All posts by villpower

About villpower

I am an IT professional since more than 10 years. Being in IT has it's demerits of squishing time out of busy work schedule for your own hobbies and passions. And (un)luckily I happened to follow passions which themselves are black holes of time. I am a lot into Computer gaming. Love to play and rant about it. I am an avid reader. Nothing is unapproachable as far as reading concerns. I must confess, IT field also have merit of presenting you with opportunities to travel around. I have been to few of the most exotic locations in the world. I have lot many things to talk about and discuss which includes but not limited to science, travelling, culture and food. Currently possessed with writers ghost so trying my hand on writing stories also. Follow my blogs and Enjoy.

One more year passed by in blink and here we stood again at same conjecture to review gone year, wearing reading glasses with courtesy of goodreads.com.  Passed year in terms of reading could be summarized in short as “the year in prose”. Where I still clung to tried-n-tested authors for modern literature; number of classics raised in significance.

I deliberately set reading challenge to one book per month so not to include short, anything on the way to reading list, just to complete the challenge. I had inclination of devoting time for classics. And reading classics can take time. Still I was ahead by 3 books at end of the year 2017.

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Let’s see what was hit and what was miss among these.

Book with most pages I read (Frankly speaking completed) in current year was “The complete collection of Sherlock Holmes”. It was long reading project. The book contains all the four novellas and almost entire collection of stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Though started reading long time back, I could only conjure up enough time to return the salutation to Holmes “Last Bow” in the year of 2017.

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There are two candidates for “most surprising and enlightening read”. One is old world Russian literary classic “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov and the other modern world literary supreme “The Voice of Fire” by Alan Moore. Let me clear one thing. Lolita is controversial. But there is not a single word, prose or snippet which could be classified as vulgar or titillating. It is masterfully crafted in monologues. And served with one of the best prose writing competing to Charles Dickens. I had never had such eliciting experience of reading the word-formation in such delight.

 

When we are talking about prose writing, then let’s not forget only modern era master class in prose writing or any kind of writing; Alan Moore. “Voice of Fire” was his first novel after very successful writing history in Graphic Novels (From Hell, Watchmen, V for Vendetta are just few gems). Moore experimented heavily with first novel in terms of writing were interconnected stories’ timelines vary from initiation of mankind to Alan Moore himself; incorporating various historical events in process. He had started something called Geo-psychology where he traces the history and events of particular place and put it in more weird, contextual, and sometimes magical view. Not spending much time as it will take forever to discuss Alan Moore.

“You can always count on a murderer for fancy prose style” – Back cover of Lolita

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Other notable reads are “1984” from George Orwell (Again classic) and more Russian literary classic “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy. One short, depressing Orwellian account of dystopian world  which has started “All seeing Big Brother” concept; while other was sprawling storytelling covering Russian aristocracy and class divide intermixed with love, family values, relationships and marriages (along with issues).

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In terms of Graphic Novels, it was dominated by well-knowns. Great was the wine soaked narrative of Eddie Campbell on existence of Greek gods in modern times in “Bacchus”. At the same, though I’m crazy of such stuff, to-much-meta references has killed my interest in Grant Morrison in ” The Multiversity”. While Alan Moore’s “Top 10” was pleasingly light read, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier” (again by Alan Moore) was fun take on his own brilliantly conceived original TLEG.

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In modern novels, “Metro 2035″ was satisfying but not as much as the previous two installments of Metro universe. ” “The Girl in the Spider’s Web”  was unnecessary addition to Lisbeth’s (Novel’s protagonist) journey. Dan Simmons “The Fifth Heart” was as I expected but still nowhere near Holmes magic created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Most disappointing read for me was “Black Water Lilies”. Though it might be good for others but I had somehow “guessed” whole crux of the twist and story arc from very beginning and hence just dragged myself to complete it.

That’s it for gone year of 2017. While I am slowly but progressively sucked into more of literary classics, getting into more prose reading, once a while I’ll get my hands on modern popular. With few more Russian classics in-line along with “most diverse read I had ever done”, coming year is going to be really sensuous and enthralling.

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Happy Reading. (And also new Year 🙂

PS: Ready player One was not meant to be present on “to read” list in near future, even after promising trailer of upcoming movie by none other than Steven Spielberg. But rifling through its pages in one of the book outlet at Las Vegas airport, I came across something which couldn’t be ignored. A statement; defining all geeks and nerds  and book itself a love letter to all grownups like me who spent their childhood in 80s (and 90s and 00s ….)with videogames. It was instant buy. And more rapid read. So this last-minute update changed above stat by +1 book.
Being human totally sucks most of the time. Videogames are the only thing that make life bearable – Ready Player One.

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Chicago Blues

Only three and half hours drive away, Chicago was neglected like a rotting flower which was never meant to be visited when whole lot of other places flashing their most beautiful visage to attract visitors like me till one weekend I reservedly complied to forceful request of my friend to accompany him in touring Chicago.

Though adorning one of the most memorable skyline and one of the tallest structure in the world, I was skeptical about liking it altogether. It was never meant to have blog on it.Continuing above analogy of rotting flower, sometimes you need a different pair of glasses like UV spectrum used by some of the insects and birds to visualize the true nature of it ( Some birds and insects use UV spectrum to choose flower for visitation which is not visibly evident to us as our eyes evolved only to be useful in visible spectrum).

Visiting the Willis Tower (Formerly known as Sears Tower) and witnessing spectacular night vista of the Chicago from its 103rd floor glass boxes was just tipping my “interest measure” above 5 on the scale of 10 till I observed something which I shamefully ignorant of. Having donuts as pre-dinner energy food at roadside deli late evening, Chicago downtown looked bit familiar. Imitating sodium vapor lamp, lampposts were feverishly illuminating underway which was surrounded by buildings with metro tracks passing overhead. Not at much height but just looming there as ominous steel serpent ready to devour anything in the way; crisscrossing the city with “rattle” of passing tram periodically. I imagined drive under it (which was not possible at all considering my under-driving skills). It had that deja-vu moment but if I had not experienced it then it means it had to be from my active imagination fueled by movie scene. And if I remember it so soundly it means it has to be from The Dark Knight.

The movie I so adorned and in love of that I have seen it so many times that I left counting after counter reached to double figure. How could I be so ignorant about its shooting locations? Chicago was there on my “liking chart” almost approaching 10, just after that particular moment.

So we visited other places like Shedd aquarium, Navy Pier, had experienced beautiful Chicago skyline, tried to be creative at Cloud Gate structure at Millennium park, had Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza and also lost in countless “Diwali” like illumination of city itself at night from Willis Tower which is evident from photos herewith.

But still for me the moment which instilled the “that’s what I want” moment was the self-realization that city which I was visiting was no other than Gotham city itself.

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Navy Pier

Travelog: Niagara Falls

Just arriving to the land of abundant traveling spots and having 4th of July falling on Tuesday with Monday happily sacrificed in the name of long weekend had its merits in the name of prospects of long travel as well as demerits of stressful selection of the traveling destination. Though I didn’t have to go through such painful ordeal as group of colleagues were already looking for couple of companions to join their travel “crusade” to Niagara Falls. And hence when presented with proposal, I delightfully accepted the invitation.

So the 3 day plan was laid out like this: Start from Indianapolis early towards Buffalo (Where we secured the night out option), have brief on-the-fly visit of Cleveland, OH in transit to Buffalo, Visit the massive water fall in the morning for a day, visit Putin bay island while returning back (With one more night stay somewhere nearby) and get back to routine again next day. Plan was good and workable. And we almost stuck to it exhaustively except few pleasant changes of the visiting locations.

So here’s breezy travel commentary day by day.

Day 1

(Positive take away: First long travel within USA, Niagara at night)

(Negative put down: “Early in the morning” has most varied interpretation. That’s why humankind introduced numbers and clock)

Most of the day was spent travelling by rented car which was grand caravan by Dodge. It was comfortable and smooth on road. Apart from meagre coffee breaks, we managed to have our prolonged break only while reached Cleveland.

Plan was to have glimpse of Cleveland downtown which we did. Spent some time to skim through Cleveland civil war memorial towards fountain of eternal life. Had a glimpse of NASA science center from afar resting at Cleveland’s beautiful shoreline which is formed by Lake Erie.

