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I just feel that this word has not only described this class and everyone in it, but I am also posting a link to the paper I am wanting to submit (but there is no drop box for it yet), so here’s a link, and happy reading!

The Hopefully Epic Paper, with epic meaning here: “good enough to get my ideas across to the reader and have them see what I have seen.”

(^^)V

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So I finally got a draft done – and nowhere near done, by the way, so please don’t feel intimidated as to where you are or where I am. I just want to get some thoughts out there as to your thoughts about what I am saying and any expectations one might have when reading my central claim. Oh yeah, this will be edited, reorganized, and images will be added as well.

Thanks a ton. Here’s the link:
First Draft

(^^)V

semiotic drum diagram

First semiotic diagram of drums

It took me a while to be able to get to this point for more thoughts from everyone here, but I wanted to show my (most likely awry and probably will get trolled for yet another long post) attempts at trying to create a semiotic diagram of the interactions I will be looking at in the final paper: the drum peripherals for Rock Band and Guitar Hero. While doing this, it was pretty exciting what I ended up finding out there, and I hope you enjoy the brain dump:

(I also left some areas here with parentheses to try to get help with what I am not sure about)

***EPIC NOTE DUMP OF ATTEMPTED SEMIOTIC READING***

other artifacts in this arena:
ion drumset (alesis – makers of pro music equipment) – 2nd from the bottom left
logitech drumset (adjustable and quiet) – 2nd down from top left
ultimate view (hacker made) – 2nd left from bottom right
zen drums (many different small drums) – pros use – 2nd down from top right
taiko drums (japanese, but still a drum controller) – top left corner
dk bongos (for children) – 2nd up from bottom left
gh5 controller – bottom left corner
korg (the stick) – upper right hand corner
rock revolution – 2nd right from upper left corner
band hero – 3rd right from bottom left corner
silent drum controller – bottom right corner
roland handsonic – to the right of rock revolution
kat percussion – to the right of roland

implied speakers
the homemade ones speak more from hackers and DIY-ers perspective
the game controllers speak from a software/engineering standpoint
the pro ones speak from musicians and sound engineers

implied “player”
the homemade ones speak to those who are crafty and want control over the music they want to make, but still want to play games
the game controllers speak to a generic gamer who wants to enjoy music games, regardless of skill
the pro ones speak of professional musicians whose job it is to use these tools to play music to make money

implied cultural references
the homemade ones not only have the cultural reference of the pots and pans, but there’s also the strong nerd/tinkerer connotation
the games ones have the animal! connotation to them – just hack away at them and that’s how you define fun – the also amateurish feel to them as well from marching band
the pro ones speak to the refined musician and rocker inside of them, but have a strong pragmatic twist to them – it’s a simplified tool to make music and fun

materiality
the homemadeones are made out of “nonstandard” drum equipment – electrical equipment and sensors
the game ones are made out of plastic and practice drum heads, and foam – it literally sounds like one is practicing playing the drums
the pro ones are made out of metal and actual practice equipment, combined with a sound board type feel (remediation of professional equipment)

connotation/denotations
the homemadeones directly reflect the amount of love put into the music and the effort needed to make the drums work with the games and software – also shows their love of the game and also the showoffiness of their efforts – these are literally just controllers they have made to interface with the game, not directly sanctioned by the makers of the games, but they put it on youtube, which popularizes the games and efforts even more – may or may not connotate a level of musicianship
the game ones are tools literally to interface with the code of the games and the hardware of the video game systems – also can be used between games and show as tools online as to how to play the games – also are a status symbol of one’s acheivements in the games – for example the ions mean that you have the money for tools for gaming (it’s 250-300 bucks) and are super responsive – also reminiscent of the cobalt flux DDR arcade pads – better players play with the best equipment – so it’s almost kinda like a sport equipment piece, and the default equipment can’t get you to the upper echelons of play – reflect the whole gamut of musicianship from complete amateur to knowedlgeable pros
the pro ones directly not only reflect the amount of money and professional sounds that come through them, along with the ability to fine tune the sound to their desirable levels – the other pieces of equipment don’t get you that (except the silent drum, but even that not to an extent) – the pros don’t have the direct literal form of a drum set, which is interesting, because they are more computerish tools to craft sound, rather than to literally sit down on a throne, pick up sticks, and then start jamming – this type of jamming is professional, meant for money, as these tools will help you to get the money and respect from the music community, not the gaming community, as the other tools will get you

