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Brain Dumpage, Relationships at Point Blank Range, The Cost of Living, One Big Solid Break

Brain Dumpage
There’s actually quite a bit I haven’t talked about on here, though not for any particular reason.  “Muse” is about relationships (in some ways, labeling it a Romance might be wrong, but I can’t find a damned classification that actually completely fits) so it’s been my outlet of a lot of the stuff on my mind. 
However, some things just don’t fit in it’s framework, so I’ll brain dump what’s been on my mind here 🙂

Relationships at Point Blank Range

I live with Brandon because his wife left him.  This is supposed to be a temporary arrangement, but it’s looking less and less temporary.
She said things like “Well, I want us to go to marriage counseling.  I want you to go to anger management.  And I want us to start going to church.”  So far, Brandon has made it to marriage counseling, anger management, and church faithfully.  She doesn’t make it to any of them – marriage counseling, for instance, has become a bit of a farce.  Brandon goes, she doesn’t.  The counselor finally asked Brandon “If she’s not here, why are you still coming?”  He thought about it a moment:  “Well, the truth is, I think my marriage is probably over.  But I’ll probably get married again, and you’ll probably teach me something that might be useful the next time.”
Scary shit, when you think about it – he continues to try his best to work towards getting his marriage back together, but the rules she lays down she fails to follow through on.  But it gets worse – she’s now partying often, drinking at home, and she’s on medication.  Not a good combo.
She yells at him if he does anything wrong with the kids (for instance, Zach missing the bus, but not late for school – Brandon could have dropped him off) or in his life, but he’s not allowed to say anything.  I use that as an example, but it applies to just about everything – all equality has been removed from the relationship.
She moved out without a job, so she expected him to pay for her apartment, etc.  She’s got a job now, but he still pays for her car payment, along with another $500 or $600 a month in extra cash.  Might make sense… if it wasn’t for the fact that the kids stay here half the time. 
I, of course, try and keep a very neutral to positive outlook when talking to Brandon on stuff about their relationship.  But the truth is, I don’t foresee it getting fixed – she’s got some major problems to deal with, and at the moment it looks like she’s doing nothing more than setting up hoops for Brandon to jump through, and expecting that he won’t do it (like counseling).  And when he does, she won’t do her part too. 
So I’m getting to watch this slow degradation of a relationship of a friend from point blank range – Christie and Brandon are both friends of mine, and both of them end up talking to me about it.
The Cost of Living
We all end up with weird roles in our lives, and sometimes it’s just a side-effect of other choices we made.  And each one of those roles ends up with a burden to carry.
A while back, Devvi was asking me “what to do” advice about her pastor.  Keeping in mind she goes to a GLBT friendy church, which happens to hold a good number of the “activists” for the community in it – so you’ve got a really outspoken, slightly bitchy group of Gays and Lesbians.  
OK, look, there’s some things I’ve been slowly learning about that community.  I routinely go a couple rounds verbally with a local Gay Rights activist here in Wichita on Facebook (we’re supposed to get together for lunch sometime soon, to go at it in person and discuss advocacy in general.  Yes, I’m getting more political.  Fuck.)  I’ve learned there’s a fuck load of pent up anger in some segments of the local GLBT community. 
So, now imagine what a pastor at a GLBT church has to deal with:  an amazing amount of drama with relationships (I’ve met the pastor, and she’s a nice lesbian gal on the butch side of things – and a nice butch so far has been a rarity, to me), and a bitchy as hell congregation.  
Anyway, Devvi mentioned that not one, but three people ended up bitching out the pastor because of an issue with the food pantry they run – over something completely outside of the control of the pastor.  Devvi’s concern was this:  she saw this happen, but couldn’t wrap her brain around what to do about it, if anything.  
(If you ever went to a Catholic school or classes when you were very young, you end up with this deal where Priests and such are elevated in status beyond you – let’s face it, it’s just shy of beat into you.  Nuns with scary rulers make sure you keep a certain attitude.  I didn’t really break out of that mindset until I learned how human they really were by going out drinking with Father Rau a couple of times.  Guess what?  Devvi has a similar issue with it.)
So I shared an observation of life that I’ve made of the years I don’t think I ever broke down into a simple rule before:
Those who counsel others the most get the least counseling from others when they need it.
Those who lead others often are the most lonely.
Those who do the most for others end up with getting the least from others.
So I summed it up simple – drop her a line on Facebook and be her friend, and offer to listen.  I know, it sounds stupid – it’s a conclusion she could have easily come to herself.  But she had that “elevated status” thinking I had at one time, and having someone SAY it made a huge difference.
(Side note about the GLBT community stuff – a while back, a Butch who was married ended up having all sorts of jealousy issues over Devvi, wanting to turn it into a poly relationship (which is always a bitch do deal with anyway) even though Devvi wasn’t interested.  She started saying some stuff on Facebook, and well… I took her to task over it.   It took three facebook messages (there’s a limit on messages ya’ drop in people’s inbox) to say everything that needed to be said.  She ended up apologizing to Devvi, but never said a word to me.  I happened to run into her at the church on Tuesday, and she gave me a bit hug and a thank you for what I had said – she needed to be reminded where her responsibilities lie.  Funny how I can end up with thank yous when I bitch people out.)
But that’s not the only person I’ve seen this issue with. [email protected] on Twitter is a friend of mine – Cindy.  She’s the one that’s a hub for everything on Facebook and Twitter in Wichita.  If you want to know what’s going on, most times she can tell you everything happening in this town, or if not, she can tell you where to look.  She sort of adopted this as part of her sociology degree work, but it slowly turned into a major deal in her life.
After the last MAJOR (and when I say Major, I mean city sponsored) Tweetup, I looked at an online friend and said “You know, we should throw a party for her – she does it for everyone else.”  (And he responded “Count me in.” without skipping a beat.)   That was months ago – and life got worse for Cindy.  Her husband left her without warning (wanna talk about sleezy – he never says a word about it, he just contacts a lawyer, continues living with her until the divorce papers arrive without warning.)
She’s also trying to finish her Phd stuff at the same time, along with raise kids.  Not an easy life, and still she continues to handle all the Twitter stuff.
Well, after multiple aborted attempts, I finally managed to pull of a surprise party for her this weekend.  Probably about 30 people showed up with thank you cards (for what all she’s done for the community) and gifts – giving the person who planned stuff for everyone else the chance for once to be the recipient of everyone’s efforts.  I told her to stand up, and the spontaneously broke out in “For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow”, then we all started dropping cards and gifts in front of her – the effect was phenomenal on her mood.  She had car trouble earlier in the week, so one person spent $55 on getting her AAA membership renewed.  I think one person gave her a certificate for a day at the spa – I’m not sure, I didn’t keep track of them all.  
It was nice to see someone who totally needed a good moment in life get it, while totally not expecting it.  This is the type thing that should happen more often – people should stop and look at those around them that lead others, and make sure they are taken care of.  They are often set apart because of what they do, or everyone thinks they’ve got a great gig in life because they are at all of these events.  Truth is, they are the ones that need the help the most. 🙂
One Big Solid Break
Nick and I were chatting about something completely different when the conversation wandered a bit, and he commented “You need one good solid break.”
Truth is, I’m starting to wonder if I’m not far from just that these days.  “Muse” may be a lot more than I originally expected it to be.  I’m downplaying it a lot, not wanting to get my expectations up.
But you know what?  Muse is good, and it’s damned unique. It, until it’s self, may never make me much money.  But it’s one of those things that if I get it into the right hands (and I will), I’ll probably end up having a “name” as an author because of it’s setting and intensity at times.  Seriously, I’ve never read anything like what I’m writing.  And the one after this, “Villain”, does the same thing – creating a brand new way of looking at an old story.
“Villain”, by the way, is still the one I’d put money on as a winner – Muse might get success elsewhere, but it’s just not as accessible of a story as “Villain”.
The other goodie I’ve got in the works is my return to video games.  Yes, I’m doing the Trade Wars style project I’ve been looking at and planning for ages.  The game design is… I’m not sure how to describe it.  It’s Trade Wars with elements from World of Warcraft (HA! I just wrote a perfect game pitch without thinking about it.  My old game dev reflexes are still there 😉  The universe is HUGE, and unlike Trade Wars where everything “looked” the same (hey, it was a text based game, you had to imagine it) there’s enough variety in the universe that even I, as the designer, will end up finding things that surprise me.  Procedural Content is fun 🙂
The profit model is now designed – which was a big deal – mixing a combination of the old shareware “hey, you like it? Buy it – if not, you can play with it more, but I’m going to limit you” and subscription models.  World of Warcraft does that pretty well, though I’m going to go a bit looser with the restrictions on free accounts.
Design wise, I haven’t heard of anything like it internally.  It uses a new caching system I came up with to deal with the problem of a large persistent shared world – MMO’s are a bitch, but I’ve got a lot of advantages built into my design that remove TONS of overhead.
The overall game will allow for Web access, Facebook access, and custom clients for Mac, PC, and iPhone (and probably Android or whatever else I want to throw it on that plays well with JavaScript and C++ or Objective C)  Web and Facebook are “free” to access, but you’ve got the limitations of a non-paying account if you don’t subscribe.  The Clients are pay items, and you’ll require a subscription to get the full power of them (Sound familiar?  Yep, stealing from the World of Warcraft playbook again.)  
Simply put – you can play the game anywhere, and that’s the goal.  It will launch without Facebook initially since Facebook players add a HUGE load – so I’ll have the local cache’s to handle part of the load, and use Amazon’s S3 service to pass the load for graphics worldwide, but even then I need a smaller scale deployment to check it all.  And even if you aren’t playing on Facebook or MySpace, you can still brag about achievements, etc. on ’em.
Now for the surprising part:  Because so much of the content is procedural instead of level designed, it’s a small programming project (Procedural Content, btw, means I give a set of rules, and the computer designs the highly complex universes for me.  Each one is new and different, *OR* I can do things like hand tune parts of it, and can add new variables to a situation each time I run the Big Bang on a universe.  Very fun stuff that makes life so much easier.)  Brand new databases are just about finished with design, and before the end of the week I’ll be able to explore the universe with a ship.
I explained the game mechanics, etc. to Brandon, and he went nuts over it.  To him, this is a million dollar idea.  To me, it’s a $5k / month idea, tops.  I’ve ran the numbers, and I need to get some load testing from when it’s being played, but it looks like server overhead is going to be amazingly low – something that’s killer in most MMO’s (the amount of computational horsepower that goes into just ONE World of Warcraft world is staggering, even after years of them optimizing it.)  And some of the long term tech isn’t going to be deployed initially – I’ll keep it for later, after the core is tested out and running with real players.
Of course, it could just as easily flop.  But the number of signups that the modified Black Nova Traders game I had running for a while showed me there’s still demand for that game style. Now if people will pay for it?  That’s a different story 🙂  Keep the price down, and go for a larger number of sales, with “perks” for Clients, and I think I might have something.

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