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Pride, Meaning, Loss and Happiness
Posted on March 29, 2008 at 01:43

"I've read [well known, controversial, your-run-of-the-mill, challenges society kind of book]." a person says during a conversation.

"Oh well, congratulations. Did you enjoy it much?" I ask.

"Yeah, I found that it [goes on describing it as though it more than a book, its a feeling to them. Hand gestures ensue, and if not, words do what they can to substitute]. I enjoyed it very much. Have you read it yourself?"

"I have not."

"Have you read [another similarly well known, challenge to society book]?"

"I haven't read that either."

"Do you read much?"

"No. Not fictional literature at least."

"Why not? You seem like an intelligent person."

"Well, I certainly read a lot of Scientific American, New York Times, and so on. Non-fiction primarily."


"Why do you ask?"

"No reason. Um, do you have any favorite bands? Mine is [esoteric internet band]. I find them [new, strange, intelligent, high-browed, distinct, anything but common-place]. I think you should listen to them, you'd really like them."

"Well, I haven't heard of them myself. I mainly listen to The Beatles, Pink Floyd and The Doors. And Public Access' jazz music."

The other person is excited. They listen to those bands as well. They continue to lead the discussion, talking about interpretations, thoughts of their own, and the like. I decide to entertain them as not to appear rude and at various points present genuine ideas and talking points of my own, as not to force the discussion into awkward silences.

I can relate to most of the people that share similar interests as I do, but I continue to feel separated from them as these interests at the same time. I understand the desire to change, and break free from the perceived constraints of society, your parents, and yourself. But at what point do we finally understand who we are, where we ant to be and what we ant to do?

For many, it seems that they've at one point or another, took radical steps to change themselves or their environment, only to regret the length of time since they felt stable, or regret having changed so much so fast that the only memories they hold best are those with the very influences they rebelled against, and decide to calm down, and grow conservative with their actions. Its not that I have the fear that I'll at one point grow old and bitter, but that I'll miss out on an opportunity to see who I am, what I like, and where I'm going without falling victim to the flowing currents of trends, and the natural tendency to change, perpendicular the influence around us, in an evolutionary sense, and knowing that I'm not changing arbitrarily, but following natural paths of success and peace of mind.

I’ve grown frustrated with feeling smart, if at least being smart compared to those around me, or attempting at being smarter than those who know more than I do. Enjoying something that’s popular isn’t fulfilling enough. I need to know what others don’t. But knowing trivial facts isn’t enough. There needs to be something significant about what you know. Is it art? What about it is there that’s not well known? Subtlety is key.

You get to a point that trying to find the most moving piece of music, film or even videogame becomes your goal (for me at least it seemed). You mock (in your head at least) the intelligence of others, their lack of knowledge, and anything that separates you from them, because to you, you’re better, you’re more refined, dignified, and this is what people are after all along you assume.

Even when it gets to the point I reject emotions, their worth to society, music, the arts, and decide that efficiency is the ultimate goal, if not predictable outcome, as a nihilist, an Atheist, you’re still a rebel, looking for meaning. You’re simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic that is the underlying problem to things for you.

I’m depressed most likely. I’ve lost a lot, and its only natural I assume. Death is a complex situation. For some, it’s a sense of loss, not that of weight, but the feeling similar to vacuum pressure acting on its surrounding. There is a demand to fill the void, and one their best over time.

Imagine a painting, and suddenly, and area goes white. Without the aid of additional paint to patch up what’s missing (which otherwise wouldn‘t look the same anyway, as the new paint would be a shade or two different, and you‘ll pinpoint its location as the artist because you know where the patch is, and why its there, regardless of the lack of awareness exhibited in others of the patch), I’m having to use what paint I’ve already used on the painting itself to fill in the area, and as a result, the painting dulls, and looses any crispness.

I have no fears of furthered depression, or any associated risk thereof, but of an increasing apathy. To stand up, and feel no gravity. To see things without any personal significance or meaning. For the environment around me to exist as-is.

Its funny to think that I might be growing increasingly religious, if at least spiritual. If anything, love and happiness are the virtues to life that we need to grow and give. I think I may be tired of pursuing things in life which I think will only give me an advantage which I assume further will make me happy. But in all reality, happiness is easy to find. The difficulty for me is being able to share that happiness. I must learn to be more selfless and committed to the needs of others than deriving happiness from others, assuming they‘ll make up for the loss elsewhere, which seems to be the root to a lot of problems.

