8 May 2008

Usually, the AI is reactive to the player's actions, while the story dictates the order of events. Left 4 Dead switches things around. The AI, based on a new system known as Director, manufactures a unique experience for every player, in real time. If the survivors have been through a nightmarish gun battle, Director stops spawning enemies and holds things off, allowing everyone to catch their breath; if they've been wandering around doing nothing for a while, the AI steps things up, throwing in a bunch of zombie aggressors or even a quick boss battle. These flashpoints can happen anywhere at any time; it all depends on the actions of the players. "Director creates highs and lows, without it being tied to navigation," says Faliszek. "There is an over-arching story, but it doesn't try to explain everything."

Excited about GTA4 and I don't even own a copy.  Left 4 Dead (discussed here) sounds like it might be pretty interesting too – I watched M. play on Portal (same makers) which was pretty amusing – esp things like the impossible geography of creating a tunnel in the floor of a room that brings you out into the same room via an entrance in the ceiling.



6 May 2008

I mentioned before that working is underway on a German translation of my Endland Stories for the Swiss publisher Diaphanes. The new book will feature the stories from the original Endland collection, as well as a collection of further stories in related territory, many of which were written for other projects, notably Barbara Campbell's 1001 nights cast and Kate McIntosh's performance Loose Promise. From time to time I'm getting emails with language questions from my friend Astrid whose got the inenviable task of translating Endland's blunt vernacular into improper German.  The following arrived from her this morning – a list of the words, names and terms from the book, for possible inclusion in an ironic/messed up glossary that we're discussing. I liked the list at least – and how it gives a strange, off-centre map of the book, or the kinds of things in it.

Tesco (à Aldi)
Norton Commando
(Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Scalectrix (à Carrera)
Yates' Wine Lodge (à Weinlokal)
Fred and Rosie West
Leah Betts
Joe Haldemann
? Baby Sham (Fake Kids)
Lucozade (à Red Bull)
Dick Turpin
Shepperton Studios
Toddington Services
Ken Livingstone
Pig Trouble
? Mr. Twinkle, Mr. Bumpy, Mr. Stretchy
Diet Lilt (à Diät-Fanta-Exotic)
Chain Gang
Dunce cap
Hammer House of Death (à Haus des Grauens)
Game of Life
(100 Club)
Blue Boar Services
Leicester Forest East
Fair&Square Club
Robot Beach
(Peter, Paul&Mary)
Penn and Teller
(Gin Palace)
? George Davies
Plague Dogs (à Hunde des schwarzen Todes)
(Dorothea Lange)
Cromwell Street
Manor Estate
(Donkey Jacket)


Images of the Delsarte system of expression, popularized in the 1880s
and found in the volume: The Popular Entertainer and Self-Instructor in Elocution, at the blog Room 26 Cabinet of Curiosities.

Burning Machinery

2 May 2008

A report on c4 news tonight about  fighters in Afghanistan and their sabotage of US supported (re-)construction efforts. In some place near Kabul  men have come along at night and stolen the trucks  used for building a road. The rest of the machinery they have set on fire. Sundry locals are gathered in the dust, throwing water and gravel from buckets into the flames. Desultory efforts. The report quotes a Taliban saying:

"The American's may have the watches, but we have the time." 


S and I involved in a complex game of joint story telling involving the characters of an ant eater, a potato and a wolf. Often these are just disguised contests where each of us tries to destroy the character created by the other but this one turns out more complex. Ant eater turns potato into rocket ship so they can all go on an adventure. There is some battle in space against laser armed forces. Then they land on a desert Planet – Planet Doom. The wolf wants to turn into binoculars but Seth (taking over) says the ant eater cannot turn Creatures into Items. He can only turn Items into Items or Items into creatures. Not the other way around. Why not I'm asking, arguing the case of the Wolf that wants to be binoculars. That is the Law says Seth. I say look, the Wolf will settle for only half his dream – can you please have the ant eater turn him into a telescope? No. The Ant Eater cannot turn creatures into Items. The Wolf is disappointed. Ant eater turns the rocket ship that was a potato into a telescope but by then its too late and the bad guys have arrived already and the absence of the rocket ship leaves no means of escape. We are laughing too much. The bad guy has a name that is something like Coffee Table Biscuit Suitcase Mike Emperor of Gallactica. We stop the story in the middle where it belongs.


Heading up to see the last night (Saturday 3rd) of That Night Follows Day at Tramway in Glasgow. Two further UK performances of the piece next week in Manchester at Contact next Friday and Saturday 9th and 10th of May. Hearing great reports of the piece on tour and looking forward to catching up with it again.

Fewer Pictures

1 May 2008

"There are things that you just don't want to see," a policeman at the house said. "The fewer pictures you have in your head, the better."

The weird awful abuse and incarceration shit in Austria continues to produce strange scenes – incomprehensible fragments from the meeting between one world and another.

[Chief inspector of the regional police in Lower Austria] Leopold Etz said that when they emerged from their cellar on Saturday night the boys thought they were in heaven, having always been told by their mother, Elisabeth, "heaven is 'up there'."

On seeing his first cow in a field, Felix was said to have produced squeals of delight and clapped his hands with joy. He and Stefan also nudged each other and whispered with joy at seeing the moon.

"The sun fascinated [Felix] even more than the moon," Etz said.

The police inspector added that the five-year-old boy had put his hand in front of his eyes and then taken it away again, as if not able to believe what he saw.

"When the sunbeams struck his face, he squealed loudly," Etz said.

At one point, when Felix and his mother waited to be transferred by car, he "found it so strange that he clung to his mother in panic as the door opened, as if he was fearful of what would come out of it"

More in The Guardian here.