Puzzle Games was born from a need to work on something simple and was inspired by, oddly enough, Andrew Walters' Adventure Games Live game Trail of Anguish. He and I had been testing the game for a little over a week. I came home from work each day and did almost nothing but plow through the game, stopping only when I got too tired to see straight. Then Andrew would fix all the bugs we found that night, and the process would resume in the morning.
On the night before the game was released, I noted a part in the game that seemed a little thin. It's no secret that you need to play this game at least three times to see everything; well, one of the paths you can take was easier than the others, so I suggested that a puzzle be thrown in to make that path a more comparable challenge. So we traded ideas back and forth, including lost keys, magnets, and metal detectors made while you wait. But finally we decided that adding more objects to the game just wasn't going to work. So we wondered if there was a simple puzzle that could be thrown in. I started thinking about grids and manipulating arrangements of values, and the idea for what would become Rotator popped into my head. Somebody apparently already thought of this puzzle, but I had never seen it before. Andrew said that sounded like a good idea, so he spent the next hour hammering out an AGLL (Adventure Games Live Language) implementation of the puzzle. He sent it to me, I installed the code, and we set about testing it. And then discovered that neither one of us could solve it. Well, instead of arranging nine numbers, how about just making a pattern instead? That worked out a lot better.
So Trail of Anguish was completed, and I still think it's humorous that we threw in a major puzzle less than 24 hours before the game's release, after everything else in the game had been tested and proofread. At any rate, the puzzle stuck in our heads, and Andrew and I spent the days afterward analyzing the puzzle and coming up with proofs about it, such as, for example, that all configurations of the nine number variation are solvable. (All initial configurations of the classic 4x4 sliding block puzzle are NOT necessarily solvable -- although on Puzzle Games, the Slider game will never present you with one of these unsolvable configurations.) We came up with methods of sorting and swapping the numbers around, so now we can solve the nine numbers variation. At any rate, it was annoying having to work through the puzzle on paper, so I decided it might be interesting to write a version of the game for RinkWorks. So I did, and Andrew and I played around with that a bit.
Other games followed at the rate of about one per day. After such huge projects as The Game of the Ages and Fun With Words and the still unfinished Project X, I think I needed to work on something where I could make visible progress each day. The only game that tripped me up out of my game-a-day roll was Red Out, which took a week, maybe more, because of the complex rules about how the blocks move. It looks simple, but it isn't. Each of the larger blocks is internally represented as a number of smaller blocks of different types. (For example, the bottom half of a tall piece is a special block type that carries the block above it wherever it moves.) The code for determining which blocks are movable and, if so, where they can move to, is quite complicated. During testing, I was having pieces of blocks moving on their own, sometimes to places where it was not legal for them to move to, and sometimes I had pieces of blocks thinking they could move while other pieces of the same block were thinking they couldn't. It was tedious, frustrating work, picking off the bugs one by one, the code getting more unreadable with each fix, but what a sweet reward when it all finally started working. It was also rewarding to be able to solve that puzzle in the first place. I used to have a wood version of that game, called "King Out," which had wooden blocks stamped with playing card faces on them. The big piece was the king; the tall pieces next to it were the queen and jack. The others were assorted aces, jokers, and perhaps tens. I probably still have it packed up in a box somewhere. Anyway, I never could solve it. When I was deciding on whether or not I should write the game for Puzzle Games, I sat down with appropriately-shaped pieces of paper and worked the puzzle through on the rug. It took a lot of thinking and deliberating, but I guess my mind has developed since I was 15, because I got it. Then, for the longest time while I was testing the Puzzle Games port of it, I couldn't solve it again. I did, finally, and now I think I've managed to remember how.
That was the third to last game. I wasn't sure if I wanted to write any more after Red Out, but I did have this vague memory of the Peg Swap game -- except I couldn't remember the rules for it, and I was never able to solve it when I did. So I reconstructed the rules from memory, making up rules that made sense when I couldn't remember, and then sat down to try to solve the puzzle based on what rules I wanted to test out. I started with just two holes in the middle and spent quite a bit of time proving to myself that it was not possible. But three holes (with three pegs on each side) worked. I wondered if four pegs on each side could be solved if you had three holes in the middle, or if you needed four. Eventually I figured out there was a pattern, and I believe you can solve it with ANY number of pegs on each side and just three holes in the middle.
