Off Campus – Destiny Log Entry 001

Destiny_Planet

The Traveler. The Golden Age. The Darkness. I listen in cynical awe as Destiny tries to drown me. The living room is dark. My headphones ring of Halo overtones of the past. Humanity is judged. The Traveler offers redemption.

Judgement

27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,

Our bodies are frail. Dust. We are all destined to die. The writer of Hebrews talks about how following death comes judgement. One single decision. One choice. Keeps us from the forever darkness.

Awakening

I hear a voice that reminds me of the pissed-off elf-sized author from the film Elf! He identifies himself as Ghost. Apparently he has been searching for me for a long long time but never managed to check twitter or Facebook. Adjusting my headphones, Peter Dinklage breathes softly into my ear. My Titan rises after a century long dirt nap. Predators howl in the distance. Ghost tells me that we need to find shelter, fast. I don’t believe him. I can tell that Destiny is highly scripted. Nothing is going to happen to me. Silly Peter.

The tired mind is rarely rational. The combination of music, lighting, and level design are making me tense. Did you hear that? I grip the controller tightly and venture on through some random ruins. Bad guys die. A spaceship is found. Ghost and I travel to the last city the Traveler can protect. My eyes burn. I am tired and want to go to sleep. However, the feedback loop has taken hold. I press on.
Head on over to Theology Gaming to read more

Five Nights at Freddy’s

I am not usually one for thriller/survival horror type videogames. I find that there are already enough crazy things going on in the world that raise my blood pressure. However, my friend Josh did a Let’s Play video for a sweet little game titled Five Nights at Freddy’s. Josh does a great job of showcasing the game within the perfect length of time. Be sure to check out his video below and subscribe to his YouTube channel.

Roughhousing

One of my earliest memories of my Grandpa Ayers is of him and I roughhousing. Long before I was old enough to know what Star Wars was, he would tell me that he was Darth Vader and that I was Luke Skywalker. We’d sword fight with yard sticks, up and down the hall in their house, until my Grandma Ayers would tell us to knock it off. I miss those days.

Was listening to The Art of Manliness Podcast today– I have been slowly moving through their backlog–. Today’s episode was on The Art of Roughhousing. I want to encourage you to check it out. The benefits of roughhousing with your kids is huge! Even if you have girls. You can find the show here.

October Projects

The digital stove is about to boil over with two projects I’ve got going.

.: Graphic Design :. 
First up, designing a billboard! Totally new territory for me. After asking some of my graphic designer friends, working in Adobe Illustrator is going to be the way to go. I have never dabbled in Illustrator before, but I have Photoshop skills, so this will definitely be a learning experience. I’m excited.

If you come across any other useful links, let me know. Also, if you know of a great Illustrator tutorial, shoot me a link in the comments below.

.: Web Design :.
Awhile back, a local print/reproduction company asked me to build a web site for them. This month, I’m finishing the project. Excited to see the results!

What are you working on?

GamerGate

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I resigned from a position I enjoyed last week. A combination of social media overload and a recent controversy in the gaming culture deflated my sails. I’m truthfully not sure what to think about something I have considered a hobby since 1989. I dislike:

- The sudden hostile atmosphere online created by the GamerGate scandal. This goes for both Christians and non-Christians alike, who have succumbed to fear and ultimately emotion. GamerGate was an opportunity for rational/academic discourse on how people should be treated online and video game journalism ethics in general. Instead, wagons have been circled and all discourse has been shutdown.

The game has changed. I’m not sure what this means for me. I feel God is telling me to focus on what is important. Right now, I’m not sure gaming is.

A Thought to Ponder – Zechariah 10:2

The idols speak deceitfully,
    diviners see visions that lie;
they tell dreams that are false,
    they give comfort in vain.
Therefore the people wander like sheep
    oppressed for lack of a shepherd. – Zechariah 10:2 (NIV)

Social Media
Question for the Day:
What misleading voices or distracting noises are competing for your attention?

The Highs and Lows

21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”

But the people said nothing. – 1 Kings 18:21 (NIV)

The showdown between Elijah and the prophets of Baal ended with God answering with fire from the heavens. The people believed that the Lord is God on that day and the prophets of Baal were slaughtered. The Kishon Valley ran with the blood of four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. God had answered Elijah’s prayer in verses 36 and 37:

36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

God answered another prayer that day, as a heavy rain began to fall, ending what had been a severe drought.

What did Elijah do after standing up for the Lord? He ran (vv. 45-46) and soon begged to die (19:4).

while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

He will meet you where you are.

I am not sure where you are in your journey in life. I am not sure whether you are on a mountain, like Elijah, experiencing a closeness to God. You know that He is 100% there. I am not sure whether you are down in a valley, like Elijah, feeling a part from God and perhaps wanting to just give up. Check out how Elijah’s account continues:

Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.There he went into a cave and spent the night.

