comfort food

Some random observations on a super-chilly Monday morning:

1. So yeah, I’m not gonna be finishing my 2016 Year In Review post any time soon.  There’s too much going on, there’s too little time in which to do it, and then there’s stuff like, well, how in the world am I going to have played enough of The Last GuardianFinal Fantasy XVDishonored 2 and the rest of it in order to know how I feel about them?

2. To that last point, let me talk about The Last Guardian for a second.  This is, for me, an exceedingly difficult game to discuss.  On the one hand, it’s totally up my alley; exploration and puzzle solving and a non-combative focus are exactly the sorts of things I like spending time with.  On the other hand, the controls are mind-bogglingly frustrating, the camera is among the worst I’ve experienced in years, and while I’m not necessarily one to complain about frame rate dips all that much, it’s so distracting in TLG that it completely takes me out of the experience.

And yet there was a moment last night that totally blew me away.  I’m still very early in the game, and I’d learned that my giant dog/cat/beast/friend likes eating these glowing blue barrels.  I’d found one tucked away in a corner, and I brought it over to the beast.  And then I watched the beast examine it, sniff it, approach the barrel with its paw, accidentally hit the barrel and then, very convincingly, react to the barrel’s movements (based on the ground’s physics – this was a completely unscripted moment).  It was breathtaking.  I’ve never seen something like that before, and due to the nature of how the moment played out, I may not see it again in this game.  Indeed, had I been looking the other way, I’d have missed it completely; there was no reason for me to look at what happened other than simple curiosity.

And then, shortly after that, I died about a dozen times trying to jump from a ledge to another ledge.  For a game to have been this long in development… I mean, to create the moment that happened in the previous paragraph, I get it – that’s the sort of programming work that would absolutely take years, especially if you want the player to believe it.  But the camera and the controls are so unbelievably and frustratingly broken… it defies belief.  I’m tempted to walk away from it until it gets patched, frankly, because I very much want to continue playing it without all this janky bullshit that’s getting in the way.

On the flip side, I don’t know if FFXV is something I can allow myself to care about.  I finished the very first mission series – I’d made it to the garage, I killed some bug things, I returned, I got my car back, I drove to the next place to return something; it’s all a bit… silly?  Its narrative tone is literally all over the place and I have no idea if I’m supposed to take it seriously or just enjoy the campiness (such as it is) or what.  I’m not a huge Final Fantasy fan, for that matter, so in this specific case I don’t necessarily feel like I’d be missing out if I skipped it.  And yet there’s something about it that’s compelling enough for me to hold on to it a little big longer.  It might be silly, but it’s 100% committed to whatever it is that it’s trying to do, and I kinda find that admirable.

3. To elaborate on my last post – I have finally crossed the 100K Achievement barrier.  The game in question that finally got me there was, of all things, the Sleeping Dogs remaster (which was a free download, and which I’ve already played on 360, PC, and a tiny bit on PS4).

4. As I’ve mentioned recently, I’ve got a ton of games on my to-play list; I also went on a bit of a retail therapy binge on Black Friday/Cyber Monday and bought even more stuff, some of which I’ve already played on other systems; I also went and upgraded my hard drive capacity on both of my consoles.  What this essentially means, now, is that when I head down into the basement for gaming purposes, I am able to feed my wandering attention span at a moment’s notice without having to move.  And sometimes, this means I get to scratch some older itches.  So it’s true that I purposefully picked the Sleeping Dogs remaster in order to crash the 100K gate, because I knew there were ‘cheevos in the early going of that game; but it’s also true that I kinda like that game a lot, and I was in the mood to play it.  Similarly, even though I’ve got that aforementioned ton of new stuff to play, I’ve had a rather strange urge to play through Far Cry 4 again, and who am I to say no, when it’s sitting right there on my hard drive?

5. I truly can’t believe that it’s the week before Christmas.  This is good and bad; on the one hand, time is flying wildly out of control and it’s scary as hell; on the other, well, 2016 was a shitty year and good riddance to it.  But more to the point, I’m basically shit out of luck on scoring a PSVR any time before the end of the year, and that’s totally my fault for not staying on top of it when I had the chance.  (In fairness to myself, I didn’t actually get to try it out until last week, long after it had disappeared off of every shelf; that said, it’s still annoying to want something and not be able to have it.)

 

Weekend Recap: a head cold, MGS V with fresh eyes, Uncharted perspective, and Beginner’s Guide.

