Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pretty Pictures, Cute Games

I'm a sucker for pretty pictures. I just am. It's bad, I know, but I despite the best efforts of trolls the world over, I still like that unbearably cute one of the kitten bounding through a field of flowers. You know the one. It's all over the internet. Including here:

I do. I like it. Awww, kittens. I can't help it.

And now there's a game, Drifting Afternoon, obviously inspired by the same picture:

In Drifting Afternoon, you get to control the kitten as it bounds, while jumping from bubble to bubble. Occasionally you fall down and have to bound through the flowers again. It is - do not claim I did not warn you - unbearably cute. On the other hand, it is unbearably cute.

Sometimes, in this world, it is necessary to be that kitten. For a bit. Now you can be.

There are also pretty pictures here - - this time of 3D Mandelbrot sets. They are also pretty. Not cute, though, nor unbearable.

If you are in denial about liking cute things, you will require your cuteness to be subverted at all times. In this case, you should already know all about the excellent webcomics KinokoFry, by Rebecca Clements - - and the equally excellent Hilarity Comics by Patrick Alexander -

Well, there's a game of that stuff too, sort of, loosely. Ish. Ok. I don't know if there really is a connection, but some elements of the artwork in Ninjadoodle's game Clickplay 2 reminded me strongly of both Clements and Alexander. In a good way, not a bad way. Here's a link to a link about Clickplay2 (linked via the Jay Is Games page because you might well want to read a bit about the game as well as play it. That kind of game.):

More of that kind of stuff over at

Finally, and cuteness be damned, if you haven't seen it, you should have a look at Dungeon - a tragic platformer about what can happen in a castle, and how it affects people like you and me. Unless you don't give a fig for games, in which case, don't bother, you won't get it:

By this I mean you should follow the link and read about it, not necessarily that you should attempt to play it. There is a pretty picture there, but it is one that has been painted around the game, pretty much mostly in words. On a forum. On the internet. That is entirely what the internet is for.

I'm a sucker for that shit too. It's pretty cute.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Blog Ideas

1 - Kevin's new project: BOWW tribal poetry

"We will be touring next year with this." :

2 - - harnessing the untapped power of breast motion.

3 - - Very good video blog about hiphop

4 - Is this true? -

"1) make a fist with your left hand, with your left thumb inside, 2) squeeze your thumb as hard as you can, 3) put your right index finger down your throat. your gag reflex is gone."

Self experiment suggests it doesn't work.

5 - Another excellent article on the new music reality from @dubber: - be sure to read the comments too. We're all buskers now.

6 - Super awesome maps quiz: (via Mefi)

7 - Johann Hari nails it on prohibition of drugs:

8 - Evidence for the existence of Callow Youth:

See also

9 - Another great blog from Steve Lawson -

10 - There must be a better way to do this.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Dismantling A Radio, Building A Temple, Back To Bass

I am definitely coming down with something. This is not good.

This game about dismantling a radio, however, is excellent. You do not need to read Japanese to play the game.

You would need to read Japanese in order to fully understand this video:

Still worth seeing though, even if you, like me, have no Japanese. It is awesome enough by itself, but it turns out that the Lego is a model of an actual place - the Kinkaku-ji Temple. This beats that Lego grandfather clock, I'd say.

Last Tuesday I played a solo set at Phibbers, a very pleasant pub on the Holloway Road. It was a quiet night, with no more than a dozen or so people there, though there was one table of six who seemed to be really enjoying the music. Highlight of the evening was when the six people in question came to the stage and turned out to be Tara London's six piece band, who proceeded to put on a show as if it was 1200 people, not 12. Great stuff.

I'm playing bass in two new bands at the moment, both with pairs of brothers. First there's Chris and Justin McConville, with whom I played an eclectic set of largely bluesy mostly covers at Jazz After Dark this Wednesday under the moniker of Macs n Myers. It was also a relatively quiet night but the people there seemed to enjoy it - one extremely drunk Spanish guy insisted on taking my number so he could pass it on to his club-owning friend in Madrid - and it was great fun to sing and play bass again, as I haven't done that in ages. We're hoping to do this or something similiar again soon. Including the country-rock version of Number of the Beast. Oh yes. Out of genre Iron Maiden covers are the future.

I'm also playing bass with Daren and Haydn Callow at Power's Bar in Kilburn, this coming Wednesday, in Daren's new band 'Callow Youth'. It's a pleasure to play with Haydn again after twenty years - he was an excellent drummer then and has definitely been practising - and I've also really enjoyed Daren's solo sets each time I've seen him play, so it's great to get the chance to try and figure out the basslines for playing the same material in a band situation. Hope I'm doing it justice.

