SIONR: Cal-Arts Students and Teachers Insult Don Bluth

My first introduction to the animation director Don Bluth was The Land Before Time.  I had it on VHS, and I watched that so many times it wasn’t funny.  There are still some warm memories that come to mind as I think back on it.  The days of my childhood, when I didn’t have to worry endlessly about my finances and my future.  Doesn’t help that I live in a country without universal healthcare, because it’s full of retards who believe that it magically wouldn’t work here.  You know, while it is working in every other 1st World nation.  Idiots.  I remember Littlefoot’s mother dying, and how that made me tear up.  Didn’t help that that film had an incredible score to accentuate the scene.

Later on, I came to Don Bluth’s absolute masterpiece – The Secret of NIMH.  The tale of Mrs. Brisby and her mission to save her son and her family.  It’s a heart-warming story.  For all the SJWs bitching about the lack of strong female characters, I don’t hear her name come up much.  I guess because she’s a mouse, she isn’t a strong mother who is able to face her fear of circumstances much larger than herself and a mission with no guarantee of success that takes her everywhere she doesn’t want to be.  That’s not strong at all.

So when I came upon this little nugget on Twitter, needless to say, it kinda pissed me off.

Are you fucking kidding me right now?!  “cheesy out-dated overflowy animation”?!  Did I read that right?!  Oh yeah, because the shit we have now is SO much better.  Like this shit!

What’s that, you ask?  Why, that’s the new Thundercats design for the reboot cartoon!  Yeah, because that doesn’t look like a massive pile of shit.  It blows my mind that in universities, people actually believe that a living animation God is outdated and worthy or ridicule.  Kinda hurts, too.  Look at that crap above you.  That’s the kind of animation that gets praised in the modern world.  Garbage by Steven Universe loving chodes!

It kinda kills me that 2D animation has died in this country.  At least in film.  I think back to Don Bluth and old-school Disney.  Fantasia is one of my favorite movies.  It turned me on to both classical music and 2D animation.  Walt Disney originally wanted it to be a series that would keep growing and evolving.  There was a sequel, and while it was fine and all, it wasn’t at the same level as the original.  It felt like there was something missing.  The success of Pixar and this STUPID attitude that the dumb-shit public has about 3D animation being more grown-up than 2D led to Disney eventually ditching their 2D animation studios.  How many people can even do anything approaching the level of depth and detail that Bluth was able to have in all of his movies.  Even the bad ones.

Which brings me to the fact that Bluth wasn’t perfect.  After All Dogs Go to Heaven, he had a run of VERY weird and pretty bad movies that were some of the funniest fodder for The Nostalgia Critic, back when that was still funny.  But to say that the man’s style is out-dated and “overflowy” (what the fuck does that even mean?) just hurts me inside.  Of course it is.  Because why should we value really deep and detailed art, when we can make crap like Thundercats Roar, that looks worse than old Scooby-Doo cartoons.  You know, when they were made on the budget of a ham sandwich.

In this age when everyone has to be so holier-than-thou, it really is telling that this attitude has seeped its way into universities.  Kinda breaks my heart.  Just a little.  It’s a sign that the true greatness of 2D animation is never coming back.  What I wouldn’t give for someone with some level of ambition to really try and do something great with it.  It’s a dream I will have for the rest of my life.

Until next time, a quote,

“Courage of the heart is very rare.  The stone has a power when it’s there.” – Nicodemus, The Secret of NIMH

Peace out,

Maverick

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SIONU: Finding Myself at Odds With Nerd Culture

Everywhere I look, I am noticing something.  Since I follow an amount of anti-SJW types one all sides of the political fence, I get exposed to lots of different ideas.  I even have some SJW types who at least will talk with the opposition that I follow, such as Laci Green.  I don’t want to live in an echo chamber, so I am doing my best to get as many perspective as I can.  I also follow the GamerGate page on Tumblr, that still posts to this day, and that’s where I am seeing a lot of this.  But on both sites, I am seeing a continuing perspective on certain games, and it has me confused.

