If you haven’t played the first Oceanhorn, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s like playing Zelda, but on the iPhone (and now it’s on PS4 and Xbox). This was the first game on iOS that changed things for me. This is where I knew mobile gaming is right there with the consoles, if the developer changes the way they think, and not just build a dummed-down game for smartphones, and instead aims to build a great experience, no matter the platform, that’s when something special starts happening. That’s how we got Oceanhorn. And now the second one is on the way. That’s exciting.
This coming weekend I’ll be starting something new. I’m taking a leap of faith and leading two small groups for about 12 weeks straight.
Creative Minds: Saturday nights, from 8pm to 10pm, at Downtown Jeaux. This small group will be for anyone that enjoys creating things. Just a group of people, hanging out, discussing the process, and brainstorming on what to create next.
BBQ and Basketball: Sunday afternoons, at 5:30pm, at Gray Park or Houma Christian gym. This small group will be for anyone who enjoys food, pickup games, and hanging out with other like-minded people.
Here’s a pro-tip: if there’s something that you wish existed in the world, just create it. That’s how these small groups came to be. If someone else would’ve come up with these ideas for groups, I’d be the first one to sign up.
It’s similar to reverse engineering: how would my favorite artist make this song, or how would my favorite basketball player get past his defender, or how would my favorite writer talk about this topic for a story—and for a second, I’ll pretend like I’m them, imagining their process of creating this thing I want to exist—and before I realize it, it’s becoming a reality, but now I’m the one building it.
That’s an example of what will be discussed at the Creative Minds Small Group, and that’s why I made these groups, because I want them to exist in the world. I hope to see you there.
With so much going on, from job losses, to floods, to people losing their homes, to shootings—I just feel helpless. I made a song about helping, and I help out a lot at my church—and as I’m writing this, I’m in Gonzales, working with AT&T to provide a charging station and free calls to those in the shelter—but in my heart, it still doesn’t feel like enough. I feel like there’s so much more I should be doing.
I understand that we all have limited time and resources, and we can only help so much, but still, are we doing enough? Are we stretching ourselves further than our comfort zones? Or are we donating just enough of ourselves and our resources to look good? Hey look at me, I’m helping! That’s the echoes in my head. There’s this threshold that remains in front of me at all times. It’s usually in my peripheral, not always present, but off to the corner, I see it, or sometimes feel it. That threshold tells me that I’m a good person, and I’ve done my duty as a human and as a new Christian. It’s that threshold that, when I meet it, bells ring, notoriety comes, peers are proud of me—and then I can drift away, feeling better about myself. But it’s that threshold that stops me from reaching further.
I feel guilty and hypocritical. I want to help you without telling others that I’m helping you. I don’t need the recognition. I want to give you my time, but with a 40 hour job that involves late hours, I’m limited on the time I can give you—but even that feels like an excuse.
Every time we get a fix on what this show is about, the certainty fades away, or delightfully bleeds into a dozen other things. The post-9/11 immigrant experience? Sure, but not only. A study of how the systems that are supposed to keep us safe can easily be turned against us, or destroy us? Yes, and more. Something about the malleability of personal narratives, and how our protagonist can be both a good son and helpful tutor to others, but also a disaffected youth prone to violent outbursts? How about some noir chestnuts like “nothing is what it seems”? Yes, but more. So much more.
Just finished watching this. You have to watch this. Grandmaster Flash, Nas, Kool Hurt—what more do you need to hear?
This show is about the essence of hip-hip and DJing. It teaches you about style, and respect, and about maturing. It teaches you about love, and being competitive, and about being fearless. Part 1 is only 6 episodes long, but all 6 are classics.
A log of my journey through No Man’s Sky (I wrote about the game here before it came out, explaining what it is and why I was excited for it). Here’s the Table of Contents. Click on one of the links to bring you to that part of the post.
This is the beginning. I’m a few days away from starting, but I’m already preparing for what’s to come. I’ll be landing on my home planet in approximately 48 hours. There’s no telling which planet that’ll be, what’ll it’ll look like, or if it’s safe or not. I’ve heard the whispers. The others like me are arriving on their home planet also. Some of their homes are pretty and peaceful, while others are filled with danger.
I’ve done the research: I know about the spacesuit and multi-tool that I’ll be equipped with. I know about the damaged ship that I wake up next to (how to fix it is the question I’m still wondering). Once I open my eyes, there’s no instructions, but only the task at hand: gather as many resources as possible and begin traveling towards the light.
000: The Final Hour
There’s a countdown on the screen. I’m keeping an eye on it. That’s when my journey begins. That’s when all bets are off.
