If you would have told me in 2005 that GIFs would be huge, I would have laughed at you. Absolutely absurd. GIFs were the bane of personal websites in the late 90s and early 2000s. But as media has evolved, bandwidth increased, and now we all have mini-computers in our pockets, GIFs have been an indispensable resource in expressing our feelings, referencing pop culture, and generally speaking it’s lightweight portable video now.
Now Facebook is involved which in turn means privacy is at risk. I didn’t think about it at first, but Giphy is the defacto source for GIFs and integration to their Google database of GIFs. Now we all have trackers in any app we use.
Of course Giphy is going to retain its own brand. If they renamed it to “Facebook Tracking Pixels”, usage might drop off. Think about all the messaging apps that don’t offer Facebook integration for security/privacy reasons (not to mention not wanting to have their apps crash on launch when Facebook pushes a buggy update), where Giphy images appear. You know, like Apple’s Messages. Well, now Facebook has tracking pixels in them.
2019 is shaping up to be loaded with games. Here’s what I’m looking forward to this year. Presented in no particular order.
Killer Queen Black
Samurai Gunn 2
Super Mario Maker 2
Cadence of Hyrule
Shovel Knight: King of Cards
Super Meat Boy Forever
Mortal Kombat XI
Luigi’s Mansion 3
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Untitled Goose Game
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
I’m sure there are more games. I’ve already had a couple of games surprise me this year. Most of these have release dates or are confirmed for this year. There are plenty of AAA games that are on the horizon but I’m not certain what we’re getting this year.
Sometimes it’s nice to take break from some of the bigger games.1 Here’s what I’ve been playing recently.
I love when a game has this level of execution. Ape Out is a game where the player takes control of a rampaging ape trying to escape2. But this simple premise is made exceptional with its jazz album infused world with top notch sound design. I don’t want to spoil too much. Watch the first 30 seconds of the game. There aren’t many games that set out to be so unique like this and do it with style. Just play this game. This is definitely a highlight for me this year.
Just after I wrote my Tetris worshiping blog posts, Nintendo pulled me back in3 with a surprise announcement during their last Nintendo Direct. I have dismissed Battle Royale games before, but damn if it doesn’t work great for Tetris. Where Tetris Effect is chill and zen, Tetris 99 is intense and stressful. I am still trying to flex my Tetris skills with this game, and I definitely need to up my T-Spin setups. If you have a Switch, this is worth paying for Nintendo Switch Online4.
Marble It Up!
Sometimes I just want a simple premise with my games. Marble It Up! is a physics game with a marble and a goal. It’s as if a game from the mid-2000s was made today in HD. It’s in the same vein as Super Monkey Ball, etc. Simple, effective, and fun. It will be cool to see if someone speed runs this game for Games Done Quick. Recommended if you want something simple, fun, and… marble related.
I dislike Winter very much. I never have inspiration to do anything creative even though I’m indoors for most of the season. Now cut to Spring, my favorite season, and the choice season for critics alike1. I’ve felt reinvigorated to start some new things and start creating. So I have.
The joke is his name is Shawn Sines, and I’m his co-host, and we talk about all kinds of things that devolve into many tangents. Now that I’ve explained it, the title is now 300% more hilarious.2
It’s great to be back to podcasting, and to talk about video games with someone who appreciates them like I do yet has a completely different take. I love the democracy of podcasting much like the open web. We aren’t subject to YouTube ads , algorithms, proprietary formats or delivery. People can use whatever app they want and we own our content and deliver it directly. It may take longer for people to find it but it’s a principle I stand behind.34
I also love the technology behind our setup and making a good sounding podcast without a lot of post production. 5
I’ve been getting back to making music. It’s not something I’m terribly good at, but I enjoy it nonetheless. I got inspired last year near vacation time. I haven’t made anything I’m very happy with to publish on the internet yet. But it’s something I’m continuing to do to stay creative. I’ve made several musical equivalents of writing on the piece of paper and throwing it in the trash bin.
In the process I’ve learned more and more about synthesizers. If there’s an instrument I identify with, it’s the synth6. A mix of technology and music.
Making music has reminded me when I started with photography. I wasn’t amazing when I started taking photos, but with years of experience and understanding the tools I had, experimenting, I’ve reached a point where I’m happy with it. For music I have been using a MIDI keyboard and my iPad with several different synth apps, and sequencers. Some might dismiss this as not “real” music. That opinion disheartens me. I grew up with electronic music by way of video games. In many instances the creators of music in video games were simultaneously programmers and musicians, writing the music in code. I read an article on Bandcamp about all these amazing genres of obscure music and it was enlightening. There’s room for everyone and taste in music is subjective. I will continue to learn and experiment, and maybe I’ll have something to share with the world in the near future.
“Mother Nature raves ‘this season has really started to grow on me. 5/5 it’s a mastapeece'” – The Columbus Gazette March 20th 2017 ↩
The next time a friend doesn’t understand a joke, make sure to explain to them why it’s funny in several different ways. They will appreciate it. ↩
I intend on writing more about the Open Web and how it’s dying soon. ↩
Nintendo has decided to discontinue the NES Classic Edition. Supply never met demand, often selling out on sites within 10-15 minutes. I really wanted to gift these out during Christmas. I thought it was a great toy, and a good trip down nostalgia lane for my gamer friends, and retired-gamer friends. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to nab one myself until February. It’s a solid little guy full of 30 great games. Nintendo surely will take note of this right?1 RIGHT?!
ROB The Robotic Operating Buddy
The sad part is Nintendo’s newest console, the Switch doesn’t even have a virtual console yet. Maybe Nintendo is working on a sequel? A newer version that has more games? One that can download additional games? A SNES Classic Edition? Probably not. The NES Classic Edition had a shorter shelf life than the Virtual Boy and that’s just sad.
An excerpt from Super Mario Bros. 2 (Boss Fight Books Book 6) by Jon Irwin:
Each of these advances in business strategy relied on the same simple idea: building something new from old parts. Yokoi called it the philosophy of seasoned—or lateral—technology. State-of-the-art didn’t necessarily equal innovation and wonder. But find a clever way to combine common ideas and you can surprise and delight an audience—for cheap.
Nintendo has always done this. It’s in their DNA. The Game Boy was technologically inferior at the time, however it prevailed in the handheld market, and its limitations made some of the most creative games. Nintendo doesn’t compete in a 4K, jillion teraflops, HDR market.