From Cleveland to Buffalo was almost 190 miles run (around 3 hours). We reached there somewhere during late evening. It was ripe time to experience Niagara at night. So after having hefty Indian dinner we went to Niagara fall. Cacophony of the massive water body (flow rate: 2400m3/s) falling 50m was more of a guiding star without any directional instruction. Vista at night was more profound. Rainbow lights illuminating the fall, enhanced by equally intimidating roar was sight to behold; showing the tantamount power of nature while mocking the meagre existence of human life trying to capture the sight in ridiculous digital still frames and puny videos to post on cyber world.

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Day 2

(Positive take away: Niagara at Day, Maid of the Mist)

(Negative put down: With long summer weekend, comes longer waiting queues)

Amidst disappointing quantity of massive human gathering and long queues, sole relieving factor was to get through them and experience Niagara in its utmost proximity by means of the Maid of the Mist. Droplets of water floating like mist due to sheer force of falling water and wind had created dual rainbows across falls’ wide chasm where the secondary mirroring the primary in color pattern. It was like venturing in some Disney-world. And when you get near the Horseshoe Fall then only you would realize the propensity of madness which had caused those adventures to cross Niagara in name of stunts.

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As for other attractions, not much was as impressive enough as Maid of the Mist. Cave of Winds allows you to get wet in icy cold Niagara water, but nothing special apart from crowing of seagulls and their stinking nests with adorable chicks hanging out besides walking path.

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There were not much time left once we done with Niagara. And hence left in late evening on returning path.

Day 3

(Positive take away: Watkins Glen State Park)

(Negative put down: No time left for Putin Bay)

We changed plan to visit Watkins Glen state park on the third day of our trip. We experienced beautiful glens, lush greenery, pockets of brooks, intermittent canopy churning the sunlight creating golden shafts, slippery, wet stones carved by water having rippling design permanently imprinted upon and wooden bridges to complete the natural setup on our long walking trails.

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In the evening we had brief informative visit to Corning Glass Museum.

Exhausted and satiated to the full; only thing left was to mull over beautiful memories and publish the memoirs like this.

Till next time.

 

PopCon, IN, USA 2017

Being present at two pop culture events 8203 miles apart (miles!!! Yes. I’m in USA now) in the same year; both generating the polar opposite emotional response in a manner representing their geological diversity along with distance quoted above, could also be classified as event itself. While the former was tepid, same, boring with few exceptional burst of joy (check the blog here), other was stuffed to the brim with nostalgic, modern, novel and absolute maddening fan service events to the point of bursting out.

Above para also explained the dormancy of my blog for so long. First event I mentioned was ComicCon 2017, Pune, India while the other is PopCon 2017, Indianapolis, USA. Last week I got chance to visit the same during my probably long future working sojourn in USA.

Before I proceed further, first check out below amazing display of Cosplay culture presented by visitors. Please bear the fact that it was such classic display of geekiness which acts as an energy induced plasma to make the fun event more energetic besides professional Cosplayers.

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Merchandise galore; what was more prominent was the milieu of artists and writers of the pop culture world with their latest and best. With pack line of famous artists and TV stars available for signing events along with chit-chat with their devoted fans to you-tubers and twitch channel artists marketing their prowess in digital world what made the PopCon event true to its name.

If I have to describe the event in single word, I would shout “Nostalgia”. Rows of Arcade machines staked up for young generation to gobble up retro-feeling in large area was one of the prime attraction. Stores selling old Gameboys along with prized old titled cartridges along with comic vendors selling old comic runs 1$ each was meant for collectors and aficionados alike. In one large corner I saw rows of players getting their hands on most primeval way of gaming: Board-games. Hexagonal dice and character sheets of Settlers to D&D to civilization, played equal part role with massive rooms dedicated to competitive gaming on large with CoD, Overwatch and many more to entertain the mass. It was enchanted amalgamation of old and new.

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For me, event reached its nerd peak when I found the store of Troma movies along with none other than Lloyd Kaufman himself (I also picked up two movies personally signed by him). Troma movie is the satirical mixture of overtly used grindhouse, splatter, sex, nudity, violence and other 50’s themes in almost superficially farcical way.

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I bought Gaiman to Teen-Horror “Tomie” to R rated Troma movies

The event regarding to pop culture won’t have Star Wars fans is always unusual and hence a whole Star Wars section was dedicated to their fans to get their universe together. Separate section was having Yo-Yo tricks competition for kids and young ones. Indie game developers also got their chance to showcase upcoming or in-development titles to get instant user feedback.