I'm also playing a short solo set at Prohibition on Sunday evening, and I've been extremely crap about actually telling anyone.

And I uploaded the first Fit and the Conniptions album to Bandcamp:

Hope that works.

Dear Google. You are supposed to be very clever and to get things right. Why then, can I not - when composing an email - easily switch back and forth between plain and rich text views, without losing content? It took ages to put those links in the first time, but now I want to add some code to embed something, I have switched to plain text view to add the embed code, and I have lost all those links. Putting them in again took ages. This blog-by-email lark is supposed to be easier than this. Love, Wayne

But the best thing to happen this week by far was discovering Warren Ellis's webcomic FreakAngels. How the hell did I miss that for so long?


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I Have A Bandcamp

It's new. And shiny. And I've uploaded the live EP from last year, which should be embedded below:

If it isn't, you can try directly, or , where the Bandcamp player is also (subtly) embedded.

All being well, you can now download the EP in the high quality format of your choice, with an option to pay via PayPal, and (for now) a minimum price of zero.

I say "for now" because I am not yet sure what happens if you do choose a figure over zero but below the PayPal transaction fee. Idealism has its limits - actually losing money on high quality downloads, if I end up getting stiffed for the PayPal fee on a transaction of 1p, strikes me as dumb. Also I am not Radiohead or NiN, with their large volume of fans, so while the standard quality mp3s will always be free to download, I can see myself setting a minimum price for the high quality downloads some day in the future. Being skint and all.

Feel free to have a play with it and please do let me know if anything doesn't work.

Note to self: check out what the PayPal transaction fees actually are.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Cave Story Story

I've been playing quite a lot of games lately.

First, and repeatedly, is David Shute's Small Worlds, his entry into the Jayisgames Casual Gameplay Design Competition 6 (found via MeFi, like most good things). Pixelly graphics, moody music, and a simple, pure gameplay mechanic closely following the 'Exploration' theme of the competition. It's short but sweet, and maybe not infinitely so, but certainly replayable. There are very few games I have completed several times just because I wanted to.

The music is credited to Kevin MacLeod, who has an extremely interesting site at Incompetech hosts the Royalty Free Music Library, a large library of Creative Commons licensed royalty free music composed by MacLeod and arranged by genre and mood, intended for use in games and film. But it also hosts a large collection of free online graph paper and other speciality papers including blank sheet music, hexagonal graph paper, storyboard blanks for film and the like, downloadable as PDF in a wide range of user-defined and tweakable formats. Possibly not as comprehensive on the sheet music front as is, but certainly worth knowing about.

Not everyone on MeFi liked Small Worlds, and one poster pointed out that in their opinion it wasn't a patch on Cave Story, which I'd never heard of. Cave Story is another independent pixellated graphics 2d platformer but is huge where Small Worlds is tiny, and took Japanese coder / designer Pixel over five years to complete. The sites just linked to is are a fan site and Wikipedia entry - how many independent games are so good they have those - and versions of the game are available for all major platforms.

So I downloaded the Linux version - excited enough to play it that I forgave the download for being binary not source - and bam. It attempted to go fullscreen, failed, then hung X so badly I had to ssh in from next door to kill it. Bummer. Really wanted to play that.

The problem looked like it was the config file, which - as one of the two text documents included with the download explains - is in a weird binary format and can only be edited on Linux using the original Windows config editor through Wine. My system is old and slow and I don't bother with Wine. I was stuck. It was late. I was tired. I really didn't want to sit and write a native Linux config file editor for the thing. Excuses excuses. Meanwhile the Linux port has been out for two years or so, so why has no-one else written a native Linux config file editor?

While trawling Linux gamer forums trying to find a fix for this I got sidetracked and rediscovered David Olofson's excellent Kobo Deluxe, which I last played about five years ago on a previous incarnation of my attempts to run a home Linux system and then lost during one of many botched upgrades. Not everyone likes games that involve flying 2d spaceships around shooting things - it's a close relative of the 'bullet hell' genre - but sometimes there is nothing else I want to do in the world. There's something oddly calming about flying around shooting abstract alien shapes, something oddly meditative.

All at once. I remembered the existence of hex editors, programs to edit binary files directly. Turn the byte at offset 108 from 0 to 1 (run in a window, not fullscreen), the byte at offset 112 from 1 to 0 (I have no gamepad) and try Cave Story again.

Runs like a dream. Quite literally. A great great game.

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