Thursday, January 17, 2019

reviews of some switch games and poetry

Celeste

I keep on thinking "SJW"s "SJW"s in my head playing this game. How coked am I to use the phrase "SJW"? A lotta 4chan lingo seems to beat the path around the political spectrum, you can't feel too bad... anytway... game is very positive... with a diverse cast of characters and some gender-ish commentary, discusses helpful/non-helpful relationships, the main character has panic attacks, the living embodiment of the panic attacks is the main antagonist.

All and all, the story kinda sucks bc of the preponderance on healthy relationships (with the self mostly) leads to dialogue which is boring feelings-exposition. "I had a lot of time to think, climbing out of this cave [...] That Part of Me was right, I can't do this." Not a bad theme but one that is too literally realized, and cliched, to be interesting.

The art in video games is usually entirely tied to the gameplay and Celeste has enough precision in its movement and fast enough load times to make the glittering, cutesy, sometimes kinda threatening pixel art fit. There's no argument that the gameplay is not excellent and the art not well drawn; but there's not a lot of surprises (in the art). There's one horror bit but it's mostly sparkly colorful stuff which doesn't do much for my desire for mystery. (why not? the core struggle of the game might not be what i'm looking for. yeah there's the weird beasts floating around sometimes, what are they doing there, the mountain has some complexity, even some horror... hollow knight also at its most central concerns was missing something, I think, that for comparison blue velvet has. I might just default to say skin on the table; blue velvet's concerns are human and ironic, pessimistic and strange. hollow knight's concerns are mostly, ancient for the sake of being ancient, or really, about the life cycle, celeste's concerns are psycholgical and personal and wholly optimistic. I'm not up for an optimistic story of personal/psychological achievement when it's not that well written and adorned with sparkly colorful imagery.

BUT the gameplay is good, punishing and rewarding, and makes some genuine innovations: most of the gameplay rewards, the strawberries, are entirely optional and, self-consciously, do nothing. But you will likely pursue them anyway and be frustrated doing it... also while almost all of the levels feel like tests of reflex, many of them are actually intellectual platforming puzzles well-laid. The sense of achievement u get beating this game, adjusted to fit yr own level of achievement via optionalness, is real video gamey storystuff.


Into the Breach

UNLESS there's some mystery inner-story I forgot to unlock then the NIHILISM OF TIME TRAVEL expressed within Into the Breach FAILS TO BE FULLY EXPRESSED. "FTL", the studio's previous game had some, like, optional hidden mysteries within the mechanics, like, you could have a subquest involving a cyborg-infecting virus. Not so with ITTB...

ITTB has bits and pieces of intense cynicism in its expanded-mobile-game length which normally means a secret is there somewhere; Hollow Knight had its share of secrets. ITTB tho doesn't include any hidden content.

The result is a game which uses cynicism to construct a mood rather than a solveable mystery. Bits and pieces will flow out through sentence-length dialogue... minimalism which feels mobile...


Captain Toad: Treasure Trackers

What's notable and IMPORTANT to note is that CT:TT does get hard, and pretty quick. Nintendo games kinda like Pixar often good at presenting simultaneous kid-and-adult experiences. But the thing about all modern Mario games is that hard levels are presented as demonic puzzle cubes and nothing more, as Toad slips deeper and deeper into the bounds of hell.

DOOM (2016 ps 2018 switch)

Released for the switch, DOOM 2018 has the best possible character protagonist; self-conscious and nonplussed. Doomguy is an immortal player who seeks to kill demons, so the game is not ambitious beyond its schedule, SCHEDULE: KILL KILL KILL KILL.

Overall tho the game is just that much uglier for bowing to 3d modern shooter requirements; ammo pickups cynically burst out of enemies and are cynically vacuumed up into your suit, bc the developers knew they had to create interesting gameplay and here's our bandaged-on solution: chainsaw gives ammo, execution mode gives health. The language of this is flickering orange or blue overlays, whereas previous DOOM games afaik didnt stray from steel or demonflesh, so DOOM 2016/8 loses some on visual tone I guess.

