An Exercise In Trivial Pursuits

Fatshion, Food & Frivolities – Life in Las Vegas & Singapore


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GDC Mix & PAX East 2015

There’s no turning back now! The game’s launching in a week! EEEKS! Exciting times… and to think it all started when I moved here in 2013. The first time T ever attended a conference or tradeshow for Axiom Verge was Indiecade (September 2013) in Culver City, California. It was something he’s never dared to do because he was afraid. I went with him to that very first one to pitch to different companies and we’ve never looked back since! 2 weeks ago, we returned from touring the game and have been quite exhausted till now. I think we’re picking up wind from the launch of the game being so close too.

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So we left our house in our Jeep – exhibition gear, clothes and our dog, Max. We drove almost 6 hours to Arizona where my FIL lived and spent the night there. From Phoenix airport, we flew out to San Francisco (and left Max with my in-laws). We spent a few days there and got some sight-seeing done on top of the multiple interviews and our showing at a press event called GDC Mix. We didn’t attend the main event – GDC (Game Developers’ Conference) but instead conserved most of our money and energy for the next event. I enjoyed seeing San Francisco. It’s like Seattle but less wet and beautifully green this time of year. Also, we got to hang out with T’s sister when we stayed at her guest cottage. His niece Sophia was the sweetest, most perfect child.

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After a few days in San Francisco, we flew to frigid Boston. There, T’s cousin Patty picked us up from the airport and we were really fortunate that they could house us because we couldn’t get a hotel except for 2 nights. Her son Drew gave up his room for us and bunked in with his sisters for the nights we were there.

T also had his very first 2 Uber experiences there! HAHA!

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PAX East was really well-attended. Because of budget constraints, we almost didn’t show there. T applied for the Indie Mega Booth but for some reason wasn’t selected (maybe they thought 1 guy making an entire game wasn’t indie enough *koffkoff*). At the very last minute though, Phedran tweeted T about the possibility of sharing a space with the Cooler Master guys and it turned out to be even better! We had lines almost all the time even though we had 3 different machines set up – we even went out to Walmart to buy a TV on set-up day to ensure we had enough stations. Very last minute but so necessary.  It was a great experience overall and money well spent, even if we all agree it shouldn’t be held in this frigid weather. Apparently last year’s event was held in April, so I don’t understand why they had to move it. It also overlapped with GDC (another reason why we didn’t do the main event there). But it’s over now and if we have to do another show in snow, I think we might skip the event. Hahaha…

Oh yes, Axiom Verge also won Destructoid’s Best of PAX Editor’s Choice! w00t!

I must say another big Thank You to Dan who made sure there was lots of press coverage and his tireless energy for 3 back to back promotional events (he even went to SXSW Interactive in Austin for us a few days after PAX East ended).

I’m sure I’m missing out on a lot of details from the 12 days we were away from home and moving from state to state but it’s all good, right? With each event, I learn to up my logistical game so T really just has to concentrate on making the game and showing it. I not only pack t-shirts for sale (we accept cash and credit/debit cards using SQUARE) and stickers or buttons for giveaway but we now also have 4 different printed banners as well as an acrylic sign. I also pack extra business cards, 2 extension cables, disinfectant wipes and extra headphones. My key learning lesson from this trip is to pack a chair (and I went out to buy a foldable camping chair when I got home). There weren’t enough chairs to go around so Tom and Dan ended up sitting on the floor whenever they got tired.

But that’s it for now and our next adventure is going to be in Los Angeles, mid-June. We’re planning to head to E3! Hopefully it all works out!


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Support my husband’s game – Axiom Verge

It’s official! Details of the first release of T’s much-awaited game Axiom Verge was announced a few days ago via the Playstation blog. The PS4 version will be out 31st March 2015 for the Americas and 1st April 2015 for Europe.

And just today, they also announced that PS PLUS members get a discount during launch week!

If you know anyone who owns a PS4 or loves metroidvanias or retro-style video games, please alert them to it! It will also be coming out at a later date for PS VITA. T is currently working on a PC release so anyone with a PC around the world can purchase a download from Steam very soon!

As I’ve previously mentioned, video games hold no weight in my life – perhaps a little unfortunate for someone who is married to a game developer. I am happy watching from the sidelines.

