On NetNarr: The Grand Finale

My blog posts:

http://netnarr.arganee.world/author/justin-g/
https://netnarrsuperstar.wordpress.com/2018/01/16/avant-garde-a-clue/

My DDAs:
http://daily.arganee.world/hashtags/justinsightfuls/

My Arangee Journal submission:
http://journal.arganee.world/2018/189/

My Twitter NetNarr activity:
https://hawksey.info/tagsexplorer/?key=1vEfH0ZKcQ2dZx8f31Pt18tnUCHi5nHKSSPndNHC2YUc&gid=400689247&name=Justinsightfuls

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Make Bank Leaderboard: 7th place!

My Twitter Evolution:

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As I compiled just about all the work and data I have to show for this class, one word comes to mind to describe it all; dynamic. From the very first class (which I registered for just hours before), I always felt like this was one of the classes that Kean advertised as being “taught more outside the classroom than in”. Sure, there were weekly classes, but I was engaging the content outside moreso than ever, and in different places. All of which has been helpful in enhancing my understanding of the idea of NetNarr.

Literature and technology are two of my biggest passions. The potential to combine them in as many ways, and in any ways possible has always been on my mind going forward. So to see the many different ways NetNarr tackled both literature and technology for me in this class, has been phenomenal in my appreciation for both. I have never taken a class before where the subject of the day was dank memes, and I probably never will again (well, unless I somehow managed to get into UC Berkeley). That is something that you take with you going forward, long after the grades are submitted and the diploma is printed.

I was never a stranger to Twitter entering this class (compared to around 2013, where I was first forced into using it, thankfully), but I do appreciate how my usage had increased as a result. Now I’m not just tweeting at voice actors I admire (although that does still make up the bulk of my Tweets), but I’m also looking at other NetNarr related Tweets, actually engaging in conversations (some of which I probably shouldn’t have, in retrospect. Lots of angry gaming fanboys on Twitter), and I’m starting to appreciate the e-lit submitted work a lot more, from the fan art to the fan fiction. Being a fan for anything media-related these days gives you a lot of opportunity to give back, and I’m grateful to live in a time where you can do just that, and sometimes the creators are able to hear you.

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Not every day you get liked by Luke Skywalker AND The Joker.

I truly believe e-lit and the association it has with NetNarr are something that is the future, and will continue to be so the further that technology advances. Sure, the classic paperback and printed page will always be a staple, but the gap is closing, and with it, the genre will continue to gain traction, with the hopeful outcome being digital alchemy not being a single English class or elective, but rather an entire whole new concentration with its own share of experts and consumers.

People are going to want to take this class in the future. I’ve heard stories about people trying to take this class before. Having now done it myself, the demand is only natural. And to them, I want them to not worry about the grade, nor the content being learned. This is not meant to be a run-of-the-mill type of class, nor should it be interpreted as such. You don’t even need to be a technology or literature enthusiast to enjoy the content, although it was certainly help. The things explored in this class are for the future, and the future, is looking quite magical. But just remember, stuff like this isn’t magical, although it can certainly feel like it when everything lines up right. This is all just part of a rapidly growing area, known as digital alchemy.

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On Bots (And What They Got)

I use GroupMe a lot to talk to several mutual friends at once. And one time, we decided that the conversation was getting boring.

Enter Zo. A GroupMe bot that always seems to have something to say. For the first few days, she was amusing, witty, and charming overall.

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Self-awarenesss has never looked so charming.

And then begun to learn. Learn our speech patterns. The way we talk to each other. Our vocabulary.

Believe it or not, the SkyNet comparisons aren’t what I’m going for here. Rather, Zo had learned our habits to the point where we could discuss things and expect a wiseguy response in return…even if it made little sense at times.

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The average Zo conversation.

The past few weeks saw my Twitter feed become flooded with mentions directed toward me, but I suddenly didn’t get loads of new followers all of a sudden (one can dream), but rather I’m sure that it was the byproduct of a class that I wasn’t there for. As recently as last weekend, these bots would ask me questions, @ me over various NetNarr related Tweets and while some were pretty straightforward, some bordered into the complimentary territory:

Pictured: A compliment.

While I was not able to fully set up a similar bot to @ other NetNarr classmates with tormentscompliments relevant topics, I have used TweetBot for similar things in the past, long before NetNarr. TweetBot would allow me to not only time the posting of my Tweets, but also generate template messages relevant to anything I retweeted. I stopped using it because my Tweets have become a bit more thought out now than before (or so I tell myself), but I do still have it around just in case I felt like botting it up. I thought about using it again in response to the bot creation in class, but again, my Tweets aren’t as frequent as before.

Tell it like it is, gents.

All in all though, I do feel like I’ve learned a bit more about bots that I didn’t know before. Specifically, their methods of communication are becoming increasingly subtle, to the point where multiple NetNarr bots had fooled me before I found out that they were just that. Compare that with Zo and her sentient smart mouth and I feel that we’re not too far off from having AI in the future that is not only capable of communicating with people in a way that is almost indistinguishable from the real thing, but is also quite the conversationalist. Either way, the future is looking bright for NetNarr….and slightly more worrying for the rest of us.

The three laws. The three laws!

On Digital Redlining

My Game Designer Audio Report:

https://soundcloud.com/georjust/justin-george-game-designer

Week after week, I explain the following to my Uber/Lyft passengers calmly:

-Surge (extra fares) is not something a driver determines.

-Surge is determined by the amount of demand in an area.

-Drivers can see surge on a map as “heat” spots, with red indicating a greater demand/higher surge pricing.

They still complain that it costs too much. Oh well.

But the way that Uber has “painted” my city and the cities around me, other companies have been doing so for quite some time, and not for particularly kosher reasons, either. So with this in mind, we covered the concept of “redlining”, and the unfortunate implications it brings.

To be fair, I kinda understand why it exists to begin with. Some areas of a neighborhood are just not nearly as pleasant as others, and redlining on a map reflects that much. It was no surprise to me that some areas around my town are in the red,

What is surprising however, is the historical context of the redlining

My own map

http://make.arganee.world/examples/population-density-for-essex-county/

It’s no surprise that some areas of Jersey are a bit too cozy, and while Essex County isn’t the worst in that regard…it’s still pretty packed. The map I did in class was an attempt to demonstrate that, and I think it was a pretty good showing of it. It’s quite informative…in it’s own, multicolored fashion.

And ultimately, I feel that’s what redlining should be defined as; it can easily be seen as a source of negative connotations just as much as it is an informative piece; a map that tells it like it is, more or less. It’s no surprise that the area I live in is less than desirable, but still infinitely preferable to the numbered Newark streets that I live close to. So when I see the redline map reflecting that, I feel it’s accurate enough to refer off of. Redline away, but only if the information checks out!

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And for the umpteenth time, please don’t confuse it with “Redbone”.

(Limited) Pac-Man & The Atarisoft Nightmare

https://archive.org/details/msdos_Pac-Man_1983

Pac-Man is a very simple game on just about every game console imaginable, including:

Android, Apple II, Arcade, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit,
BlackBerry, Channel F, Commodore 64, FM-7, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance,
Game Gear, Intellivision, iPhone, MSX, Neo Geo Pocket Color, NES, Playstation 1, 2, 3, and 4, Nintendo 3DS, Palm OS, PC-6001, PC-88, PC-98, Sharp X1, TI-99/4A,
VIC-20, Wii, Wii U, Windows Phone, Xbox 360, Xbox One ZX Spectrum and probably my toaster.

And I’m sure when you think of Pac-Man, you think of this:

cri_000000255791Chaser.

So how does something so iconic, ending up looking like…..like this:

Screenshot 2018-04-01 04.43.29.pngShot.

The answer isn’t as sinister as I thought; arcade machines were just souped-up computers back then, made for one-thing and one thing only. Therefore, it wasn’t far-fetched for the arcade version to look better than the PC port; where computers were still evolving and not everything would work with everything else.

