Tag Archives: Video Games

The day I played Starcraft while my blog automatically updated.

When I first committed to blogging daily, I had nothing planned or prepared. It was like jumping from an aircraft with a pledge to knit a parachute on the way down. I liked the idea because it was bold, daring and would force action. I thrive under pressure. Give me three years to complete a project and watch me “multitask,” confident you’ll forget. Give me three hours and be amazed. Read More →

Now Introducing: Columns

I’ve been advised to keep “focused” here at jasonrpeters.com. But what does that mean? Should every post revolve around writing?

Monitoring and sharing my progress as a writer is the primary reason I started this site. But if I were to constantly write only about writing, I would consider that:

1. Boring to my readers and

2. Immature of me as a writer

Writing about writing is easy since it’s the topic I probably know the most about. It’s also much easier to write a book about how hard it was to write a real book than it is to write a real book.

Writing about anything else takes research, effort, and talent. Also, if you look over the history of blog, you’ll notice a predictable trend. Articles about where I am as a writer get barely any comments. This is true for the mirror posts on Facebook and for email correspondence.

Articles about politics, video games, philosophy, religion, books, and movies generate interesting discussion. That’s what writing is for, to open the mind. (An open mind is an open door, no?)

But my detractors are correct, I do need to keep the site more focused. And I’ve figured out a way to do that AND advance my career and maturity as a writer:


This is something I’ve thought about doing for a long time, and now seems like the perfect opportunity. First week of the new year and all that crap.

Columns are how websites or publications with many topics divide up their topics among their staff and among their readers into organized, methodical components. I have a staff of only one: I’m writer, editor, webmaster, controller, and owner. And today I’m giving myself some specific assignments.

Writing columns will help me stay on topic for the website week after week, rather than rambling about whatever pops into my head, while allowing me to set aside the topic of my own career.

Below are the column ideas I have currently; I’m sure they will change or evolve based on your responses and involvement, but the ones I have so far will at least help get me started with some broad topics. I have ideas for several more columns than the ones below, but I’m going to start small and see how much time these occupy before committing to something like one per day.


It’s a writer’s job to know a little bit about everything, and to thoroughly research anything he doesn’t know. ASK JASON ANYTHING is your opportunity to challenge Jason with a question of any kind, whether it’s scientific or religious, financial or social, political, historical. It can be something you already know, or something you’re genuinely curious to learn. You can ask trivia or knowledge or advice, and every Thursday, Jason will do his best to answer.


On Fridays, Jason selfishly turns the tables and asks questions of you, the readers, why things are the way they are, and what we as individuals or a culture can do to make our world better. Where do you worship? Where do you work? How do you vote? What do you buy? And how is your life, and the lives of those around you shaping up as a result?


Each Saturday, Jason spotlights one product or service he finds particularly useful or enjoyable; the kind of things that make you wonder, “Why doesn’t everyone have this?”

The most fun I’ve ever had

lava“You fell in the lava!”

I’ve said this countless times in childhood, pretending that some particular surface was “lava” and everywhere else was safe.

“The lava is good for your health,” my cousin Johnny would say when he wanted us to fail at a game so that his turn would come faster.

Occasionally, when taking a walk with my wife, I still insist that the grass is lava and see if I can’t nudge her off the sidewalk and into the impending mortal doom of…walking on soft grass.

This simple and universally understood game was the inspiration for my second adventure in Spore galactic adventures:

You’re marooned on a planet of…well, you know…and the heat is interfering with your transporter signal. Fortunately, it just so happens that there are a series of platforms and jump pads in front of you which can lead you to the safety of high ground! That is…if you can navigate them successfully and not plummet to your fiery demise.

Platformers have been a crowd favorite almost as long as video games have existed, and one of my personal favorites is the all-too-rare breed of 3D platformer, successfully realized in Mario 64.

But if I thought playing a 3D platformer level¬†was fun, it has nothing on designing one — at least not for a creative mind like mine. Deciding just how high to place each platform, just how large the landing area has to be, and just how highly powered each jump pad is were just of a few of the things I enjoyed about the process.

The most brilliant aspect of Spore GA is that when you’re adventure building, the playtest button is right in the editor, and takes literally zero time to load. Wonder how your jump pad will work? Hit ‘play’ and find out.

