Music of the Month; Megalomania

It has been a rather stressful last month or so. I didn’t even notice when summer months turned around, and that I could’ve set this post last week, or earlier. Things just flow at a rapid pace, with summer heat being a pest. Even my plan to attend a convention to have a presentation was shot down by car breaking down on me and the spare part might cost up to a grand with some luck. There has also been a death in the family, so excuse me if this post will end up being rather short and anemic.

I’ve come to a point where I can safely say that I won’t be planning the future of the blog. It was certainly fun to plan stuff out when and how I’d make certain posts, but that’s just not all that possible if I want to spend any time off the computer screen. That’s not to say I’ll just abandon every long-running posts I have, but as you’ve noticed during the last year and a half (or most likely, have not) is that all plans have mostly gone to shit. Time is of the essence, and that is something I would like to spend elsewhere at times as well.

To cover some topics quickly, the gaming disorder has now been officially been recognised as a disease by the WHO. I’ve covered this topic myself few times over, and the arguments and sources linked in them still apply. WHO is not exactly the most popular organisation going around, and I hope this will be redacted or made far more accurate than what its current for is, as now its determinants really fucking everywhere. You could apply the main forms of it to any enthusiast in a given hobby. A healthy obsession for a hobby is a thing, but hey, a person who appreciates their hobby to a high point should now be considered mentally ill. What a load of shit. Niche Gamer has an opinion piece why WHO is flawed classification, echoing some of the stuff I’ve already written, but also going into deeper and wider look. Ryan Pearson’s article touches on proper points, but leaves the whole political aspect out. Maybe for the better, outside some of the internal leaks that commented on certain nations pushing this classification there is no solid evidence for it.

There’s a new Godzilla out there, and I honestly have no want to see it. The 2014 Godzilla was a disappointment at best, extremely boring at worst. As a movie, it was extremely kitch, safe and resorted on failing consumer expectations. I might go to see Godzilla II (I do love how overseas market gets a number before King of the Monsters in an era where too few movies are numbered anymore) and do a short first impression review, but I’d need to kick myself into the theater and get someone to go with me. Not a tall order, but this is also a good time to rewatch Shin Godzilla and add its themes to the Themes of Godzilla post I have floating around. That’s a post that should get expanded, but with what time?

Here’s the beef I’ve always had with Godzilla, and technically with any other franchise that does the same thing Robocop; it gets dumbed down for the kids. Not just in story, but also in production values and themes. Those movies that are aimed for children audience mainly have the short end of the stick in every regard from story to special effects. The VS Godzilla did find a good balance between adult themes and kid friendly Godzilla, but at the same time looking at the series in perspective it is clear how run out of worthy ideas and resorted on their catalog of popular monsters, setting the whole theme of reusing and revamping old monsters in new guises for the future. Godzilla stopped pushing the envelope well into the 60’s, yet the VS series didn’t even try. Space Godzilla? Evil Mothra? Plant Godzilla? Another Mechanical giant monster based on previous monster? I do love the VS series of movies, but goddamn do they look meek when you take the nostalgia goggles off. Ever since I found out the Gamera trilogy, I’ve been going back to those movies ever since, and its influences are very, very strong in these new millennium American Godzilla movies. Maybe I should just cut this rant short for now. There is room for a serious Godzilla movie every now and then, but the rest will colour the cultural perception. It’s just that very few want to make a good Godzilla that took itself and its themes seriously. No, let’s just drop an Oxygen Destroyer as a missile and call it a day. Let’s not even consider its ramifications.

E3 is around the corner again, I honestly couldn’t give jack shit at the moment. I know I used to make posts about it, but with the lack of time (there’s that again, I’m repeating myself far too often) I’d rather not spend three days of watching direct advertisement meant to sell me games I probably don’t want anyway. Less reason to get angry, more reason to enjoy whatever sunshine and wasps this summer offers. Sure, I’ll probably end up writing a post or two if something interesting pops up in the news sites that warrant speeding the videos over after the fact, but otherwise, I really have to question the hype surrounding E3 when it is world’s most expensive marketing event. Hatebait click articles of course would make money, but that’s not how we roll here.

How we roll is with tea heated in the microwave, added sugar and drinking while the spoon is still in the mug. Just remember to sharpen those knives of yours, that makes cooking safer.

And oh yeah, R-Type Final 2 has some 50h left in its Kickstarter, throw some money at it if you want to fund a resurrection of one of the genre defining franchises.

Music of the Month; 3-2-1 Let’ Go

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

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

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

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

Music of the Month; Ninjas

You know what we’re going to talk about again? That’s right, censorship.

For the last few days, Kenichiro Takaki’s interview on Inside Games have been making some rounds about the Internet. Pretty much everyone has covered this at some level, with Lewd Gamer having one and Censored Gaming having a video on the subject too. The topic that Takaki mentions is sort of side mention on the overall interview, but the core of it is as follows; the original idea for Senran Kagura 7EVEN would be impossible to release and the developers have to reconsider everything about the game itself due to the censorship policies Sony is currently employing. Furthermore, Takaki mentions that these regulations are trend that will spread further.

