Pushback Against Liar’s Year 2020

Today I want to “push back” against a couple of assumptions in a YouTube video. I want to be as respectful as possible as I feel that there’s too much negativity out there, especially when one person disagrees with another.

Liar’s Year 2020

So, the YouTuber in question is Jim Stirling and the video I want to push back against is his latest Jimquisition episode: Liar’s Year 2020. A little context: Jim is a video game’s journalist who started his own YouTube channel. While he does discuss video games, he takes it upon himself to point out various corporate shenanigans and duplicitous schemes within the larger corporate paradigm, but most specifically inside of the world of video games. As noted above, while don’t agree with him on some of his points (this obviously being one of them), I do watch his videos as he is one of the few voices that actually discusses the excesses of corporations–although I wish it could be done in a less strident way.

However, in this video, he rails against several game companies for not showing gameplay footage at their “gameplay” reveals or showing footage that is “aspirational” of what next generation will look like in the future. He takes Sony, Epic Games (Unreal Engine), Ubisoft, and Gearbox (among others) to task for their propensity in a new console generation to exaggerate, stretch the truth, and outright lie about the capabilities of the new machines. While he isn’t necessarily wrong, I do feel that he 1) overstates the case and 2) ignores the changes at least one company has made (Sony) to address his concerns.

Gameplay = Gameplay

Let’s start with that second one first, as it is the impetus for me writing this blog entry. Sony takes it on the chin (yet again) in this video. For as much as Sony is discussed, you would think that it was them, and not Microsoft (the true guilty party) who held a “Gameplay event” with trailers that barely showed any gameplay (or only stylized, non-representative gameplay). Sony, however, had the misfortune of releasing a Killzone video that was unrepresentative of actual gameplay in the early 2000s.

The reason I feel this is so wrong is that Sony has spent an entire console generation making up for that previous mistake. I’ve linked an entire 18 minute gameplay trailer for their upcoming game releasing this year: Ghost of Tshushima. It even included (what appears to be) HUD elements.

Now this isn’t the first game that Sony has done this for. Most of its major titles this generation have gotten this treatment: Infamous: Second Son, Horizon Zero Dawn, Spider-Man, The Last of Us, Part II, Until Dawn, God of War, The Last Guardian, The Order 1886 and even Killzone Shadowfall got “gameplay trailers” that showed actual gameplay. Below is a video of young woman skeptically wondering if the Horizon Zero Dawn “gameplay” trailer was actually “true” and being absolutely thrilled when she realized it was:

Sony has spent an entire “console generation” trying to win back the trust of gamers when presenting games to the public. While most Sony games are presented without UI/HUD, for the vast majority of their games, the game you see in the “gameplay demonstration” is the game you end up playing.

All Microsoft has to do is utter the words 12 terraflops and Gamepass and gamers (not necessarily Jim, but the gaming community in general) and Microsoft is forgiven for trying enact one of the most restrictive consoles policies and launches in the history of video games.

Overstating the Case

The other problem I have (in this instance) is that Jim “cherry-picks” his examples. For instance, nowhere does Jim discuss the original C. D. Projeckt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 48 minute gameplay demo in which the developers take pains to point out how much is in flux. This is the nature of game development in general. The exact arguments he levels against Sony, Epic, Unreal Engine 5, and Ubisoft are the very same arguments used by the developers of Cyberpunk 2020 to illustrate that they were still iterating on the design.

No where does he mention that this gameplay demonstration was presented in the same light as the gameplay demonstrations that he is objecting to, but Cyberpunk 2077’s gameplay wasn’t in Liar’s Year 2020, but 2018. This video has over 19 million hits and is insanely popular–but in the first 5 minutes of the video, the developers hedge the features and look of the demo, not once, but twice.

The start of a new console generation does allow developers, marketers, and executives to perhaps stretch the truth, but that’s not necessarily all on them–that’s also on us. One of the mantras should always be: check the reviews! Too many people buy games sight unseen based on the marketing materials.

Who Do You Trust?

In conclusion, I guess I really wanted to push back that the console generation switch means that “lies” are the only thing that is a part of the experience. When you have a console maker spend several years trying to make up for a mistake and show “gameplay” and when have another console maker not show “gameplay” at a “Gameplay Reveal Event,” it calls into question the credibility of the argument.

Whenever Sony does show its line-up, I have a fairly high confidence that what I’ll be seeing is what I’ll be playing. While I know that the Unreal 5 “tech demo” was just that, a proof of concept of what is possible on the hardware, it isn’t the prerendered trailers that we’ve been shown in the past and it represents what is possible at this time. Yes, much of it could be marketing hype. However, given the track record of Mark Cerney, chief architect of the Playstation 4 and Playstation 5, and the fact that games like Horizon Zero Dawn, The Last of Us (Parts I and II), Spider-Man, and God of War actually looked like and played as their gameplay demonstrations showed, I’m willing to give them more credibility versus an actor who is put in a game and is brought out on-stage to try to sell a game (Ubisoft & Microsoft, I’m looking at you). It is highly possible that the Unreal Engine 5 will not be able to do what it is promising, but based on Sony’s recent track record (especially in light of Microsoft’s), I’m willing to take that bet.

Sidney


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The YouTuber vs The Director: Why Hollywood Needs to Stop Being a “Closed” System

Gameplay capture from a “modded” version of Empire at War (Star Wars Fleet Battle Strategy Game)

Hi Everyone,

So sorry for taking an extended break from the blog. There are reasons, which I will articulate, but probably in a post sometime in the New Year. Right now, I just want to say thank you to those who have stuck with the blog by reading older (and liking) many of the older posts here. I will be posting more regularly here (I haven’t gone away from blogging; I just needed to take a break–again, I’ll go into those reasons later). Again, a big thank you for sticking with the blog!

Right now, however, I really want to talk about Star Wars for a moment, now that the newest movie has released. Now, I’ve NOT seen Rise of Skywalker as of yet. Will I see it (at the theaters)? I’m not sure–so far, the reviews that I’ve seen have been mixed. I think I will probably email a professor that I know who is an ardent Star Wars fan to see what their reaction is and, if the professor likes it, I’ll probably attend a matinee showing in January before the new semester starts again. However, while watching a YouTube video, I discovered another reason why the previous movie (w/Rian Johnson at the helm) didn’t work for me and that has to do with an “amateur” (as Hollywood would see them) seeming to know and care more about the Star Wars universe than the director (and “professional” as Hollywood would brand them) does based on the content that both have “created.”

The Case Against Rian Johnson (and the script of The Last Jedi)

So, I’m probably “blacklisting” myself as I have designs of writing screenplays in the future, but in watching the YouTube video that I linked to above (don’t worry–at over 50 minutes I don’t expect anyone to watch the whole thing, but watching 10 mins or so, especially in the middle, should make it clear to readers why I chose to include the video). Now, before I lay out my major argument, let me be clear: while I respect Rian Johnson as both a person and director (I’ve never met the guy, so I have no opinion on him outside of his work–for me, it is the “content of one’s character”) in ALL situations), I’m not a fan of his science fiction efforts. Looper was something thing I couldn’t even finish, while The Last Jedi was disappointing to me as a lifelong Star Wars fan. While I understand the need to distance the old characters and invite the new characters, I felt that there were so many better ways that this could have been accomplished. Going against conventions just to be “radical and new” doesn’t necessarily mean that it is good. And that’s the main problem that I saw with The Last Jedi: its desire to show the main protagonists in the story in a different light that had already been explored. I won’t go into a long diatribe about it, but will ask all those who liked Knives Out–his currently critically acclaimed movie–a question: what if I took the characters in that movie and wrote a sequel in which none of them acted liked they had in the first movie and rewrote the ending so that none of it happened the way the first movie made it appear? (Don’t worry, there’s no spoilers as I’ve yet to see the movie) .Would you then think that this new movie was “cool and unique?” Chances are good that you would hate my script because neither the characters nor the world had anything that made them who they were–just changing them “to subvert expectations” would likely appear arbitrary, capricious, and dare I say, stupid (for an exercise, I may just write that script whenever I do see Knives Out just to show how subverting expectations isn’t really “clever” when it is done to something that someone else likes–when the person doing that subverting doesn’t really like it themselves–assuming, of course that I don’t like Knives Out).

Why Does a YouTuber Display More Reverence for Star Wars Than a Director (or Producer)?

Yet, for all my whinging on about Rian Johnson (and by extension, the producers of the newest trilogy), there are many people who are passionate about the series–but more importantly, who are knowledgeable about the Star Wars universe. In some ways, it seems like there are fans who know (and care) more about the property than the creators of that series. Now, there is a YouTuber who goes by the handle of TheXPGamers who produces quite a bit of Star Wars content. In this particular case (for the video that I linked above), he is playing a Star Wars game published by Lucasarts Games before the Disney buyout that deals with giant spaceship fleet battles between the forces of the Empire and the Rebels. Even though he is playing a “modded” copy (meaning that another software author has created a patch that changes the look, feel, and gameplay elements) of the original/base game, just from viewing a short portion of the video, one can see two things are evident: 1) his passion and 2) his knowledge about the SW universe. First, his passion is clear–he loves this series and learning more about it and he’s clearly invested in the lore. Second, he has both knowledge of the lore, but also strategy and how it applies to the SW universe. He is clearly a master of the game and of the tactics used to win.

