Category: Important

Any seriously important stuff gets filed under here.

The Adventures of Square DEMO RELEASED

SQUARE

Hey everyone, Jimmy here. I’m not dead.

As you may or may not be aware, for at least two years now, I’ve been working on and off on a silly little game project called The Adventures of Square, a first person shooter/platformer using an advanced version of the engine from Doom. You may have already read about it on the page I made on this blog.

I am very pleased to announce the long-awaited release of its four-level demo. Check out the screenshots below. (Click to see the full version.)


The Adventures of Square is planned to be a full total conversion for the ZDoom engine, making extensive use of DECORATE and UDMF to create a whole new world completely separate from that of Doom, but keeping more or less the same fundamental gameplay mechanics that make Doom such a fun and loveable game – as in, run into rooms, shoot enemies, make them explode, get weapons and finally beat the big badass at the end.

Expect goofiness – that particular dial has been cranked up to 11. The cartoony art style is something I’ve wanted to try for ages in a first-person shooter engine. The mod features a plethora of villainous geometrical characters, and let’s not forget that there will be geometry puns aplenty, given the nature of the characters.

BE THERE AND BE SQUARE!

Go to the page to download!

This demo showcases what will probably be its final gameplay, but knowing me, anything is subject to change at this point. Further levels are planned. It’s been a long and hard development cycle with an extensive bugfixing period, and all feedback and criticism is incredibly appreciated. I sincerely hope you enjoy the game. 😀

Rainbow Season in the studio!

My brother and I have been focusing super-hard on Rainbow Season lately. The last two months have been spent rehearsing, refining, and in some places rewriting the four songs we have planned for our debut EP.

Here’s what has happened in that time:

  • All the songs have undergone some fairly drastic changes in terms of vocal melodies. The version of “Control” I uploaded to SoundCloud is now terribly out of date.
  • “Sleep”, which we played at the Joondalup Battle of the Bands last October, is no longer going to be on the EP. It was dropped because it was becoming difficult for us to work with. Not to mention the problem of trying to record vocals for five songs within an eight-hour period, which would have been almost impossible.
  • “In My Box” is now to be played and sung a semitone higher.
  • The song that was called “2012” is now called “Judgement Day”. Fortunately, the song’s lyrics don’t specifically make reference to 2012 – the supposed year of the apocalypse – so they haven’t had to be rewritten.
  • Also, we now hate all of these songs. But you might still be able to like them, so what the hey does our opinion matter. 😛

Studio shenanigans below:

Huge thanks to Alan Smith (Bergerk! Studio’s engineer) for his time, patience and dedication when we recorded our vocals with him. The EP is very close to being done now. It’s just a case of making sure it’s all mixed and produced properly, then we’ll try to get in online in some form of digital download – a market we need to investigate a bit further.

7 days until Battle of the Bands

In a week’s time, my brother and I will be off to Arena Joondalup for our first ever live performance.

Well, not the arena per se. The sports bar, to be precise, which is only a 200-seater venue. Oh… hang on, 200 people? Erm, that’s quite a bit more than a few. In fact, that’s more than the total number of people we’ve played to so far… by 200.

Eeeeeeeek.

Yesterday we attended a briefing with the city’s youth organizer Alise. I’ll be honest, I do feel a tiny bit outside of the age range to be participating in a youth event – the contest is aimed at the 12-18 range and I am two years senior (but my younger brother fits in – just about, so that’s how we’re eligible), but I have to remind myself that I won’t be mixing with people a great deal younger than those I mixed with in Sixth Form. A good deal of these people are probably interested in the same things I am, so I probably shouldn’t be concerned.

The contest being a youth event, its coordinator(s) and stage manager(s) will be doing everything in their power to make the event run smoothly – I’m reliant that they’ll make the process short and simple even for an idiot like me, who really has no experience at all with the “gear” side of music performance. Everything seems to be fairly relaxed (even the technical briefing was) so it’s pointless stressing out too much about it.

It’s been a bit of an upward climb accustoming to performing my songs live, though – there’s been many a moment where I’ve been completely ashamed of how badly I still seem to be capable of performing at times. I realize that the pain of dealing with your inabilities in a field you’re not completely comfortable with is an integral part of doing something new and outside your comfort bubble, but as a perfectionist, anything other than perfection – especially in the medium of music and singing – irks me greatly.

Despite all this, I think we’ve finally reached a state where we’re not completely awful, so that’s a step forward, probably. We’ll be squaring off against three other acts called, Stone Cold, Crank and Silent Shock, all of whom I think are more fitting of the descriptor “rock band” – we’re simply a two-piece electronic rock act.

Damn it, I’m being self-deprecating again. I can’t help it, I’m English.

Here’s a Facebook photo gallery of our recent rehearsals.

Now we’ve got to encourage people to come along and support us. Might be tricky, as we… don’t know that many people in the 12-18 age range who might be interested. Hmm.

Anyway, as daunting as it is, it’s also incredibly exciting. This could be our big breakthrough for 2012. I’ve been huddled asleep in my box for too long – it’s time to take some control.

(That last sentence is incredibly clever.)

Announcing: Rainbow Season

Remember how I announced that thing that my brother and I were going to do? That was like, months ago, and I did it in a fairly convoluted way, so those of you who read this blog might not entirely remember it. I realize now that I essentially buried this climactic announcement amidst a massive wall of text that I bet the majority of you (understandably) glossed over.

To be honest, until recently it’s taken a back seat to other things, which makes all the hype I delivered it with initially seem pointless. But right now, it’s at the top of our priority lists. As of August 23rd, my brother and I are now involved in a new project. I present to you:

For years I’ve wanted a career as a solo bedroom musician. It’s always seemed like the ideal life for me. I’ve never really trusted my ability to reproduce songs live because I’m more of a writer than a performer. To be honest, I’d still love to be able to earn a living just from writing songs that people can simply click a “play” button to appreciate – like being a video game composer or something. Don’t get me wrong, I think that being in a full band or an ensemble would be great, especially if I get to play my own stuff as part of it, but right now just taking my keyboard out into the real world feels like a major move outside of my comfort zone. Working with other people has always felt a little uncomfortable to me, but when I start feeling a kind of synergy from our combined efforts, I really start to pick up steam.

My brother Ben is a better singer than I. That’s just fact. He’s had more tuition than me. He uses his voice more on a daily basis (even when it means shutting himself in his bedroom and talking to himself loudly for hours on end). So to me, it makes sense to have him sing on our tracks. He’s also contributing to the songwriting process, as far as lyrics are concerned, at least.

The tracks that I’ve written for this project follow a far more rigid structure than most of the ones I’ve written so far. Until I started writing with a more “pop music” angle in mind, my songs never really had a chorus to speak of, just repeated riffs, and certainly not lyrics. While the tracks for this project are definitely more pop-oriented, there are still “progressive” elements to it, such as sudden key changes, odd time signatures (one of them uses 13/4 time) and slightly more complex riffs. Many of them are uplifting, high-energy synth-driven tracks, with the occasional emulated acoustic guitar, with plenty of strings and piano added to boost the acoustic department, as well.

Now, the reason for this project suddenly becoming important again? A battle of the bands contest is taking place not far from where I live, and my brother and I are eligible to enter. It’s being advertised as “the big break your band has been looking for” and it looks like there’s some great prizes available.

Today we were notified that we’ve been selected to perform. There’ll be three other bands at the event, all mainly in the age range of 12-18 (so the majority of them will be younger than me, but by no means am I ruling out the possibility of getting upstaged). We have until October 28th to get our live rig, our stage presence and a 25-minute set sorted out. This’ll mean playing pretty much all the songs we have planned for our eventual EP, but we need to get them into a presentable state, not to mention rendering instrumental versions of the songs that we can use as backing tracks, and setting up my laptop so that my keyboard can play bits of the songs.

Looks like we’re gonna be pretty busy for the next two months. As such, I’d like to point out that I won’t be taking a great deal of new requests, if any, until further notice.

Anyway, the two tracks we submitted are here on SoundCloud. One is an original called “Control”, the other is a remix/cover of Pendulum’s “The Island”. We’ve worked as hard as we possibly could on them, and overall I think we actually did pretty well with the final vocal take.

Control
The Island

(It’s nothing absolutely stellar, though. We still have a long way to go in the singing department.)

Eager to hear all of your thoughts. If any of you have any criticism, please take us to the cleaners. Please. 😛

We have a Facebook page, too. (Please “like” even if you hate us.)
Rainbow Season

Welcome to the new site!

Hello!

