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The Light Master

The light master came to town on what seemed just another winter’s day. Snow collected on the village rooftops, pathways paved across the ground by busy shovels. Bodies begrudgingly walked along the street, desperate to be rested inside by the warming fire, rather than perform the chores and jobs that must be done that day. The light master zipped up his jacket to steal against the weather, snowflakes already collecting in his hood, radiating a blue, icy cold upon the skin of his neck and face.

Walking into the store, knocking his boots against the doorway, he stepped into the aisles, searching for the equipment he needed.

“It’s looking to pack in pretty bad.”

The store clerk idly mused, gazing out the window. The light master ignored him, idle small talk was precisely why he chose his job. So dull, so meaningless. Not to be deterred so easily, the store clerk kept talking, as if silence was in itself some form of reply.

“Police have been out around the neighborhood, telling us to stock up on essentials, water and canned food and whatnot, ‘case this storm gets any worse.”

The light master glared up at the clerk with dead eyes for a few seconds before going back to searching for his spare fuses, hoping that this would send a more clear signal to this incessant man.

“They even told me it’d be best not to open up the store today.” Apparently not. “I told him right then and there, I said: ‘Listen son, your paycheck comes from the government, regardless of rain or snow. Me, I got a family to feed, and a business to run, and my only means of income is this store. So hell or high water, I’ll be makin’ sure she stays afloat!”

The light master sighed, people and their relentless opinions, always following him wherever he went. Pointedly, he picked up what he needed, walked over to the desk, slowly, step by step, digging into the wooden floor. Clomp, clomp, clomp.

He looked up into the eyes of the store clerk, dropping the fuses stiltedly onto the counter.

“Boy, I sure do hope the snow doesn’t pack in too bad.” He said, without expression. “Then I can’t install these new fuses into the lighthouse, on account of me being stuck in town, due to the roads being closed. Anyway, sure few boats would crash on the shore if that were the case, real tragedy that would be.”

Flashing his best smile, the light master left his cash on the counter, and walked out the door. It’s true, the last thing he wanted to do was to be stuck in town, but not on account of the safety of others. The truth was, his job was barely necessary anymore. And yet nothing seemed quite as close to hell as being trapped in a small, gossipy, howdy-neighbor town like this one. He had no doubt that the hospitality of the locals would provide him with a warm bed. A warm bed and hot-chocolate, pleasant conversation, warm knitted sweaters and kindly thoughts.

Best to brave the cold instead.

My first free-writing exercise ever, as far as my memory takes me back at least. Apparently the exercise is to typically be given a single word or phrase, but my tutor gave me a whole sentence, “The light master came to town on what seemed just a normal winter’s day.”

What’s nice about this sentence is it already gives us a sense of mystery. What is a light master? Well I chose to slowly reveal the mystery as best I could, while adding my own mystery as to the personality of the light master himself. A fun exercise, and I shall certainly be doing more of these.

The Insidious Moon

Stood upon the nimbly hung horns, I stare down. Gazing longingly at the people below, toiling and working, living lives as they had for the past hundred years, oblivious to the yearning sent from above. I watch as the sun rises over the town, eradicating the light cast from my home. It’s image fades as orange dissolves to blue and the dawn turns to day. Cross hatching patterns of shadow paint the valley in which my people now live.

Kneeling in the dust, shelterd in cold, engulfed by emptiness. But while they toil below, I toil above. Not yet forgiven, I refuse to be forgotten. For half a lifetime I called across the chasm, thinking the desperation of my cries would soften the heart of creation, but it did not. For half a lifetime again, I wept and prayed for salvation, but my words were stolen by distance. All I had was the alien ground upon which I sit, and the seeds of life I stole in my hands.

They in their world, and I, alone. I have watched them every day, work and toil upon the unforgiving earth, and every day I have toiled above, in my forsaken soil. The first crop has grown, and finally I reap the harvest, a handful of bread, this bare sustenance.

I shall never be forgotten. I stole their children, I was a curse upon their nation, but now I shall repay my debt, from my world of isolation. Casting my harvest down, shredding and flailing, I forsake for myself any food. Let them eat. Let them remember who they banished here, a hundred years ago, let them now survive instead of starve in the desert, let the people I tormented live on. Let them remember my name, for I shall not be forgotten.

