By Reetesh on April 7, 2013
A good trend in recent games is the short, narrative oriented, experience plays. Games that a player can finish in one sitting and games that leave the player with a sense of lasting thought. Little Inferno is one such experience; the message here is not explicitly pushed onto the player, it is more or less open to interpretation thanks to its many characters. It has been explored in different ways by different players, my experience left me thinking about the nature of the characters in it’s world, it’s representation of action without thought. Most of it could be projections of my thought on what may not have been the intention of the game creator, could be part of my distorted reality of what the game contained, but the game was able to facilitate this thought, which is admirable.
It all starts with the question of why the face in the Little Inferno fireplace has it’s eyes closed the whole time. It is an omnipresent face that is situated right at the center of the fireplace; the fireplace, in front of which, you spend most of your time. After perhaps completing the first catalog of items to burn, I hardly noticed that the face existed; it was just there, in the background, spinning it’s cogs. As I progressed through the game, thanks to my neighbor Sugar Plumps who kept sending me messages, I soon realized that I had become this machine which was just ignoring the world around me, and burning things. So immersed in burning that I didn’t realize I could not turn my head until Sugar Plumps mentioned it to me. I was so fixated on playing the game, “completing it” and thinking of just “finishing it” that I too, much like the player character in the game, did not even think of looking at anything for the whole duration.
Only after I finally burn everything and am forced outside of my house because there is no fireplace or house anymore, I learn more about the world. I realized that the city in the game was in its current state because some kindhearted lady just wanted to “follow her dreams” and did just what she wanted to do. Never looking back, never thinking twice. No matter how good the intention or clear the heart, the entrepreneur was unable to realize that with goals only of “making everyone happy” and giving people something to play, she never saw that it was in turn creating this city where no one could do or think of anything but play what she had created.
That is when I thought that much like the closed eyes in the fireplace, the lady represented people of the real world who just wish to get through life doing what they think is right. If one does not stop for a moment and ”open their eyes” to look at what they are doing, where they are and how it effects others around them, the eventuality is just like it is in the world of Little Inferno. One can keep performing one action for a certain amount of time, and then once that action goes away, becomes irrelevant, they must be equipped to do something else.
The game also talks about the fallacy of working with closed eyes. Miss Nancy saw that the conditions outside were bad for kids to go out and made this toy for them which would help them be safe inside and have fun. She proceeded in that one train of thought, never introspected on what she was doing and went on to produce more and more Little Infernos. This in-turn became the major cause for why the bad weather around the city worsened. This also became the reason why no one was going outside and just staying in their homes. “They are inside and safe!”, that is the only thought that came in to Miss Nancy’s mind as she kept on making more Little Infernos with her eyes closed. Not changing her ways, when confronted by the main character, she talks of moving on to some other dream, a BIGGER DREAM, and accomplishing that. Done with one task, then off to the other; Miss Nancy would always think of herself as the one who gave toys to every kid when the weather got bad (and the went on to do something bigger), never realizing what she had actually done, because she had always done everything with her eyes closed, just like the face in the Little Inferno, burning things, doing something it was programmed to do, something it thought it is supposed to do, and then eventually perishing out of existence when it’s task is done.
This can also be said about the game industry in general, which has been making games for ever; happy that it has given entertainment to people and given a source of connection to many, but not thinking of the environment and world that it creates because its intended creation, the games, were done mostly with just one track mind. But of course, after phasing out of the “get quarters” and then the “feel powerful” cycle of life for games, the industry is also now opening its eyes, introspecting, freely talking about itself and thinking before acting. Not just aiming for better graphics, larger worlds or BIGGER DREAMs; but blinking it’s eyes and thinking.
Another Observation: The only characters that blink their eyes in the game are the spiders that walk along the wall and all eventually burn to their death. One could say they have blinked and seen what the world has become, but with no way to talk or communicate, decided to willfully meet their fate sooner. The rest of the characters, have their eyes wide open for the most part. I never noticed them blink.
By Reetesh on December 31, 2012
This is a “Best of” list of music that I heard in the year 2012. This is a very subjective and personal list. Mostly driven by the amount of feels I felt when I listen to them. Things written about the tracks and albums are not detailed reviews or academic/critical analyses, but, all about the feels.
2012 was the year that I finally graduated and got a job. This was also the year that I found out how essential listening to music while working at office is. In addition to motivating me and giving me a “flow” as I try to think up of algorithms, much of the music I listened to was able to create that long lost feeling of “new nostalgia” a memory fragment that I know I will look back to and feel all nostalgic about. Something that is very rare to happen and only happens once a few years to me at least.
