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Posts Tagged ‘photography’

OK, not so much “morbid” as… depressed, but that would have killed the alliteration.

For a little bit of context, I was laid off or downsized from the video game company I worked for just about two months ago.  It’s been… stressful.  Really stressful.  It’s part of why I haven’t posted here for a while.

For a bit more context, there’s this fellow’s insanely large video game collection that hit the news:

Guinness World Record video game collection

Anyway, there’s also this article from Kotaku that made the Facebook rounds recently:

Why Game Developers Keep Getting Laid Off

It’s a decent article, but I wanted to chase down a couple of implications that they didn’t get to, and tie a few things together.

As might be noted by the Kotaku article, or by speaking with veterans of the industry, there is a lot of churn in the video game production world.  Staffing woes aren’t uncommon in many industries, so it’s not like we’re super special snowflakes or anything, but it’s worth noting that the industry isn’t a stable one.  It’s a wildly profitable one on the whole, an entertainment medium that isn’t going away, but it’s not financially stable, nor is a career in the industry going to be a stable one.

I read an article a while back (though I can’t find it now), and this thread seems to echo the same thoughts, that careers in the video game industry are short on average.  As in, five years short, or about two big game dev cycles.  It’s true that we don’t live in a world where you get one job right out of college and stay at it until you retire or die, so again, this isn’t all that unusual, but it’s somewhat sobering.  Or it should be.

I’ve worked in the industry for eight years.  I’m an old hand at it, in some ways.  That’s… weird.  (Not as old of a hand as some, but still, it’s weird to think of myself as statistically over the hill, career wise.)

Anyway, this does have effects on the industry beyond what the Kotaku article notes.  Because companies are always fluctuating around, “redistributing assets” and such, there are convenient excuses to drop older, more expensive employees and pick up fresh meat from colleges.  The passion in these younger, unattached employees (mostly male) is exceptionally easy to exploit, as I’ve railed against before, and as the EA Spouse kerfluffle illustrated all too well.  Conditions haven’t improved much since then, though some managers do a good job.  Death marches and crunch might be the backbone of a production schedule, but they aren’t healthy.

Tangentially, this explains a fair bit of the “boys’ club” mentality of the industry, for those of you who are up in arms about Blizzard’s recent public relations black eyes.  People who grow up (and actually mature, unlike the ESRB’s definition of the word) and want stable careers for their families don’t last long in the industry.

This is part of why the indie scene is important, as veteran developers try out new ideas that would never fit into the studio or megaentertainment company mentality.  Games are an important artistic medium, but they are hobbled by the realities of the industry.  Indies are opening up the scope of the medium, but like so many artistic avenues, it’s not really a solid career choice.

I could get bitter about this, but really, I’m just noting the realities of the industry as a voice of… not warning, exactly, since I still see great value in games.  It’s more of a voice of pragmatism.  The industry is not a place for long term stability (relevant to those who wish to make games), it’s not a place for actual maturity (relevant to devs and gamers), and it’s not going away.

I’ve been applying to studios around the world, but have no real leads.  I may well be out of the “official” video game world now, more or less “retired” by circumstance, and left to do indie games with friends on the side as I scramble for other work, whether freelance art or some other art position somewhere.  Again, this isn’t a desirable position to be in, but it’s not too surprising or unique.  I’m disappointed, but then, as I noted in that NBI article, I believe that a job or career is just something you do to pay the bills so you can afford to do what you really want to do in your spare time.  I don’t have anything yet, but even if I pick up a new video games job, I can’t really see myself in the industry for decades, just because of how it works.

I’ll work on indie games because they interest me.  I’ll make my Shapeways, Zazzle, Kickstarter and other projects because I just can’t stop creating.  I may well wind up with a completely irrelevant job, but games, art and creativity are something I will always be involved in.

But… yeah… I’m busier now than I ever have been, working hard on a lot of different things, but making very little money.  This blog, as great as it is to write here, isn’t my priority.  I’ll be here now and then again, still, I’m not closing shop, I’m just busy.  Really busy.  I’m updating my portfolio (seen over here), working on my own projects (novels, games, art, photography, all sorts of things) and looking for freelance opportunities.  If any of you have leads, I’d certainly love to hear about them.

See you around!

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Entropic Appeal

I’ve written about this before, in my Broken Down article.  Old things fascinate me.  There’s something both sad and heartening to see the effects of life as time goes on, both human life and all the other forms that we share our spaces with.

Anyway, this is a link repository of some more fascinating photo collections of beat up, run down places and things.

