Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spiral Galaxy NGC 5023

I saw that NASA recently released yet another awesome Hubble image.

It is a view of the edge of a spiral galaxy, named NGC 5023. It is over 30 million light years away from us.  Click the link for full resolution images:

Hubble:


Astronomers have counted about 30,000 stars in this photo, but it is only a fraction of the millions of stars that this galaxy likely contains. It looks like there's a lot of stars in this image, but most of them are actually too faint to be seen, even by the Hubble telescope.

When I look into a photo like this, my mind reels at the immensity and vastness of our cosmos.

This galaxy alone has millions of stars, probably billions of planets, and countless other bodies & features... and it is only one single galaxy, out of 100 billion.

We are each a point of consciousness in this endless sea of creation, manifesting out of the practically infinite fractal Universe.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Creating New Senses


Our reality is defined by our sensory input- hearing, vision, taste, touch, smell, and any other signals sent from our body to our brain.

Our central nervous system is encased in blackness, & our experience of the Universe is determined by the signals sent from our sense organs.



Today I Found Out:

We usually don't think about the extremely limited scope of our perceptions. Human beings are only picking up on a small portion of the world around us. There are signals all around us that we are completely unaware of, without the use of tools or devices.

For example, the visual light that our eyes can see is a tiny slice of the overall electromagnetic spectrum.

http://monkeybuddha.blogspot.com/2014/11/life-in-thermal-vision.html


Similarly, our ears only hear a certain frequency range of vibrations in the air that we perceive as sounds.

These are limitations of the senses that we do have. There is a vast amount of information that we are not equipped to sense at all.

Other forms of life have organs that can sense environmental cues to which we are totally oblivious.

• Bats use sound waves to visualize objects in 3D space for echolocation.
• Snakes can detect infrared wavelengths to sense heat signatures.
• Birds have specialized cells that detect their orientation to the planet's magnetic field.
• Bees can see ultraviolet light reflected off flowers.

Nautilus:

The other night, I was watching an excellent TED talk by neuroscientist David Eagleman about using technology to augment our perception of reality, by facilitating new sensory inputs.

TED



His premise was that the brain is capable of receiving sensory data from input other than our biological sense organs. The human brain is like an extremely adaptable computer, that can interpret signals from an unlimited number of possible "plug & play" devices.

The brain has the astounding ability to take incoming data from unfamiliar sources & interpret it to help formulate an understanding of the world. Our minds are pattern-recognition systems with capabilities that we cannot even imagine. It's ironic that the brain doesn't not even know the limits of its own potential.

In the future, is inevitable that people will continue to "hack" the senses, in order to expand the human experience & understand the world in new ways.

NOVA:




People are already experimenting with ways to detect new stimuli in the environment. I've seen stories about individuals embedding magnets under their skin so they can detect the strength of electromagnetic fields.


External sensing devices, neural implants, and perhaps even new biologically-engineered sense organs, will change how the mind can experience the infinite aspects of the Universe.
 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Black And The Blues- "I'm Sad"

 
When my Dad (Big Paul) was a teenager in the 1960's, he formed a band with his childhood friends. The first band he was in was called "The Black and the Blues". Their big influence was The Beatles, at the height of "Beatlemania".

My Dad and some of the other guys went on to play together in other bands, too. Some of my earliest memories are of seeing my Dad playing music with "Snuffy" or "John, Paul, Kat Band".

He still has some of the vinyl single records they had pressed. I used one of the records in a collage that I made for him for Father's Day. It had old photos of "The Black and the Blues," that his friends had shared on Facebook.



One of the band members, Chuck, came across their single, "I'm Sad" that someone has digitized & uploaded to YouTube. The person who uploaded the song also added some vintage 60's footage, that gives it a music video feel.





My Dad is a very laid back guy. However, when my brother & I showed him the YouTube video, he lit up & was amazed that someone had put their old single on the Internet.