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Yes, Force wants you to join next time.

I would like to end reporting on such spectacular event on its most prominent note which make it unique; uniqueness itself, whether among people who make them differ to established social norms or artists who made their own niche against usual career approaches. These people are rare and unique. Most of the time hiding their instincts against pressure of outer world and due to aloofness but when come to such event they found out that there is lot many like him/her. Let’s not differ. Let’s celebrate. Kudos to fan’s CosPlay for such boldness.

Till next event……………………….

 

Comic Con 2017 – Pune,India

“More of the Same.” is befitting summary to this years’ Comic-Con, Pune 2017. As if venue and layout almost matching to the last year’s event, there was no variety in terms of shops and merchandise also baring few surprises.

Comic-Con is always celebratory conglomeration of the geeks, nerds and all the fantastic not-so-fit-in-social-conceptions individuals. At the same time Comic-Con is social event all in all. It is fun and frolic event as any other. It can be enjoyed equally by comic enthusiast as well as all of those who believe in superhero fantasy; children and adults alike. Not wasting too much time in establishing the Comic-Con’s reputation as it will always be regarded as celebration with likes of the festival by its devoted fans. Though I would rate this year’s Comic-Con held at Pune, India as lukewarm.

Start was made as ideal as it could be for any Comic-book and DC fan with free giveaway of DareDevil poster for each entrants at ticket pickup counter. Considering the sitcom and binge-watching on rise in India, AXN has grabed the opportunity with both hands to market it with life-size billboards propped at every corners. And usual flair continued then onwards.

Outside the dome same colorful Maruti Alto who is official sponsor of Comic-Con, India displayed which was surprising for those who were first-timers but failed to excite me. Same large Comic-Con peculiar poster to get yourself photographed for future memoirs was also present. Inside the dome, I had deja vu of shops selling same merchandise for fans such as t-shirts, masks, fancy accessories and all other “not so easily available superhero stuff”. Surprisingly, very few shops dedicating to actual comic books which was disappointment for me. In fact only single shop by Crossword book store selling famous DC comics. It was small section and frankly there was no variety in collection also. I could see all those titles which I already owned or read before. I was hoping to lose myself in comic shops this time to find some hidden gems. Alas, no such opportunity presented. Indian comic-shops also selling the same old comics with no new-arrival announcements. Somehow I had the feeling that everyone was going through their zombie-routine to finish the act and not interested in catching the attraction of the audience.

After so much bickering about down-points, let’s move to good points now. Rows of screens connected to high-end consoles (mostly PS4) for visitors to battle out competitive gameplay either against human opponents or AI was always good sight to behold. Along with usual tropes like FIFA and NFS, Battlefield 1, Titenfall2 and Uncharted 4 were more than satisfactory. Promotional booths erected for just released movies Logan and upcoming Indian epic fantasy Baahubali 2 were, I must confess, novel addition. You could live out your fantasy with available props for a while and to be immortalized in digital photo (especially cool for social media update aficionados). Best part and the real highlight for me which has acted as fuel to warm this event review from completely “cold” to “lukewarm” was 30 seconds short animated VR experience (Setup mojo was Radeon Fury with Oculus gear).  AXN booth also held some fun activities such as shooting with blind and passing through laser a la Entrapment imitation to attempt and win goodies.

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At last, let’s not forget the most appealing aspect of Comic-Con anywhere in the world; Cosplay. Fans were fabulous again with their Cosplay as usual considering heat already making news here in India at start of summer . I witnessed lot more variants also amidst all-time favorite lot like Jokers, Batman, Star Wars characters and all. As far as special guest concerns, world-famous artist of V for Vendetta, David Lloyd had graced the occasion with his mild presence and signing event.

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David Lloyd-Prime attraction of this year’s ComicCon

All in all, I am still having mix feelings for this years’ Comic Con. And my disappointment is purely due to comics themselves were put aside to give more emphasize on commercialization of other merchandise. Which was not bad idea but fans like me still want to scour through multiple outlets completely devoted to comics and emerge with something which,doesn’t matter if old or new, but it must be fresh.

