Music of the Month; Through Random Selection

The rest of the year is going to be rather chaotic, but when it has not been? Hence, the music has been selected via random play. I may regret it, but here we go.


When life gives you melons and all that. Or was it lemons?

Not the most season specific song, I admit, but hey, when it has been?  But let’s put the cards on the table.

Whatever this month’s mecha design post will be, it’ll be the last one that I try to make on a monthly basis, with transformation being the main emphasize again. The previous one about toys driving certain design consideration was part of the series, though for the sake of variety I wanted to cover its comparisons as well. After I’ve managed to collect few notable books, I’ll have to return to mecha design again. Next year’s theme is up in the air, and while I am extremely hesitant on showcasing any scribbles I may do, maybe doing a sort of showcase of personal approach on things would be best, refining be damned. If you want good looking mechas, visit ksen’s Twitter.

As for reviews, you’re in a luck. Remember that Laserdisc player I pent up for a whole year? Well, the player has now served its time and its power unit crapped on me. I’ve yet to track down why, but I have a new unit on the way. It’s a Pioneer LD-V4300D, if you want to check beforehand what it looks like. It’s an industrial player, not very high on the fidelity scale, weights almost thirteen kilos, but it has some good stuff going on for it I can make use of, for now. Most importantly, it runs both PAL and NTSC discs, the very reason I picked it. Not that I had much options, it was the only unit on sale at the moment that didn’t cost an arm and a leg, and I had to make a special inquiry for international shipment.

I’ve enjoyed doing controller review, and though that would mean I’d need to find a new and an interesting controller each month, I think I’ll try to make it a theme for the next year. If I fail, well… that’s on me then. I’m still on the side that I shouldn’t do written game reviews, unless the game is somehow obscure and lacks scans or the like on the ‘web. That’s a though challenge, unless I somehow manage to find a well paying job and start importing PC88 and X68k stuff.

As for Muv-Luv side of things, we’re all pretty much sitting down and waiting things to happen. With avex pictures now having majority ownership over ixtl, the company that manages everything âge related, everything’s been more or less on ice. While I doubted there would be any initial changes, ixtl taking control over Kickstarter from Degica is a sign of sorts of things moving onward. For those who are in the dark, ixtl is a company that essentially handles everything that comes to âge, with âge essentially being a brand front company. You can be sure that avex wants to turn Muv-Luv into an anime, and if you ask me, it’s just a question of time when such an announcement will be made. The real question just is what sort of anime will it be. Will it be an adaptation or something completely else, taking advantage of the setting and make it some sort of Attack on Titan with giant robots? There is potential, but seeing how not even the original company has managed to churn out anything successful since original release of Alternative, they’ve got some work to do. I’m sure avex wants to see some of that money back, sooner or later.

One requested post that I’m going to make when I have the materials collected is how I built a couple of arcade sticks and what went into their making. It’ll probably end up as one long post for the sake of keeping it together, splitting it in parts would mean that people would have to scrounge the blog for each sections, even if linked. It’ll have few versions included, including a stainless steel variation with a hitbox included. Expect it to be ready sometime in Q1 of 2018.

Next year should see an entry about Adventure! Iczer-3‘s audiodrama, once I’ve transferred it from cassettes to digital form and given it a good listen or five. It’s a completely different deal from the OVA version, thus some comparing and comparison needs to be done, especially in the visual department.

As for other stuff, you may have noticed that I’ve lessened on commenting the game news as of late quite the bit. This is partially because I burned myself out with it, following dozens of different sites and trying to keep up with each and every news I could pick up, and due to how I pace myself, some entries never got out because they became irrelevant within a day or two. I would emphasize longer life for the posts as highest priority, but seeing I have no clue how to that as of now, I’ll just keep going as usual and see what comes of it.

I’m also trying to get another voice on the blog after such a long time, this time talking about visual and design progression in Digimon. Call it a late 20th anniversary celebration post from him. We haven’t discussed what’s the word count, but I’m guessing it’ll hit somewhere above 2000 words, with some very specific examples picked throughout the years. I’ve done few of these in the past, most notable being the evolution of Metal Gear designs. Not the game’s, but the robot’s themselves. If you’ve missed it, you can find the link at Robot Related Materials above. It should be an interesting read, especially if you’re fan of the franchise.

Maybe I should do more of those. All long-running franchises have visual and design evolution throughout the years, and maybe Mega Man would deserve of getting one. For now, remember to sharpen your kitchen knives and oil them. It’ll make cooking so much more enjoyable.

 

So you’ve finished Muv-Luv Alternative, and wondering what next

Due to circumstances, I haven’t had time to type out anything too wholesome to read for this Tuesday. Hence, I’ve prepared a small suggestion guide what to check next in the Muv-Luv franchise if you’ve finished Muv-Luv and Muv-Luv Alternative. This is a spoiler free listing, splitting between English and Japanese contents.

Official English language options

Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse

Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse TV-series has been officially licensed and released by Sentai Filmworks. While Total Eclipse has rather negative reputation among the fans, it was the first Muv-Luv related product that reached the Western shores. It offers a new cast of characters, with questionable production values, and takes place before the events of Alternative. You can read a larger take on the series here. It doesn’t offer the best the franchise has, but is an expansion to the world Alternative has introduced. It stands as an independent story from the rest of the franchise, like most of these larger sidestories, and its two first episodes are probably the show’s best ones.

If your Japanese is good enough, the PC version of the Visual Novel is a definitive pick, though some argue that the anime is better due to it lacking certain significant revelation.

Schwarzesmarken

Schwarzesmarken was officially simulcasted by Crunchyroll, though for whatever reason they managed to misspell the title with a space. Set in the BETAverse’ 1980’s, the story is far removed from either Total Eclipse or Alternative. It has a more dreadful to it than Total Eclipse, with cold war between East and West still raging in Germany, all the while the BETA still push towards Western Europe. Half as short as Total Eclipse, Schwarzesmarken offers some look into earlier days of war against BETA, when not all tactics were put into stone yet and TSFs were heavy coffins. Opinions are split which one is worse, Total Eclipse or Schwarzesmarken, though I recommend watching both to make up your own mind. The two shows may have a connection through one certain character, though that has never been officially confirmed. If you want to read more about Schwarzesmarken, I have a full review of the series on the site.

The Visual Novel was split into two and didn’t sell all that well, but is a better piece of the two, if only by a margin. Only in Japanese though.

Rumbling Hearts

Rumbling Hearts AKA Kimi ga Nozomu Eien was localised by Funimation in the mid-2000’s and is available at their site for free to watch, though this is region locked. Nevertheless, the DVDs are common and cheap to pick up. Rumbling Hearts, while not exactly a prequel to Muv-Luv, shares the same setting as Extra, and certain character appear in their BETAverse versions in Alternative. However, unlike Extra, Rumbling Hearts is very much dead serious in its tone to relationships to the point of being probably one of the more realistic depictions of troubles in romantic relationships in Japanese cartoons. It is a fantastic adaptation, shrinking the core of the Visual Novel while still giving it some originality to it. It’s highly recommended if you haven’t seen it, regardless of your genre preferences. I have a podcast special with Invalidname, a huge fan of the series; Evan, one of the translators of Muv-Luv and all around pretty cool guy and Muv-Luv Alternative; and Doc who I dragged along because the show needed a third party opinion.

If you can muster the language, I recommend reading the Visual Novel as well.

Whenever the Photon collections gets released on Steam thanks to the Kickstarter, this spot will be updated with multiple entries when applicable.

~Unofficial~English Language Options

These option require you to acquire the discs themselves for you to patch.

Before the Shimmering Time Ends

Before the Shimmering Tim Ends is a sequel to Muv-Luv Alternative. This story can be found in the Muv-Luv Altered Fable and Photon Melodies collections. It is a common misconception that the story’s name is Altered Fable, but that’s just the collection’s name it comes in alongside Faraway Dawn and Total Eclipse Mini-ADV . Those who have finished Alternative should be aware of the last events changing things a bit, and this story takes full advantage of them. Alternative Projects has translated three of the routes in the Visual Novel of the PC version, and the required patch can be picked up from their site. The three routes are highly recommended to read, as it soothes the pains lingering from Alternative. Or makes them more exaggerated, depending on you, dear reader.

Haruko Maniax

One of the shorter stories, Haruko Maniax gives you what’s in the title. One of Evan’s spot-on contributions around, before the Kickstarter hit the ‘hood. If you liked Haruko as a character during Alternative, this is a must read. It follows Haruko’s little brother, who seems to have some fixation to his older sister. Filled with comedy and fantasy segments of erotic kind, it’s a fun little read while you’re waiting for other stuff to come out. You can pick up the patch from Alternative Project.

Muv-Luv Alternative Chronicles 01

Much like how Altered Fable is a collection, the Chronicles lineup of fandiscs (releases that are directed at the fans rather than as full-blown, Big Name releases) serves as a backbone to ixtl/âge’s expanding both Unlimited and Alternative through side stories. The Day After is a series that takes place after the events of Unlimited‘s end and offers a world that is very much gone to hell, with half of it turned into an ocean of salt, struggle against famine and BETA an everyday thing. Both Chicken Divers and Rain Dancers give further insight to the struggle against BETA from the viewpoint of your normal surface pilots. Once more, the patch can be picked up from Alternative Projects.

Muv-Luv Alternative Chronicles 02

Chronicles 02 continues where the previous one ended, though this time there are only two stories to read through; The Day After Episode 01 and MLA Chronicles Adoration. The Day After continues with the Unlimited timeline as previously mentioned, while Adoration having a lighter tone to it as it follows Imperial Royal Guard member Makabe Seijurou’s exchange in Euro Front’s Dover base. Not much need to be said about either one, except that Alternative Projects have a separate patches for TDA01 and Adoration.

Various Rumbling Hearts short stories

Evan, one of the Alternative Project’s translators I mentioned above, has a site up called Kiminozo Life, which contains his unofficial translations for numerous Rumbling Hearts and Muv-Luv related side stories. These include, for example, Melvina Maniax’s Kimi ga Nozomu Muv-Luv, which sees the two main characters between the two stories switching places, and True Lies, one of the more comedy filled entries in the KGNE/ML metaverse. There are no patches, as the translations are done through subtitled videos. You can also bother him on Twitter about anything.