other form connotations
the homemade ones can take any form they want and encourage any type of play – aux perc, regular drumming, or any other type of percussive happenings – it’s sort of like the homemade ones are meant to be played only by the individual who made them – very restrictive and intuitive to one person, and may require extensive learning for those who didn’t make the original instrument (or is it?) – as far as the game concerned, it is an instrument – connotative of many of the other homebrewed instruments out there for youtube – can be combined with the games on the computer or the actual game console
the pro ones discard the traditional form of drum set – they abandon this in favor of an extension of the computer as a wave generating machine – or they utilize the “one drum” practice pad approach that one can use normal sticks on but manipulate it in the sound board way – these also connotate a professional level of play – very tight, staccato sounds that come from the drum material itself, regardless of what sound is programmed to come out of the darn thing – the level of metal and foam on them make it less likely for amateur banging on them to happen, as the toughness and the money reinforce the professional nature of these things

types of sticks involved
(i prefer 5A sticks, which are a little thinner, but i find they are pretty speedy)
homemade – any type of sticks or hands, as they are just “generically” used to hit the darn things and not have any other meaning attached to them (would have to ask people)
game ones – they come with their own sticks ( i play with my own sticks instead ), officially licensed as well, but feel too “woody” and not like a real pair of sticks that i have used and become used to hearing how they play – have to learn how to play with another particular set of sticks – just get the sound of the stick and the equipment
the pros – they are meant to be used not only with your sticks, but they are meant to also be played with your hands while playing to dynamically change and fine tune the sound, unless it is rigged to other technologies to help the musician dynamically change the music – or maybe even no sticks at all

so overall, i think this has helped me to see these as not only status symbols, but as tools that define what fun can come from drumming, along what type of sound “should” be made by drums

i guess then my language exposed is not only the intent behind the creation of these status symbols, but how they are used to satisfy the inner drummer within each of us

it also seems to me that there’s a “be all you can be” different kind of drummer evoked by each of these equipment – be the best modder and youtube star with the homemade equipment – be the best virtual drummer with the best drumming equipment for your friends online and also in the youtubes – be the best techno/pro drummer (without a “real” drum set) with the professional synthesis equipment

addresser/addressee/sender/sendee
addresser
(may need help here) success, fame, “good” music

sender
the different “companies” which manufacture the equipment (the actual modder from homemade, a gaming/software company (e.g. red octane or logitech), and the professional music companies that create the professional ones)

addressee
the “drummer” (i guess the dormant version that is within all of us)

sendee (receiver)
the actual performer (modder from homemade, video game player from gaming ones, and renowned conoisseur percussionist from pros)

So I would like to focus on different drum peripherals for my final paper – using semiotics – and am showing what I have so far. Here are the peripherals I am looking at:

Guitar Hero Drum Set Rock Band Drum Set

One of the things that I just noticed when I was looking at these peripherals remediates other real-world drumming equipment:

Drum Set (kinda like Guitar Hero)

Quad Toms (kinda like Rock Band)

So I don’t know where this will lead me, but I thought I would share and see if you have any other insights as well.

