Sunday, 28 December 2008

Gonzo Pt 2 - Return of the Shark

I’ve torn up two other introductions to this piece already, so this is as good a start as any. I’m mildly drunk as I’m writing this (gonzo) and feeling rather quite ill – but I think it’s more to do with my intolerance to lactose than to any real level of alcohol poisoning. Then again, what do I know, I’m feeling very stupid and ignorant right now which is probably less of a delusion than the regular brand of self satisfaction. I could probably power a small car off that thing – like that episode in the Simpsons with the inventor who is so proud of his Green Cred that he invented a car to run of his own satisfaction. Yeah, I could be that guy, but not right now because my stomach is reminding me that I’m mortal and my throat has a minty taste in it that is making me feel like retching.

And I’ve blown my lead on 2:44 am post-drinking un-wellness. Thompson would be proud. And honest to goodness, after finishing that sentence I just rushed off to the bathroom in a fit of nausea.

So – videogames. Sexy, Sexy Leigh Alexander mentioned over twitter just the other day how tired she was of talking about, writing about, thinking about, even playing videogames. And I must confess to a brief spell of the same – except that I’m not over writing about them, which has become more and more fun as I’ve gone along, while still somewhat being less excited about playing them (or some of them at least). Probably a fair bit to do with how much fun it is to write in the Gonzo style, and while done poorly it is massively self-indulgent, when good it’s great. In this follow up to my first (moderately well received) Gonzo piece I had thought to go deep gonzo in some serious game from the recent past. L.B. Jeffries (Hey L.B., we need to drink together some time!) of the Banana Pepper Martini’s blog and the moving pixels blog, gently directed me in the direction of Braid which I would be more than happy to do except I don’t want to spend the money (This is not a hint for someone to buy the game and gift it to me – that has already happened far too often in times past and I really don’t think that sort of thing should be encouraged. Or at least I should not be encouraged in that manner – it’ll just delay the onset of the ruthless urgency to find gainful employment that I know has to come soon).

My next thought was Fallout 3. But that’s almost too easy a target for batshit insanity, so I thought I’d pass. Also I don’t really like Fallout 3, so any excuse will do. I also briefly considered Bioshock, because it’s a pretty decent game (I also owe Michael Abbott a game review for it – but that’s neither here nor there) and seemed to possess enough of the requisite chin-strokey seriousness that a gonzo style dive piece would benefit from in its subject. It’s certainly long enough to generate some hilarious anecdotes that I’m sure could benefit enormously from a bit of hyper-inflation and dramatic retelling from the first person. However, like Fallout 3, I didn’t really enjoy Bioshock all that much – certainly not to the same extent as many, many fellow game bloggers. Actually, on second thoughts, maybe that’s a decent enough reason in itself – perhaps it’s a way for me to get into the game from a different perspective, or to vilify it and explain why as I seem to recall it didn’t manage to live up to the hype for me. How much was hype affecting me the first time I played it? I’d hazard a guess quite a fair lot actually. Hype, as a target in itself, is probably more than well overdue of a seriously trippin’ expose piece.

But maybe not right now. The third game I thought of and which I’m probably most inclined to actually pursue is Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time. Yes, the classic game which just received a rather iffy reboot/sequel recently, because it seems to me that game has been praised quite a bit and often without much of a clear articulation of what’s so great about it… but then, that’s not even really the point of a gonzo piece is it? It’s not supposed to praise a game, nor to analyse (unless you had a marvelous experience with it and there’s a great story to tell). It’s more about mulling over and relating to a reader as intimate a sense of the experience as can possibly be rendered unto text. It’s a skill I feel I’m getting a little better at and even if I’m not noticeably improving, like I said, it’s still hella fun. There’s a reason Thompson stuck to it like some suitably sticky metaphor.

So my last idea was to do something on Spore, that procedural wunderkind that sprung from the mental loins of Will Wright. Spore is crazy. Sharkbite & Powershot crazy. The amount of soft-core Sporn creatures out there is truly staggering, but unless I want to feel the wrath of the EA Banhammer I think I’ll stay away from them. But I do think that making a landshark and walking around eating other procedural monstrosities could be fun, if only for a while. And the procedural music in Spore is pretty awesome too – there’s a post in me about that, somewhere. Actually, if it had come out early enough, and if I’d played it, it could seriously have gone into my thesis for an extra 1,000 words over my limit, just because it’s so close to this imaginary ‘ideal’ that I had for videogame music. The fact that the music in particular didn’t exactly make massive waves in the industry is not a very encouraging sign. Still, if a company wants to hire’s me (even freelance/contractor style) I’d be happy to write you a paper on why the music was so good. Hell I’ll probably end up doing that for free before long, David Carlton just finished Spore and was looking for more posts on the game. And I’m a sucker for any guaranteed readers something’ll get me.

Which is all a long winded way of saying that I don’t really know what game exactly I’ll be putting on my wizard hat and cloak for, this coming week. Be sure that when this author does, however, it’ll probably be somewhat slapdash, substandard and of questionable literary merit.

Yeap, I’m pretty sure it was the milk that did it earlier because that lacteeze tablet I took has worked like a charm. Now I think I can go to bed and sleep until I wake up. Bloody hell it feels good not to have chills from suppressing the urge to retch.


Chris Dahlen said...

I was really excited to read about the procedurally generated music in Spore, thinking it would be the realization of ideas Eno's pursued since the early '70s, and that it would be totally awesome. "OMG maybe my creature will get its own leitmotif, and each world will have generative soundmarks and OMG, I'm going to hold my tape recorder up to the speaker and catch all of it." But in the end, I don't remember any of it.

If you're going to deep dive on a game, I'd definitely love to see you pick one that we're not all talking about.

Ben Abraham said...

You're still using tape? :P

L.B. Jeffries said...

I'd love to down a couple of whiskey bottles with anyone and everyone interested.

Looking forward to this, I've been poking at an essay I wrote on how procedurally generated music games will pave the way for how we construct narrative games. Need more cowbell though.