dresspurple

I have gone ahead and released Date Ariane in Renpy. This is like the ultimate edition of the game that has been a dream since I started working on Something’s In The Air.  All the favorite moments are here on a format that is faster and smoother than ever before.

I have temporarily taken down the online version. My web traffic has increased 40% with the better graphics version and I could almost never get into my own website.  Since I don’t rely on advertising, traffic is not that important to me.

Now when you go to arianeb.com/dategame.htm you get a website where you can download the game. I made it available in Windows, Mac, and Linux, and there is an experimental Android version which I have no idea how to use.  You can still download the offline HTML version.

What’s so cool about the Renpy Version?

Aside from the obvious, no more “page not available” errors, you can now save games, auto advance, go back much more reliably, skip whole sections you have seen before, hear actual music when you dance which you can customize if you want, and the game is full of immersive sound effects as well.

Go to the options screen and you can turn on hints, go full screen, and turn off music and sound effects if you want.

A lot of this stuff is available on the lower right corner of the screen. Try clicking on “Auto”, it is probably the funnest way to play. you can control the speed of the auto advance in Options.  The lower right menu is very helpful if you are on a tablet as well.

delivery

Anything else new?

There is also some new content, the majority being expanded scenes that existed before, especially in the museum, night club, and dress shop.  There is a short new “ice cream” scene, an a new little dance puzzle at the night club.  The museum and nightclub play a little differently depending on what Ariane is wearing.

There are also a handful of little surprises I won’t spoil.

I also added a new character, a pizza delivery man named Evan. An online friend for 12 years named Evan Kirk recently passed away suddenly, and as a tribute, I have immortalized him as an NPC.

Like me, he was way more famous online than off, with a sharp twisted sense of humor and a community leader.  He was a gay dude from Alabama which he joked about all the time.

This is not a picture of him, this is a young Chris Pratt, who he idolized and used as his avatar. My tribute NPC uses the “Chris Pratt” look, which he would have appreciated.

The Gallery of Achievements

One of the things that people enjoyed about Something’s In The Air was the gallery of endings and trying to fill out the character notebooks.

That really won’t work with Date Ariane as there are basically only two endings, a kiss goodnight, or getting kicked out of the house.

Instead, I went the traditional route and created 78 “achievements” for you to try and achieve. They range from easy and obvious, which you will probably pick up naturally, to some spectacular failures, which some of you may get naturally as well but veterans may not realize are there.  There are also some hard ones that require some knowledge of the game mechanics to complete.

Speaking of game mechanics, besides the reliance of traits explained here, there is actually now a scoring mechanism. When Ariane says “On a scale from 1 to 10, you get a _”, that score is a real value, not just something made up like it used to be.  This score is used to calculate some of the achievements.

Once you complete an achievement, open up the gallery, and click on the name to see why you earned it.  There are some other cool “extras” in the gallery.

Here are the names of the 78 achievements, with some notes on the harder ones.  You can probably figure out the rest by their name:
Multidate achievements
1. kiss (1, 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000)
2. sex (1, 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000)
3. date (1, 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000)
4. All 5 Dinners

House Achievements
1. Rochambeau
2. Couch Sex
3. Six Pack
4. Yahtzee
5. Dance Champion (dance at home until she won’t anymore, then dance at the nightclub)
6. Three Naked In Bed (a Rebecca achievement)
7. The Quickie
8. Green Fairy
9. Ariane Owes You A Favor
10. Lucky Spin
11. Impromptu Strip Show
12. Kitchen Disrobe
13. Cheap Thrills (before dinner touch her boob, then walk in on her while changing)
14. Boobie Prize

Backyard Achievements
1. Hide and Seek
2. Hot Sex
3. Hand Job (involves the hot tub)
4. Wet Clothes
5. Backyard Play
6. Steal From Rebecca
7. Wrong Breast (lose at Marco Polo)
8. You Got Mail
9. Swim Champ
10. Underwater Explorer
11. Voyage to the Moon
12. Squeeze Play

Downtown Achievements
1. Designated Driver
2. Dizzy
3. Trivia Buff
4. Devil In A Blue Dress
5. Topless Model
6. Bottomless Model
7. Twinkle Toes (win the new dance game without cheating)
8. Art Expert
9. Rebecca Shirtless
10. Let’s Go To The Mall (finish dinner at home with extra “nice” points and then let Ariane drive to town)
11. Shopping Spree
12. Downtown Nudity (a multi date achievement involving different locations)

