Lucky Wander Dude
Today there are no pictures, only 2 song downloads and a video link.
In this one (Lithium by Nirvana) look for manic-depressive song structure.
In this one (You Know You're Right by Nirvana) look for dissonance.
Finally in this video, look for peace in the non-nihilism of an acoustic song (Come As You Are also by Nirvana at Unplugged--Unplugged being one of the best live concerts in rock).
Hype--Day 3 focuses on a band called Sonic Youth. Sonic Youth is a New York alternative band that was most active in the late eighties and early nineties. They toured with Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr. as they were all part of the same "scene" and general style of music (punk-metal-grunge mixed in such a way as to be artistic). Sonic Youth is specifically a noise punk band meaning they combine pure noise rock (screeches and white noise made with guitars) with punk (driving and fast rock). When you examine noise rock, you find yourself becoming lost in a black hole of sound and so despite the dissonance of it, you understand it. Perhaps it is a need to destroy sound out of angst or is it merely "fooling around." Whatever it is it speaks to emptiness in the human psyche and that makes it a very abstract thing. To create noise rock sounds on a guitar near-destructive techniques are required driving the point about expressed anger to create a void home. The following are pictures of Sonic Youth during noise solos at live concerts:
This is Thurston Moore (Guitarist and Singer) ramming his guitar against the speaker to not only created feedback but a strangely formed vibrational feedback resulting in noise. Note the destructive look of the technique.
In this pick a drum stick is being used to manipulate the sound of the guitar. Thurston Moore once again.
Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo has transformed the guitar into a percussive (drum-like) instrument. The stick is wedged under the strings and when he hits that stick with the other it sounds like an abrasive fuzzy drum. Destructive once again.
This picture shows Kim Gordon rubbing the end of the guitar against a speaker while in the background Thurston Moore prepares to violently thrust the guitar into the ground to bend the neck. Violence=Noise?
Today's hype will bring you further into what Noise is about. Look at the following pictures the first is of Kurt Cobain destorying a guitar and the second of his suicide note (By the way tomorrow I'll be examining pics of Sonic Youth and perhaps the Smashing Pumpkins for similar themes so if you're sick of Nirvana keep looking for tomorrow):
Destruction as a release. First of all this is an extreme act of mania and also a concept in the philosophy in nihilism. Essentially he feels the void of depression and uses manic acts of destruction to fill it. Also note how his shirt is tattered...more nihilism.
Look at the note and consider this: Doesn't it look....noisy?
Like I said Sonic Youth tomorrow so stay tuned.
My game concept is going to be revealed soon with Developer for a Day so I figured I'll start putting out small tidbits of hype to create a mood. As I have said my game is about 90s alternative rock (it isn't some gutiar hero or DDR ripoff either) and of course one of the more influential bands of that era was Nirvana.
This picture shows a pic of a live concert and you'll notice Kris Novoselic (the bassist) has no shoes and of course that Kurt Cobain is on the ground playing. The band was informal and it was what made them connect with the audience. It is also unique in that Kurt's positions are very common in intensely depressed people (mostly children). It is a coping syndrome, one illustrated by this photo. This photo has a lot to do with ideas I want to express in the game. Tomorrow expect a new picture illustrating more about my game's themes.
Look at this pic from left to right and think: manic-depression.
The game Bully from Rockstar was controversial from the moment its premise was revealed. Announced in the wake of controversy over Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for a potential murder link and for a hidden sex minigame this game was caught up in the storm and was used as an excuse to slam the game industry. Several months later the game comes out, not to be a Columbine simulator but an innocent game about school life. And then it was over. Nothing at all happened except for Jack Thompson trying one last futile time to chastise Rockstar for the game.
While bad publicity was not received, good publicity was also hard to find. Despite good reviews I cannot help but feel the game did not receive the attention it deserves. From a gameplay standpoint it is outstanding. It masterfully combines its central combat mechanic with the world and plot of the game and applies it across a broad spectrum. Few games manage to do this as well as Bully and for that reason alone it should have got attention. The main reason this aspect received little attention could most likely be attributed to the shifting of console generations. People were caught up in Wiimania and PS3 hype and ignored the true craft at work behind Rockstar's true masterpiece (Bully is their only validated game in my opinion). But there is another, perhaps more significant, reason Bully should have got attention.