There was a lot of prep work before getting to this point, before being free to only focus on my journey. There were tasks that needed to be completed, mental clutter that needed to be removed.
The sky is waiting for me. My home planet is an hour away from being generated. My spaceship will be damaged, but it’ll be mine. It’ll have its own unknown story (why was it damaged?). I wonder how long I’ll keep this ship, before finding a faster and stronger ship—and when that time comes, will I pick the new shiny one over my first ship, the one that started this journey with me?
001: Home - Romgrenfrobog
Rasamama S36 is my first ship. I’ll call it S36 for short. Romgrenfrobog is my home planet. I’ll call it Frobog for short.
It took me awhile to get comfortable. I was overwhelmed by the freedom I had. There were no instructions. I was thrown onto the planet with no understanding of what to do next. Sentinel drones were hovering over me, watching my every move. My health was depleting without me doing anything. I had to find resources, but also had to be mindful of the drones protecting those resources.
My first session was three hours, that was as long as I could go before needing sleep. During those three hours, I spent my time becoming familiar with the controls, the cargo management, and how to upgrade and create new technologies and craft products. Without any instructions, it took me that whole time just to really understand how to do these things.
002: Space Station
Before going back home to finish finding all the resources, I went to the nearest space station to buy a new starship. I looked at about 5 different ships, but the more I thought about it, I rather hold onto my ship as long as possible. Maybe it’ll hurt me in the long run for not having a bigger ship, but I rather go on this journey with my starter ship as long as I can. It’ll mean more to me.
003: Ampofis Major
In my third session, especially in the first hour, I had a sense of confidence: I knew what to do, I was familiar with the planet, and knew the objects. This was the most comfortable I’ve felt with the game so far.
An hour and ten minutes into this video, I finally start exploring the second planet, Ampofis Major, which was a darker mood, with a rat/beaver looking creature, that was the size of my shoe, but tried to pick a fight with me. The sad thing is he won and I ran away.
004: Wandering - When A Game Helps Heal Me
I plan on writing this log as I’m actually in the game, and my logs are a journal of what’s going on. But not this time.
Today the game is a therapy for me. I made me a comfortable area next to my bed, with blankets and pillows, where I can lay back and still be close. The headphones are on for the surround sound, and the pill bottles are next to me with a cup of water. Every few hours I have to take them.
Out of nowhere, my left elbow decides to get bursitis. Here’s a picture of it. Had to get two shots last night, one on each hip. I struggled to sleep when getting home. Sharp pains every few hours. So now here I am, in a very relaxing spot, with medicine to help when the pain starts coming back. Which brings me to how this game is helping me.
When I turned the game on, I decided that today won’t be a day of serious progression in the game. I won’t be leaning towards the tv with intensity, but instead I’ll be leaning back, relaxing, and calmly exploring my home planet some more.
There was an 8 minute flight from the space station to my planet, and I could’ve pressed the speed boost and got there in a minute, but I did something different this time. I let my ship drift those 8 minutes until arriving. I was in no rush.
Even my exploring on the planet this time has a sense of peace. If you watch the video of this session, you’ll notice that. It’s almost boring. The best way to sum up session 004 is that I was in no rush at all. It’s as if my character in the game is hurt, and we’re recovering together.
005: Building the Hyperdrive
It was at the 01:10:00 mark where I found the hyperdrive. I did so by finally getting to the red indicator that was labeled ‘Outpost’. The hyperdrive will allow me to travel much further in the universe. I’m not limited to just the planets around me.
The past two videos have been mundane for two reasons: I wasn’t feeling good, and I was doing repetitive work. I’ve learned that I don’t have to do all the tedious exploring all the time. This game is massive, with 18 quintillion planets, and I’m still on the first three. It’s a challenge I’m struggling with: do I take my time on all the nearby planets, or do I start going further and focus on getting closer to the center of the universe?
006: My First Time Dying
In this session: I left my solar system, arrived at the nearest space station, met a new kind of aliens, the Vy’keen. I then traveled to a cold planet, then quickly left that planet to follow the green beacon, which gave me a new technology to build warp cells.
And then, what I was least expecting to happen, as I was happily traveling back to the space station, some enemy ships started attacking me. It was a group of them. I tried shooting back, but I was so outnumbered that they destroyed me before I ever had a chance.
007: Space Jumping
The Sentinals are not of the natural order. Things must fall apart. In their endlessness and replication the automatons prove themselves abominations. They must be purged from existence. All should die, whether righteous battle or the assault of time.
