Tuesday, August 26, 2008

With a Ph.D. in Horribleness

A few weeks ago I found a little gem that you may have heard about: Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog. I realize that I'm late to the party of telling everyone about how great it is, but if you somehow haven't seen it yet then click that link already!


This blog will still be here when you're done.

Dr. Horrible is a great example of how to tell a story. It really just gets in there, tells the tale, and then is done. And it doesn't hurt to have some clever humor either. It really helps establish an opinion of mine which I've held for some time (and I believe I've written about it a little before) which is basically this:

A good movie (or show in this case) is mostly determined by the writing and storytelling rather than special effects, attractive actors/actresses, or other gimmicks.

(By the way, I'm a fan of the old-school way of calling them actresses instead of actors... although heroine can be kind of a problem.)

There are actually several awesome examples from Dr. Horrible, but to avoid any spoilers I'll just focus on the setup. Within the first 5 minutes of the show you learn basically everything you need to know:

  • Dr. Horrible is an aspiring villain who desires social change (amongst other things) and wants to rule the world.
  • The Dr. has a video blog.
  • The Dr. is an inventor. His current project is the "Freeze Ray".
  • There is an "Evil League of Evil" which the Dr. wants to be accepted into.
  • The Dr.'s nemesis is Captain Hammer.
  • Dr. Horrible has a crush on a girl, but he's too shy to talk to her.

Additionally it provides a nice setup for Bad Horse and Captain Hammer, gives the viewer with a general feel for the show, and has plenty of humor. And it does all this exposition within the regular context of the show. No need to have an intro sequence or some other sort of contrived method of getting the message across.

I guess what it all boils down to is that there need to be more Joss Whedons in the world, and they need to be writing in Hollywood. No one will miss all the drivel-spawning clowns who currently claim to be screenwriters.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

"Never Ask That Question"

"Could you help me to understand you?"
"Can you help me to understand you?"

(Image from here.)

As a by-product of my recent job search, I've begun to ask myself a question which I haven't yet found a good answer for. It lurks in the back of my mind, growing seemingly more ominous each time I think on it.

"What do I want to being doing in my career?"

It doesn't help that Haylee and I have been watching Babylon 5 recently. My mental Kosh doesn't like the question. Perhaps the Morden-esque nature of the question lends to part of the ominous feeling. But putting that aside, I'm just not sure what I want.

When I was looking at jobs out there, I found that there are many which I'm not very well qualified for due to lack of work experience. I've only been out in the work force for 2 years, so that's not too bad, but I worry that my skills are too focused in the web development sphere. I feel like I've got an excellent education and aptitude, so part of me wants to be branching out more. Proving, perhaps, that I'm a well-rounded programmer capable of much more. So in my search I looked for places where I could get a Java or C/C++ based job.

But that didn't pan out. My most promising leads were in web development. Not that I mind terribly; I enjoy it well enough. But I feel like I don't want to be typecast (what a great programming pun, by the way. heh).

Looking for a job is one activity which I really dislike. In fact, I don't know anyone who feels otherwise. It's the sort of thing that you do out of necessity, and yet try to procrastinate it as much as possible. But I did try to grab hold of one ray of hope I found: getting a job in the gaming industry.

I think that being a game programmer is something I'd really enjoy. I'm pretty sure of it actually. I've certainly spent a lot of my free time over the years doing it for myself. But there is a nagging bit of doubt in my mind about some details, such as: not being in control of the project, having to work on stupid games, etc. On the other hand, it would be a good chance to get out of web development city... or at least live in the suburbs.

Unfortunately, I haven't yet found a chance to get into the industry. Again the lack of work experience in relevant areas hinders me. But it could still be a possibility in the future.

All of this has led me to think about what I would do if I could choose. What programming projects have most interested me? Mostly games that I've worked on. (Ironically, my Imperium game was built in a web development sphere.) So I've been wondering if there is something there that I could do. Is there a way that I could take one of my projects and make money with it?

I'm scared to take a leap. What I do for now has to be a side-project -- I won't quit my job to try something like this... not now, not without some promise of success. But then I find myself in a dilemma: when would I actually work on it? I really don't want to spend what little free-time I have these days doing more coding. It's almost as if I need it to be my job.

I shall have to think more on this...

"I will teach you."
"About yourself?"
"About you. Until you are ready."
"For what?"
"To fight legends."