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  • Reading: Dragon's Claw
  • Watching: Tucker and Dale vs Evil
  • Playing: Half-Life (always) and RAGE
  • Eating: Risotto
  • Drinking: Corona (with lime, of course!)
Is this thing still on...?

So apparently it's been a day or two since my last journal entry.  I've been ... busy.  My latest endeavour has been an image I've been working on in Blender, and I just popped in to upload it...  Most of my digital art to date has been work in progress, or extracts from larger projects, and as such has gone into my scrapbook -- but this one is all my own work (albeit done for a competition) so it's gonna join my poetry 'n such in my gallery!

Yay... :-|
  • Watching: ST:DS9
  • Playing: Half-Life (still)
  • Drinking: Corona (with lime, of course!)
Eighteen months ago, I didn't exactly leave, and now I'm not exactly back.

I called in for one of my very infrequent visits to clean out my inbox -- at least in part because somebody apparently requested my password (I'm sure it was a case of mistaken identity!)  I decided it was time to make a quick post -- although really there's nothing much to report.  A couple more novels under the belt (neither of them completed though) and a couple more HLDM levels to my name.  I really haven't been doing anything worth putting up on deviantART.

The site looks a little sleeker and shinier these days, and I almost find myself tempted to re-subscribe.  I'll wait, though, see if I come back soon, or if my next absence stretches to months.  After all, I won't be posting art, and I doubt I'll have time to venture back into the forums (in fact, I'm more than a little afraid to venture back there, lest they turn out to be just the same as always... ;-))

*shrug*

Time will tell, I guess!

Cheers,
Pete.
  • Playing: Half-Life
  • Eating: My Own Cooking (pray for me!)
  • Drinking: Corona (with lime, of course!)
"The time has come..."

Is it still trendy, I wonder, to throw a fit, pull all of your artwork down, storm out and slam the door behind you, as the words "I am leaving" echo hollowly around your now empty user page?  That is not what I am doing -- I never was particularly trendy at the best of times -- but I am, for now, saying "so long".

I guess the fact that I no longer know what's trendy around here says it all.  I just don't spend my time here like I used to.

I'm not leaving.  If anything, I've already left!

Back in the day, I would spend my every waking hour haunting the forums, writing long posts on a wide variety of subjects.  I just popped back into the forums for a last look around -- for quite possibly the first time in six months -- and I didn't recognise any of the names (although it has to be said: the topics on offer looked all too familiar!)  There were a couple of familiar names in the Seniors forum -- and I really should pop over there and say toodle-pip, although even that feels like it might be making too much fuss over nothing.

I guess my interests have simply shifted away from this site.  I'm pretty busy these days, and most of the extra-curricular stuff I'm doing is not really suited for posting here anyway.  I barely have enough time to complete the projects I want to do, let alone spending any of it here where I'm fairly sure I've said all there is for me to say.  I could argue, I suppose, that it was the change in regime, the politics, that drove me away from the place, but that's not really true; if anything, there was a change in tone of the place -- and possibly it coincided with said change in regime, or possibly it just happened as deviantART became too big.  It went from friendly little village to thriving metropolis.

*shrug*

So, I'm not leaving as such.  No doubt I'll still poke my nose in from time to time, and I'll leave my art -- such as it is -- up for people to see (or read.  Whatever! ;-))  But I will not really be here anymore.  Not for a while, anyway; I guess there's always the possibility that I'll be back and that this is just another hiatus.

If anybody wants to reach me, you can contact me through my website's "Contact" form -- the link to my site is on my user page, I believe -- or you can use the email address (old, but not yet obsolete -- a little like myself, really!) that's on my devID.

Take care, y'all!

Cheers,
Pete.
  • Listening to: P!nk
  • Watching: Battlestar Galactica (2004) Season 1
  • Playing: Half-Life
  • Eating: My Own Cooking (pray for me!)
  • Drinking: Corona (with lime, of course!)
Time for a journal update, I guess, since it seems the NaNo graphics are no longer being served, and since NaNoWriMo 2006 is long over.

So where am I now?