And I shall never forgive.

This is the result of a writing exercise at course. After a brief discussion about using the moon as inspiration, we listened to an old Yiddish cantor(I’ll try to find the link and put it up here), from the dawn of sound recording, digitally repaired to fantastic quality. The piece was apparently written about the new moon, and my tutor told me to write what came into my mind while listening to the piece, while keeping the new moon as a theme.

There was a yearning in the voice, a question constantly being asked. The people below (more distant) were in unison, but any answer was incidental, they were chanting their own hym, an answer to itself, a dedicated mantra of the tribe.

The moon has always held a sense of impending doom. Like clockwork, time advances without mercy. This has always had a somewhat insidious quality to me. As I wrote various prose describing the relationship between the singer and the chorus, my writing took a darker turn, without me even realising at first.

After writing just a paragraph, I was told to pick a random item from a box, and incorporate this item somehow into my writing. The item I picked was 6 or 7 seeds, beaded on a small piece of fishing line. This inspired the resolution of the piece, and after going back and changing one or two details to preserve continuity, my own dark take on the mana from heaven story was finished.

Typical Combat Encounter

I spend a lot of time DMing a local Pathfinder group, a form of tabletop RPG.  I’ll probably be delving a little deeper into this new game format I’ve been exploring later, but here is an example of a typical combat encounter I would read out to my players during an adventure.  Yay for content and practicing writing again!

A poorly carved stone stair leads down to a long, cold hallway. The light from your torch creeps along the jagged, hasty masonry, and reveals a host of figures stood silently in formation. 12 Dark-Elf soldiers stand, heels dug into the cavernous floor, an assortment of blades, shields, and bows; pointed, braced, and notched. Their eyes gleam with a focus intent upon the very space in which you now stand, filled with a mixture of hatred and bravado.



Behind the soldiers stands a female dark elf, strong, silver hair flowing down her black robes. A flail held in one hand, and a sickly wand shaped like a root torn out of the ground in the other. Covered in fantastic jewellry, her clothes and face are adorned with intricate jewels, chains and hoops formed from an unrecognisable black, shining substance. Most impressive of all is the amulet around her neck, from which power seems to emanate, flowing through the room, piercing your mind, filling your head with dark thoughts. The symbol is an image of a grotesque claw reaching through some form of door, as if it were trying to escape the material in which it was cast and strangle the nearest throat it can find.



Upon sighting the party, she raises her voice, calling out in the ancient tongue of the dragons to the men. As you approach, a faint outline of a circle glows upon the ground, apparently drawn around the soldiers in front of you. The air is foul with magic, and you fear that this battle will not be straightforward…

A New Obsession

What with moving cities and houses twice, things have been a tad hectic.  Now I’m fully settled into my new flat, perhaps I shall find the time to complete some projects good enough to put up here. 

Most of my time recently has been eaten up playing obsessive amounts of D&D of the Pathfinder variety.  This has given me an idea, to compose the soundtrack to my players adventures, retroactively.  Currently working on about 3 different songs at once in my “Kaer Maga Suite,” hopefully something will be up soon :)

Minor Setbacks

A few updates: Technical difficulties have severely postponed my latest musical project, a collaboration with http://mulusgemit.tumblr.com/ that I am having a lot of fun with when my laptop cooperates.  

Apparently you can no longer grab clips of Halo:Reach games from the internet, a feature I used to love but apparently having been using lately, as I’m about the last person on the internet to find out.  This means Halo:Reach game night project is cancelled until we get a decent DVD recorder, as the one we recently recieved just flat out won’t work.

However, I now have a Twitter.  I’m still learning how this whole internet thing works, but bear with me, I’ll get there eventually. 

Meanwhile, working on writing some more rants, so tell your friends about me!

