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Archive for November, 2011

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Fejd / Saltatio Mortis Concert 11-24-2011

I only started listening to Fejd a couple of weeks ago, but really like their sound. Such folk music is something I’ve been enjoying a lot over the past couple of months and this’d be the first real folk concert. So very last-minute (day of the show) I made the decision I should go to the show and see how they are live. The bummer of this was that they were opening before Saltatio Mortis, a band I didn’t really know well but from the couple of tracks I’d listened to they sounded alright. As such I went over there and the show was in Effenaar‘s (small hall) which holds 350 people, but wasn’t nearly at maximum capacity.

First off even when standing outside; there was an overwhelming amount of German to be heard. It seems that the German Saltatio Mortis fanclub has travelled along with the band. By far most of them were girls too, which I didn’t expect. I was surprised and very curious what the band is like to get such a hardcore following. The starting time had been changed to start early for Fejd and no reason was given. People assumed they’d want to play longer sets or so, but we’d just have to see.

Fejd

Video 1: Gryning
Video 2: Storm
Homepage: fejd.se

First off, they started late and still had to do some tuning on their gear when they entered the stage which was a little bit awkward, in my opinion. But when they finally started, the music was absolutely great from the get-go. The swedish vocals actually do sound pleasant and I have to mention their drummer playing really actively. The drum sound was among the best I’ve heard at live concerts, bravo! The whole crowd seemed into it and I saw many girls just start outright dancing, which I found to be rather funny. I can’t say too much else about their performance though, as it sounded great but was sadly cut short without a real reason being given. Their playtime didn’t even reach 30 minutes and I can’t stress enough how sad that fact is.

If Fejd tours near me again, I’ll definitely go to the show and see what they really have in store. For now I at least grabbed myself a Fejd t-shirt from the merchandise.

Saltatio Mortis

Video 1: Ebenbild
Video 2: Hochzeitstanz
Bonus: Dr. Eisenhans (Live, triple bagpipes)
Homepage: saltatio-mortis.com

After a rather long wait, the headliner also started late, which was strange, especially since they wanted to start early. But they came on stage and the crowd went nuts, they started with some heavy metal songs and all was looking well. After those though, the next batch of 5-10 songs were slow songs/ballads. This was unexpected and to be honest, I actually got bored myself. During these songs, the crowd was super intensely clapping and singing along with all the lyrics. I even had the singer look at me going “Why aren’t you singing along!?” for several seconds, but he did that a lot more to the girl I was with, which was incredibly awkward.

During these songs I’ve seen things I’ve never seen happen at any rock/metal concert, namely the crowd marching in place, the crowd marching back’n'forth along with the singer.. it truly was like linedancing. Another weird one was to see a polonaise form which kept going through the crowd for a good while. They also did the very german thing of placing your hands on the shoulder of the person next to you and thus hooking into a big line.. and then “swinging” along with the music.

Other than the… extreme german-ness of it, they did play some songs that were alright or even fun and if nothing else, it was “an experience” to say the least.

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Steam Autumn Sale 2011

Another Steam sale, another chance to buy an excessive amount of games for cheap.

So what have I bought?

  • Total War complete pack (only had Napoleon and Empire)
  • L.A. Noire – Complete Edition
  • Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena
  • Dead Island 4-pack (sharing the cheaper price with people)
Audio

40 Below Summer – Electrify

More…

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Thoughts on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Thoughts on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Skyrim? Yeah, you might be tired of hearing about that game by now as it really is just about everywhere and everybody and their pets seem to be playing it. Even I was surprised to find everybody on my friendslist to be playing Skyrim instead of some of the other big releases. It was therefore kind of a bother to get my copy late, especially while getting asked many a time what I thought about it. In the spirit of those questions; I’ll give my thoughts on my first 20 hours of the game.

First of all I decided many months ago that I was not going to read up on the game at all as to make sure it’d all be new for when I did get my hands on it. So I went in knowing nothing and was quite impressed with the opening sequence, it looked good, set up the main story and then rapidly just dumped you in the world where you could then do whatever the hell you pleased. So what I did was just start exploring around. Before reaching Riverwood (the first town you’re likely to come across) I first found a castle southwest of Helgen(the starting place).

