Yet Another Graphomaniacs Compendium
Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hard Science Fiction

I've been brought short by a rather interesting interview with Stanley Schmidt in Locus in which he posits a definition of Hard SF that made me pause: What I mean by ‘hard science fiction’ is actually pretty simple: there’s some element of speculative science or technology in it, which is so integral to the story that you can’t take it out without making the whole story collapse. Which is a much more generous definition than I am used to: it makes Flowers for Algernon hard SF. I fall into the trap of assuming that "Hard" means worked out in nitty-gritty detail and scoring high for plausibility, having no obvious scientific implausibilites, like FTL. This probably makes Arthur Clarke the hardest SF writer of all as this is exactly what he specialised in: but it also means that, say Cordwainer Smith could just about squeak under the bar in places.

Which is encouraging. I love Smith's fabulatory style and it's spawned at least one imitator in Michael Coney and his Celestial Steam Locomotive. I find myself wondering it it's possible to combine some hardcore space opera and Smith's style. Although we live in far to cynical an age to get away with it, I suspect. Still, might be interesting to try, and NanoWriMo is coming up..

posted by John Connors at
Saturday, October 20, 2012


On the reasons for not being Indie

Well, that didn't last long, did it? Ok, I took an offer of a job from Pitbull Studio. Sold out in a matter of weeks (if not days). Possibly the biggiest climbdown since the UK left the ERM. Well, I exaggerate slightly, but firstly, at Pitbull I'm not working on a game, but an engine, and secondly, they are pretty awesome as an employer, eschewing many of the practices that lead many to view the game industry with a jaundiced eye. So, work will continue on my indie plans, just much more slowly and - this is important for a family man - securely.


posted by John Connors at
Saturday, October 20, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Error 0xCFED: "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"

A few nights ago, I had a dream. Or rather, a nightmare. I dreamt that the dread Cthulhu could manifest himself as code. Not just any code, no clean straightline stuff, but twisty multi-dimensional code that slowly entraps and mangles the consciousness of the coder who read it, mangling their sanity and slowly extinguishing their sentience. 

It was at the point I realised that not only was I reading such code that I had personally written it that I woke up, in a cold sweat.

To all the victims of that hack that treated animation data as a 24-colour-channel image, offer my most sincere apologies...

posted by John Connors at
Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

On the reasons for going Indie.

Well, I decided to go indie, and try life as an independent games developer for awhile. A friend commented on the decision, calling it "interesting". I think he meant it in the Chinese sense and not the creative sense. The indie scene is starting to resemble a stadium full of drama queens in pink jump suits shouting "LOOK AT ME" into a megaphone. Such it has to be; any successful market gets saturated and creatives always struggle to stand out.

It partly comes down to having had my "Twenty years of boredom trying to change the system from within."  I want to forget about the studios. In drafting this article I wrote a prolonged rant about them, detailing all the idiocies I and others have endured at their hands, but let us leave those bitter,  bileful experiences behind, push out the burning boat and piss goodbye on them.

The Indie "revolution" was inevitable, as they all are - with hindsight. As the technologies we use to create games become more and more accessible, putting together a game becomes less and less a technical ordeal and more and more a matter of artistry. Coupled with widespread digital distribution, the world has changed. The response of the old studio hands has been either to dig deeper in the seeming shelter of the big
studio; something that is doomed, as many have found, or to embrace it, as others, as fed up of studios as I have done.

I know success as an independent is far from guaranteed, but I entered this industry because I was intrigued and excited by the possibility of this medium to tell stories, that enmesh the player in lived experience. We learn about people via discourse through literature. With games we have a chance to turn that discourse into direct experience, except the most visceral kill-or-be-killed kind.  Thanks to the indie horde, the medium has begun to address this possibility. This is what I want to do, and it is what the Indies are the best hope of achieving. The degree to which we can achieve this is the true measure of success, not turnover, sales volumes or unit counts.

This makes me an idealist and as such, am resigned to being serially smacked in the teeth by reality: but, somehow I continue to hope.

posted by John Connors at
Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Crossing over comics and interactive fiction, at first sight, seems to make sense. Your room description becomes the caption and the picture in the frame. Your speech and that of other characters can become speech bubbles. Interactive color - based highlighting can indicate a valid or invalid response as you type. Possibly even an inline popup suggesting alternatives can get round the vocablulary problem. Your past moves would appear in previous panels which you could go back and review. There are quite a lot of fun games you could play with the whole concept.