I recently have played David Cage’s newest game, Detroit: Become Human, and I have liked it very much.  Connor and Hank were by far my favorite characters, with Kara and Alice being my least.  Their arc had some insane plot convenience that did take me out of the story.  The game isn’t perfect.  I’m the first to say that.  There are flaws.  The same flaws inherent in all David Cage games – wonky controls, narrative heavy in the extreme, QTEs that if you hate that stuff will get on your nerves.  But for what the game is, I do like it very much.

But then I pull up my social media and it’s thing after thing about how awful this game is, how it somehow signifies the end of the world for gaming.  How it is SJW-heavy and how I should hate it for that.  On and on and on.  What’s more, a gaming channel that I watch decided to shit on another of Cage’s games – Beyond: Two Souls, making the argument that Cage’s games have no audience.  The dude is welcome to his own opinion, I am just confused about why it was so awful.  Was the non-chronological order an issue? A little.  I would have personally liked more of the stuff like when she was doing her infiltration mission.  That shit was great!  Or the mission where she was on the run facing off with the military trying to hunt her down.  That mission was also great.  I can look past the flaws for the things that I like in it.  Am I the only one?

Then today, another person I follow on Twitter was asked if he would cover “Life is Cringe.”  An obvious spin on the game Life is Strange.  I have made no secret of how that was my favorite game of 2015.  I have gone on about it to the point of excess, and I won’t be going on here.  I am just curious what is so awful about it.  The stilted dialogue?  Don’t think that escaped my notice.  Sure, it is a little off-putting at first.  I had to adjust to it.  But once I was able to quantify it as part of the universe that this game exists in, I was able to enjoy it substantially.  But I do acknowledge the stilted dialogue as a flaw.  Made very clear of that in my review of the first episode.  So what is it, then?

People have pointed out to me that there is SJW themes at play in the game.  Chloe Price, my favorite character, has been savagely ripped to pieces by the Internet.  Is that the issue?  Here’s the thing about me – I don’t hate a game or character with SJW parts on the merits of their existence.  Not so long as the narrative or the character doesn’t make those parts the majority of the whole.  It’s why I can hear her talking about keeping the gun she has out of the hands of men and not just write her character off.  Because that is one small part of her overall whole.

I’m trying to get where the hate of all these things is.  What are other people seeing that I am not?  Or is it the reverse?  Am I seeing something that everyone else is too obtuse to see?  Is my ability to see nuance and not just hating something because it has elements of a movement that I personally disagree with giving me a perspective others lack?  Or am I completely wrong and there is nothing of any redeemable value in any of these things?

Where did this all get started?  One could say that this goes back to the review for Gone Home.  A game that the games media slobbered all over the knob of like it is one of the greatest games ever.  A contention that I most assuredly do not agree with, make no mistake.  That game also has flaws, though I believe that people’s belief that it is nothing but a “walking simulator” is a bit overstated.  I liked the previous work by that company Dear Esther.

Game after game that I enjoy, but the Internet that I follow despises.  Firewatch, Beyond: Two Souls, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Life is Strange, Detroit: Become Human.  What am I missing?  I have even seen people accusing the game L.A. Noire of being in the same vein as this.  WHY?!  Because you spent a lot of time talking with people?  You know, the most fun part of the game!  Instead of that boring driving and shooting shit?!  Where you analyzed crime scenes and interrogated witnesses?  I loved that part.  It bugged me how the less interesting parts of the game had to be there at all.  I would have loved a game all about crime scenes, solving crimes, and being a detective.  It could have spawned a new breed of game.  Instead, it bankrupted the developer and that was it.  There will never be a sequel.

Come on, you nuance-lacking mother-fuckers!  Tell me what I’m missing here!  Tell me where the hate comes from.  Is it the simplistic gameplay?  Is it the narrative focus instead of the mechanics focus?  Is it the thematic elements that tie in to a culture that modern gaming is so at odds with?  Tell me what it is.  I genuinely am trying to figure that out.  Because while there are lots of games that I really like, it starts to feel like I am the only one on my side of the fence who agrees.  I’ve never actually been called an SJW for my taste in gaming, but part of me wonders if that is people’s unstated opinion.  I just want clarity on what I am missing here.

Feel free to comment, whoever.  I let all opinions be heard.

