Saturday, March 8, 2008


My favorite scifi movies are Alien and Aliens, even above Star Wars and 2001 (and definitely far above the other Alien sequels, even though none of 'em totally sucked or anything, they just definitely don't deserve to be put above Star Wars or 2001 and a bunch of other things I'm probably forgetting).

I could blabber for at least two days straight about all the different reasons I think Alien and Aliens are so great, maybe more, now that I think about throwing out a few details as examples, that's one big freaking onion to start peeling back the layers on, Ridley Scott and Cameron are two geniuses, who studied all the scifi (and other assorted) geniuses that came before 'em, all of which had teams and teams and teams of maybe-not-so-famous but just-as-important geniuses helping 'em with the ten million billion moving parts that go into making something really great, y'know, like Kubrick had Clarke and all the guys who did the special effects, and Lucas had Ralph McQuarrie, and John Williams, and that awesome sound effect guy, and blah blah blah blah blah.

So I'm not gonna even try to peel any of that humongous ass onion back all-at-once and just sorta wander around in it and randomly type out all the stuff I find poking around in there, its an Abyss of Awesomeness that I know I lack the gravity to get to the bottom of, a little brain like mine could stare into something like that with my Appreciation Machine cranked to the max and I'd still never get to the end of even one of those hallways.

And there's a helluvalotta hallways there, man.

And so I can't really just say "one of the great things about Aliens was..." because just jumping in there and grabbing one thing and focusing on that and going off on how great it is would seem sorta misleading, like I reached in and picked it out because it was the main thing about Aliens I like, or something like that, when there really ain't one main thing I think is more important than all the other things.

Aside from the idea that there ain't one main thing I think is more important than all the other things.

Which is what I just decided to talk about without having to type a lot heh.

Anyways, when you got something like that in your brain, you can't just sum it up easily, its an amorphous and non-verbal kind of understanding.

But on the other hand (for some strange reason) it seems pretty easy to take something else, and run it through that model of Aliens you have in your head, and traverse all the mental hallways and compare the two things, and get a nice short list of all the things that don't measure up, or places where the thing you are comparing it to is missing important parts, and stuff like that.

And when folks make up game ideas, I think they start from a familiar context or a framework of their favorite games (and bits of movies that are sorta like games, and amusement park rides, etc), mebbe stripped down to its bare bones and essential bits, if they're smart, and then they start building something up from there.

And then the audience comes in and runs that idea against the amorphous blob-like mental model they have in their heads from their favorite games, and they get the list of all the little (and maybe not so little) things that don't jive, all the differences and deficiencies and stuff, from their perspective, and they report that.

Sometimes the frameworks they are using don't match up well, y'know, 'cause folks have all sorts of different experience sets, but in general, its okay, its just the way we do it, smart folks who have played this game a lot can compensate for those "favorite game context" differences anyways, by boiling ideas like "I always play a ranger in these games" down into the constituent parts that make up "the idea of being a ranger" and what you are really saying when you say "you should always be allowed to be one" until they find some common ground, so that they can make you happy.

Or whatever, you know what I'm saying

And from the critic-slash-audience side, we adjust to compensate too, I mean, we aren't just a bunch of dicks, when we look at your idea, we try to find some context from our Funnest Gaming Moments that matches up with whatever you are talking about, and start from there.

And sometimes the thing you are talking about reminds us of something else that we've done before that we really didn't like, and things break down right in the beginning.

That happens all the time.

And there's a cure for that kinda breakdown, when a guy can explain the Fun Gaming Experience he had that we obviously didn't have, y'know, and draw us a picture of what we missed.

But that can take a lot of work to get at, sometimes, with the way we all have these gigantic amorphouse blobs of non-verbal half-understood genius-level things in our heads, and the way we need to describe 'em and map 'em out slowly by following a single line of thought at a time.

'Cause we think and communicate in series, one word at a time, traversing one mental corridor at a time, exploring one layer of the onion at a time, we aren't capable of downloading the huge amorphous blobs of understanding to each other in parallel and shit, and that always leads to all sorts of important things not getting mentioned and confusion and errors in the communication stream send us rolling down completely differerent corridors in completely different armorphous blobs of understanding sometimes.

And whatever.

Much like what would happen if I tried to unroll the onion of "why I like the Alien movies."

As if I even had the mental capacity to completely understand everything all the guys who built it (and all the guys that those guys were influenced by) were consciously (and semi-consciously, and unconsiously) shooting for, which I don't.

I mean, I think I'm pretty great, but even I don't think I'm that great heh.

I think my brain would have to be the size of a couch or something to do that shit.

Oh, my brain is HUGE, don't get me wrong, I have a HUGE and superhumanly awersomes cranium, it just isn't that huge ahaha.

Its definitely not huge enough to store the brain of even one other genius in here and still have enough room leftover in RAM to operate the motor skill programming that's required to open a bag of Doritos.

And that's if I do it with my teeth ahaha.

So whatever, we do one thing at a time, and we put up with the never ending buildup of errors that occur because we can't do anything all-at-once.

But the one error we don't have to put up with is the idea that we could do it all at once, and all the errors that come from that, like the idea that I'm somehow capable of loading all the important thoughts that ten thousand geniuses thought into my RAM without some kinda killer compression technique that would destroy like 95% of the data and still leave me quivering on the floor in a pile of my own smoldering nerve endings and steaming drool heh.

That's where a good mental database with secondary memory storage and quick traversal shortcuts and pattern recognition compression and everything comes in ahaha.

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