Kayne – An Origin Story

Back in 2007 Crysis was released, a stealth first-person shooter and I played the heck out of it, although my PC could only run it at reduced settings; it was rather demanding in terms of hardware specs. Besides eating up my free time, running around in a Nanosuit and blasting everything in sight, it also came with a great editor.

Thus the idea of Kayne was born, a kind of stand-alone DLC Mission or Expansion using the CryEngine 2. But wait… what should it be about? What’s the story?

I find among the best stories are Origin stories and so I started writing about this guy Kayne, evil corporation, check, torn by inner conflict, check, mysterious woman, check. Is he really the hero or is he the henchman? Was “Operation Unity” a lie or a necessary evil to save the world? Let’s get to the bottom of this! What is the truth? Reminds me of A Few Good Men! But I digress.

Here’s the first page of the script I wrote back then. Want to read more? Let me know!

Kayne (Working Title)

Ipfelkofer Ironkeg

After 17 years it’s time to start a new adventure as my journey with Blizzard comes to an end. I could fill books with the stories and experiences made throughout those years, good, bad and sometimes ugly, but mostly good and some unforgettable.

One of my favorite moments was back in 2007 when one of my game design drafts for World of Warcraft came live. Which one, some might have guessed it from the title of this post. It took a year though to get from design draft to implementation.

The 19 page document for “The Brewfest” covered everything from the historical facts of the real event “Octoberfest” which it is based on, from activities to traditional clothing, food and even mystical creatures such as the Wolpertinger. The designers did a great job bringing this spectacle to WoW and I hope that players have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy it.

So, one morning back in 2007 I come to the office, switch on my PC and start up Outlook as usual, sipping my morning coffee when my eyes catch a mail without subject from Dave M. Strange, I thought. I click…

The preview window filled with a screenshot, no text just an image. In the center of that image was a dwarf and the name tag read “Ipfelkofer Ironkeg“. I looked at the screen bewildered. What was this? A joke? A tease? I remember, I felt giddy with excitement, even though it was an Alliance NPC and I played Horde. 🙂 I immediately went on to the test servers and lo and behold, I found a dwarf with my name…

Ipfelkofer Ironkeg

The Brewfest will start again September 20th, if you play WoW, drop by and say Hi! Maybe you can catch one them elusive Wolpertingers!

Cheers!

A.I.I.

The Importance of Suspension of Disbelief

If we are being earnest, no pun to Oscar Wilde, the importance of suspension of disbelief cannot be overstated, not in books, movie or games or any other parts in life, even relationships, or maybe especially relationships, be it professional or personal.

If you were in a professional relationship at work and everyone just sees you for who you are and not for who you could be and esp. your manager, then you will have a hard time becoming the best version of yourself. You need to surround yourself with people who will support you for who you could be and believe in you and ignore things like “Halo” or “Horn” effects and other biases.

The crux here is that suspension of disbelief is the holy grail of “story telling”, in all walks of life. You want to be supported in who you could become and not in maintaining the status quo. You want to be writing stories that entice the reader into asking questions, wanting to find out more and finding it easy to suspend their disbelief because they feel compelled to do so.

Today’s media landscape, be it movies, series, books or games seem to have forgotten this and prioritize quantity over quality. I have reviewed some screeners lately (Netflix/Amazon) and the majority is mediocre at best.

So are most games, mobile or otherwise. In a way, that’s OK. We need the crap so that the jewels can shine. It’s just… do we really need that much crap?

Maybe anyone who is even marginally interesting in any creative process, should read J.R.R. Tolkien’s Tree and Leaf or any other work on Suspension of Disbelief, I just found this one most applicable to the concept of creating compelling stories in general and as such can recommend it. This and Aristotle’s Poetika, since it deals with art and mimesis. And since the number thou shalt count is three, as any good Monty Python fan will know, not 4, not 5, the third work I shall “throw” at you is Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”.

Now, I am not saying you have to read these before you can write, because you don’t have to read these at all ever and just be fine or even stellar, there are some people like that. It may be interesting though, to read them. If you decide to do so, let me know what you think. If you have read them, also let me know what you think. Either way, agree, disagree, suspend your disbelief and give it a try!

Is Kayne a good name?

Imagine you are writing and you are making good progress and all of a sudden, maybe during a dialogue scene, one of your characters addresses, let’s say “Kayne” and you pause, you look at the name and you wonder, is this the name? Is it a good name? You shrug and continue and finish the scene and all is well.

Days later you return, maybe revisit a passage and you start having this nagging feeling that something about that name is off? It doesn’t quite fit? Now, this could apply to any name, be it person, place or anything.

In the process of creation, we constantly question ourselves, is it good enough and more often than not we keep polishing and polishing and polishing until there is nothing left to polish and instead of a shining jewel we are left with a blunt bauble. Or so we think.

What to do then? We are after all our own worst critic. I found it helps to share work within your circle of trust, to get first impressions and feedback. It can only help. So if you are in doubt, reach out to a friend, ask them to read and ask them to re-read after you make changes! They may suggest changes but it is you who makes the changes, don’t feel pressured into following all suggestions. Let it sink in and go over the feedback with an open mind.

Some will say, “No, never! No one touches my script!” Know this, even J.R.R. Tolkien sent his script of “The Hobbit” out to friends and colleagues for review and he certainly was a master of his craft.

Is Kayne a good name, then? Maybe, maybe not. You can do some etymological research to find out about the roots and meaning of the name, you can play with the spelling, ultimately if you cannot decide or are not sure, just continue as is and come back to it at a later point.

Far more important is the map of the world you create, have it planned out, draw lines for the journey your characters will take, then make the words fit the map.

Now, back to my map…

Failure to Deliver?

When you start out with investing and trading, there are a lot of technical terms and abbreviations that will make your head spin, at first. Just like FTDs, what are FTDs?

One of the key takeaways of FTDs is that it can occur in derivatives contracts or when selling short naked. That’s right. Naked shorts… I am sure you can find a ton of references on the illegal practice of Naked Shorting, esp. after the GME and AMC media coverage these past months.

So what are FTDs?

Failure to deliver (FTD) refers to a situation where one party in a trading contract (whether it’s shares, futures, options, or forward contracts) does not deliver on their obligation. Such failures occur when a buyer (the party with a long position) does not have enough money to take delivery and pay for the transaction at settlement.

A failure can also occur when the seller (the party with a short position) does not own all or any of the underlying assets required at settlement, and so cannot make the delivery.

Investopia

How this can be interesting is up for interpretation and the fact that the official reported data is incomplete (Dark pools anyone?) leaves even more room for speculation.

Out of curiosity, I made a visualization of the SEC’s official data on FTDs. You can select any security and choose a time frame (Jan – June 2021 at the time of this post) to view the FTD quantity and total amount in USD per calendar day.

FTD Viz (Tableau)

Between Regular Shorts, Naked Shorts, IOUs and FTDs one does wonder what’s next for AMC? Short Squeeze? Gamma Squeeze? Who knows… I wish all the retail investors best of luck and may the MOASS be with them!

Disclaimer: This is not financial advice and I am not a financial advisor.

2021 – A Writing Odyssey

2020 was the year of the pandemic and it changed all our lives in ways no one would have imaged. It also led to hardships and traumatic experiences no one was ready for. In all that chaos, it is hard to find a spark of light and I believe despite all that happened that you can find that spark and emerge from this crisis with a new hope. I am not talking Star Wars, although the analogy is not half bad. I faced a trifecta of crisis, March 2020, September 2020 and October 2020, which was just too much and still is hard.

Emerging from all this, one is left to contemplate what to do next… for me I reconnected with an old friend and started writing again and fishing! In many ways I feel like I am at a new beginning, an odyssey of sorts if you will, a journey that will lead to new endeavors and experiences.

I also started investing and am amazed by this new culture of meme stocks and reddit investors. Be it Game Stop or AMC, the doors have been opened for everyone out there to invest at the tap of a button and the pandemic just amplified this manyfold. I for one will be watching this “Planet of the Apes” story unfolding in the stock market closely and am rooting for the retail investor.

Where will this journey lead? Well, for one, I will finish this draft I am working on, maybe get a creative writing diploma, look for a new job, invest some more, maybe create a YouTube channel, go out more with my camera to take pictures and most importantly, keep fishing!

To new beginnings!

Dragonlake Evening Glow

Drachensee Evening Glow (Big Stopper Version)

Here’s the shot I took with my Canon EOS 50D and EF-S 10-22mm lens with a B+W ND10 ‘Big Stopper’ and a tripod, exposure was 300 seconds at f/22 and ISO400. With so little light left I should have used an ND500 or less instead but then again, if your sensor can handle the exposure time without hot pixels then go for it! Here I had to do some median filter pass on the dark areas, crank up the noise reduction and reduce clarity in those areas to get rid of the pixel noise. I guess I have to look into @leefilters or similar.

Day 1 with Twine 2

I did a lot of interactive Fiction (IF) reading in my past and dabbled a bit in inform7 years ago and recently discovered inklewriter and loved it. It’s very slick! Albeit, after losing a whole story without means to recover it, I shied away from it as it doesn’t allow for local saving. Too bad.

In comes Twine 2.0. So easy! I love it! “Day 1” is my first stab at “IF” in Twine, learning the syntax and all, looking at the wiki and trying out some basic stuff. I used the default theme Harlowe and literally hacked this together in one evening, so bear with me! There might be bugs!

I can highly recommend checking out Twine if you are into interactive fiction writing or are looking for a prototyping tool for your game ideas.

Ready for Day 1? (save as html and open in your browser)