Music of the month; Lilia ~Winter Version~

Let’s dedicate this post to the changes that I need to make things viable again and what that means for my own time use and this blog. First, I won’t be dropping the two posts per week pace, that’s something I won’t back out on, unless something significant keeps me from doing it. The reason for this is that realistically I can’t make a living in my current profession. Craftsmen are not valued to any significant extent and their craft or skills are face the same end. The same tends to go towards designers across the board, and if you can’t make the right connections, there’s not much you can do. As such, I’ve taken a drastic decision to re-educate myself for a profession where I can utilise my previous experiences. To what exactly is something I will leave for the time being.

This means I don’t have much time in my hands. The aim is to go through three to four years of studies in one. That is stupidly fast pace, which requests me to concentrate my efforts and resources elsewhere. However, the nature of this blog won’t change too much if any because of this. Rather, I expect it to add further depth as I get more familiar with certain aspects of… well, that’s the open bit for you.

This is also the reason why there has been no new podcast for some time now. Not only the translator staff is busy at their own with both Muv-Luv related matters but also with their personal stuff. Juggling the schedules together has become exponentially more difficult, and sudden changes in what happens and when will become a daily thing to yours truly, at least. ARG is not killed, it’s just biding its time. The same thing really applies to the idea of my voice blogs, as I noticed that producing those in the way I’d like them to takes about four times longer than just writing. Maybe I should just do a stream of thought without a script, but how that would come together nobody knows.

Winter’s arrived here, meaning that while snow is still a scarce, cold weather has arrived and things slow down to take things with certain sure and safe pace. It also means Schwarzesmarken‘s second VN has been released, which means I can read both VNs in one go and watch the animated series. I’ve pushed the whole review thing back for almost a year now because I want to have a proper perspective on both of them without being influenced by hype or other views. Needless to say, both the VN and animation needs to stand on their own two feet, and comparisons between the two can be made. However, it should be noted that the two were made based on the Light Novels, which essentially served as a base script more than anything else. The animation changes things around to fit in the allotted time, while the VN has a lot more time and space just to dwell into things. That’s just the nature of the mediums.

There was no Monthly Three last month  as those take a lot of reading and planning. It may not seem like that, but they really take their sweet time to come together, and I usually plan all three parts in one go. Exceptions happen, of course. The same applies to the whole mecha design things. I do intend to write a TSF comparison this month, which will also serve as the month’s mecha design post. I haven’t decided which one, I need to check what images I have in stash and what I can get. However, for the time being, I do not intend to force myself to do a Monthly Three, unless a subject pops up towards me. Of course, I could use that for the mecha design stuff. Speaking of mecha posts, the post Three Different Approaches in mecha design will get a complete rewrite at some point in the future, and the old one will be replaced with that. However, I will archive that older version for future.

I will most likely insert few personal posts about games on smart phones. This is because my old Nokia finally went bust and I had to purchase a new one. This post, or posts if I end up making multiple, will be observations about mobile gaming in contrast to e.g. handheld console gaming.

I admit that lately this blog has not been up to the standard I’d like to think it has stayed at for a long time now. A lot of news and events that I wanted to write about have come and gone, but my time and simple stamina have been used to a more pressing matters. As said, if I were paid to write, I’d take this more seriously. This is more or less a hobby. Sometimes it stresses, sometimes it feel almost cathartic.

For now, I’ll have to leave you with this, despite it leaving me with a lacklustre feeling. I need to fix my tyres, somebody had slashed them the other night along with seven other’s.

Music of the Month; Calling from Heaven

It’s that time of the year again. Things are kicking into higher gear, people are getting steadily busier with their work without them noticing and the festival seasons are creeping upon us without a notice. As such, many things, like the long promised new entry into ARG podcast, is sitting in the backburner, slowly taking its time and waiting a good spot to be recorded. International team-ups don’t tend to work well with timings, when such things are not a high priority.

Castlevania turned 30 years this week as well, so here’s for a classic franchise that will stay evergreen and the games of its origin will never be tainted. Should get around finishing Castelvania III one of these days. Should probably play Super Castlevania IV this Halloween like I did last year, intending to make it a tradition.

There are no plans for this month. I’ve yet to decide any of the themes, thou I do intend to give a proper Monthly Three this time. I did not intend to do one last month, but the three previous posts should really count as one as they do have a carrying theme across them. It’s also a theme that I’m not done with and most likely I will return to soon enough. Branding can be tied easily into disruption, and I’ve got just the thing in my notes to bring it together.