The central theme of Bully is of course to stand up to unrighteous bullies. This echoes through the gameplay, plot and the game industry's current situation. The government (Principal in Bully) is a bully. This bully tried to wrongfully accuse the industry (Jimmy Hopkins from Bully) of wrongful content (Jimmy is wrongfully accused of many many things). Finally at the release of Bully it is revealed that nothing is wrong or really offensive in the game (the end of Bully consists of the Principal realizing another child--symbolically Jack Thompson--was the real evildoer). This is allegory at its finest.
In light of all this, I cannot help but feel that Bully deserves our gratitude. In a manner Bully protected us from Big Brother. Sure its sales were not influential but representatively it was a kick in the face to a real bully and stood up for our beloved industry. Bully was one of the few truly deserving and genuinely artful games to come out this year. It makes me sad to see the Reader's Choice leaving it out cold for now however. If you love the game industry like I do, support Bully. This industry owes its reputation to this game.
I know its very typical to have this kind of post but here goes:
Finish my Developer for a Day Project
Finish my game
Work with the Quake II engine
Beat a LOT of games
Work on my social status
Maybe try and get a date to a school dance
Make two games other than my current project
Hopefully visit my friends in North Carolina (BlueBirdTS that means you as well)
Possibly update this later as my final resolution!
Shadow of the Colossus is regarded as being a unique game in atmosphere, concept and gameplay. It has been termed as being "genre-bending" and is considered by much of the gaming community as being tough to classify in our traditional genre system. I've been playing this game a lot recently and in one sitting, an interesting realization became apparent. Shadow of the Colossus can be formally classified as an inverse, hardcore action-platformer.
Action-Platformer: A Definition
What is an action-platformer? Well obviously it is a hybrid of the action (games involving fast-paced "actions" by the player, often combative behavior) and the platformer (games in which the focus is on traversing the level and its structures) genres but obviously this does not signify anything without explanation. A traditional action-platformer consists of a world filled with obstacles for the player to physically climb, jump or generally traverse through. The action portion of the game comes into effect in the enemies within the level which are as a result subservient to the platforming world. Some commonly known action platformers would be the Prince of Persia series of games. Obviously these titles fit the skeleton of a traditional action-platformer.
Now that we have a definition for a traditional action-platformer, we have to establish a definition for the proposed inverse action-platformer (the "hardcore" portion of the genre classification comes from the difficulty of the game in question). If a traditional action-platformer comes in the form of a platformer level with a subservient set of action-based enemies, then an inverse action-platformer would come in the form of an action world and enemy fights coupled with platforming sequences subservient to the world and enemies. This skeleton fits perfectly over Shadow of the Colossus' gameplay.
The specifics of the analysis can be noted in the game. The world of Shadow of the Colossus (SotC) is not based on obstacles and instead is open like that in an action game. The enemies however are not simply destructible through simplistic violence like an action game however and instead require platforming to root out the weak points on them. Obviously this is the same format as the aforementioned inverse action-platformer. It is quite easy to observe this skeleton in SotC and its is also noteworthy to realize how simplistic the change is and also how it is the exact inverse of a normal action-platformer.
When broken down, the unique and mystifying features of Shadow of the Colossus can be seen as nothing more than a simple inverse of the components of a fairly standardized genre. This observation provides value beyond simple interpretation and education in that it proves that media innovation can come from performing easy mathematical rearrangements to already established ideas. Shadow of the Colossus is thus a very admirable game from a design standpoint in that it manages to excite the player with the new simply by morphing the old.
Hey guys! Merry Christmas! I just wanted to tell you all about mine. The following is a list of major things I got:
Gears of War (Collector's Edition)
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Escape From Monkey Island
and finally a really great book called Masters of Doom.
The book is about id Software and John Romero, John Carmack and the other designers of Doom and Quake. I've read a book on video game history before but this book offers an amazing alternative look at indie gaming gone right. It is like reading a story as you hear about John Romero's rise from an abusive home into a psuedo famous game designer. I have not finished it yet but at this point we are heading towards the end of Romero as a large and ambitious icon.
As for the games I have played Gears and Oblivion a lot. Gears is awesome because of how smoothly it plays, the awesome AI and the unique adventure elements. Also the co-op mode is really awesome. In Oblivion, I'm starting my game like I did on my PC version (it moved so slow and the graphics had to be tuned down too much to make the game playable so I wanted the 360 version). I'm still playing Xenogears and Andrew is still trucking at Final Fantasy VI despite all the gifts. I'll post more on the book later though as that is the underrated hit of this Christmas to me. Gears is pretty awesome though.
Two days until X-Mas and what have I been doing? Well ever since 2003, my younger brother and I have both played The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. That year and holiday was the first time I played Morrowind and I became infatuated. Ever since then, I start a new game as soon as X-Mas break starts and that is what I have been doing since the 20th. Unfortunately this is becoming boring and I have decided to do a "design study" on JRPGs for fun until X-Mas. So tonight and tommorrow night, my younger brother and I will be playing JRPGs to not only have fun but to view them objectively and see what they really consist of. By the way, some of you may know that I have a hate for the JRPG genre as a whole because of how many cliched and unoriginal as well as poorly designed games exist in the genre so I plan on playing mostly only games I deem worthy of such an event. The following (subject to update) are the games being considered with the top two being definite:
Final Fantasy VI
Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VIII
Well, school is still boring as usual with the exception of my English class. We are learning about literature and it is really fascinating. I have been inspired to change my game's plot and to post-modernize. It hasn't changed the coding so this isn't a delay excuse or anything. So far it has been really fun and I feel that I have really enhanced the thematic presence of the story. This will all be revealed with the Developer for a Day contest but it should be an entertaining plot to complete my game.
Speaking of my game, it is plot-wise and somewhat thematically about 90s alternative rock more specifically the grunge genre with a bit of Noise Rock influence. I have been having to research these genres more extensively and in doing so have found many great largely unheard of bands, as well as some great tracks from famous artists. Here are my picks:
Nirvana--Gallons Of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through The Strip
Musical genius. It is an emotional improvised song
about life, lyrics, love and noise/insanity.
This one is a really good Noise rock song
because it isn't just Noise.
Nirvana--Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle
Screaming Trees--Nearly Lost You
Love Battery--Between The Eyes
Dinosaur Jr.--Little Furry Things
These bands are very good and are perfect examples that grunge was not a fad genre or an aesthetic but an actual genre.
I am still working on the demo when I get time (tough because of a huge amount of homework and Bully).
23Nov 06My Jam Format game's official announcement is now posted in my union: Avant-Game Underground. The game is part of my plan to revitalize an utterly dead union. Demos will be available for some of the games in the overall Jam Format game soon, but only to members. I also plan on starting some simple game design contests that use Game Maker as a tool. Expect more mention of my union in the near-future.
23Nov 06My 10-hour wait for the Nintendo Wii began November 18th at 12:00. The store was Wal-Mart located in the small college town (within convenient driving distance of my own town) called Bowling Green. I had called beforehand and talked to three electronics employees: Clarke, Lee and Chris. From them I found out that the line would officially start at 3pm on that Saturday and that the store had 20 units. At 12 I gathered a backpack with my homework, DS and PSP as well as a cooler and chairs. I arrived at the Wal-Mart at around 1:30 and immediately found Clarke who told me I could stay in the section but I had to walk around and that I could not stand and wait for the line to form. It was during this hour and a half walik-around the section that I noticed everyone else. They were always nerdy with glasses or a game shirt. They sometimes had a backpack and everyone was eyeing each other. I continued to look until a guy I later called "Number 9" said "Are you waiting for the Wii?" I replied "Yes!" and he said "That makes 7, we're getting close." So I hung around with him as others slowly joined us. We eventually grouped near the Guitar Hero II demo. That's when Clarke made his move, telling us we had to move around. So we did. At around 2:50 there were approximately 30 people all floating around the section. The word was that the line was forming at Layaway near the Toy Section. This location had three access points and despite the efforts of Clarke and four other employees, a group formed at each one. We all waited in tension until Clark, angry at two of the groups, snuck another in closer and announced the line. We rushed. My mom obstructed the other group with her cart as I ran. I quickly sidled the wall and began to count those in front of me. Seven I thought until the official countdown. The countdown occured. I was number 11 out of 20 and filled with relief. One man, number 21 got lucky. As it turned out, number 20 was in a group with his brother who had got a place up towards 3 or 4 so number 21 became the last Wii of Wal-Mart. Clarke announced that the Wiis would go on sale at 12:01 Sunday morning and that sale tickets would be distributed at 10pm and finally that line rules were to be decided by the line. We went communist and chose to allow bathroom breaks and even short food-buying (within Wal-Mart breaks). At this point we introduced ourselves to each other. Other than myself, everyone else was a college student at Bowling Green State University. We all pulled out DSs and played. I did my homeworked, talked, speculated and discussed GameSpot (to my surprise, everyone knew about Jeff's score without my mentioning the site). I got my Trig. homework done and also beat Star Fox Command while in line. We even had a small debate about the Sega Genesis vs. Super Nintendo. There is no way to convey the time but by the end of the night I knew these people well. All of them were friendly and in a sense we were a microcosm of ideal society. At 10pm relief was the mood as the tickets were distributed. Unfortunately two people had waited five hours in slots 21 and 22 (they didn't believe us about 20 units they said) and left pissed off. For two hours, many people left to change clothes or get food with their tickets but a few of us stayed. I went and bought a Pepsi and chatted with people from the back of the line (I talked mostly with mid-people 8-15). Finally we stood up and chanted and celebrated for the last half-hour. Everyone clapped as the first systems were bought. Finally I bought mine. A brand-new Nintendo Wii with a copy of Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I gathered my stuff and said goodbye in a very subtly emotional sense (we of course would never see each other again but the bond of the line was something more than strangers). I left the Wal-Mart into the cold night to go with my mother and pick up my dad from the airport, proud to be one of the first owners of a Nintendo Wii.
17Nov 06Tonight my mission to get a Wii begins. Due to the advisories of almost all of my area's stores, the campout will most likely begin tonight. That means a bit over 24 hours of waiting in line. I plan on spending my time by getting my homework done, reading my book for school, playing DS and PSP games and finally paper coding (literally working on my game and a combat demo, on paper). I expect it to be a very unique experience. All night long in a Wal-Mart is not a common occurence and I expect it to be at least a bit surreal. I plan on videoing some with my cell phone to try and capture some of the after-hours hardcore gamer experience.
I cannot wait. I'm buying a Wii, my brother's buying Zelda and I'm gonna buy some points to buy Virtual Console games. I also expect I may get to have some online game time and further indulge in game culture. My brother and I will switch off standing in line and mess around in the store just for a change of scenery. I'm very excited.
Look at the new shirt I got. By the way if you don't who CliffyB is, Google it. (Famous game designer of Unreal Tournament and Gears of War). He is known for being attention craving and the bunny-hood picture of him is from a press event.
1Nov 06My birthday was last Sunday so I am now 16. I don't have my license yet so don't even ask that question. I got Bully and Okami for my birthday. I have only had a chance to play Bully as of yet and I can tell you it is one of the best games yet for the PS2. The setting alone makes for an interesting experience and when combined with a great combat system it becomes a great game to play. I have been working on my game at a slower pace because of school projects and the fact that I have to write the document along with making my game. One error has also set me back a little bit but it is coming along. The storyboard is also finished and a demo will be done very very soon. That's all for now so see ya.
I have received my first real job. I am going to be a counselor in training at National Computer Camp in Atlanta, Georgia. Sure it may be small but it will lead to a fuller counselor job for the summer after this upcoming summer and it looks really good on a resume. Another great thing about it is that I get to do what I love at the camp and as part of the job. I also will be working with people who I have known for a couple years already and who I consider my friends. I also have some ideas for curriculum (counselors can develop courses on some occasions and I have a major concept for a good course). Anyway I have been waiting for this for some time and I'm excited to the point where I am now excited for summer (yeah I know its a long time away). In other news, my schoolwork has been very heavy lately and hopefully after Wednsday, I'll be able to work on my game again in addition to my Developer for a Day 5 document.
From today's gaming it seems as if every conceivable genre exists. To a game designer, the industry looks as if it is closed in with no room for new genres unless they are a derived subgenre of another. Shooters, action games, adventures, racing games and many more all seem to be all encompassing to the point where no new genres could possibly be created. Thankfully this is not the case. To invent a new genre at this point requires a change in design focus. Instead of concentrating specifically on the gameplay, the structure of the gameplay must be addressed and if this structure changes the gameplay fundamentally enough, it can become a new genre. The new genre I am going to discuss has evolved out of the game I am making and has presented itself as a genre type more general and also separated from my game's standard genre set. The name of the new genre is Mechanic.
Mechanic refers to an intrinsic ability of a player character if that ability facilitates some relatively larger variety of strategy. In a game like Prince of Persia: Warrior Within the free-form fighting system is an example. Another is the dead-aim shooting mechanic in Killer 7. Even the feedback fueled shooting in Rez could be considered a mechanic. Some examples of gameplay that are not mechanics would be the strategic formations and vehicles in Halo (the mechanic would be shooting and aiming) or the skating in Jet Grind Radio (the painting is the mechanic). From this one can determine that a different style of gameplay comes from the mechanic portion of a game as opposed to non-mechanic gameplay. While most games create a balance of mechanic usage and other gameplay, it is the focus on one or the other that creates a new genre.
Game mechanics make an interesting subject for a genre because their properties facilitate gameplay-based expression more so than any other aspect in a game. The reason for this is because a mechanic is of the player and thus is entirely dependent on the player themselves and cannot be greatly affected by outside forces. For example you could not try and hide some sort of symbolism in the strategic layout of soldiers in Halo because it is too uncontrollable (scripting should never be used to hold the player in place to watch a scripted event). The shooting in Halo however could be embedded with some sort of animation, feedback or concept that holds symbolism. Essentially game mechanics are the ideal place for artistic gameplay and thus Mechanic would serve as an important genre for the artistic development of games.
With all of this in mind I can come to a formal definition and property breakdown of my Mechanic genre. The formal definition is any game in which the gameplay is based primarily around abilities intrinsic to the player character where these abilities allow for relatively more variety. The main components to address when it comes to the design of a game mechanic and thus a game of the Mechanic genre are:
Game Action System
The Controls are obviously important to ensure the proper and most intuitive use of the mechanic. The Game Action System refers to the series of game actions as well as the various relationships between actions, within the mechanic. The Facilitating Goal is the make or break component of the Mechanic genre. It is the general game goal that causes an emphasis on mechanic gameplay. The Expression Element is the portion of the mechanic that expresses a theme, emotion or exhibits symbolism. The element is not required to be a Mechanic game though it does make for a better one. Feedback is also optional and of course refers to the use of audio/visual and tactile feedback to draw the player into the gameplay and more specifically the Mechanic. Certain genres work better within the Mechanic genre than others. That is not to say that any genre cannot be a Mechanic game but the following work best:
These genres have the specific types of gameplay that could most easily require a mechanic.
The Mechanic genre is perhaps one of the first of many general game genres that will emerge. This type of genre is significant to game design because it is the only place that new genres and more can be derived. It is also significant to create a more complex and versatile art form as genre combinations become more and more specific thus resulting in new genres and so on and so forth. When my game is finished you will be able to play it and understand that I was experimenting with this style of genre, with the Mechanic genre as well as one of the future directions of game design.