Japanese options, for fun and language training

This is not intended as a complete list of all âge/ixtl’s products that have relations to Muv-Luv, but here are some specific picks for those hungry for more and have the language skills demanded.

Before the Cherry Trees Blossom -Muv-Luv After Episode-

A story set after Sumika’s Extra route, starting in February 2002. While having some janky writing, it is nevertheless the first direct continuation of an Extra route, and it’s a must read for those who want to see more Sumika, and how the cast graduates. If you absolutely hate her guts, you might as well skip this. Otherwise, it’s extra for those who like Extra. It can be found in Muv-Luv Supplement, alongside with rectal destroying card game Muv-Luv Duelist and few other stories.

Muv-Luv ~Another Episode Collection~

Stuffed to Muv-Luv Supplement, Another Episode Collection also goes under the name of Heroine Short Story collection. These stories are set in before and during Extra from other character’s perspective. Also in Photon Flowers, so you can dust off that PS3 of yours, or sit tight and wait.

Kimi ga Ita Kisetsu

Kimi ga Ita Kisetsu is the whole shebang that started âge’s Kimi ga line of VNs, that lasted all two titles. Much like how Muv-Luv follows up on Rumbling Hearts, Rumbling Hearts follows on Kimi Ita. The title’s not anything special, if we’re honest, but does give an insight to certain characters that appear as their BETAverse counterparts in some Muv-Luv titles. There is also an updated version, if you find the late 1990’s style garish.

Chronicles 03 and 04

Chronicles 03 follows in the footsteps of Chronicles 02 and has two main titles: The Day After Episode 02 and MLA Chronicles Resurrection. Resurrection follows the exploits of one Silvio Orlandi. While the story opens up as a rather serious take on him praying in a church before he engages a mission, it quickly turns into a more light-hearted romp about him becoming a Six Million Dollar Man and is sent to infiltrate the Yokohama Base as a spy. It’s a rather lengthy story to boot, with multiple chapters and a change in visual style.

Chronicles 04 collects more stories than the two previous installments, with TDA 03 introducing a certain familiar face from the mainline trilogy. Let’s just say all those hours put into Valgern-On really paid off. Last Divers could be called a companion piece to Chicken Divers as the two share themes with each other, with the significant difference of Last Divers taking place in the Unlimited‘s TDA timeline. War Ensemble takes place in 1998, and unlike most other stories, it concentrates on the infantry. While we have TSF running around, the story’s main point is to show how inglorious it is to be a foot soldier, with few powered armours at your side, when a BETA assault lands on you.

And if you’re a fan of anthropomorphised BETA, Chronicles 04  has an episode of Haiburu.

Tactical Surface Figher in Action and other materials

Tactical Surface Fighter in Action, or TSFiA for short, is a series of short stories concentrating on the TSFs themselves and numerous events across Unlimited and Alternative timelines, crossing over with both Schwarzesmarken and Total Eclipse. These were essentially story advertisement for TSF toys and models, and dioramas were made using these. Some of them stories have been translated, but that was some years ago, with this being the latest version.

There are loads of books regarding Muv-Luv, from source books to comics. Some of the comics have been scanlated at least to some extent, and I’m sure you can locate some through use of a search engine. A special mention needs to be given to the Alternative comic, which has gotten a positive reception from those who have read it. Integral Works is also recommended, though its info is used in the upcoming Codex. TSF Cross Operation books are sort of expansions to Integral Works in that they contain expanded information and short stories, including numerous TSFiA ones.

Muv-Luv Alternative Faraway Dawn

Faraway Dawn are two sets of strategy games included with Altered Fable and Haruko Maniax. In essence, your job is to keep TSFs intact and their pilots alive through number of missions in rUGP powered STR. Expect high difficulty and lots of savescumming. The game plays on a field build on hexagons, and while all the menus are in Japanese, understanding them is a small matter of trial and error. It’s about as easy to get around them as it is with a standard Super Robot Wars, though there are more things to consider than in SRW titles.

Akane Maniax and AyuMayu Theatre

Akane Maniax is a name of a visual novel and a three-episode OVA. The OVA was meant to bridge Rumbling Hearts to Muv-Luv in animation form, but that came to naught. However, it is the first time we see Takeru & co. in animated form, and while it does lean on the comedy side of things, it’s a good fan service overall. You can pick the Japanese DVDs rather cheaply nowadays, or if you’ve got the dough, the BD set that comes with Rumbling Hearts, Akane Maniax and Next Season OVA with some other extras. You can freely apply fansubs to these versions, and there are specifically timed versions floating around the net. Next Season is effectively an optional end to the series, made to both advertise then-new Latest Edition of Kimi ga Nozomu Eien VN, and to appease raving Haruka fans.

AyuMayu Theatre, or AyuMayu Gekijouban if you’re so inclined, is an ONA based around making fun of both Rumbling Hearts and Muv-Luv, having cast from both series stepping and having comedy of their and the viewer’s expense. It’s really a recommended watch, and subtitles floating around can be put into good use as the DVD is dirt cheap nowadays. Seriously, it costs one yen if you know where to look and are willing to buy used. If you’ve grown fond of Ayu and Mayu, they got their own Alternative.

