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You just keep on trying till you run out of cake
February 26, 2008 1:10 AM   Subscribe


 
It occurs to me that this FPP just looks like three links until you realize that anyone who knows and likes "Still Alive" already knows who Jonathan Coulton is, and already knows about Rock Band. Everyone else won't have any idea what's going on. Sigh.

So the nutshell is that Valve, the people who made Half-Life/HL2, released a game called Portal last year. At the end of the game, there is a cute song that is sung by the asshole A.I. you have been playing against for the duration of the game. Coulton wrote the song for Valve and sometimes performs it live when rowdy nerds can't stop shouting about it.

Assuming this post doesn't get deleted for lacking content, I hope that helps. Even though you probably still won't care, since none of the song's in-jokes make sense unless you've played the game. In which case, you didn't need the explanation anyway.

So, uh. I guess what I'm saying is, I saw this on every other game blog on the planet today, and there are some kids on my goddamned lawn.
posted by Mikey-San at 1:27 AM on February 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


That was adorable.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:09 AM on February 26, 2008


To burst Mikey-San's crotchety bubble of self-righteousness - I haven't played Portal yet and I love the hell out of that song.
posted by cmgonzalez at 2:32 AM on February 26, 2008


99% Baby, that's an A+.
posted by sophist at 2:39 AM on February 26, 2008


To burst Mikey-San's crotchety bubble of self-righteousness - I haven't played Portal yet and I love the hell out of that song

We're not talking about the song, here, but this post. It's a one-link FPP in disguise, with zero explanation whatsoever about why anyone should care about what these guys are playing on stage. You can't hear the song very clearly, so you won't get much out of the performance related to the song this FPP is about in the first place, unless you've already heard the song. Coulton's site doesn't even have the song for download, and you can't listen to it on the Rock Band site, either.

The OP didn't even bother linking to the one post on Coulton's site that explains what's going on here.

The song is cute and catchy. The performance Coulton and crew gave is entertaining. This post sucks.
posted by Mikey-San at 2:53 AM on February 26, 2008


I don't if it's been linked before, but here's a "Still Alive" covers roundup. I'm not a huge fan of the people playing it (especially that loser who comes in at #2), but the 8080 doing it is pretty sweet.
posted by juv3nal at 3:15 AM on February 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


For completeness, the version from the game.
posted by juv3nal at 3:19 AM on February 26, 2008


By the way, for anyone who hasn't played it, Portal is $20 over at Valve. It's not very long, but it's probably either the single best or the second-best game last year. It's very short, only five or six hours, but it's polished to an incredible sheen. You've just never seen anything like it.

Even if you don't like first-person-shooter games, you'll probably still enjoy this. It's not combat-oriented, and it's not terribly difficult: it's about exploration, puzzle solving, and the absolute best game atmosphere ever done, period. Ever. Seriously.

The Orange Box includes all of Half Life 2 so far (HL2, Episode 1, and Episode 2), Team Fortress 2, and Portal, for $50. TF2 is also superb: it's a regular combat-oriented multiplayer game, but again, the polish is so extraordinary that it's quite an experience. HL2 is your standard run-and-shoot game, with a pretty good story. It's one of the best FPS games, but it won't knock your socks off the way TF2 and Portal will.

I personally think $50 for that is well worth it, but you can buy just Portal alone... and I strongly suggest you do at least that much. It's just that good.
posted by Malor at 3:33 AM on February 26, 2008


Buy a text ad, Malor.
posted by Dave Faris at 3:43 AM on February 26, 2008


White People love Jonathan Coulter (?).
posted by Eideteker at 3:53 AM on February 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I haven't played Portal or anything in the Orange Box at all, but I actually saw the link to this earlier yesterday and then proceeded to waste about two hours watching versions of it on YouTube.

I've seen Coulton perform live twice, both times because he traveled along with John Hodgman on his book tour, along with David Rees of Get Your War On. The first time, Coulton was awesome and everyone liked him. A year later, even though it was almost the exact same gig at the exact same venue, it was clear a lot more people in the audience were coming for Coulton.

I don't think he really has a grasp just yet on how famous he's going to be by this time next year.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:23 AM on February 26, 2008


Awesome. Watching Coulton get down into the redzone on his own song is priceless. But then again, I assume the Wolf Boy of Maine (or whatever Hodgman calls him in the audio version of TAoME) doesn't have much experience with technology.

I can't wait for this to be released as I'll finally be able to record my own version of the On the Blue parody I wrote some time back. Sure, it won't be anywhere as authentic as cortex's excellent strumming, but mimicking a robot's song while backed by robotic instruments has a certain appeal.

But then again, I am a bit obsessed with both Portal and Rock Band.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:37 AM on February 26, 2008


Mikey-San: "Everyone else won't have any idea what's going on."

