Every hundred posts on this blog I turn things around and take a good look at the customers and take the providers’ point of view. Y’know, for a change. There 809 posts on this blog currently, including this one, so I’m slightly over the mark point. Nothing unusual, I sort of stopped following how many posts I have after the second hundred was fulfilled. Kinda laughable.
In recent weeks I’ve been wondering how little people care about others’ work. Without a doubt we care about the work our friends and close ones do, and tend to go our way out to agree that certain jobs are just undervalued and these workers get criminally low wages. Nothing new under the sun, we’re a selfish lot.
I’ve come across this more than once, especially from people who consider their job to be of utmost importance. The people at high places, if you will. Some who consider their work to be culturally significant to the point that society could not function, or that their contribution to how healthcare should be run (rather than working in healthcare itself) makes them somehow above some rotting welder.
Welder, who in the end, is responsible for your every day safety in cars, elevators, staircases and even to you home piping and certain structures. Or the cleaner who has to go through every nook and cranny when you leave the office and cleans your desk and windows, the same cleaner who has to deal with your shit you leave in the hallway. Or any other people who build and design the stuff you use every day and never give a thought about. Why should you, in the end? You never see them, you rarely interact with any of them. Perhaps it is this lack of contact and having no real information how terribly awful conditions some work places have, comparatively speaking. You’ll curse whoever it is who is responsible of taking care of your water running and keeping it clean, yet do we ever give any appreciation.
That is not to say all invisible jobs are out of the way. Cleaners are an example of people who we do see, but do we even say hello to them or wish them a good day? Small gestures like this do matter and make people feel worthwhile.
As astonishing it may sound, but there are so many people who don’t know how to clean. While having a coffee break, I had a chance to listen an old veteran giving a lesson to few new aspiring professional members of the cleaning industry. An extensive knowledge on chemicals is required and how they react not only with each other, but with oh so many materials that’s it not even fun. Especially when the Western standards of cleanliness are at their historical high. That, and the fact everybody seems to wait the work be done in record time without cutting any corners, really should make anyone appreciate these poor bastards a bit more. A documentary film Bread and Roses gives some insight how little cleaners are valued, and while it does concentrate on the situation in change of the millennia Los Angeles, things aren’t much brighter elsewhere.
But the customer is always right and providers should fulfill the customer demands. Well, until the provider points out how stupid the customer is and how he is unwilling to pay enough for the work and materials required, or demands a work that could not be done with the equipment and facilities at hand. And of course, they just insist on at least trying, for them. Anecdote be damned, but again a good example would be a random customer who brought his supposedly aluminium built oil base from his Volvo. The very moment he produced it in front of our staff, we could say it could not be done. The shine and colour was not that of aluminium and we would only fuck it further, if we tried fixing it. I don’t know what the hell it was, but it was magnetised alloy for sure. Working on a material you have no idea what it is composed of most likely will ruin the piece, and naturally said he was well aware of this. Well, when he came back and we showed how his piece had gone to hell thanks to the metal structure collapsing under normal TIG welding, he went on the usual customer rant on ruining what was his.
Again, how could have he known? Nobody gives a damn about what their furniture or cars are made of, as long as they’re sturdy, safe and look good enough. Damned be any worthwhile values. That is a customer’s right of course, and providers can bamboozle customers as much as they want. An informed customer wouldn’t let that happen, but who gives a damn if we’re screwed over little if we seemingly get what we want.
I had a series of posts some time ago on how we really should start appreciating each other’s works a whole lot more. We could go in a circle how one field of profession requires another set of multiple fields to exist right beside it, but that’s rather useless. Anyone with some brain cells left should already know that one man can’t do everything. The simple fact that the screen you’re reading this from requires multiple production lines to produce the plastics, glass, electronics, metals, someone to make the moulds, producing the pieces, someone to design it, someone to test build it and so on and so on.
All this goes for all customers. We’re all woefully ignorant on other fields. Sometimes out of simply not knowing they exist, or just don’t give a damn about them. However, just remember this little bit next time you think you’re undervalued; your life hangs on few centimeters of welding of few millimeters thick each day in multiple occasions, and nobody around you who is dependent on those same small seams never even realise these welding exist in the first place. You’re blindly trusting that the man who never gets thanks from anyone else but his boss, if even then, to do a job enough to keep you safe.
And this guy was probably drunk or had a terrible headache from night long drinking. Makes you hope he didn’t fuck up. Better not look at the seams at all, on the second thought.
When you go visit your local groceries store next time, check out the cookies section. I want you to notice all the different sort of cookies there are, from salty to tasteless and all the way to the most sweetest thing imaginable. Check the amount of flavours they have and how many of the cookies have a varying degree of chocolate. Some have huge chunks, some have small bits spread everywhere and some just have top of solid sweet chocolate. Naturally you’ll also find immense amounts of cookies that have no chocolate at all. Some may have strawberry bits, some may have blueberry bits and some may have bits of Love inside of them. I mean Blackcurrant.
Move to the sauce section, and pay attention to the amount of different consistency in e.g. Dolmio sauces. You got different consistencies in one flavour alone, from runny to very chunky. In the basic tomato sauce there should be around five levels of chunkiness, and one of the levels without a doubt is the one you personally prefer over any other.
There are numerous different variations of one thing because consumers do not have one thing they love. There is no best, only bests.
This applies to electronic games just as much as it does apply groceries. You have numerous different First Person Shooting games varying from runny to chunky in order to appease different sub-sect inside the customer group. Just like there are people who dislike tomato sauce, there are people who can’t get into FPS games and will opt for something else. Same with Role Playing Games, where you have the solid, crunchy chocolate ones in form of Final Fantasy, and then the foamy ones with chocolate bits thrown in there randomly in form of Dragon Quest. It is not uncommon to find people who prefer multiple options, but there are usually few options they’d always prefer over the many others.
Just like Muv-Luv has different routes for different girls, the reader selects those routes first he finds most preferable. There is no worse or best route when it comes to personal selection, but depending how well the route is written can be reviewed as per literary standards.
Certain things can be quantified and observed to see what is, purely objectively speaking, better over another. It’s not uncommon to see people claiming one thing being horrible and mass having shit taste because they prefer one thing over the other. That’s the immature way of taking it, and because we can only argue over our preferences and not facts, this happen every time a solid, positive experience is involved. I have observed arguments over the smallest things being better over another, like between two brands of ketchup, but we all know that such things are moot.
