Tag Archives: Star Trek

A night with Clio and Alecto

It started 2 days ago, I have been wondering about the news (no actual new news, just the rehash) and what to write about. I heard snippets all over the place on ‘more of the same‘ and ‘lack of originality‘, yet until yesterday (around 03:30) I had no idea what to consider when the article (at https://www.inverse.com/article/58121-google-stadia-launch-games-6-aaa-titles-to-get-in-november) hid behind ‘6 Huge Google Stadia Launch Games That Will Make You Rethink Consoles‘ to invoke interest in the Google Stadia.

It was the sight of 6 titles that had been available for some time that made me wonder if some people at Google had any idea what they are doing, so I decided now to counter it.

When we look at these games, we see a first person need, no one denies this, yet if the power is applied, we can go so much further. For example, we might see the RPG giant System Shock in a new light (it is being remade). We might look at the Citadel (Mass Effect Series) and consider it is too big (or the death star for that matter), but the situation is nice and contained. What if we set up a large space station, fill it with crew, not spawning them at certain stages, but a station with the amount of people that would ordinary fill a space station. Now the Death Star has been rumoured to contain a crew of 265,675, as well as 52,276 gunners, 607,360 troops, 30,984 storm troopers, 42,782 ship support staff, and 180,216 pilots and support crew, so too large. Yet is the idea too far-fetched? What if we scoop back to Citadel Station (System Shock version) and we have to contain a situation with 5300 people? Now the numbers start making sense. The game has difficulty settings impacting available ammunition, health food and so on and in addition, we can set the scenario to Contagion (zombie apocalypse), Competitor (sabotage), Patent run (thief) and Entity removal (assassin), each with their own issues, challenges and options. The ability to blend in, to not be seen, to steal stuff and more important to remain hidden whilst you optionally kill (or incapacitate) a specific target. Yet the station is different, the crew is completely managed by the system and in some cases it has to be done within a time frame (any except the zombie apocalypse). The option to do it alone, do it together and the fact that this location can be reused gives it all a larger replayability value on a long term premise.

To some extent System Shock had many parts, yet the original had floors and the enemy would not pass that boundary. What if that is not a constraint? What happens when a place that big becomes its complete environment? Like the station on IO in the movie Outland (excellent role by Sean Connery). What if we had a station where the ‘AI’ error of waves of people do not panic (like in AC Unity, repeated to some extent in Syndicate), what if a proper hidden body does not set off alarms immediatly, but what if a missed shift does alert security to seek for the person, a station requiring ID badges becomes a new challenge.

How is this original?

Because the template might have been used to give rise to the environment, it can be any space station. Games like Destiny, Doom, are all about trigger point, all about spawn points and all about flag points. Yet what happens when it is already all there, how do we get through the game when we set off alarms, when we alert security by giving rise to an alarm. I think that this is the part that Hitman 2 really got right. Some will raise concern, but a lot of NPC should not notice, and that is at the centre of a much larger interaction. What if we consider that the stages of Hitman 2 are too confined (not for the story they had mind you), what if an entire city is the premise; do you think that every cop known everyone? They react to the badge, the uniform (medic), the identity (clearance) beyond that they often do not. So to set the ‘futuristic’ stage, millions of gaming fans have voiced the desire to actually walk around the Death Star, On Babylon 5, on the Enterprise, on Citadel Station and so on, yet no one pushed to make it happen to the degree possible, even Mass Effect Andromeda dropped to ball to the greatest extent there, an original game that allowed for (non IP secured locations) to be addressed. Locations to be originally designed, all with the option of giving a run, a challenge and optionally a group of friends united to stop an infection ramping through thousands. We now have the technology (we have had it for 5+ years) and yet they all rehash IP that has been done before. We even see YouTube on the 32 games that are coming, yet rehashing is not a solution, yes they do have some new titles, yet all IP that is already out there, or titles that will also come to other formats. It is interesting, yet we have seen since the very first PlayStation and Nintendo 64 that their true growth was through unique IP, I wonder when Google will figure that part out. We accept that sometimes doing something over is easier and I accept that, yet when we see that these designers ignore dozens of great titles that are on My Abandonware and evolve these titles into a new stage and challenge that will captivate its Google Stadia audience is interesting to say the least. Even now some of these original creators are looking at bringing life to what was an excellent game and turn it into a new great game. I wonder why Google might have thought that this was a path that was not googley enough for them to walk on.

Dinner with Clio

There had been noise around Netflix, several sources, including the article (at https://www.barrons.com/articles/netflix-stock-has-new-worries-including-disney-and-the-loss-of-friends-51563582983) give us a view on optional issues. The article gives us: “For its second quarter, Netflix added 2.8 million net new international subscribers and lost 126,000 U.S. users, versus Wall Street expectations for 352,000 domestic additions and 4.8 million international adds“, some might state that Netflix was not on the ball; personally I believe that Wall Street was setting the stage where the insiders could profit from the backlash of “The company’s shares fell 10% on Thursday, a day after the results. They fell another 3% on Friday“, it is a personal believe, but when we see that the difference between company and Wall Street is a difference of 2.2 million subscribers, a difference of almost 50%, it implies that Wall Street remains unfamiliar with realism. In light of the growing group of streaming services (Disney, Stan, and so on) gives additional rise to the delusional view of Wall Street, especially when you consider that Disney has Marvel in its corner. Yet with the spending spree of Netflix that is set to a $15 billion budget is also a concern. Even as Netflix studios are a one-time expense, the growth needs to come from new IP and mastering innovation in stories, it is the one part that Google and Netflix have in common. I can’t comprehend that they are not considering cooperation in that regard. There is overlap, but one that could be overcome, especially if they need to push Google Stadia to a much stronger position with Microsoft and Apple biting at their heels. They have to set a stage where they can overcome that optional weakness.

As such I decided to give a little diner party, Clio and Melpomene were in attendance, Clio came with a plus one. Not only did they confirm my view of Wall Street, they gave me another example, one I did not know, a story that never made it to print ever.

There is no time, there is no date, it was late summer and in the cool breeze of night, 4800 years before Jesus of Nazareth would be born Hades met with Apollo in a temple at Gortyn. There was no reason, or none that anyone remembers. They merely crossed paths to exchange words. It was after the talk when Hades walked towards the waters at Lentas that he sensed something, he sensed the end of a life and anguish, anguish to a degree that was rare and he moved in a blink to that source. He found a young woman; she looked at him, in pain and anticipation, but not in fear. It took Hades back for a second, this young woman showed more strength and dignity than the thousands of soldiers he received from the battlefields. He gave strength to her to heal by smearing the smallest amount of ambrosia over her lips, her wounds dissipated slowly to show true beauty, her name was Anemone, she was no one special, merely the daughter of a fisherman, brutally raped and left for death. Hades picked her up and took her to a shelter. It was during that night he bedded her and she gave herself to Hades. In that shelter she felt truly happy for months, and it was not until the second week of May that she gave birth, it was not something that she would survive, to give birth to the child of an Olympian was taxing enough the power of death that was there was too strong and it claimed her. Yet Hades knew that would happen, this was now all planned. The baby was named Elissa and Hades set forth his first part, he left her in the care of Tisiphone, Megaera and Alecto. The furies would raise her until she was ready. Over the next years 7-10 Elissa grew fast and became stronger and stronger. The realm of the Furies gave her a never ending supply of cannon fodder. Yet the furies were well versed in all matters and she was not merely of steel, Alecto taught her how to be anyone, to take shape, and how to reshape form. Form was a weapon that could attack the senses, the ability to temper anger to any degree and drive her opponents utterly insane. Tisiphone took Elissa under her wing to teach her about the act of murder, to see in other ways, the ability to charm any snake instantly and make it do her bidding. Elissa learned that cutting a small lock of her hair and cast it could turn it into a snake, to merely draw some poison from it, or let the snake scout for her. She could see through its eyes and she could see the heat of people without the use of a snake, in the deepest night she could see all around her and they could never hide their warmth from her. Her reflexes honed to new heights she was able to strike in the blink of an eye, her daggers thin and short would ensure death to all requiring the veil of Hades to fall over their eyes. Finally she ended with Megaera and there thing changed, as she taught Elissa the power of envy, to see the true worth and value Megaera did something Hades never expected. You see there is an unwritten link between the Furies and the Muses, it is that link that Magaera relied on in the past to see what is true from false and there the game changed. The furies always remember the services rendered and it was at that point that Terpsichore taught Elissa the art of dance and with that skill new levels of balance and creativity were taught to Elissa, Erato taught her poetry of the heart, so that she could always see the true love from the false one, feelings from deceit, as well as truth from planned falsehood, finally there was Thalia who taught her comedy, because Magaera had seen how the jester, the funny person was often overlooked by others, by serious people driven to greed, Elissa looked deeper into poetry and learned that comedy is not merely a relaxant, it was also an interesting weapon. As the lessons ended Elissa had levels of balance never seen in any person that was not Olympian, and it was at that point that Alecto fed Elissa her dinner which put her to sleep and started the dream of what her mother faced that fateful night near Lentas and they unleashed Elissa on the world.

What exactly happened that night will never be known, yet the 4 old men that ravaged her mother were found feasting on the flesh of their sons, who had grown up to be as despicable as their fathers were. In the morning the villagers found the four elderly feasting on a broth containing the bodyparts of their sons; skulls, ligaments were visible in the cauldron, the men old, grey and turned utterly insane chanting slowly and fearful “ένα ακόμα δάγκωμα για συγχώρεση“, Elissa had completed her training and was unleashed on the world, the furies regarded her as ready for a plan of their own.

In a blazing sun

It was deep summer; the sun was relentlessly beating the streets and people. A woman was walking the streets of Heraklion; she ignored the weather and casually looked at market stalls. The street was filled with tourists and she got plenty of smiling looks, it bothered her not, over the centuries she had gotten used to it. She had not seen Heraklion for decades, so she took it all in, she was on an errant to take out a murderer, she was still every much the girl the furies trained, slowly walking towards her goal, it was a building on Evaggelistrias and as she observed the building from a distance, looking at where she needed to be, she looked back at watching the poor boy beaten to death only 2 days before, the police had no clue, but she was not the police, she looked at the building and she saw her target, the two man relaxing, smiling, laughing and drinking beer, they felt good about themselves. She waited patiently until 18:30, most people were starting their meal and she slowly and quietly walked into the building. there was no movement, no sense of anyone and she walked up to their front door, she dropped a lock of hair and quietly entered the house and moved swiftly into the house, the two men were in the kitchen fetching beer and slicing meat, she walked past them as their backs were turned so that the balcony was not a place they could flee from she knocked on the wall and as the men walked with surprise into the living room she merely stared them in the eyes, as her eyes turned deep black, they went pale and white, they over overcome by fear so intense that they dropped their beers, and rant out the door only to see the large snake on the steps, they screamed and ran up, they kept running in fear feeling the hunt of danger behind them hissing loudly, they ran onto the roof running past the water tanks until there was no roof left, they never stopped running, not even as they fell to the grass field on Anogion and the last they felt was the anguish and pain of broken bones blood leaving their bodies and the sound of hissing snakes until darkness set it. Elissa picked up the snake and softly placing the snake in her bag, she would release the snake outside the city limits, her work was done.

That was merely the beginning!

It took me 30 minutes to come up with this idea, another 30 minutes to look into ancient Greece (and a few maps) and 30 minutes to write this, so when we see the implied lack of originality, I am not sure what that was coming from. Creativity is all around us, and it only needs to right spark to set the stage to something fresh. I believe it to be just around the corner and Netflix has an advantage, Disney will not consider certain paths, they rely on families and fairy floss sugary sweetness, it is partially the weakness that Achilles showed (see Brad Pitt in Troy). I believe that the people want something darker. It might have started with an unknown British director named Ridley Scott when he made Alien in 1979; it was that feeling that I had when watching that movie and that same feeling I felt came to me again when I saw Brightburn. It might seem a little shallow, it is not overly epic, but that same feeling is what David Yarovesky left in me, he got the jackpot and if Marvel does not see that and use it (for example in Moon Knight), they will miss out soon enough, Netflix has an advantage because of the limitation that Disney keeps and even if they go via Fox, the delays they call for give Netflix an edge, they merely need to find the right spark to entice watchers, Google faces the same setting, imitation might be the path to flattery, but in this game originality and creativity are much more powerful partners, Even now decades later we still listen to Queen, watch Firefly (or Star Trek) and we watch Top Gun, again and again. Originality and creativity did that, not imitation.

So find your muse and get creative

 

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The Yellowback politician

There is a phrase I initially heard on an episode of Star Trek (decades ago), the phrase goes “Do I detect a streak of yellow across the good fellows back?“, it was Dwight Schultz (aka Howling Mad Murdoch) as Reginald Barclay in an episode where he pretends to be Cyrano de Bergerac in the episode Hollow Pursuits, and weirdly enough, it all seems to fit, I know that it is just crazy coincidence, but that is just what it is, coincidence (and crazy to boot).

So when we see (in the Guardian at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/01/eu-powers-resist-calls-for-iran-sanctions-after-breach-of-nuclear-deal) the quote: ““Today I call on all of the European countries: stick to your commitment,” he said. “You committed to act as soon as Iran violates the nuclear deal; you committed to activate the mechanism of automatic sanctions that were determined by the Security Council. So I’m telling you: do it. Just do it.”” yet it seems that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is talking to a room full of deaf people, it is exactly as the headline states: ‘EU powers resist calls for Iran sanctions after breach of nuclear deal‘, you see, no matter how it falls, the initial target is not Europe, it will be Israel or Saudi Arabia, I reckon that it is 4 to 1, 80% chance Israel cops it first and only a 20% chance that Saudi Arabia does. In those odds, Europe does not have any risk and playing the waiting game and merely act out to some degree if one of the two is hit will be fine by them, it is the usual response from those graced with the constitution of a weasel. Even as we see the hollow ‘Focus is on averting further breaches and UK says it remains committed to 2015 deal‘, they merely prefer there not be any additional breaches. They ignore the fact that Iran could have temporarily halting production, they ignore that the reporting moment does not coincide with the moment Iran officially transgressed that line, they ignore that there is credible intelligence (OK, more wild rumours) that there is more than one additional unmarked enrichment site, that is all ignored, merely they prefer not to see additional breaches. When there is no skin in the game, when the economy has no real suffrage, the inaction game can be played, no matter who gets hurt.

What they fail to see is that no matter who gets hit, both Israel and Saudi Arabia have no options but to strike Iran, perhaps that is why all the arms deals were stopped? One could argue that the quote: “European leaders had urged Iran not to breach the deal, but the focus may now be on dissuading Iran from taking further, more serious steps away from the terms“, it could optionally be seen as a soft approach towards containing the fallout, quite literally so, and yet there is a first. It will be the first time when Saudi Arabia and the State of Israel as well as the true allies both have the stage where they all unite in a single need, the destruction of Iran, part of me hopes that this happens, it will be the first signal towards the EU to clean their house, it will be the first time that this union will bring fear to the heart of Turkey, they bet the wrong horse and now they become a target right next to Lebanon and Hezbollah.

Whatever proxy path was optionally in play will now fall away because no nation has ever faced the wrath of both Israel and Saudi Arabia at the same time. Those who played games in that fashion have no place to run to, they have no borders to hide behind, whatever small options these players have, Qatar, Oman, Yemen, Egypt and whatever sympathisers are out there in these nations, facing the wrath of both sides of borders is not a game they signed up for, as such the escalation will be swift and very violent. At that point it will be the first move of Iran to ‘suddenly’ give way to emergency meetings and sit down for some agreement, at that point the EU better sit on the side and not interfere, at that point the race will overtake manners and devour Iran. It is at that point that people like Ali Khamenei and Qasem Soleimani will make some hopeful statement on errors made within the rank and press for a diplomatic deal and some peace conference, but it will be too late, we should not hear of it and those so called European leaders who resisted calls better get out of the way at that point, they missed the option, they scathed their duty and the should remain silent, run and become a barber or an uber driver, it is basically all they have left.

I would prefer to avoid all these complications, but the inactions of those relying on gravy trains and non-commitment have burned their own boats and their own bridges, Iran will not learn one way, so they will have to learn another way. It took me a few hours to design an optional solution to cripple their navy, I feel certain that I could take a look at their air force and airfields and give some additional fun (solving puzzles is actually a lot of fun).

And it goes beyond that, even as we see: ‘Israel preparing for possible military clash between US and Iran‘, it is more likely than not that US will halt its stance before the military clash happens, it will run to the border with all might, but not commit to an armed exchange, it will however not stand in the way of Israel and Saudi Arabia when they do strike, this differs them from the EU, the EU will do whatever they can to force any negotiation, even after a first strike by Iran, optionally via Hezbollah or Houthi forces and that makes this game a lot more dangerous this time around. As no one was able to stop Iran arming the other two, we are in the dark on how much was delivered and how these two will strike. Houthi forces will strike Saudi Arabia, Hezbollah will strike both Israel and Saudi Arabia, yet Hezbollah will more likely than not hide behind Houthi outfits, the rest is still open. As CNN reported hours ago, “Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone attack Tuesday on Abha International Airport, according to the Houthi-run Al-Masirah news agency. The Saudi-led coalition fighting the rebels confirmed the drone attack and said it believed Tehran was involved in the operation“, the problem is not merely the attack on the airports, it seems that Houthi (or its Hezbollah/Iranian operators) are getting more adapt at their actions implying that the targets might change soon enough, the fact that Iran is out of options also implies that they need Houthi forces to hit Saudi Arabia harder and that is more likely than not going to happen. Until the shipments stop Saudi Arabia is facing a battle on 2-3 fronts, a third front will happen if Hezbollah openly commits towards Iran and the Al Qurayyat region. There is no intelligence to prove that, but tactically Hezbollah could use that stage to also increase pressures on Jordan and Saudi Arabia at the same time; I cannot help but wonder on how far this could escalate and I cannot stop but wonder how the ignorant inactive politicians in Europe let it come to this. They all knew what was at stake; they all left it to some proclaimed expectation of ‘US actions’ who in their current state could not even afford to go to war with the 17th century VOC (and a 17th century technology navy), their state is pretty bad. Even if they score immediate hits on Iran, it will escalate and until they get direct fire support from both Saudi Arabia and Israel, this could escalate out of proportions giving rise to serious damage to Jordan, Bahrain, and the UAE to boot. Iran will avoid pushing Qatar, but there is no guarantee that they avoid damage. It is a mess that could soon become uncontrollable; the inactions of Europe push for that scenario more and more.

