Tag Archives: trideja

Writing, Music, Reviews and HonestGamers.com

Where have I been since the beginning of the month? Waiting for Paypal, mostly. Nonetheless, I’m back, and I’ve been busily writing, studying, working on music and reviewing games. Here’s a breakdown with links (which open in a new window):

Reviews

Kirby’s Epic Yarn (Wii)
The Wii was never a doomed platform; it sparkles with possibility and is home to some of gaming’s most iconic motion controls. Well, the controls that people actually enjoyed. Masahiro Sakurai took the road less traveled, however: There are no motion controls in Epic Yarn. [Read More @ HonestGamers.com]

Chocobo Racing (PSX)
About the last thing I expected from Chocobo Racing’s stuttery menu was a thoroughly enjoyable story mode and racing well tuned enough to warrant many playthroughs. And competition with friends. And more playthroughs. Chocobo Racing could have one of the best story modes of any racer I’ve ever played. [Read More @ HonestGamers.com]

Final ambien.html Fantasy IX (Steam/Windows)
There’s a monkey in 18th century finery who’s going to try and steal your heart, but not before Vivi clambers into it. Romance is the language of Final Fantasy IX, and a happy-go-lucky attitude is its vehicle. IX is Shakespearean in more than its presentation; after the consequences of war, genocide and the subjugation of races are the stage for presentations of human truths and nature. [Read More @ HonestGamers.com]

Music

Remasters at Soundcloud
I’ve been remastering a selection of classic tracked mods for an upcoming album, and posting the pre-release results on Soundcloud. 1998: Sailor Rifts HD sounds pretty good …. pretty much the way I always thought it should sound, but could never accomplish with an eight channel module. I’ve released the aforementioned and: T2K Sugar & Spice HD and Cold Effects HD. [Hastypixels @ Soundcloud]

Writing

Sliver of Light
Still in progress and week by week the manuscript nears completion. If there’s any development, you’ll see it here first. My Patreon’s a little on the quiet side, but I’m still working on what to make “exclusive”. In the mean time, I’m just doing what I do. Once again, thank you for your links, feedback and time!

Be safe, friends.

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Tracking the Past (Part 4)

Part 4: Mostly Infamous

Trideja was formed before Derek joined the group and in a way returned to three key creative talents. Dave was more confident in his pursuit of Total Eclipse II BBS, for many years the only release site of Trideja tunes to the world. It would lay the foundation for his current job as a system administrator for Rockstar Games. We had hopes of taking our music to the next level, turning professional.

Attending computer conferences, submitting music tapes. Answering responses to requests for game music which never turned out. The most compelling to me was a Asteroid inspired beta that needed some atmospheric aural backing. My infamous claim would come well after I had neglected my trideja.com email.

Meteor 2. James Bunting needed music, and through email I brashly gave him permission. These days its a charming throw back to top down shooters with a Paint.exe style aesthetic. I swallowed the pill of having a game that fit in some ways but not in others. I hadn’t tailored my tracks to first, they were just energetic and the visuals were underwhelming.

The community ate it up, however, and it’s something I’m known for. “You’re that guy from Trideja, right?” It might even make it on Greenlight, and I am grateful. Little successes uncounted are meaningless, but when noticed weave a fabric that can form a safety net for some of life’s provigil no prescription more challenging times.

For instance: Betas. These were snippets of ideas, half realized patterns sometimes amounting to half-complete songs. Derek began to amass these, and would ask about ideas he was interested in. There are some that would never have been finished without his relentlessness.

We collaborated very well and somehow never realized our own potential, but not for a moment do I regret the time spent and fun had. Perhaps there’s room for another collaboration the future. If there’s something I can think to say now, it’s not to frown on a style of music but to look to the purity of its expression. Techno never stopped Bowie from advancing his mastery, nor did it fail to communicate his messages.

Yet down the road, after spending some time with DJs, having songs played in clubs, I became aware that my betas were a ball and chain. Can you imagine recording every jam session just to have the memory of every melody haunt you as wasted potential?

