Future games I want to play

October 19th, 2014 by harold

A couple future games that look worth the time to dive in and explore.

Volo Airsport by Ramjet Anvil

Just a simulation of that thing where you fly in a wingsuit. To me that’s one of the great thing about computer games, simulating things you can do in real life but are out of reach for various reasons (cost, dangerousness). I can see myself flying from time to time listening to some music. Playing with physics, trying to hack those rules (can I fly closer to the ground?) is a thing I really like.

Miegakure by Marc ten Bosh

A 4D puzzle game made by one dude. I applause his brain, capable of dealing with insane problems for years just so that our brains go “ha ha!” for a couple hours. 4D is a scary concept but I can’t stop wanting to master that extra dimension. For fun.

The Witness by Jonathan Blow

A first person puzzle game. Last time I checked, I was kind of put off by the running and footsteps sounds but I’m really intrigued by the depth. Jon Blow can’t just ship a real time Myst copy, I don’t think it stops there and I want to see the big picture.

Elite: Dangerous by Frontier

Ultimate Space simulation game. I now have tried the Oculus DK2 and with this game I mean, it’s going to be a before/after moment in games. The potential to kill any social life has never been this big. I just wish the spaceship design would allow me to pilot this or that.

No man’s sky in the same category seems so amazing I’m going to wait a little bit before getting excited. Rebel Galaxy from the Torchlight dudes with its sea-like ship gameplay looks really fun and White Space from Curve Studios looks promising but far from finished.

Future Unfolding by Spaces of Play

Intriguing, that 2D Journey like game. Finally some fresh aesthetic and great push on doing something unique.

Key stuck

October 14th, 2014 by harold

It’s a pain when your ctrl keys are acting up. One day I have to type them five times to get something done, the next day they work perfectly fine. For two hours. Then they don’t work at all, then come back. I’ve been trying to fix them but for now, no luck and less everything.

Two roommates out, two in. Transformed my desk to a modern, minimalist standup desk. A little wobbly for now but I feel great using it. My TV gig is going on. Spent the weekend with my favorite dog. Dogs unconditional love is something very profound and we take that for granted. I already miss him, his morning excitement and all. Next time, buddy. Next time, we’ll go out.

CicLAvia Heart of LA

Last week. 40 kms on my green saddle, a little sunburn on my forehead and tons of smiles.

October for the past five years always has been rough as hell. But as temperature falls a little bit while the breeze gets colder, it’s still summer. It’s still so sunny and I remember that first experience and how I loved it. Damn, son.

ThrowbackNow

October 4th, 2014 by harold

Throwback 94

Summer 94, twenty years ago. Little sister, my black ass, grandpa’s hand. Mom behind the camera.

What’s weird with this picture is that it’s a pretty accurate description of my life this year.

How I got into feminism

September 30th, 2014 by harold

If you’re a dude in that decade between 10 and 20, chances are you’re spending most of your time with your peers, judging and talking shit about women. We’re here sitting with our beers, telling our friends that we hate that girl or would fuck this one etc. It’s pretty limited. I couldn’t live this past 20, sorry.

I was 21 and the time was spring 2001 when I went on my own to a feminist meeting. No one knew, at that time feminism was totally unspoken of even though feminism is older than dust. I was in a relationship at that time and I was wondering about the future and how does it work with a woman in your life, stuff like that. I didn’t trust girls when I was a teenager, they all seemed to not know or want anything from when they’ll be adults. To me what women of my generation were supposed to do was to have plans other than stay at home. But it was more complex to approach for them. Anyway, I had given up on getting information from Kurt Cobain and Slash fans. But here I was in my early 20s and wondering how do women feel in this world because yeah, I had never really asked myself that before (yes, pot). And I could already perceive that it was probably very different. I wanted to know why. I knew society kind of shapes our behavior too. I wanted to know how.

So there I am, one out of three other dudes, sitting in an overcrowded café in Paris. Women, all ages, all together. Us, deer shutting the fuck up, smiling awkwardly. And communication began. For my nerdy brain, groking all those points of view was enlightening as fuck. Same patterns as for racism, it helps. I guess it’s way harder for you white guys.

Years and years later, I made lifetime feminist friends, I walked the streets with them, I laughed and felt desperate at the state of what humans know and what we do. I had great sex with some feminists too, it’s all good guys. My dick is fine, didn’t get cut off. But you need to listen and stfu though. It’s a nice principle, I like it. Do the work in your head, in private, thanks.

14 years later though, it feels strange. Progress has been so slow, it’s even been reverted: in Spain when I started to dig feminism abortion was more than legal it was almost advertised, an Hispanic feature. Now they’re trying to ban that individual, basic woman right. India’s rape culture, barely imaginable. Chris Brown’s fans, Rihanna’s face. Religion back in full force since 9/11 fucked everything up to be honest. Also weird, the fact that feminism became bankable (hello, pop stars) and made the real arguments, the challenges that we have to take on fall in the background where no one looks at (salaries, anyone?). Meanwhile, dudes and bros don’t even bother evolve, they just ignore everything that says that they need feminism too, they’re too busy fitting in a dumb herd. In the mean time a lot of women took the heat and paid hard for their freedom, pushing a new generation born in this economic clusterfuck to reverse back to the good ol’ times. “Well you go get the money, honey. It’s crazy outside.”

I really don’t think there’s any other way to understand women’s lives thus making society a better place, without digging some feminism and that’s not done with a fight but a conversation where one listens for a very long time. That’s you dude, in case you’re a bit slow.

Change, and re-arrange. The only thing you’re going to lose is the illusion that men run everything. No, we are not. Never been.

Uber stuck

September 23rd, 2014 by harold

I use Uber quite often. It’s awesome for riders. It’s terrible for drivers.

When I say it’s awesome it’s a bit more than that, it’s life-changing. Ordering transportation in a couple clicks, wait 5 minutes max and pay three times less than a cab is disrupting as fuck.

The problem is drivers make less and less because there’s more and more of them, Uber adds fees and more importantly doesn’t offer anything to their contractors: drivers have to pay everything for their cars.

It’s horrible because I can’t afford cabs –and their service sucks- and drivers can’t let the opportunity of making some bucks driving around LA for a couple hours go away.

It’s how Tech caters to the masses, which are cheap –we all are-, disconnect itself from any accountability –drivers are contractors- while Uber can experiment with hundreds of millions of dollars of investment. We’re like rats in a lab and it’s so obnoxious.

Let’s all jump to the future now and have a basic income and botcars (all of you drivers don’t look at the road anyway).

Miseducation

September 21st, 2014 by harold

In my weekly communication with my parents, last week I wrote back to my mom talking about what’s going on here and I mention Ferguson, obviously and this story because that’s us. No answer. I get my sister by email later on, she’s literally writing “but, that’s racism!” and my mind goes blank because there’s so much to deal with when I read that.

Earlier today, Skype session with pop and mom. No mention, no questions. Nothing. It’s disappointing yet not surprising even here no white people want to engage on anything about race. We can’t solve anything if we never talk to each other but nevermind.

“I’m doing fine, for an immigrant black man” is something that pops up in my mind a tad too often. I have a pretty accurate idea of how built-in segregation is and when I see all those black men and women killed for nothing… I work for TV these days and yesterday I was running full speed out of a store with a phone cable in my hand in a super white neighborhood, what if my life was ended in 30s I thought and it made me run faster and cringe inside, very weird feeling.

When I sense all that my survival guts kick in. I wonder where I’m at the safest and it’s where I come from, statistically speaking. But then I trade a great energy and intoxicating vibe to a grey, fossilized and as-racist world. I did the test so often the past few years.

People love to intellectually jerk off on those wedding pictures but to me they’re drenched in Blues. I’m telling you from actual experience that this is the best part for those kids especially the black one. They’re so proud and happy and know it’s the future for humans. Even if they can sense that what they live is not the norm, they aren’t prepared for the actual world we’re living in. You know, the difference between “really?” and “fffuuu”.

Adopting kids outside your race is such a great idea, but such a heavy burden for us realizing when we’re out of the Perfect Bubble in which everyone is equal and things make perfect sense that it was not really real. And yet it’s the future.

We have pocket computers but this picture is still “amazing”. It’s so fucked up.

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.