WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew builds a new gaming PC while Dan plays Batman: The Telltale Series – “Episode 1: Realm of Shadows.”
SPOILERS REDUX AND DMCA C&D: Dan and Andrew’s discussion was initiated by a post over at the AV Club that covered an instance where major television network, AMC, issued a cease and desist order to a Walking Dead fan site, The Spoiling Dead Fans, when they started listing potential spoilers to the next season’s premier. It’s a broad topic that is hard to talk about (and, at times, infuriating), but they do their best to really take this topic apart as it relates to television shows and the networks’ loyalty to their paying advertisers.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ANDREW!
Leave your thoughts as comments at ForAllIntents.net or at the official Facebook and/or Google+ pages. To help the show out, please leave a review on the iTunes store.
For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.
-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“The Lighting of Prism Tower” by GAME FREAK & Shota Kageyama (from Pokemon X/Y)
-“The Lonely Man Theme” by Dennis McCarthy (from The Incredible Hulk)
-“I Can’t Watch This” by “Weird Al” Yankovic
-“Birthday Cakes” by Joshua R. Mosley (from ‘Splosion Man)
At this week’s Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, Konami unveiled the trailer for a new Metal Gear game, titled Metal Gear Survive. While a new Metal Gear game was not a surprise, perhaps receiving a trailer so soon after Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (released in September 2015) and the subsequent public relations disaster that was Hideo Kojima’s (creator of Metal Gear) exit from the company made it so. This is made more puzzling considering the very public withdrawal from AAA games that Konami made following the release of MGSV:TPP in favor of more profitable and cheap-to-make pachinko/mobile fare.
The new Metal Gear game trailer has caused fervent discussion for a few reasons.
First, for a game series so thoroughly attached to its creator, Hideo Kojima is not involved with the game in any capacity, which, again, is not surprising considering his focus on a fledgling company and new IP as well as his fairly acrimonious relationship with his former employer of three decades. Second, its apparent focus on multiplayer action arguably stands in contradiction to what Metal Gear is about: stealth and tactics. Third, the dimension-hopping, zombie-filled world seems more like an amalgam of horror Resident Evil and Silent Hill games rather than a heightened reality, Tom Clancyesque, military Metal Gear game.
Lastly, it’s surprising that Konami is interested in creating a mainstream console-based video game at all, especially one in a series with a strong reputation in the industry and among players. Since 2015, Konami has only released licensed soccer video games––Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 and 2017––to the major markets (Playstation 4, XBox One, and PC) aside from releasing MGSV:TPP across all platforms in 2015. This was taken as a signal that Konami does not prioritize the console and home computing market. So, the sudden push of a new Metal Gear game does seem a bit strange. When you consider that alongside the rather non-Metal Gear theme, it draws even more questions as to whether this is actually a Metal Gear game that fits into the canonical story or simply a new IP tagged with a grandfather franchise in a lazy effort to guarantee sales (re: Metroid Prime: Federation Force).
Many sources have erroneously reported that this is the first Metal Gear game developed without Kojima’s involvement. While there have been plenty of Metal Gear games produced and developed by Kojima in varying degrees (Metal Gear AC!D, Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance), early in the series’ life, a few Metal Gear games completely skipped the creator’s grace due to different console ports and local demands. Most notoriously, Snake’s Revenge was a side-scrolling sequel to the original Metal Gear developed solely for the North American NES market and none of the original Metal Gear team was involved in any way.
Furthermore, the original Metal Gear was released for Microsoft’s MSX2 platform in Japan. The success of the game, as well as the parallel success of the Famicom/Nintendo Entertainment System, prompted Konami to produce a port for Nintendo without Kojima’s involvement at all. The Famicom/NES version is infamous for being a Metal Gear game without a Metal Gear in it (unlike the original MSX version) due to technological constraints,and is a version that Kojima has wholly disowned.
All together, the entire project is punctuated by a question mark at the moment. It is likely a lot of discussion will be had about the game up to and through its release, but seeing how the most ardent Metal Gear fans prioritize story, characters, and stealth gameplay over any multiplayer offering the series has brought to this point, combined with the history of Konami acting directly in contradiction to the series’ creator’s vision for the series, the largest question being asked right now is how well does Konami know its own flagship franchise?
All of the games in the Sid Meier’s Civilization series feature a standard array of popular civilizations to play and the nation’s corresponding leader. Civilizations like the Aztecs, Japanese, Americans, and French have always been present, led by Montezuma, Tokugawa (or Nobunaga), George Washington (or Abraham Lincoln or FDR), and Napoleon Bonaparte (or Louis XIV or Joan d’Arc). With this new game, it appears that the designers at Firaxis Games are trying to shake up the conventional array of civilizations and leaders by adding a few new faces to the game.