Instead of mostly relying on music that I come across randomly or from friend recommendations, I set out to discover more of the type of things that I really like. One thing I remember from years past is that I really loved video game music that had a feel of progressive rock to it. I also kind of like ye olde prog rock style of music. The long track length and change of pace always feel like they’re telling a story, sometimes allows me to pair a personal story to them. I started listening to a lot of Prog Rock radio in the mean time, and this was before I graduated this year.
Soon, so would happen that there was the Kickstarter boom with Double Fine and their adventure game. I happily joined Kickstarter and backed it up. This then started a flood of other kickstarters, one of which caught my attention. It was the Nubuwuo bundle. This introduced me to my first favorite artist of the year. Soon after that, the first Game Music Bundle launched, which was mainly managed by the same person who wrote the mobile game music I liked the most this year. This Game Music Bundle introduced me to BandCamp, which turned out to be the biggest source for my music this year. But then came the biggest source of joy. Through all these Game Music Bundles and stuff, I found Ubiktune. The best thing to happen to my music this year.
Ubiktune is an independently operated and maintained music label which showcases many Prog/Jazz/Funk SYNTH/Chiptune tracks and albums. Its like Prog Rock and all those things I love, and like the video game music that I love. Every reason to have my love So lets now get started the awards!
First Favourite Artist of the Year – Tomáš Dvořák AKA Floex
Thanks to the Nubwuo Debut bundle, I was introduced to a new artist whose music I instantly fell in love with. Never did I think that I would like Clarinet music so much. All those Spongebob Squarepants episodes made me think less of this instrument. But in good hands, any instrument can be great. Floex was featured in the Vocal Pack of the Nubwuo bundle, however, it is the instrumental stuff that really struck a chord with my musical tastes. It contains tracks from the albums Zorya, Pocustone and the single Casanova. It covers a variety of styles, some upbeat and little bit of progressive. The single Casanova really stands out as a great track, something to listen to get “started” with something. Various other good tracks like Pinky Pong, Pointilice, Phi_log, Ursa Major made me come back and listen to this album multiple times over the year.
Favourite Mobile Game Track – World -1, Wind-up Knight by Josh Whelchel
First heard about Wind-up Knight thanks to the 8-4 Play podcast. I wasn’t very interested in Mobile Games at this point, maybe only a few that I really liked till then. Wind-up Knight changed that, started trying more mobile games after experiencing how good it was. It had a really simple interface and was really addictive. It was one of those games that I really felt like S ranking every level of. A game like that needs to have a soundtrack that you can hear over and over again yet not feel irritated by it. Such was the case of this OST. The first World especially, had a really good track. It gives you that vibe of game music from years past. Check the game out, a very good before sleep, lying in bed game.
Honourable mention: Quell Reflect by Steven Cravis - This was my first love when it comes to modern mobile games. Quell was something I played in 2011 though. The music in the game and the very little back story, made the game feel more personal than most other games of the year. They had a new game Quell reflect this year and it too had really emotional and powerful music in it. A better choice for “post bed, pre sleep” gaming, it’ll give you nice dreams too, haha.
Best Label: Ubiktune
Just look at their releases page. They have been doing it for a while now and everything seems to be going on smoothly. Their style of music suites my tastes. The label has lots of free albums and most of the ones that cost money, are reasonably priced. The artists they have contributing to it are also wonderful. Everyone has this great aura of passion resonating from their album descriptions and tracks. Hang around at their website and twitter feeds and some of that passion will rub off on you too. Certainly makes me want to get
Most fun to follow on twitter: @surasshu
— surasshu (@surasshu) December 25, 2012
There is no easy way of saying why one would “follow” someone else on twitter. However, its fun to see what others have to share. Out of all the people who make the kind of music I like, I find it real fun to follow Surasshu. I’ve been introduced to many new artists thanks to the retweets surhassu does and the articles he shares are interesting to read too.
Most Rapid Artist: coda
It’s a given that every artist I mention in this blog post is an artist I really like. The fun about following artists, instead of genre (like I did till now) is that you get to see how they grow as an artist and in addition to their music, their work ethic etc also acts as a source of inspiration. It’s very interesting to follow coda (you can subscribe to the RSS feed as a podcast too), every small sample of music that comes out every week is great to listen to and is of varying style. coda also participates in many hackathons for games (ludumdare etc), contributing music to games. Rapidly creating things and fine tuning the music style seems to be the way to go for coda. Keep it up!
