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Bedroom music production, gaming and random shit

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Depeche Mood

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Yesterday I went to the world premiere of Depeche Mode’s latest tour in Stockholm.

I’m not a big fan – although I do regard Violator as one of my absolute favorite albums of all time.

In the eighties and early nineties the band was exceptionally good, but post-Violator the band took a different, rockier path and was at the same time electronically outrun by others.

Needless to say, I wasn’t too happy with the new material or the choice of songs yesterday. Also, the band played David Bowie’s Heroes, and whilst it’s a good song, it’s not like Depeche Mode needs to fill out its show with covers of other artist’s songs.

This isn’t a review, so I stop here with the setlist, and next to it, a list that I’d have liked to hear:

Setlist:
1. Going Backwards
2. So Much Love
3. Barrel of a Gun
4. A Pain That I’m Used To
5. Corrupt
6. In Your Room
7. World in My Eyes
8. Cover Me
9. Home
10. A Question of Lust
11. Poison Heart
12. Where’s the Revolution
13. Wrong
14. Everything Counts
15. Stripped
16. Enjoy the Silence
17. Never Let Me Down Again

Encore:
18. Somebody
19. Walking in My Shoes
20. Heroes
21. I Feel You
22. Personal Jesus

My preferred list:
1. Agent Orange
2. World in My Eyes
3. Walking in My Shoes
4. Behind the Wheel
5. It’s No Good
6. Dream On
7. Personal Jesus
8. Stripped
9. Everything Counts
10. Master and Servant
11. Strangelove
12. But Not Tonight
13. Photographic
14. Policy of Truth
15. Wrong
16. In Your Room
17. Enjoy the Silence

My preferred encore:
18. Black Celebration
19. Higher Love
20. Clean
21. A Question of Time
22. Never Let Me Down Again

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Game Off

I don’t write about gaming that much any longer. The posts on music production are more popular, which make them more rewarding to write. And I guess it’s because those post mainly focus on tips and techniques, while the posts on video games are based more on taste and personal experience, and not very analytic.

However, let’s talk about my gaming (diary entry style).

I don’t play on the PS4 that much any longer because there’s not that many games that interest me right now. I play Life Is Strange, which the PS4 is technically overkill for, but it’s nevertheless a good game.

And I’m starting a NG+ or another playthrough of Dark Souls III, which is an amazing game. But that’s about it.

Oh yeah, I finished the true ending of Metal Gear Solid V too, but that game was weird (even for the series).

I did a couple of multiplayer matches on Uncharted 4, but didn’t get hooked.

I skipped the whole Advances Warfare train. It just didn’t appeal to me.

And I was disappointed with Fallout 4 and The Witcher 3 and therefore didn’t get any of the DLCs.

Recently I’ve been playing on a smartphone, and I’m not talking about Pokémon GO, but about some of Telletale’s games (The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Game of Thrones), I think they are pretty good and suit fine on handheld device with touchscreen.

No Reason to Go Back

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I’ve started making electronic music on the Amiga 500 using music trackers many, many years ago.

I then got a PC and used several shady Cubase versions. After that, I got a Mac and started using Logic for a while. At that time FruityLoops was weak and Reason’s sequencer wasn’t in a good place. But then something happened – Reason 6.5 introduced rack extensions and shit. And then came version 7, and I though it was the greatest. Everything was fine –  for a short while. When Propellerhead released version 8, focus had shifted to the surface, and community building seemed to be the new black. So I switched to Ableton Live.

Reason 9 just revealed. It adds pitch edit, scales and chords, note echo and dual arpeggio. What do guys think? Well, I for one, am not going back.

Swords, Swords, Swords

For me gaming last half-year has been filled with single player sword fighting. (I miss playing with friends and I miss shooting in first person.)

Swords

It started off with Dragon Age: Inquisition by the end of last year. I was playing as a rogue with double daggers.

DAI was pretty huge but full of meaningless quests of the sort: kill 5 enemies and collect award, gather 10 herbs and collect award… The stories and characters were okay but not fantastic in any way.

More Swords

Then came Bloodborne – and it was fantastic. The swords were presented as trick weapons that could be transform for different attacks.

Everything about this game was just great: the story and plot, the art direction, the level design, the game mechanics, the voice acting, the thrills.

I’m on my third playthrough now.

Swords Revisited

My third installment of sword swinging games was The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. There were two swords – one of steel and one of silver – to chose from for fighting human and beasts, but that whole thing was merely a gimmick.

I haven’t yet finished The Witcher 3 (I’m on level 22 or so) but so far I’m not that impressed. Yeah it’s huge, and there are endless of loot, and some side quests are deep and intriguing, but most of them go on and on and only grows tiresome. There are just too many things I’m critical of this game, albeit subjective opinions, e.g. juvenile language, writing and stylistics.

Anyway, I hope that the next game for me doesn’t involve swords, just gimme a gun man.

Gold Farming of Gamers

Here’s how to fool gamers, take their money that is.

It goes a bit like this: make a video game and market it as a standalone, complete game but sell it in parts.

Have the consumer pre-order the game to receive in-game gadgets, like two extra skins for the playable character or its weapons (but add nothing that change gameplay or the overall experience).

Go ahead, charge full price for a three-quarters of a game at best. It’s alright, just release the rest as DLCs.

If the game focuses on multiplayer mode, e.g. lots of first person shooters, then hold on to half of the maps and ration them out in four DLCs during the game’s lifecycle, together with some uncanny weapons that didn’t make it past alpha phase.

And if the game is story driven, then release two or three DLCs with a few hours worth of side-quest gameplay. You should have made these already at launch, but withhold from the original release.

Anyhow, the total sum of these DLCs can almost reach the price point of the game itself. Yeah, you’re getting double paid. If you want money in the bank, then sell a season pass so that players can gain access to all content to something you should call, “a great price”. And to appeal to these fanboys, promise that they will get it a week earlier than the suckers buying the DLCs piece by piece.

Then – if the game proves to be any successful after a year – release a Game of the Year edition. Include everything above and be nice, and run a time-limited promotional pricing campaign for a short while before charing full price again.

After that you can always make a remake of the game, on whatever future current generation of gaming platform is; be sure to save your high resolution textures for this. Or you may just re-release the game and add “10th Anniversary Edition”.

That’s how to earning money on video games. I’m sure there are plenty of other ways, but these are the most obvious and common.

Digitally Yours

I recently got a microKORG and was thinking of the label, virtual analog, VA. So VA is still a commonly used method and term. Now, does anyone think the manufacturing companies should like just stop calling these synths VAs?

I mean, it’s pretty standard to digitally construct synths with analog modeling circuit emulation/behavior (Roland AIRA…). And here’s the thing, the term VA, suggests that analog is the almighty king of all synthesises, and that other are just imitating.

When they first marketed these synths in in the middle of the nineties (Clavia Nord Lead, Access Virus…), it served a purpose of defining a new type of synthesis, but nowadays, well the paradigm has long be shifted.

P.S. This discussion has nothing to do with the new kind of hybrids emerging, such as Roland JD-Xa.

An Unworthy Hardline

I’ve played six and a half hour of Battlefield Hardline and reckon I’m entitled to say something: the game sucks!

It’s not that the game is particularly buggy, unpolished or broken. Nah, it has to do with the feeling that this isn’t a standalone full game. It feels more like a DLC expansion, or worse, like a
homemade mod. It’s Battlefield alright, in a new costume – but a costume that
fit the game series badly.

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While the singleplayer campaign may be
good, the Battlefield series has always been about multiplayer.

There’s a couple of new game modes
(Heist and Hotwire), the areas of engagement are more focused; 150 meters
between the flags in Conquest mode et cetera.

The engine and mechanics runs quite the
same as in Battlefield 4, no apparent tweaks. At the same time they say that
Hardline is the fastest Battlefield ever made. Maybe that’s true, but the speed
buff is really nothing compared to the boost from Ghosts to Advanced Warfare. (On
top of that, any given Call of Duty is much faster-paced than this.)

Vehicles play a big part in every Battlefield,
but mostly if they’re armed. And the unarmed cars are fast but also plain ugly
– stiff polygon boxes floating around. This is far from GTA.

Okay, maybe I’m being too hard on
Visceral’s effort, this is only a preview. But remember that “open beta” multiplayers
tends to actually be the final releases these days, well minus the 1.01 updated
with minor fixes which is released the same day as the game hits the stores. (One
could even argue that “open betas” have come to replace many limited
pre-releases that before were labeled “demos”, but that’s another discussion.)

Lastly, this cop and robber theme is
just ridiculous. What the fuck were they thinking? This is war man, who wanna
be a cop anyway? Not to even mention the police brutality and stupidness of the
context itself.

On every level, DICE’s originals are
better, this is just sell out. Usually I don’t give a damn about trademarks,
but Hardline is unworthy the Battlefield brand.

That being said, I guess Hardline will
sell like hot cakes, and if my buddies will decide to pick this game up, so
will I.

Joining the Losing Team

In most PvP first person shooters there’s this mechanic that every so often place you on the losing team. Especially if you’re playing with three or more friends in a squad.

That has to do with more player slots being free on the losing team due to a high quit frequency on that team before you join. The game’s matchmaking is then trying to balance the teams by filling up the empty slots.

This is very annoying and discouraging.

Still, I don’t really see how it could be fixed; not being able to join matches in progress would have you waiting a thousand years.

The problem is that noobs quit when their team is losing.

And I’m no better. If I’m playing on a team that loses three matches in a row by 600 tickets or so (Conquest in Battlefield), I would rather quit and scan for another server than to play on. That’s wrong but also some form of self-preservation.

To lose a few matches in multiplayer is of course fine. Reasons could simply be you and your team being properly pwned for sucking. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

It’s just that joining a losing match in progress isn’t that fun. And this is much more common than joining the winning team. Actually, one could argue that this situation is in the nature of PvP – helping your team to turn the tide. Although I doubt the average and casual player is that noble to willingly join a bad team to do so.

Destiny: Fight the Good Fight

When I first got Destiny I wasn’t sure about many things. I didn’t know whom the Traveler was or what the Darkness was, but I was eager to learn. Hell, I was starving for a new next-gen game.

Unfortunately I still don’t know. The Traveler could be a philosophy, a technology or that giant sphere hovering over the Tower. It seems to have some self-proclaimed protectors called the Guardians, but how the Traveler is communicating with them is still not known to me.

There are three different playable species: Human, Exo and Awoken. It doesn’t matter what you chose, they pretty much play the same. In the beginning of the story, your assistant drone called Ghost, re-activates you from being dead. It says much has changed since you were alive, and that’s that.

There’s no story arc to build a narrative or dramaturgy. You live your second life like it was your first, no questions asked – and still nothing’s clear why you do anything at all.

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Anyway, you fight your way to the Tower – which is a lifeless hub where you can do almost nothing – and then the game starts. Or had it already started? (I’m now on level 20 and still waiting for something to happen.)

There’s this mysterious Stranger that appears a few time during the story, but nothing is revealed about her, and she still seems strange to me.

And who the hell is Rasputin? An AI? What is its legacy, how do we benefit from it?

In a cutscene, halfway through the game, the Awoken are conspiring against you, saying something like: why reveal our true purpose, well by the end of the campaign story this is still a secret.

The Vex is so evil it despises other evil – very cliché, but this doesn’t bring anything in terms of storytelling or even harder enemies. It’s all for nothing.

In brief, I don’t get the story. I think the mythology is weak and there are no motives for doing shit, and all shit works the same way: go to a planet kill aliens, headshot a boss, hijack a network, find coordinates for a new location, repeat.

And the world of Destiny is small, only a handful of planets and moons. It’s a world where nothing ever happens. A pseudo-sandbox game with nothing to do in it. And stay long enough at one place and the enemies will spawn forever like life means nothing at all.

You fight the Fallen and the Hive, Cabal and Vex, and sometimes they fight each other. You fight with friends and random players online, and sometimes you fight solo. You fight without a cause.

Fighting with friends is fun for a bit, but usually ends up in competing over kills, and steal kills your friends will.

The voice acting is really the worst I’ve heard, even though Bungie claims to have rework the much mocked Peter Dinklage recording on the public alpha release.

But on the better side of things, Destiny looks good, that is, if you like non-realistic, heavy saturated matte paintings with sci-fi fantasy touch; you look Boba Fett, riding an Imperial Speeder Bike at dawn. Also the game mechanics works great. This is a first person shooter that feels good.

Verdict: this game had potential once (read: on alpha) but has been abused and badly misconducted.

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