Archive for February, 2013

We Don’t Play Guitars

February 26, 2013 Leave a comment

I recently read this article that was linked on Twitter by a webcomic artist that I follow, and I have to say I’m genuinely concerned by some of the comments made by the band in there.

One comment in particular stands out:

“Is it snide and insecure of me to say that electronic music is the scourge of the earth and kids aren’t gonna buy guitars in 15 years?”

The answer is yes, yes it is.

Their argument, summed up by the above quote, basically boils down to the idea that guitar music is the greatest music ever and nothing else should ever be allowed to be heard. It’s short-sighted and refuses to acknowledge a much wider and interesting world of music, something that no band should ever be doing.

Put simply, if you want to be a band making excellent music and gaining a respectable reputation, you need to have the ability to recognise decent music no matter the genre it’s in or instrument it’s played on. Looking at the rise of electronic music and being terrified of it because “oh no, what about the guitars?” is not the way forward.

After all, the rise of electronic music is nothing new. Claiming that the genre’s success now is going to kill off guitars in the future is absurd when electronic music has been around for quite some time already. Remember all those New Wave bands in the eighties with their bad haircuts and bleepy synths? Yeah, that was electronic music. And the band that served as the inspiration for almost every electronic artist that followed them? Well, that’d be Kraftwerk, who formed in 1970, and they were hardly an obscure band no one cared about either.

Then you factor in the success of the nineties rave scene alongside the equally successful Britpop and grunge scenes and you suddenly realise how narrow-minded the members of Local Natives are. They seem to believe that just because artists like Skrillex are producing horrendous and unlistenable dubstep that suddenly that’s what all music will be like.

The truth of the matter is that music is ever-evolving. It’s silly to think that “guitar music” will be ever-popular and will never be replaced. Music scenes fluctuate all the time. Hell, their musical knowledge in general is in question if they seem so painfully unaware that “guitar music” has never been consistent in its time at the top. Rock ‘n’ roll was popular in the 50s and 60s, which then gave way to the hard rock, punk and metal of the 70s, with the jingle-jangle indie bands of the 80s stepping in before the arrival of the aforementioned grunge and Britpop scenes in the 90s. All guitar music, but all widely different. Rock n roll in the style of Chuck Berry and his peers did become less popular over the years, but the guitars remained.

Face it, guys, you either accept the ever-changing music scenes and just focus on making the kind of music you want to make, and enjoy it at the same time, or you bitch about it and bemoan the existence of an entire genre for your own lack of imagination. Especially a genre that’s just as diverse and far-reaching as your precious guitar music. That’s right. Not all electronic music is dubstep.

It becomes even more absurd when you realise that the same electronic music they complain about helped bring about many of the slick and speedy production techniques they most likely make use of in the recording of their own album. Unless you’re recording on an 8-track tape player through analog-only equipment, I wouldn’t complain about computers making music any time soon.

It’s my opinion that the best musicians are the ones that accept all genres and are influenced by the best bits of them all. There are plenty of rock and indie bands out there with something to offer, and plenty of electronic musicians providing a little something else. There are also terrible artists in both disciplines. But there are also so many other genres out there worth browsing through to find something awesome. Learn from them all.

In fact, here’s a crazy idea: why not make music with guitars AND computers! Nothing is mutually exclusive, after all.

To sum up, a band with narrow influences and beliefs of what makes good music can ultimately only ever make really bland, uninteresting music. And based on what I’ve heard of Local Natives, this certainly seems to be the case.


PlayStation 2013

February 21, 2013 Leave a comment

For weeks, Sony Computer Entertainment have been building up to a big announcement on the 20th February. As expected, it was an announcement for PlayStation 4, the fourth in the long-running series of PlayStation consoles.

First, the basics about the console. It’s going to be using PC architecture in order to overcome the issue the PS3 had with being difficult for developers to work with. This is a good sign for developers and is likely to lead to a wider selection of interesting games from a variety of sources, although there have been complaints from the more technically minded who claim it’s not that much of a leap forward technologically.

And they’re right, as all the gameplay demos pretty much showed a slight improvement in graphics quality, but not quite the leap we saw from the PS1 to PS2 or from PS3 to PS3. A facial expression demo from Quantic Dream’s David Cage, a live demo of the console’s Move capabilities from Media Molecule and various tech demos all looked very nice, but they weren’t earth-shattering.

As for those features, one major thing Sony are big on is a social side to PS4. Inspired by social networking and the various ways people talk about video games online, they’ve introduced a number of features to allow you to share your gameplay with others. Some of these sound awesome, such as the ability to stream gameplay direct to your friends, while others sound awkward and have me screaming for the ability to switch them off, such as the ability to get your friends to take over your games at the hard parts. That’s a feature that bugs me so much and worries me about its potential abuses. But I guess we’ll see how it works over the coming months.