It’s getting late. Good night.

TF2 Comic
Posted on March 16, 2008 at 21:30

Some time after the time that I was drawing those other comics, I drew this one, which by itself is in poor taste, even more so in light of the recent protests in Tibet.

In the end though, I can't help but laugh at it. If it makes it any better, the monk is not seen in any obvious pain. :\ Besides, its been argued to me that this comic doesn't make sense. Assuming the pyro is mindlessly enjoying the burning of people, why the monk doesn't react to the flames is an important mistake on my part. Was he planning to set himself aflame like the protesting monk in real-life during the Vietnam War the comic references? Is the coincidence too much of a stretch? Oh well. I'll leave my habit for rambling for another day.

Another debate about art and videogames
Posted on March 02, 2008 at 18:29

TODAY'S DEBATE: Is the indie game Passage better than Portal?
LINKS: http://kotaku.com/362776/pvp-portal-vs-passage

Here are some comments I found interesting to read, of which I agree with, in part or fully. They speak more concisely and to the point than I could ever wish to be at this moment.

@ http://grandtextauto.org/2008/02/24/pvp-portal-versus-passage/

#10 Dave Says:
February 25th, 2008 at 2:06 am

I have to say, the main point of this article–Passage is a better game than Portal–feels to me like exaggeration for shock value, and little else, trying to capitalize on the success of Portal to promote a lesser-known game. I would agree with pretty much all of the points individually in the article, but taking them as a whole, with arguments wildly skewed in both cases, and jumping to a conclusion that is not much more than schlock? I’m afraid you lost me there.

Somehow, an unspoken assumption was made that the only valid metric for judging games is how thought-provoking their underlying statements are. If a game doesn’t encourage a critical re-examination of one’s life, then it might as well be left for the dogs. Sure, this is important. But would you judge a painting solely on this criterion? Should you ignore technical aspects of painting? Throw that away, and a master’s landscape and a child’s doodle stand side by side in their ability to depict countryside life. Would it be wrong to consider gameplay when evaluating games? Otherwise we might as well have interactive museum exhibits taking “Best Game” awards.

Yes, Passage is underappreciated, and Portal is overhyped. But Passage isn’t all roses, and Portal isn’t driving gaming into a watery, artless grave. The gameplay of Passage is barely out of its infancy. While I am fond of the aesthetics, I won’t hesitate to admit that they depend heavily on the current 8-bit fad for both graphics and sound. Passage also fares badly outside of its indie game incubator; without the proper context–usually a blot post extolling its virtues–most people would discard it after a few minutes. While you could say the same about a lot of art, I’d fault them for it just the same.

And I’m still trying to grasp some of the criticisms of Portal. The storyline, with its innovative delivery and interesting topic–letting what is essentially a character piece for GLaDOS take center stage–is reduced to “not philosphy-ish.” The game is criticized for trying to sell copies–this is basically turning what should be praise (the game tries to appeal to people) into an empty, backhanded insult. How does the commercialization compromise Portal as a game? Detail that, instead of appealing to elitism.

In case you accuse me of being subtle with my points, I’ll lay it out simply. Catharsis is not the end-all judgement of games, or even art. It’s nice, of course. But not all great art produces catharsis, and not everything that produces catharsis is great art.

@ http://grandtextauto.org/2008/02/24/pvp-portal-versus-passage/

#34 Joseph Says:
February 28th, 2008 at 3:37 pm

This article seems to me as text book, reductionist, academia that makes that tries to take on games and apply the same tired criticism that makes modern critical theory so fucking boring.

It’s as if the more something is inaccessible, the cooler it is, and the cooler you are for defending it.

It’s as if I wrote an article saying ‘How is “Wavelength” (a film that is *literally* a 45 minute long zoom shot) is better than Antonioni’s L’Avventurra. Because, after all L’Avventura is a studio picture made within a studio system, as opposed to Wavelength made by one man.

I guess I fell into the trap though, because I am here commenting on this false choice. To assign a value on a piece of work solely based on the political world view of the artist or the critic is something that is frankly very tired, and while those world views do merit a place in the discussion they should not be the end all be all.

The Intentions of the artist are, frankly, a interesting anecdote at best. They should have little bearing on the criticism on an artistic work. Assholes, Racists, Misogynists, and ‘corporate sellouts’ have long produced fantastic works of art just as great well mean ‘deep’ people have produced lost of crap (and folk music). The two are not connected, and to make that connection is undergrad media studies bullshit.

