digitalraven: (JuJu)
2017-08-19 03:13 pm

Stepping Back

As Rich Thomas revealed at GenCon, I stepped back as developer of Werewolf: The Forsaken and Werewolf: The Apocalypse developer at Onyx Path a year and a half ago.

I didn’t say anything at the time as I was finishing the books I’d started — W20: Changing Ways and the Pentex Employee Handbook — but I have not started work on any new projects.

It was my decision as the amount of work at my day-job has stepped up considerably, and I am no longer able to give the lines the attention and time that they deserve. I’m not leaving the industry, but I’m back to doing writing and game design under the guidance and development of others. I’m also going to keep working on my own games, as I can take them at my own pace. I have nothing but respect for Rich and Rose and look forwards to the chance to write on Onyx Path books in the future.

Mirrored from ZeroPointInformation.

digitalraven: (Default)
2017-08-14 12:33 pm

Lothian Buses Wifi Is Shit

I've been cursing the Lothian Buses wifi implementation on Twitter for a while now. I've emailed this to their wifi provider (LetsJoin), and am sticking it here for posterity.

techy complaining )
digitalraven: (Default)
2017-08-03 10:26 am

Too Late, With Your NxE3

A few times now I've talked about what's going on in my head during depressive cycles. Unfortunately, a few times now people's comments on those posts have unintentionally made things worse, rather than better. While I'm writing this with actual love in the shrivelled lump of coal that is my heart, I’m aware that saying may well lose me friends. My mental health matters more than that.

So here’s the thing: explaining to me that the thoughts generated by my depression are wrong doesn't help. Pointing at articles or books that demonstrate that the thoughts generated by my depression are wrong doesn't help. Please don't do it in future. I know you are trying to help, but when I read it, it feels like you do not understand what I'm going through. That makes things worse, because I feel more isolated, because clearly my depression doesn’t work like other people’s, like the kind that can be magically fixed by realising that it’s wrong. It adds fuel to the fire.

I have been dealing with depressive episodes caused by bipolar-II for twenty-three motherfucking years at the time of writing. I am well aware that the thoughts it generates are wrong, but I have a neurochemical disorder that does not care what I know. It overrides my internalised knowledge. My depression rewrites my thoughts.

This is why I sometimes find it easier to characterise depression as psychic attack. It points out that my thoughts are being affected by an external (to my sense of self) agent, and that I can fight them off. Part of that fight is trapping these thoughts in a cage made of words. Words pin down the abstract, sharing them makes that abstract concrete. From there, I can shape focus on their externality or manipulate them. It's not the only thing I must do to be rid of it, and it is not any kind of magic bullet, but it is a part of how I process and move through what's going on until my mood swings up again.

Again: I know it's not intentional. I know you're trying to help. But please, find other ways. Sympathy's good, so is empathy, and volunteering tea/coffee/meeting (even though I may never take you up on it).
digitalraven: (Default)
2017-07-28 02:17 pm
Entry tags:

Checkmate, Dennis Bell of Torquay

TL;DR: Depression is a bastard.

My brain chemistry is telling me I need to apologise to people for things I did five or more years ago, things that they may not remember, tiny and inconsequential. Not the big things. I felt the need to apologise to Jane not for the stuff that lead up to the breakup, but for an off-handed comment made in about 2008. Not even a negative comment, but one in which I wasn’t supportive enough.

This time, taken from the context of that comment, a context that I won’t share, I’m back to what is almost my “normal” expression of depression. That I’m a child who was told one day “you are a grown-up now, you have to be more mature”, without any chance to work out a transition. That so much of my life outside of work—of what I like to do rather than what I have to do—is centred on childish bullshit, on video games and lego and animated robots.

When I was a kid, the thing guaranteed to get me throwing punches—apart from “being my brother”—was to accuse me of being a baby about something. The implication (or outright statement) that I was a selfish brat, too immature to think of other people, one small step away from throwing a tantrum because I didn’t get my own way.

