Fool's Chaos on Soundcloud

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

(Games) - The Elder Scrolls online - an opinion.

First off, a disclaimer: I am a huge fan of The Elder Scrolls Series.
I'm one of those gamers that have scheduled off from work the release day for a game in this series (no I don't get an Elder Scrolls flu, I pre-plan my time off.)

The first game in the series I played was Daggerfall, and I have played every Elder Scroll's rpg and their expansions since. I cannot say that I am a scholar in the game's lore, but I could give you a nice dissertation of events that have happened in the series, from Arena to Skyrim. Admittedly, I did not play the step-children of the series, Battlespire, and Redguard.  Those are games I would still love to try, but I have heard that the 3D acceleration requires 3DFX's Glide API ( I owned a 3DFX Voodoo 1, Voodoo 2, and Voodoo 3 but no longer do) and thus cannot play it on my current video card.

Whisperings of a Elder Scrolls Online

The rumor of an MMO based on the Elder Scroll's has been around for quite awhile, with the first rumors starting to appear in 2006-2007. At the time, I had pulled myself away from World of Warcraft (WOW) after being addicted to several beta's and then finally the full game when it was released in November of 2004. When I first heard of a possible Elder Scroll's Online, I wasn't ready for another MMO at that time, and was worried i would find myself combating a new addiction.
Six years later we finally receive information from Zenimax that indeed the rumored game was in production, some screenshots, and some articles on the game. All I can say is FINALLY :)

The Timing?

The problem with their timing is that Bethesda have released Oblivion and Skyrim since those rumors began. Oblivion was a big seller for Bethesda, and sold far more than even Morrowind, which sold far more than Daggerfall.

Daggerfall was PC only, Morrowind was Xbox and PC, and then Oblivion was released for the Xbox 360 and PC four months after the 360 launched in March of 2006. Oblivion not only sold in large numbers, but it's DLC sold very well too. One year later, Oblivion was released with updates on the PS3, and did very well. After Oblivion came Fallout 3, and the Obsidian developed Fallout: New Vegas, which reached new fans for Bethesda's style of gameplay.

Fast forward to November 2011 and Bethesda released Skyrim, the 5th game in the series. I was at my local Gamestop for the midnight launch and 60 to 100 people were there, waiting in line patiently to grab their copy of the game. I was amazed as I had no idea that the Elder scrolls was now this huge IP. I knew the game had it's diehard fans, but no idea that such a wide range of ages were clamoring for this game.

The point?

The Elder Scrolls fanbase has continually grown with each new release, so much so that when it was released, it was Steam's fastest selling game ever. That is pretty amazing, and the fact that most of my gamer friends own the game also amazes me. For the longest time I was the only one playing the series. That changed with Oblivion as a few friends owned the game, and when Skyrim released, most of my friends bought it. As I said, each game reaches more and more new fans.

The reason the games have sold so well is it's gameplay and graphical style. The game allows for almost total freedom in that you are not on a linear path, you can do whatever you want, when you want, and not even complete the main quest. As an example, I am still playing Skyrim, still have a lot to see and do, and I'm 200 hours into it. The game is primarily played in first person, the option of third person is there, but it's not how most people play the game. The series is known for it's cutting edge graphics at the time of release and Skyrim certainly didn't disappoint.

My point is that when someone plays an Elder Scroll's game, they have an expectation for how it's going to play, look, and feel. Every MMO I have played feels very different than an Elder Scrolls game, and I have played most of them. Most MMO's play in the third person style as you have to be aware of your surroundings and can easily trigger an enemy in first person. I can't imagine playing an Elder Scroll's game this way.

Don't get me wrong, I love MMO's, but I'm not really talking about me here, I'm talking about the fanbase for the single player Elder Scroll's games. Are most Elder scrolls fans also fans of playing MMO's? Does the average Wow fan enjoy the single player of the elder scroll's? My concern is that Zenimax might be trying to sell an MMO to the wrong crowd, a crowd that isn't really into that style of game. I want to play it, and I hope to be on the beta's, but will the other fans feel the same?

