link love 07-28-08

July 28th, 2008

Tarantino’s Mind, a short film in which our protagonist reveals his insight into the movies of Quentin Tarantino.

The guys at Siliconera scanned the Mirror’s Edge comic that’s a Comic-Con giveaway from EA. Interesting aside, both the comic and game narrative are being penned by Rhianna Pratchett, Terry Pratchett’s daughter.

noise grid, removing the noise from gaming journalism. Sometimes, I really like noise. But sometimes, it’s nice to just read the news.

A conversation with Michael B. Johnson of Pixar, and, referenced in that conversation, an excellent interview Brad Bird did with McKinsey earlier this year. Our industry could learn a lot from these two guys.

Cool! The 2009 Nissan GT-R has a series of gauges designed by Kazunori Yamauchi, CEO of Polyphony and creator of Gran Turismo.

Music to Dry Your Eyes To: A Reply

July 24th, 2008

I had no intention of writing this. Having finished Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII last night, I was preparing my writeup and browsing Simon Parkin’s site, digging for his Eurogamer review that touched on a couple points I wanted to respond to.

Instead, I found his Music to Dry Yours Eyes To (and part 2) and listened to his selections. I began to think about the especially affecting songs I’ve come across, and, after basking in their associated melancholy and nostalgia for a bit, wrote this list.

While building this list, I realized that most of these are not necessary sad so much as they are hopeful songs. Some are empowered by personal events and history; others, the ones I find most interesting professionally, draw their strength in their coordination with film, by their place in a well-tuned recipe of story, cinematography, and sound. All of them would be suitable for driving alone in the dark, after a good rain.

Listed mostly in the order that I remembered them, which may mean something.
[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNwkjyDwzTE]
1. Michel Legrand (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) – I Will Wait For You

I’ll start by saying that most of these songs are less make me cry and more of the lump in the throat variety. Except for this one. Hearing it for the first time while watching The Umbrellas of Cherbourg late at night after an argument with my wife… oh man. It’s a beautiful and sad song within a perfect film. Connie Francis’ English version was particularly effective in Futurama, too.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bcj1Y2C5z9o]
2. The Sundays – Here’s Where the Story Ends

An almost embarrassing entry… for me personally, it’s the trash and tribulations of high school rolled up tightly into song form. The entirety of Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic is, really, but especially this song.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4Y5TmAUNNU]
3. Mercedes Sosa – Unicornio

Seen here in the form I discovered it, as the backbone of Won Kar Wai’s short film The Follow for BMW. Silvio Rodríguez’ original tale of love and revolution is just as moving. The lyrics follow:

My blue unicorn, I lost it yesterday.
I left it grazing and it disappeared.
Any information, I will pay for it well.
The flowers that it left behind don’t want to talk to me.

My blue unicorn, I lost it yesterday,
I don’t know if it left me, or if it got lost,
and I don’t have but one blue unicorn.
If anyone’s got any news, I beg to hear them.
A hundred thousand or a million, I will pay.
My blue unicorn, I lost it yesterday,
it went away.

My unicorn and I became friends,
a little bit with love, a little bit with truth.
With its indigo horn it was fishing for a song
knowing how to share it was its calling.

My blue unicorn, I lost it yesterday,
and it may seem perhaps like an obsession
but I don’t have but one blue unicorn
and even if I had two I only wanted that one.
Any information, I will pay for it,
My blue unicorn, I lost it yesterday,
it went away.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efa57aZ8K0w]
4. Berlin – The Metro

I don’t know what it is about “The Metro,” but it just hits me when I hear it. I can’t help but empathize with the subjects. Is this a sad song for anyone else, or just another poppy tune from the 80s?
[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8t1eNaM83c]
5. EBTG – My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains

If there’s one thing that Everything but the Girl especially excels at, it’s writing thoughtful and depressing songs. I love them, and this is one of my favorites. It seems most of the depressing moments in my life are linked to an EBTG song in one way or another.

[youtube:http://youtube.com/watch?v=4N3N1MlvVc4]
6. Gary Jules – Mad World

Thanks for the marketing machine behind Gears of War, if you missed the 1980s and passed on Donnie Darko, you’ve still most likely heard “Mad World.” Like Peter Shilling and “Major Tom,” this is one of those songs that stands out from a repertoire that otherwise doesn’t really grab me. The Tears for Fears original is a nice tune, but Jules nailed it with this version.
[youtube:http://youtube.com/watch?v=fKBmORMwcxI]
7. New Order – Elegia

I’m unable to separate this one from More, Mark Osborne’s 1998 short film. More tells the story of a factory worker and inventor who longs for the happiness of his youth, and the somber and brooding “Elegia” fits it perfectly.

[youtube:http://youtube.com/watch?v=sfBw0IWwO5U]
8. DCFC – I Will Follow You Into The Dark

“If there’s no one beside you when your soul embarks, then I’ll follow you into the dark.”

Gulp. No life moments or memories attached to this one… it’s just a plain good thoughtful song, one of Ben Gibbard’s best.
[youtube:http://youtube.com/watch?v=N8uXWMNriio]
9. Faye Wong – Eyes On Me

I’ve yet to play Final Fantasy VIII, for which Nobuo Uematsu originally wrote the song, so I’m interested in seeing if and how my perception of “Eyes On Me” changes once I do. I’ve been a fan of Faye Wong since I saw her in Chungking Express, and this is one of the few English language songs she sings.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBXr15K2uSc]
10. Les Balayeurs Du Desert – Decollage

I discovered this song in the clip above, accompanying video of the wonderful Sultan’s Elephant public art installation by Royal de Luxe several years ago. It’s a sweet, thoughtful, and curious song, and for me, quite moving.