Abandoned Areas (Twitter feed)

Abandoned Olympic Venues

Abandoned but Beautiful

Abandoned Places

Abandoned Places 2

Abandoned Places Around the World

Abandoned Places LiveJournal

Abandoned Places.com (navigation is a bit wonky, but they have more details about the places, which is cool)

Expoland

Keelung Taiwan

Maunsell Sea Forts

Nara Dreamland

Spectacular Abandoned Places

Swallowed By Nature

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The Tinker Metal Dice campaign has begun!  It just seems right, somehow, to have metal dice for this steampunky project, and I’d appreciate whatever you can help me with in spreading the word!

Tinker Metal Dice on Kickstarter

I know, it’s missing a video, but I just don’t have the time.  I’d like to think that the design speaks for itself.  The photos are of prototypes, but the finals shouldn’t be too different.

Tinker Dice Metal Splash

Thanks for looking!

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Following up on yesterday’s Daily Dose of Dice, it should also be noted that dice make excellent rubble.

Rubble2 Rubble

It’s not quite as photogenic as something like Hashima Island or Chernobyl/Pripyat‘s rubble, or the hauntingly beautiful short film RUIN, but it’s good reference for porcine construction crews everywhere.

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What happens when you get a bunch of quirky kids together with their uncle who loves mad science and making weird fudge?

Peep Fudge

Peeps are weird treats.  I can’t stand them, but to each their own.  They make a good marshmallow substitute in fudgemaking, though, so we wound up… experimenting.  We swapped peeps in for the marshmallows and added a dozen crushed mint OREO cookies at the end.  The fudge is a mildly minty “cookies and cream” fudge that just happens to look like stroganoff.  Luckily, it doesn’t taste much like it, though.

There are probably some moral messages in there somewhere, like “don’t follow the crowd”, “be careful with what friends and parties you pick”, and “don’t trust a boiling hot tub”, but it was mostly just a fun evening with a crazy idea.  Happy post-Easter candy sales!

PeepFudge_018 PeepFudge_019 PeepFudge_020 PeepFudge_021 PeepFudge_001 PeepFudge_002 PeepFudge_003 PeepFudge_004 PeepFudge_005 PeepFudge_006 PeepFudge_007 PeepFudge_008 PeepFudge_009 PeepFudge_010 PeepFudge_011 PeepFudge_012 PeepFudge_013 PeepFudge_014 PeepFudge_015 PeepFudge_017

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…for shameless self-promotion.  Y’see, there are sales afoot, and one might as well take advantage of them, yes?

Specifically, I’m an artist.  I do art.  Some of it’s good.  Some of it’s for sale.  Some of it’s on sale.

Some is over here, at Zazzle.  It’s mostly shirts, but also some fun puzzles and assorted knickknacks, like this Zelda-inspired bumper magnet and this Mousemech art (available on a variety of things) that I’m inordinately happy with, and some preliminary Project Khopesh art.

Some is over there, at Shapeways.  Specifically, my gearpunk dice and some World of Warcraft inspired “class rings“, suggested by the venerable Big Bear Butt some time ago.  At present, I only offer Druid rings, but I’m taking requests.  I also have some other great ideas for 3D prints, if only I can make the time to create them… including the models for Zomblobs!

CafePress carries one of my shirt designs, but I’ve decided I’m not a huge fan of their limitations on free shops, so most of my products will be offered via Zazzle for the forseeable future.

I also do the occasional commission, but to date, that’s mostly been for in-game currency over on the Puzzle Pirates forums, where I’m known as Silveransom, from whence several of the bits of art in my Mini Portfolio hail, and where one of my art tutorials resides.  I’d love to open the floodgates to do commissions for cash, but since I can’t promise a quick turnaround, I’ll just say that I’m very open to requests, I’m just going to be somewhat less than a full-time production house.  Somewhat less than part-time, really, but you might be surprised what is possible to do in the wee hours around midnight when the kids go to bed.

Y’see, things are unnaturally busy here at the Tesh household.  We’re finishing the basement, so my “vacation” from work this holiday season isn’t exactly filled with carefree whimsy and mad dashes to fulfill art requests.  Still, I’m working in a bit, here and there.

So yes, Happy Holidays!  Merry Christmas, or whatever it is you do this time of year!

…are the Steam sales up yet?  That’s kind of an event, right?

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I like music.  I like games.  Intersections of the two make me happy.

