Personally, I have never been very fond of the house electronic music and this is not a particularly noteworthy example of the genre. Pleasant enough ambient music and there are enough nice tracks in there, but really very forgettable.

Track of the album: Geisha Boys and Temple Girls

Review – Be

2011/08/27

A fun album, Common’s raps keep you happy with the state of present-day rap. I know that this album is actually from 2005, but considering Kanye West’s continued reign over the hip-hop scene and that he produced nine of the eleven songs, this is as fair an album to argue over as any other.

It starts oh-so-strongly with Be (Intro), the beat of which cannot fail to interest you the first few times you hear it. Actually, this is a good time to make a point about this album. Even though Kanye West is the producer of this album, this is not a Kanye West album. This is my first Common album, so I cannot comment on its similarities to other Common albums as compared to Kanye West albums, but he is certainly the star of the album. Even in Be (Intro), where the beat hooks you in, the song only really starts when Common begins his rap.

Besides, a man who raps about learning through his daughter cannot be anything but the center of a song. You expect this of course from the artist who recorded I Used To Love H.E.R, but even knowing that it may happen does not reduce the pleasure of listening to a mature rapper.

Sadly, The Corner just did not come anywhere near the strength of the first track, but after that hiccup, the album holds strong with five straight great songs. Testify especially stands out as an interesting for its different feel and Witness of the Prosecution-like story. The final few songs are slightly weak, but certainly can be listened to.

Quite a good album, and certainly Kanye West deserves a lot of the credit due to his exceptional production, but this is Common’s album, and it lives or dies by him and him alone. In this case, it does not just live, it shines.

Track of the album: The first few times I heard the album, it was Be (Intro) without any doubt, but now it has become Testify. There are a lot of strong tracks on the album, but these two really stand out.

I do not really understand free jazz. I absolutely hated Naked City for instance. This however I liked. I just wish I understood it. I am sure that if I some experience in playing an instrument and got what chords and scales are so that I could compare how they are changed here and how it is different from other albums, I would like it much more. Even to my uneducated ear though this was an interesting album. There was a definite energy to this album and I do love the bells at the beginning of the tracks. Coltrane’s playing is always a pleasure if only just for the skill and the drumming is nice both as an ever-present background and on its rare solos. Also, it is nice to just have the two instruments and nothing else around. An interesting and smart record, just sadly too smart for me.

Track of the album: I think Mars over Venus and Jupiter. These tracks all change drastically over their course, and I think Mars was the most consistently good. Also, it had a nice drum solo with bells in the background.

This book took me all of two months to complete. This is not because I am a particularly slow reader, but more because it just never really managed to make you want to come back after you put it down. I will admit to being rather busy, and of course took a break in the middle for Dance of Dragons, but mostly it is just not that compelling a book.

This does not mean it is an uninteresting read, it is actually quite rewarding in many places. In particular, there were some lovely, complex dialogues all about obtaining information when the character knew nothing, but could not show that she knew nothing. That is actually why I picked up the book. I needed a physical book as I was in Gurgaon, had finished the only one I brought with me and did not feel that it was such a great idea to read on my table in parks or on the metro. So, I went thought the Landmark near my office and stumbled across this book. It looked like a young adult book, but I have enjoyed my fair share of those, so I opened it and was drawn at once by the dialogue inside.

Sadly, even though it starts like this, it devolves into erotica for a while, and then devolves further into an action novel. It manages to shine in parts again after the quite brilliant beginning. Sadly however, it never again quite manages the brilliance of the beginning. Nevertheless, it was a fun read all the way through. Despite the tremendous amount of action, it is also much more intelligent than the run-of-the-mill book it appears to be. Also, I think that I would actually have liked the action were I not itching for more intricate conversation the entire way through. It was quite good action, as action goes.

In summary, this is not a bad book. It certainly deserves a read. It is just that there are so many others which deserve one more.

So, Ludum Dare got extended by 12 hours. I did not expect quite such a large extension. I guess I should not have slept. Well, no more time to waste posting, to work.

I had finally hit a bit of a flow a few hours ago and finished off the game code. Still, I am left with the entire art, music and most importantly the levels with just three hours to go. This is not going to happen.

The question is what to do now. I could finish off the art at least before the compo ends, but what will sell the game is the levels. Those are what I had in mind during the design. I could take the extra day and release it as part of the jam instead. That may work out. I would like to take a break though and get my life into some semblance of order. Also, there is something that was on my mind pretty much the entire time, and that often proved too much of a distraction.

