Sunday, October 23, 2011

Day of Lolz

It's been a while since my last DoL page (and in fact, the whole series). Nothing satirical or gritty to find here. Merely mockery. Mockery of the stupidity that's spread around about video games, or erected while diverging from irrelevant matters.

  • Take UGO. They think they also have their own games as art page of ten most fitting titles. Check those games, really. Everything is in there. All that is wrong regarding this topic is perfectly aggregated, be it the obvious fallacy of thinking that "nice looking = art", to sissy things such as Flower, to the obligatory (yet excellent) Shadow of the Colossus, to the super hit Red Dead Redemption otherwise the page wouldn't be legit. *sigh*
    If these idiots want to be so serious about games, why have they such trouble talking about games as sport, and thus deriving towards professional gaming?
    Not smart enough for them?

  • Now, Gamasutra, who ten to be quite pretentious at times and who have, above all, a tendency to consider that if it doesn't speak English, basically, it does not exist. Yet these people, espousing the stances of self-anointed clerics of what is art, which presupposes the capacity to recognize some form of originality and strong cultural diversity and then welcome it, don't really give a damn about modest and indie games made outside of the Indebted, Ruined Commonwealth n'Glishland. They only have eyes of the Swedes whose men's last manly thing they still have for them is their blond and translucent beards and their boldness to scream their gender theory at the face of all Europe (while being incapable of maintaining their population relatively ethnically coherent). Portugese, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Italian small products? Never heard of. Analyzing arcades? Nope. Why the bias?

  • And finally, some random post on some equally random board (The Ghetto). There are times when you just can't avoid it. I mean, the trail of hater/gushers all brewed hot by the antics of's Icycalm (or something KirkAsgard, name borrowed from a real philosopher but I'm sure that's total coincidence :]). So I poked my head into that mess of opinions (I know, I should restrain my curiosity) and halted on some anon's positions on life and morals, and the following piece of his post really got me rolling me eyes:

    There are plenty of altruistic "masters" too. For example, Bill Gates is devoting a large portion of his fortune and efforts towards various charities.

    Sure. Foundations and all that. He must mean... aside from tax evasion perhaps, other boosts to the pharmacological industry and support to Monsanto and their paramilitary activities?
    As for altruism, we rarely see that in fact, and one could say that altruism found in the masses could be the expression of higher altruism from people who didn't achieve higher status in the society despite their potential. Still, only leaders (or masters) can really make any altruism meaningful, as they actually face the hostile world with wide open eyes, and thus can make the best choices.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Some stuff about Mario Bros and the Wii version

Be sure not to miss those three pages!


Mario Couldn't Jump At First

In this interview, we're going to talk about New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but rather than diving straight into a discussion of the new title, I'd like to begin by talking about Mario's roots. There will of course be a lot of readers who know all about this, but I think there are also people who are completely in the dark about how Mario began.

Yes, you're right.

Shall we begin by talking about the period of Mario's initial conception, when he was known as "Jumpman"?

Sure. Now, this is something I've been asked about in hundreds of interviews, so I'll make it quick! (laughs) In the Pac-Man1 era, there were a number of games that were really popular in the video game arcades. Nintendo had released titles such as Sheriff2 but none of them quite achieved the level of popularity where you could call them hits.

Monday, September 26, 2011

thatgamecompany sucks at making games

I've been trying to get more information about what the core leaders of the studio named thatgamecompany had in mind when it came to video games. There's a variety of material to browse, and one source I found interesting to check out, since rather easy to go through and simple to understand, was a short video.

Here is something interesting. Pay attention from 1:26.
Some anon from SuperHyperTurboWhatever asks Kellee Santiago, co-founder and president of TGC, the following question about Flower:

Why is it a game? Why is it not a meditation tool?

Santiago's "answer" is most revealing:

Well, because we approach our projects, erm, from a creative standpoint. [cut] From that starting point, erm, will lead to something totally unique and different and why we don't start necessarily with mechanics, we start with this idea like with Flower [cut] the feeling of being in a huge field of flower (something) what that's like, and it feeds the art direction, it feeds the music which through mediums like film, we know how to do that, and there's that added component of interactivity, so we really view it as a complete experience with all those elements working together to... to communicate concepts through the medium of video games.

If there's something that hasn't struck you yet, then let me help you get it. The point is how painfully obvious it is that she cannot explain why their product, Flower, is a game to begin with. The same actually applies to Flow and, soon enough, Journey.
There's just a basic admission that interactivity, and only interactivity, was an added component.
However, interactivity alone doesn't make a game.

The reason behind her failure to explain why Flower is a game is because it's a poor one from any gaming perspective. It's an interactive experience with a pinch of what may pass off as rules.
There's basically nothing about complexity, mechanics depth and any form of real challenge.
That they wanted to make a relaxing experience is a good thing, but let's not fool ourselves into thinking that they made a game just because they call themselves thatgamecompany.
They didn't.

They are going backwards, with visuals taking way too much importance over what makes a game memorable and enjoyable on the long term, which is quite ironical considering how the highbrow plebe loves to spit at the GPU monkeys for their sole love of amazing graphics that make their latest overpriced hardware melt down.
The playing experience is so poor that it turns out to be a superfluous addition; "an added component" as Santiago would say.

Well guess what? You don't "add" such an element, as an after thought, in order to obtain a real game. Mechanics are not the pinch of salt you add at the last minute in your recipe. It's a core part of what you're brewing. It's an essential and primary asset of what defines a functional game.

The very fact that they were more concerned about the musical and visual experiences rather than the playing is all the proof we need.
She was asked a very simple question. Why is Flower a game, and not a meditation tool? Yet, of all that she said, she fatefully and precisely ended describing a so-called meditation tool, if you can call it that. Even the mention of interactivity didn't cut it. It would seem that she just doesn't understand what makes a game at all.

What baffles me most is that she's already been given enough spotlight and some soap box to stand on so as to lecture people now! Essentially, a non-remarkable exercise wherein she parrots what she's read on Internet and the few bits borrowed from Rules of Play. Why the hell is she even given a microphone to waste people's time with such useless matters?

Flower could have been a great game if there had been real play mechanics in it, all those pieces that do engender subjugating gaming experiences. But flying across some random landscape left and right, then doing a 180° turn and going the other way while colliding with petals and flowers... what the hell is that? Their quest against violence is ludicrous! The envelope is all about pretense: you could have made a game where you're flying above a green landscape and collecting energy cores that would let you grow powerful nodes that expand your empire, with the same triggered elements of growing structures and others being destroyed, and the "message", if there had to be one, would have been completely different without changing anything from the scant mechanics. The varnish cracks so easily, it's quite pathetic.
In a sense, she and her friends didn't think the game. They merely followed a social trend and wanted to bring this pollution to the gaming industry.

My opinion about these people will change the moment they'll stop pretending making real games, and from the moment the press will stop praising them for what they are not. Then, and only then, I may show them some respect for the artistically creative minds they seem to be.
Until then, let's continue hurling feces at 'em.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Nonsensical Interactive Boredom (NIB)

That's all there is about Ernest Adams’ article titled The Designer's Notebook: Sandbox Storytelling.
The more I read about him, the more he just looks like a fraudster to me, a self appointed theorist on game design and video games as a whole.

We have this return of the "emergence" boner. This time, it’s not about something as vague as gameplay, but about story. The claims is that a story has to emerge from a game on its own. The concept is already stupid if only for the fact that assuming what Adams describes would be interesting, it is fundamentally impossible to produce such a thing in any reasonable amount of time, unless you develop the game at Foxconn (and I'm not even sure about that either).

Back in 1995 I gave a lecture at the Computer Game Developers' Conference in which I identified several problems with interactive storytelling. I reprised those ideas a few years later in a Designer's Notebook column called Three Problems for Interactive Storytellers. At the end of both the lecture and the column, I suggested that instead of trying to tell stories, we should build worlds in which stories can happen -- worlds in which players live a story of their own creation. The industry didn't have a term for it at the time, but what I was proposing was sandbox storytelling.

In sandbox storytelling, the idea is to give the player a big open world populated with opportunities for interesting interactions. The player isn't constrained to a rail-like linear plot, but can interact with the world in any order that he chooses. If the world is constructed correctly, a story-like experience should emerge.

Suppose the player has just moved into Rome. He can join any group of supporters, just as we can support any sports team today -- but with a difference: the factions often rioted, and there were bloody fights in the streets. What this means in practice is that an NPC who belongs to the faction that the player chooses is an ally, but if the player replays the game and chooses a different faction, the same person is an enemy. No need to write two stories or design the character twice; drama naturally emerges from the situation itself.

OK. You should, if possible, if bearable to your senses of self preservation, force yourself through his article.
His theory, if we can call it that, is full of holes. Let's go through a couple them, shall we? (It doesn't matter if you're overweight, they're so large anyone can fit through.)

I suggested that instead of trying to tell stories, we should build worlds in which stories can happen -- worlds in which players live a story of their own creation.

The meaning is simple: authors shouldn't try to present any strong narrative, and get rid of meticulously conceived tragedy. Well, regarding the later, video game authors haven't really gotten there yet, but there's hope, although it's largely a topic that runs in parallel to the making of a game. The narrative, after all, is always an option to the creation of a game, and the mere presence of enthralling agon will amply suffice.
Now, perhaps it is not obvious to Adams, but it's been known for quite some time that in the hope of allowing the audience to attain catharsis in classicism (and even beyond), you needed to have a well-knit story, and no one builds such a story out of the blue, on sheer fruitless whims, by counting on randomness and no emotional drive.
Let's also be clear here : there have been very few games that could claim having taken a player by the hand to the point of reaching the typical theatrical catharsis. This because in general stories suck.
Besides, the narrative needs to be dissociated from the mechanics. Stories are only there to provide a reason for a series of challenges to occur, no matter their nature. Many games completely do without them. In essence, stories barely have anything to do with a good game since they're only achieved through cutscenes, perhaps because the true purpose of a good game is not to provide a deep and enthralling story, but top notch level of interaction, and one could make the point that players are more entitled to play games with good mechanics rather than with good stories. In fact, we have about 30 years of video gaming to prove that.

Let's just repeat that once more: a great game could easily completely do without a story at all.
The mythical video game catharsis, the one wherein you'd be deeply concerned about the fate of the avatar you control, has yet to see the day, and it's rather easy to figure out that this could only happen if the full range of human emotions were allowed to be channeled through an avatar you'd control. Which means an advanced form of virtual reality, which is absolutely not needed for a good video game, and certainly not attainable anytime soon.

Let's contemplate this situation for a moment and ask ourselves if the emotions we'd feel about something in the game would be the result of game mechanics, or the mere reproduction of real life narratives which the complex game would allow to happen in a virtual reality, therefore defeating the point of doing it in a game, since aside from crunching the head of a giant dragon or racing down a cliff on the back of a rocket, which you can't really do in real life, all that would further the triggering of human emotions would be interactions which already exist in the normal world, the physical one.
Let's be clear. Adams is not a visionnaire. He is just confused about the distinction between a fake reality and a good video game. That is all.
You may spend a lot of time building up the XP of a character (like through mob smashing and random grinding) or try to avoid Pacman being eaten by some ghosts after more than a hour of play, but all you will be in the end, once the avatar gets its butt owned, is just pissed off.
That is all.
If you ever were to fall in love with some video game character, that would only happen because of cutscenes, which precisely defeats the idea that it's the game -a bunch of clever mechanics- that makes you interested in the character.

The problem is that E.A. is asking for a true story, for drama and tragedy, with a spin : such material should not be the fruit of any author, but of the machine.
Essentially, what he wants is a virtual world so rich of intricate commutations and interesting people to interact with that you can actually start an interesting story out of nowhere, at any time.
This has more to do with losing your own real life in a maw of evolved The Sims clones than playing video games, and it greatly disregards the fact that an involving story requires a certain (read high) degree of mastery in story telling, which machines won't have in any foreseeable near future.

I can't tell how I get tired of designers chasing that pink unicorn, be they talking about ever growing story branching or emerging stories.
If they continue that way, at some point, real video games will clearly form their own older category of highly interactive and competitive entertainment and we'll see the rise of blurbs of interactive drama or something similar, perhaps best titled Nonsensical Interactive Boredom.
I can easily tell you that we're also nowhere there yet, and I'm not sure to be willing to get any closer anyway. Competition is essential to gaming, not storytelling.

The industry didn't have a term for it at the time, but what I was proposing was sandbox storytelling.

It's not an accident that what we find the most in sandboxes is cat mess.

In sandbox storytelling, the idea is to give the player a big open world populated with opportunities for interesting interactions.

Interesting interactions don't require a story, even less creating dramatic ones.
Hence GTA. Pick a plane and here you go. No "meaningful stories", just exploration, mindless experiments and plain unadulterated fun.

The player isn't constrained to a rail-like linear plot, but can interact with the world in any order that he chooses. If the world is constructed correctly, a story-like experience should emerge.

He means a shallow one, for sure. He already knows that the main problem is one of manpower and time. How the heck can he even ask for any such rise to happen next year?
Clearly, he is no visionary man, he's just a lunatic with no grip on reality.
This is not anticipation!
A man who anticipates the evolution of a current system or society also shares a strong pragmatic view of the current world as it is and doesn't expect more of it than can actually be obtained. He thereby knows that what he's looking for is a projection in a far away time.
Ernest Adams is not that man. He's saying that developers should do it, despite acknowledging that it's currently impossible, in such a way that it's presented as a counter argument from the opposition more than a truth.
The obvious effect is that it conveys the idea that it's a mere opinion, one that he doesn't agree with.

Not everybody thinks sandbox storytelling is a good idea. The year after I gave my lecture, Bob Bates gave his own lecture at the 1996 CGDC called "The Responsibility of the Author."

One of the things he said was, "[Open-ended environments] may be fun to explore, but they do not fulfill the obligations of a story. There is no beginning, middle, or end. There is no pathos, no human drama, no greater truth to be gleaned from the hard-fought battles that the characters wage."

Bob recommended that we use a linear series of open environments instead -- what we now call a multilinear or foldback story, in which the player is compelled to go through certain choke points in the plot line.

What Bob probably was too polite to say is that Ernest Adams was just sprouting gibberish.
Also, here comes the foldback bit I wondered about.

However, Bob was assuming that in an open-world environment the player would have to go find the plot, and all she would get is a disconnected series of events. I think Bob was expecting that the plot events would be tied to specific locations, and if the player could experience them in any order, they would have to be unrelated to each other.

At least, Bob's plot would be his plot, the one that he took some time to properly build, the one which he could tie some precious cutscenes to. A plot which can hope to be complex enough because the human mind is quite superior to a machine in this domain.
Crafting a decent plot requires being capable of abstraction and passion. When did you see that in a chip-set, again?
So tell me, mister Adams, how do you expect a machine to deliver?
I guess he doesn't, but won't admit it. That would ruin his position and most likely hurt his feelings and his reputation.

He goes citing the shortcomings of GTA in that department (a linear story in a sandbox game) and then speaks of The Sims:

The Sims offers sandbox storytelling after a fashion. It gives you a world with a lot of stuff in it, and simulated people with varying personalities. As the player, you can make them interact and generate a (somewhat) story-like experience. Because the Sims don't speak English, most of the storytelling goes on in your head, but that's all right. You can make your own machinima, caption or record voiceover for it, and upload it to YouTube.

First of all, there's something terribly disturbing about this statement. It just sounds like he's wishing video games to become like some real TV crap festival. Let's have some meaningless bots simulate absurdly boring and pathetic plebe-issues of daily life. Let's create some depreciating tension out of thin air.
Secondly, he's making up the story in his mind because there's nothing complex enough going on in the "game". He has to add his own substrate of drama so to get something interesting out of this chain of non-events.
What makes him think that anything more complex could possibly happen, even if characters could somehow speak English like a human could?
How can't he realize that if he wants to get something remotely enjoyable, he'll need AIs capable of making jokes, saying "I love you" for real or hating you... and we may not want to get to the point of a machine hating you, do we?

Computer role-playing games give the player a big open world, but rather than providing a single story, the world is full of quests -- essentially, disconnected subplots. I love Western RPGs, but they don't have quite the same feeling as a story with one plot. They're more like the legends of Hercules, or any other ancient hero who appears in several unrelated stories.

So how do we make an open-world game in which the player can roam around, yet still feels as if he's taking part in a story? First, as I said, we have to abandon the idea that the player will experience the plot entirely through exploration.

Easy. You make him the hero and have him stick to the story. Otherwise, you're just a random pawn who will get squished in the background of some random battle and your death will be of no importance on the main plot.
In fact, isn't it funny how he is asking for a compartmentalized main plot now? I thought the stories had to build themselves!
Can't he make up his mind?

Now you'll excuse me for the rather huge chunk that follows, but I think it's quite golden:

In the typical adventure or role-playing game, all the plot events are player-dependent; they don't happen until the player finds them and makes them happen. By using constrained environments, we can make sure that the player finds them in the right order. The problem with a plot consisting entirely of player-dependent events, as I explained in the original lecture, is that it feels mechanistic: the whole world just sits around waiting for the player to do something.

If you make the plot entirely player-independent -- that is, it goes forward no matter what the player does, even if he does nothing at all -- then the player tends to lose the game a lot. He's not where he belongs, or he hasn't done what he needs to do, when the dramatic climax occurs.

The trick in sandbox storytelling is to build the plot with a combination of player-dependent and player-independent events.

Keep things flowing no matter what the player does so the world doesn't seem static, but don't make it flow so fast that the player gets behind and loses the game (unless the plot is about finding a time bomb). Put a moderate degree of pressure on the player to act, but reduce the pressure if the player is on the right track.

In a sandbox, exploration itself can't advance the plot -- so instead, use a combination of the passage of time (that's the pressure) and player activity: meeting people, solving puzzles, making decisions, overcoming challenges. Change up the pace from time to time.

Sometimes James Bond is exploring at his own pace (he's master of the situation) and at other times he's desperately running away from bad guys (they're masters of the situation). Then he gets away from them or shoots them and he becomes master of the situation again. Of course, not every game has to use a lot of pressure. You can let the player have a very relaxed experience if you want to.

In itself, it is not stupid, but am I the only one realizing that it's going literally against what he advocated for at the beginning of his article, and isn't it an admission that Bob was right, minus the time-flexible main plot?
You know, this whole topic about how the story should emerge all by itself?

On the other hand, if you want to push the player through the story, then you have to ask why he's just wandering around. If he's wandering around because he's lost or confused, that's your fault.

OK, no more emerging story I guess. If the story can emerge in a free-roaming game, how the heck can you get lost as you can actually start a new meaningful and fantastic story at anytime, anywhere?
Sounds like backpedaling, but isn't really, as you'll see next. It's just a silly contradiction, one he's bizarrely never called on in the comments section (nearly 30 comments of drooling arse lickers).

The designer Chris Bateman wrote a chapter called "Keeping the Player on Track" in the book that he edited, Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames. In the chapter he talks about funneling: various tricks for helping the player find the "spine" of the game. In an open world you can't use the landscape to forcibly funnel the player back to the plot, but you can leave various signs and clues around. Get the book for more information.

Did someone say funneling? Sounds intuitive. So tell me, guys, why do you keep going with confusing terms such as "multilinear" or "foldback"?

Another question people sometimes ask is, "In an open world, how do you prevent the player from seeing something early that he's not supposed to see until later?" The question is rooted in the assumption that everything that the story needs will be physically present in a static game world from the beginning -- as it usually is in adventure games and Western RPGs, where the story is mapped to locations.

But we're not mapping the story to locations, we're mapping it to time and player activity. The answer is simple: don't put an object in the world until it needs to be there. In the Grand Theft Auto games you can't destroy a car in Mission 1 that will be needed in Mission 3, because the car simply isn't in the game world at all in Mission 1.

You obviously don't want cars suddenly popping into existence in front of the player's eyes, but you can bring a car out of a (formerly) locked garage. The player can't be in more than once place at once, so you can do all kinds of things behind his back.

Right. We're not making a location-based narrative, even if we know the car will have to come out of somewhere that's necessarily... somewhere, and we also know that you'll have to drive it somewhere else, either to pick someone else in particular or to crash it into some local drugstore that's the lair of a drug lord.
Adams has just invented the story that takes place nowhere. It doesn't matter if the object isn't right there off the bat. It will be there anyway. Look, just like in classicism, when things pop into the one single place of action at given moments of time. Location is important in a good narrative, and the more work put into the choice of the location and its aspect and relation to the characters or the plot, the more powerfully it serves the plot.
Besides, if you want to make your mission rather epic, I suppose you'll probably go look for picking up a plane instead, which rather narrows the places where you can find one, and I suppose that if the plan is to crash one into some tall tower, preferably the tallest one to crack the score, choices will suddenly appear to be very lieu relevant.

Now, you want to see what kind of extremely exciting stuff we should start to put into games? The sort of quests that should appear anywhere?

Find the buried treasure.
Find the buried treasure before somebody else does.
Find the time bomb.
Find people rather than objects.
Police procedural.
Infiltrate a large open area from any direction.
Escape through hostile territory from somewhere in the middle to the edge.
Root out the criminal gang.

Most of which will suck big donkey balls if there's no decent story attached to them, no stellar plot to drive each phase of such missions. Otherwise, that's just going to be absolutely tedious. Just like in MMORPGs. Of but I guess that's exactly what he wants after all.

To make an experience story-like, you have to avoid too many repetitive or random (unrelated) events. (See my column Dramatic Novelty in Games and Stories for more about that.) If you read a thriller set in World War II, it doesn't consist of shooting an endless parade of identical Nazis; every situation is unique. This means that your sandbox has to be full of all different kinds of things, not just a lot of the same thing.

This is probably the strongest argument against sandbox storytelling: it's expensive and a lot of work. But unlike rail games, if you construct the world carefully enough, the game will be highly replayable. Different paths through the world will offer different experiences. Nor do they need to have the same objective or ending.

Yeah, at some point in time, swap Soviets for the Nazi.
Mmm, nice.
Just as I said, what he's looking at is nothing more than the miserable quests you get to complete in MMOs, even those that pretend being different and richer like in the latest KOTOR.
And of course, the guy is just giving you a list of very obvious quests to add to your boring game so as to increase its replayability; that is, to increase the repetition of drama-less menial tasks.
Seriously, what do you think could make the game that replayable? Changing the skins of the NPCs? Changing the quantity and some attributes of the enemies of a given zone.
No thanks, I'll pass that kind of replayability.

For several hundred years the people of Rome gave their allegiance to one of four factions that supported chariot racing. The drivers wore colored clothing so people could tell them apart, and the factions were named the Reds, Whites, Blues, and Greens.

Suppose the player has just moved into Rome. He can join any group of supporters, just as we can support any sports team today -- but with a difference: the factions often rioted, and there were bloody fights in the streets. What this means in practice is that an NPC who belongs to the faction that the player chooses is an ally, but if the player replays the game and chooses a different faction, the same person is an enemy. No need to write two stories or design the character twice; drama naturally emerges from the situation itself.

Unbelievable. He almost managed to sell me the concept of switching sides so some random NPC now belongs to the enemy faction, so you can kill him.
No, just kidding. What's so ground breaking about that? Isn't the problem that he's also imagining a story that will never happen, just like he did for The Sims?
How will allying yourself to that guy or killing him become an interesting, say *cough* meaningful *cough* story if there's no intricate plot to support and heighten your decisions?Oh wait, the CPU is going to do it.
Ernest Adams should stop being a cyberpunk addict and get back on good ol' Earth.
Not to say that this kind of stuff has already been made in countless games.

Oh, by the way, did you notice? The story emerges.
Yes, it's that time again.
I guess he just can't decide if there has to be a main plot which the player is free to ignore because it sucks and finds it more amusing to ride horses through forests and windows, or if the plot is supposed to grow out of thin air.

That's just not serious.

There was a famous film noir called The Naked City that was later adapted into a TV show. At the end of the film, and every episode of the TV show, the narrator said, "There are 8 million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them." Try building your own Naked City, and see how many stories you can get in.

Poor Ernest. If only each episode of The Naked City had ended reminding him that each story was written by someone, perhaps we wouldn't be reading such painful nonsense...

Now go watch any of the following movies: Nirvana, Avalon or The 13th Floor, for starters.

Street Fighter Real

That's some powerful ultra.

Foldback story - yeah whatever

Today I've learned a new term.
Foldback story.
I've done without it for years in the industry, and yet I'm supposed to have missed something fundamental.
I wanted to learn more about it and after a few strokes on my keyboard, grand master Google sent me here.

Inn the chapter on “Storytelling and Narrative” in Fundamentals of Game Design (pages 194-204), Adams & Rollings categorise stories as linear, or non-linear. Non-linear stories further subdivided as branching or foldback stories.

So, there it comes from. Adams' & Rollings' FoGD (too bad they added design, otherwise the acronym would have been most accurate).
If you don't understand it, don't be afraid, it's normal. The name of a principle, or even ideology, is supposed to give an idea of what it is about; what the heck are you supposed to guess by "foldback" pray tell?
You know, when you fold back, you generally get a feeling that it's going to involve something moving backwards, which is quite problematic from the perspective of general storytelling in video games, wherein stories not only often times prove to be linear, but also going forward.
Why not try something like, err... the Squeeze Theory?

The foldback story structure is build around a series of key, inevitable events through which a story must progress. In many games, user interactivity allows the player a certain amount of freedom in how they make their way between inevitable events, before folding back to the inevitable events. Foldback stories support a degree of “replayability”: that is, they are capable of keeping the player engaged if they play the game more than once, by allowing them to find a different way through it, even if they know the ending. Where a potentially unknown outcome is essential for maintaining player engagement, the final inevitable event may provide a staging point for several different endings.

Ah, so they used the verb that describes what the story essentially does at a point in time as the name of the principle, as an illustration of the distance put between the player's decisions and the main story, which goes through a series of inevitable stages. The "back" part is completely unnecessary and actually spoils the pure meaning of "fold" when used alone. Not only that's a silly mistake which could have been easily avoided by a mere glance at some random dictionary, but I guess "funnel story" was just too obvious eh? Or "grow-shrink story" you know, as it expands and contracts; and just for that, there's like a good many analogies to pick. I mean, there's like a gazillion far more intuitive terms than foldback.

We can (must?) be even more vicious. Consider for a moment the amount of time allotted to the mental brewing that precedes the revolutionary idea behind the identification of the narrative pattern. We all know that it must sound very clever, and so let's outdo the clever.
See, the idea of folding back presupposes going one way and then the opposite way. However, it all depends on your reality, your world of reference. Let's assume you're some entity living in a two-dimensional environment. Then, some omniscient being decided to wrap the fabric of your reality and made that plane you lived on return to its original point, like if you were to bend back the corner of some table cloth. You'd still move forward, but from a higher dimensional perspective, you'd also be returning closer to the story's spine, its "center", or core.

Sure thing, we could use an example with you living on a line (in one dimension) and some omniscient being having that line split into two lines (something which only can only happen in two dimensions), without you noticing that you suddenly branched "away" (onto another line). Only for that auxiliary line to fuse with the main line later on (and so everything returns to normal, although you, one-dimensional creature, didn't see a difference). In two dimensions, you'd have moved away from the main line, then approached the same line later on to merge with it.

This is the only way to actually project, geometrically wise, the concept of a story that keeps going forward while the story itself folds. If this sounds too complicated, it's probably because it has no intuitive value at all, where the lay man will merely see anything folding back as a contrived return to the point of departure, which is certainly not the idea that the term is supposed to convey, which is refocusing on the main story while never having stopped moving on!

The foldback concept could only make a glimpse of sense if the main story was paused and nothing could go on until you'd actually return to the very moment that main story was paused, so as to resume it. Then, of course, the whole concept of the story folding back would be meaningless and still erroneous. The story would not fold back because it would have precisely been immobile the whole time.
In other words... PAUSED!
The kind of stuff that happens so many times in free roaming games, like the GTAs. Very few games actually allow the player to follow two distinctively different paths, both story-wise and space-wise, while having the possibility or the obligation to return to the same must-pass-through storyline-check later on.

And this brings me to the next part. The reality of games forcing you through very specific (key)holes at a given point in time is one of checkpoints; and how lovely would that be to use such a widely known term among gaming circles!
The idea with checkpoints is that you can't just move forward until you precisely go through checkpoints.
Some games may guide you towards such checkpoints while you keep playing no matter what, when other ones would let you do whatever you want, like wandering around some and even allowing you to complete side quests, but ultimately leaving you unable to go any further through the main story without willingly conceding your recently obtained -yet relative- liberty, waiting that you return to the checkpoint and step through it, even if it means returning to a specific point in space from where the next step in the main narrative can finally occur.

Besides, if you want to make this fancier, you can always try to boost your sex appeal at some nerdy party and impress the ladies with the lovely notion of mirrored-time-synchronous waves, where one signal regularly crosses the path of its inverted-polarity sibling, to form a figure which should basically look like that:

Please notice the obvious bonus effect of implanting suggestive imagery into the subconscious of your next female conquest (so you think).
Let's also understand that it looks sciency and abstract enough to fit inside some random game theorist's consecratory (read potentially superfluous) book.

Oh, did I talk about the stomach analogy? You know, the one that really fits the whole concept of story lines actually merging at some point, like if they were shoved through one single obligatory hole?
Or what about that one:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A perfect game is...

Answering the implied question of this article...

>> Sean Malstrom largely confuses higher with wider. His claims on pop music just reek off silly leftism, global dumbing down. You need a core of high quality that keeps pushing the bar higher, so the mainstream can't allow itself to reach for the lowest denominator. Likewise, Dickens' and Shakespeare's words were appreciated by a limited amount of the northern population, as "education" was hardly as wide spread as it is now. In a way, that audience was a quasi-hardcore audience, if not outright hardcore. There just wasn't anyone else. It's a matter of perspective, which is why Malstrom's point is so astoundingly easy to debunk. It's just so silly how he can miss that.
This problem in his definition of hardcore leads him to point to WoW players and call the hardcore. I'd rather call them intoxicated casual gamers, since if anything else, MMOs are completely stagnant and WoW just leveled everything. A real MMO hardcore is certainly nothing you want to become. They're devoid of any social life worth talking about, and they have tried to many MMOs and they only play new ones because they're junkies, although they'll be the first ones to tell you that they more or less all suck these days.

Now, Alex forgets to be pragmatic at times and fails to see how big games and their increasing budgets only work well with a larger consumer base.
They both hold a piece of the truth but both fail miserably at getting the whole picture.
Of course Alex' position would prevail in a world outside of capitalism's diktat. With profit out of the loop, you wouldn't have to focus on the largest swathe of the plebe possible.
It goes without saying that ironically enough, the ballooning budgets are applied to games which are actually crafted to a large audience. The content gets heavier, but there isn't exactly an increase of complexity. Shadow of Colossus was rather focused and knew a limited success, but it clearly made popular gimmicks such as riding a horse over vast and empty landscapes and climbing tall structures. These gimmicks made it to Red Dead Redemption and Assassin's Creed. What these larger games did was just shove random stuff around gimmicks which were brought forth by a sort of niche game. The sandbox Holy Grail taht everyone praises is nothing more than Carmageddon made much more popular, for example.
He's also limiting himself to the idea that imagination can't work once all is on the screen. Surely, this is a bookworm's position, and is the same kind of criticism leveled against movies. Of course, since the visuals are forced, since the scene is already built, your imagination has to work on something else. Fans do that rather easily in fact, although many consumers of loud and flashy movies and games don't really want to dig deeper than what they're given, and generally, the further we go, the more the games and movies don't even try to pretend there's something worth looking at beyond the presented play. Yet products that seem to have a richer and perhaps solid universe to tap do produce customers and fidels who will feel entitled to expand on it. Such can be said of Star Wars or Halo, as painful it may be to admit.

I'd rather play a good game than a popular one, but the current industry's requirements make it so that a sort of perfect game needs to be a hybrid of both propositions. No, strike that. It better has to be the sum of both.
I wish this sum wasn't so forced down our throats, but I'm no man to change the world and everything that's wrong in it.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Youtube's obsession about sex - Part II

Just to illustrate my former claim:

Click on the picture for the full size display.

Oi! Update time!

I guess there's never enough incentits... erm, incentive to tittytainment.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Youtube's obsession about sex

- It's really getting on my nerves.
- What?
- Youtube.
- But why?
- They keep suggesting videos, they're sexually orientated.
- Sure. When?
- When? How can I tell? Oh, I know. Let me tell you when. When, is after playing videos which have nothing to do with sex whatsoever. Be it stuff about games, music, zebras or air traffic, I get to see buttocks at some point in the suggested videos, either as the most visible suggested video in the central frame, or on top of the video on the right side of the list of related videos.
- Mmm... someone at Youtube seriously needs to get laid.
- Yeah, but it would be nice if they could actually recode their goddamn software and stop doing shit like that. This is getting annoying and sick.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Megaman X cover : Storm Eagle

I loved Megaman X. And one of the reasons for that is that it came with some of the most awesome tunes ever produced for a video game. As always, a fitting music can literally transcend a game, just like Star Wars would have never been Star Wars with muzac.
So I was massaging my memories if I may say and going another round of nostalgia. I went looking for the original themes, I saw those links for some covers, and decided to try them. Sadly, I soon realized that there were many people attempting, trying, but failing at making a proper cover of those awesome themes, either because they're just too out of tune, or lose the rhythm at some point, or have a synth plane that actually kills the guitar and even may make a mess of the combined layers.
Eventually, the simplest take at it may be the most successful.

But there is one guy who can actually do it relatively right, in tune, with a 99.9999 % perfect rhythm, so let's not be shy of giving him a good score. Below, you'll get to hear the original SNES theme, and then the cover, by .


He added his own touch but it just sounds like j-rock, it's neat.

PS: elizero17's cover of the intro stage theme is also promising, but not perfect (especially regarding the rhythm during the first dozen seconds). I'd say don't listen to her cover if you don't want to spoil your pleasure. I suggest listening to it later, because it is worth it nevertheless!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Just so don't forget how Google Inc. thinks

Remembers what the terms of service were for Chrome, before the update:

11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

11.2 You agree that this license includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.

11.3 You understand that Google, in performing the required technical steps to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media; and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services or media. You agree that this license shall permit Google to take these actions.

11.4 You confirm and warrant to Google that you have all the rights, power and authority necessary to grant the above license.

I bet you didn't know? You didn't think a company would go that far into violation of your private life, did you?
The reality is that most companies do that. The whole boundaries of what promotion means is quite up to them, but the most worrying bit was the "perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive" part.
US legislation is being pushed further and further into lengthening how long a company can hold any information they can gather about you and your activities.
Never forget that : Privacy is beyond gold: it's priceless.
This includes this very blogging service, which is part of Google.

Shamelessly copied from here.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Saturday, April 30, 2011



Oh boy. This isn't getting any better. I hope most of this is bollocks. OK, it's not like Sony is short on doing things wrong, but still.
After getting its database hacked, the secret group behind this action offered Sony to buy "back" this data but they declined (which is understandable). It's unclear if the claims about personal info and credit card essential numbers are true. Still.... we're yet to hear any excuses.
The data of 75 million accounts has been taken (actually 77, from Sony), and there already are complaints about cc frauds.

Point being, not only breaking down on hackers with those stupid DRMs is not particularly useful, but being zealous about squishing some of them (for instance, graf_chokolo?) with all the might of your industrial power house can actually backfire pretty badly.

Not only Sony has really been a pain in the A with its customers for ages by trying to squeeze as much money as possible out their pockets with those "security" measures, but now, how will they ever be able to expect customers to trust them and their abominable securities that miserably failed?

The shame is boundless.

Monday, April 18, 2011

New Synaps joypad

Among many things, what I love about video games is the introduction of new controllers, ideas gone wild. Sometimes, there are failures, sometimes there are fads, and sometimes there are genuine breakthroughs that feel like they're perfectly balanced.

So I would strongly recommend reading this article about the Synaps splitable joypad. It's choke full of good ideas, although I'd have some cons to fill.
  • The  underside triggers don't really look like they'd be that comfortable to use.
  • The bumpers look like they're too close to the center of the pad.
  • The circular D-pad might not be such a good idea if it doesn't allow the precision of a cross D-pad. Even if it may allow for different pressures, a typical D-pad's advantage is that you know where you're going. It's 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock, plus the diagonal intermediaries. That's why I believe that nothing could be superior to a Click Wheel, for it may be THE most perfect D-pad ever built. Smooth, easy to move around, with a small recession in the middle to know where to put your thumb, it only needs to be enhanced so it gets eight axises like on any cross shaped D-pad. It has the ability to send input in any direction with the segmented circular touch pad, which is just ace. Again, just imagine playing Street Fighter IV with a Click Wheel developed for gaming.
Still, the Synaps is a good step in the right direction, and the introduction of the pads on each side is very interesting. That's a new and intuitive way to handle virtual objects. Now, it's hard to tell if both sides, once the joypad is split, will handle well. The presence of powerful magnets, the usual hardware plus two battery packs (no cables are mentioned or visible) will surely make each half quite heavy.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Microsoft Word - turd since 97-98

Simply put, Microsoft Word is a retarded application. No matter the iteration, since 97-98, it's been riddled with completely unintuitive automatic functions that decide to alter your damned document on a whim, without warning, and outside of any operable logic. And every single f***ing time you think you have understood the inner arcane secrets of the machine and seized its threads in order to know how to precede Word to prevent it from sadistically butchering your doc, you discover that what could be edited cannot be edited, and that what you wanted to do in order to make the automation useful is either impossible or even more nightmarish than what you thought could be changed by a few clicks.
Among other things, the styles sheets, bullet point and text levels management is a true catastrophe, and is only matched by another gem of fecesware that is the new art gizmos, which are a hell to edit, move around, rearrange and modulate.
It's truly that messed up.

A very old post found on internet cracked me up. I can only understand the frustration. The memories:

Microsoft Word Sucks

Original author unknown.

[Warning: Extreme language follows.]

For reasons which are completely beyond my control, I've spent half a week writing a document in Word 98.

I have never in my life seen, heard of, or even imagined a more malodorous piece of steaming shit than this little slice of Microsoft. Words fail me, and all that follows is the faintest Platonist shadow-on- a-wall of what is, in my heart, the Ideal Peeve, perfect in its sincerity, bottomless in its depth, and unassailable in its accuracy.

This bloated, pestilent gigabyte-swamping piece of ordure takes up enough computational resources to accurately model the world's weather for the next billion years, and what do you get for it? Something that will format and display text? Don't make me fucking laugh. What you do get is a profusion of bells and whistles thrown in a careless heap, each bauble lovingly designed to make the straight path crooked, the intuitive arcane, the simple impossible.

Take the ``Help'' for example. It's not just help, it's a new friend!

I don't want a new friend, you shit-slurping choad-munching bunch of retards; I've all too many as it is. What I want is something simple where I can find a technical detail with a minimum of fuss and interruption. I don't want animation. I don't want natural-language interpretation. I don't want to be led by the fucking nose. Give me a fucking index and get the hell out of my damn face. If I dismiss a window, I want it gone. I don't want it to wave goodbye, or hesitate, or sneeze. I want it gone.

The document I was working on was very simple. No images, no tables, no nothing. One font, one style, that's it. It would be perfectly simple in other system, even earlier versions of Word, but, oh no, not in this latest magnum opus of the word processing world.

This helpless, hapless, hopeless, buggy piece of offal insisted on changing my fonts every couple of minutes for no reason. Random chunks of text, at random times. And bullet points, don't talk to me about fucking bullet points. It's a little known fact that in the bullet-point mode of Word 98 every single button on every single toolbar is the ``Fuck Me Over Now'' button. I've got bullet points going left, I've got 'em going right, and down and up, I've got 'em changing indentation, and style, you name it.

You'd think in 20 or so megabytes of RAM there'd be room for one scenario in which it doesn't actively do anything wrong, but for that you'll have to wait for Word 2023, which will have a user interface like a retarded version of ``I have no mouth, and I must scream.''

And don't try telling me that one need only configure the options to avoid these problems; I'm not a fucking moron. I quickly configured the preferences so as to minimize all this bullshit, at which point Word promptly changed them back. Lather, rinse, repeat. If you don't want fast saves, then fuck off, you're gunna have 'em. Don't want your grammar constantly corrected by some shitty little subprogram that doesn't know the first goddamn thing about grammar? Tough shit. Empty your wallet and move off to the side.

How did this come about? It can't be incompetence, at least not the usual mundane sort one is constantly immersed in simply by having to share a planet with a bunch of fucking primates. This is either some transcendent type of incompetence, or active malevolence.

My money's on malevolence. This software was obviously created by a company who's motto is ``We're Microsoft, and you, the customer, aren't worth fuck to us.'' It matters not one iota what their official motto is, watch the hands, not the mouth. Well, Microsoft, your time will come. It may not be Linux that does you in, it may not be the DoJ, it may not be this decade, but you're going to go the way of the dodo, and I for one will cavort naked on your grave, pissing effusively on your memory, and screaming, ``Animate this, you bastards!'' to the sky.

But in the here-and-now, I shall finish this document with the quiet dignity with which I have always comported myself, and then I shall un-install Word, and swear a terrible oath that I would rather daub dung on paper with a stick than write a document using a Microsoft product.

It is that mediocre. I see no point keeping on using a software you constantly fight against.
The amount of time I LOSE because of this software is staggering!
But let's not stop here !

Microsoft Word sucks dirty donkey balls!!! (and its +90 nice comments)

Microsoft Word fucking sucks ass!! I am so sick and tired of trying to coax this fucking program to do simple word processing tasks. I cannot believe that microsoft word makes it so difficult to have different page number formats for different pages, and does not fucking allow the modification of footnote formats beyond a certain point!! There is simply now way to have different footnote formats. Period. You COULD break down your 200 page document into itty bitty (and buggy) sections to TRY to change the page numbering schema, but good luck when you do that (and save everything) because your document might suddenly become 400 pages long without any warning!!

I cannot believe that a billion dollar company like Microsoft, putting out “top of the line word processing software” makes such a shitty product and everyone continues to use the damn thing!!

I dont like Latex that much either and now that I have come this far in writing my thesis, I really cannot turn back. A word of advice to all that are trying to write some serious documentation (anything greater than 20 pages) using Microsoft Word, Fucking Forget It!!! Start using some other word processor right from the beginning and you will be saved a LOT of frustration later on!!

Things I hate about Microsoft Word (not listing everything, that would take up all day!):

      Page number formatting
      Lack of referencing schemas
      Lack of control over “automatic features”
      Twenty thousand temporary copies of your document
      Page break mechanism
      The built-in drawing package
      The lack of a good equation editor
      Lack of contemporary formatting ideologies
      The twenty thousand “viewing modes”
      Exceptionally bad inter-Microsoft Office collaboration
      HUGE file sizes (my 200 page thesis is 3 MB!!)
      I HATE the auto-correct feature!!
      Auto-page formatting is sucky!
      Heck, Auto-EVERYTHING is sucky!!!

Among other things…

I am SO getting rid of Word when I am done with my thesis!!!
Related Posts:

    * Looks like the Blade thing fell through
    * Microsoft Adding Blogs to Longhorn?
    * Microsoft fires employee for a posting on personal blog
    * Differences between b2, WordPress 0.72 and WordPress 1.0
    * This really sucks for Linux Users

Readers who viewed this page, also viewed:

    * Microsoft Adding Blogs to Longhorn?
    * Differences between b2, WordPress 0.72 and WordPress 1.0
    * Water-electrolysis toy cars
    * Looks like the Blade thing fell through
    * Microsoft fires employee for a posting on personal blog
    * This really sucks for Linux Users

The only reason I'm stuck with that is because some people out there are obtusely using this software and its stupid format system.

God I hate that damn piece of shovelware.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

US people watch too much TV

That's basically what the Nielsen ratings are just too polite to say.
Here's some stuff I wrote about some flabbergasting figures briefly alluded to in a Gamasutra article.
My text deals with the daily consumption of TV in the USA, although the original article itself was not about that.

5 hours on the average, no matter how you spin that, is totally worrying.
I mean, if it's like 2 hours a day during the five usual "working" days of the week, then you have 22.5 hours in front of the TV for each day of the weekend.

Seems like we're missing some parameters here. First of all, it's Nielsen. They can only extrapolate from what they have, and what they have is numbers of people who accepted to be polled about their TV habits. This could dramatically skew the samples.
This figure echoes what we see here from 2009.

153 hours a month on TV does bring about 5 hours a day. But it is necessary to understand that those are the habits of people they could "scan". However, Nielsen also has numbers about the number of households with TVs, and around 2009 it was about 114.5 million households.

The most recent numbers are putting the extrapolated number of people capable of watching TV from such households to be about 294.65 millions. Not far from the 307 millions population of the entire country.

If the average TV consumption is based on this TV household data, then the averaged figure for TV consumption represents about 97.7% of the population.

And there's little way to get around this by fiddling with TV household numbers.

You cannot escape 'em!

. . .

Damn scary.
: (

The last link leads to an USAtoday page that reads:

Average home has more TVs than people

So the Nielsen figures are extremely worrying. Who the hell would think it's sane to consume so much TV??

Friday, March 18, 2011

Double Jump

your doing plaftorming in your game but ain't puting the doable jump in it's game design? u suck! im prolly say something obvoius but itd be muc better with triple jump coz thats advanced so you can do more stuff and we dont care if its no logical or dont makes sense in teh game

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Awesome Halo Reach (not) censored (?)

We might say that this video is funny. In a way, yes, it is funny.
However, I'm disturbed by the fact that Youtube lets it be viewed by anyone, of any age.
The profanity, vulgarity and sexual imagery, plus the hellish and nightmarish gross distortions of human bodies... that's some material I surely wouldn't want my kids to see, cartoon or not.
Cartoon doesn't even begin to excuse the laxism.
Why isn't there any mature filter on that, dammit?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Youtube Revolution

Remember when you could watch a video without having to sit through commercials?
Remember when music videos were uploaded by users and not VEVO
Remember when all the info was to the right of the video?
Remember you could rate a video 1-5 stars?
Remember the famous yellow subscribe button?
Remember when the users controlled the site and not corporations?
Post this in every video and lets start a youtube revolution!

Not from me, but quite interesting.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Already Chrome 11 but snot enough

When you think that my browser war sheet was published like four months ago only, and Chrome was at the 7th version, aptly named 7.0... I couldn't help but wonder why the hell they still bothered with the .0 part. Considering that their strategy of who has the longest dick is just to be sure to have the greatest post count version number, they could streamline said number.
Why don't they give us a break and go right for Chrome 99?
Think of the opportunities when will come the time for the next release!!! OMG!!!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Loreno Confortini, level design alla maniera antica?


There are days like that when you feel quite a bit more lucky than usual. I wouldn't tell you how I came across Mr. Confortini's website, it's so convoluted that it wouldn't even make sense. Point is, praise gracious Eriounios and King Wan, for Mr. Confortini may seem to be an obscure artist not particularly renowned outside of certain Italian circles, and yet he deserves more light than he gets, for his work is simply put, truly gorgeous and admirable.

Mr. Confortini, in his mid 50s, specializes in ink drawings of "perspectives and landscapes of cities, cross-sections of buildings, castles and cathedrals" and other maps, all drawn by conforming to antique styles. In my opinion, this noble exercise would find its rightful place into the complete collections of production artworks for real strategy games, for example.

Here is his biography and curriculum vitae:

LORENO CONFORTINI born in Mirandola (Moden) in 1954.
In the early nineteen-eighties began his activity in architectural designs, cartography and perspective views of cities and ancient buildings.

Since 1987 he has collaborated as illustrator and graphic artist with 'Bell'Italia', a monthly magazine published by Giorgio Mondadori (Milan), and with other publishers.

In 1994 he was awarded the prize 'A book for Tourism' by the European Federation of Tourism Press for the volume "Ancient Castles in the St. Marino Republic". This illustrated book, with a foreword written by Jacques Le Goff, was published by the Tourism Office of the St. Marino Republic.

In 2003 he produced, in collaboration with a colleague, the illustrator Francesco Corni, the volume 'Italian Mills', with text by Vittorio Galliazzo, both authors doubling as publishers, which first gave an exhaustive illustration of the various types of water mills in the Italian regions.

In 2005, on the occasion of an exhibition organised at Burg Taufers by the Südtiroler Burgenistitut (The Castle Institute of South Tirol and Austria), he printed the second edition of his catalogue 'Villages, Cities, Castles and Fortresses', a collection of views drawn alla maniera antica.

He has produced large maps of a great number of towns, such as Bologna, Modena, Parma, Brescia, Sabbioneta, and of castles, churches, and medieval villages. Other works have been widely published in special editions on the occasion of cultural events sponsored by public and private institutions.

He lives and works in San Felice sul Panaro, Modena - Italy.

The downside of this, however, is that all images on his website are, unfortunately, all downsized, and finding the publications wherein his arts are fully disclosed is one of the hardest treks ever. You will notice that this exposé of his competences is a transcription of the Italian page. So in order to get the right book references, you'll have to look for the Italian names. And sorry, no ISBN found either.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Just a database about nuclear tests

Check it out.
A lot of these videos can be found on streaming websites as well. Just in case you want to make a realistic nuclear bang in your future game.
Try to look for a 1 kiloton test as well. Makes a fireball that's about 60 meters wide.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

3DS vs NGP

Let's compare both Nintendo's 3DS and Sony's NGP.

The first one is going to sell like hot cakes, again, merely because of that cool 3D gimmick, but which will surely will add very little to substantial matters. This simple addition, totally superficial, which by the way is far from perfect the moment you're not standing right in front of the screen (the image doubles when you're a bit off-axis) will certainly not rise the production cost of the console by much (the 3D effect mainly is a trick of display). Well, we know that Nintendo will sell that one waaaaay above its true screws and bolts price, as always. It's not a surprise either, they're not in the business of making games. They sell cheap plastic toys, which is pretty much where they come from anyway.
That's the core of their disruptive strategy : selling hardware gimmicky coolness to people who don't care about video games. NDS, Wii, and 3DS.
So, next to the augmented reality, you'll have waterproof console (play underwater !!) and true holograms ala Star Wars (with obviously crappier graphics than if displayed on a flat SuperOLED screen, but never mind).

Then you have the NGP, which is a true developer's wet dream, the ultimate Swiss Knife, but which will certainly be considerably more expensive, and not as cool on the surface. It comes with two thumbsticks, a multi touchscreen, games on cards (bye bye stupid UMD), a touch pad on the back, and plenty of network functions. Yes, it's a dream come true. Nothing to best Nintendo, but certainly much more complete in promises, and probably far more rewarding game wise.

Yet... no stylus.
No tactical games for you guys. If you think you can play a RTS with the tip of your fingers on such a small screen, I have a prime swampland to sell you.

Well, hold that. We already managed to convince millions of players that you could get a true FPS experience on consoles. So why not?

Besides, isn't it what the PSP should have been? Isn't it a bit... superfluous?

What of the NGP's price? Will people even feel the need to buy the NGP, when, on the surface, it doesn't really look like it's that much new? I mean, the difference between a maxed out PS2 and PS3 was not so huge as it was between a PSX and a PS2, but visible enough on a large screen, say glaring on new generation HD screens, but on a handheld screen roughly of the same proportions as the PSP's...

Tough game for you, Sony guys. The NGP may do OK, but the strong lineup will be the key. The rest is just coating and wouldn't depress the line on the scopes by much.
Besides, the "Too-Many-Things in 1" syndrome just reeks off too much of the Game Boy vs Game Gear, in some way, and I'm quite sure that the 3D without the glasses has already guaranteed Nintendo great future revenues.

Finally, when you think of the casual-social gaming bloom, you may think that the NGP killer could be the Xperia Play itself.

Perfect Video Game Business Model

There's a blog I like to read from time to time. It's Bruce on Games. It's generally full of good insight or at least thought provoking matter, and is a healthy reading when it comes to thickening your brainstorming card deck. Still, like with many other insiders, they seem to lack something quite crucial about reality, something which means that no matter how hard they may try, their vision of the situation, their perspective, is just too narrow, perhaps too biased.
Here I present such an example: Gambling as a video game business model.

The eternal problem of selling a video game as a stand alone package is that it can and will be stolen. If people think that they can get away with stealing then they will, so the level of theft can easily reach the high nineties in percentage terms. In other words often very few users of your product are actually paying for the work that you have done.

The way round this is alternative business models, so the customer is forced to pay in a different way. These can include online games with a monthly fee, pay per play, sale of in game items, advertising or sponsorship, etc etc. All these and more are being used successfully and the industry continues to experiment in order to find viable ways to be rewarded for their work.

When I was Head of Corporate Affairs at Codemasters working for the Chairman, Jim Darling, we were fully aware of the blight of software theft on the business and often discussed ways round it. One idea was online gambling, where we made money from people betting within the game.


[Jez San OBE]'s online gaming company, PKR, is a huge success.

Ok. That's what I call missing the point. Entirely.