The central problem, is, of course - verbs. Your rich verb/adverb/ajective set is reduced to pointing and clicking. Possibly double click and pie menus would give you some verb choice. I can think of quite a few things I could do with this setup...yet there's something magical about interacting with the computer in text and having it understand you.



posted by John Connors at
Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Monday, January 11, 2010


Yesterday, I went to FACTto see an exhibition that purported to be about video game art. Most of it was mildly interesting, some as a historical document, some as hinting at different possibilites. Among the exhibits was a Research Machines 30Z running the original Dungeon. Alongside it was another game, at the other end of the spectrum called Flower. Its a long time since a game had any kind of emotional impact on me, but this did, mostly because it was a very carefully crafted aesthetic experience, matching fluid control, music, sound and visuals.

I think it's an important reminder that drama is only one mechanism by which emotional impact is achieved: that color, rhythm, form and melody are just as important. To this day one of the most impressive theatre productions I've seen was a staging of Electrain which an ensemble chorus, music and lighting was used to complement a whole in a similar way.

It also reinforces the limited nature of interaction we have with the games. Primiarly we have focused on point and act selection semantics, especially shooting. The question thats running through my mind now is - what have we missed? If we went back in time and gave this medium to William Blake, or Coleridge, or Mozart, what would they see? What would they do with it? What possibilities are we missing just because we are blinded by the norms that have been established by an industry thats been hideously successful, commercially?

posted by John Connors at
Monday, January 11, 2010

Thursday, August 14, 2008

This made me think of Cordwainer Smiths The Game Of Rat and Dragon.

I always thought his planar mouse brains specialised for hyperspace navigation were fanciful. There's a game in this somewhere: I dream of pulsating quaternion dragons looming in extreme swirling realtime plasma fog...

posted by John Connors at
Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Blues Bar Dialogue circa April 1993.

JB: Sorry. I've just woken up!

JC: ZZZ Ain't nothing like sleep for a black sheep!

JB: I go out at lunch time, get very drunk, sleep till 9.45, wake up
find a message from my mother on the answerphone "Oh, Jon, where are
you", then go to the pub for another drink, emm?

JC: Story of a life! I like the socks you are wearing!

JB: Yes, but it took me 5 minutes longer to get here trying to find my

JC: But you are here in time to claim your free beer!

JB: Free? I've been saving up for it..

JC: It's strange to see you looking like you might be happy - a visage
last clapped eyes upon millelenia ago!

JB: Happy? Guilty of all the crimes this century has commited maybe,
happy? A moribund euphoria.

JC: Forgive me for mentioning it, I should have known better.

JB: Decadence before the fall.

JC: It's not just you, Jon Bainbridge. Take a look around you. This is
a lustful and demented planet and we are all happily going to hell!


posted by John Connors at
Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Journal

A miscellany of topics that intersest me: deaf culture, game design, politics as soap opera, the cyborg condition and the experience of learning to hear again. Other topics presented are speculative fiction and imaginary cities. There are appearences of snippets of work in progress, public rants, pointless posts and Mish the Mouse.

The Writer

A lower middle class cyborg living an innocous life in a suburban village near Newcastle On Tyne, in the United Kingdom. Mostly autobiographical and creative notes posts and musings on the topic du jour.


05/01/2001 - 06/01/2001
06/01/2001 - 07/01/2001
07/01/2001 - 08/01/2001
08/01/2001 - 09/01/2001
09/01/2001 - 10/01/2001
11/01/2001 - 12/01/2001
12/01/2001 - 01/01/2002
01/01/2002 - 02/01/2002
02/01/2002 - 03/01/2002
03/01/2002 - 04/01/2002
04/01/2002 - 05/01/2002
05/01/2002 - 06/01/2002
06/01/2002 - 07/01/2002
07/01/2002 - 08/01/2002
08/01/2002 - 09/01/2002
09/01/2002 - 10/01/2002
10/01/2002 - 11/01/2002
11/01/2002 - 12/01/2002
12/01/2002 - 01/01/2003
01/01/2003 - 02/01/2003
03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003
05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003
06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003
07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003
08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003
09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003
11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003
12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004
01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004
02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004
06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004
07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004
09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004
10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004
11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004
12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005
01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005
02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005
04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005
05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005
07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005
08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005
09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005
10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005
11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005
01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006
02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006
05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006
07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006
08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006
09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006
12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007
01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007
02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007
08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007
09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007
12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008
06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008
08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008
01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010
04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011
09/01/2012 - 10/01/2012
10/01/2012 - 11/01/2012


Videogame Theory


Game Matters

Common Ground Sign Dance

Krazy Kat Theatre

Computing for Poets

The Langauge Construction Kit

Lemonodor: mostly Lisp

Twisted Matrix

Christopher Jam

Shrydars Blog

Linux Game Development Centre


The Rise and Fall of My First Novel

Real Writers Bounce

Mela (designer of this blog)


Mish The Mouse's Blog

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