1. It’s funny; now that I’ve handed in my MGS V piece, I’m no longer feeling pressured to play it all the time.  And when I do play it, I’m much more relaxed and far less over-analytical.  So I try to steal a truck and suddenly stone-golem-soldiers appear out of nowhere and teleport out of the way of my bullets?  Hot damn, Kojima, well done.  I’m enjoying the side-op stuff a bit more if only because it’s more tactical and less ridiculous and the rewards are tangible.  (Not sure why some of them still appear lit up in the menu selection, even though they’re finished, but, well, Kojima!)

1a.  I’ve been using Quiet as my mission buddy, and she’s been more or less totally useless.  In fact, I finally realized that she’s the source of this bizarre humming sound that I hear whenever I prepare for an infiltration; I thought it was some sort of animal cry, or a sung prayer, but it was just her mumbling what appears to be the first few bars of “My Way”, or possibly “Danke Schoen“.  In any event it’s super creepy and distracting but at least now I know where the hell it’s coming from.

2.  I had to take a sick day yesterday – these autumn colds are the worst – and because I was feeling a bit loopy, I had an urge to compare the outpost infiltration of MGS V with the outpost infiltration of Far Cry 4.  They’re more similar than I realized, even if the controls are completely different; you scope out and mark enemies, figure out their patrol routes, look for things in the environment that might help you – oh, and pick up a few plants along the way.  The only real difference is that Far Cry doesn’t care whether you use lethal force or not – indeed, you’re supposed to kill everyone, it’s just better if you do it in such a way where nobody raises the alarm, wheras MGS V gives you added value of going non-lethal by getting added information via hostile interrogation, and being able to kidnap certain soldiers for your own purposes (which sounds way creepier written down like that than it actually is, I suppose).

2a.  Again, I was out sick yesterday and so I’m only peripherally aware of the new Far Cry Ice Age game or whatever it is.  Far Cry isn’t necessarily one of my favorite shooter franchises; it’s just that there’s been a bunch of them lately and they haven’t been bad.  My impression is that this is more of a Blood Dragon side story than a full-blown numbered-entry sequel; beyond that, I know nothing and will continue to know nothing until there’s something substantial to know, like a release date and price.

3.  I’ve violated my “no pre-ordering” rule a couple times this year; I can’t remember what the earlier ones were, but I’ve already pre-ordered a digital copy of Rise of the Tomb Raider, and I also pre-ordered the digital version of the Uncharted remasters, which come out on Friday.  I played a bit of the demo that came with it, and while it looks good, I’d forgotten just how much I hate the combat stuff.  At least the PS4 controller is better-suited for it.  Anyway, yesterday I played a little bit of U2 and U3 on my PS3, just to remember what it was that I was getting into (and also so that I could do a little compare/contrast of my own once the PS4 version lands).  The PS3 games still look terrific, actually – and U2’s train sequence feels like a special bit of magic, and I’m looking forward to playing them all again.

3a.  I’ve not yet pre-ordered Fallout 4, if you can believe it.  Part of it is that I expect to spend a lot of time with it, and so I’d like to know which version performs better; console parity has gotten a lot better in recent months and so I don’t think there’ll be that much of a difference, but you never know.  I am a bit curious, though, to know if the PS4 version will be getting the same sort of mod support that the Xbox One will be getting; even if I’ve never really goofed around with mods all that much, I’d like the option if it’s available.

4.  My rental copy of Tony Hawk 5 arrived yesterday – a few days later than it was supposed to, though that hardly matters.  I must confess that even after all the horrendous YouTube glitch videos and impressions had surfaced, there was a small part of me that kinda wanted to play it anyway.  But then I remembered that there was a mandatory 7 GB patch I had to download before I could play, and that was enough for me to send it back ASAP.

5.  Oh yeah – I almost forgot.  I played Davey Wreden’s The Beginner’s Guide last week, and it’s one of those experiences that forces me to stumble upon the limits of my own writing ability; I’m not good enough of a writer to talk about it.  (Believe me, I tried writing about it last week and failed miserably.)  I found it moving and beautiful and wonderfully meta, and it does as good a job about describing the creative process and the emotional peaks and valleys that accompany that process about as well as anything else I’ve ever come across.  It’s hard not to compare it to his previous game, The Stanley Parable, in that in both games you walk through a series of rooms accompanied by specific narration, but that’s about all they have in common.  Beginner’s Guide feels much more personal and sincere and refreshingly avoids the emotional shield of detached irony that might ordinarily accompany this sort of experience.  To say more would spoil it – it’s a 90 minute experience, give or take, and it’s one you should ideally experience without any other prior knowledge.  Just know that the ending took my breath away.

Three Things for Friday

Prologue to today’s three things:  I’ve had an incredibly stressful week, day job-wise, and yesterday was perhaps the roughest of all.  I was in no mood to make music; I kinda just wanted to play with my kid, have a drink after he went to bed, and then sleep.  On the bright side:  I did end up making music, AND I had a drink, AND I played some games and read.  But I was not in the best of ways, I guess you could say.

GAMES:  As noted above, I was in a rough mood.  I did happen to come across Patrick Klepek’s video/article about Grow Home during one of the quieter moments during yesterday’s storm, though, and that did seem to be the sort of thing that might alleviate some stress.  For those of you that don’t know – Grow Home is an experimental game that Ubisoft just announced only two weeks ago, a prototype thing that they were working on based on procedural animation techniques (and which we’ll probably see an adaptation of in the forthcoming Assassin’s Creed games, I’d bet), and in it you play as a charming little robot named B.U.D. who climbs a gigantic plant.  I was certainly charmed by it, though for some reason the game wasn’t working with my 360 controller, and so I had to use mouse/keys, which was a bit more difficult and not particularly intuitive.  Nevertheless, it was a welcome breath of fresh air; pure platforming, exploration, minor environmental puzzle solving, charming art style and sound design.  Hard to pass up for $7.

After a music session (which I’ll get to in a second), I then ended up finishing Far Cry 4; well, I saw the credits roll, at least, though I still have the very last fortress to conquer and a Golden Path epilogue to watch.  (And all the other side stuff to do, of course, none of which I will be doing.)  Kinda screwed up the ending, though.  I’ll try to talk about it in as non-spoilery a way as possible:  after the climactic battle, I was given the opportunity to confront the big baddie, and then, after a speech, I was given a choice to either do something or wait a bit longer, and because I was tired and a little impatient and perhaps somewhat distrustful, I did that thing instead of waiting, and now I kinda wish I’d waited.  I’m certainly not going to go through all 30 hours of that game again just to get the preferred outcome (I’m sure I could look it up on YouTube) and I don’t necessarily regret my course of action (as I simply didn’t care enough about the plot or the characters), but I do kinda wish I’d been a little more open to the idea of seeing what might happen.

What can I say about FC4 that I haven’t said over the last 2 weeks?  It is the same exact game as Far Cry 3 except more bland and far less risky, filled with superfluous side content that doesn’t really mean anything, some occasional, unnecessary nudity that somehow feels more obligatory than gratuitous, and a whole lot of shooting people and animals until they die.  Now that I’m more or less done with it, I’m sure that the only time I’ll ever think about it going forward will be when Far Cry 5 inevitably arrives.

MUSIC:  Again, as noted above, I was in a rough mood.  Really didn’t want to work on music; all I wanted to do was space out and relax and not be required to think.  But eventually I did relax, and realized that I owed it to myself to stick with this RPM Challenge thing and do it anyway, especially since I’d be missing tonight and tomorrow.  To that end, I decided that instead of working from scratch, I’d try to reinterpret one of my older songs that had never been given a proper recording.  This particular song is a bit tricky, given that it goes from 7/4 to 4/4 a few times; it’s also tricky in that I’d always played it on guitar, but decided this time to try it out on piano.  I only laid down one verse and chorus; I never figured out a bridge for it in the past, and in any event I’m not sure if it will make the final cut.  At the very least I’m glad to have learned how to switch time signatures in Logic.

BOOKS:  I remain flummoxed by the Your Face Tomorrow trilogy; that’s pretty much all I can say at this point.

More on the creative process, and etc.

As in my last post, three topics to discuss.

MUSIC.  It occurs to me that, as I glance down the calendar, I’m going to be losing quite a lot of recording time over the next few weeks due to being out of town on the weekends (which often involves travelling on Friday nights, too).  I’m still sticking to my plan, though; at least one loop a night, with no mixing or tweaking or editing or even listening, until Sunday evening.  On Monday night I put down 2 loops; last night I only managed 1, but I think it’s a strong one – or, at least, it probably has some potential if I sit down with it and work with it, though I won’t be doing that until Sunday.