As each new leader has been announced, some have commented that a lot of them are quite different than what people expected. Classic, iconic leaders like Washington or Bonaparte have been replaced by Teddy Roosevelt and Catherine de Medici. In some cases, even I had to go google specific leaders (like Japan’s Hojo Tokimune) or even entire civilizations (like the Scythians, led by Queen Tomyris). In a preview video, the design team made it clear that there goal was to go for leaders with the “biggest personalities,” which (if nothing else) explains where we got Teddy Roosevelt.
The Firaxis team has also made it clear that every leader will have a distinct personal agenda or style of play to set them apart. Roosevelt will endeavor to build a large military and prevent people from waging war on his home continent. Emperor Qin Shi Huang of China will have an obsessive desire to build wonders of the world. We can only assume that India’s Gandhi will once again have a passionate urge to carpet the planet in the warming glow of nuclear weapons.
As the October release date approaches, more and more of the new details will be released. Already, they’ve made it clear that this game will change the way cities are built and how diplomacy is handled. Will it survive the test of time? We won’t know until the game comes out (and probably one to two expansions).
WEEK IN GEEK: To serve the purposes of research, Andrew punishes himself by rewatching Torchwood: Children of Earth while Dan listens to John Carpenter’s sequel to 2015’s Lost Themes album of original music, Lost Themes II.
THINGS ARE STRANGE: Dan and Andrew dive deep into the latest Netflix phenomenon: Stranger Things. They talk about its influences (and reference this interview with creators, the Duffer Bros, at Nerdist), its use of Dungeons & Dragons and its Lovecraftian influences.
CAN’T CAGE ME IN: The new, more fulsome trailer for the next Marvel-Netflix series, Luke Cage, hit the internet and Andrew and Dan dive into what seems interesting, troubling, and exciting about it (mostly exciting).
Leave your thoughts on this week’s topics, and read exclusive new content, at ForAllIntents.net. Be sure to join the official Facebook and Google+ pages for exclusive links and conversations.
For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.
-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“Stranger Things Theme” by S U R V I V E
-“Heart is Full” by Miike Snow (Run the Jewels remix)
-“Persia Rising” by John Carpenter
Andrew and I do our best to steer away from politics or politically-charged issues if only because those topics––no matter the side you stand for––can be frustrating discourse. Of all comic book figures used to translate the world of political friction, the X-Men seem most ripe for such utility if only because they were born from it.
I’m not going to speak to the thesis of this article, though it is well-written and cogent, but it shows a technique that I appreciated and of which I would like to see more. Comic books––well, comic book characters, at least––have jumped the divide between niche and the mainstream. If we want the source material to make that same leap, I think using these properties as lenses through which we can explain and analyze the crazy world around us––like we do with literature and movies at this point––should be done more. Whether you agree with Jon Barr’s article or not, take note of what it’s doing and you’ll see the sketch of an important step to improving the cultural validity of comic books.
The incredible point the article makes has to do with a dangerous side-effect of using fiction as allegory or critical lens:
The biggest disparity between the X-Men universe and the gun control debate is this concept of a ‘good guy.’ The world of the X-Men have those heroes to rally behind as an example of how powers should be used.
For the sake of storytelling, clear lines sometimes need to be drawn between things like “good” and “bad,” even when those distinctions are either blurry or rare in real life. The growling of political discourse has done a lot of vilification of the “other” side when, if we were all at a barbecue together, we would all probably have more in common than not. Though there may be more “good guys” than “bad guys” on either side of any debate, it is nice to use popular culture as an avenue for intellectual investigation. As the article admits, using the X-Men as spokespeople for only one side is not only irresponsible, but the X-Men themselves have been figuratively on both sides of what is arguably the same issue as gun control. But I like that possibility. If the X-Men are about anything, it’s giving anybody who feels on the outside a place to belong.
As I progress further and further into nerd culture commentary, a major thesis that continues to bubble to the surface is my strange and possibly nebulous feelings about nostalgia. Specifically, I am kind of appalled at the persistence of the idea that hardcore fans of a property deserve even a modicum of ownership over its evolving direction in popular culture. Respect and rightful say are two very different things.
I want to say this basically started with the spark of superhero cinema––with things like the first few X-Men movies and their proud abandon (at the time) of the technicolor, exaggerated costumes of the comics in favor of matching padded leather or, more specifically, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins in 2005 which really spearheaded the movement toward “gritty” and “grounded” nerd cinema. You could even argue that it started with Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989, but it didn’t hit a fever pitch until the turn of the century.
