Game utensils

September 19th, 2014 by harold

The analogy with food and cooking always works well: making a game looks like making food, everything is possible, there are some loose rules and an infinity of flavors possible. Like food it’s about chemistry. Like a good salad dressing, it all depends on ingredients and how to mix them. Cooking and making great food is about all that.

The game industry has always been obsessed with hardware. If cooking was treated the way we make games, it would be like:

Or

It would be terrible and not make a lot of sense. And yet, this is exactly how the game industry reacts all the time.

And yet, the market is showing how generic computers –yes, Windows PCs- are all you need, ask Notch, ask Valve and Steam, ask gazillions of developers who ship their games on everything they can. Generic tools as long as they do a correct job are enough to make absolutely divine things or consume those divine things. Gordon Ramsay’s food is still probably amazing in a paper plate.

Chefs don’t obsess over how many burners they have, what brand or how they wouldn’t use that brand. They just cook.

The game industry hardware obsession is connected to machismo, who’s having the biggest one, which in turns correlates the super lack of diversity (dudes dudes dudes). It’s less and less the case but damn, it’s been for so long it’s still a backbone of game culture.

Somehow it’s worse now because young dudes have no idea of what they’re talking about when comparing and “fighting” over which machine is the most powerful, when those machines never have been more equal or barely different. More pointless than ever.

There’s this inextricable conservatism in game culture that really brings us down.

Platforms, tools are just  game utensils. Stop obsessing about them, it’s mostly irrelevant today.

Minecamera

September 15th, 2014 by harold

One of the most amazing aspect of Minecraft to me is to have become so big with a first-person view.

Early 2000s speaking of a first-person view game without a focus on shooting people was really crazy talk.

Game developers underestimated people’s ability to move inside a 3D space for some reason because if you think about it, we do that all the time.

Game developers forgot something bigger: first-person view is the perfect camera that people own. This way, movies, clips, funny stuff are made and create the meta culture needed to forge an IP into timelessness. It is clear to me that games are not about narrative but narrative is the most powerful culture engine, still.

Third person “movies” make it look like you’re playing with dolls or Lego characters. There always will be something anchored in childhood with third-person view.

That game fucked my expectations up

September 14th, 2014 by harold

Diversity in games. How to think about how a game can reach a diverse crowd? By having characters that represent you. I would most of the time take Adam and my white friend would take Axel and that just made fucking sense and felt good.

“Why is it important to have different characters?” likes to wonder the industry today. It’s because it is important. We’re telling you, you don’t need to and shouldn’t question us for telling you. Do the work.

90s Japanese developers didn’t ask, they just did. It made sense to have a diverse representation when making and marketing a game for the West. Note how it wasn’t a feature to have a black guy and a woman in the cast, it was just normal iteration from anonymous dudebros in previous beat ‘em all. Realism and broadening audience worked in pair at that time. Shit made sense.

Music is the most powerful medium for thought, mood and movement control.

Heard that somewhere on the internet, totally true.

Which is why music and sfxs are important in games because they are ART. They emotionally connect you way more than pixels ever will, it’s deep son. There isn’t a game forum out there without a “favorite music?” thread going on for pages and pages. You can hear Sonic’s ring sound and you’re immediately excited.

Yuzo Koshiro demanded to have his name on the main title screen. As a kid I was like, “sweet, that’s what I want to do too!”. I learned two decades later that he had to fight Sega very hard (and pretty much killed his career) for this because they didn’t want artists to become famous, but that single line on that start screen made me think music in games was a beautiful thing to craft and super important. Funny how things go sometimes.

Game designers and programmers are usually pretty happy to show you how they don’t know anything about music and sound, it’s a little disheartening. I “know” how shaders work or what inverse kinematic is even though they don’t add much to a game except sucking up all the budget. So a game developer should definitely know about the most powerful medium for interactivity and feel, me think.

That Streets of Rage game set up my expectations and dreams for game development and nothing went right. It’s so weird, it looked so promising.

Local fun

September 12th, 2014 by harold

The US  internationally speaking, ugh.

Locally though, I’m having a blast. This morning I talked to that big dude I was saying hello to for months. He’s an architect and works in construction, lives a block away. Not only I have billions of question about construction and modern California architecture but he knows someone who does sound and who’s kind of searching for audio people with skills. Oh and my architect friend is giving me $700 worth of acoustic foam this weekend which is nice. BAM

Next at my favorite basketball playground I shot a video of brother J working out and talking, sending a super positive message about how you need to just do it you know the drill.

And then tonight this happened.

Car gone

Glad she’s OK (but also that was the car I was supposed to use for my driving test). C’est la vie.

Do you remember

September 8th, 2014 by harold

Sunday trip

Crazy week son. I did so many different things. Yesterday was pretty awesome, travelled to Pasadena to get my landlord’s car and pick up some stuff for me from my friends over Burbank. I’m thankful for that sunset from my balcony, seriously. So good. Bad part is it’s starting earlier, I can’t eat at 18:48/6:48pm watching it.

Next week I finally have that behind the wheel driving test, after I drove a minivan for hours last week, I should be good. Yeah, you can drive with a temporary driver’s license and you need your own car to pass the test, it doesn’t really make sense (in France, you can’t drive until you have your license and they provide the car for the test because you’re not supposed to drive remember?).

Things I’ve been told:

“You don’t sound French…” said a cool dude, kindly all suspicious and shit.

“I need to make a gif of you walking, you look like straight out of Foxy Brown.” said a cool girl, laughing.

“LOOK AT IT” said a Uber driver, showing me how we’re the only car on my boulevard at 1:45am.

I haven’t gotten a flat tire in hundreds of miles on my bike and the odds are totally against me now. Do not like.