If you’ve arrived from the old site at WordPress.com, I can assure you you’re now in the right place. This is where my website and blog will now reside. The old one will still be around, but won’t be updated. All the posts on the old are still there but only viewable to me.

This isn’t just a move, though. I’ve altered the site itself in a few tiny ways. Here are the main changes:

  • New URL highlighting. Check this out. Wooo, it’s all shiny and orange! 😀
  • The ESotW page has been updated with a new collapsible menu of all the previous epic songs that were up there, as well as the reviews I wrote for those songs.
  • I thought I’d add a “Blog” menu onto the top menu bar. All my most-used post categories are now easily browsable from that drop-down list.
  • The widgets on the right-hand sidebar have been pruned. There were too many to start with, and it looks like some of the ones I wanted to have there aren’t usable anyway. D’oh!

Have a look ’round. 🙂

(Incidentally, I am aware that the links leading to various posts/pages on this blog still link back to the old one. Bear with me and I’ll fix those as quickly as I can.)

Important: Phenomer.net = Phenomer dot dead

It would seem that Phenomer.net, the filespace I used to upload all of my stuff, has gone down permanently – meaning my overbloated file repository, which has, for a number of years, been painstakingly provided and maintained by the brilliant Wartorn, has moved. He did a great job with the move and now all that remains is for me to set everything straight on my end.

Please bear with me for a short while – at most a couple of days – while I do this. A number of URLs on the site and my various other websites like YouTube and various forums will be dead links, so I need to point them all to the new address. For this reason, the MIDI page is no longer accessible.

Sorry for any inconvenience. 🙁

…Huge thanks to Wartorn for keeping my stuff backed up far more efficiently than I did. 😛

New welcome image

Yo yo yo, check dis out, biatchezzzz.

Ahem. Sincerest apologies. That shan’t happen again.

On the right-hand side of the blog over there, is a replacement image for the one I made yonks ago which involved me putting on stupid amounts of clothing, an old fleece, a pair of shades and headphones, and standing up in the hottest room in our house on one of the hottest days of the year, and posing unemotionally for a sort of “publicity shot” that eventually I turned into a kind of avatar for my work. It was the pic for my Facebook fan page and nearly wound up as cover art for my album. But looking at it now – alright, it’s still kinda cool – but any professional artist should well be able to tell how there’s literally only one default Photoshop effect applied to it to give it that cartoony shading style that makes me look a little bit like one of those Obama “HOPE” posters.

This new one, however, was done by a far more professional artist – one Thomas van der Velden.

How awesome is this man, you might ask? Well, if you’ve been keeping tabs on my projects for the last year or so, he is the very same man who started the Harmony FPS project, for which I wrote a custom MIDI soundtrack in 2011, that is available on YouTube.

You can see in-game footage here.

And, very much like how I decided to write said MIDI soundtrack purely on a whim, so did Thomas create this graphic at no request of my own. THAT is how awesome he is.

So that’s pretty cool. I shall be using this graphic elsewhere, as well. Check my avatar on YouTube. 😛

Announcement time!

I have an announcement to make, and it’s pretty amazing.

…No, it’s not about the direction I swing.

Before I make this groundbreaking announcement, I should probably tell you a little something about myself.

There’s a tendency that I have to plunge headlong into activities which I have no prior experience in with an inconquerable feeling of invincibility and absolutely no concept that I could possibly fail, which seems to be based in the fact that no one has ever said I couldn’t do such a thing. I hope it’s something you can all identify with.

This tendency surfaces on a regular basis when it comes to my current level of ability (or perhaps inability) to sing.

And the crushing feeling of despair I feel when it blows up in my face is somewhat akin to being slammed into the ground by a Monty Python-esque 16-ton weight.

I progress through four stages of increasingly intense self-loathing whenever I get an inkling of hope in my mind that I might be able to sing and fire up Propellerhead Reason so that I can unleash my godlike singing talent.

  • Stage 0. I listen to a vocal line or hook from a song – and I feel good, because the song is either my own (which means that it should be piss-easy), or a really good one by another artist that I’m listening to. At this stage I am fully ready to plunge headlong into the task – my voice is already priming itself for what will undoubtably be an absolutely stellar performance. The melody is in my head. I can already see that the end result is going to be completely awesome. I’m absolutely undaunted.
  • Stage 1. I warm my body up for the task ahead of me. I’ve got a clear head, a clear throat, and… hang on, where’s my breath gone? I’m suddenly incredibly short of breath and my diaphragm seems to now have a mind of its own. I inhale repeatedly but can’t quite get in “the zone”. My lungs now seem to only be able to hold the amount of air you might find in a pouch of Capri-Sun. Oh, well – no point in getting wound up about things like breathing at this stage… I’m still gonna give it my all! (Providing I don’t suffocate before then, of course.)
  • Stage 2. With what little breath I actually can muster at this stage, I actually start singing. The moment the first note comes out of my mouth I realise I might have been a little bit overoptimistic in my earlier predictions – I’m singing in some kind of otherworldly octave which would only seem in place if I were doing some kind of cover album of all of the works of Michael Jackson in reverse. I notice this almost immediately, and with the speed of a roadrunner but with all the grace and elegance of a coyote, I attempt to reconfigure my voice into a tone that actually makes sense, but clearly the damage has already been done. No matter – maybe I can just cut that bit out, and the rest of the take will be fine! …maybe?
  • Stage 3. I’m now suddenly drained of all of my previous vigour, and with a trembling hand and shaken faith, I press the “play” button and hear back what I’ve just recorded. When the ensuing racket assails my eardrums, I curl up in the fetal position on my bedroom floor, trying my best to stave off a cascade of shameful tears and the notion that I have all the musicianship of a depressed elephant.

I am usually not one to doubt my self-worth by any means – some might even say that my ego could use a break once in a while – but this crushing feeling of inadequacy bites down into my very soul and sends me into a spiral of depression. I actually feel physical pain and sickness, as though someone has shot me in the spine with a crossbow bolt covered in some kind of liquid worthlessness toxin, whenever I have to present my god-awful wailings to other people. The breathlessness, the lack of vocal experience, the years and years of dairy product consumption (which I’m told ruins a voice), all scream out, and I feel like just writing instrumentals for the rest of my life and never, ever, trying to sing covers.

Recently I wrote a set of lyrics on a particularly heartfelt subject, which I was fairly pleased with, and then wrote a song to go along with it – which turned into a kind of sombre, ballady kind of pop song – not something I was particularly used to writing, but something I was nonetheless satisfied with.

Then I tried to sing it.

My reaction.

…After the psychotherapy session I needed immediately after hearing the less-than-amazing results back and having to show them to my dad because I honestly couldn’t identify, let alone crush, the cause of my voice being so unforgivably terrible, he suggested that I’m just not confident enough. Which was unfortunate, because that meant that the process was in fact a vicious cycle – I was singing terribly because I wasn’t confident enough in my own ability, and I wasn’t confident enough in my own ability because I was singing terribly.

The situation was now at a point of desperation – I was sick of this disappointment happening to me so frequently, and I eventually turned to my younger brother for help, who’d had a bit of singing tuition in the short time he spent at Sixth Form. As it turned out, he was better at singing my own vocal melodies than I was. By quite a long way. In fact, all I had to do was sing the whole song to him once, and he was somehow able to not only sing it better, but also improve on the existing melodies.

So… I decided I would instead rely on him for all future vocal endeavours.

Okay – all that out of the way, time for the announcement! 😀

Hold onto your butts. Are you ready?


My brother and I are going to pull our collective creativity together and write a sod-buggering EP.

It’s not something I’ve always wanted to undertake, having never been the least bit confident in my vocal abilities, and also having never been keen on having to rely on someone else to sing over my stuff – but seeing how I’ve been learning how music works for the last six or seven years, I figured it was about time I started learning how to control my voice properly. I’ve been seriously composing (that is, writing with the intent to publicly release my work) since about 2008, and only recently has the idea of attaching vocals to my music really resonated with me. Up until now, I’ve written purely instrumental tracks. (And, just so we’re clear on this, I will continue to do so, purely because they’re easier and more fun for me to write – I certainly won’t be orienting all of my future songs on having vocals put on them.)

But now, with the help of my brother, I’m starting to write some proper songs with actual words, like I’m an actual songwriter instead of some bedroom-dwelling mook who sits all day programming individual notes manually into MIDI editors. He and I are together writing the lyrics, doing a bit of jamming to come up with some decent riffs, and messing around with the vocal melodies that he will eventually be singing over. (What with him having the better voice out of the two of us.)

What kind of music am I now dabbling in, you ask? Oh ho, all will be revealed soon. 😛 (Okay, I’ll narrow it down. It’s not death metal. Or hip-hop.)

That’s not to say my self-confidence struggles are over, of course. My brother and I have proven that we still struggle with some aspects of singing (and as the songwriter in this new duo that he and I have formed, I’ve tried not to write anything too demanding for either of us to perform in a live setting). We are, as of today, now attending weekly vocal lessons with the lovely Rachel at the Joondalup School of Music. She has even said that she will provide us with feedback on the existing vocal tracks. However, in order for her to do so, I’m first going to have to overcome my morbid fear of presenting my work to other people.

Hmm… might take some work, that.

(Ack, I spent way too long on this one post. D:

Also, BY GUM IT IS STILL ENTIRELY TOO HOT.)

Two decades on this planet, also Doom turns eighteen

I suppose this is quite significant to my life so I think I’ll make a blog post about it.

Probably.

(Late by ten days though it is.)

(Also that cake wasn’t mine.)

On November 30, 2011, I celebrated the 20th anniversary of my inception into this world. Two decades. 20 years. 240 months. 1,040 weeks. 7,305 days. 175,320 hours. 10,519,200 minutes. 631,152,000 seconds.

But really, it doesn’t matter how that length of time is phrased – it just doesn’t feel like it’s been that long at all. I may have existed for two whole decades, but I certainly don’t feel as though I have the same amount of experience as your average person of 20 years. I still feel like a young’un, yet my self-image should surely have graduated to “adult” when I officially became an adult two entire years ago.

I think that may be because, as I think it’s safe to say, I’ve led a rather sheltered life. I’ve spent most of my time cooped up in my comfort zone, fiddling about making music and playing games that are nearly as old as me. I haven’t exercised any of the new rights and privileges that come with being a slightly older person. I’ve not voted yet – I tend to stay as far away from the trainwreck that is our current political system as possible. I don’t drink at all – alcoholic beverages of any kind just revulse me for reasons I can’t really explain. I still can’t be trusted to drive a vehicle – lessons were taken but I soon proved to devolve into a brainless klutz whenever put in front of the wheel of a car. And you probably couldn’t give less of a shit about my sexual experiences but let’s just say they have not been that many.

My parents have gone well out of their way to make sure no unnecessary hardship should come upon me or my brother. One of the major reasons we emmigrated was to ensure we both had a good chance of further education and to open up a myriad of new opportunites, after the UK proved to be rather limited and less-than-enthralling, what with the state of decline its economy is now in.

In the coming years I’m going to try and be as responsible and outwardly proactive as possible. In the twenty years to follow, I’m going to find wealth, knowledge, love, and happiness through whatever means I possibly can. And I’m going to (try and) do it with as little help as possible.

Anyway, that’s enough of me ranting about the obstacles I’ll have to face throughout my continuing existence on this Earth. Let’s talk about something that matters a little less, shall we? 😀

Today, Doom turned 18. At least in the UK, it, like myself, is of the age where it can legally vote, drink, drive and procreate (though let’s hope not at the same time, or those privileges might well get revoked fast).

18 years ago today, the game that would forever change the face of computer gaming and set the standard for survival horror games was uploaded to the FTP server of the University of Wisconsin, and was immediately set upon by zealous gamers who, in their frantic bid to get an early copy of the game, crashed the server.

Let’s face it, Doom is arguably the best videogame of all time. Not just because of its timelessness and its technological feats considering the hardware and software available to developers at the time, but because its community is still a thriving and incredibly creative force that is showing no signs of stopping any time soon.

I for one am definitely not going to stop loving it, or making maps of my own for it, at any point in the near (or distant) future.

Cacoward

Also I done won a Cacoward. This was for my 32-map single player mapset “Jenesis“. This is the first Cacoward I’ve won for a project of my own (although I’ve contributed music and the occasional map to a few community-made projects which also won awards in previous editions). Still, this is a pretty happy moment for me. Jenesis took me since October of last year to complete and only hit the archives at the end of November this year. Yep, more than a years’ worth of on/off work, bugtesting, finetuning and the occasional hiatus went into this project. Of course, not all of this year’s Cacoward winners took that long to complete (in fact, Khorus’ 32-map project took him exactly a month), so I guess my next goal is too see if I can pump out something of equal quality within a shorter amount of time. Hopefully I’ll release something to match or even outdo Jenesis in 2012. Possibly even that friggin’ Chip’s Challenge remake I’ve been sitting on for a while now.