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In which Death's horse really ought to kick him in the face - Tactical Ninja

Aug. 1st, 2013

09:57 am - In which Death's horse really ought to kick him in the face

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OK, a question for the knowledgeable - why are cogs symbolic of steampunk? I mean, I know that cogs are a) part of lots of old fashioned machinery (and new-fashioned for that matter) and b) fairly easy to come by, but there are lots of things that fit that description - so why cogs? I see a cog now and I think 'steampunk'.

I guess you don't really get to see cogs outside of steampunk all that much, because usually they are inside the machine, not attached to someone's hat. But still - why cogs of all things?


Not because I didn't do anything last night, but because the things I'm doing are either things I've photographed before, or not very visually interesting. Ticked off the list are:

1. Another coat of gesso for the armour plates. That make 3/7, which is the recommended number of coats for simulating metal. The breastplate got its first coat because that's been waiting on the gryphon motif to dry. I have to make myself do this because it's boring, but it only takes 10 minutes a day and is a vital step that you can't cut corners on if you want your paint to come out well and not flake off.

2. Finished quilting the jacket fabric, tried it on with the breastplate, did a little tailoring and prepared to sew it together. Realised that sleeves are essentially tubes and that putting the studs in them would be much easier before they were sewn shut because you have to have access to both sides. Did that. The jacket is lined, so all the sewing I'm doing on the outer I have to repeat for the inner. *yawn*

3. Put the first coat of silver on the dagger blades (remember them?). They'll probably take at least two before I'm satisfied enough to start the weathering process. I also have some new silver leaf paint I'd like to try on them, along with some stuff called Rub 'n' Buff which is supposedly the goodies for imitating metal.

This morning I woke up at 5:30 (wtf Tats?) and spent 20 minutes adding links to the scale mail. I can now do 5 'rows' in 20 minutes, which adds up to about 3 hours per strip, which means I'm looking at 24 hours to make all the mail for the tabard. That's a lot of episodes of Life on Mars. In fact, I'll run out before I finish. Maybe I'll have to do a John Simm marathon. OM NOM NOM NOM

*ahem*

And contrary to the impression I've probably been giving, I don't just spend all my time making random, somewhat pointless but artsy recreations of things in video games. No. Sometimes I actually play the video games too. At the moment, I'm dabbling with Darksiders 2. Apparently in Darksiders 1 you played War (of the Four Horsemen variety), and in this one you're Death. So I can't really complain about not being able to play a female protagonist - although Death is, um, a bit more physically well built *cough* than he is normally represented:



His weapons are deliciously ridiculous. In fact, if I had to describe this game in two words, 'deliciously ridiculous' would be the ones I'd use. The game starts and runs you through the basic controls, and then you're on rails for a while until you get your first quest.

I have to be honest and say I have no clue what I'm supposed to be doing or why. I think I'm clearing War's name for past misdeeds that he's innocent of, or maybe rescuing him from someone? And there are some large tree-giant type things that are going extinct because the world is out of balance and I have to restore it? Or something. Anyway, it doesn't really matter, because as usual it's broken into quests. I just restarted an ancient forge inside a giant volcano, and am now trying to work out how teleport works so I can fast-travel to hand in my quest and get my copious rewards.

It's kind of reminiscent of WoW, this game. You hoon around the countryside, there are roving mobs that you can choose to kill for loot/xp or avoid, and even though I don't really know what I'm doing and haven't really got into the storyline yet, I managed to complete the first major questline despite my ignorance. The style has a similar cartoonish quality too. It's silly fun with no real commitment and at the moment, after a long stint of compelling RPGs, it's nice to be this uncommitted to a game.

Also, it has the hack 'n' slash aspect of WoW combined with a few of the puzzle type orienteering tasks that you might find in a platformer. Like, finding your way across the lava pit to that tempting looking chest by climbing up some ivy, shimmying along a cornice and leaping down some broken beams type puzzles. And then when you get to the chest, you click 'open' and a giant pair of arms appear and rip it open for you with their bare hands. (Video - 8 seconds)

But - and this is a fairly big but in my opinion - this game suffers quite badly from having been developed for console, and only cursorily redesigned to work on PC. The steering controls are all good, but the action ones are a dog's breakfast of strange keystroke combinations. Like, to evade in battle you have to hold Alt and hit S at the same time, but if you just hold them down it doesn't work. And one of my special attacks involves holding Shift and W, and then striking Alt, all while using the mouse to maintain the target. And then there's the 'for scything kick, click the left mouse button four times fast' type controls. These equate reasonably well to the sort of things you do on a console, but it doesn't translate well to a keyboard. Holding Shift-W-Alt is hard. Try it. Holding Shift-W and then hitting Alt at the right time without looking is a skill I've yet to develop, you know?