Douglas Oliver's "Androissements"

Only notable thing is the book-length poem "Video Hall of Fame" which is Oliver's notable and COMPLETELY SUCCESSFUL, AMAZING ACHIEVEMENT with video-game poetry. The dude was 2 years from old age death when he wrote it in 1998, (book published in 2003, Oliver died in 2000, unknown [unresearched ] when he wrote it -ed)  but the interaction with video game concepts is as varied, clear, and familiar and poetic as it can be. There's a fuckton of it too, and what Oliver does really well is draw out commonalities in level design (industrial zones, damsels in distress, stereotypes, class distinctions, etc.) and considers the subconscious areas these cliches provide.

Pay attention, you druggies,
seekers of the mystic:
when inanition or when
manifold indignities
wreck or minds, the gates
to your temples, though broken,
are guarded by demons.

One thing I really deeply need with video game critical thinking is a deep consideration of games from the experience of playing them, as some of my favorite internet artists do, often to consider the ritual of gaming to be an intense and nihilistic commitment of time, fer example. Douglas Oliver however did it as a member of a generation who didnt grow up with vggames (I think). D.O.'s "video hall of fame" gets the peter webb seal of approval for most considerate and well-formed work of vg-pop-culture poetry known to peter, all of the artists trying to do the same should read this work


INSTADEATH NIGHTS:
commentary on: https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2018/03/08/into-the-breach-story/

Into the Breach's  mechanics and everythin correctly transmit a vision of the world wherein u are constantly on the knife's edge of the End Of The World, better than probably any other game does: a single uncorrected mistake in the game will lead to a complete game over, 1, and 2, every game over is correctly and definitively surmised by the time traveler theme to be an actual end-of-the-world, in one particular timeline, at least.

Time travel and video games have shared that commonality for a while, the idea of retrying a bunch of times as a source of patient horror, as the most common video game story is of a time traveller finally getting it right after thousands of dead timelines like the bodies in hotline miami.

Into the Breach, taking the extra care to make this timedeath story a central theme, and then also not commenting on it too much, ends up not being cliche, a success. Yet like I said some kind of ultra-horrible middle note, a deeper mystery within, would have bit me out.

But. Anyway. I don't feel the anxiety of timelines less travelled, although I acknowledge that creating timelines where things did go right is ultimately futile, probably, although I can see how an organization such as the Rift Walkers could exist where they're doing this. Like maybe the successful timelines become partners in a timelines-spanning organization. Tachyons, baby!

BONUS CONTENT: Stephen's Sausage Roll as well didn't commit to internal memory, a secret, just as Yume Nikki may or may not have an actual coherent secret left to find. You think there might be one, waiting somewhere in the code, but the gamers cry, there is none, there is none... No challenge, no internal meaning, just a yearning for "the email which will close the laptop of my [living]."

Possibility threatens a co-extant, co-strangling sense of pain, red lines, flickering into view. Shuttered memories of past gameplay conversations, definite misses, con visits: all these equate into a nothingness, water in the tank. Shattered memories of expectations, as a young kid, that the gameplay would prove something more, the first tastes of aesthetic.

The way the mind reels around a certain prerender, texture, the sense of a brain spinning, content. That this embodies an internal meaning, sure, circumspect.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

the axe hack

IT's just normal DND but the only weapons are axes. Everyone knows how to use axes and there are no other weapons. Everyone has an axe.

Friday, December 28, 2018

benefits of "into the spiderverse"

  1. undeniably a new success in combining film and comic mediums, on several fronts:
    1. visuals: there's a wide array of attempts and some of them are pretty successful. and most of them are used sparingly and for emphasis! and often quite elegantly. 
      1. in the early part of the film, Miles's teenage anxiety at highschool pairs his developing superpowers via the introduction of comic thought boxes... which Miles remarks on: "why are the voices in my head so loud" (paraphrased)
      2. the choppiness of the animation and a lot of the editing singles out poses etc. lends itself to the experience of reading across panels (compare to less-successful previous attempts by filmmakers who would use panel-shaped irises and stuff in like ang lee's the hulk)
      3. serialization: comics are by nature serial, and serial narratives have a lot of associations and freedoms. spiderverse summons literal serial dimensions to emphasize these associations and to play with them.
        1. it's different than just nostalgia, it's post-modern, we understand the formula and so the movie's often subversive to that understanding
        2. in this way the film shows a great understanding for the way comics work. familiarity and ease help u feel good watching it
  2. major failings: I get the sense that comic book movies main struggle is over sentimentality. U want that emotional connection to yr characters but if u fuck up the writing or pacing the long slow scenes with Aunt May or whoever are boring and saccharine. 
    1. Spiderman 2 (2004) has like an hourlong stretch where spiderman is going thru an emotional crisis and not doing any superhero antics (for example)
    2. I was in to most of Spiderverse's emotional relationships but they had 3, count 'em 3 father figures (arguably 4) and that just was too much father figuring for me. The cop father just showed up for no reason in the final extradimensional battle and didnt do anything and so we had to have that many more lingering reaction shots
  3. The film's animation techniques get self-obsessed and onanistic in the final fight scene, which takes too long as well... everything's abstract no grounding in reality unlike all the earlier scenes where it's like, Spiderman takes a bus to a forested area and swings around the trees (very good)
  4. The fight scenes of the first 2/3 of the movie do a great job of grounding the action in reality or comic book tradition, and play around with that tradition
  5. There are many funny jokes
  6. It's weird to watch a "kid's film" -style film and be entertained as an adult. Pixar
  7. Probably worth expanding the pixar comparison. Most pixar films have a better standard of quality than spiderverse did. Like a wide-eyed and all-inclusive attention to every element of the film, all the overtones neatly paired and the story well-revised.
    1. Spiderverse's good moments tho were as good as anything Pixar has done like it, and there's many good moments in Spiderverse
Overall, worth seeing, and a genuine appreciation for Spiderman reignited in my heart, albeit, yeah, by the end of the film, I was like "ain't got time for that". Plus they're gonna make a bunch more movies in this like cinematic universe within-a-cinematic-universe and they're gonna suck, all of the above is EXACTLY how I felt about the first avengers movie

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Yorgos Lanthimos "The Favorite" 2018

Oakay I figured it out folks. The issue with the film is Olivia Colman. The centre of the love triangle isn't really repulsive which is what she needed to be for this film to be on par with Y.L.'s other films. This is mostly the fault of the complete movie, Colman included, for not making Queen Anne truly terrible.

Because u see Y.L.'s other films always have that gripping disgust which they make hay with. Dogtooth Lobster Killing of a Sacred Deer all have it. The new film, The Favourite, is pretty well acted, good dialogue, great cinematography, some toppa lighting, costuming, good money but the most gross stuff is Queen Anne's gout, over-eating, and some romantic wounds like a facial scar and a hand burn.

The movie ends with a forced sex act which, to really push the grossness of it, interfades with Queen Anne's pet rabbits. That's not quite good enough dude, Dogtooth did much better, Lobster and TKOASD were much crueler. I need a Queen Anne who is fucked-up to watch, needs to be grosser. This is a less-gross film.

Image result for queen anne the favorite


Sunday, December 16, 2018

d100+ directions, higher numbers weirder


roll several times to get directions, uhhh vary it between d6, d10, d20, d30, d50, d20+25 etc., d100, as the higher numbers are wierder... example:
  1. go right
  2. there's a lot of Bandits in this zone so be careful
  3. crawl in the pipe there
  4. think really hard about ladders
...and you're there.

