Minority Opinions

Not everyone can be mainstream, after all.

Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Memetic Tangents

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A recent internet sensation has independently infected both my office and my home.  It doesn’t grab me as much as it seems to grab everyone else, but I’m intrigued by another video from the same group.  One where a couple get together over a shared interest, then scream and swear their plains for a reasonable life together.  A life not entirely unlike my own.

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Written by eswald

8 Oct 2013 at 9:29 pm

Humble Opinions

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Many of my favorite games are free, but I’m not opposed to spending a few bucks here and there.  I just find it embarrassing to tell my spouse, and paralyzing to think of everything else I could and should be paying for.  So it took me until the ninth Humble Indie Bundle to actually bring myself to send some money their way.  Contributing some to charity helps me feel much better about the whole operation.

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Written by eswald

24 Sep 2013 at 9:10 pm

Posted in Entertainment

What is Art?

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My spouse’s family entertains occasional debates about whether certain painters are or are not artists, or at least whether their paintings are or are not art.  I would hesitate to call my paintings art, which has made me ponder the question of what I mean by that.

Art, to me, is designed to connect the audience with the artist on an emotional level.  There are easier and harder ways to do so, simpler and more complex media, meaningful and banal messages, but it seems to all come down to the feelings evoked.  My paintings have been more about either my basic interests or more recently copies of pretty pictures that seemed reasonable to attempt.  Never has the audience been part of my process; I’m not even sure I want anyone to see my earlier works.

That may be why one of my great grandparents had hidden a painting in the attic.  It’s a basic still life, showing more skill than I’ve yet put into an oil painting, but worth keeping only for maintaining a relationship with the painter.  In a house filled with paintings, it has been set apart, given a place easily visible from within the two largest rooms.  Is it art if the feeling it evokes was unintended, and dependent on the history and knowledge of the viewer?

Other debates have centered around the kind of emotion produced.  Does art have to be beautiful?  Can something that turns your stomach be considered artistic?  Is it art if it’s clearly designed to evoke lust?

As new forms of media have been developed, the world of art debates and later accepts them one by one.  Photography can easily capture amazing moments, but requires much less effort than a painting.  Movies have unfettered access to storylines, music, and imagery, but don’t always use them artistically.  Video games bring audience participation to the forefront, which can produce very powerful moments as long as they don’t feel forced.

Then again, I’ve written one game that was more addictive than artistic, and one with an artistic veneer but no substance.  Everything else I’ve produced has been either purely functional or just for the fun of it.  Will I ever produce something that can honestly be considered art?

Do I even want to?

Written by eswald

27 Aug 2013 at 8:45 pm

Painting Habits

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I’ve posted nearly every Tuesday for more than two years now.  At this point, it feels like a habit.  I may not be a better writer, and I certainly haven’t followed through with certain grand plans, but weekly writing is now a part of my life.

With that in mind, I recently decided to draw or paint something at least once a week.  Perhaps I got caught up by a certain artist’s fandom.  Perhaps I thought it would be relaxing.  Perhaps a certain scene is still trying to work its way out of my head.  At any rate, I told my spouse, and the kids overheard, so now it’s happening.

The first week didn’t go so well.  Along with the art kit, I pulled out the watercolor paper with my last set of paintings.  They were worse than I remembered.  My new experiments with watercolor pencils weren’t much better, even when I tried to use the oval trick described by every “how to draw” page I’ve ever seen.  At least my four-year-old was able to recognize a horse.

With that in mind, the second week was a struggle to even start.  Fortunately, there was a convenient chunk of time wherein I needed to entertain exactly one child.  Even more fortunately, the snake book on our table offered an idea.

It turns out that snakes are hard to draw, particularly when working from a close-up of one with very little patterning.  After perhaps a third of the little red scales, my hand started to cramp, so I opened a new book and started work on the first appealing thing I saw.  That turned out to be a tucuxi, a type of dolphin found in the Amazon River basin.

Written by eswald

23 Jul 2013 at 7:03 pm

Multi-Destination Pathfinding

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There are games that involve creatures running around on a three-dimensional tiled grid.  Some of them involve an artificial intelligence of sorts that chooses a destination, and finds a way to get there.  One such game has been annoying me by selecting sub-optimal destinations.  When two or more destinations are equally desirable, it tries to choose the closest; unfortunately, it selects the closest in absolute coordinates, even if it means walking right past (or even through) another one to get there.

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Written by eswald

4 Jun 2013 at 7:05 pm

Color Selections

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Select an option:

Left

Right

This has been annoying me lately. Which one is selected? With only two options on the screen, it’s impossible to tell, because the only difference is in the color. And I’m not even significantly color-blind; how many people wouldn’t even be able to see the difference, much less interpret it correctly?

Worse, such selection screens usually use arrow keys or buttons to change the selection, and frequently wrap from one end to the other. With just two options, that means they swap colors no matter what you do, eliminating the only way to be certain which color means what. Some video games can also accept mouse input, but DVD menus rarely have that luxury.

Seriously, it shouldn’t be that hard to have some sort of arrow pointing to the selected option. After that, color highlighting would be an optional bonus. And no, thickening the lines of a black-and-white drawing doesn’t cut it; I need something obvious.

Written by eswald

21 May 2013 at 9:40 pm

Fortress Stories

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I seem to have discovered Spearbreakers just in time for it to start wrapping up. I greatly admire its authors, who have produced an amazing storyline very nearly out of thin air. I might have liked to participate, but it feels awkward to jump in at this point. I’m also unsure of my own skills in the storycrafting department.

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Written by eswald

2 Apr 2013 at 11:08 pm