Amazing

Great long take, insane performance, just watch this:

Façade

I quickly played “Façade” today and I must say that the concept is fancy but did not really interest me. It is quite fascinating and at the same time scary, to imagine that computers could recreate a human conversation. Hopefully, Façade fails in this task as I obviously tried crazy things right at the beginning and reached the limits of their “realist” speech abilities. I was surprised though that after a good five minutes of obnoxious behaviour, the guy decided to throw me out!
On my second attempt, I tried to steal the woman from her husband by helping the situation to deteriorate but suddenly I encountered a bug and I was locked outside the flat and could not go in anymore.
I don’t think I could have managed to accomplish my evil goal and therefore I am a bit sorry that the game sticks to conventional attitudes. Once again, I do not see the interest of having to play games that exactly copy our reality. It is so much more fun to be able to do something that we are enable to do in the non-virtual world.

The game I chose for this assignment is called Heavy Rain and runs on Playstation 3. The reason I selected it is that it offers an experience quite different from the great majority of consoles’ games. It allows you to play four different characters (as far as I have played it): a detective, a fbi agent, a dad and a young woman. They are involved in the chase of a serial killer that drowns his victims thanks to extended period of rainfall.

If I try to summurize the concept behind this game, I would say it is an “interactive story telling experience” that borrows a lot from movies. The most conspicuous cinematographic element in it is the camera. You have a very limited control on it as it is very often set at given place and you can only switch to a different one by pressing the R1 button. The interface is almost non-existant, by this I mean that in most games, the character you control has a health bar, an inventory, a quest log etc… But here you do not have any of this. You just walk around and as soon as an interaction is possible between your character and the environment, the button with which you can perform an action will be represented on the screen next to the object. To illustrate this point, I captured a part of the introducing sequence of Heavy rain.

This choice shows that the developpers wanted the players to be immersed in the story as an interface can be seen as a tool highlighting the feeling that you are playing a game. Overall I would say that this part of the gameplay works rather well except the camera. Indeed, the fact that it is fixed actually gives a cinematographic touch to the sequences but does not help the gameplay. The explorations of the places you have to visit is sometimes made difficult as you bump into objects or change direction without willing it when the camera changes point of view in a shot reverse shot way.

The different characters played offer the same gameplay except the fbi agent that has a special attribute as he benefits from a cool pair of sunglasses that enable him to analyze a zone to find DNA traces for instance. It also serves as a kind of inventory as it stores the clues you find while inquiring. The gameplay experience while playing this character is the one that I preferred thus far and it is the one that is the closest to “regular” games.
The game sometimes offers sequences filled with “quick time events”. When this happens, you do not control the character but you have to hit a button when its symbol appears on the screen. They are used during action sequence and here is an example:

So, does Heavy Rain’s concept offer an interesting experience? Well, to tell the truth, I am not entirely convinced. The scenario is more interesting than in a lot of other games but it is inspired by many thriller movies and it does not do it as well, this by the simple fact that it is a game! A nice aspect though is that you have to make choices that permanently change the story and there is no way to go back as the game autosaves at specific points.

The problem of Heavy Rain is that it borrows from two different media grammars: cinema and video games. All the cinematographic elements can have bad consequences on the gameplay (ex: the camera) and sometimes, the developpers chose to make you play sequences that could be agreable when watched in a film but definitely horrible to play. The best example I have is this sequence when you have to cradle a baby.

Also the whole introductory sequence that serves as a tutorial is boring. You are literally meant to make him brush his teeth, have a shower, eat a piece of cake, wait in the garden until the kids come home, in a word it is useless as you understand how to play the game in no more than 15 minutes. My point is that video games cannot do well when using movies’ attributes to tell a story and they have therefore to find their own way. Heavy Rain is an interesting attempt to make a narrative compelling through this medium but it lacks a clever understanding of video games themselves. If I were to quote a game that successfully integrates strong storytelling and good gameplay it would be GTA IV or even Bioshock.

note: I figured out how to have the videos in my article but there is no sound which is weird because I think I had it on the quicktime videos saved on the computer in Axxin….

