Posts Tagged ‘Super Nintendo Entertainment System’

Prying Questions with Danny Pryor – Level 1: Brick BRKer

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Hey everyone! Danny Pryor here with the first edition of my new column, Prying Questions with Danny Pryor! This will be an interview column similar to that of my friend Kuma‘s
with his Raw Cuts series, although mine will probably get a bit sillier. My intention is to talk to anyone involved in the chiptune scene who’s willing to chat, in the hopes of putting out something both interesting and entertaining!

To kick things off, my first interview is with a ChipWIN regular (he’s been part of the Fb group since early on & has appeared on both Volume 1 & Volume 2) and a fellow that I consider to be one of my personal friends. He is still a youngin’, but I doubt that will stop him from his eventual goal of global domination (or whatever it is he’s into at the time); it’s Neil Williams AKA Brick BRKer!

**BONUS** Stay around after the credits to find out where the name of this column originated!!! **BONUS**


Danny Pryor (Pryor): Thank you Neil for taking the time to talk to someone you talk to all the time and for answering my questions. First off, I have to ask: dam u yung how u no chiptunes?

Brick Brker (BRK): Well…

Pryor: *anticipation*

BRK:  When I was even younger than I am now, like six or seven years old, my first exposure to video games was through a hand me down SNES and I somehow managed to pick out all the best games at Game XChange.  I’m talking like Super Mario World, Super Mario All Stars, every Donkey Kong Country, Kirby Superstar, Yoshi’s Island etc., so I had the RARE opportunity of getting to experience a “retro” game console like the SNES at a time when all the other cool kids had a Gamecube or something.  Soooo, when I got around the age of twelve and discovered what electronic music was, I was naturally inclined to go out and see if there were people that loved the bleep bloop music that I enjoyed so much from those old games.

For a while I only knew about the nostalgic appreciation of past game music, but it was only a matter of time before I discovered that there was entire subculture of people utilizing those old bleep bloop noises to make incredible music of their own.

Pryor: Well it is good to see that you young whipper snappers are getting into the bleeps. The bloops I could do without you all knowing about.

BRK: Did I say bloops? I meant blips. *sweats nervously*

Pryor: I assume that this search for other musicians lead to you the Chiptunes = WIN group and eventually on the first and second compilation albums?

BRK: I have had the honor of appearing on both Chiptunes = WIN Volumes 1 and 2.
I earned a spot on Volume 1 by simply discovering the group on accident like a week or two before the submission deadline for their experimental giant of a compilation album. It wasn’t until Volume 2 that Brandon Hood and everyone else in the Chipwin Facebook group realized the gravity of the situation when they got like 150 something entries and had to actually judge who would make the cut.

And Chiptunes = WIN has gained even MORE attention since then, so who knows how many people are going to submit tracks for the inevitable Volume 3. But I will sure as hell submit AND U CAN BET UR BUTTOM DOLLAR I WILL BRING MY AY GAME.

Pryor: AYYYYY

BRK: AYYYYYYY

Pryor: SOOO with all this video game music making does that make you a “gamer”??

BRK: Though I’m not sure how much I like the term “gamer”, I do play video games quite a bit. Practically every day. Or I at least absorb video game related content every day. I love games of all times and genres. I just think they’re an interesting and incredibly fun art form.

Pryor: What about the term “gamer” do you not like? Personally, I could do without the “a”.

BRK: I think it’s just an unnecessary label that was created solely to make the creator feel more important.  Like if you really liked to read, you wouldn’t call yourself a “reader” would you?  I just play video gaems, mane.

Pryor: I totally get it dude…*enlightening moment*

BRK: *angelic choir singing in the distance*

Pryor: Well then, I got to ask…what games are you playing?!?!?

BRK: I am currently replaying The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess because I’ve reached the point of having forgotten a lot of the game itself. So now, I can go back and replay it like it’s a new game, but it’s also pretty nostalgic since the first time I played it was during my angsty twelve year old phase.

