Laniakea

In the wake of the newly-released Laniakea paper I was inspired. 😀

Humbled and in awe
Just from the images he saw

Of the pearls of light
Making way through the dark and void

A sign, though abstract
Reminding him to not detract

Those mindful can tell
الله أعلى و أجل

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Radley Balko on the Militarization of America’s Police Force

VICE talks about why people fear/hate the police more and more, how the militarization of police and the increased use of force are signs that feedback loops are set up to make things worse. 🙁

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https://youtu.be/uTWy8tjTiTw

Next Future Terrifying Technology Will Blow Your Mind

An awesome talk with Bruce Schneier and Julian Sanchez. Asking just the right questions and giving and eyeopening view into what is possible even with todays technology.

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https://youtu.be/JbQeABIoO6A

Poetic APIs

During PyCon 2014 Erik Rose gave a very insightful talk about dos and don’ts of designing APIs. Towards the end he “gets meta” and groups all his points into categories drawing connections how different design goals influence each other. You see two main groups–”lingual” and “mathematical”–and he closes with this gem: 😀

This spotlights something that programming languages have over ordinary human languages. Programs are alive! They not only mean things when people read them, but they actually do things when run. So, very literally a program with carefully chosen symbols is poetry in motion.
— Erik Rose (PyCon 2014)

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KAZ: Pushing Product Placement

After reading on arstechnica about a new documentary called Kaz I was psyched to watch it. I’m no console player, but Gran Turismo is a household name by now. 😉 The documentary is about Kazunori Yamauchi the producer of this legendary game series. It promised insight into the thoughts and ambitions of a perfectionist mind funneled though the game making process to produce one of the most acclaimed racing car simulation games out there.

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But what I went to see was utterly disappointing!

I expected insight into the process of capturing the “soul” of complex machines–that cars have undeniably become–and how they managed to produce a “piece of art” (in a visual and “feeling of realism” sense) so that they each car they put into the game feels and acts subtly, but recognizably different. I expected something along the lines of creator’s vision, technical process and production anecdotes (very much like the Oral History of Street Fighter 2).

How do you capture the very tactile nature of car racing and delivering it through a gaming console?

How do you deliver the sense of speed and deafening sound into the living room?

How do you make this livable so that people really think they have tasted a drip of the real experience?

Wouldn’t this be interesting to know?

There have been very different but good examples set by companies like Blizzard or id Software when it comes to this. (I’m only counting one-way communication here. so only videos, talks, interviews, etc.)
I loved the battle reports before StarCraft 2 came out or interviews with game director Dustin Browder talking about balance changes and giving insight into their weighing and thinking in the process.
On the other side you have people like John Carmack do after-the-fact (sometimes very technical) analyses of games his company produced on both very specific or very broad game development issues.

I have seen several documentaries that try to capture the fascination of gaming from the players side (e.g. The King of Kong) as well as some that try to show how certain very prominent games were made (e.g. Indie Game, Minecraft).

But this is nothing like any of them. It is a string of sterile interviews, shots in random (“industrial” looking) sceneries, with people (at best) vaguely related to the game, the industry, racing, the film or anything.

  • There are a bunch of random interviews with arists/crafts(wo)men neither of whom is involved in gaming or racing or anything todo with the movie.
  • Product placement
  • Interviews with a young racers and their families and trainers who have basically nothing to do with the game.
  • Pointless and empty phrases by car company representatives, etc. (e.g. Kevin Hunter makes me cringe)
  • Product placement
  • Endless adulation on how successful the GTAcademy is, without really going into how they actually recruit and train drivers
  • Irritating camera action (e.g. useless depth changes in interviews), superfluous shots and scenes just for product placement
  • And the list goes on …
  • Did I mention the product placement?

The only glimpse of how the game was actually made were in two short scenes: where they show how they digitize tracks and an interview with one of the games’ visual designers working on a track’s scenery.

The interviews with “Kaz” are interesting if it wasn’t for the over-the-top and totally artificial settings. There are also some rather bizarre outdoor shots with him in a forest and in a traditional around-the-corner restaurant. They seem like they were forcefully inserted to create the facade of a “happy” and “balanced” person … which seems odd … having a rough idea of the kind of mindset in both the (Japanese) corporate and the general gaming world.

It seems they were desperate to make one of the biggest game company’s largest and probably most expensive game productions look like a inspiring one-man handcrafted artsy garage project.

They basically failed really hard to portray it like an indie game (in spirit). The blatantly obvious and nonsensical product placements didn’t help either. So for a film trying to capture “feeling” it is a rather “over-engeneered” PR tool. Basically Sony achieved with KAZ what Morgan Spurlock couldn’t with The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.

So thats why I’m angry … there is no feeling, no emotion, no insight in this film … it’s a piece coming out of a soulless marketing machine … sadly …