To some extent.
The ketchup that sells the most is most preferable, the best out there. However, there are numerous different ketchups that sell around equal numbers. The aforementioned bests. This is a highly interesting thing when you begin to look into this, because it’s not apparent at first. Actually, the whole multiple types of sauces thing is relatively new thing overall, as for the longest time the market people saw the best thing being what was stereotypically seen as the best, the most classic of tomato sauces. Nowadays it would feel weird not to have large selection one thing in different flavours.
When it comes to electronic games, the term experience with them is thrown out far too many times. The problem with a claim of a game being an extraordinary experience is that the claim is based on either marketing quip or a personal experience, thus lacking proper validity. It’s an opinion.
What constitutes as a part of the game experience is rather vague, and once again, up to individuals to determine. For some the experience itself is only the game’s play itself. In cinema terms, it’s watching the movie. Other people on the other hand may see the game experience as something a bit larger, starting from unwrapping/ unboxing the game to putting the game inside the machine and everything that surrounds this. Some dislike this whole physical thing just like some people have moved into having only digital game libraries on their consoles.
This entry actually got its start from a small discussion whether or not emulators offered a better experience than physical consoles. Emulator enthusiasts are ready to claim their side as the victor, and they’d be incorrect. However, before the physical folks start to grin, they’re the same. If we are to use the term subject, we have to keep in mind that it is a person’s subjective, personal reality over a thing. That can’t be denied by anything, and claiming that this person is wrong in his opinion or experience would invalidate the claimer’s own doings just as much.
We all know that emulators allow all sorts of interesting things that the physical consoles don’t, like upscaling, filters, further colour options, save states and so on. That can’t be disagreed with and these can be left alone if one chooses to do so. With emulators we have the issue of emulation and that is a quantifiable and we can compare the function of the emulator over the physical console. An emulator like ZSNES that runs on hacks and plugins with inaccurate timings, causing the game being played inaccurately. An emulator is supposed to emulate, and we can argue with a solid base that an emulator should be able to emulate the console perfectly in order to be considered to convey the same experience of the game. Then again, if you consider the physicality, then even the very notion of running an emulator throws this out of the window. You also have the number of people who don’t care about the accuracy of the emulators and concern themselves only over how well the emulator is able to run. With a real console you wouldn’t have compatibility issues, and that if anything we all can agree is a detriment on the emulators.
With emulation and physical consoles we need to remember that it is the console that is emulated, not the game. While there is an attitude that a console is not able to run a game properly due to the console being too weak, we need to remember that the game is made for the console. There are clear limitations given both in software and in hardware. Most of the hardware is set in stone, and the things like the controller sets certain limits. A NES controller can’t have the amount of functions that a SNES controller has, but that it not detrimental to the game itself.
In overall terms console games are programmed to their respective consoles and blaming the console for the slowdowns and such in the game is largely misplaced. As console games are made for a console, it is up to the game developer to see that the game is able to run on the given console. There are numerous way a skilled developer is able to get around the limitations a console offers, and with all and any console generations we’ve seen numerous ways how numerous limitations have been defeated in a way or another. If a developer finds a console too powerless for their designed game, they are always free to move to PC platform, which relatively speaking has no real limits. Then again, the PC platform then brings in the numerous different configurations it can have and is completely different can of worms. Or used to be, seeing how this and last generation of game console are dumbed down PCs.
Nevertheless, as a game is intended to be run on certain hardware and is designed to solely run on that hardware, emulation must reflect this. However, the older the console, the more tricks you will find, like developers using CRT televisions’ Rainbow Banding to make create effects in-game or have memory buffer zones in the overscan area. Some games are known to use the hardware’s limitations for the benefit of the game. Space Invaders is a well known title that abused the hardware’s incapability to play at best speed initially, but as the aliens die out the hardware is able to handle the game better, thus the faster movement of the aliens toward the end of the round. An emulator would accurately need to emulate the cycles and timings in the hardware, as well as their limitations, in order to create an accurate representation of the game and the hardware.
However, in reality most people don’t care about the accuracy or how well the emulator itself emulates the console as long as the game is playable. That is a preference just as any, and does not constitute as a valid argument in a proper discussion on the things despite many arguing otherwise.
As you’ve figured out, the people offering any product needs think of the multiple customers within the a group of customers. This seems evident in itself, but we all know that people mainly see their opinions and preferences over other’s. This doesn’t work when you’re trying to make a living. While you may be able to sell one type of product for some time enough to make a living, it is imperative to broaden the selection and your own horizons in order to expand the market and avoid oversaturation. Rarely it is the case of one person doing one product to a market for too long. Everybody will buy one sauce if only one variety is offered. You would find a sweet spot for selling a more chunky variation of that sauce.
The experiences and the preferences that go with them are individual. You’ll find people who share your preferences and have completely different ones. As they are subjective, neither is better over the other, and perhaps it would be best if we’d try to understand where they come from their stand. Of course, it goes both ways, and if the other guy calls your waifu a shit, be sure to respectively disagree.
I’ve been seeing loads of games with “retro graphics” within recent years. I’m sick of it. The developers of these games barely realize that why NES games were so successful wasn’t because of their looks, but how they played. Now we’re getting games that try to emulate the visuals while forgetting that these games need to play well. Then again, I shouldn’t complain about that when there aretons of old games that play horribly and are messed up beyond salvage… then again we have the same games released under different names and visuals, so it’s 50/50 I guess.
It begs the question why we can’t have games that look modern and play like the best products of the past? The answer is that making games on the modern standards is both hard and expensive as hell. Nobody really wants to put all that into a product that barely makes its expenses back… except that big companies like EA continue to put insane amounts of money into barely mediocre products year after year and call them a success if they break even, which is why we have First Person Shooter number X. Would it be too much to ask to drop the graphics department down a few notches and concentrate on the content and gameplay?
Games do not need to be in full blown HD. As an owner of a large HD TV, I can say that it’s being wasted with the current market. Only Bly-Ray movies utilise the screen well enough. I can’t play my older consoles on it because they look wrong. I need to buy another, older TV in order to make them look right again.
