The Visual Question

I draw like a five-year-old with a decent grasp of color and composition. That grasp is led by unrefined feelings delight and disgust at whatever comes out on the paper. Though, that’s mostly because I haven’t picked up a pencil to do anything but write for last twenty years of my life.

Engagement? Conflict? Good Baddies?
And the magic of 3D modeling helps disguise my infantile hand…

Though, things are kind of nice in that way. I think that’s a large part of the appeal that has me so obsessed with working on Cherry in the Sky. Making your own game seems like the fullest expression I could possibly imagine, pooling all strengths and weakness into one place.

It’s brought me to think a lot about sensory appeal lately.

I exist in a very analytical, very symbolic, very meaning-rich head space that can be a task to put into words. Though, I’m beginning to realize that visual appeal can be difficult to verbalize as well. The “deep” can be shallow if you spend all your time at the bottom, never coming up for air; it’s a deprived position if you can’t rise up to appreciate simple beauty. Contrast is needed.


Above, a decent iPhone picture during my most recent day at the beach. Where, sure, I spent plenty of time in my head, plenty of time hashing out Cherry in the Sky on draft paper, plenty of time appreciating the yarn-like texture in the sullied water of the California coast, the confused off-white of the clouds escaping the smog out to sea, the sun that couldn’t quite burn an evening glow through the thick presence of Los Angeles–

The simple experience spurned a great deal of thought… but it also touched the senses very gently, leaving a sort of physical glow in my mind. A sensory massage that English doesn’t seem to have direct, sufficient nouns for, thus florid language. It feels so roundabout sometimes.

Games might be a better place to bridge that perceived gap between raw sensory appeal and deep, non-verbal experience.

Something visually stimulating but rich in feeling. The abstraction in the concrete; the concrete in the abstract.

That bridge might, very literally, be the gap where you can convert a non-player into a player.

The first page of your novel is supposed to be your hook, right? I mean, typically, you pick up a book and somebody dies on the first page, or the opening line of dialogue is a swear to try to imbue a sense of gravity into the initial experience–the masters are capable of opening up with something far more gentle and subtle than that–What’s the equivalent for a game?

The first level?

Maybe so for a player, but that’s once the controller is already in their hands.

Incredibly incomplete, flawed, but visually curious?
Cherry in the Sky, incomplete, flawed, but visually curious already?

At a glance, your game needs to spur curiosity, maybe–inviting curiosity that would bring someone to watch, that would intrigue them to discover more. To create questions that can only be answered by playing it. For a medium with such potential for raw sensory appeal, there’s plenty of room to “show” this without trying to “tell” people why your game’s awesome.

My art’s still rough, I’m still in a phase of heavy design, really neglecting the visuals, and I’ll probably get a little help with it later on, but when people do see it, I’m actually managing to get that curious response… it’s pretty fantastic.

The raw, sensory, second-hand experience, it brings out a question. Maybe that question is, “what does this feel like?” The only answer to that question, is to play–and hopefully, if everything is done just right, there’s a connection that’ll be made, and you can pull people into something deep.

Shoot for the senses to provoke curiosity? Is curiosity the way to the heart?

I have no idea.

The Glue Against Freedom

Gluten Free Flag


Praises to the glory of gluten-freedom for I have found salvation and release from the worldly desires that once bound me. Be they hamburger, pizza, or Bagel Bite, I’ve done cast all ye out for sake of a cleanliness a purity that brings a tranquility to my mind, a consistency to my rest, and balance to my creativity.

Least, going gluten-free feels like religion, I’m beginning to think. Something that you have, know to be the truth, and are eager to tell everyone about but… yeah, some listen, but unless it’s a very popular religion, or you evangelize when someone’s at an extreme health low, most aren’t too keen on your proselytizing.

Google has a bountiful wealth of gluten-free resources now. A simple search will really turn up everything you need to know, so it’s not difficult to get people to understand as long as I refer to it as an illness, a disability, a problem…

Which is where my problem with it has more or less come in.

There–especially back when I first found out about it–there wasn’t a lot of information on how to deal with going gluten-free in a world so culturally pro-gluten. I mean, I’m pretty comfortable with less traveled roads, but going gluten-free brought on some shockers.

I had awful asthma the majority of my life (perhaps contributing even further to my artistic-analytic introversion), and I mean awful on the level of emergency room visits, oxygen tubes hooked up to your nose, ambulance rides–the inhaler always in your pocket sort of asthma, the weekly allergy shots so the springtime doesn’t kill you asthma, the ‘am I going to live past 30?’ sort of asthma.

So, when my Mom (after six doctors failed to determine what was causing hairline fractures on her spine) was diagnosed with Celiac Disease (interfering with her calcium intake), on a gut-level I knew that I had something like it.

So I went to the hospital and took the test…

and it came back negative.

The doctor just told me that, aside from asthma, my iron levels were kind of low, and I should probably take iron pills to solve that.

Unconvinced, I went off gluten away.

Within three-weeks, I was completely absolved of my dependency on asthma steroids. I didn’t need any Qvar, I didn’t need any Proventil, even my allergies had lessened to the extent that my Flonase and Nasarel must have felt exceedingly nostril deprived, until the day I threw them into the trash.

It was unbelievable. I was so excited. I wanted to tell the whole world.

The responses were baffling:

“Are you sure?”

“You might want to talk to your Doctor about it first.”

“Oh, too bad for you.”

Even more surprising were the responses of outright fear-anger. The ‘My Great Great Great Grandmother’s Apple Pies Have Been Family Tradition for Generations. How Dare you Even Conceive the Notion that they can Be Anything but Holy.’

I couldn’t understand how people could be upset with me for curing my asthma, or how people could think I valued apple pie over oxygen, or how they would tell me to talk to my doctor after I told them my doctor provided me with an insufficient answer.

I mean, it’s all quite simple:

Eat Gluten = Has Asthma.

 Don’t Eat Gluten = Asthma Goes Away


Why do you need a M.D. to know when you can’t breath?

It really shifts your perspective on the world. I basically pushed my diet after that point, focusing on my own internal reactions to things, until I wound up nearly Paleo (which can be difficult to pull off sometimes, but is comparatively very much worth it).

And I feel great.

Oxygen and life is good.

And 30’s looking to be just a drop in the bucket, rather than Mount Everest.

So, I guess like everything else, these couple years of transition have just made me a stronger person, this time physically as well as mentally.

If anything, my asthma was an illness of perspective and thought, cured by information and low-risk experimentation.

Asthma be gone; nonsense be gone.

And I learned to take a clue from the Vegans and Vegetarians I’ve met: ‘Keep it on the dl until you really need to bring it up.’ Because ‘no one likes a Bible Thumper, except for those who’re already keeping rhythm with you.

Though, really, I’d still like to tell the world.