Category Archives: Uncategorized

Three games

I played 3 new games this week, well one wasnt so new… not for me.
Lets see how I liked them?

Dreamfall Chapters – Red Thread Games
Zoe-reaching-for-dream-900x168
Been meaning to play for a while. HAVE NOT played any of the others. I know they are well loved, and highly lauded. And I would very much do all I can to support the company, having broken away from FunCom to do their own thing.
But sorry, this is horrible. Ill push on, but the endless cutscenes, listening to this annoying Im so cool girl… I just dont get the fuss… Its getting more interesting now that Im suddenly in a prison, and no sight of the girl, but then I got stuck as the game is really just a pixel hunt.. find the hotspot kinda game

Her Story

2893760-herstory-2

Very Interesting, shot on VHS video, Made in Portsmouth. Its 100 Police interview tapes… kind of a whodunnit, not really a game apart from the annoying ket words thing, (you have to enter key words to find the clips, but if you dont know a keyword, you cant play it) but wow.. who’ed a thought this would work? Ive talked about fragment storytelling in regards to my own game TRUTH, but this was proof of concept for me… Ill just mention, the timed entry of the chat box… changed the whole thing for me.. was about to quit… but didnt.
But ok… got a bit boring after a while, and.. it is just police tapes, no resolution… id have liked a resolution…or dare I say it… a twist?

Lifeless Planet

xboxTitledHeroArt

Not quite as beautiful as Journey (just as sandy though) but more “game”.. just enough jumping and jet packing, just enough clue hunting, and nice voice acting (for a change), intriguing and exiting and fun and everything a game should be for me…
Wonderfull.. My favourite game in ages..

Vectr Noiz

More Vectr. This time a bit noisier. Basic patch is x controlling VCO1 and Y controlling VCO 2, but this time i have both VCOs going into a VCA where the volume level is controlled by Z (or proximity to the screen) So I can fade in sounds by moving hand closer or further away.
The cool thing is that when you record, the Z is recorded too.
Z is a bit different to the other axis because it has a slow fade down, so it can be used as a manual ADSR.

Demo of Through the Woods

The backers of Antagonist Games received a demo of the start of their Kickstarter, Through the Woods this week.
Finally the mac version became available and I was eager to try it. As previously posted, I was dismayed but resigned to the fact that 2 games are being made that step hugely into the area to The Road Up to Hell, so, as before I will write this review as both a huge fan and friend of the Antagonist guys, but tinge it with some slightly tongue in cheek “sour grapes”

Firstly I must say that my poor mac was not nearly man enough to handle the game, I hope they can optimise it a bit later, for the final product. I had to reduce the graphics to LOW just to get it to run. I must admit that I have had similar problems in TRUTH, but seem to have succeeded a little better than Antagonist, now I can only really improve my game by getting the pro version of Unity, which I can not hope to afford any time soon. I can feel in the lag that they are doing something, the frame rate drops when approaching buildings and the non torch view seemed sluggish, I suspect the post effects, but sitting and waiting for a second seemed to help, which makes no sense, its not YouTube… but I could get through, so I tried to ignore this, but for some reason you get a really stuff wrist from it…

To the game itself. The voiceover, being a post story interview with a Psychiatrist, was pure genius! And for a change the voice acting wasn’t bad. The recording was well done with the Shrinks voice being a little “off mike”. The accent of the Mother was also quite spot on, as Norwegians speaking English often get this really weird tinge of American to their voice, but IM pretty sure she WAS norsk.
It starts slow, which I like and the sound effects are good, I wish they were louder to be honest, the voice comes in so loud in comparison. Also, its NOT that quiet in the woods, and silence doesnt seem scary to me, its calming.. a more dense and compressed sound picture would have been better IMHO.
The idea that the kid had an endless supply of reflectors that guide you was a bit far fetched to me, but who cares, I can hardly say that shining magical deer that lead you to weird spiky hills with telescopes on top is exactly realistic (A spoiler from my game) and kids DO collect all kinds of shit in their pockets.So Ill accept that… But I thought they missed an opportunity here, if the trail had been a trail of stuff her kid dropped, she could have picked them up and used them, so it would have been like the kid was “helping”. I know it doesn’t work with Antagonists UI model (as in, there ISNT ONE) but it didn’t need to be like TRUTH with an inventory and interface, it could just have been, “I used the yoyo string on the door handle”. But I guess they are determined to stick to their “Amnesia” template (no wait.. theres a inventory there too).. Their template.. and not deal with.. “oh no I have to go all the way back and fetch the yoyo” issues…
The modelling was pretty generic… The houses felt similar to some asset store packs I have and IM not sure but they definitely used the same environment packs as me , I obviously have no problem with doing that, but it did make it look very similar to mine in places. The terrain texturing was very poor however, although this might have been as a result of my low low settings… but I spent alot of time tweaking (without knowing what the hell I was doing) the terrain shader, to use normal maps and that helped alot. There were also terrible bush billboards, which rotated to face me while I was very close, again, probably my settings, but lavender? Never seen lavender in a Norwegian Wood.