Regarding mecha designs, last month’s Artisanal mecha honestly was something I felt good about. That’s a rarity, but I’m not intending to do a follow-up on it any time soon. Instead, I may do a case study on Gundams’ designs, as one of the frequent search term for the blog is How to design Gundam. It really shouldn’t be anything special, there are set rules of sorts, just like with Muv-Luv‘s TSFs, which sort of is a series wide case study. A TSF comparison should be done this month as well, thou depending how busy I get it will be either one of the two aforementioned. If we’re honest, I would prefer to be busy.

While I try to keep personal affairs away from this blog, I do feel that recent events do make a good addition to this themeless monthly post. Recently I lost a person whom I considered a good friend, not because of death or the like, but because she regarded our world view to be incompatible and that she could not be associated with someone with certain views. It doesn’t matter which they were, the core was the she allowed few things to define me and the whole friendship as a whole. This also means it wasn’t much of a friendship, in the end. I find that immature, at best. A child may throw a temper tantrum when their way is not accepted, but an adult should be able to amuse opposite views and thoughts without accepting them as their own, but also allowing those views to exist.

Similarly, my niece was recently given a name in a naming ceremony, something that bugged the hell out of my parents as religious people. My mother could accept it as difference in values, while my old man most likely will get completely pissed and down the bottle. It’d make an interesting case study where one of them just doesn’t seem to handle his world view being challenged at such a base level, while the other simply deals with it properly.

Humans are not defined by one or two things. We are multifaceted beings with immense depth. Not necessarily complex as such, but we are a collection of multiple things that create a unique whole. To know such a being is not simple and takes time, and the more we become familiar with a person, the more we know of their personal motives and views. I do call that a friendship, but on the Internet that is rather hard to do to its full extent simply because there is no physical presence. Friendship challenges us in many ways, and the more we can be friends with people with opposing views in things without pushing them to change it, the wider view we have on the world and its issues. This is, of course, in perfect world only, as we there are a lot of people who would be willing to push their own views into others or even hurt them to fit their neighbours in their own world view. Live and let live, and all that jazz.

Perhaps it’s just me thinking that one of the things that show maturity is the idea of being able to see things from more than one point of view and consider all of them equally valid. This blog promotes this to a certain extent, as I it does stand from a certain perspective, but I still aim to amuse two or three different arguments for a thing from a time to time. Not to cover my ass or anything like that, but simply because of that multifaceted nature of man.

I may also put up  a new page of scans, if my lil’ side project to collect numerous issues of Comic Lemon People comes to fruition. While I doubt I will ever get a full collection of the magazine, I do find value in the thought of scanning the covers for posterity and historical record keeping as well as list out their contents. A niche project at best with limited use or audience, but for the sake of data and history, these sort of niche projects should be enacted anyway.

There’s a hashtag named #inktober going on in Twitter. I recommend checking that out just for the sake of cool inked stuff it may produce.

Oh, we’re closing up on 700th post, so that’ll be a new Different take on customer again.

Music of the Month; CHALLENGER + Review of the Month; Star Trek Beyond

I tend to have music selected few weeks beforehand for these, but this time I had none. You could call it a rut or something similar, but it’s not really that. Let’s boot the ol’ ‘tube and see what we come across.

I don’t put much personal stuff on this blog. Here or there you might pick up something or I mention situations making typing things down somewhat erratic. I don’t have a release schedule, I never had. A post early in the week and one later has been the standard for few years now. Things have become more or less a routine in this sense, and while that is not a bad thing, I find myself wanting to touch upon subject after subject beyond the scope I want to explore them. However, As this is a hobby, there would be no sense for me to write an entry every other day about every single thing that I want to. You’re not reading this blog for stuff like that.

For example, I had planned the failure that is the Themes in Godzilla for some time now, and despite it getting the summer special slot, it’s something that should’ve been more meatier rather than few sentences per movie. I had planned much more for the entry, it to be more grandiose and in-depth than what it ended up being, but I’m guessing it was also a topic nobody cared about. Godzilla is passé, despite Shin Godzilla gaining positive reviews in Japan.

Another example would be the latest brouhaha about the Nintendo NX design, it possibly being a portable and a home console hybrid of sorts, something that I would personally embrace fully. Ever since the DS and PSP were launched, I questioned the point of designing, developing and producing two separates consoles when the hand held consoles could muster good enough graphics, gameplay and controls as is. I am a broken record with this, but it is about the software. Seeing population is moving towards portable solutions with each technological iteration, it would make sense to emphasize that to a certain degree. Traditional desktop computers have made way for laptops and pads for a time now, and while I still am headstrong in my decision to stick with a more traditional wired Internet connection and a desktop computer, I can’t argue with reality around me. Full portability is where we’re going, it’s just a matter of when.

