Now Playing Tracks

A New Obsession

What with moving cities and houses twice, things have been a tad hectic.  Now I’m fully settled into my new flat, perhaps I shall find the time to complete some projects good enough to put up here. 

Most of my time recently has been eaten up playing obsessive amounts of D&D of the Pathfinder variety.  This has given me an idea, to compose the soundtrack to my players adventures, retroactively.  Currently working on about 3 different songs at once in my “Kaer Maga Suite,” hopefully something will be up soon :)

Minor Setbacks

A few updates: Technical difficulties have severely postponed my latest musical project, a collaboration with http://mulusgemit.tumblr.com/ that I am having a lot of fun with when my laptop cooperates.  

Apparently you can no longer grab clips of Halo:Reach games from the internet, a feature I used to love but apparently having been using lately, as I’m about the last person on the internet to find out.  This means Halo:Reach game night project is cancelled until we get a decent DVD recorder, as the one we recently recieved just flat out won’t work.

However, I now have a Twitter.  I’m still learning how this whole internet thing works, but bear with me, I’ll get there eventually. 

Meanwhile, working on writing some more rants, so tell your friends about me!

  • Track Name

    Only You Remix

  • Artist

    Peter Walter

Aaaand here’s the next step in the process, the slightly more worked update of my first post up on Tumblr.  The reason it took me so long to go any further with this song is largely due to my search for lyrics, I felt this music worked rather well as an intro, a build up to the first verse.  Eventually I said “fuck it” and decided to stick with I know, so what we have here is a series of themes that more or less segway into each other, mostly written in the early hours of this morning.  A friend described this as telling a story, and each new theme seemed to add another episode to the story.  I rather like this concept, this is largely the reason why even at its heft 5 minute length, it just still doesn’t feel finished.  Maybe another instalment will be written down the line, but for the moment I think I’ll exercise my muscles in some other areas first.

Agency and How it Can Fuck With You

For those of you who don’t know, I play a lot of video games.  Back when I was 15, the only games I had played were Age of Empires 2 and Star Wars: Math.  Considering this, I’ve covered quite a lot of ground in the last 4 years.  A consequence of this is I lack the the nostalgia most of my peers seem to hold, and therefore don’t worship IP’s such as Zelda, Pokemon, or Mario.  I am also fascinated with the evolution of video games, and how quickly they are developing as an artistic medium, or rather, should be.

A little more context perhaps: my first experience of beating a game from beginning to end (games like Star Wars: Battlefront or Age of Empires don’t really qualify as having an end)  was the original Assassins Creed.  I knew enough about video games to determine that what was in front of me was the future of the industry.  Interactive storytelling, an immersive and complex plot, and a degree of freedom from running across rooftops and stabbing people - that felt truly amazing.  The mechanics manifest the central theme of the game.  I also recognised it was rather buggy, and had a serious jonesing for some variety to be injected into about 90% of the gameplay.

Some games are pure mindless fun, some bring to bear serious themes and convey deep messages, and some go that extra mile and fool the player into believing the universe they suddenly find themselves in.  I find myself inspired by these games, and I cannot help but notice opportunities to produce more are being squandered.  Rather, more and more funding is being poured into advertising and graphical upgrades to try and rival Modern Warfare 3’s box office record.

I recognise that companies ultimately want to make money.  However, if gaming is to be considered as something more than just a hobby or basic form of entertainment, we have to approach it as not a business, but an art.  For that is what it is/should be.  At the risk of sounding pretentious (there’s no risk) I will continue to update this blog with what I think are rather artistic or thought provoking games, typically the kind you can play for free in your browser.

However, I’m going to veer off topic slightly and focus on games that have an emphasis on choice, where you can change certain outcomes of the game through your choices or at the very least, have the illusion that your choices make a difference.  This, I think, exploits one of the greatest strengths that gaming has as a medium, agency.  Despite frustrating mechanics and a horrific UI, Mass Effect was a pretty stand up game. It was in a lore-deep universe with choices that genuinely changed gameplay elements.  Spec Ops: The Line was able to drive its point home much more aggressively. [due to the fact] It had often tricked you, the player, into committing the atrocious acts it was criticising rather than showing them in some cutscene.

I personally want to write/design games that focus on the element of choice, then using [that] choice against them later on.  However, I recognise that giving players unlimited choice is technically very unfeasible, due to limitations in programming and what-not.  This is why I want to learn to program.  To learn the limitations that exist, and how to work around them.  To learn how to create at least an illusion that the player has complete control over the protagonist and their actions.  The more immersed the audience are, and the more they project themselves onto their character, the more shocking it is when you pull the rug out from underneath them.

Imagine a plot like Inception or The Count of Monte Cristo, where you yourself were the main character, driving the plot forward through your own actions.  The inevitable tragic end would be completely your own fault, and therefore mean more than just witnessing a fictional character experience these events.  Also, let’s be honest, a game of Inception would just be fucking awesome.

