Sunday, December 28, 2008

Apple Store Meltdown / Personal spiritual rebirth

I went out in the rain with my laptop during a night of significant fun.
The thing is dead.
All my copy-written itunes music, all my memory-heavy videos for future projects, every meaningless/ful picture in my jpeg folder.


And I have never felt this kind of freedom.

Trust me, at first I was pissed. All that work! All those saved ichat conversations!
Every preparation I had made to explain digital humanity/philosophy/ spirituality = wasted.

Yet, before undertaking a great spiritual journey, is it not fitting to "purge" oneself?

(Digital spirituality remedy = clean hard drive)

I am going to mexico in 4 hours, where I was planning on writing a proposal for A REVOLUTIONARY DIGITAL HUMANITIES MAJOR.

But now all of my notes have been rendered inert silicon.

my grandfather died, my family is a wreck, I'm still stressed from school and in-all, our "spirits" are low. I will not be bringing a computer to the aztec ruins. I plan on having an awakening. I do not need to check on the rest of the world through a screen. I will feel it through my feet. Laugh, but I'm serious.

When I return, I invite you all to help me monitor human technophilia, moderate our detrimental digital habits, perfect college-level new media education and... slow down our overclocked society so as to improve the quality of life for all.

She was a great laptop, I'm going to miss her.

See you in 2009.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Escaping into the Digital

My Grandfather died. My friends' grandmother is dying. Both families are freaking out.

So, we played Gears of War 2 for a week straight, and escaped into the digital.

Fallout 3 has since taken its place for me. Family infighting and my responsibilities to work/myself can be conveniently set aside and replaced with AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT WORLD.

Trick is, you can't stop playing or the problems come back worse. It's like drinking. And I would have drank myself silly with Fallout 3 and GTA4, but I haven't.

Now that I was a new media theorist (yeah, alright,hah) I couldn't help realizing what I was doing: immersing myself in a fiction so as to avoid the negative aspects of reality.

But isn't Christianity the same thing?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Attentive Momentum Perfected

Neave T.V. is a half-hour long stream of video clips claiming to be a T.V. station. It's a good thing it isn't.

I couldn't look away. This is the stuff of the future, the digital mind-opium that our generation has been trained to salivate over. Memes, sparkling and perplexing in their ____, hold your attention at bay. A perfect speed is maintained, keeping the viewer in a state of not-knowing while peaking interest throughout.

It's almost like a gothic horror scene, over and over and over and over and over. Something is presented, then made to seem not quite right. Incredibly affective. Tasty, addicting, glorious.

God dammit we are so screwed when they make this a 24/7 thing. The Conformists are gonna eat it up.



Wow look how well they have assembled these interesting visual media artifacts into a non-cohesive but affectively similar thread. Way to deconstruct the linear nature of popular media and provide a thoroughly enjoyable experience!

Okay it's cool now, but it'll be dangerous later.

Or will we be ready for it? Is the age of linearity and structure and meaning over? Rhizomatic entertainment?

I rushed this post, gave an unstructured commentary. I want you to go and watch it. Wait. Uh oh.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hitting the maya wall

Cs 22, 3D Digital Modeling project, "create a room". got a bit carried away with things going on outside the room (mountains, aqueduct, underground pool, asteroids) while everyone else focused on precise details (watches, chess boards, plants). I guess that's how it goes, I can't stay inside the room/code/assignment. I originally made the waterfall by creating one tiny, crunched up, transparent-blue rectangular polygon and reproducing it several times to represent droplets and experiment with our beloved particle lighting refraction blablabla. Turned on particle lighting effects, final gathering, mental ray ...the computer stopped working; the file became un-openable. The class had a long laugh when our instructor (Lorie Loeb is a legend) turned on the polygon counter: over three million objects (ha,ha,ha). My first test drive with a new technology and I'd already hit the computational wall. Whatever, it would have looked really, really cool.

But my computers aren't fast enough. (YET.)

Modeling a character from "The Assemblage" now, video comming soon.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Warhammer is dead to me.

It was flashy, funny, and better (better?) at player vs. player combat than any MMO I've played.

But I don't care anymore. The rest of the warjammers are apathetic, and I think I know why. We approached the game as scientists (overly scheduled scientitsts) and tried to force meaning out of a game designed to minimize meaningful thought. Here's some notes from my most recent post on

"I mean YES the game is beautiful and complicated and they insert humor at some choice moments but the overall feeling falls short of my expectations. I started to grow tired of the place, tired of the game. I turned off the Warhammer sound and put on my own music, it helped. Strange.

... SO: exploring felt pretty shallow. RvR/PvP was engaging and fun. The two experiences combined... feel strange. The gap between an un-fulfilling game world and a hugely entertaining combat system makes the overall game experience a fragmented, chaotic blur. I guess we should have believed Paul Burnett: imagination is the goal, immersion really isn't.

