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Vision. On Capturing the Moment. Sid Meier's Memoir! Press Reset. Eventide. Night Moves.


The moonlit desert glows, sparse Joshua trees cast twisted shadows that silently point upwards. I sit atop a weathered boulder, gazing up at the blue-black horizon above the barren desert and a low hanging moon. As I look out, I notice something floating out in space. It’s a giant Discord window, approximately 100 feet tall and covering a gigantic chunk of sky.

I am, of course, not actually in the desert. I’m seated comfortably on my living room couch with an Apple Vision Pro obscuring the upper half of my face, and I’m writing these very words.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so immersed in the act of writing. At my desk, distraction is ever-present, with social platforms and websites ready to take my attention with just one little tap of my finger. Out in the world, the environment around me competes with my focus. If I was actually at Joshua Tree, I would be both fighting the bitter cold and wary of any wildlife which might be sharing the desert landscape alongside me.

The Vision Pro is a technical wonder, easily surpassing anything Meta has engineered to date, but it is also decidedly a first generation device. Bugs abound in these early days, and a lack of apps tailored for spatial computing makes for a disjointed experience. I’m typing these thoughts into a third-party text app, as Apple's own Notes app lacks a dark theme and almost blinded me when I booted it up in the dark of Joshua Tree’s night.

Of course, many issues will be quickly rectified. The bugs will be scrubbed away and the App Store will fill up with interesting apps. A larger question: Will the paradigms this technology presents actually prove appealing?

Surprisingly, I find little to actually do within the Vision Pro — but that turns out to be a feature. The Discord window floating in the sky exerts a gentle presence; to engage with it, I must literally crane my neck upwards, a motion that reinforces the apps place on the periphery.

On my Mac, apps like Discord tempt constantly, threatening to steal precious minutes with a slight trackpad nudge. My phone, too, delivers an IV drip of TikTok and mindless feeds. But here in the sweeping desert vista, such time-wasting seems hollow.

The Vision Pro’s virtual scenes demand activities of equal resonance. And so I write, I read, I leave frivolous apps out of sight. At least for now, there’s freedom in the absence of compulsion.

As I finished writing this, I gazed skyward. Above me the clouds floated by (they actually move!), and for a minute I just watched them pass, glimpsing the stars beyond, dimly twinkling.

Much like those clouds, this new technology remains in constant flux. Will it dissipate or swell to blanket the horizon? Its shape is still amorphous, its course still unclear.

But immersed this unformed space, I’m hopeful for the future.

Luna // 10 Months // On Capturing the Moment

The morning sun filters through gauzy curtains as Luna's little feet patter across our home, propelled by insatiable curiosity. Her latest obsession is pulling objects off shelves and out of drawers to inspect them up close. In the kitchen, she empties utensils from a drawer, examining each intently before moving on to the next. At Kristine’s nightstand, she removes bottle after bottle of nail polish, captivated by their glossy colors and iridescent shimmers. At my record console, she pulls out every album, allowing them to slip through her tiny fingers and clatter noisily to the floor.

While she was deeply invested in that last act, I slipped the Vision Pro on and took a new ‘spatial video’. I captured her pulling Anaias Mitchell and Prince and Sufjan Stevens off the shelf. I recorded her turning to notice me behind her. I recorded myself reach out as she crawled into my arms. "Look at the mess you've made," I say, pulling her close. "I love you," I whisper in her ear.

When I play back this memory, those tender words are whispered into my own ear. The immersive video pulls me back into the moment. It feels real once more

I recorded this vignette only yesterday, and it already brings me to tears. I can barely fathom how it might affect me in five, ten, twenty years.

I don’t think I’ll make a habit of wearing the Vision Pro to document Luna's every moment. In this early phase, it's too unwieldy for capturing video on the regular, and I’m trying to be intentional about using technology in front of of her at this early phase of life before she’s fully cognizant of what it means to hold my gaze or lose it.

Even so, I may one day regret not recording more often.

What I Read

Three books this week. Two about video games. One about the Colorado plains.

Sid Meier’s Memoir! is exactly what it says on the tin. The legendary game designer wrote an incredibly charming autobiography, sharing stories about his career from the very beginning to the creation of seminal titles like Civilization.

There’s a particularly interesting chapter about how to make games feel fun without punishing the player by killing them. In ‘Pirates!’ he got around this by making the end goal not to survive, but to live well:

This game was not about life and death, I realized. It was about a lifetime. A pirate’s career would last about forty years between childhood and old age, and his goal was to accomplish as much as he could in that window—to have an adventurous life with no regrets. Rack up the gold, rack up the victories, rack up the wild stories to tell at the tavern. As in real life, success could only be measured as a combination of your exploits, and how much value you put on those particular exploits yourself.

I decided we would let the player choose when to retire, and instead of a numeric score, we would display a tally of successes, and an appropriate seafaring rank. We even factored in the character’s age when it came to fencing skill and ship maneuverability, by slowing the responsiveness of the controls and increasing the probability of a miss. Players could judge for themselves when the risk was too great, and aim to go out on top—or else stubbornly refuse to quit, risking battle after battle as a hunched old seadog until they had handed over their last doubloon. Just like the rest of the game, the decision to end it was theirs alone.

While Sid Meier’s book was full of a lot of optimism, that was counterbalanced by my read through of Press Reset, by Jason Schrier, the author of Blood, Sweat, and Pixels which I read not long ago.

This is less about game development in general and more about the specificity of the industry's tumultuous development cycles, complete with studio closures and mass layoffs. A revealing look at the human toll behind the games we play. Particularly interesting to me was the story of Ken Levine’s studio Irrational Games. They created the critical and commercially successful game BioShock, followed it up with a relatively well-received sequel, and then shuttered, with Levine taking fifteen employees to start a new studio. That was in 2014, and the game they’ve been working on (Judas) is still unreleased. The book truly showed how harrowing the industry is — working long hours with no job security, moving from studio to studio, and often spending years on projects that never see the light of day.

A brutal industry.

On a much lighter note, I also read Eventide, a book about simple life in the American West of Holt, Colorado. Haruf’s prose is sparse and evocative, and the characters he writes are sketched with such care and depth that they breathe, live, and ache right off the page.

There’s no grandiose plot twists in sight here, just a simple meditation on community and the bonds that tether us to one another. This book is a reminder that In the quietest moments and the simplest acts, there’s a profound story to be told.

What I Watched

Ever since I watched The Long Goodbye, I’ve craved movies just like it. The problem is that there are no other movies just like it, but I keep trying anyways. My search led me to Night Moves, a delightfully moody neo-noir film with Gene Hackman playing a private eye trying to find a runaway.

It wasn’t like The Long Goodbye, but that was fine. I’m not sure I’ve ever watched a mystery like this before, where I went from not really caring about the story unfolding before me (and just enjoying the characters on display) to sitting there as the credits rolled, thinking over every scene and each person’s motivations. The seemingly straightforward detective tale is, in reality, about human complexity and moral ambiguity.

That's all for now,

From the present moment,

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