Tag Archives: Loki

Value of original gaming IP

When my mind designed the sequels to a new Elder Scrolls game, Far Cry and Watchdogs I did not care about the revenue, I did not care about the revenue factors in gaming franchise, I was merely one creative mind devising new ways and new stories, because the story is everything, it really is. 

Consider the intro and staging of Far Cry 3 against Far Cry 5, the stage of Assassin’s Creed 2 versus AC Unity, or AC Origins versus AC Odyssey and you might get a glimpse of that setting. In all honesty, I never considered revenue in any of it, but I realise that it is a driving force of the houses that publish them. Lets face it, would Mario exist if we did not consider the value of the $650 million it represents? In that same light Call of Duty, GTA, FIFA and Zelda, they all represent a serious level of coins. As such I see the need to continue some franchises, yet  wonder when we test their push for the storyline, how far will some get?

Consider in all this that the Elder Scrolls represent less than a billion, Skyrim alone represents half a billion dollars and has sold over 20,000,000 copies. And let’s face it, we always want to do better than the previous one, which is what drove me to set the story design of Elder Scrolls: Restoration.

Yet even as we see more versions of a game, Apple and Google are driving the need for original IP, it is the larger drive in gaming, not because it is Apple and google, but because the makers see that the original IP can be the beginning of a massive drive towards a system. There is also the fact that when we get a new system we do not want to play the same game over again on that system. 

Yet there are exceptions and they tend to be System driven. The Last of us on PS3 and PS4. Skyrim xbox360 – Xbox one and PS3 – PS4. Pretty much anything involving Mario, and the list goes on, yet Google and Apple do not have that yet and they need to rely on original IP to get the people in. That part was shown all the way back to the Nintendo 64 and the first PlayStation. 

IP that is owed is easier to evolve and more important, when the first game is a hit, it tends to be easier on revenue expectations as well. However, as we look at Apple, we see the need and the logic to have the subscriptions, yet when we see a game like Pilgrims with a mere 14,000 subscribers, the path for Apple is still less than stellar. Now we can push franchises like No Man’s Sky (Hello Games) there, however if Apple is to make a name for itself, it needs original IP, an original RPG, and original racing game and so on. that will drive sales, that will drive longevity in gaming and in a $120 billion industry last year alone, it makes sense to carve a name for yourself.

Yet there is also the stage where the expected and the non-considered walk. When I started to first design an original IP, was it truly original? It was (for the most) and I even added a new game mode that none had considered. Arcade is the way we consider, yet who has considered ‘historically accurate’ as a game mode? 

In this I wanted a more original RPG were the stage is Scandinavia (Norway and Sweden mapped), where you start in the land and get a choice of three places to start, from there you grow your village, grow your interest on the terrain and grow, after which you need to plunder, need to destroy your neighbours and add to your place (and take it from there), an RPG where you can set the rune tone to one god and receive the back handed prayers in success. Yet how can we link ‘Arcade’ and ‘historically accurate’? Well there we get the test of how good a person can play and basically they play two games. Even as a person buys provisions (with real cash) to get an advantage, they buy more, because the purchase in an arcade also comes with a ‘boon coin’ in the ‘historically accurate’. So if a person buys a load of fish in Arcade, they also get a boon coin with a fish in the historically accurate, which sets the chance to find a fish shoal to 100% there. Get two for the price of one. The same for weapons where a kart is bought for one side and the other side gets the smithing coin, giving them a 100% chance of a quality forged weapon. I even set out the stage that an actual player in one village would influence the growth in the virtual version where another player is a neighbour (like choice of stone, location and direction of growth)

I also wanted to make sure that ‘historically accurate’ was there to show that life is not a game and when we slice and dice like in Viking: Battle for Asgard, yet I thought that the game was too small, it was too easily defeated (except the boss at the end) and even as the game had good points, I wanted to see this game in a much larger setting. I wanted compelling to translate to addictive and I wanted a lot more to stand out, I also wanted to make sure that the choice of a god rune had a much larger impact, so over time as people played the game, they would have a new experience if the village rune stone was not set to Odin, but to Loki, Thor, Balder, Frigg, Vidar, or Tyr. What benefit do you want to see? And when chosen in Arcade it will be the set stone for ‘historically accurate’ as well. As such as the history of your village evolves we see that people realise that the impact one would hope for in Arcade would have a different term in the ‘historically accurate’ (HA), we forget in playing that famine was a real think in those days, as was disease and that could go from village to village. We could push it to Greece on the same premise and see where this leads, yet Scandinavia where the weather would have a much larger impact seems to be a more preferred personal feeling in this. So how many games take that into consideration? 