Neighborhood Achievements
1. Nude Pics in the Park
2. Shutterbug (all 5 versions of the park photoshoot over many dates)
3. Three for Three (Ariane has to hit all 3 of hers, too)
4. Air Ball
5. Nice Uniforms
6. Naked Ball
7. Great Outdoors
8. Playing Without Pants
9. Playing Without Clothes
10. Naked Beer Run
11. Well Protected (involves buying lots of condoms)
12. Ice Cream Run

Lake Achievements
1. Ski Trip
2. Moonlight Serenade
3. Wet Dress
4. Head Stand

Scenic View Achievements
1.  Moon for the Camera
2. True Artist
3. Money Shot
4. Blow Job
5. Kiss Where it Counts

Cabaret Achievements
1. Amateur Night Victory
2. Win Without Nudity
3. Live Sex Act
4. Two Nude Dancers
5. A Dirty Mind

Special Dates
1. Casual Date (finish a successful date without changing clothes)
2. Friendly Date (finish a successful date “as friends”)
3. Perverted
4. Kiss you all over
5. Sex Endurance
6. Not So Smart (get a perfect 10 date without the “smart” trait)
7. Not So Sexy (get a perfect 10 date without the “sexy” trait)
8. Not So Nice (get a perfect 10 date without the “nice” trait)
9. Not So Funny (get a perfect 10 date without the “funny” trait)
10. Exceeding Expectations (finish a successful date with only two traits)

Any other hints to playing?

The walkthroughs have now been updated to the Renpy version.
Enjoy!

victoria7

As someone who does a lot of work in Poser for my games and other projects, that means I am involved in the 3D Rendering community, which I have written about before. About 3 years ago the community started getting bigger thanks to Daz3D releasing Daz Studio for free.

Until then, the community primarily consisted of users of Poser software, which is a fairly expensive program to get started on.  Daz Studio can do a lot of what Poser can do, though it has always lagged behind in certain areas, but it was sophisticated enough to give Poser a challenge, and it offered an inexpensive entry point.

The biggest difference between Daz Studio and Poser is the user interfaces. Both programs have a bit of a learning curve, and once you learn one, you are probably not going to want to learn the other.

For the last 3 years the community has kind of fractured in a friendly rivalry between Poser people, and Daz Studio people. Friendly, because a lot of content could be shared between the programs, and both programs produced some really great images.

One of the stumbling blocks you run into in this hobby is incompatible models. I have been playing with Poser since the “Posette” days which is one of the first female models.  A company called Zygote (now part of Daz3D) came up with the first really great anatomically correct models for Poser called Victoria and Michael. Clothing and accessories made for Posette would not work on Victoria and Michael.

This pattern followed with each model. Victoria and Michael were replaced by Victoria 2 and Michael 2 then Victoria 3 and Michael 3, then Victoria 4 and Michael 4.  Poses, skins, hair, and clothing designed for one model are incompatible with other models.  Not by design, it is just the nature of the constantly improving technology.

I created the first Date Ariane version using Victoria 3, and created and acquired quite a library of Victoria 3 and Michael 3 hair, clothing, and skin textures.  When I started “Something’s In The Air” Victoria 4 had been out for 4 years, and all the latest clothing and accessories were being made for the Victoria 4 and Michael 4 models. I made the leap to the superior model, and never looked back.

Victoria 4 has proven to be a great female model. Extremely versatile, and still the most popular today. It was also the last “Victoria” natively designed to work with Poser.

Daz3D moved on to a “Genesis” modeling system that was much more flexible than the Poser system, and incorporated it natively in Daz Studio. Poser users needed a converter to use Genesis models.  The DSON converter has never worked right, as neither Daz3D or Smith Micro (the makers of Poser) do not have much incentive to get it to work right. Because Genesis was not a huge improvement over Victoria 4, most Poser people did not bother upgrading.

Soon after giving away Daz Studio, Daz3D released Genesis 2.  Genesis 2 is an improvement over Victoria 4 as the joints look more natural in motion.  That has made Genesis 2 popular with all the new Daz3D users and even converted some Poser users to the model despite the broken DSON converter.

Many of us Poser users still stick to Victoria 4 as we can use the powerful “Morphing Tool” to fix minor joint oddities, or find other fixes available.

Third party vendors have found it most profitable to support both Victoria 4 and Genesis 2 models and as a result there are now plenty of skin, hair, clothing and accessories for both models.

Genesis 2 V6 on left, Genesis 3 V7 on right.  Not a huge difference.

And then Victoria 7 / Genesis 3 happened.

This week Daz3D released a new model and dubbed it Victoria 7 to get the name recognition. They are touting the higher polygon count allowing more details like the wrinkles in knuckle joints for example, to make the most realistic human 3D model ever. (Are we at the uncanny valley yet?)

This new model is making rather negative waves in both the Poser and Daz Studio communities.

Daz Studio fans are finding that, as in model generations past, their Genesis 2 clothing and accessories will not work on Genesis 3. That means shelling out lots more money to get all new clothing and accessories for Genesis 3, or just sticking with “obsolete” Genesis 2.

The sad part is Genesis 2 was just finally becoming supported enough by third party vendors that it could compete with Victoria 4 in versatility, but now third party vendors may start having second thoughts if Genesis 3 becomes a thing.

Poser fans are finding fine print on the Victoria 7 page:  Compatible Software: DAZ Studio 4.8
In other words, barring some miracle addition to the upcoming Poser Pro 2016, Genesis 3 models are not compatible with Poser.  That will be a further disincentive for third party vendors to support Genesis 3 as most of the community simply cannot use it at all.

As a Poser user, I have never felt a need to upgrade to figures higher than Victoria 4 and Michael 4, they are still widely supported and clothing, skins, and accessories for them still sell better than any other figure. While each of the Genesis models got more detailed, for my purposes (low res internet images), the details aren’t going to make much difference.

Poser is still better software than Daz Studio, with numerous tools not available in Daz Studio like the above mentioned Morphing Tool, numerous rendering engines to make your images look like drawings, paintings or comic books, including a native photo realistic renderer comparable to the best available for Daz Studio, also tools to fit clothing between models and dynamic clothing for animated cloth motion.

That’s not to say Daz Studio is bad, it handles the tasks most important to hobbyists, photo realistic still rendering and basic animation, as well as Poser does, and its memory management is superior enough to handle higher polygon counts, which is why it handles Genesis 3 and Poser does not.

If Daz3D no longer wants to support Poser, that’s their loss. I foresee a fracturing of the community that is already having negative effects.  The 3D rendering community is already a very small niche group, we do not need to make it smaller.

Here is my hope: There is ONE way this could go right for everybody. There should be a new version of Poser out later this year if they stick to their “every two year” upgrade pattern.

If Poser Pro 2016 were to include support for a complex 173 bone figure, and if Daz3D were to release a “Victoria 7 For Poser” product (no DSON conversion needed) then that would generate lots of interest for both upgrades.

It is such a good idea part of me wonders if this is the plan all along.  I wouldn’t bet on it though.

As I stated before, when I first started making Date Ariane my goal was to do something a bit outside the norm, to create a game where sex and not violence is the primary driver of drama. I also had to make it with no budget so compromises in quality are inevitable as well.

For both of those reasons, I never really cared if someone did not like Date Ariane. The game is not meant for everybody, and I am very well aware of its flaws.

I mention this because there are now well over 100 videos on You Tube of people playing Date Ariane.  Some of them are funny, some of them are well made, some of them are good reviews, many of them are bad reviews, including some extremely popular ones.

I’m of two minds on this phenomenon. On the one hand, reviews of my work do not bother me in the least. I am very well aware that You Tube bloggers like to make fun of stuff they find online, it is what they do and it brings them a lot of subscribers.  As I said above, the out of mainstream nature of the game and low budget nature of the game makes Date Ariane a very easy target to make fun of, in fact I do it myself.

On the other hand, I can’t watch these videos. There is something about watching other people play my games that feels a little creepy.

I have never been able to get through any of them. My feelings when I watch them is similar to someone standing uncomfortably close to me. It also does not help that I know the answers too well, so when they make the wrong choices I know it’s going to end badly many moves ahead.