And here’s my ultimate point: Rian Johnson got criticized for many things, but one of the major things that people called “BS” on was his fleet interactions. Now look, I know how hard writing is, but this where being a “closed” system hurts Hollywood. How hard would it have been to call in TheXPGamers as a “consultant” or even as a reader to help “punch up” the scenes dealing with the fleet? And if he did a good job there, then perhaps touch on characterization and other things in order to improve the script? Oh, but that’s not the way Hollywood does things–they don’t want to be sued for “stealing ideas.” Granted, that is a thing, but Hollywood wants a hit, but isn’t always sure what will deliver one. In dealing with art, the only time they seem to want to take risks is when they already have an established property (a la SW) that has a built in fanbase–but to actually open themselves up to 1) original properties/screenplays or 2) allow outsiders to come in and help shape there projects–no, that is NOT allowed. Yes, I’m aware of the “guild” structure and the like, but my point remains: if you have resources at your disposal to help you and you chose not to use them, then you cannot very well become upset when the fans call “BS” on a story/story elements. The “chase” in The Last Jedi was central to the storyline, but based on what was written in the script and presented onscreen, the director knew little-to-nothing about the “boring” ship-to-ship battles in the SW universe, so let’s make it “exciting” with a “chase” sequence (because “chase” scenes = tension, see Bullitt). However, as linked in the video, TheXPGamers knows how large fleet warfare works in SW, can describe it effectively, and can illustrate the reasons and rationales for certain decisions to be made, so why not use him as a resource as well, not to mention Lucas and any other SW alumns who are still working with (Filoni, Chow, or even other SW directors/artists/conceptual designers, even actors) come quickly to mind. And that doesn’t even count the legion of fans who have produced content (via the internet or in other forms) who have massive amounts of knowledge as well (but because they aren’t “professional”–i.e., known in Hollywood industry circles–their opinions and knowledge doesn’t count). Look, I get it, we all have to “pay our dues” if we want something, but not all “dues paying” looks exactly the same. If some pay there dues through YouTube videos, some through extensive reading and writing, and some by directing, shouldn’t that count for the same? Why does directing a moderately successful Sci-Fi movie give you access to the reins of the biggest, most important Sci-Fi franchise out there, but producing content (in the form of YouTube videos) on that very same large, successful franchise earn you nothing but contempt and being ignored by the very movie studio/entity producing that franchise?

Until Hollywood realizes that not everyone who isn’t “in” the industry is not the enemy, I predict there will be more fan/community backlash to Hollywood’s seemingly increasing arbitrary decisions to their franchises. Instead of more control, it might be better in the long run to relinquish the tight grip on their franchises and bring in fans (especially fan-based experts) to help craft the stories and shape the ultimate direction of the narratives. Otherwise, like Princess Leia predicted to Grand Moff Tarkin: “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”

P. S. Alien 3 and Me

And lest I be called a Rian Johnson hater (as I am pretty harsh about him in this entry), I’ve already had my moment with “fandom” with the release of Alien 3 and that is when I learned how horribly wrong a sci-fi movie can go in the hands of an “avant garde” director. Alien and Aliens were my favorite films outside of the SW universe and I was ecstatic when A3 was announced. I went to a showing at U.T. Knoxville, where I was a sophomore at the time. Words cannot express my disappointment in the film. As there was no internet at the time (not in the way there is now–AOL was just beginning to be a thing . . . I think, but it may have been a couple of years before even that if I remember correctly), there was no “fan outrage” that happened. However, I never saw another David Fincher film (I made sure to note the director of that travesty) and after the lukewarm Alien Ressurection, I’ve basically sworn off the Aliens franchise until the reviews indicate that they (the filmmakers) truly intend to make good movies again (so, no I’ve not seen Prometheus, nor Alien Covenant, nor the AvP films, nor do I intend to). So you see, I don’t hate on directors or franchises when they disappoint–I just deny them my business. That’s why Leia’s quote is so appropriate–a closed system means that you (the filmmakers) have no margin for error, so the director/writer/producer had better love the franchise as much as the fans because, like The Last Jedi (and Alien 3) shows, it is painfully obvious when they don’t.

Sidney


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Why I Play Video Games


So, every Friday one my favorite YouTube channels puts out a list video in which they create a list based on video game related topics. As I have a preference for PlayStation, this is right up my alley and is “destination TV” for me after a long week. The channel is called (of course) Playstation Access and a couple of weeks ago, one of the presenters, Rob, listed 7 reason why he liked playing games.