Yes, games like Fallout have a survival mode and there we see “The only means of physically saving the game is to sleep in a bed, on a mattress or in a sleeping bag. The exit save function is still available, but is a temporary save that is deleted automatically upon loading“, it is almost like hardocre mode in Diablo, how many times did you have to die before you figured out that running into batle is as stupid as it could be? As such the HA mode will give the player a much larger consideration to what he’s doing, it is not intend to drive microtransactions, which is why you can optionally only buy stuff in the arcade mode and only the real gamers and winners will get through the game without ever buying anything, that is why I would add an achievement named ‘no purchase required’, how many games heralded the need to not embrace microtransactions? 

It was a stage that my mind evolved over a few days and that is the easy part of the creative element in a game, I wonder how many creative minds are out there in the gaming industry, because I feel personally that people like Sean Murray and David Braben are as rare as it gets in this industry (no insult to other game makers intended), for me it is a stage where I see where places like Apple Arcade (and Google Stadia) are and where they go, so far I am actually not that impressed, not when it comes to companies this big.

 

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Merely the beginning

Yes, the news is full of the overwhelming success that Avengers: Endgame is and rightfully so, yet the Washington Post looks further. The article (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/avengers-endgamemakes-disney-invincible-in-2019-then-what/2019/04/29/b5e35016-6aaf-11e9-bbe7-1c798fb80536_story.html) gives light to the strategy that is surrounding Disney plus as owners of the Marvel franchise. We get part of it with: “Disney’s films will no longer get licensed to partners such as Netflix during what’s known as the “pay one window;” instead, they’ll go exclusively on Disney+. That’s a big selling point for the streaming app, but it’s a costly decision that reduces the amount of licensing revenue Disney can earn from its films after they leave theaters.” this is a point of view that is true and the strategy is valid, yet having the stage where we see a time exclusivity (like in gaming) where the others get the option after 6 months is not to be ignored as an alternative. In addition, the mention of the ‘real’ editions of the time honoured animations like Aladdin and the Lion King are now on screws, especially after Dumbo has become a miserable flop. That is the puzzle that comes next, as I personally see it, the cast was golden, the director is phenomenal and the story is sound, so why did it flop and is that the premise for the other movies? We know that Robin Williams made Aladdin the success it was; this puts a megastar like Will Smith in an awkward position. To willingly step into the shadow of a giant takes monumentally sized balls to begin with and even as we know that Will Smith is no coward, willing to step into the fringe of movie making, I cannot stop being worried on how Aladdin will fare. As such the other Disney productions will be under pressure as well and that is just the beginning.

Disney has had the longest issue with being too sweet for most adults and even as we saw Pretty Woman in 1990 as a new view on what Disney could do, there was a distinct feeling that the Disney people were so far out of their comfort zone that they needed guides to find their way back. This is particularly important as Marvel has its own dark parts (more than just a few) and without that defining dark there is a larger concern down the road. I believe that so far they handled it fine, yet the worry remains: “will the wrong Disney executive demand the Marvel TV version to be lighter, sweeter and less dark“, so far what we have seen from X-Men: Dark Phoenix, The New Mutants imply that we should not be worried, yet waiting with worries for too long is not good either. What I saw from Cloak and Dagger season 1 is a clear warning, yet perhaps it is also important to consider that the movies will be less in danger of becoming laced with Disney Sweetness than the TV series. Their Metascore of 68 could be considered as supporting evidence in all this. Some gave the following views: “a horribly sentimental soundtrack“, as well as “If you want a show chock full of “edgy” liberal issues thrown into the plot regardless of if it fits with the story, then look no further” (which was the most negative review) we see the initial issue. Even the more positive ones give us “Through its initial four episodes, the real star of Cloak & Dagger is the structure and editing and overall environment more than any individual actor“. I believe it that some of the changes took away the dark side that would have made Cloak a lot more appealing, it was his dark side that appealed to me in the original comics; the TV parts I saw were too emotional, I am not stating that this is a bad thing, merely that . The comic books decently graphic about his devouring hunger, I missed seeing that in the few episodes I saw. Yet it is not all bad, Mayhem is showing to be the direct confrontational angry type she was in the comic book.