  • Track Name

    Only You Remix

  • Artist

    Peter Walter

Aaaand here’s the next step in the process, the slightly more worked update of my first post up on Tumblr.  The reason it took me so long to go any further with this song is largely due to my search for lyrics, I felt this music worked rather well as an intro, a build up to the first verse.  Eventually I said “fuck it” and decided to stick with I know, so what we have here is a series of themes that more or less segway into each other, mostly written in the early hours of this morning.  A friend described this as telling a story, and each new theme seemed to add another episode to the story.  I rather like this concept, this is largely the reason why even at its heft 5 minute length, it just still doesn’t feel finished.  Maybe another instalment will be written down the line, but for the moment I think I’ll exercise my muscles in some other areas first.

Agency and How it Can Fuck With You

For those of you who don’t know, I play a lot of video games.  Back when I was 15, the only games I had played were Age of Empires 2 and Star Wars: Math.  Considering this, I’ve covered quite a lot of ground in the last 4 years.  A consequence of this is I lack the the nostalgia most of my peers seem to hold, and therefore don’t worship IP’s such as Zelda, Pokemon, or Mario.  I am also fascinated with the evolution of video games, and how quickly they are developing as an artistic medium, or rather, should be.

A little more context perhaps: my first experience of beating a game from beginning to end (games like Star Wars: Battlefront or Age of Empires don’t really qualify as having an end)  was the original Assassins Creed.  I knew enough about video games to determine that what was in front of me was the future of the industry.  Interactive storytelling, an immersive and complex plot, and a degree of freedom from running across rooftops and stabbing people - that felt truly amazing.  The mechanics manifest the central theme of the game.  I also recognised it was rather buggy, and had a serious jonesing for some variety to be injected into about 90% of the gameplay.

Some games are pure mindless fun, some bring to bear serious themes and convey deep messages, and some go that extra mile and fool the player into believing the universe they suddenly find themselves in.  I find myself inspired by these games, and I cannot help but notice opportunities to produce more are being squandered.  Rather, more and more funding is being poured into advertising and graphical upgrades to try and rival Modern Warfare 3’s box office record.

I recognise that companies ultimately want to make money.  However, if gaming is to be considered as something more than just a hobby or basic form of entertainment, we have to approach it as not a business, but an art.  For that is what it is/should be.  At the risk of sounding pretentious (there’s no risk) I will continue to update this blog with what I think are rather artistic or thought provoking games, typically the kind you can play for free in your browser.

However, I’m going to veer off topic slightly and focus on games that have an emphasis on choice, where you can change certain outcomes of the game through your choices or at the very least, have the illusion that your choices make a difference.  This, I think, exploits one of the greatest strengths that gaming has as a medium, agency.  Despite frustrating mechanics and a horrific UI, Mass Effect was a pretty stand up game. It was in a lore-deep universe with choices that genuinely changed gameplay elements.  Spec Ops: The Line was able to drive its point home much more aggressively. [due to the fact] It had often tricked you, the player, into committing the atrocious acts it was criticising rather than showing them in some cutscene.

I personally want to write/design games that focus on the element of choice, then using [that] choice against them later on.  However, I recognise that giving players unlimited choice is technically very unfeasible, due to limitations in programming and what-not.  This is why I want to learn to program.  To learn the limitations that exist, and how to work around them.  To learn how to create at least an illusion that the player has complete control over the protagonist and their actions.  The more immersed the audience are, and the more they project themselves onto their character, the more shocking it is when you pull the rug out from underneath them.

Imagine a plot like Inception or The Count of Monte Cristo, where you yourself were the main character, driving the plot forward through your own actions.  The inevitable tragic end would be completely your own fault, and therefore mean more than just witnessing a fictional character experience these events.  Also, let’s be honest, a game of Inception would just be fucking awesome.

Inane rantings by Peter Walter
Edited heavily by Cassandra Polosak

Priorites

Still working on about 6 unfinished musical projects, but this weekend me and some buddies had a few drinks, played some Halo:Reach, and recorded the whole thing.  Maybe something good will come of this, maybe not.  

In terms of Video games, am working on convincing my flatmate to let me borrow his laptop so I can record some Minecraft, but I have also just bought Mass Effect 3, so I probably won’t be playing much else anytime soon.  For any Mass Effect multiplayer fiends out there: my gamertag is Pinkie1172, let’s roll.  

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