Since then, we have also seen reboots of properties from the 1980s that received similar “mature” treatment with efforts like the 2011 Cartoon Network Thundercats show that added liberal dashes of The Lord of the Rings to the popular ’80s toyline. Similarly, G.I. Joe made the tonal shift in 2009 with an animated series, G.I. Joe: Resolute, which pushed the beloved and silly franchise into serialized storytelling more commonly found in prime time drama, and did so to much acclaim. Similarly, the Arkham series of Batman games not only revolutionary gameplay but showed the players an even darker world than what we saw in the Nolan films with Gotham being a true den of sin and the rogue’s gallery being more grotesque and twisted than we’ve seen since the Burton films. Arguably, this is also what happened with Casino Royale which killed what little was left of the classic camp during Pierce Brosnan’s tenure. While these examples are the more well-regarded ones, the dark side of the trend has been things like the Michael Bay Transformers series and their dudebro Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cousins.
Benjamin Bailey’s Nerdist article confronts an idea I’ve longed wanted to approach, but couldn’t really find my thesis without sounding petty and bitter (when I didn’t want to––I do love nostalgia trips). The idea that the franchises of our youth are nigh required to meet our adult sensibilities as they met the sensibilities of our youth is a strange request from rebooted or extended franchises. These properties spoke to us because they tapped into a piece of the zeitgeist that others couldn’t find or hold onto. Why should we expect or want anything different when reexamined for modern audiences thirty years later?
My journey into Final Fantasy continues with the second part of my ongoing series! This time, I actually advance the “storyline” a bit and even find a boat! And by “find a boat,” I clearly mean “take a boat from a bunch of stupid pirates through the use of excessive force.”
The “crossing the bridge” sequence is one of the more memorable moments of the game for me, which I suppose makes sense because it’s so different from the rest of the game. When you consider that the original release simply started with the player in front of Corneria/Cornelia (no cinematic intro) and very little was said outside of single text boxes, that bridge crossing was the closest the game had to a scripted story sequence. It’s the kind of game element that Final Fantasy would later become inundated with, but in the original 1989 release, this was the only one. If you compare it to some of the games contemporaries, that single sequence stands out as sort of a big deal.
As a kid, I never thought too much about how the game is “staged” based on what you can get to. First, you get the bridge to the north. Then, you get a boat, but the boat can only really go to one other place. Eventually, you blow a canal to the outer sea and can go to one or two more places. Then you get an airship. Although it looks like you’re in a big, open world to explore, you’re really not. I suppose I contrast it to the original Shining Force on Sega Genesis, which divided the gameplay into discrete chapters. Once you finished Chapter 1, you moved on to the area of Chapter 2 (and couldn’t go back). At this point, I could not say which method I prefer. Perhaps, when I get to a game that’s more “open world” I’ll have something different to say.
One of the things that became apparent to me during this part of the game was the totally wacky pricing structure within the world of Final Fantasy. It’s always sort of a weird joke when you compare prices of things. At this point in the game, it cost me 80 Gil to raise a character from the dead while it cost 50 Gil to stay at the Inn. A suit of fancy armor was 450 Gil, which is a hell of a lot more than 80 Gil. Of course, it’s a fantasy world and the whole idea of how the economy changes in the presence of the ability to raise the dead is the kind of thing nerdy economists write papers about.
WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew recovers from his serious bout of time-travel last week by watching Wil Wheaton’s tabletop adventure, Titansgrave: The Ashes of Volkana while Dan finds room on the bandwagon to jump on and start watching Netflix’s Stranger Things.
SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY?: Even though DC/Warner Bros.’ Suicide Squad only hit theaters today, audiences at premier screenings have been walking away less than happy, possibly sounding a cloister bell for the cinematic universe they’ve been trying to build since Man of Steel. Dan and Andrew investigate how the fate of this movie may influence future DC/Warner Bros. entries.
STATISTICS AND RHETORIC: Unintentionally hitting both Andrew and Dan’s wheelhouses, they examine a controversy that surfaced on the Manfeels Park blog where the author examined the strange disparity in the language around the interpretation of box office returns for both Ghostbusters and Star Trek Beyond. Despite having similar budgets and similar opening weekend numbers, Ghostbusters was declared by some to be a disaster for Paramount, while Star Trek‘s similar numbers were hailed as being a great success. What is going on here? Is it intentional? Is it warranted? Is it bad or good analysis?
Leave a comment about this week’s topics at forallintents.net. Be sure to also join the official Facebook and Google+ pages for links, conversations, and to meet other listeners. Help the show reach out to new listeners by leaving a review on the iTunes store.
