I'm just a guy who grew up playing too many video games and listening to too much metal. Hoping to be a writer, actor or software programmer, whichever I suck at least.
It's both refreshing and a little concerning that absolutely everybody has an opinion on paid mods. As tumultuous as this April has been for pretty much everybody in the world, from Nepal to Baltimore to Steam users, it seems the most voracious topic of the month has been Valve's implementation, and sudden retraction, of paid mods for Skyrim. The debate has at least brought to light just how important mods are to the PC audience.
INtense's article currently on MODDB's front page pretty much summed up everything Valve did right and wrong. The concept of paid mods itself isn't evil, in fact it could be brilliant, but introducing them to a game community that's already existed on the free medium for years was a terrible idea. It would have gone down like Hernan Cortez bringing Christianity to the Aztecs.
But I think one major reason paid mods drew such a strong reaction is that the gaming community is fed up with feeling like they've lost control of their own market. In the past 5 years, gamers have had to deal with the overwhelming torrent of publisher policies such as day-one DLC, always-on connectivity, season passes, microtransactions, preorder bonuses and forced account registrations. These are all concepts that are extremely unpopular with the consumer yet are sprouting up everywhere. Industry leaders say this kind of post-release monetization is something gamers just have to get used to, but that doesn't compute in the traditional market sense: If the customer is always right, how can they accept something they disagree with?
Now, I trust Valve and Bethesda with mods. Bethesda is the reason I got into modding in the first place. The problem is when other companies adopt a paid-mod marketplace. EA and Activision, two companies that have been notoriously hostile to modders, could very quickly open their doors to modding, which would be great. However, if these publishers start earning income from paid mods, then any site hosting free mods suddenly becomes a competitor. I could see them taking action against sites like MODDB or the Nexus and modders who release their content for no charge. As it stands, modders operate in a legal grey area and their work exists at the mercy of whoever holds the rights to the game they're built on. One cease-and-desist notice is all it takes to halt months, even years, of nonprofit work on a mod.
This month brought modders dangerously close to the threat, and potential, of capitalism. With Valve and Bethesda reversing their policy, many are breathing a sigh of relief, but it's clear the debate hasn't ended. Valve is going to do exactly what made them into software giants: They're going to back to the drawing board, beat themselves up over where they failed, relentlessly fix the flaws in their design and come back with something everybody can appreciate (or at least tolerate). Then other publishers will copy their move. We can fully expect paid mods to become a reality within the next 2-3 years. Whether or not that's a good thing will come down to how much gamers have a say in it. I hope that when they do come, they exist in a market where paid mods are priced fairly and free mods will continue to be made with passion. Hell, I'd gladly produce both free and paid mods in such a system. But like many gamers, I don't trust the market to be fair and balanced anymore.
And without further ado, here's the weekly music video.
Wow, didn't take long for me to fall behind. Been busy with July Anarchy Prologue I guess.
This video is shot beautifully, but I mostly love it for being a rap song with a two-minute guitar solo.
EDIT: Posting two artists from Japan back-to-back was complete accident BTW.
I think I'm just going to post one music video a week here until I find something else to talk about, partly to keep me from going on any more year-long exiles from this site.
Here's one band I stumbled upon from Japan, LOKA. From what I've listened to they can be pretty hit-or-miss, but when they're good, they're really good.
Where a man walks, he brings his entire life with him. This is an adage born somewhere in China, then through literature or accident brought to Europe until an eroded form found its way onto American soil, yet the saying has always held a core truth. Wherever a person stands is both the culmination of his past and the start of his future, the fulcrum point between history and possibility. It then seems ironic that a man more aware of this truth than most would bring his life to a seedy boarding house in Fell’s Point.
This is where such a man found himself, standing in the doorway of the lively coastal den with a heavy suitcase dangling from his whitened knuckles. Even through the rumbling chatter and laughter of the sailors and whores, countless stares landed upon him. Grizzled old patrons gave him gazes, but none made him the subject of their talk. What was there to talk about? This stranger looked perfectly ordinary. Yet the patrons knew in their guts that this was exactly why they couldn’t bring themselves to stop staring. He looked incredibly ordinary, deliberately ordinary, as though a child’s doll had grown flesh and weight but kept the spotless clothes and horse-grown hair.
He stomps over to the proprietor and requests a room. The proprietor raises an eyebrow. The man speaks cleanly. Too cleanly. Like he’s carefully measuring each syllable on his tongue and biting it into a pristine sculpture of a word before he releases it. Still, the proprietor sees money and puts a set of keys in the man’s hand. Room 413. The man says his thanks and heads for the stairs. Not a glance goes to the women of comfort that call and prod to the single traveler as he makes his way through the tempestuous dining hall. The men and women of the bar feast their last glances on the stranger as he struggles up the uneven staircase. They finally admit to themselves. Somehow this man does not belong.