This is in part my issue; Disney is seemingly trying to skate away from the darkness is what will have a larger non positive impact on series that were pretty phenomenal in comic book form. So far the silver screen Marvel productions have exceeded expectations swimmingly; it is what I saw in Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and the defenders that felt off, not bad, but off.

It is not the cast or the work done, no matter what, Mike Colter makes Luke Cage totally believable and real. I believe that the scripts fell short (from my personal point of view). Perhaps it is my non-US view, the fact that there had to be complications and conspiracy plots from day one in these series is why it is falling short. Even as we hear noise like ‘creative differences’, I believe that the entire conspiracy twinkle has ran its course to the largest degree, to be honest, that is why I stopped watching Kiefer Sutherland in Designated Survivor. The series started great and then when we suddenly see an FBI director compromised around episode 6 that was it for me. Oh, and before I forget this is a series that is all about conspiracy, but the way it is done was too far out there, it lost flavour. I believe that Marvel series have been pushed into that field too much as well (as well as several other comic book based series). I believe that the effort to go too deep too fast to please an audience is exactly why appeal is lost to some degree and Luke Cage gets to pay for it (as well as Iron Fist). With over a dozen movies coming in the next 2-3 years as well as optional TV series, this critical look early on will be more essential than most realise. You see, a Marvel overdose is pretty much similar to a Star Trek overdose, at some point we lose the interest to watch it, which is actually opposite to the feelings we had with the comic books and as such we have to consider our point of view. Now, like the comic books there is a filtering, most of us do not care for all the franchises. I was a die-hard Batman and X-men fan and I never got into Spiderman that much. I still loved the movies and I read the comics at times, but it was not my number one, neither were the Fantastic Four. That’s fine because Marvel (and DC) had a flavour for everyone, so much choice, as such we would be more protective of the comics we were nuts about and that is fine too.

Yet there is still Disney to consider and their long term need to make everything too sweet and too ‘pink’. Even as we realise that most cancelations might be linked to IP and the fact that Netflix will be a direct competitor of Disney+, yet the idea that Disney is a little too uncomfortable with these dark tainted series on Disney remains a concern for many fans and as such it is a concern for some fans of these series that they are now part of Disney. The factual reasons are not out there, or perhaps better stated, there is no source I trust to give me the actual truth (except a joint statement from Marvel and Disney and that is unlikely to happen).

Even as Forbes gives us: “Marvel meanwhile plans live-action series for characters including Loki, Scarlet Witch, Winter Soldier, and several other characters“, the die-hard fans will now wonder whether we will get the Asgardian Wars on TV or silver screen, not only as it was an awesome story, but that also puts Asgard, the X-men and the Canadian Alpha Flight team on the range implying the coming of a few more series, or movie franchises. All of them have a large following, so Disney would be nuts to walk away from an optional few billion more. Yet that does require Disney to allow for very dark streaks in their acquired paintings and that is where the problem is likely to rise, or at least that is what I think is likely to happen.

Even as Disney can ignore everything this year, the year that Avengers: Endgame broke every record, the long term view is less of a given, with view n 2020-2023, there will be more issues and other issues to deal with, not all of them revenue driven, but revenue will be the mainstream in any discussion that surrounds whatever ‘creative differences’ we will see make the headlines on all kinds of media channels and to ignore this so early in the year is not a healthy thing to do, especially as most of the upcoming movies will be staged to bring in a billion plus each. As stated, I do not think we need to worry about the movies too much, but the Marvel TV series that will be another matter, they will be the bread and butter of Disney+ and those people like their shows a little too sugary to my taste.

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The insanity of Trolls

I have had my issues with many things, in some cases I was on one side where I lashed out at Yves Guillemot to some extent, not because he did something ‘wrong’ but as CEO, he is the main in charge, the buck stops at HIS desk! The fact remained (as I saw it) that an amazing concept like Assassins Creed got squandered in several ways. My criticism was always with a level of decency and it was always supported with evidence, evidence as I saw it. There were never any death threats, or threats against the person, because in the end, it is just a video game and I reckon Ubisoft broke its own glasses of profit, which is the jest of it.

Today I viewed the article ‘Joss Whedon Quits Twitter; James Gunn Responds‘ (at http://geeknation.com/joss-whedon-quits-twitter-james-gunn-responds/). I am slightly beyond outrage at this point. To illustrate this, we need to look at some of the achievements of Joss Whedon.

