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.

Child’s play

Video and computer games are almost the only form of escapist entertainment that puts a wall up and challenges you to do better. Movies, music, books and so on are passive entertainment in comparison, you’re just there listening or watching them. A movie doesn’t stop to tell you to do a task in order to continue the movie. A book doesn’t close itself and tell you to do a math problem in order to keep turning the page. Music doesn’t stop and tell you to solve a puzzle do keep it playing.

But a video game right up tells you to kick a boss’ ass in order you to continue.

This wasn’t always the case. There was a time when most mainstream and the most popular games had no end and the challenge came from advancing to the highest possible level while scoring. When people are talking about game length, they should try to play those fixed versions of Pac-man with infinite amount of levels. Should keep them busy.

Of course, this is all about game design. With games having a definitive start and beginning since, well, since the first computer role playing games, they have obstacles for the player overcome. Not to continue with the story, but to continue with the play.

Movies are a continuation of theatre culture. The only thing that really changed between the two is that now you have a camera to work with, and that little thing opened a whole new can of worms. That one thing changed how acting needed to be done, how sets were made and almost everything else. Similarly, as video games are continuation of children’s play culture (the same could be said of sports and other similar things) and kids like to play up to challenges, especially boys’ play culture.

It’s not any sort of surprise that video and computer games challenge us as people like to be challenged like that. We play against the dragon that threatens the safety and defeat it with valour and friendship and stuff, and that exact same thing is still carried over to electronic games. Monster Hunter is essentially the classic dragon slaying play with friends, just often lacking the whole castle and princess thing. That’s why we have Dragon’s Lair.

Laserdisc games are all the same with QTS, but goddamn they look pretty

The thing kids rarely do in their play is that they lose willingly. There is always some sort of victory or a well done task. All of it is very simple but rather creative, like knights defeating space pirates with the help of Lego men from the future. I’m pretty sure there was a dimensional robot dragon in there somewhere in that play. It wasn’t the Hunt for Red October in storytelling terms, just something the kids played for fun.

That it is exactly something that games seem to have moved away from. Games are for all ages, as all aged people still play. The plays may have changed in form and shape, but they always come back to the same basics. Games have become far more massive, far more demanding and incredibly more complex than necessary. Developing a Triple A game takes a half a decade now, and yet the game ends up being pretty much exactly the like the previous titles or its contemporaries. It’s still says a lot how 2D Mario makes more splash than its more complex 3D brethren.

An example of lack of challenge can be made between most Platinum games, like the recent Transformers Devastation and Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2. Both games are action games, but only one of these requires you to actually play along. You can play CLoS2 through without ever really grasping the finer aspects of the game to any extent. It’s cruising through the game without any worries. The first boss comes after a building high climbing and occasional fight sequences, until you’re to fight a boss that’s not really all that interesting. The game holds your hand on how to avoid everything. TF Devastation on the other drops a building high boss after small intro to controls and tells you to get good or forget about it. It doesn’t hold your hand after that and expects you to get along the ride. It’s simple and it poses a challenge. Just like kids playing with each other, TF Devastation throws you a challenge to beat it one better and to come up with something to overcome what it’s dishing out. CLoS2 is a like a lazy rich kid that tells what he wants to do, but ultimately you end up doing whatever hell you want.

One more thing that needs to be mentioned is that everyone has their own game they want to play. Now all kids want to play that simply because it may be lousy, uninteresting or anything else that people are just not into. The same applies with electronic games, which is a problem within the industry. Games have become a common commodity with little to no value, especially after companies started pushing out free games. You don’t only have insane amounts of games produced, but you also have far too many people working on games. The same problem is with the design industry.

The tipping point will come, where there will be too many games on the market and far too few people paying for them. After that we’ll most likely see more of the simpler games that don’t try to push the developers’ own unique vision on things.