Thursday, 26 December 2013

The Dark Mod: PC Gamer's Mod of the year. Stealth action at its finest, and it's FREE.

The Dark Mod

Of course it's the Mod of the year. TDM is an exceptional example of creative minds coming together to create a cohesive, immersive stealth action experience in a brilliantly-realised dark-ages-fantasy world. Superb. Highly recommended.

Note: Doom 3 is no longer required. As of TDM v2.0, it is a completely independent game that doesn't need anything else to play, just download and install.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Mastering Technique And Discussion With Matt Colton

An insightful and educational video that takes a hands-on (ears-on?) approach to discussing the art of mastering. Very much worth a watch.

Or watch it at Youtube.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Mainstream gaming and Ludonarrative Dissonance

Today I wish to draw attention to a collection of mails between Matthew Milewski and Clint Prentice of the gaming blog Error! Not Found. They discuss the so-called ludonarrative dissonance that occurs during the course of the new Tomb Raider game. Suffice to say, I played two hours of it and then uninstalled it in extreme disgust:

Friday, 29 March 2013

Ceephax Acid Crew

Andy Jenkinson is Ceephax Acid Crew, a one-man Acid techno machine. His music is brilliant. His earlier material is closer to "classic" acid music, but since 2009s "Ceeland" has become a lot more melodic. Ceephax music is a refreshing antidote to the incessant copious obsession with minimalism prevalent today. It is a melodic, occasionally psychedelic, melting pot of acid, techno, house, breaks and electro and it never fails to be engaging.

Here are some interviews with Andy:
Bleep 2010
The Digital Fix - January 2010
Gogbot - 2011 in Dutch
Smart Shanghai - May 2012

There are far too many great Ceephax tunes to post here, so here's a couple:

Mediterranean Acid


Thursday, 28 February 2013

Teleglitch: A masterful immersive action experience

I've recently had the pleasure of discovering a fantastic indie game entitled Teleglitch. So addicted have I become to it, that I have been playing it non-stop and contributing to the Teleglitch WikiHere is the introductory text I wrote, it provides a description of the gameplay without spoiling much. I recommend playing this game, it is the best recent immersive gaming experience I have had the delight of encountering, and it isn't even a first-person game:

Teleglitch employs a number of gameplay elements to create an immersive "action horror" experience.

As a military scientist on a backwater, uninhabitable planet, you find yourself trapped in a research station where things have gone horribly wrong. Get to the teleporters on each of the 10 levels, and you will escape. This is the simple premise of the game, but the gameplay itself is certainly not trivial.
The core of the game can be described as a "twin-stick shooter". Using WSAD (or similar) keys moves your character, while the mouse aims them. Left click either uses an item, or swipes with a knife. Don't resort to this if you can help it. Right click brings up an "aim line", which extends depending upon how far the mouse cursor is from your character. With a weapon equipped, left-clicking while also holding right-click will shoot. Some weapons auto-fire, others shoot once per click.
There is a basic but effective inventory system, listed down the left-hand side of the display. The player can use the mouse wheel to select items. Q drops them, holding E allows them to be re-arranged. White items are weapons, red are explosives, blue are healing items, yellow are special items, and green are parts for crafting.
Yes, Teleglitch also has crafting and it, too, is basic, but tremendously effective. Pressing C brings up a list of craftable items, based upon what is in your inventory. Again, using the mouse wheel allows one to select the item required, and left-clicking crafts it. If there is no space in your inventory, you will drop the item.
Levels are made up of interconnecting rooms, and these are randomly placed based on various "parts" each level has. They can be in various orders, but you will always start and finish in teleporter rooms. You can blockade doors with furniture nearby, by simply pushing it. There are secret rooms which must be shot open to gain access.
There are various audio cues that can help the player discern what they may be about to face, and where enemies may be. Teleglitch employs locational audio with some effective audio design. The result is an immersive experience, despite the pixelated visual style.
As you progress through the game, some of the secrets of Militech and their research are revealed, and you will face larger and more dangerous enemies. In classic Doom fashion, you will find that almost every weapon will be useful in different situations. You only have so many inventory slots, but you will want to keep a variety of weapons handy for different enemies. Some may be slow but take many shots, others will be fast and in larger numbers attemting to swarm you, often you will meet many different enemies at once. Combine this with the thick atmosphere of dread, the highly rewarding exploration (storage boxes with medical items become rare treasures), the visceral combat and the distinct feeling of place, and Teleglitch ultimately becomes a unique experience that you will find difficult to put down, or forget once you are finished.
The developers are - as of this writing - putting the finishing touches to the Mac port, and are then looking to add more levels and content. Be sure to consult for more details.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Exai, not exciting. At all.

So Autechre have decided to drop another album on us, and not only that, it's a double. Needless to say it will take a long time to fully digest all of it, but having had a lot of trouble enjoying it even after a couple of listens - which was quite the opposite reaction I had to the magnificent Oversteps - I'm already feeling rather disappointed with it. So my initial feelings are as follows:

On Oversteps, Autechre made a big step back to melodic composition augmenting their convoluted rhythms and textures. I wasn't expecting Exai to be "the same" - this is Ae after all - but it often sounds to me like a completely different artist than those involved with Oversteps (yes, I'm aware it's still Booth and Brown, the point still stands).

Exai is the first Autechre album that adds NOTHING to their "legacy". It is a concoction of the industrial bleakness of Confield, mixed with some of the masturbatury rhythmic excess of Draft / Untilted, and the atmospherics of Quaristice. Occasionally, echoes of Oversteps drop in here and there, but this is Autechre back to being "obtuse" and excessively programming-focussed. Many of these tracks go on for far, far too long and do nothing new that we have not heard before.

Bladelores is one particular nadir I find: it's just one filtered pad that never shifts notes, merely sustaining under ridiculous beat-munching for far, far too long. Sure, they spent a lot of effort on going nuts with the beats, but one pad? For most of a 12~ minute track? Lazy!

Flep, tuinorizn, deco Loc, vekoS, 1 1 is, prac-f and Fleure stand out for me, as all being drum-focussed workouts, favouring obscure, intentionally difficult rhythms and textures and little else to latch on to. On the occasions that pads, leads, plips and squelches do form some sort of melodic layers, they often do so without forming anything memorable. recks on, irlite (get 0), runrepik and YJY UX are good examples of this.

jatevee C has some delicious synth work though, with some off-kilter donks over those huge pads. T ess xi follows that with some of the best chords on the album, recalling old Megadrive soundtracks put through the wringer, though I'm less fussed with the latter half where it degenerates into irritated splutters. cloudline recalls some of Ae's LP5 / EP7 era work, with its skittering, destroyed hip hop beat underlying some "barely there" synth stabs.

Spl9 has some punch and intensity with some quirky melodies over some huge beats. But this is rare on Exai, had there been more Mcr Quarter-style industrial ear-bleeding workouts, I'd have approved. No the vast majority of it feels like Confield mk 2 with somewhat more elaborate MAX patches. Disappointing and tedious. Exai will likely convince many that they are listening to a higher art form, despite being quite a vacuous and unmoving experience. Oversteps remains their best.