Mecha design: Animal transformation

While majority of the transforming  mecha are of vehicles, Beast Wars engineered biological transformations as we understand it nowadays. We did have transforming robots that had animal like modes, but these were always more or less mechanical in nature. Be it Transformers‘ Dinobots or Tobikage‘s Ninja Robots, organic transforming mecha were a rarity. Beast Wars didn’t just push toy engineering, design and manufacturing further, but also had a television show that is of high quality. It’s 3D CG looks outdated by modern standards, but we can’t blame the staff for not using technology from the future.

Organic transformations use the same idea as before; break down the individual components and reform those into new form. However, we can have two approaches to this, depending on what is our alternative, or Beast Mode. Well, Beast Form is more likely what Hasbro could use nowadays due to Marshawn Lynch trademarked Beast Mode for his clothing line.

The first approach is to have no excessive parts, no unnecessary shifting. To stay true to the idea that we are talking about a mecha that is so organically intertwined with its beast form that the transformation scheme flows from one to another. This approach can simplify the transformation quite a lot. To the point in which an animal pretty much stands up. Let’s use Boxtron’s brother, Anitron, as an example.

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Animatron? You couldn’t come up with a better name?

I’ve broken down a generic four-legged animal into more geometrical elements. Breaking organics into chunks of irregular geometric shapes works better than oversimplifying them. This is assuming we want to keep some of natural shapes around, rather than mechanise the beast form completely.  To keep with the first approach, the easiest way we can have the first step in a humanoid mode is to make Animatron stand.

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Are you serious?

Four-legged animals are a very easy example due to them having somewhat remotely similar body structure to humanoids. It just needs some tweaking. Let’s throw the animal head back, push the front leg’s paw’s back while flipping hands out from the forearms and turn that tail into a gun.

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There are multiple ways to handle the animal head. Here we see an example where it’s essentially a hanging kibble on the back. While it’s dirt cheap method, it has its use when handled properly. More often than not, the head of the animal is pushed to the front so that the face is on the chest. This gives the mecha a crest and a thematic approach. Take a look at Cheetor’s toy control art to see how they’ve flipped the head forwards.

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Cheetor’s transformation is not the same as Animatron’s (there is more twisting of limbs and whatnot), but the point still stands. With a shorter neck, the head dangles on the chest. There is also an option to leave the animal head as-is and use that as the mecha’s humanoid mode head as well. You can also do what Voltron did and have the face be hidden inside the animal’s mouth, leaving the top of the animal head a helmet.

This approach is very straightforward and can be adapted to pretty much any animal shape, except to those that do not necessarily lend themselves for the humanoid two-arms two-legs form. In cases like this we need to start looking how to either break down elements in order to force them a new shape, or how we could create the animal form to function as a shell. Shellformers are a thing, and here’s the worst (best?) example; Break.

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Cliffbee‘s review says it all, really.

You could really just pull all the penguin parts and have a robot with no forearms. The design’s not something that would win prizes, but not all designs are required to be of top percentage.

But let’s combine the shellforming and “standing-up” transformation for the second approach, where we have to tweak some things in order to work. A T-Rex is always a popular theme for robots, so let’s use that. An intentionally bad example, so I can touch upon this sort of volume-centric scheme later on.

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Let’s try to have a smoother T-Rex than breaking it down to geometrical elements

A dinosaur like this poses two problems compared to the four-legged animal above; the forearms are short and can’t make humanoid arms, and tail is far too long to be integrated easily without adding too much bulk. In order to achieve a similar transformation, we need to add few more steps into the mix.

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Animatron is pleased, yes

In order to house human proportion arms, we can stash them inside the torso underneath the robot mode head. We turn the torso’s sides into shoulder armours and have the arms lower from there. Then we can have the neck take over now empty section of the torso all the while pushing the head down to become the chest. Straighten the legs and turn the tail into a turret attached to the pelvis, and shorten it by splitting it open and covering top and bottom.

There would have been multiple ways of achieving a transformation. We could’ve have gone the opposite direction and split the head and neck open to form legs, legs becoming hulking arms and tail becoming the weapon again. This approach, where elements are derived from the volume.