Here are some other YouTube links to where the song has been uploaded:




Now, my father & his friends have achieved digital immortality, and their memories & music will hopefully live on into the future.

"The Black and the Blues" band members were:
• John Carnuccio
• Chuck Emma
• Paul J. Micarelli
• Charlie Pestritto

Here's a "Then & Now" pic of the band, from after they got together in 2014:

Front to back: Charlie, Paul, Chuck, & John

My Dad's friend Chuck, another member of The Black and the Blues, brought to my attention the fact that a live cover of the song was also on YouTube.

The band, The Kumari, is from the UK and did a cover of the song at The Purple Turtle Bar. My Dad & his former bandmates were amazed that, not only did anyone know about the song, but that a modern-day band bothered to learn & perform it.



Friday, March 13, 2015

Vinyl Toy Design


 In my professional career as a graphic designer, I get to work on alot of products for toy & game companies. I've helped design many products, their packaging, and marketing materials. I also have had my own ideas published, like the game Da Vinci's Challenge.

Recently, I've been busy making prototypes of a few original concepts that I'm hoping to get to market. Even the process of creating a single new product takes many hours of planning, creative effort, testing, revising, and refining. Then, getting it manufactured and marketed is a whole separate process with its own challenges.

This video from toy designer Joe Ledbetter, that I saw on BoingBoing, is an excellent look at what goes into designing a product- in this case, vinyl toys.


Monday, March 09, 2015

Flower of Life Yin-Yang



Recently I wondered if I could form a Yin-Yang symbol, using the black & white pieces for "Da Vinci's Challenge".

It turns out that you can make a close approximation:



"Da Vinci's Challenge" is a board game that I created as a college student, which was published in 2006. It is a strategy game that uses an ancient symbol, known as 'The Flower of Life' for the gameboard.

This picture of the yin-yang I made on the board was first posted on the official Facebook page. Please check it out, for more pics & info about the game & it's background:

Facebook:

Thursday, March 05, 2015

"City of the Monkey God"


 On Raw Story, I saw an article about the discovery of a lost city, the legendary "City of the Monkey God".

At first, I thought it was a story about the Hindu monkey god, Hanuman, whom I've used as an avatar for this blog.

It turns out, the lost city is not in India, but in the Central American jungles of Honduras. These ruins have not been looted or disturbed in centuries. So little is know about the mysterious culture which lived here, that it has not been named yet.

NatGeo:

After legends about the city lingered since at least the 1920's, modern researchers launched a search for the "White City" of the monkey god. The site was discovered using lidar laser surveying, after a valley in the rain forest was identified as a possible location.

This shows how the use of technology & our accumulated knowledge has helped unlock our past in ways that were previously unimaginable.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

MRI Scans of Food

I came across this interesting set of animated GIFs, showing MRI scans of various fruits & vegetables.


We are expanding our perceptions, and therefore our consciousness, into previously imperceptible dimensions.

Here are a few of my favorite ones:






Saturday, February 28, 2015

Ape to Angel

While doing a Google image search, I came across this pic of a divine-looking monkey that I tracked down to DeviantArt member leoplaw:

by leoplaw





I'm always interested to see art that combines monkeys and the sacred, similar to the graphic I made of the mascot/logo for The Monkey Buddha:




When searching for the source of the image, I also came across this album cover for "Ape to Angel" by artists Pitch Black:






Thursday, February 26, 2015

Symbiotic Life


I have been reading a lot of material lately about the effect of our microbiome on the body & mind. The microbiome is the collection of single-celled microorganisms throughout our living tissues.



In fact, the number of bacterial cells far outweighs the number of actual human cells. Physically, we are a biological vehicle for genes & also for other organisms.

We mostly live in a positive symbiosis with these tiny creatures living throughout our body.

NY Times:

I've long suspected that these microorganisms have had a greater effect on us than we'd like to admit.

Now, it's being discovered that gut microbes affect our eating habits, and even our psychology.

Psychology Today:


Even the act of intimate kissing is an exchange of billions of bacteria.

Science Daily:

This is why, despite liking cleanliness, I'm not really a germaphobe. I feel that we are surrounded by and infused with microorganisms, so it's nothing to fear.

However, reading this NatGeo article about the destructive symbiosis of invasive parasites & seeing the accompanying photos might make someone change their mind- if the parasites haven't already done it for them...

National Geographic:


George Lucas was ridiculed for including "Midichlorians" in the Star Wars prequel movies, as the microbiological source of the mystical energy field surrounding all living things- The Force.

Like so many things, Lucas was actually prescient in his recognition of the influence of symbiotic microbes on a living being.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Illusion of Time

 
As I mark yet another amazing year of my Life, it's a chance to reflect on the mystery of time.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

Despite being the basis of our experience & a fundamental measurement in science, we still really do not understand the nature of time.

This article questions whether time, as we understand it, even exists-

Popular Science:

I personally think that Terence McKenna was onto something when he theorized about the fractal nature of time.


All Reality, including both time & space, can be understood to have fractal qualities. They can be looked at in different levels of endless, self-similar detail.


Ultimately, the only true experience of time is the moment of NOW.



Friday, February 20, 2015

Toy Fair 2015


Last weekend, I went to the Toy Fair that's held every year at the Javitz Center in New York City.

I design packaging & products for the toy industry, and several of our clients have booths at the show. We get to see the work we do throughout the year on display here. I also had product development meetings with a few companies and made some new contacts.

It's also good to walk the floor and check out what other companies are doing. The Javitz convention center is huge and there is alot to take in. I was only there for a day, which isn't enough time to really see everything.

I took some photos of the various sights at the show. There is a slideshow embedded below, and a link to my Picasa web album.

The Monkey Buddha Visual Archives:


This is me enjoying a glass of champagne, after a meeting toward the end of the day:

Thursday, February 19, 2015

"Da Vinci's Challenge" Wallpaper

I made a high-resolution 1920x1600 desktop wallpaper, from concept art I made for the "Da Vinci's Challenge" game.

It features 'The Flower of Life' symbol that forms the game board. There is also Leonardo da Vinci's self-portrait & some of the 'Secret Symbols', used to score in the game.

(click for full-size image)

I also recently updated my post explaining the more esoteric aspects of the game design, including some photos of the game in its various incarnations:

The Monkey Buddha Archive:


Click the link below for some 'Flower of Life' wallpapers for mobile devices, that I also made:



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"The Mind"- Alan Watts


 I saw this video on Oerbital. It is a short, but utterly vital, bit of wisdom from the great Alan Watts.

Monkey Buddha Archives:

He addresses the fundamental problem of the human mind. How do we stop the endless chatter & worry of the "monkey mind," in order to bring calm to our consciousness?



Alan Watts was one of the first public figures to bring the teachings of Zen Buddhism to the West.

Reading Alan Watts' "The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are" was one of the influences in my early adult life that completely changed my perspective on reality.

I've listened to dozens of his lectures online and consider him a guru, although I've never met him.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

"Destino" by Dali & Disney


 I don't usually post much about my personal life on this blog. However, this Valentine's Day marked a special event for me. It was the first anniversary for my girlfriend & I. We are both fairly non-conformist & individualistic people, so it's funny that we have such a cliche day to celebrate a relationship. It was when we had our first date, after being very close friends for many years.

Despite dating some wonderful women in my life, this is the first serious relationship I've had in a long time. I was never one to just settle or grasp onto another person just because I was lonely or felt societal pressure. Even as my 30's were passing me by, I was resigned to the fact that I'd rather be alone than be in a situation that I didn't find fulfilling.

Thankfully, my patience and honesty with myself has paid off. I've found someone who I feel completes me and is everything I've been looking for in a companion. After a year, we have continued to grow closer & deeper in our understanding of each other. We share an interest in deep issues and the infinite knowledge available in the Universe.

We've talked recently about the issues of destiny and impermanence.

• Is there such a thing as "destiny"? How does this relate to free will vs. determinism?
• Is "beauty" something that is transcendental & permanent, or is it meaningful because it is fleeting & impermanent?

These are some of the things that I was thinking of when I shared this animated masterpiece with her for Valentine's Day. It is called "Destino" a collaboration by one of my favorite artists, Salvadore Dali, and Walt Disney.




"Destino" (which means 'destiny' in Spanish) was originally started in 1945. It is full of Dali's dreamlike & bizarre imagery, and there are some aspects of the soundtrack that are very reminiscent of Disney movies. Most of the animation was completed between 1999-2003, with the use of traditional animation & some computer graphics.

The finished product is definitely "Dali-esque," with the haunting feeling of the beautiful, ephemeral, and often strange nature of life & love.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A.I. & The Future of Machines



I've been reading & seeing a lot of insights into the possible consequences of the continuing progression of digital technology.

There is a spectrum of opinion on the subject- ranging from optimists who think robots & artificial intelligence will be a great help to human beings, to pessimists who envision Terminator-like doomsday scenarios of robot domination. There are also people (like me) in the gray area, who think there could be both good & bad results of A.I., depending on how the technology is developed & used.

Although I've been seeing thoughts about this topic from different sources, this article (below) that I originally saw on Reddit is a long, but deeply thought-provoking article. I would highly recommend reading the entire article or bookmarking the page.

It explores the many possibilities presented by artificial intelligence and advanced machines, and correctly concludes that there will be changes and effects that we cannot even conceive at this time.
It's a similar situation to how nobody could fully predict the profound effects that the development of the Internet would have on communications and creativity.

Wait But Why:

Although I would say that article is a must-read, Newsweek also published a shorter piece about the same topic that's easier to digest.

Newsweek:

I also just watched a TED talk the other night about the advances in machine learning, that is equally fascinating and frightening.


In the absence of some global catastrophe that destroys humanity & our technological achievements, I think there is no end to the progression of robots and machine intelligence.

Once zero-point energy & quantum computation are harnessed, it will be an entirely new world of possibilities, both positive and negative.

Like media and stories dealing with the subject of "man vs. machine", such as Mass Effect & The Matrix, I believe that the way forward is synthesis

 
"Digital Self-Portrait" by Paul Micarelli

We must consciously integrate digital technology and robotics into our physical being, for the purpose of augmenting our bodies & minds. We may evolve into a new hybrid creature of unimaginable abilities, but this is the way of the Universe.

As the great philosopher Heraclitus stated, "Nothing is permanent, except change."

Who knows?
Maybe with human help one day robots & machines will even learn to love...


Monday, February 09, 2015

Space Monkey

On OMG Posters! I saw illustrations from a sticker pack by Stand Out Stickers.

One of the illustrations is this awesome & crazy-looking astronaut ape, by Jared Moraitis.

When I was originally trying to figure out what to call this blog, almost 10 years ago, I deeply considered whether to use "Monkey Buddha" or "Space Ape" as the title. 

I decided that "The Monkey Buddha"covered my personality more broadly. However, I am still amused by the idea of a monkey using the space technology of slightly more evolved monkeys.



Friday, February 06, 2015

Riding Light: Trip Through the Solar System


I came across this video that gives an impression of the vastness of space, in
just a part of our own solar system.

It's called Riding Light, and it is a simulation of traveling from the surface of the Sun out to the largest planet, Jupiter.


The video simulates traveling at the speed of light (without relativistic effects) in real time, so it takes eight minutes to reach the Earth.

The whole video is 45 minutes long, which is how long it would take to travel from the Sun to Jupiter, at the speed of light.

This gives us an idea why moving humans across interstellar distances poses such a problem with conventional technology.

Until we develop warp drive or some other propulsion that bypasses the limits of relativity theory, even getting to planets beyond Mars is a difficult proposition.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:


Thursday, February 05, 2015

Asterank: Asteroid Database


 This is an awesome online database that tracks all of the asteroids in our area of the solar system.