Differences in game look and style

Edge Magazine has a new an interview regarding The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO). In the interview with Matt Firor, Edge asked him "What do you think Truly makes this an Elder Scrolls game?" Matt's answer is its the Lore behind the games, and I think he is partially right, but that the Lore isn't as important as he thinks.

I love the lore in the series, it's very deep, and there are hours and hours involved just reading the books from the games, you can read those at the Imperial Library.

The backstory that Bethesda has created over time for the series is truly vast, but I don't believe it's why the average person bought Skyrim. I believe the average person bought it due to the gameplay and graphic style.

From the comments I have read on articles regarding TESO, the hardcore fans of the series seem uneasy, skeptical, and sometimes downright critical of the idea of this series becoming an MMO. The average fan who loves the gameplay style of the past games, will they want to play an MMO? How many MMO's have come and gone since WOW became the Juggernaut of massively multiplayer games? It seems even the big budget latest MMO release, Star Wars: The Old Republic (SW:TOR) has suffered the same fate as other MMO's that came after World of Warcraft.

I got a free week of SW:TOR and I was disappointed to finally get to play it and realize it's essentially the same MMO we have all played before, but with different features and visuals. I was hoping for more than that.
Subscriptions seemed to have dropped quite a bit since launch already, but it's still doing well, but isn't even close to the huge numbers WOW had or even still has now.

So, the question becomes what is Zenimax really trying to do here? Are they trying to woo over MMO players to be the next WOW? To get MMO players interested in the other Elder scrolls games? Are they trying to get the fans of the single player RPG's into their MMO, with those nice monthly subscriptions? Of course the answer is all the above, and while i'd love to see that happen I have my doubts.

The Elder scrolls is largely a male audience. World of Warcraft managed to gather a large female audience, though it's prior real time strategy games were again mostly a male audience, so that's a possibility. However, WOW was very simplified, it was the first MMO that didn't punish the player so much, and had a female friendly colorful visual style. The elder scrolls is dark high fantasy, and it's look probably won't have the same appeal to the average female gamer. I think they will grab a decent male audience, but will the female audience be as responsive? I'm not talking about the hardcore female gamers, I'm talking the casual players that never played an MMO before WOW, as those are in much larger numbers.

Most of the MMO gamers I have met are not into single player games. They love the simplistic types of quests, hanging out online with old and new friends, and the constant draw of earning that next piece of armor or weapons. The single player gamers like the solo play, the story being about them as the definitive hero, the do what you want when you want exploration, the immersion of it all.

In conclusion

I am not bashing or deriding TESO, I'm just voicing my concerns. I want to be amazed, to be impressed, and to love the game when I have a chance to play it. I truly want to enjoy the game!

Zenimax, you have the chance to impress us all, and take MMO's to a new level, to essentially make MMO 3.0. World of Warcraft was MMO 2.0, and a flood of 2.0 copycats and imposters flooded the market and many died along the road. You make a 3.0 version where it's not the same old grind, the same old battles, the same old leveling scheme and we will love you for it.

Friday, May 25, 2012

(Music) - Bass player birth control?

I discovered this article posted on Synthtopia,
The article is posted and written at The Trichordist

What made me want to post the article at first is the bass player joke and comment :) I will not post the joke here, you have to read the article for that. If your a musician, it's worth the read, and it's definitely in depth.
Its great, well written, and packed with information. I will be going back to The Trichordist to read from time to time

Regarding the article, I haven't made that much money with my music, it's something that I would love to do as I would love to invest the income back into equipment for music creation. As a musician that creates music but doesn't tour, it's not easy to make money. I am trying to get my music out there for licensing, and find other ways to support my passion. There is so much equipment out there I would love to have, but it's not in my budget. Music creation (and gaming) are expensive loves :)

I have to say though that the internet has been wonderful to me, especially sites like Soundcloud, Youtube, Vimeo, etc. It used to be that only a few people would hear my music locally, but now I have a limited following that wants to hear my next tracks. I have found that there are others that enjoy my tracks, and that is very gratifying. I love it when people use my tracks for their videos, I think that is such a great compliment.
As a test I placed music on Jango found that I got more fans that I expected, and if people like me enough to do that, I must not be all that terrible. I would love to get signed by a decent label, get some marketing behind me and see what happens. I have been doing it all myself, it's time consuming, and although fun, I'm not great at it. If I could get in with a label that was great at marketing, that would be wonderful.

