Music composition

Album continues to be worked on…

Just a little status update on my album…

I’m currently working on reorchestrating and mixing and writing an ending for my 15-minute piece Castle Sky, which will be the second-to-last track on the album.  In my humblest of opinions, it has some of my most delicious melodies.  (Is that humble?)  Then I only have a few other tracks to reorchestrate a bit, then the rest of this album work will be “post-production” I guess.  Almost there!

By the way, I did hire a fantasy artist to create the album cover image, and I think it looks awesome… there be dragons…

Oh, and on an entirely different note, I was playing chess on Google Wave yesterday and discovered that the chess applet really stinks; I couldn’t promote my pawn to a queen!  How is anybody supposed to play a proper game of chess with software like that?  Your pawn just gets stuck at the end of the board.  Very lame!  Whoever programmed it should be ashamed!  Though I realize Wave is still in beta, blah blah blah…  Maybe later I will post some of my games (and maybe some of my games from high school) with comments about them.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Technology

A Problem with Google Wave

Google Wave is still, of course, very much in its infancy, but I see one major problem with it.  Well, it’s not really a “problem” … it’s more of a structural property that I think is unhelpful.

With Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and forums, when I post something, I’m not posting to anybody.  I’m just posting something out there to whoever might be interested.  In Facebook I’m posting to friends, in Twitter I’m tweeting to followers, in blogs I’m posting to whoever visits or subscribes to my blog (that’s you!), and on forums I post to other members or visitors of the forum.

With e-mail, on the other hand, I’m conversing privately with one select person (or a select group).  Twitter has an equivalent: direct messages.  Forums also have an equivalent: private messages.  Facebook also private messaging, an equivalent, and a wall-posting, which is semi-equivalent.

Currently, Google Wave is somewhere between.  It can certainly replace email as it is (well, once attachments are allowed and more people start using it).  But to truly be revolutionary, it needs to provide a way for me to talk to nobody; it needs a way for me to post a wave and let anyone who wants to read it read it and reply to it, or let other wavers subscribe to my public waves.  I fear that if it does not do this, it may stay a very niche tool.

That said, I probably shouldn’t worry; there’s a lot of functionality yet to be implemented and a lot of plug-ins and exports and whatever yet to be written.

So while I’m glad I got a Wave invite and am allowed on, it’s still kind of useless to me at the moment.

THESE AREN’T THE DROIDS WE’RE LOOKING FOR

Droid In other not-very-interesting news, I’m continuing to look through Google’s Android SDK.  Even though I’ve been programming in Java for a while now (though I definitely consider myself far from expert), the structure of how Android applications work is still kind of cryptic to me.  And, unfortunately, the OS is still so new that there aren’t many learning resources for it, especially for game development and graphics, which are my areas of interest.  If you want to develop games, you’re pretty much on your own.  Google does provide some source code for some very small sample programs, but you kind of have to figure out how they work on your own.  For example, Google says:

Writing a summary of how to actually write 3D applications using OpenGL is beyond the scope of this text and is left as an exercise for the reader.

I’m sure Java / game / graphics programming experts would have an easier time understanding how it all works by just studying the sample source code, but it will take some extra work for me.

Anyway, I’ve been looking more and more at the new Droid phone coming out, and I’ve been thinking that I’ll be needing some sort of phone with Android on it to test any potential apps I might create, so I’m very tempted to get one.  Like, very very tempted.  Like, I probably will.  For, you know, game development research, of course.

By the way, I like what it says at the bottom of the Droid site:

DROID is a trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd. and its related companies.  Used under license.

Where would the world be if Star Wars had been a flop?  We might not have this phone!

By S P Hannifin, ago
Computer games

Project Trico, Google Wave, and Benjamin Button

Project Trico

Two of my favorite video games are Ico and Shadow of the Colossus . . . actually, I think they are the only console games I’ve ever been able to pass (not that I play very many).  They’re like puzzle adventure games.  The team that makes them is working on a new title for the PS3 (which I guess I’ll have to get) which for now is being called Project Trico.  The video on YouTube looks . . . interesting.  Some kid going around with some strange cat-bird with arrows in it.  The cat-bird’s movements look very realistic if it wasn’t so humongous.

Anyway, what I really loved about the video was the music.  Very epic and inspiring.  I learned from Wikipedia that music was from a 1990’s film called Miller’s Crossing, a Coen brothers movie, and the music was by Carter Burwell, who recently scored Twilight.  So I put the movie Miller’s Crossing on hold at the library; I’m interested in seeing how the music fits with the dark gangs-and-guns story.  I’m also probably going to end up buying the soundtrack (because they still sell on CD *cough* stupid Disney Records *cough*).

Google Wave

The other exciting thing I saw earlier this week was this video on Google Wave (or this article which sums up the main points).  Ooooh, doesn’t that look awesome?  Hard to say exactly what sort of impact it will have on online communication, but it could be very big.  I’m especially interested in the real-time multiple-user collaboration; I would’ve loved to have that available while still in school working on group projects.  I’m also excited by the gaming possibilities this could provide, and would be very interested in trying to program some gadget-games for it.  I requested a sandbox developer account, but they never got back to me . . . of course, I’m sure tens of thousands have requested one, and when this Google Wave goes live to everyone, it will already be oversaturated with games . . . which is good!  I look forward to playing them!  But I will still want to try designing my own.

Benjamin Button (with spoilers!)

I finished watching the film The Boring Stupid Case of Benjamin Button the other day.  Visually, it was great.  The recreation of older time periods, the make-up, the cinematography . . . brilliant work.  But the story . . . what story?  There really wasn’t much of one.  There was hardly any conflict, only a couple of very shallow romantic conflicts.  The main character, Benjamin Button, had no important goals, and therefore there was really nothing he had to overcome.  This is a huge disappointment because the premise, a boy being born old and becoming younger, would seem to spark many conflicts.  How would others react if they knew the truth?  (They didn’t seem to be very bothered.)  How would he find love when he was young but looked old?  (Easily, it seems.)  When he was young, shouldn’t he be jealous of normal people?  And when he got old, shouldn’t others be jealous of him?  (Nah!)  When he grew down into a child’s body, wouldn’t it have been more dramatic if he had been a wise 70 year old, trying to convince adults that he was older and more experienced than them?  Nah . . . they just have him start forgetting everything when that point comes.

And, since Benjamin really had no goals, he had no personality.  He never really wanted anything, besides to be with a woman every now and then.  He didn’t struggle with envy for normal people, he didn’t worry very much about his awkward future, he didn’t deal with anger issues toward his father who abandoned him, he didn’t struggle with very much loneliness.  Lots of missed potential.

It seems like the writers were in a bit of a hurry to create this film, because they did a horrible job.  They expanded an idea into a screenplay without adding any story.  *Sigh*  It could’ve been good.

Remember . . . an idea is not a story!  You might start with an idea, but the story still has to be about something.  It might seem mundane or cliche, such as a simple love story, or a war story, or a life-struggles story (which is what Ben Button should’ve been about), but it needs that conflict built around the initial idea.  You can’t just take the idea and run with it.

The only way Ben Button could’ve succeeded without a story is if it had been a comedy.  Comedy can get away with there being little story because the point is in the little stories, the gags, the jokes.  Forrest Gump had no big story, but it was funny.  A Christmas Story had very little story, but it was funny.  And I’m sure there are plenty more . . .

So I give Benjamin Button 2 out of 10 stars, which is pretty pathetic.

Okay, that’s all I have to say for today.

By S P Hannifin, ago