Simple session. Get the resources needed to build the Warp Cell and space jump further into the galaxy.
Ideas are pouring out of me right now. It feels like a good time for me to document all of this. If any of these things interest you, please get in touch, and let me know specifically about the one you’re excited about—and don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter on my site, which will email you the second I release a big project.
Creative Minds Small Group: a Saturday night get together, for creative minds, who need help with their work, would like to share something they’re working on, or someone who just needs to be around other like-minded people.
BBQ & Basketball Small Group: a Sunday afternoon get together, for families who enjoy hanging out at a park or a gym, eating good food, and hanging out with other great people from the community.
For those keeping track, I’ve recorded 39 songs so far this year. The album I’ve been working on for the past few months has been put on hold for a week or two. I started noticing that I had enough songs that didn’t fit the concept of the album, so those songs will become its own project this week. If all goes well, the first week of August will be when I release the album I’m about to mention.
The Land of Unfamiliar: I’ll be taking you on a journey. The Land of Unfamiliar is a small story I’ll be telling through a collection of songs, that document my transition to the unknown.
Pilot: if you’re paying close attention then you already know about this one. It’s my next big album. I usually don’t tell anyone the name of an upcoming album, I prefer it to just arrive, but because of this post explaining everything I’m currently up to, it’s only right that I let this one out the bag too. I’m expecting this one to be out in a few months, after about a dozen more studio sessions, and once everything else falls in place.
The Mask: Bonus Cuts: one long track with all the pieces that didn’t make The Mask album. (This is something I decided to do when I was gathering all the songs for the projects I just mentioned. It was at that time that I realized how much good music was left on the table. This song will have over 10 songs that weren’t used. It won’t be anything significant as far as launching—it’ll just be added to The Mask page when I’m done with it. If this is something you’re interested in, either let me know directly, or keep checking The Mask page in the near future. I won’t promote it any other way.
In the past week, I’ve had a few stimulating conversations with some friends from church. The conversations were about music, and the creative process that goes into writing and recording songs. Each time we talked were as powerful as a quick 30 minute conversation could possibly be. They were inspiring, uplifting, and left me with a sense of purpose and confidence. The latest song I released was all because of the talk I had with these guys an hour before uploading it. I would’ve held onto that song much longer if it wasn’t for them, but when I drove away, I felt the urge to share something with the world. And that’s what I want to feel all the time. That’s also what I want others to feel: a confidence that their ideas matter.
So I’m taking what I experienced this week and recreating it weekly. Starting in the fall, with the help from a few friends, I’ll be launching Creative Minds Small Group on Saturday nights. It’ll be for other like-minded people, who feel creativity pouring out of them, but have no one to share it with. Or maybe they have someone to share it with, but are scared to do so. They might not feel like their ideas are worthy of even being shared. It’ll also be for those who are new to creating and are looking for guidance to get to that next level.
That’s the cool thing about being creative: none of us know what we’re doing. We’re all just winging it. And it could be scary for someone who has all these random ideas with no outlet. I’m hoping to change that.
The best writing advice I’ve ever read is from Neil Gaiman. He stresses the importance of finishing things. We all want our work to be perfect, but that’s the enemy of creating. Finishing things is my number one rule when making something. Just finish it.
August 9th is the release date for a game that I’ve been obsessed with for the past few months. I’ve watched video after video, read every article I could find, listened to every interview with Sean Murray (the managing director at Hello Games), researched the Wikipedia page, sold my Xbox One, bought a PS4, preordered the digital version of the game, and even changed the header of my site to the cover art.
There’s no story to follow in this game. You create your own story. Go as you please, and do whatever you want. No Man’s Sky has 18 quintillion planets (!), all with their own types of environments: from sandy planets, to ones with trees, to ones that are just water, to ones that are freezing and require a special suit to survive the temperature there, to ones that have animals (or things that look like animals), some animals will walk past you, minding their own business, while others will try to eat you. And if I had infinite amount of time to play a video game, I could visit each one of these planets.
The story is mine: it’s just me, my suit (constantly being upgraded to withstand temperature changes and planets that aren’t safe), my multi-tool (for mining and collecting resources, and protecting myself from aliens and enemies) and my spaceship (which also is always being upgraded with stronger weapons, holding more cargo, and capable of traveling further through space). With these few things in my possession, for the first time in my life, I am a pilot, traveling and exploring the universe.