With gambling, he has essentially found a way to make money online with "some kind of game", but it's not the same as having found a new business model to make traditional video gaming more profitable, or profitable again.
Surely, this brings us back to the question of piracy, for which it's generally blotted out that the prime issue is economy; in that the middle class, or whatever remains of it, lives on ever ballooning debts and has been getting poorer and poorer decade after decade, with industries being destroyed and reassembled overseas.

It's quite tragic, in fact, that the electronic based industries, more open to piracy and therefore seemingly more fragile, paradoxically seem to be those which are so under-involved in economics and politics. It's like kids who have never grown. It's distressing.

Clearly, there are obvious primary priorities between putting £60 in a game or in your kids' clothes and food. It just boils down to that. Multiply salaries by ten for everybody, while keeping the same value on goods as it is now, and you'd solve a huge part of the problem. This money exists, we know where it went, and it's not in the people's pockets (clue: it's called Kapital and Banksters).
There would be minimal inflation, because the amount of money is already there, it does not need to increase, so prices wouldn't go up, purchase power wise, but keep stable (commercial laws could help). Primary resources costs wouldn't skyrocket either: they can't, "we" already produce too much. A slow down of the consumption would be a prime directive. Improving quality and durability would force industries to focus on more sustainable development (and I can't tell you how much I'm very cautious with this, as it's currently used to push the world in a direction which is nothing sustainable at all, and only used to allow authorities to peek into people's lives a bit more).

Again, all the money is already there, the amount does not need to change. It just needs to end in different hands. The mere fact that the money supply grew, prices climbed, yet income didn't really follow pretty much proves this. What hasn't worked one way won't work the other way just because income is increased to the levels it should have been at now ... let's just muse about the lack of income recalibration that hasn't occurred over the last two or three decades, relative to the hording inflation - where are we know? Yeah, good job. You've been stolen. Ouch.

Piracy gives the illusion that there's a massive loss of money, while in fact a great many people who acquire illegal copies would have never paid for it to begin with.
The problem with this illusion, which is nothing more than a fallacious argument often repeated ad nauseum every two weeks by editors complaining about lost sales, is that it also makes creators think there's a viable industry there to work in, and therefore they decide to make games.
So while in any other industry, a lack of sales couldn't be blamed on "piracy" but the simple fact that people don't have much money left to buy your stuff, in the video game industry, this silly corporate talk is entertaining a lie that keeps acting like a siren, until the ship crashes, unavoidably.

The other reason video game workers and consumers don't seem that much involved in politics or syndicalism of any sort is because of the dumbed down infantile culture that permeates so many studios which share the mental leftovers of the Internet bubble: cool kids working at Google and just sort of living their dream, having the political, historical and economical culture of a shrimp.

But no. The real deal is that people wouldn't bother pirating games if buying legal copies was not a problem. When I mean problem, the real one is not about the game's price, but people's income. It's a subtle difference, but it has a lot more to do with psychology than with cold equations.
You can lower your price as much as you want, you won't change much if the people still get the impression that the world's damn unfair and a few lucky bastards rack millions while you're left with a few pennies at the end of the month once you've paid all the bills. Case: the massive piracy on smartphone apps.

What we're seeing about piracy is so obvious because Internet enhances all, and the pseudo crisis of 2007 is only the peak of the iceberg, something that's been going on for longer than that.
So all those schemey over complicated new business *solutions* are no solutions. They're just painting, coating, but the core is still rotten and not getting any saner. Those so called solutions are even more silly because they complicate matters, while people beg for simplicity and a sense of liberty. Subscription, DLC, etc. All that is shit. Oh but wait, people actually want that shit. They're so stupid that they beg for it. Their empty lives drive them to waste their money on "virtualities" which are even more anti-productive than cigarettes.
It's no surprise that within such nihilistic societies, people are ready to pay for the likes of WoW, which by all means is not that much of a game but rather another job which just alienates you by exploiting psychological backdoors and giving you little reward at all in return.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Feeding Microsoft when Gates feeds Monsanto

There are things I hate with a passion. One of them is Mosanto. Another is Cargill.

And one thing I'm really close to hate, aside from the monopoly it holds on PC OSes (and wonderfully illustrated in Bill Gates's open letter from the 70s), is Microsoft.
Microsoft, BG's ever growing supply of money.

So what happens when our nerdy BG buys about 500,000 shares from Monsanto - poisonous killers of crops, farmers (not just the African ones) and liberties- for $27.6 M in the second quarter of 2010, and the news breaks out in late 2010?

The video game industry remains silent.
Controversial? All but an euphemism.
Sure, with billions to make, who'd shake the boat by pointing out the disgusting ties between Gates and Monsanto, and therefore logically risking the business profitability of Microsoft and millions of jobs depending on the sales of games on the Microsoft console?

Still, here's a couple links you should read, if you don't want to die silly. (And as always, don't miss the comments section when there's one!)

Gates Foundation ties with Monsanto under fire from activists
Bill Gates Foundation Buys 500,000 Shares of Monsanto
Should the Gates Foundation sell its stock in Monsanto?
Gates Foundation invests in Mosanto: Both will profit at expense of small-scale African farmers
Chemical Relations: Monsanto and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Seriously, there are times when I feel a bit heart-torn when I know that making video games in such an age of disgrace is not particularly fertile for the mind, and is often said to keep people away from important matters (just like any entertainment consumed in droves and nothing in video games actually encourages people to do otherwise), but do we really have to flush everything, including ethics ?

EDIT : I forgot something. Did you ever hear of the Doomsday Vault ? Surely, you want to read the following article : Doomsday Arctic Seed Vault: Do Bill Gates, Rockefeller and GMO (genetically modified organism) titans know something...
Hello? Is there anyone still sane on this fucking planet?

--- Special Blackwater Black Ops/XE Services Update ---

Machines of War: Blackwater, Monsanto, and Bill Gates. An excerpt:

A report by Jeremy Scahill in The Nation (Blackwater's Black Ops, 9/15/2010) revealed that the largest mercenary army in the world, Blackwater (now called Xe Services) clandestine intelligence services was sold to the multinational Monsanto. Blackwater was renamed in 2009 after becoming famous in the world with numerous reports of abuses in Iraq, including massacres of civilians. It remains the largest private contractor of the U.S. Department of State "security services," that practices state terrorism by giving the government the opportunity to deny it.

Many military and former CIA officers work for Blackwater or related companies created to divert attention from their bad reputation and make more profit selling their nefarious services-ranging from information and intelligence to infiltration, political lobbying and paramilitary training - for other governments, banks and multinational corporations. According to Scahill, business with multinationals, like Monsanto, Chevron, and financial giants such as Barclays and Deutsche Bank, are channeled through two companies owned by Erik Prince, owner of Blackwater: Total Intelligence Solutions and Terrorism Research Center. These officers and directors share Blackwater.

One of them, Cofer Black, known for his brutality as one of the directors of the CIA, was the one who made contact with Monsanto in 2008 as director of Total Intelligence, entering into the contract with the company to spy on and infiltrate organizations of animal rights activists, anti-GM and other dirty activities of the biotech giant.

Contacted by Scahill, the Monsanto executive Kevin Wilson declined to comment, but later confirmed to The Nation that they had hired Total Intelligence in 2008 and 2009, according to Monsanto only to keep track of "public disclosure" of its opponents. He also said that Total Intelligence was a "totally separate entity from Blackwater."

However, Scahill has copies of emails from Cofer Black after the meeting with Wilson for Monsanto, where he explains to other former CIA agents, using their Blackwater e-mails, that the discussion with Wilson was that Total Intelligence had become "Monsanto's intelligence arm," spying on activists and other actions, including "our people to legally integrate these groups." Total Intelligence Monsanto paid $ 127,000 in 2008 and $ 105,000 in 2009.


This is getting out of hands!
- Whose hands?