While reasons #1 (escapism and “becoming” the character interactively), #4 (new narrative structures–as the director and writer of your own individual journey) and #7 (keeping the inner child alive) are particular ones that speak to me. However, I wanted to just briefly articulate a couple of the more important reasons why I play games personally.

The Story

So, with Grim Dark narratives like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Breaking Bad, it is so very hard to find really good shows that aren’t characters just “crapping” on one another for the prurient interests of the viewer. Shows like this, to me, are anathema and are just like people jamming the interstate to look at the horrific crash that has occurred. Video games allow me to actually engage with stories and characters that I truly enjoy. The “hero” hasn’t gone, but rather morphed into the video game protagonist. Yeah, sure, there are games that are more akin to those hated shows above, (the Bioshock games come quickly to mind), but generally speaking, most games task you with being, if not the hero, then a protagonist that you can identify with and (usually) enjoy playing: Ryder and Commander Shepherd from the Mass Effect series comes quickly to mind here. It seems as if the protagonist “hero” has pretty much come into his or her own here.

Worldbuilding

An interesting corollary to the story (or narrative) is the focus on setting and world building in video games. Sure, the visuals are nice, but the best games have “atmosphere.” Due to the interactive nature of games, it is very easy to “fall in” to the world (much like the way description works in books). It is really nice to be able to play characters who you like and identify with in worlds that seem real and lived in.

Sidney


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Sunsetting Star Wars

Sunsetting Star Wars Two characters from Star Wars watch the twin suns set.
Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2W5YPQJqUs

Okay, I know, a provactive title. And yes, The Last Jedi features into the discussion, but not nearly as much as one would think. I’ve known for a while now that the Disney version of Star Wars (at least for the last of the 3 Skywalker films) would be “sunsetting” the original characters and creating a whole new set of characters that we would follow through new movies for a “new” generation. My problem (at the time) wasn’t the sunsetting of the older characters–it was, would I like the new characters? Now, however, I have to say that it is isn’t the new characters that bother me (except the “grumpy Darklord”–Daisy Ridley’s term for Kylo Ren). What I really have a problem with is the way in which the old characters are being “retired.”

Be Fair to Your Audience

Yes, I know we live in an 18-35 year old world. I get it. This is where marketers focus their efforts on, this is where people really want to target their appeals to, but one of the things that I really dislike about the way Star Wars has treated its audience is that they haven’t honored the original actors/roles as much as they could have.

So, unless I get really heavily into spoilers, I can’t actually do a “deep dive” into the ways Disney has “disrespected” fans of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia from the original trilogy. Suffice to say, the resolution of the two men have not ended well. Carrie Fisher unfortunately, passed away, so I suspect we will see footage of her in the new movie, but I feel that they will be far more respectful to her character because she (sadly) is no longer with us (the Paul Walker effect, essentially).

As a long time fan of the films, I don’t understand why we can’t get a resolution of the old characters that doesn’t feature them going out in the way they do. I feel that both of the characters who’ve we’ve “resolved” so far from the original trilogy do not end in a way that is either consistent or satisfying to what we as fans were presented onscreen during Lucas’ original run.

Be Consistent

And this the cry that every fan asks every creator whether or not they originally created a character or not. Let me be absolutely clear–I don’t like The Last Jedi. One of the main reasons is that I don’t feel that the Disney Star Wars films are playing fair with audience expectations is that the characterizations are not even close to what the characters have exhibited in the past, nor do they honor the struggles that they originally had. For example, Luke struggled with redeeming his father from evil, yet his nephew “supposedly” (we see this off-screen) displays tendencies of “evil” and Luke most definitely (again, vague to avoid spoilers) does NOT try to even talk to the kid, let alone redeem him. That is antithetical to Luke’s characterization and doesn’t fit with what I know about the character. However, for plot reasons, we need Luke to ignore 20 years of history (his own history, btw) and act in a manner counter to what he has done previously.

The same is true for Han Solo’s character. While I can somewhat see what befalls him, he still has to act in a “dumb” fashion for his ending to occur. In the original trilogy, Han and Chewbacca rarely split up–it does happen, but it was in Jedi and close to the end. However, in Force Awakens, the split-up happens at just the right time for the “surprise” to happen and to allow Han to be “Solo” at just the right time.