(^^)V

So I took a look at one of the readings for this week, and it talked about how people use language in different contexts to connotate meanings within a community. I saw this as an opportunity to share some of the knowledge I know about the metal community by showing this music video (Arch Enemy – Revolution Begins). Please enjoy! (It’s a short post)

Basically this can only be described by the following phrase: “that’s metal”. Now, I am not just saying the obvious, but I am using the awesomeness described by Zach and Ron (of epic Metalscape fame), as something that is so imbued with the spirit and experience that you feel it through your body. This is exhibited in the following ways:

(from the video)

  1. flames
  2. walking (stance)
  3. black and sepia colors
  4. usage of few video filters
  5. defiance and epicness
  6. pretty built (physically – like Vin Diesel) people
  7. clouds

(from the music)

  1. epic fast (2 handed) solo
  2. very full of power (volume)
  3. high energy (speed)
  4. the black and red for anarchy (color)

While reading about reflective qualities of the interface, it made me think of not only The Reflective Practitioner, but the way it was conveyed seemed to me that this type of interface quality is not only to strike a conversation with the artifact, but also to make us think and ask questions of the world around us (and the examples of net art and digital art presented were pretty epic). Anyways, I started looking for an example of an “artish” augmented reality type of design to comment on, and I found this:

This augmented reality pet was pretty interesting from the fact that the pet actually has pretty realistic behaviors, and that I could have a pet without actually having it in my house (as I am allergic to pet dander). But that was pretty much the only thing I liked about it (along with all of the comments of it on youtube – comments), as I didn’t like that I had to constantly keep adding semacode markers to allow the dog to move and behave in a larger amount of space. That didn’t seem like something a real dog would need in order to move around (and also, it makes me think that this would eventually be monetized, and the amount of cards one would have to buy would be epic, potentially leading to a large amount of waste when this whim of an interaction is over with), along with having an owner put this much effort in to having a pet move. While having a device that overlays the dog in real life is part of AR, I would have liked to see this interaction pushed further – incorporate our glasses, or other types of “reflective” surfaces in the environment to bring the dog to other environments. After all, a dog pretty much comes and goes wherever it pleases, and having a dog that sat still until you prodded it didn’t make me engaged with it at all.

I guess the only part of this interaction that would make me reflective would be the fact that this would not want me to get a pet, because it would serve as a reminder of all the effort I would need to put into the care of the alive being. If this was the intent of this interaction, then it certainly has succeeded, as it made me think (and then the authors would also have another exemplar of an interface to put in their mixed reality category, although I didn’t think that lumping mixed reality and digital art as reflective interfaces meant the same thing to me – they are pretty much different, in my eyes, as the mixed reality apps usually are meant to place more information in our environment to help us make the choices we need to make, whereas digital art helps us to push our understanding of the world around us and what we can do with it. This app, even though it may push developers to change the world, doesn’t really make me reflective in the same way the authors intended, so I guess I am looking for others’ thoughts here).

If you haven’t seen “text rain” before, it’s pretty darn cool, and is the kind of cool stuff I usually keep around in my head for off the wall concepts.

So while reading for Tuesday’s class, all of the movie references I found were pretty inaccessible for me, (partly because I haven’t seen any of the movies they were trying to reference, and didn’t have any videos for me to look at while trying to read their breakdown) so I thought I would try to do a mini-breakdown-scene analysis of one of my favorite comedians: Mr. Jim Gaffigan. This clips is about one of his most famous bits: his commentary on hot pockets. Please enjoy.

