Monthly Archives: October 2011

When you wake up in the middle of the night, it’s possible to feel really groggy, just as if you were waking up in the morning.  The difference is that you’re not pressed for time; there’s no class to run to, no time pressure egging you on, and no damn bright sun screaming in your face…so it’s really okay to feel groggy for a bit, and slowly come to your senses.

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Yes, yes, I know I always talk about it and you’ll have to forgive me for bringing it up again, but it is extremely scary to think deeply about social networks, and I don’t necessarily mean solely online sense either.  We all willingly subject ourselves to a shouting bout where we scream for attention, yet no one else is listening because they’re busy shouting too.

You have to realize, that when you shout something to the abyss, we’ve already accepted the fact that very well nothing will come back…and perhaps that makes it alright, but…perhaps not.  Because it’s actually quite scary.  It’s like you’re on the telephone with someone, and then you realize that you’ve been talking to absolutely no one for the past 2 minutes because your call dropped and you didn’t realize it.  Do you know what that feels like?  It feels embarrassing, like a slap in the face.  And why?  No one’s making fun of you, and the person on the other end isn’t going to know that you tried to talk to them at all.  But it still feel bad, to spend effort saying something and have nothing come back and nothing be listened to–not even with a remote possibility.

Perhaps little by little, I can make my corner of the world a better place, by being the voice that reaches over the abyss.

…or, perhaps–as I fear sometimes, in a deep, dark corner in my mind–none of you need helping at all; you’re all happy in a better place, together with each other, and I’m really just the only person hovering over this abyss of mine.  An equally–no, perhaps an even more frightening prospect.  Yet, one that is not too far fetched either.  My stubbornness tends to get me into this kind of trouble, after all.

Either way, it’s scary.  Really, really scary.

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It’s really amazing in how many ways people’s personalities exhibit themselves for you to see.  When I watch people dancing, I can tell what kinds of people they are, instinctively.  Yes, I’m missing a lot of the finer details, but it’s just too easy.  And when I visit someone’s FB profile, there are all of these signs and things that clue me in to who you are.  When you look at my FB page, my website, and even my own room, you can tell so much about me even if you disregard the actual content of any of them.  You can instantly tell that I am part of the 1%.

OHC157

http://compo.thasauce.net/rounds/view/OHC157

Tonights theme is “Beyond the ordinary.”

My entry: http://compo.thasauce.net/files/DDRKirby_ISQ__-_funktatious_junk(OHC157).mp3

RL was kind of kicking my ass at the time, and I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to make OHC, so instead I did a pre-compo composition.  I had been thinking about trying to make something that sounds like it could have been made by sci, since he has a pretty distinct style that I like, so that’s what I did this time.  I didn’t hit the mark exactly, but I did come close–close enough that people in listening party definitely noticed and enjoyed it.  Pretty much everything is sci-style here…the chippy instruments, the chord structure, the lack of reverb, crunchy drums, even the song length, lol.

I’d definitely consider it to be a success.

Connection

When you have a very strong connection with the person you are dancing with and are familiar with them, you can sometimes enter a sort of predictive zen state that I can only describe as being similar to something I experience in SSBM sometimes.  It’s like the art of mindreading and mindgames, except in SSBM you are predicting your opponent in order to overcome them, whereas in dance you are trying to help them achieve a better dance together.

I think this sort of state can happen regardless of whether you’re a lead or follow, and it works both ways–for leads, you basically know exactly what to lead and how to do it, and it all works, even without thinking about it.  For follows, you know exactly what is being led–sometimes even before it’s led.