I wanted to know if I am weird feeling this way, so I reached out to a few other indie game producers. Reactions are split around 50-50. Some developers are like me, a little weirded out.  Others enjoy watching others play their games.

Developer reactions to mixed reviews seems split as well. I guess it depends on what your goals are.  My goals are to make something I enjoy and just put it out there and let the audience find it.  Other developers with more loftier goals of mainstream success can take bad reviews a little harder.  I can understand that. Even though I say bad reviews don’t bother me, if Date Ariane got nothing but bad reviews when I first put it out there, I would have taken it down and would have never made improvements or expansions.

arrenpy

And speaking of improvements, my on again, off again project of making a Renpy version of Date Ariane is on again. It was absolutely necessary to do the graphic update before attempting it again. My previous attempts were way too ambitious, my goal this time is to keep it simple. My other goals:

  1. A downloadable game that works on any computer without needing a browser.
  2. Much cleaner code that can be edited and expanded easily.
  3. Sound, music, and special effects you can’t do in HTML.

Why make a downloadable Renpy version of the game when the online is so successful?

It is true, the online game gets over 1 million unique players annually, while there have been less than 200,000 downloads of the stand alone only Something’s In The Air.  My first instinct was to try and make an online version of Something’s In The Air.  Two things prevented that from happening, one was the accidental erasure of a hard drive with my only copy ( I was only 5% complete anyways).

The other was the growing popularity of Date Ariane having an affect on my website’s stability. I researched expanding the web sites capacity, but I so far can’t justify the cost. An online SITA would just make it worse.

Making an improved stand alone version of Date Ariane available should make it better instead.

I have no idea how long it will take, probably at least the summer. I am basically rewriting the entire game as there is no way to port the game directly over.  What you see above is all I have done so far, about 28 lines of code.  Better get started.

The world of tech and tech accessories has radically changed in the last few months, and from what I can tell, nobody noticed.  Here is my take on the “big picture” of phones, tablets, watches and whatever.

Apple really needs Steve Jobs back

Today is the 5th Anniversary of the iPad, the game changer device that has not only changed how we surf the web, but how we play games, watch TV, read books, and keep our lives organized. It was a groundbreaking device that is still making waves.

Fast forward to March 9, 2015 when Apple held another semi annual big presentation on what is “new” from Apple. It solidified my opinion of Apple I got from a similar event last October (when they finally got around to making a bigger iPhone): Apple is no longer on the cutting edge, they are riding in the wake.

What did they announce? An Apple Watch, a technology others have experimented with the last couple of years which only the nerdiest people think is cool.

A new MacBook which is pretty much the most overpriced device ever offered by Apple.  This is basically a “netbook” as it is not powerful enough to do much beyond what you can already do on any tablet.

In my honest opinion, Apple is now a full two years behind everybody else, and losing ground.

Google is now the industry leader

Android 5 released in November, is now the default OS for hand held devices. It is a major step up from 4.4 and it is an actual game changer.

Android 5 brings with it a suite of common “apps” that use the same interface and work together.  You might ask, “So what?”, but I think Android 5 marks the beginning of the end of the reign of “apps”.

It was never spoken, but we have all known that apps have basically consisted of web sites and flash games that we either pay for with money or ad spam (or both) just so that it will work on our phone. Except for a few games, most apps exist out of stupidity. Companies are now pushing customers to download their apps to make purchasing their stuff easier.

Only a handful of apps are useful, the majority of Apps basically just fill our devices limited memory with junk we once found funny or amusing.

The ones that are actually useful are the ones that provide us info we want or need, and the way they do that is through “push notification”.  That’s the first revelation of App demise.

The second revelation is this: Every app seems to want to have its own interface design, this is a problem as it means you have to learn how to get information you need from many different interfaces.  We forgot this lesson was learned a long time ago. The thing that made Macintosh computers successful back in the 80’s is that every program had the same interface.  Microsoft figured this out finally with the release of Windows in the early 90’s.

Google is now doing the same thing for Android.  The philosophy behind Android 5 seems to be a common interface among the built in apps, and these interface tools are being made available to app designers, too.

These two observations are gaining strength in the industry and will lead to the “End Of Apps As We Know Them”.  Goodbye pages and pages of apps, hello easy access to the info you are looking for. Android 5 is designed around that philosophy, and it’s a welcome change.