Now, it’s much the same thing but with a broader span that insults me. The accusation of immaturity hurts like hell, and it’s magnified when it’s my own brain chemistry throwing it at me. It tells me I should have life goals, that I should spend time working towards them. It tells me that I should grow up and start gardening (because that’s the only real hobby my parents have) instead of wasting my time with things that don’t matter; things that don’t have any lasting impact. It demonstrates the divide between knowledge and belief: I know it is wrong, but right now I don’t believe that it is.

I’ll get over it. I always do. I am one high-functioning motherfucker. But it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with in the meantime.

digitalraven: (Default)
2017-06-21 11:35 pm

What Really Happened? What Really Happens Next?

It’s the longest day today. Halfway through the year, near as damnit. Might as well take stock.

I said, at the death of the old year (in a private group)

I don’t have any hopes, I don’t have any goals. I’m just marking time between now and my inevitable lonely death, discovered three days after the fact, the cat eating my face.

This has to change, but I don’t have the faintest fucking idea how to change it.

I forgot King Mob’s Rule.

You think about…how hard it seems to change any of it. And then it all changes, like everything else.

My changes have not been the result of Zen Buddhism or twenty tons of TNT (thankfully). Things changed anyway. And, for the most part, they changed for the better.

Trying just makes it worse.

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2017-06-21 11:17 pm

We Can't Find Reverse

It was nine months at the start of June; I didn’t think to note it at the time. Things were—and indeed are—on a pretty even keel. I finessed my way out of the burnout, and while I wasn’t as up as I wanted to be, I was, and I still am, on an even keel.

Tonight, the longest night, was the first night I was hit by it in a long time. Stupid shit, looking in one of the kitchen cupboards and thinking “this is Jane’s”, like I have a hundred times since we split, but this time I noticed myself thinking it, and felt shitty because of it. Not for any reason beyond that I do still think it. Because while I’m still thinking that, have I really moved on?

I have no idea. Is it even possible to “move on”? What does “moving on” actually mean? All I can do is move forwards.

digitalraven: (JuJu)
2017-05-21 06:46 pm
Entry tags:

Non-Vegan Ramen

My previous ramen recipe was vegan. It’s also bloody lovely. But ramen is one of those dishes that varies a lot, and sometimes—especially on a grey day—I crave the flavour of ramen cooked in a meat stock.

Serves 1
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes

Ingredients

Ramen

  • 1l boiling water
  • 1 pork or beef stock cube
  • 1 tbsp maggi liquid seasoning
  • 1 egg
  • 2 scallions, sliced, whites and greens separated
  • 50g (1/2 pack) shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 75g (1/4 pack) beansprouts
  • 1 pack instant ramen
  • 125g (1/4 pack) spinach
  • 1/2 small carrot, peeled and grated
  • Chili-garlic sauce, to taste

Method

  1. Stick 500ml of water in a small pan over a high heat to get a rolling boil.
  2. While that’s heating, put the rest of the water in a pan with the stock cube and maggi. Bring to a fast simmer and stir until it’s all dissolved and incorporated.
  3. Stick the beansprouts, mushrooms, and scallion whites into the broth. Stir.
  4. Put the egg into the boiling water, and cook for six minutes.
  5. With 4 minutes to go, add the ramen to the broth. Stir occasionally.
  6. Remove the egg and run under cold water.
  7. Decant noodles and broth into a large bowl. Top with spinach, carrot, and scallion greens, leaving space for the egg.
  8. Shell the egg and slice in half. Add it to the bowl, and top with the chili-garlic sauce.

Mirrored from Little Pleasance Kitchen.

digitalraven: (Default)
2017-05-12 02:42 pm

Burning Out, not Burning Bright

I had, rather naïvely, thought that the level of stress/headcrashyness that was going on during the run-up to Beltane might ease off once it was over. Insert “oh, you sweet summer child” here.

I’ve actually had a total of three evenings free since the 26th of April. Looking at it, I won’t have a fourth until the 16th of this month.

People write a bunch of shitty articles about the differences between introverts and extroverts. Like so many of these articles (e.g. ‘why smart people aren’t happy’1), it’s bullshit. A horoscope-like selection of personality traits so that people can feel justified claiming a label that they’ve already decided applies to them. The only material2 difference between introverts and extroverts is that introverts are energised by spending time alone, while extroverts are energised by spending time around people.