In the last few days, I have been following comments on both the US blog post as well as the one for Europe. I then made the mistake of going to NeoGAF to read more. While there are many who are genuinely stoked for the game, there are also countless who argue that USD20 is too much for an indie game. Some assumed indie equated to poor quality when compared with games produced by big studios, some mentioned investment value, some others are just too cheap to pay anything more than a pittance. I don’t know about video games but I have never seen people argue the price down for an album from an indie band. How weird is that?

If you like the game, buy it. If you can’t afford it, don’t.

It made me sad to see people questioning the production value of something I’ve seen being slaved over by one extremely lonesome man for 5 years. If he wasn’t spending all his free time working on it while holding down a full-time job, he worked 12hr days for 7 days a week when he finally went indie full-time.

T is precise and meticulous while at work. He is friendly and considerate to those around him though incredibly shy and introverted. He never set out to create a game just for profit. He really truly loves what he does.

On many a night, he would bring his sketch book to bed – yes, he hand draws the scary stuff you see in the game. On others, he would get up at 2am (hours after we’ve gone to bed) and excuse himself (yes, he’s very gentlemanly that way) to go back up to his office to work, often till daybreak.

The game was the centre of his life – until I moved in and we got married. As a singleton, he worked on Axiom Verge every day after work and on weekends. I was determined to entertain myself despite having no friends here, just so he would still have lots of time to do that. If you know me, that required all the self-control I could muster.

About 6 months ago, he left his day job and dived into the development of the game full time – thankfully, with the aid of Sony’s Pub Fund. But without the security of a regular income or health insurance, we had to be more aware financially. I think we have done pretty decently by being thrifty. My grocery budget for food has been about USD35 a week for the both of us. I cook almost every meal we eat except for the occasional meal out with friends or family. And as you know, I’m now a super bargain hunter – despite how much I love clothes, shoes, accessories and cosmetics I haven’t bought anything full priced since I left my job. I obviously can’t afford it anymore. Also, for the first few months after he left his job, we actually went without health insurance and even had to ration the remaining bit of our medications as well as rescheduled appointments until early this year.

I’ve been poorly of late and I’m breaking the small kitty we have with all my medical bills. My dizzy spells and hypoglycemia induced delirium keeps T on his toes.  On top of that, he had to take me to my countless doctors’ appointments and lab work several times a week while trying to finish the last leg of his game so he could launch it. But life is an on-going challenge for everyone – some unpredictable things happen, some as a result of the choices we make. I’m sure we’re not the only ones struggling and it definitely could be alot worse.

My husband is a man who is not motivated by money. He sold his Corvette in a heartbeat to raise funds to treat our dog when he had cancer. Everyone thought he was crazy and told me to talk him out of it. But that’s the man I married. When he loves something or someone, he does it with everything he’s got. We actually talked about selling our house and moving into an apartment if it needs be. I even took pictures of our furniture for online listing! And you know, I’ve told him that if this game doesn’t sell well and takes him to the poor house, I’m going along for the ride.

The game will do whatever it will do. I haven’t a clue on the gaming industry and have absolutely no insight to this genre at all. The fact that it’s completed and he did it entirely by himself is already a feather in his cap. His education, experience and skills shines through the final product. If it doesn’t translate to real dollars, so be it. I married a man who dared to dream and has put everything on the line to see it materialize. And I would like to reaffirm that his conviction to his craft is not for nought.

There is something super attractive about a man so passionate for his work. I love seeing the joy in his eyes when he is drawing, animating and programming. And I want him to be able to do it for as long as he can. We can always go back to Singapore and I will return to work so that he can stay home to work on his next game while helping to raise our offspring. *Koffkoff*

Anyway, what I understand of the game is that, while reminiscent of the art style in Metroid (also didn’t know what this was until he showed me a few months ago), it controls like Contra (this I know) and is influenced by a whole slew of features in other retro games – ultimately boyhood fantasies from the 80s almagamated.

So anyway, long rambly post over. Please support my husband’s game – Axiom Verge because

  1. This is a game that will entertain you for hours – days and days if you are super thorough.
  2. It is at most only USD20.
  3. T is a sweetie pie.
  4. We’re crowdfunding for diapers!
  5. You are curious to see what I have given up my wonderful life in Singapore for.