Game on…

Numbers are dry; drier than the Sahara desert. But at the same time, as all statisticians and analysts agree, numbers are the perfect lenses to observe the trend and future predictions. Best way to click the perfect picture and see what is out of focus and what caught the center of frame for any business trends and market in general. Every year ESA (Entertainment Software Association) come out with data encompassing sales, demographic and usage in terms of entertainment software, in short, gaming. I blogged about it before here with my own insights. After almost 2 year back let’s take measure again and see how deep the rabbit hole is. Let’s start.

Average game player age is 35 indicates that I have a couple of years more before I go out of the league. Though the fact that 26% gamers are 50+ years; almost catching up with younger competitors (Under 18 years-27%) and prime age personas(18-35 years-29%). I have all the sympathy with mid-life crisis sufferers (36-49 Years-18%).

Gender demographic is almost equally balanced with obvious minor lead for male (59%) over female (41%).

52% gamers believe that games are better over Movies, DVDs, Music etc. when it comes to value for money. And I completely agree with them. Take example of Witcher 3: Wild Hunt from Polish developer CD Project RED. Even though I pre-ordered and bought all DLC without discounted price, the main game contents itself spanning over 200-300+ hours of game-play excluding DLCs and other tons of goodies. Combine that with AAA quality graphics and RPG engagement and it will be free deal on sale prices.

48% gamers are social gamers. Now that is very contradicting statement when you use “social” and “gamer” in single statement. But I think this is because of lot many co-op and family games available nowadays on console as well as on mobile platforms. It shows smartphones share 36% of all gaming devices with my favorite PC topping the chart with share of 56%.

In terms of co-op, gamers still prefer to have friends at their side rather than family members, parents and spouse/GF/BF in that particular order of receding preference. However anti-social still most of the world believe games are, 51% gamers believe that games help them connect to their friends on regular basis. However anti-educational still most of the world believe games are, 75% gamers believe that games are more mentally stimulant and educational than other “stuff”.

As predicted 2 years back in similar kind of post here, VR is the next in thing for future gaming. Considering 40% gamers ready to buy VR devices in one or the other way, it’s becoming “game” changing scenarios for future developments.

Only 11% M-ratings games compared to 37% E-rating in the year of 2016 also shows how diverse the gaming is becoming. And why the rise of family games. Gaming has stopped becoming geeky-business anymore. There is also shift in accepting the effects of gaming on child’s upbringing. 68% parents believe that it’s positive part of the life. 62% parents themselves participate in gaming sessions with their offspring.

Shooter and action genre still dominate almost 45% of all the genre available on the market. But when it comes to PC, strategy is topmost choice for 34.4% gamers. Notably RPGs also occupying 18.7% share in terms of PC gaming. It’s always difficult to play strategy and RPG without keyboard/mouse combo.

As support to my previous consumerism blog, data shows that 18% gamers buy game titles if it belongs to some continuing series or looks familiar. Though still biggest factor in influencing the consumption is price: 21%. That explains peak buying during winter/summer/autumn sales going on all the time on digital distribution sites. Quality of graphics has lost its charm though with all the new Indie but well-designed and immaculately conceived ideas. No need to have life-like graphics to get immersion.

Total consumer spend in the year of 2015 is 23.6bn $. No need to say that digital format is the best deal for distributors. Comparing to 2010 where physical format was having its golden days with 71% market share, now, in 2015 it’s reduced to mere 44%.

Magical future still awaits. No one has predicted that future holds such fantasy as living and playing out your dreams literally.

References:

http://www.theesa.com/article/2016-essential-facts-about-the-computer-and-video-game-industry/

http://www.theesa.com/

http://www.theesa.com/article/more-than-40-million-americans-age-50-plus-play-video-games/

 

Consumerism & Gaming

“Consumerism is a social and economic order and ideology that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts.” – Wikipedia.

I was rifling stacks of digital shelves teaming with gaming titles in my Steam library along with GOG to choose next best gaming title to be installed after completing SOMA.  Honestly, it was and is becoming most “stressful” decision-making process. In upcoming years, it’s going to get worse as I realized my “to-be-played” game list is ever-increasing tail of snake in that classic old Snake game we used to play longingly on our handhelds. Only exception is, no “Game Over” in sight. Even though I somehow able to run through all titles bought by me on current date basis for single play through, there is much more fodder to chew upon for next few years. Forget about second runs. Co-op and multiplayer also not counted. Is such consumerism good for Gaming industry?

I am no economist. On a chilled winter night, having discussion with one of my colleague-cum-friend, he raised the topic of consumerism and impact of the same on our daily lives. If I count myself conservative for consumer goods, I am extremely likely opposite of it when games and books come into picture. Currently Gaming industry is booming billions dollar business globally. In USA and European countries along with few technology-forward Asia-Pacific countries like Korea and Japan, buying games is quite mainstream. But in developing countries like India it’s still in lower gear, accelerating gradually. Credit goes to digital distribution model and inclusion of local currencies. Steam has almost claimed the market with local currency model and all the deals cropping up on regular basis. Other digital distributor also going to follow the trend soon. Still Consumerism won’t hold the same meaning when we are talking about Gaming Industry as there are some peculiar features which can only be applicable to Gaming. Here I would like to focus on PC and console gaming which is comparably more expensive than mobile or F2P model.

Pricey Affair: First and foremost, though user base is quite diverse, Gaming is considered as prime hobby, kind of expensive which could only be claimed by upper or upper-middle class. Average price of the high-end Consoles are approximately 35-42% of per capita income if we consider latest figure of 93,000 Rs. To build high-end gaming PC would cost much more than that. Price of newly launched Console title costs around 4000 to 5000 Indian rupees which is  almost 5% of per capita income. So, gamers are reluctant to buy new title right away if price is on higher side. They tend to wait out till some discounted price is on offer. And that is quite good approach when it comes to gaming as though shelf-life is short, lifespan of a typical title lasts very much longer. There is always something else on offer on lower price tag to satisfy the itch. And that’s when hoarding starts. As a Gamer you want to acquire titles during sale even though you didn’t have time to play as tempting slashed prices are too good to ignore. As soon as you see title with 50-60% price of the original, you right away make your mind to play the game at later date and buy it now. Series and franchisee loyalty also play big part in buying the title. For publishers, new IP is always difficult decision. It takes some time to get traction.

Value for Money: It’s always debatable topic that when should gamer be satisfied in terms of value for money. In gaming, user or consumer is active part of the value. In simpler terms, I might be perfectly happy with short but quality game-play. On the other hand others might not feel satisfied with hours and hours of content. Genre also play the bigger role here. One don’t want to have RPG of 10-12 hours of total gameplay. Contrary to that, 10-12 hours of FPS gaming is more than enough. In short, Gamers are specific buyers. They know their genre well. To draw new consumers is entirely different beast. Though genres also applied to other media like movies and books but they get advantage of peer-review and mouth-to-mouth publicity. Also you don’t have to invest yourself completely to experience them. In Gaming, you won’t take others word for your experience. There are examples of flawed gems where patchy designs actually enhances the gameplay so much that these titles are now considered as cult. STALKER series, Deadly Premonition are few to name.

Sliced: This brings us to sale and discounted prices. And consumer market is same as for other consumer goods. If particular title on discounted price, there is always chance of picking up the sale. And all consumers are attracted towards slashed prices. Gamers no different. Though it’s always difficult to perform valuation in the first place. Softwares or services tends to have various business models and choosing the correct one makes all the difference. Weather to go for F2P or premium package or MMO with gradual contents or go for low-investment cost mobile gaming, are just basic inception ideas Publishers/Developers have to face. Though most of AAA studios back their breads on many burners, kick-starters and Indie developers had gained much appreciated welcome to introduce their own quality flavor. Economic model and value chain of Gaming industry itself is vast topic. I would take that up in future series of blogs.

No Pay, No Gain: I have already put emphasis before on the fact that you need to fuel the economic engine by paying up fair if you don’t want your favorite entertainment to be vanished from market. Paying up for indie development also encourage more quality and passion-driven projects. Game lovers like me do this often. Long list of “to-be-played” games are fair proof of that.

End of one more year occasioned me to slap and shake my sleeping personal blog to wide awake and review what has gone well in lost year of 2016 and what’s promising in upcoming year 2017 on measuring scale of reading. At time of typing, I am still 2 books short of my over-enthused resolution of completing 24 books in a year. And that will be the case if I am not able to finish my ongoing massive Japanese thriller Six-Four and Russian classic Anna Karenina; both few hundred pages left. Anyway so maintaining the norm and using the GoodReads provided data, following is my current challenge status.

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Though I easily surpassed all my previous years in terms of number of pages read. Also in terms of number of books.

