25 January, 2008

To Do List

Contrary to what you may believe, my schedule is just as busy as that of anyone who has a job or goes to school. The primary differences are just that 1) there are rarely any deadlines, and 2) most of the things I "have" to do are actually pretty agreeable tasks. In any case, I have a long list of things I'd like to accomplish, and despite their light nature, I do at times feel quite overwhelmed by them. The worst part is how I tend to avoid the most important tasks for the easiest ones.

Here's my current To Do List, more or less:

Video Games To Play

I recently (4, 5, 6? months ago or so) bought a bunch of classic Final Fantasy titles re-released for Playstation, as I was updating my old FF-related webpage, and it got me in the mood to dig up the old classics. As it turned out, I only had a chance to play FFIV and FFV before I got distracted and pulled away to other things. So I still have FFVI and Chrono Trigger to play through, which is something I want to make a point of doing sooner or later. Priority level for this task is pretty low, at this point, however.

I also got Silent Hill 4 for Christmas. I played through Silent Hill 3 last Halloween, so I'm on a break period before I'm ready to tackle another Silent Hill (you can only visit that town so often - too much and it'll tear your soul apart). So at this point it's just a matter of time, waiting for when I feel the call to return to that spooky resort lake town. Playing a Silent Hill title can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, or longer, depending on how much I focus on the game - I usually tend to put in long hours, when possible, while I'm working on the game, putting all other tasks in the background. In contrast, the Final Fantasy games could easily take weeks, maybe even up to a month, depending on focus.

PC Games To Play

Never been much of a PC gamer - I've always been the console type. However, there are exceptions. I have two visual novels to play through. One - Fate Stay Night - I've spent a lot of time on. There are three (I believe) scenarios to the game and I've played through the main one. The only thing stopping me from the others is waiting on the translations. So sometime in the future when those are done I anticipate completing the game fully. The other game - Ever17 - I haven't even started yet, but it looks interesting, and it was recommended by a friend, so I'm looking forward to playing it, *sometime* when I get around to it.

In addition to those visual novels, there is always Doom - which will always be my favorite PC game (and one of the greatest games ever made). I started on a voyage to play through the Top 100 custom wads (user-designed levels) as voted by Doomworld.com, but only got through most of the second year (they're ranked as the best 10 from each year, spanning a decade) before I got, once again, distracted and pulled away to other things. I will go through all those wad's eventually - Doom has been with me since the beginning, and I've always come back to it again and again through the years. I suspect the time commitment for playing all those wads, some of which are full-on episodes (groups of 8-9 levels), or more, is pretty huge, but I'm not really in any hurry. I originally started playing through them to inspire me while I was working on designing my own Doom levels (another project that's been put on indefinite hold), but since that's not currently on my mind, neither are the wads.

Anime Series To Watch

I am greatly happy that my anime fandom hasn't died out after all these years. I still love watching anime, as much as I ever have, and it's exciting to be on the front lines, seeing some of the series while they're brand new. But I do have a list of series to plow through, and lately that list has been growing faster than it's been shrinking.

I just finished up Genshiken and Zetsubou, so it's nice to check those off the list, although now it looks like there's an alternate Zetsubou-related series (which I haven't started yet). I still have Bamboo Blade to follow, which I'm guessing is around the halfway point right now (unless it goes longer than the standard 24-26 episodes for a full series). In addition to that, I have a number of series waiting in the wings. Among the series my friend has recommended, that I have yet to dive into, is Hayate no Gotoku which, from what I can tell, goes beyond the 26 episode mark. Also, there are a couple series that I've downloaded in full, and have been waiting on plowing through, but haven't gotten around to yet. Namely, the Lodoss TV series, which I've been dying to see ever since being blown away by the original OAV series, and a series called Negima, which attracted me due to being based on a series written by the creator of Love Hina (a series I very much enjoyed), and the fact that it appears to be chock full of cute girls. What's more, there's also Chobits, a series that I've already seen, but since I re-downloaded it, I've been dying to watch it again, because Chii is so damn cute.

And, as if that wasn't enough, there's also the continuation of the Naruto series, which I'm anxious to catch up with. I made a Herculean effort to watch all the two hundred-some episodes of the first series, much of which consisted of dreaded fan-criticized 'filler' (not *that* bad, though). But even now, with the new series, there's already some 44 episodes or so out, and that's 44 episodes that I need to watch before I'm caught up to speed.

As you can see, I have a lot of anime to watch, meaning a lot of time to be wasted watching it. Priority level on most of it is relatively low, except that when I start a series, I like to finish it in a timely fashion. That, and I'd like to keep up on the current series as much as possible, just to 'stay in the game', so to speak.

Manga To Read

And yes, there is also manga for me to read. I've gotten into manga more and more ever since becoming an anime fan. As far as paper series (as opposed to digital stuff on my computer), I'm following Berserk as it comes out in English, volume by volume. I'm also in the middle of School Rumble, which means I don't want to neglect it, if possible. I'm wary of getting into new series, because of the time (and money) commitment they represent, but there are other series I'm interested in reading.

As for the digital stuff, I still have 11 volumes of Kenshin left to read, which has been sitting around for awhile. I'm keeping up with Claymore as it comes out, but that's just a short chapter a month, which is a very small time commitment, and very easy to stay on top of (and also a very good series). Additionally, I have a few Volume 1's from a few different series recommended by my friend that I've been hesitant to jump into because of the time commitment involved if I end up wanting to read more. There's also 51 chapters of Yotsubato, which I recently picked up.

Books To Read

My pile of books to read just keeps growing, and with every title added to the stack, my heart sinks deeper from the knowledge of the commitment involved. I'm in the middle of Dante's Divine Comedy, which, honestly, I started reading about a year ago. I made it through Inferno, and part-way through Purgatorio, before getting (chime in, kids) distracted and pulled away to other things. It's a bit hard to read, because, being an allegory, there's so much uninteresting placement of political and societal facts which bogs down the narrative. It's unfortunate, because, considering the subject, it hasn't shown itself to be as interesting a read as I was expecting. Still, I'm determined to finish it, rather than give up halfway through. But that's proving to be a tough task.

Once I'm finished with that, I have John Milton's Paradise Lost, of a similar theme, that I'd like to read through (I'm crossing my fingers that it's a smoother read than Dante). The whole idea of reading these books, besides my general interest in the topic of heaven and hell as a plot device (Christian mythology is fascinating as fiction, just not as reality), is to serve as inspiration for my own narrative I'm in the process of writing, about journeying through heaven and hell (more on that later). So I see these tasks as not only something I want to do, but something that might have an important influence on what might be my development as a writer - not that I have any lofty ambitions about being a writer, but I do have ideas that I would love to see published some day (in some form), and it would be a great step in the direction of becoming a real artist - someone who profits from his creative instincts. Therefore, the priority level on reading these is high (and yet I've put them off for nearly a year now...).

You might as well get used to right now the inverse relation between priority level and the order in which things get done.

Originally, I was reading through Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series when I took a break to start reading Dante - my mood was ripe for Dante, though in the long run it seems as though I should have just waited. I plowed through the first four books of the Wheel of Time with great interest, and I maintain my excitement to continue the series . . . eventually.

There's a handful of other books, including the ultimate edition of the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, which I bought and intended to read years ago now; some other fantasy titles; and Roger Penrose's The Road To Reality - A Complete Guide To The Laws Of The Universe, a book that I doubt I even have the desire to read anymore. Oh, and there's The Illiad and The Odyssey, which I tried to read once a long time ago, but didn't get very far.

And, in the newcomer's corner, there's Clive Barker's Books of Blood, Volumes One To Three, which I just got for Christmas. I'm interested in reading that, and if I enjoy it, there's a good chance I'll pick up volumes 4-6, as well.