So I have to use my imagination to fill in the gaps of disbelief forming between me and my avatar? No, Paul. The game doesn't facilitate OR encourage imagination. It bottles it, making digital hallucination fast and easy. Quick, streamlined player vs. player combat IS the central aim, and they nail it; I appreciate the game for the things it has introduced. Yet to have A+ PvP in a world that can't convince me that it matters feels shallow somehow, repetitive. It's just counter-strike from a third person perspective.

Wasteland, our server, suffered a mass exodus and we have been instructed to transfer our characters to Iron Rock. Doesn't matter too much, just another chip at the magic circle.
It's the right game for certain people. But Warhammer isn't heading in the direction I want MMORPG's to go. It's pulling the genre toward a more easily digestible, effortlessly repeatable kind of play. Bring back death penalties. Expand the game world. Give me an identity. Make things more difficult. You'll impress me, but lose a lot of your market. People like easy things. Especially easy killing."

What I haven't told them:
I signed onto Age of Conan after hitting level 18 in War. I felt: calmed, serene, beautiful, excited. No one was around, which is sad, but my avatar seemed to feel... right? Like a shower at the perfect temperature. (yes really). This game is so much better. Not because the programming is more advanced or the designers any more talented... It feels right mainly because of the way I approached and experienced it. I built a magic circle for it, made the world my own. I'll admit, I like the aesthetics better. Nothing looks as good as AOC right now. I preferred the combat.

Preferred. It seems that Age of Conan's beloved three-button combo system has been replaced with a faster, more simple 1-button system... making things easier for the masses. God damnit.
I'll be playing conan now once microsoft fixes directx 10, (you guys should be embarassed), and I'll enjoy it. I'll play.

We made Warhammer into a job. Play is beyond that sh*t. Harder to get to, harder to feel.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Left 4 Dead

Oh man.

Simply amazing. Played the demo four times with Peck. Simple play mechanics (based off half life 2) and straightforward objectives. There are zombies. You have guns. Up to three friends can play along with you.

It feels like middle school when you'd spawn 99 bots in CS and give them all knives just for the sensation of being overwhelmed. Everyone did that, right?

This game holds some serious affective power. I was scared, by a game. What?! Why? Well JPN 61 tells us that fear of zombies stems from a fear of society at large, of the majority's influence over the individual and the human tendency to conform. With modern society becoming increasingly self-aware and, in my opinion, over-systematized... it just feels good to mow down zombies. You know? I think there's something meaningful here but once again, i need to think about it more.

JPN 61, Japanese Art Horror (great class) also claims that Zombies represent the border between life and death, signifying the inconceivable void of not-death(?). Whatever. The game made me FEEL my mortality, prize my individuality and value whatever social ties i held within the game (thanks peck and mike). If you get pinned down by a zombie your teammate has to free you. Players have to heal each other to survive. The cooperative element really made it what it was: WE were scared.

Counterpoint: In the game I'm not mortal. I'm not individual. I played as a retired army vet. When I left the keyboard for 30 seconds the computer started controlling him for me and my friends didn't notice. Made me feel like...

a zombie?

Holy unholiness this game is good. Simple, fun, and playing off of real societal pressures. A+


Sunday, October 26, 2008

(Oprah vs. Anonymous)

So Oprah said something that revealed a lot about poplar culture, internet culture, and the digital divide that exists between the two.

I’m going to try to recount this as best I can, and while I don’t claim to fully understand what happened, Oprah has highlighted the gap between those who are systematically terrified by popular media (everyone), and those who have been separated from society by the internet (4chan).

A few weeks ago she had a special on internet child pornography. Concerned for the children whom are harmed by the despicable, violence-inspiring sickness that is pedophilia, her program attempted to expose unseen dangers. Her concerns are more than warranted.

Yet in her efforts she “uncovered” child pornography on a site called, a self-proclaimed headquarters for Anonymous.

Anonymous is an internet-based group, spawned from the 711chan/4chan message boards, that has been trying to destroy Scientology by holding protests and disseminating information about the cult’s questionable endeavors to protect itself. Scientology is a whole other story, google it.

There was illegal content on 711chan, and Oprah accused them of them being child pornographers on national television with good reason.

During the show, Oprah read aloud an email from a member of Anonymous, who told her that:

“He doesn’t forgive, he does not forget, his group has over nine thousand penis’s, and they’re all raping children.”


I’ll explain:

Here are two popular memes / inside jokes treasured by
1) “Over 9000!” A sound blurb from Dragonball Z.
2) Replacing any word in a sentence with the highlighted word PENIS.

So we have the common Anonymous motto “we do not forgive we do not forget,” followed by a double-meme/inside joke composed of Dragonball Z’s “over 9000” quote and the popular PENIS reference. The “all raping children” comment is what interests me here, if you can get over the graphic nature of the comment.

He’s being sarcastic. The group has its sicko’s, but there are hundreds of thousands of “members.” Of course Oprah is going to believe that they are all violent pedophiles, he told her what she was already going to assume. Yet in doing so he is mocking not only Oprah, but the entire media for their use of fear to entertain.