Microsoft is back behind the wheel

The only thing really holding back Microsoft right now is that Windows 10 isn’t ready, yet.  A common OS for phone, tablet, laptop and desktop is just too cool.

In a rush to jump into the mobile market, Microsoft’s recent history has been full of one boondoggle after another.  One of the biggest was Windows RT project, a broken version of windows for mobile processors.  Their first tablets Microsoft Surface and Surface 2 ran on RT, even though similar sized devices with full Windows 8, were already being released.  The heavily advertised but widely rejected Windows Phones could only run RT, and these poor selling tablets were an attempt to get developers to support the Windows app store.

This past month they released the Surface 3, the first in the non “pro” line that runs full Windows 8.1 and is powerful enough to run most windows software, except graphic heavy games.

The Surface 3 is about half the cost of the above mentioned MacBook, and its stats are comparatively the same.

If you are really looking to save money I recently tested a $77 Windows 8.1 tablet. How was it? Well about what you would expect from a $77 tablet. They spared every expense, including a battery that did not charge all the way, no sleep mode so you have to sign in every time to you turn it on, and buttons in the worse possible locations.  Bottom line, there are a lot of decent name brand tablets between $200-300 that are better deals.

Still, the mere fact that $77 tablets exist shows that Microsoft can be competitive with Apple and Android, and that’s the bigger picture. By the end of the year, inexpensive phones that run full Windows 10 should be available.

Windows 10 is going to be a game changer, a common OS that adapts itself depending on whether it is on a phone, tablet, or PC. The PC version of the interface is a lot more Windows 7 like than even 8.1 is, while the tablet version is more fat finger friendly to make it useable on small screens.  Microsoft’s free cloud storage will automatically move your profile and data to any device you sign in on.  This is a huge incentive to go all Windows on all devices.

After years of failure, Microsoft seems to be getting it right, but they have a lot of catching up to do in the market share department.

The “big picture”

Granted Apple and Google have similar services that move your data between devices, unfortunately most of us find ourselves with incompatible stuff spread between all 3 companies.  Hopefully soon I will find an easy way to see my PC contact list and iTunes library on my Samsung Galaxy.  In the mean time, if you can, pick a company and stick with them, it just makes everything easier.

The “big picture” is this: In the last 5 years since the ipad, we have seen Apple fall behind, Google surge ahead, and Microsoft bounce back. It is only a matter of time before it all gets homogenized, with all 3 companies offering the same goods and services delivered in the same way, the price of which will only get cheaper.

For over a decade I have swung on a pendulum between “creative” and “playing” and after three years of mostly being in “creative” mode, I seem to be in a deep “playing” cycle of video games.  Hence my lack of blog posts as I generally have little to say while in “playing” mode.

One of the games I have been playing is Dreamfall Chapters the third game in an adventure game trilogy spanning 16 years. The first game was The Longest Journey from 1999 which was mostly a 2D graphic adventure game with many puzzle solving aspects.  By today’s standards it is kind of cheap looking and way too long, but it has one of the most compelling stories of any adventure game at that time. It was followed up in 2006 by Dreamfall.

The setting of the three games is two parallel universes named Arcadia and Stark. Stark is a near futuristic “cyberpunk” world of technology, while Arcadia is a renaissance inspired world where magic is real. In between is a dream world that both worlds share. The hero of the first game is April Ryan, a Stark girl who has a natural gift to move between worlds.  The second and third games star Zoë Castillo whose gifts to move between worlds were not so natural but artificially induced to create a new vivid dream inducing technology. The third game is about this new technology and how it has become a drug of sorts.

The genius writer is Ragnar Tørnquist, a Norwegian fantasy game writer/designer who also was the head writer for the MMORPGs Anarchy Online and The Secret World.

Dreamfall was one of my favorite stand alone games of the 00’s filled with great characters and an imaginative story with one annoying flaw: a shocking cliffhanger of an ending we had to wait 9 years to resolve. That resolution finally happened in 2014’s Dreamfall Chapter’s: Chapter 1 which came out a few months ago. There are 5 planned chapters to be released when they get around to releasing them, Chapter 2 comes out on Tuesday, March 10th, which is what I’ll be playing next week.