There’s two Mega Manfangames now that both are 8-bit in visuals. I really have to ask why? Well, the answer is simple really; generally it’s accepted that the haydays of Mega Man was on the NES, thou I’d argue that the best era of Mega Man was from NES to GBA. Thus, it’s natural to assume that following the whole 8-bit thing would be the best, where you can go for nostalgia and true style of Mega Man. Which is naturally complete bullshit when we really get down to it.
WayForward does it right with the new Ducktales game; update the visuals while keeping the same tight gameplay. They could add more content or make Ducktales 3, but nevertheless they did it right. Why is that both CAPCOM and the Mega Man fandom do not realize that the best option would be to utilise modern visuals while sticking to the old gameplay? Mega Man in Smash Bros. is a perfect example of 2D moved into 3D.
But Aalt, it’s the developers’ who decide these things. Here’s some customer service 101; The customer decides what you do. This means that it is the providers job to see what the customer wants and wishes, and then according to this create a product which the customer the purchases. This doesn’t only mean that the customer gets what customer wants, but that the product will be successful. I’m keeping all game developers in the same line, and that is not unfair. All developers are tied down to same rules, no matter if they’re making money or not.
When CAPCOM was planning on Mega Man 9 they conducted a research to see what game popped out the most in the fandom. Of course, this was Mega Man 2. Rather than going for the absolutely best thing they could’ve gone for, that is to make Mega Man 2 obsolete, they decided to replicate it.
For a product to become as successful as it can, the first step is to make the past products obsolete.
This is second thing in customer service; you need to aim for the top at all times. Mega Man 9, alongside with 10, was the nail in Mega Man’s coffin as it didn’t try to be better than Mega Man 2; it tried to be Mega Man 2. So does many other games with “retro” visuals. I can’t fathom why these developers are aiming to make their games like older games rather than making them better in order to replace those old games. 8-bit era is over and has been over for years now; get on with it. Nigoro, the developer of La-Mulana, realized that their game was nothing but a copy of old MSX games both feel and look. Thus, La-Mulana Remake was devised with revamped graphics, musics, and the whole game was rewritten. This is what developers need to do. Realize that in order to make the industry advance, you need to advance as well. Originality is a large factor in this, and this is where loads of “retro” graphics games stumble so hard that it’s not funny.
Mega Man Unlimited stumbles in this so hard. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, it doesn’t bring anything special to the table. It’s yet another 8-bit Mega Man reproduction. If you’ve played the NES games, you’ve played this already. Mega Man Legends 3 Prototype doesn’t even have any reason to be a damn 2D 8-bit game. That is not what Mega Man Legends is. By making a fan game of Mega Man Legends into this, you are conveying the wrong message. Who the hell wasthe stupid person to say Hey, we’re not getting this 3D game, so let’s make a 2D game based on what we’ve seen to appeal to the developers! because nothing says you want this kind of game than making its appeal something completely different. Surely both of these developers could’ve go for the broke and do something that didn’t fellate NES.
It’s hard to make new graphics from scratch with you own accord, and it’s even harder to make them look good. It takes a lot of work and the workload only gets bigger when you have to stick with certain limitations. Both Mega Man Unlimited and Legends 3 Proto use assets from NES Mega Man games to an extent and the devs have built their graphics based on these assets rather than, y’know, making their own. Then again, Mega Man Unlimited artwork amateurish enough to make anyone cringe. Legends 3 Proto on the other hand have Hideki Ishikawa, an ex-CAPCOM illustrator, and Makoto Tomozawa, who composed Legends games’ music, in their ranks so surely this game will be something exceptional? I’d really love it to be, but it’s just 8-bit Mega Man with more high speed action. The game doesn’t look any better than Unlimited. The content and gameplay from Legends series can’t be adapted to 2D plane without sacrifices, just as 2D gameplay can’t be adapted to 3D without taking something out. Legends 3 Proto should have been completely different project with completely different name. It has nothing to do with Legends series. Hell, rename Ratchet and Clank into Mega Man Legends 3 Prototype with Volnut’s model hacked to replace Ratchet’s and you got a game that has more to do with Legends than this 2D abortion. It will most likely have great music and good promotional poster, but that amounts to nothing.
The industry’s in a sad state when we’re discussing damn 8-bit games. The industry and fans are not driving onward and making something worthwhile as both sides are just sitting in a ring and masturbating to the past while the overall populace just walks by and doesn’t want to have anything to do with it. We’re seeing more and more games released as obsolete Day 1 than ever before. Neither the industry or indie developers are listening to the forest, but just that one tree. No wonder Mega Man’s dead, when there’s nobody to revolutionise and advance his games, not even the fans. All doors are open for a buffet, and everybody’s standing outside in the rain hungry.
For a long time I’ve been intending to study HTLM5. Even before that I’ve wanted to design my own webpage, mostly for any blog I was currently writing on. However, that never came to anything due to my decision of actually building the page from scratch. While there are multiple of good tools you can use to build your own site, which help quite a lot when you really want something done, they really don’t tell you what’s really going on. It’s like buying readily made bread and eating it contrasted with bread you yourself prepare. No, that comparison falls short, because that’s more an analogy of buying a website from someone else. OK, here’s a better one; it’s similar compared to bread you yourself baked with vegetables you have grown and with meat you yourself have slaughtered contrasted with bread that has store bought ingredients. You basically know what goes into both of them, but the store bought ingredients will never be on the same level as the one you yourself have taken care from the very beginning. It’s a matter of craftsmanship. Designing a webpage is easy, but actually crafting one isn’t nearly as easy.
So what goes into a webpage? When we start to think about it, a lot of it is dependent on the subject and the theme of the site, but the whole function of the site really will be hanging on the ease-of-use; how the content is displayed, how easy the menus are to navigate, are things clearly showed and so on. I’ve sat through a handful of web design classes, but none of them really dwell into these things and it shows. When I look pages made by professionals, I can see how and why certain things curve and why the colours are selected as they are. These things don’t just come to yourself naturally, or from design, but from psychology. It would be neat to see at least one course of web design that goes deeper into what goes in the users’ head and how certain elements should be put to good use because of how human psyche works.
This is why I refuse to use ready page builders. Before taking tools into my hand I want to know what I am going to do with these tools. Before I went to a forge and hammered my first red hot steel, I studied how metal works and what is needed to be done. Then I hammered the glowing steel, knowing what would be happen and why, and then I let experience teach me for the rest of the time. The timings, the angles of the hit, and all other little things that make the whole. When I know why certain things need to be made with the tools at hand, I can start experimenting and working on them.