d 1 0 0 T A B L E o F s T R A N G E D I R E C T I O N S: 
  1. go right
  2. go left
  3. reroll (until applicable -ed) and add "two times"
  4. reroll (ditto) and add "three times"
  5. go north
  6. go east
  7. go west
  8. go south
  9. add "at the junction," and reroll
  10. walk twenty five steps thataway
  11. keep going until you see
    1. threatening graffiti
    2. the big hole
    3. all that moss
    4. fat Derrida
    5. the community board
    6. that church
  12. turn at the big rock
  13. if you see the ... you've gone too far. 
    1. big rock
    2. pile of horse skeletons
    3. stuck-in-wall guy
    4. magic fountain
    5. really large grass field
    6. hole
  14. take the less-trod path
  15. oh yeah, there's a shortcut: (reroll 5 more times) 
  16. "about a mile down the road" and reroll
  17. there should be double doors, go through those.
  18. a ... will guide you:
    1. a grey wolf
    2. a brown cat
    3. a fat dog
    4. a fat rat
    5. a talking bat
    6. a pretty lady
  19. you'll have to bribe the guard there. like $5
  20. staircase up.
  21. ...that'll get you most of the way there. (nullifies remaining directionsIf this is the first instruction: no directions necessary)
  22. at this point you should smell:
    1. bacon
    2. bread and iron
    3. waffles
    4. smoke
  23. at this point you should hear:
    1. screaming
    2. bees
    3. rushing water (a waterfall -ed)
    4. howling wind
    5. a sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, don't worry tho
    6. thunking
  24. reroll and add "...usually."
  25. you'll have to climb up that wall.
  26. there's a magic door there, to unlock it, you'll have to (roll d50 + 50, two times until applicable)
  27. should just be a hill or two before...
  28. there's a lot of Bandits in this zone so be careful
  29. there's a shortcut through someone's house... if they ask tell them 'Chinnie' sent you
  30. if you get that far it should pretty obvious where to go next.
  31. hug the treeline for a while
  32. watch out for broken glass, here.
  33. should be a red crank there, turn it, it will raise the portcullis, I think.
  34. you'll have to go and meet the jester there, I don't remember the rest (nullifies remaining rolls)
  35. follow the tracks for like a mile
  36. ladder up
  37. ladder down
  38. you'll have to go and find a ladder to get up, there.
  39. crawl in the pipe there.
  40. there should be a bridge directly above you.
  41. should be a large fuzzy crack in the wall.
  42. should be lava at this point
  43. you'll have to breeze up the way until you hit, like, pawn's five knight's gopher
  44. try to deliberately piss off Chinnie
  45. ok, there will be a delicious feast there, but don't eat anything, right...
  46. eat breakfast here, or if it's night, you're gonna wanna have some fruit and coffee.
  47. it'll be warm.
  48. .... keeps the key on their person but they'll give it up for liquor/sex/riddle/jewlery
    1. Bechelrose
    2. Donny
    3. Fat Matilda
    4. The Worst Case Scenario, Don Bluth III
    5. Chinnie
    6. A.M.Y.
  49. should be a sudden breeze, and that's when you have to drink the poison
  50. eat the
    1. meat.
    2. collected building supplies- bricks, two-by-fours, nails, wire
    3. lightbulbs (it's candy glass)
    4. cartwheels (actually a delicous cake)
    5. cake, made of wood :(
    6. fat angel
  51. dig through the sawdust
  52. some kids might try and throw rocks at you but all you really have to do is beat the shit out of one of them
  53. crawl
  54. reroll (until applicable) and add "until someone stops you"
  55. spin until you throw up
  56. hit a high note like a *imitate sound of high note*
  57. scoop water out of the dark pool, drink it, pass out
  58. kill a
    1. red badger
    2. woman wearing a blue dress
    3. known thief
    4. building (demolish a building)
    5. child
    6. fetus
  59. take the frozen path along the abyss with the falling icicles
  60. hunt some of the {minibeasts} and throw one against a wall, killing it, should knock over the wall
  61. walk down the hallway backwards
  62. jump in the pit (50% chance deceptive information)
  63. one of the screens has a door behind it
  64. pull on the chandelier.
  65. there should be a tunnel UNDER the dining room, try not to make too much noise...
  66. think really hard about ladders
  67. roll off veins table of interstices (use these for like 10 entries -ed)
  68. hedge maze! 
  69. use a tunnel under a river; roll off the veins interstice table.
  70. tunnel made of appliances.
  71. clear a path through the Room of Spoons (the auditorium from A Clockwork Orange) (next time rolled: forks, knifes, salad tongs, teapots)
  72. ring any bell.
  73. curl up into an egg.
  74. nestle into the coffin.
  75. zipline!
  76. if you're not underground at this point you miffed it
  77. thin bridge
  78. scenic bridge
  79. you'll have to find some way to move that rock.
  80. marketplace bridge
  81. shaky bridge will collapse 
  82. shortcut through palace of fire which requires arson
  83. strike the gazebo
  84. get in the coldest hole
  85. watch out for the paintings with the arms
  86. sleep
  87. jump out the window
  88. sign the guestbook.
  89. catch a rabbit to burn
  90. the guard there will ask you to get nude, but don't believe his lies...
  91. gravity switches there
  92. jump off the bridge at the part with the missing link
  93. fat cheerleader has the answers...
  94. {jerk off} into the bowl... free of charge, here's some porn... hehe
  95. come back, and find me, and hurt me.
  96. you'll have to take those pills I just gave you.
  97. you'll have to commit seppuku at this point.
  98. you can fit into the fat angel
  99. you have to let the fat angel suck someone's dick
  100. avoid the tarrasque

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

review of the carnegie international, 57th edition, 2018

Alex Da Corte's "Rubber Pencil Devil."

My brain might have to actually be different to find or read a book of poetry I actually enjoy. Maybe it's the friends I didn't keep up with or never made; maybe it's my own lack of discipline one way or another. I had a moment a few years ago where I thought I found some sympathetic poets, those connected to the Alt Lit movement, but shortly thereafter that whole establishment ripped itself apart.

Not 100% sure I would enjoy Alt Lit books now if I found them? Think for me that poetry has always been about something else, whether an idea of the "moment", like for the beats or contemporary writers, or for personal connections, or similar. Of course I've seen not a few pretty good live poets who do a good job; and I've seen a bunch of genuine good publications. But boy howdy I'm not feeling the energy to pick up anyone's book right now and get something out of it, I have to look for more online magazines that might be good...

Course with poetry it's like, one good poem can wear you out anyway. Went to the carnegie international today ended up not liking much of anything except "Rubber Pencil Devil" which lured me in. What I'm really into is surprisingly literary texts, things like comment replies, reviews, sports journalism, and yeah poetry which are short enough to shock and have something good in them. Fragments that are colorful. Video game writing like this, RPG writing, 'course for VGs it's all the critical work which is important, not the games...

... and finding something like "good writing in video games" is xtrmly difficult. Feels basically that I am touch with all writers everywhere and no one's producing anything good, or maybe just frustrated that those networks are closed off to me, the individuals hidden... a sort of dark presence like a roving eyeball, deep hands, pouring over the flat 'net... always remember that the best writing online is blog posts by grad students or dropouts...

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

comparing rpg and poetry workflows

Was talking with my friends last night about how my workflow for rpgs is so much better than my workflow for poetry ever was.

Image result for workflow
that's a workflow.

trpg workflow:

1. draw on the osr/diy dnd community for good texts like books and blogposts
2. schedule gaming with any interested friends
3. generate fragmentary prep. post some of this on blog
4. run the game with resources from step 1 and 3 and improvise.
5. depending on what players did, set some prep goals. goto 1

steps 1, 3, and 4 will generate a constantly growing pile of resources which can be published via blog or used in future games, step 5 will generate weekly creative goals

example:
1. read patrick stuart's "veins of the earth"
2. over like a month period got a group together
3. wrote up a bunch of veins stuff inspired by the book, mainly a starting locale
4. during our first game the players buzzed past the starting locale into some unknown tunnels, I used the veins random tables to fill these in
5. write up the tunnels proper for next week

I'm doing research, writing my own stuff, organizing it, sharing it with my friends, and contributing to the community; and I have little weekly goals.

my workflow for poetry is more like:

1. see someone else's shitty poetry
2. think "I can do better"
3. get on a writing kick and produce some stuff
4. potentially share the poetry at a pittsburgh reading
5. try to edit the poems a little. either produce a finished piece or move on

comparing the two, the biggest missing elements from my poetry workflow are:
1. a constant stream of writing that I actually like
2. a regular space and time to share the writing with friends, irl
3. regular writing goals
4. a welcoming community I can self-publish to (he has several of these, they just don't produce work he likes all that often -ed)
5. an organized space to amass all my writing
(6. the poetry workflow is completely meanspirited. -e)

#1 and #4 are pretty hard to find, I've been looking for years. #2 can be more readily arranged and like as I wrote this I put out feelers on facebook for a poetry group. but I know just like you know that knowing where to find good writing is pretty essential for an artist of any kind...

the other thing to immediately note is how important social media is. it can provide a constant stream of good writing to read, a community to self-publish to, and like google hangouts edges into a regular space/time to share the writing with friends.

there's also a lot of synergy with social media: sharing is the same thing as organizing and documenting. A constant stream of writing that I actually like is (in many cases -ed) the welcoming community I can self-publish to. etc

it would be good to find a social media community that did poetry I liked. but maybe I just don't like (other people's) poetry that much! who knows