Zero Signal

After seventeen years, I’ve finally decided to resurrect what was once my own personal space on the internet.

To be honest, resurrecting it is not something I thought I’d ever do. That was before the days of “social media,” at least as we know it now. When I shut the original Zero Signal down, MySpace was only a couple of years old at the time, and was gaining traction fast. The days of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (etc) were still years in the future. I did jump on the MySpace train, as I got to reconnect with old friends that I hadn’t seen in years. That’s also why I joined Facebook when that started to take off, as I’m sure most everyone else did. It was fun, back then.

But over time, social media was taken over by corporations, seeing these sites as a vast, untapped source of revenue. Trolls started to run rampant. Bots stirred up trouble. Conspiracy theories spread like wildfire. Politics, despite pretty much always being a “GO TEAM!” kind of thing, became inflammatory to a degree that humanity has never seen in history. And, well, we all know what happened there.

The less-informed fell for this stuff, hook, line and sinker.

I started to withdraw from social media because of all this. Twitter first, as I never used it outside of posting book updates, and it was apparent just by scrolling through my feed that it was a virtual festering bowl of dog snot. Facebook came next, after the 2016 presidential election. I just couldn’t take the stupidity and fighting that erupted. Instagram became my choice of social media after that, as it was relatively free from the stupidity that plagued Twitter and Facebook. The cracks began to show there after a bit of time, too, so I started taking periodic breaks from it.

And, as I usually do, I began yearning for a simpler time. The “wild west” of the internet, as it were.

It didn’t happen overnight, of course. I did jump back into social media after a bit, thanks to some genuinely great people I’ve met. Even with them around, though, I’d mainly use these sites for announcements and direct messages. Then, late in 2021, I finally decided to reopen one of my old classic gaming pages, my most popular to date: West Mansion. While it was nice going back in, relearning web 1.0 HTML coding and all of that good stuff, it wasn’t quite what I had in mind. I have other interests, other things to talk about besides Splatterhouse all the time.

Then, a few days ago, I was scrolling through Facebook. Despite not posting there much, I still know plenty of people that do. One of them, NathanTZ, made a post that said, “I made a website. Fuck social media. It’s gone to shit.”

That lone post was enough to get the old gears turning in my head. For one thing, he’s right. Two, he went and did it. And I thought that maybe, just maybe, the time was right for Zero Signal’s return. And well, here we are.

Don’t expect me to post anything videogame-related on the site itself, aside from what little has already been mentioned, but I’ll still post about it here.

Getting warmed up…

As October progresses, I’ve been building up a small collection of Splatterhouse stuff to post on West Mansion, which will lead to the October 31st post celebrating West Mansion’s first year anniversary online. You can see what I added today:

I’ve also made a decision. Updates throughout the year will be reserved for special bits of news, but October will be the month I go all out. That way, I can keep the site alive while continuing to focus on my writing.

See you the next time I update!

Of Writing, Updates and Covid.

Hey, I’m back.

First, West Mansion has been updated:

Second, I’ve been writing a lot recently. My long-gestating book Eating Candy in Outer Space is finally nearing completion! It’s the first of three companion books to Memoirs of a Virtual Caveman. Candy focuses on the non-gaming portion of my life: growing up in the ’80s, coming of age in the ’90s, and everything that went with those, from early interests like toys, to the various early loves and losses I had, early work experiences and so much more.

Eating Candy in Outer Space will be followed at a later date by The Chicken at the End of the Street, which picks up where Candy left off, at the dawn of the 21st century. In it, I discuss becoming a father, my first failed marriage, and how I ultimately met and married Bette, as well as the trials and tribulations we’ve endured since, such as the time in 2020 when I nearly died, as well as becoming a grandfather, plus plenty more wacky work stories and other anecdotes.

The third planned book is Digital Archaeology: Retrogaming Recollections. This is a book that I’m only compiling and editing. If you read Memoirs, you’re most likely familiar with the second half of the book, where I invited quite a few friends and colleagues to share their gaming memories. I decided some time ago that those stories were too good to be relegated to a backseat in Memoirs, and they all deserved to be in their own book. This time around, I’ve also put out an open call for more submissions, and a lot of people have already signed up to contribute. The closer the book gets to release, I’ll be revealing just who’s going to be featured in the book. So keep an eye on Twitter and the Memoirs Facebook page:

Which brings me to the burning question: what about Memoirs of a Virtual Caveman itself? I knew that splitting out the contributor stories into their own book would cause an issue with the book as it stands, but not to worry. I’m also working on it as well! The previous edition may have been called the “Definitive Edition,” but this new edition is going to be the Final Edition. This time, it’s all me. And I’ve already added plenty of new gaming stories from my past, cleaned up some of the errors in the previous edition, as well as making all sorts of other changes. And after this, that’s it. There will never be another “new, improved edition” of Memoirs published. Who knows, there may be an anniversary edition reprinting down the line somewhere, but as far as making any other changes to it, that’s it. After this, it’s done.

Of course, the artiste extraordinaire PrimeOp is handing the cover art duties. Of the four, Memoirs and Candy are done, but I can’t wait to see his takes on my ideas for Chicken and Digital Archaeology.

Okay, what about Covid? I finally caught the damn thing. Warded it off for over two years, only to have it come after me in my own home. It first really hit me one week ago, and I passed the worst of it on Tuesday, but there’s still that damned lingering cough. I’m just glad I was vaccinated, or it could have been a lot worse.

What’s going on with me?

That’s the question, is it not?

Last Monday, I announced yet another hiatus from social media. As much as I try to curate my newsfeeds, stupidity still manages to leak through. Frankly, I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life. So for the past week, I’ve been re-evaluating things.

First, the Dire & Bette videos will be continuing. No worries there.

I’ve taken a small step towards resuming writing. This hasn’t been easy. I’ve faced so many setbacks over the years that I have to wonder if I still have the drive to do so. Then again, maybe I’m just overthinking things. I really don’t know.

The specter of my own mortality is probably playing a factor in this as well. I hit fifty in a couple years, I’m about to become a grandfather again, and I feel like all of my best years, the ones I could have spent working on my writing, are behind me, spent with a woman that didn’t appreciate what I was doing, or me, or even her kids in the end.

But I had drive back then. I was capable of being creative, writing entire novellas while collaborating with some very talented friends.

For the most part, all of that has changed. My friends, the ones I collaborated with, have to deal with what life is throwing at them. Whether the issue is medical, or mental, or just business-oriented, they have to do what they have to do.

I do understand that, and I don’t begrudge them that at all. But I don’t work well on my own. It’s best when I have someone I can bounce ideas off of daily, and it helps if they too are writers. When that doesn’t happen, I backslide. The lack of energy I’ve had since nearly dying isn’t helping either.

Nor does it help anything else. I have a nice stack of videogames I could be playing right now, but instead of doing that, I’ve been binge-watching Frasier. And knowing full well there are fewer years ahead of me than there are behind me, you’d think I’d be doing my best to enjoy that time.

But I’m not.

If only…