Again, I have to be super-vague to keep from spoilers (& this may be hurting my argument), but I feel that a grave disservice has been done to the old school characters. Leia will probably get a “hero’s sendoff,” but why does she get to be the only one? And why after she’s passed away? My grandmother subscribed to the idea that we should give “people their flowers while they are living,” meaning that one should honor people while they are alive and not wait until they are dead. The actors in the original Star Wars did a wonderful job and their characters are well loved by millions of fans. Is it really so bad to ask the creators of the new series to honor that idea and to give the characters a “sunset” that is consistent with their characters and honors their actors in an appropriate way (which I don’t think is what has actually occurred).

Sidney

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Spoilers! How I HATE Them! Do You Hear Me, IGN?

Man putting his fingers in ear to avoid lady telling him spoilers with the text: "La-la-la-la! No spoilers!"
Image Source: https://tenor.com/view/spoiler-not-listening-no-spoilers-b99-gif-14042783

So, having watched Captain Marvel last night over the 4th of July Holiday here in America, I thought that I was in good straites so as to watch Avengers Endgame when it releases at the end of August for streaming (for the American Labor Day Holiday which is the unofficial end of summer here in the U.S.). Now, this morning I’d just watched a video in which a YouTuber patiently and elegantly described the “Clone Saga” of the mid-90s for the Spider-Man comic book series. It was so good in fact, that it inspired me to watch another Spider-Man video from IGN ranking the Spider-Man movies now that Spider-Man Into the Spiderverse and Far From Home were released. I thought–yes, let me take a look as I’m planning on doing a re-ranking myself because I’m pretty sure Spiderverse will be my new #1 (just need to see it again to be sure).

However, what do I find when I click on the video? A MASSIVE FREAKIN’ SPOILER FOR AVENGERS ENDGAME????!!!!!

Please tell me in what world do I click on a video about Spider-Man and get an AVENGERS ENDGAME spoiler? ARRRGHHHHB!!!!!

IGN Editors, I (mostly) Love You, But You’re Killing Me Here

Okay, so you want to talk about Spider-Man in all his appearances (even though you’re video title suggests that you’re only going to cover his “mainline” movies)–I get it. Spider-Man is popular, so you want to be sure you mention the thing he’s been in most recently, right? While I’m not a fan of that particular logic, I can still relate.

BUT.

And this is a very big “but” (which is why it is in bold/all caps), can we not show A LITTLE DISCRETION and put it at the BLOODY END of the video??????? Why in the world would the FIRST freakin’ thing in a video RANKING SPIDER-MAN MOVIES BE A SPOILER HEAVY RECAP OF AVENGERS?????? That makes absolutely no sense to me? Had the video been entitled: Learn Spider-Man’s Fate in Avengers Infinity War as We Rank His Movies Appearances then I could have understood it. Yes, you say that you “NEED” to mention Endgame, but nowhere in the title do you reference it.

Yes, at the beginning of the video you mention that you (and I emphasize that this actually a want, not a need) to talk about his Avengers appearances and yes, you also put up a Spoiler Warning (which I didn’t see the first time, but saw when I scrubbed through to get time markers), but this does me no good if I’ve been called away from the TV by a phone call and couldn’t see the warning, nor get back to the Apple TV remote in time. If you’re going to spoilers for something that is spoiler-heavy, then:

PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY–PUT IT AT THE FREAKIN’ END OF THE VIDEO.

Give people time to enjoy the content that’s In the title of your video and then allow them the opportunity to click away if they so choose.

Fool Me Once, Shame on You, Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me

I put the blame both on you IGN, but also on myself. This isn’t the first time where poorly placed content has negatively impacted spoilers for me in the past on IGN. Even now, IGN already has a video up discussing the FREAKIN’ ending to Season 3 of Stranger Things which just released yesterday on Netflix. Yesterday. I had to mentally prepared myself to dodge that video (& was considering turning off autoplay for YouTube, or otherwise it was going to pop up in the rotation some time in the near future). However, I’ve now solved that problem in a more permanent way (see below).

Again, I get it. You need to be timely and relevant in order to get clicks and for users to see ads in front of the videos you produce for the money it generates because of YouTube’s unfair algorithms. However, I support (well, now its the past tense, supported) you by NOT skipping the ads even though I could have. The LEAST you could do is to follow the same model as podcasts where they talk about the relevant content FIRST and then keep any Spoilercast discussions until the end, giving their listeners a chance to “keep going” or to “peace out” as they so choose.

I scrubbed back through the video (with the sound off) and found the offending (AVENGERS) spoiler 56 seconds into the video. Now, considering that this is an 8:25 (SPIDER-MAN) video, I take real exception to this.

