Snips of conversation

  • Reading time:1 mins read

A nail clipper is a pretty interesting little bit of machinery — the construction, and the principles behind it. It’s very simple, yet it’s also oddly complex. And on a level it seems like some ancient baroque thing. Like some awkward eighteenth century invention, that just happens to work as intended. And on top of that there are some curious concessions to convenience — the complex way the top swivels back around so you can close it flat, and the nail file.

The idea behind it is… a bit odd. Nail scissors aren’t good enough. What we really need is a finger guillotine! No gradual snips here. Just snap ’em off, one quick motion! And the way it achieves this is by a rather simple yet oddly complex lever and spring system, that transfers a huge amount of force to a tiny area. (To make up for the lack of the falling distance, you see.)

It’s such a strange invention.

Now I’m Down In It

  • Reading time:2 mins read

Amandeep: wait so
isn’t “kinda i want to” sort of uh
specifically about being gay
Me: Is it?
Amandeep: this just occurred to me
Me: Wait, let me take a look at this.
Amandeep: i’m not sure of what i should do.
when every thought i’m thinking of is you.
all of my excuses turn to lies.
maybe God will cover up his eyes
Me: Okay. Yeah, there’s some ambiguity about the pronouns and the exact naure of his transgression.
The simplest reading is… well, it’s an early version of Closer.
From across the way?
Is he some kind of weird Rear Window stalker?
Amandeep: i mean, the thing is that there are all these weird FORBIDDEN LOVE kind of overtones
Me: Sitting alone in his apartment, lusting after some woman across the way?
It’s really ambiguous.
this could be from the perspective of like
a rapist or something
Me: Yeah.
Amandeep: which is a much creepier reading
but seems equally valid
Me: Stalker-rapist.
Amandeep: what’s the price i pay.
i don’t care what they say.
i want to.
Me: Man.
I actually like that interpretation.
Though the gay one is interesting.
This is such an open-ended song.
“I want to do something transgressive! And I feel ambivalent about that!”
So many possibilities!
Amandeep: hahaha
“I want to do something transgressive! And I feel ambivalent about that!”
Me: So let’s assume the stalker-rapist interpretation for the moment.
Me: Now consider the early version of the song.
Amandeep: yeah
Sent at 4:40 PM on Thursday
Me: That’s kind of a brilliant combination.
I’m going to just assume that’s what the song is about, specifically because that’s the original arrangement.

The Remake of Samus

  • Reading time:4 mins read

Someone put a lot of effort into addressing the common complaint that the entire Metroid series isn’t exactly like Super Metroid, with different maps.

You know what a Metroid II remake would really need? Complex lighting. And lack thereof.

Lack of ambient lighting, a lot of the time. You’d get some from lava, from certain bioluminescent materials, and whatnot. Maybe some areas would be brightly lit. Mostly, though, and at times exclusively, you’d be relying on a certain tapering bubble of light around Samus. Outside of that you’d get a vague hint of shapes and motion. This would also give the game a somewhat monochrome appearance.

Maybe the more injured Samus is, the smaller the window or the dimmer the light, or the more flickery.

Heck, maybe phaser shots would set things on fire, creating light and attracting/distracting certain monsters.

Maybe, instead of a map, a way of marking the terrain. So you’d know if you’d been somewhere. Like, if the spider ball were to leave a faint residue behind…

Shepard: You could even have upgrades that enhance how much light Samus gives off, as an extra bonus.
Like maybe your gun shots are a little more sparkly now.

Me: I can see an argument for adding the charge shot.
Just hold the charge to light the room, pretty much.

Shepard: Try to tune it so that Samus’s ambient light increases as the environmental light decreases.
So at the beginning you’ve got all these fungi and lava pits and glowbugs.
And by the end it’s just… a dead pit.
Maybe the occasional nigh-dead Chozo lamp.

Me: I like how a lot of the natural lighting will be a deep, threatening red.
From all the lava.

Shepard: Mmm.

Me: A lot of the game, where there’s color, it will seem tinted.
Oh heck. And light would generally just show the surface of things. So outside a certain number of pixels (one “block” or so), walls would be flat black.

Shepard: Yeah.

Me: A narrow, well-lit corridor would still leave half the screen dark.
Creating a sort of letterboxed, managed feeling to the space.

Shepard: I wonder how that would look if you had the rare, fully-lit-even-penetrating-the-tiles room, for Chozo Artifact rooms.
I get the feeling players would want to just chill out in those rooms.

Me: That would seem comparably tranquil, wouldn’t it. especially if the light were to have a sort of ethereal, light blue cast to it.

Me: I want to play this now.
Heck, this sounds closer to what Metroid should be doing in general.

Shepard: It is warm inside the power suit.
Everywhere else is cold.

Me: The third game set too much of a template for laying everything out in front of you like a videogame. Here’s this kind of tile, which needs this kind of key to break. You need this to get through here. Everything laid out clearly; you just have to go through the motions. All very rational. Of course, it’s a lot less obnoxious about this than other games that followed (and preceded it). Still, Metroid shouldn’t be an action puzzle game. It’s supposed to be mysterious, oppressive, anxious, and a little wonderful.
The first two games have this.
Fusion does, a little, in its completely different way.
Prime does, pretty much. The first one.

Shepard: It turned “do it because I said so” into the actual story.

To add to earlier ideas: surfaces glisten. So (depending on the potency of a light source and the reflectivity of a material) to things just outside the range of full lighting, you’d still get some faint one-pixel-wide reflection off any surface parallel to the light source, partially outlining an otherwise black mass. Which would be incredible if there were several living things around the edges of the screen.

Combine this with the business about spider balls leaving residue, and there’s a lot of complex stuff going on with edges.

Maybe an infrared visor upgrade, that you can toggle. Danger of flaring sometimes, especially when you’re shooting. When exploring and travelling, generally speeds things up.


  • Reading time:3 mins read

I’m getting my cable disconnected because I don’t really watch it. The few shows I do watch, I can just torrent or whatever. That’s… Lost and BSG, really. And BSG is going to be off-air until 2008, so.

Bittorrent is the future of television, I swear. Between that and DVD… The thing about BT is that it’s global. I mean. Doctor Who’s starting up again in a few days, in the UK. Though it’s being picked up sooner than before, it still won’t show on Sci-Fi for months. Doesn’t matter if you’ve DSL!

There was a recent survey I read that said that the average person in the US has something like 130 TV channels available to him — and yet the average person only ever watches something like 6% of those channels. That’s foolish. Were I given the option to choose, say, a dozen channels that I actually felt were interesting (plus all of the local stuff — PBS is important), that’d be fine. Maybe a buck a channel, per month?
Plus a ten dollar flat fee, including all the local stuff?

You can’t even get Comedy Central here unless you pay thirty-something dollars a month — and to hell with that. The Daily Show isn’t worth that much to my life. They need a system where you pay for what you actually watch. Or intend to watch.

The whole channel system is a bit screwed-up anyway. Outdated. In the future, the ideal way this would work would be subscriptions to particular shows. Which would be delivered at certain intervals. And you could watch them whenever you wanted. And it would be worldwide. So if I wanted to subscribe to an obscure Indian show that was starting to gain popularity, I could do so.

Maybe the way it would work is you’d have a certain number of points to allocate in a given month. You could buy more, if you wanted. I guess it’s kind of like Netflix — pay more to get more DVD rentals at once.

If you found a show you liked, you could have the option of starting from the current episode or starting from the beginning. Likewise, you could splurge a bunch of points to watch the whole thing at once, or you could just go one episode at a time, a normal subscription, starting from the start.

This is the way television will work, eventually. DVD sets would still exist as compilations, the way they sell episodic games in boxes.

The tide is turning; people are starting to realize that the shows are more important than the networks. DVD is helping a lot in this. And actually-good TV being made.

Still waiting for red

  • Reading time:5 mins read

aderack: Just because it’s right in front of me as I type this. I… the DS thing. The Sony guy. The DS outselling the PSP by FOUR TIMES, and furthermore selling more than every other console PUT TOGETHER. Gimmick. Limited appeal.