It’s interesting to be working in this way, to just make something and then leave it alone and deliberately ignore it for a specific amount of time; it’s not how I normally work, but then again, I haven’t been this prolific in years.  (And it’s only been 2 days!)  I’m not worrying about if the loops are good or not; my only concern is that they exist.  The thing about loops is that they can be changed and extended and manipulated very easily, whereas whenever I’ve written down chord changes and verse/chorus structures and melodies and such, I have a much harder time deviating away from that script.  (Which becomes especially frustrating when I realize that I can’t accurately recreate on tape what I hear in my head, given my recording and budgeting constraints.)

As I said – I won’t be listening to any of this stuff until Sunday.  Curiously, I haven’t been listening to any other music, either, except at quiet moments at work, and those aren’t really the best conditions to really listen to anything.  I’m curious to find out what happens to my brain after Sunday’s mixdown session, though; will I start obsessively listening to these loops, and thus risk getting creatively stuck again?  Will I start listening to other music?  Will new tunes suddenly pop into my head?  I’ve been very much an empty page this week, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s also created a little bit of a sense of disconnection between me and the stuff I’m recording.

It is what it is.  This is an experiment; it’s too soon to tell if it’s working or not.  I’m happy to be working on a regular basis, though, which is perhaps the best part.

BY THE WAY:  I’d mentioned in the last post that I’d had a friendly set of ears that was going to be helping me out with those Sunday mixdown sessions, and some other friends had piped up and said they wanted to lend their ears as well.  I’m inclined to let them, and you, too, if you want, though I’m probably not going to be handing these out to everyone.  Anyway, if you’re interested, let me know.

BOOKS.  Any concerns I’d had about the first two books in the Your Face Tomorrow trilogy have quickly been assuaged by book three.  There is, finally, action.  Plot!  Things moving in time!  Yes, there are still very long digressions and observational wormholes, but suddenly all these images from the first two books (described in occasionally excruciatingly tedious detail) are becoming relevant and clear and meaningful, and meanwhile the current story has a sense of momentum behind it that had been utterly lacking in the previous volumes.

I’m still highlighting passages by the dozens, though; sometimes these endless digressions contain deeply resonant feelings and ideas, and the translation is quite excellent as far as maintaining the author’s poetic prose.  There’s also this hilarious bit in Book Three, though, that is deeply ironic with regards to the narrator’s endless digressions – here he’s complaining about his boss, who also tends to ramble in tangents:

I wasn’t going to allow him to continue wandering and digressing, not on a night prolonged at his insistence; nor was I prepared to allow him to drift from an important matter to a secondary one and from there to a parenthesis, and from a parenthesis to some interpolated fact, and, as occasionally happened, never to return from his endless bifurcations, for when he started doing that, there almost always came a point when his detours ran out of road and there was only brush or sand or marsh ahead.

GAMES.  As noted before, my game playing is taking a backseat to everything else for the next few weeks.  I did one campaign mission in Far Cry 4 last night and upon its conclusion I was told that I should probably take care of any unfinished business before going to the next mission, which implies to me that I should probably finish those last 3 outposts, do that one last Fashion Week hunt, and maybe do the last 2 Shangri-La missions before finishing outright.

Weekend Recap: Today We Are All Sharks

I am, to my great relief, not nearly as hungover as I’d anticipated I’d be, and my stomach isn’t in terrible shape either; so even though the end result of the Superbowl was a bit of a disappointment, I’m more than happy to call it even.  The NYC weather, on the other hand… the less said about that, the better.

Three topics to discuss today, and which will likely serve as a preview of the month to come here at SFTC HQ.

MUSIC:  Given that yesterday was the Superbowl, and that in addition to chasing a toddler around a small apartment we were also hosting a small-ish viewing party of sorts, I have not yet started recording anything for this year’s RPM Challenge.  Tonight’s the night, however, where I do get started.  As soon as the kid goes to bed, I’m getting to work.

I’m going to try and do it differently this year than in years past – not just for the RPM Challenge, but for my creative process in general; I’m just aiming to record at least one loop every night, without judging it or revising it or mixing it or converting it to mp3.  If the loop turns into something else while I’m working on it, that’s fine, and I certainly won’t stop myself from adding sections if they’re coming naturally and organically.  But I’m more interested in working in such a way that I can make this a daily routine, rather than a chore that I struggle with.