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The Death of the Publishing Industry

IMG_6340The title should read “buying printed materials can be the death of me”. T and I recently encountered a rather annoying situation when attempting to buy the latest issue of Game Informer magazine in Las Vegas. This involved a very excited man whose work was featured in one of the few print publications on gaming left in the industry, enthusiastically seeking one copy to purchase. And it ended with a very frustrated man going home to calm himself down by eating directly from a tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Our online research showed that Game Informer could be purchased at a GameStop outlet so we drove down to one about 15 minutes from where we live. There, we were greeted with brusque hostility from their retail staff. Let me qualify by setting the situation – there were less than 10 customers in the store looking over cartridges (or whatever they call those things now), no queue at the counter and 2 ladies talking to each other behind it. It didn’t look like they were stock-taking or doing anything that needed immediate attention. Right in front of us, there were maybe 10 copies of the magazine we wanted but instead of being helpful, we were asked if we had a GameStop membership (yes they checked their system against our phone number), then told to upgrade it or subscribe to it for a year and there’s no way to just buy one copy. I could think of so many ways of relaying this information without turning us off. Firstly, try the words “I’m afraid it’s not within our policy” or “I would love to help you but I do not have the authority to get around the system”. Rather than “no, you can’t” and “that’s how it is”. Secondly, they could’ve at least pretended to try rather than give us a blank stare that seemed to communicate a “so those are your options. What’s it going to be?”. I offered to pay for a year’s subscription but by then T was so miffed at their outward nonchalance that he refused it – thus denying a genuine and willing shopper. To end it all, there was no “is there anything else I can help you with” gesture, just looking at us as we turned our backs to go. Those are stock and standard courtesy phrases in retail. You don’t have to mean them but not even bothering to do the minimum required is simply unacceptable. We were not holding up a line, there were 2 of you behind the counter so if 1 was attending to us, the other could keep watch on the physical store – is that so difficult? We wanted to BUY one, not sponge one off because “hey I’m in the magazine”. IMG_6104

We ended up driving around for hours – to another 2 different stores which sell magazines, getting the phone numbers of another 2 then calling them (while sitting on a very comfy double papasan chair in Pier 1) but ultimately going home empty-handed.

T and I own a bunch of gadgety things from our personal computers to smart phones – we also have an iPad and 2 Kindles. He is subscribed to car magazines and I have 4 home and fashion magazines subscribed. We are constantly reading, embracing both digital and pulp. And we have consciously kept our favourite books to pass down to our future children (if we have any). I’ve always loved the library, books, literary culture and the art of writing regardless of genre or content – even frivolity in the rags. I come from a generation that grew up without computers or the Internet – our parents took us to libraries to look up information, we knew how to use the Encyclopedia Brittanica etc. As a teenager, I mail ordered magazines from overseas through the post office using money orders and I READ about music to imagine what bands sound like. If it weren’t listening to the radio, to sample music, I would go to a shop and request for a cassette tape to be played – 30 seconds first song of side A and 30 seconds of last song of side B only. I had to count on Smash Hits to fill me in on the rest so that I can decide if I would part with the princely sum of SGD10 to hear the entire album.

So much of the art of writing is lost through our instant and digital culture. I revere writers who can ignite my imaginations with plain text and stir up emotions with adverbs and adjectives plucked seemingly effortlessly from the air but these days, I mourn their loss with badly written yet scandalously popular blogs that titillate.

I went to school to learn how to teach English and Literature – which I did for 5 years in Secondary schools in Singapore, and then 3 years teaching a creative writing course in an enrichment centre. Yet ironically, I did not myself attempt to write outside of academia. I’ve been told I write clearly but my style is too obtuse for anyone to relate. I took that to mean that I could edit for grammar and syntax but I should not attempt my own prose.

What this piece of verbose rambling is, is pointing at people who inadvertently cause the demise of the print industry – bad sales people who make feeble attempts to sell despite the fact that they have many actual physical copies on hand, digitisation of publications for convenience, louts who tout pirated books (I’ve seen entire black & white photocopies of Lonely Planet guides in Khao San, Bangkok for USD2) etc.

And where there’s the anti-hero, we must have someone to provide a glimpse of faith in humanity. With this, I refer to Mike (of Game Informer) who saw my tweet about our futile attempts to buy a copy of the magazine and swiftly takes action by offering me solutions then sending a copy of that dastardly publication to our house! PR and Social Media saves the day! My husband is now happy again. He had wanted his “own spanking new copy to frame up or something” (quote verbatim). IMG_6341

It is a good read and to be honest, when he first said he wanted to buy Game Informer, I laughed hysterically and responded with infomeryounosaydaddymesnowmeI’llgoblamealickyboomboomdown… Because I just didn’t know what it was. Now that I’ve had a chance to read it though, I feel sorry for the editorial team putting the magazine out. It is hard enough to get people to purchase physical print copies of your work and it just doesn’t help that frontline staff from your parent company retail outlets isn’t making more of an attempt to promote it.