However, understandably, the masses believed him. 99% of people have never been to an Anonymous message board. The don't understand that these sites are places of completely unmediated commentary, where anonymous posters can say whatever they want, post whatever pictures they want. Their comments are erased within a few hours as new posts fill the page’s memory and because no one on the site can identify anyone else, they communicate through memes, inside jokes and a shared lean toward moral relativism.

But Oprah found some screwed up pictures and blew the whistle. It needed to be blown.

Sometimes people post disgusting photographs for ironic or satirical purposes, sometimes they really are just mentally sick. Thing is, when everyone is anonymous certain individuals can fit through the cracks, and truly free speech may have doomed the impressive social experiment that once was Anonymous. They need to clean up their act. Can they?

The sites are vulgar, yet there for everyone to watch: a perfect stream-of-consciousness representation of today’s internet-addicted, alienated, isolated, anomie-suffering believers in… the internet? relative normlessness? War on ignorance? Cynical and wired, many Anonymous users are the keepers of our communicative future and yet seem to be falling out of public grace before they can even get started.

So I spent time on 4chan way before Oprah did. Some posters are strange. Some post child pornography. Some are racist. The general feeling is that everyone is “kidding.” But many aren’t. If the group wants to survive it will need to figure out how to purge itself of unwanted individuals. They claim that scientology-backed agents began posting on 711chan in order to blackmail the group.

Maybe… Scientology is a motivated little bugger. With ties in Hollywood. And Oprah is a part of Hollywood. I'd say there was a phone call made.

But fifty million women now believe that there is really such a network. Anonymous is not what America now thinks it is, and if the general population cannot understand the intricate obstacles Anonymous faces… maybe Scientology/fear has won(?).

I’m not trying to be dramatic, we just need to realize that there has never been an organization like this, it cannot be classified. It has no real rules, no real leader, and almost no set agenda other than the dissemination of information.

In what was likely it’s dying breath in the eyes of popular reception, however, a member of Anonymous made the greatest pop-culture prank of the past 5 minutes. They punked Oprah, mocking her for the fear her “reporting” creates and admitting defeat in the form of a brilliant inside joke.

Why should you care? Because the two groups of people involved here do not understand one another. Anonymous will not explain what it is going through, and the general population wouldn’t listen if they did. An entire generation of well educated athiest web users are losing touch with the country that spawned them.

Ban the kiddie porn Anonymous, some things aren’t funny. Chill the fuck out America, transparency is the only way forward.

-Dr. Cosmos.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Final Proposal Reactions

We are being stonewalled by the Engineering Dept, but I just hit them with this 10 page experiment proposal that should silence the naysayers.

Quote from the SysAdmin:

"At this point, I cannot say whether this will work out or not. Any of the following could stop it:

* Policy decision that this will be too much of an intrusion/distraction/resource drag in our lab.
* Finding that it takes too much of my team's time to set it up (technical difficulties).
* Thayer School students finding it too disruptive (we'd have to ask you to stop)."

I mean i get where the guy is coming from. But, warhammer is pretty damn easy to install, the kids in the lab aren't going to stop their homework just because we're playing, and they have more than enough space. Its interesting that our department is currently guerrilla in nature; they can tell us to f*ck off without having to answer to anyone.

However, 2 years ago this discussion wouldn't even take place. "Games? Get the hell out of here kid."
But I'm in the gaming lab right now. Sure its an empty room (a few bookshelves and a coffee table) but we're here. I just might be jumping the gun with the warjammers.blogspot thing.

Interestingly the same guy said at the beginning of the letter:

"Thank you for sending this proposal. I am impressed by your concept, by your ideas, and by your ambitious goals."

Cool, thanks SysAdmin, now let us use 6 of your 50+ computers for a few nights a week.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Brought up hosting a Live Action Role-Playing Game as a possible side "experiment" for the class to carry out today. Also ran across a documentary on the hobby directed by Christopher Pleass that presents the obscure practise in a reasonable, positive light. In fact, I now think that adults rediscovering meaningless, childish "play" is not only interesting, but increasingly necessary in our hectic world.

An interviewed LARP'er discusses his fear that future online-games will dominate the role-playing hobby market, driving live-action into further obscurity.

With my concerns about the addictive, anti-corporeal nature of MMORPG's, I must say I am interested in trying, well, "play." Outdoors. With rubber swords. I think I'd be a minotaur.

How many of you would come to a tournament if I organized it? How many of you are laughing?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Experiment Proposal

So I'm taking a class on Digital Game Studies, we dont have a syllabus but we do have a cool prof and the ability to do whatever experiments we want.

So here's the idea as I submitted it:

"I propose we pool our resources and assign a portion of the class (those interested in addiction, gamer sociology/demographics or escapism) to play an MMORPG together. This needs to be refined, but here are the main steps:

1. Form a team in an online game (Warhammer Online/Age of Conan) made up of class members and potentially other Dartmouth gamers.
a. Develop and test team dynamics through interaction (as suggested by Linden)
b. Hold various experiments in-game:
i. Anti-WAR protests or demonstrations
ii. Player vs. player raids
iii. Provide support for MMO Addiction in-game
iv. Gain contacts and profile them
v. Add to the game narrative
vi. Suggest improvements to publisher…

c. Record what happens (voice, audio, statistics, screen capture, digital video) and edit into either a:
i. Report with a message for the gaming community at large.
ii. Entertaining narrative (machinima perhaps, as Thomas suggested)
iii. Documentary analyzing what happens to the team as they become more and more involved with the game. Health deteriorating? Social changes? Addiction?
iv. All three, hosted on a website.