If they'd truly wanted to make the crossover, there'd be an action bar across the bottom of the screen that uses the num keys or responds to a mouse click, which makes much more sense when using keyboard/mouse for controls. It actually bothers me a lot that games seem to be moving towards this console-oriented style (witness DA2 for example, which wasn't as bad but still had obvious console elements), to the detriment of PC gaming. Mostly this is because I've been a PC gamer since 1983 and while I could learn console, I've no desire to while the targeting system is still so imprecise.

But, Darksiders is still fun to play despite this. It's button-mashing, silly, deliciously ridiculous fun and mostly I have no clue what attack I'm doing or why I'm there in the first place, but it's pretty and shiny and I can muddle through despite feeling like I'm playing as if all my fingers have been chopped off.

And, his horse is pretty cool:



You can mount and dismount while running, which is fun in itself. He vaults on over the horse's arse. Hee!


And it's also true that my life isn't entirely about videogames either. DoomBoy gave me a new training plan this week. There's one particular exercise that involves planking from a swiss ball, then using core muscles to pull your toes towards your head so you fold up like a staple, and end up in pike with your feet on the ball and hands on the floor. Like this:



I feel as if it should be very easy to press a handstand from this position, yeah? But I haven't had the courage to try it yet. Also, my shoulders haven't got over Monday's assisted weights session yet, and I'm a bit like a wet rag. But, maybe next week?

Tomorrow is supposed to be the day my blog goes up at Bioware, but for me it's more likely to be Saturday. Stupid time zones!

Comments:

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From:pombagira
Date:August 1st, 2013 12:36 am (UTC)
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squee blogs at Bioware..

*bounces*
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From:tatjna
Date:August 1st, 2013 01:38 am (UTC)
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Only a couple more days. I won't explode in that time, right?
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From:meathiel
Date:August 1st, 2013 07:07 am (UTC)
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Errm ... oh .. well ... never thought about it.
Cogs just ARE Steampunk ...
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[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:August 1st, 2013 07:37 am (UTC)
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It's a mystery!
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From:spotsofcolour
Date:August 1st, 2013 08:08 am (UTC)
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I have no idea why cogs are steampunky, or even why octopi are steampunky, but whilst I enjoy the style, all I will ever think of now is this Hark, A Vagrant! strip:



Edited at 2013-08-01 08:09 am (UTC)
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From:tatjna
Date:August 1st, 2013 07:26 pm (UTC)
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Hahaha so true! Also something I'm guilty of with my own style.. ;-)
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From:pundigrion
Date:August 1st, 2013 03:29 pm (UTC)
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OOoh that mount kicks the snot out of the WoW Warlock mounts!
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From:tatjna
Date:August 1st, 2013 07:26 pm (UTC)
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That was my thought too!
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From:vernacularity
Date:August 3rd, 2013 09:49 pm (UTC)
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I think steampunkery reveres overtly nostalgic application of simple mechanical principles to an exaggeratedly complex purpose, and gears represent this: just as the age of steam is characterised by intricate mechanical constructions of gears, pistons, and levers to achieve compound effects of various principles of physics related to mechanical forces, these are accentuated by incorporating subsequent understanding of such things as electricity, plasma, lasers, whatever, and steampunk seems to pursue the ideal of retro-activating these principles by embodying them in perceived era-appropriate technological models, thus an exponentially or cartoonishly exaggerated complexity / intricacy / agglomeration is employed to portray an impression of superlative technological implementations based on the underlying ethos of mechanical action and over-engineering.

I have above demonstrated principles of steampunk devices as applied to writing a paragraph.

in other words, the cog represents simplicity and complexity of a brass plated pseudo-nostalgia, and is stuck on the hats of the simple and the neon-tubes of the complex as a means of alluding to an imagined past of knobs and tubes and shiny wind-up appliances.

The cog may also be a badge of snobbery - note the overwhelming preponderance of faux-Empire culture running through so much of the apparent Steampunk stuff. The Intrepid Explorer / Geographical Society / Pith Helmet / Intellectual Giant sort of thing: "I wear a silly hat and a frilly cuff because I am more intelligent and brave than you, and I pin a cog to my lapel to indicate membership of The Club."

etc.

Edited at 2013-08-03 09:51 pm (UTC)
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From:tatjna
Date:August 3rd, 2013 10:01 pm (UTC)
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Hahaha this made me laugh a lot and also I think you've hit the nail on the head.

And, now I want one of those vacuum tube note-sender things in my house. Yup.
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From:vernacularity
Date:August 3rd, 2013 10:18 pm (UTC)
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i always wanted one of those since seeing movies as a kid where department store staff sent payments through tubes to a central cashier and received the change back.

also the nice answer: because the cog is the means of applying the fundamental building block of mechanical transference via circular leverage, and represents the age of industry which is the starting point for steampunk's divergence into alternate reality

Edited at 2013-08-03 10:20 pm (UTC)
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