What a waste of time, but nothing is, when practice results in a performance greater than the last. Improvement comes from many quarters and can go unnoticed. My attitude of trusting the flow meant some songs bloomed and others busted, but I always put my best effort into them. The value in that is the lesson learned; don’t be dragged down by could-be.

Continues next week.

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Tracking the Past (Part 3)

Part 3: Honing and Honed

PCCFA Fair, where I was asked to turn down my music. Me? A disturber of the peace? How about thrilled to be noticed? My early techno did not impress, but it was on that day I met Admiral Skuttlebutt, who played 280-JOKE for me, a mod I’ve carefully sheltered over the last twenty some odd years. It is a nostalgic song, clumsy in execution, off beat in humour. It still holds deep meaning to me.

We would be back to the fair later, too.

It was the beginning of my education about what I mean to other people. In high school I was the six foot ghost, striding deliberately through the halls to avoid confrontation. In the computer lab Ryan and I were nobles, blessed with access to Foolproof and knowledge of Mac OS’ inner workings. Resource forks, oh, how I miss you.

HyperCard was too easy, too functional. Too good. Modules didn’t have that flaw, and we waited a long time to be able to share our music with friends on Mac LC II, LC III and LC 520 with their caddy loading CD-drives. We (mostly me at first) could impress with four channel audio when most programs managed just two. It was our music, and opened many doors. Ryan would not only compose the music for his graduation, but he also produced a “multi-media video” on the Centris 660AV (with badass AT&T 55Mhz DSP and lightning fast 68040 CPU@25/50Mhz. What a beast!).

PlayerPRO (still kicking?!) and Soundtracker entertained in different ways. The former tried too hard to be a studio with every toy in the box, always failing to play essential mod commands and loops. We’d amuse ourselves by seeing what the programmer’d figured out since the last version. Which of our mods played right? Soundtracker was slow, even on fast buy provigil machines, but far more accurate.

Ryan was focused on audio fidelity, as ever, learning MIDI and the Roland MT-32 synthesizer our school lent him for the summer. I couldn’t afford to step up, but I did happen into a 20MB SCSI hard drive thanks to him, so I gave it my all, musically, and somewhere we met in the middle. Perhaps because I was blindly persistent. It’s a valuable quality worth cultivating at times.

The Mod format was still in development in those days, with new commands being added from the Amiga side of the scene. So was I, incidentally. Untrained as a musician, I found my own way to enjoyable melodies. Perhaps a paradigm would have improved my development, yet in place of it I gained something else: Confidence.

It was always a struggle, and I admit to deleting mods because of disapproval – gone forever, limited storage, remember? Bygones, naturally, as I was persistent. I didn’t know it then but experience was for me the better part of my musical education. Valour? Probably not.

‘E-Tempral Society’, ‘Power of Emotion’, ‘Faded Thrill’ and most of all ‘Sudden Swiftness’ were my formative tracks in the first four years of involvement with DT. By sheer passion I proved a capable, if unpredictable, musician. Oh yes, and ‘1995’. It was that summer we discovered the Internet, and that our group name was in use by a German industrial company of some variety.

Newly dubbed Trideja, we quickly added Derek Warren to the roster just to destroy the symbolism of the name. What’s done was done, and we laughed about it. Derek’s enthusiasm was infectious.

We had already designed a new logo with my skills in ClarisWorks Draw and Ryan’s with Photoshop and web design. We had our own website before we quite new what to do with it.

Continues next week.

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Tracking the Past (Part 2)

Part 2: Quality vs Fidelity

We played our own computers as instruments and each wrote our own whole songs. In retrospect I only see now the high demands we had placed on ourselves. At the time I had the time, energy and talent to do that, but certainly without the support of the group it would have been futile.