I spent hours at this, making certain the level I built was difficult, even intimidating, but beatable. Like most platformers, if you know exactly what to do and where to go, it’s far easier than stepping into it for the first time.

But the real reward came when I had finished the adventure and got to see my wife play it the first time through. Her exclamations of delight and frustration were more rewarding to me than just playing a video game ever has been — and if you know me, you know that’s saying a lot. The infuriated look she gave me when an apparently “safe” platform warped her back to the beginning of the level was so priceless it sent me into gales of laughter.

So far, more than 40 people have played the adventure, and it has a well-liked rating in spite of the fact it is also ranked in the highest difficulty class. And I have already all but forgotten my first Spore GA creation, a plot-based mini-RPG with 11 different goals across 8 acts instead of just one. But if I had to guess at this point, I’d wager I’ll be building more platformers than stories.

Avoiding lava, especially while flying high through the air in inhuman leaps and bounds, is just plain fun.

Working hard

timeclockNo time for posts. Or writing.

Note: This doesn’t mean I have zero free time. (I hate when people use, “I don’t have time” as an excuse as if they are working from waking to sleeping.) It means the little free time I’ve got, I’m using to unwind with video games or television instead of additional work … such as writing.

Should be better by the weekend.

Off to bed now.

It was EXACTLY what I wanted to know.

Several days ago, I got the first full-text reviewed/edited copy of Woman’s Best Friend back from a Hatrack reviewer.

It was beautiful.

To fully understand my satisfaction with having my own work ripped to shreds, you must first consider the palpable frustration of a rejection letter.

The whole aggravation of a rejected work isn’t that it simply wasn’t purchased; we’ve all had dates declined, interviews we didn’t get hired, a request denied. But in most of these circumstances, it is possible to determine why. In social circumstances, you can even ask:

Why didn’t you want to go on a date with me?

The immature lady will simply not return this call. The mature gal will admit, “Because you’re creepy, clingy, needy, you have no job, and you smell funny.” This may be painful, but it gives the guy (if he is mature) the opportunity to become less creepy and needy, get a job, and bathe more before asking the next girl.

When I get a rejection letter, my brain screams at the editor:


Based on the number of podcasts and books-on-writing I’ve devoured, I wonder:

Was my cover letter too short? Too long? Too dry? Too arrogant? Too humble? Did I misspell the editor’s name? Did the story remind them of a worse one they read in gradeschool? A better one? Did they just buy a story like this? Did they discover a misprint? Not like the title? Were they annoyed at the shade of white I printed on? Was there a smudge on the manuscript? Did they Google me and disagree with my politics? Religion? Choice of video games?

Did I give too little description? Too much? Did they not care about the characters? Did they find an element cliche? Did they finish the first page? The second? Was the ending trite? Was there a problem with the plot? The grammar? The style? Did I use too many echoes? Was my characterization thin? Or too heavy-handed? Were my hooks too trendy? Were my paragraphs too long? Too short? Was my dialog too vague? Too precise? Too true to life to be interesting? Not true enough?

…and on and on.

The frustration is not just that the work didn’t sell; even successful writers sometimes have that happen. The frustration is that to fix it, I don’t even know where to start.

Enter the anonymous critic, willing to read the whole story and pull no punches with his opinions.

I wish I could reproduce the full text including his comments for you here, but then I would have used my First North American publication rights to the story.

Suffice to say that the first total stranger to read Woman’s Best Friend found a whole host of echoes I never noticed in myriad readings. Nor did anyone else. He found whole paragraphs which could be cut, their whole meaning still evident in the sentence preceding them.

I am now working on a 5th draft of Woman’s Best Friend, which will be much tighter and more streamlined. Then if that one isn’t good enough, a 6th, and so forth.

That’s how you become perfect.

Just writing is easy. But Actual Writing is hard.

Overwhelmed?So, the blog began as a little extra work to keep me in the practice of writing. Also a way for me and my readers (aka friends) to keep on top of my work, progress, and writing career. (Even though the most lively discussions are, predictably, a little off topic.)

Things have changed.

The overall feeling of having an audience has been trans-formative for me. The best thing I can compare it to is that if you’re at work and conversing with a buddy, you might talk about anything that comes to mind. If you’re in that same conversation and suddenly your boss walks by, you may or may not change your topic or tone, but you’re likely to be a little more self-conscious. (Even if your direct supervisor doesn’t make you feel this way, chances are there is someone who does. Regional manager. Vice president. Auditor. Whomever.)

This makes me want to present the best of myself, especially in the focus for the site: My fiction. The various political commentaries are just an exercise…stretching my descriptive muscles, as it were.

To that end, writing has slowly but inexorably taken over the cracks in my life. It used to be that I would play video games or other forms of recreation for most of the evening/weekend, and then fit a little writing into the bored cracks between other activities.

Now the reverse is true.

I listen to podcasts on writing on the way to work and back. When I’m doing mindless data entry, I listen to podcasts on writing while I’m at work. And when I’m not learning from these podcasts, I’m mentally critiquing them — still literary exercise.

Now I even listen to podcasts about writing at home, because it’s as close as I can get to having professional writers in the comfort of my own home giving a constant stream of advice.

Sometimes I’m writing. Sometimes I’m formatting a work for submission. Sometimes I’m buying supplies. Sometimes I’m working on the website.

Sometimes I’m planning what to write. I spent about two hours this evening just working on an outline for a novel — and bear in mind, this is a novel for which the first 10,000 words have already been written — not a new concept.

When I started, the blog was extra work to get me to write at least a little bit every day.

Now, blogging is where I turn when I need a break from writing fiction.

Oh, how far we’ve come in just two months.

I hope this trend continues indefinitely. But more-so I hope it is reflected in the scope and quality of my work.

A buddy told me at work today that until I’m reporting earned income on my taxes, I’m still an amateur writer. This was partly good natured ribbing, and partly his excuse for why he hadn’t read any of my stories even though I explicitly printed one out and handed it to him…I think over a week ago. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think he realizes how seriously I take this — and that’s understandable. I’ve certainly met my fair share of wannabe writers whose work makes me think, “Are you kidding?” I personally cringe whenever someone says, “Will you read this? I wrote it!” so I can hardly blame others for setting those pages aside.

But even if he was totally kidding, there’s some truth to what he said, and it only inspires me to drive harder to reach that magic benchmark of publication. Will it be this year? Next year? Ten years from now? My next submission? God only knows, but I won’t stop until it happens, until the work sells, until the first movie contract, until the first blockbuster, until I make so much money writing that far beyond having a regular day job, writing is my job, and not only that, I’m so good at it that I no longer write because I have to…I write because I want to.

That’s negative reinforcement. I also get it from www.101reasonstostopwriting.com.

Positive reinforcement comes when Mr. Snuggles posts that a scene is my cleanest yet, when my brother-in-law who I never even expected to check the blog tells me he gets my RSS feed, and he and his girlfriend have real feedback on my latest story. When Elizabeth comments on one of my rants and I know she’s still reading even though I probably drive her nuts.

Slowly but surely, writing is becoming as much of a constant obsession as online gaming ever was. Keep pushing me in that direction, I beg you.

Now I must return to that outline and consider adding another scene to Second Chances.

Break’s over.

There’s always an excuse

stop-making-excusesThis truly dismays me. Since beginning this site, I fully intended to write, a minimum of once per day, every day. I don’t mean “to blog”, I mean “to write.” Actual rigorous writing, not the stream-of-consciousness commentary I post here.

I haven’t even come close.

What dismays me is discovering there is ALWAYS some excuse — real, plausible excuse — for not writing on any given day. If I had a particularly hard or stressful day at work, I deserve the evening off, don’t I? If it’s date night with my wife, my evening is “booked”, isn’t it? If I visited someone in the hospital over the weekend, that day was “spent doing other things”, right? Or if I have a headache, of course I shouldn’t write…right?

The weird thing is that these things don’t even occur to me as means to “escape” writing. I love to write. Why would I want to avoid it?

But avoid it I do, day after day, time and again.

How does one break this cycle? I’ve tried tying hours typed to money I’m allowed to spend, the amount of video games played, and other motivational factors. None of them have actually increased the amount of time I spent writing, even if they did decrease whatever I was trading myself as motivation.

At least blogging on a near-daily basis keeps me “in practice” writing consistently.