T is happy with his multiple copies of the magazine featuring his work and I’m very grateful for Mike who saved the day. A paid subscription to the magazine might be in the works – gawd knows I need me some schooling in video games especially being the wife of a game developer. And apparently Game Informer is considered one of the the last bastion for printed game magazines (also the best)… Maybe when T has forgotten the GameStop episode.


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Back from a week in LA and E3 2014

It’s been an exciting week for T and I (perhaps even Max). We left Max the Maximum Dog in Las Vegas with a wonderful dog-sitter we found through dogvacay.com and he had so much activity with the other dogs in her house that we think he’s depressed now that he’s home with us. We’ll definitely check Max in with her again if we need to go out of town.

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In other (BIG) news, T’s game Axiom Verge won the GAMESPOT Best of E3 2014 (he’s excited to be mentioned alongside No Man’s Sky, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and Batman) and also made the list for IGN’s Best of E3 2014 Best Action Game AND Best Playstation 4 Game.

The week was well-spent even though T was super apprehensive about having to show his game alone and meeting new people. I think one of the biggest breakthrough was him making new friends WITHOUT ME and getting invited to dinner TWICE with a super lovely couple – James Petruzzi (of Discord Games, who makes CHASM) and his master baker wife, Trang (check out the treats she makes here! OMG If I had her mad skills, I would die of FAT in 24 hours). It’s a super big deal for T because we ever only go out with my friends and I always feel he should have his own friends who share similar interests. So so proud of him for breaking out of his shell this week and he picked a fantastically fun couple for us to hang out with! Chop, stamp, approved!

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I didn’t get a pass to enter E3 so T had to be on his own – which made him really anxious but also forced him to step up his game. (See his “uniform” which we made indie-style with homemade iron-on sheets.) I was a little sad to be apart but I was also happy to have 4 days to hang out with my friends. To my husband’s initial horror, my friends suggested I drive to meet them where they were – West Hollywood and Marina Del Rey, while our hotel was Downtown LA. It was crazy traffic and I quickly learnt to increase my following distance because it seems like LA drivers don’t use their turn signals to indicate their intent and weave in and out of really tight traffic every opportunity they get. But I did fine… Pfffft!! Didn’t scratch the car, didn’t cause any accidents, didn’t hurt anyone. I feel POWERRRRFUL for braving the urban traffic in the US, considering I was just driving only on the other side of the road less than a year ago.

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  • On Monday, I got to hang out on set of a new indie feature film called Wiener Dog Internationals that was being filmed in Huntington Beach. I even got to hold a wiener dog (and umm… unwittingly ended up cupping its balls for a while but that’s another story), and be an extra in the film representing Singapore!
  • On Tuesday, it was all about the kiddos, we had lunch at Du-Par’s at the Original Farmer’s Market which was right across the road from the Peterson’s apartment, bought snacks at Trader Joe’s and headed for Coldwater Canyon Park in Beverly Hills before stocking up on instant noodles in Koreatown (I’m definitely going back to Galleria Market!).
  • On Wednesday, Stella and Kate brought me to Manhattan Beach after Kate finished school. Lovely low-key retailers with many unique wares, none of that mass market stuff and lots of yummy treats! We had ice cream at the Manhattan Beach Creamery and the shop itself was super fun! You know summer’s out when people are walking around in bikinis…
  • On Thursday, it was a lovely walk from the Yeo’s apartment in Marina Del Rey to TonyP’s for lunch, then to Mother’s Beach where Kate played on the playground for a bit before we walked to Abbot Kinney aka Hipster Central (I WANT TO GO THERE AGAIN).Oh I love the dreamy houses that we passed at the Venice Canal!

And of course, deserving mention would be

  • Drago Centro – posh-looking inside and out but when they missed out on my order they more than made up for it by offering to give it to me for free and while I waited for it to be cooked, I starved off hunger by eating some yummy bread they provided. YUM! Mushroom risotto! Lovely service staff!
  • Bottega Louie – fancy decor, super delicious treats all calling your name upon entering the door, very crowded (and noisy) but very efficient service.
  • Veggie Grill – Unpretentious vegetarian fast food! YO hello! You people need to open one in Las Vegas soon. I have eaten at your LA restaurants 4 times in a row! We need one here!!

With that, it’s bye LA, hello Vegas, I’m home.


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My husband’s video game on the Playstation Network in 2015

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This is a post about how the world of frivolous living (aka me) collides with my geeky husband’s video game career. If you haven’t already read on my Facebook fanpage, my husband has recently signed a publishing contract with Sony Playstation for a game he’s been working on since 4 years ago. He’s still a small-time indie game developer so to be recognised by a major player is a huge deal. I’m so proud of him and his multiple talents!

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I love reading the comments from his fans on the Axiom Verge Facebook fanpage and sometimes on the blog entries itself. But since Sony’s announcement, I’ve been hooked on the comments and frenzy by gamers who’ve been following the progress as well as those who’ve just discovered it. There are of course cynics and critics but among the commenters, there are also those genuinely stoked about Axiom Verge.

Here are some of my favourites:

This game promises to be a true masterpiece, pray together my brothers so that it comes out on PC. Amen! – Zhn Nico

NOOOO, “coming out in early 2015″…… I wanna play this right now! – vstarwow

@AxiomVerge was easily the standout star of yesterday’s @PlayStation indie blowout. That soundtrack is killer and the game looks incredible – @NOLAnerdcast

SWEET JESUS @AxiomVerge JUST TAKE MY MONEY NOW!!! – Logan Via

Holy crap, this looks amazing! Super Metroid is one of my favorite games ever, and I just had some serious deja vu watching this trailer. Thanks for supporting vita too. I’m torn, I want you to take your time and make it perfect, but I NEED to play it now! – rabidninjamonky

This is going to be one hell of a game that I’ll most likely play for days on end w/o ever stopping to do anything, I repeat, ANYTHING. I wanna play this NOW!!:D:D – Daniel Brydson

And then there’s me – I shamelessly gush about T’s work and I think he’s really talented for doing everything on his own – animation, coding and music. I know I’m biased because he’s my husband. But he truly deserves all his success because when he works at Petroglyph Games in the day, he still comes home every night and work on Axiom Verge for 3 to 4 hours (most days till midnight), and when he works from home, he’s in his office for 10 to 12 hours daily (leaving me to my own devices while we’re in the same house). Even when we’re on holiday, he works on it for hours on the plane AND in hotel rooms! Luckily for the both of us, I don’t need constant supervision and can entertain myself independently. Hahahahha!!

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Other than that, I don’t know video games – don’t play, don’t follow. Those comments are a huge kick in my butt for not understanding the extent of what Axiom Verge is and why people are so psyched for its release – that there are unrelated strangers around the world hanging onto every update. My mind is BLOWN!

I don’t care that I didn’t marry a fancy-pantsy $$$ corporate, I no longer live in a fast-paced cosmopolitan city, and the days of fortnightly spa treatments and new clothes are long gone (until I start making my own money again). Life is far from perfect – especially having to deal with unexpected grief in our new family recently. But hey, the universe does what it needs to keep things balanced, right? As we cope with the trials and tribulations that is life, I want us to be able to unabashedly celebrate T’s success while working through our loss.

These days, my narcissism has taken a backseat and I’m enjoying the scenery while riding T’s wave. It’s been months since I’ve posted outfit pictures or anything else. There hasn’t been much to shout about and I don’t really want to bother T with taking my frivolous photos. Honestly, I don’t think he does a very good job. He does what he does well BUT he takes ugly photos of me and doesn’t seem to see it. I guess it’s also a good thing he thinks I look beautiful when I’m not, right? Hahahahahaha!

My world has changed so much since taking a huge leap of faith leaving Singapore and moving across the globe after a whirlwind romance to marry T. I traded in championing indie music to be a housewife and it’s opened up so many new experiences! Far from losing myself, I consider this a privileged opportunity to rediscover forgotten possibilities and reconnect with what is important to me. It took me 10 years longer than my peers have on average to find their partners and I’m not afraid to say that I savour being married! I have a great husband!! I am still my own person but for now I want to dedicate my time to play the wifely unit of the creator of Axiom Verge and put everything in cruise control.

Anyway, what is this Axiom Verge I keep talking about? Here’s the trailer to show you more

AND here are some links to T’s world – please like, share, follow!