Tonight, though, I experienced this kind of exquisite in-tune-ness to the extent of prediction, with my fellow dancers who do both lead and follow in the same dance.  There are only a few people whom I know who can really keep up with me when I play around with both lead/follow, give and take when I’m dancing, and so my opportunities for experiencing this kind of thing aren’t quite so abundant.  But it is really, =really= something unique to experience.  Because you =know= what the other person is going to do to you next, you start to backlead yourself into their moves, and then after that, lead (or backlead) the next move in a chain.  It’s a totally different sort of dance when both people are simultaneously leading each other and helping each other like this.  There is no longer a sense of impulse, response, impulse, response…instead it is a fluid stream of motion where anything is possible.  It’s like comparing a call-and-response melody to a melody played at the same time as a counter-melody, or harmonized chords.  And of course, there is nothing quite like a follow who not only executes the move you’re thinking of even without having to be led at all, but then tacks on something more to it at the end, that you would have thought of anyways.

It’s really quite amazing.

If I recall correctly, Richard Powers has sometimes compared dancing to talking–debating, even.  The lead will strike up a point, and the follow will respond in turn with their interpretation or argument or rebuttal or whatever.  But…in this analogy, the lead is still the one striking up all the points.  When we do leadfollow together, both people are striking up points all the time, and when we do leadfollow with a strong connection…well, it is like you don’t even have to strike up the points; it’s telepathically understood.

Pushback Pressure

I actually hadn’t consciously thought about it before Gerentt pointed it out today, that I don’t give much pushback pressure in waltz.  Well, of course I do for free spins and such, but in the basic frame, apparently I actually have “noodle arms”, as Richard Powers would call it.  Meaning my left hand isn’t doing anything at all except just holding yours; it’s my right arm that’s doing all the leading (until I start doing something else).

And I kind of smile at that, because I know that’s one of the things that defines my dancing.  That lack of firmness there is one of the things that makes everything soft…and that’s why, as Caitlin put it, dancing with me is sometimes like “dancing with air”.  (ironically this even ties into the fact that I do pure visual leads sometimes, in which case I’m not even touching you…though the reason for that is mostly just for kicks rather than it being an extension of my “softness”)

Da Capo

[Probably SPOILERS]

I finished watching the D.C. Da Capo anime (first season) and I was unexpectedly impressed.  This was both your typical eroge-turned-harem-anime, yet also not.  And it was worth the watch, all the way until the end, despite the fact that there were certainly some strong putoffs…for example a fanservice shot in the first 15 seconds of the opening (ugh…..), and the side story episodes, which weren’t terrible but weren’t really that great either.

As with a bunch of these kinds of anime, one of the weaknesses is that we jump around between heroine to heroine way too quickly, so that episode x is about Kotori and then x+1 is about Mako, etc etc.  Which I guess is sort of necessary, kind of, but it’s much more preferable to do what Kanon/Clannad did instead.  And while I was intrigued by how everyone was affected by the withering of the sakura trees, I didn’t quite like the way it was executed.  I didn’t like how all of the stories were just “well, this person has to deal with hardship now too.  okay we’re done, moving on…”.  I didn’t think it was that enjoyable to have to see Yoriko disappear and Miharu break down…I think those should have had more of a negative impact on things, as in wow, the world is really changing for the worse now.  And I feel like Kotori’s resolution of her losing her power should have been a little harder and taken a little more time.

The main story, centering around Junichi (have to stop myself from calling him Yuuichi), Sakura, and Nemu, was actually…pretty good.  This really isn’t your typical storyline where you have the tsundere female lead and stupid male lead who constantly fight each other but in the end fall in love…instead we have a love triangle that actually gets pretty interesting, because Sakura and Nemu are both greatly jealous of each other, yet both care for each other as well.  So it’s a pretty interesting dynamic.

And I really applauded the fact that it wasn’t just one heroine we were dealing with.  You kept on guessing, wait, is it going to be Sakura?  Or Nemu?  And all the while you’re cursing Junichi’s dumb ass because you know by playing ignorant he’s setting things up to become much, much worse.  And I think both of them were likable, though more at some points than others.

Anyways, I just appreciated that.

Got a lot to blog about, so expect a smattering of posts.