I personally believe that it will come to blows within the next few weeks. I would be extremely happy if it could be avoided, yet as the present stage is, I am uncertain as to how it can be avoided, the best chance would be a first strike on Iran and see if Iran realises that they pissed off too many sides at the same time, but that is not a given. They might not have any chance to win, but they can still do loads of damage to several players and there is no denying that the IRGC is ready for battle, making a quick victory over Iran extremely unlikely, or perhaps it might be more correct to state that a quick victory is only possible through a severe impact on all fighting sides, a cornered party will do weird jumps and that has been a truth in life and nature like forever, so the entire situation is not out of reach and let’s not forget, Iran had the option to create a stage by temporary halt enrichment and they decided not to do that. As such the escalation has clearly be on their side and no matter how the stage with America was, by surpassing enrichment amounts they have clearly given the indication that they care not for the accords and they are calling the bluff of the EU and America to escalate issues further whilst ignoring the danger that either Israel or Saudi Arabia is, as such they only have themselves to blame when the damage in Iran takes on a much larger proportion than they anticipated, the question then becomes will the attacking nations stop, or will they to prevent Iranian attacks continue until Ali Khamenei and Qasem Soleimani and their inner circles are completely removed from power. We might think that this is the best outcome, but it is not. The devil you know beats the devil you do not and in Iran there will always be another Mahmoud Ahmadinejad waiting to take the highest seat of Iranian office.

One would have hoped that the yellowback politician was an extinct breed, but that is not the case and I fear that their damage will be visible for decades to come, no matter where that damage is.

 

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Too grim a reality

It is not a new concept, it is not even original. My first introduction to the concept of mass executions was in a Star Trek Episode of 1966, ‘The Conscience of the King‘, the story about Kodos “the Executioner”. The backstory was: “In 2246, an exotic fungus destroyed most of the colony’s food supply, and its inhabitants, of which there were eight thousand, faced starvation. Kodos, implementing his own theories of eugenics, selected four thousand of the colony’s residents to be put to death, so that the remaining four thousand might survive on the limited food supplies available“, so when we were introduced to Infinity War and Thanos, the scope changed but the premise did not. This is not an attack on Marvel in any way, the idea existed and that is not an issue. Yet the reality we face is actually a lot grimmer. It is a lot more dangerous, because in my view Thanos was an optimist. At this point we (due to political inaction), we might have to cull 97% of the human race.

Scary is it not?

To see this, we need to take a look at the guardian. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/may/08/un-environment-report-how-australias-political-parties-plan-to-respond-to-the-crisis) gives us: ‘experts rate Australian political response to extinction crisis‘ and that is where the problem starts, politicians are there to cater to big business (for the most) and this is not in the interest of big business. Politicians have a long standing history of not doing the right thing and not putting their foot down, so inaction remains for now the best we can hope for.

So where is the problem?

The responses give a much larger issue that they have been ignoring. When we see: “review but keep existing environment laws; a $100m environment restoration fund to clean up coasts and waterways, protect threatened species and reduce waste; $189m over four years for the “direct action” climate solutions fund, in part for revegetation of degraded land” reads like an absolute joke.

For this we merely need to look at the Adani Carmichael mine. ABC reported: “The CSIRO and Geoscience Australia said the modelling used by Adani was “not suitable”, and also cast doubt over the company’s plans to protect important environments. “A number of limitations were also identified in the proposed monitoring and management approaches, indicating they are not sufficiently robust to monitor and minimise impacts to protected environments,” the agencies’ report said.” Even when we consider “Boost early warning monitoring systems between the mine and the nearby Doongmabulla Springs wetland“, as well as “Respond immediately to any unexpected groundwater impact“, when it happens it will be too late and the impact damage will have been done and finish it for generations. There is more; I wrote about it in January 2018, in the article ‘Vision or imagination‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/01/13/vision-or-imagination/) I looked at the Guardian, as well as the Cairns Post where we see “During a recent patrol blitz during the Christmas-New Year period, GBRMPA and partner agencies detected 41 instances of people fishing in the wrong zones, including no-take areas“, unless we change the rules where ANY transgressor gets their boat impounded and auctioned off for repairs of the Great Barrier Reef, this degradation will continue. In a setting where there is coral bleaching to any degree in 93% of the reef is a stage where we need to act differently, or we impose draconian laws to protect the reef, or we cull 97% of the population, I will let you decide, yet remember, politicians are all about promises and discussion, but they lack the balls to act or enforce. It makes for a better case to reduce the population (and resolve affordable housing at the same time).

It is even worse than you think

For that we need to see the words of Melissa Price, the environment minister. Her idea of: “investing in the protection of our native species and their habitats. We are investing billions of dollars to deliver a cleaner environment“, I have no idea what drugs she is on, but I would love to sample them as they are truly psychedelic in nature. You merely need to look at the impact of Cyclone Debbie and “Adani has been fighting to hide details of what it told the Queensland Government about the risk of pollution to the Great Barrier Reef ahead of Cyclone Debbie in 2017” (at https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-10/adani-spent-a-year-trying-to-hide-reef-spill-details/10090632). So when we see: ““Just give me a little detail and we can include and update [the temporary emissions licence],” a department staff member replied“, as well as “Adani admitted to breaching its licence, spilling polluted water into the Marine Park that was 800 per cent dirtier than was allowed” my case is pretty much made. With the apology if I sound too sexist, listening to Melissa Price and reflecting on ‘the protection of our native species and their habitats‘, I feel like I am reading a debate where a vibrator is defining the need of income for the service of any huhu where that owner shows it owns the vibrator it bought (a real graphic an none personal analogy).

So when I read in the article the response from Adani giving us: “We have elected to have the matter heard by a magistrate rather than pay a $12,000 fine, which should not have been issued in 2017 following Cyclone Debbie, and we look forward to resolution of the matter.

A $12,000 fine? Are you out of your fucking minds (I apologise; emotions got the better of me at this point)? In the end, we see that last month Adani paid the $13,055 (according to various sources) and the laughable failure of this shows just how massively the environment department failed Queensland, failed the Australian people and how it failed the environment. In light of such transgressions, in light of the utter failure what is laughingly referred to as: ‘The Environment Department‘ a clear case could be made to cull the population by 97%, CEO’s, CFO’s and politicians get to be at the front of that line.

Oh, and before you think this is me against Adani, you are wrong, Adani is merely one of the more visible examples from a list that includes hundreds of transgressors and the Australian Environment department is merely one of many that has been unable to protect the environment and truly pressure fines that start in the high millions and optionally demand and exercise a right of closure of plants who make these kinds of errors, yet that was not what this was about, merely a symptom of a much larger problem.

It is not much better on the other side of the isle. Even as we see what I regard to be labor party puppets giving us the blame game (like Tony Burke), we see “It is now clear we are on the pathway to a million extinctions, we are potentially facing the sixth mass extinction in the history of the planet [and] Australia remains the extinction capital of the world. This reinforces the need for Labor’s comprehensive policy agenda to fight extinction“, just like other Labor party sided members (like Jeremy Corbyn). We see part of this in “The Greens were “deeply concerned that Labor has taken a weaker climate policy in 2019 than what they proposed in 2016, which was weaker still than what they took to the 2013 election”“, it is not all a given, but the facts are there. Even as this is more a tug between Di Natale and Bill Shorten, the issue is that they are all weak on the environment, because there is too much debt, too little work and for the most politicians have a track record of letting big business walk all over them, so a billionaire family like Adani and several others do not consider Australian politicians to be any more of the loud windbags than the politicians in America and they made an equal disastrous mess of it all.

If we go by the Conversation (at http://theconversation.com/shorten-distances-himself-from-green-overtures-on-climate-policy-116360) we see: “The decision for Bill Shorten is whether he follows the take-it-or-leave-it approach of Kevin Rudd in 2009, or negotiates with the Greens, just like Julia Gillard did in 2011, to deliver a climate policy that gives future generations a chance“, yet what we should see is: “Whomever gets elected has only this term to act, or the final approaching certainty that there will not be any future generations will become a slow but certain given“.

They all talk some talk, not the talks and NONE are willing to start increase fines by no less than 15,000% as well as mandatory closing of no less than 15 months of whatever plant makes the transgressions. In addition, the entire response of ““Just give me a little detail and we can include and update [the temporary emissions licence],” a department staff member replied” need to be met with draconian changes to the employment of whomever made that ‘little’ short-sighted consideration. The time to be nice has been over for well over a generation and the political players need to openly acknowledge that, as well as underwrite whatever law changes are required.