AyuMayu Alternative

The last entry on this short list is AyuMayu Alternative, a rather tongue-in-cheeck spin-off with more of the comedic characters from Rumbling Hearts and Akane Maniax getting a huge spotlight. It’s a fun read, especially if you’re a fan of old-school robot anime and Saint Seiya. However, if you’re in mood for something more serious, AyuMayu Alternative also hosts two Chronicles stories.

MLA Chronicles Atonement and Inheritance/Succession (it’s got two competing choices for a translation) follow a select two characters. In Atonement, we see Jinguuji Marimo‘s past when she was a cadet, at her Comprehensive Combat Eval. and her first sortie against the BETA. These expand on the character, and while I’ve seen some argue that it cheapens the character, others have countered that it expands and gives another meaning to the 7th chapter Muv-Luv Alternative; The Unforgiven. Inheritance concentrates on the immediate family of Captain herself, Isumi Michiru, specifically her little sister Akira. Set soon after the events on Sado Island, Akira meets with her sisters after a victory celebration, only to pass out due to PTSD flashbacks. Later, they learn about Captain’s faith. Towards the end, we see Akira taking part in Operation Sledgehammer in 2003, the third known successful Hive infiltration, and the first successful Hive capture for humanity without a need for weapons like G-Bombs.

There is lot more to Muv-Luv as a franchise than what’s on this list, especially if we take into account the rest of the expanded metaverse, but for now these should offer some ideas what to check out next. There is a lot more to come in the future.

Music of the Month; Airport

What, did you expect something Christmas themed this year? I’ve been on a Gundam W mood lately, been popping this in from time to time

So, what should I discuss this time? Things haven’t changed since last Music of the Month, so there’s that. Busy, tightly scheduled and all that. On top of all that, my apartment saw a water damage from one of the new pipes they installed, meaning I had to move to a new place for the time being, thou luckily I didn’t have to move all of my stuff. Then again, all my books, materials and whatnot are now in the apartment in the middle of being fixed, meaning I don’t have access to planned things and so on. Sucks to be me, I know.

On the flip side, the Director’s Cut patch for Muv-Luv on Steam got released, and you non-backers can pick it up from Denpasoft, if you’re a dirty old pervert like me. Feels like I’ve been talking less and less about Muv-Luv in general, but not by choice, not completely. I would like to write more about the franchise, but I always want to use time to form up something worthwhile. However, time’s a luxury now. The same could be said of my certain mental facilities, but that’s a story for another time.

Anyway, because I can’t read Schwarzesmarken as I am now, the TV-show’s review has been delayed. Because it took me a year to roll out a review of sorts for Total Eclipse‘s TV version, I’ll aim to rewatch Schwarzesmarken during Christmas and new Year’s holidays and roll a similar entry out around January. Much like with Total Eclipse, it will be taken as-is as a separate entity without ties to the source light novels or the VN. We’ll see if I do anything about the VN yet, which is probable to some extent.

In terms of video games for the year, I’ve already compiled a list of preliminary Top 5 of 2016, like usual, but now that I’ve looked back, there’s a not a whole lot I could do a mini-review out of. However, there should be at least two surprising entries on the list.

Speaking of lists, I waged through The Game Awards and it was terrible. The show was terrible to begin with. They had dedicated more time towards ads and skits instead of talking about games themselves, the choices of award winners and categories were questionable at best, not to mention when people on the stage also had their hands in selection and creation of games, mobile and handheld games lumped in the same category and again all Japan-only games were ignored. The show has become terribly irrelevant to the consumers and is nothing less than industry wanking itself off.

There are no plans for this month, I’m afraid. That means pretty much all posts that you’ll get for the time being will be rather ex tempore, which might affect their coherence, I’m afraid. I do have few idea nuggets polishing in the back of my head, but nothing that could kick off a Monthly Three. Unless you want me to talk about welding. Perhaps for 2017 I’ll plan each month’s themed entries out beforehand and start working on them as soon as possible. Whether or not that would be preferable is something only the readers can answer. Then again, if I write around eight entries in a month, six of them would be themed; Monthly Music, three Monthly Threes, a review and a mecha design post. That’s not a lot of room for other stuff if I want to keep this two posts per week rhythm. A second pair of hands would probably do this blog some good.

This month’s proper review will probably the Dual Shock 4 controller, because I caved in a picked myself a PS4 for some of the upcoming games, including Super Robot Wars V. That reminds me that at least one subject reserved for this month is BanCo’s Asian English translations based on Super Robot Wars OG Moon Dwellers and SD Gundam G Generation Genesis.

And oh, Drill Juice is doing Getter Robo Pai, a mahjong themed Getter Robo comic. Being a fan of all three, I expect it to be titillatingly bombastic. Here’s hoping they will make a proper mahjong tile set based on the comic, I could use a new set.

Music of the month; Lilia ~Winter Version~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monthly Music: Giant mutated creature version

After you’ve lived more of less four months and then some in the midst of uncertainty, constant renovation buzz and the skull shattering clatter it produces on top of other things, you tend to get tired. Really, really tired. This has affected the quality and quantity of this blog rather visibly. But, I aim to persist. In the end, as long as I manage to produce something, even if it is sub-par, I can always aim for higher goals in the future. While I had high hopes for myself and for last month’s Three, I feel that it lacked certain something. Sure, I had planned the DVD-BD comparison to be nothing more than a bunch of pictures, but exhaustion is a bitch. I admit, my research and arguments have been lacking, the spirit has not been there and the heart has barely beaten. My drive is somewhat lacking.

That is the very reason why this month lacked two planned things; a new ARG podcast and that planned “pilot” of sorts for voiced blogging. Hell, I was intending to do one for this, but then I realised it’s worth jack shit if my throat is coarse and I can’t get a proper sound out of me. Thank you colder nights and no heating. But, at least I managed to throw out a TSF comparison entry, and the next one of the list would be one of the three; F-18, MiG-29 or F-5 Freedom Fighter. Then we’d be finished with the derivatives from image boards.

I counted the TSF entry as mecha design. While there are numerous matters I could touch upon, the basics are essentially out there. Now would be the time I start to go into more in-depth matters, like transforming mechas. However, that is a large topic with few entry points and should be a multi-part entry. For example, Super Sentai has its own approach to transformations and combinations, different from Transfromers and Brave series. Macross has its own, as does numerous other shows. Some just make it work, some want it to be show accurate and some just have them for the sake of being cool. I may end up purchasing few books before moving onwards these entries, because in-depth is in-depth. Most of those who have read those entries most likely already have noticed that they are not intended as guides how to design with a pen, but rather to work with the ideas and groundwork designs. That of course requires reading outside the robotics field and into industrial design as a whole.

The chosen music for the month has its relevancy. Going back to the roots and creating new from the base concepts. I’ve talked this before, and I’m pretty certain all I need to do is go back on writing about video game design. This may become rather forced thing to some extent, but there are loads of games to choose from when it comes to design, whatever design element we want to talk about. I do have a discussion surrounding the revamped Pokémon designs for the upcoming Sun and Moon, using Rattata as a case study. From there I guess games are the limit, and depending how my plans go, I may end up doing a review on something PS4 related this month.

I may drop Monthly Threes for the upcoming month, unless somebody has an idea for a theme or I come up with something worthwhile. Hell, maybe the whole mecha design thing could be one, comparing three iterations of some long running franchise like Gundam and discuss the main design elements that simply will not vanish. Call it a Gundam stereotype, if you will. Another would be to cover an obscure comic creator, Ken Kawasaki, but the information I have on him is… well, all I know is that he died in a motorcycle crash at a young age in the early 1990’s, with only two books collecting his works. Information is hard to come by, even in Japanese. Then again, perhaps it would be best to stray from these obscure, somewhat hardcore products of the orient for the time being altogether  and just concentrate on things that are on the surface and still relevant. Thou I still argue that even the obscure needs to be appreciated, at least by just one other person.

Then again, I have also planned to piss off people and discuss why games are or are not art, but from the arts’ perspective, not games’ as it usually is. This may seem a bit weird, as one could assume the two are largely exchangeable, and to some extent they are. The important difference between those two is that one observes whether or not games are art from the viewpoint of outside the game industry, while the other takes the viewpoint inside the industry. Without a doubt, the one that stands outside the industry is largely the majority, as that tends to include the common consumer who may just play the occasional slots. One of the points in art is that when it’s distilled to its very core aspect, it will always end up being more than what a game would be. We’ll discuss this more down the line, perhaps this would be great as the first voiceblog entry, with sources and such cited in-text.

The main reason why such discussion still needs to be had is because electronic games culture didn’t just pop into existence when you were a child. As I went through few months back with the penny arcades entries, the prototypical era for our current game culture is well over hundred years old or more.  While literature and music are largely clearly cut forms of media, movies have had about a hundred years to mature and gain what they are, though it could be argued that its roots in theatrical arts has given it its appreciation. The same should be applied to video games, and to understand what your PlayStation, Xbox or Nintendos are all about, we need to appreciate the history they stem from. I’m sure I will echo these in the future, it just may take some time.

As for now, go listen more of Shin Godzilla‘s soundtrack. I ended up picking it up myself, even when it has something like seven different variations of Neon Genesis Evangelion‘s Decisive Battle’s drum beat.

Plane elements in Tactical Surface Fighters; F-16 Fighting Falcon

The F-16 Fighting Falcon has proven itself to be highly manoeuvrable air-to-air and air-to-surface fighter that during its reveal was nothing less than a quantum leap in fighter design. After all, it was the first fly-by-wire electric combat aircraft. F-16 is a low-cost and high-performance machine that for a reason became a classic on its own rights and was imported to numerous other nations like Belgium.

F-16A saw its first flight in late 1976, and stepped into United States Air Force’s service in 1979. F-16B was a two-seat variant of the machine and engineered the path for F-16s to have built-in structural and wiring provisions and systems architecture that would allow expansions in multiple roles since 1981. These expansions vary from precision strike ability to night attacks and beyond-visual-range interception missions. This lead into F-16C and D variants that are single- and two-seat variants of the aforementioned while incorporating new technology. All current USAF units are converted to these models, while Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve still holds some A and B variants.