Until next time, a quote,

And as I sat there, looking out into the darkness, I thought back on all the things I’d built and left unfinished. I realized something – I wasn’t sad that it was gone. I had had fun making all that stuff. I would have done it anyway. And then, somehow, I knew that when I woke up, all my work really would be destroyed.” -King, The Unfinished Swan

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONL: Thanos in Infinity War

I’m about to go into MAJOR spoilers for Infinity War, so if you haven’t seen it, turn back now.  Just stop reading and go watch the film.  It’s been a few weeks.  Why haven’t you seen it already?

The best thing about this film is Thanos.  It really isn’t even an Avengers film.  It’s a Thanos film.  This whole movie is getting the audience to understand why Thanos is doing what he’s doing, and the character as a whole.  Josh Brolin is so amazing as this character.  It’s resounding clear that he had nothing but fun in this role.  He’s twisted, evil, but guided by clear motivations.  You see the things that got him there and why he feels that destroying half of all life in the galaxy is a good thing.

Even when Gamora takes him to task for what he does, like how he lined up half of all the people of her home planet at random and killed all of them, he is able to justify his actions to her.  He says outright that her family was starving to death, asking if that’s how she wanted to live.  He points out that the planet is now a thriving world where no one is starving, all because he killed half of their entire population.

It ties into real-world issues.  Overpopulation is something humanity is dealing with today, in the real world.  There are too damn many people, and we do need to have the population start moving in the opposite direction.  Our resources are finite, and for every baby that people have, the pollution just gets worse.  We need to stop procreating if we are going to survive as a species.

But back to the film, I love how right off the bat they set up what a complete badass this character is.  Me and my coworker were wondering what a fight between Thanos and the Hulk would be like.  And the film heads off that fan expectation pretty handily, by having their fight be right out of the gate.  Then it upsets your expectations by having Thanos beat his ass like a little bitch!  We’ve seen the Hulk as this character who will fuck you up if you make him mad.  He will fuck up your day.  He beat Loki’s ass like a little bitch, and he’s a God.  Meanwhile, Thanos fucks him up pretty handily right at the beginning.  To the point that Hulk won’t face him again later on.  He’s afraid of the Titan.  As he should be.

This character is always engaging.  The scene that really stole the film, in my eyes, and made me love this guy as a character, was the scene where he meets Gamora as a young child and adopts her.  She is a scared little kid looking for her mom.  Thanos sees her and asks here why she’s scared, and she says she wants to find her mom.  He then offers to help her, and walks her away from the people of her town being lined up.  Then, he takes out a little knife and shows it to her.  While more and more people are being lined up, he has a tender moment with her showing her this little toy to play with, and inviting her to do so.  As the massacre of her people begins, she turns to look, but Thanos gently turns her head away and keeps pointing to the toy he gave her.  That scene made me feel a lot of really complicated shit.  It was hardcore stuff.  It sets up a genuinely tender side to this man, but all in the bounds of his twisted sense of morality.  That’s awesome!  It makes this character not just some cardboard villain who is evil because they are.  He has depth to him.

It also makes Gamora a more interesting character too.  I haven’t been a huge fan of her, outside of Zoe Saldana’s performance.  She’s been kind of boring.  But then you see her being pushed to her brink with this man who has been a father to her.  When she believes she killed him with the same knife he gave her, and her tears that show that as evil and twisted as this man was, she did at least partially see him as a father to her.  A cruel, twisted father who used his children in cruel and calculating ways.  She was his favorite, though, and you could see where that came from.

Then we get to the second scene that really made me like this character, when he sacrifices her to get the Soul Stone.  It genuinely brings Thanos to tears.  We realize that as twisted and genocidal as he is, he isn’t devoid of empathy.  He does genuinely care for this child, and to kill her does cause him legitimate pain.  But he truly believes, with all of his heart, that his path is the right one, and he has to do what he has to do.  When he is telling Doctor Strange about his back-story and the fate of Titan, you see it.  So he is willing to push himself to whatever point he feels he must in order to achieve his goal.  He will do whatever he needs, at the cost of his own soul, to finish his quest.  It’s a hardcore moment that makes you feel some heavy feels.

What I love most about this character is that there is a constant juxtaposition in everything he does to a sense of purpose and morality that he has, to the barbarous, genocidal actions that he takes.  It’s so beautifully twisted.  Like when Scarlet Witch kills Vision, and Thanos actually talks to her.  He has a human moment with her after she has had to kill the man she loves, telling her he understands.  And while Wanda doesn’t realize it, he actually does understand.  He had to kill someone he truly does love for his own twisted ambition.