Towers of Hanoi came last. Hanoi is a famous and popular puzzle. I think it's great to use to study computer science algorithms and artificial intelligence -- it's probably the most-studied problem in all of computer science -- but I wasn't keen on writing my own version of it. There are a thousand versions out there, and I know the algorithm too well to be personally interested in it as a puzzle. But after writing Peg Swap, I needed one more game to even out the table of contents on the main page, so I had to write something. Hanoi it was.
I may add to Puzzle Games in the future sometime, but I'm not planning on it right now. Writing that feature served its purpose. I had fun programming, and I got something done in a relatively short period of time. I think the whole feature took me two and a half weeks to write. I'm still pumped to do something though, so maybe I'll go dig up some code I was writing for a new feature back in November 1999 and play with that again.
My thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their lives in the attacks yesterday and with their families and friends. It is a terrible tragedy when innocent lives are lost because of the evil and deranged actions of a few. Terrible though it may be, however, we, as a nation and as a representative of the free world, will persevere and will triumph. As "Sosiqui," a reader and close friend, said earlier this morning, "When the worst of human nature rears its ugly head, the best of human nature does the same." We will combat this injustice with the best in us. We will unite as citizens of this country and as comrades around the world. We will provide strength for those who need strength, courage for those who need courage, and hope for those who need hope. The United States of America -- indeed, the free world as a whole -- will emerge from this victors in this fight. I like how "Ferrick," who posted on the message forum on RinkWorks earlier today, put it: "There are many heroes to be found in this tragedy as well as many victims. Some are both. We are often seen as a fractured country in many ways, but we are also a country that allows us to be disjointed while still maintaining the ability to come together in crisis and work as a family. Whatever the motives, no matter how successful the terrorists believe themselves to have been, I think we will show them that they have ultimately failed."
I take much pride in -- though I take no credit for -- the community here at RinkWorks, which has pulled together as a family and exchanged comfort and support as if they had known each other all their lives. "Rinkies" from Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand, and numerous countries in continental Europe are no less moved than those from the United States; we have all shared our grief together and shared our strength among us. (Please post any replies to this journal entry directly to the Message Forum; the forum is a much freer mechanism by which thoughts and support may be shared with the community here.)
A few were affected quite directly by the tragedy, and that means it affected us all directly. "Faux Pas" arrived in the Underground Mall, beneath the World Trade Center, a couple of minutes after the first plane hit, and he was in his office building a block away when the second hit. His wife was on the other end of Manhattan and was stuck in the city most of the day. "lilbdude" has three friends that worked in the World Trade Center; two missed the morning train that day and the third wasn't discovered unharmed until that evening. An uncle of "Kitty5498" works in the Pentagon, on the side of the building that was hit; thankfully, he is ok.
We are grateful that these stories worked out. Many others did not. My deepest sympathies are with those who lost loved ones in this unconscionable attack.
What can we, as individuals, do? Blood will be needed in the coming weeks for those who were injured in the attacks. In some areas, there is not an immediate need for blood, because of all those who have already given, but blood will be needed throughout the coming weeks if not months. Check your area for information about local blood drives.
Another thing we can do is to donate money to the American Red Cross, which is a privately funded volunteer organization and therefore needs extra resources to stay ahead of this tragedy. You can give directly to the Red Cross, or you can also go to Amazon.com, which has set up a special area where you can contribute to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund online.
See this contact information page for more information on how you can help as well as to get contact info for various services and organizations involved.
What else can you do? Something that seems so small, yet means so much. Be there for your family, your friends, strangers that cross your path. Exchange strength, empathy, sympathy, and never underestimate the power of a hug. Give the terrorists no ground; do what you can to keep your part of the world functioning and moving. Pray.
May God bless us all.
In response to Mark L., from the previous site journal entry, "Faux Pas" writes:
In response to I Think #159, Mark L. writes:
You buy your chocolate bar. You are all happy and expectant because you are going to get a yummy treat and then you read, "Sorry you did not win this time, please try again."
Before I was just someone about to enjoy a treat. Now all of a sudden I'm loser in a competition I wasn't even aware of. How many other competitions have I lost and not been aware of?
I have consumed a lot of products over time. I must be a loser many many times over.
I wonder about all the times I didn't look to see whether I was a loser or not. Did I win something and throw it away? That would make me an even bigger loser if I did.
What about all those times I was going to buy Snack A but at the last minute decided on snack B? Argh, the torment.
When I buy a treat I'm paying for a treat. I am not paying to be made a loser. Life is competitive enough with snacks making it even more so.