Unsubscribing to IGN–Hate to Do It, But You Leave Me No Choice

So, I’ve officially Unsubscribed to one of my favorite channels, IGN. I hate to do it and I hate having to call it out, but “spoilers” are anathema to me. I don’t go around spoiling movies, books, and shows for the readers of this blog (nor when I’m out in “real life”), so I have very little tolerance for people, places, and organizations that do this. I just recently blocked (and I do mean blocked) two YouTube channels from my feed: Mr. Spoiler and Mrs. Spoiler (and yes, these are, as I writing this, two legitimate YouTube channels, and I pretty much block anyone these days who post “spoiler” thumbnails in their feed.) And back to IGN for a moment–I already know that there is at least one person who has made it clear that he doesn’t understand why people hate spoilers. While I’m not implying that he had anything to do with the video (I’m pretty sure he didn’t), it just boggles the mind they can’t see the relevance of moving spoilers/spoilery content to the end so that their users can decide how to engage with the content.

In closing, if the blog had a “spoiler tag” which would hide spoilery-content as I’ve seen on many discussion boards’ software AND if I could be 100% sure it worked with all browsers (or at least the ones the VAST majority use with the blog), then I would use spoilers and I could talk more in-depth about the content (give examples/justification for my ideas/scores/etc.), but since I don’t, I’d rather err on the side of caution and NOT risk interfering with someone else’s enjoyment of something they might be looking forward to or might discover quite by accident (or even something they might discover because they found it intriguing because I discussed it without giving too much information away).

The old saying in 80s/90s with VCRs was “Be Kind, Rewind.” With the ’10s/’20s, the new saying should be (some variant of), “Life is all Toil, So Please Don’t Spoil.”

Sidney

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E3 and Me–Color Me Intrigued

Toddler with a quizzical face with the caption "I'm intrigued: Do tell me more!"
Image Source: https://memegenerator.net/instance/75937215/thinkingbaby-im-intrigued-do-tell-me-more

So, now that E3 is over and the “dust” has settled, this post will be the last one to feature me talking explicitly about the conference. I may reference games/press conferences at a late date, but for the most part, this will be the last one devoted to the conference itself. Today, I wanted to briefly talk about the “maybes” of the confernce–games that I’m intrigued about and would like to learn more information about in order to make a more informed decision as to whether or not I will (at some point) get them. If nothing else, they have my attention–which, to be honest, is the whole point of E3.

Outriders

Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoSin_yLyYI

This is probably the game I’m most intrigued about at the moment. Besides the fact that it is using a word that I’d like to use for my own project (but may not get to do so due to American Trademark laws), it has a very visual style and is something that looks unique and fun to play (based on the trailer). It is a very visual world, and characters that may have both powers along with gun play. Also, based on the number of characters in the trailer, it might also have a co-operative element where different players might be able to play together. This looks very interesting to me.

Deathloop

Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgiMSSl2rZ0

So, this one is much more of a wildcard. I’m not so sure about this one. This one only showed a trailer, so I’m not sure what to make of this one. I think this one could be good as it looks like something that could have some interesting dynamics and it is made by a designer that is very invested in narratives so we’ll see. The problem is that cinematic trailers, without gameplay, doesn’t illustrate what gamers will be doing in the minute-to-minute action. As such, it is very hard to be more than intrigued until I find out more about the game.

Marvel’s Avengers

Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZh4uQYDlsA

So this one is the one that I was most excited for when E3 started, but while the trailer is excellent (in terms of visuals), I’m much less interested in it than all the others on this list now that I’ve seen it. For one, even though it is less than a year away (11 months approx.), it has very little in the way of gameplay, which is a red flag to me. The short snippets of gameplay inside the trailer seems to be what I’m looking forward to in a game, but I’ll only know once I see more. Also, there are rumblings (rumors) that this game will be structured much like Destiny, Destiny 2, and Anthem. While (unlike some gamers), I’m not opposed to an online, co-op, Avengers game, I wish that it was structured differently.

Cyberpunk 2077

Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2bFDPWOq5A

Lastly, this game is one that quite a bit of my enthusiasm has fallen for thanks to how hard CD Projekt Red, the development studio loves Microsoft and continues to use this game as a premiere game on their stage (even though it is for Playstation 4 and the PC as well). Even without that disadvantage out of the way, I’m not sure that the first person perspective is the best for this game. I really liked the 3rd person perspective of The Witcher games, but first person doesn’t really sell me on game. Also, the female protagonist version of the main character was shown the first time the company demoed this game, but it was the male version this time and the male version was the “generic guy” that we see in many sci-fi universes. Not very interesting.

Sidney

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E3 And Me–2019 Edition

Final Fantasy VII Remake characters looking out at the audience--Cloud and Tifa.
Image Source: https://www.theverge.com/2019/6/10/18660638/square-enix-e3-games-trailers-announcements-final-fantasy-7-avengers-e3-2019

So, this is my annual look at E3 and the new games that are coming out over the next year. I’ll try to be more consistent in putting up the games that I’m interested in than I was last year (2018), but I won’t take over the blog with them like I did in 2017. I’ll probably just do one or two (at the max) per week.

However, based on what I’ve seen so far, this year seems to be more of a “winding down year.” Both Playstation and Microsoft have “talked about” (not formally announced, but discussed in fairly candid details) of the new systems that they are working and that are rumored (and expected) to come sometime in 2020. I think I heard one of the correspondents on YouTube refer to E3 this year as “lackluster.” However, there were some games that excited me, so I’ll talk about them briefly here.

Watchdogs Legion

Source: YouTube (Watch Dogs: Legion)

This game is a continuation of the Watch Dogs franchise. I’ve bought and played the two previous entries in this series. The 2nd game seemed a little cramped and I never finished it, although I still intend to go back at some point and seriously try to finish it. However, Watch Dogs Legion intrigued me because it shows not only the detailed open world that Ubisoft is known for, but also showed that the game allows you to recruit (supposedly) anyone from the game world to become part of the resistance. The premise looks cool as does the setting (the near future city of London), so I’m most definitely intrigued.

Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order

Source: YouTube (Star wars: Jedi Fallen Order)

Okay, so this one is by EA and my disdain for some of their practices is well known. However, this one actually looks like it might be fun and interesting. I think that it really helps that it is a single player game and is focused on a strong narrative. Depending on how this development goes for the game, I’m may not pick it up immediately, but I actually may give it a look (which for a game published by EA) is an accomplishment.

Final Fantasy VII Remake

Source: YouTube Final Fantasy 7 Remake

This is one that I’m personally looking forward to simply because, while I was around and knew about the original FFVII, I never played it–in its proper game form. I actually played a demo of it from a demo disc (remember those old things?). However, both my uncle and I had noticed the (unfortunate) tendency of JRPGs of the time period to follow the same “young boy who saves the Earth” motif. As such, I decided to pass on the series until FFXIII (I did also play the demo for FFX, and I really liked it and played it multiple times, but ultimately decided to pass on it). However, having put time into the Final Fantasy series, I’d like to see what this game has to offer. Yes, I know it doesn’t accurately replicate the original game, but I just want to get a sense of the story and characters (and for me, getting that in a new, shiny wrapper, just seals the deal).

Sidney

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Spider-Man: Far From Home Teaser Trailer

A quick note: If you have not seen Infinity War (Avengers) then the trailer itself is safe to view without spoilers, but I would not advise looking at any YouTube comments (or social media comments in general about the movie) as they are likely to be spoiler-heavy.

A couple of days ago, Sony/Marvel released the new trailer for the newest Spider-Man movie that they’ve titled Spider-Man: Far From Home. I really liked the trailer. I’ve seen it multiple times and I just wanted to give a quick impression of the movie.

Mysterious Mysterio

So the featured villain is no surprise to longtime Spider-Man readers, but may not be recognizable to the general public. Mysterio is a villain who was frequently used in the Rogue’s gallery (I think I have two appearances for him in the 40-50 issues that I have of the Amazing Spider-Man run. He is a master of illusions and while we can’t tell it from this trailer, we do see him in his full costumed glory (as he’s fighting some sort of water-foe). There is speculation (on-line) as to whom this watery foe could be (another foe from the Rogue’s gallery), but I’m going to leave that alone in case the speculation is wrong. When showing Mysterio they highlight the actor playing him first by leaving off his helmet. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Mysterio and I’m not sure quite yet how I feel about that–it seems to continue the trend of “named” actors playing villains as Michael Keaton played The Vulture in the first Spider-Man movie. While that’s great to get fans of the actor to go, I’m hoping that he doesn’t overshadow the actual hero of the movie, Peter Parker/Spider-Man.

Fun Web-Swinging Action

What the trailer shows, however, is a sense of fun and action that I may really enjoy. While they are still doing the “high school” thing with Peter and his friends going on a school trip, they are (wisely) moving them out of the school environment, which (to me) is the most uninteresting part in the Spider-Man mythos. Having it outside of school gives the story a chance to move beyond the conventional “high school” angst stories that usually occur in a high school setting. The trailer hints at a much bigger and broader story and I’m intrigued.

