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What's inspiring me? - June 2021

· inspirations,Video Games

Psychonauts I started replaying it, and it really is a masterwork that deserves to be remembered alongside Day of the Tentacle and Grim Fandango as yet another Tim Schafer game that deploys reference and trope to build a rich, internally consistent, and wholly original world full of excellent visual gags and real character and heart. As a translation of those sensibilities into 3D space, it's far more successful than Grim Fandango, which was plagued by awkward controls and some puzzles that were needlessly hampered by the game's perspective. Yes, the meat circus level in Psychonauts exposes the rougher edges of the game's controls, but even the worst level of this game has something surprising and inventive to offer. And the best? How can I pick? Lungfishopolis! The Milkman! Battling Napoleon! 

Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius von Wallenstein Damn it. I fell down another research rabbit hole, and this time it's the 30 Years War. One thing you need to understand about me is that I find military history quite tedious. My interest in history centers on how ideas spread, on the mundane physical realities of day to day life, and on the characters you can find--bohth the ones featured in it and the ones you have to read between the lines to find. So naturally, what drew me to the 30 Years War was my interest in the impact of the war on witch hunts (see my May 2021 inspirations) and in, of course, the Tross--aka the baggage train that followed the Imperial armies around, sometimes the size of a small city, numbering more than the size of the army itself. I became utterly fascinated by the idea of being a child growing up in this environment, or being a resident of one of the towns who had to play host to the army and their traveling city. 

So why Wallenstein? Well, as part of my journey into the research rabbit hole, I started watching a four-part German series from the 1970s on the guy, who was a Bohemian noble and general army of the Holy Roman Empire. I told you I like characters, and wow, was he a character. In 1621, after commanding a regiment in the army that defeated the Bohemian rebellion and marched on Prague, he gets put in charge of Bohemia itself by the Emperor. And what does he decide to do? He debases the coinage so that he can pay to recruit a massive army, so that the Emperor can continue the fight against Frederick of the Palatinate and Christian of Denmark. Then he walks up to the Emperor, this guy who was previously a regimental commander, and demands to be named "Generalissimus." It's really not surprising that he eventually gets murdered. I certainly don't approve of his antics--guys like him are miserable to be around--but from the distance of history, it's hard not to shake my head in admiration.

Summer Summer is a good time in Berlin. The sun's been out, and the whole city is alive with people finding any space they can to sit outdoors and enjoy the sun. It also means school is almost out, so the family is looking for a chance to take a small vacation soon. A good time to relax and get some writing done.

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