2. Questions/Goals
a. Do massively multiplayer online role-playing games have a negative impact on the individual over the long run? Is moderation attainable? What happens when people live in two realities at once?
b. Possible End Goal --> Propose an alternative, non-addictive digital experience, or suggest modifications to the existing ones.
c. (Far-flung) Perhaps report our findings to the group that is creating a game, help them create a psychologically beneficial experience

- We would need a room, and hardware. I think both are attainable. I also think corporate sponsorship/support a possibility, and could provide us with much-needed information (statistics)
- I have Age of Conan accounts (5 or 6 around level 60) that we could use, but the game is slowing down and hard to run on most computers. That said, studying the death of a digital world would be interesting. We don’t necessarily have to limit ourselves to one game."

So yea, if this happens, things are going to get pretty interesting. STAY TUNED TRUE BELIEVERS!

Friday, September 26, 2008

500,000 People


500,000 people have signed up for Warhammer Online in its first week. This beats out Age of Conan's 400k, setting a new standard for the efficient distribution of spiritual opium(?).

This means that there are 500,000 people 1) equipped to run the game 2) willing to pay 50 bucks + the monthly fee 3) excited / enticed by either warhammer's ad campaign or someone playing the game. Well done Paul! (skip ahead to 5:00 if short on time)

It was the trailers that sold me:
Trailer 1 Trailer 2

I ordered my version from IGN's Direct2Drive, but i think they sent it to the wrong email address. Thing is, I'm better off without the game.

More interestingly, check out how they describe the war they have created. Dubbed the "Realm War," Warhammer online appears to value all in-game events as one large, historically valuable event/object. It's pretty impressive how hype for this virtual war has been cultivated. The game creators add value to in-game actions through the use of leaderboards, in-game chroniclers... Just click the box:

Anyway, I'd love to become a "watchful chronicler" for them. Sounds like the best job in the world.

Here's the main site if you're interested. These (This / this) are terribly shot in-game propaganda videos... I have to believe something cooler could be done with the Order vs. Chaos theme.

What E-gaming should/will be.

Competitive video gaming is growing rapidly, but rarely receives appropriate coverage.

By appropriate I mean...

1) The commentators are, well, lame. I watched the most recent ESL/MLG World of Warcraft 3v3 tournament online; the guys calling it were worse than McLovin. They need real commentators who can actually get the average viewer excited about what is happening.

(hey MLG, I have radio experience, LFG)

2) Better Camera Angles! There should be people in-game, ghosts, recording these matches with professional precision. Can you imagine a well-shot Battlefield 2142 battle or one where an unlimited number of spectators could ghost through the map at once? People could literally follow their favorite players.

It'll happen, but we don't have the technology (bandwidth) yet.

Here's where I say something meaningful:
Professional gaming is currently less popular than actual sports only because digital technology has yet to reach a certain point. This point, this change, ((singularity?)) will present digital games smooth enough to enjoyed by spectators, cheap enough for the general population to actually play or understand and complex enough to provide a few, talented professionals with opportunities to excel beyond those offered by the physical world. Pushing their minds beyond the limitations of their bodies, future e-gaming stars should attain broadly appreciable levels of skill, and due fame. Actually we touch on this in The Assemblage, but more on that later

So yeah, e-gaming is something to watch. If virtual reality becomes popular and affordable, I'd much rather watch darkfall-like castle warfare in 3D from my house than watch dudes throw a football miles away.

(That said, with the coming technological progress personal fitness will be of the utmost importance. Long-live corporeal sport!)


Watch this if you want to see the potential for e-gaming greatness
(58 seconds of it)

or Watch this if you want to see the whole match (3:00)

Sunday, September 21, 2008


/Link to video of the cover. I was going to buy a copy myself but they didnt distribute the e-ink version this far north. strange /
* *

Another hint at where popular art/media is going.

October 2008 and Esquire has published the first magazine with an lcd embedded in its cover. They call it "E-ink." I want to buy a few hundred, tuck them away in storage for awhile and ebay them as new media artifacts. I'm not going to, but it would work; this is pretty huge.

Look! --> The beginning of a new type of print media. Blinky lcd e-ink print media.

1) This must now be affordable.
2) It looks amazing, so it'll be imitated.

Funny thing is, I'm going to buy a copy now. I wouldn't have otherwise. Are there enough new media geeks out there for the move to be profitable? Yes, because we are all attracted to these sorts of media. It's unavoidable, the stuff looks like, well... magic.

Magic = $$$

Friday, September 19, 2008


The producer for Ironman/spiderman/x-men movie has optioned the rights to Mass Effect.

