zustifer: (comics: Nivlem says See Here)
I was thinking about the blogging thing, and was considering starting a more publicky blog elsewhere (perhaps even on my own webspace! I don't know!), and then I was trying to work out how long that impulse would last, and then I decided to go play Batman.

So: Batman! I am actually enjoying the heck out of it. The low points include the horrifying (lack of) facial rigs on all the characters, and some of the PSA timing intervals. Well, and my pretty lousy fighting ability, but it is, as they say, all good. Oh, but I would like to deliver a hard stare with cocked eyebrow to the nice man who implemented the boob jiggle on Harley Quinn -- who, I might add, is wearing some kind of vinyl Hot Topic corset thing that really should not allow any jiggle, regardless of the preference of some.

Facial rigs: we (the game biz) still really suck at this stuff, and clearly this was not a priority for Arkham Asylum (to the extent that the guards all have the same (kinda weird) model), but the cognitive dissonance still clobbers one at regular intervals. Models can look pretty good in a still, but with lipsync and nothing else (rigging-wise), you have a big problem when Player is expected to stare at a character blah-blahing like an animate death mask. It's especially odd because the lipsync is half-decent, and it does deform the lower face to an extent. So the upper facial area just looks dead, and everyone kind of reminds me of the Phantom of the Opera.

Anyhoo, it's actually really a pleasing game to play, if not to admire the characters of. I am only about a third through, but I am collecting little TACOs like nobody's business. Moving around is fun, finding treats is fun, figuring out the Riddler's little clues is super fun (although sometimes gimped by his clue pointing to the most obvious thing in the room. Duh, Riddler. Try harder). Even yelling at Batman when he misinterprets my commands and screws something up is fun. "Goddamn it, Batman! No! Get back up there!" (It is third-person and thus encourages this implicitly.)
zustifer: (czech mouse)
Animal-based cultural artifacts:

Banksy art installation; I'm pretty indifferent to most of these, but the leopard and sausage displays I approve of.

Rattus Norvegicus Rex porcelain rat chandelier.

A pretty cute set of shadow puppets on etsy.

Some kinda fun animalish prints also on etsy. I rather enjoy this dude's style.


Humanwise: Someone linked to the photos of some... fashion? company that seems to have made the choice to light their models and scenes like Oblivion screenshots. It's a huge fat focal length problem; if everything's in focus, you have to distinguish figure/ground via lighting. Giving figures their own personal lighting really separates them from the background, but it also makes them seem like they don't fit there particularly well. See also: game lighting.
zustifer: (comics: mucilage cake)
So a couple of pals of mine decided to do a 'bootleg demake' of Haze, in keeping with the tigsource competition. Right now the front page is full of everyone else's (look for 'FINISHED' on thread title), but Smaze is the one that I did a bunch of the pixel art for. You know what? Pixel art is pretty fun.
Oh, if you play Smaze, be sure to read what the controls are first, because you'd probably be screwed otherwise. Oh, and the competition had a really short timeframe, too, which should be borne in mind.
(Also amusing is Little Girl in Underland but not actually amusing enough to sustain the length, perhaps? The tone is pretty great though, at least while Protagonist's wall-eyed blankness stays in place.)

Oh Yes

Jul. 29th, 2008 08:56 pm
zustifer: (Beetlejuice: Otho rocks out)
My guest strip is up today-yesterday at Goode Olde Name Removed. SOMEONE needs to put out a book. And t-shirts.

In other news, aaaaaaaargh, DWARF FORTRESS!
zustifer: (Jim Jarmusch)
ONE. Someone capped Marie Antoinette so as to exclude all the actors. This was a great choice, because it emphasized the decent shooting, fancy set dressing and costuming, rather than the horrifying... most other things (also it's something I want to do with most movies). There are some great disses in the comments:

i think sofia coppola's personal life often overshadows her movie making "abilities"

The movie was SO gorgeous, if nothing else. (I personally think that although a lot of people did their jobs well, the editing ruined a lot of it for me. Ignoring the script.)

but really - how many more times do we have to hear sofia coppola tell us that spoiled, wealthy and privileged white girls are sooo bored and unhappy? if she actually made a film about someone other than herself, i'd be mildly amazed.


