Rozovian’s Music Log

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Archive for November, 2010

Freedom in Space

Posted by Ad on November 24, 2010

There once was a boy that would visit his cousins and see them play an amazing-looking space flight dogfighting game. The boy and his cousins grew up. The boy,  now a man with a cool, proper beard, went online and got improved graphics and other assets for the now open-source game he saw his cousins play. And it’s awesome.

FreeSpace 2, for those of you wondering. I really enjoy how the story treats the player not as the savior of the universe and  the chosen one and all that stuff, but as just another pilot in a big epic story. It feels much more realistic, those briefings not asking me to kindly accept the quest of killing create x, but telling me my mission is to destroy all Shivan ships while following a certain attack plan. And sometimes the attack plan fails.

But it could be so much bigger. Epic…er. What if I wouldn’t know what missions await me upon replaying the game? What if the failure to defend a supply ship leads to a significantly different situation later on. Say there’s two missions involving supply ships to the construction of a new huge ship. Fail those missions, and the huge ship will not be fully equipped when going into battle. Maybe it won’t be called into the same battles it otherwise would have been. Say both missions go off without a hitch, both supply ships reach their destination. Then we have a ginormous badass ship impacting the story.

I’m still waiting for a game with a story so modular it’s unpredictable and with so many different story-changing parameters it’s practically always new. Take a game of Civ, for example. Make it a meta-game, with individual battles being the gameplay for us players while the computer runs the meta-game. We fight in different terrains against different forces. The game moves the story from battle to battle. Through these individual battles, escort missions, protection duties, recon missions, etc. we change the course of the game. Terrain, technology, units, things are different every time. Attack a city, defend a city, attack a resource, defend a resource, attack their units, defend ours…

Even without a modular meta-game you can still have branching storylines depending on the outcome of key missions. Maybe the FreeSpace mod community has got something like this. The game is open source, it’s possible they’ve made it possible. Which would be awesome.

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Comparison

Posted by Ad on November 17, 2010

When my sister claims my computer for her video editing projects (which I at some point encounraged), I grab the laptop and sit in front of the TV. Today, I see two commersials that stand out.

One was a McDonald’s Big Bacon/Big Tasty ad. Dunno how international those products are, and am too lazy to look it up, but the commersial was terrible. Black and white flashy blinking stuff, fast cuts, and a pong reference arbitrarily thrown in. An overcompressed breakbeat being ducked under an overcompressed voiceover. Ouch. While on this topic, while I’m in front of the tv: CSI’s intro isn’t much better, more flashy tho less audio problems.

The other commersial was  BMW ad that was pleasantly dynamic in audio and enjoyably cut. Unfortunately, the TV volume was slightly down so as to not wreck my ears from all the crappily overcompressed commersials, so I couldn’t hear what car model it was or anything.

This is a problem. There should be a national standard for how loud and obnoxious a commersial can be and still be allowed on air. There should be a standard for volume and how the sound has been processed.

On a related note, I tried out a tv show delivery service called Voddler. Good image quality, good speed, localized commersials… but unskippable, forced fullscreen, same commersials between episodes. Not worth watching on the computer. The shows themselves aren’t forced to fullscreen, but those I wouldn’t mind as much. Nice try, but legally questionable alternatives are still more convenient.

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Abloogy-woogy- *boom*

Posted by Ad on November 16, 2010

I might get it, but it’s not done yet and I’m not sure I’ll like it.

Not talking about Supoer Meat Boy, which I’m pretty sure I’ll get the second I see it’s out for mac on Steam. If I have money on my PayPal account at that moment, thatis. Anyway, I’m talking about Undead Labs’ unnamed Zombie-killing console MMO.

I’ve never really liked MMOs. In principle, cooperative play is fun, but it usually forces you to play the same level together on the same screen, and you don’t have much say in the story. In an MMO there’s these bigger raids going on and that’s about all the story you get. Right? Idunno, I don’t play them. Then there’s the grinding and stuff.

I also don’t like the math thing that a lot of games, including MMOs, do. Yes, there’s a lot of math going on behind the scenes in every game, like how weapon x either has water-element attributes and +2 on Saturdays, or has sharpness 3 out of 10 because it’s a wrench or something else that’s kind’a blunt and not really designed for cutting. But if I shoot an enemy in the leg, I want him to limp and stuff, not bleed red numbers. If I chop his head off, I expect him to die, not just lose 40% of his health.
This is what makes Undead Labs’ project so interesting – it takes the stuff I conceptually like about MMOs and leaves out the stuff I’d except to just be bothered by.

