Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Alyssa Bereznak Is A Cunt

I think when you openly work for a tech blog called "Gizmodo", you lose the moral authority to complain that your date is too much of a nerd. I don't know what happened to Alyssa Bereznak. Maybe "Magic: The Gathering" murdered her parents, and she swore vengeance against the collectible card game. But for such an impotent, mean-spirited article, I am left with a tinge of optimism.

Here is a person who will die alone and unloved. That's a happy ending, right there.



Monday, 29 August 2011

Two Things That Are Stupid

1.) Gearbox essentially gave away a free copy of their upcoming game "Borderlands 2" to everyone who attended PAX. That is THOUSANDS of sales lost. I'm really not sure what their business plan is here.

We do all realize the reason Scott Pilgrim did so poorly at the box office is because they showed the movie for free, at Comic-Con, negating any reason for the only audience willing to pay to see it from doing so, right? Why would anyone think this would be a good example to follow?

EDIT: It has come to my attention that the vouchers for a free copy were limited to the 900 or so attendees of the Gearbox panel at PAX. So it probably won't bankrupt the guys the way it looked like it would when the story first hit. My bad.

I still say it's a shitty business strategy. Assuming none of those people buy an extra copy for no reason other than blind devotion/poor money-management, that's still a potential $63,000 net loss for them. But then, considering it was apparently the "highest-selling new IP" in 2009, maybe they feel like they can spare some change.

2.) The Warthog from the Halo series can be unlocked in the racing game Forza Motorsport 4... But you can't drive it. In a racing game.

May I kindly ask what the point is, then? That's like Sonic the Hedgehog being introduced into Smash Bros., but you can't fight him, or play as him, and he only stands there while Tails talks about the material that went into making his shoes.

Very weird people doing the promoting for video games lately. And that's not even touching on the Gears of War band-aids.



Thursday, 25 August 2011

West Memphis Three

It is my opinion(as it is many others') that the "West Memphis Three", 3 young men who were charged and convicted for the bizarre murders of 3 children in Arkansas in the 90's were in fact innocent. The investigation and subsequent trial remains one of the most appalling miscarriages of justice the United States has ever seen. Countless people, in and out of Hollywood have championed their cause to get a retrial, or a new investigation, or something. Anything from a state that would willingly let a possibly innocent man die, instead of facing the consequences of their mistakes.

Why, WHY did I only hear that they have been set free a week after the fact? And that Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh pretty much saved the day on this one. How is Kim Kardashian getting married supposed to be higher priority information here?

I'd rather be an uninformed git than watch the news. Look at the priorities of our media and tell me I'm wrong here.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Character Showcase: Vivi

I consider myself a character designer by heart. In order to make this blog a bit less ranty, maybe I should sometimes talk about a specific character design that works for me. Why it works for me, how it compares to similar designs, and what we can stand to learn from them. It could be from anything really. A book, a movie, a video game. Something with at least some semblance of a narrative, or at least something featuring a defined identity.

It could be a spotlight for protagonists, or some of my favourite villains. Or maybe an under-appreciated background character. It won't always be very in-depth or long, but I can never underestimate my debilitating need to not shut up.

We'll start with a character whose small stature belies his significance to me:

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Bungie, Part II

Part I is here.

I remember many years ago reading an article about how Bungie started playtesting their games with, I kid you not, actual soccer moms. Unfortunately, Google can only locate snarky forum posts that use this sort of information as ammunition. That's the kind of things 12-years try to use as an insult for a game someone else likes. Maybe Marcus Lehto is trying very hard to pretend it never happened, like George Lucas with the Star Wars Holiday Special.

Can you imagine priorities this stupid in another medium? That's not even selling ice to an eskimo. That's marketing a white-supremacist romantic comedy to Spike Lee. That's selling a book to a Tea Party rally.  If Bungie were a car dealership, they would be trying to appeal to the armless demographic by making every steering wheel a bear-trap.

Halo 3 stands today as the single most hyped anything in the history of consumerism. If Jesus comes back, he won't have as much build-up as this insipid swill received. It didn't fix much of what was wrong with the last game. It was still a confusing series of bullshit confrontations where it's impossible to tell how much damage has been inflicted. It still lied about the functionality of its weapons, in a genre where that's kind of important. And there's still virtually no engaging story or characters to speak of.

But at least it was pretty to look at again, and had a good soundtrack, so it was only mostly a failure. And more importantly, it revealed that the folks behind the games actually WERE good at something:

Community pandering.

Saturday, 13 August 2011


Click for full-view

Need to do stuff to keep awake, even if it's stupid stuff. Just so I can get a less weirdo sleep schedule... Or something. Shut up, I'm tired.

And I am trying to get a new webcomic off the ground. Trying to figure out if I can make something like that work on Blogspot, since I don't know how to code shit, and I think a lot of the free webcomic hosting places are a never-ending gauntlet of Sonic the Hedgehog sprite comics, furry porn, and furry Sonic the Hedgehog sprite porn comics.

