Week 766

What’s this? I’m blogging about my work on a weekly basis – a simple way to track and archive whatever it is I spend my time on.

Last week was Grand Theft Auto V week. The first challenge was actually getting a copy of the year’s biggest game. The publisher wasn’t cooperative, only helping specialized media in advance of the release. When they failed to provide me with a game even on Monday, I managed to get a copy through a mysterious source. This way, I could get started a few hours before the highly successful midnight launch.

I’m glad I did: the publisher ended up sending me a download code on Tuesday morning. It’s beyond me why they couldn’t do this a few days earlier, but what’s worse, from what colleagues told me, the download experience was terrible. At least on PlayStation 3 it took a crazy amount of time, including a bunch of false starts. By the time they could finally run the game, I’d played for two long nights already.

This was absolutely necessary to finish my review by Thursday. There’s definitely stress associated with the review of such a major game. Will I be able to play enough to describe it properly? Will I be able to get my judgement right? Will I be able to find an interesting angle? Will I be able to wrap all that into a readable whole and apply some all-important spit and polish? This is why I was extra happy that David Nieborg and Arjan Terpstra wanted to proofread my piece. They had some valuable suggestions.

The result was published on Friday in both nrc.next and NRC Handelsblad. I heard it got called out by NRC’s editor-in-chief during the daily editorial meeting, which he did on Twitter as well. It was then featured in Saturday’s edition of NRC Reader too. I tweaked it a tiny bit more for publication online: Chaotische satire op de moderne wereld.

I also got up early on Tuesday to talk about the game on NOS radio. One-upping me, David appeared on RTL Late Night that night. And as for even more GTA from our little circle: Arjan wrote about it over at IGN.nl… and guess what David’s column in tomorrow’s paper will be about.

Otherwise, I wrote a column about Eric Zimmerman’s ludic manifesto on Monday, which appeared in the paper on Tuesday: Kneedbare wereld.

On Tuesday, I had a meeting with Karin van As and Ewout Eggink of Samen1Stem. We talked about a research project that I will likely help them with. It was an entertaining conversation by itself, which usually bodes well for a project.

On Wednesday, I met up with Debby Wagenaar, a friend who’s working hard to finish her first novel. I think I could talk about writing until the end of time, and possibly longer. (At least inbetween novels.)

In the literary department, I mainly worked on the Toiletten anniversary app, which is quickly taking shape. While Codeglue was turning my idea for an ‘innovative reading experience’ into a working program, my sister Karlien ’t Hooft held a photo shoot and Sjors Houkes recorded a voice-over track.

Happily, a steady flow of De verdwijners questionnaire entries came in. Fascinating, just fascinating. More on this soon.

By the way, two literary gigs are coming up in the next few weeks, and you’re invited to join us:

Thursday night was game development hobby night with Hessel Bonenkamp. We mostly talked about iOS 7, because we’re geeks, and about our kids, because we’re dads, but I also made a new Game Maker prototype featuring growing vines. I’m having a lot of fun with procedural patterns, and I think I’ll be expanding on them for a while, before returning to attempts at playable games.

On Saturday, I saw Micha Wertheim’s show Voor je het weet in De Kleine Komedie. I loved it, and felt in tune with themes like meaningless amusement, the nature of reality, media experiences… I even see a connection to GTA there. On Sunday I watched his previous show online, which deals with the same themes and may be even better.