Black Panther

February 19th, 2018 by harold

Yes spoilers following.

As a black immigrant with zero black relatives,

as a computer expert (game developer and computer nerd since 1987)

as a dude who doesn’t watch trailers and doesn’t care about superheroes (not per se but because they bring this weird “not everyone can do the job” vibe to society, which is problematic)

and who just saw Black Panther this morning,

I have feelings.

First, for sure when I was growing up and saw that there was a black superhero called Black Panther (which was my favorite animal, like probably tons of black kids), I loved it. But it annoyed me, the comics were lame as shit. Or I was too young to comprehend them.

Fast forward to now, looking at black families rushing to their seats with super-excited kids, in the world we’re living in… It’s definitely different and much more positive. I love it.

This article covers it all. There’s nothing to go too deep into on the Killmonger/MalcomX angle because as you know, it’s still a movie that is supposed to attract as many people as possible. They probably battled in the editing room for days and weeks. The first cut was over 4 hours I think?

I was shocked and saddened by how Killmonger kills his girlfriend. I believe in a movie with so many strong women front and back of the camera that this scene exists to remind black men that they’re, also, doing bad shit. It wasn’t gratuitous. We can celebrate blackness, enjoy some black entertainment and get some nested comment on Black Love and Relationship (black women sacrificing themselves for ungrateful black men). If it was gratuitous, then it’s a shame and I’ll blame it on the story and the 2-hour or so cut (how will we be able to incorporate her later on? Kill the character).

The sound mix, sparse subwoofer pulses, rich percussions arrangements and raising voices silencing everything were super awesome.

Three things I’m annoyed with:

– Western Technocentrism

It pisses me off to look at skyscrapers and public transportation as the most amazing science-fiction, as “the city of the future”. First of all, that’s the fucking present. And second of all, it doesn’t work well. NYC and Paris have the same issues. Stay stuck in a train between stations for over a hour and see how you like the future. Live with an upstairs neighbor who walks with the delicacy of a buffalo, you’ll see that it’s not the limitless future. That’s the opposite.

Please reimagine the futuristic African rural shit, that could be so much better than what I saw.

Wakanda’s science fictional city should be about amazing living areas that are hiding behind nature and yet super futuristic and blending with African art. It should be about individual vehicles picking you up anywhere, anytime (which is something that is happening right now in the US with Waymo). MAKE ME DREAM WITH INTERESTING, BOLD TAKES INSTEAD OF DOING THE SAME DUMB EUROPEAN TECHNOCENTRISM THAT DOESN’T EVEN WORK WELL UNDER LOAD IN THE REAL WORLD AND WE KNOW IT

– Monarchy

Rituals, tribes, kingdoms… That shit is old. I want NEW shit. Like a leader leading an actual democratic system where everything is voted real fast & real good because the system is liquid. That would make everything so much more interesting. No dumb ass combat with Killmonger. He wouldn’t have been alone. He would have brought a congregation of black men and women who have been left out in the world. They would have put pressure on those lazy ass Wakandians and that would have been so much deeper and interesting and funny. I know, action movie. And superheroes. And fist fights.

– Representation

I have an issue with that because on one hand, it’s great, but on the other hand, we need black kids to be able to do whatever they want, even when there’s no known black folks who did it before. Look at African countries in the winter Olympics. Being determine to do something because it’s just you and this thing and you know that you will do awesome, is the strongest, purest, most unbreakable determination you’ll ever have. It needs to come from yourself. If you have black representation, that’s great. If you have black mentors, that’s a jackpot. If you don’t have none of that, you still have you. You’re enough. You’re the shit. Plan, manage, conquer. I know it feels impossible. But some of us did. Some of us are. Focus.

The problem of representation is that it hides all that you know, elbow grease that is the most absolute necessity. Representation is not an elevator. It’s a poster in the staircase. It’s encouraging and that’s important. We like to forget about the tenacity part and we forget about it all the time.

Anyway, that was fun. Also the red warriors ladies can get in formation at my front door, thank you very much.

Parkland

February 18th, 2018 by harold

After a moment of silence, I forget about the dead. All I hear is a “why?” in my head while looking at the picture of the arrest. Black smiles pass by in my mind. Those people are gone. For a taillight, cigarettes, skittles. Praying.

They arrest a white murderer on the go like he’s some kind of inoffensive weirdo. Again.

It’s so hard and unfair to have to deal with the clearest proof that everything is racial, ad nauseum.

It’s catastrophic.

IT4TheWest

February 11th, 2018 by harold

The NBA is cold but damn y’all make it like he was the reason the Cavs have a shitty ass defense.

It fascinates me how dudes can turn against each others while they will affirm that this is what women –bitches- do. Y’all bitches too.

IT is a scorer first, that’s what he does. You set him up only to assist, he can do that but that’s not his main weapon. He didn’t shot so well maybe because he’s injured and because there’s drama around Lebron, all the time. He speaks about it, tries to be candid and mofos jump him. That makes everything worse. The end.

Whatever.

Welcome to the Los Angeles Lakers, Isaiah Thomas. May you burn them all with a scorching field goal percentage.

This is how it happens

February 11th, 2018 by harold

When my Uber driver –an older white dude from Orange County- left the freeway to hit W Adams Blvd four years ago, he said “not a lot of white people ‘round here huh?” to which I answered “nope”. The goal was to find a place with more diversity than Silver Lake and also cheaper. Turns out, both things go together pretty well.

According to Wikipedia my old neighborhood was 2% black. I was now in a 2% white neighborhood.

Next thing I know, a hip place is being built on my block. White folks.

Next thing I know, black businesses are booted out. One, a vintage clothes shop had a 30 days notice to get the fuck out. The other, a beauty salon, well I saw the entire thing unfold from anger to tears to moving out furniture and handing paperwork over to white folks.

Next thing I know, the few homeless folks –all black- around start disappearing.

Next thing I know, I see groups of white people roaming the streets, looking at properties.

Next thing I know, luxury cars are parking around.

Next thing I know, joggers. Fucking joggers.

Next thing I know, I have white neighbors all around. Next thing I see, they raise gates and fences. They also all wear sunglasses all the time which makes eye contact impossible. One month I say hi to Mexicans and shout a “’ALRIGHT!” to black folks and the next one I smile awkwardly at apparently soulless people. A place selling $17 sandwiches is being built not far from me, while the mom and pop burger joint closed unexpectedly.

All that change in three years. It’s fucking weird. It feels like an invasion.

There’s more. I have read a lot about the history of south LA. I have biked all the streets around, I have friends and acquaintances living here. I see realtors flipping houses at indecent prices. White folks at neighborhood councils imposing their views even though they lived here for less than six months. It’s unreal.

I know what’s up: Hollywood is crowded, the silicon beach is extending through Culver City. South LA is between those two and being squeezed. People used to be scared to get shot south the 10, ridesharing services proved that it wasn’t happening that often. That gave people ideas and we know white folks have on average ten times more money than black and brown folks so, boom. They buy houses like we buy candy.

It’s wild. It needs to stop.

That binging thing

February 6th, 2018 by harold

I did it  with Master of None. I watched the first season. It was good. I think?

I can’t really remember because it wasn’t extremely memorable and yet it was satisfying?

I very much dislike the auto-play feature, designed to make us binge. I’m reading the premises and boom, it starts playing. I can’t stand the lack of control and how everything is organized to maximize consumption.

It all comes down to how much we can take and I think that despite generations getting used to consuming more, the human brain wasn’t designed to listen and absorb 6 hours of drama at a time. It’s not made for that. Even when you were born in 2005. So our brains disregard and forget as fast as it happens.

While we keep stuffing them.

FJanuary

February 4th, 2018 by harold

January months are always pretty grim but this one was particularly bad.

Got my dad to spew some ignorant, racially charged shit so I ended the call in his face before it went way wrong. We haven’t spoken since.

An ex-roommate committed suicide. A super great neighbor that I was looking forward to see more often this year, died unexpectedly. My BFF in France is in a psychiatric hospital, recovering from chronic depression.

I won a GDC pass for the second year in a row but I can’t afford to fly and hang out in San Francisco for a week, like not at all.

I know getting a job where I do what I do best, where I get paid what I should get paid, would alleviate a lot of stress and help me out dealing with a lot of shit around.

So I go back to my military schedule. Feeding my brain with books and expulsing anxiety through ball and bass. Asking for help, hoping for help.

One friend asked me: “where do you get your emotional support?” and it got me like this.

Tyler

January 30th, 2018 by harold

Man, awards don’t matter. But you deserved one.

I listened to your album a lot last summer writing my book. I think it was better than other rap albums, different. Also you rap and produced the music so that makes it immediately richer in my mind. Even though I’m mad you botched the 911 beat on purpose, I like it. I like the risks. I also appreciate the fact that each track loops properly on its own. Attention to detail. Obviously, Garden Shed and See You Again are big songs.

“I’m the loneliest man alive, so I keep on dancing to throw ‘em off”  For real though.

One more thing: stop obsessing about cars so much bruh. Get into architecture, passive systems and interior design. Or game development, if you’re crazy enough.

Crypto²

January 27th, 2018 by harold

When it came out, I thought about getting some Bitcoins.

I have no idea what on earth is going on with crypto currency, except that everyone is trying to game the game. To cheat as much as possible while using an absurd amount of energy and technology.

It’s weird as hell.

The cost of games

January 23rd, 2018 by harold

Raph Koster going to town.