Shot # Shot Type Dialogue
1 medium “feeling slow”
2 pan out applause
3 medium “white trash”
4 close audience laughing
5 close “i’ve never eaten…”
6 closer “i’ve paid for that!”
7 medium “my back hurts”
8 close “ow”
9 closer “hot pocket!”
10 far audience laughing while saying hot pocket
11 close audience applauding
12 far see all of the audience and the stage
13 medium “i like nascar”
14 close “never see that going to dinner”
15 close audience laughter after ceasar salad
16 close his waiter impression
17 close cut to the hypothetical orderer
18 medium waiter again – “it’s frozen”
19 close waiter “boiling lava hot”
20 close audience laughter
21 close “burn my mouth”
22 close “it’ll destroy your mouth”
23 far “everything will taste like rubber”
24 close “i’ll have the hot pocket”
25 far -> close “hot pocket!”
26 medium “haven’t been around”
27 close “i got an idea!”
28 closer “cook it in a nasty sleeve”
29 far laughter to toilet
30 close veggie hot pocket
31 closer “still want diarrhea”
32 medium “roll of toilet paper”
33 close “dignified way of buying”
34 close “stick it in your cart”
35 medium “hot pocket!”
36 medium “lean pocket”
37 close “take out of box”
38 medium puts it in the toilet
39 close -> far response to flush pocket
40 close “pocket pocket pocket”
41 far “introduced the breakfast hot pocket”
42 close “finally!”
43 closer “can’t think of a better way to start the day”
44 medium “hot pocket”
45 close audience applauding
46 medium -> far audience applauding
47 close “hot pocket for breakfast”
48 medium “do love that jingle”
49 medium “what do you got so far bill?”
50 close “hot pocket?”
51 medium “that’s good”
52 close audience laughing
53 medium “now what can we run in mexico?”
54 close “caliente pocket?”
55 medium “you’ve got a gift my friend”
56 close “hot pocket”
57 far “commercial for”
58 close “now they’re just messing with us”
59 closer “he went crazy up there”

So here’s a couple of thoughts to start a discussion. I think it is very interesting that when there’s a cut to the audience, it is either to show people directly laughing, or to show the enormity of laughter and applause. I guess it is used as a means to show how good Gaffigan is at standup. It also helps me see when and how people are laughing at the jokes. Also, it is interesting that when Gaffigan assumes different personas during his standup, there is a rapid series of cuts, which I guess is used to serve as a “transporting” of Gaffigan to his other personas so the people at home can follow along with whom he is supposed to be. I also thought it was interesting that the “normal” perspective is to show Gaffigan at normal eye level, to show him as right in front of the people at home, which is used to help us not only see him (which may be hard for some at the show), but to also see the nuances in his body language to get his jokes better.

I didn’t end up realizing how many different shots there were in a simple standup routine. It’s amazing! What did you notice?

So most people know that I love the Clerks movies, so I wanted to try and see what types of signs I could find in there, to exercise the reading for Thursday’s class. This is from the sequel to the movie, and, of course, has some epic R-rated language, but it makes me laugh, and we’re adults, so I hope this is OK for posting. So here we go…

The first thing that struck me was a sign of the title of this video. I thought this was where Jay rapped his signature rap, as it was referenced in the his own movie (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back), but this version of the rap is different, and is indicative of the time he has spent in jail and cleaning his life around. It’s also not as loaded with as many epithets as his usual mouth, but it’s a sign that the rehab program he was in has started to change his thinking. It’s even more interesting to see Silent Bob’s expression as Jay is rapping, as he sort of shies away – it’s not Jay’s best, and it doesn’t sound really good. This might be a sign of how he really feels for Jay – either concerned for him, or embarrassed that he still hangs out with Jay.

Where Jay and Silent Bob are standing is also very interesting – they are standing in front of a Mooby’s fast food restaurant in Leonardo, New Jersey (a place that has been established to be a “waste pit” in other movies). The Mooby’s is also a reference to McDonald’s, because it’s everywhere in the View Askew universe (the set of movies Kevin Smith has directed with these characters), a sign of its omnipresence and hold over the lives of people who can’t get a “real job” (aka Dante and Randal, and Jay and Silent Bob usually end up wherever Dante and Randal go, maybe a sign of fate?). The bricks behind them are quite apparent, even though the Mooby’s logo is perfectly written on there and the paint looks really good. It’s an interesting sign because the stereotype of New Jersey is that it is a dump and that large buildings like this usually receive a lot of graffiti (which ends up happening later). It’s an interesting sign at the possibility of hope of life for Dante, Randal, Jay, and Silent Bob. Now that’s something I didn’t see when I saw the movie the first time around.

