Secure Contain Protect

If you follow me on twitter, you might have wondered what the hell I was talking about when I mentioned SCPs. Well, let's fix that, shall we?

First, the place to go: http://scp-wiki.wikidot.com/

If you don't like spoilers or anything of that kind, you might want to go there straight away and explore for yourself. Start with "About the SCP Foundation", then look at some highly rated pages.

Still here? Well, you've been warned.

The SCP Foundation is an organisation devoted to acquiring paranormal items, creatures and persons. The goal? Make sure normal people can live a normal life. This website gathers files about those paranormal things, designated SCPs. SCP stands for Secure, Contain, Protect: those are the goals of the Foundation. Each SCP has very specific containment procedures, to make sure it (or knowledge thereof) doesn't escape its containment. Obviously some of those files have been emptied of sensitive content, tagged as [DATA EXPUNGED] or blacked out.

What kind of things can you expect? Well, first, know that there are three categories. Safe, Euclid, Keter. An atomic bomb is more than Safe: it won't do anything if you lock it up. Euclid SCPs might do some weird things. Keter are pretty much garanteed to create trouble.

An example of a "Safe" item would be SCP-914. Stuff goes in, choose setting, stuff comes out. Definetely anomalous stuff. This file has a huge experiment log including some fun stuff (for a rather specific definition of "fun", sure).

One example of "Euclid" is SCP-173. It's one of the most popular of the archive, and was the major inspiration for a game called Containment Breach.

And now to the fun part: Keter. Those who could destroy the world, erase humanity, or reconfigure reality completely. You'll bump into the term "XK-class End of the world scenario" quite a bit with those. SCP-682 is a giant lizard which evolves so fast it's impossible to kill. Have fun reading the log of the termination attempts. SCP-231 is an example from the other end of the spectrum: no fun to be had here, it's all about horror by omission.

Apart from the containment instructions and the incidents logs, there's another part to the website. It's the "fanfiction" section, regrouping "Tales" which will flesh out characters from the Foundation or their ennemies, detail complex incidents, or just explore the possibilities of a specific SCP. Some of them are also positively bonkers: there's a tradition of a prank war at one the containment sites. Prank war, dangerous paranormal items. What could possibly go wrong?

There would be loads more to say about the lore. The Foundation's... colourful characters. Their various ennemies. How reading about infohazards can be enough to create a containment breach. But of course none of this is real. Right?

Some French stuff

'Cause who doesn't like a little "Cocorico" from time to time?

More to the point, there are tons of things which never get translated or are not well known outside France (or even inside it for what matters). I don't pretend this will be any kind of exhaustive list: I'll just list some stuff I like or find interesting. The sad part is that almost none of these are available in English... So I don't know if this post is even useful. Anyway.

MP3 sagas

I'm especially thinking of two high-fantasy (kind of) sagas here: Le donjon de Naheulbeuk and Reflets d'acide. Both of these are set in almost traditional fantasy settings, and are heavily focused on humor. However there are some big differences.

Naheulbeuk is more about easy laughs, rude jokes and basic elf-dwarf trolling. Every single member of the group is a terrible adventurer (you'd say bras cassé in French, "broken arm"). And they're all stupid, and they end up almost destroying the world, and... You see the point. There are two seasons of audio episodes, which are continued by books (just as good as the audio series). The guy writing all this, known as Pen of Chaos, also writes songs, and created the Naheulband to sing them. Most of the songs reference the universe and are deeply stupid, yet very good! The home of the project is here: http://www.penofchaos.com/warham/donjon.htm

Reflets d'Acide is for connoisseurs. It's all written in alexandrines. Yes, every single line is a verse. Unsurprisingly the jokes are more subtle, relying on complex play on words. The adventurers are more skilled but end up neck-deep in trouble anyway, and there are also stupid songs, as always. Jokes can also be not-so-subtle: there's a priest for example, which doesn't seem very chaste and concludes every single sentence in a, let's say, not very innocent way. The downside is that the episodes are very long (one hour or more), use rather subtle French and are rather slow to come out. The home of the project is here: http://www.synopsite.com/index.php?lng=fr

TV thingies

Like all countries, we have mostly crap on TV. However there are some interesting things. Once more this is just a list of some things on my mind right now!

If you like politics, the Guignols de l'info revisit the news through marionettes and imitators, oft as not with some heavy trolling. They have a very large audience and most likely contributed - not voluntarily - to Chirac's victory in 1995 by making him look sympathetic! There also are some running gags. Right now it's Chirac making Sarkozy believe he gets important phone calls by imitating country leaders. You can watch some episodes on Canal+'s website : http://www.canalplus.fr/c-divertissement/pid1784-c-les-guignols.html

There's a TV series called Kaamelott too. You might notice the mispelling, it's on purpose. This started as very short episodes ridiculing King Arthur's legend, and went with longer and darker episodes as the show continued. Alexandre Astier is the mastermind behind most of the work and he's quite good. The first seasons are very funny, the last ones quite interesting. You won't find this on Youtube though, they're hunting rather thoroughly. Looks like there are some websites streaming them, dunno if it's legal or not. Your call. I'd say the first seasons are the best, as building complex characters only through five minutes episodes is quite a feat! Globally, Arthur is burdened by destiny and surrounded by stupid and incompetent knights. His wife is dumb and his mother / father-in-law are living nightmares. You can see where this is going.

I just rewatched something about Téléchat, which reminded me of this old, weird show. Puppets again, this time animals and talking objects (but with human faces, so: weirdness). This was a satirical show about television, audience and all. There were fake commercials done by a fluorescent green monkey, a stupid show in the fridge (don't ask) called "Léguman"... Well, it's Belgian, and Belgian humor has a reputation for weirdness.

Most like there are tons others but I can't think of something else right now.

Comics

Calling these "comics" hurts me. Because French and Belgian comics are not quite like the American ones. If you ask me they're most often way more pretty, as a start :) Anyway, some of my favorites, without any sorting!

Isabelle is an old Franco-Belgian comic of the "golden age". Stories are whimsical and simple, as it was a kids' series published in Spirou, but play on words are by Delporte who was a master, and Will' drawings are beautiful. Franquin, more or less comics' god at the time, was also involved and added his magic to the mix. The result is a beautiful yet short series.

Green Manor is a personal favourite of mine, by Bodart and Velhmann. Set in Victorian England, it tells of a club, where lords chat about their favourite topic: murder. It's a series of short stories, every single one well constructed, with efficient drawing. I especially like the atmosphere in these, and the story construction. It's hard to explain actually. I saw they have been translated in English, which is awesome!

De Cape et De Crocs, by Ayroles and Masbou, is a pure delight. It's set in the 17th century, and our main characters are a fox and a wolf, both closer to humans than to animals. They're very good with swords and poetry, as a gentleman had to be in France back then. They'll end up caught in a fantastical adventure, inspired by Molière's plays, Cyrano de Bergerac and Jules Verne's books. The drawing is actually bad, but you won't notice. Because all the colouring is done in acrylic paint and the pictures well constructed, the colours are gorgeous and hide every single flaw in proportions and such. It's a pure delight to read, and to hunt for references. Oh yeah, and alexandrines here and there, of course.

Once more there are so many others.

But what about games?

I can't think of any very French games (which are not well-known) right now. You should really try Beyond Good and Evil though but you probably know that already. There are the nutcases at Arkedo too, currently making some noise with their upcoming title "Hell Yeah!". The old Infogrames games are infamous for their difficulty but can be worth a look. And c'mon, play the older Raymans too. BEFORE these stupids Rabbids came around. Rayman 2 has been reedited about a million times - that's the one on DS for example - and is very pretty, showing what you can do with few polygons, pretty textures and flashy colors. Rayman 3 shows that the series was able to grow up with its players and is terribly adolescent, yet fun. There was a TV-series too, which was short-lived and only had 4 episodes, but was fun. Can't think of more right now.

But we have some crazy internet testers. I'm especially thinking of Joueur du Grenier, which made a speciality of testing crappy / ridiculously difficult old games. PS One is already too modern for him for example. He's from the South of France, wears a silly shirt and complains a lot. I definitely won't say he's spot on all the time, but he's quite funny to listen to. Oh yeah, and crappy effects when atomizing the guilty game at the end of the show too. His website is down each time a new episode is out, but he has a Youtube channel. Some people also like sizefac, who is completely nuts and can also be found on Youtube. He tested Pokemon Snap as a survival horror for example. It's that kind of guy. I can't stand him but some people enjoy his humor.

This post is already way too long, so well, that's it. Hopefully you've discovered some interesting stuff!

Linkfest

Wow, it's been a while. I've been quite busy lately, and more or less let this blog languishing in a corner. So, what's new? (Just in case someone actually cares, who knows)

  • Got my internship: Still having trouble believing it but I got a programming internship at EA DICE. So I'm currently in Stockholm, working on some multi-platform optimisation. Fun :D
  • Finished my classes for this year: Said classes ended by one month almost full-time on an iPad project. We stumbled into horrendous technical issues, designed ourselves into a corner for some elements... but delivered a complete product to our client, who was very happy with the result.
  • Played: mostly indie games. Bastion, Dustforce, 1000 Amps... Just trust RockPaperShotgun and get these three, they're more than worth it. I also got caught again in Realm of the Mad God when it arrived on Steam. That thing is dangerously addictive (and awesome, I'm getting back to it as soon as this article is done).
  • Got accepted for my master's programme: I applied for a master's programme in Advanced Graphics at Linköping University (Sweden) and I'm accepted. So unless I get a dream job, I'll spend the next two years there.

So! Let's make a kinda-useful post and share some great links I've stumbled upon. There's everything in there: game design, programming, "general interest" as they say. And useless but fun stuff.

I guess that's all for now. I'll try not to let months go by without posting again ;)

Note: This has been ported from my old Wordpress site. I removed/updated dead links in the process.