Dystopian August

September 2nd, 2014 by harold

It’s not pessimistic, brother, because this is the blues. We are blues people. The blues aren’t pessimistic. We’re prisoners of hope but we tell the truth and the truth is dark. That’s different.

Cornel West, laying it down for me.

That prisoner of hope thing is the only thing that wakes me up and makes me want to do better. Powered by despair, batteries not included.

I broke down, in tears watching the video of that man getting arrested for sitting on a bench. Couldn’t cry for weeks with Ferguson and all the horrible lack of justice permeating our black lives (so many stories, so many) and this one really brought the “I can’t” in my eyes.

Then to make sure I would be blue the entire weekend I watched the documentary Noirs de France on YouTube, the story of black people in France from the mid 1700s to now, reminding me how and why I have been feeling more and more uncomfortable there. The past year in Paris, because I had problems speaking French I went up a notch on the racist scale, I could read the “that dude is a fucking immigrant who can’t speak” faces but I didn’t care. I’ve seen more, enjoyed more and took more shit than you dear cashier so your pesky judgmental attitude can’t even reach my toes. Fall back.

It’s not just that I have hope I’m also living it more often than not, being friends with so many different and awesome people. In just three months my black ass got new white, black, Mexican and Jewish friends of course Gaza and Ferguson feel like a breach in space time continuum, an insecure past that doesn’t match what I’m living. August 2014 showed me how far society is from me and how fragile multiculturalism is. August 2014 denies my life so much I want to punch that month in the face and choke it to sleep. Fuck you, August 2014.

Devastating

August 19th, 2014 by harold

Exhausting.

Fascinating to witness how the news deployed:

- A young black man killed. Black people lose their shit, white people stay mostly silent.

- Militarized police takes action, fucks the press over. Black people lose their shit, white people too.

Just this shows how race and lack of empathy are connected –not my race? I don’t feel anything- and it is so blatant and widespread it’s hard to watch in real time at a large scale.

I keep thinking of those white mass shooters, incarcerated and not killed on sight. I think of Christopher Dorner black ex LAPD cop who went on a rampage on police officers over “abuse allegations” (like it’s not plausible with any PD in the US). Burned down in a mountain cabin like it totally makes sense. Black life has no value on this planet.

I keep thinking of Mike Brown’s mom words: “do you know how hard it was to get him off the streets?” And she did, for nothing. Her son was executed. The situation could be so much worse down there. There is such a monstrous brewing anger in all of us black people watching this shit unfold for decades, dozens of Mike Brown after dozens of Mike Brown. You have no idea.

My white family that I love is completely out of my black experience, so hard. They don’t want to know, I told my sister she’s not even moved or feel for me. They’re fine sticking their heads in the sand, in their bubble being like “oh that’s why you’re sad?”. Jesus fuck, man.

I moved to CA. I just got my temporary driver’s license. I’m so scared to get arrested. What if I had just a little too much fun and the night ends up like the worst nightmare or even the End? I’m a target. At the same time I know it will probably not happen because I’m wary as fuck, I’ll use Uber as much as I can and unlike this poor guy I knew. But hell, that constant vigilance shit is exhausting.

I’m in Atwater Village for 3 weeks which Wikipedia tells me is 1.4% black. I live now in a 93% Latino and black neighborhood so the change is felt, people don’t look at me the same way here, courtesy is pretty dry. Always disappointing to experience first hand. The first days walking the dog, wearing my hoodie, I wasn’t feeling great. It’s beautiful around though.

I’m so tired of this constant anxiety. Nothing makes sense, nothing matters when you are in the position of potentially getting killed by the police knowing they’ll get away with it. Nothing matters.

Robin Williams

August 15th, 2014 by harold

When waiting a bit before commenting is really useful.

Robin Williams had Parkinson’s.

Now I totally get why an overworked and alcoholic actor who had an amazing life would end his life at 63. I don’t feel like he chickened out he just had enough of our bullshit, knew it would just be awful for the rest of his days. His body, his thoughts, his rights. The environment made him do it, not him. Would he have been able to change his surrounding and be unknown again without a terrible disease creeping up, I’m sure he’d be riding his bike up to 100.

So many people go “check your mental health!” but never question the very environment that makes us think of doing something brutal and definitive. The amount of horseshit in this world coupled with an incurable, painful, slow disease are very strong and valid arguments to end this all on your terms.

Having taken care of my grandpa slowly dying for 10 years of Parkinson’s I even think Robin was brave. Thinking ahead, generous.

Ferguson lonely island

August 12th, 2014 by harold

It is heavy, man. I was at the restaurant with my only black friend who wanted prime ribs when I break the Missouri news to him via Twitter. The restaurant is super dark and calm. Before that we were chatting outside in the sun and he was telling me how happy he was to have a black friend with whom he can talk about tech and economy and business models because all of his black friends don’t give a damn about all that.

Dissonance. Trying to keep it positive though. I know, a black student dies, riots, white people crying Gaza kids and a famous actor like they’re part of their own family while being completely silent over stuff happening to US citizens, the usual.

Staying focused. Trying to. Sometimes it’s just so damn hard.

On Monument Valley

August 11th, 2014 by harold

To me, the very first thing that made me smile playing Monument Valley was that I touched something and it played some sound effect/music. It’s a very raw connection. It’s not to annoy parents that we have toys with sound effects, it’s just that they create that smile, they validate the feedback loop: I touch/pull/scratch this, I get audio feedback. It’s a very real life mechanism, it makes things alive. It is not weird science or an obsession from my part, it is key in the process of enjoying a tactile experience.

It is sad that even the developers don’t really see this as part of their game’s experience. I wouldn’t say as a first point “beautiful, intuitive visuals” but more like “playful, intriguing audiovisuals”.