I’m not a big fan of zombies tho. Maybe because of their position among horror/fantasy/scifi monsters as one of the more plausible ones, and that combined with my imagination makes going to the basement shower in my house a little scary at times. Down the stairs, there could be zombies coming from the left, from the right, or from behind/under the stairs. I’ve more than once, while the “energy-saving” light bulb in the sauna warms up, walked around down there, looking for things I could use as weapons. Ideally, I’d get my hands on an axe, but the sauna ladle might work too.

Upstairs, I’d probably go for my sister’s katana; the melon-knife I call it. If only it was sharpened (die, watermelons, die). No slicy action, but I could do some thrusty stabby damage with it in its current state. Hm, for someone who doesn’t like zombies, I seem to think about surviving them a lot. Could explain my tendency for buying flashlights and battier all the time. They also make great improvised gifts. Everybody needs flashlights.

I’m still scared of the dark. My imagination lives there.

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Don’t fix what isn’t broken

Posted by Ad on November 16, 2010

Begin rant.

I just noticed Google’s search result pages can be navigated with just the arrow keys. That’s great if you’re not used to the arrow keys letting you scroll the page, something I’ve been using them for. Which works on pretty much all other pages on the net.

Arrowing up to the search field puts you into writing mode, and you can’t arrow out. Not on Safari, anyways. While being locked into a text field (or as YouTube likes to do, the controls of the video) is annoying, not being able to scroll the way you’re used to is worse. While I favor mouse-less options for just about everything, this is just annoying.

While I doubt this behavior is unintentional, I still wanna make use of the phrase “it’s not a bug, it’s a feature”, tho here it’s more of a bug. It’s bugging me.

Don’t fix what isn’t broken? Yeah, pretty much. Seems like Google wants its search engine to be available to ppl in more ways, thus inconvenient to those used to a previous behavior. It’s basically the same as when I upgraded from Logic 7 to Logic 8, and ended up with a cluttered, messy interface on my laptop screen. Granted, it works all right on larger resolutions on my 24” desktop machine, but it’s still annoying.

The changing of some of its behavior to force ppl to use this new interface was also pretty annoying, I still don’t like not being able to set it to open a midi region in the piano roll window but being forced to use the much smaller piano roll tab. “But you can resize the tab”, a Logic interface designer might say. In response, I say “how about you come over and resize my laptop screen, then”.

This all, I guess, is a symptom of the technology pushing towards more features, not improved stability and functionality. Much like phone batteries these days last about a day when we use phones for all kinds of unimportant stuff. Play music, play games, whatever. Then, when you need to call someone, your phone dies. Thank you, technology.

So what should we do? Well, I wouldn’t mind a plain browser, or the option to switch off all these annoying extra features. Google got big partly because of a design philosophy of simplicity. I want a browser that reflects that philosophy. And a search engine that behaves accordingly.

Hm, nobody says I have to use Google.

End rant.

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My longest post ever

Posted by Ad on November 4, 2010

Yes.

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Entitlement

Posted by Ad on November 4, 2010

From time to time, I google myself. It’s interesting to see what crops up then: a mention on a blog, listed in “listening to” references, youtube video clones, free download sites…

As I don’t have anything commersial out there, I don’t have a problem with any of this, but it has me worried. When I release an album, one I wanna earn some dough with, who’s to say it won’t end up uploaded everywhere so everyone can grab everything for free?

The internet is changing. Content creators have to come up with new ideas all the time to get money. Donations, merchandize, concerts, licensing… While some pirates may be pirates of convenience who would pay if it was easy enough – take Steam as a great example of how to deal with pirates of convenience: make buying _more_ convenient – others are pirates of economy or entitlement – they wouldn’t buy at all. Why should they get for free what I worked hard to produce? Spotify kind’a does the same with music as Steam does with games, it makes it convenient. Which reminds me, I should get Spotify. I need new music.

From time to time I deal with ppl with an inflated sense of entitlement on ocremix’ forums; people who expect to be good at music because they have good software, and expect to get their remix posted on ocremix because they made it. Why should they be any different from the ppl who spent years learning to make music? It’s unfair! Well it would be: it took me about a year of learning on ocremix before I got a remix posted, and that was after 5-6 years of making music. Was I annoyed at my first NO? Yes I was. Did that put my sense of entitlement in check? Yes it did. Would it be fair if any n00b with an audio file could get their stuff posted there? No it wouldn’t.

Because a lot of ppl grow up in a world where mom and dad get them whatever they want, and mom and dad have vague jobs somewhere out there, ppl might not make the connection between work and earnings. So ppl grow up with the idea of money as this thing that ppl just have. Not good.

I’ve been thinking about money a lot. With the world economy (and especially the US economy) dropping into the toilet, I looked up all these economy things I never cared for before. I realized there is no money. Money is just a promise of labor, or a proof of labor, depending on how you wanna look at it. Everyone has to work for something to get something. Back in the day, you’d farm your land, you’d get food. Or someone else would farm their land, you’d make them shovels and plows, and you’d get food. Money is the middle man. They give you money for the tools, you give them money for the food.