For most of those books, the priority is relatively low - no rush. But I have three titles whose priority exceeds even the 'heaven and hell' titles. About a month ago I picked up three self-helpish books on battling social anxiety. My expectations remain realistic, but I'm still hopeful that they might provide *some* information to help me overcome my obstacles and ultimately get out there and make something of my life. I've been waiting on reading them until after finishing up the massive Stones bio, since I've been reading it for awhile, and now that I'm finally finished with it, I think it's time. But for anyone expecting a magical instant transformation, I refer you to NHK Ni Youkoso.

DVD's To Watch

Leftover from Christmas, I still have both Crossroads Guitar Festivals to watch, as well as the majority of Millenium. Millenium is three seasons, and I have about 70 episodes left to watch, I think, at around 40 minutes an episode, I'd say. I've got into the habit of watching one episode at a time, instead of marathoning it. Generally, I'll watch an episode after dinner on the weekdays.

I also received a few more DVD's for my birthday. Included are 300 (worth it for the oracle scene alone), Sunshine (an interesting title that I'm looking forward to seeing - by the director of 28 Days Later), a triplet of classic Bill Murray titles (Stripes, Ghostbusters, and Groundhog Day - maybe I'll wait till February 2 to watch them!), and a groovy PBS hippie special.

Good stuff to keep me entertained for awhile. Though also to keep me away from the more important tasks...

Important Tasks (Creativity/Becoming An Artist):

First of all, becoming a musician. On the top of my list should be steady practice of the guitar, at least an hour a day average. Of course, I'm notoriously bad at practicing, so this is something that rarely happens, unfortunately. Also, the recording status on my album Clear As Mud has been frozen for something like a year. I lost faith in the recording process somewhere along the way, and I've only been drifting away from the project more and more day by day. I have a second album in mind that I was gonna work on after I finished the first, but needless to say, that one hasn't seen any attention, either. Pathetic, isnt' it?

I have a couple major stories I'm working on. One of them is Jabberwocky, which is tied in with the first original [instrumental] song I wrote on guitar. The story is about a young man who returns from a year of solitary meditation/training in the mountains, to find his home town in ruins, scorched to the ground by a vicious dragon he sees in a vision. He then goes on an epic quest to avenge his family, by first acquiring the skills necessary to conquer the Jabberwock, then finding the beast to finally seek requiem. But he runs into some obstacles on the way, and becomes rather side-tracked after succumbing to a spell inadvertently placed on him by a member of the enchanted race. So far, I've worked out a number of the details, but I've actually written very little of the story.

The other story I've been working on is called Ascension. It's meant to be part of a series, possibly a trilogy - inspired moreso by the structure than the content of Dante's Divine Comedy. The story begins with a soul's awakening in the afterlife. So far, most of the effort I've put in is on the first part of the journey, where the soul travels through hell, encountering all the worst tortures and demons on the way. His goal is to purify his spirit and escape the pits of hell, in an attempt at being redeemed. Ultimately, he'll travel through Purgatory and Heaven, and the long term story I'm planning will involve an overthrow of Heaven, if all goes well. There's a bit of a backstory that I've worked out partially, which serves to introduce the main demon lords of hell, who will serve an important role in the overthrow of Heaven and the war against God. Most of my work on the story so far has been designing the various territories of hell, which I've had great fun working on. To start off, I did a lot of interesting research on the mythos of hell in various cultures (although Christian ideas are most abundant), and used the different names and descriptions I came across to define the various territories of my hell.

There are other stories I've thought about, but I've put much less effort into them thus far, and they're not nearly as important to me as the two described above.

As for the gaming realm, seeing as I fantasized as a child about being a game designer of some sort, I have an idea which makes up the backbone of what I think could be a really cool old-school-style 2D console-type RPG (in other words, in the tradition of the Final Fantasy titles for Super Nintendo). The theme revolves around the conflict between nature and technology, as the story starts up a generation or two after a radical religious cult worshipping ancient dragons uses a magical artifact to bring those dragons to life, commanding them to utterly destroy the mechanical world of man, reducing civilization to a primitive form. The charm of the series is the different types of dragons you have to fight, and the Hunter's Guild which plays a major role in the gameplay. It's something of a labor of love, and I've put a lot of thought into it so far, but there's still so much left to work out. I don't know if it will ever become something, but I like to think that there's a chance. By the way, my title for it is "dragonfaith".

