Video Game Theory

It has been becoming fairly obvious to me that the video game industry is growing stagnate. Most games are either sequels or rip-offs of successful games. I understand why sequels are actually a good thing since they tend to mean that a product can be perfected. However, most games this year have reached their 4th iteration and show few signs of letting up. I'd say that is mostly a sign of greedy corporations that are scared of innovation and of innovators who are scared to try new things.

There is also a trend towards making games more "accessible", which results in making games too easy. I think game companies try to make their games accessible as to allow for a larger audience, which means more money. This does not however mean the game is any better. In most games the ideas of a "health bar" or lives have been completely eliminated. This isn't a horrible design decision by itself since the idea of having "lives" in a game was weird to start with. I think the decision to removes lives and such was made to reduce frustration. I don't think these type of decisions should be made from the point of eliminating a problem that resulted from the initial game design. The game design needs to be rethought from the beginning to prevent the frustration.

What I am attempting to get at is what I see as the purpose of video games. I see video games as fundamental a method of teaching and then testing the player. The progression through the game is simply a learning process. What I see as the downfall of many video games is that they assume that they are attempting to allow players to "play" a movie. To create for themselves a cinematic experience. I believe that movies and video games are very different media's that shouldn't be confused and video games should never attempt to replicate a film.

If we look at videos in the context of them being learning processes it becomes obvious why some games are successful and others aren't. Why are first person shooters becoming less successful? Because players have been learning the same thing over, and over and over and over and over again. Hundreds of games have gone over how to "push A to jump", "press right trigger to fire". Most games attempt to add in a little bit of a gimmick to this learning formula, whether it is squad tactics or neat powers in BioShock.

But take Rockband for example. This is a dream learning process. Three new controllers to learn to use. Tons of songs that are easily separated into different difficulties and it is easy to test the players on their ability. It is no wonder that this game is hyper successful.

So the question needs to be rephrased for game makers. For a long time they thought they wanted to tell stories, when in actual fact they just keep trying to teach players how to play a FPS. The question needs to be - What should we teach the player?



Well apparently not all things created by Pixar are going to be spectacular. And I am even more confused by the worlds review system. How can Wall-e possibly attain the scores it is getting, and how can Speed Racer be so easily overlooked.

I think the fundamental issue is that when creating you can either simply make things and they turn out to be good, or you can make things that seem good, and most likely aren't.

I was watching a documentary about the making of the film Bambi, and they were reading transcripts of the story meetings that took place. And a one point, one of the storymen actually said something to the effect that "we are doing this to make the film look like a good movie". Many creators fall into the trap of simply thinking if they recreate what they think is great, they will make something great. This is simply not true.

For the first time in a Pixar movie I got the feeling that the creators thought more about what seemed great than what was right for the film.

Here are just a few of the things I thought were well done and not so well done.

Wall-e the character was extremely well done. The animation was funny, and his personality was enjoyable. But that was really all there was to him.

The story was disjointed. At one point I thought it was a love story, but it turns into a very badly resolved story about civilization that detracts from the love story. Pixar was able to make a perfectly good movie about cars that had no humans in it. What would be so hard about keeping the people out of it?

Many parts of the story were mainly focused on gross over-generalizations about the state of our world, but I never felt any real truth about the situation.

The thing I thought was most enjoyable about this film was actually the short that was played before the film. It is the first time in a long time that I have really felt I could appreciate animation entirely based off of the "gag".

Well at least there was one good film this summer. Can't say I am looking forward to anything else.


Believing Yourself

Well I recently have been thinking about what it means to believe in oneself.

According to common knowledge self-esteem is directly related to believing in yourself. And pretty much everything else stems from self esteem.

I've always been sure that I believe in myself and that I have exorbitant amounts of self-esteem. But when I started to delve into the question of believing yourself I hit a wall.

The wall was this. If you can lie to yourself, but you have complete faith in yourself, you will be believing a falsity. And generally, I attempt to stay away from untruths and lies.

So the question has turned into: Do I ever lie to myself? I thought about it long and hard and realized I could easily lie to myself about the question itself. Yes, I do lie to myself.

So, I was then stuck in a dilemma between believing in myself fully and telling myself lies. It was at this time that I began to recognize a new interpretation of what I consider belief in oneself. I no longer consider my thoughts as what I need to believe in. They are going to be both lies and truth, covering a complete range inbetween. The part of myself that I can still hold accountable and which I still believe in is the part that observes those thoughts. The part of me that tries to check every thought for it's validity or for lies, is the part that I believe in. No matter how badly I fail, or the stupid things I say or do. It is so far back in my mind, with such a distance to my external reality that nothing ever comes even close to scratching my belief in it.

It is protected by the knowledge that everything can't turn out right. That I can make mistakes and still have a chance to learn things in the future. It is actually protected from accountability since it never generates it's own actions or ideas, it simple observe those that go before it.

It is me at my most fundamental core, yet you can never actually see it. It like trying to see the inside of a brick. Every time you break it, you only create more surface. (analogy courtesy or Mr. Feynman (he used the brick in a completely different example)).


Car Jacking

A brief story from the road trip.

Coming home we stopped in Innisfail at a mall. When we were leaving, I went ahead to unlock the car. As I approach the car I pressed the remote unlock when I was about 6 paces away from the driver door. At the same instant, a woman approaching from the other side, much closer to the door, started to approach the door and lean in to open it.

First my mind took an account of what the woman looked like. Probably 50 years old. Paint splattered shirt. Frazzled looking hair. Didn't rule out some sort of criminal.

No obvious threat. First action taken. Lunging steps to close distance to the car.

Next thought. How could she steal my car if I have the keys on the outside... I don't know... Some sort of scheme I don't want to see play out might exist... I should stop this right now.

Second action taken. Slam partially open door shut and say extremely sternly "EXCUSE ME"

The women is completely horrified. But immediately realizes her mistake.

I realize her mistake. Threat averted. Begin emergency apology protocol.

There is another black car parked two spaces down from mine, also with remote key unlock. We had pressed the buttons simultaneously and she had heard the unlock sound, furthering the illusion.

At least I didn't tackle her.


Road Trip Anatomists

Tiff, Sarah and I drove up to Edmonton to see the Body Works Exhibition that is being held there.

The Body Works exhibition is probably something that most people should see. There are tons of reasons to go. I won't even go into them.

But as for my reaction to the show, here it is.

I felt a very different reaction to these bodies than the ones that I saw at the anatomy lab. I actually had a very difficult time and never really succeed in seeing any of the pieces as actual people. They mostly ended up seeming to be exceptionally well craft anatomy models. Exceptionally well crafted anatomy models are worth seeing, but they offer something much different than the lab. I felt the lab offered a better understanding of what bodies actually were. They are bags of flesh held together around loosely linked bones, all wrapped in more bags, and filled with some more watery stuff.

The body exhibition left me with more a feeling of chiseled and sculpted forms. They are posed to suggest dynamism, but generally fall short.

I do realize the purpose of these two experiences is different, but I think one is much more powerful.

Here are some notable sketchs from the trip.


Learning to cook

Well my parents left for a two week vacation. And my brother left for a two week architecture camp (and he doesn't live at home anyways). And I have been watching Hell's Kitchen.

So now is the perfect time to learn to cook. The reasons for this are as follows.

1. I am cooking for myself. I don't have to worry about making others eat horrible food. I really don't care how bad it tastes since I only have myself to blame.

2. No one to tell me what to do. I can go at cooking exactly how I want to.

3. A lot of time to clean up and practice before having to show anyone any finished products.

So I have been approaching my cooking in the following way. Decided on one dish per night and shop for that dish on the way home from my work. I don't yet have the skills to really try to make lots of things at once. And if I did, I couldn't concentrate very well on the important things, and the learning would be hampered.

I've been vaguely following recipes, from 3 cook books at once.

I have made Risotto, Falafels, Braised Chicken, and Vegetable soup.

All were successes, except the soup was a little bland.

I would welcome dish suggestions. I don't care how hard it is as long as it isn't some 12 days process with millions of ingredients. Recipes aren't necessary, though if you have a good one I wouldn't mind receiving it.


Going to the Moon

I recently watched the documentary "In the Shadow of the Moon". What it made me realize was that we all need to reconsider the reasoning behind space travel.

I think the general consensus is the reason we go to space is for science. It's all about experiments and tests, and exceptionally nerdy people going up in laboratories. What I think most people and scientists realize, and they don't want to admit, is that people are not necessary for doing science in space. The fundamental truth is that what is true on earth, is true everywhere else, so no real discoveries really need to happen anywhere else.