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My Dickens-obsession grew more and finished two of his classics in 2016. And that will also give me opportunity to declare “Bleak House” as most engaging read of the year. Let’s have the read books be explored in different manner this time. I awarded some weird and whacky titled which will identify specific read absolutely pertaining to me only. Read it and see if it’s fitting to you also.

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Hate Economy, still going to love the book about Economy: The Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt

I knew Japanese Horror, but never prepared for this: Uzumaki by Junji Ito.

Never knew Indian origin Graphic Novels are this better: Devi & Ramayan 3392 A.D.

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First time ever, Movie was actually bad but still quite good than its source:  Suicide Squad

Something alluring about J. K. Rowling: Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (All these Robert Galbraith adventures are not that much powerful if you compare with other thriller/mystery genre books available. But there is something in writing which will always compelled me to read ferociously once I start)

Never felt that depressed by object called Book: From Hell

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Fillers from my favorite author can be most arduous effort to finish: Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins

Scientific absurdity and enlightenment: What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

Story and deep philosophical message without speech bubbles?, Yes Possible: Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

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Gouging the current reading trend of myself, there will be lot more classics in upcoming years with more of Russian classics lit thrown in. And they all shall be huge. So number of books going to dwindle but pages going to surmount. Still best part to which any reading aficionados agree to be never premeditate anything, you will never know when you come across best read of your lifetime.

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I shall end, announcing my reading resolution as quoting the favorite

“Please sir, I want some more.” – Oliver Twist.

 

Historical Fiction or Fictional History?

I enjoyed 3rd entry in the Transformers movie series very much (I know, I also feel guilty but I did enjoyed); dubbed as “Dark side of the Moon”. Though tone of the entire series allow ample space for the viewers for suspension of disbelief, one thought pierced my mind and has been nagging me from that point onward whenever I try to entertain myself with fictional account which involves history. How grave impact popular media is having on the audience, especially juvenile or ignorant or uneducated in influencing their knowledge base which has been so partially, and in some cases completely dependent on entertaining media. I can understand the liberty of showing Dark side of moon playing key role in Transformers, but having shown forged video with then American president Nixon and proposing large-scale global conspiracies is definitely not correct way to get informed firsthand about moon voyage.

In the same track there was slapped on X-man story on true key historical event of Cuban missile crisis in X-men: First Class. Why so much bickering, you may ask. For me, movie is much powerful and influential medium as compared to books and games. There is limited fan base to books and other media. It is not “exposed” to all types of people. So if such maligned data be presented in book format one can also assume that people who got affected by it are readers in themselves and hence me very well be aware of the factual history. Similarly Gaming medium itself has never taken such liberty to account the presented story as facts or conspiracies. On the contrary, Games are evolving as most sought education medium when done correctly. True, Movies have disclaimers but who actually knows what is there.

Consider a case here in India with Bollywood (Indian movie industry) where nowadays the trend is to make movies “inspired” by true historical Indian events; Jodha-Akbar, Bajirao Mastani and now upcoming Mohenjo Daro. Producers somehow took unprecedented advantage of words “Inspired from true events” and presented the history in different light. Was Bajirao such an invalid to go gaga over Mastani with entire kingdom and his wife on hand? Is really Akbar in “true love” with Jodha as presented? Akbar had 13 wives in total. Even though in ideal case, he had “truly loved” each one than also Jodha would have to contend with 1/13th of True Love or should I say “divided love”.

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New upcoming trailer of Mohenjo Daro has surpassed things in terms of historical fiction. This part of Harappan civilization had been excavated in 1924-26 when due to its excavated situation named as Mohenjo Daro; translated in dialect Sindhi as “Mound of Dead”. Why the hell than actors in movie still call it the same when all of them are quite well and alive? This is blasphemy. One can easily search the Google for degree of discrepancies these so called historical movies spreading. And that brings us all to same question. Why so much bickering? Because how many of us really care to crosscheck the facts. Movies is accessible to all kind of people here in India and most of which are not keen on sharpening their historical know-how. My concern is what blasphemy they can spread further on with such tainted knowledge. Time will come when the curious child will have to fight hard just to contemplate what is true and what fiction is.