And, for what it’s worth, there is (in a sense) a Transformers Genesis (re: the outtakes):
For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.
-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“Also Sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss (conducted by Herbert von Karajan)
-“Halloween Theme – Main Title” by John Carpenter
-“Pseudo Suicide” by Oysterhead
-“Ghostbusters” by Walk the Moon
-“Rest In Peace” by Nobuo Uematsu (from Final Fantasy VI)
First of all, Dan is correct. This movie rests a lot on nostalgia for prior Terminator movies. More accurately, this movie rests a lot on nostalgia for the first two: the 1984 film, The Terminator, and the 1991 film, Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The first fifteen or twenty minutes of the movie almost feel like a reboot of the original, with post-apocalyptic soldier, Kyle Reese, being ordered by revolutionary leader, John Connor, to step into the time travel device in order to stop a vicious killing machine from destroying the past. Not much later, we get to see the recreation of a popular moment of cinematic history: the Terminator beats up some weird ’80s punks to get some clothing.
From there, of course, the movie starts to go sideways. An older Arnold Termin-egger, along with an unidentified sniper, work together to stop the younger-looking killing machine. Soon after, Kyle Reese encounters a strange police officer who is revealed to be a T-1000 made of liquid metal (but not in the guise of Robert Patrick). It’s crazy, it’s out of control, and the movie lets us know that despite starting like the original The Terminator, this will be anything but. Soon enough, we have heroes Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor time travelling FORWARD to 2017, which should be after Judgment Day but is not. Instead, the nefarious villains of Cyberdyne Systems are about to realize some sort of stupid mega-app called “Genisys,” which promises to be the bomb.com, but will probably end up just being the bomb.
A few reviews I read expressed concern over the convoluted time travel timelines of this movie, and given that the producers intended to make a trilogy of films, the confusion is probably legitimate. But, as a sort of sequel to the first two Terminator films, I found this movie to be an interesting companion piece and contrast to the previous second sequel, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. The following analysis may contain spoilers, so be warned.
The original film The Terminator left the audience with the interesting idea that the whole story could only happen because it happened. The entire thing is a causal loop: Kyle Reese is sent back in time by John Connor to protect Sarah Connor, and in the process becomes John Connor’s father (explaining why John sent him back in the first place). Terminator 2: Judgment Day doubled down on the causal loop, further explaining that Cyberdyne Systems developed the requisite technology for Skynet and the Terminator from the remnants of the Terminator left behind in the first film. So, the audience realizes that this whole world and its future exist because of the fact that they exist.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day tries to change the narrative. After we learn what’s going on and who the real bad guys are, Sarah Connor convinces everybody that the best solution is to prevent Cyberdyne from ever being created. The takeaway theme from the movie is, “There’s no fate but what we make for ourselves.” By destroying all remnants of the Terminators and Cyberdyne Systems, Sarah and John Connor are able to avert the future apocalypse. Of course, this creates a bit of a paradox-sandwich as we have an established past that involves a future that no longer happens. But, let’s not worry about paradox sandwiches just yet.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines took a hard left on this theme, changing it into “No fate but what we delay for ten or so years despite our best efforts.” Watching that movie back in 2003, I was exceedingly disappointed on the turn that it took, although it made sense given that the producers were more interested in making post-apocalyptic, dark future Terminator movies. That’s also where we got Terminator: Salvation, which I am certain that I watched but I disliked with such intensity that I forgot everything about it.
That hard left is what I think makes Terminator: Genisys stand out from the other films and makes it feel more like a proper sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day. By the end of the movie, we find out that the personification of Skynet has essentially manipulated time in order to re-sequence the timeline to its own benefit. Instead of the “it’s going to happen eventually” narrative of T3, we have Skynet actively taking a role in manipulating time to its benefit. I guess you could say that Skynet has adopted the “No fate but what we make for ourselves” philosophy for itself. Oh, and Skynet is played by Matt Smith.
And that’s the thing that I really like about this new Terminator movie. T3 took the “take the story into your own hands” narrative of Terminator 2: Judgment Day and stole the agency and control of it. It said that no matter what you do, the terrible thing is going to happen. Terminator: Genisys did something different. It still acknowledged that the terrors of the future are a threat, but that it’s because they are actively working against you. It acknowledged that the “take the story into your own hands” narrative was just as much a thing that the villain could do as the heroes. It’s an interesting twist on the story. Somehow, that difference was important to me and I think is what makes Genisys a better “third movie” than Terminator 3:Rise of the Machines.