*war flashbacks*

But yeah, it’s tied for first in terms of my top favorite Zelda titles, so it’s given me something to distract myself with while I wait for games to actually release on the Wii U.
By the way, speaking of Zelda, fingers crossed for the reveal of the next console Zelda at E3 2014. I hope they deliver since they’ve finally got a console to work with that can handle everything they throw at it.

Pryor: At this point, we can only pray… I am assuming you are pretty big Zelda fan, mostly because you said the word Zelda a whole bunch of times. Does this mean you have played ALLLLLL the Zelda games???

BRK: Not ALLLL of them by any means. Everything I have played though has been superb and I intend to keep up with all the future releases. A Link Between Worlds was gr8, btw. But it’s not ALLL I play by a long shot.

Pryor: WELLLLLLL…..

BRK: Some of my other favorite modern titles are Halo, Bioshock, Half-Life, Portal, Donkey Kong Country, Mirror’s Edge, and Mario Galaxy. At this point I’m just looking at the games on my shelf. In terms of PC/indie games, I really love stuff like VVVVVV, Super Meat Boy, Fez, Limbo… that kinda stuff. Minecraft is pretty neato as well. Then again, my laptop isn’t exactly a gaming PC, so I can’t really get into the big PC exclusives very well other than those indie titles that aren’t very graphics-intensive. Btw, I have loved the music and soundtracks to all the games I’ve mentioned here.

Pryor: You have some phenomenal taste in games. Commendable.

BRK:  thank u

Pryor: Any influences into the bleep bloops you are using now? Or any artists influencing the way you compose?

BRK: So after playing around with the pirated (*gasp*) digital audio workstation known as FL Studio for a year or two to actually learn how electronic music is sort of created, I eventually got my hands on my own EMS cartridge and a copy of LSDJ (which I actually bought with real money(!!!)) to use with my father’s old Game Boy.

As far as influences go, I look to larger artists in the chip world like Dubmood or Shirobon, and even artists that aren’t really chip at all like Unicorn Kid for inspiration, but I also try to stay connected with the chip community as a whole because I look up to a lot of lesser known artists as well. It’s always cool to learn new tricks and stuff to use in LSDJ.

Pryor: Have you experimented at all with any other tracker programs? What made you want to use LSDJ?

BRK: I’ve played around with Famitracker a bit, but that’s about it as far as trackers go outside of LSDJ. I really wanted to actually play around with LSDJ because I enjoyed its sound the most. Plus the thought of being able to create “authentic” chipmusic on the go was pretty cool. I also won’t deny that being able to synthesize actually cool sounding music on something like a Game Boy is pretty badass, imo. And hip as fuck to boot. But seriously tho, I love the program itself. The way it’s set up makes the creation process easy once you’re used to it.

Pryor: It is pretty swell being able to make music on the go. Have you put out any album of any kind or are you planning on it?

BRK: If Soundcloud constitutes a disc type object, then yes, I have. I’ve dumped all my music I’ve deemed worthy, from the very first piece of ambient bleh I created on my iPad to the recently posted preview of a track from my UPCOMING EP.

*airhorns*

Obvious the scrutiny with which I select what tracks I post to my Soundcloud has gone up over the years…or months. Once I get this whole super srs EP business sorted out, I should be posting quiiiite a bit of content in 2014. There are things being planned. Things that are probably not as exciting as I might lead you to believe, but they are being planned nonetheless… So yeah.

Pryor: THINGS!!!!!!!!!!!

BRK: *cough* *cough*

*cough* *cough*

Pryor:  LISTEN I ADD THE LINKS!!!!!….Okay I have nothing after that…I thought it would go somewhere but I think that about does it. I don’t really see any reason to keep this conversation going.

BRK: Tru

Pryor: Now I am going to rearrange this conversation in a fashion that makes me look like I know what I am doing. Thanks again Neil, for your time and patience with this process.

BRK: no Danny. thank U.