Ryan had The Phone Call, which had some lewd humour, until we changed that and he released it on Total Eclipse II, Dave Toews BBS. Dave was tinkering with Mega Jammer and the quality of his samples was impressive, and drove me to raise the fidelity of my own work. Incidentally, it is humbling to realize that his sole track ranks higher in downloads than the showy mix I made of his samples many years later. That speaks well of the integrity of the song, arguably simplistic, but memorable. That’s worthwhile, and there’s gratitude owed there. So thank you, Dave.

At the time I had no sense of competition, which was best. I floundered along with heavy criticism from the then-founder of our group. It was his sampler that made my first track possible, but later my acquisition of samples from favored modules that set the tone and pace for all of my continuing works.

Oh, to name a few; xenical no prescription 1991, Piano Plinker, After the Rain, Cortouchka!, anyone remember Batmeat? I’ve always liked that track, when I could tolerate it. Mods do require some tolerance. It was Burton’s flair for the dramatic that got everyone’s attention.

Meanwhile, I forged onward through tracks like ‘The Fire of my Soul’, which exhibited some of the teachings of my Dad, who saw the possibilities, and did try to learn. I later used some sampled riffs, somewhat ill-fated and perhaps unfocused. A valuable learning experience, nonetheless with its own impact on the gaming community at large.

In 1994 there was much pressure to improve, to be the equal of those Ryan and I listened to, and usually that was fine. What was I expected to write? We weren’t a demo crew, though we wanted to be. I was a budding artist and writer, and took to embedding short stories into the last sample of many of my early tracks. Load them out and they’re quite readable.

But if you know anything about me, it’s that I’m passive aggressive. That meant I wasn’t going to be content with my progress or position for too long. For a while, though, I was pleased to grow as a musician, discovering that I had talent and local impact.

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Tracking the Past (Part 1)

Part 1: A Boy and His Mod, or the Days in Which I Learned How to Make Noise

It was a moderate summer when I obtained my Atari ST 1040, which as I recall was paid for by my Dad. Ryan Goolevitch and I had for many after school nights watched demos and listened to the latest experimentations in Protracker.

At some point I asked Ryan if it was possible to compose music on the ST as well, and he explained that it was, with limitations, naturally. No stereo sound, lower fidelity output; just a tender 22Khz without interpolation of any sort. Playing mods on an ST is a clever trick of code, anyway.

I was thrilled. More than thrilled; enrapt. At first I played some games, because a colour computer was so much superior to the Macintosh Plus machines at school. My small television, connected by RF at first; an old dongle recovered from a Atari 2600 VCS long past its prime.

Static-laden audio and video with no headphone jack, and for the first two years no hard drive. In 1991 you could get away without one. So, untrained and unskilled, how did I learn to compose Protracker Modules?

The Atari ST made it easy, at least, it did for me. Protracker used 128KB (roughly) of RAM, and this is important because it limited the size and thereby quality of the thirty two samples I could load into the 1024KB of memory I had access to. 960KB of which 880KB would fill a standard double density cialis no prescription floppy disk, remember those? I never had to swap disks, to load program resources, not like the Macintosh OS did because TOS was on ROM.

So that was a bit of sanity saved. While it was fast, upgrading was a tinkerer’s job, and beyond my skills. I just wanted the dern thing to work, which it did. Even a hard drive was a trick, with drivers loaded from disk as they weren’t in ROM in any version of TOS I owned, but I wouldn’t get one of those until years later.

Protracker has no player/editor barriers. While the ST version I used for nearly a decade lacked support for some commands, like E9X – when implementing it I had no immediate feedback, no idea how it would sound. Usually the fact that I merely knew the commands was enough, and instinct covered my guesses, anyway.

How did I track? I put some notes into an editor, then I learned what hexidecimal was. I didn’t know the difference between a basskick and a snare, though Ryan was happy to teach me. Levels of Insanity was – you could say – the first collaboration of what would become Digitronic. With Dave Toews we formed a small music production crew.

Levels was obnoxious, repetitive and real! When we formed Digitronic exactly, I don’t quite remember. It was probably about the time I knew I had something and wanted to hang onto it.

Next week I’ll dive more into Digitronic and our efforts to produce music of any kind.

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