While that project hasn't progressed beyond the "thoughts on paper" stage, I *have* put some "falsifiable" effort into my Doom scenario. As I mentioned above, there are some Doom levels that I've planned out into a scenario, and some of which I've actually spent considerable time on designing - to a point that you can actually test them by playing through them! The scenario is based on the story of Berserk, with level design paying homage to a less known PC horror title, Realms of the Haunting. I call my scenario Realms of the Berserk. If you're not familiar with Doom, you'll probably need a crash course if you're interested in trying my levels. And I'd be happy to help you out if that's the case. If you are familiar with Doom, then hopefully you have an idea of what the modding community is about. If you know about zdoom, and you know what .wad files are, then feel free to have a go at my levels - http://zharth.tenjou.net/doom/rotb/index.html. There's also screenshots and more information about the levels on that page, in addition to downloads of the available levels.

I've been working on this thing for quite a long time. I had early demos of the garden, mausoleum, ravine, and living chasm levels even before I went to college. After college, there was a period when I exerted an incredible amount of effort over a couple of weeks to produce what's available now. There's no telling whether I'll ever finish this project, but I like to think, the longer it takes, the easier to use the programs get (at least I hope that's the case, sometimes they end up becoming even more complicated). Any way, only the future can tell.

Realms of the Berserk is my serious Doom project; I have another project I've put a little work into just for fun. The idea came upon me as a result of the paradoxical inequality in American culture between the treatment of violent material, and the treatment of sexual material. Since Doom is a game that is pretty much 100% violence, I thought it would be interesting to flip it over and transform all of that violence into sex. Instead of bloodthirsty demons, you have sexual deviants with an insatiable appetite for lust. Obviously, it would be very easy to write off a project like this as another case of a horny geek replacing all the sprites with pixellated nudity - like all of those people who give pornography a bad name. But no, that's not my style, so I've made an effort to make it interesting, and even tried to tweak the gameplay in very simple but fun ways. Of course, it's only a side project, so there's not much to show for it, and I doubt I have quite the skills necessary to pull (jerk?) it off (largely in the graphics department). Still, I think it's a fun idea to play around with.


Well, getting back to the task at hand, the problem you can clearly see is that the more something needs doing, the less inclined I am to do it. The problem is, when I see a task, I treat it not as something to do, but something to be done. Something to be checked off the list, to be taken off the stack. And so I tend to default toward the things that produce the best results. If I sit and practice guitar for an hour, it doesn't really feel like I got anything done. I don't feel like I'm any better of a guitarist than I was an hour ago. But if I watch a couple episodes of an anime series instead, then I can check those off my list, and I know I'm closer to the end of the series. Even when I was in school, and had multiple homework assignments, I tended to want to do the short and easy ones first. That way, I'd get them out of the way, instead of risking working for hours on a tough assignment, not finishing it, and feeling discouraged because I don't feel like I really accomplished anything in those hours.

There are other issues involved, I know. Altogether, it's very confusing to me, and I keep trying to put the pieces together, to figure out just why I defeat myself like this, by not doing the things that'll produce the more important results down the road apiece (sorry, that was an early Stones reference). And no matter how much I think about it, and acknowledge the problem, it doesn't seem to get any easier to remedy it. I just don't know how to do anything that's not natural to me, and so I keep on continuing the way I've always known how. I have to wonder if it's anything like what an addict goes through, who realizes the problems his addiction is putting him through, but can't seem to shake it no matter how he tries. Except I'm not really addicted to anything (except leisure...and comfort). It has to be a bad wiring in my brain. But how can it be fixed? Can it be fixed?

No comments:

Post a Comment