I may or may not have talked about this before in this blog; I’m sure I’ve talked about it on my retired journals.  But my creative process is in need of a serious shake-up.  I have a tendency, when working on loops and stuff, to end up stuck; I’ll finish a loop, it’ll sound pretty neat, and so I’ll mix it and convert it to mp3 and put it on my iPhone and I’ll go around and listen to it for a few days, and then it’s all I think about, and I think about what I’ll add to it and how I’ll re-arrange it, and then I never actually do any of that stuff, and the loop ends up just the same as it was when I started it.  And then instead of going back to record the next day, I put it off and put it off and then 6 months go by and I’ve got nothing to show for it.

Instead, I’m aiming to simply record and record and record and then, every Sunday, listen back to everything and then make some sense of it.  I’ll be sending out the week’s collection to a friendly set of ears, under the caveat that everything is deliberately and necessarily raw and unfinished and underdeveloped, and this set of ears may or may not offer feedback; the feedback isn’t necessarily as important to me right now as just the idea that someone else is keeping tabs on me and making sure that the work I promised to deliver is there.  At the end of the month, if all goes well, I should have 20+ recordings and sketches of varying quality, and at that point we’ll listen to everything and see how we want to proceed.  The RPM Challenge may end on March 1, but that’s not my deadline, nor my destination; I’m mostly interested in what happens over the next 28 days, given that I’m going to be building stuff from scratch.

I was asked if there’s any particular idea behind this album I’m working on; that’s hard to say, given that I don’t yet know what I’m going to be recording.  But certainly the feelings and emotions and memories that got stirred up from my aborted NaNo attempt are still very much lingering in my brain, and I’d imagine that whatever music I end up making is going to be colored by those feelings – regardless of whether I write lyrics or not.

Unlike NaNo, though, where I was feeling incredibly intimidated by the blank page, I’m feeling very energized and psyched and ready to do this.  Unless I already have a song assembling itself in my head, I tend to work best when I’m building from scratch, and because I’m trying to produce a ton of stuff without paying attention to quality, rather than obsessing over each 45-second loop and making sure it’s perfect and then realizing that I’ve done nothing else for a month, I’m hoping that the sheer act of daily work becomes its own reward.

GAMES:  Because the music stuff is going to be taking priority for the next few weeks (and also that there’s not much coming out in February that I’m all that excited about), it’s doubtful that I’ll have much to offer in this particular area.  For whatever it’s worth, I’m around 5 or 6 story missions away from finishing Far Cry 4; I’ve hijacked every radio tower, and I’ve only got 2 or 3 more outposts to liberate; I’ve crafted every item except one, and the only side stuff I’m paying attention to are propaganda posters, death masks, and mani wheels.  It has become a pleasant grind, even as the narrative remains dumb and everything else remains silly; I’m letting it be my post-recording reward, to unwind for 45 minutes or so and slowly turn off my brain before trying to fall asleep.

BOOKS:  I finished Your Face Tomorrow, Volume 2 this morning and am anxious to start (and finish) Volume 3.  I am racing through them, but not necessarily because I’m enjoying them; rather, there are certain areas where the narrator’s digressions become painfully tedious and repetitive and ridiculous, and they don’t enrich the reading experience as much as the writer thinks they might.  That being said, there is an interesting story starting to brew, and there are frequent insightful and resonant passages that I’ve been highlighting and saving, and so I’m finding myself still invested in the trilogy as a whole, and so I certainly can’t stop reading now.  They are a hard recommendation, for sure, and my 3-out-of-5 star reviews aren’t really telling the whole story; perhaps I’ll have more to say about it when I finish this last one.

I haven’t yet decided what I’m reading next, either, though I suspect I’ll need something to cleanse the palate before diving into something heavy, so maybe it’ll be Amy Poehler’s memoir, and/or Patton Oswalt’s new book.

Weekend Recap: Before the Storm

Some quick ramblings while the snow starts to accumulate:

1.  I’m roughly 14.5 hours into Far Cry 4.  The front splash screen tells me I’m only 36% complete.  I clutch my head in despair.  I find myself pressing on in spite of everything telling me to stop, including the game itself.  For example:  I’m in the mood to do some of the propaganda missions, so I open up my map, set a waypoint to the nearest one, and then find a car.  5 seconds after I start driving, I get a radio message telling me that the camp I just left is under attack, and so if I don’t immediately turn around and defend it, I lose the camp again.  This doesn’t feel like dynamic, organic gameplay in a living, breathing world; this feels like the game yelling at me to do a chore that I already did.  And yet, as I said, I’m compelled to keep playing.  In addition to the numerous side activities, I did quite a few campaign missions over the weekend; I visited Shangri-La for the first time; I conquered my first fortress; I upgraded my homestead.  I do appreciate that I can make a 15-minute session as productive as a 4-hour binge, if I so choose.  But it’s hard to get past the underlying blandness that permeates everything.