Any response of ‘but Adani will walk away‘ should be regarded as null and void, in the end if there is money, they will come, we need to stop facilitating to large corporations and truly change the way we do business and change the way that they are allowed to do business. The failure is seen when we look at Apple (perhaps the clearest example), when we see: “Revenue was up nearly 13 percent hitting $9.1 billion, compared to $8 billion in 2017“, yet we also get: “With bigger revenue comes a bigger tax bill. Apple incurred a tax bill of $164.1 million for the year, comprised of $127 million in income tax, a $30 million tax adjustment related to prior years and another deferred tax income expense of $7.3 million“, this implies that Apple pays a mere 1%, how will you fund any program for any environment when large corporations vulture entire nations? And when we see the Australian Financial Review (at https://www.afr.com/news/politics/national/uber-in-labor-s-sights-in-multinational-tax-crackdown-20190505-p51k9n) with the smug response “the Tax Institute of Australia warned about extra regulation for multinationals, saying it could discourage companies from setting up operations here“, my clear (and slightly less diplomatic) response would be: “Oh, please let them fuck off! When they lose 20 million customers in Australia and an optional 68 million customers in the UK they will lose more and more, more market share and all the momentum they had!

Facilitating to big business is one of the main reasons we see a loss of environment and biodiversity in the first place. That evidence is shown to some degree by American documentary maker Sue Williams. She gives us (at https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-09/environmental-impact-of-the-iphone/7825360) in 2016: “more than 50 million tonnes of e-waste will be generated this year alone“, with the added: “this ends up in China, India and Africa, the devices were then broken down in unsafe ways where toxic chemicals end up in the water and air.” It shows a much larger issue and even as Australia might not be the place of the largest transgressions, we see that Australia has failed its people and environment in the most total way possible at present.

I wonder if the people will ever vote for the parties that truly are out there trying to set up proper laws to protect the environment, when that happens we will see a rush of panic from anyone riding some sort of gravy train, I merely expect it will be too late at that point.

So, even as we wonder on Marvel and its success, we should also consider that Thanos was an optimist; removing 50% of the population will no longer get it done. When you realise that actual truth, will you ignore it or actually demand change before you have to sacrifice the life of one or more of your children? You might laugh at this as it is not realistic, and it might not be in this generation, but that setting is not a given for THEIR children, not merely because the population will surpass 8 billion within the year, but the fact that when their children are born our population will surpass 9.5 billion, it will be too late at that point. Oh, and when we all accept the compromise to put in place the Chinese one child policy on a global scale, what excuses will nations offer when that policy is breached? Humanitarian reasons perhaps?

Should you think that this is some new revelation, think again! Especially when you consider the dangers that the movie Koyaanisqatsi (life out of balance) showed in 1982, almost 37 years ago. The mere realisation of what the city of New York needed to feed its masses (overfeed its masses more accurately), and we see that the matter got worse, the inaction of politicians globally makes even less sense.

I merely wonder what excuse the politicians give, and who they blame when the collapse biodiversity is at our front door awaiting the label ‘extinct now‘. As we get reports upon reports and denials from its opposition, we need to take heed of the inaction on acts like overfishing and poaching, clear criminal acts that have little or no punishment, when truth comes to bare, remember that any elected politician after 1983 is directly responsible for the mess we see today. The entire push it forward is not to be regarded as a defence, or as an optional response. In my view there is no ‘I was not involved in that decision‘ it will be on their names and the names of their prodigy. If you doubt that, look into history on what the people did in anger to those called: ‘German Girls‘, Women from the Netherlands, France, Norway, Spain, Italy, Greece and a few other places; women who fell in love, had a flirt or for mere survival reasons got attached by a German soldier. They were according to records: “Women who married German soldiers and their children were stripped of their citizenship, interned and deported to Germany. Many of the offspring who remained were abused, attacked and confined to mental institutions because of their parentage. As well as the French part where about 20,000 women accused of sleeping with the enemy had their heads shaved; others were covered in tar, physically assaulted, stoned, spat upon and shunned. As many as 6,000 people considered collaborators, including many women, were killed“, when you read that part, will these people proclaim innocence, state some defence that ‘we’ are better than that now and demand safety for their children? I don’t think you comprehend the masses when it is enraged, these people will all be out of options, and let’s face it, when the big environmental disasters start hitting, the groups of soldiers and police and fire brigades will all be hit with other first casualties, and they will not be much of any protection for these exulted high earners. WW2 was perhaps the foulest example in history, yet it will be nothing when the biodiversity collapses under the pressure of pollution and too large a population, the political inaction will enrage billions on a global scale.

So even as we laugh at the silver screen and Thanos snapping its finger, we are getting to a place where we get to see the infrastructure and resources collapsing, and there will be someone pointing a finger at the politicians, at that point what will that person do? Will he (or she) become a version of 1966 Kodos the destroyer? Will he/she (too late) invoke draconian laws to undo the presented damage, whilst they know it was already too late?

I cannot tell, but I can tell that we are at the end of our ropes to instigate a solution, too many species have become extinct, we did allow our natural biodiversity be permanently affected to that degree.

I am however also aware that there is opposition to my view, one blogger gives a really good setting (at https://conservationbytes.com/2014/03/17/if-biodiversity-is-so-important-why-is-europe-not-languishing/), the blogger is  CJA Bradshaw and he gives another version, a less pessimistic version (in 2014 mind you), I do not agree, but I will not dismiss this view as it is well phrased, well written and gives good examples. He gives at this point a realistic view, yet at the end of this, we will be growing towards a population of 10 billion and there is a limit to what we can get from an acre of agrarian land, knowing that the planet is 30% land and the stage that the population that land supports went from 6.6 to 7.9 billion in a decade gives us a 19% growth in a stage where the growth of land is set to 0%, actually, that is wrong, some scientist claim (I use claim as I never delved into that data) that land capable of being ploughed and used to grow crops (arable land) decreased by almost 30% due to erosion and pollution, so not only are there more people, there is less place to grow their food, and that is actually really important. So as we create more land for crops, the ‘wild lands’ where the animals roam decreases more and more. To see additional dangers, we need to look towards places like Borneo lost in the time between 1985 and 2005 an average of 850,000 hectares of forest every year. If this trend continues, forest cover will drop to less than a third by 2020, so by next year Borneo and all the oxygen producing forests is merely a third of what it was, whilst the population grows and grows, is anyone worried about breathing yet? The same is happening in the Amazon region, the two largest oxygen producing areas gone to the largest degree. At what point will anyone realise that oxygen tends to be an essential need?

All unattended issues and we are actually running out of time, so who is willing in the end to snap their fingers Thanos style?

 

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With Netflix in mind

I was getting my zone on this morning (through caffeine) and as I saw something pass by last night (way too late) I decided to try and revisit what I shoved on the side something that was regarding Netflix. It was the only bold word I remembered from the 03:12 moment, and as such I did a search. I was not successful (at present); I did get a whole range of other items. Titles like ‘Terrace House on Netflix is an antidote to a world gone insane‘, ‘Netflix’s New Mini-Seasons Steal an Old Trick from Broadcast TV‘, as well as ‘Why Ben Affleck’s ‘Triple Frontier’ is your new macho Netflix guilty pleasure‘, the title or whatever passed me by was not there. It got me to thinking about certain series. You see, in a sea of options people get to drown because they cannot decide. Most (like me) want more than just a little 42 minute hype and that got me to one of the best BBC Drama’s around in decades (besides I, Claudius that is). Waking the dead was brilliant for several reasons. Not only because of the cast Trevor Eve (Eddie Shoestring), Sue Johnston, Wil Johnson and Claire Goose (Jane Kennedy) all awesome as a team! The issue is that the story was deeply overwhelming as every case was a two episode one hour each. The series were not a collected short stage of items; it was an actual story, complete with events to connect to. The makers were brilliant in a few ways as the stories were amazing, but that 2 part one hour approach was the pusher to set the stage much higher than ever before. So when we see these Marvel series, these crime series and other elements. I am surprised that places like Stan and Netflix have not pondered a much larger bet, one that could pay off for a much longer time. Not some vanilla series with happy endings. But based on the stories like Constantine, Elektra, Moon Knight, and optionally some series in the 90’s and 80’s that flopped. Everyone is looking at a new Buffy, Buffy was a huge success, but in that drive we forget to look at series because they failed. Some failed not because they were bad (well they were in that shape), but because we were not willing to make them dark enough and people have taken a real shine to dark TV series. By making them so dark that it makes black the new vanilla, that is the path some need to be on and it should not be some 42 minute series. It should be more like Waking the Dead, 2 episodes of a full hour. You can actually give the people a real story. This is not a new idea, others have voiced it and even as Hollywood is too scared to make that leap, for places like Stan and Netflix it could be the game changer. Netflix learned that when they gave the people ‘the Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina‘, the totally vanilla (and family friendly series) with Melissa Joan Hart has been rewritten into something that people teenagers and those who passed that age limit decades earlier go bonkers over; the mention of a new teaser poster auto evolves into a new viral wave of messages on a global stage. We should be more like Leonard Cohen in You want it Darker? And as we remember “You want it darker, we kill the flame“, we see the stage that several ideas should push towards. It gives light to the 1973 movie ‘The Legend of Hell House‘ which seems to have been the inspiration at least in part for ‘The Haunting of Hill House‘, Netflix blew the roof of their maximum ability to entice an audience and they are not done, not by a long shot.

So how do you think the audience will react, not to some 45 minute chase, but a 2 hour hunt for some truly bad person, raw, bloody and unforgiving by someone like Elektra Natchios, not some sexy looking Jennifer Garner (there will be minimal opposition against that element), but a well-trained, decently muscled and super agile version of a comic book assassin making short work of the bodyguards. Not some 1:43 scene, but a close to a realistic invasion of a well-protected house, taking our guards, optionally avoiding staff and brutally slaughtering the target in one quick sweep, a Jane Wick without all the noise-making, to coin a phrase.

And the people will love that story; we saw that in the original Day of the Jackal with Edward Fox (not the Willis version). There are several series out there that have parts of it, but not all of it and making a double one hour episodes on that would optionally give us all, it would give a totally new appreciation of quality writing and it would show the need for actual stories, it seems that all these marvel series will soon come to a grinding halt. Too much is the same, too much are transferred idea’s from series to series. Waking the dead was never that, it was unique. The BBC writers had a golden equation. It cannot be improved upon, but it can be the mould for something entirely new. and believe me, places like Stan and Netflix are looking for new, they have billions riding on that and they cannot get it wrong, not even once, not in this day and age when they are confronted with an additional $2 billion totaling their debt presently at around $12 billion. Even as they have 139 million subscribers giving them close to $1.6 billion each month, a lot of it is infrastructure and technology. Netflix needs to find new niches to give rise to new and fresh blood that can see series and movies no one else offers and for the most others do not offer dark. Do you expect to see that happen at Disney any day soon? That is the one handicap that Marvel, now part of Disney would face, series that are slightly too vanilla for most, it gives Netflix (Stan also) an opportunity, but it is merely one window and it will not be open for too long, in the end Disney needs to find the proper valves to keep it all afloat making profit, their optional delay in making the call, that is the one brief window that places like Netflix and Stan have for now, for now that is.

They are not the only ones vying for more viewers, in that regard Season One of American Gods hit the spot right on and with the pilot of season 2 hitting just four days ago, noise is rising from so many people on needing to see it, it shows not just how right I am, it might show that what I consider dark is just not dark enough. The numbers will show soon enough if this is what will drive Amazon Prime Video faster and larger soon enough. Even as some are less positive, I believe that it is merely the story taking a moment to adjust to what comes next and that is just my personal take on it, I reckon that in 4 weeks I will be proven correct (or wrong), it is in all that we need to ask, is it about pushing the envelope, is it about something truly novel? Not unlike the Japanese movie ‘the Audition‘. I believe it to be a blend of factors; the entire 43 minute mess to write it all in is no longer holding our attention well enough. There is plenty of short, there are enough movie, but in between there is a whole range of nothing. Waking the Dead had us covered and they were pretty much the only ones. It is time to see that and adjust form something like that. My money is on series of a much darker nature, most people are truly fed up with vanilla, it there is something to be learned from Bird Box that would be pretty much it. We cannot get a decent stress in a total frame of 42 minutes, yet in a double one hour episode we can get more than one and without it interfering with the quality of the story. It is not about the scare moment, it is about binding us to the scene and get us captured for the entirety of the episode, BBC solved it in the most brilliant way possible and we need to use that wisdom to create something the audience has not seen before. Novelty gets us there and having the best quality story keeps them there. From that part I believe that there is space very deep space for a new totally awesome Star Trek Movie. People were not happy about Star Trek Beyond; I do not believe it was about the acting or the directing. It was the story and there is enough evidence that they could have a two part cash cow if they hire the right writer to head that team. The nice part that if he is willing to make that jump you will get to see 125 million star Trek fans (globally) to go utterly nuts with joy, but to get that done, J.J. Abrams and Quentin Tarantino must be willing to make quite the jump into a direction neither had taken before. If they do they end up with two movies each passing the one billion revenue mark with ease. The classics can get you there, if you know the right classical writer who can give to you what wasn’t shown before.

Innovation is not merely seeing new, it is about the need and ability to adapt into another frame not making it merely novel, but giving a classical pressure to what still is, that is the field where all the leprechauns bury their pot of gold. There are plenty of plots to draw from; you merely need one man and a decent shovel to get you there.

 

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Taught by the past

There will always be one TV channel that remains in my heart. It does not matter how they go, what series they have and whether they stop existing. They had one thing right, the one thing above it all was their slogan ‘the story is everything‘, it still reverberates in my heart, and for years (when I had cable) they proved that they understood their own premise. The story was indeed everything and they stood by it. It should be the cornerstone in entertainment, but it is not (for some). Some have a setting that is nowhere near there. It does not matter how they go that journey, how they pass the time in their product, they forgot that one truth that makes all the difference.

This takes us to Eidos. I had a good connection there for the longest time, so when I got an early copy in the summer of 1996 to take a look at some game called Tomb Raider I had no idea what I was in for. I loved it, apart from the part that the hero was a woman, the game was new, it was different and we all wanted more, that would be delivered a little over a year alter and for the most we were all hooked, not merely because of Lara, little Lara, but the setting from the first to the second became a much larger leap. Even as the story for both was not the greatest, the levels, the design and the challenges made up for that. Over time we saw that the story become much more important and as we went through the stages, on PlayStation, PC, PlayStation 2, Dreamcast, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One the story evolved and it became to some degree a real story. In all this there was an evolution (to some degree). Now we are confronted with ‘Tomb Raider – makes Lara Croft look boring‘. The Guardian gives us (at https://www.theguardian.com/games/2018/sep/10/shadow-of-the-tomb-raider-review-lara-croft) “This game revels in its own beauty, but the plot collapses under the slightest scrutiny“, now first the important part. I did not play it myself, but I saw a large amount of videos. First the bad part, a few games back. When the definitive version on PS4 was launched, I became very upset. Not only was the game shallow, too easy (on hard) and way too small. It became the first game I ever returned to the shop. I had finished the game in hard mode under 10 hours. It was perhaps one of the most upsetting acts I ever did, mainly because my gaming experience with Lara Croft over 4 systems had been so good. When we look deeper into that game we see something that was perfectly placed on an island, the setting could have propelled in many direction and the graphics were amazing, even now I look back (in my mind) to that level when you arrive near the ocean and you see that large tugboat in the sea, I need to acknowledge that graphically it was an amazing feat, so when we see the setting where we could have had at least 20 hours of additional play, but the makers overlooked or ignored that opportunity. In a gaming sidestep, I realised the same with Assassins Creed Rogue, the remastered edition. What could have been nice story to side missions ended up being merely the setting of running to a marker and press the dig button or simply violently resolve it. All opportunities missed (in that case) by Ubisoft. So back to Lara, after that disappointing episode, I decided to give the second game a miss, something I partially regret now, because the third game (for hat I saw was a pretty amazing result). The graphics were still really good, yet the story is, as I saw it better and they took effort with the stealth part. A much better game overall (comparing to the first relaunched PS4 game). I liked Lucy O’Brien’s review in IGN giving us the parts that count (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdEfROL2Wx8). If there is one part that I personally do not like is the use of ‘scripted moments‘. I get it that it essentially needs to be there (especially in the introduction), but in the end, the best game does not require scripted events, or requires them to be minimised to the biggest possible degree. Even as the stories are better, we need to address the Guardian verdict. We see the first quote “Shadow of the Tomb Raider nails the former, with sumptuous South American locations to climb, dive and rappel around, ranging from ancient Inca cities and missionary crypts to modern-day Peruvian jungles and towns. But it does Lara a disservice, turning her into a deadly mud-camouflaged jungle warrior without much interesting to say, pushed along by a plot that’s more concerned with prophecies and supernatural artefacts than with its main character“, so was that not always the case? I personally like the entire stealth upgrade, but is that just me? It might be, I was merely in that setting of trying to figure parts out. Yet I saw too many references towards Uncharted and Far Cry 5, which makes sense and it is not a bad thing, yet when we look back at what was and what should be, going through the other titles is not what I hoped for. Still Tomb Raider for all I saw remains Tomb Raider, so why did the Guardian give me that jump?

There were two parts in that. The first was: “Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s series of amazing places is held together by a plot that collapses under the slightest scrutiny. The narrative is an incoherent mess that goes well beyond the usual action movie/video game suspension of disbelief” and “when Lara shows up in an undisturbed native settlement filled with people who have somehow avoided the outside world for hundreds of years, is she instantly welcomed into their midst and put to work resolving their disputes? How does she communicate fluently with them? At first, Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s narrative inconsistencies are ignorable, but with every new convenient riddle or magical artefact, pointless revelation or paper-thin character, my tolerance for nonsense wore thinner“. Now, I need to tell you that I do not always agree with the assessment of the reviewer Keza MacDonald, yet that level of disagreement is more about our preference for gaming. Keza is a good reviewer, hence her view matters to me, and I have absolutely no issue accepting her view on the Tomb Raider game. I like her two issues as I saw a similar setting as an optional solution towards Watch Dogs 3. Just like I designed what might optionally become Elder Scrolls VII (6 is being made now). My setting for my version of a new Elder scrolls would have been three times the size of Skyrim with optional story lines worth 150-200 hours of gameplay. In addition, if possible I could pull it off with Watch Dogs 3 as well. This is where the FX part comes in, the story is indeed everything!

So if I can add 100% to the first PS4 Tomb Raider, which merely took me an hour or so to come up with, why can some designers not do a much better job? In case of the new Tomb Raider, we see the optional shortage, but we also see that all the Far Cry games (3 and later) gave us similar parts and so did Far Cry Primal, and the less said on the story failings of Assassins Creed (except for Origin and optionally Odyssee) the better.

The setting is extremely important, as the current Shadow of the Tomb Raider could have been 90% instead of the 81% that Metacritic gives it now, and if we translate that to the three stars Keza rating, it would translate to an optional 70% at best. This gets us back to the story is everything, when we see that this translates to an optional 15%-25% more, ignoring that element is just too weird. It is to some extent the one element that Games and movies have in common. So if we translate that to the now, we see that the right story makes the larger impact. Merely see Dev Patel in Hotel Mumbai, rated by IMDB at 93% to see how the right story makes for the impact. This translates to games as well, the better the story, the better the game. It is visible on nearly every level. Yet, that is not the only part in Tomb Raider and We see the goods on the negative side of the game as Keza gives it to us with: “Salvaged outfits for Lara offer meaningless bonuses (“gain more experience for assault kills”), crafting materials are so plentiful that they are not an exciting reward, and new skills or weapons are seldom used. Oddly, items such as lockpicks that open up new treasure-hunting possibilities are sold by merchants, not earned through exploration. It is very weird that so much of this optional content is incorporated so badly“, as well as “The places Lara visits and the things that she does, especially when she doesn’t have a gun in her hands, are beautiful and entertaining. But it lacks a coherent plot or creative vision to hold it all together, and the opportunity to make an interesting character out of Lara Croft is squandered“, that does grasp the heart in a not so good way and it matters a parts could have been dealt with in a better story setting and parts would never have been better. That negative part is exactly the impact that Ubisoft missed with AC Rogue. There we run for Viking swords, crosses on the map, opening bars with thugs, merely points to run to, yet the ‘rescuing’ of a bar from thugs could have been the start of a side quest line and in all this, much more could have been reached, when one leads to the other, instead of running over the island, from chest to chest, glitch to glitch and sometimes doing a Prince of Persia for some pirate shanty, meaningless actions that could have been a dimension all by itself in the game, all options lost and even as both franchises have amazing graphics, we see that this alone does not hold a game. I wonder how many developers are revisiting the current setting of their game that is in development, because if they are not then it does not matter to anyone how many games are being released between now and December 2019. If they do not up the ante for their own game, they will merely release something that is good, not great and it sits on the shelf until the game retail store has a large sale and the game is up for grabs at 50% or less, or people merely wait for one of the producers to add it to the ‘for free’ subscription monthly download bonus, what a waste! Merely because the simplest of all lessons was ignored by too many; It all starts with a good story, not with ‘Lara needs to look cool (or different) in the jungle, how can we do that?‘, or ‘Where is the next Assassins Creed story? When have we not yet been?

 

That is the part given to us in complete contrast when we realise that with the end of God of War we were treated to: [CENSORED TEXT REDACTING SPOILERS]. When I saw that unfold on my screen, my jaw dropped on the floor. It was not merely some twist, it was the setting for at least two more games in a way I never saw coming and I do remember my Nordic mythology. It was brilliant, indeed the story was everything and Santa Monica Studio’s treated us to the perfect meal (listening to Bear McCreary was an added desert that is just too surreal).

In the end, I know that I am a goof, I am creative and I can weave a tale like no one in my mind at the speed of the Deep Blue Super Mainframe, but overall, I cannot fathom why the game makers are not better at this, I never got that, because until lately I never thought I was on their level, yet recently I was shown (confirmed by a few sources) that I am on their level and even higher, but I am not a programmer. So when I see the lack of a storyline, I merely get sad, when opportunities are missed I get frustrated and when too much scripted issues show up, I tend to get angry. I do get the fact that some part requires scripted events. A certain boss fight, the introduction to one is the setting that cannot remains unscripted, yet at times it is too scripted deflating the tense moments it had been built to and the first PS4 Lara Croft had that flaw too much (as well as the shortness of the game).

So how can they do it better? Well this is seen in several clips in Shadow of the Tomb Raider and you might have missed them. Consider an optional reality, a reality we missed in the Far Cry, Assassins Creed and other games. You pick them off one at a time, I get that part. What I do not get is that when you are on a patrol and You are in a team, when one falls away their nerves are up (like in the Arkham games), yet in the earlier games, often enough they relax and go to their old ‘relaxed’ setting. In reality, my nerves would be in the stratosphere, so there will be no lapse and even as you can get the drop on others, only the first one is ‘free’, the others need to be close to perfect or all hell breaks loose. That part was never learned correctly, not in one decade of stealth gaming, weird is it not? OK, Far Cry did get that part right (to some degree). And even as the setting evolves over an act, a larger level or a chapter in the storyline, we see that some opponents are harder, yet the overall setting no longer gets to be more complex, which is also weird. It seems to me that only Far Cry 3 got that part better the most other games and here too Lara had her lesson to learn, or better stated her opponents. So even as we see her take out the enemy, in most cases when other vanished nerves did not get that much bothered, a missed opportunity.

Even if this is the optional end of Lara Croft, we see that there was a lot more to be had and it was missed. Will that lesson not be learned? The story is everything, but how to set the story properly in the frame of it all. That part will remain a challenge and solving it, or finding some level of a better solution will aid the game makers as well as the player, a win-win for all. In this, the loss is already there, but not setting the in-game bar higher, we see what looks really well is merely a 70% game, yet with the insight that should have been there, it could have been a 90% game which makes me sad. Yet I do acknowledge is that this game is a good game, everything shows that there is positive growth in several places and in many ways (especially the underwater parts, they were awesome), yet I feel that it is steps short of being a great game, whilst it could have been a great game. It is hard to put my finger on it without playing the game through until the end, but all reviews do support my view, the story could have been better making it overall better, and this game is not the only one that had that ‘flaw’.

So, as we agree that the past is a good tutor we see that partially the past is used to make this game better, that is good, some of the levels and the natural view that these levels seem to give is always good and this game got to be better at it and that matters too. In the end, on everything I faced, I regard this to be a 80%-85% game, whilst I feel that the setting and upgrade of the game would have made it a 90% game at least, and they should have done better than I would have been able to be and that makes me sad, especially as it might be the end of the Tomb Raider games for now. It will not ever be the death of the Franchise; it is in comparison very much a better game than that first relaunched game and several other Lara titles, which is a good thing. In my personal views, after seeing the play parts, seeing the reviews and watching the cut scenes, I get to the end conclusion that this is not the game to buy on day one, especially with Spiderman PS4 available, yet on special, Christmas sales and at discount sales? Yes! At that point it will definitely be my game of choice.

What a difference a stronger story makes.

I wonder if the makers will catch up to that part down the line, because higher ratings turns that, down the track to buy outright and in the end, that is still the name of the game in gaming, and not merely gaming. There is in my view every indication that the entire Chris Pine mess (OK, mess is a perhaps too strong a word), is not entirely about the money (what some sources indicated), I believe that the story is part of that too. Do you think that some starts would have given any ‘eff’ (censored) on money if they had the chance of becoming a main player in The Usual Suspects, or Silence of the Lambs? You have got to be kidding!

Yes, you want some decent remuneration. When you are a lead player in MI-Fallout, costing $178M to make, whilst the return at present is $726,386,554, one would hope that their income is slightly better than $73,559 for their part. If you are an extra, then you need to shut up, when you carry the family name Cruise, Cavill, or Pegg the amount should be larger (I have no idea what they are making, and I personally do not care either). Yet if the story would have been a legendary one, would you care? That is the part that matters in the long run, because over time, we will forget the MI titles, however we will forever remember titles like Ghandi and The Usual Suspects and that can drive a career (especially in the beginning as well). Star Trek showed in the Movie Star Trek Beyond that it did not consider that part too strong (even as I enjoyed watching it, and it had fresh looks), it did fall short of Star Trek Into Darkness and that was a shame. I have no illusions, getting to the Wrath of Khan levels is not to be expected, yet the relaunch in 2009 did pull it off (based on Rotten Tomatoes), so in that it had options and started to fall flat after that, I believe that this is also part of the decision for some actors to feel worried, Star Trek (2009) opened door, yet I personally believe that Beyond started to close doors, even with Idris Elba upping the ante by a decent amount, also in my personal view largely the reason it got an 85% rating and not an 80% rating. So when the actor is the pillar and not the story, we see a much larger flaw in all this and even as I do have idea’s to fix it, they will need a specific person to fix that for them over two movies (as I see it) and get the rating back to 94%, the number that the 2009 movie pulled off. The question is can they afford him and more important, are they willing to stick their necks out? In my personal view they have the option of doubling the 2009 box office revenue twice over and with two movies the overall cost goes down as well making it even more appealing, but in the end, their saviour will not be special effects or merely a good cast, it will be the story, it will be everything. Are people like JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof willing to make that $250M splurge? In the end it remains an actual risk whether that $250M becomes $1.3B (hopefully better), and it the one factor is the one writer who can pull it off. It has never been done in any Sci-Fi ever, making it not merely novel, if it does work, will it be the game changer that brings 1,635% of cost (Jurassic Park), or an Iron Man 2 giving a mere 312%? Yet, what if we consider that it is like Gravity, ‘only’ 716%, yet regarded as the 4# best Science fiction movies of all time, would you still not do it?

How strong is the story in all that? I personally remain with the faith that the story will forever be everything, yet when it is all about the box office and $1 billion versus $600 million, what path would you take? In this games and movies are more alike than not; making it a fascinating setting, but also a very personal, and set on one’s own perspective. It is the ultimate objective versus subjective view and I am not sure what the best path is for either game or movie, making the setting for a movie of gaming score harder, not correct or incorrect, merely harder.

 

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Not seeing the hype come

I have been connected to gaming since the mid 80’s. In a time where only geeks were into games, where the average Joe was into booze and ‘pretending’ to have sex, games were not on his (or her) mind. The population would not see a surge into gaming until the PlayStation came and even then it was a slow boat to wherever. It took until the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 for things to change. I reckon the Gameboy also made a dent in that world, but the move to the masses did not truly start until 2005. It has now been 11 years and what was an ignored industry is now a 200 billion dollar market and everyone wants a slice. With mobiles evolving the way they have in the last 2 years, that device is now also more and more the gaming solution for those on the move, which has added a new dimension.

Here I missed one sign that I did not see coming. I saw how the predicted success Minecraft even outdid my expectations, I have seen games come, I have successfully predicted winners and especially losers and average wastes of time, yet last Friday I witnessed something I did not expect, in the same way I did not expect Skylanders to be the success it became.

There is a game called Pokémon GO, which was released this month and the amount of people I have almost literally tripped over since Friday is beyond normal. I have been a Pokémon friend since Sapphire and Ruby were released on the Gameboy Advance, yet what is shown all over Sydney now I did not see that coming. It is almost everywhere. On trains, in busses, sitting in the park, walking on the street and in the office, people are trying to catch them all. It is a little overwhelming to see this big a leap in interest, yet this is what happens. Even as we now know that No Man’s Sky went gold last Friday, which means that production of the shippable discs will be a reality soon, the fact that this game came from almost nowhere towards an IOS and Android release is more than just great. You see, it is not just that this game is a hype (for now), the fact that an established game can be vamped into a new mobile dimension is absolutely fantastic. It means that leagues of games could find their own evolution into the mobile industry and into the gaming minds for those holding onto their mobiles.

Another side has been illuminated by Forbes. Their quote “The best approach you can take is to make that impact positive by embracing the game and making the Pokémon GO experience a memorable one for both you and your potential customers” gives a first nod towards the use of “Pokémon GO has a purchasable in-game item called a “Lure Module” which attracts Pokémon to a particular PokeStop for 30 minutes. Those Pokémon it attracts? They’re visible to and attainable by everyone in the nearby vicinity. Use it during a typically slow period of your day to get more foot traffic, and then use your creativity to turn them into a paying customer“, which now gives retail another option besides ‘free Wi-Fi’. We will soon see methods of using gamers to lure groups of people towards any location, especially if this is a route towards legendary Pokémon’s from either a hatched or an unhatched egg.

There is one other side to all this. The fact that this game relies on movement (GPS linked) and being out and about is a first step to get some gamers from Couch Potato mode into the Go-Getter stream of an active population. I reckon that deserves a lot more merit than most people are giving this game. Although, with the speed that this game is finding itself towards mobiles is pretty amazing and it is about to become a global success!

So, what can we learn from this?

The fact that I missed a winner? True, I did, I have missed winners before and I will do so again. Because the public tends to be fickle and it has plenty of distractions pointed in their ways. They are equally influenced by others who tell them what is cool, what is worth trying and what makes a difference.

The growing Hype? Yes, there is a massive growth, especially amongst people who I know to have never shown any serious interest in Pokémon. The question becomes is it because it is on a mobile device, or is it the mobile nature of the game? For now, I feel that there is not enough information to give a clear answer, yet the fact that people are making detours into Hyde Park to get rare Pokémon’s gives value that the trendiness of mobile gaming is one that many are exploring. Giving the makers of this game a large advantage over other games for now.

Yet there is just one part that requires mentioning. You see, what bugged me a little was not that I have missed spotting a winner, but the facts that were shown in Forbes yesterday (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonevangelho/2016/07/10/pokemon-go-about-to-surpass-twitter-in-daily-active-users/#3f90dc517455). The quote “Data published today by SimilarWeb indicates that the mobile game may be poised to surpass Twitter in daily active users on Android“. Now consider that Twitter is global and that Pokémon GO has been in released in three countries. The US, where this game is installed on 5.6% of ALL Android devices (according to Forbes). In Australia where I passed 150 active users from Town Hall to the UTS building (I stopped counting at 150) and in New Zealand, where it is popular with the people and according to the gossip it is popular with roughly 3.4332% of the Sheep population, including a few Flaaffy’s and Mareep’s.

There is no doubt that this trend will follow through in other games. As soon as issues with batter drains is solved, this game will grow its user base even faster. Which beckons the call, are we all gamers now?

You see in the original Star Trek series, in the episode ‘Shore Leave‘ we get the quote ‘the more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play‘, which could be considered a truth in itself. Yet another lane in that road can be gotten from the philosopher José Ortega y Gasset who stated “tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are“, another truth, yet today, that might we one for debate as we see the user population shift all over the mobile field from Facebook to Tinder. In that regard, as we see our delusion that we can devour any line of data and responses into our brain, we are confronted with ego in a nasty way. We seem to lose direction and we seem to lose the ability to correctly sift what is cognition and what is noise.

So how does this apply to ‘Not seeing the hype come?‘ It is for the simple reason that market interpretation is not seeing the noise, but the ability to value the noise to the extent of what is actual data that should be regarded as ‘analysed factual events‘. I believe that the levels of play that Pokémon offers are interestingly simple, yet overall still a tactical challenge. Pokémon lives (as I see it) next to Minecraft when it comes to ‘simplicity of play’, yet the interactive and tactical side to the game makes it fun and challenging. You see, the foundation of the game remains to be a variant on Rock, Paper and Scissors. In the game, Fire defeats Grass, Grass defeats Water and Water defeats Fire. Yet Pokémon took it to an entirely different level as they have Normal, Fire, Water, Electric, Grass, Ice, Fighting, Poison, Ground, Flying, Psychic, Bug, Rock, Ghost, Dragon, Dark and Steel. Some have two elements (like Fighting and Psychic) giving additional tactical options. All this in a game that has been around for 20 years. The fact that we see new life into a game title through evolved gameplay shows that the 91 billion dollar gaming industry is still growing in several directions, all leading, not just towards additional revenue, but to additional forms of gameplay, which is what a gamer tends to like!

Here we see another level of gaming, which is why I mentioned No Man’s Sky, a game that has been 3 years in development. We were introduced to a hype and even though the hype ‘died’ many are still looking forwards to this game that is still destined (at present) to be released on August 10th. This game seems to embrace the simplicity of play through the size of the Universe giving us the option to travel to the centre of the universe again and again until the day we die, with the chance that most planetary visits will be unique experiences. Pokémon gives us ‘simplicity’ in another way, when we consider these elements (in light of Minecraft) that it is interesting how game designers seem to forget (or ignore) what an important element simplicity is in regards to gaming. We might want to ignore Space Invaders and Pac-Man as there were no games in those days.

Yet Galaga was not alone and is still regarded after 30 years as one of the best shooters. Now we see other Kickstarter projects come to life with shooters like Iridium, a very successful title in the golden age of the Commodore 64. It seems that some gamers are figuring out what the people need. A trait larger software houses changed into the premise of ‘we are offering the people what we think they need‘. Now, that premise is not unwarranted, because the gaming industry is to offer what they think the people seem to need. Yet certain failures in the past from more than one software house bring debate to that approach. When we see a ‘definitive edition’ of Tombraider which is graphically amazing, yet comes with a life cycle of 10 hours, we need to wonder whether the developer had thought it through. The fact that I was able to get through the entire game from Friday and finish it Saturday evening gives visibility to the flaw of the game. In light of time there is another game I want to bring to your attention, but in an opposite direction. It is Metal Gear Solid, Phantom of Pain. A game so large that many players have not finished it. Even the blogger Lawlordtobe (yours truly) with the history of gaming has not completed that game at present. So as value goes, it is by far the best bang for your buck a game like this has ever offered. Yet, as I spoke to a fellow gamer who literally stated ‘this game is just too big’, I have to wonder if it is the game or the gamer here? Have we been lulled into complacency by 20 hour games for so long that we no longer recognise the challenge that a real game like Metal Gear Solid V brings (without relying on non-stop repetition)?