It’s hard to do that when I have no real knowledge on what those things are.
Granted, visual and graphics design isn’t my forte by far. That’s something I need to work on, but I do know the basics of shapes that affect the human mind. For example, kids like round shapes. Adults like certain round shapes as well. One also needs to know how colours affect and why, how to combine them and so on. There’s a lot of stuff that goes into designing these things, and the 90’s and early 00’s Internet was full of people trying to figure these things out. I love using the WayBack machine to check some of the old sites that function miraculously well, even thou the overall look is outdated. Then again, there’s a Japanese video game site that looks something straight out of February of 1997 with its flashing banner and scrolling text. It’s awesome. It’s also a decent source of Japanese retro games, thou the postage costs can be rather high.
Nevertheless, such site works because at the core level the design is dead simple to navigate and go through. As much as one needs to emphasize on the look of the site, more important is how it ultimately works. The two can’t be really separated from each other, as a site needs to make a good impression at first sight. Companies either tend to have a splash page or something to make that good impression, but splash pages have a bad habit of being heavy and a signal of upcoming FLASH hell.
That’s one thing; the use of FLASH is overbearing nowadays. This is the main reason I wish to learn HTML5, is because I should be able to control the code as I want. A light web page is a page where people wish to visit often and even more often if it has good content and nice visuals.
When you are able to control all the aspects that a site has, then you’re able to make anything you wish. With the site builders this isn’t the case; you only control the looks of it, which can result in very heavy sites, thus not in a very pleasant browsing experience. It’s a balance between complete control with heavy duty versus lack of control with light duty. While anyone would like to see themselves going where the fence is the lowest, it rarely gives out satisfactory results. Then again, I need to ask who wouldn’t want total control over something they’re designing and building? Here it’s not a matter of what’s the easiest or fastest way, it’s a matter what’s the best way. After all the basics have been learned and the coding itself starts coming out naturally, then the designer can start doing those awesome webpage designs.
But Aalt, it’s not the designer’s job to know how to code. In that, you’re somewhat right, but also somewhat wrong. Designers are really multiskill people to some extent. A proper designer would always get into the very bottom of anything he is designing and wouldn’t be scared of learning the hard way. If they can’t give a damn about what goes behind their own creation, then those guys can just go work in Subway and make me that damn bread.
The Metal Gear Rising review I’m still working on has few surprising challenges; on one hand I have a lot of stuff I should put in the review, but on the other hand all that stuff is more or less subjective from my point of view. I don’t want to treat my readers as mindless sheep, and because of this I do state when I’m talking from my own point of view and setting my own personal subjective opinions in the text. I aim for a degree of objectivity, which makes me write about points that I do not completely agree with (or at all) but I can’t disagree that there is objective logic in there. It is true that nobody can completely separate their point of view from the overall subject, thus all of my attempts at objectivity are still clouded in a level of bias. Nevertheless, I still aim at looking things from other points of views other than my own, especially with reviews. This has caused a lot of problems to me, as I have noticed that I might not have an opinion of my own on a subject, but nevertheless I voice an opposing one. It’s the Another man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist thing.
When I notice that I am getting too close to something, I consciously take a step back (except when it’s a woman.) For example, if I were to design a car chassis I would first make sketches and drawings based on what the customer would seek. Then I would step back and go to square one and think whether or not this approach works and how it is out there in the absolute truth rather than how it should be from anyone’s point of view.
I hate to return to Ducktales Remastered, but the points I’ve made about it and nostalgia are not completely my personal point of view. I agree with them, and ultimately I will most likely purchase the product. I am one of the customers targeted with it, after all. Nevertheless, the major big picture really makes me question the reasons why such a product would be made and what is its basis. Personally, I do not wish Ducktales Remastered to succeed. I love the original NES games, and I am eager to see how they remix it, but I really would love to see something new, something that has not been done yet. In this cases, a new 2D Ducktales game with new stages, new music, new mechanic, new worlds and so on.
If I encourage myself to step back and look at both pictures in play, as well as observe things from an outside perspective, why aren’t the game devs, convention organizers, musician, writers and directors doing the same thing? It is because such thing discourages creativity and encourages actually working on their products.
I used Star Trek II; The Wrath of Khan as an example of a product, where the creators had an objective view on the subject and because of this managed not only make a great Star Trek film, but also a great film overall. When people with completely different schema outside the realms of the product being made are brought in, all the errors and ugly things that would hamper the product to a large degree suddenly spring out. This is because often the aforementioned people are far too close to what they’re doing and become blind to the errors. It happens to me frequently with this blog as well, and this is one reason I do not read my posts afterwards, because I know that the me tomorrow would slap the me now. I do read through some of my posts after anextended period of time, which allows me to look at the things I’ve written about and wager whether or not the post has value. Naturally, when creating a product this is impossible; we can’t travel in time. However, because of this we need to take that step back.
This is why taking that step back is so important; so that the product won’t end up being seen so miniscule in value. It is rather hard to take that step back, because in that we are judging not just the work we’ve done, but also ourselves. A lot of people simply can’t stand in other people’s shoes and see what they see and how they see. It’s not selfish as much as it is humane, but seeing things only from one perspective locks a person in one view and does not allow them to understand. It might even be that this person might realize that he has been in the wrong, and that would be a tragedy. You’d think that everybody would try to take that step back, but ultimately so few do and that’s where the true tragedy begins.
It is impossible for a person to truly and completely understand another, but not even trying is just stupid. Not even trying to see things from another person’s perspective is moronic behaviour.
I really want to ask from game developers if they really think the things they are making are art or creative pieces. I want to know how deep in delusion they really are. Looking at the indie developers it’s clear that a lot of myths and erroneous ideologies are rampart. Same goes for any other person with delusions, especially with a set of people organizing things locally.
Ultimately, one needs life experience to be able to take that step back. It’s clear that people who call themselves as artists working on creative things lack experience outside their own expertise. For example, Miyamoto’s early games on the NES/Famicom were such hits because they were based on his experiences that anyone could have. Same with Satoshi Tajiri’s Pokémon. When Miyamoto started to create, that’s when his works started to go downhill. He has never taken that one step back and observed his creations from anyone else’s point of view, or if he has, he hasn’t thought of the customer one bit.
