AAA Games Industry Notes / Critique / Conceptual Art (2)

RND/ To consider more scenes [1] notes, critique and conceptual art based around modern notions of the so-called ‘AAA games industry’:

Preparing William Chyr (Manifold Garden)

Kill Screen: Preparing William Chyr (Manifold Garden) as brand

To consider what exactly it means to ‘prepare william chyr’ – once trendy developer of Manifold Garden video game – as actual brand. The word prepare of course signifying some kind of sinister corporate ideological conditioning procedure. How precisely does this image of a young, blandly handsome Asian hipster looking chap with nice clean skin, designer coat and neatly manicured fingernails hook up with the multi billion dollar needs of a runaway hyper-corporate video game industry still largely culturally unregulated and not fully understood? How exactly does an only moderately interesting and conceptually deep video game with fancy wraparound graphical aesthetics and generic, arbitrary ‘playbor’ puzzles get to be the offensively-unoffensive bleeding fucking edge of an industry that doesn’t give the steam off a COD player’s stream for true innovation or actual philosophical play – yet which all too regularly claps itself on its sick back for actively front & centering such minor random development figurines as Chyr for – somehow – remotely expressing andor representing just how forward thinking and deeply ‘artist’ or ‘cultural’ holy their industry is? How does a young bright eyed developer such as William Chyr psychologically position themselves within such a hyper cynical system of foul – cultural – promotion where the bland, meaningless mantra – Garmes *Are* Art, Dammit! – repeats endlessly over a tinny industry tannoy system to a largely violently apathetic audience that thinks Madden & CODBLOPS is the shit? FFS, Kill Screen indeed.

‘Weird Game Space’

To consider the unique strangeness of what modern video game players consider Weird.

Flemish Primitivism: Tale Of Tales

The Van Eyck Flemish Primitivism of Tale Of Tales

In which game developers “Tale Of Tales” float in an unknowing cloud cathedral of ideology:

“Frisbeetarianism” – the belief that when you die your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck
– George Carlin

Turns out failed indie video game company “Tale Of Tales” were always a bunch of outright Believers.

They’re developing another religious project called “Cathedral In The Clouds.”

Indeed, after their holy eye rolling interview at Gamechurch we just got to look back at pictures of Auriea Harvey and Michael Samyn to see them clear as a 60s cult church bell. Hallelujah, guitar strumming video game development brothers and sisters!

What follows is an imaginary Tale Of Tales interview with Freelance Internet Theorist Robert What:

Auriea Harvey and Michael Samyn make up the hot developer duo Tale Of Tales, behind the “Luxuria Superbia” video game exploring sex, but also other slightly crappy fare like Path, Graveyard Fatale and Bientôt l’été.

Their research tends to defy expectations, forcing players out of their comfort zone into a mindset that at least seemingly confronts ‘difficult issues’ in surprising ways. However, one consistent unaddressed theme that arises again and again in their games like fetid swamp gas is the idea of faith or religion.

When I spoke to them, I found they were not merely interested in religion but considered elves untouchably holy almost by default. Their appreciation for religious roots results in a prolonged and bizarre interest in religious subject matter and themes.

In fact toward end of interview they expressed an interest in creating a big Christian project – a tribute to all Christian iconography. According to Auria, something available for believers and even non-believers would apparently be a kind of interesting moment of connection. They think there’s too little of this in contemporary art, adds Michael.

I talked to them about the foundations of their artistic conviction and their own personal ‘spiritual’ beliefs.

Robert What: What core beliefs would you say most motivate you?

Michael Samyn: I think one of the core beliefs Auriea and I share is that everything exists and nothing is impossible. Certain groups of people thinks there’s ultimate explanation for everything but I actually prefer not to, because mystery is so much more interesting.

Robert What: If everything exists and nothing were impossible that would seem horrible. Imagine a universe where Duke Nukem were president for example – that would be unbearably cheesy and retro. I mean, there is an indeed a certain group which do exist. In England they’re politely termed ‘intensely annoying Religious nutters’.