In this castle, which was a neat dungeoncrawl, I immediately met a bunch of vampires. This was no problem most of the time but I had to really take it slow in one room where whenever I would shoot an arrow at anyone, 6 enemies would aggro and come at me. After a while of taking a couple of shots and hiding, I managed to get them down though. This to me is a core experience on a Elder Scrolls game; you run somewhere, go in it and then meet obstacles that you aren’t supposed to face yet, but you deal with it best you can. I found myself some initial gear and money and proceeded further into the dungeon when I met my first boss; a Master Vampire.

I believe I was level 3 at the time and I could honestly only barely touch the guy, even while using sneak attacks. I tried many times refusing to drop the difficulty from Expert, but in the end I had to give in and drop it to the lowest difficulty just so I could kill him. Moving on from there I followed the quests more as upon going to Riverwood you get a whole bunch of quests leading you all over the place anyway.

As is common in the Elder Scrolls games, there are several guilds and in the 20 hours I’ve currently spent in the game I’ve completed one guild’s quests and only just started a second and have not even come into contact with any of the others. To add to that; I’ve only visited 2 out of the many big cities in Skyrim, which each are bound to have their own series of questchains which so far have all been very good and worth doing. Even normal fetchquests are worth doing as there’s always been something fun to set them apart. Be it the landscape surrounding the area or good dialog, or merely the setting. As such I’m reminded of some bandits who had a mage working for them who complained about their drinking habits, followed by you overhearing drunken bandit talk. It’s something rather small, but it really does add flavor to the area.

The thing that surprised me most is that the actual dungeons have became quite lengthy and some have some unique twists to them; such as traps that will push you off ledges, trapdoors and what feels like a lot more verticality to them. I may be misremembering the dungeons of oblivion slightly, but they were mostly very square and horizontal. The level design really has improved over the years, with hidden goodies in corners, requiring you to make a diagonal jump or turn around and hug the wall to get on a small ledge to reach a chest.

Negatives

So you get the gist; this game is great all around, but it does have some issues and I’m not talking about “open world jank”. First of all, it seems to crash to desktop after an hour or two, you can actually feel it coming as it starts to bog down. But since you save a lot in skyrim, it isn’t a huge deal, neither are any minor bugs (not run into anything major shockingly). The inventory management is a little frustrating sometimes as everything is sorted alphabetically. This would be an issue if you’re looking for a certain level of potion, in a massive list. It would be more useful to be able to divide them into “health potions”, “magicka potions”, “poisons”, “buffs” etc in this example.

Another thing I found to be rather weird is that a quest had me intimidate a guy, I tried to scare him, but my non-melee character didn’t make much of an impression and thus I had to “brawl”. What does this seemingly entail? Punching, as you automatically raise both of your fists. However you’re free to just grab your melee weapon and conjure a monster to help you out. So what is the point of brawling I wonder?

The final point is that I just haven’t found the mouse controls to be where I want them. This is especially so when you’ve got an arrow drawn, your mouse sensitivity is halved on the horizontal axis, yet unchanged vertically and I’m not sure why it does this.

Articles

Flogging Molly concert 11-12-2011

Flogging Molly has been one of the bands I’ve loved for many years and a band that I keep coming back to. It’s outside of my normal genre, as they’re an irish folk rock band. In fact I’ve had people tell me they don’t believe I would listen to such music, nevermind love it like I do. This was the second time I’ve seen them, the first one being at Download Festival 2005 which is a metal festival and was an absolute blast, despite being at 9am.

When we arrived in the hall, the first thing I noticed was that unlike all the concerts I’ve been to over the years there were lots and lots of people wearing regular clothing. No black masses and band shirts, which struck me as really unusual. Of course there were a couple of people wearing Flogging Molly shirts and I did see 1 Graspop Metal Meeting shirt, but that was it. I felt kind of out of place.

Openers

The Mighty Stef

Video 1: Death Threats
Video 2: We Want Blood
Homepage: themightystef.com

Going into this I thought I was going to really dislike this group as the couple of songs I had listened to really bored me. As it turns out; they are a pretty good live band and they sure got some atmosphere going. Good communication with the crowd too, despite the crowd not really being into them. By the end you were really getting ready to rock out it felt like. Unlike their album songs I heard, there was so much more swing, fun and tempo in their performance. On top of that they had a really good and enthusiastic drummer.

The Minutes

Video 1: Black Keys
Video 2: Fleetwood
Homepage: theminutesmusic.com

From what I heard I expected a rather rocking show with vocals I didn’t like. What I got instead was something that bored me and the entire crowd. Everyone around me was just talking and you could actually hear the murmur from the crowd through the songs. Some people spoke to me about the vocals as they really disliked them, some even asking “Is there a cat getting skinned alive or something? Oh wait… it’s the band”. Needless to say; I have nothing positive to say at all about this performance, it ruined everything that The Mighty Stef set up.

Flogging Molly

Video 1: Drunken Lullabies
Video 2: Devil’s Dance Floor
Live 1: Drunken Lullabies
Live 2: Black Friday Rule mid-song jam
Live 3: Revolution/Worst Day Since Yesterday
Live 4: Rebels of the sacred heart
Live Outro: Always Look On The Bright Side of Life
Setlist: setlist.fm
Homepage: floggingmolly.com

At the moment the lights dimmed, the crowd went nuts. They instantly lived after The Minutes had bored them to death and I told the people I was with that I’d see them after the show since I knew what was coming. What was coming? Roughly half of the crowd would turn into 1 big crazy jumping/shouting mess and you’d move from 1 side of it to the next without really having much control over what was going on.

The above was true for nearly all songs, only 2 or 3 didn’t get too much reaction from the crowd, but in a way that’s good as you really need a couple of minutes to catch your breath. I remember being absolutely out of breath and checked my phone during one of those songs, there was still an hour to go. This came as quite a (welcome!) surprise, everyone at that point was looking around, waving their hands towards their faces to “cool down” a little. I’m just trying to convey just how energetic this concert was.

On a more serious note; There are a lot of great songs/lyrics and some of them mean a lot to me and helped me (and continue to do so) through some dark times and being able to yell my heart out is extremely satisfying. It’s one of the reasons why I love Flogging Molly; There’s the upbeat and happy tune with some dark and meaningful lyrics to them.

Needless to say, it was all 1 giant party and with 4,500 people singing along, it really does make your hair stand up straight. It’s an evening that will hang in your memory for many years to come, of that I can assure you. So do yourself a favor, if you like having a good time; go see these guys, you won’t regret it.

PS: The outcome of the concert consists of a busted lip, bruises all over from my legs to shoulders, an elbow to the temple and clothes that are completely drenched in beer and collected sweat of at least tens upon tens of people.

Images

Thoughts on The Lion King 3D

Thoughts on The Lion King 3D

Yesterday I went to the cinema for the first time since roughly 10 years, I believe it was the first Lord of the Rings movie I watched last, though it may have been the 2nd. So what movie did I go watch? The Lion King 3D. This may surely be an odd choice considering i’m 22, but that doesn’t bother me. Me and the girl who wanted to see it in the first place were looking for some fun after a day at the beach and such a nostalgia trip seemed like an excellent choice. So does this 17 year old movie hold up to today’s standards?

The movie starts off with a lengthy intro song and from the get-go you know you’re in for something special. I even found myself watching with goosebumps and I suspect that most in the cinema did. That will also be a recurring thing while watching the movie. It simply grabs you and takes you for a grandiose trip full of feel good moments, lighthearted humor and terrific songs. There really aren’t any drawbacks or negatives to this movie that I can think of.

I went to see the original English version over the dutch one and with that there was 1 funny detail; the subtitles (which annoyed me) seemed to be Belgian. Although the same language, it used belgian-dutch words especially in Hakuna Matata, which looked really weird. Other than that minor point, I can’t fault it for anything else, it simply is such a wonderful film. The animation, the sound, the overall story, everything is likable and not only for kids as you may think. This film is simply timeless and the 3D effects added a little extra to a couple of scenes.

If you’ve never watched it and even if you did many years ago; do yourself a favor and go watch it. It pains me to think that there may be kids growing up without having seen this movie. It’s a masterpiece of 2d animation and is a timeless classic for a reason and it seems like it will hold on to that spot forever.

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2nd time at a beach in my life

2nd time at a beach in my life

I have to say that it was extremely pleasant. Barely any wind, no crowds and a very nice sunny temperature of ~17C.

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Youtube Partnership

As some of you probably have noticed; I have become a youtube partner a little while ago. This process took a couple of weeks all in all and started out with a youtube private message that I initially thought was a weird spam message. In this post I want to “explain” myself a little and also share some of the things I’m wondering with regards to the partnership. I’ll write another post after another month or so to follow up to this one.

What does it mean?

So I’m a partner now, but what does it change? It doesn’t have to change much at all. My own fear was that it would entail forcing people to produce specific content. These ideas mainly came from the partner programs by Machinima and The Game Station. That’s something I didn’t want and thus asked about in the beginning. Turn out that I’m not being restricted in any way (other than breaking the youtube guidelines, nudity etc), the only thing I have to do is upload 2 videos per month, that’s all they ask for.

Furthermore I asked about ads and how that would even work since normally you hear about people being unable to put ads on videogame-footage. I figured that this would get me into trouble if I decided to do so. My source on this would be the “Individual Video Partnership” deal I had gotten through youtube itself, which would let me monetize a single video, but no videogame footage was allowed and would result in said video being deleted. This didn’t apply to the partnership they were offering and I quote:

“The only control that would be placed on your content is that you cannot use copyright material. This does not apply to video game content however as game developers as a whole have decided it is ok.”

So ads would be fine, the control I would have over this would be complete. What this seems to boil down to is that I can entirely disable/enable ads altogether (apart from copyright-claimed videos, which have ads anyway). If I enable them there will be a little ad to the side and one of those popups at the bottom of the video. That is the default and I can edit on a per-video basis, but with 3000+ videos, that simply isn’t doable.

Another point I really like is the fact that if anything should happen to my account (for example, losing my 15-minute upload ability such as happened twice before), I can contact youtube through my partnership company and get it sorted out. It also has some convenient methods of scheduling videos to go public at a later point instead of immediately going public. It’s possible to do that without partnership, but if you turn the videos from private to public, it won’t show up in people’s subscription boxes.

Besides those points, not much changes other than having a little more “branding” options. But I haven’t really used them as I’m frankly horrible with photoshop and such.

So… ads now?

For now I have enabled ads yes, it’s not something I”m terribly happy about, but for now I mainly want to see what it could get me. To see this, the ads need to be enabled for 30 days for me to see what it could get me. I could then use anything gained from it to offset website costs and if it should be “much” I could use it on upgrading my PC/buy games to let’s play. Besides all the common adblocking plugins in browsers stop the ads anyway so it shouldn’t be that big of an issue to what I’m guessing is most of you.

Another idea I have been thinking of is to monetize youtube videos and offer ad-free videos through my site (through blip.tv). But it really depends on how it works out. That’s why I’ll give it some more thought and add another post regarding this subject later.

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Another thing I’ve been wondering about music

Following up the previous post about music (and concerts), I figured I’d throw up another question I’ve been wondering for many years now. I have already asked this question to several people and have mostly gotten the same answer most of the time. So what is this question then? It goes as follows; What do you think of music in your native language?

This might be a strange question as you likely don’t know any better, but I live in a country with our own small language (Dutch) but we’re heavily influenced by the US and UK and thus English. There is English media everywhere, from companies to music to movies to just about everywhere. You learn it (almost) as soon as you start learning Dutch so it really comes easily to us, you’re kind of forced to at least have a basic understanding of it. Because of this influence, by far most of the music that reaches us is in English.

It even goes as far as when we hear dutch music, we often put it in a subgenre of “Dutch music” if it’s sung in dutch, instead of what kind of music it is. To many of us it is strange to hear music in our own language and often think that English (or other languages) sound a lot better than dutch does. Thus I imagine that it has be weird to listen to music in your own language for native English speakers (the same goes for other languages too of course).

It may be because dutch is not a very good sounding language, or maybe it’s merely because you hear so much dutch already, or a different language just sounds more “exotic”, but we do prefer our music in English. So… is it normal for you to listen to music in your language or is it the same where you live?