Friday, March 26, 2010

Solid but unimaginative title

Bit late in the week but here I am. As the first wave of cracked commentary courses through the atmosphere I am reminded that it's nice to have football as a weekly fixture. Then again, as Monfries lines up for goal I'm reminded of how much I fucking hate it.

Anyway, it's been a puzzling week as I can't recall much of it. Everything past Tuesday is something of a blur. Melbourne's weather continues to defy conventional logic in that the longer the day goes the hotter it gets, to the point where it was a balmy low twenties only to hit a preposterous 31 by about 11pm on Thursday.

Still, I press on. Again not much in the way of PhD-ing this week, though I did just dribble some musings about student interest levels in game development and potential disillusionment. Got a whack of marking done though, so money in the bank.

I have recently taken a more active interest in religious debate for some reason. I watched the mauling delivered by Hitchens and Fry to Ann Widdecombe and an archbishop and determined that religion will be always be on the back foot in such debates for two reasons: one, their position is basically indefensible according to the laws of the observable universe as we know it. Two, the case against invariably features the services of those blessed with both notable intellectual capacity and the ability to verbally impart any thoughts they might have on the subject. Hitchens and Fry are two such luminaries and they, in debating terms, tore the opposing argument a new arse so big it'd trail a red windsock in a stiff breeze.

One day soon something will occur to me that is so remarkable, so inventive, I will be unable to resist getting fingers to keyboard in order to disseminate this sparkling insight. It's not today though. Image is unrelated.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Young minds

Back into teaching over the last fortnight and I am reminded (in part) why I am doing what I am doing, or attempting to do. Several students expressed to me a desire (hey hey) to become game designers, clearly having only the vaguest of notions about that which they aspire to be. It's not an issue just yet, as they are first years and therefore not expected to know anything of substance.

The issue that arises from these sort of misconceptions is that students are inevitably disheartened when they find out that the catchall term 'game designer' actually means any number of roles under the design umbrella. They declare they can't draw and don't like or have never considered programming, so want to 'make games'. Their notion of an all powerful conceptualization behemoth that stalks the halls of devcos, distributing consignments of game dev wisdom to the hapless grunts that fashion those pearls of ingenuity into a flawed reality, is, unfortunately for them, rather wide of the mark.

My advice to one such student was a somewhat pithier version of the above; game designers of the ilk to which they refer are highly experienced, having contributed to the production of numerous titles before progressing to a more senior role. These designers are therefore unlikely to be selected from the slavering hulk of massed graduates from any one of the substandard educational offerings currently on, er, offer.

I reflected on the fact that the design role is the sexy one and understandably so in the mind of the student; you create, you delegate, you watch your creation take shape. Of course, the reality is rather different and the collaborative nature of game development offers all team members an opportunity to provide input, not just the man or woman with the title. On top of that, there are numerous roles within the design realm that are typically lumped together under the designer epithet. Still, from a hazy consumer perspective (one which until quite recently this new batch of students all shared) the industry tends to cast that aura about the design role.

My point (and I will eventually arrive at one) is that perceptions are clearly an issue when students consider their potential careers. The cannier kiddies will have sussed out their prospective post and have a fair idea of the realities of game dev, but it's the less perceptive ones who risk devoting three years of their life to this long held aspiration, only find that they've misinterpreted the tealeaves, if in fact they ever boiled a pot in the first place.

Perhaps that's natural selection at play; after all, not every student will have the wherewithal to succeed. Game development, as I am currently discovering, is not easy. In fact, it's fucking hard. Still, one can't help but feel that students should be aware of the realities before they dive in. Universities have to attract bodies and will use the most attractive carrot available to get them. If the role of Game Designer is that coruscant carrot, it feels disingenuous to me.

*image is unrelated, really.
I searched for game design
and got this. Game design!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Good timing and a sense of theatre makes for a solid hitout at Golden Plains

If there was any doubt about the contrary nature of Victorian weather, it was at turns washed away and burned alive between Saturday and Monday at Golden Plains. Despite the at times torrential whale of precipitation that permeated the majority of the weekend, I managed to earn a reasonable shade of sunburn. No matter. We had a big group and big ambitions, most of which were dashed once the first couple of dabs flittered across the collective brow of the festival going masses. We set up camp, erected the traditional flag of Guam and reassessed. Adjustments were made to initial expectations and a jolly good time was had by all except Bec 2 who was unconscious for most of Sunday night yet suffered no hangover whatsoever. Crivens!

Dinosaur Jr were enormous. The J. Mascis plastered across the jumbo screen behind the band seemed a more fitting size given the scale of the sound he produced. My musical knowledge is limited to Rivers of Babylon on a Casio, but, as I understand it, a stack of amps the combined size of a bull elephant will have that sort of effect. Feel The Pain was rather fucking fantastic, fast too. Pavement I had only a vague recollection of which was a personal hindrance. Patrons who appeared to be of a similar age to me were nodding sagely at each other as the opening chords of the next song rang out; despite being present for the whole set, I couldn't help but feel I was missing something significant.

Midnight Juggernauts churned out by far the best set I'd seen in three sightings and probably pipped Dinosaur Jr for best in show. Vincent Vendetta set sail across an ocean of hands during Into The Galaxy and as if on cue a sailor's hat was produced from the crowd. Vendetta, having donned his recently acquired Popeye style gobcap, aspied no hospitable outcrop on his journey south so came about, the wind at his back and the stage in sight. Some rough weather was cause for unbalance (someone threw what appeared to be a bucket of water in his face) but he docked safely and finished the set. I was hoping the rest of the band would break into the nautical interlude from Six Months In A Leaky Boat while Vendetta did his Jesse Martin impersonation but it wasn't to be. Shortly before their set began, the heavens opened and rain, er, rained down at a fair old pace for 15 minutes or so. We wisely retreated to the marquee at hilltop but bolted down for the start of the set which coincided with the rain stopping.

Cruel Sea or more specifically Tex Perkins were assured, Big Pink finished on an unsurprising but anthemic note with Dominoes, and Super Wild Horses were clunky but spirited and fun. Then, there was Monotonix. Monotonix were utterly ridiculous. It was posited to me that if you vomited into a bowl, fed it to Wolfmother and recorded the sound of them defecating, you'd approach something like Monotonix. Music was hardly the point though; when you can play drums held aloft by a crowd of people in the pouring rain, I'd doubt many punters would be bothered about the quality of songwriting.

In non musical news, I missed the all female nude mudwrestling final, but was witness to the traditional ranga rally at the base of the pink tree. My brother tried to infiltrate the ranga ranks but was decapped by a swarthy scarlet enforcer who alerted him to the perils of pursuing this ill-advised deception. That wasn't what he actually said, obviously. People went missing, were found, lost again and I managed to regain feeling in my feet once the Juggernauts were done. I'll go again next year I think.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

If myzus persicae were elected, would he combat the healthcare crisis?

Gosh good heavens and ello ello. It has been over a week since my last confes-er, blog. Has much happened in the intervening hours betwixt musings? Not really. Actually, I sell myself short. I started the week in a blaze of flaxen discontent and apathy and gradually gathered momentum to finish on a reasonable note if such a thing exists. I have collected a generous assortment of articles on GDE which puts a hole in my previous theory that little if any existed. In my defence, many of these articles have appeared post-assertion, so I can't be too hard on me. I'm feeling a bit stream of consciousness-y.

In addition to an earlier line of thought (much earlier), what if aphids suddenly gained the intellectual capacity to form a government? What effect would the addition of this literal dot on the political landscape have on state or even federal affairs? Admittedly, being somewhere in the range of 1 to 3 millimetres in length, an aphid government's geopolitical clout is somewhat diminished.

They might govern over an area the size of a Royal Doulton pin dish with tiny bureaucratic efficiency and brandish a rapid policy cycle, but would surely suffer numerous ill effects; that of governance over a largely transient population; said population is partially composed of constituents many times their size and with a potential interest in ingesting candidates regardless of election promises; they are aphids. Despite these potential drawbacks, the notion of an aphid government bears analysis up to a point. Beyond that, the idea is revealed to be pretty fucking ridiculous. Where would you get cameras small enough for the press conferences? Rallies would be held in thimbles, it'd be madness. Absolve me fadda.