Monthly Archives: February 2008

Descriptive stumbling blocks

I don’t know why I dislike analysing texts (Shakespeare especially for some reason!) and paintings so much. I started loathing it when I was doing my art A-Level, and one of the reasons I like the Impressionists so much is that their art is straightforward and about beauty and colour and joy. Painting’s like Renoir’s The Jardin d’Essai just leave me breathless. I’ve got to the stage in my documentation where I have to start putting down on paper exactly why I love the particular paintings I chose and why they influenced me so much and I’m having such a hard time doing it.

Renoir's The Jardin d'Essai, Algiers - 1881

I do love the contrast of the aquamarine + teal and burned gold, I love how the flashes of silvery white add such liveliness and character; it makes the piece seem perfect. I think the buildup of textures and strokes is masterfully executed, but even writing it down in this blog in the most informal way possible makes me cringe a little. It seems to cheapen the art and make it less, discussing it. I do wish I could work out why I think it’s so, because intellectually I know that a group of people discussing what they love most about a piece of art means everybody gets more out of it; some people might spot bits other people haven’t noticed and so on.

I enjoy discussing The Wire and certain books and so on, it just seems to be visual/aesthetic things like artwork or video that I have a bit of a block with (and Shakespeare and a lot of the classics). This next lot of documentation is going to be painful.

This is dent to my determination to get it done is not helped by my evil evil housemate introducing me to Professor Layton and the Curious Village which is seriously quite scarily addictive. I have a terrible weakness for puzzles and this fulfils that weakness in a very big way. The art is really cute and the dialogue is either terrible on purpose or written by somebody with a very dry sense of humour, either way it makes me laugh a lot. I do like it.

WordPress

My hosting – apis networks – has upgraded mysql and a bug means that all of my posts are brought up in back to front date order! Joy! I dread upgrading to the new wordpress which I think fixes it because of the amount of pain and hunting I went through trying to get Zenphoto working. Maybe after the dissertation is handed in…

Planescape Torment

Planescape Torment is the best RPG I’ve ever played. The combat system sucks and it seems to be as buggy as hell but oh the story more than makes up for it. You start off waking up in a mortuary, with no idea of who you are or how you got there. Slowly you start to uncover your past and the past of your companions (who you pick up along the way with the exception of a floating talking skull called Morte who’s turns out to be there with you in the mortuary). I wasn’t completely sold on it until the first sign you get of something being not quite right – more than waking up clueless I mean. But then betrayals, treachery, double crossing, love and hate and insanity galore – the plots are layered and woven with such depth I couldn’t stop playing for about 2 days solid.

Why do so few game companies realise the importance of hiring proper writers? Is it really the case, that linear half hearted/2 dimensional stories are the ones people prefer? I don’t really know, I mean I suppose going by what’s on TV that’s the case… The Wire for example has some really amazing writing in it but it doesn’t seem to be aired anywhere in the UK and I think up until recently even to get the DVDs you had to order from amazon america. My friend assures me that what sells are the tired old rehashes of previous titles, and that’s why there’s such a lack of innovation in the game industry. I’m not entirely convinced though. I recently (well, not actually recently, but since I last posted) played Portal and the dialogue in it was outstanding, and I’m pretty sure that’s a big hit. Apparently the only reason Valve can spend so much time and money hiring really good writers is that they have steam and were started by private funds or something?

And it’s funny, writers seem to really want to write compelling and absorbing plots rather than your standard trash, and all the gamers I know seem to want to play them (maybe I just move in very elite circles or something!). We even, you know, buy them! I just don’t understand how the best selling games of last year were all sequels to one game or another as far as I know (fifa, need for speed, pro evolution, the sims).