Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Persistent Worlds

game girl advance: Traces of Past Crossings

This is food for thought - has anyone designed a persistent world that would understand grief?

It's a similar feeling to the point you're flicking through an address book and find the details of the recently deceased; or suddenly seing the face of an ex on your photo-collection screensaver.

We're just at the beginning of these rich mediated online lives: what happens when someone living one of these lives... stops?

Smackerel: When multimedia was black and white

Smackerel: When multimedia was black and white

Ah, hypercard.

I made a strange stack about an exploding elephant.

I was only eleven.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Paint Photo Pixel

Wonderland: Not long now

Alice is posting about realism in games, and how awesome the net-gen graphics on consoles will be.

Her post started out about the potential for extraordinary realism possible with powerful graphics modelling, but has recieved an update to note that CGI isn't always at it's best when slavishly aping 'real life', and the improvements will be more subtle than that.

A couple of thoughts. Yes, of course CGI isn't at it's best when aping real life; that's because the human eye (brain) is trained to the patterns of real life: anything slightly 'wrong' will be percieved as breaking the spell - we easily spot the tiniest thing that doesn't tally with our extensive real-world observations, and the brain flags it as 'out of place' instantly. This is hard wired - it's an adaptation from primal animal needs to spot the 'wrong thing' in a familiar environment that could be a physical threat to the old selfish genes.

The biggest problem with CGI at the moment is 'heft' - that combination of weight and inertia that make things convincing. You spend a lot of time when drawing thinking about how to make your figures look 'grounded' - like they have weight and solidity that is afected by gravity. Some of the worst broken-suspension-of-disbelief moments in CGI films are when the visual sense of weight and solidity are broken: those moments in the later matrix films where Keanu gets flung around the sky and behaves more like a sock than a hundred odd kilos of meat. (An aside: my alexander teacher gave me a weight of equivalent weight to my own head to hold the other day. It's _so_ much heavier than you expect - around five kilos. That's five bags of sugar. Hefty.)

And then... well. We've been here before in the realism debate. It happened in about 1880 with painting and photography. For .. well, the whole of history to that point, painting had been striving towards what we'd now consider 'photographic' representation: the perfect reproduction of images as percieved by the human eye. Then along comes the camera, and by 1880 is producing good enough representations of reality that the painter's game is up. So... cue modernism. Cue impressionism, abstraction, cubism, et alia. Painters decide that their job is to represent visually 'perception' - the things that the brain percieves about the world that a camera can't represent.

So why use this amazing increace in CGI power to slavishly render mafia dons in every detail, like Chuck Close let loose in maya?

Why not use it to visualise amazing things we can't yet imagine?

What is an abstract computer game?

Saturday, February 19, 2005

A Day Out

Coffee Maker
Coffee Maker,
originally uploaded by MildlyDiverting.
Well, it looks like the next phase of my life has indeed kicked off. I've had a busy and enjoyable few days.

A jolly trip yesterday to the ICA to see a documentary about Bob Moog, father of the synthesizer. A lovely, well crafted documentary that made me happy. It was fascinating to hear him talk about 'feeling' circuitry on a spiritual/telepathic level. Whilst I felt that was a bit too... hippy for my tastes, I identified with his connection to his craft. Maybe it was his way of internalising and explaining the state of 'flow' you get with concentrated, expert work. I'm sure the language of his retired philosopher wife affected the way he talked about it. (For that matter, retired philosophers - what do they do? Sit in rocking chairs all day and not think?) Anyway, I'm planning on bringing the film to the attention of schedulers, as it was lovely and deserves a wider audience.

Then today, after signing up for a new lease, off to have lunch with old recently engaged friends. The last few days have definitely been about speaking and getting used to diplomatically breaking news of 'personal tragedy' to people. Having allowed two months to pass without letting people know about Sarah and my breakup, I'm finding it difficult to cope with their shock and sympathy; I've got through to the patient acceptance and slow healing phase, so all of the 'oh, you poor thing, however are you coping' gets a jokey response, that I imagine must seem defensive and evasive to the person offering support. I find myself protecting other's sensibilities more than my own, and can't decide if that's even vaguely healthy, or if it means I am in fact barking mad and should be in deep analysis for the rest of my life. Anyway, in their case it's probably just as well, as my engagement ceased at almost exactly the same time as theirs commenced: in years to come we'll look back and laugh about it, but for now there's a certain unspoken 'oops!' about things.

I hasten to add, I'm delighted for them. I'm just not doing a very good job of showing it.

Finally, I treated myself. I took myself off for an outing with my camera; something I've not done properly in several years. As it was on the way home I decided to go and bag some shots of old domestic appliances, as I'm thinking about picking up an old series of drawings and need source material. It didn't quite turn out that way - I got distracted by the history of computing gallery instead. That, however, is a post of its own.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Fo all you beotches who wanna find shiznit

If n whizzay I have a thought, n have ten minutes in tha office, I mizzay write mildly divert'n thoughts here: 'bout new media in rizzle life, 'bout tha W-to-tha-izzeb, 'bout tha future , ya feel me?. But mostly, I think, I'll just wiffle 'bout doggy stylin' . Bounce wit me.

Gizoogle - Fo all you beotches who wanna find shiznit

LEGO Star Wars

LEGO Star Wars

Tiny millenium falcon.

The first episode III lego set is out, too...

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

New Interest in Life

Sound mirrors - Denge

One of the strange side effects of my breakup (still hideous, by the way - I'm moving out) is that I've reconnected almost instantly with 'random stuff I'm interested in'.

Something about being in a relationship makes me jettison my capacity to get over-excited about things. All of the energy that usually fizzes around and gets poured into little projects, or fleeting obsessions seems to get sucked in to my efforts to 'have a relationship'. I think the lesson is that I should just 'be' in a relationship rather than having one.

But anyway, it's like my sense of self has come back.

And I have been struck by an immense desire to go and visit these sound mirrors on Dungeness.

I *must* learn to drive.

Monday, February 07, 2005


There's a proper post about the bloody DaVinci code brewing, but in the meantime, here's a very fine phrase from Mr Venusberg: Venusberg | voting Purves and Purves for 2005: "The da Vinci Code is certainly more ambitious than Angels and Demons, but only in the sense that allowing your dog to crap in somebody's driveway is less ambitious than entering their house in the guise of a meter reader and defecating into their DVD player. "

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Boys (do not equal) Girls

originally uploaded by MildlyDiverting.
I composed a fantastically long and insightfully argued post about the Harvard Mathematics Sexism affair earlier on... but unfortunately managed to close without saving. So here, instead, is a diagram rather sarcastically summarising my thoughts.

In short, social pressures to conform to accepted gender standards tend to force women away from situations where their natural logical mathematical abilities could find full expression.

Likewise, it's fairly rare to find men who embrace championship class quilting, for instance. Or Home Economics.

And yes, this is jokey. But notice that the only section I couldn't find a good disparagement for was the male expression of masculine logical thought...

Mirrormask Trailer

*Squeaks with excitement*