Tag Archives: Downton Abbey

Upstairs, Basement

We have all seen the TV shows, and felt with both sides of the Victorian houses that had an upstairs and downstairs in London, places like Downton Abbey or were merely in Brideshead and we decided to revisit them. Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Brendan Coyle, Jim Carter, Maggie Smith, Jeremy Irons, John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier, Ian Ogilvy and Anthony Andrews. Some of the biggest stars have been identified and idolised with this Victorian era view, some even in more than one of these series. We have felt for the high side and the low side, yet in all these times, there was always a feel of justice and acceptance for both sides. So why on earth the utter idiocy and non-acceptable acts of Lord Philipps, 4th Viscunt St Davids (pun with the additional missing ‘right’ and ‘honourable’ intended) Rhodri Colwyn Philipps decided to state “£5,000 for the first person to ‘accidentally’ run over this bloody troublesome first generation immigrant.” on social media is completely beyond me. I myself have been mostly outspoken in favour of Brexit, yet that does not take away the right of any Bremainer to voice their issues. Now I admit that plenty of those do not really voice it that clear, complete or correct. Yet it is still their right and of course those who fail to make the decent point will work in my Brexit favour and I was on the fence for the longest of time. It was the voice of Mark Carney in the House of Lords who got me from Brexit and moved me towards neutral on the fence. In the end the lack of insightfulness by Mario Draghi as he decided to print a trillion euro’s and wantonly spend it on no one knows what pushed me clearly back into the Brexit field. These issues all matter, because anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller had every right to campaign for her Bremain conviction. In all this, we might also ask a few questions regarding senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot at this point. That is based on the following in the article we see the quote “Mine includes, torturing Tony Blair, Hilary Clinton, Isis, Dave (PM) the forgettable, Murdoch … Oh and that hideous jumped up immigrant Gina Miller.“, which was the one that was found racially aggravating. Yet when we see the other responses, like “Please will someone smoke this ghastly insult to our country? Why should I pay tax to feed these monkeys? A return to Planet of the Apes is not acceptable” another vocal attack on Gina Miller. Now, the judge found that this was not menacing and acquitted Lord Phillips of the charge related to that post. So in this case let’s take a step back to the 14th of march when we see (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/mar/14/face-off-mps-and-social-media-giants-online-hate-speech-facebook-twitter), where we see “Social Media companies including Twitter, Facebook and Google have come under pressure from MPs for failing to take tougher action to tackle hate speech online” so as we see people like Yvette Cooper taking cheap shots at technological complicated issues to get a few easy points before the election, it seems that in regards to Gina Miller, UK’s little Yvette seems to be either really really quiet, or the media decided just to not take notice of her. Is that not weird too? It is all a little too sanctimonious to me.

Another post from this Lord Thingamajig was “I will open the bidding. £2,000 in cash for the first person to carve Arnold Sube into pieces, piece of shit” which was seen by her honour to be ‘menacing’ but not ‘racially aggravated’. Let’s take you through the legality. In the assault side we see ‘the actus reus of assault is committed when one person causes another to apprehend or fear that force is about to be used to cause some degree of personal contact and possible injury. There must be some quality of reasonableness to the apprehension on the part of the victim‘. So this is supposedly a lord, a wealthy man and for all intent and purpose an intolerable buffoon (read: legally speaking a man who is not very nice). In support I offer R v Ireland [1997] 3 WLR 534, “The defendant made a series of silent telephone calls over three months to three different women. He was convicted under s.47 Offences against the Person Act 1861. He appealed contending that silence cannot amount to an assault and that psychiatric injury is not bodily harm“, yet in social media, empty screens have no value and the specific part “Holroyd J. to a jury that “no words or singing are equivalent to an assault”: Meade’s and Belt’s case 1 (1823) 1 Lew. C.C. 184” could also give rise that poetry and prose within social media texts could carry the same weight, allowing for less defence by the defending abuser on social media, especially if that person would try to rely on some obscure dark comedy aspect. In addition to the earlier given, as the quote included ‘£2,000 in cash for the first person‘ making it a contest (read: race to the target) and here we see again in the case R v Ireland [1997] 3 WLR 534 the issue given as ‘to fear an immediate application of force‘ now comes into play with £2,000 and with 20,000 dimes it would become anyone’s dime to relieve economic hardship, which is overwhelming to many people in the UK.

