Archive for May, 2016

Why are Video Game Movies so Bad?

Posted in Grumblings with tags , , , on May 29, 2016 by chemiclord

This is a question that seems to come up more than once, and usually after the latest “big studio” attempt to transition from the console to the big screen.

And sure enough, the topic has churned up now that Warcraft and Angry Birds stumb…

I still can’t believe that’s a thing.

But the fact that it is a thing ties into Problem #1:

Problem #1: Hollywood is picking up some REALLY dumb games.

This really isn’t something that’s too hard to figure out, especially since Hollywood has a really hard time producing good movies from screenplays developed right in their wheelhouse.

So, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that when they’re looking to adapt a video game, they’d point at the top sellers list and go, “Ehhh… that one.  Get the rights to that one.”

Which is how you wind up with Tetris: The Movie.

And I wish I was making that up.  Truth can be stranger than any fiction, and leads to Problem #2:

Problem #2: Let’s be honest… video game storytelling has traditionally stunk.

Sorry, but it’s true.  You know it.  I know it.  We all know it.  And that very painful trait isn’t something that translates well into a medium where the story has to carry the work.

Scoff at Mortal Kombat and Super Mario Bros. for how awful those movies were, but really… how many people have actually read the companion material for the really popular games in the medium’s history (i.e. the ones that actually get tapped to make that jump)?

For the longest time, video game stories were an afterthought.  The gameplay itself was expected to be the carrying element.  It’s only fairly recently that the storytelling in video games has reached a point where it reasonably is expected to be a primary (if not the primary) element in the quality of the product.

We’re only now reaching a point where the likes of Mass Effect or Assassin’s Creed will start drawing interest from major studios, the latter of which is actually being filmed as we speak, and one that I think has the narrative chops to make said transition well.

Except for Problem #3:

Problem #3: The Uwe Boll Effect

For all the blatant cheesecake and horny male pandering, underneath the Dead or Alive series hides a remarkably coherent plot (albeit a weird one).  So, obviously, the answer is to completely gut that plot, ignore everything about the characterization, relationships, interactions, and how events entwine… and instead mash together something that barely resembles what your audience has already demonstrated they resonate with.

This is hardly a problem with just video games.  Books to movies like to do this too; there seems to be a pathological urge by directors and screen writers to put their own “stamp” on the work by arbitrarily changing things.

At least with books, you can argue that cinematography requires some changes (things that happen in a book, like internal thoughts, don’t really translate well, for example).  But video games, being a visual medium itself, generally shouldn’t require that much narrative meddling.

There’s a bunch of other tripwires involved, but these are the three big ones from my angle, and until those have been resolved, I’m afraid we’re not going to be seeing too many good video game movies in the near future.



On Captain ‘Murica.

Posted in Grumblings on May 27, 2016 by chemiclord

Despite having been a webcomic writer for two years, and directly working with one of the most prominent webcomic creators in the medium’s history, I’ve never exactly been a comic or manga enthusiast.

First is a limit of only so many hours in a day.  Between balancing a day job and creating my own stuff, I don’t exactly have all that much free time to pick up and follow comics, especially American comics, which are known for endless reboots, redesigns, remakes, parallel stories, etc…

Which leads to the second reason.  While I see tremendous potential in comics and manga as a storytelling medium, it only very rarely reaches its potential.  Mostly because artists and writers are thrown onto a project with very little understanding of what makes those established characters compelling to the audience… or if they do, they just don’t care.

We saw an example of this with the nigh unmitigated disaster that was DC’s “New 52” reboot.  We saw an example of this when some nitwit at Marvel decided that a married Spiderman just wasn’t cool enough in the “One More Day” storyline.

And we’re seeing it again with the latest “shocking”, “compelling”, “earth-shaking” twist with the original Captain America.

Now, Captain America going through some weird phases is hardly a new phenomenon.  The guy was turned into a werewolf and a zombie depending on the continuity involved.

But this one is one where Ol’ Cap has crossed a line that probably shouldn’t have ever been crossed.  Not only is Steve Rogers a member of Hydra (the Nazi analogue that by its own admission is supposed to be the bridge to the Fourth Reich), he supposedly always has been.

This is, unequivocally, a terrible idea.  And whoever thought of that should have been slapped repeatedly until the stupid stopped.

The problem isn’t that a renown hero has really been playing a long game.  It’s specifically Captain America, the production of two Jewish creators specifically during the World War II era and the rise of Nazi Germany and the deplorable crimes against humanity that the Nazis caused.  While America was waffling in a passive-aggressive isolationism with business leaders that openly supported the Third Reich (let’s just say you might want to read about the history of the Ford family, those who insist on buying domestic), Simon and Kirby were calling out their country to act in a climate that was wary of the Jewish presence in America at best, and openly hostile at worst.

An iconic character created specifically as an ideological counter to the Nazi menace should have never been considered to have been a member of the MCU’s Nazi analogue.  It spits in the face of the people who created it and trivializes history for the sake of a “shocking development.”

It’s bad, and Nick Spencer should feel bad for being so bad.

On Going Back…

Posted in Updates with tags , , , on May 27, 2016 by chemiclord

Just a minor update to report.

People who own the ebook versions of Dire Water and the Tower of Kartage might want to consider updating their copies.  There’s no content changes or anything, but the ebooks have been updated to function similar to the latter two the series with properly functional Table of Content links.

I hope you’ll like the alterations.  Going through old manuscripts and manually fixing the formatting issues that allowed me to submit my own compiled mobi and epub files was rather time consuming.

And Now There Were Four…

Posted in Updates with tags , , on May 20, 2016 by chemiclord

And at last, Book 4: The Daynish Campaign, is here.

This particular book came together during some pretty rough moments of personal drama, which didn’t help the pressure I put on myself to get it just right, and what contributed heavily to why it dropped a month later than my general goal of two books a year. The desire to get it just right is especially important to me because now we finally are going to start getting into the meat of the Endgames story.

While Tower of Kartage kinda set the mechanics of how the world works, and Dire Water and Fire Fox kinda gave us a bird’s eye view of the world itself and the events that take place, now we’re finally going to see a more ground level perspective, specifically of the adventuring days of Pirogoeth’s life that up until now had only been hinted at. This is really digging into actual canon events of the entire MT world, and I won’t deny being absolutely petrified at times that I will not present it in a quality fashion.

Anyway, enough of my rambling. I hope you enjoy it, and are ready to dig in further while I get Book 5, The Great Underground Empire, ready!