Wanda isn’t the only character he has a genuine heart-to-heart conversation with.  After fucking up Hulk and his crew, Thanos talks to Thor as well.  He tells him the ugliness of the universe and advises him to accept it.  There is the scene where he has his showdown with Tony Stark and I genuinely do like it.  He knows who Tony is, and respects him.  When Stark is throwing everything he has at him and still failing, after finally beating him down, Thanos tells him that he hopes humanity remembers him fondly and that he will not destroy them outright.  In his own twisted way, he respects Stark and him trying to hard to defeat him.

Then, in the end, he gets to Earth, fucks up all the Avengers without a second thought.  He even has Rodgers desperately trying to hold him back, and he looks down at him with a kind of gentleness.  Like he understands why he is fighting, but is trapped by circumstances of fate.  It’s a great dichotomy.  Genuinely fantastic.

Finally, we see him coming out of a ramshackle hovel on some nameless planet.  His arm is completely fucked up because he destroyed half of all sentient life in the universe, but he is smiling.  It’s not a twisted evil smile.  It’s a quiet, peaceful smile.  Like he did what he needed to do and can rest peacefully now.  It’s like if we had the massacre scene from Berserk, but afterwards we have Griffith just looking peaceful on some scenic villa.  There again, that juxtaposition.

Thanos is an amazing villain.  I love him in this film.  It makes how boring he has been up ’til now redeemed.  He isn’t just the best villain in the MCU, bar-none.  He is one of the best villains of all time.  I personally like him more than I do the Joker in The Dark Knight.  In that film, it always seemed like the Joker was just trying to prove a point.  Here, Thanos has nothing to prove.  He explains his sense of justice to people with the hope that they will understand, but if they don’t, oh well.  Their problem, not his.  He bears no malice towards those who do battle with him openly and earnestly.  Warriors who fight to the bitter end.  Unlike Loki, who tries to be cunning and manipulative, which pisses him off as he sees the man as a pathetic little schemer and kills him quickly and brutally.

Hopefully you see him the same way.  Let me know if you don’t.  I love a good discussion.

Until next time, a quote,

“You’re not the only one burdened by knowledge.” – Thanos, Avengers: Infinity War

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONR: Anime Cheese in the Wrong Place

I’ve spoken at length about how I hate modern anime.  There are so many shows being made now, and they all pretty much universally suck.  The glory days of anime are long behind it, in my eyes.  Call me a hipster (I’m starting to accept that in some ways I kind of am one), but I think anime was destroyed by its own success.  Once it gained mainstream popularity (or at least infinitely more mainstream than it used to be), or rather became part of geek culture, it all went downhill from there.  The truly great anime from not that long ago became something that they wanted to recapture, but the problem is that animation studios are having to push out commercially successful shows with higher budgets and shorter production time.  It’s put terrible strain on animation studios and their employees that I genuinely feel sad about.

Wow that was a digression, wasn’t it.  My point is, I don’t think much of modern anime.  But my gay girly-mate has this new series that she is all over, and since FUNimation does this thing where they will simultaneously release dubs and subs at the same time (I refuse to watch subs anime.  I can watch subtitled foreign films all day, but I genuinely refuse to do so with anime.  So if the dub sucks, I’m done), she has forced me to partake in this series with her.  Won’t say what it is.  It’s one of her guilty pleasures, and that’s all I’m going to say.  I swear, the girl is punishing me for something.  Can’t think of what.

This series isn’t bad on a technical level.  The animation is actually pretty great.  It has this nice realistic aesthetic that I am kind of digging.  The perk of modern animation being glossy and realistic is that it gives series a quality of feeling true to life that old-school anime never really had without insane detail.  Now proper shading and less expressive faces give environments and character designs something that feels true to life.  Like this is someone you can get to know in the real world.  The best friend character is my favorite so far.

But the design of these characters being less over the top and toned down expressively means that when this series has some of the cheese that anime is known for, it stands out to me in a bad way.  A very bad way.  You have a character whose entire visual design is not at all bombastic suddenly going into a ridiculous expression that feels so out of place given the art style.  Every time it happens it feels kind of wrong.  I genuinely don’t know what this bothers me so much, but it does.

Let me give you a way to look at this that is more relatable.  You like Quentin Tarantino, right?  Of course you do.  Well imagine for a second that in Reservoir Dogs it cut to some scenery-chewing villain doing a song number.  Or if the characters with their perfect dialogue and delivery started suddenly going really over the top at the drop of a hat, only to then go back to their perfectly done dialogue again without acknowledging that at all.  Would that not catch your attention in a bad way?  It would me.

I have had a thousand people tell me that I over-analyze stuff, so if you’re going to come at me with that, don’t.  Trust me, I already know.  It just really weirds me out to have stuff like that going on when the scene is being played fairly straight.  And this series does.  It plays everything completely straight until you cut to some cheese right the fuck out of nowhere.  I will admit that my girly-mate’s series is starting to grow on me just because these characters are relatable in a good way.  At least the best friend is.  I love this chick.  Her commentary on the events transpiring around her is just the best.  This girl is basically me as a female.  Standing on the sidelines of the madness and then commenting on what she sees in a way that cuts all the bullshit out.

But like I said, this may just be me.  So what about you?  Am I on to something here, or am I totally off-base.  Maybe I can give this to you a different way – imagine in Cowboy Bebop if Spike suddenly did that silly crying face.  Or if Jet Black and the suddenly revelation face where his eyes go all huge and white.  Would that not bother you?  It’s so tonally dissident from everything else.  I don’t know.  If you are going to go with a more laid-back tone, that’s totally fine.  Hell, I dig it.  But go the distance with that.  If you want to show a character being shocked at learning something, you can do that with realistic expression.  If you want to have a motif, stick with it.  That’s all I’m saying.

Until next time, a quote,

“Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world.” – Jean Luc Godard

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONR: Incredibles 2 and the Death of Pixar

I’ve repeatedly said that Disney is pure evil and they destroy everything that I love.  They turned one of my favorite films into a fucking Kinect game.  That’s how bad they are.  They take good ideas or properties and turn them into shit.  Most recently with Star WarsThe Last Jedi was a dumpster fire, and if what I am hearing about the latest film in the franchise, it went through three directors, had multiple rewrites, and the guy who plays the titular character not only looks NOTHING like him (he’s a fucking pretty boy.  Nothing even remotely roguish at all), but can’t act his way out of a paper bag.  They had to hire an acting coach for him after shooting the bulk of his scenes.  So yeah, that will be a dumpster fire too.  I mean, they barely show this guy in the trailer for his own film.  If that isn’t a sign that this movie is dead on arrival, I don’t know what is.

Now we come to The Incredibles 2.  I really liked the first one.  It’s not my favorite Pixar film, but it’s up there.  A film about a family of superheroes, mixing some fantastic action, great scoring (the score for that film is phenomenal), and both superhero and human elements to make a great story.  It balanced out every character to give them an arc and show them grow.  It’s great stuff.  Then the trailer for the sequel dropped.

This film looks terrible.  So, we go from a story about a family of superheroes, to the mom being off doing stuff, while the dad is being a stay-at-home dad with superbaby.  Wow.  That’s so boring that writing it I felt myself lose energy.  Who thought this was a good idea?  I mean, all the creative potential that a sequel of this film could be.  Like, it’s been many years since the first one.  Why not age the characters up a little?  Have them dealing with the reemergence of superheroes in society and them being kind of swept up in things?  Or maybe have them still having to be in the shadows and yet still doing good, now accepting their desire to be heroes, yet still being trapped behind a screen of anonymity.  All the cool ideas are there, but what is the final product?  Stay at home dad and superbaby!  Oh boy!

It hurts me inside to think of how Pixar has died.  It really has.  While the death of 2D animation breaks my fucking heart (it is an art form that has died and will likely never come back in the way it once was with the old Disney magic), I did grow up with this company.  I remember seeing Toy Story and thinking it was crazy cool.  My favorite of their films, Ratatouille, is a charming story.  The Incredibles combines so many good elements.  This studio once was believed to be setting the new standard in kids movies story-telling.

Then Brave happened.  With that movie I felt something.  There was a shift in the films that they were putting out, and the content immediately starting getting progressively worse.  You’d have films that stand out in the crowd, but the bulk were either really mediocre or outright bad.  Plus, a lot of their staff was now under Disney directly making some of the biggest bargain-bin garbage ever put to film.  Films that were made only to help the influx of capital for the fiscal quarters they were made.

When I heard that they were doing a sequel to The Incredibles, my heart leapt.  Finally, a return to form!  Get some of the classy style that was modeled first in 2D drawings and then put to digital models.  Great voice acting, great score.  All the potential was there!  Then the trailer drops and I realize that I’m seeing yet-another bargain-bin movie that everyone will forget about just as fast as they did Monster’s University or Cars 2 (or the original Cars for that matter).  This kills me inside.

Disney is like the film version of EA.  They take IPs and studios with good ideas and then run them into the ground.  Does it not blow your mind the way it does mine that there are over twice as many mediocre/bad films in the Star Wars franchise as there are good ones?  Over six!  That’s insane!  Marvel has been kept from joining these ranks simply because Kevin Feige is at the helm.  Once he leaves, they’re next.  It took a man with vision and a passion for the source material to keep this genre from becoming bargain-bin shit too, and there are people who make the argument that the brand is getting old.  I think I have avoided this thought process simply because I only watch the films in there that I think look good. Pixar is gonna be their version of Visceral Games, one of these days.  It hurts me inside.

Until next time, a quote,

“Turians think they know a thing about a scorched-earth response.  Fuck ’em!” – Jack, Mass Effect 2

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONR: Amy Hennig Doesn’t Know What She’s Talking About

I hate when people inside the industry trash-talk elements of it and pull things right out of their ass.  EA shut down Visceral Games, an action that had a lot of gamers going “well, they got the EA treatment.”  As Bioware will after Anthem has more lootbox bullshit and gamers give it the finger.  It was genuinely nice to see gamers be able to come together after the disaster that was Battlefront II and be able to vote with their wallets against this sort of thing.  EA will be bringing the microtransactions back in that game, everyone knows that, but the real question is what will happen with Anthem.  I have no intention of playing that game.  I don’t do online MMOs.  But a lot of people are speculating that just like Battlefront II, Anthem has a lot of its gameplay elements centered around lootboxes.  Given that now the gaming public is openly fighting back against this, EA’s cash cow might also bleed money.

Which brings us to Amy Hennig.  After months of her Star Wars project being destroyed, she finally sat down for an interview and really tore into gamers.  In her mind, EA was somewhat justified in destroying her project, saying that gamers who claim that we like single-player games are not putting our money where our mouths are.  She says that last year had games like Wolfenstein 2 and The Evil Within 2 which both reviewed well and had poor sales.

Here’s the thing, Amy – I don’t know if you are aware of this, but people like me only have so much money.  I don’t have the capital to waste of things that I don’t like.  With my adulting costs, medical costs, and things like like, I don’t have the money to buy all the games that sound good.  I have to buy the ones that I really think are worth my time, and I’m selective about that.  It’s not like I get the money back if it was a bad investment.  I’m sorry that that means that I bought Horizon: Zero Dawn and Persona 5 instead of those other games.

Then she decided that she was going to say that EA is justified in its business practices because the cost of making games is too high, and it’s use gamers who are responsible for that.  Apparently, we are the ones demanding visual fidelity get higher and higher.  This statement bugs me on so many levels.  See, I have argued, many, many times, the I don’t need the most massive fidelity in order to like a game.  My favorite game of 2015 used pastel colors and very low textures intentionally to create a style all its own.  While I do believe the facial animations could have been improved, it was still a fun game with its own style that did not cost an arm and a leg to make.

I wish that more game devs would try unique things with the visuals in the medium instead of just subscribing to the most high-def design.  Take cues from Mirror’s Edge or JRPGs or Borderlands.  But even without that, I don’t need the most cutting edge amazing graphics to like a game.  Just give me expressive characters and a good narrative.  Is that so fucking hard?  Who are these people who demand the graphics be so insanely detailed and rich at all times?  I need to know who these people are and tell them that they are part of a problem.