Dreamfall Chapters is being done by an independent studio and relied on crowd funding to get made. Despite this, the game does not look cheap or low budget, the bulk of Chapter 1 takes place in a gloomy futuristic European city which is one of the most immersive places I have seen in a game.  Like the first two games, there is plenty of humor and mystery.

Also like a good visual novel, choices you make in the game will radically change the game play. Early on Zoë is given a choice of picking up her life where she left off, or starting over on something new.  If you pick the former Zoë dresses stylishly and has confident hairstyle, and does lab experiments with a “kidbot”, if you pick the latter Zoë dresses more conservatively, has a simple hairstyle, and runs around testing a salvaged robot named “shitbot”.  The former choice seems the better one, but “shitbot” has become very popular among players (“Welding, welding,welding”).

If you like games with good storytelling, this is as good as it gets.

cyborg

Between national news and recent personal experiences, I believe we are on the verge of one or more technical apocalypse. This could come two possible forms:

Either, technology advances to the point that it bypasses the need for humanity, or we grow more and more dependent on tech and internet connectivity and then a series of events causes the whole infrastructure to collapse.

We could also see first one and then the other.  I see both of these as very real possibilities, though I can’t say how likely.  I just want to briefly explain what we are up against.

The Vulnerability of Tech

On Christmas, my website vanished. The culprit seems to be a corrupt zone file which is used to tell the internet where my website is located. I got the site finally back up and then it vanished again due to extremely high traffic on the server. Not sure if that high traffic was directed at my site or the 30 other sites on the same server, but it took a move to a different server to get the site back up.

Two seemingly unrelated incidents in a week is suspicious, or just really bad luck. It is causing me to rethink my web strategies for the future, wondering if there is a better less vulnerable way to do what I do.

But that is just my sad story. How about the intentional takedown of both XBOX Live and PSN on Christmas Day causing much havoc in many households as many new games and consoles could not be played. Before that we all witnessed our first real cyber war between Sony and North Korea. Before that the very organization in charge of internet infrastructure was hacked. Before that was the #gamergate trolls and their malicious tricks directed against female gamers and their supporters. Before that hackers broke into private accounts of female celebrities posting private pictures.  These are just the headlines in the last 4 months.

We are looking at a new form of warfare / terrorism that is only going to get more common.  All tech is seemingly vulnerable. Even the supposedly anonymous and untouchable corners of the web have proven vulnerable in recent weeks.

Our dependence on internet connected tech is only going to get larger in the near future, which is going to make such actions more damaging.

The Vulnerability of Human Labor

We are at a point technologically where artificial intelligence, a sci-fi dream as long as I can remember, is becoming a reality.  This year we saw a chatbot pass the Turing Test, cars that can drive themselves are here as well. Those in the know say that the real innovation is machines learning themselves, which is becoming more real everyday.

From someone who studied this stuff for years this is all very exciting, but the big dark cloud behind the silver lining is what is motivating these developments:  companies want to replace human laborers with robots. When cars (and trucks and busses) that drive themselves prove to be cheaper and more reliable than human drivers, what happens to the 3 million people in the US that make a living as drivers?  Most likely their jobs disappear.

That’s just one example, hundreds of service occupations are vulnerable to automation in the near future. Because we have grown dependent on service jobs here in the US, what is the future of employment?

And where is this all going to go?  We have intelligent systems being developed to read through reams of legal documents to help lawyers with cases, we also have intelligent systems being developed to write reams of legal documents.  Eventually we are going to cut out the middleman and let all the intelligent systems handle all the legal decision making.

Then what?  A “small claims court” app where you can file a claim and have a judgement in minutes messaged to your phone?  So much for the need for lawyers.

Demand for doctors is likely to be in decline as well for similar reasons.  Neither will disappear completely, but job security will not be what it once was.

There will always be a demand for labor, but if these efforts to automate are successful, the demand is destined to go down, even while the human population continues to rise.  How do we create a society where an increasingly large segment of the population is unemployable. What kind of economy is possible if most of the population can’t afford anything?

Maybe we will build an intelligent system to micromanage a stable economy adjusting taxes and welfare automatically to keep the economy healthy for all.