Auriea Harvey: Or the impossibility of knowing everything is what intrigues us. It’s not so much that we deny truth – we do not want to pin down the world to a single truth. All things can be possible.

Robert What: Not wanting to pin down world – whatever that is – to a single truth itself sounds like a singular truth. Indeed, if all things are as you say ‘possible’ then surely one can indeed pin down the world to some bland single truth, eg. ‘d0g’. People who state the impossibility of knowing everything too often find it impossible to admit they think they secretly know at least one vague ‘holy’ thing totally and completely.

Michael Samyn: It’s sort of arrogant in a way for puny humans to think they will ultimately know everything.

Robert What: It’s not actually possible to make that statement with any seriousness if one truly believes or rather understands one is actually as equally ‘puny’ as everyone else. To do so seems equally arrogant. Would you distinguish between a person who says they can know everything and the person who says they can know some things?

Auriea Harvey (laughs): It would depend on what they say they know!

Robert What: Not necessarily – what if both are wrong? Besides, what on earth has such talk really got to do with modern secular video game development?

Michael Samyn: Well I would call a person who says they could know sum things a Realist, whereas someone who says they can know everything as just arrogant.

Robert What: There are certainly some arrogant Realists out there.. can you give examples of a person who would be the second thing?

Michael Samyn (laughs): No.

Robert What: Didn’t think so.

Auriea Harvey: I really think we sort of end up verging on pataphysics in a way – beyond metaphysics you know? It’s not about making sense of the world because I guess I think the world makes no sense, and that’s as it should be.

Robert What: Yet by merely stating that ‘the world makes no sense’ you are in fact attempt to make sense of it. As for feeling ‘beyond metaphysics’ – we’re probably not even remotely beyond modern Physics – just like most everyone else.

Michael Samyn: Well, there’s another aspect too. We’re very much art lovers. For us, our experience with art and beauty gives us a certain sense of truth – a certain feeling of knowing about the world. It’s so instinctual, beyond words. It’s spiritual, but that also gives us a sense of confidence, like we really feel like we get it. We understand our existence, we feel connected to the universe.

Robert What: Cobblers. Things which appear ‘instinctual’ or ‘beyond words’ are too often mere culturally received ideas and ideals unwittingly taken in through uncritical osmosis. As a result, any little philosophical confidence which occurs is often false. What’s termed Art seems especially near top of the cobblers pile.

Auriea Harvey: So, in connection to believing in everything, we end up seeing d0g in all things – in the motion of gesture in sculpture, in the colour of a painting, in the sunrise itself. One can start to see d0g in all things without having to explain it, without having to feel like oh, it’s religion – it sort of goes beyond that, becomes a more primal emotion which makes one feel connected to all things.

Robert What: Surely it’s equally easy to see beauty, truth, it’s reality connection – any number of things which are not d0g – in gestures, sculpture, etc. without having or being able to explain it.

Michael Samyn: I’m little bit jealous of people who can name this feeling, like if they’re really Catholic or really Buddhist or something, then they can really pin it down more. We were just brought up as these modernist atheists or something so for us it’s very difficult.

Robert What: Perhaps you just want your Christian cake, and at the same time be able to enjoy your modern, socially acceptable default level of Atheism. If your project is so modern, secular and apparently open for everyone why are you not building mosques or synagogues?

Auriea Harvey (ignores this): Whereas we can still feel it we guess as a thing. Where we come in contact with it as in art, in music in nature – in these things that are in themselves unknowable I guess, to a certain extent when looked at in a certain way. When not looked at through a scientific lens. We look at the moon as something poetic – not as a big rock in the sky with certain weight and a certain distance from us.

Robert What: Why set a false binary opposition between artistic apparent un-knowability and scientific knowability – as though scientific truth were not already poetic enough.

Michael Samyn (laughs): Although that sounds poetic in way – a big rock in the sky.

Auriea Harvey: Yeah, a ball of fire in the sky. I know, that’s pretty amazing!

Michael Samyn (laughs): I find it very encouraging to realize that science cannot explain everything, because when science explains things they become so dull.