Asteroid Database and Mining Rankings

Although there are vast areas of emptiness in outer space, there are also alot of bodies of various sizes floating around out there. These objects range from the size of cosmic dust particles, to comets that are miles across like 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, to asteroids the size of small planetoids.

If we were smart, the human race would be pouring significant amounts of money into tracking objects that could have catastrophic collisions with Earth.


Unfortunately, humanity is full of stupid, shortsighted people who would rather spend resources on fighting and killing each other. Hopefully we can evolve & come to our senses before this threat is actualized.


Sunday, February 01, 2015

Book Review: "1421: The Year China Discovered America"


 My brother lent me a book he read that, due to my interest in history, he knew I'd enjoy. I recently finished reading it & definitely recommend it to anyone with an interest in world history.


by Gavin Menzies

The premise of the book is that the land mass we know know as "The Americas," as well as pretty much every other area of the globe, was explored by the Chinese in 1421-1423. What makes this idea so controversial is that this age of exploration took place about 70 years before Columbus supposedly discovered The New World.



I'm not one to take anybody's word on anything, and there are plenty of people with websites devoted to debunking the theories & evidence Menzies puts forth. However, I also believe that most of history has been lost, and there are endless things we do not know or understand about our collective past.

The author, Gavin Menzies, is a sailor and a former commander of a submarine in the British Royal Navy. He contends that on March 8, 1421, Emperor Zhu Di of the Ming Dynasty launched an expedition fleet to explore the world. China's wealth, manpower, and advanced naval engineering enabled them to expend the resources to launch this ambitious voyage. The admiral of this fleet was eunuch Zheng He, still a legendary figure, whether or not the feats ascribed to his fleet in "1492" are all true.


As the giant ships of the Chinese treasure fleets sailed around the world, they were commissioned to find new lands, chart astronomical data, and possibly trade with any cultures they came in contact with. Menzies puts forth information throughout the book that he believes to prove the Ming fleets reached both the West & East coasts of The Americas, Australia, Antarctica, and West Africa. He puts forth convincing arguments and visions of how these events happened, but there are detractors who dispute his interpretations of the evidence and his sources.

From what I've learned about the ancient civilizations of Central America, such as the Maya, it doesn't seem far-fetched to me that there could have been encounters with Chinese explorers there. The story of Kukulkan and the shared use of feathered serpent & dragon iconography is interesting.

http://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-chinese-treasure-fleet-arrives-anthony-lyon.html
by Anthony Lyon


While this far-reaching expedition was underway, the Forbidden City was hit with a disaster when lightning struck one of the buildings. This unfortunate act of nature caused a fire that burnt the entire complex to the ground. It led to a series of events that eventually resulted in a new, isolationist emperor who effectively ended the Chinese age of exploration. All records of outside foreign influence were destroyed, and this supposedly explains why the tremendous achievements of the treasure fleets have been forgotten.

Although I remain skeptical of all the claims in the book, I can appreciate it for the same reason that I enjoyed reading "Fingerprints of the Gods" by Graham Hancock. I think that anyone who questions the "official" story in any field should be heard, and the evidence examined openly. Even if all the evidence doesn't hold up, or some questionable sources are used, I don't think that warrants completely dismissing a theory. Science, despite it's countless achievements as a system of inquiry, can still reflect the human tendency to want to preserve the status quo.

Even if "1421" presents false assertions or makes faulty conclusions, it is still worth reading because it gives a different perspective on the accepted version of history. We should constantly be challenging the ideas & stories that have become ingrained into our collective consciousness. Sometimes it takes a drastic upset of that consensus to move our understanding of the world forward.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Preserving Our Minds

"Digital Self-Portrait" by Paul Micarelli

Like most people, I often wonder how long I'll be remembered after I die.

Lifehacker:

Part of me wants to save some aspect of myself & the life I've led. That's why I do things that might preserve my identity.