[youtube:http://youtube.com/watch?v=jmQ88PWzvR0]
11. Zbigniew Preisner – Song for the Unification of Europe

A beautiful song from a beautiful movie, Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Bleu. With verses inspired by 1 Corinthians 13, the song is central to the plot of the film, with the scene above (the finale, so uh, spoilers) a key moment of realization.

Though I speak with the tongues of angels,
If I have not love…
My words would resound with but a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophesy…
And understand all mysteries…
and all knowledge…
And though I have all faith
So that I could remove mountains,
If I have not love…
I am nothing.
Love is patient, full of goodness;
Love tolerates all things,
Aspires to all things,
Love never dies,
while the prophecies shall be done away,
tongues shall be silenced,
knowledge shall fade…
thus then shall linger only
faith, hope, and love…
but the greatest of these…
is love.

And, as Simon ended his, these are my choices. How about you?

Highlights from the show.

July 21st, 2008

So, for the few of you that haven’t been so inundated with news from E3 that you’ve said screw it and marked everything in your RSS reader as read, here are the things that really stood out for me this year.

Mirrors Edge continues to impress me, and has become the title I’m most looking forward to. Something very different from the folks that brought us the Battlefield series, I really hope EA allows DICE to shine this one up. The design is smart and the direction and story appear to be solid (hell, even the trailer provokes emotion). I think this one has the potential to be one of the landmark titles of the current generation. So far, hands-on impressions have been consistently glowing.

I Am Alive came from out of the blue, and so far little is known about the game other than that you play as Adam, an earthquake survivor in a ravaged Chicago. My personal interest in this is that the just trying to survive the cataclysmic events gameplay (think War of the Worlds, in the role of the narrator) is something I’ve been thinking a bit about, and now that Ubisoft is out the gate, I’m keenly interested in seeing how they approach it.

The Xbox 360 as a Netflix ready device announcement was enough to push me to cancel my long standing Greencine account and make the move to Netflix. I’ve since tried the streaming on my PC, and the quality is acceptable (it varies depending on bandwidth) in exchange for the convenience of an immediate stream. Not every film in the Netflix library can be watched this way, but the selection is growing. Currently, in a queue of just under 300 movies, 41 can be immediately streamed, although I’m guessing that’s skewed downward from the norm due to my preference for more offbeat fare.

Not Quite a Highlight

I really feel for the poor guys at Bungie. Building up to a big reveal at E3 most likely meant a lot of stress and late nights in the weeks leading up to the show. Usually there’s the payoff at the end, but to suddenly have your legs swept out from under you… that could not have been pleasant.

And Finally

Flower might be brilliant, Left 4 Dead is going to be a must-buy, and I’m thrilled about Chrono Trigger DS.

Anything at E3 really catch your eye?

link love 07-16-08

July 16th, 2008

Not-just-stuff-from-E3 edition.

Act I of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is up, and unless you are reading this right now, Act II or III might even be up too. But then, there might only be a day or two left until it’s pulled back down, so go watch it now!

Adam Isgreen has written a list of Game Design No-Nos. Please don’t do those things in that list, game designers of the world.

An interview with a few of the folks from Good Old Games, a classic game download service that’s starting up this fall. Here’s another interview at Gamecyte if you’re still craving words.

From that really smart guy at Lost Garden, a nice article that’s a little bit about Soul Bubbles but mostly about the opinion of experts and why game reviews are broken.

Lastly, Duke Nukem Trilogy. Wow. Just wow.

Playstation 3, first thoughts.

July 11th, 2008

Dear internet, this week I bought a Playstation 3.

While I’d been keeping an eye out for an original 60 gig for the whole hardware backwards compatibility thing, the local Game Crazy received a gently used 20 gig, one of the first series low end models lacking wifi, memory card reader, and the chrome trim of the 60, but fully compatible like its big brother. The price was right, and my resolve weak, so I took it home, threw in a 120 gig drive, and got to work rearranging the entertainment center to fit the new addition into the mix.

Several hours later I was greeted with the orchestral hello and the discovery that my receiver hates the PS3. None of the interface tones within the XrossMediaBar and Playstation Store can be heard, something to do with the lack of a continuous audio source via the optical hookup. It’s a known occurrence and a bit of a pain, but I’ll live with it. The audio quality otherwise is outstanding.

I initially thought I’d scored when a disc slid out upon initial startup, only to be dismayed upon learning that it was Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights. Still, a free game is a free game, and it’s got Ursula Mayes, so I guess that counts for something.

Blu-Ray performance is nice, and the PS3 is a respectable DVD player as well, although the Oppo will remain in the entertainment center for now. The Blu-Ray version of Robocop (always remember your first theatrical boobs) is a solid-enough transfer with admirable audio, but apart from a trailer, lacks any sort of extras or commentary.

As far as available PS3 titles go, nothing immediately screams at me. Metal Gear Solid 4 is a no-brainer, but I’ll wait on that until I’ve finished the first three. I was given a copy of Heavenly Sword at one of the conventions last year, so that’s on deck once it finds its way back home. Apart from those, Ratchet & Clank Future, Resistance, and Uncharted are on the list, and from the PSN I’m likely to pick up PixelJunk Monsters, Super Stardust HD, and maybe a couple other shooters. I’ll admit, the majority of my game time on the console (for now) will be with previous generation titles. I’ve still got a lot of catching up to do.

So, Sony-savvy readers, what else should I play?