Inane rantings by Peter Walter
Edited heavily by Cassandra Polosak

Priorites

Still working on about 6 unfinished musical projects, but this weekend me and some buddies had a few drinks, played some Halo:Reach, and recorded the whole thing.  Maybe something good will come of this, maybe not.  

In terms of Video games, am working on convincing my flatmate to let me borrow his laptop so I can record some Minecraft, but I have also just bought Mass Effect 3, so I probably won’t be playing much else anytime soon.  For any Mass Effect multiplayer fiends out there: my gamertag is Pinkie1172, let’s roll.  

Music and Lyrics

So recently I have been revisiting a lot of the songs I wrote when I was younger and trying to revamp them to my current style, (and level of technology.)  But I have come unstuck where it becomes blatantly obvious that this is a song that needs lyrics, and I am unable to come up with anything decent.  I got the singing and the melody line down I reckon, but lyric writing is something I have always struggled with.  I only count one successful song of mine with lyrics, and even that one I have issues with.

So basically I’m putting a call out for a lyricist, someone I can work with in making music.  I realise I don’t exactly have a wide reach as of the moment, but I’m hoping that’s not too far off.

Let me know if you’re interested/know someone interested :) 

Depict1

G’day everyone, I thought I’d waste a quick few sentences introducing myself. I’m Peter,  I’m from New Zealand, a university student, and absolutely fascinated with video games. I plan for these entries to show some of my critique/thoughts on the video gaming industry in general, and my exact content/medium is liable to change.

As opposed to poetry, novel writing or whatnot, my chosen art form is video games, and although I have yet to obtain the skills necessary to create my own, I have searched far and wide for those games that represent to me the future of the industry, evidence that interactive video gaming is in itself an art form. 

I would like to bring to your attention a simple flash puzzle platformer available on Kongregate, (a site which essentially the Youtube of flash games), Depict1. Created by flash game developer Mirosurabu whose body of work includes some of the most bizzare shit I have ever seen, Depict1 throws you into the game with a tutorial who is lying to you, at least some of the time, leaving you to figure out most of the control keys for yourself. Even more frustrating are the occasions when the tutorial tells the truth, causing you to question the very premise of the game. A short (approximately 45 min) journey through an incredibly pixelated yet somehow Isaac Asimov feeling world, and what began as a gameplay gimmick turns into a central plot device, your guiding voice hints at a symbiotic relationship in between attempts to kill you, and the game world itself begins to lie to you, (some levels visual cues as to where you can safely stand being completely irrelevant to the actual layout). 

I won’t spoil the late game developments for you, but I guarantee that they are clever, contain an element of the well-loved mindfuck, and most importantly are well implemented through gameplay mechanics. One of the most unique things about video games as a medium is the concept of agency, the projective notion that  when we control events in the game it allows us to attach ourselves to the characters more,  and,  in the case of Depict1, directly project ourselves onto the protagonist. So often I see game developers squander amazing opportunites to tell the story through this agency, allow us to directly interact and control our character during important scenes, but it’s as if they are scared of allowing too much freedom to be given to the gamer, seizing control of the camera at certain points and breaking into cutscenes. This almost always breaks flow, and pulls the player out of any immersion they felt at the time. Obviously for the plot to advance fixed events must happen.  The trick is to make the player feel as if they are effecting/controlling these events even though they’re actually not. I look forward to the days when the dreaded cutscene no longer features in mainstream gaming. 

The player in Depict1 quickly discovers their one and only goal, to reach the end of each level and discovers what lies at the end of this journey. Once again I recommend you take this journey yourself, as the feeling of immersion despite terrible graphics and annoying sound effects is bizzarely pleasing, and the end result doubly so. There are multiple endings to Depict1, and the harder of the two requires problem solving never seen in mainstream gaming, something I sorely miss when I play my Xbox 360. 

So give the link a click (http://www.kongregate.com/games/mirosurabu/depict1?acomplete=depicton ) if you have a spare hour or so to spend solving puzzles and taking a mysterious journey into somewhat sci-fi realms, and let me know what you think. I am somewhat rusty in my writing as well, and would love any feedback you can give me in regards to my review/rant/thing on Depict1. Perhaps a better definition.

  • Track Name

    Short but Somewhat Finished

  • Artist

    Peter Walter

After not composing for almost two years (save for the occasional multi-track in Audacity) I found this program Mixcraft, and after 3 hours of fiddling, took the riff from the bridge of my first ever song and wrote this.  I was in love with electric piano back then, and still am, but as you can see several other instruments have joined my list of “favourite sounds.”

It’s generic, it’s repetitive, it’s short, but the sound is better than anything I’ve ever been able to achieve before due to limitations of my outdated software, so all up I’m quite proud of this little 1 minute piece.

Of course I intend to keep writing, to add on to the end of this piece and hopefully create something a little more sophisticated, but I’m still figuring out how to program in time signature changes.

To Tumblr, Love Pixel Union