Monday, October 10, 2011

Yet another game I have no business playing...

Ramblings Post #164
You can't make your focus singular. Even when I was working out happened...even then I had those little things that let you take your mind off how much your feet hurt, or how much your arms ached, or if that popping sound was your spine suddenly saying "no mas"! Now that I'm honing my mind, or something like that, I need little ways to let me mind relax, but not so much that sink into the couch and fall asleep with the TV watching me. I need something I can pause or turn off at whim, so I can get back to business. Instead....

Because if I concentrate solely on tax law and the mental gymnastics needed to tame the various codes and regulations, and other stuff you should just know, my mind would turn to grey tapioca. Cheap grey tapioca. And because I'm on a budget. Well, I was always on a budget, now I'm on a tighter budget. My goal was to find something inexpensive as an occasional mental diversion, because given too much free time, I'd be mentally contemplating answers for questions my first year law professors asked. No seriously, I have done that.

Well, I did find something just like that. Free in fact. And now I have to figure out a way to stop.

It's a compter game called Dwarf Fortress. It's free to download, free to play, a product of one of those online labors of love that most users tinker with to while away a few hours and the builder uses as part of their resume to show somebody who writes paychecks they know what they're doing. I looked around online, and read in the NY Times that the creator of Dwarf Fortress has refused to sell the rights and gets by on donations from dedicated game players. Doing just this he only makes around $50,000 a year. But then he lives in a two bedroom apartment and enjoys a geek's paradise - waking at dark, living on chips and Mountain Dew and coding his masterwork until he decides he's done, then going back to sleep. Not a bad gig if that's what you like. And what's he's created....

I'm playing it, and it's scarily intricate.

It took me a while to make a fortress last longer than building a basic setup. I'd usually get killed early due to something - run out of water (or buckets) and everyone die of thirst, run out of food, we'd get attacked and every one gets slaughtered or they'd just go insane one by one due to something I failed to address. In any case, as my little, dwarves, would start to check out, I would quit, like apparently most people who start. Until a wee bit frustrated, and and tired of going over whatever case I was reading, I went online for a few tips and to check out what the game was all about.

Sometimes, you're better off not knowing what is possible.

Online there is a whole community. A dedicated, hardcore, talking in terms of which I have no understanding while looking at the same thing I'm looking at type community. I am mystified. But then, a write up in the NY Times should have been a clue that something big was going on. Some of the fortress constructions are unbelievable. I get at best a few minutes a day trying to layout something that looks reasonable, you know, get my little dwarves arranged with a little atheistic appeal. But I look at some of the layouts, the designs, the constructions and it's obvious some of these guys spend months...real MONTHS... building structures that look like something out of Lord of the Rings. No, wait, they put the stuff Tolkein and the movie magic makers invented to shame.

My newly found and realized ego says you too must build a construct of great and ridiculous stature. My reasonableness says this ain't the time to pretend like you're not in law school. I read through some of the notes, and look at the depth of the message boards, and wonder if some of these people have sun sunlight lately. But then again, I haven't been getting out much myself, so I probably need to check myself.

So this is me? I do need to get out. Just as soon as build this meeting hall....

Barkeep. Something to get me out of the house. In a large glass. 

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