… Yeah. Don’t need to talk about it really. Just observing.

I’m kind of surprised, on a level, that people have started to notice the obvious. It doesn’t often happen. I mean. With the DS being the only interesting system out there now and certainly the most interesting thing since the Dreamcast, with Sony completely missing the point with the PSP, with the DS bringing in people who’d never been interested in videogames before…

I just wonder why it’s not available in more colors here.
ajutla: It’s funny as hell.
aderack: It’s… weird. They’re figuring it out on their own, and with only about half a year of lag. Maybe that says something. Like people are getting fed up.
ajutla: You can only play videogames because they are videogames for so long.
aderack: I mean. A couple of years ago, I don’t think I’d see people mocking the Sony guy the way they are now. You’d see Sony claiming the PS2 was the first Internet-compatible home console, and no one would call them on it. Even though, say, Sega had just launched Seganet. And PSO was only a few months away. And the Dreamcast wasn’t even the first, either.
ajutla: The big thing that characterized this generation for me was people noticing the rot starting to set in. Just–nothing really happened. And people realize this.
aderack: Maybe the stage is getting ripe for the Revolution. Especially since it’s supposed to be priced under $200 at launch (last I heard), compared to the 360 and PS3 — which, if you’ve not noticed, are selling in bundles that go past $1,000. And it’ll have the same DS thing going for it, it looks like, versus the PSP of the otther two systems. Also, the other two are almost indistinguishable, while the Revolution should stand out.
ajutla: To be fair, I’m pretty sure that $1,000-plus 360 bundle assumes you’re buying every launch game that will be available, even the ones no one is sure will be available yet. Still.
aderack: Yes. Still, the standard bundles are around $700.00. That’s the only way to buy the system from some retailers. It’s just — holy shit. Who wants to invest that much in a fucking game console?

…except they’ve already done that before.
aderack: But no one will use it for anything other than playing videogames and maybe watching DVDs if they don’t have any better player.
ajutla: The psp/DS thing suddenly becomes very ironic with that idea in mind.
aderack: Oh. Yeah.

I guess Kutaragi got the wrong message when, for, like, a YEAR after the PS2 was released in Japan, the best-selling application for it was The Matrix. And people used it mostly as a DVD player until around the time the other two systems came out. It’s not because that’s what people want from a game console; it’s because there weren’t any cheap DVD players in Japan at the time.
ajutla: Right.
aderack: And the PS2 filled that gap.
ajutla: The thing is. Kutagari / Allard / et al have the idea that videogames are over. In a sense. And that you can build this big box. That you put your videogames in. And your other entertainment, too, while you’re at it.
aderack: Because the market’s stagnating, so they need to lean on other things until it magically recovers.
ajutla: And the market is stagnating because they’re leaning on other things.
aderack: Or more simply because they don’t know what the fuck they’re doing.
ajutla: That too.
aderack: They’re not really interested in videogames; just in being in the videogame business. And so fair weather friends and all…

Compared to people who are doing this for a business because, well, it’s what they do. So they have a vested interest. Not that Nintendo doesn’t have its own problems to address…
ajutla: It’s kind of telling that the most interesting feature about the Revolution, right now, is that you can play old games on it. Nintendo is looking forwards by looking backwards.
aderack: Making all of history current. That strikes me as important. The way that all of cinema is “current”, in a sense. Especially thanks to things like DVD and the recent restoration trends.
ajutla: Yeah. Videogames fade away. So you forget that you’ve FUCKING played most games before.
aderack: It’s a step toward, really, finally establishing just what the fuck videogames are and what they have to say.
ajutla: It solidifies things; it’s creating a critical mass–like, here, this is Videogame (1984-2005). It’s pointing that way.
aderack: Right. The first real state of the industry address.
ajutla: The design philosophy behind the psp is…sort of entirely the opposite of this. Right down to the UMD thing. The thing could have taken mini DVDs, you know. But. You should buy everything again. Always.