Although he has been found guilty, it seems to me that as he was acquitted from some parts. Yet these parts are part of a whole, this whole is not just his mere right of communication, it is the abusive approach he makes in all this and as such in the Mens Rea part we need to find that ‘in contact to the other and that contact was caused either intentionally or recklessly‘, well it seems to me that the published texts clearly shows the reckless part, which is evidently seen by thousands if not millions of others. Although the precise places were not given to me, a case could be made that it could have been intentional. You see, some were responses to categories. I am guessing that the ‘naughty ideas on orgasm‘ were in some ‘girly’ page or a given section on sex in for example the Guardian, as such it will be hard to prove that there was ‘intent’, yet reckless had already been established and that was enough.

In all of this there is no given defence. The options offered by the accused on the matter like “It’s not for first generation immigrants to behave the way Gina Miller did” is one I can immediately counter. She is a resident of the UK, a legal one (which has no influence), as such she has a freedom of speech, a freedom of opinion and a right to be politically aligned in any direction. As I stated, I am in opposition of her Bremain view, but it remains a valid view, whether right or wrong is in the eyes of the beholder. In her eyes I am the one with the wrong view on ‘Brexit v Bremain’. In the article (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/11/man-jail-offering-money-run-over-gina-miller-rhodri-philipps-viscount-brexit) that started all this is also the quote “The judge added: “To some who don’t know you they would perceive the offers of bounty as menacing.”“, her honour seems to step over the issue that there were two money offering events as such there is a pattern, in the second there is the issue that in this economic day and age there is the risk that too many people would take a member of the aristocracy at their word, as such these were two oral contracts towards establishing a criminal act. The fact that I see no mention of this is actually a larger issue. In this we see a lot more at revolvy.com (not sure about the source at present regarding correctness of data). Here we see that he holds half a dozen titles, all inherited. In addition we see “Following a complaint made in November 2016, Philipps was arrested in January 2017 by Metropolitan Police officers investigating online abuse against a 51-year-old woman. In March 2017 he was charged with malicious communications with racially aggravated factors, over alleged threats against Gina Miller, the woman behind a successful legal challenge against the UK government’s intention to give notice to leave the European Union without an act of parliament“, this implies that Rhodri Philipps is an optional repeat offender, a fact that the Guardian did not make mention of.

So as I seem to have wrapped that up neat and decently tight, it seems that any upcoming article on Twitter social media and online hate speech should be thrown in the faces of any MP (literally throw that paper into their faces I mean), with the mention that unless they are a lot more consistent in their actions and silence regarding Gina Miller, they should shut the ‘eff’ up and start doing something useful for a living.

The other part that irritates me a little is the sterility of the event as the article shows. Now, from the Guardian points of view that makes sense, the reality is that this is an emotional situation and as such emotions will run high soon as such it makes sense. In addition, there is nothing wrong with the article that Julia Gregory wrote, yet the fact that I got a lot more issues, events and facts in front of me in about 5 minutes gives rise that the lack of illumination of acts that several papers show in the last 6 months regarding Rhodri Philipps, the 4th Viscount St Davids give rise to a loosely translated ‘structural problem’ with this person and the way how he communicates. Now as stated before we all have the freedom of speech and expression, which is not in question, yet this person bankrupt three times, another implied pending case as well as.

We will hear tomorrow what the man has coming, I wonder if it will be another suspended sentence like in Germany, if that is so that the House of Lords would need to take a sitting on the situation and discuss whether a Viscount should be allowed to hold his title when there is the larger consideration that it allows the person to evade jail sentences. We can all agree that any person, living upstairs or downstairs in the mansion has rights to speak and sometimes is might be grammatically correct, yet it is a lot less refined that that of a London Dockworker; these moments do occur (we all have these issues, especially during a sports match), yet as it is seen in repetition, should a person in such an elevated position of privilege not be held to higher standards? If so, should he be allowed to keep all those titles? In the end the House of Lords would rule against my request, yet it is important to hold that conversation. Merely because this is not some revamping of words and an edited view of some interview, these are the words that he submitted to social media, ready to be seen by thousands and more. In his case we get an actual first that in the consideration of upstairs, downstairs that he is the one who should reside in the basement and the staff members on the first flow, sleeping in a lovely bedroom with a nice view.

To be regarded in high esteem is one thing, to actually live up to it, quite another. In all that it seems to me that Rhodri Colwyn Philipps, 4th Viscount St Davids failed on every level possible, that might be seen as an accomplishment, yet is it the one we should allow for?