Sounds like a good idea, until the the intelligent economic manager decides there are just too many damn humans to support (which is already true) and figures out a way to get rid of some.

It may sound implausible, but recognized geniuses like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking are warning about this happening in the near future if we do not take precautions now.

The Clash of Two Futures

Foretelling the future is damn near impossible. I cannot say how much of either of these visions of apocalyptic futures are likely to be true, but I can guarantee both will happen to some degree.

The need for drivers will drop with driverless cars, that is inevitable.  It is also inevitable that some will try to prove their vulnerability by purposely causing automated cars to crash, possibly in retaliation for lost jobs.

Hacking intelligent systems is no doubt going to happen, and exploitation of vulnerabilities will result in an intelligent systems arms race.  Eventually hackers will build intelligent systems to ruin and destroy other intelligent systems, to what effect it is too abstract to see.

#rehash #rehash

Posted: December 6, 2014 in Gaming, Movies and TV
Tags: , ,

watyearisit

Why are we craving the past so much these days? This seems especially true in movies, music, and video games.

Lets start with movies: Remakes, reimaginings, and of course prequels and sequels seem to be the norm of movies, and the few non-prequels and sequels are based on comic books and novels people are already familiar with. Are there no original stories to film anymore?

The answer is “of course there are, but it is too financially risky”.  When I saw the trailer for the new Terminator movie, it seems they are just tinkering with the time line again. Why did they make this movie when there are plenty of really good AI vs Humanity stories available in sci-fi that are not Terminator?

The answer is of course, “Because it’s Terminator.”  Nostalgia guarantees a big opening day no matter how bad the movie is.

And this is where my problem lies. Nostalgia is dying. It has been turned into a marketable resource, but like many other resources its supply is limited by the rate new nostalgia is being created.

Is there any new nostalgia being created?  The media is so wildly diverse these days there is very little new material that is appealing to the masses.

What about music?

OK, yes, there is new music coming out every year and some of it sells well enough is heard often enough on Beats-Music to make it into the latest mix by DJ Earworm or the European equivalent Mashup-Germany.

But a troubling statistic I recently read about is that songs and albums 5 years old or older collectively outsell newer music by nearly 2 to 1. This is only a recent trend as in the 1990’s new music was still way more popular than old.

Music is diversifying to the point that 2014 has hit a new low in the number of Platinum albums (more than 1,000,000 sold): exactly one album has done it, and it has the nostalgic name 1989.

I like to listen to new music and see what is popular. One of the underlying trends is nostalgia. There are many new songs that sound like they came from the 1960’s, and many more that sound like the 80’s.  The missing 70’s are represented by “ghetto funk”, a growing club trend.

3arianes

And video games?

OK, one of the inspirations for this random post is this week’s South Park where Kyle discovers much to his dismay that watching people play video games online may actually be more popular than actually playing them.

I’m guilty of this myself as I have become a big fan of Co-Optitude on You Tube, a show where TV actress Felicia Day and her brother Ryon Day play retro video games. As someone who stuck to PC games and never bought a console, I am fascinated by the video games I missed.

Recently, I picked up the series reboot of Tomb Raider. (When it comes to prequels, sequels, and remakes, the video game industry is just as guilty of nostalgia as the movie industry).  It was a 2 year old game I picked up for $5, and it was totally worth it as I had a lot of fun.

It is the 6th Tomb Raider game I have played, and like all the other ones, I eventually got stuck on a puzzle and had to consult the internet.  But the text/screenshot walk-throughs I usually consult have been replaced by complete playthroughs online.

As South Park pointed out, these video game commentaries are big businesses, the top players making millions in ad revenue, for playing video games made by someone else.

And yes, Date Ariane and Something’s In The Air also have a fair number of video commentaries associated with them.

Conclusion?

There has always been a certain level of nostalgia in pop culture. The most popular TV shows in the 70’s were set in the 50’s, and in the 90’s we had shows about the 70’s.  Movie sequels and remakes happen every year.

And yet, while I can’t statistically prove it, I don’t recall a time when it has gotten this big.  What is it about society today that makes us extra nostalgic for the past?

Or maybe we are not nostalgic for the past, and nostalgia is just a marketing ploy to insure an audience.  Creating new products out of other people’s work is cheaper and easier than creating from scratch.