attended elementary school), in these types of games the player is presented with two almost identical pictures. Then you have to click on whatever is different from the opposing photo.
sometimes I really hate the letter 'Z'
This concept is one that has been around for a long time and can be easily applied to non-video games. What makes Piglet's Dreams stand out from the decades-old formula is the timer. The timer works exactly like you think it would. Spot all the difference before the timer wears out and you get the privilege to continue on to the next set of images. What I found interesting, though, is that every time you click on something that isn't a difference the time moves down an extra bit faster for about an instant. Does this make the game more intense? Unfortunately, no. I found out that the only penalty attached to having the timer run out is not being able to use the 'hint' button anymore, which hardly gets used anyways because all you do IS LOOK AT THE SCREEN.
The game's art style is surprisingly good, though. It has a very 'adobe flash' cardboard-cutout look to it that is seen very often elsewhere, but has enough of it's own style to stand out. It sticks to a basic color palette and style and it's better for it.
you know exactly what to do right now, as if by instinct
The music is also quite nice, composed by Nikolay Statilco. It has a very cartoony yet adventurous vibe to it, and even though it gets repetitive it still fits with the overall theme of "This game is made for goddamn five-year-olds".
Among it's problems are lag issues. With such a simplified art style, I find it hard to believe that my high-speed internet connection and powerful-enough-to-play-Deus Ex: Human Revolution computer would have lag issues, but they are very prevalent in the first level and this just makes it apparent that gamezhero doesn't know how to compress their files. Another problem comes from the mix of gameplay and story. I know this is basically a children's game and therefore doesn't need such close scrutiny, but fuck that, I'm critiquing this game whether it wants it or not.
The story is about a young piglet who dreams of leaving his farm, and that's about it. The story is told with the images presented to the player, but combined with the gameplay, nothing helps to reinforce the urgency of his desire to escape. Were this a "cannon" type game or a platformer, it could probably express this piglet's desire for freedom with a bit more accuracy and depth.
At the end of it all, this is a game meant for children and bored adults. If you have five minutes to kill, all it takes is a copy and pasting of the link above and then you'll be in piggy escapism bliss. If not, it's a pretty mediocre game, even for it's genre. So I wouldn't bother if I had other choices.