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Episode 139 – A Warm Heat

Episode 139 – A Warm Heat

WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew watches through the first season of the hit Starz show, Ash vs. Evil Dead while Dan plays through the 2014 Bethesda game, Wolfenstein: The New Order, the reboot of the classic first-person shooter Id franchise.

KEEPING SCORES: It was announced this week that Danny Elfman has been hired to compose music for the upcoming DCEU movie, Justice League, after the original composer, Tom Holkenborg (aka Junkie XL), amicably left the project. Dan and Andrew discuss the expectations for an Elfman score in a modern superhero cinema context, and discuss their thoughts on film and televisions scores in general.

LINKS:

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“Iron Man 3” by Brian Tyler

Worth a Look

Worth a Look

Whatever your thoughts may be about BioWare’s Mass Effect: Andromeda, there is no doubt that something happened during its development that lead to such a rocky debut, a series of choices so clouded in the public’s questions and shrouded in the mystery a company like EA’s BioWare can afford, the game was otherwise assumed to be relegated to the “well, that happened” category of games and we (as the gaming public) would be forced to move on.

This frankly bizarre secrecy around AAA game development shines a light on a major deficiency in the community––companies can bury “failed” games in mystery because they can get away with it. Though not focused on a failed game, a few years ago the BBC made a docudrama about the legal troubles of rockstar game studio, Rockstar Games, against which the developer filed suit, in a bit of irony. The development of Sony’s long-delayed The Last Guardian was mostly kept behind curtains, allowing the game to speak for itself when its time finally arrived, which had the aggregated conclusion of “it’s fine.” Though these are two of many examples, most of the community has accepted the idea that we will most likely never know how the choices were made, for better or for worse, and these companies will keep their business secreted away behind blast doors.

Peebee from Mass Effect: Andromeda. Image courtesy of BioWare and Electronic Arts.

Luckily, some people are starting to catch on to the fact that “video game history” isn’t relegated to the eighties and nineties alone; it’s happening now. Right now. Mass Effect: Andromeda got a lot of dirt piled onto it. I enjoyed it for what it was and what it’s worth, but the tidal chart of nerd judgement is rather unforgiving. If something doesn’t meet a certain standard (a standard I believe is often rather arbitrary), that game, movie, comic, or tv show is dumped upon. There is no critical middle anymore in popular culture. And such a strong negative reception can taint a studio or franchise for a long while, a stain nobody can afford to live with. So, with things like Jason Schreier’s article coming so soon after Mass Effect: Andromeda‘s release, it can shed some much needed counterpoint onto the conversation.

To be clear, Schreier’s article isn’t an apology for the game. Instead, it’s investigative; he isn’t casting judgement, but instead acknowledging that something happened and the public reacted to it and he simply wanted to find out why:

[To] those who worked on it, Mass Effect: Andromeda felt unusually difficult. This was a game with ambitious goals but limited resources, and in some ways, it’s miraculous that BioWare shipped it at all.

This is an effort to chronicle recent history rather than simply cast it in one light or another, but to try and find out the whole story so historians have all the pieces with which to assemble hindsight instead of waiting for a day when only two or three members of the team are alive to tell the tale. This has actually been a trend I’ve seen recently and it warms my heart to see members of the games press turning a historical eye to the industry instead of being the first to give readers a hot take (not that hot takes and investigative pieces are mutually exclusive). Waypoint published a fantastic oral history of Halo, a genre of historical recording of which I’m growing fonder (more on that in a future episode). Waypoint also published a fascinating look at development documents for what would have been the sequel to the 2012 Square Enix-published Sleeping Dogs. I think the industry needs to be more self-aware, or else corporate red tape could actually contribute in the hindering of keeping this medium from becoming the art form it deserves to be.

Way back in Episode 58, Andrew and I discussed our (and listeners’) “gateways to geekdom,” accepting that the road to fandom is not necessarily––perhaps rarely––a straight path. A lot of us come to our passions through strange on-ramps or off-ramps from one fandom or medium to another. Popular culture has definitely done this with superheros and their stories with the rise of superhero cinema. It certainly wasn’t the comics industry who were making amazing books that the populace grabbed onto, but filmmakers who loved the comics and finally, finally, started making good movies based on those properties. Does that make cinematic universe enthusiasts any less of a fan than comic book readers? Ultimately, no. A fan of Iron Man is a fan of Iron Man is a fan of Iron Man.

The few times we spoke with friend-of-the-site, Elijah Kaine, he mentioned his initial gateway into comicsdom––of which he has become thoroughly ensconced and well-read––was not comic books but the X-Men animated series, and this was probably the “in” for many X-Men or comic book fans. How many people started reading The Walking Dead because they watched the AMC tv show first? During my teenage years, my severe interest in Japanese feudal history and martial culture could be traced back to things like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or The Highlander. But they were gateways for me to walk through and soak up the world on the other side of the jamb.

Doctor Fate v Atrocitus: Dawn of Injustice 2. Screenshot courtesy of NetherRealm/Warner Bros.

