Sunday, 19 June 2011

Confessions of a (currently former) gamer

Hello friends,

Having now been living in Den Haag for a couple of weeks, inspiration has been all around me. As a creative, I look for new experiences and information from which to build my next set of creative musings. Being in a new city entirely opens both the eyes and the mind to exciting stimuli.  The fruits of my work will be aired soon on youtube I imagine.

Gotta love wasting time playing games right?
There is something that still seems to have a strange hold on me from my old games. I don't understand quite why myself, but I still am fascinated by them. I haven't had the chance to play any new game for a few months now (last one being Dead Space 2, AMAZING GAME!), but I still manage to dedicate chunks of my time to gaming thanks to youtube and (mainly) Gamespot.

Every day there are new videos, reviews, updates, exclusive behind the scenes snippets, downloadable content (DLC for short of course), screenshots, demo's, multiplayer expansion packs, new skins (for your characters in games, not for you), new levels, new challenges, new new new new new new ...

It's an industry that just keeps expanding like the waste band of a former burger junkie on his 'all you can eat' celebration buffet for having lost 40st. There seems to be no end to the new gadgetry, wizardry, special effects-atry and innovation. I am constantly excited like a ten year old boy by the advancements in this area. Take a game that is currently in development that has me a little wet in the pants area,  'Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception'. I was a huge fan of the first game, and the second one improved on the first in every single way (something that games tend to do, but films tend to never do). Games developers tend to listen to their fans wants and desires, rather then just box office sales. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves won lots of game awards in 2009 and raised the bar once again on action adventure games. My favourite section of that game had involved running up a moving train, going from carriage to carriage past beautiful scenery, while being shot at by a big helicopter which has the uncanny ability to destroy the carriage you were just in. The whole section is so immersive that my heart pounded while playing, something that film has trouble invoking in me to anywhere near the same degree.

For Uncharted 3, the developers (Naughty Dog) have listened to the fans of the second game, taken on board any negative comments, listened to all of the praise, and gone away to develop a game that goes further then the second one had. What if films did this? Imagine a film franchise that tried to do this in the past, it rarely, if ever, works out. If the first film in a 'franchise' does well, the second one will usually be a carbon copy of the first, same story just tweaked a bit to play up to the first films strengths. This isn't true across the board of course, but nothing ever bloody well is these days.
Uncharted 3 will be amazing, I am sure. And I won't get to play it for ages I expect, probably not until the 4th game is in development and all computer games are injected directly into your eyes for full immersion gaming experiences. You will buy games in syringes with pretty labels on the side and the sales assistant will be fully trained to administer the eye injection.

Oh well, I shouldn't grumble, the industry is still there getting better, and another break from the gaming world will only mean that when I return (and I WILL return) the games will have advanced yet another leap and I can get all excited over the pixilated loveliness and realistic graphics. Until then I will just waste time watching youtube video's about games. At least when they do a remake in the game world it is usually worth something, unlike in the film industry. For example here, the one game that might manage to bring me back out of retirement early will be the new SSX game.

the new SSX game, OMG this will be awesome!!
I can't remember what SSX stands for, but one of the S's mean's snowboarding, for sure. I know this because it is a snowboarding game. I was a massive fan of the Cool boarders series on the original playstation, but switched to the SSX series of games after SSX Tricky came out. Now that game was amazing, you could do the most insane (and obviously impossible) twists and turns tricks in mid air while throwing yourself down a mountain on a snowboard. I rinsed the game dry, and then did the same to SSX3 when that came out.

Now, you may not know this about me, but I like to partake in the green herb of the gods from time to time, and this "habit" is perfect for gaming (as many, many other stoner games will agree with, I'm sure). With a game like SSX, staring at the screen as the character rides down through the beautiful pixilated mountain ranges kept me from doing much more important life changing duties like studying or house chores or exercise (I'm told that finger exercising doesn't count, apparently!). I did every challenge in the game, with every character, and then I did it all again. SSX has taken so many hours of my life that I could probably sue it for compensation. It would be a difficult court case, but one that might make the headlines at the very least.

SSX, an experience without breaking your knees off.
The appeal of a game like this, and indeed, almost any game, is the chance to do something that you can't do in everyday normal coffee drinking life. I could go snowboarding, I could go tomorrow if I could afford it, but I would not be very good at it. I might manage to bump my way down a small hill, hurting myself countless times in the process, but without huge sums of cash and lots of training I am never going to be able to double backflip out of a halfpipe and land on a rail suspended in the air, which I can grind along, before popping off the end with a spectacular twist and tailgrab before gracefully bumping back onto the snow while an avalanche chases me. In fact, I wouldn't want to do that in real life ever, it would be far to dangerous. The luxury of the computer game in that you have multiple lives, and that avalanche can kill me again and again and again and I could still get up and try it all over again without developing a twisted back from all that flipping about.

To sum up here, I just have to say that the computer game world is amazing, and should be visited by everyone on several occasions. Only in this medium can you get the chance to walk through an imaginary world and interact with it, or ever better, collect tokens so you can level up and get an even bigger sword (although not in snowboarding games, the sword really overbalances the character). The one thing that continually amazes me everyday is the power of imagination. There are so many amazing things to see and hear, and thanks to games, amazing new things you can do, like throwing yourself down a mountain with impunity.

I really can't wait for the new SSX game, I might have to freeze myself...

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Living near the Queen, sex shops and the best bakery in the world

Oh hello friends,

What a crazy time it has been for this adventuring creative. Magical things have been a happenin' on the left, the right and even in the ruddy centre of all places!

If you have been following my adventures you will already know that myself and Beauty (my soul mate travelling creative companion) have been hunting for somewhere to live in Amsterdam so we can have a base from which to stretch our creative branches.

Den Haag, political centre of Europe that is named
after the sound you make when you have something
nasty stuck in your throat. The sound of politics.
So time was ticking, Joe and Jess had Christian Baled on us (they had little choice) and we had an email from some man in Den Haag (the big political city by the sea, 40 mins from the Dam) who had a room in his flat. We were ready to go further afield. We had heard mixed things about Den Haag, but after a long conversation sat on our magic bench (just by a bridge near where we were staying, there were ninja ducks fighting with koots there, it was a fight to behold! The koots kept trying to steal the ducks baby! Someone should make a soap opera with ducks, call it a "duck soup opera") and one or two "jazz fags", we decided that we should give it a go, we had nothing to lose except our shoes.

A skype call was arranged, something that no scammer had been brave enough to do. This was a good sign, this dude might be a genuine person with a genuine room to rent in a genuine house. Positive vibes were floating around us, we made tea (as is our right as English people) and sat on our bed on the floor to speak to our possible future housemate. Rauf answered, and a long conversation followed.

Now, Beauty and I had a very particular set of things we wanted from our abode, and these were the reasons we had little success up until this point. So, chatting to Rauf in Den Haag we went through our list of particulars. Big bedroom - yes, Furnished - yes, Garden? - yep, Washing machine - you bet ya, Funky kitchen with super over? - oh hell yeah!, internet without parental control? - of course.
With so many things having been ticked off, many jokes shared and positivity felt from both ends of the skype phone, we were left with just one final big one... Smoking??? (this is the one that is almost impossible to find, thanks to the European smoking bans no one wants to be within 100 feet of a smoker, let alone let one live in their house!)... we weren't sure how to ask, how do you share your socially crippling habit with a voice over the inter-phone?
Me smoking at the time...of course.
We were smoking at the time of course, there was no camera. For all we knew, Rauf was doing the same, puffing away safely behind the screen, or, he could have been painting an anti smoking banner on his floor ready to go and protest outside a tobacco factory, we had no way to know, all we could see was a little smiling picture of Rauf's face (or, at least some voice pretending that the picture was them).
So, spit it out I must (not literally, that would burn the carpet!), so Rauf, err, just one last thing, one pretty big last thing...erm, well, you see the thing is that...we, are, well, we are both smokers...
"Me Too, I smoke like a chimney"!
Oh the sweet relief to know that we would be able to slowly kill ourselves one smoke at a time in the comfort of our own home. This place sounded perfect.

So off to Den Haag we came, met Rauf, spent the evening looking around the city, then headed back to Amsterdam to go and get our stuff. The house was everything we had asked for, down to the littlest details.

Life just moves at breakneck speeds sometimes. We have been living here in our lovely new place in Den Haag for over a week now, and life is starting to settle down. I am deep in the writing of my next set of songs, and our job hunts have been going okay. The place we are living in is so close to everything we could need, and a whole load of stuff we don't really need but it's nice to have near a sex shop. A shop that sells lovely sexy based things to cater for a wide variety of interesting perversions, subversions, conversions and sexiness.
The sex shop is on the end of our road...and on the other corner opposite it is the best bakery in the world. So a nice loaf of bread and a fresh dildo are always just at the end of the road should I require them, of course, there is always more need for one over the other.

This creative continues to adventure...although for now, it is in Den Haag.