The man awkwardly negotiates carrying the rifle-sized case and getting a grip on the room key before he finally gets the door open. It leads to a room with the bare 19th Century amenities, from a stained and bruised bed to foggy dresser mirror. He throws the trunk onto the bed, giving a true test to its integrity before unlatching the case. The man proceeds to unpack as much of his life as he brought with him, which turns out to be a single change of clothing, a single book, a single portrait of President Jackson, a single knife, and a single pillow. The man chooses the knife and stabs the pillow open without remorse, spilling its fluffy white guts onto the bedsheets. Among the feathers fall an ornate pocketwatch and a revolver.
The man lifts the two artifacts, treating the watch as though it were more dangerous than the gun. He rests the watch on the nightstand and examines the pistol. It was a simple revolver, ashen in color save for the maroon hardwood handle and surrounded with the tingling scent of cold metal. By tomorrow it would be a murder weapon.
Swift fingers now fumble the handle of the trunk itself, undoing the loose screws securing the trunk’s latch until it surrenders the handle to the man’s grip. He shakes the gold metal tube over his hand until six cylinder bullets drop into his palm. The man now retrieves the pistol and flips the gun’s roulette open. He guides a bullet between his thumb and middle finger and slides it into one of the six chambers.
The man is frozen. His eyes are fixated on the single slot now filled with lead. He juggles the unarmed pistol in his hand a few times, and concludes that the gun has, indeed, become much heavier when loaded, far beyond the weight of a single bullet. He ponders this wonder of physics, running it through a centrifuge of possibilities in his mind before concluding that the gun’s newfound heft came not from the bullet, but from gravity. The gravity of the task this pistol and the hand that wields it would carry. Kinetic energy in lead.
Curiosity now satisfied, the man resumes his task of navigating bullets until the gun is fully loaded. He thinks to himself that one bullet should be all that is needed, considering he has no intention of fighting his way out, then remembers that the recipient of said bullets has already been shot three times and still refused to die in spite of this era’s crude medicine. He concludes five additional shots may indeed be in order.
His pistol now fed, the man stands upright and begins a grisly rehearsal. He imagines a stage set facing the entrance of the United States Capitol Building, filled with hurried performers surrounding him. He turns to see a man in an impeccable black suit with ruffled gray hair ascending the pearl-white steps. The man follows, acting his part to be like every other performer on the stage, lithely following the black suit. He comes close enough to pick out the scraggly white hairs protruding the black suit’s ears. The rest of the performers go on. He climbs each step to the beat of his heart until both men are beneath the Capitol’s shadow. He is mere meters from the black suit. The performers go on. The man slips a hand beneath his jacket to introduce his trusted revolver. He raises it just above the neck of the man in the black suit. The performers go on. The trigger squeezes. The black suit tumbles to the ground limp. The stain on the stone steps will never come out. The man fires five more bullets to be sure. Here is where the performance stops.
And so stood Arthur Dickinson in an innocent little room in a nondescript boarding house, plotting the first ever murder of a United States President.
He rehearsed his movements again and again. Consulted his schedule. Memorized the times. Stared long and hard into his pocket-sized portrait of Andrew Jackson, the man he was to kill. He let the President’s drooping nose and wavy white hair sink into his memory. Then he noticed the date of the portrait in the bottom-right corner. He chuckled. It was taken after the presidency. He’ll probably look younger now.
Arthur was so caught in his preparations that he lost sense of time. This brought him to the pocketwatch on the nightstand. He delicately lifted the palm-sized watch by the chain, letting its brilliant black and gold face dance in circles before him. Of course the hands on this particular watch did not tell him the correct time, he had his own miniature timepiece for that. Instead he was more mesmerized by the backwards ticking of the hands, creeping closer and closer to the point of no return.
He let the watch down with a sigh and made his way over to the dresser mirror as he pondered everything that had led him to this. Arthur hardly had the background of a murderer. The Boy Scouts and MIT don’t churn out many assassins as far as he knew. Yet the momentous weight of the knowledge he had been given could not be trusted to some hired hitman, to say nothing of the magnitude of the task itself. Everything was accelerating with or without his approval. In time, Arthur and a loaded revolver would leave this room, making way for Washington D.C. In a matter of hours, President Andrew Jackson will be arriving at the United States Capitol to sign the Indian Removal Act into law. In a matter of seconds, it will be vetoed with a bullet.