Well, I'm struggling to keep above water at the moment.  My '06 novel still needs quite a bit of work before it's ready to give to my friends who are clamoring for it.  I'm also making the attempt to get my house clean and tidy (-ish).  I don't have time for either, because I'm now cooking for myself again -- now that my kitchen is no longer a breeding-ground for Pilchardella (like Salmonella, but cheaper and oilier) -- which leaves me no spare time between getting home from work, and going to bed.  Apparently it's healthier, but while I haven't actually poisoned myself yet I can't say I've seen the benefits either.  Early days yet though...

And then there's my blossoming social life -- well, more or less, anyway.  I certainly seem to go out more often than I used to on the weekend, or stay in for visitors -- which is nice, but it doesn't leave me a whole lot of time.  Oh well, take it while I can get it, I guess!

:o
  • Reading: The New Hope Strikes Back
  • Playing: Half-Life
My NaNoWriMo Progress
My NaNoWriMo Progress
  • Reading: The New Hope Strikes Back
  • Playing: Half-Life
Less than a week remains to the start of NaNoWriMo 2006 -- and I've finally stopped fiddling with last year's novel!  I've been working on self-publishing it so that I've got a "real book" to give family and friends (it's amusing how even the people who had, and read, the hand-bound manuscript I put together ten months ago seem to view it as "more real" now I've got a standard paperback to show them!)

My final approval copy of the standard paperback size arrived a couple of days back.  I've still gotta read through it (yet again) to make sure it's perfect, but I'm just about ready to order it in bulk.

To celebrate -- and to finally wash my hands of it so I can concentrate on the next one -- I've uploaded the coverart I put together for the paperback, if anyone's interested...

:D
That time is upon us once more.

Well, almost.  It's October, and the National Novel Writing Month site has opened for new registrations and old ... well, logins.

Last year I wrote my first novel.  This year, come November, I shall be writing my second, if all goes according to plan.  The target is 50,000 words in thirty days; my personal goal -- given last year's final word count of just over 60,000, and my current level of excitement -- is 75,000.

So, come and cheer me on, or come over to the site and sign up for the insanity yourself.  Or, y'know, not...  ;-)

Either way, that's me taken care of for November.
:bulletred: dp3d - chess 1a
:bulletred: dp3d - chess 2b
:bulletred: dp3d - chessblocks castle
:bulletred: dp3d - chessblocks car

What do these four deviations have in common?

Well, they're mine, obviously.  They are all 3D renders (ray-traced via PovRAY) of chess sets.  But what else?

The answer is that they all mention Jim Cann and his ChessBlocks site.  More specifically, they used to mention that the site had gone down and that I had lost contact with Jim.  And yesterday, thanks to those very images, posted here on deviantART, I received an email from Jim.  He's back, his site is up and running, and it was deviantART that allowed him to track me down after all this time.

Consequently, of course, they (well, their descriptions) have all just been revised to reflect this new state of affairs.  (The weird thing is that somewhere along the line my memory had played tricks on me and I'd slipped a "Mc" onto the front of Jim's surname.  Go figure... :o)

After the drama and scandal of the last few days, here at dramaART, it's nice to know that this site can also be instrumental in some positive results!  ;-)

Welcome back, Jim.  I'll reply to your letter as soon as I can. :D
  • Listening to: Something by Meat Loaf
  • Reading: The Fabric of the Cosmos
  • Watching: What the Bleep Do We Know?
Hmmm...

I've just been looking at my last journal entry.  Here we are, five months further on, and my Necropolis: Mausoleum HLDM level is still under construction.  Sorta...

The plans for another two variants of this level have been shelved indefinitely; there's just no way they could come close to competing with Mausoleum without a complete overhaul.  Of course, Mausoleum itself still needs a little work.  There are a few remaining minor imperfections -- it has changed in several significant ways since my last journal, most of them centred around the inclusion of a piece of art [used with permission, of course] by a fellow deviantArt member (full credit will be given as soon as the finished version goes online!)  The imperfections are mostly cosmetic, and are mostly due to problems with the way the in-game rendering engine performs; some of my walls are just not thick enough!  The biggest problem I have, though, is simply finding the time to jump back into it and fix it up...  I think I'm just about burnt out on it.

Problems aside, though, it has been very well received.  It seems to have supplanted Lab17: Quake as our group's favourite level.

I have also been doing a little work on at least three new levels, but none of them has really held my interest for long.  Perhaps I'm just a little burnt out on the whole level-building thing; a break might be a good idea...