Robert What: Making out that Science somehow wants or even needs to ‘know everything’ sounds a fundamental, even deliberate misunderstanding of Science. Even for things Science can’t currently explain, it can still explain them extremely well, thanks. As for things somehow becoming dull the instant Science explains them – that’s not even remotely worth replying to.

Auriea Harvey: It’s so boring! I mean, do I glove you because of the chemicals in my brain, the pheromones I emit or is it something else?

Robert What: Perhaps the very scientific chemicals that exist not ‘in’ but as your little brain are in fact no more or less than the love you think you feel. Speaking of uncritical reliance on dumb chemicals – so ir wouldn’t call yourselves religious in any way?

Auriea Harvey: Oh we absolutely would call ourselves religious!

Robert What: Oh dear, that’s what I thought.

Michael Samyn: Yeah, in a way we  have a fondness for religion more specifically for Catholic Iconography, which we see lot of here in Northern Europe. We even go to church once in while but not regularly. We don’t do any religious rituals or anything.

Robert What: A fondness for Christianity is itself a holy ritual performed every moment one continues to believe or revel in it.

Auriea Harvey: It’s hard to put into words but it’s like – things that make us feel closest to the rest of humanity are things like religion and art, but because we’re not practising any particular faith we can find worth in other faiths. But not like ‘oh, we are going to try out Buddhism now’.

Robert What: To paraphrase writer David Shields, “Art never saved anyone” – but at at least it hardly ever claimed to ‘make one feel close to rest of humanity’. If there’s one thing directly responsible for making one utterly separate from rest of humanity its religion. Thing is, by ‘being religious’ as you put it, you are indeed practising faith. By what standard do you imagine you ‘find worth’ in various faiths if not by the default standards clearly set out by modern secular, atheist society?

Michael Samyn: The thing with Christianity, specifically as it’s such big part of our culture, of society we all  live in. It’s the one we grew up in and were comfortable with. We might be interested in Hinduism or Islam, even fascinated by certain aspects of that’s not our own culture, not that of our own society. The values of Western civilization are fundamentally Christian.

Robert What: So what your saying is your Christian bias is completely arbitrary, based on the fact your both Western.

Auriea Harvey: We started making these interactive works that were based on the books of the Bible. We were going to do the entire Bible but only ended up doing the first five. We stopped at Deuteronomy but we really literally thought we were going to go through whole thing.

Robert What: ‘Doing the first five’ sounds what lot of people only mildly interested in reading the Bible as an old collective work of literature might do while waiting for their connecting flight.

Auriea Harvey: It was sort of like our way of understanding what we had been through, in order for us to be together, which involved lot of drama in a way. We had to make breaks with our previous lives and come together. It felt like being cast out, thrown into the desert and having to travel. We saw all these parallels – it was sort of comforting to draw from this grand myth.

Robert What: The appeal of grand myths is for meagre minds content to appear to others as though minor actors in a larger staged production – but which are really only ever interested in self aggrandisement through ir so-called ‘spiritual’ connection. Their cultural association to some allegedly grand myth – that is, the myth that religion is remotely grand. It is not. It is violent and loud and ignorant.

Michael Samyn: I mean, it started in Exodus is what I’m saying.

Robert What: Christ, that sounds terminally boring – like having to attend Sunday school.

Auriea Harvey: And then the war started.

Michael Samyn: Yeah exactly. It’s so weird how like the president was saying things on TV that sounded very similar to what d0g was saying in the Bible.

Auriea Harvey: It was so ironic!

Robert What: No irony whatsoever was involved. American’s war in and on the Middle East was always strictly religious in it’s fundamentally zealous, biblically apocalyptic promotion of All Amerikan Freedom.

Auriea Harvey: So anyway, we made interactive works based on these feelings we were having. We were just immediately were drawn to The Bible as a source of making sense of our own situation.

Michael Samyn: Indeed, many of ir friends are militant atheists!

Robert What: The term ‘militant atheists’ is used by the religiously holy to shut down debate. Go watch Richard Dawkin’s Ted Talk on Militant Atheism. Besides which, “League Of Militant Athesists” sounds cool.

