Purple’s Qualia; Travel like light

I wonder where I should start with this one. Perhaps from the start, though what is the starting point is hard to determine. Maybe it was the fact that Back to the Future sparked my liking for time travel stories at a younger age, or that SF books and such have so much about it. Even the first Final Fantasy is a time travel story at the end, looping the beginning and end together. Time travel story after time travel story after time story. With further understanding on how world works, the stories themselves adapted the ideas, installing multiple world theories and others as the standard rather than BttF‘s popular linear time traveling.

At some point, it became clear that time traveling requires spatial traveling as well. I don’t remember what made this point clear to me, but one story had it as its major focus. It might’ve been a short story in a collection. Both spatial and dimensional travels are popular topics within fiction. These sometimes incorporate time travel, but time travel inherently has to have either of the other, sometimes both.

These stories are everywhere. Very few of them are anything new. Games, books, movies, comics, each form of media has taken their numerous takes on time and dimensional travel. I grew tired of them. Few times I didn’t exactly realise that these were major parts of a story, like Muv-Luv. You could say I did, seeing my main argument to hate it was Don’t bring you aliens and mecha into my realistic romance story but after learning it was an alternative world, I opened up to it.

Perhaps the thing that broke the camel’s back with these stories was the fact that branching universes breaks the intended motif of Muv-Luv, where Takeru has been set in an ever-looping hell before he can find that one path to save the world from certain death. However, with the series now having retroactively installed the whole branching timelines, there are no loops as such. Each time Takeru returns to origin point, he is at a branching point. Rather than saving humanity in BETAverse, he manages to save one of the infinite branches his actions are part of in infinite amount of BETAverses. The original intention, the very mechanic of Muv-Luv, of repeating a loop until one true path was found, was made moot.

How would you sell a story with time travel to someone who categorically is sick of them? I’ve been sold many stories described as the most scientifically accurate or realistic depiction of time travel, but that’s an oxymoron. With the current understanding, time traveling only exists forwards. We do it just by being. Nobody has yet gone back to the past and explained how it all works, or come returned (if that’s even applicable term) from the future to tell us how it works. To put it bluntly, none of if is realistic, none of it works, and we can only travel forwards.

Cover of the novel, with Marii’s purple eyes, but none of the qualia yet

Maybe that’s not exactly the starting point. More like presenting the colours and paint that are going to be used on the canvas. When Jinki:Extend was airing around 2005, I was aware of it but never watched the show. I liked its visuals but at the time I had my hands and mind busy elsewhere. Tsunashima Shiro’s style is distinctive and eye-pleasing. It is rather ageless as well, and will stand the test of time better than some of his contemporaries. Fast forward some thirteen years. At this time I’ve begun checking modern shows that I missed, comics to read during my downtime despite going through some hard times. Finding his works, very few translated as such, ultimately lead me to 2009 novel Purple’s Qualia by Hisamatsu Ueo and its 2011 comic adaptation.

Purple’s Qualia, or lit. translated from 紫色のクオリア as Purple Colour’s Qualia (officially formed as Qualia the Purple because of course this would be the official translation Japanese went with) is a story about infinite possibilities, about deep and loving friendship, sacrifices through trial and error, and perhaps most importantly, about a girl with purple eyes who sees all living things as robots. It is also a story with time and dimensional travel without actually having either.

More after the jump, we’re going a bit image heavy here.

Continue reading “Purple’s Qualia; Travel like light”

‘Fight!! Iczer-1’ production materials.

This is a small set of production materials out there directly relating to the Iczer series. Click an image for a larger view and easier navigation per gallery.

Iczer-1

Nagisa Kanou

Villains

Side charas

Character and environmental models

Music of the Month; 3-2-1 Let’ Go

So, here we are, more than a decade since the last proper R-Type game that wasn’t driven by plot and tactics, and R-Type Final 2 has been announced. Seeing that there are a whole generation who seem to have missed the franchise as a whole, I’ll be giving it a similar short introduction post in the same manner I did for Aleste. The death of the shooting genre might be two decades old, but when a venerable name like this steps back into the field, a name that once wrestled in the same class as Super Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, Gradius, 1984,  and other heavy hitters, it should be noted. R-Type returns to its roots, even if for one title. More can’t be asked for. More on that when the post proper gets made.

As for posts that should or should not be made, I know work is a constant and recurring excuse I give out on being either late or simply not having time to do proper research for the longer posts I was so keen to make, but I have to resort to that once more. Sadly (gladly?) our production got ramped up by a notch again, meaning work needs to be done and yours truly is there to meet the quota. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. Then again, I will have that full four weeks of summer vacation, all of which I can spend inside and write and scan stuff that I’ve missed. Like last week. Last weekend was a mess, as I was supposed to go out of town, but got sick thanks to cold nights with fever and all, and in the end couldn’t do jack shit. I’ll be doing double duty this weekend to balance things up, though I’m more and more convinced I’d need someone else on this blog to ensure content production keeps up in the schedule, but very few people are willing to do stuff like this out of joy of it all. Topics for those are already lined up, and interestingly both of them are shooting game related. Well, the above should give some strong hints on what the other will be.

I’ve put the third post about scanning on hold for now, as I need to track down some nice old games related magazine to scan, but it can’t really be any magazine. It needs to be from around the mid-90’s and of certain kind. A high-end publication won’t do, so I might try to find my old mag that covered Spaceworld 1996. I remember that being in a very busted condition and the overall paper quality being of semi-decent kind. It might be lost to time at this point, but I can always track down something else. Might be worth tracking down a random 90’s Japanese gaming magazine instead for record keeping. I’ve also asked a Youtube for his view on the matter for a third party view, and we’ll see if either of us remember to say about that when I get my hands on whatever magazine it ends up being.

Enjoy the music piece, and please remember to sharpen, hone and oil your knives now that a new month as kicked itself into a higher gear again. A sharper knife doesn’t just mean better cutting, but also safer cooking. A blunt knife slips and rips more easily, and is danger to all.

Do gamers hate change?

While I do a lot to avoid politics and stuff on Twitter, seeing my feed is mostly about T&A and old oriental comics, sometimes I do see the occasional message about news that matter or political opinion. I don’t know who David Jaffe is nor do I really care, but the his tweet about, and I quote, basically hating change did get me thinking if he has something there. After all, gamers confuse him, but perhaps that’s because gamer is still a label that is very fluid and doesn’t stick with all. For example, yours truly most likely would be labelled as a gamer in overall terms, but the amount of time I spend writing exceeds the time I play per week, and the time I work is geometrically higher. Anecdotes don’t really count, but let’s try to be a bit Buddhist about this and consider for this once a subjective view.

All living beings have an aversion to pain. Humans are no different, we are mostly prefer to avoid risk and pain. We resist any chance of having us caused pain. We’re creatures of status quo comfort, and if something is rocking the boat, we are extremely vary of its causes and how it might affect us negatively. Change might be the only constant we have, until the probable heat death of the universe, but before that change will always offer us risks, and risks can be painful, be it physically or mentally. I’m not trying to be a smert person, just echoing things I’ve been taught in school and read from books. Of course change is the only thing that pushes us forwards, but evolution of things is a different thing.

Do gamers hate change? As much as any person out there. However, the examples Jaffe uses, Epic Games Store, Stadia and VR, are not new things. Epic Games Store is yet another digital platform on computer, which has not gained much positive press as of late. That aside, what it offers in its library doesn’t seem to appeal to all, but if that 40% users not having Steam account is true, then it does have its own niche and a consumer base that values it greatly. Good for the Epic Games Store, I hope they just get their shit straight and manage to do proper PR in order to do better in competition against GOG, Origin, Steam and such. I talked Stadia previously and how it  is not really nothing new. The only new thing about it is really the better infrastructure Google can offer, but that’s pretty much it. Gaming on demand is about decade old at this point, and has proven to be relatively hampered. Maybe Google can pull it off, but they also need to offer a solid library. As for VR, let’s be a bit Buddhist about it again. I tried VR in the 1990’s, 00’s and 10’s. I’ve never been impressed by it. Whatever the technology of VR offers, the library and its usage isn’t there. VR software for video or computer games doesn’t seem to work as imagined, or doesn’t have the technology to back it up. There is a cultural mentality what VR should be has not met. Outside my own experiences of VR being either a toy that’s not used well, or is throw in as an after thought, we heard from John Riccitiello last year how VR has yet to make a breakthrough and reasons for it. I have a post about it. Long story short; VR needs to advance in terms of software. To be completely open, VR seems to be more usable for research and furthering science than used for entertainment, and I would completely support moving it to that direction.

