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Day: 6 November 2022

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The forgotten Soviet genius of music

One hundred years ago today, the extraordinary Symphony of Sirens revolutionised the way we compose, perform and experience music. So why was its visionary composer forgotten for decades, asks Alex Sakalis.One hundred years ago, a 36-year-old Russian composer named Arseny Avraamov climbed on to a specially built tower in Baku, Azerbaijan, then part of the USSR. Surveying the urban landscape before him, he lifted two red flags and began to wave them from side to side. What happened next was one of the most extraordinary musical events of the 20th Century. One which, until recently, remained almost completely forgotten. More like this: -          The black composer erased from history -          How the first pop star blazed a trail -          Inside Kate Bush's alternate universe The event was the Symphony of Sirens, a musical work incorporating the city of Baku as its orchestra. It was staged on 7 November 1922, to celebrate the five-year anniversary of the October Revolution, and included the entire Caspian flotilla, cannons, locomotives, artillery regiments, hydroplanes, factory sirens, bells, foghorns, brass bands and a massive choir. Avraamov wasn't just conducting an orchestra, he was conducting a city.Russian composer Arseny Avraamov (1886-1944) was a musical innovator way ahead of his time (Credit: Alamy)The flag wave signalled the first cannon shot, which cued the sirens of the industrial plants. The fifth cannon shot cued the sirens of the docks. The 15th cued the sirens of the flotilla, while a military brass band began playing and marching towards the harbour. Soon locomotive horns appeared, along with machine gun fire, followed by the melodies of the magistral – an instrument invented by Avraamov for this performance, consisting of 50 steam whistles attached to pipes, which could be operated independently like the keys of a piano.Avraamov waved his flag. That was the cue for the hydroplanes to take off as a choir of thousands shouted "Hurrah!" Another cannon shot cued silence, except for the haunting melodies of the magistral. Suddenly, a faint chorus of voices could be heard singing. More voices joined in, and the unmistakeable hymn of the Internationale rang out. As the choir grew, the sirens began again, and the hydroplanes swooped back down over the harbour. The brass band was back, playing another familiar tune: La Marseillaise. Cannons fired into the sea and machine guns unloaded into the sky. Church bells – until then silent – began chiming as the noise reached its climax. Then silence, more renditions of the Internationale, before the sirens, the magistral, the brass band and the choir all returned for one final ecstatic chord that washed over the city. In many ways it was the culmination of Avraamov's extraordinary, peripatetic career. A visionary who sought to merge politics and music until neither could be distinguished from the other, he was an inventor, a modernist, a futurist, a revolutionary, a composer and an eccentric. He shone brightly but was ultimately buried by the same political system that helped nurture him. Largely forgotten after his death in 1944, his innovations nonetheless foreshadowed some of the most important musical trends of the second half of the 20th Century.The Symphony of Sirens of 1922 was conducted from a rooftop by its composer Avraamov (Credit: Alamy)Long before Pierre Schaeffer recorded the locomotives at Batignolles station, long before John Cage redefined the parameters of music, long before Karlheinz Stockhausen decided to stick a string quartet on helicopters. Long before all that, there was Avraamov. Born in Novocherkassk, Russia in 1884, Avraamov's early life revolved around writing music and getting arrested for communist agitation. His two interests coalesced somewhat after the Russian Revolution, when he was appointed culture minister for the People's Commissariat for Education. One of his first acts was to ask Vladimir Lenin if he could burn all the pianos in the country, considering them symbols of the old political and musical order. Lenin's answer is not recorded, though the continued existence of pianos in Soviet Russia suggests that his proposal was not taken up. Avraamov devoted much of his time to developing his own microtonal theory, which he believed would emancipate people from the shackles of the 12-tone, octave-based Western musical tradition. Later in his career, he developed techniques for sampling and synthesising sound, making him one of the pioneers of sound editing. After working on the soundtrack for the first Soviet sound film – Abram Room's Plan velikikh rabot – he began experimenting with creating sounds through drawing, with musicologist Andrey Smirnov crediting him as the inventor of graphical sound. All this makes Avraamov one of the progenitors of the broad, umbrella genre that we now call electronic music. But it was Symphony of Sirens that remained his most revolutionary work. A new world required a new music, theorised Avraamov. Not just new tonal systems and instruments, but an entirely new conception of music. What it was, who it was for, where it was performed, how it was experienced.One of Avraamov's big achievements was his creation of graphic-sonic art, or drawn sound (Credit: Courtesy of Andrey Smirnov)"There was an idea after the Russian Revolution that we should do something on the street, that we have to escape from the boring bourgeois concert hall and do music for people working in the factories. Music not for the rich but for everybody," Sergey Khismatov, an award-winning composer and musicologist, tells BBC Culture. Transformative experience Avraamov aimed to create a musical work for the proletariat, using the sounds of the machines and factories that were now under worker control. Rather than spectators, he sought the active participation of everybody in the performance, offering a transformative experience that symbolised unity, agency and the revolutionary power to decide one's own history. In his vision, factory sirens, that regulated the start and end of the working day, were transformed from symbols of oppression into sounds of emancipation. Symphony of Sirens was, in many ways, the sound of a new world being born.Avraamov argued that Western music – in its theory, composition and performance – reinforced the cultural hegemony of the ruling class, and so alienated workers from realising the potential for music as an organising and emancipatory artform. It was important for the purposes of the ruling class, he argued, to separate workers from the means of creating and experiencing music. "Music has, among all the arts, the highest power of social organisation," he wrote. "We had to arrive at the October Revolution to achieve the concept of the Symphony of Sirens. The capitalist system gives rise to anarchic tendencies. Its fear of seeing workers marching in unity prevents its music being developed in freedom." Beyond the sheer spectacle – no one had ever tried to incorporate the entire urban landscape into a musical performance before, let alone hydroplanes and battleships – Avraamov broke several musical boundaries, and foreshadowed the direction music would take in the second half of the 20th Century. "Avraamov prefigures Stockhausen's sonic environmental art, imaginatively extending the notion of space in which a piece of music can take place," David Stubbs, author of Mars by 1980: The Story of Electronic Music, tells BBC Culture. "He also anticipated Schaeffer's musique concrète, where the walls between art and everyday life are collapsed, and the sound matter of the actual existing world becomes a source for music."Avraamov, pictured here in 1923 before the Symphony of Sirens performance, intended his avant-garde work to be transformational and revolutionary (Credit: Alamy)"We can say that with Symphony of Sirens, Avraamov pioneered the idea of using non-traditional instruments for both composition and performance," adds Khismatov. In later works, Avraamov would go on to incorporate tools such as saws, grinding wheels, axes and sledgehammers into his music. Instead of a traditional score, he used written instructions and musical notation so simplified that anyone could understand it. "Symphony of Sirens exemplifies a mode of music making in which virtuosity, notation or traditional methods of musical arrangement are dispensed with in favour of a more conceptual approach," says Stubbs. "It's about how you sequence and juxtapose elements. That's as true for the most recent EP by [British electronic musician] Burial as it is for Avraamov." Symphony of Sirens was attempted just once more, a year later in Moscow, though at a much-reduced scale. Undeterred, Avraamov began plotting his next project: installing powerful electroacoustic devices on Zeppelins and flying them above Moscow. Not content with conducting a city, Avraamov now had the skies in his sights. There were two problems though. Firstly, Avraamov was broke. Secondly, the revolutionary atmosphere in Russia that had fostered a radical, artistic avant-garde was coming to an end. "Symphony [of Sirens] represents what a lot of early electronic music represents – a utopianism, a lost future," says Stubbs. "It was commissioned at a time when it was still optimistically held that the grand, revolutionary egalitarian prospect of the Soviet Union could operate hand-in-hand with the artistic avant-garde. Sadly, that was quashed in time under Stalin." The Zeppelin project never left the drawing board, and Avraamov died in poverty and obscurity. Interest in his work only re-emerged in the 1990s, and the first reconstruction of Symphony of Sirens, based on Avraamov's notes and using samples, took place in 2008. The following year, Khismatov debuted his own reconstruction (under his preferred translation, Symphony of Industrial Horns) at a fort in St Petersburg. It later appeared at Documenta 14 and has gone on to influence a new generation of electronic, avant-garde and politically motivated composers. In 2017, Avraamov made an appearance in the BBC documentary Tunes for Tyrants, with presenter Suzy Klein heralding the Russian as one of the forgotten geniuses of music, and even performing her own tribute to Symphony of Sirens as she stood on a Moscow rooftop and waved two red flags from side to side. Long after his death, Avraamov is finally getting his due.The Symphony of Sirens was performed in 2017 in Brno, Czech Republic – eight choirs were joined by the sounds of a steam train, signal guns, ambulances and cannons (Credit: Alamy)"We now know that he was a genius, but at the time people thought he was crazy. They couldn't see what he was seeing," says Khismatov. The tragedy of Avraamov was that he was simply too far ahead of his time. He broke barriers too soon and the musical ecosystem he created couldn't survive outside of its incubator. Many of his ideas, now commonplace, were ridiculed, and his work was ultimately muffled out by an increasingly conservative and reactionary Soviet regime. It's said that the 30,000 people who bought The Velvet Underground's first album all started a band. The 30,000 people who experienced Symphony of Sirens were simply too shocked to know what to do with themselves. If you would like to comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Culture, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter. And if you liked this story, sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletter, called The Essential List. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Worklife and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday.

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Amnesia: Later x Crowd

Following on the heels of the Nintendo Switch re-release of the classic otome game Amnesia: Memories, Amnesia: Later x Crowd presents two fan discs previously unavailable in English release. If you're not familiar with the concept, a fan disc is an official release by the company that produced the original game that contains bonus content for fans of the original. It's rarely a sequel in the sense that it's a completely new full-length story; instead it's likely to contain new routes, mini games, and special extras that were unavailable in the original. In the case of Amnesia, both Later and Crowd feature a mix of new content and after stories to the main game, which means that if you don't remember everything from the original, you'll want to refresh your memory before diving into this one – particularly for the quiz in Crowd, which is fairly brutal if your own memory is patchy. Releasing the two fan discs together makes a certain amount of sense, since neither is particularly long. Of the two, Crowd, which was released second in Japan, is the less forgiving; it is possible to have bad ends in its “Suspense” section. Later is unrepentantly fluffy, and while I enjoyed both games, I have to say that I found Later to be a bit more fulfilling on that front. In both games, the gameplay is divided into sections with subsections for each of the love interests, and Later additionally has unlockable sections for Waka (the heroine's boss at Meido no Hitsuji) and Orion. Each playthrough unlocks something different – for example, choosing one of the guys in “New World” unlocks his section in “After Story” (or “Waka's World” in one case), while choosing one of the girls unlocks “Girls Party,” which in turn unlocks character profiles. Finishing all of the five “After Story” sections gets you a thoroughly satisfying epilogue with Orion that was easily my favorite part of the game. Let's just say that if you wished he'd been an option or you felt that Orion got the raw end of the deal, this segment will make you very happy. Each of the “After Story” narratives is generally enjoyable, taking the heroine and her chosen love interest into the next phase of their lives together. Two are particularly worth noting – Toma's because a concerted effort has been made to take the creep factor out of his story (while still reminding us that it happened, because that is a feature some players enjoy) while Ukyo's has a sort of menage quality based on his particular mental health issue. It's sweet, but it is a little surprising, and none of the endings go anywhere beyond kissing, albeit sometimes in a bed. Crowd divides its gameplay up into four larger segments with subsections: “Suspense,” “Working,” “Love,” and “Etc.” The first is a story set during the main game of Amnesia, when the heroine has lost her memories. Further divided by the five love interests, the heroine and Orion face a different dangerous situation in each tale. RPG elements, such as point and click room searches, make up part of the gameplay, and this can, at times be a little frustrating with the Switch's controls, which do not allow for smooth searching in a grid-based pattern. There's also a toggle to switch the POV between the heroine and the love interest, which isn't quite as interesting as it sounds in practice. More importantly, bad endings are possible in the “Suspense” category, though it's worth noting that they vary wildly – in most you die, but in one you end up getting a math lecture from Kent. Oddly enough, that's in Ikki's route, and my dyscalculia did not appreciate the “escape room + math” gameplay. “Love,” as you might guess, features romantic stories, all after stories to the main game. The longer subsection (After Story) is comparable to the section of the same name in Later, though each takes a slightly different route from that fan disc. They're generally sweet tales, and visually it's neat that the guys' black-based costumes turn to white-based outfits after a certain point in the relationship is reached. This section also features the “Conversation” mini game, where you ask the boy of your choice questions in order to fill his affection meter, resulting in a special CG. “Working,” meanwhile, is a series of arcade-style mini games, including yet another math game. All of them are decently challenging, especially if, like me, you play visual novels because you have zero hand-eye coordination. The art for “Working” and “Orion's Room” (which is part of “Etc.”) is done in chibi style. “Orion's Room” is where the aforementioned quiz is, and players can use the Orion Points they've gathered in the scenarios to buy extra scenes for the “Working” feature. The final section is “Trumps,” which is a chance to play various card games with the love interests. It's fine, but nothing thrilling. Amnesia: Later x Crowd is definitely worth playing if you're a fan of the original game. It isn't quite as engaging, but seeing how everything works out for the characters is a nice experience, and the special Orion after story in Later is almost worth the price of admission on its own. The whole thing completes the Amnesia experience in a good way, so if you've been waiting for these games since the original PC release of Amnesia: Memories, this is a good time to pick them up.

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Amnesia: Later x Crowd

Following on the heels of the Nintendo Switch re-release of the classic otome game Amnesia: Memories, Amnesia: Later x Crowd presents two fan discs previously unavailable in English release. If you're not familiar with the concept, a fan disc is an official release by the company that produced the original game that contains bonus content for fans of the original. It's rarely a sequel in the sense that it's a completely new full-length story; instead it's likely to contain new routes, mini games, and special extras that were unavailable in the original. In the case of Amnesia, both Later and Crowd feature a mix of new content and after stories to the main game, which means that if you don't remember everything from the original, you'll want to refresh your memory before diving into this one – particularly for the quiz in Crowd, which is fairly brutal if your own memory is patchy. Releasing the two fan discs together makes a certain amount of sense, since neither is particularly long. Of the two, Crowd, which was released second in Japan, is the less forgiving; it is possible to have bad ends in its “Suspense” section. Later is unrepentantly fluffy, and while I enjoyed both games, I have to say that I found Later to be a bit more fulfilling on that front. In both games, the gameplay is divided into sections with subsections for each of the love interests, and Later additionally has unlockable sections for Waka (the heroine's boss at Meido no Hitsuji) and Orion. Each playthrough unlocks something different – for example, choosing one of the guys in “New World” unlocks his section in “After Story” (or “Waka's World” in one case), while choosing one of the girls unlocks “Girls Party,” which in turn unlocks character profiles. Finishing all of the five “After Story” sections gets you a thoroughly satisfying epilogue with Orion that was easily my favorite part of the game. Let's just say that if you wished he'd been an option or you felt that Orion got the raw end of the deal, this segment will make you very happy. Each of the “After Story” narratives is generally enjoyable, taking the heroine and her chosen love interest into the next phase of their lives together. Two are particularly worth noting – Toma's because a concerted effort has been made to take the creep factor out of his story (while still reminding us that it happened, because that is a feature some players enjoy) while Ukyo's has a sort of menage quality based on his particular mental health issue. It's sweet, but it is a little surprising, and none of the endings go anywhere beyond kissing, albeit sometimes in a bed. Crowd divides its gameplay up into four larger segments with subsections: “Suspense,” “Working,” “Love,” and “Etc.” The first is a story set during the main game of Amnesia, when the heroine has lost her memories. Further divided by the five love interests, the heroine and Orion face a different dangerous situation in each tale. RPG elements, such as point and click room searches, make up part of the gameplay, and this can, at times be a little frustrating with the Switch's controls, which do not allow for smooth searching in a grid-based pattern. There's also a toggle to switch the POV between the heroine and the love interest, which isn't quite as interesting as it sounds in practice. More importantly, bad endings are possible in the “Suspense” category, though it's worth noting that they vary wildly – in most you die, but in one you end up getting a math lecture from Kent. Oddly enough, that's in Ikki's route, and my dyscalculia did not appreciate the “escape room + math” gameplay. “Love,” as you might guess, features romantic stories, all after stories to the main game. The longer subsection (After Story) is comparable to the section of the same name in Later, though each takes a slightly different route from that fan disc. They're generally sweet tales, and visually it's neat that the guys' black-based costumes turn to white-based outfits after a certain point in the relationship is reached. This section also features the “Conversation” mini game, where you ask the boy of your choice questions in order to fill his affection meter, resulting in a special CG. “Working,” meanwhile, is a series of arcade-style mini games, including yet another math game. All of them are decently challenging, especially if, like me, you play visual novels because you have zero hand-eye coordination. The art for “Working” and “Orion's Room” (which is part of “Etc.”) is done in chibi style. “Orion's Room” is where the aforementioned quiz is, and players can use the Orion Points they've gathered in the scenarios to buy extra scenes for the “Working” feature. The final section is “Trumps,” which is a chance to play various card games with the love interests. It's fine, but nothing thrilling. Amnesia: Later x Crowd is definitely worth playing if you're a fan of the original game. It isn't quite as engaging, but seeing how everything works out for the characters is a nice experience, and the special Orion after story in Later is almost worth the price of admission on its own. The whole thing completes the Amnesia experience in a good way, so if you've been waiting for these games since the original PC release of Amnesia: Memories, this is a good time to pick them up.

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Animenewsnetwork - All reviews

Amnesia: Later x Crowd

Following on the heels of the Nintendo Switch re-release of the classic otome game Amnesia: Memories, Amnesia: Later x Crowd presents two fan discs previously unavailable in English release. If you're not familiar with the concept, a fan disc is an official release by the company that produced the original game that contains bonus content for fans of the original. It's rarely a sequel in the sense that it's a completely new full-length story; instead it's likely to contain new routes, mini games, and special extras that were unavailable in the original. In the case of Amnesia, both Later and Crowd feature a mix of new content and after stories to the main game, which means that if you don't remember everything from the original, you'll want to refresh your memory before diving into this one – particularly for the quiz in Crowd, which is fairly brutal if your own memory is patchy. Releasing the two fan discs together makes a certain amount of sense, since neither is particularly long. Of the two, Crowd, which was released second in Japan, is the less forgiving; it is possible to have bad ends in its “Suspense” section. Later is unrepentantly fluffy, and while I enjoyed both games, I have to say that I found Later to be a bit more fulfilling on that front. In both games, the gameplay is divided into sections with subsections for each of the love interests, and Later additionally has unlockable sections for Waka (the heroine's boss at Meido no Hitsuji) and Orion. Each playthrough unlocks something different – for example, choosing one of the guys in “New World” unlocks his section in “After Story” (or “Waka's World” in one case), while choosing one of the girls unlocks “Girls Party,” which in turn unlocks character profiles. Finishing all of the five “After Story” sections gets you a thoroughly satisfying epilogue with Orion that was easily my favorite part of the game. Let's just say that if you wished he'd been an option or you felt that Orion got the raw end of the deal, this segment will make you very happy. Each of the “After Story” narratives is generally enjoyable, taking the heroine and her chosen love interest into the next phase of their lives together. Two are particularly worth noting – Toma's because a concerted effort has been made to take the creep factor out of his story (while still reminding us that it happened, because that is a feature some players enjoy) while Ukyo's has a sort of menage quality based on his particular mental health issue. It's sweet, but it is a little surprising, and none of the endings go anywhere beyond kissing, albeit sometimes in a bed. Crowd divides its gameplay up into four larger segments with subsections: “Suspense,” “Working,” “Love,” and “Etc.” The first is a story set during the main game of Amnesia, when the heroine has lost her memories. Further divided by the five love interests, the heroine and Orion face a different dangerous situation in each tale. RPG elements, such as point and click room searches, make up part of the gameplay, and this can, at times be a little frustrating with the Switch's controls, which do not allow for smooth searching in a grid-based pattern. There's also a toggle to switch the POV between the heroine and the love interest, which isn't quite as interesting as it sounds in practice. More importantly, bad endings are possible in the “Suspense” category, though it's worth noting that they vary wildly – in most you die, but in one you end up getting a math lecture from Kent. Oddly enough, that's in Ikki's route, and my dyscalculia did not appreciate the “escape room + math” gameplay. “Love,” as you might guess, features romantic stories, all after stories to the main game. The longer subsection (After Story) is comparable to the section of the same name in Later, though each takes a slightly different route from that fan disc. They're generally sweet tales, and visually it's neat that the guys' black-based costumes turn to white-based outfits after a certain point in the relationship is reached. This section also features the “Conversation” mini game, where you ask the boy of your choice questions in order to fill his affection meter, resulting in a special CG. “Working,” meanwhile, is a series of arcade-style mini games, including yet another math game. All of them are decently challenging, especially if, like me, you play visual novels because you have zero hand-eye coordination. The art for “Working” and “Orion's Room” (which is part of “Etc.”) is done in chibi style. “Orion's Room” is where the aforementioned quiz is, and players can use the Orion Points they've gathered in the scenarios to buy extra scenes for the “Working” feature. The final section is “Trumps,” which is a chance to play various card games with the love interests. It's fine, but nothing thrilling. Amnesia: Later x Crowd is definitely worth playing if you're a fan of the original game. It isn't quite as engaging, but seeing how everything works out for the characters is a nice experience, and the special Orion after story in Later is almost worth the price of admission on its own. The whole thing completes the Amnesia experience in a good way, so if you've been waiting for these games since the original PC release of Amnesia: Memories, this is a good time to pick them up.

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Amnesia: Later x Crowd

Following on the heels of the Nintendo Switch re-release of the classic otome game Amnesia: Memories, Amnesia: Later x Crowd presents two fan discs previously unavailable in English release. If you're not familiar with the concept, a fan disc is an official release by the company that produced the original game that contains bonus content for fans of the original. It's rarely a sequel in the sense that it's a completely new full-length story; instead it's likely to contain new routes, mini games, and special extras that were unavailable in the original. In the case of Amnesia, both Later and Crowd feature a mix of new content and after stories to the main game, which means that if you don't remember everything from the original, you'll want to refresh your memory before diving into this one – particularly for the quiz in Crowd, which is fairly brutal if your own memory is patchy. Releasing the two fan discs together makes a certain amount of sense, since neither is particularly long. Of the two, Crowd, which was released second in Japan, is the less forgiving; it is possible to have bad ends in its “Suspense” section. Later is unrepentantly fluffy, and while I enjoyed both games, I have to say that I found Later to be a bit more fulfilling on that front. In both games, the gameplay is divided into sections with subsections for each of the love interests, and Later additionally has unlockable sections for Waka (the heroine's boss at Meido no Hitsuji) and Orion. Each playthrough unlocks something different – for example, choosing one of the guys in “New World” unlocks his section in “After Story” (or “Waka's World” in one case), while choosing one of the girls unlocks “Girls Party,” which in turn unlocks character profiles. Finishing all of the five “After Story” sections gets you a thoroughly satisfying epilogue with Orion that was easily my favorite part of the game. Let's just say that if you wished he'd been an option or you felt that Orion got the raw end of the deal, this segment will make you very happy. Each of the “After Story” narratives is generally enjoyable, taking the heroine and her chosen love interest into the next phase of their lives together. Two are particularly worth noting – Toma's because a concerted effort has been made to take the creep factor out of his story (while still reminding us that it happened, because that is a feature some players enjoy) while Ukyo's has a sort of menage quality based on his particular mental health issue. It's sweet, but it is a little surprising, and none of the endings go anywhere beyond kissing, albeit sometimes in a bed. Crowd divides its gameplay up into four larger segments with subsections: “Suspense,” “Working,” “Love,” and “Etc.” The first is a story set during the main game of Amnesia, when the heroine has lost her memories. Further divided by the five love interests, the heroine and Orion face a different dangerous situation in each tale. RPG elements, such as point and click room searches, make up part of the gameplay, and this can, at times be a little frustrating with the Switch's controls, which do not allow for smooth searching in a grid-based pattern. There's also a toggle to switch the POV between the heroine and the love interest, which isn't quite as interesting as it sounds in practice. More importantly, bad endings are possible in the “Suspense” category, though it's worth noting that they vary wildly – in most you die, but in one you end up getting a math lecture from Kent. Oddly enough, that's in Ikki's route, and my dyscalculia did not appreciate the “escape room + math” gameplay. “Love,” as you might guess, features romantic stories, all after stories to the main game. The longer subsection (After Story) is comparable to the section of the same name in Later, though each takes a slightly different route from that fan disc. They're generally sweet tales, and visually it's neat that the guys' black-based costumes turn to white-based outfits after a certain point in the relationship is reached. This section also features the “Conversation” mini game, where you ask the boy of your choice questions in order to fill his affection meter, resulting in a special CG. “Working,” meanwhile, is a series of arcade-style mini games, including yet another math game. All of them are decently challenging, especially if, like me, you play visual novels because you have zero hand-eye coordination. The art for “Working” and “Orion's Room” (which is part of “Etc.”) is done in chibi style. “Orion's Room” is where the aforementioned quiz is, and players can use the Orion Points they've gathered in the scenarios to buy extra scenes for the “Working” feature. The final section is “Trumps,” which is a chance to play various card games with the love interests. It's fine, but nothing thrilling. Amnesia: Later x Crowd is definitely worth playing if you're a fan of the original game. It isn't quite as engaging, but seeing how everything works out for the characters is a nice experience, and the special Orion after story in Later is almost worth the price of admission on its own. The whole thing completes the Amnesia experience in a good way, so if you've been waiting for these games since the original PC release of Amnesia: Memories, this is a good time to pick them up.

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Animenewsnetwork - Series/volume Review

Amnesia: Later x Crowd

Following on the heels of the Nintendo Switch re-release of the classic otome game Amnesia: Memories, Amnesia: Later x Crowd presents two fan discs previously unavailable in English release. If you're not familiar with the concept, a fan disc is an official release by the company that produced the original game that contains bonus content for fans of the original. It's rarely a sequel in the sense that it's a completely new full-length story; instead it's likely to contain new routes, mini games, and special extras that were unavailable in the original. In the case of Amnesia, both Later and Crowd feature a mix of new content and after stories to the main game, which means that if you don't remember everything from the original, you'll want to refresh your memory before diving into this one – particularly for the quiz in Crowd, which is fairly brutal if your own memory is patchy. Releasing the two fan discs together makes a certain amount of sense, since neither is particularly long. Of the two, Crowd, which was released second in Japan, is the less forgiving; it is possible to have bad ends in its “Suspense” section. Later is unrepentantly fluffy, and while I enjoyed both games, I have to say that I found Later to be a bit more fulfilling on that front. In both games, the gameplay is divided into sections with subsections for each of the love interests, and Later additionally has unlockable sections for Waka (the heroine's boss at Meido no Hitsuji) and Orion. Each playthrough unlocks something different – for example, choosing one of the guys in “New World” unlocks his section in “After Story” (or “Waka's World” in one case), while choosing one of the girls unlocks “Girls Party,” which in turn unlocks character profiles. Finishing all of the five “After Story” sections gets you a thoroughly satisfying epilogue with Orion that was easily my favorite part of the game. Let's just say that if you wished he'd been an option or you felt that Orion got the raw end of the deal, this segment will make you very happy. Each of the “After Story” narratives is generally enjoyable, taking the heroine and her chosen love interest into the next phase of their lives together. Two are particularly worth noting – Toma's because a concerted effort has been made to take the creep factor out of his story (while still reminding us that it happened, because that is a feature some players enjoy) while Ukyo's has a sort of menage quality based on his particular mental health issue. It's sweet, but it is a little surprising, and none of the endings go anywhere beyond kissing, albeit sometimes in a bed. Crowd divides its gameplay up into four larger segments with subsections: “Suspense,” “Working,” “Love,” and “Etc.” The first is a story set during the main game of Amnesia, when the heroine has lost her memories. Further divided by the five love interests, the heroine and Orion face a different dangerous situation in each tale. RPG elements, such as point and click room searches, make up part of the gameplay, and this can, at times be a little frustrating with the Switch's controls, which do not allow for smooth searching in a grid-based pattern. There's also a toggle to switch the POV between the heroine and the love interest, which isn't quite as interesting as it sounds in practice. More importantly, bad endings are possible in the “Suspense” category, though it's worth noting that they vary wildly – in most you die, but in one you end up getting a math lecture from Kent. Oddly enough, that's in Ikki's route, and my dyscalculia did not appreciate the “escape room + math” gameplay. “Love,” as you might guess, features romantic stories, all after stories to the main game. The longer subsection (After Story) is comparable to the section of the same name in Later, though each takes a slightly different route from that fan disc. They're generally sweet tales, and visually it's neat that the guys' black-based costumes turn to white-based outfits after a certain point in the relationship is reached. This section also features the “Conversation” mini game, where you ask the boy of your choice questions in order to fill his affection meter, resulting in a special CG. “Working,” meanwhile, is a series of arcade-style mini games, including yet another math game. All of them are decently challenging, especially if, like me, you play visual novels because you have zero hand-eye coordination. The art for “Working” and “Orion's Room” (which is part of “Etc.”) is done in chibi style. “Orion's Room” is where the aforementioned quiz is, and players can use the Orion Points they've gathered in the scenarios to buy extra scenes for the “Working” feature. The final section is “Trumps,” which is a chance to play various card games with the love interests. It's fine, but nothing thrilling. Amnesia: Later x Crowd is definitely worth playing if you're a fan of the original game. It isn't quite as engaging, but seeing how everything works out for the characters is a nice experience, and the special Orion after story in Later is almost worth the price of admission on its own. The whole thing completes the Amnesia experience in a good way, so if you've been waiting for these games since the original PC release of Amnesia: Memories, this is a good time to pick them up.

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BBC News – Technology RSS Feed – World News

Twitter users jump to Mastodon – but what is it?

Published6 days agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, NurPhotoBy Zoe KleinmanTechnology editorIn the wake of Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter, some users have been seeking alternative platforms. One of the biggest beneficiaries has been Mastodon. But what is it?The social network says it now has over 655,000 users - with over 230,000 having joined in the last week. On the surface Mastodon looks like Twitter - account users write posts (called "toots"), which can be replied to, liked and re-posted, and they can follow each other.Under the bonnet, though, it works in a different way.That's one of the reasons it is attracting fresh users, but it has caused some confusion to new people signing up.Ok, I’ve joined #Mastodon but also this pic.twitter.com/2Uue7E4BR8— Sinéad Crowley (@SineadCrowley) November 4, 2022 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on TwitterThe platform is six years old but its current activity is unprecedented and it is struggling under the weight of new joiners.Here's a brief guide to finding your way around it.What are all these servers?The first thing you have to do when you sign up is choose a server. There are loads of them, They are themed - many by country, city or interest - like UK, social, technology, gaming and so on.It doesn't hugely matter which one you are on because you will be able to follow users on all the others anyway, but it does give you a starting community who are more likely to post things you are interested in as well.Some of the popular ones - such as social and UK - are currently running very slowly because of demand.Ryan Wild, who is running the MastodonApp.UK server via his firm Superior Networks, said he had over 6,000 new joiners in 24 hours and had to pause registration. "I wanted to see what the hype was about," he said."I stood the server up at 10pm Friday night, and I woke up next morning to 1,000 people I didn't know would rock up."How do you find people?The server you choose becomes part of your user name - so for example, I used my current Twitter handle, zsk, and chose the UK server, making my user name @[email protected] And that's my address there - what you would look up to find me.If you are on the same server, you can search just using the person's name, but if they are on a different server you will need their full address. Unlike Twitter, Mastodon won't suggest followers you may be interested in. You can also search hashtags.Why are the servers there?Okay, this is complicated, but I'm going to try to keep it very simple. Mastodon is not one platform. It's not one "thing" and it is not owned by one person or firm. All of these different servers link together, and form a collective network, but they are owned by different people and organisations. Image source, MastodonThis is called decentralised, and fans of decentralised platforms like them for exactly this reason - they can't be run at the whim of a single entity, bought or sold. However the downside of this is that you are instead at the whim of the person or organisation running your server - if they decide to abandon it, you lose your account. Mastodon is asking server owners to give their users three months notice if they decide to close it.The original founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, is working on a new network called BlueSky, by the way - and he has said he wants that to be decentralised too.How is Mastodon moderated?This is a real hot potato. At the moment all the servers have their own moderation rules, and some have none. Some servers are choosing not to link to others that are full of bots or seem to have a high quantity of hateful content - this means they will not be visible to those on the servers where they are blocked. Posts can also be reported to the server owners.If it's hate speech or illegal content then those owners can delete it - but that does not necessarily delete it everywhere. It's going to be a huge issue if this platform continues to grow.There are already reports of people being targeted by hateful content and the BBC has seen examples of homophobic abuse.Are there any ads? No. There are no ads although there's also nothing to stop you writing a post promoting your company or product. Mastodon also doesn't offer a curated experience like Twitter does in terms of how you view posts - you generally see what your followers are saying, as they say it. Is it free to use?It depends which server you are on - some are asking for donations, as they don't get paid, but it is largely free. You can follow Zoe Kleinman on Mastodon @[email protected] (or Twitter @zsk) More on this storyTwitter confirms users' fee to buy verification6 days ago