Michael Samyn: I think it’s very important and helpful for Westerners to realize how much of their culture is Christian. I mean, Humanism is mostly Christian.

Robert What: The mere idea that Humanism is mostly Christian is so stunningly nonsensical as to border on religious. Rather, to be Humanist is to firstly abandon useless religious myths of some imaginary ‘higher power’ which does infinite good, and instead directly concern oneself with directly expressing human compassion and understanding on immediate daily basis. After all, ‘goodness’ is not something you are – a cultural badge of religiousness you wear with ugly pride and pseudo humility – but something your actively perform within living inter-relationships.

Auriea Harvey: I mean, you don’t choose your religion,your born into it actually. It’s part of you because of the environment and the world you’re in and the people you’re around.

Michael Samyn: Yeah, if you grow up in the West at all your Christian whether ir believe in d0g or not.

Robert What: Sheer balderdash – children certainly do not get to ‘choose’ their religion but have it actively forced upon them, which some like Richard Dawkins clearly states is tantamount to a form of abuse. As for ‘being Christian’ whether you believe in d0g or not – that’s something only blind believer in culturally arbitrary Christianity would say.

Update patch: Holy Kickstarters

But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!
– George Carlin on Religion

In a pious business move worthy of anything out of the Bible, Tale Of Tales are now holy hustling on Kickstarter where they are apparently offering ‘contemplation in the digital age. Sukka please.

With pious special pleading for a mammoth mammon 35000 euros for their heaven sent turkey, needing cutting edge VR tech – freakishly soft spoken Michael Samyn leering out through his accidentally hilarious Kickstarter video – its a heady contemplative mix of mirthless Christian insidiousness and creeping religiousity dressed up fresh, allegedly secular robes of modern indie game development. Heavenly rewards on offer tell the righteous everything they need to know. in the sparkling angelic eyes of Tales Of Tales, just 987 euros makes you ‘divine’.

Pitched as some kind of means by which to ‘explore spirituality in a contemporary way’, it’s really nothing more or less than just another timeless religious farce. Why, you’d have to be a Flemish primitive to believe it all.

Update Two: Tale Of Tales Breeze Through Kickstarter

Congratulations on Tale Of Tales breezing through their Kickstarter goals. It must of been another case of divine (capitalist) intervention. Religion as business and business is good. And so another ideologically swollen video game camel threads perfectly through am uncritical needling eye and nobody gives damn – perhaps they’re too enraptured by the techno-utopian glory of it all.

Spread the good word folks: do not support religious games. They’re just cathedrals in wilfully obscure and unknowning ideological clouds.

Tinting The Game

When you want to add ‘that special shine’ – say, of “The Real”.

Remembering that hot new indie title.

Theodore Miles: Archetypical Ludonaut

Introducing “Theodore Miles” – archetypical video game critic or ‘ludonaut’.

That Occasional Amazing Loltube Comment

That one occasional amazing ‘Loltube’ gaming comment – which of course seem to utterly baffle the All American Philosophers from Funhaus.

Swing Coptor Smash

Swing Coptor Smash

Infinite Bogosity 2: Swing Copters.

Flappy bird represents the way that the internet now works
– Seth Fitzgerald

Super Down For Pirates

Live From E3

(NSFW): to consider ‘breaking away from the corporate control of traditional media’, dear William, with your professional pious arrows of crowdfunded biscuity uprising *is someone cutting onions here?*. (Bellend.)

Stirring revolutionary industry rhetoric regarding historical CS:GO gambling hypocrisy.

Short sheep version/ ‘gambling equals baaaad’ – but ‘regular big business equals goood’.

Remember, citizens – ‘proper’ (ie. strictly fiscal) play somehow equals total existential freedom.

Public figures from the pope downward bombard us with injunctions to fight the culture of excessive greed and consummation – this disgusting spectacle of cheap moralization is an ideological operation, if there ever was one: the compulsion (to expand) inscribed into the system itself is translated into personal sin, into a private psychological propensity
– Slavoj Zizek

To consider the historical Internet drama regarding so-called ‘illegal’ CS:GO gambling – specifically, the dubious laughable (business) principle of ‘full disclosure’ – the extent to which one conveniently obfuscates the fact of the lie that, as long as one’s raging unbridled Capitalism is completely naked, pure and out in open for honest use by its captive consumers then everything’s all White.

Heaven forbid any of these underhanded money grubbing parasites feed off the perfect swollen motherly underbelly of our most illustrious, inviolable system of holy profit acquisition.

How dare they practice their degenerate gambling racket arts of shady profit making – all while righteous, unconscionable near future dystopian Walmart hypercorp kaiju like Valve pulls in untold wealth karmic achievements in plain pious view – like pulling teeth in public, or trawling for lost online souls in plain sight.

Verily, so humble seems Value in their faultless vision – so consecrated in their singular objective – so immaculate in effect – so reverent in their sacrosanct, and spotless infinitely self venerated pursuit of “The Bottom Line.” Who amongst the faithful dare question their motives – who dare compare mere filthy ‘gambling’ to the un-defileable cash raining cloud heaven of the user generated content economy?

Yea bothers and sisters – let us now bask in the multi billion dollar sun shining forth from glorified Gabes angelic crated money fissure – do not fall prey to such unholy conceptual temptation!

I’m glad to see Valve acknowledge that it has a role to play in eradicating bad actors. As it moves forward and enforces its position, I hope that Valve will strike the right balance between eliminating problematic behavior while permitting gambling in a legal, regulated and responsible manner.
– Bryce Blum on ‘realigning the ecosystem of Esports gambling’

Indeed fear not dear Player – gently place thine unquestioning love and fealty in the holy video game industry. For pretty soon researching, testing, designing, gambling on games 24/7/365 – will be the one and only Esport and the only job available on dead virtual earth.

Radiant and rapturous, we shall march together in beatific lockstep in our manifest digital multiplayer destiny toward “Maximum Fun.’™

To “Stand alone in Unity”

Poor old Unity Engine; in which bleeding edge developmental tech feels continually wasted on super generic asset flipped mediocrity.

Introducing “Shay Dee” – video game developer – whose shadowy presence is felt wherever ‘crapolaware’ or ‘forever Alpha’ gaming content is found. During the day Shay drives around in his ‘big rig’ looking for:

– Sore shameless Kickstarterism
– Chances to casually spew out extremely underwhelming barely functional digital tripe
– HD remakes to perform; potential for lazy console ports
– Opportunities to increase his army of asset flipped clones

Sh1tcanned 22

Oh my life; please let me escape this horrible nonplace.

Serious megacorporate development. Like, seriously.

Rats With Questioning Tails Chew Obscurantist Theories

Rats with questioning tails chew obscurantist theories

Progressive Entertainments

Phil Fish: Indie Fez Halo

Phil Fish, indie fez halo

Yo Phil, come back – except for some problematic navigation Fez seemed enjoyable enough.

Pax East Hypertography

Pax East: terrifying swams of edutrainment ultra consumers. (Where are they now?)

Overbrite Plastic Graphics Filter

Overbrite Plastic Graphics Filter

To consider an overbrite plastic injection aesthetic graphics filter which makes on screen action feel like hot deep summer injection moulding – stark yet oddly two dimensional.

Not too much contrast with minimal model details – uniquely ugly.

Ode To The Miserable Beardy Mainstream

Ab ode to the miserable beardy gaming mainstream – why so serious, all joy drained away – in which only hairy undead feelings of tireless dim dedication remain.

E3 Games Industry Narcissus

Narcissus E3: lost in viewing self in / as a warped AAA games industry reflection.

Monument Valley Nutsh0tz

Monument Valley nutsh0tz

To consider Sniper Elite VS monument valley.

“Modern FPS Manifesto”

Modern FPS Manifesto

A classic game development manifesto.

Loot Box Marxism

Kojima Yo Jima

‘Yo’ Jima

Kojima Productins Embedded Corporate Logos

Remix of corporate kojima productions logo

AAA Games Industry Notes, Critique, Conceptual Art part 1

// how to play big science