A good chunk of my musical library is game music.  I’m a fan of AudioSurf, a slick little “sound rider” game that can be played as a relaxing cruise through my favorite music or a skill-testing scramble.  Lately, though, maybe because I’ve had a lack of vitamin BSU in my gaming diet (Blow Stuff Up), I’ve really been enjoying Symphony.

Symphony takes your music library (or the one they provide) and asks you to clean out corruption in it, imposed by a malevolent digital entity of some sort.  You fly a ship with four cannons (you wind up with a variety of weapons that you can slot in), reacting to the algorithms that the game uses to make bad guys based on your music.  It’s a delightfully flexible system, with no two songs really playing quite the same way (and each song plays differently for each difficulty level).  The story and character are just kinda… there.  Not bad, just not all that compelling.  I’m not convinced you really need a reason to play a game that’s this simple at its core; just go blow stuff up and have a blast doing it.

The TRON-flavored visuals are excellent, if a bit overwhelming before you get used to filtering the visual chaff.  It’s really satisfying to upgrade your guns a few times, maybe angling them or using a spread cannon or shotgun, and throwing up a huge swath of happy, glowing death, blasting a swarm of bad guys into note-shaped shrapnel.

Most importantly, though, blowing stuff up is glorious fun.  For me, the visuals and story can make or break a game, but only at the margins.  The gameplay is what really matters, and Symphony is simply fun to play.  Set your cannons to autofire (holding down the mouse button for constant fire is a good recipe for carpal tunnel, so autofire is the way to go), and you can just concentrate on flying.  Or maybe try out a Subwoofer weapon that only fires according to the music (where a subwoofer would be used, of course, nicely demonstrated in the game’s trailer).  Or how about a Crescendo weapon, a “charge and release” sort of weapon, or a Missile Rack that functions much the same way, offering devastating firepower in a narrow arc.  Perhaps it’s best to put in that Shotgun or Spread Cannon and just dominate the play field.  Maybe even use that Dual Cannon that fires behind you for those sneaky bad guys that push you out of the “bottom of the screen pocket” that lower difficulty levels allow.

Speaking of difficulty, it’s also a forgiving game.  It presumes that you want to actually play through your whole song, so while your ship may be destroyed, you just respawn after a few seconds.  Your ship can also be partially destroyed, and picking up the “Inspiration” that bad guys drop repairs your ship.  So you can wind up with just one cannon as your wings get clipped, but you can get back in the game after you destroy some bad guys and pick up their offerings.  Of course, your score suffers if you do completely crash, both with a straight score penalty and with missed opportunities to score while you’re regenerating, but there doesn’t seem  to be a penalty just for ship damage that subsequently gets repaired.

Here’s a quick video that I found online that goes over some of the basics.  I kind wish I could make a video, but that’s way down the priority list.

There are some fun “progression/collection” mechanics that unlock the variety of weapons and let you upgrade them, and player-selected difficulty levels which unlock as you play through your library.  This incentivizes playing through different songs, as there is the occasional rare variant of a weapon that packs more punch.  I do wish there were more weapons that did different things, and more that interacted with the music itself, but the dozen or so weapons in the game do provide a good mix of attack options without becoming overwhelming, and simplicity in game design isn’t really a bad thing.

…there’s room for a sequel, that’s all I’m saying.

In the meantime, though, Symphony is a sweet game that even stole some time I might have been playing Torchlight 2, the other game I was really happy to pick up in the Black Friday sales.  I got Symphony at GoG.com’s “five for $10″ sale, along with the Blackwell Bundle, Botanicula, Resonance and Unmechanical.  …as if my game backlog wasn’t full already.  Still, for $20 I picked up 9 games that I’m really looking forward to playing.  I’ve dabbled with all of them except for the Blackwell games, and so far, I’m happy with them all… though Symphony is the one I keep coming back to.  Yes, yes, Torchlight 2 is a gem, packed with vitamin KSALI (Kill Stuff And Loot It), but it’s more involved.  With my rather constrained game play time of late, the quick play of Symphony really fits the bill.  I’d love to just settle into some marathon sessions of Torchlight 2 or Guild Wars 2, or even Tactics Ogre for the PSP that I got for my birthday, but my schedule is… squirrely.

At least there’s plenty of good gaming in the wings, when I can get to it.

Oh, and just because I wanted to get these out there while I’m thinking about them, I ran into some pretty crazy photographs lately.  Some very cool stuff can be done with very high speed photography and water, as Tim Tadder illustrates with these shots:

Water Wigs

Fish Heads

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