The Platform

So I just watched a Spanish psychological horror film called “The Platform” on Netflix. It was an unveiled critique about capitalism and the terrible acts our society spurs people to do on every level of it. Highly recommend, it was a great watch that left me and my husband discussing it for a long time afterwards.

But this article isn’t actually about that, it’s about this:

In this video, the YouTuber gives six “solutions” to being imprisoned in the Hole that are absolutely ludicrous. Before I begin, I’m just gonna show why all six of his solutions are implausible:

  1. Kill everyone in the prison below you: Not only is this highly dangerous, it would accomplish nothing. If you start on floor X and kill everyone below you until landing on floor 333, you’re still just gonna get the same food you would have gotten on floor X. And then the prison repopulates next month and you’re stuck on a random floor where you’ll have to do it all over again.
  2. Wait it out: OK I guess this one’s valid, but it’s not really a ‘solution’, more just playing by the rules of the Hole. Also he gets his math horrendously wrong by forgetting you CAN survive two stints on a foodless floor so long as they aren’t in a row.
  3. Ride the platform up: Not only would this force you to fight every single floor below yours down to 333, you would then 100% die when it pancakes you on the top floor. The platform is shown to propel inhumanly-fast specifically to prevent prisoners from doing this.
  4. Don’t volunteer: I mean, I guess this one’s valid too, but it’s like saying, “How to 100% win a soccer game; don’t play the game.”
  5. Bring a useful item: While he’s correct on principle, the items he suggests are terrible choices. His suggestions essentially boil down to “weapons or your own food.” The former puts you in extreme bodily harm for fleeting benefits, the latter runs out long before your sentence does.
  6. Climb up: The scenario he describes completely violates the laws of physics. It’s already unlikely you’ll be able to throw a rope to wedge itself between the platform and the hole, but then the rope is going to fall the second the platform moves down. Gravity will not give you enough time to grab the edge of the platform while you’re underneath it. Even then, assuming you pull that off, and then assuming you successfully kill both people on the floor above you, and then assuming you also managed to catch and bring the rope with you, you’ve got to wait another whole day before the food platform arrives again. Meaning you’d need to start on floors 1-30 for this to even be feasible (a 9% chance), and you’d have plenty of food anyway if you were on those platforms. This has to be the most irrational suggestion on his whole list.

Of course, the real answer is that there isn’t one. The characters are implied to mostly have no idea what they’re getting themselves into (as evidenced by one nimrod bringing a surfboard) and they didn’t have all the information until they’re already trapped in the Hole. But since the YouTuber operated from the perspective of someone with infinite knowledge, I figure I would too and give (in my opinion) three solutions far better than all six of his.

Option 1: Request canned food for your favorite meal, then bring a can opener as your unique item. Anyone without a can opener won’t be able to access your food, leaving you a much greater chance of it reaching you every day. However there are some flaws to this plan, as several characters in the movie brought bladed objects which could likely open cans (most notably Trimagasi, whose knife can literally cut through anything) so you’re out of luck if one of them landed above you but still in the ‘otherwise-no-food’ levels.

Option 2: The ideal solution is to bring an item that frees you entirely from relying on the food platform. The best thing coming to my mind is a chicken, which would lay an egg every day that either of you could eat. Another option is a portable hydroponic growing system whose soil is pre-planted with a medley of fast-growing seeds like radishes, scallions, and sunflowers. Remember the Hole comes with free unlimited water. While you won’t be eating like a king, you’ll generate enough steady calories to up your odds of survival considerably.

Option 3: Bring a jetpack as your item. The YouTuber suggested either grappling hooks or ropes, but those would require cooperation from the people on floors above you. Pure flight is the only feasible option for brute-force escaping, and I suspect a world with levitating concrete platforms has invented highly-controllable jetpacks. But if they haven’t, I guess you could bring a personal smaller version of the floating platform and use that, though unless you set it to ‘fast’ you’ll have to fight the denizens of each floor above yours until you reach Floor 0.

Are these solutions great? No, but the situation is transparently designed to allow no easy answers, and in my opinion they all have better odds of success than anything the YouTuber suggested. Personally, I like Option 2 the best, mostly because it fits into the themes of the movie. A person growing their own food and self-sustaining is metaphorically removing themselves from society, and indeed would no longer participate in the rat race that infects the rest of us by coloring every waking moment of our class-determined lives.

We got a second follower but it is a LIE

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oh god make it stop

gamecool10 is no longer the only follower of this blog…except he is. Because Appeals is clearly a bot account trying to lure me into following back or acknowledging in some way. But I’m too wise for you, Appeals! I even let autocorrect change your username so your robo-detectors don’t perk up at this blog post and pay me any more attention.

(I wonder what gamecool10 is up to these days. I highly doubt he still reads this, and he flagged his blog private a long time ago so nobody could access it. Maybe he knows something I don’t.)

In other news, I’ve finally arrived in Portland and am currently in the process of setting up my room and gathering groceries. It’s cold and rainy, but not as cold as Ohio so I think I’m going to be okay. I’ve informed all relevant persons about my lack of a high-powered gaming desktop, which most notably means I can’t make VGFAQ videos for the time being. My #1 priority needs to be finding a job anyway.

Not much else to say. I love the room, it has its own bathroom which is a luxury I haven’t enjoyed since Ohio, almost five years ago. And the snow gives me an excuse for staying holed up and exercising on my exercycle instead of jogging or swimming at the local beach.

This is now a job blog

As fun as it’s been to live rent-free with my parents for the last year, I’m starting to get that itch that says “I really want to go out and explore more of the world” and also “you’re a worthless waste of oxygen accomplishing nothing”. It’s a bittersweet, multi-faceted itch.

I’ve now set my sights on Portland. I’ve visited friends there once or twice, I love the liberal population and the left-of-center culture. Now I just need to have a job lined up so I can pay the rent when I actually show up, which thankfully will be easier done than in SanFran.

So we’re putting all creative projects on hold (except the ones that pay me like VGFAQ and Daily Esports). I can be creative in Portland. Right now, I need steady employment and I need it before December when my potential roommate’s current lease expires.

So, going forward, I’m going to be updating this blog daily with every single job application location I send out. That means with a screencap of the message informing me the application was sent in. If I miss a day, you’ll know I’ve been my usual lazy procrastinating self, and can shake your head sadly as I needlessly delay, thus putting my Oregonian future in jeopardy. It wouldn’t be anything new, any hypothetical longtime readers would have probably sensed a trend by now where I can’t seem to devote my brain to anything except building skills and completing freelance work that somebody plopped into my lap after finding me somehow. But really, I hope for once that doesn’t happen.

New stories, new gigs!

Hi all! Been a while since I wrote on this blog, and lots of things have happened!

The funniest one has to be Flora’s brief limelight on reddit after I mentioned one of her stories in a discussion involving a certain BDSM fetish. I got flooded with messages from people wanting to read it, and overall a lot more conversation on the topic than I expected. (The story is the nudist colony one I mentioned a while ago btw). Well, some dude messaged me and paid me ½ cent/word to write another one starring his OC Spectra. So, if you wanted to read about a candystripe tigress with mind control powers, “What Happens in Legal…” has you covered! (This marks the third time I’ve been paid for erotic commissions, beginning with “Taming of the Revenue” back in 2015. I wonder what point I need to start considering this a side gig.)

Other exciting news, MasterClass has hired me back onto another upcoming class! I haven’t signed any NDAs, but I’m positive they don’t want me talking about the content so I’m keeping my trap shut. I’m just excited to work for them again, the Will Wright class was a great experience and I’ll be putting a lot of time into them the next few days. So don’t expect this blog to start being updated any faster than it currently is.

