Why Video Games Live and Tommy Tallarico are damaging video game music

I’ve been listening to video game music for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I spent a lot of my allowance on the Final Fantasy soundtracks. When I was in college, I did a radio show that comprised largely of video game music.

While there have been video game music concerts in Japan since the early nineties, it’s only been in the last six or seven years that they’ve made their way to western shores. Arnold Roth brought the Distant Worlds (Final Fantasy) series to America, and also led Play! for many years. John Michael Paul, who produced Play!, also put together the Zelda: Symphony of the Goddess series. And then there’s Tommy Tallarico, who has been putting on Video Games Live. Video Games Live has been performed to sold out audiences around the world. It’s attracted thousands of gamers and is sort of its own empire.

It’s also ruining video game music, and Tommy Tallarico solely deserves the blame. He has singlehandedly ruined video game music.

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November 17th, 2013 - Posted in essays, video games |

Voice acting

Just a quick thing: I’m pretty sure all the voice actors who worked on the English port of Xenoblade Chronicles should be strapped down and forced to listen to their own recordings for the rest of time. Especially the guy who voiced Riki. Urgh..

August 11th, 2012 - Posted in video games |

How to extract and convert Skyrim audio

In a moment of self-indulgent nerdiness, I spent a fair amount of time scouring the Internet and figuring out how to extract the dragon shouts from Skyrim. These directions could also be used to extract anything. Hopefully this post helps someone who was as lost as I was.

  1. Download BSA Unpacker, Voice file extractor, and xWMAEncode.
  2. Use BSA Unpacker and point it at Skyrim – Voices.bsa. It’s in the Skryim\data folder.
  3. Look through and find all the files you want to extract. For the shouts, for example, I extracted everything that started with maleeventoned/voicepowers_.
  4. Extract everything to its own folder.
  5. To convert one .fuz file to a .wav, do:
    fuz_extractor.exe -e file.fuz
    xWMAEncode.exe file.xwm file.wav

Basically how this works is that fuz_extractor pulls out the .lip and .xwm from the .fuz, and then xWMAEncode converts the .xwm to a .wav file.

Now obviously this is tedious for some eighty-odd files, so I used PowerShell, a really useful scripting tool that comes with Windows. Here’s the script I ran:

cd c:\shouts
foreach($f in $(gci C:\shouts | % {$_.BaseName})) {
    .\fuz_extractor.exe -e $f.fuz
    .\xWMAEncode.exe $f.xwm $f".wav"

And then just let it run. You’ll have to tweak it to fit your own setup, but that’s how I did it. Once you’ve got your .wav files, you can do whatever you want with them. You could run them right through an MP3 encoder and get MP3s, or you could edit them in Audacity.

January 18th, 2012 - Posted in technology, video games |

Sad for the world

Three days ago “Geek and Gamer Girls” was released on the Internet. Those of you who missed it can watch it here, but basically it’s a song where four chicks sing about how they’re geeks. The intention is good but ultimately misguided, and the song ends up really just being an enormous embarrassment. I admit that I spent most of the video cringing.

The first thing I noticed is that it’s less of a song and more of a list put to music. At its core, the song’s lyrics are just references to TV shows, video games, board games, and other things that are traditionally considered geeky. That doesn’t prove that you’re a geek – it only proves that you have a cursory knowledge of some things that aren’t considered to be mainstream. It’s probably hard to come with lyrics for a song like this, but maybe that’s a sign you shouldn’t be writing one altogether.

I think I’m questioning the need for a song like this altogether. Was it in question that there are a bunch of girls out there who play video games – and that a portion of them are good looking? Why does that need to be declared in a song? Yes, most geeks are still guys, but females are a still growing minority. There are far better ways to make such a declaration, anyway; take a look at Felicia Day’s The Guild for an example.

But the part that gets me the most is that, in a song about girls who are geeky, there’s a fairly lengthy rap session by Seth Green. I don’t understand why his cameo is necessary. I get that the original song (Katy Perry’s “California Gurls”) has a rap section with Snoop Dogg in it and maybe they wanted to reflect that in this song, but it seems contrary to the point of the song. Clearly the song is meant to be some form of anthem for geek girls, but then you have a guy perform in roughly one third of the song? The song is about empowerment, and having a guy in it waters it down, I think.

Ultimately I think the song falls flat and really just ends up hurting the cause (whatever you defined it as) more than helping it. And unlike other people on the Internet, I’m not insulted that the song references things that I like. It’s really just an unnecessary piece of fluff that sets back female gaming. The right way to do it would have put the girls in a Gears of War group, have them go around wrecking other teams, and then laughing over the mics.

September 13th, 2010 - Posted in essays, music, video games |


I’ve just completed Machinarium, an indie Flash-based puzzle/strategy game, and it was absolutely excellent. I grew up playing puzzle games like this, but even this one was a bit of a challenge. Some of the puzzles in there were just really, really difficult. In one part, you play Connect Five against a computer who’s exceedingly good. And there’s a sliding block puzzle towards the end that would give any Professor Layton players a run for their money.

But beyond the puzzles, the game is gorgeous. It has this sort of hand-drawn steampunk feel with a main character that’s both sad and adorable. In the game, there are these bully robots that have more or less terrorized all the other NPCs in the game, and they demonstrate this with these crude little animations that are heartbreaking. The soundtrack, which you can also get, is also wonderful. Overall it’s dark and melancholy, but can be uplifting in some parts. It’s not unlike the soundtrack to Braid, only it’s a bit more cohesive.

It’s truly an excellent game, and well worth your money. I picked it up for $5 during their piracy sale the other week (I didn’t steal it in the first place, thank you very much) but it’s worth the $20. Plus you get the soundtrack, so all the better. Go play it.

August 21st, 2010 - Posted in video games |




The last show I saw was Mythos at 92nd St Y - New York, NY on Oct 6, 2014.
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About Me

Hey there. I'm a web developer who works and lives in New York City.