Buffy, seven seasons of amazing excellence, vampire movies were taken to a new level and Sarah Michelle ‘the Slayer’ Gellar would become the idol of many men and even more women. The series is still rerunning on many channels on a global scale and every now and then forums bump back alive the desire for a high resolution remastered Blu-ray edition.

Angel would become a first spinoff, not as successful, but still respected in the fantasy world. Whedon puts together a cast that rocks solid and it would herald the continuation of a lifelong career of David Boreanaz beyond Angel who is still going strong after almost 20 years.

Firefly is the result of creativity from creator Joss Whedon and the cast that would reunite in his projects again and again. Scrapped before its time, studios are still learning today what a stupid mistake they made, like Buffy re-runs of this series are ongoing and the fans remain loyal beyond measure. Nathan Filion and the Firefly caste are still the highly sought events in every Comic-Con, even now 12 years later.

Serenity is the movie that tied a lot together and should be regarded as an amazing gesture towards the Firefly fans (it was no box office hit)

Dollhouse is perhaps the least understood diamond in the crown of Joss Whedon. It was dropped by executives who seemed to have a limited brain capacity and no comprehension beyond mind controlled ‘sex-dolls’. Whedon shows here how technology unleashed could be the end of us and end many ways of life. What was likely to have been a 4 season gemstone showed a second season trying to fit it all so the fans had a decently complete picture. Amy Acker, Eliza Dushku, Dichen Lachman and Olivia Williams are the female titans each with a role to play, the male side with Harry Lennix, Tahmoh Penikett, Fran Kranz and later Alan Tudyk show us a story that is almost unparalleled in depth. It is a story with a ‘neuromancer ‘ difference, one that sounds almost plausible enough to be scary.

Joss Whedon was able to add ethical undertones to the story that makes this gem an absolute must.

Now we get to the first Avengers movie. It is the second true superhero comic (with multiple hero’s) that comes to life in many ways (after the X-men). The story was amazingly good (for a comic book) and the interaction was like seeing comic books actually coming to life, I saw it in the cinema and after that a dozen times on Blu-ray. Like in the comic books we see ego and strife taking part in the story on the big screen too. Like the comic books, we see events that are just too good to ever forget. Many people will forever see Loki who is playing Tom Hiddleston with virtual Mark Ruffalo, played by the Hulk who picks up Hiddleston and makes him ‘one’ with the concrete floor, the ‘puny human’ quote gave way to loud laughs in the cinema. It will remain a priceless gem forever! The Avengers showed to me and too many others that comic books can come to life (through special effects). We all agree that the cast (all of them) did an amazing job, but we all know that without the visionary view of Joss Whedon, this movie would never have been the success it became. It ended up being the third most successful movie ever (source: Box office Mojo), with only Titanic and Avatar surpassing the financial Avengers results.

Now we have Age of Ultron. Here we see the team growing through the same actors, the same visionary director, whilst adding the three Avengers we missed the first time around. The Maximoff’s (Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch), both excellently played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elisabeth Olsen. It is hard to compare to the comic books, because the Avengers have been around so long. Missing is Ant-man (but he is coming in his own movie first), Wasp, Black Panther (another upcoming person in his own movie first) and Black Knight. There are so many more members as the team evolved from the 60’s onwards. The movie is an excellent piece of work, there are many sides and even though these movies survive by special effects, we are never visibly drowned in those special effects forsaking acting quality.

It is hard to judge whether two is better than one, important is that there is an evolving storyline as we see in the comics. Joss Whedon delivered!

So when I saw that Joss Whedon got hate mail and death threats, I could not believe my ears (or my eyes for that matter). You have to read the story for yourself, but overall, I massively disagree with James Gunn, not because of what he did, but because of the premise that he had to (which in itself is a good thing).

Joss Whedon is a visionary. He brought to life something millions of fans dreamed of seeing in their life time and my generation as such would be alive long enough to see it truly happen on the big screen. He did it with Avengers and does it again with Age of Ultron. I am 100% convinced that he would be able to surpass his previous work if he would be making the two Infinity Gauntlet movies, but that is not to be, it seems (according to IMDB) that this falls to Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, the people behind Captain America, the winter soldier. Or as we can voice it, that movie where Captain America gets slapped around by his former best friend. The movie is an excellent achievement and the subterfuge of Hydra is well portrayed by former Mr Brubaker (a Robert Redford reference). In all these movies, as well as her introduction when Iron Man is a little over his head dealing with Mickey Rourke is Scarlett Johansson who sets down a mean Black Widow. As I see it, she was, is and remains a very strong character. I do not get the hatred over any of this and as such, I very much opposed the words of James Gunn when he writes: “Anger makes us feel “right”. And powerful. But it also usually exacerbates whatever the underlying, more uncomfortable feeling is”.