Way to spoil the treat for me.
The following is an email I've had lying around for far too long. I thought I had posted it, but then I looked back and discovered I hadn't. It is a response to the journal entry from December 22, 2000, in which an extra from the movie Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II talks about what it was like to be an extra on a low budget film. This, however, is the director's point of view:
After reading the journal for December 22nd, I thought it might be interesting for those who do not have much experience in film to hear a director's point of view on what happens on a set and the woes of working with Extras. Here is my Director's Cut....
Submitted By: JB, the director of the next subject for the "It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie" review on this site.
The Director's Cut
First, I would like to take just a second to describe how I got myself into this mess. My first experience with movie making was as an extra. The more politically correctly term is a background actor (it just sounds better). It really tells you something about my sanity that I enjoyed it enough to work on and off as a background actor for almost four years while I was going to school. Even now that I have directed, I still like to go undercover as a background actor on occasion just for the memories.
I have to tell you that some of the most hardworking people on the set are the first and second ADs (assistant directors). When I was still a background actor, I was talking to a very hard working second AD who informed me that the job description for a first AD is basically to do anything the director doesn't want to, and the job description of a 2nd AD is to do anything the 1st AD doesn't want to. Adding to the old adage that crap rolls downhill would be that it seems to settle around the 2nd AD, which is why the job stinks.
However, a set could not run without those dedicated enough to give up two whole months of their lives to yell orders at a crew, bury their noses in stacks of impossible schedules, and repeat everything the director says as if the director really meant it. That is the mark of a good assistant director.
As far as directing is concerned, the job is much harder than it seems. There is a conspiracy afoot among directors everywhere to make the job seem as effortless as possible. (You understand that by bringing you this information I am risking my own life and the life of my project.) When the director arrives on the set, he or she has already been working for months to get there. The script must be revised, the locations found, the casting completed, the costuming approved, the script revised again, the crew chosen, the script revised just for good measure, the scheduling completed, the scheduling dumped because of cost concerns, the script revised, the set construction overseen, the budget re-evaluated because the set cost too much to build, the scheduling redone to fit the new budget constraints, the schedule redone to fit the schedules of the principle actors who are no longer available because of scheduling changes, and the script revised. All of this can be rather mind numbing which is why most directors are seen slouched in their chairs muttering to themselves.
Then there are the extras (I mean -- background actors). While I enjoyed being an extra myself, I must admit that for a director, having a set full of extras is like jumping into a lion's den. The first thing you must understand is that the vast majority of extras are there for their first film experience. They have little if any previous experience, but at the same time they really want to do everything the professionals do. Giving an extra a chance to act (for example) is kind of like letting your second cousin Billy Bob practice dentistry on you because he always thought pulling your teeth would be fun. Yet most extr--background actors come to the set with the secret desire to be discovered right there on the spot and to be given a leading roll in your next production. They will go to great lengths to prove their ability to you.
Just try this out one time to prove my point. Put up a camera on Main Street (it doesn't have to even be a real camera or functioning -- a cheap mock-up will do) and stand someone behind it. Tell everyone that walks past that you would like them to be an extra in your movie. Tell them that all they have to do is walk down the sidewalk as if you are not there. Then yell "ACTION!" You will be flat shocked at how many of them look artfully past the camera as they walk by, pretending that they do not realize that their cheesy, grinning mug would be plastered larger than life all across that entire lens. Or watch them purposefully push themselves to the front of the crowd in hopes that they will get a chance to say, "Hi Mom!" The crowd in general will be one of the most unnatural, show-off looking crowds you have ever witnessed. Now yell, "CUT!" and watch everyone return to an absolutely normal persona as they return to the place they started from before you yelled, "ACTION!"
Now consider that you are the real director and have to explain to these people what they need to do differently to act natural (notice the carefully placed pun). On one set I even filmed the ex--background actors starting when I yelled "CUT!" and stopping at the "ACTION!" Of course I had to clue the crew in to make it work, but those were some of the most natural sequences I have ever seen performed by extras. Dang it! Background actors! When viewed in that light you can understand why a director might hide his/her face in his/her hands and let the assistant directors handle things.
All that aside though, working with the background actors is rarely dull. Even when I don't particularly need them, I like to throw in a couple of extras just for the comic relief. I hope all of you reading this will try being an extra at least once. If you truly enjoy it, well, who knows, I may be grinning into your camera on the next film you direct.
By the way, the director is muttering, "How did I get myself into this?"
Fun With Words was a long time in coming. I had the idea for a feature that pointed out various idiosyncrasies in English back in 1998, but somehow I never actually got around to doing it. But it stuck in the back of my mind and refused to go away, so at long last I obeyed its call. Work on the site began in earnest in the fall of last year. I took a couple months' break somewhere in there, then resumed in February and worked on it furiously, determined to see the project past the shaky early stages and to completion. Our two week trip to New Zealand in March did little to upset my momentum. Shortly after I got back, I was hammering away at it again. The last leg of it was arduous -- the Glossary of Linguistics and Rhetoric was a particularly tedious page to assemble -- but the satisfaction of a job done makes it all worthwhile.
Curiously, the first page I conceived, years ago, was the Grammar Foibles one, and it is probably the least complete of all of them. I may go back sometime and add more material to it. The Collective Nouns page began as something you'd probably never guess: an appendix page of sorts for I Think. I Think #154 talks about collective nouns. It had been written long before it was posted to the site, and that's because I was going to release it with a link to an appendix page that listed all kinds of different collective nouns for groups of animals. Constructing that page was tedious, and I was not greatly motivated to put in so much effort just for one I Think thought, so I stalled on finishing that up for quite some time. Then I figured I should just post the thought anyway and save the collective nouns page for the language page I always figured I would eventually get around to doing. That made much more sense to me.
Although moments were tedious, constructing Fun With Words was one of the neatest development processes I've gone through for a RinkWorks feature, because I learned SO many new things as I went. Researching language trivia is addicting: once I ran across one cool feature of language, I was led to three more. There is still much I could say, but I had to draw the line somewhere. I'm not planning on updating Fun With Words with any regularity, but it would not surprise me if I were to find myself inspired to add a page or two now and again as I discover some new fun facet of English.
RinkWorks has been around for coming up on three and a half years now. When it opened, three features were added to the pre-existing At-A-Glance Film Reviews, and a coming soon notice was put up for Computer Stupidities, which opened the following month. The majority of the time I put into the site was new feature development, with a small remainder being reserved for updates to At-A-Glance Film Reviews, Book-A-Minute, and Computer Stupidities. Somehow I still managed to put out new features at a pretty high rate of speed. That rate has dropped since those days, partly because I've been chosing increasingly ambitious projects, but also because over the years I've accumulated for myself a rather wide suite of features that require regular updating. Plus there is message forum moderation to do and RinkChat archives to edit. There's very little time left for me to keep up with things like this journal, and the unfortunate fact is that RinkWorks is starting to feel less like a hobby and more like a job. I always told myself I'd never let RinkWorks become that to me.
So there will be some gradual changes effected here in the coming months. Over time, I'm gradually going to start putting closure to a lot of those features that are currently periodically updated. Crazy Tales will be the first to retire: if I do two more, one in each of the first two sections, all the columns will line up evenly, and each section will have the same number of stories in them. (Those are important goals to achieve, don't you know?) Afterward, that will be the end of that. That feature has run its course. There isn't a lot that can be done with it that hasn't already.
Computer Stupidities, the second most popular feature on RinkWorks. I'm about 800 submissions behind, so it may not end any time soon, but I'm going to become more strict about what I accept in order to go through the rest faster. After that, I'll be all done. There are over 1000 stories there already. After you finish reading it, you could probably start over and not remember most of them. Things People Said will achieve closure in a similar fashion.
Though I may take breaks from At-A-Glance Film Reviews on occasion, as I am now, I'll never completely abandon that just because it's an invaluable personal resource: how many people have accurate, documented accounts of every movie they've ever seen? I Think is unforcible: I can't update that unless the inspiration strikes me to, so there is no point in insisting on an arbitrary forechosen end date. Really Bad Jokes is too easy to update to bother with retiring. Poetry Pool will probably close in the coming months, but I'm not ready to do so yet. The fate of It's a Bad Bad Bad Bad Movie has yet to be determined, but at minimum I may shut off the reader review submission engine. Book-A-Minute and Movie-A-Minute will probably be phased out within the year -- Dave and I have been doing that one the longest, and we were burnt out on it over a year ago. It's getting harder and harder to cover new ground. As for this journal, the change is already apparent: by putting a whole year on a page instead of just one month, I free myself from the implicit constraint of having to put in an obligatory entry every month. If things fire up in here, as sometimes they do, then I'll split it up in multi-month chunks.