Speaking of which:

2.  The last FC4 campaign mission I finished before checking out for the weekend involved me taking over a “brick factory” / opium den, and once I was inside my character started hallucinating (i.e., things changing colors, weapons changing at whim, enemies exploding into colorful chalkdust).  This reminded me quite a bit of Saints Row 4, and then I remembered – oh yeah, I rented the Xbox One version that just came out last week, why not check that out?  And, um, it’s pretty underwhelming.  I’d finished the original game on my PC, and while my PC is not a powerhouse by any standard it still looks better there than in this XB1 version.  I can forgive that to a certain extent, but more troubling was that the combat/shooting felt kinda terrible, too; maybe it’s because I’ve been playing a lot of FC4 and GTA5 lately, where the combat feels quite good (or maybe it’s just the lock-on targeting in those games is a bit more pronounced and I know how to use it well), but I felt wildly inaccurate when shooting in SR4’s opening missions; and I’d be remiss not to mention that the combat didn’t feel particularly powerful or meaningful.  Granted, I know full-well that you have to play SR4 for more than 10 minutes before it starts getting meaningfully insane, but given that I’ve already played it… I’m not sure I need to continue.  As far as HD remasters go, this one is pretty disappointing.

3.  Surprise surprise, I splurged a little bit in the weekend PSN Flash Sale / 10% Discount.  Among the haul:

  • Super Mega Baseball
  • Costume Quest 2
  • Guacamelee
  • Shadow Warrior
  • Geometry Wars 3

And, separately, I pre-ordered Grim Fandango Remastered.  Yes, I know I said I wouldn’t pre-order anything this year, but Grim is a special case.  And given that NYC might be under 12 feet of snow tomorrow, I’d rather have that shit already downloaded before I need to worry about power outages.  (Which is to say – I’d like to have the Vita version downloaded as well, so that I can actually play it in the event of a power outage.)

4.  I’m about to finish reading Your Face Tomorrow, Volume 1.  I’m enjoying it, and I’m looking forward to the next one, but it’s a very hard book to recommend; for a 380+ page book that I was given to understand is a postmodern spy novel, very little actually happens – it’s mostly a series of endless paragraphs filled with laconic, obsessively detailed observations about human nature.  There is value in such a thing, and I’ve been highlighting quite a few passages that resonate with me very strongly, and it’s because the writing is so unique that it doesn’t often get tedious.  But I’ve found that it can be difficult to stay engaged with it when I’m in bed.

I thought I had enough for a 5th bullet point, but I guess not.  If you’re in the Northeastern US, stay safe and warm and indoors.

The 3-Day Weekend Hangover

It’s nearly 5:00 pm and I’m only now getting over last night’s NyQuil haze.  This doesn’t bode well for future winter-related headcolds, and I barely managed to put this thing together as it is:

1.  I’d hoped to unveil a new feature today – the SFTC KILL COUNTER, which would be a running tally of how many people I’ve killed across all the games I play this year.  Unfortunately, the PS4 version of Far Cry 4 doesn’t seem to have this sort of stat handy, and I wasn’t about to start keeping manual tabs on it as I played.  So, then:  know that if it did, I’d start up a widget post-haste.  (Maybe it’s OK to wait on this, given that FC4 is, technically, a 2013 game.)

2.  In lighter, non-virtual murder news, I’m finding myself surprisingly excited by the prospect of a new, current-gen Rock Band, and I’ll be even more excited if a new Rock Band works with my old, 360-era plastic instruments (and DLC, of course).

3.  As much as I liked the idea of Borderlands, and as much as I liked the actual Borderlands 2 game (even as the Vita version was kinda shitty), I am not necessarily all that enthused about the forthcoming Borderlands HD remasters.  I don’t need to play those games again.  I’d rather wait for a completely new title.

4.  I will not playing the Resident Evil REmake.  I only barely touched the original game, and so there’s no nostalgic value for me to tap into.

5.  I will be playing a little bit of the new Saints Row thing (on Xbox One).  I don’t expect to get particularly far into it, given that I already finished SR4 on my PC; I skipped the PC version’s DLC (which, apparently, is just as well), and so I’m really just curious to see what it’s like on a console.  I’m also curious to see if my current distaste for virtual murder can be alleviated by SR4’s completely batshit insanity.