I'm not saying what I have in mind is better. Just that those things are worse.

The biggest obstacle I think is that I can't figure out how, if it's even possible on Blogspot, to make the post image link into a thumbnail. One that leads to the full-size page. I'd prefer to just link the full-size page on its own, but I've been playing with the margin sizes and layout for the last hour and it would hurt the rest of the blog. And I don't really mind having to click a thumbnail or something to get a bigger image.

But that up there is as small as I can make this comic's pages here, and it would kind of suck to have a scene slightly spoiled before one could even zoom in and read the context.

Also, I'm already sick of "SPAAAACE". It's this year's "Cake is a lie" as far as overblown non-memes from Portal that weren't clever in the first place go. People have a way of going into well-written properties and only parroting the worst lines. It happened with "Hoo-ah!". It happened with "I'm Rick James, BITCH!", and it's happening here.

"Halo" belongs to Microsoft.



Friday, 12 August 2011

Classic Friday: Footprints

Since I've lost a lot of the material I was hoping to use for Classic Friday, I'm still deciding where to go with it from here. While I probably won't miss my reviews of Final Fantasy XIII and Mass Effect 2, I just realized yesterday that my writeup for Chrono Trigger is now erased from the world.


Fortunately, I still have one series of articles saved. And while it's been a while since I've written them, they're very dear to my cold and shriveled blood-pumper. If you think my blog has been a sea of angsty vomit so far, know that if I ever unleashed this content you'd get tired of my unflappable optimism before long.

While I figure this stuff out, here's something I liked about the Diamond/Pearl Pokey-man games:

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Alexander Macris, Appendum

I'd like to follow-up on yesterday's post. I've been hearing that perhaps James Portnow was in the wrong in a few places, namely in how he handled the sudden cash-overflow from supportive fans. The idea being that, since Extra Credits is featured on The Escapist, then logically they must be entitled to some of this outpouring of support.

What this fails to understand is that Allison Theus' arms are NOT the property of Alexander Macris, The Escapist and Themis Group. Macris has no actual legal stake in the Rockethub donation drive. He did not help in any way. He doesn't even pay these people! THEY cover the expenses, and forum rumblings I've heard suggest they may not be the only ones he's stiffing.

Demanding $60,000 from charity donations, meant to make sure one of your employees doesn't become an amputee is psychotic. There is no justifying that. You are not entitled to being paid by your slaves volunteers, you piece of shit! Alexander Macris is a gaping hole where a human should be.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

An Open Letter To Alexander Macris

Dear Alexander Macris,

I am sending you this message to let you know that I am finished with supporting The Escapist, and all of Themis-Group's subsidiaries.

But this is not your fault. Please understand that. Maybe the whole incident with Extra Credits wasn't your fault. Maybe James Portnow is a filthy liar and you are the victim here, in a case where you felt entitled to 75% of charity funds directed to allowing a woman to continue doing the work you apparently didn't pay her for, as well as going toward an indie game scholarship.

No. The real problem lies with me.

Or maybe it's you.

You see, I was under the mistaken impression that you weren't just running a business here. I was foolish enough to believe that what was featured on The Escapist mattered to you. I was convinced that despite this magazine's myriad flaws, you would never replace all of its content with animal porn if it would bring in more traffic dollars.
It was wrong of me to assume you were a human being, Mr. Macris. This is my shame to bear. Yours is to let the single-most important video game-based webseries on the internet slip through your fingers, while holding on as tight as you can to Jim Sterling.

I mean, it's okay if all that matters to you is the money. You run a business, after all. It's not your job to concern yourself with what could make our hobbies more enriching, or our dialogue on current events more thoughtful. But don't expect me to keep giving you traffic or a subscription. When you willingly parted ways with James Portnow, Allison Theus and the other guy, you decided you don't want my business.

Actually, this decision leads me to believe you don't want anyone's business. Losing these three is going to bite you and your bottom line in the ass. If you couldn't catch more flies with honey than vinegar, people wouldn't have given more than 3 times the amount they asked for when it came time to solicit donations from fans for Allison's surgery. They cared enough about them to pay up in a time where money is already pretty scarce.

If you can't understand why people would be loyal to those they trust, who make them feel appreciated, and show their appreciation with their wallets, then you're a pretty shitty business man. And if you think you can succeed in business without that kind of audience, while treating your employees like slaves and your fans like mindless cattle, then is it any wonder you're in debt?

Photoshop couldn't make this picture any douchier.

How exactly does this benefit your compan(ies)? Do you have shareholders? How do they feel about your slippery business dealings pissing off and alienating the most patient, optimistic and reasonable human beings you'll ever meet? Is this what you had in mind when Themis Group acquired The Escapist? Do you really think letting them escape, and pissing off thousands of people who have proven they're willing to pay for this sort of content is a sound business strategy?

What do you have left? Do you really think Ben Croshaw's imp plushies are enough to sustain your salary, let alone every other expense?

Who the fuck do you think you are? Do you think we care more about you? Do you think you're why we kept coming to The Escapist, even after your forum moderators banned people for saying the words "ad-block" or for not thinking Happy-Thoughts? We've come to know and enjoy the Extra Credits crew, albeit vicariously. What do we even know about you? We can determine from your past actions that you aren't a successful man, or even a grown-up for that matter. You're certainly not good at what you do. How does it feel knowing a guy who lives with his mom and draws My Little Pony fan-art thinks you're a failure?

Not as bad as I feel, because I actually believed in your company. I would have stood by it if there were any indication that you cared at all about what you do. I was even going to get a subscription, because even though you yourself are a laughinstock, your business is home to a lot of people whose opinions are valuable to me. Enough to support financially. I held up your magazine's website as the best place to go for news about video games, movies, television and other popular culture, and with the best correspondents to go to for critical analysis and discussion of these things. If you didn't want The Escapist to be any of this, why don't you just go to work at IGN, and stop ruining a place that has potential?

If bankruptcy is what you want, I will respect your decision and encourage others to ignore you until you're homeless. Maybe you're in some sort of Brewster's Millions/The Producers situation, where you have to get rid of as much public good-will and money as possible, in order to cash in on your great-uncle's will. Fine. But don't think for a second that you can still proclaim that what you do matters. Nor can you continue to claim that The Escapist is some beacon of integrity.

Unlike you, Russ Pitts, The Escapist or Themis Group, games do matter. And so do the people who play them. I hope you understand that you could have mattered too.

~Alex Hill

Monday, 8 August 2011

Bungie, Part I

There is a new "ViDoc" out from Bungie. It details the rise and eventual fall of a company that only made decent products when they weren't burdened by the enormity of success. It is the story of a company that was founded by a bunch of college buddies renting out a cramped, stinky room, and ballooned into a faceless monolith that charges $70 to have explosive diarrhea once every few years.

Whenever a new Halo game was in development, Bungie would release "Video Documentaries" about their progress. They're certainly not the day-to-day in-depth look you'd get from Peter Jackson's video diaries, and they're more PR than anything, but I looked forward to seeing how much this company could lie through its teeth when saying how "awesome" Halo 2 was. I wrote my thesis on how that was such a steaming pile of dog shit that the games industry still hasn't quite recovered. Because of that one game, we have Xbox Live, and thus a dependence on violent, stupidity, and sequels to gray and brown FPS military masturbation.

It is a 60-minute long look at how a small company of RTS game designers ruined video games.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

My Precious Car Toons

I plan to do a list of my favourite cartoons. Probably ten, but maybe I'll be a bit generous, since I don't know when to shut up.

Actually, I was considering making one weeks ago. did something recently where they got a whole bunch of people to contribute their lists of favourite toons. I had a falling out with them a while back, but this was the first time I actually considered trying to make amends, because this is the type of project I'd be willing to put differences aside for.

But they know what they did, and I don't think I'm gonna get an apology after eight months of waiting, so you'll get your cartoons list here. I don't know when though. I still have a huge back-catalogue of ginormous articles I need to get through. But it's on my to-do list.



Friday, 5 August 2011

Classic Fri-

No Classic Friday this week either. BUT! This time I have a good excuse:

The article I was planning to put up today no longer exists. And it turns out I didn't have it saved anywhere. And the old site where it came from is now a dead url. It was my review of Halo 3: ODST, which I was going to get out of the way/reference in a later, much bigger article I plan to do about Bungie's history as a developer.

I feel pretty stupid right now, because I liked that one, and I was so sure I had it saved. And I thought I had more time to get it from the old site. Pretty poor planning on my part. And while I remember the basic gist of it, the only part I know word for word was the last sentence:

"[Halo] is finally about something: It's about damn time."



Thursday, 4 August 2011

Extra Credits: Art =/= Not Fun

I've got at least 5 huge posts in the works simultaneously. I'm gonna chip away at 'em over the next week. In the meantime, once again I must thrust in the general direction of James Portnow and co. and say YES. YES. THAT. WHAT THEY SAID.

Again, not the biggest Extra Credits fan, but they are right about this. The argument that we should call off the exploration of games' capacity to delve into richer themes in a mature fashion, just so we can stay in our little nostalgic box forever is part of why video games are less a hobby, and more of an industry. That attitude must be thrown overboard if we are to stay afloat.



Tuesday, 2 August 2011

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Megatron

I've got a few articles that are taking longer to prepare than I would have liked. Sorry about the cobwebs around here because of that. In the meantime, here's something I can post:

I would like a crossover of My Little Pony and Transformers.

One of these things is not like the other.