I also appreciated the fact that not only did this scene point to and reference other movies (the Buddy Christ shirt is from Dogma), but it also pointed to what our commonsense notion of what a drug dealer and a reborn Christian talks and acts like. Even though Jay and Silent Bob have gone through jail, they both still have the same posture and the same types of conversations of when they were drug dealers (could be signifying that rehab doesn’t work fully?), but that the experience was worthwhile for them, as they now found the Bible, and Jay wants to do something with his life now. It’s even more of a sign of how the experience of jail worked on them, because their language is still roughly the same as when they were standing in front of the Quick Stop. Another “cue”/sign here is that Silent Bob is in the scene, as he’s the director and the character, but he holds up the Bible to the camera when Jay references it, potentially showing us a view they may/may not have in terms of faith and religion in modern day society (could be parodying this type of people, which I could see).

I couldn’t really find too many more signs of the change of Jay and Silent Bob (other than than the lack of music going on – since it is silent – Jay usually raps with non-diegetic music – it seems to signify something has changed about his lifeworld), but their costumes are a little bit cleaner and worn on them as well, signifying their use in jail, along with the hard lives they have been leading until this point. The costumes of the people who want to buy drugs from them also were done well enough (including their posture), to signal that they were also down on their luck and they think that weed will help them, but the audience ends up being surprised that the main reason they choose this dealer is that he makes them laugh – a sign for the audience to laugh, as it is unexpected.

Please feel free to add on – I would like to see what other signs I take for granted in this scene, as I know these characters pretty well (or at least I would like to think so).

(^^)V

So I would like to do a breakdown of the mise-en-scene of one of my favorite video games: Skies of Arcadia: Legends (GCN). I will try and use the definitions on pp6 of the Lacey reading.

Temporal Aspects to Keep in Mind

There are a couple of things to keep in mind while trying to do an accurate job at looking at the scene here: this battle is usually taken on later in the game, and has happened three times before, each of varying difficulty. This is the end of a sidequest and story that makes the party especially powerful when completed – the boss is worth a level of experience when defeated (most enemies aren’t – a lot of grinding has to go on to be able to complete this battle!)

Some Visual Aspects

The player is treated to a typical RPG menu overlay on top of the camera work. The spirit points, the gauge as to what types of special moves or magic can be used, is displayed at the top of the screen, and the main menu of commands are also displayed in the lower left corner, accompanied by a set of icons to make it easier to see what the possible choices are for the player. Also, whenever a move, magic, or attack is done, it is shown on the top of the screen as the actor plays this part of the scene, which allows the player to not only confirm what has been selected, but to help prepare for what should be done next round.

The battle takes place on an imperial battleship, complete with a bridge and “quad”-laser that’ll take out demigods with ease. The battleship is huge, has multiple floors, and is made out of metal (I believe). The battle takes place on the front deck of the ship, only after this imperial battleship docks with a very small boat that the antagonist pilots. The battle also allows the player to be in a small amount of control of the camera, as he/she can move the camera during the “turn preparation” (before the scene, aka turn, has happened) – this isn’t shown as well. Also, the camera pretty much is satisfied to circle over the action for most of the battle, until it zooms in on a player or computer, when their turn is taken. Then the camera programmatically repeats this until the battle is over.

Aural Components

This is the best part of the scene, as this is the part of the experience I cue into the most while playing an RPG (besides focusing in on the action). The sounds used for all menu operations are very small, quick, and pretty much to-the-point. They become musically and a cue for one to get to the actions one wants to take, and are very helpful in this way. What’s missing is the sounds of the control stick and the button presses on the GameCube controller.