Cheers Hollywood, this could be the movie that changes everything. If you carefully translate the experience to film... it'll be mind-blowing. I say hire the guys from Square Enix who produced the CGI Spirits Within and just hand them the Mass Effect character models... the market is ready.

Maybe even incorporate some RPG style moments for the fans by focusing on important in-game decisions (Display the character options as subtitles, have option highlighted, clicked, and plot continues?). OR release a few different versions, one where Commander Shepard is from Earth, one where he is from a space colony... you'd just have to change a few lines here and there and you can have a cool gimmick to inspire multiple viewings.

This could be the first GOOD digital game crossover into popular film media, the plot is perfect.

Please don't frack this up.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dramatic MMO Legal Pad Scribblings: 2am

I find myself to be…

Unable to put my computer together.

(tower, monitor, power cord, monitor cable, monitor power cord, mouse, keyboard, mic…)

My syringes. My pipes. I can feel the machine pull at me. It wants me to go exploring. My mind wants to go exploring because I AM AFRAID TO STAY HERE / NOW.

Label this fear as boredom, ADD, curiosity, whatever. Playing is all I want to do. Are they really my friends if we'd rather converse through wires and pixels? Yes. We slaughter deamons. Something better than alchohol against which to do battle(?)

I want to duel on mountains and slay frost worms as a Bear Shaman, not sit and…and...what the hell else would I do?

All the pieces are here. More narcotic hardware than 99% of the world could afford: GTS 8800, 4 gigs of RAM 38 inch plasma, the works. It would practically assemble itself, five minutes tops. Instead, I hold a legal pad. I’m hiding from something. What?

Here in my room, next to a dog soon to be given away, I wonder why I left a friends’ house 20 minutes ago. We were relaxing, the three of us. But the conversation faltered. “Remember that time in City of Heroes?” We need MORE THAN REALITY CAN OFFER.

More than it offers.

It’s quiet in here. I turn on a fan because I can’t stand the silence. Mind wanders without it. Sleep? Family? Dog? Girlfriend? No: Porn and Videogames.

I assemble her lovingly, as if adjusting a sleeping bag before a long-awaited nap. Water cooled.

And then I can’t do it. I can’t go back in like I used to. It was so easy when I was young. Spend awhile on the internet instead, reading about the games I am now unable to play. Firefox, (the lobby between reality and hallucination) swallows early morning hours.

Eventually I tire myself out enough to sleep; there has to be a better way.

I decide that I need to moderate my relationship with the digital, because the technology will never moderate itself.

Perhaps the kids should learn to moderate. To hesitate before leaving this world compeltely.

They aren’t going to. They’re online right now. Smoking "spiritual opium."

Out-leveling me.

Conan Guild Page

send me content guys.
Known Issue

$100,000 Grant to Study WOW (+ thoughts)

Shacknews has reported that a professor at the University of California is going to receive a grant to study WOW game modifications in the US and China. ("Mods" are extra installations usually made by 3rd party developers to improve aesthetics or data retrieval).

basically, +1 For Digital Anthropology.

It's about time we took a closer look at digital events and gaming phenomena. I'm trying to figure out how to ask the right questions myself... if anyone has some decent ideas, let me know.

So far, I think that the most important affect has to be the emotional/spiritual/lifestyle changes gamers endure in return for their expanded horizons of personal experience. While gamers see and do things normal people could never imagine, they end up spending less time in the real world. According to another study out today (thanks Shacknews) Everquest 2 players:

"...reported more cases of depression and substance abuse than their compatriots. 'They may be drawn to use the game to help deal with emotional distress,' says team member Scott Caplan of the University of Delaware."

So what the hell is going on? We need to watch this more closely. I've played several MMO's religiously as you all know, and there is something there... something undefinable is happening to the human mind. A broadening? An addiction? I'll tell you when I figure it out.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dream Job

"G4tv / is seeking a highly motivated individual to join the games editorial team...

The Director of Games Editorial will be responsible for establishing an editorial calendar as well as building and managing a team of editors and producers who will generate game reviews, previews, trailers, custom videos, recurring non-linear shows and screenshots. This hire will also be responsible for building and maintaining relationships with publishers and developers to ensure a constant stream of editorial opportunities for both the network and the website. The position requires accountability, productivity, excellent communication skills, a vast knowledge of gaming and gaming culture and the ability to manage a team of creative individuals..."



3+ years experience managing editorial team / senior editor experience
Minimum 5 years experience in videogame industry
Deep understanding of interactive publishing including timelines, development cycles and best practices / Deep Rolodex of existing gaming contacts" =

Whatever man, I've got time. By the time the Dr. graduates these jobs will be even bigger, shinier, and more in need of my outstanding people skills.

Right? Guys?

The Future of Renewable Energy

Is single-celled organisms.

It's not a new tactic really, the little guys spent a few million years figuring out how to harness solar power and now we have the ability to create them from genetic scratch. By taking the world's most simple genome and playing legos with it, researchers can now produce designer organisms. A few acres of phytoplankton making jet fuel from sunlight, and we're in business.

