Beer

My body has a rather low tolerance for it and it empties my mind.

Oh.

2011/03/25 at 1:00 AM

I’m Writing For How To Play UK!

My debut post there. Exciting to be writing again, albeit I’ve got even less time than less semester.

More games writing. Better writing. I eventually want to make a great article following in the steps of New Games Journalism. Gotta push the medium forward, you know?

2011/02/18 at 1:13 AM 1 comment

Because I Like Talking About Myself, 2011/02/08

[EDIT: This kind of post will not happen often. They're kind of annoying to do because a lot of details are missing and thus the context is pretty general. Also I don't feel quite comfortable with being able to tie in my own life into something artistic, writing-wise and just in general feelings-wise.]

Oops. Guess I haven’t kept this up as much as I’d like. Right now I have 7 drafts of relatively long articles sitting on WordPress. On top of that, I’ve been meaning to write for my former EON Gaming editor Patrick Rose’s revival of his How To Play blog.

I’ve barely played anything in the last couple weeks, too. My Steam profile at the moment lists me as having 17.4 hours played over the last 2 weeks. And I think the week before that was even worse. It literally was within the last two days (i.e. Sunday and Monday) that I played about 5 hours of Chaos Rising. Fun game, that, I’ll definitely be preordering the Collector’s of Retribution. Glorious space marines. FOR THE EMPEROR!

Anyways.

Classes are no pushover. Especially my (fictional) headache-inducing Computer Graphics class. The professor is awesome and pretty hard. Computer Security is just plain awesome. Maybe my favorite class this semester. For some reason it really clicks with me. Really, though, it’s just that I’ve finally managed to really get a nice balance of work, play and life. It’s too bad that the play part really hasn’t included video games. They don’t play themselves (hush, I know about Progress Quest).

One of my goals among my more non-game playing friends is to really show them what kinds of bounds can be pushed beyond your average “military” shooter and male power fantasy. There really is so much that it’s a shame that we’re not in that era (i.e. the late 90’s). We’re sort of getting there as you go further away from the mainstream choices (it’s not much different than the music industry), but, just like the music industry, the indies (of the rock and electronic varieties) are…not quite as indie as they could be, I think.

And let’s not even get into how behind I am on music…I’ve been meaning to make collections of several netlabels (which shall be explained in a future post) not to mention follow some new ones, but the sheer time necessary is just massive. It’s a lot of finding, it’s a lot of downloading and organization. I like doing it, but man, I wish there was a magic black box that just did it for me. So I could go play video games.

I started coding up a visualizer using Processing though, that’s been pretty interesting but also frustrating in ways because there really needs to be more documentation on the music analysis stuff.

I expect I’ll put out…maybe 2 articles for How To Play this month. Oh man. So busy.

Carry on.

2011/02/08 at 7:03 PM

A Game I Want To Make: An Unnamed Music Game

[DISCLAIMER: This post was on EON Gaming and it was about the idea of taking concepts in life that weren't directly tied to game design but can, in fact, be used for games. Also there was an argument for games as art. However, this post will focus on the design of this music game (which is of course, unnamed as of yet). "Games as Art" will be a separate post.]

Music games have had a relatively sad history. The history part is something I’ve yet to comprehensively research (I could probably count the number of notable games on both hands, or close), but I really want to make a music game. There is something pretty amazing about this category of synaesthetic games. Masterful visuals, obviously awesome music and of course, some kind of revolutionary  innovation in playing with the world created (or chosen) by the music. Rez, is probably the best example of this.

I still don’t know what kind of music game I would want to make. Rez is a carefully crafted experience; all the visuals, sounds and enemies (it’s a rail shooter, the player move around a reticule and he/she “selects” enemies and powerups) are set by the creators (Tetsuya Mizuguchi and Q Entertainment). It’s careful, brilliant but yet it’s a relatively short experience (it relies on replaying levels and remembering where to move your reticule, basically, and there are 5 stages), not to mention fairly hardcore. It’s probably the best way to handle such a game, however, and Rez’s execution is exceptional.

Another type is what I’ll dub the “Audiosurf” method. It relies on audio analysis and procedural generation to create levels the player goes along and collects blocks (the avatar the player chooses also has powers to manipulate blocks and move around the track, like jump). The “game” part of Audiosurf is somewhat bland; the player’s avatar is moving along a path that is generated beforehand and is procedurally raised/lowered/twisted/bumpy based on the dynamics and, basically, epicness of the track used. Blocks are also set on said path and they can hinder or help you. The player moves around, collects blocks based on your avatar (the character I prefer, Mono, simply collects as many as possible. Other ones have blocks of different colors, and one must prioritize which blocks to collect and the like.). Its music-to-game connection, though, is pretty remarkable, in both explicit and subtle ways. Audiosurf’s execution in that regard is excellent.

