Pretentious, opinionated language

Games, technology, music, silliness. Oh and ninjas. Lots of ninjas.

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Location: Oslo, Norway

I am Andreas. Day time programmer and technical consultant. Night time musician and game developer.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Wii launch coming up

Eight days until the Wii launches in norway.

I will freely admit that i'm more excited about the Wii than i have been about any game console since the SNES launch. There is none of the apprehension i felt about the DS; the motion sensing technology isn't new, but this is the first time it's been realised to this extent. I never paid much attention to the hardware race; I still play most of my games on handhelds after all, and the most technically proficient handheld out there was also the least fun to use.

I've got a preorder at EB i can't wait to pick up. Strangely, i'm ambivalent about bagging a good launch title on day one. I'm pretty sure i can manage just fine with Wii sports until the inevitable Zelda shortages end. If i'm lucky i'll get a copy of Rayman raving rabbids too.

If anything, even more strange i guess, i want to buy the Wii on launch day to buy a Wii. There is none of the fear i had of wasting my money when i bought my 360. That time i really couldn't come up with a good reason to pay that kind of money for a gaming device, so the whole occurance was somewhat of a fluke. Good thing that eventually panned out alright. For the Wii, i genuinely want to support what Nintendo is trying to do. The idea is so right; it's about fun, not "the experience", because the experience comes with the fun. Gears of war is pretty, but we keep playing it because it's fun. It isn't fun because of the graphics, it's fun because sawing prepostorously proportioned people in half is hilarious. Imagine the sawing possibilities Wii offers us! D to the r to the double o l

I've gone so far as to dream about owning the Wii. In my dream, when i took it out of the box, it was already connected to my tv.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Music that changed my life #1

There was a time, right after i felt the whole ID&T Thunderdome/Gabber thing was beginning to bore me, when i turned to breakcore. I'm not sure exactly how i got into it; probably through Ec8or, considering the Patric C connection to the gabber scene. Before breakcore became a household term, DHR was basically the easiest way to get at it, and for a while it was good, bullshit politics and all.
For a while i was making the most godawful amen-driven mashup garbage imaginable, and i thought Alec Empire was a god. Ironically, this album was what turned me away from DHR completely.

According to discogs.com, the album i'm writing about was released in 97, making me 15 at the time. I guess my slavering over DHR, which seemed at least to WANT something, can be explained away with puberty. However, this album and my long surviving love for it is something i'll stand for anytime.

Purchased at Tower records, somewhere in london, at a time when i was going through some pretty rough times at home, Christoph de Babalon's debut album, "If you're into it, i'm out of it", stands, in my opinion, as the single most mindblowing experience in terms of electronica that i can remember. It beats out listening to Arne Nordheim's Warszawa when i was a kid, it beats out Klaus Schulze's dune, even discovering Kraftwerk. All these artists, awesome as they are, don't stand for any particular philosophical direction beyond their work. They never represented more for me than sound.

I listened to this album expecting breaks and distortion. What i got was the beautiful, haunting opening track Opium; 12 minutes of pads, strings and reversed bells, echoing on forever.
I listened through the whole album lying in my bed that night, start to finish, and not a single sound was disagreeable. It embodied everything i needed at the time; A frustrated yet melancholy *drive* forwards, in spite of the label that released it. Nothing else on DHR ever came close to matching the originality and artistry of this release. This album was never particularly dancable, moshable, or even headnod worthy. What carries through like a straight line right through it, is the will to combine an emotional core with a violent exterior.

The first real mindblower came with"What you call a life", with its Charlie Manson samples underlying a simple, building amen breaks over melancholy pads, is something i listen to often, to this day. It went on to inspire most of my work from there on. It taught me that a piece of music doesn't have to be all out in any direction. It can be multiple, separate entities all going their own paths, but coming together where it counts; in essence.

"What you call a life" is the single most inspiring piece of music i've heard, and you can hear its influence in almost everything i've done since then.

The second most amazing piece on the album, "Water", was a darker, less emotional piece, mechanically pounding through complex patterns of amen breaks, super low pitched kicks, noise bursts and howling background ambience. The track has multiple directions at any time, making it pleasingly tough to hear whenever something begins or ends. "Water" taught me about messing with expectations, it taught me how to build into a break when you least expect it, cutting it off when it hurts the most, and how a simple evocative title can communicate more images to your listener's mind than any number of samples or lyrics.

"If you're into it, i'm out of it" is the most evocative breakcore record ever made, and at the time, there was nothing like it. Nothing.

Pretty amazing virtual life game

http://alterego.polemik.ch/

I'm pretty impressed something this simple can have such an impact. Really makes you think about some choices you've made in your life.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Xbox live as of the 360...

...has become quite a bit better. Live on the original xbox turned me off bigtime, but since Gears of War came out i've gotten into quite a bit of good games with some pretty awesome individuals, and when played in good company, the experience is truly slick.

I have a few gripes. The biggest of which is Live360's hatred of clans. For such a communitycentric device, they sure like keeping people apart where it counts; getting into games together. For instance, in the case of GoW, clan support is supposedly stripped out because ranked matches are always randomized to avoid cheaters. This is complete bullshit for a teambased game.

Some fixes:
  • Add a separate clan ladder, randomize clan matchups
  • Give points to *clans*, not individuals.
  • Allow groups of friends to be set up on each individual 360, so users can send invites to whole groups of individuals with one action.
To my simple mind, this sounds like work that is definitely doable. If Live had this settled it'd effectively add clan support for any and all games that support teams. Glory days.
I suspect GoW won't be beating out Halo 2 all the way until something clan-ish is in place.
As is, ranked GoW matches are something i won't touch with a ten foot pole.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Game list Geek-out

Thought, for the hell of it, i'd list all my games, or games i have boxes for at least, and check which ones i feel like i truly played to their fullest and really got enjoyment from. The sad thing is, a fairly large percentage of these never get any time at all, but i still feel horror at the thought of selling them or getting rid of them somehow. Even the truly awful ones, like Fallout Brotherhood of steel. I need to tone down my purchases and just really play games instead of just getting 3 at a time and only giving 1 of them the time of day.

legend:
\o/ - Good
>_< - Bad
O_o - Meh

Keep in mind, ratings-wise, i am extremely lenient. As a friend pointed out recently, i take a somewhat academic interest in certain games, and as such i am capable to a fault of finding redeeming qualities, be they artistic, spiritual or some other esoteric crap.

Nintendo DS
Mario & Luigi partners in time \o/
Super mario 64 DS >_<
Mario Kart DS \o/
Metroid prime hunters O_o
Meteos \o/
Sonic rush \o/
Castlevania dawn of sorrow \o/
Tetris DS \o/
Animal Crossing WW \o/
New super mario bros \o/
Clubhouse games \o/

Sony PSP
Daxter O_o
Metal Gear Acid
Metal Gear Acid 2 \o/
Wipeout Pure \o/
Pursuit force O_o
Burnout legends O_o
GTA Liberty city stories O_o
Megaman Powered up \o/
Ultimate ghosts and goblins \o/

Nintendo Gamecube
Legend of Zelda: Four swords adventure \o/
Legend of Zelda: The wind waker \o/
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of time / Master quest \o/
Eternal darkness \o/
Fire emblem \o/
Prince of persia warrior within O_o
Super mario sunshine O_o
Pikmin \o/
Resident Evil Zero \o/
Metroid Prime \o/
Resident Evil \o/
Resident Evil 4 \o/
Starfox adventures O_o
Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance >_<
Metal Arms: Glitch in the system O_o
Final Fantasy crystal chronicles \o/
Freedom Fighters \o/
Super monkey ball \o/
F-Zero GX \o/
Super Smash Bros Melee \o/
Viewtiful Joe \o/
Animal Crossing \o/
Killer 7 \o/
Soulcalibur 2

Sony Playstation 2
Psychonauts \o/
Metal gear solid 3 \o/
Tekken 5 O_o
Guitar hero \o/
Gunbird special ed
Forbidden Siren 2 \o/
Ghosthunter O_o
Sly 2 \o/
Silent hill 3 \o/
ICO \o/
King of fighters 2000-2001 O_o
Project Zero 3 \o/
Dark Chronicle \o/
Final Fantasy X2 O_o
Jak 3 O_o
God of war \o/
Batman begins O_o
Soulcalibur 3 \o/
Samurai Warriors O_o
Kingdom hearts 2 \o/
We love katamari \o/
Katamari Damacy \o/
Hitman Blood money O_o
Urban Chaos \o/
Urbz >_<
Ace Combat 5 \o/
Shadow of the colossus \o/
Shinobido \o/
Tomb raider legends \o/
Black O_o
R-type Final \o/
Outrun 2006 O_o
Driver Parallel Lines >_<
Rumble Roses >_<

Nintendo Game Boy Advance
Megaman Zero 2 \o/
Mario & Luigi superstar saga \o/
Advance wars 2 \o/
The Legend of Zelda: The minish cap \o/
Megaman EXE \o/
Gunstar Future Heroes \o/

Microsoft XBOX
Street fighter anniversary collection \o/
Ninja Gaiden \o/
Ninja Gaiden Black \o/
King Kong \o/
Dead or Alive Ultimate (1 and 2) \o/
Predator: Concrete jungle O_o
Thief: Deadly shadows \o/
Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks O_o
Mark Echo's Getting Up O_o
Splinter Cell chaos theory \o/
Call of Cthulhu - Dark corners of the earth \o/
Psi-ops O_o
Timesplitters 2 O_o
Fallout - Brotherhood of steel >_<
DOAX >_<
Jet Set Radio Future O_o
Crimson Skies \o/
Project Zero \o/
Project Zero 2 \o/
Burnout 3 \o/
Burnout Revenge \o/
Fable \o/
The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate destruction \o/
Spider-man 2 O_o
007 Everything or nothing O_o
Unreal Championship 2 O_o
Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow O_o
Otogi \o/
Mercenaries \o/
Tenchu: Return from darkness O_o
Halo \o/
Halo 2 O_o
Metal Slug 3 \o/
Chronicles of Riddick \o/
Ghost recon 2 >_<
Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee O_o
Oddworld: Stranger's wrath \o/
Destroy all humans! O_o
Metal gear solid 2 \o/

Microsoft XBOX360
Perfect Dark Zero O_o
Ghost recon Advanced Warfighter \o/
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion \o/
Dead Rising \o/

XBOX360 Live Arcade
Doom \o/
Geometry Wars O_o
Hexic HD \o/
Outpost Kaloki X \o/
Smash TV \o/
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 O_o

Sega Dreamcast
Ecco \o/
Floigan Bros O_o
Sonic Adventure \o/
Sonic Adventure 2 O_o
Tech Romancer \o/
Rival Schools 2 \o/
Ooga Booga \o/
Jet Grind Radio \o/
Maken X O_o
Resident Evil Code Veronica \o/
Grandia 2 \o/
Crazy Taxi 2 \o/
Ultimate Fighting Championship \o/
Ikaruga \o/
Psyvariar 2 \o/
Border Down \o/

Windows (Too many to remember, but i try anyway)
Warhammer 40000 Dawn of War + expansions \o/
Beyond good and evil \o/
Warcraft 3 \o/
Baldurs gate 2 \o/
Vampire the masquerade: Bloodlines \o/
System Shock 2 \o/
FEAR \o/
Neverwinter Nights \o/
Silent Hunter 3 \o/
Defcon \o/
Halflife 2 \o/
Sin: Emergence \o/
Thief \o/
Thief 2 \o/
Thief 3 \o/
Deus Ex \o/
Quake 4
GTA San Andreas \o/
Dungeon Siege 2 \o/
Splinter Cell Chaos Theory (yep i got doubles, what's it to ya) \o/
Jagged Alliance 2 \o/
Fallout \o/
Fallout 2 \o/
Fallout Tactics
Leisure suit larry series (all of em) \o/
Space Quest series \o/
Monkey Island series \o/
Grim Fandango \o/
Full Throttle \o/
Wizardry 8 \o/

Game Boy original (my first console!)
TMNT: Fall of the foot clan \o/
Tetris \o/
Heiankyo alien
Ghostbusters 2 (yep) >_<
Zelda: Link's awakening \o/
Super mario land \o/
Super mario land 2 O_o
Terminator 2 >_<
Probotector \o/
Batman \o/
Hunt for the Red October >_<
Tiny Toon Adventures \o/
Nemesis O_o
R-Type \o/
Dr Mario (such a disappointment. This broke my heart) >_<
Battletoads \o/

Scary videogame moments

Inspired by GameSpy's Scariest moments in gaming feature, (with which i mostly disagreed by the way), i wanted to do a list of my own. I have a huge thing for horror and sci-fi, so it would only be proper ;P

Fair warning is due; tharr will be spoilers.

So here goes, i no particular order
  • Marathon (MacOS): Running into the Hulks in The Rose
    Hulks appear in one level, a long, rambling one shaped like a rose, taking place amidst a slaughter of civilians. The end of the level, running through the "petals", is in almost complete darkness. Then you start running into these gigantic things that will *mash* you if you even come close. Something Dark Corners of the Earth really did well was the sense that there's nothing scary about something you can destroy. What's truly scary is helplessness under stress and the resulting panic, and taking down a Hulk would take 3+ rockets, which was just unheard of. You'd be backpedalling, emptying all your ammo reserves, and they'd still keep coming.

    Check out Craig Mullins' awesome digital painting of a Hulk

  • Call of Cthulhu (xbox): Escaping the Shoggoth
    On the topic of running away from things, i haven't played an escape sequence more tense than this. The Hotel escape is one thing, but the Shoggoth *crushing* the air duct you're desperately crawling through, without having even seen the damn thing yet is something mindblowing. CoC:DCOTE consistently terrifies the player by offering glimpses from the monster's point of view, coupled with noises, slowly ramping music, and a well learned understanding of the fragility of the player character. Running away is one thing, running away with a broken leg is another altogether. This game makes the player feel like a soft piece of meat in a meat packing factory, and the howling blubbering almost liquid Shoggoth promptly treats you like one. Vile, vile stuff.


  • Project Zero 2 (xbox, ps2): Broken neck lady
    Hoo boy. I play this in the first person mode on the xbox, and out of the blue catching a screaming woman falling through your peripheral vision, impacting with a sickening crunch is one thing, but having her twist and bend towards you upside down on the floor, her neck at a completely uncool angle was simply mindbending. Naturally, as with all things Project Zero, the horror wears off after the first couple of times, but the kind of mind rape these games inflict on a player in their set piece confrontations are completely unmatched within the genre. To me, the broken neck lady stands out as the most horrifying of Project Zero 2.

  • Resident Evil (gamecube): Lisa Trevor
    A mutated, malevolent little abused girl hellbent on absorbing other people so she won't ever be alone again. I don't know if there's anything else i need to say here. I like two kinds of monsters: The unfeeling, illogical Lovecraftian horror that bends reality and simply doesn't make sense (Shoggoth, Giger's Alien, Giant freaking insects), and the perversion of nature into something that makes no sense (Zombies, Slither's egg sack mutation etc). It is important that monsters make no sense to me, i don't know why. I don't find muscles and teeth scary O_o. The player gets to know Lisa through the diary of herself and her father, Trevor, who never tell explicitly what's going on, only that it's all very wrong. When you finally meet Lisa, you want to leave leave leave leave leave, at the same time as you feel
    bad for her. Vicious.


  • F.E.A.R (pc): Finally meeting Alma
    I was so sick and tired of the little scary girl motif by the time i played FEAR that i really wasn't very frightened by her. Boo-moments, sure, but not truly creeped out. Too much Grudge, Ring, K-horror ripoff X, i just couldn't dig it. But all through the game you know she's holed up somewhere. You know she's not dead, you know she's tormented, and you know she has something intimate to do with you. So what's the small girl? It sure isn't what Alma truly is, and this anticipation pays off in *spades* at the end of the game, which is one of the most chilling sequences i have ever played.

    Think a small girl insta-murdering nondescript marines is bad? How about everyone but you promptly shutting down, standing around like mannequins, as the decaying half-corpse of the world's most vengeful psychic mother figure really wants you back where you belong; with her, forever. This was nervous laugh inducing to the extreme. My girlfriend must've thought i was out of my mind.

  • Thief (pc): The Bonehoard
    Thief trashed my nerves hard with its sound work. This game stands out today as an excellent example of how fantastic sound can more than counter for lackluster graphics. Eric Brodius is a god damn genius.

    I know most consider Return to the Cathedral to be the most terrifying mission of them all, but to me, Down in the Bonehoard stands as the most memorably creepy, with its horrors going beyond the merely visceral.

    The Bonehoard has the player explore undead-infested tombs, looking for the Horn of Quintus, heard eerily playing a solemn tune far off in the distance. Creeping among enormous pillars as undead shamble all around you, following your ears to find your prize. Panicking in the Bonehoard is not an option, or you'd find yourself under attack by more dead than you can handle.

    This level imbues the player with the sense that Garrett really isn't supposed to be there, that he's all alone, and that he keeps going deeper and deeper, further away from civilisation and home. The loneliness is only compounded by the lack of human opposition. If Garrett dies here, noone will ever know, noone will ever find him, and he might end up among the walking dead. I found this experience incredibly bleak.

  • Project Zero 3 (ps2): Existing
    This game mortifies me. I'll freely admit to this, i can't even play it. I've reached a point where i'm not sure if i'm even getting any kind of entertainment from it, i can barely move down a corridor without being either weirded out or otherwise psychologically impeded. I feel like a retard playing it. I suppose at some point i'll just get over myself like i did with PZ2, but right now, it's kind of just sitting there waiting for that moment. The sound design and art direction is mindblowing, and challenges the player to make his or her own conclusions, not only in terms of the storyline, but also in terms of what's under that sheet over there. I'm a huge fan of the craftsmanship here, but it's borderline unplayable for me.

  • Silent Hill (PS): Having ears
    Another game that rises above the opposition through sound, Akira Yamaoka's work on the original SH is so far ahead of his subsequent efforts it almost makes me angry. This is a soundtrack that can make *crossing a bridge* terrifying, and stands shoulder to shoulder with the best dark industrial ambient can offer. SH2 and 3 rambled off into weirdness and strange pop-rock anthems to the point of self-parody. SH is terrifying in its ALIEN nature alone, and deserves to be played by people who aren't out for stabs of shock, but rather a biting, freezing *cold* of fear that permeates every moment of its gameplay.

More coming..