Volume-centric transformation schemes work best when you have enough volume to work with, where you can turn things inside out to reveal something that the mecha was hiding underneath. This isn’t transforming one shape into another anymore, like we did with Boxtron’s example. Here we are revealing completely new elements from within the mecha itself that have no relation to the beast form with the arms. I could’ve done this a lot more, like have the legs transform into more mechanised ones instead of keeping the T-Rex legs as-is. The tail-gun, which looks absolutely retarded above, is another far simpler example.

The two approaches are almost inseparable to some extent. More often than not, you need to use both volume centric and shape transforming approaches when it comes to organic objects due to the nature of the beast. In a way, an animal may force a smoother and flowing idea of a transformation compared to a machine, where industrial efficiency in shape and function reign.

Same end goal, different method

Nintendo has a history of localisation, culturalisation and censorship. To some all these three terms are synonymous witch each other, as the end result is the same; modified or removed content to avoid offending someone. While you’d think this would be appropriate, the reality of it is that the Japanese developers don’t give a rat’s ass about it and mostly look at at the sales numbers.

Everybody who played games during the Third Generation remembers how NES had strict censorship rules across the board in order to maintain certain image. Sega used this to advertise themselves as a more mature option, with far more lax rules imposed to the developers, which ultimately ended in the birth of ESRB, the Entertainment Software Rating Board.

Nintendo mainly caters and develops for Japan, and this applies to all Japanese developers across the board. There is nothing wrong in this, though the reality is that a game that has the strongest roots to Japanese culture will sell less in the West. It would make sense for a company to want to localise and culturalise their game for the Western market in order to make it more profitable, but there’s the rub.

As much as game developers may tell use the art when describing games, their actions betray the notion. Art has an untouchable sanctity to itself, where the work and author is required to be respected. This goes to all art. Games, however, are not art and can be modified to any degree the creators see fit in order to make it a more selling product. Certainly developers are willing to meet halfway through and modify things that may seem inappropriate (for some) while keeping the overall work intact, but this sort of approach is not needed for art.

It should also be mentioned that culturalisation is an incredibly half-assed method to localise or translate anything. American sensibilities do not meet up with various European nations to any degree. A chest-size slider from Xenoblade Chronicles may be somewhat eyebrow raising thing in a puritanical nation, yet most European nations would laugh it off and admire the extent of customisation the developers have provided. Yet Nintendo is listening and believing people who consider themselves the guardians of Western (American) culture by taking anything that would seem offensive. Though there’s another rub in there, as most of these offences seem to touch upon only on depiction of women. The aforementioned chest-size slider being a good example of this.

Nintendo’s approach how they culturalise is limited at best. According to an interview, staff from Nintendo Treehouse travel to Japan to discuss with the developers in order to affect development of a game. This effectively means that Nintendo has few selected guardians of morality that dictate what should be censored from a game for Western release. This is of course absolutely bullshit, as this without a doubt affects author’s vision and intent for the game. Staff from Nintendo may claim that they aim to have different region versions as close to each other as possible, though that’s beside the point; without exchange of ideas and contest of contents, cultures stagnate.

Nintendo can claim to disregard politics and concentrate on fun as much as they want. With the action of culturalisation, they are making a political statement about people, their culture and what sort of content they should be have available for consumption. Due to this, the only way to play a Nintendo game in the future in its original, unaltered form, is to play a Japanese original release with no modified or removed content.

Despite all this, Nintendo’s attempt to increase sales by catering to puritanical moral guardians fails to take notice how it’s not the chest-size sliders or the like that affect sales. As much as Japanese developers want to think otherwise, Japanese games don’t sell if they have anime look or otherwise. No matter of censorship won’t change the fact America and parts of Europe reject this look. There are numerous stigmas towards anime, starting with perversions and under-age girls in lingerie to hyperviolence. Often combinign the two no less.

If Nintendo would do culturalisation to its fullest extent, they’d completely rework the Xenoblade Chronicles 2‘s visual design and story to step away from Japanese culture and anime visuals. However, Nintendo, like any other Japanese company, takes pride in their culture and its products and would consider this an impossible task. However, changing something that’s little and of no importance is OK, just to make sure it could sell a bit more.

Which is absurd.

A minor edit in a game’s options or visuals won’t change the fact that a game like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is inherently Japanese and this is its grand weakness on the market. It can’t be even properly contest on the market place on its own merits due to censorship applied to it from the Treehouse. Nintendo has an extremely small pool of data from which to make their decisions on, and their failure of following reports from sites like Kotaku and Polygon instead of following raw data that is the consumer trends means they will continue to censor their games for no good reason.

Video games may have eclipse Hollywood in terms of money flowing back and forth. However, unlike Hollywood, the game industry is spoiled like a baby. This media can’t mature any further if its ideas, methods and content is being suffocated for the sake of supposed American culture. The European nations suffer from this, as each nation has its own distinct culture and approach things from their own angles. No company would want to make around 53 different versions of a game for the Western world, counting American and Canada with the all the Old World countries and their transcontinental states.

The game industry needs to grow up into its teenage years and stop giving a shit about what people say about them and go their own way. Let the market decide what’s appropriate and what’s not. Culture can’t thrive if there is no open debate on presented ideas. All ideas exist to be tested, and so does a market test a game. However, as said, a game can’t be tested on its own merits if it already has been censored.

Vote with your wallets and make your stance known, as private consumers. The only way to say No to unnecessary censorship is through money.

Hunt for Sony

If there’s something Sony and Microsoft always do during E3 is their showcase how they’re chasing each other. Remember that one time when Sony did a video how you can loan your game to a friend without anything getting in the way? This was in the wake of Microsoft saying that games would be locked to a console, an idea everybody told them was retarded. It was dropped right after and nobody talked about it again.

Microsoft’s big bang for the year is 4k and XbonX. Sony would probably present something similar if they had anything left on the hardware side (they’re most likely already well into designing whatever PlayStation 5 will be) so all they really have to bring you is their services and software. They begin with few long pre-scripted trailers and hype them even further, and then mention all the biggest names on their system. All handful of them. What strikes the worst of the bunch out of this introduction speech is the fact that they felt a need to emphasize storytelling. This never promises anything good when it comes to games. Hell, there are people in the game industry who would rather do stories and feel disappointed that they need to put gameplay elements in-between their story bits.

Which is funny as hell, because Monster Hunter World trailer kicked in right after that, and the series isn’t really known for its complex or innovative storytelling. If anything, it goes its way out not to bother the player too much with the story and just lets you hunt down big dinodragons.

However, Sony still seems to want to ride on past glory, as they’re kicking in yet another remake of Shadow of the Colossus. Sony’s conference is full of sequels already, so they really should aim to make the original Shadow of the Colossus obsolete with a sequel. Not a spiritual sequel or the sort, but another proper game in the series.

Maybe this would be the best spot to chime in about Marvel VS Capcom Infinite as well, as everything we’ve seen thus far has been emphasising the story aspect of the game, not the game mechanics or characters. I’m sure they’re proud of the story that already plays like bad fanfiction where multiple characters aren’t their selves. Hell, I could do a whole post about how Sigma’s been treated a shit hand here. All this really is juxtaposed with Spider-Man, as that game seems to aim to blend storytelling and gameplay as seamlessly as possible, something that should be the standard rather than exception.

Let’s not forget that while Microsoft has no VR, Sony has their stupidly expensive one and they need to promote the shit out of it. Then again, it’s getting the best game of the 8th Generation; Final Fantasy Fishing.

There’s so very little to actually comment about this. Outside the few stupid knacks here and there, Sony’s show was trailer galore. That’s the problem really with the whole E3. It’s nothing but advertisement. There’s nothing wrong about getting excited about products you wish to consume in the future, but recognising that all these conferences are just that. While Sony has a tendency of promising what they’re going to deliver in two years or so, this E3 was a slight exception in that most of the stuff they showcased will be available sometime around next year.

All in all, a good ad for people who own a Sony machine. Relatively low content in terms of what Microsoft had, but perhaps that’s for the best on the long run. After all, people just want to see the games with as little bullshit attached as possible.

Sakamotoroid

Nintendo in this year’s E3 is a good example how they can drop a name and have people wild. No other game company has this level of power. Simply by showcasing Metroid Prime 4 people were wetting their pants from sheer excitement. This has been parodied few times over in some webcomics, where devs just walk on the stage and name things. Cue for audience throwing money at them.

I’ve got nothing against Shinya Takahashi (no developer is relevant, only their product is) but he should have been replaced with Reggie. It’s better than broken English or dub, as Reggie can be related with easier. Of course, the opposite goes in Japan and other regions. At least all these people emphasize gameplay.

