Saturday, March 29, 2008


Seeing that video about stop playing video games yesterday got me thinking about Nerdcore. Every culture seems to go out there and make it's own artistic statement, and one premise of the internet has been that people would develop cultures by interest rather than by geography. So why not music for nerds.

Then today I saw "Beware the Believers" for all the evolution nerds.

There is also one of the founders of the Nerdcore movement, MC Chris. For the Star Wars nerds.

And Weird Al, for nerds in general.

A bumper on [Adult Swim] once commented how if you went back in time twenty years and told people that Michael Jackson would be a joke and Weird Al would still be culturally relevant they'd never believe you.

Based on the music, Nerds apparently like references.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Quit Playing Video Games and Get Laid

Hilarious. Very funny. With deep irony with all the references that they make while still decrying the activities.

Now I'm depressed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I really wish that they had spent more time on the script. Maybe I'm too old, maybe this is a particular flavor of internet humor that I don't quite get. But I don't think so, I like internet humor. I like inscrutable internet humor. But the movie seems to be nothing but a pastiche of pop culture references from twenty years ago mixed in with some kind of plot that is a take off from .Hack//Sign.

This is a shame because the production values on this machinima are top rate. The "acting" is well done, the direction is good, and the effects and cinematography are all top rate. Basically everything about the piece is about as professional as you can get, held back by the script. But again, maybe it's just me.

The really interesting thing is how World of Warcraft is replacing Tolkien as the dominant fantasy paradigm. This movie is a great example of how the various tropes that are found within WoW are becoming more and more relevant to the lives of internet denizens than other forms of fantasy fiction.

I've noticed that most machinima that is done in Warcraft has very little to do with the story of Warcraft, but then again there is even a disclaimer on their story page that Blizzard has essentially given up on having a coherent story. So if the writers behind it aren't going to bother to stay consistent with the lore, why should the fans?

And while I want Warcraft to take themselves a little more seriously, it's hard to argue with success. In fact I think that it points to how the audience pays attention to story in an MMO, they don't see that we would traditionally think as story. To the average player the characters are the archetypes that other players fall into, rather than those that a writer would pen. The insane female avatar that is constantly flirting, the guy that makes constant movie references over ventrilo, and you, the only sane person in the lot. Wait I just described the characters from that machinima didn't I?

This is where the divide that separates game and film comes into play again, only this time in reverse. I'll bet that the characters in the story are based around characters that have been played on some kind of role play server in Warcraft. And in that context the characters probably worked out great, or at least great for the local audiences. But doubt that it will have much resonance outside of the community of Warcraft players. Good thing for them that said community is ten million strong.

The same cannot be said of Bloodspell, which was done in the Neverwinter Nights engine. Now I dearly love that game, but I'll be the first to admit that the graphic engine is a bit dated. Heck it was a little dated when it shipped. So Bloodspell doesn't have the advantage of Warcraft's advanced animation (notice I didn't say graphics) so it feels a lot stiffer, and they had to do a lot more work to get things like facial animation, lips flapping etc... But more damaging to their film, is the fact that the various tropes that exist in Neverwinter are less well known than those that are used in Warcraft, the audience for Neverwinter was much smaller. Less people know what spellcasting means. Probably less people know what mindflayers represent when compared to the amount that know murlocs represted annoyed humor.

As we move forward creating more and more interactive fantasy, I think that people will find that they remember actions and relationships more than they remember plot. We'll remember the drama of the main tank who left the guild two days after getting Thunderfury, or the horror of the unending spread of demonic witchcraft when Warlocks became overpowered, or the tragedy of the noble warrior's abandonment to the Death Knight as the needed melee class (presumed as of this writing). These are the new dramas, the new epics. The plot of the world and the actions that go into it are really just environment, setting details to backdrop the actions of the players.

It Comes in Threes

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke died. There are less and less of the people around that shaped my world view.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I just want to gleefully highlight this post on Kotaku that talks about how Second Life founder Philip Rosedale has stepped down, or changed roles, or whatever. Kudos to Kotaku for putting up an accurate depiction of a typical scene in second life (flying penises everywhere) rather than the typical corporate view that most news outlets show, the bland corporately attractive female avatar in front of buildings that the BBC story that Kotaku links to shows.

Whomever is in charge of the PR for Second Life deserves some kind of medal, and should probably move on to bigger and better things for a lot more money. They've turned what is essentially a venue for cybersex and furries (is that redundant) into the media darling for online social spaces. Now I have nothing against venues for cybersex, in theory. But with an Reuters bureau set up permanently on location in second life, and various corporate setting up highly publicized shops in the game, it gives the media impression that there is something happening in the game that is exciting and wonderful. That businesses need to be a part of (and pay lots of money for the privilege for). And the news coverage focuses on the financial and artistic achievements that the players of this game are able to achieve.

This is all kudos to Second Life PR. Well done sir or madam. I applaud your prowess. It just kinda feels deceptive if you've been to Second Life, and find out that it's a place where giant anthropomorphic foxes try to have sex with you, or you can be attacked by flying penises at any moment. I keep waiting for the mainstream media to become disenchanted with it. But it hasn't happened.

I think that the people in Linden Labs think that they have a Times Square on their hands. It's going to be a seedy place, but they can make it a landmark, and get enough people by any means necessary and once they have a critical mass they'll stomp on in Giuliani style and get rid of all the porn and uncomfortable expression of the modern human psyche and make it safe for the Lion King.

I suspect it's a lot more like Burning Man. If the place is cleaned up of all the weird and off putting elements, then there wouldn't be much left. Second Life is founded upon letting the audience determine what kind of attractions exist within the space. This kind of radical democracy doesn't lead to Broadway shows. It leads to naked people serving grilled cheese on a dance floor in the middle of the desert. Certainly a place worthy of covering in the news, certainly a place of great art. Just not a place everyone is going to feel comfortable being.

Burning Man seems to know their niche. While they keep growing they don't seem to have tamed down the event to please their corporate masters, though they have made a number of concessions due the increasing size of the event. Some may disagree with me. But Burning Man isn't going mainstream, mainstream may just be catching up with it.

So maybe that is the endgame for Second Life. Hang on with the shell game until it socially acceptable for people to be attacked by giant, flying, pink penises. What a world.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Orange Box - For Kids

High Tech House Search

So I'm moving soon. Mostly because my son will soon be in kindergarten and when I bought my house way back when he wasn't even a glimmer in my eye. So I wasn't paying attention to school districts in the frenzy of house buying at the hight of the internet bubble at the turn of the century. But now I care a lot, and it's the over riding factor.

But in those scant eight years (good lord is it that long???) technology has really advanced. Currently I've got a Google map that I'm cross referencing locations of houses with the good schools. Now this could be made slightly easier if the good school site had a publicly available map overlay site. I was about to say the same thing about Craig's List, but as part of my due diligence I did a search, and duh... already been done.

This is why one has a blog, to find out stuff you should have already known. And then to be redirected with other useful tips. So enough blogging, I've got to set up my little control room. Now here's hoping that soon my custom map would show up on my iPhone. Because that would be the best.

Again after taking a few minutes to ACTUALLY TEST IT, rather than just complaining I find that it ... kinda works. I can see the maps in the web browser, just not in the application. Which is good enough to take it out in the field, just not incredibly awesome. Here's hoping that Google updates the native app soon.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Samurai Champloo

So Adult Swim is broadcasting the first episode of Samurai Champloo again tonight. I like the anime a lot, but mostly I like this as an opening episode. It's an amazing way to begin a campaign. The main characters wander into town already secure in their skills, they seek out danger and cause themselves trouble, the plot throws a little trouble their way to get the protagonists together, but mainly it's the characters driving the action, rather than the action driving them. There are some great fights against the town guards, scions, assorted flunkies, some of which will come back to haunt them in later episodes, and even a fight against the other protagonists. But by the end of the episode they are all thrown together on their MacGuffin of a quest that keeps the disparate personalities together.

This would be a great way to start interactive fiction. Make the players feel like a bad ass by showing them that they are capable of taking on the structures of society and the world, especially if those structures turn out to be corrupt and evil. They players also get to test out each other's abilities by engaging each other in combat.

This would be how I would start my next campaign. I also like it as a guideline for starting a computer game. Get the players into the action, let themselves get into trouble, and once things couldn't get any worse, let them do the most awesome things to extract themselves out of the situation and get going on the main storyline. Rule of cool is a good way to plot out interactive fiction.

Gary Gygax RIP