 

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Slamming the Game makers

There are many games that get released, there have been titans that we still yearn for and even as several games are upcoming or just now released, there is no denying that the gaming community at large have been anticipating the arrival of Mass Effect. YouTube is getting swamped by groups of people, some are utter idiots, trying to get traction in viewers, so the least said about them the better, some have outspoken opinions on the game, which is fair enough and some of those videos are actually decently insightful and some give us a view, but they do not give the game away. One of these very good reviewers is JV2017gameplay. In that regard, the video (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGdGEqYYJjA), gives us a backdrop on the game in relation to the original trilogy. The video is well worth viewing. Seeing this before the game is launched is a very good idea, yet not essential. We get to see some of what we will see in the game, yet we are told explicitly, the video holds no spoilers, which is really good, because I like my surprises to come from the game, not from someone’s video. I have to admit that there were two issues in the story shown, but there could be a very good explanation. This movie and one other (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7hs5cu43Ck), which is about exploration show one element in absolute clarity. That is the fact that Mass Effect Andromeda is clearly arriving 5 years after the previous game for a very good reason. This game shows to be a massive leap forward from the last two games. There is a level of familiarity when we see the interfaces, so those whomever played it before is likely to get a quick handle on the game play. Two videos that show us that Bioware has taken the game to a new level, one that seems to be trumping the sum of both Mass Effect 2 and 3.

I am not going too much on the videos, you will just have to watch them, which is a good idea if you are serious about getting this game. What is important to me is that this game is one of the earlier games that is upgraded so that you could enjoy the maximum that either the PS4pro of Xbox 1s has to offer. So if you have the right TV, you would be able to enjoy this game in 4K resolution, which is great. My issue (in the positive) is that Bioware shows us, not unlike Bethesda did in recent past, that good games do not get released on an annual bases. I truly hope that Yves Guillemot learns his lesson from this. A second lesson that I hope he will learn, is that a game that has all the elements of different games, will not add up to be an excellent game at all.

Now, some will see this as my slamming Yves Guillemot, yet I disagree, although, if Yves proclaims to not agree with this assessment, he might not be 100% incorrect #JustSaying. It is my view on the creation of mediocrity. Yet, are all bad reviews correct? Here I feel that more than one person has not been fair against all things Ubisoft, which needs to be stated as well. You see I do disagree with the vision that James Marvin gives us on how adaptations of movies from films seem to consistently flop, this with the reference to the Assassin’s Creed film. What constitutes a flop? You see with a Production Budget: $125 million, a movie making $238,396,337 is in my view a success. I give $125 and I get back $238 that is 90% profit! With banks giving you 5% if you are lucky, that result constitutes a good day’s work. I will say that I did not consider this a great movie, yet it is not a bad one either. Anyone who saw the remake of Point break 2015 will happily agree with me. The AC movie had a good cast, the cinematography is actually a little overwhelming at times, but the filming shows to be slightly too chaotic and too many jumps to Michael Fassbender in virtual device mode, which is pretty much it. As it was a financial success blaming Justin Kurzel is equally unfounded, but here is part of the issue, it is the vision that was given. I think that the error was to some extent as stated earlier, not the greatest visions, making it less a success than it might have been.

This now reflects back to Mass Effect, because the game has one thing as it went from game 3 to game 4, it shows vision, the eternal platinum trump card that makes a game an instant classic and the 90%+ success rating that really good games get.

What should overwhelm you are the ‘upgrades’ that Mass Effect offers. Looking through windows showing the actual space where you are, which is a little overwhelming. Like the AC series, the voices have been taken well care of with Clancy Brown is the voice of ‘your’ father, an actor that the younger player will recognise as Mr Krabs (a SpongeBob square pants production). Others might recognise him from Cowboys and Aliens and the classic sergeant Zim from Starship Troopers. You, as the player will be voiced by either the stunning model Fryda Wolff, who weirdly enough has not seen too much camera on TV or the big screen (hinting towards Michael Fassbender here for his next production), but has been active in games like Civilisation, Final Fantasy 13, Call of Duty, Fallout 4, XCom 2 and the Technomancer, and if you are playing the male character by Tom Taylorson who is actually new to this level of work. Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones, the Tudors), Gary Carr (Downton Abbey) and several others. Oh, and to be fair, Assassins Creed 2 had no lack of actors and actresses either. They gave us Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars), Alex Ivanovici (X-men, Mirror Mirror), Lita Tresierra, who sadly passed away (the Factory), Carlos Ferro (Dominic, Gears of Wars series). So this is what both sides took pride and effort in and there has never been anything but the highest praise for both game makers. Also it is the graphical side that was never a flaw, you only need to look at Assassins Creed Black Flag (which has other issues), to see what the Ubisoft graphical department can do when they set their mind to it, they really got the sense of the Caribbean right, it almost felt like I was actually there in that time, or so I would believe it to look like.

Getting back to Mass Effect 4, the entire game as shown so far seems to be nothing less than Mass Effect 2 on steroids. The exploration, the graphics and large land masses, the fact that a map has several fast travel points give rise to the facts that the planets are a fair bit larger than ever before. This will be the game for anyone who loved the original trilogy, anyone who has a need to shoot things and for those with a reverence to role playing games. Now, as this game is not out yet for another 7.61 days (roughly) we have no idea on the amount of hours of game play that this game brings, the actual amount of planets you can land on and explore and so on. In addition, the Mass Effect series, like some others have always lend their design for additions (DLC’s) and season passes, so I wonder if more would come. I cannot state whether this would come with the overwhelming value that the Fallout 4 season pass gave us, but we can hope, can we not?

The power of games is at times great to experience, especially when we see a game like Mass Effect Andromeda. True, several good games have been released, but when we focus on the 90%+ ratings, over the last 12 months gives us Nioh, Dark Souls 3, Dishonored 2, Deus Ex: Mankind divided and Overwatch. 5 games over the last 12 months (Witcher 3 GOTY edition is also making the cut, but the original was released in 2015, which is why I omitted it). So as you can see 5 (or 6) great games a year. Now, there will always be games that did not make it to the 90% level, but we still want to play them (sport games), those games are niche games, but consider how many games you play per year and how many of them were in that 90% plus range? Now consider Horizon Zero Dawn from Guerilla games, which is one of the newer players on the block (2000), Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 (2002), which is CI Games first attempt to produce an AAA game, or Elite: Dangerous, who is now entering the PlayStation 4 field, a game originally made on a BBC Micro B in 1984 (a machine with 32Kb RAM). Last I want to mention Subnautica by Unknown Worlds Entertainment, which is a company that has 20 employees. Its founder Charlie Cleveland shows what vision can bring, in his case an ‘open’ world survival game where you are adrift on an ocean after crashlanding on a water planet. What happens after that is up to you, so as the radio tells you (when you get it fixed) that you can wait 99,999 hours, which amounts to 11.4 years, or make a life for yourself. This starts a very different game which you need to see to believe. I hope that the PlayStation people get to experience it as well, because the game will bring you a hundred hours or more of challenges, entertainment and visual wonder. This is visionary on a new level! There are a few other surprises in this game. You have not lived until you tried to get anywhere in this game in hardcore mode (1 life). In this I would slam both Ubisoft and Electronic Arts. I honestly cannot state whether it is complacency or what I would call an adherence to mediocrity. The two makers who bedazzled us with greatness have been regarded as below par too often for a little too long. This visibility comes out even stronger as we see how great Mass Effect 4 could be (Electronic Arts) and Ubisoft who basically has not produced a 90%+ game since Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (2013). When did spreadsheets overrule the need for excellence? When we all expected that Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands would give back some confidence in Ubisoft, we see reviews that hardly make 80%, which is a really bad thing for Ubisoft. When I see the review comment ‘Writing is terrible and it’s riddled with bugs, but there’s fun to be had with friends‘, I wonder whether the second part was given there to be soft to make sure that Yves Guillemot would not cry too loud. Yet the truth we also see is “Of all the publishers out there, it’s Ubisoft that has most affectionately embraced the open world” should have been the driving force that could have given Ubisoft a super seller (a slice of Skyrim anyone?), yet the reviews imply that it is not to be. In addition the reviewer (Sam White) shows the lesson I tried to impart on Ubisoft more than once “that is when you realise that Ubisoft has taken collectibles too far“, a lesson they should have learned before Assassins Creed Unity was released.

When smaller places like Unknown Worlds Entertainment and Hello Games surpass you with each less than 25 staff members, you need to seriously wake up. I am actually surprised that Ubisoft Still exists, because to be honest, they should have imploded with no funds left by 2015 (so you see, I can be wrong too!). The question is how such places stay afloat. Marketing only make up for so much, in the end it is the product that matters!

The question is where do gamers go to next? In all this, I too need to keep an open mind. I have a specific desire for games and even as I admire Dark Souls 3, I know I will never actually finish it. I am not that great a slasher. I am all for stealth games, which is why Styx was such an amazing experience and challenge, so as we are about to get its sequel, I too join a group who will accept a lower than 90% game (which shows that there is more than just high ratings). However, we do know that Ubisoft has had its successes in that genre too: Blacklist and Conviction are both 90% games and they delivered (apart from one annoying issue in blacklist) and I cannot wait for a new instalment of that series. Here too we see that when we look deeper that there are lines of games that could result in new 90% versions, not just because the player group is large enough, but because developers like CI Games are showing that there is interest in getting a stealth game that is a serious challenge (Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3). Will this statement remain true if the reviews scores are barely making the 80% grade? I believe so, I believe that quality games will always find a home and I also believe that the proper attention will drive new players, especially if the reviews and scores correctly reflect the quality of the game. This is what I meant again and again when I stated towards Ubisoft: ‘A game that is based on a matrix on how to not make a bad game, will reflect that and not be a bad game. Yet in that same setting it will also never become a truly great game‘, Mafia III, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands and Watch Dogs 2 have proven me correct. On the opposition, those who made it (like Witcher 3 and its additions), excellence is more than merely its own reward, it creates a following and it sets a milestone for others to strive for.

In the same way that I see stealth games, I see that ‘open’ world games like the ones Bethesda produces, gives us options and replayable versions unlike most other games, which now give rise to the question why can’t others get there? Oblivion (2006), Fallout 3 (2008), Fallout: New Vegas (2010), Skyrim (2011) and Fallout 4, all of them 90%+ games. With two of them given a 100% score by more than one reviewer; that is what makes them essential games to own (for those not hating RPG games). I think we can agree that there is a fairly sized group of people who are not into RPG’s and that will always be fair enough. In that same view, I am not, and am unlikely to ever become a GTA fan. Yet the RPG group is growing, so I wonder where these two players go. You see, living on Mass Effect alone will not aid EA in its growth, who actually was one of the innovative distributors of one of the pioneers in this field (the Ultima series), so why not seek in those revamps? In that same light Wing Commander and Privateer brought the light of space flight, now they will have to compete, but our love for these games have (for the most) not diminished, so where is the IP on that? Eidos gave us Soul Reaver a game that could be rebranded in something awesome (even though the originals were actually pretty good). Yet, here I go on in the remake directions. What I hope is that these two once great development houses will seek visionaries to give us the next batch of (hopefully new) true visionary game play. If crowd funding took only 9 days to get the minimum requirement to get the relaunch of System Shock started, do you really think that RPG and tactical games are on the way out? No, most gamers are looking towards the thrills we once had and some are looking for that next new original challenge. Perhaps the makers need to start looking into the Comic book dimension. Marvel might be booked solid, but there is a league of comics that might never ever make the light of day outside of its own clique following. Even if we look at what has been tried before, an actual good Buffy video game would draw millions towards the shops. An actual good version would ensure large lines in front of a game retailer. The Darkness, what I considered to be a fine game (not great), but a good reflection of the comic style which I considered to be essential. Series like Witchblade (awesome artwork, yet awful TV series), or perhaps Michael Turner’s Fathom. You see, the ‘non-failure’ spreadsheet of Ubisoft might not allow for a game based on Fathom to be created, yet Subnautica seems to be proving them wrong at present. So as the elements of Fathom with ‘members of a race of aquatic humanoids called the Blue who possess the ability to control water‘ give rise to very interesting settings (as well of the majestic unknown that we call the seven seas). The idea of a game, open world or not (more like large levels) where we need to think in three dimensions when playing calls for quality gaming, if properly executed, we could see an entirely new level of game play one that does require next gen consoles and powerful PC’s. Consider that in 2015, the sales of comic books surpassed $1,000,000,000. Now also consider that the market size of comic books was estimated to be $280-$200 million market in 1998, and even though we have seen a decade of hard times, this market has never stopped growing from 1998 to 2016 (source: http://www.comichron.com). Is it such a leap to not seriously consider that market? And in this case, I am specifically taking DC Comics and Marvel out of the equation.

Visionaries are worth their weight in gold. So if EA and Ubisoft have any, then give them a 6′ stack of comic books and see what they can come up with. I reckon that these two players waste more money on some brainstorm lunch with BI executives, so that expense should be easy to justify. For me? If this results in them each producing at least two 90% plus game within 3 years, we all end up winning. Is that not a beautiful consideration?

 

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