Perhaps the third and most pressing example of my conscious aversion of not writing âge related. This is not a blog just for Muv-Luv and Kimi ga Nozomu Eien. They certainly are a part of it and most likely the topics that have attracted most readers on the long run, but perhaps some of the 1990′ ideology of not-selling-out sticks to me at this point. The whole point of giving what the consumer wants fights against this, and I probably should start writing more about Muv-Luv in general not only for blog content, but for the simple raw reason to gain more views. I do intend to do a TSF comparison this month, as long as I can find good enough pictures of some TSF, F-16 Fighting Falcon being probably the strongest contender. This may be my own hubris, but I do see that there are topics and subjects that I am more equipped to discuss when it comes to Muv-Luv as a whole than others. Of course it’s my own hubris, both Type-94 (link on the right) and Chris Adamson do it better as is.

The only obstacle is that I don’t care about the views as much as I should. Perhaps an argument could be made that I am not as passionate as I should be about the topics, that I don’t care what makes people read the most or that I lack ambition. It doesn’t help that my current situation is still in the gutters, but you won’t see me explaining how dire my situation is or how in the gutters I am professionally speaking. It has no other relevancy for the blog outside whether or not I am able to write.

I’m not sure how successful the Monthly Three series has been. I expected last month’s theme of Video game culture and history to go well, but it seems that it was something very few cared about, despite it being one of the core themes of this blog. I deemed those and Dizzy’s design comparison posts as one of the best examples of what I could write about and felt oddly good, almost proud, about them. Of course, reality sets in and none of them were really successful even in a limited fashion. The Guilty Gear design comparisons have been yet another views collecting topic, so I’ll most likely I’ll have to give those more weight in the future.

Usually I set some goals for the of the month in these opening rants, but this time all I’m going to say that bets are off for now. Despite being able to keep up reviews for a time now, I’d rather call off my reviews than resort on making a video game review nobody reads. Screw that, here’s a first impression review of Star Trek Beyond I wrote after I was asked how I felt about it via Twitter. That’ll serve well enough.

Perhaps, just perhaps I am at a burnout of sorts. I don’t feel that I am getting the best quality stuff I could, despite the aforementioned being something I feel good about. There are a lot of subjects that I want to touch upon, but there are no driving reasons for me to invest the time in them. Well, there are, but I have to reason on how I spend my time, and to be completely honest, I am not using my time well at the moment. I should either be polishing up what I know and what I can do rather than spent time on writing. Maybe the thing I need to do is to take some time off and get shit sorted out. Maybe try out a voiced version of this blog, discuss topics out loud rather than in text. You can vote here, if you’d care about a thing like that.

Maybe I need a break, but if I take one, it’s not this month. But I do need food, and because my kitchen equipment is unusable at the time, I guess I’m going to eat out today.

Mighty Number 9 is just miserable

This one’s from a personal point of view, screw the writer persona. Mighty Number 9 is a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with modern video games and their fans. It’s a Kickstarter product headed by a well-known game developer, who used his status with Mega Man fandom to drive through a new title that was seemingly supposed to be a middle finger to CAPCOM. Inafune used Mega Man‘s legacy as his most main tool for advertising. The sad thing is, the cult that had elevated him and those who just wanted to throw shit at CAPCOM bought this, and all they can do is blame themselves.

I did not back Mighty Number 9 because at the time I didn’t buy into idol worship any more. If you want to roll years back on the blog, you can see that I had some remains of it, but I recognize that each and every person making any product is just as dick gobbling as anyone. None of these people are nothing special, their works are works of hundreds if not thousands of people, all contributing to one piece. Screw the creators, they don’t matter. Only their product does.

And to quote all the critics, Mighty Number 9 sucks. It’s boring, mundane, by the books, slow, unchallenging, stages are awfully designed with equally awfully designed gameplay and it’s predictable game in every possible way. I pity my friend who backed it, but at least I got a go with his copy. Currently, the game sits at the bottom 12% at OpenCritic. There are reports of Windows 10 refusing to run the game or its installer, DRM free versions crashing for no reason, proofreading is non-existent (just like on this blog!), the Wii U version seems to brick your system, framerate issues, fucked up colours, DLC installer not installing anything, and then autodeleting itself, backers getting wrong DLC codes and God only knows what else will pop up in the long run.

Outside all the shit that went down during the Kickstarter, from Dina being a community manager to the fact that they cut a selling feature from the game, you saw even before the Kickstarter was finished how the game would end up being.