The goal of No Man’s Sky is to travel and get to the center of the universe. It sounds simple, but you can’t just fly straight there. Your ship wouldn’t have enough fuel or armor to make it that far. So you have to land on a planet and gather resources. But even that isn’t just as simple as gathering resources: First, there’s multiple minerals or plants that would have to be combined to create, for this example, fuel. There’s no gas station to stop at and fuel up. Second, you can’t just land on a planet and start stealing all of its resources. There’s Sentinels (drones that police the planet) on patrol, waiting for someone that is harming the life-form living there or taking advantage of its unique resources. Third, there’s no telling what the climate will be like on each planet. If it’s too cold when you arrive, and the suit you’re wearing can’t handle that temperature, then you’d better find the nearest cave to warm up in.
As you can see, there’s layers and layers of strategy needed to get to the center of the universe. I look forward to spending hours getting there, and enjoying the process and discoveries along the way.
I did some research night before last, on what it would take to make my microphone (Blue Yeti Pro) work on the iPad Pro. I found Jason Snell’s article on the Lightning to USB 3 Adapter article, and it showed me exactly what to do. I woke up yesterday morning and went straight to Best Buy, then Target … none of my local stores carried this adapter. So I made a day out of it, driving an hour away to the closest Apple Store to get this little piece.
It got my little brother out of the house. We ate Cafe Du Monde’s Beignets. I bought him a Lego Dimension’s Superman toy.
Later that night, I recorded my first studio session with just the iPad Pro and the Blue Yeti Pro. Here’s the unfinished song. I’m excited to get this amount of quality on the iPad.
For some reason the wifi on my Mac mini would go out after a few hours, making it impossible to use as a home server (streaming movies and music to my phone and iPad, like a personal Netflix). I’ve done as much research as I could, and still no solution on how to keep the wifi from going out.
Sometimes fixing the problem requires taking a step back and rethinking the problem entirely. That’s when something dawned on me. Instead of fixing that annoying wifi problem, I could eliminate having to use wifi completely. Not sure why I didn’t think of this before, but the Mac mini has an Ethernet port, which I could plug in directly to the modem, and the internet would then never go out. Simple, obvious solution for a problem that I’ve been having for years.
In 2015, my best friend and I decided to build houses next door to each other. Today, I think he may be regretting that decision.
On Facebook, these videos combine for close to 20,000 views, and people keep asking for the next part. Now, #NEIGHBORS is getting it’s own YouTube page. Subscribe here to follow the torture. Poor Kip will never get a break.
Is Durant not smart for choosing to go the Warriors? Everything about them (marketing for Nike, location to live in, a chance to win multiple titles, etc.) makes sense if you’re Durant.
Correct me if I’m wrong but this is the first time ever that a team can have four max contracts (whoever your favorite player is now would love to be in the situation that these four players are in).
It takes a lot to win in this league. As good as the Cavs are, they were down 3-1 and could’ve easily went home without a ring. As dominant as the Warriors were, they went home without a ring. As good as the Spurs were, they didn’t get close to winning. Same for the Thunder, up 3-1 in the Conference Finals and still didn’t go home with the ring. My point is, all of these elite players’ legacies are on the line, in a time where it’s harder than ever to even get to the finals, much less win the title.
It’s easy to shout from the sidelines on social networks about what a superstar should do with his career, all while another year passes them by. But at least we’d respect them for being loyal, right?
You have to consistently release new music every 1-2 years to be considered great.
I believe this statement is incredibly wrong an is one of the main problems with the industry today. People should be praising the silence from Jay Elect, not hating it. Movie directors and rock bands can go MANY years without releasing new material and that isn’t looked down upon. It’s expected. There’s a reason that most rap albums are hollow and lack any depth to last longer than the few months or weeks of its release. It’s only job is to satisfy the crowd that is looking for the next new album. I much rather someone sit on something for years and perfect it. Treat it like it’s everything, rather than treating the buzz like it’s everything. One day, you’ll understand this concept.
I’m fascinated by the evolution of Netflix. There’s no other company coming close to them with original content. They are completely dedicated on constantly rolling out new shows and movies, making their a service a must-have.
The debut of Netflix’s Stranger Things is just a few weeks away, and while this new trailer gives us a glimpse of its biggest-name star, Winona Ryder, it focuses on the four boys and mysterious girl who are the real focus of this E.T.-meets-Close Encounters of the Third Kind-meets-”basically everything Steven Spielberg was thinking about in the 1980s” story.
Stranger Things seems like something I’ll watch in its entirety the day it comes out, July 15th.
The intention of voluntary simplicity is not to dogmatically live with less. It’s a more demanding intention of living with balance. This is a middle way that moves between the extremes of poverty and indulgence.