The biggest mistake was not having someone around when I was coding. Then at least, I would have actually focused on the work instead of the rest of my life. I think that I shall sleep now instead of trying to finish before the deadline. Completion is really not feasible. I just wasted too much time in the compo. The only time I really can have been considered seriously working was midnight tonight, six hours before the deadline. The rest was all just marking time. I think that is it for this LD48. Maybe after I wake up I will decide to finish it for the jam, but I do not think so. The game is also not one which I feel the need to complete. It is slightly funny, but not particularly great. I might finish it though just to get the moments into a game which others can try. We shall see. Next time then for Ludum Dare.

12 Hours left in this edition of Ludum Dare, and my game is nowhere near completion. It is not even in a state where I could put up screenshots or a little demo for people to try out. I have not even figured out the entire gameplay.

All told today, I got 3.5 hours of actual work done, and the rest was pretty much browsing the internet. I never really fell into the flow of making the game. Maybe turning off the internet would help with that. We shall see what happens from here. I did not really expect to be able to finish the game, but I am theoretically within 12 hours of completing it. It is possible. It just is not really very likely at all, is it? I am so very caffeinated though that anything could happen.

Ludum Dare Status

2011/08/21

About 25 hours left for this Ludum Dare and I am nowhere. I had only finished the most basic part of the game, just a few rectangles drawn on screen before falling asleep for a ridiculous 6 hours. Things would have been better had I finished more, but I just was never able to fall into a real flow. Instead I spent most of the time walking around with angst dripping out of me, looking for inspiration. Hopefully, by now I have found enough. There is a time to play up the tortured designer pose and there is a time to actually get to work, and the time to get to work was 23 hours ago.

Ludum Dare 21

2011/08/20

Ludum Dare 21 is going on right now. This is my first one, and it took me quite a while to decide to pick this up. I am having bank troubles with Control? anyway so I can’t really get anything done there.

However, I am already 12 hours late to the game in a 48 hour competition. Not really the best way to start. There was a person whom I had to meet and I did not really like my first few ideas for the game so it took forever before I actually sat down to start. Also, I want to finish off this post and send one e-mail about Control? before I actually start coding. I do plan on keeping up a journal of what happens over the next 48 hours. Also, I will try to put up screenshots. There really is not much hope of me finishing, is there?

Still, I have just taken a bath, and feel clean. I have eaten enough. I have set up a Bitbucket repo for anyone who wants. Why not give it a whirl?

My idea is to give the player very few (maybe three or four) status-changing attacks to use on the enemies marching toward him. The player would be instructed in a number of basic combinations that can be used against specific enemies by a Wise Old Master. These combinations would all have been invented by previous masters of wizardry. The player’s aim is not just to escape from the dungeon his enemies have imprisoned him in, but more importantly to him, to become a master himself. I expect the player to use the combinations taught automatically, and then be surprised when at the end they are denied master status as they have not advanced the art, but instead merely copied the work of others. So, I will need to store attacks and compare against the patterns to determine how much of what they do is ripped off. The player however will have to figure out on his second playthrough the now unintuitive method of killing all the enemies. This will require a reasonable combat system.

I am going to have a pretty painful time finishing this before the deadline. Do you know why they call it a deadline? The term originated with a line-drawn enclosure for prisoners. If they crossed it, they were shot. Random trivia to slightly indirectly make a point FTW.

Being as I am South Indian, hearing a very nearly Carnatic album as this is makes for a very different experience than what a fresh listener would have. Now, this is not really a Carnatic album. The banjo playing around the traditional instruments makes too new a sound to classify it that easily. I just find it hard to escape from the influence of traditional Indian music. I never got deeply enough into Carnatic to appreciate this album.

All I can really tell you are my impressions, even if here they probably count nothing towards yours. This is to me a Carnatic album, and is certainly a decent one. I have been listening to this album and only this album for a while, and it is anything but stale. However, it does not stand out at all. Every song is pretty much background to me, whereas other Bela Fleck albums tend to draw you in and make you smile.

Track of the Album: The fight is between the mridangam of Geocentricity and the sheer Indian beauty of Radha Krsna Lila, although the traditional energy of The Dancing Girl is also quite good. I think Radha Krsna Lila deserves the win though. It has a purity and simplicity which make it extremely pretty.

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