VGFAQ is going good, releasing videos at a steady rate. E3 is in a few days, that’s when I’m gonna kick things into high gear on that front. I’ve started publishing articles for the VGFAQ blog, which forced me to learn block-form WordPress, which was weird at first but it grew on me after a while. It gives you a lot less flexibility for your formatting, but it simplifies cookie-cutter article creation quite well, which is pretty much all I make for them anyway.

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Lookit my sexy Twitch channel wallpaper! I update the words/icons after every stream so my viewers know what/when the one will be. 

I have two subscribers on Twitch!!! This means I’ve made 5 whopping dollars as a streamer, which is actually really exciting because I’ve wanted to commit to streaming for years and am only now finally doing it. It’s really fulfilling to know that people enjoy my shoutcasts enough to throw Twitch Prime subs my way, and I’ve been streaming ARK and Overwatch on a semi-regular basis to try and keep my numbers up. (By all metrics I shouldn’t be streaming ARK, the Overwatch streams are the only ones that get any traction, but I enjoy ARK and it feels like a natural continuation of the YouTube series of mine and Asmund’s adventures. Plus it’s not like I’m anywhere close to the 75 viewers average needed to qualify for partnership. I haven’t even broken 30 viewers at any given second, much less for a 30-day average.) When life settles down somewhat, I fully plan to reapply for a job at Twitch. Previously they said no because I had no streaming experience, but next time around it’ll be another story!

Esports and other current events

As you may have noticed, I’m putting the finishing touches on that Esports course! I learned some great things and turned a lot of the content into articles for DailyEsports.gg. I also qualified for E3 and will be attending to make videos for VGFAQ, not to mention I’ve resumed shoutcasting (after a 3 year absense) and now have a number of casts to showcase on this YouTube playlist. I’m hosting the VODs on VGFAQ so I can get some pennies for them!

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The longest was the Kilgore College cast, which was 6.5 hours long and consisted entirely of me covering 1v1s on Xbox! I was downright babbling by the 4th hour of it, but the audience and tournament organizers say they loved it so I can’t complain. Would do again!

Storywise, the Emilena story I mentioned in an earlier post is finally finished and readable here, I incorporated it into the old cycle because it doesn’t break anything, and even covers some ground the other stories didn’t. (This is the first story we see where she lives outside of work). I’m not sure what I’ll write next, might not write anything an instead spend my creative time learning how to animate or make 3D games in Firefly.

Esports Week 8 – Sponsorships (last week of the class!)

Prompt: Create a sponsorship proposal from an endemic sponsor and explain what they are sponsoring, value of the sponsorship, why they are choosing this specific game or event, and what will make it successful. Identify and research an issue in the assigned reading and in your independent reading. Feel free to consult and explore a wide variety of resources! , (200-750 words). Post this summary in SMWW e-Arena in the Week Seven Discussion Board by Friday. Have some fun with the discussion of this week’s theme.


This hypothetical sponsorship is addressed to Backpack.ow, a mobile app for Overwatch players to access and organize their in-game inventory (They’ve previously advertised on a news site I used to write for, and I share a contact with them through previous employment with said site.)

Dear Backpack.ow,

Hello! My name is Nicholas Halsey, and I represent League Zero, a competitive Overwatch tournament that runs once a season. We’re looking for sponsors, and Kyle Wai mentioned you’re looking to expand your esports presence.

Right now, Zero League is seeking a sponsor who will gain credit for replays and “player of the match”. Said sponsor will have their logo appear in the corner of replays, have their name read out by casters before the match, and will audibly be given credit for ‘bringing’ player of the match to the tournament. We’re seeking a donation of $300 per tournament to become this sponsor.

Our tournaments have run successfully every season for the past two years, and enjoy a sizeable community of followers. We have over 200 players in our tournaments, many with Open Division experience, and our streamers received over 12,000 views on Twitch last tournament. That’s a sizeable audience that will witness our chosen sponsor’s branding on an audible and visual basis every single game in our 16-seed bracket. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

Our Spring season runs this May, and we encourage you to watch our first game this Saturday at 8pm EST on http://www.twitch.tv/ZeroLeague if you’d like to see what you’re signing up for. Thank you for your time and we look forward to hearing from you!

Esports Week 7 – Casting the Clash for College Competition!

Prompt: Design a preparation worksheet for yourself. The worksheet should include a checklist of things that you need to have done before the actual broadcast; include timelines. It should include scouting reports, previous game analysis, predictions, and hot stats. Identify and research an issue in the assigned reading and in your independent reading. Feel free to consult and explore a wide variety of resources!


This preparation worksheet isn’t hypothetical, I’ve got a real tournament coming up I need to shoutcast! A fellow student has hooked me up with the Kilgore College 1v1 Overwatch Double-Elimination Tournament, which is going to require a number of preparations on my end.

The tournament is in just over a week. Here’s my worksheet checklist for things that need to be done by then:

1. The tournament’s going to be on Xbox, which I have literally never played in my life. In order to connect to the server, I’ll need an Xbox. Nathan says he can loan be his by Monday. There’s a series of sub-items on this bullet:

  • Setup the Xbox
  • Purchase and install Overwatch (currently 60% off!)
  • Hook up my Twitch to my Xbox
  • Hook my microphone/headset to the Xbox
  • Play Xbox Overwatch for a while and practice with the spectator controls.
  • Run a practice stream from the Xbox and ensure Twitch broadcasts are stored and accessible by computer (I’ll want to be able to upload the tournament VOD to Youtube for posterity)

2. I’m also not that familiar with Overwatch 1v1.

  •  See if I can find some other shoutcasts online of the gamemode (I’ve never casted anything but classic 6v6)
  • Watch some tutorial/”How to win” guides for the gamemode
  • Watch some VODs of grandmaster-level 1v1 play so I can intelligently mention high-level strats and (if not forced-class) note the frequency each hero is played.

3. I need to learn some info from the tournament. Preferably what heroes are available, what map pool we’ll be using, and what ruleset (there are 2 official 1v1 game modes, and they may be using something custom). This will help me narrow down what elements I need to learn more about so I can cast intelligently. (For once I don’t need to research teams or players, since these are high-schoolers with no prior Overwatch careers)

4. Once these bits have happened (which essentially means I’m prepared for the tournament) it’s time for marketing.

  • Leave a hole in my YouTube publishing schedule for the VOD to go live
  • Change my Twitch banners to reflect the tournament
  • Inform my Twitter, YouTube, and Daily Esports audiences when and where the event will be happening

 

If I were Mitch McConnell part 2

(part 1)

Sometimes I wonder if I’m making the right call when it comes to how I spend my life. Game writing, game journalism, game development, and vide editing all make me incredibly happy, and I’ve felt more fulfilled than I’ve felt in years. The YouTube channel is taking off, I’m attending conventions and gaining attention from all the right places. My LinkedIn has become a well-oiled machine of connections.

But outside my personal life, and the virtual worlds I’ve immersed myself in, the real world is becoming more and more unhinged. The Mueller report just dropped, we finally get to read the darn thing, and nothing’s changed. Republicans continue to stonewall in the Senate, Trump supporters continue to insist there’s no cause for collusion, and there doesn’t seem to be anything the common folk can do to make their voice heard. Protests are irrelevant. Voting occurs too rarely to make a difference. And I have a sinking suspicion voting isn’t going to matter come 2020.

A particular Republican strategy is worrying me more than the others. The senate, lead by Mitch McConnell, is stripping many of the abilities normally available to the minority party in order to push legislation through despite Democratic opposition. Most people I read are saying things like “this is a foolish strategy that will come to bite them when they’re the minority party next.” The news is painting the Republicans as a party trying to take maximum advantage of a dwindling period of power, a party who knows they’re going to lose the 2020 election in another blue wave. Indeed, the neverending Trump scandals and the blue wave of 2018 suggests that the Democrats are entering the next election period with a massive advantage.

