Friday, 31 August 2012

Friday the 31st

I was supposed to update the blog today, but I didn't get round to it.


Because I have a shiny new computer! Hahahahahahahaha!

Look at the amazing graphical change in this Before/After picture!

As you can see, the 'Before' box is empty,
because my computer could not run the game

So as you can see, now I have amazing graphical carnage to wreak havoc with!

Hav-- Wait what?
But all in all, the real reason I didn't write a proper update for today...

Was because I went to the Globe Theater to watch Hamlet!


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 has been released today!

If you don't already know, (and I'll just assume your ignorance,) Guild Wars 2 is the MMO to change all MMOs. To my knowledge, there is no online multiplayer game anywhere near the scope of this one.

Keeping it simple, if you don't already know, (a phrase which I find myself using a lot...) an MMO is a type of online game which takes place in a consistent world in which all players are free to meet each other. However, most MMOs run on a strict formula, aimed at keeping people logged on as much as possible. Typically they include either a subscription fee or a cash shop which makes progress faster or gives an unfair advantage to players who pay for their goods.

Pick me! Pick me!
However, the most jarring and annoying thing about MMOs has to be the quest system. It's like, “Talk to the guy with the exclamation mark, queue wall of text, skip wall of next, press yes, do mundane task at least 100 times, go back to exclamation mark person, quest complete.” Whats even worse is that most MMOs make you grind through hundreds of pointless quests before you can do anything even remotely fun. Why the hell anyone would play games like this when they could be playing Sengoku Rance instead is beyond me. (Actually, several studies have been done into this very topic, the genre as a whole gives a rather intrepid insight into human psychology.)

Guild Wars 2, on the other hand, has no quests.

That's right! No quests whatsoever! In fact, you don't even have to play through the story to advance the game, the only thing which restricts you from moving on is the level cap. That being said, the story is actually rather entertaining, (for an MMO,) and it's nice to see some actual structure to it for once.

Instead of quests, Guild Wars 2 has dynamic events, which occur in sequence and have an effect on the game world, and it has another alternative to quests in the form of “jobs” which appear around the map, whose completion you may contribute to whenever you're in the area, and that contribution saves until next time you are in the same area, meaning there is no obligation to play at a pace you don't want to.

Anyway! Characters! Screenshots!

My Main Character, 'Wedding Dirge,' before and after the beta, followed by my engineer 'Eighty Four,' followed by the barer of my namesake, Xetoil Zethos

Friday, 24 August 2012

The Astonishing Spider-Man

Browsing around the market the other day and you know what I saw? You don't? Come on, I'll give you three Guesses...

Still don't know?

It was The Astonishing Spider-Man issue #71! Horray!

I remember I used to buy comic books when I was a kid, and I knew I was for a looooong wait at the post office, so I thought, what the hell, let's waste £3 on it.

Putting the whimsical humour and the fact that it was oddly well written aside; when I got back to my house to put it away, I drew out one of my older Spider-Man comics. The last one I had bought, actually.

To think that after 13 years, they only moved forward 30 issues?
It's nice, and kind of odd, to see how much has changed (granted, it has been over 200 issues of The Amazing Spider-Man.) Venom has a new face, J. Jonah Jameson is the mayor of New York and... Actually, that's about it. Oh yeah, Ben Reily is no longer Spider-Man anymore, but I'm sure you all already knew that, (Who? Ben Reily?! Who's that?!) Ben Reily was Spider-Man when I was a kid, I never had Peter Parker like the rest of you.

Ah, how things change, how colours invert.
Actually, I'm quite surprised how much I liked Anti-Venom. When I had first heard about him I didn't think much, but he's actually a very refreshing and likeable character. What I don't like however, is whoever is the new Venom, (More specifically, I think that the artist who drew that comic, taken from Venom's own series was horrifically bad.) That is, the old symbiote Venom now has a new host, but he pales in comparison to the classic Eddie Brock/Venom combo, (not that I have knowledge past sentiment enough to actually judge. But Eddie Brock was always kind of... funny, and you knew he was a good guy underneath, the modern Venom seems a bit more Carnage-eqsue, and his loathing for Spider-Man seems to have been a bit Flanderized.)

'"Seem's,'Madam? Nay, it is. I know not 'seems.'"
All in all, the plot was surprisingly strong, (who know... for a comic book...) Except end part the part they took from Venom's series, (I really should have mentioned, the book contains three individually published comics, The Amazing Spider-Man vol. #664, The Amazing Spider-Man vol. #665 and Venom #3.) 

One thing I didn't get however, was this:

Friday, 17 August 2012

Alice Sound Album Vol. 22

24 hours ago thousands of teenagers, including myself, were flooding through the gates of their respective schools and colleges, fearing, relishing and anxiously anticipating the onset of their A level results: The grades which would be the deciding factor over whether or not they went to university.