Miyamoto wants the Switch to have a longer lifespan than five years, which is seen as sort of standard for consoles. Nothing actually determines that console has to live for that time. On the contrary, we have notable examples of consoles that lived much longer than that. The Game Boy, Atari 2600 and Sega Mega Drive all had long life spans. A console is dead when its support is dropped. As such, Nintendo should hit all the niches. Metroid Prime was a hit in the West and is still the most sold Metroid game, which is astonishing considering it was on the GameCube. Metroid Prime 4 can be expected to follow Prime series’ path, but seeing Prime 3 was pretty terrible compared to the first one, and how Sakamoto has his hands in everything, I’d rein in expectations before solid footage and info.

Might as well discuss Metroid II remake as well. There is very little reason for it to exist on the 3DS, outside if it has been in development hell. It should have been pushed to the Switch, but why this even exists I don’t know. It would seem Sakamoto has a hard-on for destroying Metroid‘s legacy with remakes and forced cinematics. First three Metroid games used aesthetics from the Alien franchise combined with other pop-culture materials, yet none of this exists in Metroid II remake. It’s filled with bloom and stages that have no resemblance with original Metroid II‘s levels, and has both cinema and gameplay elements from Other M. Will it sell just because it’s a 2D Metroid? Probably, but this isn’t what people asked from a new 2D entry in the series. Nintendo needs to kick Sakamoto out from his position and give it to someone who will make a game that is what Super Metroid was to the original; larger, wider, and longer. That would require too much work, and Sakamoto being enthusiast about remaking it tells us that it’ll be worse than the original Metroid II.

Then again, they haven’t kicked Aonuma out of Zelda team yet, so someone really has to fuck up hard before they’re removed from their chair.

On the other hand, Nintendo’s again pushing anime aesthetics with Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Fire Emblem Warriors. While they can do whatever they want, Western consumers still don’t like it. If you’re intending to gather the anime and weaaboo game audience, then this is the best path for you. That’s just the reality for you. General consumers don’t have anything against cartoony content as such, anime aesthetics just are something that has a stigma and visuals that don’t resonate with them.

Then again, there’s Mario Odyssey. I’m not sure what the hell they wanted this game to be, but something is really off about this game. It might be that the whole game surrounds around that hat taking control over characters and forcing them under Mario’s controls. That, and it looks dull. Super Mario 64 may be legendary, but it was the first step of mainline Mario games going down. 3D Mario games have never sold as much as 2D ones, but I’m guessing Nintendo’s not interested developing one any time soon. While Nintendo wants to develop games to everyone, it seems that they’re not interested doing so with their main franchise.

And the rest is largely just trailers. Sony and Nintendo had a very similar act this year. Neither had an emphasize on the hardware and concentrated on content on their current systems. Reggie mentioned that third party developers are committed on bringing games on the Switch as well, which means that most people will be buying the consoles for those games on the long run rather than the first party titles. While Skyrim may be at a memetic position for being on almost every platform, it’s probably a sure seller. Rocket League is cheap and fun. Minecraft still holds its place up.

So, who won the E3? Nobody, it’s a silly concept. Well, all the companies really, because their core consumers got excited and will spend money on their products.

XBonX

I wasn’t intending on commenting this year’s E3 at all. Why? Life’s busy when you’re working your ass off and doing favours for friends. Nevertheless, here I am, repeating the same song I’ve been singing about Microsoft year after year; they need to get their shit together and move away from pushing PC gaming to console platform.

Let’s start with the beginning, the Xbox One X. If there’s something Microsoft and other console companies should learn from Nintendo is that naming your console is important as hell. The 3DS and Wii U both caused confound consumer confusion. Wii U was mixed as an update add-on for the Wii at its first unveiling. 3DS went well in comparison, but there was a period of confusion as well with those who aren’t Red Ocean consumers. The name is absolutely retarded. XBox One was backwards as hell and the title Xbone was well deserved. Xbox One X is a step towards the worse. You know have Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox One X on sale and Microsoft is talking about a console family. If there’s one thing that most people seem to agree about consoles is that they’re meant to simplify and straighten the whole business of playing games. This is the same shit that Valve did with Steam Machines and that went so damn well. At least give it a proper name to make it stand apart, like Xbox Scorpio or something. Having multiple systems for one console (family even, if you will) sure worked great for Sega. Certainly, the game market is different, but so is the economy and people are more savvy, generally speaking.