One particular quote in the article that I found interesting is the following:
"The general consensus in the music business is that The Bass Player is the most aggrieved and dissatisfied member of any ensemble.  I have many good friends that are bass players and even they will admit there is some truth to this stereotype".

I found that interesting, but I guess in my case I'm fortunate that I have never felt that way. I have always been a songwriter/composer and helped create the music in the bands I have been in, and was never in competition for getting my songs played or recorded. Many times the "lead" instrument players (Guitar, Keyboards, etc) are the main composers, and if the bass player joins the band that has been in progress for awhile, probably will have to fight to get their song used/recorded. I only briefly played in bands that already established, and most of the time found myself meeting other musicians and forming a project or group, with the expectation beforehand that I am going to write songs. Unless I joined a group that makes decent money so I could support my own projects, I wouldn't join if I couldn't partake in the groups song creation, I would feel stiffed.

I also think it depends on the bassist's style. Except for the early bands I was in where I was still learning to play properly and be comfortable with the instrument, I have always been a "out front" bass player. My main influences were bassists that weren't hidden in the group, bass players like Steve Harris, Geddy lee, Larry Graham, Anthony Jackson, and less "out-front: but no less impressive the great James Jamerson.
My music tastes are quite varied which has been great for my music creation, as I love to blend genre's and styles.

If you check out my music, I thank you :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

(Music Tech) - DJ Shakey's amazing controller - The Voltaxe

Take a ton of different controllers and link them together to create one amazing controller. Very creative and techee, love it!  - From Dubspot

Via Synthopia

(MUSIC TECH) - Coolest thing ever?

Jeri Ellsworth (Who works for Valve Software) created a Commodore 64 bass guitar, triggering the built in SID chip using Piezo pickups.  This is simply awesome and I'm soooo jealous, I want one! She is now in my list of coolest people ever :)

Watch live streaming video from makelive at

She plays bass, works for Valve, Is a major techhead, could she be an cooler? :)

via Synthtopia

(MUSIC) - Tubular Bells Cover

A classic from my childhood, and very well executed here, sounds very close to the original.
Big props from me!! :)

Via Synthtopia

(RIP) - Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees pass away at 62

Robin Gibb, one of the three brothers of the Bee Gees passed away. His voice and music were a huge part of my childhood growing up in the 70's.  RIP! Article here

Saturday, May 19, 2012

(GAMING OPINION) – Is our gaming future in the cloud?

Nvidia just recently announced the Geforce Grid, which is their GPU (Graphics processing unit) solution for cloud gaming, and it’s impressive to say the least. According to an article on, Gaikai have been using Fermi based GPUs (GTX480 and GTX580) in their current servers, with One GPU per server with 28 servers in a rack. The new Grid solution uses Kepler GPUs (GTX680) and allows four GPU’s per server which is 84 GPUs per rack. The power difference is halved with the old Fermi solution being at 150w per GPU, and 75w per CPU with Grid. It reduces latency (the main problem with cloud gaming) up to 30ms. You can read more at Techspot  

Is this the really the future if gaming?
This is the multi-million dollar question that Onlive and Gaikai are trying to provide the answer to. Will gamers or even casual PC users gladly give up their own hardware, consoles, and PC’s at home for a cloud solution, the answer is probably yes, but not in the near future, but it’s probably inevitable, at least to some degree.

In my opinion, the technology and concept of cloud gaming is in its initial development phase, and not quite ready for prime time. ISP’s are not happy giving their subscribers unlimited Internet anymore and many have imposed data caps. They won’t come out and say it, but this is an attempt for the cable companies to stop or discourage consumers from leaving their pricey cable packages for Internet TV options, or just plain greed in some cases.  This will not help online gaming solutions like Gaikai or Onlive as they eat up bandwith quickly. If they partner with these cable companies that could alleviate the ISP data costs, and though I have heard rumors of it, I haven’t yet heard proof this is the case.

Graphic limitations and latency vs. convenience 

Cloud gaming seems to be stuck at 720p for now as the bandwith required for true 1080p is huge, and the backend processing is much heavier. When I have played games on Onlive, it plays like a mid level PC with stripped down graphic options. Unfortunately, playing a game like Deus Ex: Human Revolution on Onlive doesn’t look as good as playing on your own mid level PC at home, at least at the moment.  The resolution is stuck at 720p, the textures are not as sharp, and the streaming artifacts are there, though minor. Latency seems noticeable when playing a first person shooter or quick action style game, the controls just don’t feel as tight. Gaikai seems to have slightly less latency, though that might be because of my location to the server or my ISP, and the graphics seem sharper to me. Where Onlive shines is the interface, I absolutely love it. When you log into Onlive and get to the menu screen, you have multiple choices. My favorite is the Arena, where you can watch other gamers play games live. Microsoft wanted to try something like this when they released the Xbox 360, they had plans for it with the Project Gotham series, but it never panned out.  When you start a game on Onlive it just starts running, and that is impressive. Once you load the client, going in and out of games is very quick, it amazed me the first time I played a game on the service. Gaikai doesn’t use that type of client (yet), it’s a website that install a java based client as you run the game, and plays in your web browser window. It doesn’t load as fast as onlive as you are loading each game separately. I played the Mass Effect 3 and Bulletstorm demos on Gaikai. I didn’t feel hardly any latency with ME3, but it was very noticeable in Bulletstorm which is a fast paced shooter.

The question is one of convenience; will gamers accept something of lower quality than the more expensive solution of owning your own hardware? As a musician, it’s easy to say to just take a look at the MP3. Many music lovers listen to their favorite music on 128 or 192 Kbits and are perfectly happy with them. I personally use 320 Kbit MP3’s on any music site that will allow them, some will only allow 192 or lower unfortunately.
Most people don’t want to download a 50mb or higher wav file for a song still, even though the quality is better. However, MP3’s don’t have latency, and if every MP3 file started with a 3 to 5 sec pause before the song starts, I think the average listener would be very irritated.

I think that eventually Onlive, Gaikai, Evolve, and maybe PSN and XBL will be on everyone’s cable box, TV, or internet device. That option will be there and people will use it, but this will take time, and until super fast fiber networking is available in every home, it’s going to be a slow process.

The merging of the cloud and home products.

This is what I think could be really interesting, especially for the upcoming next generation consoles that we all know are coming but haven’t been announced (I’m not including the Wii-u, from the specs rumored so far, it’s going to be more like our current generation in performance)

What if we could merge local hardware with cloud hardware?  What if you could make a game like Mass Effect where the level was on the local machine, but the backgrounds are in the cloud? Instead of painted or pre-rendered backgrounds with sparse geometry in front, you could have a Blade runner type of cityscape complete with advertisements geared to you while you’re playing the game? Using ME3 as an example, when you are on the citadel and looking out beyond the place your character is standing, you currently see a beautiful rendered background mixed with geometry that fades in detail is it goes. Instead, you could have the cloud render or stream a video of an immense city with advertisements geared towards the player. If you didn’t have the connection to stream, you would still have that background as before. It would be the best of both worlds.

Instead of a high end machine rendering everything, it would only have to render the parts that would be affected by high latency. Even if the game is at 1080p, the background image wouldn’t necessarily have to be.

I haven't heard anything regarding merging the technology, but it seems to me the way to go, at least initially.
Gaming might eventually go completely cloud, but this would be a great way to start the transition.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

(RIP) Donna Summer passes away at 63

I grew up to the music of Donna Summer on the radio, and it is sad that at a young age of 63, another Diva passes away in 2012. As it's all over the news, and there are many links and videos to watch regarding Donna, I will honor her by posting the song that I always loved by her most.

(Tech Talk) - The joys of technology

Video card technology is wonderful isn't it?

You can spend a fortune on a current GPU, feel quite happy about your purchase, and then months later view a press release, review or article on a new improved version of what you previously bought. The pace of innovation in regards to electronic gadgets, graphic chips and products is just staggering. When buying, it's almost impossible to buy something at a fairly expensive price point without having to research what is coming soon.

Using video cards as an example, my current video card is an EVGA GTX480 (Fermi architecture). I bought this card around August of 2010, and 3 months later in November 2010 Nvidia released the GTX580 (Still Fermi) GPU’s. Admittedly, I wasn’t too upset about it at the time as the 580 didn’t have a huge performance difference from my 480. Yes it was faster and had the cuda cores the 480 should have had at release, but it wasn’t an entire new generation of chip, and was more or less just an enhanced Fermi GPU like what I had in my current card.

Last March, Nvidia released the GTX680 GPU’s (Kepler) and these were a new generation of chips, with a new architecture and new bells and whistles. I think this was a sad day for GTX580 owners, and here is the reason why……
Last year, Epic games released a demo of new features for Unreal Engine 3 called Samaritan. The demo required three GTX580’s to play it properly. Epic has just released information regarding Unreal Engine 4 for the next gen consoles. The new demo is supposedly running on just one GTX680!! In a previous interview, they mentioned that they were able to get Samaritan running on a single GTX680 as well. After spending anywhere from $379 to $600 for a GTX580, that had to hurt just a bit……

Here we are in May, and Nvidia releases information on the new enhanced Kepler GPU called the GK110 (The GTX680 is a GK104). This new card is going to be a Nvidia Tesla card which is for animation render farms and business use, not a consumer card. This card will have an amazing 7.1 billion transistors, this is twice what the GTX680 has!!! While this card will not be a consumer card to start with, it does hint that Nividia will already have the basis for a GTX685 or even a GTX780 card already ready to go. This means that I already feel a bit sorry for the early adopters of the GTX680.

I love technology and am I upset in any way that it’s moving so fast? Absolutely not!
It just amazes me that how fast technology transitions, but I would have it no other way.
My only wish is that Microsoft or Sony would choose the fastest possible GPU for their next generation consoles. But that my friends is another story…………

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

(Game Review) - The Darkness II Review

Reviewing games wasn’t something that I had planned to do when I started the blog, but I feel compelled to do so after playing this fine game. I love PC, console and mobile gaming, and have been a gamer since the days of the 2600 and Colecovision. It seems only natural to write about the games I love on this blog. I’m not trying to write a review that matches the style that most game sites use; this is just my personal take on the game.

I am a big fan of Starbreeze’s games. Enclave started my love affair with its medieval fantasy world, next came the Riddick games and lastly to The Darkness (I haven’t yet tried Syndicate, but it’s on my list). I loved The Darkness, and I would rank it as one of my favorite Xbox 360 games. The gloomy and moody open world FPS was wonderful; it sucked you into its story, and kept you enthralled till the end. The game’s collectables made replays fun, and I loved the phone numbers that you received with them. Going to the phone after each new collectable find was very enjoyable.

The Darkness 2 is the sequel to the first game, but this time it’s Digital Extremes as the developer. The writing is continued by Paul Jenkins who wrote for the comic series and the story for the first game, so the sequel is perfect in it’s continuation of the story.
The plot is based on the comic but deviates quite a bit from the original story. This was fine with me, I prefer this new story to the original, and the main character is less of an arrogant jerk and far more human in the video game version. Jackie is still missing his lost love Jenny and the story is just as romantic and touching as the first game. Both games, but especially the sequel, show a romantic side that most games cannot touch or compare to.

I admit that when I started this game, I was concerned that Digital Extremes would not provide the same type of experience that the original had. I have played some of their past games and wasn’t wowed by Pariah (I have yet to try Dark Sector). The new graphic scheme had me worried as I tend to dislike Cell shading in games, but DE did a great job here. It is very comic book like and the graphics are excellent, though I admit to missing the gloomy look of the original. The sequel is far more violent and bloody than the original, and I really enjoyed the visceral executions that you can pull off with the demons arms. The controls work very well for all that you can do in the game. It's truly fun to be shooting with dual guns in each hand, and using your demon arms to grab, throw, and eviscerate your enemies at the same time. I can't think of another game that gives quite that experience. I do wish that DE would have brought back the demon arm extension ability, where you could travel through cracks and crevices, but i didn't really miss it that much with everything else you can do.

The music and sound in the game was great, and along with the new graphics, did an admirable job of bringing you into its world. The game has a more linear campaign than the original, but allows you to walk around Jackie’s skyscraper home at your leisure. I felt more could have been done with it. Most rooms were just furnished and nothing really of note for your character to see and do. The exception to that were the collectable relics, and each time you find one in a level, they appear in the Darkness relic’s area. The creative back stories for each relic were very entertaining. There were some minor character interactions, and some shooting missions, but nothing major. I was a bit disappointed that Butcher had a very minor plot role this time around. After the events in the first game, I would have thought Butcher would have been utilized more.

The characters in the game were well voiced. Jackie had a different voice actor this time, and that saddened me initially. I am a fan of Kirk Avecedo (Band of Brothers, OZ) and wished he would have made a return. Brian Bloom did a great job however, and he still sounded like Jackie, just not as raspy. Mike Patton makes his return as the Darkness and again does a fantastic job. As a fan of Faith No More, it was great to have him in the game again.

The game has excellent replay value which is great as the campaign is pretty short, somewhere in the 10 hour range. It took me three playthroughs to get all the abilities, but I could have done it in 2 if I would have chosen a higher difficulty most likely. Besides the campaign the game has Vendettas. Vendettas are a series of missions that you play as a different character, but this goes on during the events of the campaign. It’s as fun as the campaign, and you can play it co-op online which is a great option. There are 4 characters you can play as, each having their own darkness weapon and abilities.

Overall, this game is one of the better non-realistic first person shooters games I have played on the Xbox 360. I enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed the Bioshock series, the Fear series, the Condemned series, and Raven’s Singularity (A very under rated game in my opinion). While not a game for the kiddies, it should appeal to anyone that loves a great story, lots of interaction, and a world filled with dark wonders.
I give this game a Highly Recommended rating.

Monday, May 14, 2012

RIP - Donald Duck Dunn passes away

Dunn was a great bassist, very much the quintessential in the pocket player.
Most will know him as the pipe smoking bassist in the Blues Brother's movie, but he was an accomplished session bassist too.

Bass Player - Donald Duck Dunn dies

Softimage animation plugin - Uses one of my tracks.

Amazing video that uses my track, Slowly falling out of innocence.

Friday, May 11, 2012

(TECH) Augmented Reality using a Kinect?

This could also be labled as gaming, but this has far more applications than just that. This is amazing, almost hologram like. Eventually, the user of multiple small projectors along with multiple Kinect type of devices will get us very close to holograms. The actual laser technology needed for true holograms are probably way far off.

(GAMING) - Xbox 360 to finally get a internet browser?

This is something that I thought would happen for the next xbox maybe....But not for the 360. This is long overdue, and I would love to see this happen. I wonder if Flash support would be allowed or if it will be HTML5 only like IOS devices. Will MS allow access to any site like Youtube as they have a special app for that? Allowing flash would probably allow to many security risks, but it's something that I would love to see happen.  The adding of Kinect support is interesting, but not sure how that will really work.

The Verge - Internet explorer on Xbox 360 with Kinect Support?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

(GAMING) - Assassin’s Creed III – first gameplay trailer released

VG247 has the latest trailer for Assassins Creed III, and it looks really good. I'm looking forward to playing this one, I kind of skipped out on Brotherhood and Revelations.

(MUSIC) - Synthtopia - A favorite web site for music production

Part of my every day routine is to check out the updates on Synthtopia. If your into music production, it's a great site, has a nice forum, and you will learn something there. I highly recommend it.

(MUSIC) - DJ Vespers - How to Make Nasty Filtered Bass in Massive & Ableton

I am a big fan of Vespers. :)
When I switched from Sonar to Ableton I relied on many tutorials on Youtube to get me started quickly. I loved his videos and his attitude towards teaching. He didn't hold anything back, and wasn't afraid to show you how to make one of his tracks. He became a Certified Ableton trainer and he knows what he is talking about. Here is a link to his latest tutorial. He can play a mean Sax too :)