Jaffe seems to mix gamers as a whole to early adopters of technology, as well as lumping all kinds of gamers into one bunch. This is, of course, disingenuous to a large extent, but maybe he is just trying to rile people up. PC gamers might be tech savvy, they have to be. Building a PC is stupid simple nowadays though and even an idiot could build one. It’s like building a LEGO set. A very expensive LEGO set, with electricity and RGB everywhere. Console gamers don’t care about that, because they don’t have to. No need to fuss about what goes where or if your machine will run the latest game properly, everything’s set. Naturally there are those who go into both camps, like yours truly who doesn’t really play games on PC but still knows few things about soldering and tech stuff. Being tech savvy to be a gamer is a happy coincidence at best if you’re a gamer. It has to come from somewhere else than being interested in games.

Forward thinking? Maybe early adopters, but this is rather out there. Gamers are comparable consumers to sports fans, or tabletop players or anything that includes an action of play to some extent. A video game player probably doesn’t consider much about the future regarding their hobby outside how well it’ll serve him personally, how many games in the genre he most prefers will get and so on. Each sub-culture of course has their own things they want to push forwards and want to see happening. I doubt many gamers consider the impact their hobby is having on the nature, the world wide culture, the people overall or how it develops the brains. Without a doubt they’re aware of all of this and probably have read about it, but forward thinking? Only in terms how to get the next system or the game they want, rather than furthering something specific under normal conditions. After all, what technology and systems comes next is largely out of the consumers’ hands outside wallet voting, but that’s barely making any dent to companies’ policies overall. Who would’ve thought Nintendo DS with its two screen would’ve made such a splash or the Wii would’ve sold millions with its unconventional controls? The Wii U seemed like a good step forwards with the whole screen business in some terms, but it’s library just wasn’t there. Outside some consumer movements and wallet voting, gamers are like any other consumer group in that they’re reactionary, meaning the companies have to research and look at the numbers and consumer behaviour to deduce what next. Unless you’re Nintendo, who does whatever fuck they want.

Gaming is an expensive hobby, and perhaps such I should argue that a forward thinking gamer would consider seriously what he puts his money into, plans budgets and how to put things forwards rather than jump into whatever bandwagon is currently en vogue. Thanks to the Internet we have access to such amount of information that gamers should be able to make rather well educated guesses what would serve him individually over buying into the hype. Perhaps being tech savvy steps in here, with gamers using their existing hardware and tech to the best of its extent instead of just abandoning it.

Do gamers prefer sitting in their PJ’s, playing SNES and eating Trix? No harm in that. The SNES has a great library of games and very few have played all the games it has to offer. Terranigma, for example, was missed everybody in North America and is a gem worth playing, PJ’s or not. If we’re to read into this a bit too much, over analyse it, it might seem that Jaff considers old games and consoles obsolete, something that you only play when you’re a child. This, of course, would be nonsense and nobody in their right mind would suppose such argument. Much like how Fonda Lee found out that she is competing with all the previously written literature, so are game developers and publishers competing against every old game title out there if available. Any platform that has to make games that reach the quality and status of Super Mario Bros. 3. and its ilk are in deep shit in terms of needing to stand up not just to the massive cultural standing of the title, but also to its sheer game design and quality. Games don’t always go forwards automatically in their quality, and a forward thinking gamer would look back into the history of games and play titles of old to gain perspective for modern games.

Perhaps Jaffe’s confusion about gamers stems that he lumps everyone in one bunch. To be frank about this, only an idiot and a hypocrite would categorise a whole sect of people based on one of their hobbies. No consumer group is made of homogeneous group mind. Playing games is just one part of human identity and doesn’t constitute much in the end. It does denote some aspects of people’s personalities that seem to be common across gamers, but even then that’s generalising far too much. However, the current Internet culture seems to think that one thing is always enough to determine everything about a person or group of people. One person does not represent a whole group, and a group should not be taken as representative of one individual, unless separately stated. Throwing guilt on other just because they associate with someone who belong to a group is inane at best, unnecessarily damaging at worst. The only way to clear some of his confusion away would be ignore his personal bias and views, and fully consider all the views he doesn’t agree with just as equally valid with a point in order further his understanding and lessen his confusion.

To answer the question in the title to end the post; Yes, gamers hate change as much as any people do, and even then, there are incredible amount of individual variety.

On Scanning comics and magazines

While I applauded the sheer amount of unnecessarily large file sizes with stupidly large amount information in scans in my last post about the subject, here I’ll be arguing against this to some extent. It’s all about where you want to go with the result and what you want to preserve.

Perhaps the main example is what you’re aiming at; the original artwork at the core, or the magazine itself. Old magazines tend to yellow their pages, so the question becomes extremely relevant. The lower quality the paper printed on, the worse the picture will end up being. Furthermore, I’ll be using comic scans for this post alone, and at a later date talk about magazine scans that are in colour at some later date as that’s another whole thing. To illustrate the diaspora, I’ll need to use proper examples, right after the jump. We’re bound to have large images sizes in this post, as I don’t want to showcase itty bitty pictures if I can help it.

Continue reading “On Scanning comics and magazines”

Scanning as an act of preservation

As much as piracy get the bad rap from those who seemingly suffer from it, it has constantly functioned as a tool of archiving, even if by accident. I doubt too many groups who ripped games or people who uploaded and shared music on eMule were thinking that they were doing historical archival of the era’ popular culture. This is probably best reflected in how things were, and still are, scanned. Be it books, booklets, manuals etc. you’ll most likely end up with scans that are harshly compressed and filled with artifacting across the board, destroying the original information of the image. This is like having lower and lower bitrate in digital music files, except worse, because usually scans around are of low resolution. Sadly, there are times when original works have been all but lost, and the only things we’re left is  sub-150dpi scans with heavy compression thrown in. They don’t stand to modern standards, they never really did.

Scanning guides on the Internet often seem to recommend using medium settings for the output file, arguing that it’ll save disk space. This may have been an argument in earlier days of computing, when space was at premium. With time, this has become effectively a non-issue, especially with Cloud storage being a thing. Keeping websites light was also a priority, so finding that sweet spot between good-enough quality and load times was important. 56kb dial-up modems weren’t exactly the most effective way to transfer data around, but that’s what was available at the time and can’t really complain about that. Nowadays with blazingly fast connections on our phones, that’s not exactly an issue. All sites are more or less Java hells anyway. Of course, a lot of sites that carry any sort of scans or cover photos would like to keep everything rather small in size in order to avoid copyright infringing claims. Amazon often has small scans from God know when for older products, and even some new products have extremely limited size, from which you can’t really see much. Again, the bandwidth and storage space is cited to be the issue, but nothing really would keep these guys from using a thumbnail as a link that would send the user directly into the largest possible version of the image available. We should of course consider that allowing everyone access to highest possible version to an image might lead into easier copyright infringing or knock-off productions, but tracing exists for a reason.

Because this post will be heavy on images, more after the jump.

Continue reading “Scanning as an act of preservation”

No one true point of view

Very rarely there is way true way to do thing. Options are always about and different methods to be utilised. Views and takes differ wildly from people to people, which make events and situations completely impossible to discern in an objective manner. It doesn’t help that there are those who would willfully obfuscate matters at hand for their own ends, which in turn tends to make matters seem more extreme than they truly are. At times, this can lead into one point of view to become so prevalent that it is accepted as true, which loses the nuance of things. For example, the Covington kids situation, where media and people jumped the gun based on intentionally falsified information. CNN and other news outlets and personalities are now being sued for defaming these kids under false accusations. After all, the video footage was there for everyone to see, but nobody really did the leg work. This is rather clear cut case, but in case of something the #GamerGate, it is still being obfuscated and twisted to serve whatever narrative a supposed journalist feels like using today. Few years back it was even tied to Trump being elected, and as usual for the tone with things like this, terms troll and radical right. Troll in itself has been misused and misunderstood for a long time now, but one has to question where radical right comes into play. Considering there has been very little actual research and high amount of hot air puffing about the whole dead movement, some of the statements L.A. Time’s article are lacking in any sort of clear evidence and do come across as claims with no backing. If it serves a purpose, damned be nuance and considering other views. If you’re interested in a breakdown on how much inaccuracies L.A. Time’s article has, Lucien Maverick’s Den has a rather exhaustive response.

I would argue that we are too stuck in our views and ways. Provocation becomes so much easier when we are unwilling to entertain and consider an opposite, even if we would find them completely and utterly abominable. At first glance, so many of us are so dead set on a point and a view, and in a stance that I am right that we lose to ourselves. Tempers are lost and words are not as much chosen as they are flung. This distorts discussion, especially when strong personalities vehemently argue for their own grounds. I admit that I take too much pleasure intentionally provoking people and rile them up, as that more often than not shows a person’s true colours to some extent and what they may think of the subject, and to some extent, of yours truly. Often, I must sadly say, it is very belittling.

It seems we should never expect another to see our point of view, to which I would argue that we ourselves should aim for this. However, the competitive species we are, that’s often rather difficult and sometimes leads into whomever we are having discussion with to consider themselves to have won an argument or the like. Personalities like this are often hard to deal with, and again I have to admit that I often end up winging and trying to rile them up even more just for fun. This is mostly because if the person I am discussing with is unwilling to to entertain other views to any extent, I don’t personally see any value in having that particular discussion. This is not about changing minds, but to discuss a topic in itself. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve been told off because my unwillingness to accommodate my discussion partner and seemingly change my mind. It’s hard to change mind on subjects you really don’t care.

For media, sensationalism makes sales. Call it clickbait or ragebait, the core idea is the same; have something people can rile up and have an emotional reaction to. The more you can cater and deliver a point of view that supports that audience’s built-in view, the easier it is to catch clicks and money. Of course, there are a lot of those who are true believers in their quests and simply seem to find this the best method for them to spread whatever truth they consider the highest. They do not claim to be the truth, they present the truth. Accept no alternatives. This can lead people who are easily influenced or live within certain social bubbles to simply take everything as gospel. This might seem like a jab, but universities that tend to cater to an agenda or limit freedom of speech largely act like this, and opposite discourse and views are trampled rather than considered.

Naturally there are matters we can’t exactly argue about. Water is wet, ice is cold. Kitchen knives should be sharp, music is meant to be listened to. Plants produce oxygen, Earth’s atmosphere is made of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0.9% argon and 0.03% carbon dioxide with very minor percentages of other elements thrown in. Earth is not flat, and light’s speed is 299 792 458m per second. If sun were to turn off suddenly, we wouldn’t notice it in the next 8 minutes and 17 seconds. These are the sort of facts we can’t argue against, as they’re not in the field of opinions. Outside soft sciences, we can’t really argue against what is proven through examination and tests. Science, however, is self-correcting as long as further tests and trials are made in a rigorous manner. However, again we must consider that humans will always have presumptions, which we need to be aware of. It is only natural that we rely on our past experiences, even to the extent that we rely on our experience of not having presumptions and prejudices that we end up being presuming we don’t have prejudices, and then start calling people shitheads when a view has been challenged.

I should remind my readers that this blog is written with a perspective, more often than not. In a way, it is a thought experiment and practice for an outside thinking. Even when the two personae have merged to a large extent during these eight years, it still helps me to stop for a moment and consider other options. Sometimes this has lead people to say I undermine my own argument by delivering a countering argument, but that’s the whole point of it. We should considering more than one argument, because more often than not more than one argument in overall discussion. After all, it’s more probable that we’re always wrong and just think we’re right, because of our goddamn egos.

It’s all in the wrist

So for some time I’ve been looking into knives again. Not because I have a need for knives as such, but because it’s always nice to see what sort of bullshit the stores have in for the consumer from time to time. Sometimes you pick something that looks neat, sometimes you just have to wonder what batshit bonkers they were thinking when they began putting paint on the blades. It’s not really paint, but might as well be. It’s so fashionable to cut stuff when you’re blade is pink, right?

Enter Vitility and their wrong-way knives. Before I go further, I will say that these knives have their place. People with arthritis and extremely limited movement in the wrist might find there more useful, but that’s not exactly the whole truth. That’s because most people hold their kitchen knives the wrong way. Vitility know this and their marketing department will take advantage of this, even on the box of the product.

Are they using fillet knife to showcase the smallness of the competition?

 

As you can see there, right on the box of their veggie knife, they’re showcasing the wrong way to hold a knife. It’s true that holding a knife like that and doing the work with your wrist will wear it on the long run, but that’s only you hold your knife the wrong way. There are multiple resources when it comes to holding a knife, like Serious Eats, Not a Cook, The Manual or Eat Your Beets for kids. Most sources fail to mention that the motion that should be doing the work for cutting comes from the elbow and shoulder, and the wrist should stay relatively motionless. Only in fine cutting the wrist should be used relatively extensively. The main reason for wrist action in general cutting is because the knife’s blade has not been taken care of and has dulled. You’ll end up with more resistance than necessary, and you’ll end up trying to cut with the wrist.

Ergonomics is a thing that’s relatively easy to market this way. Most consumers don’t think about it, because great ergonomics is something you don’t notice or appreciate. It becomes relevant only when something is uncomfortable to use. Thus, marketing has a really easy time to make use of this, and claim that their wrong-way around knives are more ergonomic than all the normal ones, despite this not being the case. If you look at Vitility’s knife’s grip, it’s rather oval. Very basic, probably some sort of rubber on it. However, it’s not ergonomic as ergonomic as it could be, as it lacks any and all grooves or shapes to support the hand further. It’s about as ergonomic as your dollar binge knife, because I bet the person using this knife will end up using it wrong anyway.

It comes back to the sharpness again. When Vitility knife gets dull, you’ll end up exerting more force to it. As you do it, your wrist will bend upwards, similarly when you’re using a standard knife. It’s a bit different position overall, but the end is the same. These knives will get dull about as fast as any other too, as they’re mentioned to be stainless steel, which tells us exactly jack shit. Usually cheap stainless steel knives like this are basic steel that has a stainless steel chrome coating on top, but whether or not this is the case with Vitility is an open question. This is also why more expensive knives need to be taken care of, as their build is not just generic stainless steel. These knives can stain faster, but their edge retention can be superior or can be bend into insane curves. Knife Planet has a basic but still decent overview on some of the most common steels used in knives. A personal favourite is mentioned on the list, which is 1095 High Carbon. My guess would be that Vitility uses something that’s similar to 420J, which is on the aforementioned list as one of the lower quality stainless steels out there. It also mentions ceramic knives, and unlike what the PR says, you actually do need to sharpen a ceramic knife. It just happens very so rarely and in situations where the blade has been chipped or hit a hard spot like a bone. You’ll probably snap one half before needing to sharpen it, however. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend ceramic blades.

To get back to knife ergonomics, there is no magical solution. The best knife handles are great to hold simply because the guide the hand right. You instinctively grasp it the right way. This requires shapes on the handle, and this will of course mean the knife will not fit all. Humans are different, hand sizes vary and so on. The oval-tube shaped knife handle Vitility uses is probably the most generic shape you can have that’s still nice to grasp. Round is a terrible shape for a blade’s handle, you don’t know where the edge is directed to and you wouldn’t be able to put much proper pressure on it. There are some exceptions, there always are. Still, Vitility’s claim that their knife is ergonomic stands, just as any. The showcase on the packaging just likes to puts things into rather different light from reality, but that’s the usual PR for you.

Honestly, holding a knife properly is something that needs to be learned, it doesn’t come naturally. Even then, the most ergonomic knife won’t do you any good if the blade’s not been taken care of. As such, the consumer really should remember to not only learn how to use the knife, but also how to sharpen, hone and oil it. Takes about ten to twenty minutes of your time per month, and will make cooking so much faster and safer. Ergonomic or not, a dull knife is dangerous as hell.