I would to some degree accept these words, but I saw some of the tweets Joss Whedon received. (a few at https://storify.com/Astojap/wehdon-twitter-hate). The message “@josswhedon ALSO WHY THE FUCK DID YOU JUST PUSH ASIDE NATASHA? YOU COULD HAVE USED HER IN SO MANY GOOD WAYS AND INSTEAD YOU USED STARK“. As well as “@josswhedon I bet you like homestuck you fucking garbage asshole” and these are not even the worst tweets!

They seem to be written by people who are clueless in many ways, some perhaps frustrated and angry for other reasons. I do not care as to the why, I just think that no one needs to accept the abuse Joss Whedon was subjected to.

When I see the accusation of ‘Misogynistic’ and we see Buffy with Buffy and Faith, Dollhouse with Echo, Sierra and November, Firefly with Zoe, Inara and Kaylee. In serenity, we see River getting ‘enthusiastic’ which leads to the quote “Start with the part where Jayne gets knocked out by a 90-pound girl ’cause… I don’t think that’s ever getting old“. I am clueless how Joss is voiced as Misogynistic.

The hatred for Joss Whedon is not just unfounded, it is wrong in many ways. Joss has always given us strong women (not all evenly sane, like Faith in season 3 of Buffy, but that is not the issue). In Age of Ultron we see ‘Black Widow’ Johansson having a soft spot for Bruce Banner and why not (apart from the fact that I am a better dancer then Mark Ruffalo)? And as for soft love interest, when the action starts, she states ‘I love you, but I need the other guy’ and shoves her love interest over the edge of a cliff, and out comes the Hulk, an excellent moment to giggle over!

We should not ignore Elisabeth Olsen either, especially as all but one member of the Avengers get introduced to her ability to boggle their minds, which gets crushed when at the end, when we see the ‘real life’ (the non-Comic book version) view of what Scarlet Witch is able to do.

So, I do not see any valid opposition to the visionary work of Joss Whedon, I also oppose James Gunn, not because what he said and how well he said it (one of the more eloquent writings this year), but the fact that he had to do it. These trolls and hate mail senders are not using their right to free speech. These people are guilty of Psychic Assault (in Common law Australia, New Zealand, UK and Canada). In the US we see a similar situation, where California has California Penal Code 422 PC, where we see how it defines the crime of “criminal threats” (formerly known as terrorist threats).

A “criminal threat” is when you threaten to kill or physically harm someone and
that person is thereby placed in a state of reasonably sustained fear for his/her safety or for the safety of his/her immediate family, the threat is specific and unequivocal and
you communicate the threat verbally, in writing, or via an electronically transmitted device.

Criminal threats can be charged whether or not you have the ability to carry out the threat…and even if you don’t actually intend to execute the threat.

I think it is only fair that the FBI, arrests no less than 50-100 of these people and convict them accordingly. You see, what those ‘voicers’ seem to forget is that these movies are a massive slice of the tax collected, when people like Joss Whedon have had enough and they go somewhere else, then these people thinking in their own small minded self that they executed their ‘right” to free speech is costing the government millions. It seems only fair that they are taking to the district courts and are allowed to experience the consequences of their criminal behaviour.

In my view trolling has been going on for way too long, Anita Sarkeesian, Sara Payne, Claire Cohen, Nicki Minaj, Helen Skelton and now Joss Whedon joins the ranks of trolled people (mostly women mind you). In this list I must take time emphasize two names. The first one is Sara Payne, the mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne. Can you imagine this? A mother dealing with the murder and the funeral of her own daughter getting trolled! How sick can people get? In the second there is Helen Skelton she used to present the BBC children show Blue Peter. Yes, it seems that those relying on ‘free speech’ have done this for an unacceptable amount of time and it is now becoming more and more essential that trolls get introduced to the criminal courts in a very non-virtual way.

I reckon that true fans, now losing out on their idol speaking on Twitter will be an additional source of inspiration in finding out who those trolls really are.

 

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