In comparison to its contemporary fighter aircrafts, the F-16 is a serious threat to the point F-35 losing to it in a direct dog fight. The comparison between the two is not as apt as it would seem. F-35 is mainly a stealth fighter meant to destroy the enemy before it is even spotted. Discussion whether or not manned fighters are the future with the advent of cutting edge drone technology is another discussion that we should have one of these days. Nevertheless, the F-16 is a beast that with an operation radius that exceeds many other fighters and is an all-weather fighter. In an air-to-ground missions the F-16 can fly more than 860km, deliver a pin-point strike to the object and return to base, visual or not. It’s weight, small size and well designed fuselage allows it to fly 2 125km/h with its afterburning F100-PW-100 turbofan engine and can take up 9Gs, which is helluva lot of thrust. It’s dryweight is 6 607kg, and maximum take-off peaks around 14 968kg, allowing it to carry numerous weapons with its nine hard points.  Internally, the F-16 has a M61 A1 20mm gatling gun system, which had some installation difficulties at first.

Rather than going on about the F-16, I recommend checking the F-16.net for a full coverage on the fighter, including full listing of its armaments, variants and its operational history in the Persian Gulf War and in Operation Desert Storm.

In Muv-Luv‘s BETAverse, the F-16 mirrors the real world fighter in that it’s a lightweight Tactical Surface Fighter with superior mobility and range, operating in junction to its weightier siblings F-14 and F-15. Similarly how the fighter has a long-range of operation in multitude of roles, the TSF has a long operation time on the field, derived from the Lightweight Tactical Surface Fighter competition, which aimed to create highly manoeuvrable and cost-effective unit to change tactics against the BETA. This cost effectiveness allowed the US to produce more units, as they could not completely replace their ageing first generation TSFs with the two aforementioned heavier models.

Just like in real world, the F-16 TSF was imported to numerous other countries, replacing their F-4Es and F-5s. The Benelux union has its own variant as a result of import, the F-16AM, which more or less has the usual mid-life upgrade with overall technological improvements. The same applies to F-16C, mostly used by the US and UN, with improvement Jump Units.

Due to F-16s being everywhere, they were seen in action in numerous places like Yukon base, Battle of Rhodes and during Operation Cherry Blossom in Muv-Luv Alternative. TSFs don’t tend to vary in armament a whole lot, and F-16 is not really an exception. WS-16 Assault Cannon has been TSF bread and butter since F-4 Phantom, thou later F-16 were updated to handle the AMWS-21. CIWS-1 Close Combat Knife is the choice F-14’s for combat, a good choice for a TSF that should excel in close combat. F-14 is also capable carrying MGM-140 ATACMS missile containers, which reflects the real world fighter’s multirole function.

Historically and in idea, the TSF hits close to the fighter, but the design is more derived from the in-universe sources. This is best seen in the idea that most of the TSF’s design is that of angles rather than smooth curves like with the fighter. This is because almost none of the TSFs have what could be called smooth lines. That in mind, common points between the TSF and the fighter can be made, e.g. the intake in the TSFs abdomen is the same as the fighter’s, just more angular.

As usual, here's the original imageboard version
As usual, here’s the original imageboard version

After you get use to the idea of looking at certain aspects in the F-16 TSF, you end up noticing common points. It seems like the gatling gun and loads of sections on the fuselage’s back made some of the TSF’s detailing. It’s interesting to note that the thighs didn’t see any additional details, while otherwise you see a lot of red dots downwards. Shoulders are interesting, to say the least, as they incorporate F-16 rising parabola silhouette, just with wings cut off. The arms follow this idea to some extent, but are surprisingly clean of any needles detail

The groin guard on the other hand is a flip of the coin; either it is inspired by that parabola silhouette, or was thrown in there just because. While I’m not a fan of the knees American TSFs have, they have their function in housing the CIWS-1.

Happy to see they're free of this switch blade bullshit
Happy to see they’re free of this switch blade bullshit

The knees however do make the TSF look a bit cumbersome. Despite the F-16 being the lightweight unit, it doesn’t really look like it. The shoulders look far too ornate for that, and shaving down the skirt’s and kneeguard’s sizes would’ve done good. Maybe even take elements of the shoes too. It does resemble the fighter while not really pushing those elements forwards enough. A slimmer version of the this design would’ve probably been the best middle-ground in tying it down to the TSF tech tree while pushing the idea of these being in-universe versions of the fighters.

And on top of all that, it has a face on back of its head.

face
I WILL DEVOUR YOUR SOUL

And while we’re discussing things from âge, today’s the 27th of August. Happy birthday, Hayase Mitsuki.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muv-Luv is out on Steam

I feel like pointing this out, even thou most of my readers already are reading it. Muv-Luv’s out.

The question now is; will I be replacing my old screenshots in the previous posts? The answer is… maybe. Most likely a no, because of archival purposes.

If you’re interested to see what’s new and how it looks, I recommend checking the stream I did with Alternative Projects people under ARG podacst banner with some guests.

It’s a been journey. Now just to sit tight and wait for the physicals and Alternative.