The atmosphere built quite nicely, and I had no problem with the door open fails, Im sure I would have enjoyed exploring more if it wasn’t for the frame rate. I lost my way a couple of times and found myself going back down the path the wrong way, an audible hint might have been fun here… its a very linear game after all, so a variable trigger with a voiceover.. ” I retraced my steps a little to see if I had missed something” would have been possible, but too many of them would get generic, maybe?

The moment when the door shut behind you and she screamed, well the scream was a bit too much at that stage… I would have preferred a muttered “oh my god”.

But then the (Spoiler Alert) Troll attack. funnily enough on my first play through it worked fantastically… For some reason, the growling and a clear path encouraged me to run, so without even getting a glimpse of the troll I ran into the cave, stopped, turned around, and jumped out of my skin as the Troll was there and dropped a stone on the entrance. FANTASTIC!!! What a brilliant thing… I didn’t get a too good look too early (Amnesia keeps you from seeing the monster for ages, soon as you do, funs over) and it was a jump scare, but now I could only go on… but I didn’t…heh heh… being a geek, I quit and started again… but unfortunately the next time I got to that bit of the wood I hung a round looking for the Troll… and there it was lumbering towards me, and thwack.. dead… spawn. Meh… was more fun the previous time… But how could they have done that? Force MY first experience? Easy!…well simply NOT spawned the Troll till I was in the cave, forced me so stop.. fall over for example, look around, Troll feet, Rock BLAM darkness… eyes adjust to cave… torch on again… LEVEL TWO.. but seeing the troll so clearly was less scary and more… “ok here comes the game”.

On the whole was was quite impressed with my own game, TRUTH looks better, plays better, and will have much more things to do, but is lacking the strong normal “story” that Through the Woods has, very strong, very usable and makes me very keen to play the rest. Of course my game is a totally different thing with my proposed multi player storywriting feature, and less obvious, but weirder locations.

But this is just the start scene, an I have a good feeling that Through the Woods is going to be a great game!

very much looking forward to playing

So go and back them now…
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1854868411/through-the-woods/

FRUSTRATION!!! (Having your game idea stolen…)

NOTE: Im NOT SAYING ANYONE HERE NICKED ANYTHING… JUST A FIGURE OF SPEECH…
One of the annoying things about trying to develop games on your own and with a day job, is that it takes an unbelievably long time. I get about an hour an evening and less at weekends, and thats shared with my Modular Synth building obsession.
Over the course of the 4 years Ive been doing this, I have yet to release one game (whatever “release” is gonna mean if I actually finish one) Ive never been interested in the tiny “retro” style games that are churned out for mobile or on “Game Jams”. Im always for the BIG IDEAS, and the COMPLEX STORIES.
So when my game “Aunty- A metaphysical Mystery” failed to get funding (twice) from the film fund, and then a game, seemingly with the same idea was anounced, and was bing heralded as “the next big thing” and had millions positively flung at it… Well “sour Grapes” comes to mind.
Of course Im not suggesting for one moment that “Among the Sleep“was a nicked idea from me, my god no… And in the end of course, it turned out to be nothing like Aunty was ever going to be…
However, the annoyance was enough that I dumped the idea, for the moment, I will probably return to it when I have finished T.R.U.T.H.
But there, now I have been working on THAT NEW GAME now for two years, finally there comes along ANOTHER bunch of things that could be called similar! Again from “proper” Norwegian companies, who will no doubt finish their games and get on with their next one, way before Im done with mine.

So baring in mind that my game is…

Set in a remote Norwegian Valley and concerns mysterious strange activities that could be taken from Norsk folk lore, religion, superstitions and experimental science. A FIRST PERSON fragmented mystery, where the goal is to find out for yourself what you think is going on, but never ultimately really understand due to conflicting information and clues, and points of view… Including, A Strange old lady and her missing mentally challenged son, Biblical Prophecies, A secret scientific laboratory, and underground caves and tunnels, a newcomer to the village, where you get the feeling you are always being watched?

… AND
In an attempt to NOT get all uppity and pissed of, I instead will use this post to BIG UP my competitors and let them know that far from being annoyed I AM TOTALLY PROUD AND VERY IMPRESSED That Norway has so many cool and exiting games being made, (oh and if you wanna give a 51 year old wannabe a job.. then…)

I do wonder if this “spate” is infact a bit of a reflection of some of the criteria that the NFI use when dealing out money to projects, because during my failed attempt at getting anything from them for Aunty, I do remember a mention of Norwegian Culture and language bing favoured.

The first is “Through the Woods” from Antagonist Games

Through the Woods is a third-person psychological horror game set in a forest on the western shore of Norway about a mother and her missing son. Through dynamic narration, you play the mother’s re-telling of the events surrounding her son’s disappearance in a setting heavily influenced by Norse mythology and Norwegian folk tales.

This looks very cool, quite dark and scary, seems to be a bit more “supernatural” and possibly involving fighting monsters. I met one of the guys from Antagonist, he was very nice about what he had seen of TRUTH, and told me a few home truths about the cash situation they are developing under..
Ha! Kids! How they can live on almost nothing is very endearing..

The next game is from the new darlings of Norway Red Thread Games, who came into the scene with a blast for the latest instalment of The Longest Journey, Dreamfall Chapters. I havent played that one, I didnt like the originals, but their new piece is Draugen And is…

Draugen is a first-person psychological horror adventure, set amongst the deep fjords and towering mountains of Norway’s awe-inspiring west coast.
The game is a dark and disturbing journey into the pitch black heart of Norwegian national romanticism, as seen through the eyes of an American nature photographer, botanist and entomologist.
Inspired by Scandinavian literature, legends and fairytales, along with Norse mythology and the Icelandic sagas, Draugen is set in the early 1920s and delves into the deepest, darkest secrets of a remote fishing community where every single soul has mysteriously vanished.
As the player explores the tiny settlement, gathering clues and memories, and unearthing the truth behind a terrible tragedy, they will learn more about the history of the village and its inhabitants. And they will come to see that behind even the most innocent of facades lurks the potential for malice.

OK great… again looks fantastic, and remember these are the big boys, as they are all ex Funcom dudes, that know what they are doing, bastards! Heres the clip…

But really.. Norway.. mysteries… missing people… ghosts and legends… sigh…
I better pull my finger out…

Art College ramblings digressions and what not

I just read this interesting article about the Art College in Brighton during the 60’s
Brighton College of Art in the 60’s
And it reminded me alot of my experience at Portsmouth College of Art and then the Fine Art Dept of Portsmouth Polytechnic. I thought it would be nice to write down a few of my memories.

Arrival
I remember that I was literally the first interviewee in a bunch for my place at Portsmouth College of Art. I was interviewed by Mark Harrington, who was to be one of my first year, foundation lecturers. I still remember him saying ” Well this is good stuff, less of the Roger Dean shit and you´ll be fine… welcome!” And that was it! After a nerve wracking 5 minutes where he just perused my folder of school Art class stuff, I was in!
I relaxed a little at school for the remainder of the year, maybe a little too much?
I arrived, a long haired hippy type, with patched up jumpers and holy (as in with holes) jeans, to be confronted with a bunch of the scariest and most way out looking punks and goths and new romantics. It took a year before my hair became black, and it has stayed dyed ever since… Im 51 now! It was frightening, but totally inspiring! I had NO IDEA (I still dont) what “kind” of Art I should do, and the foundation year was designed for me to find out. A bit of everything, drawing, painting nudes, graphics, printing, plastic, metalwork and photography. I LOVED IT! The only hinderance for me at the time was that I was “commuting” from Petersfield everyday.
By the second year I had moved to Pompey and really took advantage of life as an Art Student. Going to shows, staying till we were thrown out of the video suite or darkrooms (look them up you youngsters).
Im not sure how much talent I ever had (or have actually) but I must say that at Portsmouth I did get the interest to try many things, and that has stayed with me to this day. Not really a good thing really, but maybe. I don’t think Ive ever become really outstanding at anything really, technology always seems to whizz past before I really feel I have done all.. For fuck sake I was experimenting with hand dying film, when video came in, I was faffing with making quicktime VR circular poems, when I should have learned programming… Ja.. Programming thats the one thing I really regret never to have mastered. I mean I cant play guitar, but Ive toured the world in a famous band, I don’t know much about film, but Ive probably directed more actors than anyone in Norway… I don’t understand electronics but I have a pretty huge modular synth that I soldered myself… see a pattern here?
Anyway… I followed a girlfriend into a jewellery course, and loved it… but gave it up after a year, it just wasn’t… arty enough… silly really… I made some lovely rings, by a technique known as fusing, where you don’t really use solder, you just wait till the silver melts, and JUST before it goes BLOB into a runny mess you pull away… twas cool as hell. and to be honest.. I wish I still did that. If I hadn’t twatted about with video feedback, and got hooked on experimental video I would never have had to sit through 6 hour meetings about HSE or HR or…fucking CSR. I wouldn’t know what a company design profile was and I wouldn’t give two hoots about visions and values…
Scratch
Where was I? Video… yep lots of re-filming off screens, recording buzzing noises, burying TVs in the beach, draping apartments with white sheets and, projecting on houses. Then zippady doo dah, over I pop to the Polytechnic and join the real arty mob in the…
Fine Art department
“Your stuff is too… er slick… Mark”
they wailed…
“It must be all that time doing graphics…!”
while at the same time handing rolls of film to students who came back with black totally underexposed films (“I filmed myself masterbating at four in the morning… I left the lens cap on as a statement about pornography”)
I was stuck between two poles, I was all design-y and pop video-y and yet when I was at the Art College it was all craft, and technique…and there they said I was too weird, didnt stick to the brief…too mess… ahh well…
But it was OK at the Poly, I made a fun film, with lots of holes punched in it, I filmed some melodramatic goths poncing about on a freezing winter West Wittering, and set it all to backwards distorted guitars and techno beats. Ace! Also met James my on and off collaborator for… well… we still dabble now…
Then it was over..
I was out…
The World
not so much as a ” Well there this grant…”
or
“Heres some place that might show you films if you sent them”
or
“Have you thought about pop videos”
oh no.
It was… “Dole Office is down there on the left… let us know when you have a retrospective of your earlier work at Aspex Gallery in Southsea, and we´ll come and drink your wine…”
Bastards…
So it was Bread Pudding and coffee in a cafe in Albert Rd for 2 years discussing “scripts” with James… occasionally rehearsing with this new band I got asked to join… a one off trip to Thailand on a documentary film, taught a bit in a video course of my own devising,
and then…
well..
good old John Peel.. may he rest in peace…

SLIT SCAN (Back in vogue?)

I have always been fascinated by the slitscan technique, ever since I found out that its how they did the psychedelic bits in 2001. Douglas Trunbull had some “art” behind a slit in in a darkened room, then opened the lense and while it was open, tracked the camera towards the slit, so that the slit moved from center of the frame to the edge. Then closed the shutter.
Then he moved the art behind the slit a tiny bit, and repeated.
936full-2001-a-space-odyssey-screenshot
I did my own version in my Black and White film “humonculas”, unfortunately on 16mm, and therfore never seen on the small screen! (And no money to have it transferred neither) So none of my wide screen spectactulars have ever seen the light of day…One of these days Ill pay for Stwawberry Wast, Homonlulous and Terpsichore to be transfered.. but I digress)
In Hompnculous I did little more than use a zoom lense frame by frame, on a darkly lit “Life Machine”, that had a few highlights, and produces a kind of jerky and blury version.. Not helped by the fact that I developed and hand printed the film myself, in my own Russian dev tank, and home made contact printer (or old Bolex with a couple of cuts sawed in).
Anyway.. I downloaded as many “slit scan” camera I could get (for free) and tried them out… some with interesting results…

Simon Heartfield uses Electricity in mix

My old mate Simon is still making mixes, I remember when he was my lodger, and was just starting out on the DJing… oh yes I remember that…

A few more TRUTH pics

Just a post to show a few more things from the game.
Heres a overview of the Church (based on Nesodden, where I live) showing some rain, and the crow code. They hover around the graveyard, occasionally sitting on graves, but if you walk past, they all fly off… except one!
_MAIN.unity - TRUTH_UNITY - PC, Mac & Linux Standalone-11

And heres a pic showing the Aunt in her rocking chair, so now she rocks, looks about, and twiddles her fingers.. unfortunately her middle finger twiddle a bit too much… i might fix it.. or not…
Unfortunately I thought I had some kind of accessable blendshape on her face, like I do on the scary girl, but I dont, so I dont know how she will speak… Im considering her having a fag in her mouth the whole time… would that be cheating? A mumbling smoking Aunt.. argh!
_MAIN.unity - TRUTH_UNITY - PC, Mac & Linux Standalone

Roland D2 (Vintage) Review

I saw this box for sale cheap a few months ago and snapped it up. I had been looking for some kind of master clock sequencer, actually to replace my Mobius CV sequencer. Nothing wrong with that, except its only 1 voice, and take up 3 U. Would have like a Sequentix Circlon.. but.. way out of my price range Im afraid!

The Roland D2 came out over 10 years ago, and almost immediately died. I suspect because of it biggest flaw.
Its orange… ORANGE I TELL YA! What were they thinking?
d2
It being a low end Roland, they have gone with an annoying segment display, and therefore you have to get used to the fact that h is 4 and s is 5 etc.. and everything is shortened to 3 letters so ntr means metronome, and Ocr is Octave Range.

But.. the good side… its sounds great! masses of patches (256 user) and many many sounds, haven’t counted but maybe 1024?
Most (ok all) of the pre made patterns are horrible, as this is definitely meant as a dance oriented machine, and (again, being Roland) you must scroll thru them to get to the user editable patches… so you end up hearing the 1st, horrible patch many time.. YIKES!
Plus it has a Pre conceieved but useful External Midi config. In that the 7 tracks all send out midi on midi channels 1-7, and the rhythm track send out on channel 10 (as per the GM standard) Per track you can use sound from the internal G2 voice, the External sound module or both! The only stupid thing is that in order to program a part on an external sound module, you wil hear the internal sound, too WHILE you play. On playback, if you have the internal sound muted only the external will sound. This if obviously a bug.

Programming is a tad funky, they expect you to input notes by using the “D-field”, which is their attempt at a kaos pad type controller. Its not however, no feel at all and very unresponsive, often doesn’t trigger at all. However you can plug in a midi keyboard and suddenly it all becomes easy.

You have 2 ways, Real time and Step Time.
Realtime works for me, as you can play in from your external keyboard and delete by pressing the erase combo when you want to remove mistakes. Its fine.. There is quantise that you can apply on the way in, forcing your playing to 8th 16 32s etc.. or apply afterwards… Careful though.. NO UNDO!!!
The problem with this method is that its impossible to edit one note, say you hit a G instead of an F. Only way I have found is to delete that one note and try to drop it in again.
Step recording however, is a right old palaver, but probably no worse than most drum-machines. You know, you scan to the beat you want to add, press a button to audition the note you will add, change it till its correct and hit enter… more to new location for next note. Slow, but precise. The good thing is that all notes are shown on the LED display, so you can go back and edit them after they have been edited. No such luck with the notes you added via Real Time mode… no way to see them buggers.
So its strange that the 2 input methods are not really mix and match…

However, its in performance that this thing has so many amazing options. Things Ive never even thought of, and have NEVER seen on other sequencers, hardware OR software.
On the D2 you can: Drop the track to half speed or up to double speed. Instantly, you can drop the pitch of all instruments an octave, or up an octave, you can play it backwards.. Did you hear that? You can instantly mute all parts apart from the bass drum and bass instrument, You can use the D field to remove notes from a track, Just randomly… You can perform improv snare rolls, with kinda good control, and apply 3 levels of effects. Delay, Reverb and a multi effect (that is mostly distortion and modulation effects, but also has a cool reverse reverb and some ok filters.. These effects can be tweaked live,

There are some other things that I haven’t really gotten to the bottom of yet, more DJ style things, particularly the so called and DJ named “MEGAMIX” function.. Cant see myself using this, but still. Its where you can grab a track from other patterns and try them on the current pattern. I guess if you have lots of variations, you can switch between them. But I haven’t tried this yet.

I am using it to send clock to my analog sequencers (the Doepfer and the Mobius) Im using to sequence my ancient Proteus Orchestral and and my Korg MS2000. My parts on the upcoming Electricity Album are all being done from this.
Incidentally… We have a special PRE-ORDER offer on the new Album.
The album is going to be called PLANT, and as such we have an album on Bandcamp called SEED: This is Pre-mixes and experiments or the Plant album, and Purchase of this album will entitle you to the Plant Album absolutely free, when it is released on CD. (A vinyl version is also in the pipeline, but maybe subjected to a different deal for now)
Head over and get it from https://electricityplant.bandcamp.com/

Grand Theft Auto 5

I must say right out that I have yet to play this game, I probably will, maybe, one day, if I get around to it, but the controversy surrounding it, its violence, its treatment of women, not to mention its biggest USP being that “its the most expensive game ever made” has made already made it something that I as a part time (lets say “would-be”) game developer, cannot ignore.
I must also say, that the GTA franchise, previously has not interested me in the slightest. The setting of hard, US streets, rap music, drugs and prostitutes, is not the fantasy worlds that I prefer to play in. I’m more into surreal, weirder games, where anything can happen, where the whole world is an invention of Sci Fi, fantasy, and some cleverly played out horror.
I have read a bunch of stuff, both for and against GTA-5 and agree in part with some of what I have heard on both sides, but the degrees of importance in the arguments seem to sway so heavily on the side that the writers are obviously pushing for, that I can’t get a grip on who is right.
I think in writing this I want to figure out for myself what I think about these issues, as a game maker, a hopefully moral feminist(ic) man but also as a parent.

The Violence
I should say that I am NOT a fan of violence in games, not to say that there isn’t any in the games that i play, as the foremost feature in a game. Killing as much as possible, as the ONLY interactive device between non-playable storyline cutscenes, I think is boring and depressing. I like stories, but I also like some level of freedom to play as I choose, without HAVING to play one particular way.
Violence in game writing is of course easier. If the assumption (a wrong one IMHO) that all stories are about conflict, then the most basic of conflicts is killing one another, and so its pretty simple to come up with a plot that involves killing. We humans are pretty good at it too.
The arguments against the violence in GTA (not just this one but all previous GTA´s, indeed ALL VIDEO GAMES) is that exposure to the violence, indeed dealing the violence interactively, is corrupting to children, and ultimately sensitizes us to it and makes us more likely to commit similar acts in real life. Specific criticisms of GTA5 revolve around many grim and unpleasant acts one is called upon to complete, the most controversial of is a torture scene, where one HAS TOO (there no getting around it) be the torturer.
The arguments FOR the violence, are that, as a story, set in a violent environment of gangsters, criminals, prostitutes and drug addicts, its HAS to be there as that is what it is like to live in that environment. The people that the game is based on, in real life, ARE violent, horrible individuals and as such must be shown as such.

I think both sides seem flawed. To argue against the detractors for a moment, there are some quick responses. Firstly, its an adult game. Yes kids will play it, and it being a game, and games being a childs realm, they will consider it their RIGHT to play it, but, I’m sorry… those days are over. When computer games came out, they were aimed at kids, ME, to be precise. I was in the first EVER wave of kids to play computer games. Its replaces TV for us, no longer would out parents shout, “Turn that damn TV off!” It was, “Cant you do anything USEFUL on that computer?”. Well now we have all grown up (I’m nearly 50 goddammit!) I’ve been playing computer games for 35 years! And now, the budgets of computer games is EASILY up there with a big budget hollywood movie. And people are still surprised when a grown up game comes along? WHAT THE FUCK? Im grown up alright? I WANT some serious issues in my films, why not in my games. Ahh… but kids get to see them…
OK BUT THEY SHOULDN’T!!! Im sorry, but I think stores should be prosecuted for selling to minors (maybe they can be already) and I would be VERY happy if parents could be prosecuted for letting their kids play rated 18 games. All these fucking stupid parents lining up to buy a copy for little johnny.. do they let their kids watch violent films? I suppose so… disgusting! Idiots!
Thats it… the categories are there for a reason.
That they lead desensitize you to violence, or make you more likely to commit violence?. Hmm.. more tricky to discuss. There has been no conclusive proof that it does. I have checked for studies, and although there have been some, they all seem to be biased from the outset, based on the authors pre-conceptions, and they seem to have gone both ways. A quickie run down of the points seem to be: 1. Violent games relieve stress and make you less likely to commit violence. 2.Violent games increase stress due to heightened awareness and lack of motoric function while playing (apparently if you jog while playing you will be less stressed). 3. Violent games teach you explicitly that human life is worthless. 4. Violent games teach give you insight into the morals and problems of human existence, therefore increase your understanding of the worth of life.
As for leading to copy-cat killings… I dont know.. maybe.. but you know, if you are gonna kill someone, you might just use a method you have seen on TV, oh wait, no one watches TV anymore, its games now… so yes.. sure it happens, but… I can’t speak for any your you, but I’M not gonna kill anyone cos I just saw a game. Never gonna happen. I might if I go crazy one day, or maybe if my government puts me in a uniform and forces me too, of if I become a drug dealer and mix with the wrong crowd, or even if I lived the most un-loved and dejected and soulless life with terrible parents who beat/hit//rape/hate/torment me.. Oh yes.. then I might… but a game, make me… nah.. Im sorry… just don´t believe it… Juries out.. Ill read some evidence, but nahh… still don’t believe. it.. I admit its a tricky one though.
Hmmm…

But then, those IN FAVOUR of the violence in GTA, say that its parodic, ironic and that by forcing you to feel uncomfortable about torturing this poor fellow, you come to learn something about yourself, and understand that THIS IS BAD! Oh and they LOVE to point out, that immediately after this scene, you as the torturer HELPS the torture (?) to escape, and gives him a long speech as to the pointlessness of torture as a method of information extraction.
Well excuse me, but I just HAD to rush to YouTube upon reading this, and sure enough, the said torture scene is there, together with this long denunciation of torture. So, yes.. it WAS uncomfortable to watch, and I suspect MORE so when you are pressing those little plastic buttons (“Press X to extract tooth” for example). However, it wasn’t as bad as ANY TORTURE SCENE IN ANY MOVIE. (Marathon man for example – to name the most famous Dental scene in history, with messrs Hoffman and Olivier no less) BUT.. this speech afterwards.. What tosh!!! It made no sense whatsoever that THE SAME GUY who was being so mean 2 minutes before (an loving every minute I might add) should be expounding such guff about how naughty torture is to his new found (and toothless) friend as he took a lovely scenic ride to the airport to a new life of anonymity and freedom. What rubbish!
A fucking excuse for a gratuitous bit of nastiness. Keep the fucking character IN character PLEASE!
Having said that, I think.. actually I’m sure of it, that the makers genuinely believed in this vehicle. Imagine WHEN this game was written, 5.. maybe 6 years ago (they say 5 years in the making, but ideas come first right?).. Guantanamo still all over the place… the shock, from the outside world of what the US was doing, and the relative NON event in America. To me I couldn’t understand why people, fuck PRESIDENTS weren’t on trial?.. There wasn’t even a “hush-up” much… they just did it, made lame excuse, strung out a few scapegoats, and got on with it… AN THIS IS REAL STUFF; REAL TORTURE!!! So I DO think that some people at Rockstar games, MEANT that this could say something, make some point, force us to be in a position like those stupid soldiers that “just followed orders”. They couldnt NOT do it, and neither can we.. but… sorry… it didnt work… it came across as gratuitous filth, followed by a lame excuse.
They should have cut that scene… unless…
Its just Rockstars way of getting GREAT publicity… and thats it right?… thats the truth.
Shame…
Sad…
Pointless…

Misogyny
Yes, Girls. Nasty stupid slutty whores, filthy crack addicted ugly old women and stupid big titted bimbos.. Thats it for women in GTA 5.
I dont have much to say about this, many of the arguments for and againts a the same as for violence.
You know… Our kids (specifically boys) will learn to treat women with the same scorn and misogyny and you know… Thats how it is, in the valley, Men treat women badly, there are hookers and crack whores and gold diggers, so we are just being truthful. Oh, and remember..
ITS NOT FOR KIDS… we told you.. PEGI 18 remember?

This one is so obvious its stupid. The game is aimed at men right.. men like porn and are a bit afraid of clever girls, so we’ll put some porn into the game and won’t scare them with clever women? Well.. I dont think games HAVE TO cater for women too, I guess if you think porn is ok, it SHOULD be ok putting it into an ADULT game, right?
Sorry… no. Its ok to DEPICT these issues, comment on them, even allow the player to go to a strip club as a backdrop to a scene in a story, but to allow them to actually have sex with them, THAT IS PORN…
Im not going to complain about Leisure Suit Larry style, stupid sexist fun, with a nice little CENSORED box that come up just when you dont want it too.. course not.. BUT this is like going to see a big blockbuster film, oh I don’t know, something with a love scene.. lets say “Titanic”, then just when Leonado D´Caprio finally gets it on with Kate Winslet on the car deck, instead of the steamy window, we suddenly HAVE TO WATCH him flip her over, do her in the ass, and come all over her face! I DONT WANT THAT!!!! UUUGHHH!! Not in Titanic!! Not Kate!!! Not Leo!! OMG NO!!!!
Again gratuitous.. stupid and catering for teenagers (who aren’t supposed to be able to see it.. ADULTS REMEMBER!!!!) OK 18 to 30 year old boys might want it… but I dont want it OK?
Im not going to go into the obvious feminist argument here… Its silly, of course we shouldn’t treat women like this, its horrible, but again, in this world… there are prostitutes and I think thats OK..
BUT THERE ONE THING THAT ISNT!
Why no STRONG women?
Why no female playable character?
Thats not on!
Really… really not on!
But it all goes back to them WANTING to put porn into it… If they put a character that girls could play, you know, sleek and sexy super killer, or tough, seen it all, ex girl marine gone bad.. or.. I dont know.. Lara Croft? THEN It would have catered (maybe) a bit to women, BUT THEN THEY REALLY COULDN’T PUT THE PORN IN!!! But they wanted the porn, so the ruled out women players, took a risk that their $256,000,000 investment could still earn then a few bob despite excluding the fairer sex, and.. that way… THEY COULD HAVE PORN!! YAY!!

Censorship
So, should we be able to censor games with too much violence and sex? How is that gauged? In this country (Norway) we have a film censor, do we have a video game censor? I honestly dont know? Is it one and the same body? Is an interactive experience MORE engaging therefore MORE damaging?
I certainly think that if we believe in film censorship, we should also have a game censor, certainly to gauge age groupings for titles. I do think its dangerous to take it too far though. Who is going to decide for me, what I watch, play or read?
But lets face it, the violence in games is MUCH MUCH worse than in films. A horrible scene in a film will stay with you for the rest of your life (I’ll never forget the American History X scene or the Casino Scene(s)) But decapitations, blood splatters and dismemberments are ten a penny in games, and now they are getting to look more and more like real people… (remember the people in films are NOT real either however… its called acting darling!)
However, after all the engagement and interactivity of a game, I have yet to cry while playing one, whereas any old film can have me blubbing.
Why is that?

Taste
For me, I think it all comes down to taste.
Good Taste.
Gaming companies, in my not so humble opinion, need NOT be the purveyors of good family values, morals or messages, no, they shouldn’t HAVE to be. But I kind of wish that they would not stoop SO low as to drag the bottom of the barrel for any bit of crass crap that will sell a few more copies, either to too young, sperm dribbling spotty pale boys, or lonely geeks, who want to feel important as they wield biggest fucking gun in the game.
I do think its ok to tackle hard issues, and I think we are long past (in films also) the time when all villains have to have their come-uppance, proving once again, that Crime doesn’t pay.
No… but there has to be some understanding of the moral argument, and IF (as they say it is) GTA-5 is an ironic view of a world where bad is good, and that the moral message is a subtle one, where as the player you slowly learn and become horrified with the world that you are playing in, so that your reality is to NOT be in that world and live good and law-abiding lives, then the game has to BE CONSISTENT. You cannot tell a moral message about women, and what tough lives they lead, and at the same time, revel in their abuse.

Final thoughts

I played GTA 3 for a while, and it really bored me, I hated the music, the idiotic American Street language, and I hated the one dimensional storyline, where failure only meant HAVING to replay the mission. Im sure I play 4 hours MAX, before giving it up.