And this concludes the very first interview at Prying Questions. Make sure to check out the links below to listen to Brick Brker’s music, add him to your social networks, and/or just to do some good old fashion internet lurking. Keep an eye out for his EP ‘BRKOUT’ set to release sometime this Spring!

Brick BRKer
Facebook | Soundcloud

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Wow! You made it all the way to the end! You must really want to see that BONUS content! So how did I come up with the name for this blog column?!?!? Well….

Pryor: so…ya busy?

BRK: Nooooope

Pryor: OK! LOOKS LIKE I GET TO DO THE FIRST EDITION OF MY INTERVIEW FACEBOOK CHAT THING…TITLE PENDING.

BRK: *airhorns*

Pryor: I still need a name for this whole thing…maybe, The Diamond Discussion or something terrible like that.

BRK: Prying Questions with Danny Pryor. You’re welcome.

Pryor: Prior Questioning Pried by Pryor

BRK: Woah now.

Pryor: Too much P’ing?

BRK: Let’s not get carried away.

~~AND NOW YOU KNOW!!!~~

The ChipWIN-tern Unofficial, Hella Real MAGFest Survival Guide

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Salutations, fellow beep-booping nerds. Hopefully, your holidays went as you hoped – and now that you’ve gone through the labors of hanging out with your family, you can prepare for the REAL reason for the season – MAGFEST!

magfest 12

With MAGFest almost upon us, it’s time for everyone to start gearing up and girding your loins – because let’s be serious, you haven’t started packing yet and neither have I. Now, if you’re like me, you’ve been spreading the good word about MAGFest to your friends, and hopefully you’ve been able to recruit some of them to become more members of the MAGFamily. But maybe, just maybe, if you’re like me, you’re running into people who’ve never been to anything like this before – no conventions, no music festivals, no weekend-long parties. And we pity these friends, for they lack wonderful life experiences – but they should not despair, for they have YOU to introduce them to the wonderful world that is a four-day long party filled with music, videogames, and various enebriative consumables! But even the most seasoned veterans forget things to tell their rookie friends to watch out or prepare for, and so, as my Giftmas present to you, I’ve crafted a survival guide of all the things I’ve learned over the years, both for general conventions, as well as MAGFest – for as any veteran will tell you, MAGFest is not just a convention, and you shouldn’t treat it like one. But first, a disclaimer:

The views expressed within are those of myself, Adam Seats, and mine alone. This blog post is in no way officially affiliated with MAGFest, nor should you expect that the views expressed within necessarily reflect those of people otherwise affiliated with The ChipWIN Blog. And stuff.

That said, I’m gonna break this dude down into four main chunks – Staying Healthy, Lodging and Transportation, Food and Drink, and MAGFest Particulars. As a final note, I’m gonna do a tl;dr Cost Analysis, just to be sure that you’re preparing for all of your expenses and making smart decisions. Woe betide the person who plans out their budget, only to fail to realize they would need to pay for parking, or food.

STAYING HEALTHY

First and foremost, get this into your heads: Keeping healthy at any sort of long gathering like this is crucial. It’s easy to fall into a trap to get sick – you’ve got a bunch of people around each other for four days straight coming from everywhere imaginable, not eating properly, drinking heavily, not staying hydrated, maybe not keeping up on their personal hygiene, and WHAM you’re bedridden for days with the MAGFlu.

But there are people who’ve learned to beat it. DJ Cutman has a little treasure chest of healthiness he takes with him everywhere, and I asked him what was contained within, and what his secrets on beating the Con Crud were. His advice was as follows:

“I buy green vegetables and keep them in my room fridge – a little bit of broccoli and baby spinach can go a long way when you’re eating Dominos pizza for the third day in a row. I also bring hand sanitizer (magic shield) and Emergen-C/Airborn (Ether/Elixir) because fending off germs is a big deal.”

If something SHOULD happen, and you should find yourself deathly ill while at MAGFest, there’s a CVS within easy walking distance. I don’t know if they’ve got Emergen-C or Airborn, but there’s a pretty high chance they’ll have something to cure what ails you.