The only thing that’s missing in your article is a name drop of Deleuze, and how passage is ‘rhizomatic’ and portal isn’t.

@ http://kotaku.com/362776/pvp-portal-vs-passage

Garro at 02:49 PM
And to be honest, if you're looking for some deep meaning, you're missing the point of the work. Far be it from me to say you can't find such things in a game like portal. I am simply saying that's not it's purpose, and to look for deeper meaning is almost a pointless exercise. People can find deeper meaning in anything they want, even the intangible or completely non-existent. Existential is a made up word that usually acts as a sign that someone has gone beyond the original point, is currently B.S.ing, and you can stop listening to them. My pants are existential. If you ask me to defend that, I will gladly do so, from the top of my head, because I took a high school literature class, and no one could tell when I was lying, being honest, or just B.S.ing.

@ http://kotaku.com/362776/pvp-portal-vs-passage

Sparkamus at 03:37 PM

Art is often defined as having interest in it for its own sake, outside of practical considerations: aesthetic interest.
If "fun" is a practical consideration, akin to satisfying hunger, then a game that primarily engages interest in "fun" rather than aesthetic interest isn't a very good example of art.

On the other hand, if a piece has difficulty engaging our aesthetic interest, it's not a very good work of art.

Representation vs. Meaning
Posted on February 24, 2008 at 03:54

Have you ever been forced to listen or read something with which you hold as little interest as you hope to hold for it? For some, its math, and perhaps in a real world situation, it’s the economy. The news will broadcast a report stating that the Feds have dropped the interest rate a quarter of a percent, and you’re wondering “Who cares?”. If forced, your head will spin, trying to free as much attention away from hearing market experts debate on TV, or your teacher lecture, and you can picture yourself in your head, slowly moving your hands around in circles in front of you, motioning “Let‘s go, come on, move along will ya?”.

You feel as though you shouldn’t be forced to listen or watch anything that bores you as much as math lectures and market debates do, and that you should be allowed to peruse your own interests, as opposed to something as far-removed and esoteric as being a human being (for you at least) seems to be about? Where’s the sense of fulfillment and personal worth if you’re having to be forced (or peer-pressured) into listening and doing something with which you have no interest in, simply because others with a more educated opinion have told you otherwise?

This is my problem with music, and literature, and art in general.

I’m too existential it seems. I spend too much time away from better understanding the mind, how people feel, act, and respond to others. An artist focused too much on realism as opposed expressionism, representation as opposed to meaning. Not to say that one is better than the other, simply different. I feel that reality is well-defined, and that art is redundant, whereas the most beautiful of things are natural, not simply appear natural, and that its pointless reviewing what’s already been created.

I’m asked at times to read a book, fictional of course, or what my favorite songs are, in hopes that a better understanding of how I feel is given, assuming that whatever else is said can be the simple action of regurgitating whatever rhetorical summarization can be found from the newspapers or science magazines I read, as though personal feelings are as genuine as humans get, and are harder to plagiarize, and lie about.


I voted in my state’s primary, and will of course vote in the general elections. A lot of people my age have opinions about the state of the union. Instead I’m one of the few I know who actually registered to vote. For others, its not worth it. They have their own good reasons, but mostly, they have their personal feelings to fall back on. Someone else will hopefully take care of things, or at least, people won’t take things too far to have use worry it seems. Luckily, we’re just in time to watch our favorite TV show. The writer’s strike is over, and while what is was they we’re striking for doesn’t seem to matter, let’s sit down, relax, and absorb other people’s problems. Let’s gossip. Judge and be judged. Discuss how we feel. Happy or sad, mad or apathetic, how we feel matters, and ensuring that those around us feel the same as we do, or at least differently enough so that we can engage in debate is what’s important.

How was your day? Did you see that movie? What radio channel do you want to listen to? Your mindless dithering of statistics and rational thought is too consuming and bores me. Stop wasting your time. Breathe deep, open your eyes, and free your mind. I emote therefore I am.


I’m clearly getting off-topic and turning this into another rant about my cynicism of emotions and subjective observationalism (if such a word exist, which I doubt). It’s late, and I’m too tired at the moment to edit this and get back on topic. I hope I've been intellectually provocative enough without being too arrogant, pompous, skewed and insane, which I'm prone to being. Good night.

