Thursday, December 7, 2023

Those Tears Aren't Real...

I think a third post about how much fun I'm having in the new EverQuest II expansion might be a bit much, especially seeing as how all I'm really doing is going through the same content over and over. Three max-level crafters now and I'll be doing the fourth as soon as I publish this.

I've been furiously bookmarking news stories recently without ever getting around to posting about any of them so I guess it's time for a quick Friday grab-bag, even if it's only Thursday. If I wait until tomorrow, who knows what else might have happened.

Xyzzysqrl dropped by the comment thread a few days ago to express a certain disquiet about the prospect of a flood of discomfiting AI images in this year's Inventory Full Advent Calendar. (Hmm. Isn't using the name of the blog there a bit like talking about myself in the third person? Bhagpuss isn't sure...) I want to get to the meat of that in a full post at some point but it's not going to be yet a while.

They're Coming For You!

In the meantime, I'm guessing Xyzzy isn't going to be any happier about this latest development...

I think we should take a look at it so we can judge for ourselves.

Betrayed By This Town - Anna Indiana

There's so much to say. Where to begin?

Well, for a start, I'm astonished to see that after almost two weeks the YouTube video has just 14k views. From the NME article, I'd assumed it was some kind of big deal internet sensation. Maybe it is, on X-Twitter, where the original post has nearly eight thousand replies. Apparently YouTube viewers aren't quite as curious - or as outraged.

It's really the comments that are interesting, anyway, not the song, which could hardly be more bland, except for the lyrical content, which is... worrying. People seem to think it either signals the end of human civilization or proves AI is a complete farce. So, the same as usual, then.

The whole thing reminds me so much of the reception mobile phones got in the 1980s. I can remember having conversations in which people talked about this apparently terrifying new concept as if the shoddy, makeshift version they were seeing was the ultimate end-point of technological evolution and that proved... something.  

Obviously, no self-respecting, right-thinking person was going to cart around a clumsy object the size and weight of a house-brick, just so they could yell "I'm on a train!" over and over again, until one of their equally shallow, dim-witted friends gave them the validation they so pathetically desired

Well, we all know how that turned out, don't we? Then again,on the other hand, VR...

I just thought I'd mention it because I'm pretty sure AI is going to be more smartphone than VR Headset so it's probably best to pay attention. What's the point of having a blog, anyway, if it isn't to put down markers so you can say "I told you so" later? 

Also, I hesitate to say it, but that chorus is kind of catchy... 

Betrayed By This Town - Connie Connecticut 

See? Now you get it!

If Tolkein Had Never Seen The Cotswolds...

... or you wait all decade for a non-Western fantasy setting and then three come along at once.

The big ticket in this event was the Early Access release of The Wagadu Chronicles. This sandbox mmorpg funded on Kickstarter in 2020, which makes early access in 2023 something of a result. The original pitch there described it as "An Afrofantasy world" and the inspiration for the game is summed up as "What if Tolkien were black?

That said, the very great majority of the rest of the pitch is directly concerned with the role-playing aspects of the game. The setting, which has certainly been the main focus of every news item I've read about it, is less heavily emphasized.

The game's Steam page doesn't actually mention Africa or Afrocentrism at all, although it's implicit in the images and some of the description. The game is very accessibly priced and I'd probably have bought it already if it weren't for the gameplay. It looks to be very much a community-focused, co-operative kind of affair and I used all my spoons for that sort of thing a long time ago. 

I very definitely would like to see more games using backgrounds and settings that aren't a) Europe b) South-East Asia or c) Space and to that end I was very pleased to hear about Wizard 101's latest Spiral world, Walluru

To quote the official website: "Inspired by Australia at the turn of the 20th century, Wallaru is the land of the Outback." I'm not entirely convinced by the authenticity of the treatment, given the main focus appears to be "koalas, kangaroos, wallabys, and wombats", which makes it sound more like a Disney special than a fully realised ecosystem but at least it ought to make for some different mob models.

Once again, I'd quite like to see it for myself but the way W101 works I imagine I'd have to play through every other twist on the Spiral to get there, especially given it's "the fourth and final world of Wizard101’s fourth story arc". I think life's too short for all of that or mine's likely to be, at least.

And the third example? Erm... I know there was one but it looks like I didn't think to bookmark it and now I can neither remember what it was nor find it in Feedly. You'll just have to take my word there was another - unless anyone can enlighten us in the comments...

Yesterday's Papers

Remember when I was all excited about the prospects of virtual concert-going? It was back in the pandemic (Remember that?) and the idea of sitting at home tapping a keyboard so my avatar could "dance" to a real-life band seemed like The Future.

I went to a few of those virtual gigs and it definitely was an experience. Just not a particularly visceral one. I'd put it a notch or two above watching festival livestreams, something I've also done a fair amount of over the last couple of years, but well below even the actual live experience of watching a couple of local bands on a stage at a village fete last summer.

At the time, I did feel Fortnite probably had the best chance of making something out of this concept and it seems Epic agrees. It's taken longer than I expected but this week they announced something called the Festival game mode.

I don't play Fortnite. I mean, I have it installed and I've used it but I don't play it. I understand, though, that there are many "modes" you can play. It's not just the OG Battle Royale any more.

Festival is apparently some kind of "rhythm" game. I have a vague idea what that is and I'm pretty sure I would be terrible at it. Hopefully there'll be a way to watch without having to join in. 

The first "headliner" booked to appear in the "entirely music-focused mode" is The Weeknd. I like Abel Tesfaye well enough but I wouldn't patch up and log in just to see an idealised cartoon version of him pretending to perform with a band made up of robots and cuddly toys. Then again, now I type it out..

Anyway, it's all happening in a couple of days. Maybe I'll check it out, maybe I won't. If Fortnite books someone I really like though...

(Once more, isn't this sort of thing the USP VR is looking for? I mean, just look at the huge interest in seeing Taylor Swift and Beyoncé "live" on a flat cinema screen. I dunno. It just seems like a much better use-case for the technology than gaming...)

And that's where I'm going to leave it for now. It's cleared some of the clutter in my pending tray so I'm happy. The rest is just going to have to wait a little longer. I have other things to do. Those EQII crafters won't level themselves, you know.

What? Oh. Oh, yes, I suppose you're right. I do always end these things with a song, don't I? I don't know, I thought I'd probably covered that already, what with Anna and Connie and Abel. But if you insist...

Let's see... Oh, yes! This should do...

 Ur Dad - VIAL

Don't see them headlining a Fortnite Festival any time soon.

Notes on AI used in this post.

Apart from the obvious, just the header image, which is Real Cartoon XL v4's interpretation of Anna Indiana. The actual prompt was "Anna Indiana. AI Singer. Cartoon". All settings were left at default.


  1. Just a heads up, your overuse of AI is why I stopped coming here. Do what makes you happy, but I don't find them doing much for your posts.

    1. It's the divisive issue of the day, that's for sure. I might start adding "AI" to the header for posts that have some significant AI content, so people can filter out the posts they don't want to see. Or maybe I should do what I've often considered and run seperate blogs. That might be the way to go.


Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide