Tag: failure

From the Vault: “What do you mean, I’m doing it wrong?”

Still on the hunt for a dayjob, still struggling day to day, and still encountering more failures than successes. In light of that, here’s a post from 5 years ago about dealing with failure.


Human beings, being mortal creatures, are bound to mess things up sooner or later. This is true in every endeavor an individual undertakes. And sometimes, it falls to others to inform us that we’re incorrect in the manner with which we’ve been proceeding.

In other words, sooner or later, you’re going to be told you’re doing it wrong.

Cheez

Marital disagreements, family drama, storytelling, cheeseburger construction, you name it. It’s going to go pear shaped on you. It could be because of outside influence or because of your direct actions, but the bottom line is the end result is going to be a mess. In writing terms, maybe your protagonist is more annoying than you think. In family terms, you could have maybe timed or worded something a bit differently. Regardless of how you arrived at this point of failure, the question is not so much how you failed but how you recover from it.

First, of course, you need to realize you’ve failed. Sometimes this is obvious in the moment of value – those “oh shit” moments when your sphincter tightens as you brace for the physical or emotional impact that comes on as a result of the events that’ve been botched. Other times, you could be cruising along happy and content, and it’s pointed out to you that something isn’t working out the way you imagined. You might rail against the idea, but when you calm down and re-examine the situation, you’ll see what they’ve pointed out and agree with them.

But rather than dwelling on the failure itself, a more constructive goal is: how do you correct the failure?

That was easy.

Just like admitting you’re wrong, fixing the problem isn’t always easy. A workplace misstep can haunt you for quite a long time depending on the nature of the management. Some family members may be forgiving but others might have long memories that focus especially on slights. And finding a failing in a work may be as simple as excising a line or going back and doing a complete rewrite.

Funnily enough, this post is turning out to be something of a failure. It’s ambling a bit more than I expected and seems to be talking about things in a very broad sense rather than having the tight, narrow focus required for good writing. Hopefully upcoming posts will be a bit more cohesive.

In the meantime, here’s a parting bit of advice:

When I realize I’ve hit a wall of fail, at times I picture getting the bad news from Carla Gugino.

Carla Gugino

Somehow, that helps.

From the Vault: Gratuitous Failure, 80s Style

Courtesy Devolver Games

You know it’s a rough day when a post doesn’t go up until the evening. Oof. Anyway, here’s a bit I wrote about failure. Probably appropriate! My actual review of Hotline Miami can be found here.


I’ve been writing a lot about failure lately. This is partially because I believe that we do learn more from our failures from our successes, and also because I know there are folks out there who like to know they’re not alone in the struggles they’re encountering. I am, admittedly, one of them. I continue to maintain that the important part is not the failures, but rather our reaction to them; does failure prevent us from moving forward, or inspire us to redouble our efforts? I often find a microcosm of this frustration and determination in video games, especially uncompromising ones like Hotline Miami.

For those of you unaware of the game, here’s a quick overview. It’s the 80s, an era infused with bright neon colors and oversaturated sound, and you are cast as a nameless individual taking job offers from your answering machine. They sound innocuous enough: babysitting, taking out the trash, and so on. But it’s all code for killing. You’re a contract killer and you walk into house after house, punching and bludgeoning and shooting your way to victory. You do so while wearing a rubber animal mask, just one of many indications that whoever you are, you aren’t right in the head.

What sets Hotline Miami apart from other games is the overall feel and timbre of the gameplay. You enter the homes of your targets from a top-down perspective, something not often seen in modern games, and everything is pixelated and vibrant in color, rather than rendered in 3D and drenched in modern, realistic palettes. This is probably a good thing given the level of brutality on display. People, human beings, are punched hard, have their bones broken, get their skulls smashed repeatedly against hard floors, and are shot, stabbed, bludgeoned, and sliced to death. They even get savaged by dogs. And more often than not, this will be happening to you, since you’re not going to get it right the first time. You’re going to fail.

Much like Super Meat Boy, the appeal of this game comes from the challenges it presents the player. Without hints, without cheats, without even a clear indication of how the player should proceed, the game sets up the pieces and lets the player have at it. I think this is part of the reason that the graphics look the way they do: the violence is not the point. Oh, it’s visceral to be certain, but reduced to this fidelity it verges more on goofy than disturbing. The true meat of the game is in its challenges, not in blood and bone and bullets. It doesn’t teach players to shoot people with different skin; it teaches them to keep trying even after you fail over and over and over again.

The message of Hotline Miami is not one regarding violence or madness or the 80s being even more fucked up than we remember. Those are just the trappings, the rails on which the story hums along. Within that story, through its mechanics, the game’s message becomes more clear: You’re going to fail. Keep trying anyway. Bludgeon the challenge the way you bludgeon that mook with a shotgun. Sooner or later, you’ll get it right, and it will feel awesome when you do.

I’m not sure what this says about me, but I’m okay with turning a few pixelated faces to paste to get that awesome feeling. And I know I’ll get it in other areas, too.

Gratuitous Failure, 80s Style

Courtesy Devolver Games

I’ve been writing a lot about failure lately. This is partially because I believe that we do learn more from our failures from our successes, and also because I know there are folks out there who like to know they’re not alone in the struggles they’re encountering. I am, admittedly, one of them. I continue to maintain that the important part is not the failures, but rather our reaction to them; does failure prevent us from moving forward, or inspire us to redouble our efforts? I often find a microcosm of this frustration and determination in video games, especially uncompromising ones like Hotline Miami.

For those of you unaware of the game, here’s a quick overview. It’s the 80s, an era infused with bright neon colors and oversaturated sound, and you are cast as a nameless individual taking job offers from your answering machine. They sound innocuous enough: babysitting, taking out the trash, and so on. But it’s all code for killing. You’re a contract killer and you walk into house after house, punching and bludgeoning and shooting your way to victory. You do so while wearing a rubber animal mask, just one of many indications that whoever you are, you aren’t right in the head.

What sets Hotline Miami apart from other games is the overall feel and timbre of the gameplay. You enter the homes of your targets from a top-down perspective, something not often seen in modern games, and everything is pixelated and vibrant in color, rather than rendered in 3D and drenched in modern, realistic palettes. This is probably a good thing given the level of brutality on display. People, human beings, are punched hard, have their bones broken, get their skulls smashed repeatedly against hard floors, and are shot, stabbed, bludgeoned, and sliced to death. They even get savaged by dogs. And more often than not, this will be happening to you, since you’re not going to get it right the first time. You’re going to fail.

Much like Super Meat Boy, the appeal of this game comes from the challenges it presents the player. Without hints, without cheats, without even a clear indication of how the player should proceed, the game sets up the pieces and lets the player have at it. I think this is part of the reason that the graphics look the way they do: the violence is not the point. Oh, it’s visceral to be certain, but reduced to this fidelity it verges more on goofy than disturbing. The true meat of the game is in its challenges, not in blood and bone and bullets. It doesn’t teach players to shoot people with different skin; it teaches them to keep trying even after you fail over and over and over again.

The message of Hotline Miami is not one regarding violence or madness or the 80s being even more fucked up than we remember. Those are just the trappings, the rails on which the story hums along. Within that story, through its mechanics, the game’s message becomes more clear: You’re going to fail. Keep trying anyway. Bludgeon the challenge the way you bludgeon that mook with a shotgun. Sooner or later, you’ll get it right, and it will feel awesome when you do.

I’m not sure what this says about me, but I’m okay with turning a few pixelated faces to paste to get that awesome feeling. And I know I’ll get it in other areas, too.

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