Truth is in Vision – Part 1

To rationalize fear is not folly, but dismissing the feelings – both emotionally and physiologically – in a fleeting moment of sheer terror would be the ultimate error, an unsurpassed oversight worthy of the consequence and cause, of such a trembling fear hence. 

 

Nights when the golden huntress moon bathes the cold midnight sky in a glowing veil brings us tranquility and peace it would seem. It is within this peace our minds play their piece – a song of worry, doubt and anxiety the likes of which only such nights bring.

It is on such a night that my mind’s song performed as in a symphony, beginning with the slow gradual swell of the crescendo. 

Having completed my tasks for the evening I set for home on a night bathed in the fog of the penumbra. The moon concealed behind the clouds I was devoid of a guiding light save the fading lanterns frozen upon their steel perches. The only thing breaking the interminable silence being the sound of my shoes as I headed down the cobbled street. Half a mile or so lay before me down this street ere I was liberated from the embrace of the cold night; thus I would arrive home. 

Betwixt the silence and the darkness I could not establish a more ominous sign. The street I walk tends to be full of life and light especially on such a night. Men holding discussion out on their doorsteps, children still playing under the watchful eye of their parents. On the outset I expected as much, though to my bewilderment my expectation left … hanging as if on a bough of the pines now hiding that huntress moon. 

To put pen to paper of the following events brings to me a feeling of unquenchable dread. Slicing the silence during my walk was a voice, a voice rusty with world-weary pain and agony. A voice lacking distinct familiarity, a voice which chilled me to my core. The crescendo had reached its peak – the brass deafening and the timpani thundering. 

“Truth is in vision, to see is to believe”

Emerging from the darkness while my heart sat in my throat came the source of my dread. Trembling, my eyes lingered on the man’s face – the face of a man whose torment and affliction were written on his pale face. A pale face without eyes.

Trickles of glistening sanguine blood ran from the empty sockets, pooling in his bared teeth. Feeling only the throbbing of every vein in my otherwise numb limbs I started backwards. The scarred gangrenous hands raised and tightened around my neck. 

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Hangin’ out with Esther and Stanley

So I recently played The Stanley Parable and finished Dear Esther (hardly an accomplishment) and came to the following conclusions.

Dear Esther was cool. I appreciated the immersion, the atmosphere and the experience. The graphics were great, the pacing and story-telling were nothing short of perfect. However what bugs me, is that I spent $10 for an hour of this.

Simple math and the average price for a game nowadays gives me a bad feeling. I paid $110 for Assassins Creed III (the super cool figurine edition) which provided about 25 hours of gameplay. This works out at about $4.40 per hour in the main story, in a game which while many may not have enjoyed, cost many millions to produce, took two and a half years to make, and took an entire team to develop. I understand that the indie community isn’t made of money, and I appreciate a great experience but at $10 this is not a game but a short film where I hold the ‘w’ key for most of it. I wonder if there should be some sort of standard for prices on Steam – opinions below!

The Stanley Parable however, $11.99 aside, was boring. Plain ol’ boring. This game was explained to me as the type which subverts modern standards, makes you think etc. etc. That was what I expected, I expected choice and exploration in a world where the narrator guides your every move across a ‘cartoonish’ office space world. What I was left with was a game which still had me make no more than two decisions at a time (see my previous post on Dichotomy) and I felt like it funneled me through the corridors while a narrator, whose voice was fairly cool – a dry British wit, rambled on in the background.

The whole thing stank of cheapness, not in the level design, or art assets, or gameplay, but in the presentation as a whole. Here is the potential for a unique experience where the player can dick around or explore heaps of rooms while the narrator recites your every move in a bored tone, almost egging the player on to continue. Instead you are left at times listening to the narration while staring at a dead version of the player (spoiler alert – this is only one possible ending), and forced to run between rooms while the narrator just blabs incessantly about philosophy. I was disappointed to say the least.

I go off the reviews on Steam when I purchase these games or at least try the demos, and it seems like the reviewers only play 3 minutes of the game before deciding what to write. Anyway,

Why I hate The Big Bang Theory (tv show)

The following outlines my hatred for this garbage :

  • Real intellectuals don’t waste their time going “to the comic-book store”, because this is what all ‘nerds’ do apparently
  • Why do they play Halo, this is 2013
  • If they were real ‘nerds’ they would read more obscure comic books rather than “the ones people have heard of”
  • How on Earth do they afford that apartment
  • All the ridiculous inconsistencies in characters
  • The blatant sexism
  • Penny is so unbelievably dumb
  • The perpetuated stereotype that guys fall for girls regardless of intellect
  • Penny is REALLY REALLY stupid, I mean, she didn’t know what a USB port was
  • Plus in one episode she was a WoW fan, and yet how did she plug in the mouse and headset
  • The canned laughter, oh GOD the canned laughter
  • Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady are awful awful people
  • HONESTLY WHO READS COMICS
  • The tiptoeing around of Sheldon’s obvious Aspergers
  • Since when were Barenaked Ladies a thing again?
  • They all play Wii – of the geekiest of my friends, NONE of them play Wii
  • Apparently being a scientist means reading comic books and doing research with LAZER BEAMS

 

And last but not least:

  • The audience laughs at stuff that is just normal, one character describes a hobby and yet the audience laughs like “Oh how cute, he doesn’t do “outdoorsy” things or play sport, how cute”

 

Here’s an idea,

 

No.

Dichotomy

Now for a bit of philosophical thinking…

In my experience, everything comes down to a choice between two things, whether they are stripped down versions of more complex sets or there are only two decent things worth choosing from .       

I have been pondering this thought for quite some time and it seems that everything comes down to binary. There is always a choice between this or that. For example:

  • Red / Blue
  • Left / Right
  • On / Off
  • Right / Wrong
  • Here / There
  • This / That 

So this is just basic literary binary opposition (see stuff by Levi-Strauss)

Let’s extend this train of thought with slightly more relevant binary opposites:

  • Apple / Microsoft
  • PlayStation / Xbox
  • Android / iOS
  • Dynamic / Static
  • Easy / Hard
  • Hero / Villain

Now I can guarantee you will side with either of these things and you probably could not give me a middle ground.

What is interesting the dichotomy that exists between the consoles that are soon to be released – PS4 / XBox One

Whichever one you end up buying, will instantly bias you towards that brand, company and business model rather than those concepts embodied in the purchase of the other. Nintendo have a stack in this console market, and yet they are irrelevant, why? Is it perhaps they don’t match up to the standard of the others? Bollocks, the Wii sold far more units than either the PS3 or 360, so that’s out… Or is it that we, as a society, cannot fathom the rivalry of more than two things?

Think about that for a second, when discussing moral choices in society (e.g. gay marriage, abortion etc. etc.) have you considered more than two opposing forces? ( In my example there I refer to Conservative / Non-Conservative ) Because it is never that clear cut, there are never just two sides to anything.

My point is that the entire software and gaming market is split into two, not because of quality of product or good business strategies, but because we can’t conceptualize a world that has no binary rivalry, such as good or evil. Is this an inherent trait, due to the two genders existing within society?

TL;DR : Any console is fine

Steam Greenlight and Early Access

If I wrote a sentence on a piece of paper describing a plot to you, with a basic character and setting should I charge you $14.95 for reading an early access version of my novel?

Here is my beef with Early Access Beta’s and Steam Greenlight:

Point 1:
A few weeks ago I bought an early access beta – an indie horror which at the time seemed like a fantastic idea, Paranormal. There were awesome screenshots, raving reviews and an idea which I had been looking for, for quite some time. I thought, hey, the developer says it is in active development. It is being continuously updated and improved and so $9.99 for an unfinished product seems fairly reasonable. I had Minecraft and Kerbal Space Program as decent precedents for this situation. 

Oh how wrong I was. Not only was it so buggy and unpolished it literally had me force-quit the game, it looked nothing like the screenshots. 

Really.

The pacing was awful, the mechanics clunky and clumsy, my controls were often frozen and things kept moving the camera without my control. Taking control away is a terrible idea unless there is a good reason (that’s a topic for another discussion). Simply put, it is not finished. A Beta version, in the developers eyes, should be finished. You should be happy with it. 

So why sell something that isn’t finished, other than to grab money? There is an abundance of detailed textures and meshes in this game, so obviously it’s not to raise money for an artist – there is a problem at the very core of this game that money will not fix, and that is arrogance – arrogance that making half a game, getting the approval of the masses on Greenlight and making $10 a pop off this pre-Alpha release, makes you an accomplished developer. 

Point 2:

Speaking of Greenlight, looking over the ‘Concepts’ page the other day really rattled my cage. I stumbled upon a rather interesting concept – a procedurally-generated (sigh) game engine, where landscape and creatures are randomly created. All well and good. The accompanying video showed off their generated animals. Take a look:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJu1EAJUQac

Looks cool right? All those intelligent writhing worms you just know are groaning “kiiiiiill meeeeeeee”.

Here’s the thing Internet: Gamers don’t care whether you have fancy data structures or fancy ‘genetic analysis’ tools in your game. What bothers me is that these developers advertise these technical aspects and people actually think it makes the game better. 

“Oooh procedural generation? Must be good!”

Rubbish.