Music of the Month; Wizardry

Don’t take this as me introducing Wizardry into the blog. The theme should be taken as something nostalgic, but as something that wasn’t originally there.


It has become increasingly more difficult to spent any significant portion of my day working on a post of quality. This has been a trend for some time now, and it’s something everyone has noticed. Planning posts in advance have become a chore of sorts, because most of the time an idea just doesn’t have enough lift under its wings, or it would overlap with something I’ve already discussed prior. Sometimes to extensive lengths, and I’d rather tone down on beating the dead horse. I’ve still got three projects under my belt unfinished, so after a certain date, I’ll have to make some modifications on how and why I still keep this blog up. You’ll have to wait a bit for that though. I do have an intention do writ up few device reviews once I’ve gotten my hands on Meanwhile, I’ll use this entry to cover some small topics that are about around now.

Google announced recently that they’re killing off their first-party developer for Stadia. It lasted only one and a half years, and I’m having a hard time remembering the studio’s name. This follows Google’s standard practices of the killing of products and projects in about two years of their existence. Not much love is lost between Stadia and its users, as it never delivered on its promises. Stadia, by all means, has largely been a failure. I’ve followed few of the early adopters on the sideline, and most of these people have ended up disappointed in the product.

Problem with Stadia, of course, is streaming games, its supposed bread and butter. While Virtual Reality is becoming a mature technology now that we have small enough components and robust enough hardware to make it happen, streaming games is woefully in baby shoes simply because of the existing infrastructure doesn’t support it, not to mention the bottlenecks Google’s servers themselves had. Unlike VR, Stadia could take advantage of existing games, though Stadia had little to no titles that excited the customers or made it a must-have device. Stadia didn’t have a leg against consoles hardware or software-wise, and as a computer peripheral or a smartphone addition, it was pathetically awkward and underpowered. Think it this way; would you lug around a PlayStation with a screen attached to it when you could have a GameBoy? Some would, while others might choose to play a laptop and whatever it offered.

Playing games anywhere, anytime, isn’t a new paradigm. People have been carrying decks of cards with them for hundreds of years and still do. Portable electronic games have been a thing since the late 1970s, at least. Stadia was never creating a new paradigm or a way to play games, nor did it expand the market. Google tried to portray Stadia as something for people who didn’t play video games, yet they failed to offer any games that would expand the market. Look at the NES, GameBoy, NDS and the Wii for example of a library that had something for everyone. Even when taking streaming games out of the equation, this was Stadia’s most important failure and it keeps repeating with every failed gaming device thus far; you can’t succeed without an appealing library, the hardware doesn’t matter. What’d I say about beating a dead horse?

Though Stadia’s hardware was effectively just the controller and whatever junk it has inside. Supposedly, there’s a wild variation whether or not the controllers break down easily or if they’re robust. Seems like this is dependent on whether or not the parts were good or if the assembler had a bad day. Nevertheless, what Google failed to realise is that expanded markets don’t really like game controllers, especially the much older generation. There are too many buttons, they have no intuitive way of learning them. The Wiimote, while often laughed at, was a brilliant design that opened an intuitive way to learn the controller not just because of its familiar shape but also limited buttons and placements. The reason a more traditional controllers Nintendo puts out are called Pro controllers is because they’re meant for people who don’t need to learn how to use a controller. It might be hard to imagine for people who have been playing electronic games most, if not all of their lives, but gaming controllers are still rather complex devices despite standardization and are far from intuitive to use. If Google truly wanted to have an open doors experience for everyone who wasn’t a self-appointed gamer, they would’ve made sure Stadia’s library would’ve appealed to these people and designed the controller to lower the entry challenge. Failing at both of these, Stadia ended up as a third wheel, a system that had no appeal whatsoever.

There’s a Mass Effect: Legendary Edition in the horizon, and unlike the guy who I get occasionally writing stuff when I need a break, wrote his view on the whole shebang. Give it a read. However, it must be questioned whether or not this remake should be. All these games run just fine on modern OS and console versions run just as dandy as they ever did. The time, money and all the other resources spent on this compilation of games could have been used to make a new game, or remaster something that would have been in a dire need to be properly updated for modern systems, or remade into a much better game. Pick your choice game of mediocre or outright terrible game that you think could be worked into a gem and you’re already there. Games that already are great, supposedly, don’t need to be remade into a new form. Mass Effect‘s problems as a game can’t be corrected with a remastering and technical update, it’d need to be taken back to the design board and make a whole new draft to make it a game with interesting and engaging play rather than a generic shootyshit with forced talkie bits. It’ll sell nevertheless. The gaming media has been hyping this one for some time now, and loud fans will invade anyone’s feed in any social media at some point.

In other news, all three companies involved in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, that is Activision, Infinity Ward and Major League Gaming Corp have been sued for copyright infringement. Clayton Haugen, a photographer with two books under his belt, accuses these companies of directly copying his character from a work he was promoting. The way these companies did it that they hired the same model/actor and supposedly asked her to obtain similar, if not the same gear as in Haugen’s photos. While a tacticool waifu isn’t anything special in itself, using the same model with almost the same outfit, posing, hairstyle and aiming to get the same kind of photo smells something rotten. Whether or not the accusations Haugen has levelled against the three are true per se, the similarities across the board are much closer to plagiarism and infringement than coincidental. It’s far too easy to fall in love with a design or character, and then just replicate and copy it with slight modifications, resulting in some cheap Chinese knock-off. It’s like those Transformers KO toys you see every so often. You know what they are and where they are from. These Call of Duty promotional shots are close enough to warrant slap strong enough to discourage corporations from doing something like this. They sure as hell will bring the banhammer if joe generic does something remotely IP infringing, yet corporations often get out of jail card for free, especially when it comes to using photos and such.