I create art, save photos, engage on social media, and write on this blog- all to leave some kind of lasting imprint of my physical presence. Who knows how long websites such as Facebook or Google will last, but perhaps by leaving these digital artifacts, they will be archived in whatever format the Internet takes in the future.

There are now websites, like Networked Mortality, that help us to prioritize the information and aspects of our life that we want to continue on, after we depart this physical world.

Lifehacker:

One day, I'd also like to have children, to continue the legacy of genetic information that has been passed on to me since the very beginning of Life on this planet.

On the other hand, my contemplations on the philosophies of Buddhism, Taoism, & the Greek philosopher Heraclitus have made me aware of the folly of such endeavors. Impermanence & change are inevitable, and I've tried to cultivate non-attachment to the things of this world.

I think ahead 10,000, or 100,000, or a million+ years into the future, and it's hard to conceive that any remnant of my existence will survive. It's even questionable whether any trace of the human race itself will remain. However, it is in our nature to survive, and that means we are compelled to try to preserve some part of ourselves for as long as possible.

As technology advances and we find ways to model the human brain more accurately, it is possible we may eventually be able to preserve the individual mind. Will such a back-up system be simply a recorded copy of our brain's mental accumulations, or would it be a complete & aware consciousness that's embedded in a new medium?

Consciousness is complex & malleable. Right now, being "conscious" includes not only our mental activity, but also our physical sensations & emotional states. As our consciousness becomes augmented by electronic devices & digital media, there's no limit to the states of mind that could be experienced. Perhaps we could even gain extra senses or enhanced perceptions, such as people who've embedded magnets in their skin and can detect electromagnetic fields.

This is the excellent article that got me thinking about this post, and brings up many thought-provoking points about humanity's efforts to preserve the mind in some way:

BBC:

I try not to be too concerned with what will happen when I die, or if there's some way to cheat death through artificial means. I simply live my life to the fullest each day.

When it's time for my body and mind to transmute back into the infinity of the Universe, I will hopefully feel satisfied that I made the most of it, while I was here.

One of Jason Silva's brief, but brilliant, "Shots of Awe" videos.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Future Old People

No matter how advanced technology become, I think people of older generations will always feel nostalgia for the culture & tech of their youth.

This comic I saw on fUSION Anomalog captures the idea perfectly, as old people watching kids use brain-interfacing devices reminisce about "simpler times," with e-books, touchscreens, & wi-fi.


It look like the kids are using a device similar to my idea for an Apple-branded brain interface, the "iThink":


(click to enlarge)




Thursday, January 22, 2015

Star Wars Paintings by Vanderstelt Studio

I have been a lifelong fan of the Star Wars saga.

I'm eagerly anticipating Episode VII being released this year. We'll see whether Disney rejecting George Lucas's involvement turns out to be a good move, but considering their handling of Marvel properties, it looks promising.

Despite the hate for the prequels, the existing 6 movies are timeless works of art that are an inescapable part of our cultural legacy.

I recently discovered amazing paintings of the Star Wars characters by Vanderstelt Studio.

Vanderstelt Studio:

I'd recommend checking out the whole page, but here a couple of my favorites:

"Knight of Passage"
Luke Skywalker uses his Force powers 
to create a new lightsaber with green blade.


"Yoda"
The centuries-old Jedi master quietly contemplates the Force
in the Dagobah swamp.


"Vader"
Darth Vader burns with the memories of his love for Padme Amidala
and the physical scars from his immolation on Mustafar.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Photorealistic Evolution GIF

Recently I posted an animated GIF that illustrated the process of morphological transformation over time:


I came across another image-in-motion that shows the same process in a more photorealistic way, from the point of view of the animals changing over the eons.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Game Review: Crysis 3


 
I played Crysis 2 about a year ago, but now realize that I never wrote a game review for it. Having finished Crysis 3 recently, I feel that this review can apply to either game.

