Huge Amounts of Work

I've been putting together a lot of shit this past week. I've got a fan page going up soon which will integrate this blog with the Facebook (and provide the oft-requested comment functionality), and a new Facebook group is up at if you want to go join in on that.

I'm also busily constructing a new YouTube channel which will go alongside the blog and fan page, and also feed some exclusive stuff to the FB group, because what's the point of an exclusive group if you don't give them exclusive crap? There's also a mailing list in the works which should go up in the next couple days. And then I've got to finish this damn book.

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The Nature Of Art

One of the common discussions I have with people is about what, exactly, constitutes art.

Scott McCloud, in his book Understanding Comics, lays out a very simple definition that art is anything which is not directed toward survival. That when you're not trying to meet one of the basic needs - the bottom one or two levels of the Maslovian pyramid - whatever you're doing is art. And while I agree that whatever you're doing can be art, I think there's an additional level that needs to be added.

It is, after all, possible to make bad art. So it's not so much the question of what makes an action some sort of attempt at art, but what makes it cross the line and become - if not necessarily good art - at least legitimate art.

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Recap And Apology

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who are occasionally riddled with self-doubt and a lack of confidence, and fucking liars.

I'm having one of those occasions lately, since a lot of my friends are having great success stories, which happens at the end of summer in this industry... and a lot of my other friends are starting college, which happens at the end of summer in general.

And I'm still sitting here posting on my blog, editing my book so I can publish it, writing my emails so I can start listbuilding, scripting my videos to go on YouTube, building graphics to share on social media, finishing some reports that can actually have a price tag on them. I'm doing everything but making any tangible progress that either sits in my wallet or looks different than these basement walls.

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Leaked Stuff

So earlier this week, Lady Gaga's new single "Applause" from the upcoming album ARTPOP was leaked on the internet and I'm a seriously devoted fan so of course I was all over it and so was everyone else who has any taste in music.

But, see, it was supposed to come out tomorrow. And Mother Monster was just furious about it. But she responded properly, in a marketing context, by early-releasing it herself in response. Because duh: the leaked song is going to suck up that initial rush for it, and then nobody will want to buy it at official release because they've already got it.

This was not the badass response.

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A System Builder’s Responsibility

Yesterday, I mentioned the possibility that you might be able to do your speech training before purchasing the house. I actually used to do it this way, because thanks to my play style, I always had the 13k to cover speech training.

Which is another element of designing a working system: what if the person using it isn't you? Some people won't do it exactly the way you've done it. You almost certainly haven't explained everything. If someone only does what you've laid out in the system, where are they, and can they definitely move on to the next step?

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Examining The System

So let's look at how this system is constructed. 

The starting point - race selection - identifies the criteria for selection and specifically disqualifies each option until a choice is clearly made for a definite reason. An explanation for why this reason is important follows. This pattern continues: the dominant strategy is to do this, because it allows you to do that. There is a drawback in the lack of combat skill, which we will address using this strategy because of these reasons, and here is what we need to do that.

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More System Building

Now, at this point, we've got the land and the ingredients we need to set up our homestead, so it's time to gather minerals.

You'll need two glass and six straw, which you can get at just about any general store. If you can spare another 1,000 gold or so, make a trip to Whiterun to buy 50 iron ingots and four corundum ingots; if not, head north of Whiterun to Halted Stream camp, where you'll be able to pick up fifty samples of iron ore and three of corundum. Moonstone and gold will be necessary, as well; slightly west of Halted Stream camp, you can find Silent Moons camp, which has two moonstone veins lurking in the rocks to the northwest. In the area around Whiterun, there's a gold vein somewhat north of the stone brick exit from the underforge.

You can mine another nine corundum ore from veins slightly north of the Guardian Stones you passed on the way to Riverwood. Take all this to Whiterun and smelt them outside of Adrian Avenicci's shop, then return to your land and empty the chest of building materials. Use the anvil to smith fifteen iron fittings, nineteen batches of 10 nails, five pairs of hinges, and five locks.

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System Building Continued

Now, yesterday, we covered my system for a character's first seven or eight levels in Skyrim. This is basically enough to get started, and you could be done with it now and just go play.

But to establish an ongoing reliable cashflow, you need a renewable supply of alchemy ingredients, which means you're looking to buy land and build a homestead with a garden and greenhouse.

So you need 5,000 gold for the land, another 1,400 for lumber, fifty-odd iron ingots, four corundum ingots, and a few other sundry items - some glass; some straw; some leather straps; an ingot each of gold, moonstone, and quicksilver. A grand soul gem when you can get one.

Between that garden and greenhouse, you're also going to plant eight creep clusters, thirteen mora tapinella, and eight scaly pholiota. This will be enough ingredients to construct thirty-nine potions of Fortify Carry Weight (among other effects) every couple game days. You can find mora tapinella all over the general area of Riverwood; collect what you can find easily, and you'll pick up the rest on the road.

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