So that's the bad news. The good news is that ceasing work on the above means that I will have all kinds of extra time to do what I've always enjoyed most in the first place: creating new features. I have a new feature in the proofreading stages right now -- it should be released later this week -- and yesterday I resumed work on what has long been codenamed "Project X," easily RinkWorks' most complex feature. New feature work can't get old; by definition, it's something new. I can pick and choose my projects, undertaking whatever interests me in the moment. Then I just see those things through to completion, and presto, new fun surprises for you.
This year will be an interesting one for RinkWorks. It will see a lot of gradual changes made in an effort to keep things more alive and dynamic here and to keep my own interest piqued enough for that to be possible.
The Academy Awards embarrassed themselves last night. I don't think it will be long before this year goes down in history as an ignominious black mark in the awards show's history. Granted, choosing Gladiator for Best Picture over such masterworks as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Traffic is not quite so grievous an error as Citizen Kane losing the Best Picture award in 1941. But how many other Best Picture winners are less justified?
It's the epic syndrome. Roman epics are automatically good. Drug movies, like Traffic, are too disturbing to be good, and foreign language films, like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, are all too arty to be good. Ok, so I sound cynical, but the Oscars this year prove that many people abide by these arbitrary rules instead of thinking for themselves. I did, too, when I was about eleven years old. Wow, a Roman epic. This is a great work of art! Look at how grand it is! Grand means good! Fortunately, I grew up.
Gladiator winning the Best Visual Effects award is even more confusing, and it affirms another cynical rule. The Best Visual Effects Oscar too often goes to the movie with the most conspicuous effects, not the best effects. It's the curse of that field of filmmaking. When the job is done properly, you, the viewer, don't know it, or at least aren't reminded of it in every scene. The coliseum in Gladiator looked like a special effect. The storm in A Perfect Storm looked like a storm. A Perfect Storm was robbed of an award it deserved by witless voters. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon should have been nominated in Gladiator's place, but there was never a chance of that. The special effects in Crouching Tiger are so seamless that they don't even look like special effects after the fact.
Best Makeup fell into the same hole. It went to How the Grinch Stole Christmas for the most obvious makeup job. Either of the other two contenders -- The Cell and Shadow of the Vampire -- would have been preferable. On the other hand, other minor awards were very wisely chosen. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, one of the most beautiful movies I have seen in any year, correctly won Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography. It also correctly won Best Score for its alternately beautiful, alternately entrancing music. Traffic correctly won Best Editing; losing it would have made for another unforgiveable blight in this year's awards. The editing in Traffic is as good as it gets.
The screenplay awards, Almost Famous taking Best Original Screenplay and Traffic taking Best Adapted Screenplay, were also wisely chosen. Soderbergh's Best Director win for Traffic was a surprise but not an unwelcome one: he was nominated twice in that category but overcame both the threat of splitting his own vote and also Crouching Tiger director Ang Lee's Director's Guild Award win. (The winner of the DGA award goes on to win the Best Director Oscar about 95% of the time -- a little less than that now.)
The acting categories had numerous surprises. I have not seen a great number of the films nominated in the acting categories, and so I won't comment on them in great detail. The Best Supporting Actor award was most interesting to me: I'd have been happy with three of the choices: Benicio Del Toro, for Traffic; Willem Dafoe, for Shadow of the Vampire; and Albert Finney, for Erin Brockovich. Del Toro won; some say Dafoe should have; Finney's amazing work is underrated: amidst Julia Roberts' most powerful and persuasive performance, Finney all but steals her scenes.
It's curious to note that one of the best Oscar ceremonies was marred by some of the worst award choices. There must be some bizarre physical law of conservation at work here. There was nothing in the ceremony that bloated the proceedings unnecessarily. There were no irrelevant montages other than the welcome "In Memorium" segment. There were no irrelevant musical sequences -- just performances of the five Best Original Song nominees. And yet Gladiator won Best Picture! Ok, I'm done harping on it already.
I have never missed a month since starting this journal. Good thing I got this journal entry in just in time! I did NOT write this on March 1 and pass it off as something posted in the nick of time. Nope, I DID NOT. Let that be a lesson to all you doubters.
One month into 2001, and finally RinkWorks reaps the rewards of two years of work on The Game of the Ages. I'll probably talk more about that later, but for now what I'm more interested in is The Adventures of Smart Man, which was released on Stupid Day nine days ago.