Harder they are, the better they shatter

Dick jokes aside, popular culture loves things being hard. This is the hardest sword around, this shield is so hard that it can stand any damage and so on. This is largely bullshit, to be honest. Popular culture just has the habit of buying the idea of diamonds being the hardest generally known substance to man and going with it, because it seems it is too hard to teach that hardness alone doesn’t add to anything worthwhile. You need toughness to go along.

Hardness in Mohs is how well a material can resist penetration of other material, i.e. scratched. In all fairness, this is rather weak scale and is mostly useful with minerals Mohs scale is intended for. For geologists and craftsmen, the Mohs scale is still relevant. The higher the item is on Mohs scale, the better polish it can attain, with some exceptions.

The hardest naturally occurring material known to man is lonsdaleite, or hexagonal diamond. It was first identified in the late 1960’s from a Canyon Diablo meteorite, where specimens were found in microscopic size. If you checked the provided link there, you may notice that when actual stuff is talked, the Mohs scale was kicked to the curb. Mohs scale is essentially useless for industrial use.

In a more industrial meaning, hardness relates how much material resits compression and changing its shape. When we go up to superhard materials like diamond, their modulus of rigidity are very high as is their bulk modulus, the resistance to uniform compression. They do not deform plastically either.

Think it like this; when you strike wood with a hammer, it just dents. It deforms to form a spot where hammer was struck while leaving the rest of the wood intact. Strike glass and it’ll shatter without deformation,  sending shards flying about.

There are numerous tests in which material hardness is tested with. Vickers, Rockwell and Brinell hardness tests are the most often used, followed by Mohs. Oustide the Mohs one, all the aforementioned use different methods to attain the scale of hardness and the results can be converted between each other. If you’re interested in reading further into this topic, I recommend giving this site a go.

But as said, hardness alone is of no real use when it comes to how popular culture wants to showcase it. Toughness is needed. As a general rule of thumb; The harder something is, the more fragile it is. For example,. despite diamonds being the hardest general substance, you can pick up your hammer and smash them to bits. They’re also common as hell, and nobody should be willing to pay the insane prices jewellery shops are selling them. You can put that on DeBeers.

Toughness is the ability of any said material to absorb energy and plastically deform without fracturing. This is the opposite of hard materials that have low toughness, as they do not absorb energy or deform. They fracture, sometimes in an explosive ways. Toughness is after all a combination of both material strength and ductility.

Just like how hardness has its tests, the Charpy V-notch test and Izod impact strength tests are the most commonly used measured. While Charpy  is more about the fracturing the tested material, Izod tests impact power.

Ultimate tensile strength needs to be mentioned in this context, as it is effectively how much a material or structure can withstand elongation as opposed of compressive strength. Materials like diamond would have a very sharp breakage, called brittle failure. Other that are more ductile in nature would malform in plastic deformation before point of fracture. Something like glass has Mega Pascal of 33, depending on the glass variety and so on, while something like diamond having 2800 MPa, which still loses to multiple other materials, like graphene at 130 000 MPa.

How does all this come together with our topic? Let’s take the Destroyer-Class BETA as an example. It has a shield on top of it that is said to be Mohs 15 in hardness. That is to say, it is harder than diamond.  To follow the rule of thumb, this material then should be relatively easy to shatter, especially with the large surface area it has. However, as the BETA are biological mining machines, and the fact that their shield’s can withstand considerable stress before penetration, saying that it is Mohs 15 does not actually mean anything. It’s the same with any other fantasy sword or the like that gets called harder than anything else. It it to give an idea of a tough, unbreakable object, which is rather far from reality, all things considered. But Mohs scale is simple and easy and doesn’t require studying. Saying that something is harder than diamond is enough to give a certain mental image.

What the Destroyer-Class BETA has, and all those other fantasy things, is high toughness and resilience to deformation. A sword good sword should be able to bend itself and conform to stress without breaking, something that Japanese sword don’t actually do that well because they were made hard. They were probably the hardest sword made, and thus far more brittle than swords that conformed and bent. The hardness contributes to the sharpness without a doubt, but sharpness alone can’t win a fight. Skill aside, sword’s shape, material, balance and toughness are all factors. Katana being so hard, materials like bone could dull them fast. The idea of a sword being samurai’s soul is gross exaggeration, as the katana was the least used weapon during wars over spears and bows, and were discarded if a better sword was in vicinity. Later on you got guns that made close combat weapons largely obsolete. Japanese swords are most likely the most romanticized swords  there are, mostly thanks to movies and comics, but there are sources that put things right.

With shields or general tools, you do not want it to be hardest. You do not want a hammer shattering into your eyes or shield breaking down when an enemy hits it. With shields, you want it to malform and take the impact’s force instead of breaking it and allowing the opponent to advance. The worst idea you can have is shattering armouring or shield.

In giant robot series, it’s not uncommon to see armouring shattering like it was made of bricks or glass. It’s much easier to understand and is more dramatic, but a good armour doesn’t shatter. At best, it’s ripped apart into shreds under massive power. After all, most metals can be chipped like wood with proper tools, unlike something like diamond.

All in all, this was a very long and convoluted way to that hardness is almost a fetish in popular culture and is far too often depicted in a very uneducated manner, especially when Mohs scale is mentioned. But hey, all of that is fiction. Let’s just say this sword is Mohs 25 and has intrinsic tensile strength 500 Giga Pascals and tell it’s made of bullshittium and all would be well.