On that note – and also to call back to #1 above – I’m still plugging away at Far Cry 4, doing some more sidequests, trying to finish my upgrades, etc.  My opinions about that game have not changed, and the fact that I’m still going back to it is only indicative of the fact that there’s not much else holding my interest at the moment.  The story is garbage, and the only saving grace to that game is that there’s so much else to do in spite of it.  Is that a good thing?

I’m Getting Too Old For This Sort Of Thing

I wanted to meet interesting and stimulating people of an ancient culture… and kill them.
– Full Metal Jacket

My gaming backlog remains intimidating, and ever since I started getting back into a music-making groove (i.e., since Monday) I’ve been less inclined to allow myself to waste time gaming, especially if it’s a game that I’m not particularly enjoying.  To that end, Far Cry 4 has taken over what remains of my gaming attention, and… it is what it is, I guess.

If Far Cry 3 had never existed, I suppose I might be less cynical about the FC4 experience.  And if I hadn’t played every other Ubisoft open-world game released last year, I suppose I might be a little more appreciative of how much there is to do.  But, alas, I did play a hell of a lot of Far Cry 3, and I also played as much Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed as I could stomach, and for all intents and purposes I’m starting to feel like I’m done with this sort of thing.

I don’t know.  I know I must sound like a broken record, considering how much I talk about shooter fatigue and virtual murder and everything; and I also probably sound like a hypocrite, given that I still continue playing these games even as I grow tired of what they ask me to do.  But I can’t help it; I’m tired of guns, I’m tired of shooting, I’m tired of killing as the only way to get from point A to point B.  I’m tired of open-world games that ostensibly want me to create my own fun, but constantly interrupt my own experience to remind me that there’s 500 other things I should be doing.   I’m tired of stories that don’t take any real risks; I’m tired of gaming’s casual, thoughtless sexism; I’m tired of doing the same damn thing over and over again.

I’m tired about feeling self-conscious about calling myself a “gamer” when this is what playing games boils down to.

Where did it go?
Can’t say that I know
Those times of revolution

Of burnin’, burnin’, burnin’
All so cool and gone
What was, just was

We tried, my brother
To hold on to our fate
Or was it late for revolution?

Too tired, too tired, sister
To hold my fist so high
Now that it’s gone

Too tired, brother, sister
To hold my fist so high
Now that it’s gone, gone away.

Where did it go?
Can we say we know
Those times of revolution
Our time of revolution

A New Tune, and The Same Old Story

MUSIC:  Not other people’s, but my own!  Yes, I’ve finally gotten my recording studio set up again – I disassembled everything when my kid was born in order to make extra room (and also to make sure he couldn’t knock anything over), but that’s just a convenient excuse for me saying “I’m too exhausted to be creative right now.”  I’ve been wanting to get back to work for a long time, and the other day I decided that I’d procrastinated for too long.

Now, I’m not necessarily going to be posting everything that I end up making – I gotta save some stuff for the album I want to make, after all – but I am going to post bits and bobs every once in a while.

This particular loop is basically the first thing I’ve recorded in… almost 2 years, I think.  This is mostly a proof-of-concept, that I could successfully loop something in a 5/4 time signature, while also serving as proof that I still know how all my software works.  I guess I’m mostly just pleased that it’s not terrible.  It’s obviously going to need some further development, but in any event there’s something about this in its current state that’s pleasing to me.

Pity, though – while I’m relieved that my MacBook still works and that I remember how to use Logic, it seems that my external hard drive is dead, and so all the rough drafts I’d recorded since 2011 (some of which are pretty good, actually) are going to remain in the rough draft form I left them in unless I re-record them all from scratch.  Perhaps I’ll upload those to Soundcloud as well, just so that they can exist in some form beyond my iTunes library.


GAMES:  When I’m in need of a recording break, I’m continuing on with Far Cry 4.  I’ll find a tower I need to unlock, or a base to liberate, and then once those are over, I’ll save/quit.  The individual arcs to each of these events are enjoyable enough, but the game is rapidly becoming overstuffed with random side-stuff, and at this point I have absolutely no idea where I’m supposed to go in order to continue the story.  Maybe that’s not a bad thing, given that what I’ve seen of the story so far is kinda dumb, and in any case the game is so tonally all over the place that I’d much rather make my own way than try to engage with the game in any serious way.  I’m mostly focusing on trying to finish crafting all the stuff I need to craft, which requires liberating towers in order to open up the map to see where the various necessary materials are, and then I just hope I don’t die along the way.

Also:  I’m always a sucker for a match-3 RPG, and to that end I must recommend Hero Emblems on iOS ($2.99), which is surprisingly deep for one of these sorts of things – there’s an element of strategy involved where you must think offensively and defensively, all the while setting up combos and match-4s and the like.  Plus, the writing is pretty charming thus far, and I almost always skip past the writing in these sorts of things.  (Also, the King’s name is Henry, so.  GOTY, is all I’m saying.)

I have no opinion on today’s Nintendo news.  A new 3DS?  Of course.  Would I be able to play the new Majora’s Mask on my old 3DS XL?  Have I even turned my 3DS on in the last year, ever since I was so thoroughly disappointed by the new Mario Golf?  Meh, I say.  The impending re-release of Grim Fandango is way more important to me than anything Nintendo’s got to offer.

Weekend Recap: Wishes Upon Wishes

BOOKS:  Finished Arthur Phillips’ The Egyptologist very late last night, which made for some strange dreams.  It’s very nearly impossible to discuss without spoiling what makes it so intriguing and puzzling, and it’s got the sort of ending that you’ll need to re-read at least twice, and then also flip back to the very first chapter, and then step back and realize what the fuck just happened.  That being said, it’s an excellent book, a “literary murder mystery/adventure” story set in a rather unique period in history (and one that certainly piqued my interest, being that I – as I’m sure many other people my age – had a rather rabid interest in ancient Egypt as a kid); and so even if I can’t remember why I bought it, I’m very glad I did.

Next up: at long last, Your Face Tomorrow, Volume 1.  I sincerely hope I haven’t set myself to be majorly disappointed, given how badly I’ve wanted to read this for so long.


GAMES:  There was more free gaming time this weekend than I expected to get – chalk it up to the wife’s recent promotion, which means she also has to bring work home with her on occasion.  Still, I’m in that awkward situation where, while I do have a backlog to deal with, I’m remembering why that stuff got put on the backlog in the first place, and so I’m kinda just flipping back and forth between a few different things, not really getting into the rhythm of anything in particular.

Specifically, my attention was split between four games this weekend:

GTA V, which made me wish I was playing Saints Row.  Honestly, I never thought I’d ever say that, but it’s true; playing GTA V for the second time makes the experience a hell of a lot more tedious and annoying – not just the horrific dialogue and misogyny and everything else, but the actual missions you do.  Like Trevor loading cargo containers onto a truck, or Franklin towing cars all over town.  Dockwork went out of style with Shenmue, for fuck’s sake.  While it’s true that the Saints Row franchise has never had a city that is as engrossing to be in as GTA, it’s also true that Saints Row stopped caring about “realism” right from the get-go, and has taken the concept of the “open world sandbox” to ludicrous extremes.  Actually, now that I’ve remembered that it’s coming out, I think I’m going to at least rent the Saints Row IV HD remaster thing that comes out later this month; I think that’ll be a lot of fun.

Destiny, which makes me wish I was playing Mass Effect.  I really only fired it up to pick up whatever legendary presents I’d been given, and then I did a Daily Story Mission or whatever it’s called, just to see if I still cared about it.  Yeah, the shooting’s still good, but there’s so little else there worth caring about.  I’m also a little pissed off; I thought I’d bought the Digital Guardian edition, and I’d bought that thinking that it was a season-pass thing for DLC.  But when I fired it up, I saw that The Dark Below expansion still cost $20.  If $20 is actually a reduced price for an expansion, then I might as well just delete the damned thing from my hard drive and be done with it.

Far Cry 4, which makes me wish I was re-playing Far Cry 3, or really anything else.  It’s also very disorienting after playing Destiny and also GTA V in first person, too, which shouldn’t be the case, since FC4 is actually supposed to be played in the first person.  I’m really just kinda nibbling at FC4; I’m unlocking towers and hideouts, and doing a mission here and there, but I’m mostly hunting if only so that I can craft everything I need to craft and then never worry about it again.  I will say that it’s a little comical to watch an eagle lift a goat straight up off the ground, but I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be intentionally comical or not.

Infamous First Light DLC, which I only really dabbled in for a brief period – it’s a free download this month for PS+ member, which is honestly the only reason why I picked it up.  Surprisingly, it was kinda neat to be back in that game again – I did like the original game even if it was somewhat empty and forgettable, and I forgot how good it looked.  I’ll probably keep this in the rotation for a little while, though it’s been so long since I beat the original game that it might take me a bit to get my bearings.