The first one was that there was no conceptual gameplay in video form or the like. Just an illustration roughly showing what they wanted to do, but barely did any of ’em. The Kickstarter page still reads using weapons and abilities stolen from your enemies to take down your fellow Mighty Number robots, a gameplay function that was dropped during the development. You don’t have the advertised body morphing either. Only Boss battle weapons stayed true, to some extent.

They didn’t learn from this, and resorted to show even less with Red Ash, which had even campaign promises and was saved by a Chinese company.

The second was the fact that Comcept chose to collect people from the original Mega Man. Let’s be fair here and remember that the original Mega Man is rather lacklustre and sits in the same position as the first Street Fighter when it comes to memorable titles. It’s there, but nobody gives a fuck. Mega Man 2 and Street Fighter 2 both are games that made the franchise. Shinsuke Komaki was a decent addition, but the illustrations and designs in Mighty Number 9 are lacklustre in largely every regard, so his history with Mega Man added absolutely nothing to the table.

The third bit is that they already had secured the funding to produce the game alongside Inti-Creates, meaning whatever money they’d get from the Kickstarter would go to polishing the game and none of that shows. I liked the first two Mega Man Zero games when they came out, but in hindsight the series reminds me of more polished Game Gear Mega Man, emphasizing all of its flaws. The camera is still the worst offender in those games, and the ZX series was just lacklustre every which way.  Mega Man 9 was a fun little throwback, but Mega Man 10 is just mediocre. It should’ve moved forwards and be something much more than just another 8-bit revival. Before anyone says Mega Man is only good in 8-bit are wrong. Just look at Mega Man X series and their genre relatives.

The fourth bit is that Inafune is a terrible developer on his own. He shines when he is paired with good support, which his cast at Comcept don’t seem to be. He essentially shines when he has someone to answer to. He allows strange ideas to flourish and bloom if they seem great, and later in the game development he was on the higher ladder rather in the grass root developing. Minakuchi Engineering’s Mega Man VI/ Rockman World 4 and Mega Man V/Rockman World 5 are shining examples a company that knew what to do with Mega Man through experience based on previous GB titles (outside 2) and managed to essentially make one of the best Mega Man games out there. All this came together because they were a small but competent team that had a good overseer. Minakuchi also did Mega Man X3, which is why it is so different from the rest of the franchise. Go play those instead of Mighty Number 9. Or Rosenkreuzstilette and Megamari if you want to see how Mega Man-esque gameplay should be copied. Notice how the camera functions as it should and doesn’t twerk around with every action the player does.

Comcept spend 3.8 million dollars of Marvelous’ money to develop Kaio: King of Pirates. Nobody knows what happened, but I’m sure they’re going to push more Senran Kagura and never work with Comcept again. I can live with that, Senran Kagura turned to be surprisingly entertaining franchise after the first game. Marvelous’ statement about their doubts which the developers had in mind regarding this project is quite telling.

I don’t even feel bad for people who backed this game. It was their choice just as any, and they choose to buy into the hype and PR. Or to spite CAPCOM, I know some of you did that. Whatever CAPCOM’s doing with Mega Man next year is an open question, we’ll just have to sit tight and see what happens. You can be certain that they have been following Inafune’s misadventures, and you can be certain they’ve taken into notice all the things he fucked up.

On this day, five years ago…

For five more years

To be completely honest, I have no clear recollection why I started this blog. Much like everything, this blog has been allowed to change with time, and if you go back to page 61, you will see the posts have been made in a very different tone. This tone shift has not been a conscious one, but more or less organic. Just like how people change. I still try to employ a style that’s more how I speak, rather than completely correct English. I have dropped joking about issues, because it’s clear I am not the best comedy writer out there, as many times I’ve seen readers taking a shitty joke as face value serious business.

Currently, excluding this post, there are 610 posts under 23 categories spread widely across 1 572 tags. Without a doubt, the most popular subjects does revolve around âge’s Muv-Luv franchise, with the most popular post being about… Guilty gear Xrd character redesigns. That’s surprising ever for me. Anyway, the blog has touched everything from certain personal issues to social media interactions, from culture to local events, so there’s something for everyone.

From day 1 I have had the rule that I do not advertise myself, the only two exceptions being two social media sites due to specific requests. This has kept the site relatively unknown and small-scale in size, but admittedly I have considered to put up the site up for more public circulation few times over, but never acted. This blog has been, and will always be, a hobby and I am not getting paid by anyone to do anything. I intend to keep it that way, and if in some freak accident I would ever be to employed to write something, it would most likely not be on this site, or I would explicitly state it so.

