Perhaps the most important thing I’ve determined during the first week of this new adventure in Huntsville is that I really don’t want to haul my laundry out in the cold to get it cleaned.
It’s nice that the apartment complex offers a laundry facility in the clubhouse adjacent to the gym, but the machines hold about half a real load, they dry at about half the speed, and they cost way too much to operate.
Long-term, it’s just going to be cheaper and far more convenient to rent a washer and dryer for about $30 a month. I’ll be able to do my laundry at home, whenever I want, and without trudging through the winter weather to do it.
I’ve already ordered the machines. Unfortunately, they won’t deliver until next Tuesday. I think I’ve got enough clothes to last. If not, who’s going to notice the fourth time I wear my Cantina Band T-shirt?
The second most important thing I’ve learned: No buying Roma tomatoes from the Kroger off Memorial Parkway and Drake. Yeesh, those nearly killed me.
Most of the boxes are unpacked. All I’ve really got left are a few boxes of books, which are waiting on a bookcase to put them in. I went on a grand excursion Sunday to track down a decent bookshelf at the two Ross stores in town, but neither had the one Mom had spied in a store down in Florida. I considered getting an el cheapo bookcase from Target, but opted against it on the basis that I’m a poor furniture craftsman to begin with and when it comes to building crappy furniture in a competent fashion, I’m simply a lost cause. I could just put some shelves up above the computer table, but, again, my lack of faith in my own construction abilities leaves me worried that Mark Twain’s autobiography will make a suicide leap onto my HD monitor.
I’ve got a wire-frame shelf unit in the back porch closet that could serve as a bookcase in the short term. All I need is a little rug to sit that shelf unit on. Whatever it takes. I just want to get the last of the boxes unpacked and hauled to the dumpster this week.
I’d also like to get the rest of the pictures hung on the walls. That way, I’ll have more places to hang underwear and socks.
I’ve been looking at this the wrong way.
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been stopping in my old haunts around Cary and Durham with the mindset that I’m enjoying them for what might be the last time.
That’s not going to be the case.
Yes, my career is taking me to Alabama, but Catherine’s in North Carolina and I’ll be returning regularly to see her.
In these last days before the move, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with others in similar – or even more extreme – long-distance relationship situations. Some split time between Durham and Philadelphia. Another couple straddles two continents and the Atlantic Ocean, between North Carolina and the Netherlands. I know others who commuted between Georgia and Florida, or even New York and Florida. They’ve all survived so far. Even thrived!
So, I’m no longer considering this change of address “moving.” Instead, in the tradition of all proper world conquerors, I’m just expanding my territorial borders.
Catherine’s place in the Durham tobacco warehouse district becomes *our* place in North Carolina. The new apartment in Huntsville becomes *our* place in Alabama. She’s going with me to help set everything up this weekend, and she’s bringing along candles, art, and some other items to make the apartment feel like her home when she visits. Her apartment is now set up with a monster gaming computer and will soon have a few of my action figures so that, when I come to town, it feels more familiar to me.
Time to re-draw the maps of Westanbul – it’s gotten much bigger than that ramshackle desk in the corner of the office at Icarus Studios.
Don’t count on people who call themselves pals when you’re huddled in a lifeboat that’s slowly – or maybe not so slowly – filling with water.
Oh, sure, maybe you dined together at the captain’s table before the ship breached its hull on that stray iceberg that everyone saw coming. That was a lifetime ago. Survival is serious business. No room in that little boat for camaraderie. It might sound cynical, but it’s true: It’s you or them.
When the lifeboat engineer walks up to you after the ship starts sinking and says you can take X number of passengers with you, don’t haggle to bring extra. Take only what you can carry. Save only what the lifeboat can hold.
If you ignore this advice, you really shouldn’t be surprised when that extra passenger turns out to have a naturally cynical outlook, a healthy sense of self-preservation, and the willingness to do whatever it takes to make sure that if the lifeboat sinks, they’re going to be the last in the water with the sharks.
When other sensible passengers share clear evidence that the boat would stay afloat longer with fewer people and more buckets, don’t dismiss this as panicked exaggeration, even if another passenger that you might trust says it’s nothing to worry about.
While you’re floating along, bailing salt water and searching the horizon for signs of rescue, pay attention when a passenger pipes up with a seemingly hypothetical question, such as: “If you were presented with the opportunity to toss someone else in the deep blue if it meant you’d last longer in the lifeboat, would you?” Don’t toss this aside as harmless ethical musing. That passenger probably wants to use your leg as a paddle and the rest of your corpse as a pontoon.
Start looking for land.
Last summer, I lamented that I was losing faith in the ability for text-based games to thrive in the current online entertainment climate.
Now, as we begin 2011, I’m doing what I can to adjust my attitude. Trying to get with the program. Keeping the faith.
The first resolution: I want to see OtherSpace thrive again, but I have to revisit what I think constitutes a thriving MUSH. It’s not having 100 people online on our busiest nights, although it’s great to have a crowd that size. No, the game thrives when the players that you do have – 5, 15, or 50 – are actively involved in a story that keeps chugging along. In-game events are frequent. News articles keep giving the game world a steady heartbeat. Channels are alive with chatter. Forums are bustling with short stories. The Wiki is getting filled with roleplaying event logs.
The second resolution: I’m going back to basics. I’ll be running major events at least once a month, treating OtherSpace more like a community theater project than a game. We were at our best in the past when we could build a sense of excitement and anticipation for what comes next. I’ve tried to encourage players to do their own thing, to create a perpetual roleplaying engine powered by their adventures. Some players are very good at it, but others get frustrated with their peers, bored with the plot, or distracted by other things.
Back in the early days of OtherSpace, I owned and accepted the fact that the game would succeed or fail based on my involvement. Serious involvement – not just sitting on the sidelines, watching other people run things in my absence. I’ve been satisfied in the past few years to let others manage OtherSpace for me. I can’t allow that anymore. Time to take back the reins and get us back on track.
The third resolution: I’m making the most of social networking. Twitter and Facebook are amusing distractions, but I want 2011 to be the year that I really turn them into tools that work to the advantage of OtherSpace. If possible, I want people playing OtherSpace on Facebook before 2012!
The fourth resolution: I want to turn a perceived weakness into a strength. MUDs and MUSHes are niche games, they’re antiques compared to today’s popular graphical MMORPGs, but they succeed in channeling a player’s creativity and imagination in ways that World of Warcraft and EVE Online can never hope to accomplish. They’re retro. People seem to enjoy playing the old Zork games on the web. Why not give a MUSH a try?
I firmly believe that if I go back to basics, if I focus on the stories, retro elements, and the creative appeal of the MUSH, that we’ll see a resurgence of interest in the genre.
We celebrate the 13th anniversary of OtherSpace in June. I’m counting on a lucky year!