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Tonight was the first “crisis” moment I had this school year, and that was the first time I lamented being in a graduate dorm–I no longer had the luxury of the multiple kind souls living near me that I could reach out to in order to help save me, as I did last year.  I actually went to Kimball in a somewhat desperate attempt to find someone who might be able to help me, but that failed.

I was actually pretty afraid of going to FNW tonight.  I feared that my being down would cause me to spiral downwards and not really put anything into my dancing, or not even really put effort into really participating.  Fortunately that wasn’t the case, and I have some very awesome people to thank for that.

To one of you who I know is probably reading this, I’m sorry.  I’m sorry if I seemed down, I’m sorry for being upset; I really didn’t want to be and it’s silly…I’d rather not tell you why I was upset either; I don’t want to admit it and there isn’t anything to be done about it–nothing -should- be done about it.  It is just silly negative feelings that I regretfully have.  But on the plus side I’m much better now, and perhaps you’ll even be proud of me that I was able to get better without your help.

It is sort of…well, I don’t quite know what the right adjective is.  But it’s sadly ironic that the thing I value most about myself–my softness, and ability to keep quiet–is also the thing that leads me into trouble most of the time.  But that’s my choice to make, and my choice to be proud of…and my rule to make exceptions to, because there must be exceptions, there should be exceptions, and there have been exceptions for very good reason.  I cannot always be an angel…and even my fellow angel agrees with that.

I’m learning, slowly…

The Stanley Parable

http://www.moddb.com/mods/the-stanley-parable

First off.  The Stanley Parable is a short (even with a lot of replay value, you can go through it in one sitting) interactive fiction game that I’d highly recommend to any of you gamers out there.  I hesitate to recommend it to non-gamers, because I don’t know what sort of impact it would have on them and whether they’d be able to appreciate it fully…might be interesting to think about.

It’s not the first game of its kind probably, and it isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I found it to be very enjoyable (your mileage may vary).  Also, I didn’t actually have to wait for the SDK to download before playing, so that was nice.  The only parts of it that I didn’t enjoy, in fact, were:

1) For some reason, the Half-Life engine has always been notorious for consistently giving me headaches.  I’m just now googling this and it turns out HL2 (and I’m guessing probably HL1 too, which was also notorious for causing me headaches) has a default field-of-vision different from other FPS games, so I’m guessing this is probably why.  Wonder if it’s true for Portal and Portal 2 as well…anyways, remind me next time I try any sort of half-life engine game to try raising FOV to 90.  If that’s not it then…it’s some other weird thing common to half-life and some other random FPSes (and heck, even third-person shooters and such) that I’ve played in the past.

2) I could have saved myself a handful of time if I had saved often during my first playthrough, but I didn’t.

The rest of this post will probably be chock-full of spoilers, and this is definitely a game that’s best enjoyed completely spoiler-free, so if you plan to play this game, go do so now and come back later.  Really.

 

 

 

No really, go for it =)

 

 

 

Okay, starting SPOILERS!

 

Well, a lot of people have probably said a lot of different things about this game.  There’s 6 different “official” endings that I know of, though there’s some other ways to “end” the game as well, including:

-closing the door on yourself at the very start…which traps you forever.  Narrator doesn’t even say anything, haha.
-in the “go towards the light”/off edge of map ending, one guy said he just stayed there forever because he didn’t realize there was an exit.
-you can push the elevator button, then run out the elevator before the doors close, trapping you forever.  I like this one because it actually triumphs over the narrator–he doesn’t say anything and you really, totally smash the fourth wall down with this one because it comes totally apparent how the scripting is–well, just scripted events, and now you’ve ACTUALLY gone off the (multiple) paths.
-in the generator room, if you take enough fall damage, you can actually die.  I tried this but wasn’t sucessful (didn’t jump from high enough, etc), but I’ve seen it on youtube.