The thing is, in the end, that you can’t have a material that’s soft and hard at the same time, in general sense. A diamond like material can’t elongate itself and will experience fracturing instead. As such, in a case of Destroyer-Class BETA example, without any further information we can assume that the Mohs 15 hardness of indicative of other material strengths, making its shield very brittle. You don’t want your shuffle to be shatter the first time you hit a stone, you want it to be able to take the force from the impact. Of course, in-fiction it’s hard to penetrate with any weapon, where the whole deal with bullshittium steps in again.

Hard fiction often tends to step around these issues most of the time, as there are things like flexural strength and multiple others when it comes to material sciences, and simply relies on general terms and points of comparisons. General fiction on the other hand will simply play it safe and pull a diamond from its pocket and tell that this shit is hard, and that’s all you need to know.

Now let’s end this post with some great machining in slow motions.


“Almost sexual, isn’t it Smithers?”

Music of the Month; Emergency Order

Originally I was supposed to have Kohmi Hirose’s Mou Icho Mou Ichido here, but then thing went to shit with basically everything, so after spending another unhealthy time with Dariusburst CS, decided to throw this up instead.

Anyway, that time of the month, incoherent rambling and empty planning ahead.

With E3 coming up, I’ll try to return to form and comment more on events in video game industry as I used to. I lowered the amount of comment on news and such because they began to become pretty damn repetitive, but seeing that was the initial foray to stuff, I think I must do at least an effort to add something different to the whole deal.

The monthly trinity is still undecided, but I’ll most likely start one next week. They’ve become increasingly difficult in this very, very short time I’ve been doing them. The Breakout one is still the best out of them. I also need to think a name for this series, something about Theme three or the like. I just may be that lazy and use that, and edit that in for easier access via Tags.

Now that I think of it, I may have a good idea for a topic; Mega Man, Mega Man Legends and Mega Man Battle Network. These three depict the three different major gameplay styles that the franchise has seen, and perhaps taking a step back and looking at them in the context of their era might be a good one. Maybe I should do further Mega Man posts in the wake of the upcoming cartoon, of which I’ve discussed whenever something new has popped up.

You’ve may also noticed that I’ve started to put titles in italics. I’m not sure why I’m doing so, but I’m telling myself it helps to differentiate when I’m talking about a franchise, series or just characters. For example, when talking about the Deadpool movie, it’s in italics. When I’m talking about Deadpool the character, I’m leaving it as is. If that bothers you, tough luck.

This month’s review is still open, but seeing my camera died just before I had a photographer’s gig, I had to get the one that fit my then-current budget. You’ll most likely see a review for a Nikon D3300 by the end of the month, unless I decide to do the easy way and review a video game. Haven’t done that in a while.

Speaking of reviews, I am incredibly uncertain how the previous two came together. I am not pleased in them at all, especially not at the keyboard one. They feel empty and a lot of hot air, not brining anything to the table, and worst of all, being more or less subjective from the get go. I may have a need to review something that’s more in my field, like a whetstone, a set of markers or the like. Maybe I’ll finally tackle video game console design reviews, because those are generally speaking rare. You have descriptions yes, but nobody really wants to talk if a console has an eye pleasing design, unless it’s something that stands out. Like the US Super Nintendo that looks like a rat’s ass when compared to the candy bright JPN and PAL region design.

I’m also seriously considering doing a lengthy post about Tom Rothman and the massive amounts of franchise crippling decisions he did with FOX until he was moved to SONY… where he first slashed the budget of the reboot Ghostbusters, effectively screwing its visuals to hell. Just as some small tidbits I recall from the top of my head, he was against both Titanic and Avatar, said not to Alien 5 because of Aliens vs Predator movies, has slashed budget of numerous genre movies, opposed Deadpool as long as he could and said no to Independence Day sequel despite it making shittons of money. He also greenlit the 2015 Fantastic Four. Rothman’s reign at FOX was a very tight one, and FOX didn’t really see any losses because they didn’t really spend any money either. Midnight’s Edge has a lot of videos about behind the scenes events concerning Rothman, and these bits are worth your time, if you want to know more than you’re intended to. I recommend checking their Trankgate series first and foremost.

From the Muv-Luv front, there’s nothing much to say. We had another podcast episode with Alternative Projects staff, this time live on Youtube. It’s uh… what it is. Seems like people preferred this live format, and if you’ve interested in them, we’ll most likely use this as the standard from now on, whenever we get to it. I need to figure out how to use the whole Google Hangout better and start to announce times for th podcast earlier, but that’s neither here or there now. You’ll find me rambling on things more often on Twitter, to which I’ll most likely drop the announcements. Or via AltPro, I’m not sure. Things are still completely open. Things are going well enough with the whole translation project from what I’ve seen, but I’m more comfortable talking about that on the podcast, because there I can speak more freely in comparison and not feel like I’m leaking info out. Not that Degica or âge/ixtl have me in their pocket, I’m free to do whatever the hell I please, but I’m not one for burning bridges with friends.

I’ve got no idea if I will do a TSF comparison this month, neither do I know what the Mecha design post will be about. Most likely panel lines and why they exist in probably in-universe production.