Here’s another thing, Amy, if you want to make a statement about that, then lead the fucking charge!  Make a game where you use a different visual style.  Have it be all its own and show gamers that something different can be just as good as something that costs astronomically more to make.  Then we can stop having EA fuck with us and you fucking defending them!  Because these companies aren’t doing this because of rising costs.  They are still making astronomical profits, you fucking moron!  They are doing it because of greed.  They’re doing it because they see games like Grand Theft Auto Online and Destiny and they want to get in on that insanely lucrative pie.

It is occurring to me that linear, story-focused games may be dying in the AAA space.  I personally miss when devs were willing to make a AA game that could have a small budget and take more risks.  We are seeing some devs be willing to risk that.  Or they are willing to take their time and get things right.  But Hennig believing that the greedy and destructive practices is gamers’ fault bugs me.  This woman sounds bitter about her game being cancelled, and I get that.  I really do.  It must be so hard to watch something you put your heart and soul into die.  She said as much in the interview, not knowing how much creative energy she has left.  That’s sad to hear.  I hope she goes back to Sony, who has shown that they are not going to be abandoning the story-driven game.

What will gaming be in ten years?  I’ve said before that if story-driven single player games die, I’m done.  That will be when I leave the industry.  I don’t know how many people are with me.

Until next time, a quote,

“There’s so much grey to every story. Nothing is black and white.” – Lisa Ling

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONL: Stranger Things and Lovecraftian Narrative

I don’t know how many of you know this, but I’m a fucking hipster.  I need to accept this.  Why?  Because the only reason I started watching this show is because the first season came out on DVD.  Netflix actually released a show on DVD.  Go figure.  And I am in love.  This series is all the things I have loved about so many shows that captures the imagination and the heart.  Plus, it has so much Lovecraft in it that I am enraptured.  Oh, and the music is amazing.  The techno-synth is just awesome.  I want this soundtrack.  Definitely buying this show.  But it makes me think back to all the series or films that have tried this idea and either failed, or only gone so far.  Let me explain.

How many of you remember a series called Surface?  Probably none.  Don’t Google it, you fuckers!  You don’t remember.  I don’t blame you.  It only lasted one season and got kind of ridiculous.  But it is the first series I can remember trying something like this.  A narrative about ordinary people getting wrapped up in a plot that has the potential to end the world, and them being dragged on by forces much bigger than themselves.  I actually really liked that show, and was so bummed when it never got a second season.  Apparently I am the only one.  The characters were interesting, the mystery was engaging, and we never learned the truth about it all.  Like Lost, only less stupid.

Then there was J.J. Abrams film Super 8.  Here was a movie that was so close to hitting the mark, only to fail.  By trying to make a blockbuster film about an alien, they lost the truly good thing that they could have had – a coming of age story about a bunch of kids making a movie over the summer.  That concept has a ton of neat ideas with it.  It sucks that they didn’t know what they had until it was too late.

In a way, Stranger Things is a combination of those two things.  A narrative about ordinary people stuck in a mystery with forces greater than themselves, and a coming of age story about a bunch of kids.  With awesome techno-synth music.  No joke, I am in love with the soundtrack to this series.

Which brings me to the Lovecraftian elements of this series.  Film, television, and even video games have a very rocky relationship with Lovecraft.  His horror isn’t very easy to make into a visual medium.  For starters, the dark elements of his writing are vague and hard to understand.  Lovecraft firmly believed that the deepest and truest form of fear was of the unknown.  I couldn’t agree with him more.  Once you understand the dark elements of fiction, they cease to be frightening.  It’s why horror movies always suck after the big reveal of the monster.

Stranger Things plays with this so well.  The Upside Down world has Lovecraft written all over it.  In his writings, one of the common themes was worlds in dreams, nightmares, and realms of reality beneath the one we understand.  When I heard about the series having an alternate universe with monsters that are not fully understood, and how it played with the realities mixing, that got me so giddy.  Granted, this series made it out to be science instead of supernatural, but the beats are all there.

I don’t honestly know where I was going with this, aside from saying I am in love with the Lovecraftian elements, and in a way, I finally did get the second season of Surface.  Just took a better creative team to do it.  Can’t wait for the second season, when that comes out on DVD.  Yeah, I’m still a fucking hipster.  The shame…

Until next time, a quote,

“The oldest and deepest fear, is that of the unknown.” – HP Lovecraft

Peace out,

Maverick