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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!

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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

In last lecture, Jeff talked about that Breakdown is not actually a bad thing. I continued to think about it, and now I believe that the Breakdown is not only a “not bad” thing, but it is actually very important for culture/technology development and it is the start of human cognition!

If we define that breakdown is something disturbs us from a flow and after that we will notice that thing and think about it (which we have never done before), what we are doing is actually the re-recognition of that particular thing. We are not knowing it the first time (maybe we do, but not in this case), but we are taking a re-think of that object, and start to ask ourselves questions – “What is it? Why it is here? How can I use it more efficiently?” That is the start of learning process, and that is the start of human thinking. Your study, your thinking – they all start with Breakdowns.

So – what if we don’t have breakdowns? Can we actually live without breakdowns? I don’t think so. If we have no breakdowns in our daily life, we will be just like animals – do whatever our body requires us to do, and stay in the “perfect flow” which is just doing anything without thinking. Can we do that? No. We are human. We not only know how to think, but also have to think. We live in society and there are lots of interaction and stimulations from/to all direction – they are all breakdowns.

Maybe I have defined Breakdown a too broad concept. Maybe we should narrow it down a little bit. But I still believe that we cannot live without breakdowns, which is the motivation of the culture progress. What’s your opinion?

A school friend of mine shared this video link with me recently. The video showcases a dialogue between a tourist and a self-employed ‘peacock hand-fan’ seller on the streets of Mumbai (specifically Hanging Gardens – a tourist spot in Mumbai). What struck me after watching this video is how language could be picked up or taught without formal education through human interactions outside of a typical classroom. The boy in this video, I believe, has consciously learned his ‘selling act – dialogue’ in different languages. He uses those languages as a tool to connect to his potential diverse tourist customer base. While learning these languages, he must have definitely made a conscious effort to master them through learning the suitable spoken accent, phrases and tone and expressions. A possible ‘breakdown’ (as proposed by Heiddeger) and an incentive as well as motivation for the seller to learn all these different languages, would be that he might be losing out on a lot of foreign tourists as potential buyers of his selling artifact. That may have caused him to learn new languages that would enable him to connect to his non-Hindi speaking foreign audience. However, once he mastered that lingo act, he uses it effortlessly without thinking twice about the corrective usage of those language constructs; all he does is engage in the act of selling the peacock handfans with the hope of earning a few extra bucks.

Would be interesting to know how you guys felt about the video…