Of course we can also count “not playing” or “quitting the game” as ways to end the game, but let’s skip that for now ;)

 

One of the big things I want to talk about with this game is something that’s come up when I play other art games, like the two I linked to in this past post, and that’s the nature of choice in video games–particularly in games are (or at least, appear to be) letting you choose your own path, or influencing your outcome in some way (getting different dialogue, etc).  This comes up literally EVERYWHERE in gaming.  Of course, games are really all about choice anyhow–that’s what makes them interactive–but most of the choices we make in games usually is either rather inconsequential in the grander scheme of things, or is too complex to really pin down.  But when we come to binary (or trinary, etc.) choices that are presented to us, it becomes very, very poignant.  This happens in The Stanley Parable with…well, a lot of things.  This happens in Bioshock with the little sisters, this happens in every choose-your-own-adventure EVER, this happens in “Value”, and the list goes on.

The thing is that, there is this huge, huge, -huge- disjunct between how we experience these kinds of choices in games and how we experience them in real life.  In real life, there are many complex variables often at play, but arguably decisions are actually simpler (or maybe not simple, but more “straightforward”) to make, simply by virtue of there being less goals.  Namely, we make the choices that are “good” (for some nebulous meaning of the word “good”).

But in games, we’re faced with much different factors to weigh in.  We have to think about which choice is good for the character we may (or may not!) be role-playing as, but we also have to think about which choice might be good for us as a player (trying to “win” the game, perhaps).  Or maybe we should think about which choice would be more “in character”?  And then we have to think, well, what are the implications of this choice?

Some choices in games are very meaningless.  Their impact is limited to the next line of dialogue, and that’s it.  Sometimes not even that changes (though those kinds of choices still serve a purpose, in that they are challenging the player to make a decision, even if it does not affect anything).  But when we think or know that the choice has a significant impact on the rest of the game (as in The Stanley Parable), a whole slew of other things come into play.

A lot of us take on the role of completionist when we play these sorts of games; especially if they’re short.  So in our heads, we’re already thinking–well, I want to see what happens when I do X, AND I also want to see what happens when I do Y.  So which should I do first?

So already the decision-making process is quite different, because in our minds we already believe we’re going to make that other choice eventually.

And that’s why I chose to play out the “follow the narrator always” ending first.  Because I wanted to ground myself in the “status quo” before embarking on other things.  I wanted to do what was “standard” first, such that I would have something to compare the nonstandard to.

But still…every time I’m faced with this sort of binary decision point in a game–especially an art game that I know is hinging upon this choice–I’m freaked out by it.  I’m torn in multiple ways by multiple causes.  Should I do what I would really hope to do in this situation?  Should I do what I’m “supposed” to do?

I’m sure people have a lot of different ways of dealing with this, but I think it’s really something that deserves to be thought about–this huge difference between choice in life, and choice within a narrative.

 

 

I thought the “follow the narrator” ending was simple, and not very provocative, but still fine in its self-referential irony.

I liked how the “other narrator” ending didn’t even present you with credits after Stanley dies–it’s just a black screen.

The timing on the “activate the generator” narration was nearly impeccable.  I half-expected the narrator to start saying “in fact, you’ve probably been fiddling around with those light switches over and over again…” but I guess that would be too hit-or-miss to actually do….unless they coded it so that that would only play if you, in fact, did hit the light switches.  I think that would be brilliant.

I was actually a little bit miffed that the “escape the world” ending just cut you off in the middle of your exploration (with doors opened this time) and launched you back into narration.  It felt like a really big defeat.  I suppose there were only two alternatives to that: either have some secret other ending that you can discover now that everything is open (and then this ending would really feel like a “victory”, though perhaps embarrassingly so), or just have nothing left to do and you’re just stuck in a bunch of hallways that don’t actually have anything notable in them.  Which would be interesting in how “hollow” the victory would be, but bad because you’d waste a bunch of time looking around to be sure nothing interesting was around.