Crysis is a first-person shooter (FPS), in which you are in control of a piece of wearable futuristic technology called a nanosuit.



The nanosuit enables the player to have innate abilites, such as heads-up display, super strength & greater jumping ability. The suit also has two enhanced functions that you can activate at any time - 'Cloak' & 'Armor'. You can either turn invisible for stealth tactics using Cloak, or fortify your nanosuit in the heat of battle with Armor. These are powerful features that seem vital once you get used to using them throughout the game. Unfortunately, my biggest pet peeve with the Crysis games is the synthetic voice that says "Cloak Engaged!" or "Maximum Armor!" every damn time you activate these functions. I don't know why it annoys me so bad, but it does, and actually took away from my enjoyment of the game.

Anyway, the game, overall, is fun to play. It takes place in a ruined New York City, after an alien invasion by a species called the Ceph. These creatures operate using a hive mind connection. They are controlled through a main intelligence, called the Alpha Ceph. They have millions of years of communal intelligence among them & have developed technologies that humans cannot even comprehend. It turns out that the Ceph invasion from Crysis 2 was just an advance force for an incursion from a much larger alien army. The massive Ceph swarm is preparing to come from the other side of the galaxy through an Einstein-Rosen bridge- a dimensional portal allowing instantaneous interstellar travel.


NYC is the epicenter of this larger invasion, but has already been destroyed from the events of the previous game. The city's ruins have become partially wilderness, covered in trees, plants, & water, which makes for an interesting setting. There are some stages that take place inside buildings or underground as you seek out the Alpha Ceph, but I felt that the literal urban jungle environments were the most fun to play through.



The controls & game mechanics are pretty straightforward for an FPS. There are a decent variety of guns & weapons, but I found myself mostly sticking to the same ones. The nanosuit powers, such as cloaking & armor, still make the combat more interesting, but I don't feel like Crysis 3 offered any substantial improvement from the second game. There wasn't too much in this one that really "WOW!-ed" me from a gameplay standpoint. Even the final battle against the Alpha Ceph felt like a fairly standard boss battle, even though it was an intense encounter.



The story is a good one, with the dual themes of man merging with technology & the possible consequences of encountering a hostile alien race. These two themes are integrated when it's discovered that alien technology used to make the nanosuit is allowing your character, Prophet, to become directly connected to the Ceph.

Despite the strong story elements, I never really felt immersed within the game, like I have with titles such as the Assassin's Creed series. I'm playing AC: Black Flag now & it's much more engaging on all levels than the Crysis games. For some reason, I find myself liking 3rd-person games, where you can see the character. Even Far Cry 3, though, (another FPS game) was much more immersive than Crysis. Maybe it'll be more fun if ever I go back and play some levels on a harder difficulty, but it's rare for me to go back & play games I've finished. My gaming time is limited, so I feel like I usually want to get right to the next title in the lineup.

All-in-all, Crysis 3 is not a bad game. I just don't think it was as engaging as it could have been. I can't pinpoint exactly why I felt a disconnect with the gameplay, but it definitely did not feel like it lived up to its potential. I'd recommend it if you like FPS-style games, just don't expect to be blown away by the experience.

• Official Monkey Buddha Rating: 7.5

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Generic and Overused Logos


As a graphic artist, one of the most difficult challenges is coming up with original designs.

The Monkey Buddha Archives:

The phrase "There's nothing new under the sun" sometimes feels all too true. You may think you have an original approach to a design, but with some research you may also find that something very similar has already been done.

On the other hand, graphic design is often a synthesis of existing concepts & elements, so it's good to be familiar with common approaches & conventions to dealing with design problems.

I saw this page on the Internet Archive that demonstrates some common looks and treatments of logos in corporate branding.

This is a guide on what to avoid when designing a logo, but it could also help with using elements that could be applied to more unique approaches.

For example, I'm posting the groups of logos using trees (above) & a 3D spherical element (below), but there are many more sets of similar logos shown at the linked page:

Internet Archive: