GAMES: Last night was the 4th Annual New York Videogame Critics Circle Awards, and it was a pretty great evening all around. I was honored and humbled to present the Best Mobile Game award with my buddy Sara Clemens of Videodame, and was personally delighted to see Threes win that category.
The other winners included:
- Best Children’s Game: Mario Kart 8
- Best Handheld Game: Hearthstone
- Best World: Far Cry 4
- Best Indie Game: Shovel Knight
- Best Remake: GTA V
- Best Writing: South Park The Stick of Truth
- Best eSports Experience: Super Smash Bros. Melee
- Best Music: Transistor
- Best Acting: Trey Parker, South Park
- Best Game of the Year: Wolfenstein The New Order
In other news, I’ve been super-busy with music stuff (which I’ll get to in a second), and as such I haven’t really had time to sink my teeth into Sunless Sea the way I’d hoped – I had about 15 minutes to spend with it the other day, and the only thing I can tell you is that I need a lot more than 15 minutes with it in order to get absorbed into its rhythms. It’s a slow, methodical drone of a game, and in the right context that’s exactly the sort of thing I want to get into; I just lack that particular context at this particular moment.
So, instead, I’ve been getting back into GTA V HD, for some reason. Maybe I’m still in Far Cry 4 first-person open world mode? Dunno. I’m trying to not pay attention to the characters and the dialogue, and instead I’m really just taking in the first-person perspective as much as I can. It makes me wonder if Rockstar is going to implement this view with its other IP – specifically, I can’t help but hope that the Red Dead Redemption sequel will get this feature (and that Rockstar will also incorporate a better screenshot utility than GTA V’s smartphone).
MUSIC: If we’re at the halfway point of the RPM Challenge, then my current tally is at 9 recordings, totaling 16 minutes. There’s a few additional sketches that I’ve recorded but haven’t bounced or sent out to my beta listeners; and I suppose I’m cheating a little bit by including something I recorded around 2 weeks before the Challenge technically started. This album is not going to be finished on March 1, of course, and if I’m honest with myself there’s really only 3 or 4 of these 9 recordings that I’d feel comfortable extending into fully-fledged songs. Still – that’s a very healthy batting average, as far as my personal process is concerned, and so I’m feeling pretty good about things.
All that said, this last week was a weird one, and yet also productive. I decided to switch gears and start recording with guitar instead of just keyboard, and while that generated some new material very quickly, it also revealed some computer problems. To wit: my Macbook is having difficulty recording both audio and MIDI at the same time – so, if I record guitar and then want to put down a synth track, I have to unplug everything and then restart my Mac two or three times and then hope that it decides to record the synth track. This is certainly not an ideal way to work, but I’m still making progress nonetheless; there’s one new song in particular that I’d originally recorded several different sketches with guitars, but because of the aforementioned technical problems I decided to combine all the sketches into one take and use keyboards instead, and it sounds fucking great, and now I’m wondering if I should even bother with the guitars at all.
I’ve also started to put together some artwork, and I’m also starting to think about lyrics. The less said about my lyric-writing process, the better; it’s never been an easy process, and considering how long it’s been since I last tried, I’m honestly a bit apprehensive. I even started flipping through my old songwriting notebooks (and by old, I’m talking late 90s) and started adapting some of those scribblings into something workable – my lyrics were shitty back then, too, but the difference was that I wrote every single day, and now that it’s 20 years later I can maintain some level of objective distance from them, and despite their relative vapidity there are still certain phrases and concepts that stick out and might work.
BOOKS: I’m now in the last third of Richard Powers’ Orfeo, which I think I’m enjoying. He’s an absolutely marvelous craftsman of language; every single sentence is beautiful to read. And the way he writes about the experience of listening to music is rather extraordinary. The characters, however, have a tendency to feel like props instead of real people, and I’m not entirely sure I’m all that engaged with the story. This NY Times review describes a lot of what I’m thinking, actually. All that said, I’ve been listening to a lot of the music that’s described in the book (there’s even a few Spotify playlists that include each piece mentioned), and the experience of listening to the music as I read along with his descriptions is nothing short of exhilarating – Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder, Steve Reich’s Proverb, Messaien’s Quartet For the End of the World.