I have been the only writer for these five years, except for one post that my editor-still-in-break did about Lifeforce’s theme music. While I employ a writer-persona, it’s no secret how my real personality has been influenced by it and vice versa. Sometimes, keeping my two-posts per week rhythm is a bitch to keep up, sometimes it feels like every day could see a new post. It does take an effort in the end, but as this is a hobby, most graphs, images and the like I make and take for the blog are not as good as they could be. I am offering free content in many ways, and with this reality I do cut the time and effort I put into, e.g. charts. I haven’t purchased any domains or the like, simply because I would need a way to get that money back as well, and that would mean doing something that would go against the initial free set I based this blog on.

Will I keep writing this blog for another five years? If the Lord wills it, I don’t see myself stopping. It’s not like any publication would hire me anyway, so I might as well do whatever the fuck I want and the Internet just needs to tolerate that.

But, in the end, I do write to my readers (whoever they are) and for their enjoyment, whatever it is they get out from my incoherent ramblings. I may be an insignificant piece on the grand scheme of the Internet, but if I have managed to bring any enjoyment or information to anyone out there, then this has been worth it. I’m satisfied with less in that way.

Here’s to you, and here’s for five more years. Let’s hope I don’t fuck it up too badly. Cheers.

 

Satoru Iwata, 6.12.1959 – 11.7.2015

While I was asleep, the President of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, died. Death is always a rather heavy thing, and whatever stance I usually have towards him will be set aside for now, as he did a lot of good as well.

Iwata was a person who was behind the gamers. He had integrity when it came to gaming, as he understood that the coders could not say what the designers could not do, but also that the only person who has any rights to be selfish in the industry was the customers. Iwata well understood the dynamics between provider and customer, and this understanding without a doubt helped him to drive through the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii, two of the most successful consoles in the company’s history.

I hope you will some of you will read Iwata’s speech from GDC 2005. There you can see the little things that shine through, and those little shiny things are the reason why Yamauchi himself chose Iwata to be his successor over Miyamoto. He could understand both the customer and the provider. That is a rarity.

“On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.”

Whatever this means for Nintendo is an open question. At the end of their official statement, there are two names we can take as candidates who could take Iwata’s spot; Genyo Takeda and Shigeru Miyamoto. Out of the two, I have to admit I personally wish for Takeda’s entry, but it’s more likely that Miyamoto will be chosen due to his rockstar nature.

Whatever NX will be is already set in stone and Nintendo will follow with that plan for the rest of the decade, and the NX could be seen has his final egacy, but his true legacy is how he expanded gaming and defied boundaries to do so. Now, there will be sadness in the company, but also emergency meetings. Iwata was the CEO of both NoJ and NoA, and these seats need to be filled fast during this transitional phase. Perhaps Miyamoto would be a good CEO until someone who could truly inherent the position.

I have to end this post by saying that he passed away a bit too early. Even if none of his family well ever know, I must state my condolences.

—-

I think Satoru Iwata, while face of the company, truly cared for the customers and wanted to be regarded more a friend than a businessman
I think Satoru Iwata, while face of the company, truly cared for the customers and wanted to be regarded more a friend than a businessman

Music of the Month; Kids2014/Hidenori Cover

These last two weeks have gone in a flash. I’ve been pressing long as hell days, forgetting upcoming schedules and meetings. Hell, there’s something special for me next week and I only remembered that because other people reminded me. Thanks people.

Even forgetting that I had a post in the works, which was put out late yesterday. Managed to keep my monthly productions up, but sadly the project that will be finished next week saw a small setback with the damn motor dropping from a metal bandsaw. That is falling off, dangling from the wires. I can’t tell you how mortifying it is to know that because of stupid things like this a whole day’s work can basically be put off. Well, it’s not like I can’t saw everything by hand in the right angles in a straight line, it just takes slightly longer when you have to cut 5mm thick flat iron into four pieces.

Why was this month’s music selected again from NikumanGuitar’s collection? Well, first of all I enjoy her guitar covers, and secondly I’ve been listening to a lot of fast paced rock while working.

I’ll cut this post short and say that I have an intention to review the Shiranui 2nd Phase 3 TSF by the end of the month if I have the time to build the model and see it in three dimensional form. It’s not going to be a review of the model due it being a quick-build, but about the mecha itself and how it holds itself against other TSFs. I intended to do it last month, but I had to fall back on what I was supposed to this month. To be honest, I’m wholly dissatisfied on the cartridge review. It lacks so damn much content I wanted to convey, but I hope at least few people find some worth in it.

Anyways, this post is cut short. I still have some work to do for tomorrow. See you next week.