A large talk that basically started the whole GamerGate mess had to do with representation in video games, specifically with how female characters were presented and utilized within gameplay and narrative with the obvious and problematic conclusion being that female playercharacters were either underrepresented or, if present, lacked the variety or depth of the male protagonists.
However, the newest critical focus––and just as important––looks away from the screen and toward both the community and the developers. If the more forward-looking fans of gaming out there want more representation in games, we should also be asking ourselves about representation in the making of games. With regard to the community, there is a harrowing documentary that I discussed on the show awhile ago,GTFO, about female pro gamers and critics that I guarantee will have you wanting to throw a chair against the wall.
The Kotaku article discusses the story behind––and of––a new book, Women in Game Development: Breaking the Glass Level-Cap, that deals specifically with female developers and their road to being professionals in the field and how that road is paved with sacrifices, shame-dodging, and prioritizing aspects of their identity that males in the same positions never had to make. It’s infuriating how human beings are being treated in a field that, at the core of it, everyone loves so very much.
In a bit of selfish rank-pulling, I’m using “Worth a Look” as a “Save for Later” bookmark for myself. This article discusses Dungeons & Dragons as it is used in the recent Netflix hit, Stranger Things (which will be my “Week in Geek” in this week’s episode). Stranger Things has been a Facebook darling, especially for nerds born in, or who lived through, the 1980s and for good reason.
Stranger Things is less a snapshot of life in the 1980s and more of an evocation of 1980s adventure movies: The Goonies, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Stand By Me, Explorers, and the like. By mentioning those movies, I don’t mean that is nostalgically mining those movies for characters, plot points, or in-joke references; I would argue that’s not the case at all. Instead, it feels like those movies. The Duffer Brothers (and their directors) have seemingly “figured out” how those movies were paced, how they sounded, and how they looked to feel like a long-lost sibling to those earlier movies. It’s meta-eerie on top of the creepiness of the show itself. It’s able to capture what J.J. Abrams tried to capture (and did pretty well) in his excellent Super 8. But Stranger Things just does it right in an ephemeral way.
The show is framed (or so the article tells me, I haven’t finished the series) around Dungeons & Dragons, which Kunzelman decides to parse not only as a narrative bookend, but also as a thrust, arguing that the game “functions as the primary metaphor for how these young nerdy boys are able to communicate and cooperate with one another and how they contextualize the challenges they face.”
I am eager to read the article, but not as eager as I am to finish the show. It’s so good.
Things are out of sorts. People are lost to time. But Andrew and D. Bethel will do their damnedest to get another episode 100 to you on time (in time?). If you have not listened to Part 1 of Episode 100, be sure to do so before diving into part 2. Trust us. It’s important.
NICK SPRINGER AND THE FREMONT HORROR: Witness the first installment of a long-in-development (pre-podcast!) audio drama ripped from the minds of Andrew and Dan.
I AIN’T AFRAID: Andrew and Dan dig into the new Ghostbusters and love every ounce of it.
Nick Springer and the Fremont Horror Credits:
Story: Andrew Asplund
Script: D. Bethel
Directors: D. Bethel & Andrew Asplund
Editor: D. Bethel
Nick Springer: Andrew Asplund
Kasey O’Shea: Kyle Smith
Karen Waite: Elisa Parrett
Hector Vassos: Niall Feeney
-“Running on Gravel” by Benboncan
-“Man screaming” by Archeos
-“Zombie Bite 1” by Slave2theLight
-“Wing Flap (Flag Flapping)” by ani_music
-“FOLEY_Footsteps_Carpet_001” by conleec
-“11 Minutes of City Sounds” by Niedec (recorded in Seattle)
-“Getting in Car and Start” by jrssandoval
-“Starting Car from Inside” by evsecrets
-“VW Golf GTI Pull Away (Zoom H2n M&S)” by Everyday Sounds
-“Short drive, interior” by AugustSandberg
-“CarArriveAndStop” by jmdb
-“City highway busy cars pulling out” by natemarler
-“Walking-gravel” by xserra
-“01019 car door 3” by Robinhood76
-“1BramCamera” by kwahmah_02
Thanks for all those who helped this long-dreamed project get a leg-up into reality!
Please leave a review on iTunes to help spread the word to new potential listeners.
For all intents and purposes, that is officially 100 episodes.
-“A Journey Into Darkness” by Steve Henifin (from Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem)
-“Back in Time” by D. Bethel
-“The Worst That I Have Met (Nick Springer Theme)” by D. Bethel.
-“Back in Time” by Huey Lewis & The News
-“Stayin’ In Black” by Wax Audio
-“Fanfare” by Nobuo Uematsu (from Final Fantasy VI)