Music of the Month; Flash

Flash is dead, long live Flash. You might not remember the time when websites were blinky hells filled with animated .gifs and midis put on automatic blast. That’s not Flash, Flash hells were similar, but worse, with multiple elements of a site built from different pieces of flash and stuck together. Stopping all those scripts and different Flash elements became one of the many reasons why you wanted to block scripts on a site. Not only did it make the site loading faster, but also safer. Plus, much fewer ads to go around. Flash became less and less relevant in the teens, and now with the change of the decade, it’s support has been ended. HTML5 and whatnot have taken its place as the annoying fuck on the Internet that makes the otherwise pleasurable browsing such a bitch and a chore. Nevertheless, in the late 1990s and early in the New Millennium we had a golden era of Flash Animation, something that brought marvellous spectacles from every corner of the modern world to the trash tier TV-shows. Experimentation lead into some shows down the line being fully animated in Flash, and its janky and terrible looking animations became somewhat a standard. Even before Flash, we had Shockwave, but I guess only some people remember the Shockwave game sites, which were pretty much the same thing in Flash game sites. Just different platforms. Flash archives will keep all these products of the early century’s Internet culture at anyone’s hand, and people interested to see how… interesting it all was at the time. Play it once more, Jack.

By this point I assume most of Muv-Luv fans out there have already geeked out when it comes to Project MIKHAIL’s Pre-Alpha footage. While it only shows very early footage, it’s showcasing symptoms of doujinshi jank, a topic few posts back. There are some visual cues that have been taken from games like Guilty Gear Xrd with how hits pause the action for an effect. There are loads of effects on the screen as well, obfuscating the action to a large degree. Perhaps the screen is zoomed in for whatever reason, but that’s whole other issue. There’s also lots of glow and bloom in the glowy bits, which plays into the whole overt amounts of effects in play. Sure, TSFs have sources of light on them, but this is more an issue of modern design of having armour bits and shapes include nonsensical glowing parts, lines and bits that make no sense. Even if they make sense, they’re far too bright or constantly on. Granted, this is pre-alpha, so maybe all that stopping-effects is just the engine struggling, though I have some doubts on that. Then again, if this is going to be a mobile game, I’ll clock out early on.

The ultimate TSF action-game is still far away, as it would be a modified version of Virtual-On for massive arenas, freedom of combos and weaponry combined with thousands upon thousands of enemies coming at you at once. After all, TSF and Valgern-On controls are an expy of VO. I must admit that if I were to have a word in this development, I’d make a clear difference between standard TSF OS and XM3 upgraded ones. The main difference between the two were that XM3 allowed motions to be buffered and ignored certain safety regulations with the TSF, whereas the standard OS only accepted inputs after it had finished the previous action and had returned to a safe position. Meaning that an old TSF ace knew how to string and time his actions never to have the TSF stop moving, whereas XM3’s input buffering allows the pilot to bypass the restriction. The learning computer TSF OS has as a part of it comes into play here, as its AI was taught how the pilot would act and would anticipate the motions done in what circumstance, further taking down the movement lag between inputs. While this would be somewhat difficult to implement in-game, perhaps introducing some sort of smoothness of function to the action would be representable. After all, TSFs require their pilots to train in the sims in order to function as smoothly as possible, while a raw TSF would control like a frozen truck under a load of cement. Probably never going to happen, but it’d introduce an RPG-like mechanics to the player avatar growth as well as require periodical visits to the simulators, especially when gaining a new unit.

I won’t be discussing this year’s plans, as we’re hitting a 10-year anniversary relatively soon. We’ll discuss what comes after we’ve crossed the rubicon. For now, remember to sharpen your knives. After Christmas, they’re probably in even worse condition. A sharp knife is much more safer tool in the kitchen than a dull one.

Music of the Month: Ice Brain

I started this post originally lamenting how tired and utterly exhausted I am how the news has become a tool to radicalise people. Even after all these decades and knowing yellow journalism has been after that headline that would attract coin, these last five to six years have been a special kind of trash fire that has made me lost faith in every single news source that I used to follow. Be it on television, Youtube, on paper or individual journalists on the field, not one is even attempting to showcase a balanced, objective view what’s going on. Instead, I have found myself in a need to weave through dozens of different sources just to find what was really said or what really happened. I’m looking at the States across the pond and wondering how the people allowed themselves to be divided, as to be conquered. The news and social media has done nothing but radicalised all ends of the political spectrum, and the US desperately needs more than two governing parties. It’s a goddamn mess they’re having there.

I wanted to get that one out. I’m tired, worried, stressed and cranky. I am not a good company, and that probably is being reflected in whatever post I’m making in these upcoming months, because this is a thing that I know won’t go away anytime soon due to work and issues with personal life. It would be nice to have breaks and things to enjoy, to get rid of all the things pressing on my neck at the moment, but that’s not going to happen in some twenty years now. Work isn’t really helping with this any, as we just entered Q1 of the financial year and it’s always a terrible, slow and janky time. I would rather keep working and push stuff forwards, yet bureaucracy and other slower workers put breaks on everything despite we had a nice and smooth working schedule and line-up all ready. Yet the Q1 hit and everything was put to a total halt and I’m already so full of being able to do jack shit nothing and yet needing roll to work and be there like I had a rod up my ass. It’s not productive and honesty wastes my time and nerves. You’d think I could sit down and write more posts or perhaps even practice drawing, but that’s a No-No. Company policies. Yet you have motherfuckers taking hour-long breaks and almost two-hour lunch breaks, but doing your job while doing something else on the side gets you reprimanded. So if there’s a post missing, it’s more likely I’m trying to spend that time recovering from something with friends or simply not wanting to put my head out there. I’ve started to take a new hobby in napping.

On other stuff that might be more interest to you, dear reader, is that the Muv-Luv Alternative comic is being digitally published. It’s available on Amazon, but I truly recommend their Gumroad option over Amazon in every single respect. Not only the service is better, but you’d also be supporting proper competition between companies. If you don’t have a Gumroad account, this is the time for it and get cracking with all those other stuff you can find there.

When it comes to video games, have you noticed how the Switch is being excluded from the 9th Generation of video game consoles despite it being the one that started it? For whatever reason people are lumping it with the 8th Generation, but then again these are the people who consider certain pole marks to be the sign of a generation rather than, y’know, the next thing. Certainly, the gaming media population can’t be so dumb to assume that raytracing and whatever newfangled keys are being jingled in front of the customer this year are the only things that determine a generation. It’s like how the Dreamcast wasn’t considered competition for the PlayStation 2 because it had launched earlier. Yet here we are now, counting it as the first of the sixth generation of video game consoles. Nintendo already had a console in the eighth generation, and that was the Wii U. It might’ve been a total failure, a worse bomb than the Virtual Boy, yet it still counts as their mark of failure straight up after the glorious Wii. Oh well, people who think this is a life-or-death matter (or Wikipedia editors) will keep debating how the Switch belongs to the 8th generation because of its lack of hardware power, though that logic would throw all the previous generations to disarray in a rather messy manner.

Sadly, I am finding myself more apathetic as I keep writing this, so instead of trying to force myself to find more cheery subjects and not try to talk about Australia banning Japanese adult magazines and sex toys with cartoon characters, which is a puritanical action that belongs to the 1700-century and has no place in the modern world, I’ll just go make something to eat instead and consider spending few minutes with Episode I Racer instead.

Music of the Month; Guilty

A rare guest spot strikes again, since Aaltomies is busy moving to his new place! Congratulations! On the flipside. that means I have to find some subject to ramble about a little, so bear with me.

Let’s start with the new Digimon series, a reboot of Adventure. Honestly, when the series was announced I expected Toei to just remake the series whilst cleaning it up a fair bit, but those expectations were shattered fairly quickly with the Bokura no Wargame (Our War Game) opening. Instead of the summercamp, the events of the movie are brought all the way to the beginning without even introducing the whole main cast. We’re stuck with just Taichi and Koushiro who’re trying to figure out why the world is getting nuked.

During the first episode I was worried with the first villain, as it really resembled the Applimon series designwise. Thankfully that wasn’t the case, but it does show that the new series isn’t afraid to put new designs in, for better or good.

Game-wise, I’ve been playing Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid after Aaltomies generously bought it for me because of my skepticism towards it. While I did watch some Power Rangers during my childhood (and I did own one or two toys) I was never fully enthralled by the world. Since then I have watched a couple loose of Super Sentai episodes with the ultimate goal of watching that one anniversary crossover where a bazillion rangers team up. Alas, that moment is still far away from me but it does help me a little with placing when which rangers appear and the changes the American version made. This isn’t a criticism, Power Rangers is very much it’s own thing with its own stories and characters.

Now, back to the game. Fighting games usually have some barrier of entry for new players, the most famous one being able to throw a hadouken (fireball) with the quarter-circle input. Things will usually get more complex from there. With PW:BftG that barrier is lowered dramatically, where the input difficulty is only slightly higher than any Super Smash Bros game. You have the light, medium and heavy attacks, sure. But then you have the ‘special’ button which has three variations by holding left, right or no direction.

This makes the game incredibly easy to pick up, even when you have no fighting game experience at all and it’s what makes it a lot of fun right off the bat. Gameplay wise (or as Aaltomies would say, play of the game) it has been described as a Marvel VS Capcom lite and one cannot fault that comparison when both players employ their assists filling the screen with mayhem.

In short, the game can very much be enjoyed without any real knowledge of the series. Sure, the story mode might not make a lot of sense, but just roll with it.

Music of the Month: Drill Domination

I’m writing this post, though I should be sleeping. I’m using the excuse of eating to stay up enough to write this post, while in reality, my food is still in the microwave because I didn’t feel like cooking chicken risotto this late in the middle of the night. Sudden shift changes due to a robot being programmed have thrown my daily rhythm to hell, which doesn’t really jive well with me exercising. Despite my utter hatred, dislike and sheer abhor towards exercising, I decided against my better judgement to start it again, as your body is the best investment you can have. That’s one more thing that eats two hours of my daily life away from hobbies and other stuff I should be doing. Then again, my scanner/printer just broke down thanks to a part that’s designed to break down in time due to its smaller than necessary contact points bending easily under normal ink cartridge usage. Don’t buy Epson.

With food in front of me and half a litre water in my mug, I’m wondering why the hell I didn’t do enough food for the whole week. I’ve noticed that salads don’t keep me full for the whole day. Eating before I go to sleep might cause some mishaps according to some, but at least I’m not hungry and I have the energy to exercise in the morning.

That doesn’t change the fact that I hate exercising in the morning, it makes me groggy for the whole day. Pissed off, unsociable, and generally about as enjoyable to be around as a bear shot in the ass. I guess that also makes me want to do my job as fast and as efficiently as possible so I could be done with it. I’ve picked up reading again due to some of the downtime (that may be increasing in the near future thanks to the whole Chinese originated flu floating about) and the series I’ve picked up again is A Certain Magical Index and its numerous spin-offs.

The problem with me and reading is that I’ve taught to think through the prose I read. Turning your brains off can’t be done, unlike with other media. This is partly why I prefer science fiction to fantasy, as fantasy doesn’t handle concepts as SF does. An exception to this is Japanese Fantasy, which blends SF into itself to a far larger degree. If The Lord of the Rings was a science fiction work, the concept of the ring and its abilities would have been explored further and in far greater detail. However, for fantasy work, it isn’t necessary or even desirable at best. Some of the Japanese prose has a tendency to stop the story in its track and explore a concept through a wholly different lens, sometimes citing actual studies or experiments. Some works turn this into a whole dialogue and explore the extent of the concept as a whole or its possible branches before putting it into proper use within the story. Purple’s Qualia does this to the point of fault, as a friend mentioned the work’s like the author was masturbating about these subjects. Funny that thing, he doesn’t like Science Fiction all that much. Another friend agreed the works’ pretty dang sweet, so what’d I know.

A Certain Magical Index is a series that’s a rarity for me anyhow. Both its literary and animated versions have their own strengths and pacing. Sometimes the books work out things better, sometimes the animation adaptation takes the lead. Going through both, even if I’m already familiar with the other, seems like a worthwhile effort. Reading through all these books will take me ages, but I’ll squeeze a book or two in some slots whenever I have downtime and haven’t planned on doing a scan-marathon. I should try to have one this Saturday.

What I find interesting in the series is that outside the whole practical exploration of concepts within the work’s setting, it goes to town with them. Often I end up questioning a pathway of a story or author’s decision to have events and concepts turn out in a manner that ignores their secondary characteristics. With A Certain Magical/Scientific series I’ve found constantly that these secondary characteristics, even tertiary in some cases, are weaved straight back into the whole story not thirty seconds after I’ve raised a question. That is mostly because the characters aren’t written as dimwits or idiots as most of their fellow genre characters often are, as they often stop and think. An example of this whole thing would be something like as follows; a concept of a person split into two cyborgs with different halves is introduced and explored. The two halves are clearly distinct beings that live their own lives despite being sourced from the same person. AI and advanced cybernetics have been helped to realise this (Academy City, the main setting of A Certain Magical Index is a scientifically hyper-advanced self-governing city with everything being tested and examined from weird mixtures of food to creating false deities). After living as two separate beings, the two halves are rejoined together. The rejoined human has two different sets of memories, but the overall acceptance of the situation and the participant’s psyche hasn’t been damaged or has rejected two sets of memories from the same time period. My first question after this was straight up What about the mechanical parts? and ‘lo and behold, the main point of the story ends up being these secondary elements, where the experiment also brought the cyborg halves into one whole, resulting in an android that considers itself as the same person. It just lacks any memories before the patient was turned into two cyborgs.

The series is full of these What about this thing? moments. It’s an effective use of a relatively short length of the books themselves, and the series is almost wholly consistent with itself. When a series runs a decade and then some, there are bound to be some small issues here and there, but nothing major. For an ever-expansive series, a franchise really, the overall story hasn’t really let go of its interesting characters and slowly building plot that keeps raising the stakes. I would be amiss if I didn’t mention that the series also crossed over with Virtual-On, which is why the series experienced a short, but oh so sweet, come back.

I guess that covers things what’s going on. I’m certain you’re able to read between the lines that the current situation where I am is somewhat dire, and despite my personal feelings and wants, I’m still returning to write an excessively long post about nothing to start the month with in order to get some steam out, as well as forcing myself to get rid of some fat again. It doesn’t matter regarding the blog itself, but things aren’t… well. That will, sadly, be reflected in the future posts but hopefully not in their amount. I doubt things will get better towards the new year either. I’ve got to start prioritizing. Maybe I’ll start writing more about single entry series or things that I’d like to have covered like I’ve done with Muv-Luv and Purple’s Qualia. Ah well, just wait ’til I start spouting shit about compact cassettes.

Music of the Month; Vanburlan of Darkness

I wanted to have a theme this month for the sake of old times, but due to things, I can’t really muster one. Mostly because I’m officially on my yearly leave and I would like to spend some time away from home and computer, if possible. Though I’ll try to stick to my summer tradition and write one large post just for the kicks.