If I make music for you, don’t I sort of work for you? Shouldn’t I then get paid? Who’s supposed to pay me?

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The 3d trend

Posted by Ad on November 3, 2010

Avatar was spectacular. Not good, jsut decent and a spectacle you had to see in 3d. Much like fireworks are that thing you gotta see, not for a compelling story or anything, just for the spectacle. Same with movies where the script could be a list detailing in what order stuff blows up, and how. A spectacular effects extravaganza. Avatar’s cool alien world and 3D made it a spectacle. Otherwise it wasn’t that big a deal. (we’ve all seen the story before, right?)

I can see two benefits with 3D in games. And by 3D I mean the stereoscope thing, not the Mario 64 thing. First, it’ll make platformers easier. Platformers and 3d has always been a mess of looking down when you jump, or assuming the level designer had designed the jump you wanna do as something you can do. Second, people that don’t know better will buy the next big thing, which means 3D games will rake in money. Oh and you need a 3D TV for it. More money to someone. All it’ll cost game devs is the cost it takes to add a second virtual camera a few inches beside the first one, and send its picture to a second video output thingy. There’s no such thing as free money, but this comes pretty close.

An FPS dev, Jared Gerritzen, says 3D is the new big thing in FPSs. As immersive as it may be, I’d be much more interested in a clean design and a story with options. Non-linearity. Consequences. Big consequences for little things. Don’t save person X, lose valuable intel, don’t get backup at location x; strangle/stab enemy X, which alerts the enemies when enemy X doesn’t report in; steal car, speed, get your ass busted, be on Cops.

While on the topic of cars, I’ve had this idea of taking what Need for Speed has been doing with infractions and taking it to the next level: cost. Add people, make them sue for personal or property damage. Add infractions that are kind’a silly (in an underground racing kind of driving game at least) like running a red light and driving on the wrong side of the road or on the sidewalk. See how much it’d cost to do this stuff. See what a court of law would think about a wheel-bound serial killer.

I miss Carmageddon.

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Ad about ads

Posted by Ad on November 2, 2010

While reading a review for Super Meat Boy (which I’m gonna buy once it’s out for mac) on 1up.com, an ad jumped at me. I’m on my old, slow, laptop, so the ad slowly grew while I had already scrolled down to read, forcing me to scroll back up, assuming there’s a way to close the ad in the upper-right corner as if I was a windows user. And after a click it slowly resizes back into its regular size in the right-side sidebar.

I’m hugely bothered by some ads (and sometimes I bother others, very punny). I used the imagery of a clown running in and yelling “look at me, here I am, this is what’s happening, hey, listen” before, about stuff that get in the way of whatever it is I’d rather be doing. Ads are like that. Same thing when I’m on Gamasutra, kind’a, tho then it’s a flashing, animated, really distracting ad while I’m trying to read a big block of less spectacular text.

It pains me to visit sites whith those double-underlined links that pop up an annoying ad for completely irrelevant, keyword-guessed stuff. It pains me to visit a color-coordinated site with a not quite so coordinated ad. It pains me to have to see another ad of Fiesta’s “too old for my jacket” boy, or any of those stupid online games. If you’re gonna bother me, at least make it something interesting, and make sure it’s not intrusive. I don’t mind ads for Native Instruments stuff on the music sites I visit. I do mind ads for grown-up dress-up games that seem to be a gateway drug to porn (yes imvu, I’ve seen your ads too). And while on the topic of graphic ads, what’s with all the ads that just steal images for movies and stuff. Saw a bunch of them on TVTropes a while back, really not a good impression. And shooting the iPhone to win and iPhone? Stop moving, stop flashing, stop existing!

Much like narrated commersials on TV are overcompressed to the point of sounding like headaches (yes Discovery, and your own ads are the worst), ads on the net are getting more and more in-your-face. Maybe we need regulartion of some kind? Maybe we just need some kind of selective flash-blocking thing (for those annoying flash-based bars that crop up and occupy window space). Maybe I should just start using AdBlock and support my favorite sites with money instead of allowing ads. Maybe that’ll get the sites to stop wasting valuable real estate with crap that make my iPhone surfing really annoying.

Aren’t you supposed to make your products or services appear attractive and appealing rather than make yourselves look obnoxious and disruptive?

On a side note, I’ve been seeing a lot of Fallout: New Vegas ads on those scrolling billboard thingies in Helsinki. Before that, I had seen an FFXIII ad (iirc, it was one of the recent FFs). Before that, nothing. Games are expanding, which is interesting. If they instead had ppl running up to me and slapping me in the face I’d be much less interested.

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