Note that God takes care of Elijah by meeting his needs, where he is. I take comfort in the fact that God will also take care of me when I am walking through a valley. When I am ready to give up and call it quits He will give me the strength to continue onward…if I ask.

Boom Beach

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Build a base. Attack neighboring islands. Wait, in real time, for unit/building upgrades to complete. Purchase gems to experience instant gratification. Ah, the good life of Boom Beach.

Supercell’s Boom Beach is the tropical cousin of their 2012 hit, Clash of Clans. Beyond the change of scenery, Boom Beach and Clash of Clans are pretty much the same game. Both feature:

  • Strategic base building.
  • Freemium-based gameplay hooks designed to encourage the purchase of in-game currency.
  • The destruction and death of cartoon property and beings. (There should be an organization formed against such things.)

My first base.

My first base.


Life in the Feedback Loop

I am not sure why I flirt with games like Boom Beach. Perhaps it is the initial rush from the positive feedback loop they provide?

A positive feedback loop can be thought of as a reinforcing relationship. Something happens that causes the same thing to happen again, which causes it to happen yet again, getting stronger in each iteration – like a snowball that starts out small at the top of the hill and gets larger and faster as it rolls and collects more snow.  [1]

The problem with the feedback loop is that after the tutorial levels, the game levels off. That wonderful pat on the back, which happened often in the beginning of the game, starts to take longer. I find myself losing interest as I have to wait for units/buildings to complete their building cycles. As a long time gamer, the in-game timer and time associated with how long a unit/building takes to complete comes across as arbitrary. Yes, I know that games such as Boom Beach are made to be played on a mobile platform. Mobile platforms are perfect for quick gameplay experiences as you are standing in line at the bank–do people do this?–, or so I’ve been told.

Disrespectful Tides

If I was one of the gifted, one of those who owned a smart phone, I would be shelling minutes of my life away to a game like this. The problem with Boom Beach and Clash of Clans is that they eat away time much like channel surfing. Instead of dedicating a set amount of time to a game, like one would to watching a specific TV show,  players spend a few minutes here and a few minutes there battling and upgrading their minions. This nickel and dime style of gameplay causes players to spend untold hours on a game. I don’t think this is respectful to the player. Add in optional push notifications and the game becomes like a second child.

I am still not sure why I flirt with games such as Boom Beach. Such games have no place in my life with their disrespectful underpinnings. Even though they are fun, for a season.

Footnote:

[1] Level 4.4: Feedback Loops

Confidence

“Our confidence is not in ourselves but in Jesus and His promise to return at just the right time.” – Hebrews 10:37

Yesterday, I was given a list of specific pages that needed to be scanned. Today, I was asked why I had not scanned the entire document. The rules of the game are constantly in flux, in my workplace. What was once true one day becomes no longer true the next. I crave solid rules; solid ground.

Living day-by-day in this situation is enough to shake a man’s confidence. But if my confidence is founded in Christ, can it be shaken? No. Too often I find that my confidence is based upon myself.

Just a reminder to myself, and perhaps you, that our foundation needs to be constantly redirected towards Jesus Christ.

His timing is perfect and His expectations do not shift like the sands of the Mohave.

Happy Thursday

Great Texas Balloon Race – 2014

Saturday night, the family and I buckled in and headed out to the Great Texas Balloon Race for the balloon glow. 10368391_10154436237110521_5710903903240490913_n There is nothing like standing among 30-40 hot air balloons and feeling the heat come off their burners as they all fire in unison. 10553322_10154436238020521_3377637352394727598_n The weather was cooler this year than in years past where we’ve experienced 90 degree heat. Couple the outdoor temperature with the heat from the balloon burners and suddenly you feel like you are in an inferno of sorts. 10525713_10154436236985521_3051195024239664992_n Until next year.

Behind the Scenes

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43: 18-19 (NIV)

Came across the above verse this morning that I wanted to share. I love how God is telling Israel not to dwell upon what has already happened. Verse 19 begins with the gentle reminder that God is always working, even when we can’t see Him, God is going before us. Reminds me of Jesus’s words in John 14:3 -

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

There is comfort in knowing that God is constantly at work and going before us–reminds me even further of Haggai–. Whether you are dealing with an unstable job situation–like me–or just life in general, take comfort in knowing that God goes before us just like He did for Israel and Joshua when they set forth into the Promised Land.

I know that it is really easy to read what I have written and just dismiss it. But this is truth. Throughout the Bible, God constantly reminds us that He is there, working. Do you believe that? Better yet, are you listening/watching for His response?

What is God teaching you? 

No Girls Allowed

Came across an article today that talked about a Hearthstone tournament that is excluding female players. Apparently, eSports have a need to be segregated by gender just as other sports are. Huh? What grade is this? I thought gaming was the great equalizer. The article reminded me of an incident that happened to me when I was younger, enjoy.