TWO. The new Fire Emblem has IN-BATTLE SAVES. This will make it playable. My cup runneth over. If only they had kept the art 2d.
(I do rather resent the idea that I am not hardcore because of my lack of desire to replay missions potentially endlessly. Especially when battles in said missions can hinge on a dice roll quite easily.)
zustifer: (Goggalor)
So, the new Half Life episode. I can't help but notice that there are a few sucky things about the characters (not least that the NPCs are always sucking up to Gordon and asking him things as if he can answer). The worst, though, is Alyx. I can't believe how completely null a personality she is. She's like some idiot fanboy's idea of what a perfect woman should be, and she doesn't even have Dresden Codak's decency to pretend to be insecure about whatever it is the protagonist of that is insecure about. Alyx is this ideally supportive, even-tempered, perky chick, who can also hotwire a helicopter. She's so, so perfect that it's ludicrous. And (my least favorite addendum) also she is a genius. She's always sweet, she never loses her temper, she's an order of magnitude cleaner than other random jerks in the world, she tells you that you're awesome when you shoot stuff. I have a seriously difficult time imagining that any of the people who brought us the beautifully written Portal dialogue and universe had anything to do with this empty edifice of positive attributes.

The only way I can think of to fix this is this: maybe Alyx (ugh, that fucking Y) was shaped by the G-Man to be Gordon Freeman's sinister Hwi Noree. Maybe he's using her to keep Gordon in his hands, or to have a kill switch for him, or something. This would make all her goody-two-shoesing okay, because she specifically has to behave as Gordon would want (and by proxy, as many unimaginative players who don't know what real people are like would want). It would make her willingness to hang around the autistic guy with the guns somewhat more believable, as it would a wish to make him feel like he was protecting her and doing awesome things.

(I just want a record of this in case it turns out true. Also I really do think it's one of the only ways to make a relatively important NPC not totally a traitor to feminism and games at large.)
zustifer: (comics: Mysterio laughs at nothing)
As noted by uncharacteristically helpful youtub commenters, Sas[c]ha is usually a boy's name in Russia and eastern Europe. It would make my fucking day if Heavy was as gay as a Pok├ęball.

Ebert is awfully sure about this. (Not games-related, dudes.)

Good heavens, look at all those gay gay paperbacks.

Noah sent me this, which is a list of gay superheroes and their fates. Kind of alarming.

...Attractive Lad? Good golly.
(Huh, Ultrahumanite? Who knew. Also, WHY IS WONDER WOMAN NEVER GAY WHAT THE HELL)
zustifer: (why can't monsters get along)


I watched some videos to make sure this was correct, and it is. The pivot for the shoulder is in the center of the spherical shoulder-armor thing. (You can see it when she lifts her arms; there's very little shift in position of the shoulder things. They just rotate. If they were just caps on top of her shoulders, they would move around a lot whenever she moved her collarbone.) Poor implausible Samus. This is all the more annoying with the latest redesign where the suit is feminized noticeably; the smaller midsection just makes it so obvious that the shoulders and even the hips aren't quite lined up right.
zustifer: (carla)
This is one of the reasons why I don't disrespect Ebert for stating that games aren't art. At least he's cool enough to post some nice, well-reasoned responses.

Although in among those there is this: "Guy gamers seem to think of the movie bits as interruptions in the real action of running around and shooting things. Girl gamers sometimes think of the video game part as an interruption in the movie."
Sigh. Don't we have a sisterhood here, female game people? Do we really need to do this shit? Make these stereotypical generalisations that don't help anyone?

Also, I'm so sick of people arguing about the definition of art.
zustifer: (Boring)
Hopefully this will be on the quick & harmless side of all the inevitable 'i am totally posting this from my wii browser omg!' posts.
However, it remains entirely true that I am totally posting this from my wii browser. Yes! An important milestone. Autocomplete is pretty invaluable.

Like the wind!
- zusty
zustifer: (green puyo)
[JOKE]

If you cannot maintain a Blomby Car article, then you should not have created a Blomby Car article.

[/JOKE]





[BREAKDOWN]
(by request)

There used to be, I'm told, although I can't seem to find it on the net (perhaps I have the wording slightly wrong) an ad campaign or common saying about Jaguar (cars) that went something like 'If you cannot maintain a Jaguar, you should not own a Jaguar.' Apart from one time about ten years ago seeing it modified to 'If you cannot maintain a jaguar head, you should not own a jaguar head,' about something, uh, different, I also said it myself or read it about Blomby Car. Blomby Car was some old racing game I really enjoyed the name of (seriously, who can resist?), and you can see the inherent comedy gold. So I just now decided to check the wikipedia entry for it, since JP had virtual consoled up an old racing game and I wanted to be snappy with my Blomby Car Trivia, but seemingly the article has been deleted for lack of relevance or who knows what. Anyway, the plaintive wikipedia talk entry about how the guy worked to make entries for arcade games probably won't last forever, so this joke is ephemeral and this is no more than it deserves.

[/BREAKDOWN]
zustifer: (Beetlejuice: flamefingers)
Interview with Irene Pepperberg over at the blog of a nice grad student lady who plugs the Alex Foundation store.
Irene Pepperberg is currently the only scientist I've made a Mii of. (Speaking of not having grammar.)
zustifer: (David Byrne very small)
We had a particularly awesome thanksgiving, with no stinking family and no canned waxy beans or football (even though a boy should watch it). We drove over to 343 & unpleasant's, trying our best to ignore the mysterious and unhelpful 'check engine' light, and cooked a bunch of stuff and watched a bunch of stuff and played a bunch of stuff and stayed in our pajamas all day.
Here is what my plate looked like initially.
Here are a couple of my better non-Dune-related Miis. (Here are some more. No promises about the Dune.)
And here is a Hitler mii that someone made. I made Girl Hitler, but that's different.
zustifer: (why can't monsters get along)
So we (343, unpleasant, chmmr & self) stayed out all night Saturday to get a Wii, in line in front of Target, like assholes. It was cold, and the people next to us were boring and eavesdroppy, but it kind of ruled. We didn't need to take out our DSes once, even (due to our ability to entertain ourselves), which was good because exposing fingers would have been not the greatest experience. We did miss Feepness and Bismuth, though, who due to broken car were unable to attend. Sad. (Here is what you missed! Coldness! Urine! Dunkin Donuts!)
Anyway, wii. Our wireless connectivity is awry in some way right now, but it seemed to work earlier, which is positive. I have been making Mii avatars all day, and it is heck of amusing, allow me to tell you. I do enjoy character creation. Although there could be twice as many options in every category of facial feature, and that would not even be enough. I am hoping for updates with more choices.
Wii sports = amusing, zelda wolf & horse = not as well-done as Okami and Shadow of Colossus, blah blah. Whatever, more avatars.
zustifer: (Jim Jarmusch)
JP is playing through Resident Evil 4 again. It's not as fun as it could be to watch. The sound design is (probably by necessity, but hoo boy) pretty repetitive, and JP's got the different outfits unlocked, which means chicketta is in this wretched pleather disco thing. It's pretty appalling.

We watched a bunch of 80s music videos that feepness gave us, which were good stuff. I mean, apart from the bad stuff. The line was very blurry. However, it has been established that everyone wants to be Ric Ocasek for Halloween, even without Halloween actually being present.
Oh, and speaking of disco, there was a video for Boney M's Rasputin, which featured a dude with a modest afro and fake Rasputin beard. Pretty excellent.

It is appearing that one of my paychecks has been lost in the mail. Awesome!
zustifer: (Barbara)
This joke went over well in class today (in a thread that took until the last fifth of its life for someone to mention that the premise didn't make any sense. Asimov's laws aren't natural laws that happen to be for robots, or anything. They require, you know, buy-in from the robots' creators).

Also someone in class had set a closeup of Old Snake from the Metal Gear Retirement Home as their desktop. I snickered quietly to myself to see the characteristic painful-looking overly sideways-bent wrist. Ouchers.

I like this post better without the 'attention spammers.'

Also important but won't fit anywhere: it's really amazing how much Venture Brothers picks up in the second season.
zustifer: (May's dolphin)
Goddammit! I finally, after maybe a week of weirdly painful hip muscles (visited upon me for no reason I could fathom), asked Mr. Internet. Oh. Bursitis. Gross, my horrible fluid-sacs are inflamed! So now I have to take aspirin and lie around and play Disgaea 2, because sitting up kind of hurts. I guess that is okay.
zustifer: (Nivlem says See Here)
Okay, all you people who have a foot in the game world need to look at this and revile it for what it is: very poor advertising. This is an excellent example of the work of people who seem to have similar goals to me, but who somehow manage to besmirch the cause by aligning themselves with it (there was some kind of makinglight discussion on this concept recently but I'm unable to find it). It's an imitation of the low-budget seamless-and-diffuse-lighting 'mac vs PC' ads (which themselves are sort of chintzy, but this is not my point), only with consoles (PS3 and Wii) substituted in.

Now, conceptually, personifying something like an OS or console is sort of doomed to be pretty subjective and prone to straw-manning. It's like live-action political cartooning. The choices made by the creators of this ad are not even consistent in their message, although their mindset is very accurately depicted. Let's look at this sucker.

Okay, first shot. We have here a chunky dark-haired girl in black and blue representing the PS3. Presumably what they're trying to evoke is a needlessly bloated system, and not just playing the fat chick card (benefit of the doubt at this point). She's wearing glasses, which could either mean she's smart, or could mean she's a nerd. Smart isn't bad, and since the PS3 is being demonised here, I've got to assume they want her to look not-cool. First data point on the creators: they don't like nerd girls.

Next to her we have a blond chick in hot pants and some kind of bikini top. Also some weird striped high heel boots. She is pretty obviously The Hot Chick that is trotted out in ads pretty much constantly. The forthrightness of this could either be subversive or really brain-dead. Let's guess which! No, we don't know yet, we haven't watched the video. She's supposed to represent the Wii, so I guess our ad creators are for the Wii, since they've just heaped the 'positive attributes' onto this character. So, the Wii is, uh, naked? It's stripped-down and runs fast or something? Not too clear yet. Second data point on the creators: they enjoy blond chicks in bikinis better than nerd girls.

Okay, let's hear some dialogue. Uh, oh. I see. The 'Wii' is a dumb whore. The PS3 is understandably put off by her. Hmm, PS3 seems to have interests that most stereotypical gamers enjoy (WW2 games?). Are the ad creators not stereotypical gamers? Are they gamers at all (I'm unwilling to assume that they are sick of the same old shit, because there's no mention of it, and also because I already hate them)? Wii says she's 'as cute as a button' in response, which is an amusingly pointless thing to say. The console is cute? Does it DO anything?

It's a little clearer halfway through; the PS3 is supposed to be a sexless intelligent stereotype, presumably, even though the concept of the male viewer wanting a vibrate function (apparently for SEXY REASONS) is pretty stupid. The Wii is all sex and nothing else. Is this meaningful? Perhaps in the way that people refer to new gadgets as 'sexy', that being the most shallow way a person can talk about an object. Yes, your goddamned palm pilot is sexy. It has buttons and is new. Awesome, champ. Data point 3: ad creators like new and shiny. They own new high-capacity ipods.

There's some attention paid to ease of use, at least. Okay, valid point number one. Cost, valid point number two (although hearing Blondie the Blond Blond say 'I'm cheap' is kind of making me want to jam a q-tip into my brain).
At the END, the VERY END, they're managing to get to their point, which is almost cohesive. The PS3 has all these features you may or may not have asked for (bloating), wants to be a 'media center', and is very taken with its awesome cutting-edge whatnot. The Wii merely is what it is, I guess. Boy, I can think of probably dozens of better ways to show that.

So, okay, I sat through it again. All the way through. Apart from the points I mentioned and possibly the mapping of 'ease of use' onto 'stupid slut' (which I honestly can't be sure was intentional), this was utterly meaningless and vapid.
What's the main purpose of the Wii, in the real world? To be accessible, and easy to understand and use. This is maybe represented in the character of the Wii chick, BUT by translating this trait in this particular way, you have made the 'Wii' (the in-ad version) INACCESSIBLE by essentially the entire audience that Nintendo wants. Smooth move, ex-lax, let's alienate the entire fucking world except for your goddamned 18-45 nuts-and-gum heterosexual male fucknauts. An accessible ad for an accessible system? Fuck that! I want to look at some dumb hole giggling and slapping her own ass! Fuck the smart one I can talk to, let's paste her onto the thing we hate!

Nice one, guys, I hope you end up with the relationships you deserve in life. Even if you do like the Wii.
zustifer: (Beetlejuice: Delia looks significantly a)
So I ended up reading Penny Arcade's Monday comic yesterday, for whatever reason. At first when I read it, I thought, wait, what happened? The serious tone and the deathy Star Wars reference plus the concept of journalism made me think that some sort of major censorship had occurred in the game world. The other possibility was that some game magazine had gone under or something, and either way the prospect was worrying. Huh? I said, and I checked the main page, where... oh. E3. God, THAT'S ALL? I had already forgotten about E3 going away the day after its 'present form' demise was announced. E3 is bloated and semi-pointless in the best of light; why should I care about it? I was actually sort of insulted that Penny Arcade would put such a seemingly heartfelt face on such a subject, making it sound like a much more worrisome occurrence than it is. Something of a waste of pathos.

But then, it IS Penny Arcade. Oh, burn.




* The Vestibules, Bulbous Bouffant
zustifer: (Barbara)
Okay, so a Nice Lady (unnamed so that the Science Cops won't come and get her) has politely snagged me the paper in question.
It's somewhat different than I'd thought. The exposure to videogames is not actually part of the experiment; the level of violence and amount of time spent on games played by the study participants were SELF-RATED before the experiment began.
Base-level aggression was determined by the 'Irritability Scale', which is supposedly regarded as a good test (Man, what I don't know about psychology, you could... essentially make an entire discipline out of. Oh well).

The desensitization part rests on this concept of P300 brainwave amplitudes, which purportedly are large when a stimulus is novel and possibly confusing, and small when your brain has decided it's not worth paying attention to (no threat, nothing to worry about, is how they render it, but the description to me sounds a little more like mere categorization speed, which could be harmless. Also they don't sound very sure that this is definitely the function; there seems to be some doubt). This is so not my area of expertise that it's all over you screen, so I have to pretty much let this one go by. They do say, though, that people scoring high on the Irritability Scale also had some P300 difference from those who didn't, so that's interesting as well. I also know exactly shit about statistics, so the ones they give I can't really do much with.

The other segment was the 'aggression' one, which had people trying to beat a competitor (who was actually computer-controlled and usually random, unbeknownst to the participants) at a reaction-speed task. When the human was told that he won, he was allowed to 'punish' his opponent by giving him a burst of loud noise, whose length and volume he could control. When the human 'lost', he was randomly punished by the computer.
I think this would have been a more interesting experiment if there had been 'nice' and 'mean' computer groups, as well as this random one. Even a less-aggressive person could probably be cajoled into reacting angrily to unjust or arbitrary-feeling punishment. I would have liked to have seen results on how the more Irritable subjects responded to a computer who never punished them, or who always did so at the highest level (the subtext of which could be, how flexible is the aggressive or highly irritable subject in a 'social environment'? If someone is obviously nice to him, can he be nice in return?).

Their wrap-up is thus: "In summary, this study is the first to link video game violence exposure and aggressive behavior to brain processes hypothetically reflecting desensitization in the aversive motivational system." So the P300 thing remains somewhat questionable. The aversive motivational system is what governs your response to bad things that you may need to get away from, so this is also interesting. I wonder how trained cops and the like would respond to the violent imagery. They have mental tools for dealing with violent situations, so would this make them look pathologically desensitized to the researchers?

As far as I can tell (and this is without any neuro background, and also I'm slow and I miss things), none of this can definitively be ascribed to videogames. The baseline aggressiveness of the study subjects could have motivated them to seek out violent games and play them often, and this or other pursuits could have allowed them to categorize violent images quickly. And, as everyone has said, this also may not have anything to do with real-life violence.

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Karla Z

February 2012

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