PS: I can understand that there is never easy way when you are taking reference of some historical events. There are always disputes. Much more views and counter-views. And that’s because if history is not documented well enough than there is no way to ascertain the factual events. Movies need not be historical documentaries for sure nor are directors and producers history teachers. Duty lies with audiences and viewers to gobble down such movies with pinch of salt and pepper; satiating the curiosity of mind (if there are) with proper dose of “knowledge-pill”.

PPS: I love both Transformers and X-men series.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akbar

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohenjo-daro

Riding The “Waves” – Part 2

So continuing from last blog, I would like to elaborate more on Gravitational waves in this blog; what exactly are they? How useful this current discovery mean? How could they be pioneered to understand the universe? And why it took so long to physically detect them by LIGO?

So let’s start.

As explained previously that Gravitational waves are nothing but ripples in space-time fabric generated through some violent movements or explosions (Which considering the vast span of universe is norm, but to be able to evidence the same is not that common). Einstein has shown the same mathematically in 1916. Also it stated that these waves travel at light speed and carry significant information of the event which has given birth to the waves. These events could be anything like supernova death of star, colliding of black-holes, “brotherly hug” of neutron or white dwarf stars, wobbly rotation of binary stars and also gravitational radiation created by birth of universe itself.

In fact, in 1974, two astronomers working at Arecibo Radio Observatory had successfully observed the binary stars movements in accordance with Einstein’s theory and hence proof of the existence of Gravitational waves. More studies have also been made into successfully predicting similar effects, but all such proof were, in one sense, mathematical and more of an indirect evidences. Scientists around the world were keen on gaining “physical” proof.

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So what’s so important about detecting the waves? To understand the deep mysteries of the universe has always been captured the mankind’s attention since the evolution of Homo sapiens sapiens or may be even before that in whatever half-intelligent Genus we all belong to. More astrophysicists and astronomers explore and understand about universe on behalf of entire humankind, more unsolved mysteries are cropping up. As if span of the universe itself is not doubtful enough, scientists don’t have clear picture of the birth of universe also. Gravitational waves are not electro-magnetic radiation. They are in complete different league; whole new phenomena. They carry information which was not measurable before. They have tendency to travel without any interaction with matter and hence retaining the “purity” of the event. Hence it is becoming so much important to take it up the study of the waves to dive deeper into depths of unknown; in search of those brightly shining but hidden pearls of wisdom.

As per theory, any moving object is source of Gravitational waves; even on earth whether it’s ball pitched at high velocity by pitcher or bullet fired or spinning top or newspaper thrown in your verandah with ferocity of the daily boring job; practically everything. But as noted before, considering heavenly objects for which Einstein’s theory specialized for, numbers generated by this relativity equations via such miniscule objects are negligible. Waves are so weak that you can pretend that they are not present at all. And hence scientists all over the world had to rely on massive movements outside our world. Even those waves, while reaching to earth are faded out, needed very precise and efficient carefully built experimental instruments to measure them. One of them is LIGO which stands for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. You can find all the information related to LIGO and science behind the architecture at https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/page/ligo-gw-interferometer .

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So not going much detail into how exactly LIGO managed to detect gravitational waves after almost 100 years (It will require much detailed scientific setup of LIGO. Refer above given link & a picture), I would like to wrap up the blog with brief mentions of types of gravitational waves. Based on characteristic vibration signature waves are categorized as below:

  1. Continuous Gravitational Waves: It is generated by single spinning object, say Neutron star. They are mostly constant in their properties such as frequency and amplitude.
  2. Compact Binary Inspiral Gravitational Wave: As name suggests, these waves are created by binary stars. Actually it could be either binary Neutron stars or Binary black holes or mixed-doubles like Neutron star-Black hole. Whatever be the source, one fact is observed by scientists that due to losing energy with each spin, both spinning object come closer which again increases the gravity and spin; ultimately make them spiraling into each other with cataclysmic crash at climax.
  3. Stochastic Gravitational Waves: Frankly speaking these waves are nothing but same as your transistor radio tuned to no particular station but just emitting noise. But these noise here could be from the time when time started its existence i.e. Big Bang. They are small, random, ever-present and difficult to distinguish but most desirables.
  4. Burst Gravitational Waves: These waves are ghost. There is no model or signature to define them and hence no particular methodology. It’s like searching something but you cannot name what it is. They have utmost potential to reveal something which has always been “holy grail” of human conscience.

Further Reading reference:

https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/page/gravitational-waves