The main reason why the experience of playing this game is so epic is due to the boss music. The first whoosh that occurs is a sign of an upcoming boss fight, cued by the signature boss music itself. The music is also reactive to the context of the boss fight as well: when the main character dies, the music segues to an uphappy and distressing tune, to let the player know that the fight is not going in their favor, and must do something to turn the battle around. There’s also the segue to the epic happy music when the player is winning, and happens later in the video, as this cues the player that he/she is winning and needs to keep pouring it on to achieve victory. It is also possibly to get the most epic segue, from getting it to go from the bad music all the way up to the win music in one blow – it’ll blow your mind, and make the hair stand up on the back of your neck (that’s why I keep playing this game! – I even prolong the boss fights to hear the music more, too). The music also has more cues as well, as one can hear the death knell from the bell in the beginning of the cutscene, showing the player that this is going to be tough (and it is a tough fight, believe me). There’s also the happy post-battle music too, along with the posing and victory chants as well too, and I hum this as well along with the video.

The Performance of the Actors

There are 6 character actors here in this battle (unless one wants to count the ship, as it is pretty vital to this battle). They are: (protagonists) Vyse (main character in blue), Aika (girl with orange ponytails), Fina (girl dressed in all white and veil), and Enrique (the other guy, who’s pretty epic); (antagonists) Piastol (a secret boss – this is the 4th encounter), and her puppy. Each character has their own set of moves, namely attacking, adding spirit points (the thing on the top of the screen used to determine special moves) or using a special move. Most of the acting in this battle is determined by the player (except for the cutscene beforehand), and can be changed to do whatever he/she wants – this was just one way of acting this battle out. Each of these sets of actions has their own way of being acted out (namely, each animation is different, the way the battle is being acted). The player also gets to see the costumes each character has: Vyse is a sky pirate, so he wears blue denim, sky goggles, and has a double set of cutlasses; Aika is the girl next door type of character, so she wears a yellow skirt, tall boots, and uses a boomerang (she tries to get Vyse’s attention a lot, but not in this battle); Fina is a mage, so she gets to wear a white dress and veil, uses a very subdued and demure posture, and utilizes her magical pet Cupil as her weapon; Enrique is a prince, so he wears very formal and imperial clothing, stands tall and proud, and utilizes a rapier (a very fancy and refined sword). What’s super interesting here is that the acting is very repetitious (the typical RPG battle), even though it is a boss fight (the player utilizes each character’s “role” in order to achieve the “good” ending of this scene), even though the player of this movie could have done a different script to achieve the same ending, although not recommended by other players (I would have done this at a much later experience level, personally, and focused on speed of attack and the team’s special attack, not shown here, but causes the moon to come out of the sky and destroy the battlefield). The items also play a critical role here, as they not only help the team to victory, but they have their own animation (which can be bypassed if desired – but all enemy animations cannot be bypassed), which reinforces their role in the script of victory here.

I could go deeper, but I would like to start a conversation about this, so please jump on in!

So I also am going to put up what I have been thinking about for the mock outline exercise. The interaction (again) I was thinking about looking at phenomenologically is the Rock Band character creator:

So I won’t be able to give the “whole” outline here, but the topic I would be talking about is that creating rockers are a painful and reflective experience. The “pain” and “reflective” aspects are the things I would like to attempt to work out phenomenologically. In terms of the actual game experience, the pain comes in through what type of controller you are using to create/edit your rocker, how much time you can dedicate to your rocker, when/where you play Rock Band, and also if you can actually find anything in the rocker’s closet that will please your tendencies.

In terms of a reflective experience, I find this interaction to allow one to reflect on what it means to be a rocker for his/herself, reflect on the achievements done in game, listen and take action on other players’ comments about your rocker, how one can continuously keep reforming their “rocker identity” to the world, and how one can keep pushing themselves to make a better rocker.

So I’ll have to go back to my notes and see if I can find anything to support this (which I believe so, as this came from a reflection on my notes), but I was wondering what the class thinks of at large about how to pull this off in a written form.

(^^)V