Imagine that, an entertainment many consider a form of art becoming censored to serve a view. The moment art has been perverted to serve a view by limiting what can contain within the art, it stops being art and becomes a vehicle for the ideology the censor upholds.

That is, if we consider electronic games as a form of art. Otherwise we might just have to face that the industry is a business where business sensibilities and winds of politics play extremely large role. I guess the late 2010’s and part of 2020’s will be remembered when Sony and Valve, and maybe some other corporations as well, begun to censor games harshly in moral panic about sexual depiction of fictional characters.

You may laugh at the whole thing, it is “only” Senran Kagura after all. Then let’s not forget all the titles Valve has banned from Steam, or the extensive censorship NISA employed within almost every title they publish (not to mention the sheer amount of bugs their localisations are known for, or the lacklustre as all hell translations they have going) or how Sony has effectively blocked titles from being published due to their risque nature. I’ve talked about these few times over. It’s not just a slippery slope we’re having here, it’s a no-friction glassy ice slope at 60-degree angle we’re trying to not to bust our tail bones on here, and we’ve got nothing but shitty shoes with hard plastic soles. The only way the consumer can effectively fight against this is by getting political and goddamn I know most of my readers hate that.

Thankfully, this time it’s easy. No reason to grab the flag of your political view and some Molotov cocktails, but simply to refuse to support or purchase any products from the offending companies, refuse to use their services and goods, and make sure that that they know it. Send ’em an email, go to a forum or whatever. Money talks more than empty promises or deeds gone cold. With the amount of entertainment and games out there, you will always have other options that will fill that niche. If that’s not the case, that’s a goddamn good time to start looking into alternatives that you didn’t know existed. Easier said that done, I know.

But why is that I keep talking about this titty ninja franchise? That’s something I had to ask myself when Takaki’s interview came out. Am I fan of the series? Do I just appreciate it? Despite the rather mediocre nature of majority of the games, what makes me coming back and revisiting the series time and time again? I’ve got no answer for you, and I can assure you its not not the front and back assets of the characters. I’ll be breaking some character as the blogger with this and rust up a post about how exactly I got involved with the franchise. It’s like that old ass Kimi ga Nozomu Eien post from years yonder (Jesus Christ I hope I’ve gotten better since then) but about a series that’s still relevant. No, I’m not going to put much trust in KGNE remake, especially now that Nekopara-style has vomited itself all over it.

Speaking of other posts for the month, or for the next two months depending how much I’m going to overwork myself, nothing definitive has planned outside the usual stuff I talked in January, but now you can add Iczer Robo’s visual history to that, where I cover some of the major illustrations and designs that the Iczer series’ mecha has seen. This’ll include some of the more obscure ones as well, namely the original comic version and its 1990’s counterpart, and the two animal themed mechas from Iczer-3 audio drama, because Iczer Dragon needs more love in general.

Both will take some time to finish. In the meantime, I’m to grab a bottle of whisky and celebrate my anniversary.

Music of the Month: Rock the World

After spending good three days of building my new PC and troubleshooting things that have been popping up now and then, I completely forgot that I was supposed to write something for Sunday. That’s not the only thing I’ve forgotten lately, due to being so damn tired. Enough excuses, let’s get this on the roll.

So, whatever plans I might’ve had are more or less out of the window thanks to people ordering more and more stuff from the place I work, meaning the speed and production amounts have been upped ever so slightly but enough to push the proverbial breaking point of the manufacturing process. Rather, I’ll have to approach things by case-by-case basis and hope that I don’t put things out too late. Well, I’ll be doing Mega Man 11 at some point.

As such, I’ll use this opportunity to comment on the previous post about Capcom’s IR materials. It’s a long post in comparison to most and has quite a lot of hot air, but something that needed to be covered. Rather than spouting what Capcom says, here’s my personal take what Capcom wants to do in the future; high-end games.

Monster Hunter World and Resident Evil 7 have been big hits, and Capcom seems to think it is thanks to the games having high production values across the board, especially in the graphics department. While the term artisanal design was thrown in there, it ultimately means very little if not expanded. Effectively it means master craftsmanship and how something is worked by hand to perfection, but how well that applies to Capcom’s titles is up to interpretation. They are infamous for dishing out game sequels after sequels, though this has been on the slower end as of late. Game development has gotten more expensive with each generation and they feel it. Each title has to be bigger and more successful than the previous. The two aforementioned titles fit the bill perfectly, something Resident Evil 2‘s remake and Devil May Cry 5 do too. While the games will have something the consumers will have to scratch their heads over with, Capcom is putting a lot of money and time into them, hoping to get return in their investment. MHW is regarded a cornerstone within the company in terms of success, and they want to replicate that.

Furthermore, Capcom is surprised by the success of Mega Man 11. Without a doubt it has come as a surprise, and the Man of Action Mega Man cartoon basically exists to drive brand recognition, especially among younger consumers who have no previous experience with the franchise. The initial sales have been very positive and the reception of the game has more or less followed the same pattern. Above all, Mega Man 11 is a PR victory for Capcom and does go against their set idea of high-end games, something consumers should be somewhat happy about. MM11 was relatively cheap to develop, which probably served more to its favour than most think. It also shows that games don’t need to be at their highest ends in order to make a mark. Capcom probably took notice of this, as they’re also noticed the good sales the Mega Man X collection was having.

This has lead them to consider reviving some of their old IPs and the upcoming Capcom Belt-Action Collection is probably is part of the whole deal to see what sticks to the wall. Sadly, Capcom doesn’t have the licensing rights to some of their best beat-em-ups, but at least the collection has the first ever home port of Battle Circuit, something long-time Capcom and CPSII fans have been waiting for. When’s Wazrard getting a proper home release? Does this mean fan favourite IPs will be revived? Naturally, no. First three people who I saw commenting on the post said Breath of Fire, but I don’t see that being very likely. Firs being that BoF was never a great seller and that they have better options to fill the RPG quota if they want to. However, the one thing that is in BoF‘s favour is that Capcom recognizes themselves relying on limited genres, with fighting games, action and horror taking the top spot. Capcom has to diversify its selection at some point, but that may go toward mobile gaming.

According to the materials, Capcom has been making loads of money in the smartphone market, but still don’t have much success in there. What does this mean, exactly? They’re not the top dog and despite the few titles they manage to get money out, the competition is making bigger bank. This is largely an Asian thing, as the mobile game market is absolutely bonkers huge there, eclipsing both console and PC market without any margins of error. It’s no wonder companies like Blizzard want to release a game into the market like they were horny teenagers with free access to the corest of hardest porn. We’ll get to Blizzard’s PR disaster with Diablo Immortal on Wednesday, it’s a damn good example how not to do consumer service. But this is Capcom, they don’t give a damn about the mobile market in the West, as Asia’s the gold mine and they don’t have the tools or skill to mine money. Maybe Capcom wants to see if they can do something else in the market, or maybe they’ll put more effort into expanding genre selection on consoles and PC. That’s why testing waters with cheap releases and collections is important to them. I’m not saying you should go buy MM11 or any of the collections in hopes to gain BoF Collection, you should always buy only what you think is the best value for your money. More RPG related stuff Capcom has been putting out might sway them more, or showcase how something similar makes good sells. Like most Japanese companies, Capcom seems to be data driven. Showcase them data and examples to support your claim or suggestion, and it has geometrically highest chances of getting through.

Whatever Capcom puts into production and announces within the next year will be based on the success and methods MHW and Mega Man 11 have laid out when it comes to consoles and PC. Mobile, well, we’ll have to sit tight and see.

Music of the Month: 8-Bit Brave

Ah, what a month has it been. If you’ve noticed that the writing has been all over the place for during January, that’s because I’ve had much less time to given any emphasize toward quality (or whatever quality goes into making this blog) and just getting something out. Let’s stretch a bit, as usual for these posts.

We basically skipped the usual robot related design and a review post. The Virtual-On historicals have taken their slot, as they require comparatively a bit more research than what I have time now, especially considering I still need to play the games to give them a proper assessment rather than just going with the flow. I’m also planning an additional post about where VO has appeared outside of its own games, mostly mentioning Valgern-On and MARZ‘s Super Robot Wars entries. There’s quite a lot of to do with these upcoming three, and I can’t even begin to write properly about A Certain Magical Virtual-On as of now. I’ve also added the VO entries into Robot Related Materials you can access in the menu on the top of this page.

With VO posts doing relatively well for a niche topic, I’m considering of doing more of post of their sort. Not necessarily historical entries per se, but more series or franchise comprehensive series. Still, Muv-Luv and Guilty Gear related stuff still reign at the top of most hits, with few mecha and that NES region free post in the mix.

With my new work contract that I’ve gained via career change, I’ll be working a full day-job in five shifts. Whether or not I have time, or simple energy, to write something of worth nothing twice a week may become rather challenging. I’ve decided not to push myself with this, and will allow myself to pass on one of the posts, if deemed necessary. I’ll try to drag A9Doc, who did the neat Digimon post recently to cover my sorry ass, if he manages to come up with a neat topic. You may see more Digimon related posts than usual because of this, but all of them should touch on character designs or the like first and foremost to keep it according to the blog’s theme.

This also means I’ll be breaking the thousand word limit I’ve had for years now. This is to ensure that I can include all the things I’ve wanted to mention rather than splitting some topics. In some cases, I’ll forgive myself if I got well under that golden standard I’ve been living up to. If somebody is wondering why I had such a limit, it was because early on I got some feedback that I tended to write posts that were too long to read. Thus, cutting back and making them more palatable was the goal back then, but that was then.

To help with things overall, I will take last year’s Monthly Threes and combine them into one larger post per topic. Is this cheating, I hear someone ask. It partially is, but these posts have some of the best stuff I’ve done. With some encouragement from a certain Casp O’saurus, I’ll be picking some of my better posts and try to spread them around a bit more.

As for the ixtl/âge stuff, there hasn’t been much I’ve wanted to comment on. I never made any posts about Avex picture’s acquisition, because I never got a good picture what sort of company they are, in the end. There are less good sources to go through, and things being more or less standard Japanese corporate politics says things can go either ways. Either ixtl will stay as they are and be milked to the end, until they’re absorbed fully into avex as a whole, or they’ll manage to do some seriously impressive stuff that will make money. Knowing ixtl’s track record, despite the Kickstarter, things can go either way. At least the translation team has now moved to ixtl’s stables. We’ll just have to sit back and see when everything has been cleared out, as they’ll have to relaunch Muv-Luv on Steam under a new publisher now that Degica is no longer involved.

TSF comparison entries are still planned, but just as with the Guilty Gear comparisons, time is a commodity  that I don’t have too much. I’ll plan one of each for March, as February is still Virtual-On country.

I once said that I’d follow Yo-kai Watch‘s success in the West, but seeing its success was less than expected, it really did drop from my radar. I picked up the first game from sales recently, and I have to admit that I’m liking its semi-automatic battle system. I’ll have to play it a bit more to get a proper feeling, but all things all, I can understand well why the series got such a loud applaud in Japan. Maybe a review is coming out on it at some point, but not anytime soon. I’ll be giving some of the sequels a look too, and how they’re managed to change the formula.

And oh, the reason why Yuusha Oh Tanjou! got the spot this time around is that The King of Braves GaoGaiGar‘s final episode’s 20th anniversary was on the 31st of January.

 

Music of the Month; To Fly Through Fire


It’s one of those months for sure

I recommend people to carry some sort of pocket knife with them. Not in order to do violence, but to have a tool with utility. There are times when in an emergency arises and having something sharp and multiuse comes in handy. Like when your work clothes catch on fire, and you need to get them off as soon as possible. In a car crash it comes handy in cutting your seat belt off, it you can’t get the lock system open. Of course, you can slice apples with it too.

To talk about the whole mecha post issues I’ve been having, mainly that I haven’t kept the transformation theme constant and skipped it few times around, it’s a combination of lacking time to put the time into proper description and finding really good sources. There are few books out there that I could recommend for you to read through yourself, but most of them are in Japanese, which limits their effectiveness to an extent. As such, I might as way it officially that the theme is dropped for the rest of the year, because I have to concentrate on other things. I’ll still aim to produce mecha content monthly, and not just TSF stuff. Not everybody likes them after all.

On more game related side of things, I came across a SNES Mini and decided to pick one up for my nephews. First I thought picking one for myself too, but thought that as I already have most of the games on my shelf, it’d be a waste. Because Christmas few months away, I decided to test the machine so that there would be no let-downs on Christmas day. The thing about these Mini consoles is that their built-in library is, ultimately, rather bland. On paper is looks good without a doubt, but for someone who has played these games many times over and already owns them, the set isn’t even vanilla. It could use more two-player games, though this leads me to the best thing about the package; the SNES controllers that came with it are diamond. Hell, this makes me wish Nintendo would put the real controllers in a new limited production, so collectors and whatnot could get a new set of pads for their consoles. I won’t be doing a review on it, because the machine is just a small Super Nintendo. I’d rather review the real deal.

As for what will be reviewed this month is anyone’s guess. I don’t have anything too interesting on the horizon when it comes to interesting gaming thingamajigs, but that can change any moment. I was considering reviewing Cuphead and break my own rule not to review anymore, but maybe that’s a silly rule, even when those are the least read posts. I should stick with the more obscure stuff people want more information on that is not expanded elsewhere. That’s the core idea with all these weird controller and homebrew reviews. Something like SNES Mini is reviewed everywhere else already.

Maybe reviewing mechas again like what I did with Metal Gears would do good for a change.

As for whatever else for this month, Inktober’s kicking around again. I recommend checking your favourite social media site what sort of images people are producing, and I too may take part in it… if time allows me to. The idea is to do a picture by using ink, and some of the works are absolutely beautiful to behold.

Whether or not I’ll manage to put a post on Mega Man‘s 30th anniversary is an open question, but some sort of post regarding the franchise is planned, but again, only if I can get the materials together. I’d like to this post to hit sometime this tear, not necessarily on the anniversary day itself. I had my old editor up for a music related post regarding the series, but that never went anywhere, so I might have to pick up that in the future, despite being tone deaf.

An addendum to Themes of Godzilla post is in the works too. This would be a more in-depth view on Shin Godzilla now that I don’t have to work with limitations, and who knows, maybe I’ll expand this into a monthly series on itself and rewatch all the movies while I’m at it. Doing it a production order of course would be the best thing, but I do think that taking Godzilla with least connection to others, like Shin Godzilla and the 1998 Godzilla, can be viewed in a vacuum-like state, where they can be weighted on their own merits. Some of the movies are rather connected to each other either through story, setting or the staff, and with that you have certain tones and themes repeating. I’d even go so far that I’d divide Godzilla eras based on the staff who worked on them.

I might actually review the Art of Shin Godzilla, a 559-page book. It has some reviews up on the ‘net, but none of them really go in-depth whats in it and how it’s built. You shouldn’t review a book based on its cover, but like with everything, first impressions go a long way.

As for the ARG podcast we had going on, I’ve removed the link on the side. This is because due to certain changes in situations I highly doubt we get the same people on the mic anymore, though continuing with fewer people would be a possibility. The uploaded episodes won’t go anywhere, neither will the Degica interview. I regret things going like this, but alas it takes two to tango. Well, maybe this’ll encourage me to start those voice blogs next year. The plan is to turn some of the older posts with more solid content into audio form. I see the Monthly Threes I did as the best choices for this, as they tend to hold content with a point. Hell, they might be best content in this blog, but that’s not saying much, isn’t it?

Speaking of the posts, this is the 803rd post this blog has. I need to get my act together and wrote a new Different take on customers.

Music of the Month; Imperial City


The music was written based on a painting of the Coruscant’s Imperial City by none other than Ralph McQuarry

If there is one thing that modern Star Wars is lacking is in the music. Both Episode VII and Rogue One had terrible music Outside John William’s previous scores, there is not a track that stuck to anyone. Prequels be damned, Duel of Fates is one of the most loved tracks in the whole franchise and has been used widely within and out the franchise. However, most people overlook, or simply don’t know, about Shadows of the Empire‘s soundtrack. No, not the game’s, but the book’s. Composed by Joel McNeely and performed by the Royal Scottish Orchestra, the soundtrack stands out if given a good listen. McNeely made sure to make the music its own rather than trying to imitate William’s style, something modern Star Wars tries and fails miserably. Worth a listen and can be purchased cheaply. Why Disney hasn’t hired McNeely to compose for them is a mystery. If you have a computer from the early 2000’s or mid-1990’s lying around somewhere, you can access enhanced content on the disc that you otherwise couldn’t on modern PCs. Technology has advanced and left things in the past.

But enough about a disc I found while cleaning my boxes. You might’ve noticed last month didn’t have a review or a mecha themed post. I’ve got no excuses, I couldn’t really muster a good topic and forcing one (again) felt rather tiresome. To say that I’d rather put a topic on hold before it has properly matured would be partially lying, but all that really means I’ll aim to post two mecha related posts this month. On the review, I’m still intending to do it on Huion GT-220 v2, though the first problem is with this that I need to show some results on it. My confidence on what I can do on it is very low, so whatever results I would end up showing will be basic. I’ve been using it about two months now, and I’ve gotten pretty good grasp on how it works. However, as with any tool like this, it’s highly dependent on the user’s own skill and the software used. Skill, which I completely lack, as I’ve stubbornly refused to move to digital, except for CAD work. My God how doing CAD drawings is a breeze compared to pen and paper, though I would always recommend any designer or CAD plotter to start with those to get the core basics of what’s needed down.

I’ve had my few weeks of vacation and I’ll be returning to work next week, but that barely concerns any you readers. I’m mentioning this only because this most likely affects the time I have for looking up subjects and writing, but that has been the case for the last two or three years. So, we’re returning to form.

This summer saw no larger entry as there was no topic that really stood out. If you’re looking for something longer to read, there are those Fight!! Iczer-1 and âge related posts that you should check out. Can’t say they’re definitely worth your time, but if you’re interested in them, sure why not. For what’s it worth, this also means I don’t need to put effort into a post that people might find too long. The denizens of the Internet barely read blogs nowadays as it is, and if they do, it seems that they prefer everything in shortform. Video blogs and podcasts have taken their place in a large way, as one can just put it on in the background and do something else while listening some yaps bickering about a topic. I should jump into that boat and start changing my old, longer posts (mostly the Monthly threes) into voiced blog form. I just need to get my voice into right condition and remember not to pronounce V and W as the same letter. Well, blame me being Norther European for that. I know I’ve been talking about this a lot and I just should get my ass to it. I would need a different editor for it though, I hate to listen to myself. Maybe I should give writing prose a try again, it’s been years since I’ve done that.

I’ve been wondering if there is a need for a content shift on this blog. While the core element would stay the same, I’m wondering whether or not it would be worthwhile to begin writing about other events that graze design, service or product. Like with the recent debacle with Marvel’s writing staff posting a group selfie while drinking milkshakes. Marvel and their staff haven’t been able to take much criticism as of late, and this whole thing shows how anything that opposes one’s view is seen something diabolically evil. Which of course is utter bullshit. What Marvel should concentrate is fixing their comic’s content and stop their readership bleeding to competitors. Marvel’s comics have lost the larger readership and Marvel movies have taken their place. The movies, for all the faults they have, are superior to what their comics are now. Maybe the 1990’s and early 2000’s really made too much of an impact on Marvel that they can’t recover from. First step would be to lower the comics’ price and get them back to general stores. That would require the content to be changed as well, but at this point it would only be an improvement.

Criticism is a thing that we really need to allow to be given. Even when the explanation is lacking or non-existent, any and all producers of works need to analyse their work and see what’s wrong with them. You should never assume that the consumer is in the wrong, even when they probably are, and see whether or not there is validation in their statement. Especially if your work is making you money. The people who pay for your products are the ones responsible where you may be, and these are the people who ultimately pay your bills and bring food to your table.

Music of the Month; Just Begun

Ah, summer. What a time to work. Time to let some of this steam out.

An issue with the current time schedule I have is that all the plans I usually do for the blog in advance will be made sometime next week, hopefully. This means what will be this month’s review will be set into stone at some later date (though the most likely candidate are the two Silver Hawks that came with Limited Run’s Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours‘ limited edition box due to them being essentially re-run of Shooting Game History’s mould,) what will be the mecha design post (though it will be about transforming mecha in order to continue the theme of the year) and I’m pretty sure I’m missing something that’s a monthly occurence. Ah, I’ve got no plans for the music. I need to pick something that would fit this season of heat.

I admit that the A-9 Intruder post from earlier this week was a bit hastily put together. However, I did see a need to take another take on the whole simpler transformation sequence. These are the building blocks after all, and when we understand the 101 basics, we should be able to move ourselves towards more robust designs. This on the other hand is a challenge, as I do see a need for examples that I’ve done myself and then use an existing example. The problem here of course is that in order to keep everything as simple in visuals, and that takes time I don’t really have. However, perhaps we could do a simple combiner next time, or discuss how Japanese media has distinctive different styles of combiners. Super Sentai to this day uses a very robust, very simple combiners due to the necessity of them being build as young children’s toys first and foremost, and thus tend to en up as being bricks with very limited articulation. This isn’t the case with Transformers, but there we see terrible body proportions every which way.

As for other âge related stuff, I’ll probably put up a smallish review on the decals that are being delivered to those who backed up the Muv-Luv Kickstarter. While the time between updates has become rather long, things are going towards the end. I agree with the notion some have made, that seeing updates on the quality of the translation in screencaps and going over what sort of translation issues the translation team have faced would be interesting. Hell, having a bigger post that is all about the translation and the inner workings how and why certain terms and approaches were selected would be beneficial for the sake of transparency towards the backers. That’s the crux; backers are funders of this project, and in the spirit of things, backers should have the right to see the inner workings of the project they’ve invested money into. However, I do acknowledge most people on either side of the fence don’t see it this way, and Japanese companies tend to want to keep tight wraps on what goes in the background. To tell the truth, I doubt most people would even want to know the shit that goes behind the scenes with these corporations. It’s nothing enjoyable and often ends up being massively disappointing and depressing.

There has been some visible extensions of deadlines, to which the translation is probably the culprit. However, as this is a business in the end, there is a need of balance between quality, time and expenses. You can have two, but then you’ll lack the third. Cheap and quick with no quality and so on. While most high-end consumers and core fans of any field tends to say that they’d rather give a company time to finish their piece to perfection, this is stupidly unfeasible. Because these are products that in the end need to make profit, even a Kickstarted piece like Muv-Luv, there is a requirement for a definitive deadline for the translation in which the translation and code has to be brought to a point that is can be pushed out. Anyone in their field could fine-tune something to death if they were given the time, but resources are limited. We’re facing our good old friend Mr. Good Enough again here. It’s not a perfect solution, but a worker needs to be aware of the wants of the customer as well as the needs of the company he is working for, self-gratification be damned.

The exact same goes for any field. For a welder, one could spend a whole day by doing one seam the best way possible with pre-heating the contact points, welding in smaller sections, occasionally grinding and re-welding bits that didn’t go quite as well and overall spending time and money that nobody has. It needs to be up to the given requirements but also needs to be done fast and efficiently. That takes years of training and experience, a rookie can’t do it. Welding is, after all, part chemistry, part physics and part handicraft. It takes loads of experience in actual work to achieve the level where the aforementioned three can be balanced with each other properly.

To let that steam out now, I recently had to pick a new pair of spectacles due to change in my sight. But ‘lo and behold, a rogue spark managed to sneak past my safety goggles and burned itself on the surface. Had to purchase new ones, but at the same time picked up a subscription safety glasses for future work. This in itself shouldn’t be of any interest for you, but if you wear glasses, you should be painfully aware of the amount of money you’ll end up spending. A decent pair of frames usually got for 100€ to few hundred, depending on how much you want to put into the design. The lenses themselves add another hundred to the whole deal, but for whatever reason safety glasses always seem to be around 75€. This is a bit mind-boggling. Modern safety glasses are just as designed as any daily use pieces. Part of what keeps their cost down is that they have a set of pre-determined materials that need to be used and required to cover a larger surface area in order to be safe.

This pretty much begs me to question the profit margin eyewear companies are pulling from your average citizen. Much like with any medical field, these companies are providing a necessity, but at the same time are expected to deliver both fashion and function. While it could be argued that it is unethical to take a higher price from a consumer who is required to wear glasses, we are talking about corporations that aim to make money. Just as any, they’re not your friend, but an entity to create goods for your consumption in exchange of your hard-earned cash. The same really goes for any corporation out there.

There’s a distinct lack of video games in this post, so I’ll try remedy that next time around.

Music of the Month; Roundabout

I had idea what music to use this month. I honestly did. Then I completely forgot what the song was supposed to be. Not even a single note in my head. That music was supposed to be theme for this month, and you guessed it, I forgot what the theme was supposed to be. Well, I better gather something together. Ah screw it, it’s Yes time.

So, the Mega Man 2017 is now 2018. I’m not going to retroactively change that in the previous posts, because that’s how the date was announced then. Now is now, and from now on I’ll be referring the sub-franchise as Mega Man 2018. Maybe it’s the main franchise, because it’s pretty much the only thing Mega Man has going for now. His design also went well with the whole transforming mecha thing we have this year. Y’know, weapon changing and all that. A bit of a stretch, but I needed a slight break from the whole thing due to the amount of hours I’ve been putting in the workshop. I should be sleeping buy in reality I’m typing this out for you.

As for this month’s design thing, I may discuss the design og A-6 Intruder from Muv-Luv Alternative. Why? Because it’s a shape changing mecha, of course. Now getting some of the linearts or general images is a bitch, so I’ll have to resort what I have. Which probably is most than what others have due to my own devices.

Speaking of âge related stuff, Evan from the official translation side of things has translated one of the crack-head funniest bit âge’s produced, True Lies. Check it on his webzone. True Lies is a story of aliens, humans and antennoids and all the truths and lies that surround their existence. There’s a lot of love in there, and a hero we all don’t want but probably will get in the end. It’s a good bit and will entertain a solid hour, even when it starts to drag towards the end. Melvina Maniax was also pushed out and there’s Kimi ga Nozomu Muv-Luv, a product that’s been coming out since forever. I guess good things are worth the wait, though personally I’ll have to wait for it myself a bit longer due to circumastances. Not that I have time to read anything currently, I still haven’t touched Schwarzesmarken properly.

As for reviews, this month will see release of new 8Bit Music Power Final, and because I love you marvelous bastards so much, I decided to go with the version that comes with an attachment that supposedly puts out higher quality music. Seeing their build quality got better with Kira Kira DX, I’m hoping that they’ll step up the quality once more with this one. I don’t expect any gameplay from them as this really is just a digital album released on a Famicom cartridge. If’ you’re a Touhou fan, you might want to pick it up as Zun has a piece in there. Not really sure what I should aim for the next review, but I guess I’ll find out later down the line this month. I’ll just need to dig up something a bit strange and game related, as that seems to be in-demand. Well, as in demand as anything can be relating to this blog.

I haven’t commented on game news recently much due to nothing too much of interest being out there. The Switch has sold over five million units, which is damn good number. Especially when you consider that we are not in holiday season. A console selling five million during Christmas or such season is nothing out of normal, but selling that well in March raises an eyebrow. The system launch library though is atrocious, but seems like it has found its spot in the niche. Now if the software would just keep rolling in.

That reminds that I should discuss the emphasize of game design over technological design now that it seems we’re in an era where each new generation doesn’t marvel with its leaps in technology. All consoles can output great graphics, but now it’s put to the design of the graphics and gameplay to make due. Graphics whoring is for PC side, after all. I don’t remember anyone going full gaga over a game in decades anymore due to its graphics, Crysis was the last one I remember having such an effect on people. Well, if you exclude Illusion’s titles, but I’m not here to talk about porn games. Not yet at least.

Perhaps discussing game collecting might be a topic worth visiting. That would be an anecdotal post, mostly form a personal point of view and as such I doubt that it would do well in grand scheme of things (though there isn’t one.) Perhaps something less serious for a change might be in place, though emphasizing on topics that get the most hits via search engines would be the logical things to do. As Spock noticed oh so many times, humans tend to be illogical beings.

Speaking of Star Trek, whenever we get to see stuff from Discovery in a more transparent way than just leaked shots, I’ll do a comment on the designs. I did so with Star Wars (and I’ve bitched about them quite a lot) and Trek will get the same treatment. However, the rumour mill has been saying that the behind-the-screen events have been pretty terrible and handled terribly. For example, despite the show being a prequel series to the original Star Trek series, the designers and showrunners were forced to make it look the most advanced series in the franchise due to executive meddling. Midnight’s Edge has a video on the whole thing. Honestly, I’m not terribly excited about Discovery, prequels tend to be terrible (just look at Enterprise) and apparently it’s going to have more sex, which is one to the things that killed Enterprise. Is it echoing here? It’s not looking good for the series, but maybe some series do require extended periods of staying away from the general view and stay within the fandom in order to renew themselves completely.

Censorship is not transformative

While it may seem at times that this blog is against art in some ways, the reality is that I am against the wild use of the term. Not everything needs or deserves to be art to be a highly valued cultural commodity. This blog largely defends the rights of creative industries and their aims to create works. However, I also come from the consumer perspective, where the creator often needs to take into account the market’s wants and needs in order to succeed. Needless to say, this entry is going to differ from the usual writer’s persona a bit.

Censorship is not that.

If an author intends his work to be in a certain way and releases said piece in its intended state, it is not the job of others to come and change that product to fit themselves afterwards. If we are to determine art as a way to express oneself, no one else should have a word how or what the creator wishes to express. Censoring or changing one’s work, but not transforming it, is essentially infringing a core element of art itself.

A product is transformative when an original piece is taken and given a new form. For example, Youtube is filled with videos that fall under transformative label, as they take existing videos and sounds, creating something new based on them. MADs fall under this same category. They do not infringe on the original author’s intent since the original is still there, unaltered. Hollywood seems to have hard time grasping this thing.

To argue that censorship would be transformative is nothing short of incorrect, as it is intentional suppression of any element of a work as seen by any faction or person for whatever reason, be it political or due to supposedly objectionable content. Censorship does not transform elements of a work into a new one, it simply removes pieces it doesn’t like. It doesn’t transform the work; it doesn’t derive anything new from a work.

While human history is short in the cosmic scale, we’ve still had numerous works that are significant to our world and cultural heritage. Many of these are under the gun of censorship, especially nowadays when bikini clad women in games are seen as worst sort of offending material there is. Some even argue that Shakespeare should be censored to be more timely.  What a terrible waste that would be. Even when we would remove the Immortal Bard from the equation, the fact is that his works are significant both culturally and historically. Understanding them is to understand the time they came from as well as modern English as a language.

Censoring the likes of Shakespeare for whatever reasons, or Mark Twain for the matter, is showing every sense of lack of belief and confidence in the people. Essentially, removing nigger from Twain’s books shows that the factions doing the censorship has no faith in the people to make the distinction between the era when the book was written in and now, or that the term is used in form that offers no offence. It is unfunny irony that Huckleberry Finn would see censorship in this way. Often the intent of censorship in cases like this is for a more positive and “fitting” release of the work for a given era, but as it always is, the path to hell is paved with good intentions.

If one were to argue that Shakespeare’s King Lear is a copy of the legend of Leir of Britain with elements from the Holinshed’s Chronicles, I would argue back that it is not. To use something like Star Wars as an example, using existing works as a template to create your own work is not plagiarism, or in Star Wars‘ case, even transformative. The fact that George Lucas used classical literature, especially the concept of hero’s journey combined with elements inspired by Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress, to create something that was essentially new and needed in the later 1970’s speaks volumes on itself. Creativity feeds back on itself, just like any field feeds back to itself. It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that all creative fields derive from each other and from themselves, but that doesn’t keep anyone from to taking elements, rearrange them and give them new approaches to create something original. Sure, some resort to blatant ripping off, but that’s another issue.

Of course, it is well known that Shakespeare’s works are inspired by existing tales, but we don’t exactly celebrate the plots of his works. They are celebrated because Shakespeare’s works broke down existing boundaries both socially and in language. Hamlet‘s plot is not why it’s so highly regarded, but because Hamlet himself is so well written as a character and how Shakespeare conveys his growth and anguish through and through. Act III, Scene I of Hamlet is not great because To be or not to be has become recognized as almost universal anguish, but how the whole line bears Hamlet to the audience. There is no actor who would not want to tackle this famous line and breathe his own life into it.

We do not have reverence for Shakespeare’s works because of him; it’s the opposite.

The question whether or not we should separate the creator from his work is something we all should consider. I would argue that as often as possible we need to separate the work from its author simply because our view on the piece would be coloured and become biased if we have strong opinions on the creator. It is very easy to veer into identity politics if we have something against a creator, as it is the case with Dana Schutz’s Open Casket. The case shows how anyone can interpret a painting how they see fit and disregard the author’s intent. While we can debate which one is more important, we should always remind ourselves that freedom of expression is a supposed tent pole with art, and as such should be respected over personal views. Calling for her painting to be burned is very reminiscent of book burnings from various eras, e.g. German Nazi party’s book burnings. While we can argue obout the painting itself, no subject should be banned from anyone within the proper limits of law.

If we were to ban certain people from subjects to create works based on, the opposite should the true as well. Otherwise we’d be discriminating a group and favouring another. However, such limitation would kill the change of thoughts and ideas as well as the discussion between and in these groups. Creativity would stifle to a standstill when nobody is allowed to wonder outside their own region, creating a sort of echo chamber. No outside aspects would be brought in to give new and fresh ideas. Some would certainly welcome this sort of approach, as long as it would be aligned with their own views.

The world already has a history with this sort of approach, at least a one sided example. The Socialist Realism was practices in the nations of Soviet Union, which essentially prescribed a canon in art and other creative fields. While creative fields are not political by their core nature, politics can be applied to them. Socialist Realism was nothing short of political propaganda and its core intent can’t be separated from politics, but we can sideline it.  However, not before it fell from favour around the 1960’s, no other idea or thought was allowed; it governed the creators.

The Chinese communist party did even worse by almost erasing their old culture and destroyed much of the Chinese heritage. Jump here to read a bit more on that. It’s interesting to notice both of these are communist and marxist examples.

In order for discussion and exchange of ideas to move forwards, we need to allow the creation of things we may object and view them outside our own selves. Nothing good comes from silencing the one we disagree and push him underground, when we can lift him up to the stage of ideas and allow all to see and wage these ideas ourselves.

The will and skill to express oneself has been around longer than the written word. If we’re to value art as we like to see it, it’d be great of we could stop fucking around with it and let people show their stuff. If one is ready to censor or ban someone’s freedom of expression, he’d better be ready to face censorship himself.