Sweet Ride music update (and pause screen)

We are still banging away on our Sweet Ride game and I’ve finally started cranking out some song ideas for it, but first I wanted to show you the awesome cassette tape effect we added to the game’s pause screen:

Like I said, I’ve been kicking out some jams for Sweet Ride and I’m really digging them. I started out wanting to go for a more chiptune sound (even more chip sounding than my actual chiptunes), but that just wasn’t working. So I dug up my SK-1 and started sampling some circuit bent electronics, which I re-arranged in Reason into… this stuff. Not sure if it’s electro-pop, or what, but it’s highly reminiscent of my old hip hop production, which also used lots of toy keyboards and circuit bending. 3 of these tracks were made in Reason, one of them was produced entirely on a Gameboy using Nanoloop.

Next up on the game is better level assets (right now we are just using the same wooden boxes for everything) and adding some frictionless physics to the board, which really add to the hard-to-control-floaty-thing feeling.

Moebius parodies Batman in 1995’s “I Am Not Batman”

moebius-batmanAlthough Mœbius was a legend in the comics industry, it was rare that we ever saw him cross over into the world of mainstream comics. There was “Parable” a beautiful, but poorly written Silver Surfer book he made with Stan Lee, and a dozen or more covers he did for Marvel and DC (here’s a good collection). When it came to working in comics, he clearly prefered sticking to his own creations, but that doesn’t mean he avoided mainstream hero comics all together.

In 1994 Moebius submitted a short Batman comic to DC Comics, who quickly rejected the work and refused to pay Moebius for any of it. So he re-worked the comic, presumably in a more humorous style, and published it as “I Am Not Batman” with Penthouse Comix.

The full comic contained several short Batman stories and sketches, but I’m sharing only the 8 page main story below:

Things to do in SF tonight: retro-computer films, theremins, art shows, and more

I’ve been emailing all my friends about all of the cool shit happening in the Mission tonight, so I figured I’d should round it up in a blog post too. There’s usually plenty of fun stuff happening, but tonight seems to be extra packed with nerdy goodness.

Project: Pimento at the Rite Spot

One of my favorite lounge bands, Project: Pimento, is performing a pay-what-you-want show at The Rite Spot from 9-11:15pm. They cover lounge and jazz classics and feature an amazing theremin player. We loved their last set at the Rite Spot and HIGHLY recommend checking this show out tonight. I even made a flier to promote it.


Retro-Tech at Oddball Cinema

Oddball Cinema shows great collections of vintage 16mm and 35mm films. Tonight’s theme is all about high tech computing of days gone by. Plenty of futuristic short films, documentary, and animations. Including Compute-Her Baby, Signal Syntax, and Micro World (featuring Shatner). Tickets are $10 and this show might sell out early. Show starts at 8, so get there by 7:30… then stop by the Rite Spot afterwards!

Rick Lucey’s art opening at Mission Comics

I met Rick many years back through the SF Cartoonist Conspiracy. I love his work, particularly is old-school Kirby-esque super hero stuff. I even hired him to create the art for my upcoming Lonely Dungeon game. He’s doing an art opening at Mission Comic’s tonight from 6-9pm. So get there early, then head to Oddball Cinema, then hit up the Rite Spot. You can do this, San Francisco!

Avery Burke at The Temporarium

Avery is member of Corpus Callusum and owner of The Temporarium (our favorite tiny little coffee shop over on 22nd and Guerrero). He’s putting together an acoustic show tonight in his tiny space, which might be packed, but worth it. I really dig his solo ep from last year, Songs For Lisa. Tonight’s show at the Temporarium is 3 acoustic sets by local performers and runs from 7-10pm. I made a flier for this show too.

Avery Burke

What Apple Could Learn From Nintendo’s Headphone Mistake

Nintendo removed the headphone jack on the GBA SP 13 years ago and I still haven’t forgiven them for it. Compared to the Game Boy Advance (or GBA), the SP had rechargeable batteries, a bigger and brighter screen, and felt great in your hands. It should have been the greatest handheld gaming unit of it’s time, but it lacked one key thing… a headphone jack.

There have been rumors that Apple would repeat this mistake when launching the newest iPhone, so many of us were prepared for yesterday’s news, but the big difference between these two consumer technology giants is that if Apple’s new bet turns out to be a big mistake, they are unlikely to come back and fix it in future models.

What Apple Could Learn

As a chiptune musician, I still collect and use old handheld gaming systems and not a year goes by that I don’t curse the executive who removed the headphone jack from the GBA SP. If it wasn’t for the missing headphone jack, the SP would be my favorite device for GBA games and making music. Instead of using the ubiquitous headphone jack, Nintendo required gamers to use an extra dongle that plugged into the SP’s rechargeable power port. These dongles were cheap, but limiting in three major ways.

  1. You can’t charge and use the headphone jack at the same time- Because the SP only had one port, you had to choose between charging your device or listening to it. This might not be so bad when you are on the go, but if you are the sort of person who likes to listen to podcasts while you are at work or play Pokemon while charging your phone, only using one port for audio and charging means you’ll have to choose between power or audio.
  2. Power ports are not as sturdy as 3.5mm headphone jack- The headphone jack was designed for constant on the go usage. They work great when on a jog or when walking around with a device in your pocket. Power cables were designed around a whole other use case. When charging your device, you probably aren’t moving around or storing it in your pocket, so the ports are designed to be a little less sturdy. When using a dongle for the GBA SP, audio would constantly cut in and out. That’s why I can never use an SP when I’m performing on stage. No matter how good your dongle is, it still has to rely on a good audio connection from your device. I doubt the lightning port on an iPhone is going to hold up to normal wear and tear without constantly dislodging itself.
  3. One more thing to lose- The requirement of an extra dongle means one more piece you’ll probably leave at home or work… then you are stuck with a pair of headphones that you can’t use. As you switch between different devices, you’ll probably be taking the dongle on and off frequently. Leaving it on your desk, or in your gym bag, or wherever. I bet iPhone users are going to start amazing extra dongles just to leave around everywhere in case they left their dongle at home.

Never Bluetooth

I’ve whined about dongles so much that you might be saying “But Doc, just get a pair of bluetooth headphones.” I’ve tried throughout the years to jump over to BT headphones, but it’s always such a shitty experience that I doubt this tech will ever truly catch on in the same way as normal headphones have.

  • Bluetooth audio tech is still terrible- The connection is not reliable and the audio quality is low tech. Bluetooth isn’t just wirelessly transmitting high quality audio, it’s using it’s on proprietary compression. That’s on top of the audio compression that you are using (MP3, M4A, WAV, etc). Bluetooth audio works okay for phone calls or listening to podcasts, but really loses it’s charm when listening to music.
  • Switching between devices sucks- After your morning walk or bus ride, you probably switch over to your laptop for a few hours, then switch back to your mobile device on your way back. This daily task was the single worst part of using bluetooth headphones. Constantly pairing my device drove me nuts. That’s not even mentioning all the times a friend or co-worker might hand you their device and say “listen to this”, but you can’t because you’d have to pair your headphones to their bluetooth just to watch a 30 second video.
  • Twice as many things to charge- Charging a portable device is annoying enough, now imagine needing to charge your headphones too. Ugh.

Apple Does What Nintendon’t

Nintendo claimed that removing the headphone jack was necessary at the time. There’s just no way they could have fit such a cumbersome extra piece into this state of the art tech. After consumer backlash though, Nintendo never made this mistake again. Proprietary controllers or chargers, sure, but consumers didn’t want an extra dongle just to use their favorite headphones.

Apple probably won’t back down. In fact they’ll probably remove headphone jacks from every laptop and device they make in the future. Which means that folks like me, who still carry around their DS Lite or some fun pocket synthesizers or an older iPad, will have to keep an extra bag of dongles on them just to be prepared.

New trixel art flier for an upcoming show at The Temporarium


Avery Burke is performing an acoustic set next Friday inside of The Temporarium, his new coffee shop on 22nd and Guerrero St. It sounds like a fun night and I’m looking forward to hearing Anakiarana and Banty Hen. Full details for the how are here.

I made a flier for the show using Hexels Pro, the Nixin font, and a used candy bar wrapper from Dandelion Chocolate. Although I love the crispness of trixel art, I usually like to add a little extra texture on top just to spice it up. I’d been hoping to use that wrapper for sometime now and happy I finally had a chance to sneak it in.