There were bunch of Muv-Luv news on a stream that came out on the 1st, but it aired middle of the night here. Nothing much I can say about it now, but synopsis based on the two mobile games that were announced among other stuff might be in place for those who missed it as well. Not that I’m intending to become a news vendor or something, but a synopsis is always a synopsis.

An interesting phenomena on the Internet is how regionally people seem to consider certain standards as valid across the board. Maybe saying it another way would make it a bit more clear what I mean; People tend to default to their own frame rather than think universally, globally. Not only this leads to assuming what other people think or how they may react to something, but also tends to set certain framework under which we individually function. Take slavery as an easy example. Depending on your region the first thing you come to may be the slavery practised in Africa’s Sahel Region, child labour across the globe, historical slavery e.g. the ancient Romans practised, or as practised in the United States and other nations before it was ended. Possibilities are that you simply default to thinking the master/slave relation input and output has in technology. Perhaps some Asian region will still remember the slavery as practised by the Chinese throughout the ages, and is still practised some forms, like sexual slavery. Seeing how much American media tends to govern English language sites, it’s easy to see how their concepts and understandings tend to drip unto elsewhere, still recognised as foreign thinking. Different cultural standpoints don’t always meet, but they don’t need to be in direct conflict either. It’s as if anyone who has a different worldview despite similar values, just in different priorities and order, becomes somehow less and almost evil.

Ah well, that’s just me. I just want people to strive and aim for peace, not to win over each other. That can cause the pendulum swings to hit harder than intended. Saying something so generic probably will be construed to mean whatever people want to see in it, despite it just meaning what it says; I want people to be at peace with each other. I’ll aim to tone down whatever political shit there’s in the posts, but recently I’ve found myself veering into politics without intentions. Not everything needs to be political, not all things are political, after all.

Though I have a controller review coming up, but because the global parcel movement is completely fucked and packages are being lost and aren’t moving anywhere, it’s probably that I’ll get that controller only after my yearly leave is ended. That reminds me, I have few customer works to do, so those will take some significant time. Probably gonna override some posts, but who cares. It’s summer, everybody’s out, except the people living at the South side of the globe.

As it is a new month, be sure to sharpen, polish and oil your knives. Sharper knives make safer cooking.

Music of the Month: Mecha Godzilla

Things change and we have to be like the willow in the wind; ever bending but never relenting. So it’s come about again that this blog has to change itself to accommodate life and changes. With my work changing, this time this blog will have its posts postponed by six hours. Normally these posts have gone online around 11:00 GMT 0, plus minus daylight saving time. From this post onwards, they will go online six hours later, around 17:00 GMT0. This change it due to two reasons, first being that my work schedule has changed for the moment, which has changed the times when I can sit down, research, read and write. The second reason is that I have often had the need to rush things, and hopefully by moving things back six hours I don’t have a reason to have a fire under my ass to hurry stuff out nobody’s paying me for.  You will see shorter posts on the workdays as well, as discussed in previous Monthly Musics. Weekend posts hopefully will see increase in length and quality. Hopefully being the keyword here.

As for the rest of the month’s topics, there are few I’ll aim to visit, but just as previously, all bets are off. Star Trek Picard had its run, and it’s been terrible. Discussing Artificial Intelligence again will be something we’ll revisit, this time inspired how badly Picard used Trek‘s own AI and how entertainment industry tends to use the same ol’ Evil-AI over and over. Incidentally, Muv-Luv is an example where you have two superintelligences showcasing two opposing sides, with the BETA being AI gone wrong (Kouki mentioned how the BETA on Earth in Muv-Luv Alternative were misbehaving) and how the 00 Unit is AI working as intended.  Still, we have the heavy tendency of anthropomorphising AI to a severe degree, while in reality AI will most likely be something completely different and, for the lack of better word, inhuman. Popular culture and media tends to think AI is like a super intelligent and fast thinking human-like intelligence, but that’s mostly fiction. Computers don’t think like humans do, their “logic” is not the same as human logic and so on and so on, you’ve heard this all. In sheer hardware, computers have been beating humans for several decades now, but the way they “think” and “remember” is extremely different, and ultimately frighteningly inhuman to some. Saying that AI is instant death to mankind is also hyperbole at its finest.

The second topic might be automation, again, but from a different angle. Sure automation is nice and everybody hypes it up every which way, but nobody ever tells you how putting up automation takes several years at best and even then will break down every five minutes or so because of existing tolerances, programming errors, mistakes in the materials, someone setting off some limit alarm and so on. While automation is the future, the kind of automation so many factory owner and company CEO dreams about is still far in the future, when these machines will actually be making almost everything and no human contact is in the middle. When we talk about automation taking over traditional jobs, we’re at a point where this evolution has been going around for several decades and thousands of hours of work to get shit done right before robots march into the factories. Automation is nice, but humans have always utilised tools to make their work easier. We’re still doing that, just in bigger scale and with more intelligent tools. A skilful user is still required.

As for the third, well, Monster Maker. I should get the original set within few days and then I just need to translate the rules. I’ve got few other versions on the side as well for comparisons’ sake, and few doujinshi offshoots, one which doesn’t have any relation but we’ll be throwing that in there anyway because why not. Rather than full-blown historics, I’ve decided to stick with the basics of the franchise, touch on topics here and there to make it familiar to the reader and point the way where to get the actual games if they’re interested in. Thirty years of history is a long time to cover, and impossible if there are no true sources to use. I would have to hunt down different PnP magazines and such for interviews and period-specific reviews, and if we’re honest, that ain’t happening. That money is going for more essential purchases.