It's not science fiction man; it's here:

Not-so-new Industry Startup

Most interestingly, the guys pioneering the tech speaking at TED

Biomass into hydrocarbons (Ars)

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I refuse to let this blog die.
To let this idea float away like so much netsam before it, I'd feel like a jackass.
Just have to stay constant, improve my timing, my pace.

Speaking of pace:

The first few lines from Edgar Allen Poe's Fall of the House of Usher:
URING the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. I know not how it was — but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. I say insufferable; for the feeling was unrelieved by any of that half-pleasurable, because poetic, sentiment, with which the mind usually receives even the sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible. I looked upon the scene before me — upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain — upon the bleak walls — upon the vacant eye-like windows — upon a few rank sedges — and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees — with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveller upon opium — the bitter lapse into everyday life — the hideous dropping off of the veil. There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart — an unredeemed dreariness of thought which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the sublime.

Whether or not you dig victorian gothic horror, you can't deny how hypnotizing the effect is. This kind of pacing is important, especially when text is separated into panels or divided by visually intense images. The reader's senses (hallucinating through reading) should be in a constant state of FEAST. Poe was a god; try not to flinch reading this.

If a graphic novel were presented in a public setting, displayed on a huge projector, could it be read aloud? To what extent do you hear comic text? Does the pacing NEED to be more fragmented than traditional prose to achieve desired graphic pauses? I'd like to find an example of some frames that have the flow I'm trying looking for.

I think dictated (orator-accompanied projection) sequential art would be pretty cool.

Oh wait, that's called a movie...?

Monday, May 26, 2008


I bought a book the other day: "The Art of Mass Effect." As this is one of my top 5 games and a very real influence on The Assemblage, I thought I would put piclens to work and find some concept art that will help us paint our future world.

I should probably take a drawing class.


Are awesome, I need to learn how to draw them. So many works have ripped off the idea: the matrix, power rangers, lego watever-the-hell -things. Large bipedal suits piloted by a human inside... Hell yes. Ultimate coolest thing possible. While these more traditional robo-heroes are interesting and WILL be featured in The Assemblage (USA) our main characters should be more believable (hah!). But I posit: if you had the technology to pull off a gundam, wouldn't human/mecha hybrid units be the way to go? Throw in some human-flesh-replacing nanobots for realism's sake and you have the idea behind our (three) heros: the gray border between man and machine, the chaos that emerges from synergy. Yes it has been done to death, everything has.

Why not? Robots are awesome.

I pulled this image off of deviantart, couldn't find a source to site. He's (she's?) just an idea, a marker in the direction that we need to go.

Oh and this is a gundam:



A Lesson is Learned has picked up its game recently. The strip started out mildly, but has developed into something pretty cool (Note: sticking to something pays off!). Jagged graphics, powerful coloring and carefully placed panels create an incredibly affective media:

The emotions that David Hellman and Dale Beran play with are powerful, they produce the most moving web-based single page graphic works I have ever encountered. It's fantastic. This particular comic's use of color to highlight moments in both time and emotion is pretty impressive; fight scenes in The Assemblage could use this tactic to highlight the three combatants' perspectives (view screens?).

Yes, our creative work has been titled "The Assemblage" and yes, we are going to try and throw in as much Mille Plateaux as possible. There will be fighting. A lot of it.

Anyway, Hellman/Beran started out pretty slow:
Picked up speed / learned about perspective blending and placement:
And now have a wonderfully developed style of their own. I would consider these guys (along with DresdenCodak) some of the greatest webcomic artists working today. Their creations indulge our senses visually and play with us emotionally at the same time. It's really the same effect, one brings about the other:
What if I Joomlaed their use of color in text bubbles/panels into my own stuff? Aren't they just copying Marvel (Deadpool does the same thing, or did for awhile). Opinions?


Apparently take more than a day to learn how to use. I also don't understand coda, or CSS. My Joomla page is a joke. We will be using this website until further notice. God damnit.

XKCD love

Our boy Munroe is getting some attention in the New York Times today, check out the article, they do him some service, but focus a bit too much (for my liking) on the programming aspects of his work. Yeah yeah, that's his shtick, but there is a deeper communication going on underneath the Unix jargon. So yeah check it out, and also take a look at these rad photos from Mars picked up by our buddy Pheonix.

So I am the official web editor for two different organizations... but I don't have my own site. So i went and bought and prepared to make it a kickin version on this site with room for creative works to be posted along with more detailed message boards, etc.

Then I remembered that I do not know how to code. And I despaired.
then I remembered content management systems, which allow you to pull in components from other sites and put together a professional-grade site piecemeal.