Piracy and Ad-Based Entertainment
Posted on January 16, 2008 at 04:48

I sometimes get frustrated with seeing the degree to which information piracy (as opposed to the piracy of physical goods) takes place. I only hope that I’m serving the better interests of an honest dollar by arguing the rights of companies to privatize their software. While I support GNU and the free software movement, I realize not everyone is a hobbyist programmer or can afford to spend their spare time developing software without some sort of financial reward. The problem in the end is that the computers are designed and used by humans, and as a result computers are simply another dimension of human society, no different from other aspects of how society communicates interacts.

I’d rather deal with an honest pirate, one who has no difficulty admitting to the fact they‘re stealing information and/or redistributing it without permission, than one who’ll argue they’ve done nothing wrong or illegal, or argue that they’ve been left with no other choice, or any other equivalent to the effect of saying that they’ve violated the rights of others out of a need, and therefore justifies their actions. There’s nothing Robin Hood about piracy. I know I’m already sounding preachy, and with an issue like this, I’m either preaching to the choir, or talking to walls, so I’ll try to make this a bit more interesting.

When we watch broadcast television, or listen to the radio, provided we have the a receiver and electricity, we’re able to entertain ourselves for free. But of course, the content providers wouldn’t be able to produce their shows without some way of earning money in the process. Because we’re able to connect to the content for free, the content providers are left with no choice but to runs advertisements throughout the day. The companies buying air-time to run ads get the benefit of reaching an audience, while the content providers have a stable revenue stream of ad money, provided they maintain an audience to see the ads.

Of course, people could turn off their television or radio, or change channels, but the content providers are hopeful that as long as they provide interesting enough content, people will be willing enough to relax and wait until their show returns. Also, content providers are capable of avoiding pressures from ad companies and broadcasting encrypted signals, and making their money by selling the only devices able to decrypt the signals, and/or working through subscription plans. However, the popularity and ease of providing and receiving content through the open air-waves has proven more profitable, in return providing better quality services to audiences at the cost of watching advertisements.

The internet can function is the same way. Content providers can stream their content freely, and audiences can enjoy themselves as they would with their radios and televisions, provided their content with watching advertisements occasionally. Of course, subscription plans are much easier to maintain digitally, but the internet has been fairly open and while not free, maintains an equal access for all its users, therefore, I would argue that the system of streaming content incorporated with ads is the best, and quickest way to establish stable, reliable revenue streams from the internet. I’m sure many people today would be willing to play games online, or watch original video programming provided they’re required to watch advertisements at the appropriate time.

The problem with advertisements is that there are too many of them. Content providers are willing to test the patience of its audience by lengthening ad-time, while at the same time, selling smaller sizes of available time, making them cheaper to buy, and more attracting to businesses. Decades ago, the costs of producing radio and television shows was much lower, and so, the amount of ad-time was significantly smaller. Content providers would almost always remind the audience before commercials, “And now, a word from our sponsors” or to say that the show was brought to you by whatever company who has been running ads during the show. This provided a reason why advertisements were being shown. Today however, I rarely see a reminder as to why I’m watching the ad. It’s too assumed why the commercials are playing, why we should watch them, and thus, people get angry with them.

The internet has too many ads itself, but like any entertainment medium either starting out or loosing their audience, advertising will be cheap, and therefore, unless content becomes more interesting to draw larger audiences, the only way to make money is to sell as much available space as possible to advertisers. As the popularity of streaming popular content grows, advertisements will become more valuable, and won’t invade our programs as much.

If all the television networks would be willing to provide all their shows on the internet, with the same ads running, and record companies not as demanding for royalties, so that streaming music via internet radio sites and computer applications can be made more affordably for the providers, content providers may not have to worry as much about people pirating their content if it was already freely available.

While owning content is a different issue, as long as content providers are able to interest people in buying their products, pirates aside, they should be able to continue doing so, and if not, and they find themselves struggling to gain profits in selling their products, they’re better off trying to recoup the money by diversifying their product line.

The nature of entertainment should be of free expression, as well as free admission. My frustration with having to see and hear people discuss what they’ve stolen won’t solve the issue en masse. I’m hopeful that content providers will see there are larger revenues in the free broadcasting of their content than there is in being overprotective, restrictive and paranoid of their audience.

Student Privacy
Posted on December 17, 2007 at 14:47

I had heard recently on NPR, that a HS principal had asked a student to come to his office after suspecting him of smoking cigarettes on school property. After not finding anything on the student, their locker or backpack, the principal seized the student's cell phone, and began searching their private messages, in hopes of finding some promising evidence. The principal finds messages discussing smoking pot with other students. The principal then begins calling down other students who where connected to the messages.

In 10th grade (about three years ago), my high school's principal had put in a new rule that a student's cell phone was to be confiscated upon sight of a teacher. He had called each class to go over this rule in detail so that we understood what it meant. At the end of the lecture, I asked whether or not the student reserved the right to keep their cell phone's battery and any additional cards tied to personal data on the phone. He was puzzled a bit, as were a few students. He eventually said no, because he didn't want to complicate what was otherwise a strait forward rule, with good intentions (preventing students from distracting class, or using the phones to cheat).

I ask, if the school has access to your car while it's on school property, arguing that your phone is no different is not too far away logically speaking. But where is the line? Assuming the schools have access to your car implies you must surrender for the duration of the search, your car keys. Let's assume that schools have the right to search your phone, but you feel as though you're safe as long as access to private text messages and so on is password protected. However, given that the school has the right to search your car on school property, implying that you must forfeit your keys, doesn't it imply as well that you must fork over your password?

Cell phones are becoming more powerful every year, and people are able to check their email through their phones. It doesn't take long to imply that if the school should have the right to search your cell phone, and obtain whatever passwords necessary to do so, that email accounts (and quite possibly any other digital accounts accessed through your cell phone or school computers) used through your phone are no different.

I'm not arguing there's an abuse of power being executed by most schools today. Its the possibility, even in one or two incidents, that worries me.

PC Gaming and I
Posted on December 10, 2007 at 10:56

I’ve always had a lazy, uninspired PC gaming history.

My family had bought our first computer during the Christmas of 1997 or 1998. 350 Mhz, 96 MB RAM, 12 GB HD. Those were your average specs of the day.

For the most part, the kind of games I would buy came from a retailer’s discount PC gaming selection, where everything is typically $10. The kind of games that were either older games, and repackaged in jewel cases at lower prices, or collections of arcade games. For the most part I would buy RTSs. Starcraft, Warcraft 2, Anno 1502, Civ 2 and 3 and the like.

My family has never had a lot of money, or rather not enough where I felt comfortable getting a game every month or two. I’ll assume this explains my interest in long, drawn out game experiences, since without the money to buy games frequently enough, I would have to make do with what I got.

Playing RTSs worked well enough for a while. Occasionally I would buy something else. The only FPSs I own for the PC would be the original Rainbow Six (seeing as I could compile a map of where my guys go and so on, which fit right in with the RTSs) and System Shock 2 (which apparently has joined the ranks of underrated games over time, as it seems I‘ve never met a person who has something bad to say about it, but I myself have only ever maintained a mild interest for the game).

I never played online games for the most part. Starcraft a couple of times, but I never saw the use if I always got beat to a ridiculous degree against those who know enough about the game like those who’ve read much more Shakespeare (you simply can‘t compete, and you‘re only going to make yourself look foolish). And its only been recently that I’ve been playing an online game (Halo 3).

It was only until recently that I had the ability to play online for the 360 as my family upgraded to broadband (or DSL, I don’t know anymore. All I know is that we use a cable wire instead of the phone line). At the same time we finally got a new computer. Keep in mind that this would make the only other computer we own up until now nearly a decade old. My new computer is roughly 10x better all around (HD space, processing, RAM etc). But, the changes have left me more in contempt of PC gaming than it has left me awestruck.

10 years ago, the issue of updating your computer for newer games was still an issue, but nothing like it is today in my opinion. I keep the Crysis specs in my bookmarks for an occasional laugh.


I wonder what’s the point anymore of PC gaming if its all at such a premium? Granted, Crysis is the extreme example to use. However console gaming means that developers need to stick to certain limits, which is why towards the end of a generation, the game looks so great. At that point, they development companies have to pull as many tricks as they can to get their ideas out. I believe that its limits that drive the evolution of gaming. It’s on things to show how great a game looks on modern hardware, but another to show how great a game looks on outdated hardware. But then again, that’s a programmer’s perspective. The average gamer wouldn’t know, or care necessarily.

So, my point. I’m getting The Orange Box. For the PC or 360? 360. Why you may ask? It rounds down to money.

I’ve explained I play Halo 3 online, but I do so freely. Not that I hacked/cracked something or anything illegal like that either. I bought my 360 from a friend of my brother’s, and he had left his gold membership on the system (but then again, I doubt you can get refunds or redeem the remaining amount into Ms points anyhow). I completely loathe the account’s name (Jonni5xxholla), but what can I do? It costs 800 points to change its name (MONEY! DID YOU EVER HEAR OF SUCH A SCAM!? TO CHANGE AN ACCOUNT‘S NAME!?). I have until April before I have to consider paying for more online time.

It took some time, but I finally found that it costs money to play online for The Orange Box for the PC. Not the 360 is any different, but since I’m already playing online for free, I figured ‘why not’? I researched a bit on the differences between the two games, and overall, they’re superficial. The 360 port may not be as vibrant, but in the end, I could care less, because I‘m more interested in finally playing Half-Life 2, and seeing what all the damned hoopla is about (I would never be a part of the group who complained to Bungie that Halo 3 was technically missing roughly 80 pixels on the screen. 80 PIXELS!?).

I’ve always had the belief that online gaming should be free. It must have started with battle.net being free to play on I imagine, but the idea simply seems right to me. Paying for my internet connection should be enough. But then again, I’m aware people need to make money to run the servers. But then again, subscription money isn’t the only way they can make money. I’d rather watch 3 minutes of television styled commercials while the game is loading than pay for online subscription plans. That way, everyone is equal. No free players vs. paying members, or reminders to pay up again sooner or later, nothing.

Its not that I believe gaming should be free, as I’m quite against software piracy (I could care less what you’re reasoning is, because the sooner you simply admit you‘re stealing the game, and you don’t care if you do, the sooner we don’t have to argue anything pointlessly). I’d rather not have to pay as much to simply play some games online or on my PC. The problem with the PC gaming is that the machine’s only purpose is not to play games. With a console, you bought it to play games, so the game either better be good, cheap, or ready to play the second I put it in.

I still play my old PC games, and even though I have a better computer, I can’t think of any up-to-date games other than The Orange Box, that I’ve considered playing for quite some time. The PC will always remain my favorite machine in the house, but not my favorite gaming device. There’s too much preparation, expense and time needed to get into PC gaming as compared to console gaming (for one, I can rent console games). I’ll simply continue playing my RTSs from time to time. PC gaming for me will simply remain, as it has been, more of a time waster than anything.

My Cartoons
Posted on November 27, 2007 at 18:56

In the last 24hrs, I've been drawing some cartoons, focused on videogame characters. No dialogs or anything.


Super Mario Galaxy
Posted on November 14, 2007 at 03:34

It was nearly a year ago that I bought my Nintendo Wii (I can't seem to say Wii by itself), which would equally make it roughly a year since I last bought any games for it.

While I've bought plenty of Virtual Console games since, and not to say there aren't any games that don't interest me, I've felt as though I need to buy (let alone complete) as many PS2 games I had forgotten about, now that the console is over the hill, and prices are dropping.

Anyhow, as for the game itself: I've played three and a half hours of it since I picked it up at my local Toys R Us, and it's looking to be a great game. Initially, I felt a bit nervous, being as I haven't played any Wii games in a while, the transition would take some time getting used to. Moving from a PS2 controller to a CG or 360 controller is only a matter of remapping the important buttons in your head, as they're for the most part, fundamentally the same. However, SMG allowed me to move into the controls without much of a problem before anything too important was required out of the player.

Levels are referred to as galaxies, which orbit each other in larger groups, which you're required to unlock as you progress, collecting stars. What's different of course are the controls, and the way at which you move about in the game. It can seem a bit perplexing at first, moving around the outside of a sphere (or within), or jumping high enough that it lands you on another side of these King-Kai sized planets. This is not to say the game is full of these bit-sized asteroids, as there are plenty of larger platforms of each level too.

I learned last week that upon buying SMG at a Toys R Us between its launch and the 17th, you would receive a $25 gift card for the store, effectively cutting the price of the game in half (why they would do this, considering most stores receive a very small profit margin for videogames and consoles, I don't know). So, Tuesday morning, around 10am, I stopped by to pick up a copy of the game, hoping without a preorder, the earlier the better. However, they informed me that they won't be receiving any shipments until 5-6pm. So, I decide to preorder the game (which sounds odd to do on a game's launch day). When I came by latter that day, I learned that they no longer had any available for those without a preorder, so I consider myself lucky.