I really wish people wouldn’t say that business people ruin what they don’t understand. Stupid people do that, but they really can’t ruin a product any worse than a person who can’t see the woods from that one tree.
The presented critic on Frostbite and on its elder brother Desucon has caused sort of a small uproar locally, which has caused this blog to gain five times more visitors than usually, more spam and somewhat more uncivilized comments than usual. Well, good. It’s publicity and the word gets out there, even thou it ultimately gets on my own conscience and nerves. Still, a review of the event itself isin order, and if you found yourself getting mad at me during the previous postsI doubt you’ll like this either.
I admit that I came out in a very hostile manner at start, but everything still applies. Naturally, things change in the light of new information. I love how professionally both the main organizer and main programme executive took so (intentionally) overblown critique.Desucon even has an English and Japanese language versions now. It’s a change for the better and a lot of information I recommended having there actually appear in the English site. Then again, the design is questionable as the left-hand panel has English menu while the Finnish menu is still above. It’s unnecessary clutter. Things like this are small but important details, but I’m sure the staff is going to work on the site in future and renew it from time to time.
I went to Frostbite with a hopeful set of mind. It might be cool, I can meet new people and perhaps make some new contacts if needed. There are clearly people who know their subject and are willing to put their best effort to bring out the best showcase possible. The organizers themselves seemed hopeful enough, so it can’t be all bad, right?
I won’t go through the whole event, but I’ll talk about few key points that really stood up to me, because they can be applied on the general level as well. All the points are not negative, but there are some big issues here that need to be addressed.
The overall event is as with any event really. The opening came and went. Since every event is handling their openings well enough, it was expected forthis to be without any difficulties. During the opening you could see that there was nice selection of people of all ages, and in the hallways I caught some English, Russian and Swedish. During Wakamoto’s event there was a French guy, but we’ll come to that later on. I met a lot of familiar people and all that, but sadly I was unable to greet a newfound friend at any point. Oh shoot.
Speaking of languages, all the signs within the event parameter lacked all sort of English text. I see no reason tonot have English text when you know that there will be foreigners.
I contacted the main organizer Mr. Myyrä in order to get some hard facts. He was most helpful with my inquiries. One of the things I wanted to know was the overall visitor amount and the number of foreigners. Please keep in mind that these are loosely translated from Finnish.
– Visitor amount
The number of visitors was the maximum amount of tickets we sell for Desucon Frostbite, which is 2700. This was too much, as the visitors tend to stay inside during winter, which makes the Sibelius Hall rather tightly packed.
To last summer’s Desucon we sold 2900 tickets and this seemed to work for the space we had. This is why we will sell the same maximum amount of tickets this year as well.
– Amount of foreign visitors
The number of foreign visitors was around 20. When you count the visiting Swedish convention organizers and the likes of Russian Pro Cosplay magazine’s journalists, this rises to around 35. This is about 1% of all visitors.
See? One. Percent! Now you might think that I’d back down about this subject. No, this is a great number considering how small scale the event is. That 1%, if nurtured well enough, can be grown into a higher number. It’s a start, a seed that needs some water and good ground to grow from. However, this would mean that the whole system would need to grow, and most likely this would mean a change of place.
While wandering the hallways and checking everything through, a friend of mine heard a couple of youngsters asking each other Why won’t theyget a bigger place? The question is valid. There clearly is demand for a larger event. Of course, there are numerous problems with this, starting with first finding a bigger structure to house the event, the higher price of the event which would most likely be seen in the price of the ticket at first until proper visitor numbers are listed and the general increase of certain workloads would be somewhat significant.
Desucon, as well as Frostbite, has room to grow. However, as evident from the plans the organizers have for the summer’s tickets, it’s clear that they have no intention to allow these events to grow.
– The amount of cancelled tickets and how fast they were resold
The amount of cancelled tickets was around one hundred and they were resold in less than 10 minutes. This sort of system where we sell the returned tickets is not functional, thus we will most likely refrain from selling cancelled tickets in the future, unless something strange happens.
The amount of returns and the speed at which they were resold tells that there is demand for a larger event. Seeing that Desucon has a reputation of sorts to be thedefinitive convention in Finland, I see no reason for keeping it from growing and expanding to accommodate the growing number of visitors as well as strive for higher quality program. However, there are many things that I assume are holding the organizers back from changing the place from Sibelius Hall to some other place. The paperwork it would take, planning, advertising and all that take their own time, and then there’s the fact that some people see the Sibelius Hall as the place for this specific convention. [Oh bullshit!.Edit] However, we must recognize that if the convention is going to grow for the better, it needs to be allowed to grow in size as well to a certain point where the the amount of tickets and the willing the willing amount of visitor meets. It’s now evident that Sibelius Hall has become too small for this event, and more room to the sales hall wouldn’t hurt either.
It’s a question I wish the organizers to ponder among themselves whether or not they are willing to expand the existing convention to a larger space to serve more customers. If they are not, what are the real reasons behind it and what can be done to serve this smaller amount of customers better. Getting the program quality up would help a lot in this. Actually, that would be the most important step.
Speaking of the space, there was a strange design decision to attach balloons around the guardrails in the stairs, which effectively prevented from using thesaid guardrails and there were few people who got caught into in them. Attaching them outside the rails would’ve been abetter bet, and better for the overall safety of the event.
Question of space also became evident when visitors began to loaf around, blocking the hallways. I would have wanted to see the patrolling security to separate these blocks and instruct the loafers to move into somewhere they have place to do so, like the cafeteria or the main hall. Naturally, this is because of the aforementioned amount of visitors. Naturally, the security guards there were pretty chill people, laughing and joking with the visitors.
The ongoing stuff, like the games room and such, were somewhat higher inquality than standard, offering more consoles than some other events, but the overall selection of games seemed to be somewhat limited. Only a certain selection of consoles had a large selection, while others had distinctly scarce. They had a damn PC-Engine there, which I gladly tested through and through in every occasion I could.
I need to do a design review on game consoles some day.
There was also a small incident with the ongoing traditional games on Saturday evening, where the players were promised continued light, but due to the evening party all lights were cut down, effectively preventing these players from seeing what they were playing.
But let’s get to the programme itself. It’s apparent that the staff aimed for variety, and in that sense they did succeed. It’s not that easy to juggle different programs so that they do not overlap with the same theme and that they offers options for the visitors. However, all of this is for naught when the programs themselves are lacking in content and quality. For example the Sunday morning’s Gundam show was rather awful. Ville Siivola, the presenter, seemed to spend one year watching through all of Gundam metaseries and not getting but parts of it. While Gundam shows do repeat their certain themes, the UC and Seed series are the only ones that truly share solid common elements. Comparison between Wing and 00’s themes is a bit amiss because theyare vastly different as well, but I guess it’s understandable for a person who didn’t really give a damn about the franchise andmissed pretty much all the important details that were on the screen. The programme was lacklustre because it was just an opinion and not worth a programme block. Loads of the arguments presented there as well as overall knowledge of the franchise and on the overall era of each series were pretty baseless. While it’s good to see new people watching old shows with open eyes and with no knowledge of the situations surrounding the series, for a presenter to completely dismiss them is just plain stupid. This is a problem, because it’s a controlling element, and can be weeded out if the organizers keep the presenters in a short lease and edit their programs to a point, much a book editor edits a writer’s book.You can have a subjective show for sure, but that’s not an excuse for ignorance. I find it laughable that Siivola recommended the Gundam Crossbone comic, but said soon after that he only knew of the animated works when he was inquired about Gaia Gear. Good thing nobody brought other side-materials out then. The things would’ve gone even more awkward.
This is a problem, as from-users-to-users, or user created content, rarely produces good content without a harsh screening.
While other programmes were much more knowledgeable on their subjects, majority of them fell into the same pit of having a subjective view of their own; a zero facts show, where everything is assumed. To some extent you’d think that they were paid to advertise products, but I’m sure this wasn’t the case. I only know one event where a presentation was made to advertise a product, but less said about that the better. On top of that, all the classical errors you could do in a presentation appeared from talking over with your host, turning your back to the audience and reading what’s on the screen. Perhaps all people who are admitted to have a panel or presentation should get a some sort of memo from the main staff what not to do during their show.
The main stage also was almost completely empty of programme, which is really strange. It’s a shame that a large stage like that was mostly ignored when it could’ve been put togood use. While it is known that the main stage needs to empty for rehearsals and walkthroughs, that’s not reason to leave it completely useless.
In short; despite the efforts put in the quality and variety in the programme, the results could’ve been much better. Not to say that there was no good presentation or panel, like the Invitation to Japanese comic studies, but we can all agree that two or three pearls doesn’t make the overall schedule shine as it should.In the end, it’s up to the main programme manager keep up the quality of the programme. It’s not enough just to take people in and have them do content, but this content needs to meet certain standards, and it appears these standards have never been set.
It’s also a fault that from-users-for-users format never really works when aiming for high quality. This user generated content is always a finicky thing. You get one or two decent results through that, but on the long run the system becomes abused in a way where theuser comes in with content that is basically worthless and still gets a free pass. In this case, a lot of people make content for conventions just to get in free and don’t care if their program is good or not. What I’ve gathered was that Desucon was made to bring high-quality events and programme into Finnish convention scene, but as they are now they’re just as bad as any because of the system abuse. While the concept is sound at the base level, it falls apart when you take intoaccount how little your run-of-the-mill person cares what he puts up.
However, the main event itself was Wakamoto on stage and you really can’t screw this kind of thing up. Except, y’know, when it comes to translating audience’s questions to him.
I’m glad they set the rules before anything else; taking photos are OK except when video footage was on, and taking video was banned altogether. I should’vetaken sound next to my photos. This is completely understandable as Wakamoto’s voice is his trade. The footage they showed had original Finnish subtitles, which is a great way to circumvent some licensing issues, thou the footage itself might’ve had some issues, but I’m sure the staff managed to get around that as well.
However, when it came to the second part of Wakamoto’s stage show, where he answered to questions from the audience, the translator was really struggling with some of the questions, and few questions were poorly translated, which led into Wakamoto misunderstanding the question. This is unavoidable to an extent, but noting that the translator lacked certain knowledge and finesse tells that either this person had a huge stage fright going on or wasn’t really up for the task. In situations like this it’s completely acceptable to hire a professional translator with proper experience if possible. Considering the translator himself was most likely a fan, I find it stupid for him not recognizing M.D. Geist, not even from the context of the event. I could’ve expected that from a translator who isn’t accustomed to talk about the subject, evenwhen from the context it’s damn clear that it’s something to do with Wakamoto and anime scene.
Now, there was this competition between artwork and Wakamoto impressions. Two best artworks would win and so would the best impression. Sounds good. There was a relatively low amount of contestants in the artwork side, about thirty, and knowing the level Finland has with its fanartists it most likely yielded something exceptional.
Now excuse me for being coarse the next paragraphbut what the hell is this shit? THIS is the winning piece of fanart? If you allow this piece of plagiarism win a contest, what the fuck were the competing works? Put up a damn gallery on your website so we all can see them. This is not fanart, this isa bad trace of an existing comic panel and it’s bad at that. Who the hell was in charge of this contest? It doesn’t help that the second place was won with a picture of Cell from Dragon Ball Z that looked like it was made with fucking crayons in ten minutes. Where’s all the awesome artwork we usually see? The level of the contest shows that people didn’t give two damns about it. God, I wish I had participated with a screenshot from Gunbuster with some new rasters. It would’ve been the same damn thing. This is just bullshit. I’m not even going to criticise the Wakamoto impression because it was horrible and embarrassing to listen to. I’m addressing this critique to both the staff and to Isoaho himself. Letting a tracing to win an art contest is a mistake, but Isoaho also managed to screw the picture. If you compare it to the original panel, you can see every little and big mistake he has done. Either Isoaho can’t draw or he sucks at tracing. On top of that, as a separate artwork the picture is dull as hell in contrast to the original. Good job at fucking up a good comic panel. I really want to see the other participants’ works as well, and they could put up a gallery in Frostbite’s page. They can’t be any worse than what this piece of crap is.
Beside that, the prices themselves were pretty damn near; an alarm clock with Wakamoto’s voice recorded in it, and his autograph as well. The audience who sat in certain spots with numbers was were in a lottery of who would get the remaining two. To my happy surprise a French person won one of those, and the other was won by a random Finnish guy. Kudos to that guy.
Speaking of Wakamoto, it seems that he only stayed within the country for three days from Saturday to Monday. I really do wish that he had as fun time as claimed, and to see him here for a vacation rather than for work like this.
It had escaped me until that point that the whole show was in Finnish. If it had been an option, some sort of translation for them would’ve been really damn awesome, but as it was now I can’t help but to think how indecipherable the whole event was for them. It’s a matter worth looking into. An English language leaflet would also be an excellent addition. Of course, this would’ve been in limited production and aimed only for the foreign visitors.
These things are rather small, but important. It’s easy to get blind at these things, and Frostbite showed that since their first years the staff have become a bit too accustomed to the way everything works to the point that they have become blind to the more intricate details that need attention, and to their faults that have risen. God live in the details after all, and while the overall frames might work without a fault, all the details are what builds what the customer experiences. I’m glad to see that the organizers are willing to take in harsh criticism and work to get them fixed.
However, there was one large point that I need to point and it comes to the porn sold there. The sales floor was basically a free-for-all zone, and certain sellers sold their pornographic fancomics openly for minors without checking IDs or similar. That’s practically illegal. I’d hate to think that the organizers are unwillingly to take part in sexual harassment of under aged people. As open as I am with porn, I recognize that in an event like this the R-18 comics, toys and so on need their own section behind the curtains with a guard to check IDs when necessary. I’m sure this sounds anal to most people, but I’d rather see Desucon and Frostbite continuing and possibly getting better (rather than worse) than seeing the people charged for breaking the law. I have no qualms for a young person to see porn on the Internet, as it is the parents’ job to instruct and educate the children with this matter, but allowing children a direct access to porn and even allow its promotion is going too far in doing nothing. It takes one phone call to local Police office and tell, that this event has sellers selling porn to children, and that the organizers are turning blind eye to it.
One thing that makes conventions like this what they are is the fellow participants. Everybody to whom I stopped to chat with were most helpful, interesting and honest. Even when I didn’t get to know these people, nor they got to know me, we enjoyed the new company and laughed at our bad jokes. Sadly, this can’t be attributed for the convention’s own positive nor negative, as this can be achieved in your local library as well. Your standard Finnish doesn’t really break their shells and talk to strange, unknown people. Within this sort of environment ,where you know everybody is just as loony as you, it becomes increasingly easier.
While I did not attend the lodgings provided by the local scouts, I did hear some negative comments on them. As such, the following criticism is mostly taken from discussion with three of my friends who did. According to them, there was a problem with water resources, as the water was cut at certain time, meaning that the use of restrooms and showers was impossible. There was only three restrooms for seventy people, which caused some serious commotions. The showers were also unisex showers, which caused some slight discomfort. Communication between the administrators and the scouts was also faulty, causing some chaos in their ranks. They did get a decent and cheap breakfast, so that’s a plus, but according to this set of people there wasn’t any choices for those with food allergies.
It’s kind of interesting to see that this kind of cheap lodgings provided by the organizers had these problems. Most of the time I’ve heard good things how things work, but it takes only one bad time to get a negative reputation to circulate. I wish things will go much better next time, and that the organizers will take do what they can in order to ensure the flow of water.
I don’t really have any proper closure. Depending on my work and life situation, I’d sort of want to participate to summer’s convention to see how it goes this time. They have time to change details for the better, and start checking the programming. I have been offered a chance to create program, thou that would mean that I have two programs to create for two separate conventions. Not a big job as such, but for a proper programme it takes six months to study and research the subjects if you’re unfamiliar with it, but seeing that I would make other based on brand management, the other would take considerably less time to make. I do understand the implications behind this tactic thou, asking a critic to take part, but I do believe we are not that childish to resort in actions or debate like that. If the organizers wish to comment on the presented critic, I will be publishing their responses as usual.
Events and organizers need criticism just as badly as any service field, and in their place building up proper criticism needs to be something they have to work with. In cases like this, where the event itself is an annual event, it would be good to introduce as much criticism in order for the next year to trump over the last.
As I was returning from my weekend travel, I was struck with a question of what would be needed to fix certain activities of a local group so that the future actions would benefit the paying members. After listing numerous things that would need to be changed from such simple things as marketing and governing infrastructure all the way up to actually following proper conduct and methods, and ending in small discussion about a group based on having the paying members create the content and activities themselves. Naturally, the follow-up to this was Who will do all that without getting paid? My simple answer was Somebody with a good heart, but often this isn’t enough if the governing body of members is reluctant to change their methods. See, if they were to do all that was necessary to lift the ‘club’ from the low point they are, they would like to get paid. So, why not?
I’ve always wondered why companies and corporations are called evil. After all, they provide us our houses, food, goods and so on, unless you’re a person who relies on nothing but his own workand lives in the woods.
Necessary companies are not evil. (Then again, concepts of good and evil are completely subjective.) The company that provides your electricity is not evil, they’re just providing what you want and need. What they do is no small task and requires both time and money, so it is natural to pay them back for the energy you use.
Then we have companies and corporations that are not necessary. Entertainment industry and every company associated with it are largely unnecessary for the society to work. Sure, they provide something to listen to, but so do your neighbours, and they offer workplaces all around but at their core none of the corporations are necessities. Music and movies won’t fill your stomach. However, the heat will keep you warm and it’s much easier to make food with the stove you have there.
Granted, there are companies that use rather underhanded methods to make profits and put every bit of work on their sub-contractors, but overall that’s nothing new and this form of deception has been going on since the birth of trading. Blame it on human nature or anything, but anyone who is providing a service in material goods or in service are entitled to ask something back, and money is the easiest way. It has a fixed value and all other products can be measured against it. How much money is a carton of milk? How many squirrel skins is the same carton of milk? How long do I need to massage your back for that milk?An ‘evil’ provider can ask you fifteen squirrel skins instead of three or demand you to massage him for five hours and then some extra in his special region. With money, he can ask overprice but you can always step into another place because you know the value. There’s no real room of guessing and opinion.
The only thing that still exists with money is how much you are willing to pay for that milk carton, but seeing that the price is pretty much even across the board when you consider the quality of different brands, you can be assured that two euros in your hand will get youthat milk you are after so much. What’s so special about milk anyway? [Coffee!]
Numerous companies and corporations have sprung up from local people doing what has been necessary locally. People with same interest and skills have poured their passion into a hobby for example and have sold their products to the locals, and in cases of goods, they might have sold their products via the Internet. Then, when demand has become bigger, the group either grew or kept serving smaller amount of customers. Naturally, this is also a great spot to create your own workplace and start a company serving this product X. Expanding from the existing market and serving more customers and getting actually paid is a really nice thing to have.