Hell, even the people on stage had to correct themselves first not to say Xbone. That tells quite a lot about how much people are respecting the brand and name of their flagship gaming console. Furthermore, why did they live through There’s no greater power than X? X+1 is greater than X. If they wanted to keep this philosophy going, they should’ve started naming their consoles after powers, like Xbox². Shit would’ve made more sense. Microsoft now also has a console with three Xs in there. Have fun with even more XXX jokes in the future.

The whole hardware centric mentality is computer gaming culture. It’s the same old song. History rhymes with itself, this time with 4k gaming. Remember when HD gaming was the next thing after the Fourth Generation of consoles? People still had their non-HD LCD television sets everywhere in their living rooms, CRT televisions were still a very common thing. Many miss the point that television sets costs loads of money and people are resistant on purchasing new hardware. Consumers will go their way out not to purchase extra hardware until something breaks down, unless they’re the forerunner technophiles that need to have the latest shit right away.

How much Microsoft pushed 4k as the defining trait of their software (and how this represented how XbonX was the most powerful console ever) tells how affairs are in a sad state. 4k is just becoming a standard with consumers (it’ll still take beyond 2020 before they’re widespread enough to be called common) but standard HD is something that’s just set in. The transition period is longer than what either Microsoft or Sony expects. I’ll give them this, future proofing their console is a decent idea, but it doesn’t really help when all your showcase games are either something that people have been playing on PC for some time now, or don’t look any better than what’s out right now. Microsoft is chasing behind Sony, but at least they’ve realised that VR is dead and weren’t pushing that. There were no gimmicks.

However, XbonX is the antithesis of current Ninth Generation that is the Switch. While XBonX emphasizes on living room gaming, the Switch’s hybrid status is where consumers have already gone. 4k means very little when people have a HD screen in their pockets to consume their time with. Microsoft is targeting the very core of Red Ocean consumer with their line of products. Xbox probably will stay successful only in the US, Europe and Asia just don’t give a damn about the aims Microsoft has for it. It doesn’t help that most of its games showcased were either ports of PC games or timed exclusives, meaning that the XbonX basically has no exclusives. Costing at $499 (I can guarantee that it’ll cost more in Europe) and having about fifteen multiplayer games prevously seen on PC and backwards compatibility with the first Xbox’s games, the price is far too high, especially when we can already foresee both Nintendo and Sony dropping their consoles’ prices just to give Microsoft the middle finger. Well, Nintendo doesn’t even need to, they just need to roll out some good software. Sony on the other hand needs distance themselves with the VR.

If there was one thing that further cemented the fact that Microsoft has their priorities mixed. Ten minutes of showcasing a damn car in an electronic entertainment expo is like promoting a new television show during an opera play. The whole Porche showcase was aimed at the hardcore racing and car fans. Sure, it’s always nice to see companies have licenses for real life cars for racing games, but this sort of masturbatory self-congratulations over getting a damn car taking your time away from games nothing short of short sighted. They should’ve just showcased it on-screen, introduce the driver and tell the people to check the car out on the stage floor and have a separate event there with further emphasize on the whole real-fucking-sportcar aspect.

Let’s not forget that most, if not all of the demos shows, were scripted from the get-go and will not represent the finished version. This tendency is unethical, no matter how much develops and publishers want to cover their assess with labels stating Does not represent finalised product or some shit. There was clearly an emphasize on certain titles over other.

Somehow watching all this has made me very weary. From a general perspective, there was nothing new. Those who follow modern PC gaming even a little bit have no need for the console, and Microsoft didn’t introduce anything worthwhile. Their emphasize of supporting the creative people who work in the industry and wanting to create the most powerful console to let these people to realize their dreams doesn’t help jack shit if they’re not going to listen to the consumer wants and wishes and only concentrate on mediocre trophy products. Hardware does not make or guarantee a good game. They’re not missing this point (though this can be doubted), but their market spiel is just overriding everything else.

Netflix style gaming

Some time ago I was asked what do I think will be the next big thing in gaming. Usually I tend to argue that digital will not replace physical release for some time now (digital distribution has been said to obsolete physical media for some fifteen years for now) but I do recognize that cross pollination between the media is common. The future of gaming can once more found in the past, and that probably will be streamed games.

Streaming games isn’t anything new and few companies have already tried it few times over. Nintendo’s Satellaview service is perhaps the most prominent example next to OnLive’s cloud gaming. These two functioned rather differently, with Satellaview requiring a specific cartridge that would download and save the game on the cartridge itself, whereas OnLive’s MicroConsole TV Adapter (that’s what their console was called) would access a title on OnLive’s servers and stream it directly to the console.

Netflix’s and other streaming services’ success is something modern game industry is probably highly envious of. Games and movies don’t only affect each other visually speaking, but also how the industries sort of work. Modern mainstream game industry is just as corrupt and full of itself as Hollywood is, and both are envious of each other of their successes and products they put out. The consumer really loses in this little battle with each other.

It could be argued that modern technology isn’t up to perfect game streaming yet. Satellaview was more or less a similar service to Steam in how the game required a specific setup in order to be played, and OnLive’s service stated that the user needed to live thousand miles of within their server in order to get quality service. The Internet speeds are the bottle cap of the system overall, and as games require more and more oomph from the machine, the machines need to reflect this in their hardware. However, hardware still doesn’t reflect the quality of the games, as that’s still up to the developers how their games are designed and optimised, two things that seem to be missing from current mainstream industry.

One of the main reasons why companies would want to aim for game streaming is that they can claim it to be fighting against piracy through that. Claim is the choice of word here, because game companies don’t like people trading their games with each other. It’s better for them if everyone bought their games new from the stores. A streaming service would keep their the control of the market in their hands. Purchasing of games wouldn’t be a thing as the consumer would subscribe to a service. Except for the DLC, that would always be a separate thing. Of course, the user wouldn’t need to use any of his HDD space for the games due to cloud based service. In regards of history archiving, stream-only games would be hard to archive for future generations. Satellaview games suffer from this, especially with the radio broadcasts that went with them. Even now, a game that has its license expiring will be removed from stores and online services whenever applicable, and the same will apply to any streaming service.

Of course, the ownership question always pops up. With a streaming service, you would only own the console you would use for streaming, and for computers you wouldn’t probably own the software. You’d need to subscribe to the service itself and would have no control over anything in the end. Without a doubt, regional variants would continue to exists, just like with Netflix and other streaming services that limit what can be streamed in which country. This sort of regional locking is something that isn’t an issue with modern consoles any more, but with stream-only services a user wouldn’t be able to access games from another region without a VPN.

Which if the Big Three would launch their own modern game streaming service first? Sony certainly should have the basics for it, as they bought out OnLive. They should have all the documentation and basic framework how to set up a similar cloud gaming service. Perhaps this could be their ace in the hole to compete against Nintendo’s hybrid console. Microsoft on the other probably won’t do anything of the sort for a while now before they see how Project Scorpio turns out, and probably will mimic whatever Nintendo and Sony put out while trying to trump them with something over the top (see; Kinect and WiiMote.) Nintendo on the other hand seems to be already testing some waters with Switch’s paid online, as the current word on the street is that Nintendo’s paid online service has been delayed until 2018 and rather than offering a game for the subscribers to play, they will be able to access a plethora of classic games. Of course Nintendo would only offer classic games and nothing newer, as they don’t give a damn about their classic lineup of games. On the surface it does seem nice, with the cheaper price and all, but this most likely also means Nintendo won’t give two shits about Virtual Console, which was one of the reasons people bought Wii. Perhaps in their eyes a streaming service of these classic games could increase console sales, especially if the service was cheap enough.

I admit that companies hoping to take control over the consumers’ consumption of goods into their hands does sound like conspiracy theory to an extent, but no company would pass such an opportunity, because ultimately it is all about the money. By having all the string in your fingertips, a company could log in all the preferences of a consumer, supplement them, hit the right spots and sell the information forwards while still selling their own  product (i.e. subscription service and DLC in this case) to the consumer. The current consumer trend is to give control of products over the companies, and Steam probably exemplifies this the best alongside with Netflix. Certainly it is cheaper and you don’t amass large amounts of discs on your shelf. Perhaps there is too much trust put into these companies with all the information we give them.

Music of the Month; Just Begun

Ah, summer. What a time to work. Time to let some of this steam out.

An issue with the current time schedule I have is that all the plans I usually do for the blog in advance will be made sometime next week, hopefully. This means what will be this month’s review will be set into stone at some later date (though the most likely candidate are the two Silver Hawks that came with Limited Run’s Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours‘ limited edition box due to them being essentially re-run of Shooting Game History’s mould,) what will be the mecha design post (though it will be about transforming mecha in order to continue the theme of the year) and I’m pretty sure I’m missing something that’s a monthly occurence. Ah, I’ve got no plans for the music. I need to pick something that would fit this season of heat.

I admit that the A-9 Intruder post from earlier this week was a bit hastily put together. However, I did see a need to take another take on the whole simpler transformation sequence. These are the building blocks after all, and when we understand the 101 basics, we should be able to move ourselves towards more robust designs. This on the other hand is a challenge, as I do see a need for examples that I’ve done myself and then use an existing example. The problem here of course is that in order to keep everything as simple in visuals, and that takes time I don’t really have. However, perhaps we could do a simple combiner next time, or discuss how Japanese media has distinctive different styles of combiners. Super Sentai to this day uses a very robust, very simple combiners due to the necessity of them being build as young children’s toys first and foremost, and thus tend to en up as being bricks with very limited articulation. This isn’t the case with Transformers, but there we see terrible body proportions every which way.

As for other âge related stuff, I’ll probably put up a smallish review on the decals that are being delivered to those who backed up the Muv-Luv Kickstarter. While the time between updates has become rather long, things are going towards the end. I agree with the notion some have made, that seeing updates on the quality of the translation in screencaps and going over what sort of translation issues the translation team have faced would be interesting. Hell, having a bigger post that is all about the translation and the inner workings how and why certain terms and approaches were selected would be beneficial for the sake of transparency towards the backers. That’s the crux; backers are funders of this project, and in the spirit of things, backers should have the right to see the inner workings of the project they’ve invested money into. However, I do acknowledge most people on either side of the fence don’t see it this way, and Japanese companies tend to want to keep tight wraps on what goes in the background. To tell the truth, I doubt most people would even want to know the shit that goes behind the scenes with these corporations. It’s nothing enjoyable and often ends up being massively disappointing and depressing.

There has been some visible extensions of deadlines, to which the translation is probably the culprit. However, as this is a business in the end, there is a need of balance between quality, time and expenses. You can have two, but then you’ll lack the third. Cheap and quick with no quality and so on. While most high-end consumers and core fans of any field tends to say that they’d rather give a company time to finish their piece to perfection, this is stupidly unfeasible. Because these are products that in the end need to make profit, even a Kickstarted piece like Muv-Luv, there is a requirement for a definitive deadline for the translation in which the translation and code has to be brought to a point that is can be pushed out. Anyone in their field could fine-tune something to death if they were given the time, but resources are limited. We’re facing our good old friend Mr. Good Enough again here. It’s not a perfect solution, but a worker needs to be aware of the wants of the customer as well as the needs of the company he is working for, self-gratification be damned.

The exact same goes for any field. For a welder, one could spend a whole day by doing one seam the best way possible with pre-heating the contact points, welding in smaller sections, occasionally grinding and re-welding bits that didn’t go quite as well and overall spending time and money that nobody has. It needs to be up to the given requirements but also needs to be done fast and efficiently. That takes years of training and experience, a rookie can’t do it. Welding is, after all, part chemistry, part physics and part handicraft. It takes loads of experience in actual work to achieve the level where the aforementioned three can be balanced with each other properly.

To let that steam out now, I recently had to pick a new pair of spectacles due to change in my sight. But ‘lo and behold, a rogue spark managed to sneak past my safety goggles and burned itself on the surface. Had to purchase new ones, but at the same time picked up a subscription safety glasses for future work. This in itself shouldn’t be of any interest for you, but if you wear glasses, you should be painfully aware of the amount of money you’ll end up spending. A decent pair of frames usually got for 100€ to few hundred, depending on how much you want to put into the design. The lenses themselves add another hundred to the whole deal, but for whatever reason safety glasses always seem to be around 75€. This is a bit mind-boggling. Modern safety glasses are just as designed as any daily use pieces. Part of what keeps their cost down is that they have a set of pre-determined materials that need to be used and required to cover a larger surface area in order to be safe.

This pretty much begs me to question the profit margin eyewear companies are pulling from your average citizen. Much like with any medical field, these companies are providing a necessity, but at the same time are expected to deliver both fashion and function. While it could be argued that it is unethical to take a higher price from a consumer who is required to wear glasses, we are talking about corporations that aim to make money. Just as any, they’re not your friend, but an entity to create goods for your consumption in exchange of your hard-earned cash. The same really goes for any corporation out there.

There’s a distinct lack of video games in this post, so I’ll try remedy that next time around.