While on the topic of gaming, I'll draw your attention to THIS little proclamation on my personal site.  I got beat, the other day -- in one of my own levels, no less -- by somebody other than the guy who usually beats me.  It was a proud moment, to see my young Padawan excelling in the grand art of blowing the crap out of me...  :o

(It strikes me, looking at those screenshots, that Flood really is a rather dark level...  :o)

Of course, that page requires a little explanation (possibly a whole lot of explanation; one day I'll make some lucky psychiatrist very rich indeed!)  After the completion of my first novel -- you all know the one -- and my decision that I would be writing at least one, probably two, sequels, I felt the need to write something else, completely unrelated, without waiting for NaNoWriMo to roll around, and without getting in the way of the sequels.  I made a start, but that was as far as I got, and I've since decided that while that story still needs to be told, I just don't know the material I'm attempting to parody well enough to do it justice.  It was rambling on a little too much...  I'll try again, sometime.

Since then, however, the character of Nigel No Nooky somehow managed to arise from the depths of my brain.  Combined with a short rant I wrote on how the guys picking on my gaming addiction would be sorry when they needed me to protect them from the undead alien terrorists, the idea of writing yet another parody novel -- this one around the life of a loser gamer loner type, something near and dear (and all too well known) to me -- burst into life.  

It will be called -- well, you'll see!  :D  

It will be written -- sometime.  Maybe...  ;-)
  • Listening to: Total Eclipse of the Heart
  • Reading: Incubus Dreams
  • Watching: What the Bleep Do We Know?
In my last journal entry I spoke (somewhat cryptically) about my upcoming set of new HLDM maps.  Since then I have decided to produce three different versions rather than two -- the newest addition being Necropolis: Crypt -- but I suspect that the first will be a great success and the other two will be mostly ignored.

I say that because we've already played the Necropolis: Mausoleum variant a time or two; even with only two players in it, it was great fun.  I'm convinced that the others will never be able to generate the same level of energy or interest -- and I'm not even sure whether I'll continue to work on them, or just release Mausoleum and quietly forget the rest.

Mausoleum itself still requires a little work, and I need to run a thought or two past my playtesters, but it should be released by this time next week, with a bit of luck.

There may even be screenshots... :D
  • Listening to: Total Eclipse of the Heart
  • Reading: Incubus Dreams
  • Watching: What the Bleep Do We Know?

New Projects...

Tue Jan 24, 2006, 2:52 AM
Excited as I am about my novel (and I started reading a bit of it this morning; I'm still happy with it!) I guess it's time to move on.  Other projects to tackle...

My major project now is my latest Half-Life DeathMatch (HLDM) map.  (See my previous journal on the subject for other news, or the screenshots in my Scraps.)  It's been under development for a while now -- development which got put on hold last November, obviously -- and now, with the finishing line in sight, I have started to run into various compiler limits when trying to actually compile the map.  (I think I've had six different "MAX_MAP_*" errors, so I've pretty much hit (and gotten around) every limit there is.)

The problem, of course, is that the map is just too big.  We knew that, from a player's point of view, when we first playtested it.  It's too big, and parts of it are too open, and the HL engine strains to cope.

I've been discussing a couple of the problems on an HL gaming forum, and I've been musing upon the input, and I've been contemplating throwing away half of my lovely level -- something I didn't want to consider, but which seemed necessary.  Then, epiphany.  I knew, in a flash of inspiration, exactly what to do to resolve all my problems.  All my mapping problems, anyway; some of my other problems are built-in at the genetic level. :o

I shall split my map -- although not quite in the obvious way.

The map is essentially a Tibetan-Egyptian pyramid (don't ask; all will be made clear in the level's own documentation, I hope) buried in three-thousand years' worth of sand-drift.  It has the above-ground area, and the underground area (inside the pyramid.)  Since the level is already designed such that all access to the below-ground sections is blocked until at least five people enter the map, that would seem to be the obvious division to make.

But I'm not gonna do it that way.  Not quite...  :D

I'm excited about this level again, and looking forward to getting it finished and released...  Of course, I won't have much time to work on it this weekend.  This weekend (6am Sunday morning!!) my mother gets home from 4 months in England, so I'll be re-stocking her fridge and getting her settled back in...  But hey, the way forward for my Necropolis: Mausoleum (and its new sister level, Necropolis: Temple) is now clear.

Yippee.

(Oh, and looking back at my old journal entry, I'm reminded that this is not the first time I have tried to build a level beyond the limits of the HL engine and/or the compiler.  This time, though, I think I've learned my lesson -- and also learned what not to think of while designing my next level...)

*ahem*

Did I mention Pete's NaNoWriMo 2005 Novel?

Go read it! Or, if you've already read it ... well, okay then. Carry on...
  • Listening to: Total Eclipse of the Heart
  • Reading: Incubus Dreams
  • Watching: What the Bleep Do We Know?

NaNoWriMo 2005: Go read it...

Thu Dec 22, 2005, 4:35 PM
And so, it ends...

Well, it's online.

I printed 20 copies last week, bound 14 of them on Sunday and gave them away on Monday.  Of the remaining six, three are already spoken for -- and I haven't even given any to my family members yet, so I'm doing another print run of 10 tonight...

For everyone else who might be interested in taking a look, it is now up on my website:

Pete's NaNoWriMo 2005 Novel

Given that it's my very first "novel", I would appreciate feedback on what people think -- that can be given either through the contact page on my site, or in comments on this journal entry, if you feel moved to actually pass on your thoughts!

Cheers,
Pete.

Edit: December 23, 2005:

By request (thanks, blackzer0, brilliant idea!  Don't know why I didn't think of it!) I have generated a PDF version of the novel which is also available for download from the link above.  

The PDF version is almost identical to the printed and bound version, with the exception that I had to reduce the size of the coverart to get it to fit within the margins of my browser so that I could print the whole document in one hit -- for the printed version, I actually printed that particular page from MS Word to get the formatting control I needed...

NaNoWriMo 2005: Conclusion

Mon Dec 5, 2005, 4:49 PM
And so, it ends...

Well, I planned to finish my novel over the weekend, but didn't quite manage that goal.  We had a Christmas dinner for our litte group at work on Saturday, and then Sunday, in the act of procrastinating, I accidentally watched the entire first season (12 episodes) of Buffy -- which didn't leave a lot of time for writing!

But last night I wrote 3752 words -- which just amazed me when I realised how much I'd gotten done in a work-night -- and finished it.

Total word count: 59937!

So I shall print out a copy tonight, and spend the next night or two reading it, checking for consistency and any spelling mistakes that might have crept in.  Of course, during this check, the word count is yet subject to change.  And then, once it's ready to go, I shall do my "Limited Edition Print Run" for family and close friends, and spend the weekend binding it!

And sometime in the next few days, I shall put it online for everybody else who wants to have a read...  :D

Then, I shall have a good long nap!

  • Listening to: ... no time to listen!
  • Reading: ... no time to read!
  • Watching: ... no time to watch!

NaNoWriMo 2005: w00t!

Mon Nov 28, 2005, 5:35 AM
And so, it ends... More or less.

I believe w00t is the term I'm looking for!

I guess persistence pays off.  After failing miserably on my first three NaNoWriMo attempts (see darkphoenix.deviantart.com/jou… for more details) I have finally managed to write a 50k word novel in under 30 days.  I crossed the line tonight, with 50,709 words -- and now, I think I'm going to try to catch a little sleep.

Of course, I have two days left of my month -- which is just as well, because although I have reached the word target, I have not yet reached the end of my story.  I need to finish Chapter 17 (which will be one of my shorter chapters, I think) and write Chapter 18 (potentially a long'un) and Chapter 19 (another short'un).  And probably an Epilogue, but that will be about the same length as my 202-word Introduction...

So I've officially "won" the contest against time and against myself -- but I'm still gonna have to write flat out for the next two days!

After I get some sleep... :D

(Watch this space; after I finish the novel I'll go back and give it a quick sanity check, and then I'll make the first draft available online somewhere...)

:winner:

Edit, 30th November
Current word count: 53,300/50,000
  • Listening to: ... no time to listen!
  • Reading: ... no time to read!
  • Watching: ... no time to watch!

NaNoWriMo 2005

Thu Nov 10, 2005, 7:26 AM
And so, it begins...

Yep, it's NaNoWriMo time again, and despite my firm vow to never get involved in this crazy scheme again -- each of my last three attempts have been dismal failures -- I've once more signed up.

My novel beckons...

Uh, I'm screwed, aren't I?!

Edit: My daily output seems to be a little uneven -- but my weekly output is currently right on target.  I let it slip during the week, then catch up on the weekend.  I think I'm gonna actually finish this, this time!

It is intended to be a parody, a whimsical cross-over between Star Wars and The Matrix, with fragments thrown in from any number of other Science Fiction sources.  Maybe it will work, maybe it won't...

If it ever gets finished, I shall no doubt post it (or a link to it) here...

In fact, to give you a taste of things to come, I'll place the same excerpt here that I've posted on the NaNoWriMo site, and that I've shown several friends:

Introduction: A Beginning is a Very Delicate Thyme

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a struggle was waged between the forces of light and dark. Mystical energies rippled throughout the inhabited systems, and ancient prophecies came slowly, inexorably, to fruition. A galactic Republic, keeper of the peace for a thousand years, withered and died in the shadow of an evil dictator's greedily outstretched hands, and its remains were crushed beneath the armoured bootheels of Imperial troops. Only a few defenders of the old ways survived, escaping the ruthless pogrom and fleeing to the far reaches of the galaxy. Biding their time, rebuilding their strength, they finally re-emerged to launch a rebellion against the tyranny of the Empire.

This is not that story.

If history has taught us anything, it has taught us that those who fail to learn from the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them. Not such a long time ago (in fact, some might say right now) in a galaxy virtually the same as our own, the struggle between the forces of light and dark once more rears its ugly head. Mystical energies begin to build, ancient prophecies flex their muscles, and small furry animals tremble in fear.

This is that story.

:D

Edit 24th November:
Current word count: 39,832/50,000

On schedule again. Barely...
  • Listening to: ... no time to listen!
  • Reading: ... no time to read!
  • Watching: ... no time to watch!
Someone very dear to me once told me "Good things come to those who wait."

I waited.

I think therein lies the trap.  Perhaps good things do come to those who wait, but once you fall into the trap of waiting for good things to happen, life starts passing you by, and before you know it you've wasted several years of your life and gotten yourself so deep into the "wait and see" pit that nobody wants to join you in there...  'Cos it's dark and dirty and depressing in that pit.

It's not a good place to be...

It's not a fun place to be...

Fortunately, I'm no longer in that pit!
  • Listening to: ... nuthin' special
  • Reading: ... nuthin' special
  • Watching: ... nuthin' special

'Beware the rage of a patient man'

Thu Oct 6, 2005, 2:09 AM
Someone very dear to me once told me "Good things come to those who wait."

I waited.

It's not true.

Isn't it ironic?  ("And yeah, I really do think...") Thank you, Alanis!

My listed song, book, and movie seem to nicely describe my life at the moment: my past, my present, and (hopefully) my future.  Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say "my immediate past, my immediate future, and my long-term future."

I'm feeling very sad, because something which I'd hoped was "forever" has just come to an end.

That has simply added to a whole swag of other things which have been steadily eroding my patience reserves until I feel about ready to explode -- or to blow something up (although, given that my place of work recently received a bomb scare, I guess I shouldn't joke about such things.)  I have certainly been emotionally unstable, though, for the last -- well, from the bottom of the pit I'm in at the moment, it seems like forever.

My hope is that I will get through this difficult patch in my life and come out the far side a little more balanced.  There really is nowhere else to go from here but up...  I shall work on restoring the serenity to my life -- but at the moment I feel a little like George Costanza's father, screaming "Serenity Now" into the face of an uncaring world...

To borrow from another of Alanis' songs:

You live you learn, you love you learn
You cry you learn, you lose you learn
You bleed you learn, you scream you learn


:shrug:

  • Listening to: Garbage: Cup of Coffee
  • Reading: Going Postal
  • Watching: Serenity
Once upon a time, a young boy accused me of acting impetuously, and he demanded that I explain myself. Sadly, he died of old age before I managed to formulate my response...1

:o

My point, of course, is that I do not find it easy to come to a quick conclusion.  I want to know all the facts -- or, at least, as many as possible -- before I act.  Impetuous behaviour has its place, or so I'm told; it just doesn't really sit well with me...

The word that seems most fitting is "glacial"!

:shrug:

The History of deviantART ... according to Pete

Four and a half years ago (exactly 54 months and 4 hours, to be precise) I joined this online community, deviantART, that we all know, and that many of us love.  The community that loves us; it says so, right there on the front page.

Two months after I joined, one of my poems was named "Daily Poem" -- the very first time that award had been used, in fact -- and six months after that I was given my deviousness award (and with it I earned my senior status -- although I actually didn't get that until a couple of weeks later, when something I said (in one of the forums debating evils of the vast new conspiracy surrounding the newly added subscriber's "*" symbol) jogged $jark's memory and he realised he'd forgotten to click the appropriate button.  In the midst of my stating how I was quite happy with my lowly "~" and that it wasn't at all demeaning, he changed it to the "`" and promptly derailed my argument...)

A couple of weeks after that, my cat moved in...

So what?

"So what?" you're thinking.


So, while I haven't been here since the launch of this site -- I missed that by six months (and one day) -- I have been here for quite some time.  I've been around since the days when it was possible to submit three deviations, one after the other, and then go to the front page and see them all still sitting there, in consecutive order, with nothing else having slipped in between them...  (I know, because I've done it!  The last time I attempted to submit two deviations, one after the other, there were 150 others submitted between them...)

Most of that time, I have been hanging around the forums -- and very few of the people I remember from those times are still active.  (Although current events have certainly caused a few of the old names to reappear in the Senior's Forum, and elsewhere!)  I've seen people come and go, I've seen people show up, make a name for themselves, and suddenly get added to the admin team (and I've not always agreed with the decision...)

For ever and ever...?

I almost left, once.  I had a run-in with one of the admins2.  Essentially it was a misunderstanding; I sent what was supposed to be a helpful note to a couple of admins, and the guy in question obviously took it the wrong way and gave me a sarcasm-loaded roasting in reply.  The more I stared at his reply, the sicker I felt -- I don't like confrontation; never have -- and the sicker I felt, the angrier I felt.  I stepped away for a while, and thought about things, and then I came back and blasted him.  Both barrels.  I told him exactly what I thought of his whole "I'm better than you" attitude, and of his persecution complex.

And then, since I don't like confrontation, I no longer enjoyed my visits to the forums; every time I saw him laying down the law (or even just posting in general) I had to switch to something else.  I visited less and less.  Then I went to England for six weeks (for my grandmother's 90th birthday) and found that I'd managed quite well without my daily deviantART fix.  I didn't need this place after all...

So anyway, I almost left.  Nothing too flashy, no shouting, no accusations, no emptying of my gallery; I was simply going to leave a semi-cryptic journal entry and slip away into anonymity.  I left contact details on the off-chance that anybody was worried by my absence -- and I stopped coming here...

And yet...

And yet, it didn't last.  Here I am.  I held out for perhaps a month, but this site was just too large a part of my life for me to give up on it so easily.  I would even go so far as to call deviantART a lifeline for me; the forums, in particular, gave me something to focus on while my "real" life was quietly slipping down the toilet.

It was directly due to some of the discussions I got involved in here, over the years, that I am now working my way through the Bible -- and those same discussions also led to my reading Darwin's Origin of Species.  Those discussions helped me to clarify my own religious beliefs, and gave me a hell of a lot of reading material to wade through.

I have made several friends here, too -- and I am not a guy who makes friends easily.

Get to the point...

"Get to the point," you are thinking.  "Is there a point?" you are thinking.

The point is that, through some turbulent times (including, but not limited to, the death of my father), deviantART has been an important part of my life.  And throughout the last 54 months, I have considered $jark to be the heart and soul, and leader, of deviantART.

I have generally, in the past, defended unpopular administrative decisions -- and there have been a few, over the years.  Every time, a vocal minority rant and rave, cries of "conspiracy" and "censorship" ring out, echo around the forums for a few weeks, and then fade away.  Each time, in the past, I have defended the admins; not because of my sad and pathetic need to be loved by those in authority (*ahem*) but because I have always been firmly on the side of fair play!

(Those few times in my life that I have acted unfairly towards somebody still rise up and haunt me, now and again...)