Why would it be bad to expand into proper paying job, or at least getting small payment for work?
There isn’t. A job’s a job, and if it goes over the limit where you wouldn’t wish to do it freely, a small monthly salary would be enough. However, if the governing body refuses to do the needed work or hire someone to do it for them, then it’s up toother members to step in and put an end to the stupid practises. If this won’t take place, then we can all but ask if there really is need for the whole thing to exist in the first place. Having fun with friends and making things for friends is always nice and dandy, but when you’re supposed to step outside that comfort zone and start catering their interest and wishes , things get a bit convoluted. Because of thegeneral human nature, it is rather uncommon for this to happen unless we’re talking about something slightly bigger, like having a yearly convention.
Making money is not a negative thing. On the contrary, it supports whatever you have in your list of agendas, unless the money itself becomes the main thing.Most of us do it in a way or another, some just have a position where they can amass it in larger quantities to many others. I see no reason for the local electricity company to get higher profits than the pizza joint just by the corner. It’s areally good pizza joint as well, and I gladly pay for their pizzas. I don’t use their services often, once or twice per month, but I do appreciate their existence. On the other hand, I’m using the electricity provided by the electricity company just to type this down, and pretty much every second I am awake at home or at work causes me to consume electricity in some form.
I have a friend who makes heavenly white chocolate cake. I intend to pay him for a cake I’ll request from him. I see no drawbacks in this in any direction.
I got into few discussions about art recently. Well, discussion is the wrong way to put when it’s people screaming from the bottom of their lungs and refusing to listen what other people had to say. Art, it makes people mad.
I generally refuse to outright say anything about what I think of art, or what is art. Here, I’ll come out clean; I consider things as art as long as they’re done by artists. If a person who is not an artist, say a movie director, calls his movie as art, he is a stupid director. If a musician calls himself as an artist, I wish him to show his art to me. If he were to put on some music, then I call him a liar. He is producing music he made as a musician.
Not everything is art. Everything doesn’t need to be art in order to be appreciated. Books, films, games, music, plays and advertisement are not art. They are what they are. Writers, directors, coders, musicians, actors and visual designers are not artists. These people are what they are.
It is incredibly insulting to call thing X as art if it’s not. Otherwise you’re showing ignorance.
Then, what DO you regard a art? you may ask. Read it from above; art is done by artists. But isn’t art all about expressing yourself in various ways? In that case me farting at you because of that comment is a form of art. No, expressing yourself is not art. It is widely believed that all things can be considered art, but in same vain everything could be considered porn.
To make a proper argument we need to forget ifs, coulds, and perhapses. Art is art. Saying that a certain film could be art automatically invalidates the proposition. Are you saying that things can’t be two or more things at the same time? No. Dissecting things into lower categories automatically open this door, and a film can be many things. A book is a labour of the writer, the person who designs the cover, the person who is taking care of the machines that ultimately compile the physical book and the person who edited it. The text itself is made by the writer and the editor/s, and if there has been no editor then there’s something wrong.
Whenever I see a product made by an artist that is not art, I see a pile of scraps. People tend to call themselves artists and this sort of false artist-hood is lifted into an icon status.
I call this thebullshit-hood.
It seems that a lot of people connect art with experience, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, I find it very laughable that a lot of people start spewing words about being touched, moved and other emotional stuff. If art is supposed to touch you on some emotional level, then I guess punching your nose in is art as well. I mean, you will feel something because of it, right?
But sarcasm aside, art has become a some sort of super-cultural thing in that nothing has value if it’s not considered art, or that if it’s considered art then it’s something you can drool over and feel good about. Art has become intellectual masturbation during the last century and has been passed to current generations. Isn’t it the nature of things such as language to evolve with time? Yes, that would be a valid argument if you didn’t look like an asshat while making that argument. During the 1900’s art itself was expanded in many ways, and because of this certain people managed to put their own twist in there. Perhaps the most robust and stupid example of things going to hell are all the anti-art movements we’ve seen, most prominent being the Dada. I won’t hide my personal dislike when it comes to Dada. [Eww.Edit]
Perhaps nowadays we hare having sort of overt pro-art movement without realizing, where everything, almost literally, needs to be art. You can’t have experiences unless it’s artistic or made through art. When you have not enough words to describe something, it’s called artistic. Everything needs to be creative; art. It’s a fetish, where over a certain limit you can’t seem to enjoy a thing unless you begin to regard it as art. Why not think that thing as something extremely well crafted product aimed to give you the experience? it doesn’t drop it’s value, and if it does, then you have a problem.
I see no reason to hide behind the veil of art. I don’t do art, I’m not an artist of any sorts. I’m acraftsman who really tries to be designer. What I do is not art, and I won’t argue against my customer if he wants to see it as such when I am working. Outside work, outside the field where I don’t need to be the one serving, I will tell this person on my views about art and everyone involved when it comes to my products. Then again, I’ve had many good discussions with my customers on the different views on art, and most of them agree that when thought a little deeper, many things are not art. It’s very easy to throw that term in there and let it sink, but sometimes we just need to stop thinking rather than spewing out opinions we don’t really back. Belittling a well made product by calling it art is something I wish to avoid with my clients, just as I never play Visual Novels.
If you ask a proper designer if design is art, they will grudgingly answer you no. Taking pride on your work is important, but as a customer I wish you’d also recognise the value of their profession.
An artist has the opportunity to live in the artscape where a lot of people want to go into. Art is born from artscape, and artscape thrives on creativity. Still, if you need to consider things that were not made by artists as art, then I guess we all are artist, everything is art from BigMac to the lenses of my glasses. You can’t have double standards.
Then who is an artist? Who decides what makes an artist? I know a slew of people who have a certified paper from an artschool that allows me to call them artists. You may want to call people without educationartists, but then again you don’t call your frienda teacher when he teaches you on something. You don’t call your mom an artisan when she weaves you a nice pair of socks.
While this is an extreme way to put it, it’s also completely true; you are not an artist just by someone calling you. You need something more than nice pictures to become an artist. Even artist needs to be schooled, and without a question there is a number of artists that havetaught themselves everything they know. Jack Kirby learned everything from the streets by observing the everyday life. The again, Jack Kirby wasn’t an artist, he was a master comic illustrator and a storyteller.