Once upon a time, I had a clubhouse in my parent’s backyard. The clubhouse sat up off the ground on stilts. There was a sandbox underneath it where a very cool Transformer met his fate. Sand and Transformers do not mix.

I remember a time where the next door neighbor boy, Joe, came over to play. He brought a girl along with him. A girl. As we walked back to the clubhouse, I remember climbing up the ladder and proudly proclaiming, “no girls allowed.” This bomb against the cootie-infested girl did not strike as I planned. After a small debate, Joe turned around and walked away with the girl. He stood up to me and my childish play and chose not to hurt Andrea.

My son's fort out back. I jokingly call it my tornado shelter.

My son’s fort out back.

Looking back, I learned quite a bit from my backyard showdown with Joe and Andrea:

  • People won’t play with you if you are mean
  • Girls have feelings too.
  • Forgiveness takes time, especially when you single someone out…and then they refuse to play with you for weeks.

Andrea and I later became best friends. Joe moved away. The clubhouse was eventually cut down.

Loyalty

“What I value most in my friends is loyalty.” – David Mamet

Back in the early MMO days, I was active in a game called Asheron’s Call (AC). What made Asheron’s Call different was a simple ingredient that seasoned in-game relationships:

The Allegiance System – introduces the unique concept of vassals and patrons. In this system, a vassal swears allegiance to a patron. The patron then acts as a protector, item giver, and basically a guild leader. The reward for being a patron equals a daily award of experience points based upon a small percentage of experience that the vassal makes while playing. The allegiance system ultimately encourages the formation of miniature kingdoms, much like guilds found in today’s more modern MMO. – Asheron’s Call Celebrates 10 Years (via JBG)

Time, trust, and loyalty were the bonds that held the allegiance system together. A symbiotic scratching of backs, defense, and survival.

Pay Day

As I drove into work this morning, my mind was racing faster than my Honda Accord. I kept asking myself:

- Am I going to be let go this morning? -

- They wouldn’t fire me, would they? -

- If they don’t fire me today, will it happen in two weeks? -

Working for a firm that is on the verge of collapse is stressful. Seeing no hope on the horizon, in the form of incoming work, is enough to make anyone concerned.

In my situation, my patron is still putting in the time to try and salvage the operation. However, trust and loyalty were dissolved the moment a co-worker was let go. Who will be next? I’m not sure. No one wins this game of office Survivor.

Despite my earthly patron’s status, I know that my God is in control. As I was reminded yesterday in church, everything boils down to reminding myself of God’s promises AND believing that they are true. In fact, I’m even thinking of writing them down and randomly sticking them around the house. God promises me that I will overcome, if not in this life then the next.

Until next time: Who are you trusting to be your patron?

Back Home

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Finally back home after a much needed vacation. Loved having time to spend with family, enjoy the So-Cal weather, and even bump into a friend from high school in the airport bathroom–go figure–. Also played a bunch of Hearthstone while I was away (not sure what to think of it). Anywho, I’m back and ready to get blogging. Pictures incoming.

How High Will You Climb? by John C. Maxwell

Just as a farmer spends time and energy cultivating his fields a man needs to spend time cultivating his attitude. Pruning out the bad attitudes while meanwhile nourishing the good attitudes. John C. Maxwell’s How High Will You Climb?, talks about steering the internal mental plane of attitude. No matter the turbulence we encounter, with God as our co-pilot, John reminds us, we are not alone on this adventure.

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How High Will You Climb? features short, easy to digest chapters as well as Biblical and personal application. John does not shy away from sharing solid Biblical truth. But no matter how many times I tried to sit down and read this book, I couldn’t manage to break into it. The hook isn’t there. That is not to say that I didn’t glean some nuggets in my readings:

“Remember, the difficulty really becomes a problem when we internalize unfortunate circumstances. Another thing to remember when the weather gets rough is that what really matters is what happens in us, not to us! When the external circumstances lead to wrong internal reactions, we really have problems.” p60

In the end, I did not find How High Will You Climb? to be captivating. This is not a book I would recommend to friends or family who follow JBG.

I was given a copy of this book by BookLook Bloggers. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

Mario Kart Goodness – The Fun in Playing with Others

Went over to my friend Jon’s house to celebrate his birthday last night. Had a great time catching up and eating some savory tacos followed by a slice of delicious cookie cake. As the evening passed by, Jon suggested playing some Mario Kart Wii.

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Man, I had forgotten how amazing it is to play a video game with three other people. Reminded me of all the good times I had playing Mario Kart 64 in high school/college. Even though I got my butt kicked, I had a lot of fun having a chance to play with others.

When was the last time you played a multiplayer game? What game was it?