Another thing that walked a fine line between exciting and worrying was the PS4’s ability to detect your gaming tastes, allowing it to anticipate future releases for you and customise recommendations for the PS Store. One thing that I’m sure sounds amazing to Sony but sounds less amazing to me is the apparent feature for the store to automatically download future releases and then convince you to buy them. While the aim is to reduce wait times when you buy games, it’s a system that could easily become frustrating if the system insists on downloading games you don’t want or don’t have the money for, therefore cluttering up your system with games you can’t actually play.

There’s also cloud gaming, and promisingly, this functionality is apparently going to allow you to try before you buy, which genuinely sounds interesting. I just wonder how it’s going to work.

There is also talk about reduced load times and start-up times, which is always good, and apparently the console has a hibernation mode similar to the handhelds, which I actually do approve of. We’ll just see how well it works when a massive firmware update needs to be downloaded!

The controller (naturally, the DualShock 4) was a relief to see. After rumours that Sony were redesigning the controller, I got worried. They tried that with the PS3 with the infamous “boomerang” controller and suffered for it, so to see it’s just an evolution of the controller rather than a straight re-design makes me pretty happy. Drawing from the console’s inevitable Vita connectivity, the DS4 features a small touch screen situated above the sticks. There’s also a share button, but I’ve already stated I genuinely don’t like the sound of the social aspects of the console and worry they’ll be intrusive, so the presence of the Share button doesn’t fill me with hope.

We never got to see what the console looks like, which is unfortunate, but I’m sure we’ll be seeing plenty of it at E3 later in the year.

So, what about the first announced games? Well, here’s a quick roundup of my thoughts.

Killzone: Shadow Fall
Not the best game to open with, quite frankly. With Sony making claims about revolutionising gaming, the worst game to open with is a futuristic first-person shooter. After all, this is the genre that’s pretty much littered the current gen, so announcing this first suggests we can expect even more of the same.

I’m not a fan of the Killzone franchise anyway, so while it certainly looked impressive, it’s still more of the same generic protagonists and faceless antagonists seen elsewhere in the franchise. If you like this sort of thing, I’m sure it’s great, but a massive disappointment as the first game to roll out.

Drive Club
The obligatory racing game. From Motorstorm creators Evolution Studios, this is apparently a team-based racing title with photorealistic cars. However, all that was really shown was the animation of getting into the cars while the director got far too excited over it. It’s all very nice that you’ve rendered every single fibre of the car seat, but how does this affect the gameplay that never got shown?

Infamous: Second Son
Not much was shown of this beyond a cinematic trailer inspired by the Occupy Movement, leading into the reveal that multiple people have superpowers and that a young protagonist tells the police cameras that “you’re not in control”.

This could certainly be interesting, since it looks like an expansion on the Infamous formula, and I enjoyed Infamous, but without any gameplay it’s hard to judge it. And sadly, it’s still notable that the new console still has no new ideas.

The Witness
Created by Braid director Jonathan Blow, The Witness was described as an open-world puzzle game. The trailer, however, showed little. We got some shots of reasonably nice scenery and some vague shots of what appeared to be some very dull-looking circuit board puzzles. For a game that its own developer hyped up like crazy, the trailer was a massive disappointment.

Shockingly, gaming journalists are already calling it the highlight of the night, describing it as high art and an example of the interesting ideas indie developers are coming up with. Some even called it thought-provoking. This was despite the fact that it showed exactly nothing. It’ll be interesting to see it in action, but something tells me this isn’t really the major gameplay revolution the gaming press wants to think it is.

Deep Down
The first of the third party titles, Deep Down came from Capcom. Much was made of their new engine “Panta Rhei” (prompting immediate snickers from Twitter with responses like “Panda Ray?” and “Panty Raid?”) before they showed a not-particularly-exciting swords ‘n’ sorcery high fantasy game, seemingly taking inspirations from the PS3’s Dark Souls.

I’m not a fan of high fantasy in any media, as my Hobbit review made clear, so stuff like this doesn’t excite me. And using it as a theme for next gen gaming isn’t helping anybody.

Future Final Fantasy title
Square Enix were up next, showing off the exact same tech demo they showed off at E3 last year before announcing an announcement for a PS4 Final Fantasy title. Because no one saw a Final Fantasy coming from Squeenix.

Watch Dogs
Ubisoft had already announced this game, prompting suspicions that it was running on next-gen hardware. Its appearance here was an official announcement that these suspicions were correct.

When I first heard about this game, I genuinely wasn’t interested since initial impressions gave me the impression it was yet another GTA-clone, but watching the gameplay here I realised that I was wrong. Watch Dogs looks genuinely interesting. It’s a detective story set in the near future where information is heavily monitored, and it looks intriguing and exciting.

Diablo 3
The least exciting announcement of the night. Diablo 3 is already out for PC. It got complaints about being always online for no reason. Wooooo

Open with a futuristic FPS…close with one too. If this is next gen gaming, then it really is more of the same.

Much fuss has been made over Destiny, which is the big new title from Halo developers Bungie. It’s basically a “shared-world” FPS, which can be summed up as a Halo MMO. I don’t like space marines and futuristic FPSes, so for all this game’s hype, I really don’t care about it.

Shown amidst the console’s announcement (and therefore I keep forgetting it got announced), it’s hard to know what to think of Knack, a new Sony Japan effort with direction from esteemed developer Mark Cerny. The trailer looked more like a Dreamworks movie than a PlayStation game, so without any gameplay, it’s hard to know what to think. This could be interesting, though.

So, overall, the announcement was a little bit of a letdown. Only a handful of interesting looking games, no clue what the console actually looks like, and no real release date or price tag. I’m sure E3 will give more insight, but for now it’s kind of a maybe on whether or not I’ll get it.

The Marriage of Bigotry and Shortsightedness

February 19, 2013 Leave a comment

It must be awful to be a Conservative MP right now, following the recent successful vote for gay marriage. After all, based on some of the arguments put forward, it’s easy to see why it’s such a problem for them to deal with and why it affects them so badly.

I mean, look at David Burrowes, who claimed that allowing same-sex couples to marry would downgrade the entire institution of marriage. I mean, of course we know that. As soon as same-sex couples are allowed to marry, it’ll make all straight marriages null and void. Every marriage would instantly break apart, causing divorce lawyers to be horribly overworked trying to rush everyone into the inevitable gay marriages these former straight couples will be forced into.

Let’s not listen to Steve Reed, who claimed that if you don’t like gay marriage, you shouldn’t marry a gay person, but he clearly doesn’t understand how we’ll all be forced to marry a gay person if all this went ahead. It’s absurd to think that there’d be a choice in the matter. It’s simple logic that these attempts to make gay marriage acceptable are just the beginnings to make us all gay against our will.

Or worse! After all, Matthew Offord did raise a perfectly legitimate and not-at-all insane point that it could easily lead to polygamy. My god, how terrible that would be. So even if straight couples aren’t immediately forced apart to marry people of the same sex, they could be forced to add a third person to their relationship, and that would be the worst thing.

The redefinition of marriage came up an awful lot too, and sure, it would redefine it. I mean, marriage laws have stayed basically the same for centuries and never changed once. Some could argue that the Church Of England’s opposition for this reason is hypocritical because the Anglican Church exists solely because Henry VIII wanted a divorce, but that would be crazy talk.

And let’s not forget Stephen Timms, who pointed out that marriage revolves around children, and gay couples can’t naturally have children. That’s why it’s also illegal for elderly or infertile couples to marry too, and why it’s illegal for gay people to adopt. Children are the single reason people get married and not because they want to be together or anything.

In fact, the concept of gay people getting married was so baffling a concept for Tony Baldry that he simply couldn’t seem to put together a coherent argument. He babbled about it taking away basic human rights and how all divorces are caused by adultery which can’t happen in a gay relationship. Poor guy, he’d clearly gone mad from the outrage. You see! This is why it shouldn’t be legalised. Think of poor Tony!

Oh, sure, the likes of David Lammy may suggest that this is no different to the civil rights movement for black people, but Stewart Jackson rightly points out that it’s completely different. The civil rights movement was about getting rid of discrimination against people who just happened to be born a certain way, which gay marriage TOTALLY ISN’T. This is about forcing a deviant lifestyle choice onto otherwise upstanding citizens. Like MPs, the most upstanding citizens of them all, with no criminal charges, questionable associates, false expense claims or suspicions of corruption about them whatsoever.

Or maybe all of that is just bollocks and those MPs are a bunch of outdated, out-of-touch moaners putting far too many of their life decisions on a two thousand year old book that also claims hamburgers are evil. One or the other.

Categories: Uncategorized


February 5, 2013 Leave a comment

Disclaimer: While normally I like to think my content is relatively clean, this post is a bit of an exception. Consider the title a warning, so if you’re offended by swearing or discussions of spambots, then you might wanna give this post a miss.

I’ve been receiving some very strange emails lately. It’s been going on for a few months now, and it’s rather concerning.

They started out innocent enough. Just some local ladies I’ve never met emailing me because they were lonely and wanted to find a “special friend”. It’s a terrible world we live in where ladies have to email random strangers because no one else will talk to them.

Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized