Tag Archives: ds106

Myst, Marathon, and Minecraft

I’ve deeply enjoyed three computer games over the years.

Myst

Myst

The ground-breaking Myst, developed by Cyan and first released in 1993, was built initially in the Apple’s Hypercard development platform, and lead the pack for a close to a decade as the number one computer game. Unlike a lot of other games of the time, Myst was spatially immersive, and led players on a first-person hunt through a series of mysterious, and glorious book-linked worlds. With astounding days-to-render images, haunting ambient music, and embedded Quicktime video/animations, the game sent players deep into another space and time.  All told, by the time the game had run its course, there were five games in the series, and a whole raft of novels and books that helped, to some extent, provide some of the backstory between the cracks in the worlds. Check out the details of Myst’s critical reception.

Marathon

“Marathon” — Lava was dangerous there, too.

After Myst, came Marathon. For those who remember the rise of first person shooters in the nineties (John Carmack’s id produced the top-selling shooters on the PC platform, Castle Wolfenstein, DOOM, Quake), Marathon was the FPS of record on the Mac platform. It was developed by a Mac software house by the name of Bungie (yes — THAT Bungie), who set the game on desolate spaceships and planets, and featured human survivors battling alien creatures. The ambient soundtrack and the lighting and textures made for some heady nightmares, and again promoted an immersive experience which allowed players to spatially seat themselves within the world. Along with the shooting and jumps and leaps, the game also featured many unique and challenging puzzles (unlike most other FPS games) which required considerable kinesthetic mastery to move on to the subsequent levels. In addition to an expansive storyline replete with bots and AIs, the game produced two sequels (Marathon: Durandal and Marathon: Infinity) , and in the final release, a map and world editor, named Forge and Anvil. I remember the wonder of creating a world file in the 2D editor, and then opening it from within the game engine and seeing it rendered in three dimensions. My world. With the release of the world-editing tools, teams of players began to create and share incredibly complex maps, textures and storylines in the early days of the public Internet. Read more about the Marathon Trilogy.

Minecraft

“View From The Horsie Field Castle Dome” by Gumby Blockhead, on Flickr

Fast forward to Minecraft, introduced to me by my sons in 2011 as a wonderfully creative game on iOS, and then extended by my students at my school as a fantastic networked world on the desktop platform. Following a blocky summer spent partially at the ds106 Camp Magic MacGuffin, and a couple of subsequent years exploring and creating in the GamingEDUs Professional Play server, Minecraft has been, recently, my game of choice. As with Myst and Marathon, the game is spatially immersive, and leads to perceptions and memories of the worlds just as if they were First Worlds through which you have moved. The game is structured to support a wide range of user-developed plug-ins and mods, and is served up far and wide to players throughout the Internet.

A Spectrum

While Myst was essentially a fully-rendered, still-imaged puzzle to be solved, Minecraft is at the other end of the spectrum — an open-ended infinite space with all the pieces needed for the ultimate creative experience.  While online collaborative play started to emerge towards the end of Myst, and Marathon supported 8-person arena maps, Myst is a fully-fledged potentially-massive online gaming environment. If you build it, they will come — and help you build some more.

When The Good Gets Bought Out

There’s been word circulating on the Internet for a couple of weeks now, in the form of rumours that Mojang (the company behind Minecraft) has been in talks with giant Microsoft. The word was confirmed today that Microsoft has indeed acquired Mojang (and Minecraft), and a good deal of chatter on the Internet about what this might mean.

It should come as no surprise that I am not about to stop playing Minecraft today simply because it has been acquired by Microsoft. The Minecraft client of today runs just fine on my Macs, and I am able to download and run the latest releases just fine.  For the time being, I can see continued benefits to using Minecraft with my students and as a personal creative outlet.

But I worry a bit. You see, the press release issued today by Microsoft includes the following statement:

Microsoft plans to continue to make “Minecraft” available across all the platforms on which it is available today: PC, iOS, Android, Xbox and PlayStation.

Is Microsoft being intentionally vague when referencing “PC” by neglecting to mention the Mac? Will support for non-Microsoft platforms start to lag behind?

You see, there is a daunting precedent hiding in my story.

Will Minecraft Thrive under Microsoft?

Remember Bungie, producers of that Mac FPS game Marathon I spoke about up above? In the late nineties, the Mac game developer Bungie was preparing a new game — and the game wowed Mac users on stage at MacWorld as part of a Steve Jobs keynote . However, shortly after that conference, Bungie was bought out — by Microsoft. And the game — known as HALO — became the flagship game for Microsoft’s new gaming console — the XBox. HALO for the Mac essentially evaporated.

We can hope that Minecraft will continue to enjoy the support under its new owners. I’d hate for the Minecraft world to get smaller. It really should keep getting bigger. But time will tell.

Addendum

I attempted to get into Minecraft this evening to take a screenshot or two for this post. But I had no luck. Some one set us up the TNT. 

“Somebody Set Us Up the TNT? by Andrew Forgrave, on Flickr”

I’m sure it’s just a thing. It’s not an omen.

Is it?

The Thin Line Between Heaven and Here

Bubbles is attributed the epigraph “[There is a] … thin line between heaven and here” in Old Cases, Season 1, Episode 4 of HBO‘s The Wire. He delivers the line at about the midpoint of the episode, and the line came just at the right moment to punctuate what I perceived as the first whack-me-over-the-head, must-be-gifted juxtaposition. That I held off on GIFfing anything (including this) until I had made my way through all 5 seasons / 60 episodes is a result of knowing that I wanted to get as far through the series (having never seen it) before the end of my summer break. We’ve been back at school for two weeks, and having finished the series, I’m ready to play.

This post is also an entry into the Animated GIF Assignment 1352, Summarize a Wire Episode in GIFs. I haven’t necessarily done a complete summary so much as tried to interpret the epigraph as portrayed in the context of the episode.  In scanning the previous offerings for this assignment, I was pleased to see that, aside from one GIF, it appears that no one has yet summarized this episode. And so, onward! 

Partway into the episode, Bubbles hitches a ride home with MucNulty (on his way out into the suburbs to his son’s soccer game), who thus takes Bubbles on a detour .

"Leave-it-to-Beaver Land" animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Leave-it-to-Beaver Land” animated GIF by @aforgrave

McNulty meets with his ex-wife at the soccer game (she shirks back from shaking Bubbles’ hand and pulls her coat closely about her protectively), and Bubbles takes in the surroundings.

"The Thin Line Between Heaven ...." animated GIF by @aforgrave

“The Thin Line Between Heaven ….” animated GIF by @aforgrave

The lush, green grass and uniforms of the kids playing the organized soccer game in the bright day time sunlight with spectators galore set us up for the immediately subsequent scene when McNulty’s car pulls up after dark back in the inner city. There, kids play on the pavement/dirt lot beside a dimly-lit back alleyway. One adult stands, plastic shopping bag in hand, as the kids circle round. The stark contrast in the scene cut had me immediately playing back the transition to check the parallel.

"... And Here" animated GIF by @aforgrave

“… And Here” animated GIF by @aforgrave

It is then that Bubbles delivers his line, having just seen how close the two worlds are physically — and yet how distant that suburban reality is for those caught in the city.

"Bubbles: [There's a] thin line between Heaven and here." animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Bubbles: [There's a] thin line between Heaven and here.” animated GIF by @aforgrave

 Bubbles has no options but to return to his world, and McNulty ponders.

"Bubbles is Home" animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Bubbles is Home” animated GIF by @aforgrave

There are a number of other nice moments in the episode which speak to the notion of a thin line between two worlds.

Avon Barksdale lives a life influenced by, but isolated from the street. Stringer Bell runs the day-to-day dirty work, and Avon has everything done for him by his lieutenants (they are always opening and closing the door to his office for him). In this scene from Old Cases, I found this emphasized by the way that Stringer  sets-up Avon for a jump shot in the gym. All Avon has to do is grab the perfect set-up (from a standing start) and dunk the ball. Minimal preparation, but all the glory.

"Stringer Setup for Avon" animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Stringer Setup for Avon” animated GIF by @aforgrave

The scene where Herc and Carver go to roust the missing Bodie and encounter his mom also presented a nice contrast between the constant and stark representations of Bodie’s outdoor street life, and the indoor home world of his mother.  Granted, her living room has little of the brightness of the living rooms of the police and politicos (are they brighter the higher up they go?), but a wholesome warmth is there.

"Brodie's Mom" animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Brodie’s Mom” animated GIF by @aforgrave

Herc realizes the contrast between the brash approach he and Carver naturally brought with them from the street to her front door, and the welcome she provided when she asks him if he “would like to sit down.” Her nature calms the Herc(ulean) cop, and he softens noticeably. The difference between being rude and being polite is only a choice away.

"Polite Moment" animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Polite Moment” animated GIF by @aforgrave

Back outside, Carver asks him, “What were you doing in there?”
“Talking,” Herc replies.
“Talking.” Carver is stunned.

Meanwhile, back at the station, Polk is considering the fine line between the drudgery of his job as police, and the short-term pain of intentionally throwing himself down the stairs so that he can retire on a disability pension like his partner Mahon, previously injured by Bodie. Either the sudden arrival of McNulty and Kima, or more likely his lack of fortitude, scuttles his plan.

"Contemplating Retirement," animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Contemplating Retirement,” animated GIF by @aforgrave

Then we arrive at one of my most long-anticipated #wire106 GIF moments, capturing Lester Freeman building his furniture miniatures. Initially a bit of an enigma (we wonder how it is that he is allowed to just sit around making furniture miniatures when there is work to be done?), we first see Lester’s skills at work as he susses out a photo of Avon Barksdale in the previous episode The Buys, episode 3, and then runs down the pager number of D’Angelo here in Old Cases, episode 4.

"13 Years, 4 Months" animated GIF by @aforgrave

“13 Years, 4 Months” animated GIF by @aforgrave

By this time, McNulty realizes that Freamon not an oddity, but is rather “real Po-lice.” We see some foreshadowing of McNulty’s future when we later learn of the bizarre rationale behind Lester’s 13 year, 4 month exile to the Pawn detail. The dedication and ability of McNulty and Freamon in solving crimes contrasts wonderfully with the slack and ineffective efforts of Mahon and Polk. And the very thin line between being real police and kowtowing to the politically-motivated, stat-driven bosses is clearly evident when Freamon offers his sage advice to Jimmy near the end of the episode.

"Do Yourself a Favour" animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Do Yourself a Favour” animated GIF by @aforgrave

Jimmy, however, does not succeed in avoiding the question — he has already been asked the question by Jay, and he has already answered that he would hate the diesel fumes of the Marine Unit. (Spoiler: As we see at the end of Season 1,  that is where he ends up.)

Triple (or Quadruple?) Twitter Troll WIRE106 Quote

“Triple4 Twitter Troll Quote WIRE106 Major Willam Gibson Valchek” by Andrew Forgrave, on Flickr

This is my first attempt (I think) at the (Triple) Troll Quote assignment: Visual Assignment 24, by the responses to which I am frequently impressed. There is a simplicity to the technical execution of the assignment which emphasizes the connections that happen before the Art is made. While not a new Jim Groom Triple Troll Wire Epigraph (the text does not come from an episode epigraph), it does relate very nicely to The Wire and #wire106.

The inspiration for this piece came directly from the Twitter stream this morning. Roberto Greco replied to Audrey Watters‘ comments about the events in Ferguson, Missouri in August, 2014.

Roberto tweet mashes up quotes from author William Gibson (whose ground-breaking (and award-winning) cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was published in 1984) and George Orwell‘s character Major from Animal Farm. I figure it is a perfect setup for a Triple (or Quadruple?) Troll Quote WIRE106 assignment. Valchek (pictured) could very well quote the constitution or law, but he’s pretty much motivated use it to subvert others for his own personal and petty interests (the stained glass window, in season two).

Artoo vs. The Degobah Swamp Creature

"Artoo vs. The Degobah Swamp Creature" animated GIF by @aforgrave

“Artoo vs. The Degobah Swamp Creature” animated GIF by @aforgrave

The Daily Create for August 7th tdc942 asks us to riff on an image from the Spielberg-Lucas “congratulations letters” which were written each time one director’s film surpassed the other’s at the box office. (The Daily Create for August 6th asked us to re-write one of the letters to suggest what might have actually been in the director’s mind.)

The source image in question shows Lucas’ R2D2 catching Spielberg’s Jaws on a fishing line. My riff shifts the setting to Degobah and invokes the scene from Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back. We never get a full view of the creature which swallows and then spit out Artoo — but its above-the-surface profile and movements are basically shark-like — so who knows? Maybe it was Jaws, getting payback.

There is also a static version on Flickr.

Attributions:

The swampy surface fog was created using a repeated application of the clone tool.

Oh, and of course. Why stop at a still image when a GIF can be so much better? 

ECOO 2014 #bit14

#ecoo14 #bit14 Bring IT Together

ds106 Fall 2014

Bava/Nobody WIRE106 T-Shirt

3D Anaglyphs

3D Glasses_FLAT AnaglyphBADGE GREY fill BLACK

3D Glasses_FLAT Anaglyph-A-GIF BADGE GREY fill BLACK

The Daily Create T-Shirt

#thoughtvectors

ds106 Spring 2014

#ds106 The DS106 Workplace

ds106 Summer 2013

Posts by Date

September 2014
S M T W T F S
« Aug    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930  

Creative Commons

Visitors to de•tri•tus

105theHive.org


MiniCYHMN? | Status | 64K | Listening Options

Winampwindows Media PlayerReal PlayerQuickTime
Listening to 105theHive - details

ds106rad.io FAQs

What is ds106rad.io?
ds106rad.io is #4life.
Why do you ds106rad.io?
#4life.
Who is ds106rad.io?
ds106rad.io is of The Earth. That's you, brother!

105theHive.org MiniPlayer

MiniCYHMN? | Status | 64K | Listening Options