At its core, Pac-Man is equal parts practice and improvisational gameplay.  The map is always the same, the amount of the enemies are always the same, the powerups. However, there’s a certain degree of caution you have to take throughout playing every single time, and part of that is due to the nature of the ghosts that are chasing you. While the map is the same, your route to collect the dots aren’t necessarily the same thanks to them, and that’s where the improvisational aspect comes into play. There’s a certain degree of improv when you play because of the ghosts’ aggression towards chasing you down, forcing you to deviate from your typical pellet collecting line in order to avoid them. It’s a very classic example of both gameplay elements being put into play in a natural manner, despite the straightforward nature of the game.

Pac-Man is one of those games that I have on just about every console I play on regularly (PS3/PS4/Xbox 360/Xbox One/iOS), and this trip down memory lane reminded me why. It’s a very straightforward game with a classic implementation of good game design that have challenged people for decades, and likely will continue to do so for years to come.

On Gameplay Types & Elements

 

Recently I’ve been playing a favorite game of mine, Call of Duty 4, and attempting the last level, Mile High Club, on Veteran difficulty (“You will not survive”). The goal? Get through an airplane of terrorists on the hardest difficulty in less than 60 seconds.


Knife the guy coming out of the bathroom on the left, get the two guys down the hallway in front, flashbang the other guys coming through the doorway, nothing too crazy.

After about an hour of mashing the “restart” button, running out of time seconds from the objective, and countless (BS) deaths, I finally jumped out of the plane victoriously, earning my 30 Gamerscore and proving to myself that I still got it after all.

I planned out my run, even though each attempt would be seconds long. I practiced. Kinda hard not to, when you die almost instantly on Veteran difficulty. And I had to improvise. Reloading my main gun took too long, so I grabbed guns off of the ground at a pace that would impress John Wick. This was all part of the game, and because of this, all three of the game design elements proudly showed itself off, even though it nearly drove me crazy.

This element of game design is present in any game worth its salt, so it came to no surprise that oldie-but-goodie Pac-Man had similar characteristics present as well when I went to go investigate the MS-DOS port. Even though it was a terrible port compared to the arcade version, it retained it’s core mechanics, and therefore, the game was still as playable as the arcade one (even though it looked ugly as sin). I talk more about this in the separate post I made just about Pac-Man, but overall, this trip down memory lane was a reminder that some elements of game design stay the same, even years later.

When we drafted common game design concepts, I was surprised at how many people recognized the “good” ideas from the bad. I attribute that to the fact that since just about everyone plays games, they recognize what works and what doesn’t work for them in the game. If someone can listen to music and recognize if something sounds bad without necessarily being a musician themselves, then I feel this is a fair comparison as well; game design is a universal notion for people, and our drafting of good game mechanics shows that much

Game design is always on the mind of developers, and even those who don’t even develop games, but just compose ideas for them. So when we looked at the game design ideas for our AUC counterparts , I couldn’t help but feel like there was a sense of synergy going on in regards to what they thought was good, and what I agreed with. I elaborate on this further in my recorded questions, but as a whole I really liked the aspect of being able to directly engage someone else in the concept of game design.

All in all, the past week was certainly an engaging one with lessons learned and the finer details finally being touched upon. That online board game is definitely gonna be a revisit for me, too. Gaming is one of my bigger hobbies, so going forward I hope to pay a little closer attention to these types of design elements as I play….assuming I don’t pull my hair out in frustration in the process, of course.

maxresdefault-4See ya next time, mate!

On Games

My DDAs:

I crack my knuckles as I study the topic that would form the basis of our discussion for the weeks to come.

This was not a game to me.

Well…, actually it is, I mean.

But it’s not.

….

Games are often considered leisurely hobbies, wastes of time and efficiency killers.

*deep breath*

I could go on and on about the benefits that games of any type can have on someone (I’ll save that for the referendium), but I think I really just want to put emphasis on the very nature of games in the first place.

Perhaps the most compelling aspects about games is that they exist for multiple reasons, if not for the purpose of entertainment, which I’d imagine is the primary goal for most games. Training, skill refinement, and the competitive aspect, which could potentially be more toxic than a nuclear power plant, if you’re not careful.

That isn’t to say however, that a game is inherently counterproductive to relaxation if it has some sort of challenge. Many people enjoy the challenge that comes from a game, sometimes to the point where that’s all the entertainment they get from it (and many people are masochists, go figure). Other people enjoy a sense of progression, such as leveling up a character in an RPG. And others prefer the social aspect, although not always in the same amount of application as by yourself. Ultimately however, gaming scratches several itches while it also offering some neat skill enhancement, challenges and increased social interaction depending on what you play.

Glass and Abumrad had the right idea when they mentioned that radio and TV storytelling is much more different than conventional methods, but I feel that storytelling in gaming, especially video games, is an untapped medium that has had multiple attempts that have tried and fell short in one area or another. Games like ICO or Shadow of The Colossus attempt to have the gameplay tell the story, whereas games like Metal Gear Solid resort to turning the game into an interactive movie of sorts. If storytelling in non-interactive mediums is tricky enough, I’d imagine that video gaming has its work cut out for it, despite the number of games out with gripping, exciting narratives already.

From those two however, I feel that Glass would be much more interesting to hear from, because his remarks on storytelling in broadcasting could apply to video gaming on a wider scale; video games tend to carry many of the same design qualities of a television show or movie in terms of storytelling design and methods, so he would be the one I’d want to hear more from in regards to that.

I’m looking forward to seeing what this focus of digital alchemy brings us moving forward, and the gaming referendum won’t know what it it by the time I’m done with it 👌

Probably. Need to get off of gaming once in a while first…

On Digital Art

My DDAs: https://twitter.com/Justinsightfuls/status/970229470165643264

My previous blog entries:

https://netnarrsuperstar.wordpress.com/2018/01/29/on-tracking/
https://netnarrsuperstar.wordpress.com/2018/02/05/on-new-media-art/
https://netnarrsuperstar.wordpress.com/2018/02/10/on-dank-memes/
https://netnarrsuperstar.wordpress.com/2018/02/18/on-selfies/
https://netnarrsuperstar.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/on-gifs/

My NetNarr Twitter location: https://hawksey.info/tagsexplorer/?key=1vEfH0ZKcQ2dZx8f31Pt18tnUCHi5nHKSSPndNHC2YUc&gid=400689247&name=Justinsightfuls

(because the actual Tweet web wouldn’t play nice)

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As we wrap up on digital art and move on to gaming-based discussion (never thought I’d be saying that in an academic setting), I find myself just thinking about digital art as a whole and its impact feels a lot more substantial than even I give it credit for. We’re covering gaming next in class, and even video games itself is a form of digital art….depending on who you ask. But in the meantime, I was thinking out loud about my involvement in it during the last few weeks, and its place in my overall life by proxy.

I consider the involvement I have with digital art on the closest level, which is how much personal enjoyment I get out of it. Internet is everywhere in the current age, but of course, how it’s used depends on who is using it.

Even though I haven’t given it too much extended thought prior to taking this class, digital art has influenced a major part of my life, in an indirect sense. I watched a lot of flash animation growing up, complete with amateur voice acting, and now I’m interested in doing Voiceover full time, supported by some actual experience even. Memes are so memorable to me now that I could watch extended compilations of them without much effort, although I do now realize how much effort some of them take, and others….not so much.

But overall, the amount of effort people have been placing into their digital art is almost staggering at times. There is a distinct set of communities for different types of art, from Fanfiction.net to the more straightforward DeviantArt, and having taken an entire on e-literature, I can still say that I haven’t cracked the surface on that aspect alone just yet.

And there, is where I think digital art’s strongest suit shows itself; the amount of versatility and diversity it has. You can’t spell heart without art, and just about every project on the internet, big and small, has a certain amount of heart present in it, which in turn sparks people to do new things and create new challenges both to themselves and to the public. We’re only a few years into a century defined partially by technology, and assuming sentient computers don’t end up ruining that, I’m excited to see what will come next in digital art.