Happy New Year 2019!

Much of my blogging for the past year has been over at my music theory blog. As of this fall I’m actually taking classes at the local community college. I don’t think I’ve picked up a game controller since the summer!

My current “game controller” looks like this. I have never had a piano before and it’s very challenging, but if I can play Dark Souls, I can do anything!


Here is another “game-like” tool I am using for music:


These are  helpful for improvisation, or when you get stuck. You say a prayer to RNGsus and  hope you get something interesting!

I was very inspired by the idea of composing music for my scenes in No Man’s Sky. The videos I have up (at Avie the Birdbrain Gamer) are a rough approximation of what I would like to be doing. I’m signed up for individual instruction in composing and as a result I’m trying to get all my ducks in a row for the NMS project. This blog has been very helpful in getting the chronology straight. My best (and most organized) game footage is what I took during the last week that universe existed (mid July 2018) — but I did want to include SOME material from before the burning of Neochadwickia. To help with the organization, I made video footage of my Discovery Logs the very last day the universe existed — so the information was totally up to date. It resulted in 29 pages of screen caps. Going through these 29 pages I did in fact find 300 planet names (the working title for my music composition is “The Last of the 300 Worlds”). However — now checking with this blog, I found that there were whole groups of planets and stars that were erased from the Discovery Log. I found the Nagu system — Naguxoisanorca, Rosperigosa, Noelgervay, Mantigervay — but the star had been renamed Nuguxoisa (the planet names remained). I am confused and amazed at what the software must have done every time there was a universe regeneration. How did it decide what info was kept and what was re-written?

I really don’t need to make a full documentation of my 400+ hours in the No Man’s Sky universe in order to compose music about it. But I did think that the process of writing up the 300 planet names and grabbing some screen caps would be straightforward. Instead it has led to a deep dive into a huge collection of (neatly labeled) jpgs and back to this blog!

Somewhere I also have a 3-ring binder full of notes I took while filming. I’m not sure if that info will be helpful at this stage or not (or am I just going down the rabbit hole into completionism?)

I did have a wonderful time last night sorting through pictures til 4 in the morning. There were some spectacular planets I had completely forgotten about.

For the first part of the film I plan to have a series of kaleidoscope images, made from NMS scenes — starting with deepest black, then add stars, nebulas, dark blue horizons….through violet, red, orange, yellow and finally the white-hot death of the universe. I like the idea that my memories and experiences in NMS form a collage (rather than a neat photo album) in my head. I think the music will also be collage-like rather than a literal description of the 400 hrs. ;)

Avie the Birdbrain Gamer # 8

These videos are a survey of the star system Naguxoisanorca (aka “Nagu”). The whole survey was quite long and I broke it up into 2 videos. As part of making these videos, I composed 7 songs. They are

Farewell to Nagu
Rosperigosa — Aquatic Interlude
Rosperigosa — Extreme Radiation
Noelgervay 1
Noelgervay 2

I am particularly pleased with “Farewell to Nagu” because this is the first time I have done any singing on my own music compositions. I wrote harmony, sang all the harmony parts, and recorded each part 5 or 6 times. Then I blended them together and used lots and lots of reverb. To me it sounds like an alien angel choir!

The Noelgervay songs were based on the music that was playing in-game while I was recording video. For the second, slower version I simply played along with the in-game music. For the first, faster version I took the same melody and chords, modified them, and picked up the tempo.



Note: the No Man’s Sky soundtrack is composed by the group 65daysofstatic. Here is an article about them


Avie the Birdbrain Gamer #7

This is a silly episode where I assembled video segments that were left over. I especially enjoy the times when the graphics phenomenon called “clipping” caused entities to pop into my ship. The first time this happened I really did let out a yelp. What a great jumpscare! After that it just made me laugh hysterically. I think it’s great that bugs in a game can have unintended entertainment value.

Avie the Birdbrain Gamer # 6

This episode is especially poignant now that No Man’s Sky had the August 2017 update. Although the game now has more depth and complexity, the universe was “re-written”. A few planets are as before, some are the same but have lost their names, and some have lost both their names and their distinctive traits. “Dawnseas” no longer has seas, and “Summerhome” is no longer the sort of place you would want to spend the summer. Worst of all, my home planet Neochadwickia has turned into a charred cinder. It’s as if the planet moved to an orbit closer to the sun.

Whenever I returned from an adventure, I would hop up onto the roof of my base and look out on the landscape near my home. I can see in my mind’s eye the sunset colors, the silvery-green grass, and the strange craggy hill that looked down into the southern valley. I have to admit, when I came back to No Man’s Sky and saw that my home planet was irrevocably changed, I cried for a few minutes. I’m very glad that I had taken lots of photos and videos.

Maybe this loss affected me so much because it’s a difficult time. My parents are in their 80s and my father especially is in precarious health. The loss of Neochadwicka is just one more reminder that nothing / no one is forever — and a reminder that I can take the time to engrave these memories on my heart and mind.

Goodbye Neochadwicka

Avie the Birdbrain Gamer # 3

I’ve been wanting to make videos for Youtube for ages! The computer I have now is fast enough to run No Man’s Sky while ALSO running the screen-capture software. (My previous computer can’t even run No Man’s Sky). The video editing software I’m using is called Movavi. I have been working on these videos for several weeks and I keep learning new things about the software. Yesterday I figured out how to add a “freeze-frame” (stop the film and hold it on one picture) without making a big gap in the background music.

Here is video # 3. (I’m redo-ing videos 1 and 2. ) I still need to fix the soundtrack. The sound effects coming from the game footage are in stereo (comes through both ears of your headphones) but the music I composed is only coming through one ear. I didn’t notice this flaw when I uploaded the video (because it wasn’t as obvious when using speakers). Thanks K for pointing this out!

Amusing glitches in No Man’s Sky

There is a phenomenon that can happen in computer games called “clipping”. It’s when one object seems to project right through another instead of being stopped. Here is a case where the  grass under my planetary base is clipping right through the floor.

grass in the labSince the little guy in the corner is my agricultural team leader, it seems extra appropriate. Maybe he likes having grass growing in his laboratory.

Here is a case of clipping that adds a certain thrill to the game. I’m running away from a dangerous animal, jumped into my ship, and before I could blast off, THIS happened

heads up

heads up 2


Ugly Planet contest

I have been collecting the most beautiful images from my planetary explorations in No Man’s Sky. I don’t bother to take pictures of the ugly scenery. But maybe I should start a collection and have an “ugly planet” contest. Here are 2 examples–

Planet with radioactive water

ugly 1

Planet of tacky plants

ugly 2