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BBC News – Health RSS Feed – World News

Nurses set to hold biggest-ever strike

Published6 days agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, PA MediaBy Nick TriggleHealth correspondentThe biggest ever strike by nurses looks set to go ahead.The Royal College of Nursing is due to unveil the results of its ballot, which ended last week, in the next few days.The final results are being counted but RCN sources say a large majority of nurses have voted in favour of action in a dispute over pay.The RCN had recommended to its 300,000 members that they walk out. If strikes take place, they would affect non-urgent but not emergency care.The vote has involved a series of individual workplace-based ballots across the UK and if nurses do not back action at a local level it is possible some hospitals and services will not be involved.The government had appealed to nurses to "carefully consider" the impact on patients.But Pat Cullen, RCN general secretary and chief executive, said: "Huge numbers of staff - both experienced and newer recruits - are deciding they cannot see a future in a nursing profession that is not valued nor treated fairly.She added: "Our strike action will be as much for patients as it is for nurses. We have their support in doing this." Cabinet minister Oliver Dowden said the government had "well-oiled contingencies in place" for dealing with any strike action by nurses.Speaking on Sky News, Mr Dowden said essential services would be prioritised, "but of course there would be an impact as a result of a strike like that". "I would continue to urge nurses and others to resist to going out on strike even if they have voted to do so", he added.The RCN had called for a rise of 5% above the RPI inflation rate which currently stands at above 12%, but no UK nation has offered close to that.In England and Wales, NHS staff, including nurses, have been given an average of 4.75% more, with extra for the lowest paid.In Scotland, 5% was initially offered to NHS staff, but that has been changed to a flat rate of just over £2,200, which works out at just over 8% for a newly-qualified nurse. In Northern Ireland, nurses are yet to receive a pay award.NHS services may have to be cut to fund pay awardRecord number of nurses quitting the NHSDuring the ballot, the RCN had argued this year's below-inflation pay award came after years of squeezes on nurse's salaries. Research commissioned by the union has found average pay fell by 6% between 2011 and 2021 - once inflation was taken into account - compared with a 4.6% drop for the whole economy.Starting salaries for nurses in England are currently just above £27,000, rising to nearly £55,000 for the most senior nurses. The RCN said the average pay for a full-time established nurse was just above £32,000 last year - similar to average pay across the economy.But the government has argued it has met the recommendations of the independent NHS Pay Review Body in giving its award.And it followed a 3% pay rise last year, in recognition of work during the pandemic, despite a public-sector pay freeze.This is the first time the RCN has balloted all its members for strike action in its 106-year history.In 2019, RCN members went on strike in Northern Ireland over pay, while nurses who are members of Unison in England walked out in 2014 over pay.A host of other major health unions, including Unison, the Royal College of Midwives, GMB and Unite, have all started to, or are planning to, ballot members.Are you affected by the issues in this story? Share your experiences by emailing [email protected] include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also get in touch in the following ways:WhatsApp: +44 7756 165803Tweet: @BBC_HaveYourSayUpload pictures or videoPlease read our terms & conditions and privacy policy If you are reading this page and can't see the form you will need to visit the mobile version of the BBC website to submit your question or comment or you can email us at [email protected] Please include your name, age and location with any submission. More on this storyShould public sector workers get bigger pay rises?21 JuneWhat are key workers paid?7 January 2021

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