People don’t get it. This is not about being right or wrong about business models. This is about sustainability, the most important thing for just about anything you care about.

First Raph demonstrates that yeah, games are cheaper now. And yes, they cost more than ever to make and we are reaching market saturation. I know, a lot of companies are profitable and the market is still growing. But that’s a short term, under-a-decade view. The long term is way more grim (people already have forgotten about the dozens of studios closed in the past years, just on the US west coast). A few more years and we are done, we will crash hard. So we should, we have to reduce costs, right? Especially when we know that the correlation between production value and success is not that strong anymore. In fact, it’s never been weaker.

Raph argues on Twitter: Consumers demand more; more sells graphics cards and computers; new tech comes out and it’s cool; pubs need to compete with other pubs… there’s lots of reasons to keep upping the ante.

The thing is we’re reaching saturation on hardware too: Moore’s law is not driving prices down and performance up like it used to. We’re struggling now. This is good! CPUs and GPUs from the past three or four years are powerful and under-exploited. Raph talks about servers being under-utilized, we can say the same with a lot of hardware in people’s homes.

All of today’s most successful games are not the most demanding games. When Ultima 8 or Wing Commander II came out you really needed the top of tomorrow’s machines. Today you can play LoL or PUBG or GTAV, Minecraft, The Sims on $700 laptops and will have fun. This is great.

If being technically more advanced than competition used to work, it doesn’t anymore thanks to hardware stalling and game engines being the same everywhere. So where can we or should we differentiate ourselves and how to grab those players?

– Community and multiplayer

As Raph says, this is costly and not easy at all. It also means certain types of games are out.

– Systemic content instead of static content 

I would argue that fine-tuning systemic content on a large scale might cost as much as creating static content, with much less predictability of said content “working”. Procedural audio for example, is quite tricky. Still, it should be used in game development as much as possible and we’re not doing a great job at that.

– Revise our game habits

I think this is a viable option. We need to loosen up. We have a tendency to follow a strict monoculture. Take bosses for instance. If you make a metroidvania, you automatically have bosses to fight. It’s a convention. Maybe some people would play your game, enjoy it and want to finish it without having to stress out about a boss battle. It’s the kind of things where we are legit stubborn. Let it go! If that means a lot more people will play, then embrace the change. Player customization is becoming the norm, demonstrating that it does bring more people to try a game out. We need to carve an experience that most people will enjoy, from mechanics to aesthetics.

– Much better accessibility

Playing games is still a nightmare in terms of logistics: do we have enough controllers? Is the system up to date? Let me configure those sixteen buttons to fit my playing style. Let me re-configure those movements on the keyboard and I need my inverted y axis on my mouse, etc. It’s a pain in the ass to play new games. I think operating systems should get on that and integrate gaming a lot more. I should be able to log in and have my game input preferences saved and ready for me to use. Regardless of the hardware I’m using. No, consoles don’t cut it because they’re fixed hardware and tend to destroy interoperability, a crucial and essential need in technology. Agnosticism, all the way.

Accessibility is a very tedious and annoying problem but streamlining gaming more would benefit our medium so much. People wouldn’t stress out the technical details of having fun. Login, grab your favorite controller, done.

There’s so much to do.

Creative Career

January 19th, 2018 by harold

I finished reading Maurice White’s biography. He mentions how happy he is to have had a career in the 70s and up to mid 80s. He talks about the fact that labels used to allow you to grow, to think long-term. Without that thinking no Earth Wind & Fire. No Rick James. No Prince.

Mid 80s, you needed to hit the jackpot within a year.

Now in the music industry you need to hit the jackpot in three months. In five months no one will remember you. It’s not just in music. It’s the same in everything we make. In the 90s, game developers used to have some time to figure out things, ship a bad game, then a decent one or maybe a great one.

Today you die at the first one that doesn’t sell, it’s not even a quality issue anymore.

Producers used to be all over the place. If you couldn’t make it with a big label, you would always have the opportunity to hit it up with a smaller one. There was no “Winner Takes All” paradigm. Smaller markets were fine. Maurice White didn’t sign with Motown, he went through that small company called Chess Records. He did well –financially and artistically- for years, unknown (compared to EW&F stardom). That allowed him to save some money and start his dream band and musical concept.

Big labels were ready to be patient, it was their job. Warner showed tons of patience with Prince, advancing money for his horrible movies etc. That would never ever happen in today’s world. Publishers and game developers used to do that too when games didn’t cost what they cost now. Need one more year to polish? There you go.

Today is more polarized and concentrated than ever before. If you happen to be working for the few companies ruling those creative industries –would it be Disney or EA or Sony Music- you probably have access to more resources than you could use. Outside those giants? Good luck maintaining. Good luck thriving.

Trust has disappeared from transactions and creative careers took the biggest toll.