LODGING AND TRANSPORTATION

As I am writing this with such a short period of time before MAGFest, many of you have already settled your housing situation. Some of you have not, however, and some of you have decided to only come for one day. This section is for you. Now, I’m not gonna bore you with travel agent crap – anyone with an internet connection can look up what hotels are in the area. To that end, you should know that if you have a chance to book at the Gaylord, AKA MAGFest headquarters, you should do so. It is, however, quite pricey, but thankfully you have two hotels within easy walking distance. (Also, while I cannot speak for what any hotel’s prices may be, as they are always changing, remember that while booking the Gaylord with the MAGFest discount does get you some money off and the convenience of being but an elevator away from MAGFest, staying at the other hotels will almost certainly save you money, and might let you skip some of the more serious cost-cutting measures found within this guide.)

LOOK UPON ITS GLORY AND WEEP

The problem with having a gathering at a hotel, however, is that hotel parking fills up almost instantly, which means that if you’re commuting, or if you have more than one car to your room, you’re looking at parking in the only deck in town, which can be pricey. Be sure to plan for that in your travel expenses.

To cut down on expenses, however, you need to know how to be smart.  Look for roommates…many roommates.  And don’t feel like you have to have them all lined up before you book your room.  Numbers change. Yes, the hotel will charge you depending on how many people are in your room, but really, how does anyone know if someone’s just coming by to visit or if they’re actually staying in the room? And if someone coming by to visit should happen to drunkenly pass out on a bed, well, certainly no one planned on that, right?

Air mattresses are a good idea if you have six or fewer people who just so happen to be in your room – any more and it takes up way too much room. And speaking of room in your room, remember that you drove to MAGFest – all your luggage fit in the car on the way up, and it’ll still fit while you’re there. If there are things you can leave in the car until you need them, such as cosplay, or extra food (we’ll get to that soon), you’ll only be taking up room you could be using for sleeping room if you keep it all in the room.

You should try to bring your own towels too – I’ve found that while hotels do in fact have industrial washing and drying machines, the load a massive gathering such as MAGFest can generate may find the hotel short on towels. Extra soap and shampoo are also good – and BE SURE THAT YOU USE THEM. Let me repeat that: SHOWER ONCE A DAY, MINIMUM. No one wants to be around someone smelling funk-ass nasty because they got crazy at a concert the night before and decided to marinate in their own juices. This goes doubly true if you’re sharing beds – no one wants to wake up crusted in someone else’s grime. Personal hygiene, people.

As a followup to the previous note: If you should request the services of the hotel, be it to get more blankets, towels, or what have you, please remember to be kind. We are taxing them to their limits, and they will try to help us as best they can. They might forget things – and that sucks, but remember to be polite but firm in reminding them, so that things get done. Getting bitchy with the staff is a perfect way to make future dealings with them in future years suck. Likewise, BE SURE TO KEEP YOUR ROOMS AS NEAT AS POSSIBLE. At the very least when you’re leaving. The more work you leave for housekeeping, the more they’ll hate us. Plus, they might charge you for damages, and ain’t nobody got time for that. Damages could be for anything as small as makeup rings on the sink or in the tub (lookin’ at you, Homestuck kids), excessive trash, up to and including the big stuff like breaking mirrors or windows. Don’t do that.

FOOD AND DRINK

Staying happy and healthy in National Harbor is hard to do on a budget. There are very few cheap restaurants, and the few that are there often sell out of food by the second or third day, which might leave you at the whims of delivery drivers a town away in Oxon Hill. If you can, you should stop by a Costco or Sam’s Club and stock up on bottled water, Ramen, and granola bars. That’s not necessarily the most healthy way to do it, but reasonably speaking, that’ll help you out so you won’t have to rely on restaurants except for maybe once a day. You really should try to eat one good meal a day, you know.