The Adventures of Smart Man was a young idea, brought to fruition unusually quickly for me, thanks to a firm deadline. When I went to visit my parents that weekend, I took my laptop and my unfinished story with me, to wrap up on Saturday, Stupid Eve.
I'm pretty sure the fantastic movie Unbreakable, which my wife and I caught in theaters last month, was what had me thinking about comic books in the first place. I am not particularly a comic book fan, although what I know of Neil Gaiman and others suggests to me that I'd like some of the artier work if I permitted myself the time to get into it. What interests me more is not so much the comic book art form but mythos, legends, and archetypal storytelling. The superhero formula, as with most aged storytelling formulas, grabs my interest possibly more than any specific superhero story.
So thinking about classic storytelling formulas, comic books, and Stupid Day all around the same time (with the superhero game from Whose Line Is It, Anyway? undoubtedly lurking in my subconscious) made The Adventures of Smart Man sort of inevitable. What could I do for Stupid Day? Why, how about a stupid superhero? Stupid Man! No, wait. Calling a spade a spade is not funny. Smart Man! And so Smart Man was born.
Of course he had to have a sidekick, of course he had to have an archnemesis who also had a sidekick, and of course he had to have an airheaded girlfriend that would be put in danger at some point. Of course there had to be an insidious doomsday weapon and a public event as the setting for the climax. All but this last idea came to me very quickly, and I wrote a draft of the opening scenes, which introduce the major characters. I confess I didn't have a stellar idea of where it all was going to wind up before I started writing (normally I at least need to have the climax in my head before I write a word; without that much, what good is writing if you're going to make up where you're going later?), but this was less of a transgression in this case, because I at least knew that the mechanics of the plot would deliberately, unwaveringly plod down the most travelled, cliched road I could think of. The plot had to follow the superhero storytelling formula as closely as I could manage; the uniqueness and humor would come from the details.
I figured early on that since this superhero parody would be about intelligence vs. stupidity and would contain far greater divergence between the ideals of the two sides than the actual intellectual attributes of the opposing characters, it might be good if I found ways to employ a number of different synonyms for "smart" and "stupid," and I started a word list of all the different words relating to intelligence, or lack thereof, that I could possibly think of. Most of the words made it in; some escaped. But listing the words got the verbal part of my brain juiced up, and I figured that since I had gone this far, why not go further?
Words fascinate me. It fascinates me the way words can be put together in interesting ways that evoke images, feelings, or reactions that the actual meaning of the words do not. Outside of context and connotation, the phrase "small semious minion" basically just means "small idiot helper," which, ok, has a measure of intrinsic humor about it, but the harmonious flow of the words borders on ludicrous, the specific word "semious" is obscure enough that it's ludicrous to use in dialogue, and the idea of calling someone a "small semious minion" directly is beyond ludicrous and well into insane.
This is why I love words so much. English is such a rich language. There are beautiful words and even more beautiful ways to put them together. It didn't take me long to decide that The Adventures of Smart Man would be a great playground for me to toy with words and experiment with the punchlineless humor that comes of mixing words in different ways. It was a natural creative step for me to then apply a ridiculously convoluted speaking style to Smart Man and juxtapose with his less than intelligent thinking patterns. And naturally that meant that he'd have to disguise his speech patterns if he wanted to keep his alternate identity a secret. That led to one of the most fun parts about the whole story: writing dialogue that mixed street lingo with a few fifty cent words that slipped through his disguise.
That exhausted most of my language ideas, so on the badguy side I focused more on the visuals. The visual flair of Neuron Shortstop, which, by the way, may be the single fictional name I am most proud of, was a natural. Badguys always look cool and make dramatic poises. Noddle...heh. I don't know what started me on it, but I tried to use every weird, exaggerated, creepy word I could think of when describing the way he looked or moved or spoke. If you came away from the story doubting the physical probability of his humanity, I did my job.
One of the first response emails I got for The Adventures of Smart Man mentioned that he couldn't wait to read more Smart Man stories. I was expecting people would make that assumption. At this time, I have absolutely no intention whatsoever to write more. What more is there to say? The classic superhero plot formula is what it is. There's no room in a parody like this for innovations that distance it from the source material. I either repeat the formula or break away from it entirely. As far as the language goes, I've used pretty much every expression relating to intelligence and stupidity that I can think of, and Noddle was getting harder to describe toward the end, too.
What I can assure you all is that this won't be the last time I write a story or parody for RinkWorks, nor will it be the last time I engage in a celebration of the intrinsic joys of language.