Saturday, April 17, 2010

GAMESRART (And General Creative Musings)

So I think in my Noby Noby Boy review I mentioned that Roger Ebert doesn't think video games are art. This was a statement made a while ago and it pretty much endeared me to hating Ebert but recently... well you just can't hate the man. He's kind of amazing. So I don't hate him anymore but I think he's pretty much totally wrong. Still, I understand his point better.

The article in question is basically a point by point hairsplitting of a presentation given by a developer for that game company, which made both fl0w and flower for the Playstation Network, usually hailed as the most artsy games can get. She pretty much just makes a lot of points that have already been made; that games are art already for the following reasons.

So Ebert rebuts all these, and honestly I'm pretty much with him for a lot of it. But there's some confusing lines. Like when he explains that while the video game version of Waco (see the video at the bottom of the link) had no impact on him, the documentary did, but then he says that the documentary isn't art either. Are films not art then? At the end of it he says that early films like "A Voyage to the Moon" have "superior artistry and imagination" than that of their video game equivalent. Not directly contradictory but strange.

Whatever though, I'm splitting hairs. I still agree with his assessments that the games she presents aren't really that appealing (the Waco one looks like a pile of shit) but disagree with the over all assessment.

The thing of it is, art is a huge HUGE topic. HUGE. I write this not as a gamer but as someone trying to become an artist. There are too many definitions for art, which is pretty much the problem. I'm honestly of the persuasion that art is what it is to individuals cause it's so hard to nail down. Pragmatically, art is in the eye of the gallery owner or juror, but they don't get to make the rules either really (if only because they have and will change). It's not about definitions.

Duchamp thought that art was in the realm between the viewer and the piece; that the two are like poles creating electricity, and that energy itself is the art. I think that's pretty spot on for a lot of art today, and generally, honestly (if not just because of the paradox of the "tree falling in the forest" variety of "is it still art if no one can experience it?").

I guess that yes, I am one of those "everything is art" guys. But the line drawn is where it's good art or bad art. I don't mean that everything is art, but when there's an artist to call it that, it's art, even if it's dogshit (figurative or literal).

So basically then it comes down to the matter of taste, naturally. I think it really is that simple, that definitions aside, it comes down to what's good and what's not, and that's totally within the individual (Maybe what I'm really getting at is that art shouldn't be defined ooooo).

Ebert doesn't define art either, instead concerning himself with the caliber of whatever he's discussing. "No one will quote video games like we have quoted the great novels, poems and plays" (or something to that effect). I almost agree that now, sure, there aren't innumerable quotes from vidja games like there are from poetry and books, but to say there never will be is basically lying. No one can know that, and it's ridiculous to make a claim like that. Books and poems already have centuries of a head start anyway.

If you take the general consensus of the art world, by which I mean that the people who are exhibited in museums are artists and their works art, then Ebert's argument is flawed too. One of his points is that games have objectives and goals and points and that that makes them incapable of being art. Games that I like, and games that I consider art, have them in more abstracted ways then say, Pac Man. Pac Man eats the dots because that's all their is to do. Raziel enacts his revenge on Kain because of a masterfully well put together plot that keeps the player entrenched in the story at every turn. It's the same as watching a movie but it's has so much more impact because you don't just sympathize with Raziel, you are Raziel. You are directly responsible for his triumphs and failures.

There's also an artist that actually makes kindof altered versions of existing games, like billiards with one of the balls being a pendulum, and a foursided ping pong table with a pond in the middle. He was featured in Art 21 and is widely exhibited, but he makes games. So there's a precedent for some kind of game in the world of "high art".

There's a lot of the article that's also Ebert wondering why gamers care as much as they do about whether games are art or not. Well, it's because wondering if they aren't is ridiculous. At the very least, the very very least, video games have a visual language that is composed by artists (draftsmen and women, at least) and scores composed by composers. As Penny Arcade's Tycho so elegantly put it before I did, does combining these creative processes (some strait out of cinema) in a game somehow invalidate them?

Every single art form that is now widely accepted in museums has gone through the same ridiculous arguments, that pretty much boil down to "it isn't art because it isn't art". Music wasn't considered high art once. Nor was photography in it's heyday. Almost every major artist in history has been under scrutiny for being too outside the box (Picasso, Cezanne, Duchamp, Pollack) and by the same kind of jackass logic Ebert uses.

I totally understand that Ebert has all these countless great, truly incredible movies to compare to games (even if he isn't calling movies art, in which case, c'mon man!). Even though I think Half Life 2 is pretty much one of the greatest things ever made by anyone, I'll give him that I might like my favorite movie, The Life Aquatic, more than my favorite game. Maybe even all my favorite movies combined fair better than all my favorite games, but who cares? They're all great.

The biggest point he seems to make is that none of the games presented move him, but as far as I know he still hasn't played any of them, or any others. Anything. That should put it to bed right there.

Bottom line is, I take issue with the ridiculous generalizations. Even though he concedes the point that games may, in the distant future, be art, the article is titled "Games can never be art". Just because one person doesn't get it, is the whole medium now and forever artistically bankrupt?

Do I really have to ask that question?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Review: Borderlands

As Brutal Legend proved to be pretty disappointing and not warranting a purchase, I decided to buy instead, Borderlands, Gearbox's new shooter slash RPG thing. I has a couple of doubts at first though, naturally.
The whole idea is a blend of RPG elements like loot, classes (sniper, rouge, tank, the usual), talent trees and most importantly numbers. It's all set in a sci fi wasteland full of Mad Max style bandits, all with a twisted sense of humor.

Hmmmmm. Hmmmmmmmmmm. Where have I heard that before?

My biggest problem with this game initially was the fact that I am still, to this day, playing Fallout 3. That game is unbelievable, and nothing will ever come as close. Nonetheless, I wouldn't say Borderlands is trying to cash in on Fallout's success. Well maybe. The biggest unique bit about Borderlands is it's graphics however, which to be fair, are totally fucking awesome:

I apologize for the gratuitous ass shot but just look at those fucking graphics! They're gorgeous! All hand drawn textures with cel shading providing a total rad, totally fresh way of looking at things. Instead of making another paint by number Unreal engine blandfest, Gearbox did something different. Bravo, I say bravo. So how is it then?

The intro shows off the graphics beautifully, all to a really appropriate rock song with plenty of banjo. Excellent. I am pleased, despite the story apparently having to do with a mythical Vault (cough cough).
Then comes the tutorial. You're treated to a shitty AI "guardian angel" woman and a shittier (so much shittier) robot named Claptrap, who is as likeable as he is useful. It was around this point I got mad. I actually stood up and yelled "you're not Fallout!" at my TV.

The "plot" revolves around a vault, it's an RPG shooter blend, it's got wasteland all over it, there's a Pip-Boy wanna be (every item you get has a little cartoon Claptrap holding it) and there are fucking bobbleheads.

And yet there is not an ounce of charm. The dialogue (that isn't just text, which is predominant) is awful. The only NPC you ever actually talk to a crazy red neck doctor that doesn't do anything, and a red neck vehicle salesman. Everyone else is either trying to kill you already or stands there and communicates in text. There is essentially no narrative; playing it is like driving a luxury sports car with all the interrior ripped out, there's just the chassis and an engine.

Enduring characters notwithstanding, how are the graphics, which I am so totally in love with? Well they look totally revolutionary in the intro, and after that... almost entirely negligible. Up close they're unbelievable, but you will never ever get close enough to anything to appreciate it because if you do, you'll die. And at the proper killing distance, it looks like any other shooter.

Despite it uncannily trying to steal Fallout's charm (and miserably failing), I realized that it's not trying to steal it's gameplay. It has a rechargeable shield system, a super human jump, vehicles and co-op. It's Halo! And it has randomly generated guns ranging in quality from green to blue to purple to orange and co-op. It's Diablo!

It's HALABLO. Beautiful.

And it really is. As soon as I was preforming acrobatics around alien monsters and then swiping at them with my melee attack, running over shit, and most importantly (MOST importantly) getting loot, I was totally fucking hooked.

SO: It may be totally devoid of successful humor and charm, or really any fluff whatsoever, the engine at work here is so good it doesn't matter. It can be really hard and frustrating and the AI can be really bad, but it all just kind of disappears when you get your hands on a really awesome gun. They put there attention on making it fun, and they sure fucking did, but my heart skips a beat to think of what this game would be like if the narrative was good, and you got to look at the pretty graphics in cinematics, and there were actual characters occupying the world, but alas.

It's kind of like crack. It's not very smart or charming, it's ultimately bad for you, but it's addictive and fun, and you can do it with your friends!

Okay maybe not like crack so much.

Monday, September 28, 2009

New Mike Doughty Album October 6

New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 New Mike Doughty Album October 6 Doughty Album October 6

That is all

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Return Of The Blog (No Promises This Time)

So I really did not keep to my promise of... anything I said in the last post. I apologize profusely. Besides getting in the mindset that if I write about anything I have to write about everything (or nothing, and choosing the latter) The biggest block for me posting is that in order to talk about stuff I have to scan or sync my phone to get pictures and I never want to to that, laborious task that it is. People actually read this thing and I'm sorry I've left you hanging (not that you've been hard up for things to read on the internet).
Anyhow, this I can just link so I can talk about it. When me and Parker started updating 3 times a week in the beginning of Summer I wanted to do a quick little interlude about Mike fishing with his dad. Originally it was supposed to be water color but I've somehow learned to be a better draftsmen with just these 7 or 8 (I don't even know how many) comics. I'm more proud of them than anything else we've done so far. When I first wanted to do comics I wanted to do something like this, and the response I've gotten has been really positive from everybody, on pretty much all fronts.

Thanks everybody!

This last comic (which won't be up until Thursday so this is an early post) is maybe my favorite ever, and the last in the fish series. Maybe I'll make a little book and see who wants it, or give it away! That would be a fine profit margin, I wager.

In other news things are pretty much great all the time, in all regards. I haven't played or bought a new video game in a good while but Fallout 3 is still entertaining as hell. Firefly and Serenity were amazingly good watching them again, I'm even more proud to be a browncoat then I already was, and now I am really quite excited to go through Cowboy Bebop again. I actually get like, shaky with anticipation when I think about it or listen to the soundtrack.

Speaking of music, Genius is really nice when you have 60 gigs you've barely scratched the surface of. That's been pretty nice.

So other than that, school starts pretty soon here and I have a feeling I'm going to be updating more when that happens for whatever reason. I've also fucked around with the colors to see if it looks better. What do you guys think?

Thanks for the reads folks, I'll see you again soon.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Blog Posts

More soon to come I swear, sorry for the lateness. I may actually have sketches soon too wow wouldn't that be cool it sure would.

Monday, April 27, 2009

An Open Letter to the Internet

I mean, what are blogs for right?

So I quit reading VG Cats a long time ago when the author pretty much told everyone who didn't like his comic to go fuck themselves. It's a gaming comic that is pretty fucking shallow, which is to say it's extremely fucking shallow intellectually overall. The problem with VG Cats, besides it's animu bullshit and shitty fanbase, is that it's totally unoriginal. The most recent one (which spawned this rant) is basically a rehashed series of Penny Arcades that are eight fucking years old. Both comics are about dealing with the age old gamer paradox of "casual" vs. "hardcore" games; the idea that the fact that everyone plays games dilutes the inherent nobility in the pasttime. As me and Parker found out working on Tea Time, in the webcomic world, "Penny Arcade did it" is defiently as aplicable as "The Simpsons" in that South Park episode, so I can't blame VG Cats for stepping on their toes, but it's more than that. It's a good example of what's wrong with it. He uses the Colbert Report's "Tonight's Word" (and a title of a Brian Posehn routine), shamelessly to rant about nothing (which we'll get to), and then aknowledges that he stole shit so you can't call him out on it (granted: that isn't a bad punchline). Furthermore, VG Cats is Scott's (the author's) full time job, but he not only is his update shedule once a week, but he misses updates notoriously enough that it's seriously like once every 3 weeks (for God's sake, there's a major recurring character that was spawned from his habit of missed updates), and after all that time the most you get is filler bullshit. I'm a full time student, and I can put out 2 comics a week. Shit, even Tim Buckley puts out like 3 comics a week, and he is an untalented peice of shit.

As for the comic in question though: Casual games are not destroying our pasttime. Not only can I hold a conversation with dudes I wouldn't have anything else in common with, but developmental costs for next gen games are enourmous, and if you make a game that sells ridiculously well then it can go to other things. That is not un-fucking-precidented, movie studios do it all the time. "When was the last time you played a really good game?", asks VG Cats. Dead Space, you asshole, produced by EA, a company that has a vice grip on the casual game market. They put all the money they made from Madden and Tiger Woods into the best new IP I've played in years (not to mention risked it on Mirror's Edge too) and got it to a mirror shine in one fucking year, and for a game that good, that is fucking impressive. Your last comic was about Fallout 3, which is like one of the best games ever made, and it just came out.

What's wrong with causal games anyway? I grew up on casual games, Spyro is not what I would describe as "hardcore". Neither is Crash or Pong or Frogger. What the fuck is "hardcore" anyway? Difficult? Fuck that shit, that's never why I played games, I'm not a sadist. Causal games can be hard too, like Rock Band on expert (or Spyro, unless your Ruth), so what does it matter?

And you know what? Fuck everyone, quicktime events are awesome.

And yes, I realize that what spawned the comic was some new show about "gamers". Fucking get over it, G4 has been on television since I was in jr. fucking high. There is always going to be shit like that, that doesn't mean the industry is in some kind of downturn.

What gets me more that anything about VG Cats though is the fucking fans. It's nowhere near the size of Penny Arcade, sure, but they are so ravenous and stupid it is like dealing with a brick wall. They refuse to acknowledge that their favorite comic is bland and unoriginal, and worst of all they can't see what a raging asshole Scott is. He misses his own pathetic update structure, and then bitches at the people who complain when he puts up a shitty comic. "This is my canvas" or "I'm giving you free entertainment" are common phrases in the webcomic artist's toolbag, but listen: Fuck you. We are the ones providing you with your fucking income from website hits. We are the reason you can afford to be such a lazy piece of shit. We pay your salary mother fucker, we buy your shirts, now make us some decent fucking comics or shut up.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Good Stuff

I have been in extremely high spirits as of recently! This isn't exactly uncommon because I'm not a terribly sad guy but most of the time I am a mix of content awkwardness and existential malaise. That sounds a little worse than it is. Recently though, like over the last week or so I've been feeling great, and decided to make a list of shit.
  • Weather. Colorado is fucking crazy! I love snow, I really do, which is one reason I don't ever want to leave Colorado, but I also love sunshine. This past week has had both, sometimes in the same day!
  • I have been watching Lost with Ruth and oh my, yes. Lost. Wow. (Coincidentally, I don't know what Ruth may have told you at my ability to play Playstation 1 games but it is naught but lies and slander)
  • My birthday approaches, on which I will be 20, which is weird, but I will not only be drunk when the clock strikes 12, I will also be dressed as Obi-Wan Kenobi and hanging with (nearly all of) my best friends.
  • I have a new project in my sculpture class that is going to kick serious ass.
  • The cute gal with dreadlocks who draws all the time that usually sits in front of me in Art History kind of talked to me, that sure was nice.
  • I am either going to Bonaroo or on a road trip over the summer (or maybe both I dunno) so that is awesome.
The final point is Tea Time! As I mentioned in my little blog post, I wanted to try something new because markers suck, and for whatever reason I really like hatching with a pencil. It's pacifying I guess. So I found a happy medium which is shading with a ball point pen. I think it works really well, and coincidentally when I was ready to start this new style, some kind of fear I had about drawing that I was unaware I had left me, and I just kind of did it.

It was very liberating! We also got a shit load of hits and positive feedback from people about the new shit and that was very encouraging. I've had a drive to draw recently that I don't remember having for... I dunno, way too long. My good buddy Mecha also shipped all of his books out here, cartooning books and anatomy books and the like, so I am really excited to steal them.

Today I finished the comic, finished a T-Shirt design, and also showed Mikey the design I had for a new Crow shirt, and they're going to use it! I am more than stoked! There will be pictures, worry not.

I feel like I did a lot today.

Life is good ladies and gentlemen!