I look into my bag the woman hands me as I'm leaving the videogame section of the store, and I see what looks like two copies of the game. I pause. Do I continue on, and act as though nothing happened? I decide to return to the counter and inform the cashier of her mistake. She politely says that there was no mistake, and that rather, the second case houses a promotional coin, given with all launch purchases.

It seems as though as of late I've been compelled to buy significant videogame releases at launch, such as Twilight Princess, Halo 3, and Super Mario Galaxy. I'm going to guess I'll end up preordering Brawl, and MGS4 when it comes to the 360 (given the PS3's sales, and the production costs involved building the game, this only seems [hopefully] inevitable). As to why, I don't know. I'm only adding to the problem that buying something should be done at my convince, and that rushing around to preorder and anticipated game, only to wait for the next big thing, shouldn't become the norm. I suppose I'm simply sick of playing old, used games from Gamestop. :\

Reflections On My GM Self
Posted on November 08, 2007 at 03:13

As usual, I've spent time imagining what kind of game's I could develop with GameMaker. I don't get far, and as for why, I'm forced to admit in the end I lack the creative foresight that most designers possess, yet I suppose I'm lucky enough to program, as opposed to designers I've seen who can't accomplish much more than writing lengthy descriptions of their ideas.

I've thought about working with a team, and while I'm still interested in doing so, I find I'm difficult to work with if my ideas are taken into account, as opposed to simply telling me what to program. And it's not that I'm anti-social, or difficult to understand, so much as I have difficulty letting others change my ideas for better or worse. I don't always consider my ideas good, and I think it mainly has to do with the fact I'm generally a stubborn person who occasionally sees things clearly and intelligently and uses this as an excuse to vie for more control on a collaborative project when the group lacks a definite leader or direction to head.

I won't say I'm great at programming with GameMaker, but I will say I'm quite competent. If we were to sidestep for a moment and consider who in my opinion ranks as some of the most proficient GMLers, I would say people such as Yourself, Roach, CoderChris etc. However, a lot of their accomplishments reflect a firm understanding of other programming languages, such as C++. It would seem as though a deeper understanding into GML is one that takes a step out of it. Learning other computer languages help develop a better understanding of memory efficiency, among other key attributes of computer programming that GM either vaguely covers, or leaves out entirely.

Anyhow, I quite like programming, however I'm conflicted with my creative self who urges that I take on more interesting works than the usual examples demonstrating how efficiently I've been able to accomplish an otherwise uninspiring task, such as one-script games, or memory efficiency. However, I find the problem in the end is a lack of proper resources. I have a friend whose a talented artist, but lacks the motivation to draw the numerous (small and unassuming) resources needed to make a full game, a friend whose talented musically (one who owns a small stockpile of stringed instruments) who suffers from being a perfectionist, and can't seem to hand over any works of his for use in a game unless it's the best he can do, regardless of whether he should consider that anything other than the usual ripped MIDIs or bloated mp3s found in most of that which exists featuring in GM games today, is the better alternative.

I'd much rather do a puzzle game, or something else which is simple to build, simple to play, and can be easily polished and rewritten for maximum code and performance efficiency. This seems typical I think of most programmers interested in games, but given the number of existing games which seemed to have already perfected the genre, it then becomes more difficult to develop new and original games, that is without having already copied, mimicked, or built upon pre-existing titles of the past.

If given the chance (and not to say this expecting anyone to raise their hand asking if I'm interested in any projects), I'd design and write something which is both abstract in design, but provokes the mind without giving the player a sense as if they've been left to fend for themselves, assuming if they're not intelligent or creative enough to get anywhere in the game (or understand much about what's being seen), they shouldn't be playing the game in the first place (which I think a lot of surrealist games tend to do).

Being an intelligent and/or creative individual should not mean always creating something so esoteric that only a few understand it. While its important to challenge ourselves, I think its equally important to make intelligent and creative games accessible to everyone (a la Nintendo), yet not to be caught up in keeping everyone hooked on easy-to-understand expressions of the mind. If only there were more games that existed which lent a thought-provoking message or design to itself, but didn't lose integrity in pretentious ideology and selfishly hiding significant truths, only to purposely keep people guessing like mindless idiots featured in a whodunit-styled plot device, there would be something more interesting and at home (for me at least) to play in this world.

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