However, I couldn't give half a damn about any of them because The Rance Quest OST finally arrived today!

Actually, not just the Rance Quest OST. For one reason or another, decided to also ship me a photograph, (Yeah, a real photograph) of Rance's daughter Reset, (say it like 'Res-ette' if you want it to sound more like a real name.) And what appears to be a 'promotional bookmark' for some game I've never heard of, (and who the hell else would have heard of a game with a title like “a good librarian like a good shephard” ?! (Yes, Spelt like that.))

Anyway, I ordered the album from for 2100 yen, (roughly £16,) then I had to import it through who charged 1390 yen for shipping (about £11.) Import tax was only £5, so the total cost was roughly £32, which seems fair for a two disk album which is normally unavailable in this country. That is, it was fair until the British parcel force ripped me off into paying another £13.50 as a commissions fee for no apparent reason. I've read stories online about people refusing to pay this fee and getting their parcel anyway, but I guess I'm just lazy. All in all, I phoned them up, and they told me it was a fixed payment, (of £13.50 or £8) and that it is irrespective of tax, so my only advice would be to buy in bulk rather than individual items if you can, (which is precisely what I'm doing for RanceVI-VIII.)

Moar Pictures!

Also, before I forget, here's the advert for the album so you know just what's on it:

Monday, 13 August 2012

Rance Mini Sound Album

Shame on me for not posting this sooner!

The soundtrack for Rance Quest Magnum has been released!

I'm not too sure on where to buy it yet, it doesn't seem to be on Getchu or Amazon. It's a possibility that it's only available on the Alice Soft official store, (verification appreciated), which sucks because it carries an IP ban for all non-Japanese computers accessing it.

Anyway, Speculation aside, here's the advert!

UPDATE: Turns out the album was in limited supply and they have stopped selling it.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Music and Expectation

Sometimes it feels like people don't properly understand the concept of music. I know that this may sound a little pretentious, but music often serves a far greater purpose past an aural stimulant.

Shortly after I had become a fan of the Rance series, and while I was still at school, I tried to introduce my friends to the game's OST. All I got were remarks like “This music doesn't meet my expectations, it needs more X.” Naturally, I tried, in futility, to explain to them that it's not about what they expect, but its about what it's supposed to convey in the first place. Now this would probably be a good time to begin a rant on how modern music rots of the brain and causes people to view it in one dimensional terms, but alas, I know nothing of the subject, so instead I'm going to deconstruct one of my favourite songs from Sengoku Rance in order to portray the importance of music in a setting.

Sengoku Rance is a turn based strategy game set in the fourth warring states era (Sengoku Jidai era) of Japan. Naturally then, as most of the combat ensues armies fighting armies, the bosses stand out as titular behemoths capable of crushing hundreds of soldiers in a single blow; and of course, the music must reflect this.

One of the most striking initial features of this song, I think, are the drums, which take on a marching, almost leading, rhythm of their own above the rest of the instruments. Matched with the roaring, almost unintelligible guitar riff that follows; you can almost feel the fear that strikes a soldier when he's faced with the enemy that he thought he'd never live to face. And that slow, screeching guitar only fulfils his fears as the beast mows ever closer.

What kicks the song off as special though, is its unexpected end section. After the chaotic build up of guitars and strings comes an upbeat rhythm accentuated by an organ, giving us a heroic and uplifting 'burst,' completely alien to the prior mood. And that's the turning point. That's when it becomes clear that masses of soldiers cannot beat this foe. That's when the character realise that if they want to win, they have to dance around the boss in small numbers, they have to use their co-ordination to their advantage and ultimately they must work together. That's one of the biggest and most striking themes in Sengoku Rance, teamwork; and to top it all off, what happens when you beat a boss? Most of the time, they join you.

Just in case you were wondering what the bosses are like:
 here's one
I always say, they game would never be the same without it's soundtrack. It's an utter harmony where every aspect of it's production adds some artistic value to the final outcome, and I know my own perception of the game's seriousness would never be accomplished without tracks like this. In a game as funny and laid back as this, it's difficult to portray the real emotions, the fear and dilapidation that come alongside war, and in the same vein it's difficult to express the pure rapport which necessitates itself within the minds of each of the characters using a simple turn based battle system. But this song manages to pull it off.

I know it's difficult, and sometimes impossible to explain one sense using another sense, so I hope that by listening to the song you'll be able to understand the points that I'm making, and how music is a powerful tool not only to defy expectations but also to instigate emotions that otherwise would remain unfelt. It is truly a moving, and sometimes unappreciated, art.