Am I intrigued enough to see this one in the theaters? Well, I’m not sure. I like it, but if it isn’t on Imax 3D or if the timing doesn’t work out, then I’ll probably see this one at home a little later (on a holiday–the same way I saw Ant-Man and the Wasp over the Christmas break). Right now, it’s probably too early to know, but it does look like another Sony/Marvel collaboration and this should be another model for the way other studios could collaborate on various properties to share the costs & burdens of production while producing something something meaningful and awesome for their audiences.

Sidney




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Thor Ragnarok: Mini-Review (No Spoilers)

Thor_Ragnarok_openaircinemas
Picture of the Thor Ragnarok movie poster featuring Thor, Hulk, Loki and other Marvel Universe Characters.  Image Source: Open Air Cinemas (Click for more info).

Nope, no writing done over the 3 day weekend.  Tragic.  This is what I’ve got to get better at as a writer who wants to be “professional.”  Yes, I had another real-world “project” that I was working on (changing rooms in my house), but it doesn’t take that long to do 250 words.  I just didn’t want to go through the hassle of setting up the computer for just 20-30 mins of writing–but the cost to that was, no writing done at all.  250 * 6 days = 1,500 words.  I one week, I could, if I could get my act together, essentially finish a “section” of a short story, or the basic “outline” of a chapter.  So the word I used above is actually something I need to tell myself when I don’t get my 250 words in–tragic.

Finally Saw Thor Ragnarok

Okay, so over the Memorial Day Weekend here in the U.S., my family and I gathered together after the holiday dinner to watch Thor Ragnarok.  I have to say upfront that it was a fun experience–it isn’t the best Marvel movie that I ever seen, but it also isn’t the worst.  I guess that’s what, after having a night to sleep on it, I would say–it was a solidly fun experience.  Unlike Star Wars, which at the moment that I write this, is having a “moment” (and not in a good way as Kathleen Kennedy seems determined to remake the brand into something that she wants and not something that the fans want), Marvel movies know what they’re audiences want: quite a bit of action, some humor (quips and some physical comedy), characters having to some (light) soul-searching, an inventive and eventful ending, and (a bit) of moral relevance (theme) and they’re golden.  This is what Thor Ragnarok delivers to its audience.  Is it flashy, like say Civil War or Winter Soldier? No.  But is it good?  Yes, yes it is.

God of Humor

So, the comedic elements in this one are super strong.  Whether they be visual gags, banter and quips, or downright physical humors, a lot (but not all) of Thor Ragnarok is played for laughs.  I happened to have liked that, but if you’re looking for (or liked) the grim seriousness of Thor The Dark World, then you’ll need to look elsewhere because they play this strictly as an action-comedy.  When there’s action, there’s a lot of it, but when there’s no action on the screen, they’re either setting up a joke or actually paying off a joke.  There’s very little else here, although to be fair, there is quite a bit of light character development of ThorLokiHulk/Banner, and the new character, the Valkyrie, whose name wasn’t really used all that often in the movie, but who both Thor & Loki recognized as a Valkyrie, so that’s (at the moment) how I remembered her character.

Not the Worst, but Not the Best

Again, I have to say that I really liked this movie quite a bit, but based on the high praise that it was given by some of the reviews when it released, I’m a little surprised that it wasn’t a stronger movie.  I suppose when you get right down to it, this may have to do more with me and my expectations than the movie itself.  While I like comedies and like to laugh (who doesn’t), my favorite genre is action.  While there’s no denying that Thor Ragnarok does have action set-pieces, for the most part, this one lent itself to comedy (think the comedy sketch of Thor sitting out Civil War that made the rounds on YouTube last summer, and you’ll have an idea of what the creators of Thor Ragnarok were going for).

Having just re-watched this vignette, I just realized that they referenced the “email” joke in this vignette in Thor Ragnarok, so this is very much a “tone-piece” for the movie.  If you like this vignette, then you’ll probably like Thor Ragnarok very much.  I was mildly amused by this, so while I really liked the movie, it probably won’t make it into my Top 5 Marvel movies.  Not to say it isn’t good, but I feel there are other Marvel movies that are stronger.

Overall Grade: B (Above Average)

My take: Hey, it’s a Marvel movie.  They’d have to really misfire (Thor Dark World) to get much less (Marvel gets me as a fan in a way that Kathleen Kennedy and the “new” Star Wars doesn’t seem to anymore).  I love what they are doing right now.  Even the movies that I feel are perhaps “weaker” entries in the Universe are still above the quality of many other movies of competing franchises.  My mother said the movie was better than she expected it be based on the other Thor movies and my step-father laughed all the way through, and myself was at least amused through most of it, but sat up and took notice through the extended action sequences.  This was, while not my favorite Marvel movie, still one that I would gladly re-watch anytime.

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