As I said a couple of times in class: I have sinned!…. I mean, I have played WoW and the demonstration of this afternoon comforts me in my choice to not play this game ever again. My main problem with it is its total uselessness in social life. People that have hobbies that are really time consumming have to sacrifiy for a period of time their social life but I feel that more people can relate to what they do than to a game like wow.

This problem comes from the fact that it is a virtual world and that all the time invested in it will improve your virtual life but your actual life gets only poorer. Some people are going to say “oh but you can play it in a more casual way and not spend too much time on it” but I don’t really buy this argument. You get really hooked up quite quickly in this game and your goal of obtaining more and more power will result in spending more and more time onto it. And to be weak in such a game means that you won’t enjoy 2/3 of the “end game” activities as other players will refuse to go killing this monster because you will be the weak element of the party. Moreover, the argument that consists in saying that you actually develop a social life in the game does not seem convincing to me as I never met someone that sort of interested me in this game. And even “I’m sorry I don’t know his name” told us today: “I’ve never met the members of my guild in real life”. So where is the social benefit here?

I am not spitting on wow players though, I have tolerance especially because I played it but I simply do not find any positive side in playing such a game.

Video games reviews are numerous on internet. This one though caught my attention as the style is quite peculiar. It features animation, “collage” editing and the reviewer uses this “0 punctuation” way of speaking that makes him sometimes difficult to understand (at least for me) but adds a great comical effect. I leave you with the link, you should really check it out:

0 punctuation

Remix

At last, at last, here is my remix! I chose to use video clips from the AMAZING tv show Madmen! The story takes place in the beginning of the 60’s, in New York City and we follow Donald Drapper, handsome middle-aged man working in an advertising company. Those of you who know the show were probably striken by the relationships between men and women. I then chose to work on this theme.

Concerning the audio, I chose the song “Possession” by the Dirtbombs, an amazing garage band from Detroit. I highly recommend buying their cds if you like their music because they are modest, talented and rock as hell!

Notre-Dame de 2nd Paris
Dublin

weird room Library

Few pictures from 2nd life, the “game”/virtual universe that puzzles me more and more. The pictures are….. well ugly! This is due in part because the environment does not load completely but also because the graphics are quite dated. Nevertheless we can see sometimes true creative works in 2nd life. I think this game is a way too ambitious project for the technology used to run it. I bet that in a decade, immersion will be more complete. We could think about how new coming technologies such as 3d image or movement recognition would embetter the experience.

As I was looking at my contacts on my msn’s window, I started to think about the capacity that new technologies have to help us create secondary identities. Internet in particular has a huge role to play in this process. Indeed, on websites that propose to the user to create a profile they offer tools that help people to create a virtual avatar. Profile’s picture, personal description, shape the person’s identity on internet. As internet makes people from all over the world interacting with each other, the need to differentiate a user from an other is important and without it, social networks could not be.

I am particularly interested in avatar creation that does not necessarily try to render acurately the person’s identity in real life, because it involves the concept of escapism. Who has never dreamt about incarnating someone or something else than himself? This (sometimes) strong appeal is expressed more than ever on internet. This form of escapism is to be questioned because of its effects on our real self. As I said earlier, we are given tools to create our virtual self. We can be impressed by the possibilities they give to perform such an act but compared to our natural capacity that is imagination, they are actually full of limits. And here is my first point: internet is a system that was invented in the western world. It is, despite its amazing diversity, part of a larger specific cultural pattern and if we control (by giving specific tools, in specific contexts) the way people escape from their everyday life in creating a virtual self, do we shape their imagination? And thanks to this, what control can we have on them?

My second point comes from the danger in having a virtual identity. Because if one starts to exist more in the virtual world, one can be led to self-destruction reducing his actual life to its minimum. Here also, we could think about it as another threat to people’s freedom as they could be too busy leading their virtual life to care about their real one (second life and world of warcraft are good examples).

Of course my reflexion is uncomplete and still quite vague but I would be interested to debate about these issues, so tell me what you think!

Aaaah Chat roulette! What a trap! What a surprise! When (not knowing at all what it was, I wanted to discover while using it) I clicked the start button or whatever it is and suddenly I could see my face projected in a little square on the screen and in an other window appeared two people. They were an old nice retired couple, and the framing of their webcam gave me a glimpse of their house: it was arranged with old fashioned furnitures. My second action was to quickly search for the cross button of my internet page and put an end to this nonsense.

I read Hunter’s article on chat roulette and found it quite interesting. First, I’d like to apologize for not being as open minded as he is, but I cannot help it, chat roulette is just too much for me. I can’t stand it because I feel naked, exposed to unknown people’s voyeurism. Indeed, when you or me go outside in this wild and dangerous world, we are not the same person as the one who looks at himself/herself in the miror every morning. In this solitary examination, you are vulnerable, you do not hide what you want to hide, you look at yourself and think about everything that goes wrong or well. Then when you go outside, the majority of us wears a “mask”, a “costume” that helps us facing the social world and facilitate our interactions with other people. And here is the problem of chat roulette according to me. When I am in front of my computer, I am not naked in the literal sense but I am in my own bubble, I feel vulnerable. So when my face was suddenly displayed on internet, for those people that I don’t know and can’t even have the slightest idea of who they are, I had to leave, I had to shut the window, no matter if they were nice or not. I also didn’t like to be introduced in their privacy. I felt embarassed because it is not the way you come to know people. Generally, there is a gradual progression. At first it is few words, then conversations, then we share activities together and in the end we invite the other in our personal sphere. People go through this process at different speed but chat roulette annihilate all of this and brings us to the last step.

But does it work? In my opinion, all the fuss about web-based relationship is a huge joke. Who would argue that his or her internet friends matter as much as his or her real life friend. And look at the words I just used: ” real life”. I understand that talking with total strangers for a while and share opinions about the place they live in (etc…) can be interesting. But what is going to last after this talk? Are these connections important and will they have an influence on you? I personally do not think so, that is why I refuse to participate in the “meeting new people/make friends/find a girl” aspects of social networks. This derivated way of creating social links lacks what real life brings and that cannot be replaced: sharing life moments with others.

(I’ll be glad to talk more about that with anyone interested, and I’ll bring more content to my arguments.)

Blog review

http://dsslm.blogspot.com/ This is a link to my godfather’s blog, one on the few blogs I ever consult. I am sorry if I chose a french blog (the writting content is also interesting) but I decided to comment on it because I am interested in the fact that his blog gives a good idea of who he is. His blog is articulated around his main interests that are: cinema, music, literature (especially science fiction) and drawings. He included links to animation videos (that I highly recommend you to watch if you’ve got time) or to interviews of french artists that he particularly likes. Also, he added some muscial content in some of his posts that illustrates quite well his musical tastes.On the right hand sidebar, you can play the deezer player and you’ll hear one of his playlists. His artistic influences are numerous but he’s fascinated art movements from the 20th century (DADA, surrealism, psychedelic era, science fiction etc…). The pure informatic form of the blog is quite classical(the choice of not making a more interactive blog is due to his tremendous lack of skill with computers), so we get a sense of his interior world by strictly exploring  the content of the posts. This fits with Meyrowits’ idea of” medium as conduit” but, his art is different. Form plays the main part in his drawings and meaning is conveyed thanks to it. The pictures displayed for the blog’s theme show that he is interested in early-mid 20th century that is his favourite cinema period. You might think that the overall tone of his blog is quite disturbing(his drawings especially) and dark and this is true. He likes dark humour, pessimistic science fiction books, and uncommon art works that break codes in form or content.

I hope you’ll enjoy the visit and if you know someone that could be interested by his works, please tell me. Trying to make a living of your art is tough…

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