The face in the mirror did little to lighten his thoughts. The boys back home had done a real number on him to make him look the part. His eyes were his own, but the bushy, crooked mustache and five o’clock shadow beneath them felt like lipstick on a pig. Worse still was the greasy, waved-back hairstyle that gladly displayed the mountainous hairline he had always tried to hide. This is how history will remember me, he thought. In an attempt to cheer himself up, he imagined his friends and family will still remember him as he was before. And, hopefully, they’ll be better off after this. He pulled his own watch out of his pocket. Quarter past two in the morning. It was almost time to leave. He turned to retrieve the pistol from the bed.
Four frantic knocks at the door shook the air around Arthur. His fingers froze on the grip of the gun. It was impossible for anybody around here to know who Arthur Dickinson was, but the force at the door persisted. He hastily threw the covers over the revolver. Another volley of knocks. Arthur stood tall and ready, reached for the doorknob, and answered his summons.
What met Arthur Dickinson beyond the door was the long square barrel of a Colt 1911.
That gun would not exist for another eighty years.
Hopefully to be continued. We'll see how this month goes.
Let's go over just how awesome this week has been if you're a Boston nu-metal fan like me.
Sometimes life is just good.
My Youtube channel has over 380 subscribers to it. I don't really give a shit.
At least I didn't until very recently. The thing is, a lot of those subs are from way back. When I was younger I used to do these "Xbox Live Prank" videos where I harasses Xbox players with soundboards. They were fun at the time, but in retrospect pretty immature, so I kind of just ignored the videos for a good three years and never uploaded anything else.
Nowadays I've been trying to figure out a way to consolidate all my creative works (writing, mods, short films, etc) into one entity that promotes regular discussion and feedback, since I have very few people in my life I feel I can share that stuff with. I've taken to starting up a blog titled "The Anarchy Orchestra" in which I post all my short stories, poems, music reviews and discussions, general rants, and Youtube videos with an open forum. So I'm re-purposing my Youtube channel to be an extension of a blog, hopefully giving those 380-something subscribers something to come back to.
That doesn't mean Xbox Live Pranks is going to be replaced with the tampon-free Oprah Winfrey alternative. I'm still going to upload whatever the hell I feel like, and a lot more often now that I have video editing software no longer outdated by 3/4 of a decade. But overall, the channel is going to be something completely different. That also means I'll be putting up more blog posts here in connection with the Anarchy Orchestra blog, which is still under construction.
But hey, why not let my smooth, baritone vocal chords lay it down for you.
I decided that if I ever start my own game company (a genuine possibility the way things are going) then I would call it "Skateshop Games". Originally I developed all my mods under the name "Cocytus Games", but as soon as Skateshop popped into my head I knew that had to be it. The name says exactly the kind of games I hope to build: aggressive, grungy, and stuck in the early 2000's.
Trying out ideas for what a logo would look like. What do you guys think of this one?
Well it's been a long time coming, but July Anarchy Prologue version 1.2 is finally finished and is awaiting authorization on moddb.com.
Included in this version is a mod that has practically been rebuilt from the ground up, adding all new gameplay mechanics such as the Adrenaline System, which completely changes the way the game is played, weapons such as the Rocket Launcher, a tough-to-reach alternate ending, new challenging objectives, and a scoring system, and much more.
So what now? Well, for the foreseeable future, 1.2 will be the last major update. If I get a lot of bug reports or if there's particular demand for a new feature, I may do a 1.3, but it won't be the monumental leap 1.2 was.
What I'd like to focus on instead is my next NWN mod, "Static". To be honest, I'm more excited to work on Static than I ever was on July Anarchy Prologue, partly because I didn't always intend for JA:PR to be a public mod and partly because Static is already turning out amazingly well. Like July Anarchy Prologue, Static takes NWN in a new direction, this time as a survival-horror mod in the style of classic Silent Hill and Fatal Frame games.
I'll still be paying close attention to July Anarchy Prologue, updating the scoreboard, listening to feedback and of course giving you guys news on the progress of the novel this mod was originally a visual model for.
Whether or not I continue the July Anarchy series in game form is up in the air right now. The next chapter would be a very ambitious project, and I don't think I can do it on my own. It might not even be possible in the Aurora Engine. Time will tell, I suppose.
My hope is that July Anarchy Prologue will have enough longevity to help spark new interest in NWN modding and we end up seeing more mods that take advantage of the incredible amount of content the D20 Modern and CEP teams worked so hard to put out. If Doom is still ripe for modding after almost twenty years, Neverwinter Nights should stick around for a long time.
So enjoy (or despise) the mod, give me your thoughts, and have fun!
"My name is Alexander Virgo Meda, and I'm about to beat the living piss out of you." - Alex Meda