Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Paths of Temptation

It was pure lack of will that kept me from posting a garage sale idea last Sunday. I'll endeavor not to fail that saving throw again.

Sunday is Game with People Day, but I had time in the morning and evening that I could have used to blog. It wouldn't have been hard - even not feeling like working out a new one, I still have lots of old notes I could have pulled an idea from. We had e-mail working as of Saturday afternoon and I'd solved the last problem in the last major reinstallation - my Sims2 game - by around 10:00 Sunday morning.

So the truth is, I was desperate to get back to my neighborhood of little imaginary people. Because of the age of the most recent backup, I had three households to replay to get back up to where I'd left off, with important developments pending like a wedding, a child growing to teen-ager, and some new university graduates setting up housekeeping on their own - not to mention the baby about to be born, which I promised to name after the person on the newsgroup who helped me solve that last problem.

The newsgroup also factored in. It's a place where players hang out, help each other troubleshoot, and exchange pictures and gaming war stories, very much like any other gaming social venue, except that "war stories" are more likely to involve soap opera and juvenile hijinx than tales of heroism and high adventure. (Although players of the "zombie apocalypse" challenge have gone a long way toward making an adventure game out of a domestic simulator.) Not knowing any other players of this particular game, it's a natural place for me to indulge myself in nattering on, and posting really awful pictures for which I try to make up by explaining what's going on as amusingly as possible. People who post a lot will even generate a bit of a fanbase for particular sims, and I was surprised and gratified to find that this had happened to me. I'm sure nobody else was as anxious to get back to them as I was, but several people had kindly wished me well and expressed eagerness to hear what was going on in Drama Acres. Naturally I wished to oblige them.

One poster there has even exchanged copies of some of her sims with some of mine, we having both remarked that it was a shame her raucous Subject clan couldn't have playdates with my superfertile Hawkins family. I am still working out how to incoroprate the Subjects into Drama Acres, but I recently received some photos of how the Hawkinses she decided to add look in her game, and I keep returning to them. For one thing, I never got baby pictures of my beloved Pigeon Hawkins - now grown and with a toddler of her own in Drama Acres, but still an adorable rambunctious tot in Aegeropilon's Strangetown. For another, patriarch and matriarch Goz and Kitty Hawkins will be dying soon in my game, whereas in hers they are still young, with new and interesting hairstyles. Also, I started them with four children, and Aegeropilon is starting them with only two. With a little more time to breathe and different neighbors to interact with, they can develop differently, while still being, visibly and validly, the characters I created and love. Only now they're going beyond me, which is what I most want my creations to do.

It's a good feeling. A rewarding feeling. Compared to such ego gratification, the sense of an audience that "gets" what I'm saying, and the small but instant satisfactions of being recognized, the possibility of beating my way through the jungle of traditional publishing and maybe getting paid and maybe finding my audience, eventually, seems so remote and difficult that it's hard to gear myself up for it.

And this of course is the danger posed by online culture. Why labor in isolation to perfect a craft when you can garner a niche audience with imperfect fanfiction? Why go through the whole laborious process of publication when you can toss creations out on the web and gather praise from your particular subculture?

The answer, of course, is in all the unfinished fan serials and lapsed blogs out there. The audience loses interest when you get to the hard, long, uninspired slog in the middle. Ego gratification is not enough to tide you through the crisis periods when you just don't feel like posting, and will not be waiting for you when you're ready to come back.

And no one is going to pay you enough to live on, unless you're very very clever about it.

I'm still trying to figure out whether certain submissions got made in the crack between last backup and crash, or not, and I have a new query or two to get out. So I will do those things. They're important. I'm completely discouraged about my ability to sell in this market, but it's not because I doubt the works. I do good work. The problem is to get rewarded for it.

And I can't pay off the work on the house with ego gratification.

P.S. Just for grins, here's how Goz and Kitty Hawkins look in my game right now:
Photobucket (They do have clothes, but ever since Goz retired and Pigeon moved back in to take over as Head of Household, they've basically been wandering around the house canoodling in their drawers. Actually they did a lot of that when he was working, too, but he was forced to get dressed and leave every day.)
And here's how they look in Aegerogropilon's Strangetown:

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