Sunday, October 2, 2011

CTFU: Super Mega Edition (Part Six) – Card Ideas and Wisdom of Famous People

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

Here we are again, going through my files of brainstormed topics for the daily blog. If you’d like to start at the beginning, here is Part One. You’ll note that when I started, I presumed ten parts, and here I am on Part Six. The brainstorm file has only been reduced from nine pages to eight pages. Maybe we might go a little longer than ten parts. Maybe.

Here’s the next topic:

[8. Nate Phyrunneria

As a follow up to the Net Runner bit. Since the most recent Magic set is called “New Phyrexia,” I codenamed my current list of ideas as “Net Phyrunneria.” Yes, it’s a stretch. But realizing that Nathan has been inspired with quite few good ideas, I figured he needed his own codename, so I came up with “Nate Phyrunneria.” Yep, even more of a stretch. The next Magic set with new cards is “Magic 2012.” I thought of codenaming that set of ideas “Cyberpunk 2012” but I’ll probably go with something lame like “NR12” since they codenamed theirs “M12.” Magic’s first set, Alpha, came out in August of 1993, so in order to catch up I will be making a set of ideas from August of this year until December. I’m codenaming that set of ideas as “Alpha Bits.” Yep, I’m funny. Maybe “Arabian Nights” can be “A Runner in Nets.” Eh, I have time to come up with something better.]

There are a number of things lately that I have simply fallen behind on from being too tired at work to sit still for very long. The Net Runner project is one of them. The problem with showing up to work tired is that it’s not possible to just go take a twenty minute nap and feel refreshed, like a person might do at home. Once you’re tired at work, you’re just tired the rest of the time you’re at work. For the record, on a couple of occasions while delivering pizza, I did pull over and sleep for ten minutes. They say safety first, and if that means that I have to take a nap to keep driving then so be it.

Anyway, the big problem isn’t coming up with the card ideas as much as organizing them into formats that will be easier for people to view and possibly play-test. Often times when I do my no holds barred brainstorming, discussed here; I will come up with a number of card ideas. If you remember, part of what I discussed about excessive brainstorming is the follow through, either by writing out the ideas or at the very least keeping them organized. For the card ideas, one way is to make a text file with all the card names and rules text listed (called a spoiler). Another way is to make printable play-test cards using an html layout. To keep up with this, I should come up with a number of ideas each day, and then spend about a half hour plugging them into the text and html formats. I’m sure I’ll get back to it soon.

For the record, “New Phyrexia,” in Magic, was preceded by “Scars of Mirrodin” and “Mirrodin” besieged. For my Net Runner equivalents, I came up with “Scars of MU-odin” and “MU-odin Besieged.”

[9. Wisdom of Famous People

I could deal with many of the words of wisdom that I utilize in my day to day life and creative work. I wrote down one in these ideas which is the Danny Elfman thing. Another one is Gene Wilder saying that a page of a comedy script should have four jokes. There is stuff from Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry Rollins, and plenty more. I can either write about them as one big post, or I can devote a whole post to each concept.]

I brought this up in Part Four (linked above) when I skipped past the Danny Elfman thing in favour of writing about it when I got to this topic. And well, here we are.

I think the reason why I never wrote this one is like the smokers idea. There seems to be a lot of ground to cover, and some of it is stuff that I discussed at various times anyway. There is an age old debate between Miguel and me having to do with what he calls “forced creativity.” I don’t know if his point of view has changed at all, but at least at the time we were doing our public access show “Sniffles (sniff),” his point of view was that forcing yourself to sit down and create didn’t typically produce your best work. Basically, it was better to wait for inspiration to come along and do something… I can’t remember what… oh, inspire you.

I read or viewed Danny Elfman discussing his creative process. He said that when he works on a music score, he figures out how many measures he must write in a day to make deadline, and he does that much. On the other hand, music that he writes for his band, mostly known as Oingo Boingo even though it underwent variations, he writes by waiting for inspiration. To me, this was an argument in my favour. I don’t doubt inspiration, and I always love it when I’m truly inspired by an idea. Inspired ideas are more exciting while ideas that are gained by trying to find an idea are more plentiful. If I had to make a closing argument on the whole debate it would be that my output is far more abundant than Miguel’s over the time that I’ve known him. His counter might possibly be that my higher output doesn’t always equal good material. I think it’s been worth it though, because some of my inspiration has come from mining my creative mind for ideas. Whether this collection of articles is any good or not, it was an inspired idea that came from having a long list of uninspired ideas.

Ok, I think I got through that without getting too far into the various discussions that this concept could lead to. Mainly, I would discuss, once again, the “three minutes of usable footage a day” concept from the “Sniffles (sniff)” days. The idea was that we would have 90 minutes a month of show sketches that we could pick the thirty best minutes from. The sad truth of the matter is that while many of our better sketches were inspired sketches, we wouldn’t have had that many episodes if it wasn’t for the push to do so much work each day.

I still hold to this way of thinking to this day. I don’t worry about making everything I write good. I simply try to write enough that I can pick the better material. The daily blog has proved to be a very odd place for this. It’s very hard to write so much material that you have good material each day because you don’t publish the bad stuff. I seem to eventually get around to posting the bad stuff too. It’s a very high output.

I discussed the idea of having reserves in a previous post. Those reserves would tend to get burned through. The other thing that I’ve thought about, but never really did, was to write a blog post each day even though I’m only obligated to write three and a half each week. This would almost double my actual output as compared to my necessary output. Surely, I could find the best 130 or so posts out of 365 posts minus 52 posts for the serial, which comes to 313 posts.

The problem I’m actually having is finding the time to post these things. So what I’ve decided to do instead is schedule or post one post each day until I have the rest of my year loosely scheduled. Then I can move things around if I need to for time sensitive material. And hopefully we will have plenty of the time sensitive stuff soon since most of our time sensitive stuff comes from group work.

I have more wisdom from famous people to get to, but I’ve hit my word count here. I will continue that topic in Part Seven. See you then.

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