Cheap restaurants near the Gaylord are Baja Fresh (fake Mexican food), Potbelly’s (subs and soup), Elevation Burger, and…well, that’s about it. There IS a McDonalds, which is on the edge of town and thus not within easy walking distance, especially when it’s below freezing, at night, and you’re drunk, but it’s good to take note of. Also, there’s that CVS I mentioned earlier – they have lots of pre-made wraps and sandwiches, as well as sodas, water, wine, and so on. Aside from those options, everything else you’re looking at is going to be about $20 for a normal human sized portion of food. There IS a great deal of variety in the area – but only if your wallet is prepared to take the hit.

Pictured: A stock photo of my wallet after one meal at the fancy Chinese restaurant in National Harbor, just across from the Gaylord.

There are many delivery restaurants based one town over, in Oxon Hill, which will deliver to MAGFest. I caution you against this unless you are in the most dire need, as they have many problems. For one, many of the places will wait until they have received several orders before setting out, which means that if yours was first, yours may be cold when it arrives – and at the Gaylord, there are no microwaves. Also, just in general, this means that you will likely be waiting for as long as an hour to receive your food – which can feel like an eternity if you’re ordering when you’re hungry. For two, many places will not let you split your order over the phone, meaning that if you do a large order with your friends, you’d better make sure that everyone has cash to pay you back, which can be difficult since the ATMs often run out.

As to drinking – let’s not mince words, many people who come to MAGFest are 21 or older, and many of them enjoy drinking 20 out of the 24 hours in a day. As National Harbor is in Maryland, there are numerous things available to you that are often banned in other places, like Everclear! Remember to stock up before you get to the hotel, because there’s nowhere to buy alcohol nearby except the hotel, and…well, I don’t know about you, but I’m not spending 12 dollars for a rum and Coke, thank you very much. (Hoodie swears to me that there is a grocery/deli in the area, but I’ve never found it. Maybe you should go hunting for it! Make it part of your MAGQuest. It’ll make your life easier, I’m sure.) However, I shouldn’t have to remind you, but if you’re bringing booze, remember to be responsible with it, stay hydrated (especially if you’re pregaming the concerts), and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t trust. Personally, I bring my own liquor selection (usually Kraken, Fireball, Jägermesiter and Malibu) and my own metal thermos that I keep my mixed drinks in – that way, nothing’s going in that I don’t know about, and if I get too crazy, I can’t drop the container and have it spill everywhere.

MAGFEST PARTICULARS

There’s not enough space on the internet to go over everything that you can do at MAGFest. There’s just so mu- oh, wait, no, there totally is such a place. It’s right here. Look at it, burn it into your brain. Seriously. There are lots of things to do, and lots of different tracks – you can just do the music track, you can go see famous YouTubers, you can mix and match, but if you don’t plan very, very carefully, you’re gonna be out of luck. If you’re a cool kid and have a smarty-pants phone, you can also download the schedule via the Guidebook app, which is awesome and lets you set alarms so you don’t miss things.

The main point is, you really need to sit down with the schedule, and I mean really get intimate with it – buy it a nice dinner, take it home to meet your parents, and then sit down and study it in all of its bare glory and figure out exactly what you want to do. Generally, I have a plan for what I want to do, and that plan changes about fifty times throughout the weekend. The major thing is to have SOME kind of plan, because if you go in there aimlessly wandering, you’re just gonna drift from thing to thing – which isn’t a horrible way to do it, mind you, and you’ll still have a lot of fun unless you’re some sort of anti-fun monster, but you will miss out on some of the more crazy things just by virtue of not knowing where they are, or getting to them after they’ve filled up.

Thing is though, you don’t really HAVE to plan on doing anything. There are enough games, either of the arcade, console or board varieties, that you could literally just spend a weekend trying everything and still miss out on half of the games they have. As I mentioned earlier, room parties are a big thing – no one will begrudge you missing a concert or a panel because you were having a good time with friends, because that’s literally the reason why we’re all getting together. Just figure out what suits you!

One final thing particular to MAGFest that might save you some money is how to properly approach the Dealers Room. The Dealers Room, located right near the videogame areas, is open 24 hours, though certain booths may not be. You’ll find all sorts of things, from modded Game Boys to collectible videogames to handmande crafts (I once bought a girlfriend of mine a Katamari which was themed like a Companion Cube – you can get ANYTHING there). Remember that everyone there is trying to turn a profit, so you should be extra wary with the collectible game vendors – always be sure to check prices online before you buy to be sure you’re not getting swindled. I’m not saying that people who vend at MAGFest are out to get you, because they REALLY aren’t, they’re good people, but they also make good money on impulse buys. If you see a super rare import game, just hop on Amazon and eBay to make sure there isn’t a vast price discrepancy – or if there is, it’s in your favor! Also, if you’re buying import games, make sure they’ll work on your system -lots of systems are region-locked. Most vendors will have information about what is and isn’t region-locked, though. Also, and this is truly just personal preference, but I’m all about haggling with game collectors if you know your stuff – but maybe don’t haggle so much with the people selling their own arts and crafts. Those people put a lot of time into making a quality handmade product, and deserve to be compensated – even the people who just do a quick two minute sketch in your sketchbook.

FINAL COST BREAKDOWN

When planning your budget, remember to account for the following:

-Travel expenses, including to/from MAGFest as well as if you need to get things from nearby towns, and the parking costs associated with it.

-Food, be it pre-bought food you bring with you, or food you buy in National Harbor. Remember that the latter means you’re going to be blazing through green(backs) faster than a pothead at Woodstock, and you probably want to avoid it unless you’re just made of money (in which case, hi, have you met me? We should talk.)

-Hotel expenses, which in addition to the actual quoted room cost may also include parking fees, resort fees (if you’re at the Gaylord), and tax

-Your ticket to MAGFest – you probably already have it, but if you haven’t paid, you shouldn’t forget!

-MONEY FOR THE GODDAMN DEALERS ROOM. Unless you are a champion of self control, you will spend more than you think you will, so be sure to watch yourself carefully here.

-An extra fifty bucks – because you never know what’ll happen. Keep it in your sock, if you have to.

THE-uh TH-THE-uh TH-THAT’S ALL, FOLKS. I, as well as many of the other Chiptunes = WIN bloggers will see you at MAGFest – feel free to come say hi! We don’t bite. (Except Kuma, but he’ll stop if you ask nicely.)

SEATS OUT.

MAGFest:
MAGFest.org | Facebook | Twitter | MAG 12 (Fb Event)
Full Event Schedule | Full Chiptune BRKDown

 C=W logo redux (larger)

A quick message to *ALL* who applied for MAGFest 11

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Just a quick post to say a HUMONGALOUS *THANK YOU* to any and all chippers who applied for MAGFest 11 this year. It was HANDS DOWN *THE HIGHEST* number of chip applicants *EVER*, which is a landmark to be *DAMN* proud of in and of itself!!! =D Unfortunately, MAGFest can’t quite bring ALL OF THE BANDS/ARTISTS to it, so all who weren’t invited to play please keep that in mind, alright? =)

And *STILL COME*!! MAGFest is a *BLAST AMONG BLASTS* and *THE BEST* way to bring in the new year! =D Among good times there’s also a huge opportunity for some nerdy networking! And who knows what awesomeness could come from that (gigs, new friends, new love, FREE BEER, etc)!! ;D

Much love as always,
Hoodie
\m||m/

P.S. ‎*ALSO*, something awesome that a coolass dude pointed out on the Chiptunes = WIN Fb page:

“Nothing’s stopping you from performing anyways! Ample opportunity to wow passersby with your art.”

Personally, I don’t know how many times I’ve seen chippers at MAG/other fests/cons sitting in hallways, in room parties, at tabletop gaming, etc. playing their jams for any/all curious to stop by and check out. And there are *A LOT* of people wandering MAGFest for the duration of the weekend (6000 total at MAG X, and that’s 3000 more than the previous year at MAG 9!). Something to keep in mind. =)