The joke used to be that if the Internet here wasn’t working, Kiko was torrenting several seasons of an anime simultaneously - but it wasn’t a joke so much as it was a true fact. It was an awful business, and not simply because of the profound immorality of these acts - the disregard for the edifice of law, which separates man from the hyena. That’s what I told him. But it also made it very difficult, if not impossible, to complete my own torrents.
The office is in a weird place, where getting Internet through a wire isn’t really feasible. We have had Wise Women out to survey the grounds, and we’ve been told that the building is situated much too near a “place of power” and that only by burying a gladestone beneath the entryway can we be safe from its raking, psychic winds. But that’s, like, the typical contractor thing, right? I’m not falling for that.
It’s all fixed now, but when we were trying to get the antennas upgraded it created all kinds of problems. It was like getting Internet from a hand pump, sometimes it would slosh and gurgle, sometimes you would go bananas and get nothing. I guess it was inconvenient, but whatever; trying to get the strip or the post up was like trying to whip an identity disc through the whirling bulwark of the MCP. It granted even these ordinary acts a patina of valor.
It did emphasize, though, how little of anything we keep on our machines now. Most of Gabriel’s work exists in a kind of neither/nor twilight state between local and cloud. You upgrade your machine, let’s say, grabbing all the MP3s off there isn’t a huge priority because you’re “always connected.” It embroiders nightmare scenarios.
Having seen the entire arc of the consumer Internet, having seen cellular access go from ultranovel to functionally baseline, it has managed to stay weird for me. It’s like caffeine, this access; not necessarily hard to get, mostly available, but when you don’t have it holy shit. If an episode of My Little Pony cuts out halfway through at my house, watch the fuck out. They need this stuff. I’m equal parts father and, somehow, dystopian data druglord.
My new year’s resolution this year was to push myself to get better at drawing. I was in a rut and feeling pretty shitty about my art in general. This year my goal was to break through that wall and really try to improve. Part of that meant sketching as much as I could. I’d stopped drawing for fun. I’d gotten into the habit of only drawing when I had a job to do. Now I draw almost every night and I try and force myself to NOT draw things for work. It’s been awesome and while it was hard at first, It’s getting much easier.
I’m also pushing myself in the comic strips and I know that’s been weird to see. I don’t know exactly how to describe the thought process behind some of these experiments. I sort of have to try lots of crazy stuff to see what works and what I like. Often times that means going too far in a new direction and then walking it back or trying stuff that just doesn’t work at all. Today’s comic is a good example of that actually. I was trying for something in the second panel that just didn’t work. The figures overlap in an odd way and the way Gabe’s hair intersects Tycho’s face is a crime against God and Man. The first panel is goofy and closer to what I was going for but probably a little over the top. I like the way I drew Tycho’s tears and I really dig the line that defines the top of Gabe’s mouth in that panel though. Those are elements I’ll keep for sure. The last panel I actually like a lot and I think that is probably the best drawing I’ve done of Tycho from the back. So yeah, I look at every single comic like that these days. I see every strip as an opportunity to try something new. Some of it is going to hit and some of it isn’t.
Here’s some sketches from last week.
I don’t know where this little cat came from but I like him a lot
I had the weird-ass Brown And Green Zune, so I am not really in a position to defend myself; I made tremendous use of the device. I think it’s my job to act as a halfway house for orphaned, exiled things; I have always had a fear that a preconception or the preconception of another will foreclose realities in some way. I thought it was solid. IP wrangling being what it is, some of its cool tricks couldn’t manifest. It was a pretty fucked up time - you’ll recall that you couldn’t buy MP3s directly, yet. Microsoft has a strange, almost preternaturally doomed habit of releasing things at exactly the wrong time.
It occurred to me yesterday - right before we wrote the strip, which was good timing - that working there has to be a really complicated emotional scenario. For a long time, it would have been like working for Hydra. Hydra later, when everybody knows it’s Hydra. Not the secret Hydra. Like, you park your car and you pass the Hydra logo like ten times before you get to your desk. The implication that one is a tentacle reaching out from a skull. I know a lot of people who work there because I live here. They’re not literal tentacles. Well, Fernando is a tentacle. But that’s just one guy.
No, it’s about how you get perceived; how you get homogenized into a shelf-stable, uniform grey liquid by comments of forums and articles like the one I am writing now, even if I’m only describing the process second hand. Everyone I know there is smarter than I am and works harder than I do.
So if you did end up on Hololens, which is like a reverse Kinect in some ways, and you were receiving feedback which is of the form “doesn’t seem like a Microsoft product” or “is actually cool,” they are compliments but these compliments have a weird shape. There is negative space at play; the information is married to its opposite in a single, coherent package. My suspicion, based on nothing really, is that a complement of this kind might be difficult to metabolize.
I should have understood at some level that Silent Hills was too beautiful to live. If P.T. was any indication, we’d be talking about a psychological piece in the horror furnace of that damned place, executed by two unconventional, unquenchable, functionally speaking invulnerable fucking weirdos. I have let the part of my brain which has no contact with linear time run free on what it all means, though what it means in truth is that reality is a kind of sieve that retains horror and lets noble potential run straight through.
I didn’t even have an opportunity to generate an ambiguous position on Paid Mods For Skyrim On Steam before the entire thing was over. I don’t really know how to put this, but I don’t play Skyrim anymore. Never let it be said that I bear this particular Rim any ill-will - it’s clearly a premium Rim. I guess other games just came out, and I played those instead? It’s been said that there are those who hit it and subsequently quit it, while others stay and play (Mix-a-Lot, 1992). Maybe I’m in the former group.
For my part, and presumably this conversation exists somewhere and I simply haven’t seen it, because the Internet is vasty - I’ve always found Valve’s relationship with community content a little odd. Their history is, functionally speaking, a systematic harvesting of community content and creators. The mod community was always their farm team; this merely formalized the process. Maybe they’ll hire one or two people from a team. Who owns the nascent “Intellectual Property”? I suspect that most people who play “Counter-Strike” actually just play “Dust.” Does that matter? It’s never been super clear to me how ownership of Defense of the Ancients devolved to Valve, it just… did? Presumably there’s an unassailable document somewhere. But modding is an unconventional means of creation, with a different gear ratio than the industry proper.
As someone who pays their rent with ostensibly “creative” work, I know a lot of people who supplement their income with creative endeavor, and so hearing that mod creators were being paid twenty-five percent of the purchase price for this content wasn’t as shocking to me as it must have been for others. That’s every day for many creators: in truth, most would be paid a single sum as many as three months after they made the work, and would not be remunerated for subsequent sales at all. I’m not saying that’s awesome, or anything. People have this very strange thing they do where you will make a statement of fact, and then they will imagine that you are advocating for that fact, when you are actually making an observation. But, knowing the state of play may help reveal some of the decision making. Sometimes, when you’re trying to make a new version of something, the bugs get ported too.
Steam in general is going to get more “flat,” with less gatekeeping on their part, and a mod marketplace is of a piece with the overall initiative. But much of the value of a mod is the community, its trust, which they do not and cannot own. This is a thing they learned very quickly.