I loaded Joomla onto the site, and that took over my life for awhile. Needed a program to upload/ edit/explain code: coda. Needed a really expensive way to edit images: photoshop. I wrote an essay on Joomla and the ways in which it effects authorship and creativity on the internet, heres an excerpt:

"Automating the tedious processes involved is not always a great idea, however. Van Gough was a “master” because he started with a blank canvas and created everything himself. Further abstraction and automation, while making user interaction easier and inciting communicative progression, further hides the discrete binary code (the actual happenings of the computer) from human understanding. Many users, myself included, will now be able to write professional-grade websites by looking up the few lines of necessary code. We will be able to understand what the CSS and HTML are doing, but only so far as it affects the finished product. Any questions or concerns can be submitted to the Joomla! community; with enough time and research most projects can be completed without any "mastery". Digital literacy is expanding, but the works are largely plagiarized. It will be up to the next generation of truly literate web designers to push coding methods to the next plateau. Once they have, it will be their responsibility to teach the rest of us how to copy/paste their work."

So I can't really take credit for it's creative design, but feel free to visit "my" site I guess I'll transfer all of these articles over there. Then again, I kindof like this layout better. It's standardized, simple and clean. But hey, gotta get that internet street-cred up with my own domain name you know?

What do you guys think, which layout is better!?!?! OMG INTERACTIVITY.

Dresden Codak

My favorite web comic site. Hands down. But only because I am so lame. Which is awesome.

Continental philosophy + futurism + robot ethics + geek culture/video games + anthropology / sociology + THE MOST BEAUTIFUL COMIC LAYOUT ON THE INTERNET = Dresden Codak.

Notice how the frames seem to blend together? Aaron Diaz (Dresden is a pseudonym) plays games with the viewer's gaze by taking advantage of perspective, suggestion, and the blank space between panels. The blank space?! Yes, the reader's mind fills in the gaps between one panel and the next. Set up a good beginning and a good end, and the middle is filled by imagery perhaps more powerful than that found in novels. Not convinced? Let's see what McCloud has to say about this one, as well as more examples of how layout can affect the reader.

By plotting out graphic sequences with care, Diaz leads the reader to create their own "closure" on a epic scale. The art is soft and detailed, allowing the eye to feast as it is subtly guided through the panels. Go here for more examples of Diaz's work.

Ray Kurzweil shout-outs aside, I am also a fan of Dresden's cast, which features "tiny carl jung" as a reoccurring character : "One of the fathers of modern tiny psychology. Famous for the development of tiny dream analysis, as well as the concepts of the tiny shadow half, tiny archetype, and tiny collective unconscious." (All of the other characters are Myers-Briggs labeled of course).

Diaz knows what he's doing. He's a genius. You know that something is worth reading when it constantly inspires readers to wikipedia niche philosophers. Every comic takes 1.5-3 weeks to come out; the quality shows, and you have to respect the guy for resisting the usual format of (consumerism-driven) tri-weekly updates. I'll leave you with something beautiful:

Creative Limits

I cannot hope to ever create anything as beautiful, hilarious, or long lasting as Achewood.

Simple, complicated and built firmly upon itself, the comic uses character development to humorously point out flaws in modern society. Here's a recent strip:
Read that, then read this and then this. Now you have an idea, kindof. I have to admit I haven't read all of it, theres so much to go back and consume. I am told that the series is 100x better if read from the beginning, as the humor is reoccurring. What can we learn from achewood? Persistence matters. Start with an idea, carry it out well, rewards will come.

Ah how fear of failure strangles the mind...

Dino Comix

DINOSAUR COMICS is a deconstructionist, post-modern web comic written by Ryan North. Why po-mo? Basically because they use the same images over and over again to tell a different story every time. The only variable is the text! The humor is pretty tame, and uses a pretty common statement--> comment --> statement --> counter-argument --> statement -->punchline formula.Go here if that's too small to read. Anyway the three main characters play off of t-rex's absurd realizations. Whats amazing is the amount of content that North has been able to generate; his creativity works within these set boundaries and doesn;t seem to miss a beat. If this much story, meaning and mildly entertaining humor can be translated in simple reiterations of the same media......then there must not be any limitation to the number of stories, interpretations, and truths that can be communicated through literary works (simple comics and novels alike). What I'm saying is that Dinosaur Comics inspires me: there is no limit.
I don't think I will use any of the methods from this one in my work, the meta-comic thing is cool, but can only communicate in short snippets. I want to write an epic.

Age Of Conan

So our web comic story thing is going to function as a video-game script. There, I said it. It is important to set parameters within which the story can be refined. To continue my research in the field, my obsession will become Funcom's new massively multiplayer online role-playing game Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures.

The game features pretty impressive graphics (closer and closer to reality every day), an interesting combat system and enough storyline to play around with for years to come as the game is based on Robert E. Howard's fantasy novels from the 1930's. Also interesting will be the cultural undertones featured in the game, as Funcom's team is based in Norway (their PR guys are terrible to listen to, god thing they have these guys:)

I am most curious about two aspects of the game:

First, combat has been changed from the traditional runescape-esque click and hit format to a more dynamic blocking/counter-attack system coupled with first-person views for ranged classes. If you don't know what this means, basically the extent to which you are able to interact with combat scenarios has been improved significantly. Or has it? We'll see. (what does this have to do with a web comic?! very little directly, except that the same plot devices and uses of digital media will apply, as I believe many digital media genres will merge in new and beautiful ways in the future).

Second, the game is very, very adult. Rated M, it features nudity, gore and depravity in concentrations never before seen in a massivley multiplayer game. Their world is dark, dseased and sexy. Perhaps they are making the world more "real" by allowing vice. Will this attract a lot more players (adult males being the target) as they see their friends slaughtering topless amazons in dynamic combat? Yes. Is that a good thing? Hmmmm...

I will play the game (as a ranger), but Dragonlord is still out of commission. More about this alternate world soon.

Computer Games

I am going to play Age of Conan, and I am going to take notes. One of my essay topics this finals period is to figure out how mature content adds to AOC's immersive qualities (cleavage+fatalitites = profit). Dragonlord, my computer, is still less than functional. I built him so that I could play vanguard, the beautifully failed World of Warcraft competitor, and now I am ready for the next game...

As this blog is about the creation of a graphic novel / video game sotryline ,I guess I should explain my history as a gamer:

City of Heroes:

It started with the terrible family pc and a little java-powered game known as Runescape. I joined the game when there were three servers, brought my friends in and we summarily killed people. The game had a magnificent quality about it: the "wildy", an area filled with treasure, rare creatures and people to kill. The catch: Everyone was allowed to kill everyone. The screwing around that the wildy facilitated has defined my idea of enjoyable gaming. Remind me to talk about the "wildy" some more, as the same system should be used in our project.

Then there was Acheron's Call for a bit, CS, Halo pc, battlefield 2, BF 2142... but non matched COH:

City of Heroes is an MMO in which you and a group of ventrillo-enabled friends become superheroes and beat on villany. The game featured amazing costume creation, no itemization (focus on gameplay) and the coolest travel powers I have ever used. (You can fly, 2nd life is a cheap immitation).

Anyway the point is that I lost myself. I was lifeguarding and playing this game, all day, every day. My social life remained stable; my best friends played with me... AS SUPERHEROES. This is what people fail to understand: MMORPG's, played with people you know from reality (or not, takes longer to make friends) are almost as viable a social interaction as reality-based conversation. Sure body language isn't there, but (generalization) males tend to function better in group-based activities. Like saving the world. World of Warcraft soon followed, I played a Tauren Warrior and had a blast executing gnomes.

My year spent without a computer was good for me. I hung out a lot, I enjoyed the MMO that is reality. Life has been enjoyable. Yet I crave the drug that is immersion. I miss exploration on a scale that this world can't quite provide. More than anything, I miss the team.

So is Dragonlord holding me back from playing Age of Conan? Can I afford to live two lives again? What will happen if I gain free access to my drug of choice?:

No, Yes, and I will make full use of the little time I have to enjoy myself.


This post is written for me, forgive the lack of pizazz.
When I was very small, all I wanted was a Nintendo 64. My parents bought a family computer instead, with which I dominated Dark Forces 2, Red Alert, Tribes 2, Sim Copter and a variety of other semi-classics. But then games started requiring faster graphics and sturdier memory. Tie Fighter lagged. All I wanted was to seamlessly merge with the media I was consuming. Lag was my reality, but Dragonlord was my dream.

Dragonlord is my computer, I named him six years before he was built. He was assembled from pieces while I was in Europe and the manufacturer sent his monitor to the States. Six months of staring at my glowing, GTS 8800 powered, water-cooled fantasy followed. The monitor was eventually shipped over, and seized by customs. Another couple months. I went home for the summer, left him, decided to stay in the states and only collected him this may. (I still have yet to play a game on this damn computer).

The story is actually pretty good if you're still with me. FedEx dropkicked my glorious machine, stripping every screw in the case and allowing everything to bounce around on its way across the Atlantic. I opened the package and despaired. Then I went to work.

All the pieces were structurally sound, the coolant hadn't leaked, all was well. I assembled it, he eventually turned on.... but no video output. Took another computer, swapped graphics cards, swapped power supplies, ended up swapping motherboards to find out that not only were both sticks of RAM toast, the motherboard was as well.

And now I sit here, Dragonlord complete with parts amputated from a lesser machine, and it appears that I have forgotten the administrative password.
I don't know the password. I have been struggling for 2 days to bring Dlord back to speed and now only a password holds me back. All I want to do is play AGE OF CONAN, all I have ever wanted to do was immerse myself in an alternate reality for awhile (after finals), but somehow I remain happily tethered to this reality.

I'll get the keys and open him up, it's just the ironic reality of reality that gets me sometimes.

Monday, April 7, 2008


This is just another online Avatar, I am signing up for the "Truth and Beauty Bombs" forums, going to try to familiarize myself with webcomic culture, get some info... they're funny, I want friends.

Anyway the site makes you link your avatar picture, and I'm too lazy to use photobucket, so "TADA!" that Turian Council member from Mass Effect, the greatest game of all time ! (?).

This is how I would look if we were all plugged into the matrix and we could choose our physical self-representations. Yeah I know you don't care, but this could be important when we start talking about futurism; how will we represent ourselves when physicality no longer matters?

You have my answer.