Thursday, October 28, 2010

Up the Mountain

The air stills into a crown,
pushing inward, draining distance.
It’s heavy, pulling me down.

Rage bleeds the anger;
faith reaves our anchor.
In empty extemporaneosity,
I left… to be received.

There is no sight
that deceives me;
Now, there is nothing
for me to greet.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Two Posts about Games in Tandem


I've been playing two games that both got lukewarm reviews, and both have surprised me based on said reviews.

Magna Carta 2 reminds me of Secret of Mana a little bit.  And while the story is kind of hackneyed and obviously geared towards 15 year-olds, the gameplay is much more satisfying than I thought it would be.  The JRPG aspects of it are tangible, and just leveling up feels fulfilling in a way that many RPGs fail to achieve.

Nier actually blew me away.  The story is amazing and deep, the gameplay is frantic, and I'm convinced that all of the reviews saying the controls are awkward and inneffectual were written by people who didn't play the game long enough to actually get a hang of it.  It takes time and effort to put enough work into the game for it to feel natural to play (the fishing minigame, particularly), but it's a solid game, and hearkens back to the older JRPGs.

And both games just look amazing.  Maybe I'm not up to date with the common idea of what graphics should be, though.  I love any stylized, professional-looking 3d graphics.  Especially anime-inspired.

Second (about a week later):

I've played through most of Magna Carta 2 (I'm stuck at the end farming, because I'm always obsessed with game completion, and the exp system scales based on your level, which makes earning level 99 a real bitch).

But the game mechanics are really enjoyable, and even though the story is really immaturish and hackneyed (as I said earlier), the visuals and artistic themes of the game are superb and satisfying.  The combat is also pretty satisfying, even when farming for hours on end just for the sake of levelling.

I put Nier on the backburner so I could get through Magna Carta 2 first, but now that I'm at the endgame and a little bored, I am starting Final Fantasy XIII.  The old Final Fantasy games are what defined my youth, and while the system is very odd from an RPG standpoint, it seems pretty satisfying, so far.  What really got me playing beyond the first few minutes is the story.  While I heard from a lot of people that the story was kind of gay and childish, so far it seems very realistic in a theatrical sense.  But I'm barely a few hours in, so I guess I could be hugely disappointed the further I get.


These are two posts I wrote, but never posted.  My writing was supposed to increase in both effectiveness and quantity.  I got a new app that was supposed to be the bee’s middle leg-joints; this was untrue.  Nothing spurs me to write like a barebones app like KeyNote (which is like 10 years old, and the company went under, I believe?  Some random guy picked up the code for it).  Although, I do have to say that Windows Live Writer has helped a lot with my blogging.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I bought Resonance of Fate today, and fired up my old Xbox 360.  I had seen a few videos about it a few months ago, and thought it looked pretty cool.

Then I start playing and watch the intro cutscene, and start playing.

Then I find out just how much customization and RPG elements there are in this game.

And the nerd in me rejoices.


In an effort to get my writing muscle working again, I got a piece of software called Dramatica.  It’s supposedly something like a long, exhaustive exam designed to flesh out your writing ideas for a story.  I’ve read a bunch of reviews, and some actually make me think that it will help me get started writing the story I’ve been trying to start.

So, here goes….

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Life as writer’s block…

I’ve been reading a few random things that have really piqued my interest.  The first is an e-book called, “Permanent Death”, and it’s about a guy’s experiment playing through FarCry 2 (or 1, but I’m pretty sure it’s 2) on normal difficulty, but only having one life; that is, once he dies once, it’s over.  The thesis statement of this book is something I really find fascinating.  It’s about how the introduction to “multiple lives”, or even checkpoints or other forms of error-correction in playing a game serves to decouple the player from his representation (ie., his avatar).  While it’s virtually impossible to create a game that has absolutely no reliance on multiple lives in some way (even if dying to a game-over screen, and then loading the most recent save), the roguelikes are the only games that I can think of that religiously adhere to a one-life character play-model.

The second thing is a blog by a guy who is playing Minecraft, but in a very unconventional way.  He isn’t crafting, or building, or mining.  He gets up every morning, walks east as far as he can, while taking note of the landscape and whatever else he runs into, and then, at sundown, takes refuge in a makeshift shelter, creating and using only the resources absolutely necessary for survival.  He writes each day as a post, and it’s interesting, even if only for its strangeness.

I like things like this, because it highlights something I really enjoy about games.  Also, it makes a distinction between a facet of myself and something I don’t see in any of the people I know who play games.  Most of the people I know, if they don’t exclusively play only multiplayer, competitive games, play single-player games in a much different way than I do.  I play with a faint hearkening back to my childhood days of pretend.  I play with the theory of “creative play” in the back of my mind, and through this form of indulgence, I am fulfilled on an artistic level, in a way.  Also, it seems to help me focus my own artistic endeavors.  But I think it’s largely overlooked when people think of games; especially single-player games.  Games are mainly seen as ways to be competitive, ways to win, ways to accumulate and dominate, to perfect a strategy, to “hone your micro”.  I despise these forms of game-playing, because I believe it is indicative of an undeveloped mind, and indicative of a mind that is imbalanced in that social sense.

So, I like these kinds of strange, idiosyncratic experiments, and sometimes wish I were truly original enough to think of something like it on my own, or at least, to attempt something like it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Graphic Neurosis

I have been looking at two different possibilities for creating artwork for a small, 2d game.  And, while I have gone back and forth, I have thought about what it means to use each method, and why I have chosen the one that I think is more plausible.

The first is a pixel-based approach.  Since each asset is small (usually 32x32), it is not impossibly hard to create something at least feasible to look at.  I don’t have the assumption that my graphics will look professional, or even good.  I just want them to be decent enough so as not to induce visual vomiting.

The second is a 3d-based approach; creating 3d models with basic materials, rendering them, and then cropping and scaling them down so that they fit the dimensions I need.  I thought that this would be a better method at first, because I am much more inclined toward mathematical thinking than I am the kind of spontaneous spatial reasoning that is required to compose drawings on the fly.  And, I was wrong.

For some reason, I have always thought of modeling as being a primarily mathematic activity.  You use basic shapes, think of their ratios and relationships, and develop accordingly.  But this doesn’t work without an even deeper understanding of all of the things that makes an artist an artist.  And I am definitely not a graphic artist.

So, I have decided to lower my head and power through my graphic assets on a pixel-by-pixel basis.  I don’t know if it will even be possible, but I am trying, and so far making decent progress.  I now fully understand why they call it “programmer art”.  But, in all of the things I never really thought I could accomplish (programming itself, music composition, et cetera), I am eking out my existence step by painfully slow step.

Sometimes, I just want to draw every object and character as a black square box, and just write the damned engine, and wait for the rest to be divinely manifested.