Since we're currently on the Internet, that should be about fourteen people. Maybe we should flood their houses with deadly neurotoxin.
posted by Plutor at 5:00 AM on February 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


Just to add. Over 40. Seen just about everything computer gaming related since Spacewar. Portalis one of the very few original games, and it's fun to play, or watch.

It picked up a buzz for the right reason.
posted by eriko at 5:05 AM on February 26, 2008


Since we're currently on the Internet, that should be about fourteen people. Maybe we should flood their houses with deadly neurotoxin.

I thought it was gonna be the Pearl Jam song. Hey, what's that smell....
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:11 AM on February 26, 2008


I love Portal and Still Alive, and yet didn't watch this video until just now. I have a huge smile on my face, what a great way to start the morning! I can't wait until it's released on Rock Band. Time to get the mic and guitar out.
posted by gemmy at 5:14 AM on February 26, 2008


I think this is the customary point in a thread related to Portal to mention the non-truth of baked sweet goods.
posted by Dr-Baa at 5:25 AM on February 26, 2008


Who can forget Baby Got Back?

You won't be able to. If you listen to it.
posted by The Deej at 5:33 AM on February 26, 2008


I'm actually somewhat dissapointed. The thing looks like it was recorded on an Aiptek A-HD; if this is really Joystiq (which is a major media pub) they could at least afford something that produces a better quality image.
posted by BrianBoyko at 5:47 AM on February 26, 2008


Watching Coulton get down into the redzone on his own song is priceless.

Then there's the clip of Scott Ian from Anthrax completely failing on Madhouse (tho apparently he'd never tried it before and I think he is playing on Hard.) Nothing makes Guitar Hero fans chortle with self-righteous glee than watching an actual rock star fail on their own song, apparently.

"Still Alive" is a wonderful little song in that it's got a nice catchy hook and that it perfectly ends Portal (the amber faux-VT display also helps, I thought.) I don't care much for Coulton's other work (actually I don't care for the raving fanbase, especially who feel the need to incessantly sing every song completely through when one is mentioned; these are usually the same people who do the same thing with Tom Lehrer and Monty Python) but Still Alive is a fine little tune and the Cars-esque synth in one of the choruses makes me smile.
posted by Spatch at 6:02 AM on February 26, 2008


TF2 is also superb: it's a regular combat-oriented multiplayer game, but again, the polish is so extraordinary that it's quite an experience.

And if Malor convinced you with that, you can join Team Mefight here for our regular games on our private server.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:10 AM on February 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


I really think this may be the most uncanny version of the many covers I've seen of the song. Some people are very, very dedicated to their crafts, however obscure those crafts may be.
posted by The Bellman at 6:45 AM on February 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I feel a lot better about myself as a Rock Band drummer after watching that clip.
posted by thanotopsis at 7:03 AM on February 26, 2008


Holy Eff, that Mario Paint thing was fantastic. Completely blows away any previous attempts I had at writing or recreating songs in that program.
posted by piratebowling at 7:06 AM on February 26, 2008


That was a triumph.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:13 AM on February 26, 2008


Mikey-San, it occurs to me that you could have been a lot more constructive and a lot less "your post, let me shit on it" with your comments. It's possible to provide background information and supplementary links without acting like a prick.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 7:32 AM on February 26, 2008


Holy crap - I'm old. I would have been totally lost without Mikey-San's post. TY for having pity on those of us who are out of this particular loop.

What are you kids looking at? And what are you waiting for? Turn down that music and get the hell off my lawn already!
posted by mosk at 7:37 AM on February 26, 2008


Audiosurf >> Guitar Hero. Why? Gameplay aside, Audiosurf also includes "Still Alive," but if it didn't, you could just use the "Still Alive" you got from Bittorrent.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:39 AM on February 26, 2008


VGcats has a Flash Movie of it.
posted by BeerFilter at 7:50 AM on February 26, 2008


Leo Laporte's latest This Week in Tech (TWIT) podcast, has a post-video JoCo being interviewed by his fellow Rock Band members. It's a good listen.
posted by jaimev at 8:10 AM on February 26, 2008


That song is amazing...mmm...cake. Thanks for "the skinny" Mikey-san. Coulton mentions a game called Skullmonkeys. I really loved the look of that game because of the claymation. I haven't thought about that game in a while. Thanks megafilter!
posted by Hugonaut at 8:27 AM on February 26, 2008


I really really love this performance, just for the concept.

You have what could only be called a geek composer; not only somewhat geeky himself, but really writes for geeks. He writes a song, for a game, supposedly sung by an AI. He is now "performing" said song, on stage, but actually in a game with a bunch of other geeks also "performing" in the game.

All the levels in this scheme are totally astounding. Awesome. And, on top of that, the song is pretty good and the performance is quite amusing.
posted by Bovine Love at 8:37 AM on February 26, 2008


Let's all just mellow out. I know none of the backstory (and certainly don't read "every other game blog on the planet") and it was still enjoyable.
posted by supercres at 8:43 AM on February 26, 2008


Man, Portal is seriously one of the best games I've ever played. Even non-game players, like my wife, get serious enjoyment out of it. It's like watching my mom play Katamari Damacy. IF nothing else, Portal is a big "fuck you" to all the gaming naysayers....

why do the game haters still even exist? just a thought.

Mikey-san, come on. Why are you oversnarking this plate of beans man? Let those who LIKE it enjoy it and find another site to police poster behavior.
posted by Dantien at 9:18 AM on February 26, 2008


I love this Portal-inspired shirt.

I am not affiliated with the site or designer, I just love the shirt.

And I only read off-planet gaming blogs. And I knew about this in 1993.
posted by owtytrof at 10:45 AM on February 26, 2008


Well, I just recently played Portal for the first time and I loved the song at the end. But I didn't know who sang it. This post was a delight for me. So there is at least one person who wasn't totally clueless about the post, but didn't know who Jonathan Coulton was or that the song was coming to Rock Band.

I'm probably the only counter example to Mikey-san's comment, though
posted by recursion at 11:29 AM on February 26, 2008


I too had no idea who wrote the song or that it was coming out for Rock Band, which I am very excited about. Probably won't be able to handle the vocals but that's another story.
posted by Hugonaut at 11:56 AM on February 26, 2008


I'm probably about as knowledgeable about games as eriko, and I'm echoing the statements he statements of Portal's originality. The most surprising thing about it, though, is that it got made at all.
posted by JHarris at 1:15 PM on February 26, 2008


Well, I just recently played Portal for the first time and I loved the song at the end. But I didn't know who sang it.
The singer in the game was Ellen McLain.
posted by Western Infidels at 1:20 PM on February 26, 2008


The singer in the game was Ellen McLain.

Thanks, that is good to know too. My intent was to say that I didn't know who wrote the song. I hadn't even though to look up the voice actor for GLaDOS.
posted by recursion at 2:14 PM on February 26, 2008


They announced a Portal 2 is in the works at last weeks GDC.
posted by Dave Faris at 2:37 PM on February 26, 2008


Well, I just recently played Portal for the first time and I loved the song at the end.

I got to the end of the game, and the credits rolled and the song played and I loved it to death and was all, "man, this is a great song. It sounds like something Jonathan fucking Coulton would write. Man. Someone at Valve really hit it on the head."

Let x = x.
posted by cortex at 3:51 PM on February 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think a good measure of geekdom is if you had heard of Jonathan Coulton before playing Portal.

NEEEEEEERRDDSS.
posted by Justinian at 4:10 PM on February 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think a good measure of geekdom is if you had heard of Jonathan Coulton were reading metafilter before playing Portal.

FTFY?
posted by juv3nal at 4:53 PM on February 26, 2008


So I was ready to complain about people playing the same song twice in a concert and then had an afterthought "well, he turns out to be the re: Your brains guy, so why didn't he play that?" It's not even worth thinking about it, I tell you.
posted by ersatz at 4:57 PM on February 26, 2008


FOR GOD'S SAKE EVERYBODY STOP FIXING THINGS AFTER THE OBLIGATORY FIXING OF THIS PARTICULAR THING, AT LEAST THOUGH YOU MIGHT EVEN SHY AWAY FROM THAT NOW THAT I'VE RUINED IT BY CALLIN IT AHEAD OF TIME BUT THEN AGAIN MAYBE YOU WON'T BECAUSE THERE'S NO ACCOUNTING FOR TASTE.
posted by cortex at 4:58 PM on February 26, 2008


FOR GOD'S SAKE EVERYBODY STOP FIXING THINGSDOGS

Broke that for you.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:46 PM on February 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


FOR GOD'S SAKE EVERYBODY STOP FIXING THINGS

Only if you will.
posted by Dave Faris at 6:03 PM on February 26, 2008


That cortex guy seems awfully keen on derails.

Are we gonna see a strikeout ban soon? I sure hope not. The img stuff is sorely missed.
posted by Bovine Love at 7:17 PM on February 26, 2008


btw, I made a Venn diagram of the audience of this post before I hit submit. Y'all haven't been disappointing.
posted by ryoshu at 11:40 PM on February 26, 2008


Robocop: But then again, I assume the Wolf Boy of Maine (or whatever Hodgman calls him in the audio version of TAoME) doesn't have much experience with technology.

Jonathan Coulton was a coder for fifteen years before he quit his day job and started writing songs full-time. He lives in NYC, not Maine, and is a tech geek. Pretty sure he has experience with technology. :)
posted by tzikeh at 3:12 AM on February 27, 2008


Hey wow, due to this thread I just realized they released Rock Band for the PS2. Now I might actually get to play it. Thanks!
posted by marble at 12:36 AM on February 28, 2008


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