Which is why I’m skeptical people are interpreting the Republican strategy correctly. The Republicans, more than anything, are patient. They developed Fox News in response to the Nixon scandal and waited decades for it to permeate their target audience. They’ve spent multiple presidencies filling the courts with right-leaning judges, a strategy that takes forever to slowly redefine the nation’s legal balance. Even the Trump campaign was supposed to be a stepping stone to a future presidency; I firmly believe the Republican plan had been to lose the election and use fake news to erode public faith in the electoral process. None of this behavior is that of a party that does anything “desperately” or “last-minute.”

So, if that’s the case, why are Republicans stripping the Senate minority party of power? Personally, I suspect they don’t plan on ever being the minority party again. But before I go into that, let me explain Donald Trump’s current predicament.

President Trump is in something of a pickle. While he’s done an admirable job of dodging scandals by flooding the news cycle with too many stories for anything to stick, the fact remains that he faces prison as soon as he relinquishes the presidency. Even if he uses the Ford-Nixon strategy to pardon himself of all federal crimes, he can still be charged on a state level. So, how can Trump remain president indefinitely? He’d have to either (1) repeal the 22nd Amendment (downright impossible) or (2) suspend elections.

And believe it or not, the Republican senators’ behavior makes a lot more sense if they ultimately plan on suspending elections and retaining power indefinitely. Here’s my theory for how they plan to do that:

  1. The Republicans allow the Russians to hack the 2020 election, but have the Russians hack in the Democrat’s favor
  2. “Uncover” the hacking after the Blue wave sweeps the election, use the hacking as an excuse to doubt the results and suspend the elections
  3. Use the fact that Russia hacked for the Democrats to distance themselves and cast doubt on the Republicans and Russians working together

I bet a bookie would give me great odds if I put some money down on that idea. And hopefully my screenwriting background is just letting my imagination get the best of me. But even if the Republicans are planning something less theatrical, I can’t help but feel I could be doing more to fight back. Sydney is living in Portland protesting ICE every day and completing street medic training. Admittedly, protesting in Oregon seems a bit like preaching to a choir, but it’s more than I’m doing. When I was younger, I was positive I’d join the underground railroad or help defend common people if I lived in a more exciting time. Now here I am, witnessing a proto-fascist government stuffing the courts and deporting migrant children, and I’m earning money playing games like a Weimar bougiose.

Auld Lang Syne

Well, it finally happened. I ran out of money and am moving away, back in with my parents. I guess that’s the risk I took when I pooled my money and moved to San Francisco. Nothing in life is certain, and game jobs are a famously risky industry.

I’ve never been one to attribute failure with bad luck, and indeed I can look at many, many things I could have done better in my two years in SF. While in college, I spent the lion’s share of my time on my schoolwork and almost no time trying to get hired. Once out of college, I routinely chickened out on aggressively seeking out employment with whatever contacts I managed to secure. I felt crippled by how staggeringly high the rent was, and how quickly my money was running out. I had to borrow from a close friend to make my last rent, and I’ll be retaking my old job at the Tutoring Club to rebuild my finances after paying him back.

I have some ideas for where I’ll go next, but none of them are very concrete. I was looking favorably at Irvine, but then Activision/Blizzard fired 800 people and flooded the market, so going there now would be a terrible idea. I’ve applied to several jobs in the local area, but I’d rather not live at my parent’s fulltime for the foreseeable future, since they have their own lives and I’d like to have one of my own. But for now, in all honesty, I need to count my blessings they were here to escape my SF situation, because I’d be homeless by March if they weren’t here to save me. I shouldn’t have cut it so close financially, but I was holding out hope that one of the dozens of companies I’d applied for would finally contact me.

There might be a brief lull in creative projects while I settle into my new place. Which is my old high school room, so honestly it shouldn’t take very long.

My Biggest Mistakes

(I’m not sure where I’m going with this post, but I’m trying to get back to writing for myself. darwinssoldiers.com has been bottom of my focus pile for a while)

I’ve pretty much lived my life taking opportunities whenever possible. I used to work in a nursing home, and I got to talk to a lot of people at the end of their lives. Almost all of them regretted things they didn’t do.

To try and avoid that, I’ve always pushed forward. I’ve lived in two countries and three different states, I’ve chased my dream job of game development for over seven years, and I’ve learned every piece of creative software I could get my hands on. As a high-schooler discovering the internet, I dreamed I would one day be able to Photoshop images or turn snippets of my gameplay into GIFs, and it’s great that I can now effortlessly do such things.

But that doesn’t make these 3 memories any easier:

  1. As an undergraduate, a film studio decided to use the college I was attending as the primary set for a horror film they were creating. For most of my sophomore year I’d be walking around and occasionally see them recording or prepping at random locations throughout the campus and surrounding city. I appeared in a very, very minor role as an extra but otherwise did absolutely nothing to make friends or connections with the studio staff. Even worse, the screenwriter and one of the producers were close family friends! I could have done anything I wanted if I’d just asked them. But unfortunately, I didn’t want anything at the time. I never even considered Hollywood a possible job direction, so the movie eventually wrapped up and, and was only ever a passing curiosity in my college years. I can only imagine where I might be right now if I’d taken advantage of that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity even a little bit.Kinda connected to that one, I didn’t make good use at all of my undergraduate professors. Everyone warned me before I went to college that it was extremely important to befriend them because they would be a huge resource in the future when looking for jobs and opportunities. I got to know the Film Studies teached well enough, and co-authored a compilation with one of the English professors, but other than that I pretty much graduated and left when my 4 years were up. I didn’t go to office hours nearly enough, and to no surprise wound up alone and struggling to find a job out of college. I feel less bad about this one because I did a much better job with forming collegiate connections in my Master’s program.
  2. On my first day in San Francisco after graduating college (six years ago), I had secured an apartment with my boyfriend and we’d been lucky enough to gain a video game connection with a man my mom knew from work. He offered, and we readily agreed, to meet up for coffee and he’d talk to us about the job market, our resumes, and what we needed to know to ingratiate ourselves in the city. After coffee, he drove us around San Franscisco and pointed out various game studios he knew and how likely we were to be hired by them.And then he parked in front of a drab-looking building and pointed saying “That’s Double Fine.” Double Fine was one of the world’s most famous game writing companies, and I loved their games. He encouraged me to walk right in there, without a plan, and ask them for a job right now. I remember my boyfriend sitting next to me, also encouraging me to do so. It felt like the sort of choice you’d encounter in one of Double Fine’s game, to be honest, but I ended up making the wrong choice.  I was too scared to walk in there; I hadn’t scheduled an appointment or anything, I hadn’t researched the company or learned their company values and all I had was an unspecialized resume I hadn’t hand-crafted to give to them. Also, I couldn’t fathom they’d be interested in a junior writer whose largest published game at the time was Legends of Equestria. A couple seconds passed, and when they realized I wasn’t getting out of the car, we drove away.Would that moment have led to a job at Double Fine? Probably not. But I’ll never know.
  3. And lastly, I regret the last six months. I graduated in September 2018 having not done nearly enough to secure a job out of college. I did great in the actual program but I only applied for a few positions while I was still enrolled. Upon leaving, I continued to apply for jobs but with something of a slow-burning longterm anxiety attack giving me sleepless nights. I am well aware that you can only call yourself a “recent graduate” for the first six months after you obtain your diploma, and now here we are and I’m no closer to being employed than when I started. I’ve applied for dozens of jobs, but I should have applied for hundreds. I should have bugged people and made more phone calls and networked and done everything in my power to secure a position before it was too late.