I haven’t played the game, but got the soundtrack as a part of the iGame Music Bundle. It was definitely one of the better albums of that bundle. Up until I heard this album, I was familiar with zircon’s style of music, and this collaboration with Jeff Ball felt like a nice fusion of two different styles. The electronic style of zircon paired with Jeff Ball’s instrumentals felt very refreshing. The soundtrack makes me want to return to it over and over again, tracks like Aurora Magnitude display the tactfulness of this collaboration. The whole soundtrack also has a very uniform feel to it even though there are tracks that are performed individually by each of the artist. A real blast to listen to.
Best “Various Artist” compilation : autumntunes at Ubiktune
I see a difference between what I call a Collaboration and a “Various Artist” album. Ubiktune has many albums with Various Artists on it. Every one of them has some really exceptional tracks, but this autumntunes stuck to me the most. The whole album feels like a well organized collection of tunes that actually set a very autumn like mood.
Best Long Track: solo – magnetis by Romain Gauthier
Just listen to the whole thing! It never gets old and for its whole 11 minute 52 seconds duration it never feels like it is repeating. If you are starting a small task and want to have a rhythm to it. Definitely turn this on and it will give a nice flow to whatever you are doing.
Best use of YouTube: posuyan
posuyan has a nice mix of pop-chip tunes going on in his channel and they are fun to follow, subscribe to the channel and every now and then you can see him cover some or the other song, just to improve his style and work on making more music. The videos he takes are quite fun to watch too, and there is nothing like a constant feel to perseverance.
Honoruable Mention: Aivi Tran.
She has a pretty prolific YouTube channel and SoundCloud profile too. You know which song she will try to cover next because she maintains a playlist of those and gets to them as soon as possible! She likes collaborating with others and it is real fun to listen to/watch the videos and playlists she creates.
Rarely is there an album that actually feels like it is meant to be played together one after the other. Most stuff I listen to, mostly OSTs, the tracks feel disjointed and they make just as much sense playing them out of context as when playing consecutively. But then there is tracer. The album comes paired with an interesting story of a stranded spaceship and data recovered from it. Its like the Black Box of an aeroplane. The whole album tells the story of the people inside that spaceship and I as a listener was able to create a very detailed and interesting story directed by the musical queues in the song.
Playing this album from start to finish is like being part of 25 minute movie and you are the lead, you can recreate a story as you work too. However, it can be counter productive if you get too involved in it Go listen to it, it will surely be a great experience.
Most Soothing Album Art: Equilibrium by junkboy
Album art has its own level of complexities, a very generic album art can totally ruin the first impression of an album. Then there are other which pique the interest of someone browsing and actually attract possible listeners to it. The whole album itself is a great “collaboration” of “Various Artists” each song transitions from one to the other in a smooth fashion, it all really feels like one joint album. The chip based seagull sounds and the oceanic waves, it all fits right into the album art and whenever you look at it, you are reminded of a relaxing day at the shore with wonderful ambient sounds all around.
Most Soothing Album: Fastfall by Lifeformed
I was mildly interested in the game Dustforce, but this is one of those extremely rare cases where I bought a game thanks to its OST. I got this OST thanks to another Game Music Bundle. the whole album is filled with tracks that will transport the listener to a peaceful place. Tracks like Elvish Piper Academy, reminded me of times when I would be exploring levels in games. The sense of exploration at a peaceful pace, like walking through some grasslands and discovering a water body nearby.
Phenomenal Album of the Year: Preschtale by C-jeff
I initially started out searching for a prog rock sounding album with a nostalgia for games, and in that search I found this album. This album is great in various levels, it feels reminiscent of the prog rock albums of yesteryear and isn’t shy to have some lengthy tracks and solos. The whole album is split into 7 parts. each track feels like a short story and is great to listen to all by itself. I call this a phenomenal album because, according to my version of whatever is happening in this world, this album feels like the phenomenon that’s bringing in a new wave of listeners and makers of prog synth tunes. If anyone wants an intro to the new and exciting things happening in the chiptune music scene, this would be a great primer. It helps in defeating the opinion that many have “all chiptune music sound the same”. Also, C-Jeff happens to be one of the founders of Ubiktune, another great phenomenon.
Go and listen to it now! Track 4 is my favourite.
Best track of the year – Yamaha Action by zinger & bacter
SOUNDSHOCK 2: FM FUNK TERRROR!! Is the name of the second funk album by various artists at Ubiktune, the whole album is available for free. Just so happens, most of the things that Ubiktune puts up line up with my tastes. This track, it is wonderful in every way I can imagine. It has the best set of instruments and best tempo. It is something I can hear at any point of time and get all psyched up. It is also the perfect tune to play when you are driving the highway at night. The title itself says “Yamaha Action”. If you are someone with as active an imagination as mine, you might feel like you’re riding a bike in those serpentine coast-side roads with the sun setting. Haha. To describe why it is so good is beyond me. Just have a listen. It will take you to an awesome place.
Best Album of the year : Tree of Knowledge – by yogurtbox
Imagine playing one of those PC-engine games, imagine tracks like those you heard in games like Snatcher and other old time text heavy visual novels. Imagine creating something that feels like that, but in modern times. This is a homage to artists like Ryu Umemoto. The album feels fresh no matter how many times I hear it. The album emanates playfulness. The whole album is a labor of love of the contributors. The website even has a pseudo game and characters drawn up for all that they imagined the tunes would be for. Definitely give it a listen there will be a track that will stick with you for a long time.
Well, now that covers the best of the music that I heard this year. There were other artists whose songs I was able to enjoy over the year, Shanbubula, PROTODOME, virt and many others, who all should be in my last.fm profile. A very big Thank You to all the artists and best wishes for everyone for the next year. Stay inspired and keep doing what you do.
By Reetesh on November 9, 2012
I have not read the book, but right after watching Cloud Atlas’ trailer for the first time, I knew I was going to watch this movie. Not exposing myself to any other information about the movie, went and saw it on Day 1 with my brother and friends. It was an anachronic movie, where the time jumps were not mere Tarantino “This is what was happening at the same time at another place” style jumps. They were more of a “life-time” jump; showing the audience different lives at different times, connected to each other by the actions of past. To me, the movie felt like it borrowed a lot from my understanding of Indian culture and philosophy, things like Karma, Re-birth etc. I may not be an expert and might just have basic level of understanding of all these vast concepts, but I really felt like rambling on a little about what I saw as the Karmic Connection of the various lives involved in the movie (Spoilers ahead). Its more or less an interesting thought exercise, it might actually have been what the writer intended, or just some extreme scenarios made up by my thoughts.
The पुनर्जन्म (rebirth)
Right off the bat, it is clear that the movie is talking about things like “true-love” and trying it to prove it with a literal characterization of “partners across life-times” , much like the 100s of movies made in India talk about. As cheesy as it sounds, the movie shows all the very same concepts I am familiar with, in a very interesting & appealing manner. You see thousands of Bollywood movies talking about “जन्म जन्म के साथि” and there are even some which literally go as far as having stories where the lead characters are re-born and meet each other in another life time. Similar to those, the lead actors in Cloud Atlas are seen being born in different lives, and finding their “true-love” in one of their many life-times. The same actor plays different characters in different lifetimes, this could be understood as the same soul, passing through lifetimes.
“Fate brought us together”
Just like how each actor can be considered a soul; another cheesy concept shown in an interesting manner was how “fate” (the shooting star shaped birthmark) brought people together in different life-times. When the Old Man Sixsmith (his lover had the birth-mark) first meets Luisa Ray the reporter (Who has the same birthmark), it acts a point of connection for many previous lives to cross paths. Sixsmith is killed and Luisa meets Tom Hank’s character of the present life when searching Sixsmith’s office at the Nuclear Plant. All these souls cross paths once again in their other lives throughout the movie. The unsuccessful love of Halley Barry and Tom Hanks in the 1970s is met with closure when Tom Hanks (who has the birthmark) meets Halley Barry in a distant future where they try and find the message left by Sonmi-451 (Doona Bae). Sonmi-451 (who has the birth-mark) finds “true-love” in Jim Sturgess’s character, both of them were “meant to be” because even in their previous life, they were husband and wife (Adam Ewing and wife).
*Your Karma ran over my Dogma*
The actions and reactions that happen in each soul‘s lifetimes can be explained as it’s Karma and its eventualities. Why does the noticeably nice and well-natured Tom Hanks character that falls in love with Luisa Ray die in an aeroplane blast? “What did he do to deserve such a death?”? Well, you could explain it by sighting that in his previous life, he was that conniving doctor on that boat, he was so greedy so as to take another’s life just to satisfy his seemingly meaningless worldly pleasures of obtaining gold.
Every character seems to have a negative/neutral/positive role in at least one of their life times, making neat connections to one another in the way their lives turn out to be.
*श्रुति & स्मृति* (Recording and Broadcasting)
Sonmi-451, the artificially produced human, goes through millions of records and information from the past; covering things from both sides of history. She gets input of what all had happened, and realizes the importance having records and keeping people in the light by always having discussion and sharing information on things that are currently happening in and around the society. When there is lack of information passage to the people, the level of ignorance will lead to an imbalance, not only should information be recorded but it should be spread by active discussion. This reminded me of things like श्रुति & स्मृति. Also, the message Sonmi-451 gives is basically this shloka
असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।।
मृत्योर्मामृतं गमय ।
ॐ शांति: शांति: शांति
which means “Lead us from Untruth to Truth, from Darkness to Light, from Death to Immortality… “.
Interesting tidbit, a remix version of that Mantra is the end-credit music of the final Matrix movie.
All these heavily played out Indian movie tropes, expressed in hundreds of movies, sang in thousands of songs, for some reason when expressed in such a re-imagined, beautiful, manner; gives a new outlook on how good movies can be. People like the Wachowski’s and Tom Tykwer with the passion to try something different should be commended for their efforts!
By Reetesh on February 21, 2012
Well, it has been almost three years since I last wrote here. I have been renewing the domain and keeping the hosting active just because, deep inside, I always knew I would start writing again. Many things happened in these past three years, I’ve moved to the US, graduated with a Masters’ degree in Computer Science – Artificial Intelligence and now am currently looking for employment here in the US. Some of my philosophies might have also changed, overall there has been some growth due to various experiences I’ve gained through all the travelling and course taking. The West + East in WEAST has become quite West geographically, but I believe in spirit the content will be very WEast-y.
What have I been doing?
Due to my super busy schedule during the whole Masters period (thanks to projects, seminars etc) I wasn’t able to find much time to write, play Games, watch Anime or read Manga. However, I wasn’t completely devoid of the joys of these activities. I was playing games at the University’s Game Clubs, watching Anime in the Anime Club, Reading manga by renting them from Libraries, and writing 1000+ word articles for my courses on a regular basis. I could not find time, to actually sit and put my thoughts to words on the internet. I was busy mostly doing the same thing, in the offline world, in my head.
Now that my schedules look a bit different, I am planning to do things differently, with no restrictions, with no preset goals from someone that is not me. Giving me chance to put my thoughts to words, on any topic I can imagine.
What to expect?
However, I will start off by posting articles that I wrote for my Game Studies Colloquium class, a course in Digital Media Studies department. The class allowed me to looking at games from a completely new perspective; the Academic side of games; where people actually write their PhD. dissertations on Video Game topics. The course exposed me to the deeper meaning of “game” and took me on a trip through time showing how the medium kept changing, ideas started forming. A really interesting course filled with great assignments and great seminars. Deconstruction of games like Silent Hill and Majora’s Mask were super fun, discussing with people who love games just as much as you do.
Maybe something unexpected?
One post from the Game Studies assignments will be posted every week and in between, I will try to keep writing new articles. I will not be able to continue the Endurance Run for Final Fantasy as the PS2 is back at home in India, that thing was cut short unexpectedly thanks to… well, life. There a lot of things to talk about, hopefully I will cover as much as possible, in the coming posts. Also, thanks to 3 years of “mostly tweeting”, it will be interesting to see if my writing style has changed. Wonder if this will bring some variety, of a different kind.
By admin on March 30, 2008
Welcome to WEastFellows’ Blog. This is where you will find Gamers/Otakus/”whatever other foolishness we can think of” from Weastern and Eastern Hemispheres of the world… talking ’bout some games… and stuff.
You will mostly find us non-natively English speaking/writing people talk about games and the current gaming scene, which will give you an insight at how different/similarly people from different places view the same thing. Also discussion on things like whats happening in the Narutoverse and maybe a rant or two by the authors here will be recurring features.
We will try to have podcasts regularly in which you can expect talks of the latest gaming news, and also about things that we like doing, like Manga/Anime discussions and maybe things on how different religion have different superheroes, who somehow have similarities with each other and anime characters. Oh yeah and don’t forget the Foreign accents!
So thats how its going to be, hope you all will have a nice time reading and listening to what we put up here in this blog. Feel free to comment/Compliment on our doings in any way you feel is right.
Thanks for Reading and see you all in next posts!
The Main Authors here for now are SM2099 and Reeteshifier you might know of them from their Gamespot profiles. All timings on the posts will be of GMT.