Heads up: all of the images in this post are interactive! Click ‘em and see!
Comic-Con International in San Diego (which, of course, has been discussed with familial snark and affection by Coilhouse countless times before) wasn’t always the star-studded, geek-chic event that it is today. (By any chance, does anybody out there remember when Nerd Prom truly was purely a comics con? Back in the day, there were a few hundred participants, and they held it in the basement of the US Grant Hotel down in the Gaslamp District. That was over forty years ago.) And yet, some thing never change. To this very day, beyond the shiny veneer of celebrity panels and million-dollar television studio booths, the true hallmarks of Comic-Con —celebration and revelry in comic book and sci-fi culture— can be found by those of us who know where to look.
From gore FX makeup, to minute veins painted onto a character model, to carefully-curated contact lenses and fangs as part of the perfect cosplay costume, the heart and soul of our beloved Nerd Prom is found in the details, thanks to the legions of creative and energetic (if somewhat unsettlingly aromatic) people who come together every year to bring our favorite elements of geek culture to brilliant life.
Many folks who are unable to attend SDCC, as well as those of us who do attend and want to revisit, often (re)experience the Con through pictures and video. Traditionally, during and directly after the four-day event, the internet is flooded with sweeping panoramic shots of crowds surging through the main exhibit halls, macros of various booth displays, perfunctory celebrity panel shots, and camera phone candids of inspiring (or perplexing! or horrifying!) costumed revelers. However, this year, something entirely different is beginning to crop up, imagery-wise.
The pictures you’re looking at are examples of Con-craziness captured by a new photographic system from a Silicon Valley start-up called Lytro. These are single-exposure photographs that can be refocused and manipulated after the fact; think of Lytro as technology’s first attempt at bringing us Harry Potter’s moving newspaper pictures! Unlike a conventional camera that captures a single plane of light, the Lytro camera captures the entire light field.
From the Lytro site: “The way we communicate visually is evolving rapidly, and people’s expectations are changing in lockstep. Light field cameras offer astonishing capabilities. They allow both the picture taker and the viewer to focus pictures after they’re snapped, shift their perspective of the scene, and even switch seamlessly between 2D and 3D views. With these amazing capabilities, pictures become immersive, interactive visual stories that were never before possible – they become living pictures.” And, as you can see, here are some slices of the Comic-Con experience, presented in a series of living pictures.
Last weekend, I caught up to Eric Cheng, Lytro’s Director of Photography, in the chaotic main convention hall. Hunkered down behind a trio of enormous trolls at the Weta Booth while thousands of people milled around us, Cheng kindly took the time to explain a bit about the tech, showed off a slew of incredible shots he and his cohorts has been taking at the Con, and we discussed why the Lytro is especially perfect for capturing visually dense, action-packed memories at events like SDCC.
Our longtime contributor and multi-talented friend Tanya Virodova has been keeping even more busy than usual, thanks to her relatively new role as the Managing Editor of Geekquality, a lively collaborative blog venture she co-founded in late 2011 with several other bad-ass, beautiful people.
Tanya tells us that the idea for Geekquality emerged last year when several of the founding editors met for the first time at the first annual Geek Girl Con in Seattle, Washington. Since that time, they’ve been steadily building/ramping up their online presence. Nowadays, the Geekquality venture is a thriving example of diverse collaborative writing and online community-building.
With staff members hailing from both the West and East coasts of the United States –all geeks and vocal participants in online communities and united by a “love/hate relationship with geeky media”– Geekquality, in addition to celebrating examples of inclusivity and diversity in geek culture, addresses its writers’ mutual, ever-growing dissatisfaction with a frequent lack of intersectionality and diversity both in current geek media and in many fandom communities. This from a group statement emailed to Coilhouse by their editorial team:
“Being a nerd isn’t really so much a choice as it is a facet of your person. How you live, consume, and interpret your experience, however, most certainly is a matter of informed choice. All of us have been disappointed to find that often, analysis that challenges beloved content and creators is dismissed as unproductive and overly negative, when it’s actually critically important. The geek is indeed inheriting the earth, and it’s up to geeks to make sure our influence is not a negative and exclusive one.”
“Talking about video games, comic books, TV shows, movies, etc and pointing out flaws in writing or casting, accuracy in representation of unique perspectives, and general discussion of what could be done better sometimes are met with an arms crossed, head-shaking refusal to admit that some pop culture thing we love can also be flawed. While we are all united by our geekdom, there can still be more inclusion from lenses of feminism, sex and gender, race, ability, and various cultural perspectives.”
Jodie Landon LOLZ!