GTA, 5 However, despite the criticism I have levelled at it, seems like a different game altogether, and I am almost certain to buy it sometime. (I have not focussed ONE iota on the positive aspects and what an achievement it is visually) I will be playing it, as an interested party, and not a core audience player… I will be playing it, with my tongue firmly in my cheek, I’ll be playing it, late at night with NO KIDS around.
AND I WILL remember, the whole time, as if I can forget it, that this game is for BOYS, and MEN!
And as such its all about. Guns, Girls, Cars, Girls, Guns, and Cars… of and apparently golf.. you can even play golf in this game…

GOLF I ASK YOU?????

GOLF!!!!!!!

Cos thats what US MEN like!!!!

Korg Monotribe Review

korg_monotribe_top_1_2
Just a quickie review of the wonderful Korg Monotribe that has been in my hands for a month now.
I LOVE IT!
I got rid of the heavyweight Korg Electribe ESX six months ago, and have been missing SOME kind of drum-machine. Where the Electribe was a STUFFED FULL of features, FX, loads of samples, sounds and lots of tweaking possibilities, I found it slow to use, annoying with menus and some serious irritating lack of functionality (having to stop to enter certain menus, sample start points being impossible to tweak..)the Monotribe is the opposite. Its fun iand intuative from the moment you turn it on.

Firstly the sounds, the drum section is just hi hat bass drum and snare, as it should be in an analog kit the snare is VERY SIMILAR to the hi hat, and the bass drum is punchy and cool.

The Synth is fantastic, with the ms20 filter and various LFO shapes (including the slightly hidden S+H that came in the version 2.0 update) Its sounds totally fantastic! The Q peaks as it should with no distortion as you go into oscillation, the square wave is my favorite, but with the saw you can really WANG it out with a dubsteppy wobble.

Construction
TANK.. Metal.. hear me? METAL!!!!

Cool hidden features:
The flux thing is interesting, turning the keyboard into a continuous slide, for theremin effects.
The fact that there are “in between notes” resulting in a double resolution effectively 16 steps.
Audio in to the filter.
A nifty shortcut to half speed the whole machine. (nice when you are sending clock to it from a looper and don’t know what speed the drums will come out)
And the killer… ALL sounds can have beats removed… not just muted, but SKIPPED, so you can start a track with totally poly rhythmic mayhem, making no sense.. but then add back in the beats you are skipping, till suddenly it all gels. fantastic. Plus being able to make really long sequences, by skipping ONE beat, on the synth, it effectively only comes BACK INTO sync with the drums once every 4 bars, which gives a really cool and lazy feel.
Rolls.. not VERY realistic, but can be cool, but tends to be good by accident, so an UNDO feature here would have been nice, as you have potential to fuck up your cool groove.
Gate time on the synth can be adjusted by a weird key combo and sliding on the keyboard.

Programming is real simple, just add in notes on the grid. plus they can be “played” on the keyboard.

Slight Gripes:

Whereas the Electribe have MASSES of programs where you could save stuff (but almost never did) The Monotribe is NOT meant to be a “programming tool” its a live tool. BUT I would have liked a way to save (you can save ONE rhythm, that it wil start-up with) not many, maybe 16 or 32 spaces… but something.
No Midi, was fine for me, cos I have a midi to trigger box that I dug out. Plus there are some add-ons available that are highly recommended. I MAY get that later.
No separate outputs for the drums and synth. COME ON.. thsi ones basic.. HAVE to be able to process the drums and synth separately!!! Luckily there is a simple circuit bend I may attempt. Just to take outs from the volume pots of the two sections. YOu gotta have delay on the synth (maybe distortion too for the techno thing).
But my MAIN gripe is… THE 9VOLT ADAPTOR MUST BE A KORG ONE!!!! Doesnt come supplied, BUT even though it takes completely regular 9v DC. They have a socket on the back that is not the standard Boss style Center negative. So I ordered an adaptor from Diago, I thin Center Positive, but that didnt fit either. Nowhere in Norwat can I just BUY a korg PSU. There is absolutely NO NEED to have a special PSU, so why they do that I HAVE NO IDEA. On the upside, the thing goes to sleep after 15 mins on inactivity and I have only changed the batteries once, so they last quite well.

The Untitled Film

Heres the start of a screenplay Im working on:
Let me know what you think?

UNTITLED FILM

By Mark Francombe

INT.DRAWING ROOM.NIGHT

In a “well to do” drawing room, 15 naked people eat jelly

BOB
…and I said to him, what a
twat… and he punched me in the
gullet!

HENRY
I hope you killed him!

BOB
I didn’t have time, Mary chopped his head off with a spoon

HENRY
Silver?

BOB
No, stainless steel.

Both men laugh…
track to other end of table where two women are snogging passionately.

Continue reading The Untitled Film