Or to give it it’s full name, “Neanderthals, bandits and farmers: How agriculture really began”, is an extremely short 53 page book from the Darwinism Today series, of which I think there are about five in total.
…and why it’s a perfect example of an experience only possible through gaming. What do you mean “It came out two years ago, have you been living in a cave?”
The point and click adventure genre was always more character and dialogue focused than action-oriented games, and in retrospect it’s unsurprising that as gaming continues to mature this genre has seen a fair bit of a resurgence. Not to poo-poo the sheer action-blasty-kill-splat-death joy of a ‘mindless’ shooter but you get the point. There’s probably a whole thing to be written about games writing in general, even in the action-shooty genres gamers are expecting to see fully-voiced dialogue (even when this costs a huge amount to implement in sprawling RPGs and MMOs), mainstream audiences get annoyed about things like facial animations and romance options. Technical ability and good writing are bringing more options to developers, whether you’re going for stylistic ultra-violence (say, Bulletstorm) or seemingly humdrum existence (say, The Stanley Parable)
This is one I’ve wanted to do for a while, inspired by Gausswerks ‘design reboot’ series, in which he does an imaginary redesign, of a game (or, both a redesign and a reboot?); which not only points out new ideas but also highlights the strengths of the original. This seems to work well with both interesting yet flawed/half-remembered(such as Oni, or Jericho) and the pretty good but let’s reimagine it anyway (such as Half-life) titles. Gausswerks (or Jack Monahan to be precise) has the advantage of being an actual game artist and designer, whereas I will have to do with just words. But I hope you stick with me on this one.
(Picture: geddit, music, rubbish, endings… ? Hur hur)
More painful than an awful song in it’s own right? Not quite, but thoroughly disappointing to be rocking along to a great song, to spend several more minutes either: A: Waiting for it to finish because you’re a REAL FAN OF REAL ART or B: Trying to skip the hell out of it (which may not be possible for assorted reasons)
The only real criteria for me here are: it must start off as a good track, it can’t just be rubbish from the get go. (Definitions may vary). The heartbreak is so much greater when you’ve been enjoying it to start with. Oh, secret tracks don’t count.
For the all choices below, you can click on the links to jump to the relevant times (via Youtube)
The Widow – The Mars Volta
(I apologise in advance for the weird slideshow that goes with this, it’s the only upload I could find)
A really welcome change of pace given that by this point in their career they had begun the descent into ultra-prog. This is about the only “conventional” song on the album (Frances the mute) and certainly they only one weighing in at less that 10 minutes. (Although the track listing and the CD pressing give two different times, or should I say, interpretations… hooray for prog)
An overwrought, bombastic ballad showcasing the unashamadly dramatic: incorporating preposterously twiddly guitar solos and trademark vocal stylings. Then we get:
Nearly another 3 minutes of painful, swirly, screechy feedback, rumbling noises and general guff. My initial suspicions of this track were confirmed when I started searching around Youtube for a suitable clip: virtually all the versions uploaded stopped at about 3.15. Indeed, it was easier to find plinky-plonky, aggravatingly hip and I-can’t-help-but-feel-they-missed-the-point acoustic covers by young ladies (here, here and this one in a CAVE with a fucking UKELELE here). This came on my mp3 player at work once (playing to everyone) and I naturally spent those final 3 minutes trying to speed up time using only my brain.
Where do I begin – Chemical Brothers
Pleasant, late 90’s, ‘get mashed in a field and wave around happily in the sunshine’ kind of track. Perhaps you find the vocal loop/lyrical content a bit simplistic and irritating. Anyway, it’s a classic slow builder, doing exactly what it’s supposed to, you’ve get three minutes of anticipation before it kicks in. Maybe after four minutes or so you’re thinking, okay, where can this possibly go now? You realise that for all the simplicity of building and varying, you’ve basically been listening to the same thing over and over. Oh, well, it does what it says on the tin, all they have to do now is come up with a strong finish:
Suddenly we change to a beat that sounds like a petrol lawnmover being sped up, played forwards and backwards, while someone bangs around on a plastic bin? I can’t believe this is not deliberately meant to be irritating. Perhaps intentional for artistic purposes? Is it telling us something about the hedonistic cycle? I don’t know, but it does my nut in. Needless to say, the radio edit of the same track just fades out at about 3.30.
Sleep, eat food, have visions – Four Tet
Okay, some twitchy electronic burbling, a nice melody in the background… classic Four Tet, this is why you like them, remember? Another ‘builder’, as with the Chemical Brothers track previously, plods along, hides away a bit, comes back a bit, changes a bit… where are they going with this, I wonder? Given that there is 5 minutes left to fill…okay, it’s going to kick in…any minute now…
Any minute now…just wait for it….
What? Did I miss something? When did this turn into someone rattling around in a cupboard while someone else softly bangs a chime out of boredom? Oh great, now some kind of ultrasonic dog whistle noise has joined in? A conversation? Some generic white noise hiss? Bloody hell. What a cop out.
Honorary mention: Rapper’s delight – Sugarhill Gang
We all know when this track really ends, and it is at 4.55, not at 14.37 long after they’ve blatantly started running out of ideas.
You may argue it is a travesty to cut off such an iconic track, but here are some of the key points that will sadly be lost to the ages:
Hank, who it is alleged, has more rhymes than a serious bank, calls Superman a fairy and offers Lois Lane his ‘super sperm’
Wonder Mike, who it is alleged, is guaranteed to throw down, has a difficult run in with a friends mother who serves soggy macaroni, mushy peas and chicken that tastes like wood.
Master G, who it is alleged, rocks so viciously, informs the listener that age two ‘he was doing the do’, at age three ‘it was you and me, at age four ‘he was on the floor’, at age five ‘he didn’t take no jive’, at age six ‘he was picking up sticks, at age seven ‘he was rocking in heaven’, at age eight ‘he was really great’ and at age nine, ‘he was right on time’.
And feel sorry for the bass player, Chip Shearin, who got paid $70 dollars to play the bass line for 15 minutes.
I might have to do a ‘best endings’ one of these someday… hmmm…
“You mean a Masters?”
“But not an MA?”
“Yes. I mean, No, not an MA!”
What is an MRes?
Actually only about 30 and then 3 of my own TRUE MASTERPIECES. Lots of angry rambling. Enjoy!
“Are you sure this domain exists?”
Pffft, well, let’s get the coffee on and discuss this bad boy.
Of course I’m not bloody sure! I like technology but it could all be pipes and magic at times. “Let me see, I was trying to reach a domain in East Kroftonova, maybe I’ll ring up the embassy and ask if they are having any trouble with their internet pipes.”
Refresh. Refresh. Refresh…..Reboot. Refresh. Give up, go to bed. Problem solved.