Screaming into the abyss is therapeutic, right? 

So here goes: 

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA 

Phew. That felt good. I recommend it. 

Advertisements

“I’m going to unsubscribe!” 

I’m a reasonable person. At least, I like to think I am. So whenever I used to see comments on videos that said they were going to unsubscribe, I would think to myself “why announce that? If you’re so unhappy with the content, just leave”. That’s what I do, after all. I silently unsubscribe and move on. I’ve never had a moment where I wanted to announce my leaving. Until today! 


This man was behind a game called Sword & Sworcery for the iPhone many many years ago. It was one of the first few games I actually bought with real money. It was fantastic. It was the start of my obsession with indie games and indie game music and hell even indie musicians via bandcamp. I highly recommend it as an experience today (not so much as a game) if you’re interested. And I’ve been following him ever since for news on his next game. It’s been “in the works” for over five years now. I don’t mind waiting. Whenever I see his tweets, I am reminded of his wonderful game, and sometimes a wistful twinge of wondering when the next one will come out. 

That brings me to this tweet. I love the new season of Twin Peaks. I understand that it’s very much an acquired taste. I also understand that to many people, it will come off as convoluted and incoherent and boring and, most of all, pretentious. I understand all these things and I’m fine with people disliking the show. But. When I saw this tweet, my view of this man changed. It’s obviously his right to not like the show. But I couldn’t help but be pissed. In the replies to that tweet he points to a scene involving Michael Cera’s character (one of the funniest scenes of the entire season, in my opinion) as an example of how shit the show is. I don’t understand. His game was full of weird and funny things in the same vein as the show. It even boots you out and asks you to take a break between chapters to contemplate, not unlike the show at its most “boring”. 

And that leads me to think whatever his next game is going to be, either they will be devoid of such things, or they will hypocritically contain them anyway. Either way, I think I’ve matured past him. I suddenly lost all (well, most of my) interest in his creative endeavours. I don’t think I’ve explained it well. But I also don’t think it’s something I can explain well. Something just turned off in my head and I can’t turn it back on. 

I wonder if a similar sort of break happens in the minds of all the angry commenters when they say they’re going to unsubscribe. I would have laughed in your face if you had brought this to me yesterday. Now, I’m not so sure. 

(I didn’t send my tweet by the way. I don’t want to hurt his feelings. I did unfollow him though.) 


Wouldn’t it be nice if everything was curated?

My thoughts on this are a bit of a disjointed mess, so I’ll use bullet points again:

  1. The population of the Earth keeps increasing. But there probably aren’t enough traditionally productive jobs available for all these new people. As if that weren’t bad enough already (for capitalism anyway) we’re soon going to replace a bunch of jobs with robots.
  2. If the above is true, won’t there be a disparity between consumers/creators? To consume something, you need to expend money (in a capitalist society anyway). To get money, you have to produce or create something (nebulous though that something might be).
  3. So if there are waaaay more consumers than creators, how does anyone pay for anything? Do the consumers start creating things? Especially as it gets easier and easier with each passing year. Does capitalism stop? (Probably not, right?)  Do they get free money so they can still consume things? What if they consume the wrong things?
  4. There’s way too much content out there already, with more coming out every second. How are you supposed to find something you’ll like among all the noise? I feel like the things I’ve found that I really enjoy have all been lucky accidents. I don’t like relying on lucky accidents even though that’s basically been my life until now. Can we do better?
  5. Well, one way to start would be to follow a person who talks about one thing you like. If you learn their tastes well enough, you can usually guess how much you’ll like something based on their opinion of it. This is what I’ve been doing lately. But a similar sort of problem arises here. There are so many damn people willing to talk about things. How do you pick the right one for you?
  6. In other words, I need someone to review the reviewers. Curate the curators. Find the finders.
  7. I think this is actually a thing that will happen soon. There’s too much stuff.
  8. Should I do this? I think it’s quite fun. I won’t do it too regularly, just whenever I find stuff that makes me more excited than usual.

On that note, go watch Twin Peaks. The original two seasons (if you’re getting bored with the second one, watch till episode 9, then watch the last episode), then the movie, and then the new third season.

Go watch Your Name, or Kimi No Na Wa.

Go play Brigador.

Go listen to the Axiom Verge soundtrack.

Go watch both excellent seasons of Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu.

Go read Marrow, by Robert Reed. Talk to me about it because apparently no one else on the internet is talking about it or him right now.

Go listen to (or watch) Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast. If you like it, consider paying the man a pound a month at http://www.gofasterstripe.com or buy one of his dvds or books there.

(Go make a list of links to all the things I’ve mentioned here because I’m too lazy to.)

Go learn Haskell. A little bit. There’s an online tutorial. It’s very weird. I should write about it.

Go draw something. A girl I barely knew at the time drew me a beautiful parrot and framed it and gave it to me as a farewell gift, before I left town and moved to Hyderabad. I have it to this day. I’m going to hang it up in my room when it’s done being painted. I don’t talk to her anymore. It’s so strange that I should have this picture.

Go sing? I sang the first two verses to a song from Taarein Zameen Par to someone I was trying to impress before shutting down from embarrassment. I’ve never sung since.

Go write a blog post about something. I want to read what you have to say. I want to know if I can trust you. I want to know if I can finally stop putting effort into finding the things I find, or finally stop depending on dumb luck for it, and instead just consume what you consume.

 

 


Breaking down a metroidvania (Part 1)

I feel like I need to preface this with so many things that unless I list them all here to get them out of the way, I won’t ever actually start this goddamn blog post. So here:

  1. I have, in the back of my head, an idea for a method of representing and studying metroidvania games.
  2. This system (for which I have no name) is nowhere near complete. In fact, I keep thinking about and adding to it every few months.
  3. This system (such that it is) exists more or less in my head. I had implemented it in Python, but I got too bogged down in fixing the nitty gritty of the code rather than focus on the design of the system.
  4. Since I want to actually design the system, and I wasn’t getting anywhere with a pen and paper, maybe switching to a different language/paradigm would offer a nice new canvas from which to draw inspiration.
  5. That brings me to Haskell. Or rather, functional programming in general. My first brush with functional programming was when I coded a little game involving knots way back when for a college project (I believe there are posts about that here on this blog). Unbeknownst to me, I had coded the whole thing in a functional style. It was a very mathematical problem and hence most of the code was a composition of pure functions. I think I think functionally when it comes to code by default.
  6. Another thing that brought me to Haskell was a lecture series on Category Theory by Bartosz Milewski, where he used a ton of Haskell examples.
  7. Oh okay I can stop my list now.

So now what do I write here? Do I explain my system? I don’t think we’re quite there yet. But okay whatever. Here’s a skeleton outline of what I managed to implement in Haskell:

  1. There are Abilities.
  2. There are Challenges you can pass only if you have the correct set of Abilities.
  3. There are Rewards for passing Challenges.
  4. There are Encounters, which are tuples of (Challenge, Reward).
  5. There are Rooms, which contain paths to other Rooms, and maybe Encounters.

Those are the basics. The suuuuper basics. To expand:

  1. Abilities form a partially ordered set, in that some Abilities supersede (are greater than) others when it comes to certain Challenges. A concrete example would be a sword that does 10 damage supersedes a sword that does 5, but it doesn’t compare to a double jump ability. You the player start with Ability 0.
  2. The most basic Challenge is analogous to a locked door. If you have the correct set of keys to open all the locks, you can open the door/pass the challenge. That’s the version I’m going to implement here. Obvious modifications from analogy are to implement a sort of additional “skill” check, in that merely having a sword is useless if you don’t know how to use it well.
  3. A Reward can be a new Ability, another Encounter, a path to a new Room (or a shortcut back to an old one), or Victory.
  4. Encounters are not just a bundle of (Challenge, Reward). This is where you implement your story/lore/plot/atmosphere/mood.
  5. Rooms are tricky.

Rooms are the bits I have the most trouble with. Another blog post about that someday.

I know this stuff seems very bare bones, but it needs to be if my goal is to recreate an existing metroidvania in this system in order to analyse it. I’m already a fair bit into mapping out Environmental Station Alpha, analysing the first few areas, and I’ve already found some cool patterns. My hope is to compare it to Axiom Verge and see if I can explain my relative dislike of that game compared to ESA. Don’t get me wrong, they’re both great, but I think AV lacks something that could have made it truly excellent. And I’m hoping to find out what, if anything, that is!

I think that’s enough for today. I’ve titled this post “Messing around with Haskell”, perhaps prematurely. I’ll rename it to something more appropriate and get to the Haskell bits some other time. “Breaking down a metroidvania (Part 1)” because I’ve mentioned at least two other posts here. This title is worse because I haven’t even explained what a metroidvania is. Oh well, another post.


On a New Year.

I had half-forgotten about this blog. A nice comment on a post here suddenly reminded me of it. Why haven’t I written here in so long? I don’t know who could be asking, but I will try to answer anyway.

The boring but honest answer is that I hadn’t felt like it. I wasn’t busy. Nor was nothing happening that I couldn’t write about. In fact, had I wished to, I could have written about something (hopefully) interesting once every couple of weeks in the second half of last year.

For instance, the nature of relationships, and how not all of them are the vanilla egalitarian ones we seem to think of when the topic arises. Specifically, the issue of mind games playing a quintessential role in the relationship. I had the pleasure of exploring and discussing this issue from what I consider to be sufficiently many points of view (for now). In fact, one of these days, when I feel wistful and long for the keyboard, I might just come back and commit to words all my thoughts on the matter.

Did I say “when I feel wistful”? I meant “if”. And therein lies the issue.

One of my friends calls it existential ennui. That feeling of being lost and helpless. Heck, probably alone too.

I feel like I’ve written enough for today. I am certain I haven’t answered my question to any degree of satisfaction, but maybe I will one of these days. I will in fact be writing semi-regularly here again. Why, one might ask? Because I have been given the unenviable honour of coming up with questions for a contest that is happening way too early for me to feel good about it. In order to vent, hopefully, I will come here. And this time I have structure!

You see, these questions are (hopefully going to be) based on the Labours of Hercules. And there are 12 of them. I will attempt to base my rants on these labours and my memories of the book of the same name by Agatha Christie. I highly recommend the book.

That is all.


A conversation in the aether.

Shame on you. I forgot how to. Dad taught me a long while back. So? Chess is like riding a bike. I never played after that. And I was very little then. I only vaguely remember him teaching. Another vague memory from then is him trying to explain how to tell time by looking at a clock. Clocks != chess. It just means that it was a long time back. Teach me sometime. Wheeeeeeeen? Next week. When I borrow the jigsaw puzzle. Wokay. Put it in your calendar. I will. I’m bored.

Ooga booga booga.

Bum bum bee.

Fee fi fo fum.

Ugla igla bligla.

I have a good knock knock joke.

Let’s hear it.

Okay. You go first.

No no. Dazzle me with your brilliant sense of humour first.

I insist. Ladies first.
It’s 11.41.

Yes it is. Maybe he’ll leave us early. Let’s be optimistic. For a change.

Awesome autocorrect na?

Actually.
I could really get used to this.

You can you can. Now see why I don’t like the android keyboard?

Yeah. But I’m not going to get myself a new phone anytime soon.

Hehe. iPad? Oh. Conflict with phone. Don’t type there then 😀

This phone I’ve had for less than a year and yeah I just got an iPad. Doesn’t feel right to get new phone already.

Who cares about feelings? 😛
(I know I’m being hypocritical)
What would you do with a cheque for 30k?

Right now? I’d put it in my account.

When would you not?

Get an iPhone? 😛

No no, when? You said right now you wouldn’t.

When I have gotten over the iPad guilt and this current phone really needs to be replaced. I still doubt I’ll let myself get an iPhone but let’s see.

Haha. First world problems.

India technically isn’t there yet you know.

Better than saying “rich people problems” 😛

Haha. True that.

*dat 😛


On wildly differing opinions.

I’ve just watched The Family, starring Robert de Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer. I loved it. Most reviews I read after, however, did not. In fact, they found it rather boring. I was bemused. I wouldn’t have been surprised at mild criticism, but this was full on foundation attacking.

The movie features lots of gratuitous violence. Lots. Loooooots. It is hilarious. All the members of the eponymous family are insane. The father kills people at the drop of a hat, the mother blows up buildings, the daughter beats people to a pulp with tennis racquets, and the son is a manipulative schemer who nevertheless seems rather tame compared to the rest of the bunch. They are hilarious. This is comedy done very well. Why did very few other people think so?

It’s not a matter of subtlety. The movie is such a farce that you cannot help but not take it seriously. I can understand some people not getting that. Their reviews make sense from this point of view, that they never understood it was not “serious”. But still not all. Some people were rather condescending of it as well.

Ah well. I liked it. I think you should watch it as well, if for nothing else but to enjoy a scene that employs Gorillaz’ Clint Eastwood rather effectively. And, of course, to see which camp you fall in.