Monday, April 11, 2011

A Couple Of Drops For The Bucket List

I've started to feel a little older recently. More mature, more like an adult. And it's not just this random stiffness in my neck that's the cause of it (seriously, what the hell did I do to myself?). I think what I'm mostly feeling is the sense of accomplishment that comes with setting my mind to larger projects, and learning to enjoy the process of getting better at something over time.

To that end, I recently had a few thoughts about some new things I'd like to learn to do (or simply 'do') at some point in my life. Some sooner rather than later, others I'm fine doing while I'm struggling with incontinence in a nursing home in 50 years.

If you know me or have read this blog regularly for a while, you'll probably be surprised to discover I don't have an actual bucket list (meanwhile, my list of video games "to play" grows ever longer), but I've definitely got things in mind. While I've mostly given up on the idea of learning another language (I'm learning more and more every day how much I haven't actually mastered this language yet), and a musical instrument seems sadly unlikely (the stage is my instrument!). But I do have some other things on there that are mostly out of my element that plan on devoting some time to doing at some point.

What are they, you ask? Well, ok, calm down, I was just going to tell you:

Matt Shafeek's Bucket List Additions
(To A Thus-Far-Unwritten Bucket List)

#1: Learn To Dance

So, I don't know if you guys saw this video I posted after my PAX trip a few posts back...

...but I really can't dance. At all, like, not even that well in front of a video game begging me to do simple gestures that are easy enough for an infant to follow.

Let me tell you a story - every now and again my improv team Phooka will come out on stage to the theme from the Mortal Kombat movie. Maybe you've heard it? If you've heard a techno song, you've heard it. Anyways, every now and again, when the mood strikes me (and my teammates don't seem like they hate me at the moment), I'll run around the stage, bouncing around like a kid on crack, flailing my arms and legs around wildy, punching and kicking the air right inside my friends' comfort zones. I'll "throw" a spear out like my favorite character Scorpion would, and pull someone towards me, finishing my opponent/weary-eyed Phooka member with a vicious uppercut as I turn to the audience and finally take our teams suggestion.

I feel more comfortable engaging in this wholly embarrassing display of free movement than I do anywhere on the dance floor. You see, most of the dancing I did through the age of 22 or so was a bit. If I was on the dance floor dancing in any way, it was to make fun at how bad of a dancer I was (or, conversely, how silly I thought the idea of anyone dancing to the music was, which was admittedly a little hard to distinguish from the other bit). I probably got a few laughs doing it, but you know, in hindsight, I wished I just earnestly sucked for a few of those years so I'd have some modicum of skill now. Story of my life!

Anyways, I don't really have a particular dance in mind, but since I already don't speak Spanish, I'd love to not completely abandon any pretenses of my Puerto Rican heritage, and at least learn the basics of how to move my hips and my legs in unison in a non-sarcastic or embarrassing manner.

#2: Build Something Cool From Scratch

I can't wait to put my dirty laundry in here.
I recently discovered that I do this thing whenever someone's doing anything labor-intensive. I slowly begin to gesture like I'm going to help them, hoping that by the time I seem committed to help, they'll A) have already finished the job B) tell me "they got it," or C) get my help with less than 10% of the work left to be done, but still give me the obligatory thanks for it.

Turns out, this was a classic good news/bad news scenario. It did lead to a lifetime of "whew, lucked out!" moments where I didn't have to lift a finger, but conversely, I never learned to do anything with my hands that didn't involve a controller or a keyboard. I'm sure I've told this story on here before, but I got to college lacking a fair amount of basic knowledge, and during my junior year of college I spent easily five to ten minutes trying to figure out how a can opener worked.

So - I'd love to have at least one project in my life that doesn't come out of an Ikea box that I accomplish entirely on my own. I was inspired by this Zelda-themed treasure chest that true to my nature, would be be of little practice use, but would be absolutely adorable to have around. Besides, it's already motivated me more than any shelf, desk, or soap box derby racer ever has.

This is the kind of project I literally can't ever picture myself doing. Which is exactly why I have to do it, right? But I'm sure it'd be immensely satisfying once it was done. More satisfying, I dare say, than scoring 50 achievement points for popping 5 headshots in a row with my sniper rifle in Halo. Though not nearly as addictive, I'm sure.

Anyways, expects hundreds of facebook and twitter updates whenever I do get around to doing this.

#3: Create An Original Game

"You guys: this game is the shit. For reals." - a 9 word review by Matt Shafeek
This one sounds obvious, right? I mean, I love games so much, so clearly this must have always been my dream. Actually, that's totally wrong, and now I bet you're wondering if you ever even knew me at all, huh?

I've never thought about specifically making a brand new game up from scratch, which is what I'm saying here. The story, the rules, the mechanics, the art style, etc. And after several embarrassing displays in computer science classes and one failed C++ certification later has been enough to tell me I'm not going to be programming an actual video game anytime soon. Instead I turn to board games - which, holy shit, if you haven't played one in a while, have come a llooooonnnggg way since I was a kid.

I've mentioned some somewhat traditional games in the past, but some of the stuff I've played in the past year or so kind of blow my mind. A B-movie zombies versus the townsfolk game, where some players play as the heroes, and some get to play as the zombies? A totally-true to the series "are my fellow players Cylons or Humans" Battlestar Gallactica game? A game about building a FARM?!? Ok, I shouldn't have closed with that one. But it's really fun, trust me.

There's a whole new world of amazing games out there, and honestly, there really isn't any excuse to at least come up with a bare-bones template for something if I really put my mind to it. So that's what I'm going to do. I've played hundreds of different games in my life. Surely I must have some idea what makes for a fun game, right? Yeah, definitely! This one's gonna be easy! Should I have even put this on my bucket list? I'll just make it up right now...

Ok I've got it: A game about coming up with ideas for a game! Someone else go first!


Well, that's all for now. Also I totally want to learn to do some video-editing, but I don't have anything particularly interesting to say about it, so I'll leave it at that. Now when to get started on these? Well, I spent all this time writing about them tonight, so clearly not now. And tomorrow's too soon. Plus I've got a thing. Soon, though. Totally soon.


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