The need to be fair is why I've invested so much time in reading the Bible, and so on.  I'm quite happy for people to think what they like, or believe what they like -- but if they're going to make bald statements which I know to be wrong, to be unfair, I'll leap to defend whichever side is being treated poorly, unfairly.

Current Events

For those of you who have been living on the moon for the last few days (and I hear the moon doesn't have a decent broadband connection) $jark was removed from his position as "heart and soul, and leader" of deviantART a week or so ago, ostensibly by spyed.  This was, of course, the topic of my last journal entry too.

I suspect it has been the topic of quite a large percentage of journal entries over the last week.  I have read many, ranging from shock and horror to disgust, distaste, bewilderment, confusion, and anger.  Oh yes, the community is definitely angry -- although it seems many are not entirely sure why they are angry, or even who $jark really is.

And, of course, rumour and speculation have been rife.  In the delay before spyed even commented on what had happened, various things happened -- including an entire forum thread being deleted, which is apparently not as impossible as we had been led to believe (although it turned out it had been deleted by the admin who created it in the first place) -- which rapidly led to accusations of censorship and repression, and a general mistrust in the sanctity and integrity of deviantART's database.

The quickest way to come up to speed if you have missed what has been going on:

:bulletred: $jark's journals for the last week or so would be a good place to start.
:bulletred: spyed's response to the site's turmoil should also be read.
:bulletred: bookdiva has been maintaining a comprehensive list of journals on the subject.
:bulletred: MikeyLove's journal injects a little sanity into the whole mess, and also some much-needed insider perspective on what has become the main sub-issue of the whole thing...

Several administrators have resigned over the issue; in particular I found the journals of euphoria and brazensix to be worth reading.

And, of course, many people have an opinion.  Many people have an approach they intend to follow to show their support for $jark, ranging from the subtle to the extreme.

Where are we now?

I said a little while back that "$jark was removed from his position as "heart and soul, and leader" of deviantART"; obviously this is not entirely true.  He has been officially demoted from $jark to jark, and had his administrative access cut.  But to many of us, to those of us who remember the good old days, Scott Jarkoff will always be the heart and soul of this community; a leader in spirit if not in fact.

Did the Dalai Lama lose his position as leader of his people when he was driven from his rightful home?  Nuh-uh...

Same thing.

So where do I stand?

I support $jark; that much is easy to answer.

But nothing is ever quite that simple.  I also love this site, and this community, and I want to do my best to nurture it -- as, indeed, I've always done in my own quiet way...  Certainly I shall be a little more cautious, a little more deliberate, from now on before lending my support blindly to any new move by the administration.  As always, I shall do my best to be fair.

Certainly what happened to $jark was unfair!  No doubt spyed had his reasons, and perhaps he even believed he was doing what was best for deviantART.  There is plenty of speculation (and a couple of leaked documents, for whatever they might be worth) suggesting otherwise...

spyed's public response simply deflected the issue and got everybody all fired up about the "co-founder" question -- which, if anything, I see as little more than a red herring (but more on that in a moment.)  Instead of confronting the issue, he basically said "never fear, simple folk, for all is not lost: this person you knew as jark really wasn't as important as you all thought he was; plenty of competent people left to run the kingdom!"

He seems to be underestimating the esteem in which $jark was held by so many of us.

Who founded what?

Was spyed a co-founder?  The answer seems to be "well, it depends on your definition of 'co-founder'!"

Those of us who were here as early as I was knew $jark and $matteo as the two founders of deviantART.  $matteo himself got demoted to matteo quite some time ago; I'm afraid I let that slip past almost without comment, simply because I didn't know Matt too well...  However, it wasn't until spyed's infamous "Red Pill" spamming of everybody's userpage that many of us even became aware of his existence.

However, evidence would also suggest that he was here behind the scenes (active?  That is still disputed) and had some part in the birth of this site.  So perhaps, from his point of view, he is a co-founder.

And, as we all know, "many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view."

My question, though, is this: does it matter?!

Whether spyed was a co-founder of this community or not -- whether it was his brainchild (as has been attributed to him in a few interviews with him) or not -- is not the issue.  It is simply muddying the waters and quite effectively removing the focus from the true issue: the sacking of jark, for which he still has not, in my mind, provided a reasonable response.

Most of us may never know for sure what his real reasons were -- and all the speculation in the world is still only speculation.

Where do we go from here?

Can deviantart survive in the face of jark's removal?  Possibly.  Certainly any large corporation should be able to survive the removal of its founders after a shaky period of uncertainty; in that respect deviantART is little different.  Of course, the site depends upon its community too -- and people are always unpredictable.

As I said, I support $jark, and I've made sure he knows it.  I feel that the best thing for this community would be his return to his former position -- but I also feel that that is a matter for Scott and Angelo to resolve between themselves (by whatever means seems appropriate.)  Realistically, we can but hope...

Is there anything we can do to make it happen?  I don't think so.

As I see it -- and based on the worst-case scenario regarding spyed's plans for this site (generated from reading a multitude of speculation and innuendo; after all, I really don't know the guy to judge him!) -- the only way to hurt spyed enough to make him back down is to destroy the money-making ability of this community.  And the only way to do that, I fear, is to destroy the community itself.

Which would be about as useful as throwing out the baby with the bath water...

Nope.  

I support $jark, and I support deviantART; if Scott is to ever return, I want there to be something to return to.

So, I shall change my icon.  (In all the time I've been here, it has only changed twice before.  Once it turned green when I became a victim of distramutarkal's reign of terror, and once I tweaked the text to make the "Pete" more legible.)  I shall go yellow to show my support.  And I shall continue, in my quiet way, to do what I can to make this community a place worth fighting for...

And if, despite my best efforts, certain people in power (and the attitudes of several current admins leave a lot to be desired) manage to poison this place entirely, I shall say my goodbyes and quietly leave.

I'm not sure what more I can do...

Regards to all,
Pete.

Footnotes:

1 No, this is not really true. How old do you think I am?

2 And no, it was neither spyed nor $jark; that would have vastly simplified my reaction to what has happened...
  • Listening to: Garbage: Can't Cry These Tears
  • Watching: Blade Runner
As some of you are no doubt aware, deviantART's founder, jark, has recently been removed, apparently forcibly, from his rightful position at the helm of this site which he helped to create.

That is troubling enough.  What is even more troubling is that, to date, no official announcement has been forthcoming from the new leadership who were responsible for this coup -- and that, apparently, they have even been actively working to suppress information by deleting journal entries and other public posts made by concerned members.  Without such positive feedback, and with all the cloak and dagger stuff that seems to be going on, rumours are rife.

If this new deviantART, without Scott Jarkoff's influence, is going to introduce itself by draconian actions and admin-approved censorship, I can only wonder how long it will be before it collapses under its own weight.

:no:

At this point, the question of whether deviantART can survive without jark is somewhat moot.  If deviantART is to have any hope of coming through this time of turmoil intact, her new owners need to start treating their members as though our concerns matter.  We need information, guys, not silence!

Edit:

Well, spyed has made an announcement on his journal; make of it what you will...
A friend recently lent me Ice Age, and I enjoyed it so much I went and bought my own copy.  That led to my watching Shark's Tale (which was okay, I guess, if you like Will Smith) and, finally, Finding Nemo (which was brilliant!)

:D

Anyway, after my last journal entry, I went back to finding (and fixing) the remaining glitches in my six HLDM levels.  After another six weeks of tweaking, I made the final release of all the levels (having recompiled five of the six) on the first weekend of the release of Episode III.  (I put in a little extra effort just to be able to release one of them on May 19th, just so I could, in some small meausure, share some of the glory of that auspicious date.  Yes, it's sad, I know...)

After putting the finishing touches to the distribution files and uploading them, I decided it must be time to take a break from mapping, to give my enthusiasm a chance to recover.

I held out for almost 30 minutes!

My newest level was originally based loosely upon an idea given to me by a friend, but it has now taken on a life of its own.  By the end of the first day, I had a two-page list of ideas for inclusion into the level which, after suffering a week under the working title of "newmap", is now called Necropolis: Mausoleum.  I describe it as "AvP meets StarGate meets Raiders".

For anyone who's interested, there are some preliminary screenshots at www.petesplace.id.au/mapping/l… -- it is still a long way from being finished, but they should give a good idea of the direction I'm heading...
  • Reading: The Va Dinci Cod
  • Watching: Finding Nemo