I am not an extrovert.

My motivation has been fucked over the past few days, which should come as no surprise. I’m having a harder and harder time focusing on anything. To quote the youth of today: I can’t even. When I have a rare free evening I’ve been coming home and hiding on the couch watching crap on Netflix rather than doing anything, relying on takeaway because I don’t have the energy to cook. So if you’re wondering why I’m flaking out on things—why I haven’t put anything new up on the food blog, why other things are taking longer than they should—that’s the reason.

In posting this, I am not looking for sympathy. It’s just an explanation for why I’ve been a bit shit recently.


  1. ‘Smart’ indeed. It doesn’t take an IQ of 147 to realise that IQ is a biased measure of a fraction of what Western society deems “intelligence”, but apparently it helps. 

  2. pron. “reductive to the point of borderline useless” 

digitalraven: (Default)
2017-05-02 09:46 pm
Entry tags:

Irons Back in the Fire

So, that was a thing that happened.

Back to the Beltane Fire Festival for the first time in ten years---I last did the 20th anniversary, and this year was the 30th. It's changed a lot, but I still got to carry one of the burning torches, just as I did my first time in 2005. Even in a (relatively) low-impact group, it's taken up most of my brainspace over the last two months. And now it's over and I don't quite know what to do with myself.

I didn't get the buzz, the sense of wonder of the first time. You never can; nobody can recover the dizzying high of an opening night. That's not to say it wasn't great fun, exciting and exhausting in equal measure.

I have some gripes about how things went on the night. After the hill and the after-party and the whole liminal recovery time of yesterday, I'm still knackered and aching, and I've still got facepaint in my ears. But that will pass and the memories will persist, of the fire and the drums and the crowd, of looking like a punk-rock Pennywise.

I am glad I went back. I'll probably be back for future events (at least until I burn out again). I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed it.
digitalraven: (JuJu)
2017-04-13 01:54 pm

Bokkeumbap

This recipe requires hitting up an Asian supermarket or similar to get the Gochujang and Doenjang, but it is so very worth it. Stir the egg yolk through the rice right as you start eating. If you’re a spice-lover, keep some sambal or chilli-garlic sauce on the table.

Leave out the eggs to make it vegan, and omit the sesame if some of your diners are allergic to nuts/seeds.

Serves 2
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes (15 if using pre-cooked rice)

Ingredients

  • 120g long-grain or basmati rice
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed (or 1tbsp garlic paste)
  • Half a white cabbage, sliced
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced, whites and greens separated
  • 150g (half a bag) beansprouts
  • 125g (1 pack) shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp Gochujang (Korean chilli paste)
  • 1 tbsp Doenjang (Korean soybean paste)
  • 2 eggs
  • Sesame seeds

Optionally

  • Chopped fresh vegetables, 100g each, sliced/batoned (e.g. carrot, red peppers, onions)
  • 200g kimchi, siced
  • 200-250g cooked meat leftovers (e.g. chicken breast, roast pork), chopped

Method

  1. Cook the rice according to the instructions. Or, use left-over cooked rice.
  2. Heat a glug of oil in a wok over a high heat. Add the garlic, cabbage, beansprouts, and mushrooms (and any other veg). Stir-fry until cooked, about 5 minutes. Remove from the wok and set aside.
  3. In the same wok, add another glug of oil and turn the heat to medium. When the oil’s hot, add the rice. Don’t move it around too much, let it crackle and get some colour.
  4. Stir in the gochujang and doenjang, and once the rice is fully coated add the scallion whites (and kimchi and cooked meat). Give it a minute to warm through, then add the cooked vegetables.
  5. In a separate pan, fry the eggs until the whites have set but the yolks are still runny.
  6. Scoop the rice mixture into two bowls. Top each with an egg, and garnish with the scallion greens and sesame seeds.

Get it down ye.

Mirrored from Little Pleasance Kitchen.

digitalraven: (Default)
2017-02-02 03:48 pm

Pounded in the Butt by my Atypical Neurochemistry

With thanks to Chuck Tingle.

Let’s talk about mental health for a minute. Specifically, my experiences, because I can’t really talk about anyone else’s with any authority. I have rapid cycling type II bipolar disorder. It’s a mood disorder. Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down, and when I’m up I’m really up and when I’m down I’m really down. Like the Grand Old Duke of York, right? I have a relatively mild case. I’m high-functioning; never lost a job1 or been locked up or anything because of it. Hell, I didn’t get a diagnosis until I was 30, having developed (not entirely healthy) coping mechanisms of my own.

Everyone has good and bad days, though. What makes mine special?

Maybe 80% of the time, I’m normal. Beige. Happy days, sad days, but nothing outwith the blah blah blah of neurotypical life. The rest of the time is where things get interesting. Anticonvulsants help — before I started taking lamotrigine, normal states were 65-70% at best, and the incidences of abnormal mood could last much longer. I still cycle fairly rapidly, though.

Hypomania is “a sustained state of elevated or irritable mood” which (unlike full mania) is not linked to psychosis or disassociation from reality.

I tend to only flag specifically elevated states as hypo states, because otherwise the term is useless to me. In my particular case, it’s signified by being smarter, thinking faster, needing less sleep, being much more productive, and massive egotism. And yeah, I can get quite pissed off with people who aren’t thinking ten thousand brilliant thoughts a second. ‘Um…’ and ‘Ah…’ are mortal sins. Beyond that, a hypo also does away with my issues of being around people,2 a state that otherwise requires a couple of pints.

Depression is, well, depression. A state of constant low mood, low self-esteem3, insomnia, anhedonia, a general thrum of self-hatred, and causeless suicidal ideation.

Downswings are by far more common than other states. On the other hand, the drugs mitigate them — I haven’t been actually suicidal in a little under ten years at this point, which is a plus. And they’re the only states that get triggered by external stimuli as well as my own buggered brain chemistry. Unlike a hypo, depression leaves me massively anti-social and dulls cognitive faculties; it feels like my thoughts are swimming in treacle.

Many abnormal mood states don’t fit neatly into one little box. Clinicians who study bipolar II generally term these ‘mixed moods’, which is as much use as a chocolate ashtray. I haven’t properly tried to codify the effects of divergent states of mind before, but I might as well give it a shot to illustrate what can be going on sometimes.

Sometimes my brain misfires; a state that’s much like a hypo but without the focus. The thoughts come thick and fast, but they crash into one another and spark off like a Star Trek control panel. Restlessness, a need to do something but an inability to focus on one thing for more than a couple of minutes, massive irritability/anger, constantly being distracted, and a buggered sense of time — five minutes feels like an hour, while the next hour can pass in seconds.

An actual mixed mood blends the fast thinking of the hypo with the negative attitude and anhedonia of depression. Racing thoughts but focusing on everything wrong: mistakes I made twenty years ago, people I’ve hurt, every little thing about my flesh-sack that pisses me off, why the world is a terrible place, and how I am going to die alone and unloved. I get paranoid, and obsess over details and plot out what might happen if I do something — but of course I’m deliberately modelling the worst possible outcome, so I catastrophise like nobody’s business. Insomnia, irritability, and aggression. It’s like depression, but sped up to a hundred miles an hour.

Finally, there’s flow — a state common to people in knowledge-based or artistic professions. It’s what happens when the focus and clarity (and increased smarts) of a hypo show up without the racing thoughts. The world is easier to deal with, everything makes sense, and every problem has a solution. It’s the rarest state, but it’s how I write between three and six thousand words after and eight-hour day, or replace two hundred lines of buggy code with thirty that just work.

I have no idea why I’m writing this or making it public, but it might help people figure out what the fuck is going on in my head on any given day.


  1. I walked out of a job after half a day, but I maintain that it was a good decision no matter what mood-state I was in. 

  2. Not full-blown social anxiety, but feeling unable to contribute, especially to pre-existing conversations. 

  3. Or low esteem in everyone else, which isn’t quite the same. 

digitalraven: (JuJu)
2017-01-06 12:48 pm

Fuck 2016, Redux

As you may remember, I pledged that proceeds from my November and December sales would go to The Trevor Project, an American charity supporting LGBTQ youth. Because 2016 was a shitshow, and the results of the November election the icing on the cake.

Thing is, right now I’m on the long tail. My last two months’ proceeds are $15. That looks a bit anaemic, so fuck it. Over the last six months, my self-published games have made me $42. That’s more like it.

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 12.42.40

Mirrored from ZeroPointInformation.

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2017-01-04 12:20 pm

Act One Scene One Brenda Blethyn Gets Shot

In a fit of insanity, I made resolutions last year. No, I don’t know what I was thinking either.

Might as well see how I’ve done…

  • Complete/release all the books currently on my slate. ❌ I’ve made progress (one released, others progressed through the production pipeline) but the Paradox/WW buyout scuppered things timing-wise.
  • Write on at least two new books. ✅ Signs of Sorcery and Geist 2e
  • Write/release one new thing for myself. ✅ Two bits of fiction, a micro-game, and a poem. Counting this as a win.
  • Be under 18 stone. ❌ I’m no bigger than I was at the start of the year, but no smaller.
  • Be cycling to work at least three times a week by the end of May. ❌ Hahahahahafuckno
  • Go on an actual holiday with J. somewhere outside the UK. ✅ (if you ignore the ‘with J.’ part)

50% is better than I thought it would be, to be honest.

digitalraven: (Default)
2017-01-02 01:58 pm

Retrospective

I almost want to recap everything that happened in 2016. Then I remember that I spent much of January with an ice-pack in hand and knackers the size of a grapefruit, spent a minute dead getting my heart restarted in July, and Jane and I separated in September, after eleven and a half years together.

So frankly, just from a personal point of view, fuck 2016.

To be fair, I have since un-hermited and met a bunch of awesome people. But truth be told it's tied with 2004 for my shittiest year yet.
digitalraven: (Default)
2016-12-27 11:45 am

(no subject)

Down with the lurgy so whinging. Deal with it.

One of the worse bits about breaking up is accidentally (honest!) seeing a LJ post from your ex' new person, featuring the kind of conversation that the two of you used to have, then realising that they stopped happening a couple of years ago and that 'used to' should've been a sign that things were going to shit.
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2016-11-21 07:45 pm

On the End

Okay, this is going to be personal. Also, I’m kinda scared to make this public in case my family sees, as they don’t know any of it and I worry that it paints them in an undeservedly negative light.

Also also, have a trigger warning for discussion of suicide.

Read more... )
digitalraven: (JuJu)
2016-11-11 09:17 am

Fuck 2016

2016 is a shit of a year. Life has got worse for a tremendous number of people.

If I can make it better, even in a small way, I shall do.

As such, all proceeds on Zero Point Information stuff at DriveThruRPG until the end of the year will go to to The Trevor Project, a charity that helps LGBTQ youth in the USA.

Mirrored from ZeroPointInformation.

digitalraven: (Default)
2016-11-04 05:57 pm

A Guide to Chairmaking

I don’t use my hands a lot in my line of work. I think and I type; I build systems out of logic and functions in my mind, a brilliant collection of interlocking ideas, then implement them in the limited representations available in the form of programming languages; shackling the sacred with chains of the profane. It’s all cerebral; in the end, what I do amounts to pressing pieces of plastic to make other pieces of plastic change colour.

It can get depressing, you know?

To fight that feeling, I started making things. Not ideas, not mental constructs, but tangible physical objects. I guess that makes me a bit of a hipster. I like the way that wood spins in the lathe, how the mallet and chisel cut grooves, how the saw and the die interact.

Read more... )
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2016-11-03 09:21 pm

Hunting Blue

It’s lunchtime in the Bannister and Shamrock when my client walks in. You know the place; it used to be the Rose and Crown but now it’s some horrible faux-Oirish dump because the brewery are idiots. Anyway, it’s near to my flat and cheap enough, so the pub remains the nearest thing I have to an office. My client — no names, I work under a strict cover of professional confidentiality — tells me that she is looking for Blue. At first, I thought she meant a person or a dog or something.

“No, Mr. Sherringford. I’m talking about the colour.”

Read more... )