Today is Atari’s 40th anniversary. It was 1972 when those honkin’ huge-ass, faux-wood-paneled PONG cabinets started proliferating in pizza parlors and bars and pinball arcades all over California, their glowing consoles featuring simplistic two-dimensional graphics representing a two-player table tennis game. While PONG wasn’t the earliest video arcade game, it was the first truly successful one. And the rest is history. And that’s one to grow on. And knowing is half the battle.
And now is the time on Curlhauz when we stomp punch kick derp DANSE.
Good morning, comrades. Embedded for your aural pleasure, here’s a re-engineered chiptune version of NIN’s Pretty Hate Machine by Inverse Phase. You can buy it, too, via Bandcamp. Digital and CD! (Alas, no gloomy-and-weirdly-stinky-black-casette-tape-with-white-lettering option. Anyone else remember those?)
Inverse Phase used eight different 8-bit systems: SID/6581 (Commodore 64), POKEY (Atari 800), straight 2A03 (NES), AY/SCC+ (MSX+Metal Gear 2 or Snatcher cartridge), SN76489 (Sega Master System), 2A03+VRC6 (Famicom+Castlevania 3 cartridge), LR35902 (Game Boy), and OPLL (MSX-MUSIC or Japanese Sega Master System).
(Via Eric Mortensen, thanks!)
Some people form serious attachments to a particular game. Take Reddit user Lycerius, who has been playing the same game of Civilization II for the last ten years.
For the uninitiated, Civilization II, first released in 1996, is a turn-based strategy game in which a player attempts to create an empire using any of 21 different civilizations. In this case, Lycerius picked the Celts.
It is now 3991 AD in Lycerius’s game and the world has become a war-torn hell. The three remaining superpowers — Lycerius’s Celts, the Vikings, and America — have been locked in a three way stalemate that would make George Orwell proud. 1700 years of near constant war. A few highlights from this virtual dystopian nightmare:
-The ice caps have melted over 20 times (somehow) due primarily to the many nuclear wars. As a result, every inch of land in the world that isn’t a mountain is inundated swamp land, useless to farming. Most of which is irradiated anyway.
-As a result, big cities are a thing of the distant past. Roughly 90% of the worlds population (at it’s peak 2000 years ago) has died either from nuclear annihilation or famine caused by the global warming that has left absolutely zero arable land to farm. Engineers (late game worker units) are always busy continuously building roads so that new armies can reach the front lines. Roads that are destroyed the very next turn when the enemy goes. So there isn’t any time to clear swamps or clean up the nuclear fallout.
-The only governments left are two theocracies and myself, a communist state. I wanted to stay a democracy, but the Senate would always over-rule me when I wanted to declare war before the Vikings did. This would delay my attack and render my turn and often my plans useless. And of course the Vikings would then break the cease fire like clockwork the very next turn. Something I also miss in later civ games is a little internal politics. Anyway, I was forced to do away with democracy roughly a thousand years ago because it was endangering my empire. But of course the people hate me now and every few years since then, there are massive guerrilla (late game barbarians) uprisings in the heart of my empire that I have to deal with which saps resources from the war effort.
The main post is full of comments advising Lycerius on how best to end this conflict though, even more interesting, is that Lycerius plans to upload the save, meaning that whoever chooses to may try their hand at breaking this centuries old stalemate.
Via reddit : Thanks to 90% of my Twitter feed.
The street names are familiar, and remind you of childhood: Boardwalk, Park Place, Marvin Gardens. Long ago, proud businessmen arrived to this city with their carts, top hats and steam engines, looking to open lavish hotels and build their fortunes. You have other plans. Instead of building houses, your objective is to destroy them.
You’re one of the Great Old Ones – beings of ancient and eldritch power. Cosmic forces have held you at bay for untold aeons, but at last the stars are right and your maniacal cult has called you to this benighted place. Once you regain your full powers, you will unleash your Doom upon the world!
There’s only one problem: you’re not alone. The other Great Old Ones are here as well, and your rivals are determined to steal your cultists and snatch victory from your flabby claws! It’s a race to the ultimate finish as you crush houses, smash holes in reality, and fight to call down The Doom That Came To Atlantic City!
The Doom that Came to Atlantic City is a collaboration between artist Lee Moyer, game designer Keith Baker, and artist/sculptor Paul Komoda (previously featured on Coilhouse… a lot. We need a “Paul Komoda” tag). It may look like Monopoly, but the rules and game mechanics are different. The resources at your disposal are cultists, who keep you anchored to this world, and whom you sacrifice as the game goes on. The object of the game is to open enough Gates to tear the world apart.
You can help to bring this game to retail shops, game tables and “frothing cultists around the world” by backing this game on Kickstarter. Lee and Keith are currently two-thirds of the way there, and need your help in making the game a reality! In addition to the game itself, Kickstarter prizes include pewter Paul Komoda sculpted game pieces, art prints, an afternoon of gaming with Lee and Keith, monochrome Inkodye shirts, original concept art, and even a custom, playable Old One role card based on your likeness.
After the cut, a gallery of Paul Komoda’s figure designs, sculpts and commentary for each of the game characters: Azathoth, Yog Sothoth, Nyarlathotep, Hastur, Tsathoggua, Ithaqua, Shub Niggurath, and Cthulhu.
Friday night, wooooo! Untold legions of open world action role-playing gamers are about to tumble down a weekend-long Scroll Hole. In honor of their impending battles, here’s footage of a young, frisky, ostensibly naked dude gettin’ his FUS RO DERP on:
Good day, comrades. This mesmerizing WTFery has been on the YouToobz for a few years now, but DJ DeadBilly only alerted Coilhouse to its existence this morning. (2012 is off to an auspicious start!)
Who among our readers remembers The Rock-afire Explosion animatronic stage show from their pepperoni ‘n’ cheese-drenched childhood? It was the brainchild of one Mr. Aaron Fechter, who, in addition to creating and heading a company called Creative Engineering Incorporated, invented the Whac-a-Mole, and co-founded a venture called Showbiz Pizza Place in 1979, which eventually merged with –and became more commonly known as– Chuck E. Cheese (apparently under bitter circumstances).
In spite of a handful of painful business disappointments over the past thirty years, Fechter and his team have stayed the course, and C.E. Inc. remains “a leader in the Family Entertainment business”, designing and manufacturing “sophisticated animatronic stage shows for many amusement parks and entertainment centers around the world”.
Fechter’s company has additionally been involved in several somewhat less HappyHappyFuntimez™ projects of various sizes and technologies, ranging from development of robotic soldiers for the U.S. Army (“a great success, I might add”, says Fechter) to water removal systems for commericial roofing (“not one of my best”).
But through it all, Fechter’s heart has remained devoted to “developing high-tech equipment to entertain and amuse the public while developing the self-esteem of the participants”.
When I saw this striking image of Tokyo while riffling through my RSS feeds, my heart stopped. Supposedly, it’s a still from a forgotten video game made in 1995.
There’s something about this cityscape. I’ve been coming back to stare at the large version of it for two days now, marveling at all the details: that puffy-cheeked man and that lobster, the people on the streets, the density of the buildings, the beautiful pixel weave that makes up the clouds, and that ominous yellow moon. I want to know the story of this game world and its makers. If it’s a still from a mid-90s video game, very few people would have considered that art at the time. Now, in the world we live in, I could easily see this image selling at an art opening. If it turned out that this image was done by a contemporary pop artist, emulating/exaggerating the aesthetics of retro games, I would not be surprised. However, this image feels even more compelling to me precisely because it’s not that, but a forgotten relic, a lost gem, a genuine artifact.
Tumblr tells me (for once) that this striking image is from a video game called “Power Slave,” produced by Jellyfish Software in 1995. I’m not sure if I believe that; the only game titled Power Slave game I could find was this first-person shooter set in Egypt, released by Lobotomy Soft in 1997. Nothing in the game descriptions suggested the appearance of this scene. I checked out a couple of Power Slave playthroughs - not all 17 levels, but enough, including the intro and end, to be fairly sure that this scene was never among them. And the only Jellyfish Soft release that came up in my searches was Aerokid, an aviation game for kids, released in 1998. But then I read somewhere that on the Saturn conversion of PowerSlave included a hidden game. After some Googling, I found that name: Death Tank Zwei. With a name like that, I thought it sounded promising. But after looking through the entire game thanks to some guy’s research video for a Port-to-PC project on YouTube, I came to the conclusion that this game wasn’t the source of the image, either.
And that’s where the trail grew cold. Maybe I missed something. Maybe it’s just another beautiful Tumblr scrap I’ll never find the source of. Anyone have a clue?
Update: mystery solved, thanks to Coilhouse reader Fmtownsmarty. It’s Power Slave, a hentai first-person adventure/strategy game from Japan. “Tetsuya is a rather ordinary Japanese teenager, who prefers hanging out with his sweetheart Rika than going to school. His passion are 3D video games. The newest game machine which allows the player to completely submerge into the virtual world, modeled according to his desires, has captured his heart. But one thing is strange: lately, Tetsuya keeps seeing himself as a killer and rapist. Dreams begin to haunt him. Is this just a side-effect of the game, or does he have a dark side he knows nothing about?” Oh, Japan, don’t you ever change. <3