With this being the first date of the month, I hope you’ll also remember to sharpen and oil your knives. A sharper knife is a sharper tool in the kitchen, and makes cooking that much more fun.

Music of the Month; Barrelfire Desperado

After I hit that nine years of blogging anniversary few weeks back, I went back and looked back at the stuff I’ve written. Jesus Christ what drivel. I can’t deny that there aren’t any stuff I’d say I have a good feeling about. Proud is too strong a word, but maybe saying there’s worth in there works better. That’s probably something I need to work over for myself, that I try to be worth something to someone, but considerations what people consider worthwhile don’t match up with me (or with each other) all that often. Who would give a damn about archiving a random comic book from the 80’s nobody has never heard about? Well, that’s the point really, maybe archivists get it. Maybe they don’t, there’s so much data on the Internet and on physical archives already, and we just keep producing this stuff more and more every single damn day.

You’ve probably followed the advent of SARS-CoV-19 virus’ makings its ways in China, and then steadily spreading across the globe. I’ve found some kind of macabre interest in following the events through the eyes of leakers and individuals who get their message out through the Chinese Communist Party blocked Internet. It’s not exactly the most uplifting hobby, especially when it went from following how well everything was screwed up in the early phases, where travellers were allowed to move willy nilly around, to what we have now. Ever increasing amount of spreading across the world with mortality rate piling up. The sickness it causes, COVID-19, isn’t exactly a laughing matter, especially considering how long the sickness festers before symptoms pop up. I would wish all of my readers to take care of your basic hygiene and avoid travelling to areas with confirmed cases, as well as limiting your Internet purchases from foreign regions for now. I’d also recommend getting full eight hours of sleep as often as possible, as sleep is the best natural resistance against viral diseases. I don’t intend to make any posts about the virus or the disease it spreads, unless something highly significant comes into play. Spreading of this virus can only be curbed if people are willing not to travel.

That said, global recession is a reality companies and corporations have to consider. If worst case hits China, their economy will tank and cheap produce from them will trickle down. Global market probably will follow in suit and tank, meaning we’re going to be in a place where consumers won’t have as much cash at hand just to throw at something expensive they don’t need. The Wii was perfectly priced console for its period, something the 360 and PS3 had to fight against. People still joke about $599 price. Especially considering if China’s production will tank much further, production of electronics and whatnot will grind slowly to a halt. This is where digital distribution should start to shine like no other, but they still need to sway with significantly cheaper price tags than their physical counterparts. Think of how the Wii found the perfect spot with cheaper hardware, good enough visual presentation and games people wanted to play. At least during Wii’s first half of life.

That’s a thing I’ve been told for some twenty years now, that digital will take over physical. Every five years, physical will be completely phased out with digital taking over. We’re fifteen years later after the first given deadline, and physical media is still around. While its sales have been diminished for sure, it isn’t languishing and has found its own niche.

As for something lighter things, and more related to the blog proper, I’ve cued up a Monster Maker franchise as the next short introduction. This is a perfect example how you pick up something completely harmless, think it’s just a series of five games across different systems and don’t think any of it. Then you start reading more about, look more into what items there has been for sale, what sort of deals and promotions have been tied to the name and finally you have in your hands a well loved staple of Japanese fantasy genre that started as a 1988 card game with five different entries with own unique sets of rules and cards, Rance Quest Edition via a deal with Alice Soft, few Revised editions and a 2018 Remake edition with revised rules, dozens of spin-off tabletop board and other games, additional video and computer games that range from simulating the actual game itself to fully-fledged console RPGs alá Dragon Quest, different pen and paper RPG iterations, strategy boardgames, few model kit lines that not only featured the characters, but dioramas and enemies in more of the expensive boxes, comics of all kind, light novels and God know what I’ve missed. I could spend a whole year cataloguing all this and I wouldn’t be finished because tracking down even the most common of the games can get rather expensive. Not to mention all the fan produced stuff, which of course ranges from crude homebrew simulations to erotic adventures of the characters in the world. By 1991, the game already had seven mainline entries.

Be sure to check Kugatsuhime’s Twitter. We’ll talk about the author/s whenever I get to the series introduction post proper. Which probably will be a series of posts at this point.

Even getting started is a chore (a gross understatement), because in order to properly describe the base game, or the 2018 Remake and Rance Quest Edition for now, the rules had to be translated because only the original game has dubious rules translations around the net. Well, whenever we get to the post proper, it will be supplemented with a PDF file for the rules for you to use alongside proper description for the 2018 Remake. I would love to use the original for this and make a direct comparison between the two, but we are talking about thirty years old card game that’s not exactly the easiest to find, and needing to purchase it. I’ve seen it go for 1000yen at one time, and another time over 10 000yen. There’s also a Revised edition that was published in the mid-00’s, with option to create your own cards for the deck (they sold blank cards for that specific purpose) but the cheapest I’ve seen it go in public trading has been around 18 000yen. Hell, just writing this itself made me check few more sites and I found yet another set of five entries I’ve missed prior. This is how you dig yourself in a deep ass hole, finding something that seems interesting, getting few stuff just to get you started and you find out you got thirty odd years of expansive franchise very few in the English speaking world even knows exists and you’re adamant to make it known more. I can honestly say that if you want to hear more about the franchise with scans and stuff around, those Ko-Fi tips would come in handy. Otherwise I’ll be drudging through as usual, and just pick the more prominent examples that are around.

On the meantime, remember to sharpen and oil your kitchen knives. A sharper knife makes safer and more pleasant cooking.


Music of the Month; The Hidden One

Funnily enough, for a guy who doesn’t really like fantasy or RPGs all that much, something about  7th Dragon 2020 games hits the spot. It’s probably because it’s what I’ve started to call as urban fantasy. Something that has your usual magic stuff, but at the same time isn’t about elves and orcs, but more about relatively normal world in somewhat modern settings with heavy emphasize on other traditional fantasy elements. I simply have no stomach for Tolkien-esque fantasy or its relatives. That’s why going through The Wheel of Time books has been such a slog. I can appreciate them just fine, but the points of emphasize are completely whack. Yeah let’s talk about someone riding a horse three pages and describe a world altering event in half. That’s a hyperbole, but still fitting.

If you’re a new reader, you might be wondering what the hell is this post. Well, every month starts with a no-topic post about random things that might have to do something that I have planned for the month, or just random babbling about something that wouldn’t make a post unto itself. In other words, a way to let me loose some steam from the kettle that’s been brewing a bit too hard.

I’m rather tired of both Star Trek and Star Wars discussions, that much I said in last post. That’s still true, but Trek has become a topic of interest against thanks to Star Trek Picard or STP hitting the online services. Seeing the first two episodes, I’m less interested to see any of the show past these two episodes as it kills any spirit of the previous shows it had, ignoring Discovery. For Star Trek there always was a hopeful future, that mankind and our allied species could coexist not because out of convenience or superior genetical evolution, but because we’ve decided to be better. A social evolution where we were allowed to stretch towards the best we can become and aim even further. Nothing but ourselves could stop it. The Next Generation took the idea a bit too far, one could argue, with the rule that there should be no conflicts among the crew. The Roddenberry box, as they call the set of rules that govern the future. However, those rules did make it seem more like a future where no difference of thought was allowed, and if you deviated from the government sanction ideal, you were hammered down in other manners. Never the less, outside these few stumbles in the rules, that were ignored when there was a better story to be told, the Federation of Planets and the Starfleet were representations of a better future. In STP, and in Abrams’ movies, this has not been the case, and this sort of view of future governments being, to put it straight, evil has become more and more common. Especially for franchises that used to have the opposite governing system. It’s like future can’t hold hope for us any longer, that everything has to look dark and people betray each other all the time. It’s not exactly a new phenomena either, but things are just being turned darker and darker for no reason. You can argue that the modern Star Trek is telling stories about current events and situations like the writers, actors and producers are saying, but the whole continuing storyline format doesn’t allow that properly. You don’t have the contrast how things should be against the handled subject. You don’t have the light and shadow dancing between twilight and dawn. All you’re having is darkness. Perpetual darkness that depresses you, and all you hope it would snow that the night would seem that much brighter. The more I look at modern takes on older media, the less I see hope were there should be. Not only that, but there is no significance with most of the stories, there’s no payback. Like with modern Star Wars movies, the payback is miserable for all the misery you have to watch through. In the end, you’re left with a character with least meat to her and none of the ones that ultimately mattered. I’m babbling at this point, but it might be the whisky I finally managed to get a glass for.

The past month has been a bit rough, if I’m completely honest with you. This has come through the quality and language of the posts bit too much. More often than not I’ve had pleasant and relaxing time when writing, but last month was more or less me banging my head against a concrete slate. Not because of lack of topics, but due to me not exactly feeling like adding any more load on my back. You shouldn’t bring your work home, but it’s kinda hard when your boss calls you when you’re at home. Working from home, if I’m completely honest, is probably one of the worst ways to go. Unless you have a specified space or room for your office. Your normal life and work life should be mostly apart.

February is a short month, and I’ve given up on planning anything for the future. I’ve got a too large a list of shit to finish, like that TSF-plane comparison charts (at least two or three yet on the workbench) and continuing with the Guilty Gear design comparisons, though now adding Strive‘s designs would probably hit the spot. Comic Lemon People history has been sitting on the back burner for years now, but maybe I could get my hands on some magazines I’m missing to make it some kind of History as seen on the pages of the magazine kind of thing. Less about the history of the magazine and more about its contents and how that got spread around. Mentioning stuff like Zeorymer OVA would be necessary, and I guess that would lead into discussion about Cream Lemon and Lemon Angel as well. Not exactly a topic I’m eager to tackle, if I’m honest, due to the whole amount of work outside writing. Probably a post worth all the effort, but not now. Not the way things are now. There’s also that one device review coming on, that hand-held track ball, but there are few kinks I want to learn about in usage that I want to experiment before giving an end-users opinion.

I’ll probably be skipping next week’s Wednesday post, and save that writing time to device a new About section to replace the old one. In hindsight, just removing that particular page probably would leave people confused the mixed and contradictory views on the blog. After all, I don’t underline everything I write, but rather try to view issues more than just one view, unless provocation is intended.

What a way to waste a post for 2020.02.02.

Music of the Year; Jubei

When I sat down to write this post during the last few days 2019 with the intention of pushing it out on the second, I had a moment to pause and think. Despite writing an entry only two times a week now, that’s still more often than with some other blogs. Some barely update twice a month. I’m aware that the quality and topics have been slipping for some time now, and I’ve pointed that out few times already. Old news, why am I repeating myself like this? Because that’s what the blog has become; an endless repetition of points I’ve made in the past, sometimes rectifying something, sometimes expanding. Other times it’s just the same point in a new guise. It’s about as subtle as using a sledgehammer to crush an ant. For the first time, properly, I’m asking myself What’s the point? The whole page about what this page is about is no longer relevant, and by the time you’re reading this post that section in the menu at the top has been removed.

The music wasn’t just chosen because I’ve been familiar with it for some twenty years. It’s hammy, but this particular theme was used during the opening and transformations scenes in Jubei-Chan; Secret of the Lovely Eye-Patch. I’ve rarely hummed the song, but it never left some seedy patch in my memory. The hammy part comes in that I’m throwing it as the year’s theme, as I see a need for the blog to change while keeping it true what it was to be about. Two contradictory things like this rarely can meet in harmony, but that end amalgamation should be something worth striving for.

First is that I’ll stick what I planned last year; I won’t be forcing myself to write a post if there’s no point and the quality would suffer from that. Instead, I’ll mull over topics before putting them on paper, so to speak. For example, I noticed how I neglected an element of AI in my Muv-Luv and artificial intelligence posts, but rather than hack one in hastily, I decided to sit back and consider the topic further. Hopefully this also means the effort will go into making something worthwhile. Additionally, I hope this will give me time to return to certain scanning projects that have been sitting in the ice for two to three years now, one of the being a retrospective on Tamiya’s model kit mascot, Moko-chan. Moko’s Plastic model building guides were a sort of sub-cultural phenomena that represent that rare kind of mindset of making stuff yourself, learning how to model and build and enjoying what you’re doing. Effectively, appreciating one’s own craftsmanship, something that has become more common nowadays, but in digital form. Huh, I guess there’s a topic for me to discuss at a later date.

I won’t lie; this 1980’s style is top notch, prime meat quality to my weathered soul

All the above should prevent me from burning out like I felt I was last year. While blogging technically doesn’t (shouldn’t) take too much time, if there’s something else I’d rather dropped that few hours in, like another hobby or seeing friends, those take priority. A mind that is only consumed and worried about one thing is a tired and slack mind. It has to be renewed with other perspectives and other sources of inspiration rather than the same old again. (Is this accidental irony that I’m repeating the same old for the Nth time now?) Some of the results won’t be visible here, but some might, depending how different projects and plans go.

I’ve also decided to drastically change my stance on monetary support. While options like Patreon etc are not exactly for me, either because I’m not a fan of the platform or generally how they function, Ko-Fi seems to be a middle ground what sort of service I was looking for. You can check my page either via a new Widget on the right, at the top, or via this link. I sincerely expect zero support, zero amount of cash. This page is not that popular that anyone would be willing to drop any money, but certain British Youtuber talked me over last about this. You never know if you don’t have one set up, he said. I would almost bet he’d donate just to show he’s right. While I don’t have goals up on the page, I do have some in the back of my head. Depending if anything ever comes this way, the first thing would be to get a domain, so that the page could stand without WordPress at the top. Second aim would be to get a better visual theme; the current one is not exactly optimal and getting something that would serve both galleries and text better. The better themes cost around hundred bucks last time I checked, so there’s that. All the Ko-Fi donations would build towards this, and none of them would be used for personal profit or gain. If there’s something left after the initial goals, well maybe I’ll buy a pack of tea and think of something better. It’s nice to have pipe dreams like this.

Speaking of personal, the third change will be that there will be a another blog, independent of this one. Whether or not it’ll be linked at any point or somewhere else is still up in the air, but it won’t be about news or commentary. Rather, I’ve wanted to write prose for some time now, and I’m giving it a shot by writing short stories. This, of course, would take time away from writing the blog, but as said, other hobbies to renew the mind. I hope tackling two different sides of text gives me more reasons to explore multiple perspectives more than previously, but you never know. Much like with the blog, I doubt many would be interested in reading those stories, but again, you never know before you try it out. All I really want is them to be out of my head, maybe compile them into a book down the line if I get enough stories out. Aahh, pipe dreams.

I’ll also try add more pictures on the blog, just like previously. Just a dump of text doesn’t do much good. Let’s leave that for prose.

I would be amiss if I didn’t mention the death of one Syd Mead, 1933-2019. I do not want to try gain views or cash on his death, as Mead was, and still is, one of the inspirations for me. His works both in television, film, animation and everywhere were nothing short of master pieces. His design tongue and style were easily recognisable and stood out from the generic mass of the media landscape. Mead was a designer who didn’t just draw items, but settings, vistas and visages, the concepts of future and life. He considered science-fiction to be realism ahead of his time, and it shows in his works. He wasn’t just an artist, he was a master craftsman with only few matching his peer.

This blog was set up back in 2011. We’re closing in on our ninth anniversary soon. Funny to think that this blog started at the beginning of this decade, and will end just after a new one has kicked off. Even funnier, when you realise a decade is years spanning from 1 to 10, and most people celebrated the New Millennium a year early.