Mike Diver’s article hints at something a bit more nuanced. He discusses the fact that he’s learning about DC’s characters by playing the fighting game that uses them. Sure, he’s also jumping online to mine wikis, but the fact is he’s actually getting a strong sense and knowledge of these comic book characters by playing a video game set in that world (but in its own continuity). In fact, it may be fair to say he’s becoming a fan:

Here I am, playing, and learning—and with superhero fiction such a staple of modern entertainment, it’s good to get deeper into its (to me, at least) weirder corners, via the accessible “in” of an easy-to-pick-up fighting game.

This intersectional literacy is probably the most common method of knowledge creation and meaning-making, more than traditional, antiquated, or teacher-centric educational models would lead us to believe. While my previous examples were my gateway to an interest in the topic, sometimes there are non-traditional texts––like video games, comic books, movies, tv shows, etc.––that actually gives the user information that would otherwise only be learned in that actual field. I wonder how many people learned legitimate history from playing games like Age of Empires, or gained a knowledge about different aspects of our world’s cultures from playing Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? How many learned about the intertwined influence of economics and politics by playing Crusader Kings or Civilization? How many people developed an interest in the hard sciences because they watched Star Trek? The answer to all of these questions is likely the same: many more than you would think.

Episode 137 – Atomic Karate

Episode 137 – Atomic Karate

WEEK IN GEEK: Both Andrew and Dan saw Wonder Woman this week and decided to bring in a third voice to discuss the movie, Mary Traverse (from our friendly rivals, The Nerdhole), and they go pretty deep into this excellent, excellent movie.

THE GREAT WAR: Noting the novel decision to set Wonder Woman during World War I, Dan and Andrew discuss that war’s place in popular culture.

WORKS CITED:

WORKS CONSULTED:

LINKS:

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“Is She With You? (Wonder Woman Theme)” by Hans Zimmer & Junkie XL (from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice)
-“En Avant La Musique” by Manuel Dante Mathieu Faivre, Miguel Vladimir Saboga, and Yvo Abadi (from Valiant Hearts: The Great War)
-“Wonder Woman Theme Song” performed by the Ron Hicklin Singers (written by Charles Fox and Norman Gimble)

Episode 132 – The Tainted Lens

Episode 132 – The Tainted Lens

WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew puts his manual dexterity and patience to the test while assembling the LEGO Creator Expert Parisian Restaurant set, while Dan can’t stop playing Double Fine’s recent release of Full Throttle Remastered.

LAPSING SUBSCRIPTIONS: DC Comics announced that the third season of the fan-beloved Young Justice animated series, which will be called Young Justice: Outsiders, will be an exclusive release on DC’s as-of-yet unreleased subscription streaming service. It marks yet another step in content providers eschewing more popular platforms like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime in favor of doing something similar but centralizing around their specific content. Is this where streaming is heading, to a diversified subscription market? Or is it a swing at extra revenue that will ultimately be futile? D. Bethel and Andrew discuss.

WORKS REFERENCED:

LINKS:

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio

Episode 128 – His Curry Name

Episode 128 – His Curry Name

WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew plays catch-up after the Guestcast by letting us know about his time with the indie game, Turmoil, as well as discussing his experience with Alton Brown’s live show, Eat Your Science, while Dan talks about reboots and his hesitancy going into the first two issues of DC Comics’ new series, The Wild Storm.

MASS REJECTS: As Andrew reported, the new Bioware game, Mass Effect Andromeda, has met with a lot of criticism. However, said criticism is all over the map. Dan and Andrew get deep talking about expectations, Mass Effect, fandoms, and video games as cultural expressions. WARNING: the hosts get a little worked up.

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“WildC.A.T.s Theme Song” by Sheree Jaecocke and Gerry Mosby
-“A Trail of Hope” by John Paesano (from Mass Effect Andromeda)

Episode 121 – Almost an Andrew Sandwich

Episode 121 – Almost an Andrew Sandwich

WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew watches Netflix’s Travelers while Dan watches Warner Bros.’ Suicide Squad.

GAME OVER ALL OVER AGAIN: This week, Dan and Andrew discuss not only the built-in replayability of games but also examine why we replay games. Simply among the two hosts, the reasons for replaying games differs vastly, which caused us to ask the following:

Why do you replay games and what games (or kinds of games) those would be (tell us in the comments)?

SPOTLIGHT – RESIDENT EVIL: With the release this week of Resident Evil VII: Biohazard (or for those in Japan, Biohazard VII: Resident Evil), Andrew and Dan look back at the game that spurred a genre and kicked off a franchise that is now over twenty years old.

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“A Fistful of Dollars” by Ennio Morricone
-“10 Minutes Until Explosion” by Makoto Tomozawa (from Resident Evil Original Soundtrack Remix

Episode 119 – Too Much Content

Episode 119 – Too Much Content

WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew plays Overcooked! with Taylor Katcher while Dan watches Crazyhead on Netflix.

PHOENIX FALLING?: The Phoenix Comicon has come under scrutiny recently as it became public that, essentially, people would have to pay to be volunteers at the show by paying dues to become members of the Blue Ribbon Army Social Club. Dan and Andrew discuss the issues surrounding this controversy, such as “Why is this a controversy at all?”

Sources:

UPDATE: Square Egg CEO and Phoenix Comicon director, Matthew Solberg, has resigned his position on the board of the Blue Ribbon Army.

MINDING THE NUMBERS: In Bleeding Cool article covering December’s comic book sales numbers, Andrew and Dan dive deep into 2016 sales by Marvel and DC and compare their respective performances and draw some interesting (if very not scientific) conclusions from the data.

D. Bethel’s Exhaustive Data Collection

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“Nerd Law” by D. Bethel
-“Bleeding Me” by Metallica

Episode 114 – Su Gana

Episode 114 – Su Gana

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WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew played DC Legends as well as Peter Molyneux’s new mobile game, The Trail while Dan got sentimental up reading Prophet: Earth War issue number 6, which finally wraps up the big Prophet reboot.

REMEMBER, REMEMBER: Though Dan and Andrew missed November 5th to properly discuss V for Vendetta, in the eyes of some Americans, the country did us a solid by possibly setting up a situation where that story could happen for real. They discuss V for Vendetta‘s relative applicability in terms of the comic, the films 2005 release, and 2016 America. Being an Alan Moore book and with the recent elections so near, politics are discussed but––with hope––done so through a critical lens and as it applies to nerdy stuff.

Leave your thoughts about this week’s topics as comments at forallintents.net. Join the Facebook page for conversations with listeners, exclusive links, and notifications about updates to the website. Subscribe and leave a review of the show on the iTunes store to help spread the word to new potential listeners. Also, be sure to subscribe to the official YouTube channel.

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“The Girl from Ipanema” by Antonio Carlos Jobim
-“Rockin’ in the Free World” by Neil Young

Episode 113 – The Lord of Clapation

Episode 113 – The Lord of Clapation

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WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew wades through the neck-deep waters of Civilization VI and loves every second of it while D. Bethel watches the crowd-funded fan film, Cable: Chronicles of Hope by K&K Productions.

WHAT’S NEXT?: Considering the imminent political event happening in the United States of America, Dan and Andrew examine how television has taken a look at the presidency by comparing and contrasting the pilot episodes (mostly) of The West Wing and House of Cards (though they specifically already discussed the House of Cards pilot in Episode 37).
*Audio clip captured from The West Wing, “In the Shadow of Two Gunmen, Part II.”

INFINITE CRISES IN INFINITE MOVIES: This week, news hit that director Rick Famuyiwa left the DC/Warner Bros. film, The Flash, late into pre-production. This is the second director to leave the project, and the third to leave a film set in the DC Universe established with 2013’s Man of Steel (before this, Michelle MacLaren left Wonder Woman). Andrew and Dan examine the state of the DC Universe movies and wonder what the outcome may be for this grand experiment. Referenced in this segment is the Ghostbusters v. Star Trek Beyond discussion from Episode 101, if you want background on that controversy.

Again, D. Bethel’s webcomic, Long John, has finished up its second chapter. We encourage you to give it a look and to share if you like it.

Leave your thoughts as comments at forallintents.net. Be sure to join the official Facebook page. Subscribe to the show on iTunes and also help spread the word by leaving a review on the iTunes store. Subscribe and like the videos found on our YouTube Channel.

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“The West Wing Opening Theme” by W. G. Snuffy Walden (performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra)
-“I Ran (So Far Away)” by A Flock of Seagulls
-“House of Cards Main Title Theme” by Jeff Beal

News Blast: Wonder Woman and the United Nations

News Blast: Wonder Woman and the United Nations

DC Comics’ Wonder Woman recently made the news in a rather peculiar way. The United Nations announced that they have selected Wonder Woman to be the “United Nations Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls.” As Wonder Woman approaches the 75th anniversary of her creation, she will be used by the United Nations to promote messages of and about the empowerment of women and gender-based violence.

In her satin tights fighting for our rights. And the old Red, White, and Blue.
Wonder Woman. In her satin tights fighting for our rights. And the old Red, White, and Blue.

It’s not every day that a fictional character gets named as an honorary Ambassador for the United Nations. The UN will be holding an official ceremony on October 21 to “bestow” the title upon Wonder Woman. By doing so, the UN hopes to promote its Sustainable Development Goal #5: “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” The President of DC Entertainment, Diane Nelson, along with unnamed “special guests” will join the Secretary-General for this honor. It is not clear if Gal Gadot or Lynda Carter will be among the attendees.

This news comes shortly after the naming of the next UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres. With growing concern over the lack of women in positions of leadership at the United Nations, some have argued that this honorary ambassadorship is a token effort and a deflection. Given that the United Nations had previously forbade the BBC from associated Doctor Who’s UNIT with the United Nations over concerns that it did not properly represent the United Nations, it seems perhaps a bit peculiar that the warrior woman from Themyscira would be recognized as an ambassador.