So…enough about them. What about ME? MY game? One major decision I haven’t made yet is whether I want to use procedural algorithms based on user-submitted music or if I want to just put in tunes of my own choosing. Preferably I would be able to put in a Rez game through the analysis power of Audiosurf. But that would be difficult and, well, not unique, as awesome as it would be. A game that leans on the side of Audiosurf would be much more of a science experiment, but probably unsellable. A game on the side of Rez would be much more of an art project, and possibly sellable. I rather like procedural algorithms though, so I’m leaning towards playing around with an Audiosurf.

I want to make a game that uses some of the ideas in breakdancing. Freestyle dancing (and any similar gymnastics-based activity) is amazing in that the person engaging in the trade has a set of moves (analogous to a player’s actions in a video game), but even more intricately, these moves are not so discrete as in video games (which, for the most part, involves shooting with different types of guns and making things explode). They can be changed and chained to infinite patterns of beauty and meaning. I want to nail what makes those ideas come alive in execution. Not necessarily in the form of dancing or the like, but definitely along the same lines.

The verbs of the game (i.e. the player’s domain of actions) would have to accomodate expressions with much more depth and complexity than the “move” and “shoot” verbs we have today. I so, so, very much wish I had more to say; there are too many unknowns, especially as this is a rather experimental part of video games that hasn’t been explored very deeply yet. I never tend to be an innovator, more of a understander and modder of mechanics, if that makes sense.

As time goes, more shall come.

2011/01/21 at 10:18 PM

Girl Talk’s All Day

In short: it’s quite brilliant, even if it took me a couple listens to really appreciate it (which is probably my fault).

I admit, I’m not familiar with Girl Talk’s previous works, except that he’s sort of a DJ and a mashups remixer, and really good at it. All Day, however, is awesome.

I don’t know if I’m interpreting Girl Talk’s intentions correctly, but despite that, whatever interpretation I have is awesome. A short journey through the music industry contrasting even that-rapper-I-HATE Soulja Boy to the amazing Aphex Twin (in fact, they’re paired together, and really well, to my surprise. Barring Soulja Boy’s frankly amateurish piece of crap lyrics, the combination of Windowlicker and just words work excellently). All Day is full of quirks like the above that makes it so entertaining; a romp through how far the industry has made, where it can go (away from autotune please) and some of the frankly stupid things it has produced, as well as amazing things (Mr. Blue Sky please tell us why you had to hiiide away for sooo long [Sooo long!], where did we go wrong?).

And of course, it wouldn’t be not-mainstream without possible interpretations outside the context of music; the state of politics, the things in life we could appreciate, and, undoubtedly, the treatment of women. Thanks, mainstream rap.

All that said, I really hope the artists involved learn from All Day. There were many, many parts (and more as I continually listen to it) that haven’t really been tried, musically, but really could work. The part with System of a Down combined with Rye Rye/M.I.A. was amazing; it had so much weight (I was intensely disappointed when the original System of a Down song used for it was so much less powerful than that; it really shows Girl Talk’s talent). Another section I liked had Portishead with rapping. Another with the Toadies. More. There are so many bits that I might as well just say that I like the whole shebang.

So give it a listen. It will be enjoyable, I’m sure. Simultaneously a history lesson and just great music, Girl Talk’s All Day should be in your collection. Oh, it’s free, too. How awesome is that?

To which I say: quite awesome.

P.S.: Would you like a nice visualization of All Day? It’s very nice. Did I say it’s nice? It’s nice.

2011/01/12 at 1:55 AM 1 comment

Addendum: EON Gaming is No More

Oops. Right after I post about how my gritty days as a writer for EON Gaming (CONSTANTLY flogged, I tell you! Constantly!) will lead me to liberation by the knights of a bigger news site, my editor and the administrator have declared it dead. A sad way to go, as it certainly had the potential, but nonetheless, to keep a site of EON’s scope running would require…a lot of resources. I enjoyed my brief stint from its start to its end; 3 months of article features, although I admit, I missed a few weeklies. I met some very interesting people who I’ll definitely be keeping in contact with, and I’ll also be watching where THEY go for their next gigs (per se).

So, where does that leave me? I’m not quite sure. This is really sudden news and I’m rather surprised that I almost took EON for granted as a place to store my works. And this was right as I was finishing up on a review of DeathSpank for EON. Which you should buy, by the way. I’m thinking of putting up all my articles (pending permission of the editor and/or administrator of course) on here at least so that I still have something to show. I’m also not sure what to do next. I wonder if this is what freelance games journalism feels like, I guess? At least there was no risk involved (i.e. I’m not living off of the “money” I got. Seeing as how I got none. :P). That does leave some time for me to do…something. I’m rather split between writing articles for somewhere (which would involve finding a place that’ll take me in a profession that many, many people are interested in), or somehow spending that time on game development (which would involve learning things that many, many people are also interested in). If I had clear motivation to work on game design, I probably would, but seeing as how I’m still in that transition phase…perhaps I’ll need something to grease those gears in the interim.

Let’s take a look at what EON did right and where it fell flat (which, in reality, is not really EON’s fault), in comparison to normal news sites.

  • It had tons of interesting content. Definitely no shortage there, along with a good variety covering all platforms and all types of games with all types of crazy editorials (a lot of my own content was crazy editorials, I didn’t have one posted review).
  • The site was quite well-designed and got some pretty hefty updates. What made the administrator close it down was the lack of time to update it even more. A news site does need constant framework updates to make it improved, not to mention the implementation of features that makes it…a news site.
  • Popularity is where EON ultimately fell short. For anything, I’ve found, that initial reaction and/or push is very, very important. Timing, content, it all has to line up. It’s bad, but it’s generally how things are (and how companies like Activision operate). It was a site between a bunch of friends and a dude from the Internet (me; also I was the only American on the site. I’M IN UR BASE, ENGLAND! Or, I was. Until it became asplode.). We didn’t have the backing of a ton of people. We didn’t have any exclusives or any of that silly stuff that normal news sites have.

News sites = Content + framework + timing (both initial and for news; the fastest news gets the most hits).

And as I write this, I got okayed by my administrator to put up articles here. I always assumed that I could, but you know, Internet + copyright = messy.

So that’s that.

2011/01/03 at 1:18 PM 2 comments

Obligatory New Year’s Post for the Menagerie

Ah, so another year has passed on this planet of ours we call Earth. Nice. 2010 has felt like a very long year, who knows why? Probably a combination of factors of school, work and life. Relativity. I’ve certainly been pushing myself harder this year than other ones before. It’s not quite what I wanted (I should have had like, 10 games made by now! Hundreds of insightful articles! WHERE IS MY INTERNET FAME?), but it was definitely steps in the right directions at least (or so I felt). What did I do in 2010 towards my goals?

  • I started writing for EON Gaming. I’m precisely 3 articles behind along with my weekly obligation right now (in addition to this upcoming week). I’ve got this break to finish that up!
  • Games. More. Learning what makes them tick, learning what makes them work, learning the goods and bads, the proficient and failings.
  • Activities/Hobbies. I’ve kept up with quite a few of my own hobbies still. And I’m starting one back up again. And I’ve recently taken an interest in adult American cartoons, which I’ll discuss in a moment.
  • Friends. I have many. Some of which can still tolerate my odd fawning over video games. Good on you guys.

So what do I want to do in this upcoming year?

  • More journalism and blogging. Here and out there. I want to be able to freelance write for some bigger news sites, maybe. Perhaps by Q3 2011? Really, the point is that I’ll become good at writing. All kinds of writing, probably all short form (as that’s what I like). I’m still gunning for some kind of Internet fame (or at least a nice little cult, no?). At least get one article linked in RPS’s Sunday Papers. Whatever. I’m gonna make it happen.
  • Actually finish more games. I’m not a very old gamer (I consider the genuine start of my gaming “career” to be the winter of 2008 with the purchase of the Orange Box) so I’m still getting used to the idea of FINISHING games. I’m doing better, having finished both DeathSpank and Mass Effect 2 (an astounding combined 42 hours; I’m so glad I’m on break right now) straight after purchase from Steam’s always ridiculous sales. My backlog is massive. Massive. Probably at least 120 games or so that I’ve yet to finish to a significant degree of completion.
  • Better time management. Not for games, actually, but in general. I’ve got a good handle on playing “exactly a half-hour” or an hour, or whatever. But I never seem to have enough time for anything I do. Probably attributed to the fact that I do a ton of things in my real life. I’m devoted this time. Efficiency shall be the only word I know in the dictionary of time. I really want to keep up with being an intelligent reader of THE NEWS and…well, I’m lagging behind. Massively.
  • Push my “jack of too many trades” skill to be more than just a jack. I’m rather good at picking up more hobbies than I can feasibly do. I already do more than most people I know but it’s time to tighten down, per se. Figure out what I really want to stick with and just stick with it. And it goes in line with the time management too.
  • Make games. Let’s just say there is a certain company I really really would like to work for, and I would really really appreciated it if I could get a summer internship there. Making games would certainly go towards that goal, not to mention actually be an accomplishment. I suppose I’ve made a prototype already as part of a game design class, but I’ll hopefully be able to make more (or just more polished), especially now that I’ll be part of my school’s new game design/creation lab. Exciting times. I also of course have tons of other side projects I’ve sort of started with tons of friends.

So, that’s what I’m doing. Or trying to do. I already have a couple articles (serious and non-serious; this was never really meant to be devoted to either direction and is completely under my will and right to BE A PERSON ON THE INTERNET) planned soon (I don’t know how often I’ll really be writing too). What’s up with you?

2011/01/02 at 7:57 PM

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