A few scientists can get genuinely excited about the space program. But a few scientist being excited really only amounts to the current space program. Which is a dying shuttle, a space laboratory, and a few robots to mars...

Why not go to space for the simple reason of going to space? I don't think we need a really "good" reason to go. If we needed a good reason to go, I would argue with you to justify 50% of the things you do regularly.

I think it is nearly time for space to be handed over to the artist. The scientist had a good try at it, but I think it is our turn. Why haven't there been any artists on the Space Station? It's not like their actually curing cancer up there or anything.



I realized after reading this article on computer programming, why I've always enjoyed programming and why I enjoy many of the things I do.

What is programming?

The pointed expressed in the article is that the key to programming is knowing how to do something. It is not simply being able to do something.

It is actually not necessary to be able to do anything, it is only important to understand how to do something.

I find myself always becoming extremely enthused about how to do something. I will go to the ends of the earth, or the internet, to find out how to do something. But once that is figured out, and simply the doing is left over I generally become more interested in my next search.

After thinking about this idea in relation to my goal of becoming an animator, I am actually very optimistic that I have made a good choice of careers. Animation is really a question of how. How am I going to make the characters move. How am I going to make a computer make characters visually. How am I going to make this story work. And most of those questions are only answered once the final product is finished. So once I have finished what I am currently working on, there will be little need to worry about the simple fact of doing, since the final product can really be found at the end.



If you know me, you've never heard me swear. You've never read a swear I wrote (except one person, in one MSN conversation).

The question is why not.

Well the first and most obvious answer is: I follow rules. It must have started simply with being a good kid, but somehow it got built right into my core. I don't follow rules blindly, but I definitely don't break rules arbitrarily. So not swearing came very naturally.

But as I have grown up, and as my friends and other people I know started to swear, I could never do it. At first it was simply the rules kicking in. But I have slowly realized that I've never come across a situation where a swear would be effective and appropriate.

When I have thought out arguments or disputes in my head before they have occurred, I have come across spaces where I thought a swear might fit perfectly. But then as the imaginary dispute plays over again, I realize that I still wouldn’t mean what I was saying, since the situation still would never be dire enough to necessitate a swear.

I guess that I think of swears in the same way I think of coffee. By not using it now, it will only be more effective when I really need it (I guess the same goes for antibiotics). Though this thinking results in never actually drinking coffee and never swearing (except I do drink coffee when I don’t need it, like on vacations, or when I am drawing in coffee shops).

As for exceptions to me swearing, I am open to using them in art, film or performance, but as of yet, it has never come up as a real problem.


Indiana Jones


I think I actually say that with great pleasure since it means good things for me. Which I can get to at the end of the post.

The new Indie movie is a joke. If the creators of this movie actually know what they made, then they are actually maniacally in their underground bunkers at George Lucas's ranch.

This movie has no point. There is no central idea to which this film leads. Unless of course if it is a commentary on the downfall of the current state of Hollywood. Or a commentary on capitalism VS communism. Or trying to be propaganda to those who sit right in the middle and can't make up their minds.

What is in this movie is a really interesting premise. The premise I speak of is that of characters to which everything always works out. Bullets always miss. Nuclear explosions are easily survived. No matter what, everything always will turn out.

But a premise is not a film. You could say something pretty profound if you had characters who always won, and then they lost, and there was a point. I could see that being a really neat movie. Speedracer actually works with a similar premise of things always working out. But no, not in this film.

In many ways this film is even offensive. The filmmakers thought it was important to show the audience that a single monkey, thrown off a cliff, grabbed onto a branch and survived. But the fact that roughly 500 tribes people are slaughtered is simply brushed off as a side effect of evil communists.

So why does such a bad movie mean good things for me. The critics gave Indie an average rating of 65. They gave Speedracer a rating of 37.

This means that the industry has no idea what is good. It means studios are scrambling to come up with anything. It means the competition at the moment isn't too stiff. It means times are changing. Film is changing. George and Steven, please leave. Lets get the hooks out. Get off the stage.



Sarah and I recorded some music while we were jamming at Princes Island Park. Here is the first of many songs.

Link to Download

This is mostly just a test to see if I can post this stuff online succesfully.

Comment so I know the system works.