 

 

I just enjoyed this game so much because you can look at it on so many different levels, and it makes you examine things in an interesting light–and I -love- it when games have me thinking those kinds of thoughts.  For example, I can think about how silly it is that from the very beginning of the game, I’m trying to push the “use” key and interact with everything, and I’m also running around weirdly, trying to figure out if I can jump, crouch, use my flashlight, etc etc.  And of course, this happens in all games, because I’m a trained gamer and I like to explore and test the limits of the game I’m playing when I get my feet wet…but in a game like this, it seems rather silly.  And interesting.

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Edit: I feel like I could just keep going on and on about this game.

I love how during the process of the game, I’m both completely immersed in the game, but also completely not…it’s as if I’m simultaneously playing the game both as Stanley himself as a character, but also as a game player trying to actively break and manipulate what I know is just a video game.

For example, that second-to-last “stanley went through the RED door”–I actually hesitated significantly at that, even though I knew that this was going to be my “disobey everything” playthrough.  And then immediately after that, when the blue door “disappeared”, my gamer mind kicked in and I just spun around and found it again right away.

Another example…when going into the elevator, I press the down button (going against narrator) and I move to the back of the elevator, and yes, I feel both this sense of dread but also defiance.  Similarly, when I press the up button (“punishing myself”), I actually literally moved to the back of the elevator and stared down at the floor, as if I was hanging my head in shame.  I kid you not, I swear I did this, and no one was watching.

 

Games like this are interesting because they force you to confront and acknowledge these two separate selves–something that’s unique to playing games.

Being able to handle death 500 and sudden ti 700 speeds is amazing.  It’s like I’ve been enlightened, somehow.  I don’t even really know when it happened, but it’s almost as if I’m a whole other player.  It feels great.

On the other hand, I’m now totally, entirely addicted to speed.  >_<  I used to just play death mode all the time, but now it’s even worse.  I’ve gone to playing death mode all the time, to playing death 300 all the time, and now I just play death 500 and sudden ti 700.  wtf.

When we write, we focus on different things, and that, in turn, reveals something about ourselves.

Do you focus on the imagery?  The sensations?  The feelings?  The thoughts that run through your head?  Do you focus on the people, or the experience?  Do you focus on what they say or what they are conveying to you?  Do you pay more attention to your surroundings, or to the effects they have on you?

I guess “focus on different things” is too narrow.  Because it goes further than that too.  When you write, you can have completely different intentions, and completely different means to achieve those intentions.  Some people want to paint a picture when they write.  Some people want to evoke an emotion when they write.  Some people want to convey a way of thinking.  Some people want to have a conversation with you.

And even within that, there are differences too.  Some writers try to paint a picture like an impressionist would.  Others, might care more about the drawing and filling in of the painting rather than its final form–it’s the process and experience of creating the image that is important.  You might not even be painting a picture, but rather, trying to show an image…a photograph, even.  And maybe parts of that photograph aren’t in focus…or maybe everything is.  Or maybe you’re like me and you just like pixel art.

It’s all so very strikingly different.

I think it’s an important skill in life to know how to prioritize things that are less important and less urgent over other things that are more critical.  It doesn’t really seem to make any sense…I mean, logically, one should just take care of the things that are more important and then work down the list, right?

Well, except human beings are inherently terrible at managing time.  Thus, the only way to keep up with so many things is to fight the battle on multiple fronts simultaneously.  Yes, each burst is necessarily discrete, and probably should be anyways, but any of those battles which is not being fought is actually being lost (not just being held idle).

Perhaps by postponing the urgent things, one is able to create and enforce a sort of artificial time pressure (well, not artificial in the sense that it’s fake, but in the sense that it is self-inflicted).  And time pressure can be a useful thing.  It gives us focus and direction–it makes it clear what needs to be done next, and what sacrifices, compromises, and adjustments need to be effected in order to achieve that.

I’m still not entirely sure how it works.  But it’s been too omnipresent in my life to ignore.