I think that there is a balance between size and simplicity. Minecraft, Candy Crush, Threes, Angry Birds and Bejewelled are the most visible examples. Yet the other end of the spectrum does not seem to apply, the more complex a game, the shorter it can be. The fact that Tombraider, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Ryse and Mirrors edge were regarded as too short gives light that the equation is not entirely that simple. In the end, learning what game will actually hypes seems to remain in league with the ability to read tea leaves. You see, I have had a long time high score in predicting winners and I have made a few bad calls too. I did not see Pokémon GO to the extent I should have noticed it and this comes from a person who has been trying to catch them all since 2002. The game has been repetitive at times, yet it never bored me. The brilliance of interaction that the sets needed  with Ruby & Sapphire, Fire-Red & Leaf-Green, Black & White, X & Y and the soon to arrive Sun & Moon have given us fun moments to gaming.

And with all these versions, I still did not see this tidal wave of usage coming, because that is where I do not completely agree with a friend who told me that it was because it was free. IOS and Android have plenty of free games, this level of usage has not ever been seen before.

Niantic Labs is sitting on a home-run gold mine. Good for them!

 

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Slaves of a different nature

The sci-fi fan sees in his/her mind a woman, all green, preferably close to naked growing lust in their mind. It is the Orion Slave girl fantasy. This comes from a TV-series that is half a century old. In that universe created by Gene Roddenberry these green ladies were introduced in the original pilot of the Star Trek series in the episode ‘the Cage’, there they were depicted in a sexual context. This is not that kind of slave. Neither is it the kind that is forced to create products through prisons or work camps where they make license plates, or set up governmental mailings. Neither are they children under 18, forced into some kind of servitude. No, these are not one of the 5 forms that the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is illuminating, this is a sixth kind.

It is the kind of servitude that was once a calling, once a choice of life, which governments and insurers alike have been putting under pressure beyond any normal acceptance of labour. That part has been ignored for too long. People all believing in the wealth that a doctors and lawyers income brings. Later in a career that might have some level of truth when you ignore the elements on the other side of the scale. The fact that someone in IT will surpass the income of those graduates from the very beginning is often ignored. When I see some of my friends in health care, I see friends who are exhausted 70% of the time, some working in excess of 14 hours a day. So when I read ‘Nearly 60% of Scottish GPs plan to leave or cut their hours‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/apr/28/nearly-60-of-scottish-gps-plan-to-leave-or-cut-their-hours), I am not overly surprised.

We all claim that we are against slavery and injustice, yet the governments on a global scale are seeing their health systems collapse and as such, hiding behind the false image of all doctors are wealthy, they have been cutting into the incomes of doctors and stretching the hours they have to make. Underfunding practices and making them work ungodly hours. What we see in Scotland is only the beginning. In the Netherlands we saw in 2014 that GP’s would work around 60 hours per FTA (Full Time Equivalent), making that 13 hours per day, whilst IT staff would get more for a mere 40-45 hours a week, 9 hours a day at the most.

So in all this, whilst health care workers availability are at an all-time low, we see the quote: “26% planned to leave general practice in the next five years“, so one out of four is stopping whilst one in 6 patients will at current pressure not receive the minimum level of care which will now get close to another 1.5 out of 6. This gives us 33% to 50% of the patients in a tough spot. One foot in the grave will get a whole new meaning soon enough when that comes to pass. Certain elements of these changes are already visible in France and the Netherlands, the United Kingdom is in a harsher place than the Netherlands, but I cannot confirm how France is set. Outside of the large cities the information tends to be sketchy and cannot completely be relied upon (read: my knowledge of French sucks big time). Sweden is heading towards a new economic crises on more than one side. Healthcare is one (but less visible), the issue that is visible is the economic drain that the refugees are causing, well over 100,000 have no place and no matter how obliging Sweden is. The refugees are confronted with language issues and a skill set problem. The latter one can partially be adjusted, the first one can be overcome by the refugees who truly want this, but it takes time, which is one side Sweden is having less of. Sweden is trying to recruit doctors in many ways and their approach might work, but it will work slowly and it will cost the Swedish government a fortune. The reason for focussing on Sweden is because for the most, Sweden is a social success. Sweden has made social changes that the nation accepted (including paying a lot more tax than there neighbouring nations). The refugees are changing this, a social system can only survive in balance, the refugees arrived in such massive amounts that the system cannot cope. The total refugees that recently arrived have surpassed the size of the Swedish city of Västerås, which by the way is not the smallest of places. With the banking in disarray and Sweden missing sales marks gives additional problems for Sweden and healthcare will feel the brunt as doctors are now moving to other non-Swedish shores. Sweden illuminates the required need for the UK, a need that the UK is unable to adopt at present. In addition, the approach that Jeremy Hunt is taking will not help any.

When we see the British Telecom News page, we see “But in a letter to the BMA’s junior doctor committee chairman, Dr Johann Malawana, Mr Hunt said: “It is not now possible to change or delay the introduction of this contract without creating unacceptable disruption for the NHS.”

As I see it, my response would be ‘Yes, Mr Hunt!‘ you had alternatives but you chose to ignore them. Focussed on a system that had collapsed, focussing on the approach of slavery, you saw in your school years the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, yet as we see the words from the English poet William Cowper (1785) as he wrote:

We have no slaves at home – Then why abroad?
Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs
Receive our air, that moment they are free.
They touch our country, and their shackles fall.
That’s noble, and bespeaks a nation proud.
And jealous of the blessing. Spread it then,
And let it circulate through every vein.

 

Bankers are overprotected whilst being vultures, for not being held accountable for the mess they created (as it was not illegal), whilst at the same speed, junior doctors are reset with contracts that amounts to becoming an involuntary slave labour force. This to the degree that doctors are packing their cases and moving to Australia and other Commonwealth nations that will take them and with the shortage the world at large has, for them moving to Nassau and live by the beach with a small practice would be preferred to a city job with a mortgage they cannot pay off and working 60 hours a week. Jeremy Hunt dropped the ball. He did not do this intentionally. He was given a bad hand from the start, yet in all this instead of going on the same way, the NHS needed another direction entirely, that part was never really investigated.

For me, with whatever I have left?

If I had to go into healthcare, I would try for Radiologist position in Essex or something like that. I still have 15 years in me. For now, I have a nice idea for Google to grow their revenue by 3.5 billion dollars over the next 5 years, and gradually more after that and for £25M post taxation it is all theirs! For now, I am considering to do some teaching in Italy in the future. Teaching English in Catholic Public Schools near the Vatican. You see, this crazy merry go round we have in Europe now will collapse, there is no viable way to stop that at present as I personally see it. We must focus on what comes after. That part is now gaining visibility as we see the US President (read: Mr Lame Duck Obama) is quoted in Forbes “President Obama’s Implicit Message To Taxpayers: ‘I Own You’“. My response?

No, Mr President, you do not. You never did. Like a weakling you stopped taking taxation to a realistic level, you refused to do anything to stop greed. That part was clearly shown at the G-20 in 2013, three years ago. You might actually end up becoming the most useless president in the history of the United States of America

That would be my response!

When we look at Forbes (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/johntamny/2016/04/10/president-obamas-implicit-message-to-taxpayers-i-own-you), we see that the Obama treasury stopped one deal, one deal only. This is about a lot more than just that 212 billion dollar deal. You see, this is not about the Panama Papers, this is what they enabled. When we consider the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/may/06/panama-papers-us-launches-crackdown-on-international-tax-evasion), we see that same duckling state “the president will take executive action to close loopholes used by foreigners in the US and call on Congress to pass legislation“, how interesting that it is just about the foreigners, so how much is in Rothschild wealth management directly from foreigners and how much is arranged through American agents?

In addition we have “The Panama Papers underscore the importance of the efforts the United States has taken domestically, and the efforts we have undertaken with our international partners, to address these shared challenges”, which is an empty statement as I see it, because over the next 6 months too little will be done and it will be left to the next person in office. The final quote is “The problem is that a lot of this stuff is legal, not illegal”, which is something we already knew. Yet when we consider the change that could have been brought in 2013, he (read: the Democratic Administration in power) backed off, forcing a watered down version that was close to useless. This is the evidence I see as to the level of uselessness that the USA currently represents. Poverty levels are still at a high and in Europe that number is growing, this is the foundation that allows for the growth of what can be regarded as legal slavery. It is legal because it is governmentally arranged, it is slavery as the medical industry is pushed into a level of servitude of no-choice. In Europe, some are now claiming that the amount of people under the poverty line is now one out of four. That push is a great hammer for Jeremy Hunt to use to push for cheap contracts and ungodly working hours, but in the end, when doctors stop working, there is no NHS to continue to cure people (source: http://www.euractiv.com/section/social-europe-jobs/news/eurostat-one-out-of-four-eu-citizens-at-risk-of-poverty/).

There is no clear solution, but another path needs to be taken. The push from NHS and the deal that people get through what I call ‘deceptive insurances‘ and ‘skewed medicinal solutions‘ is changing the game. It now reflects back towards the change I was willing to make. What if we make hospitals self-sufficient? What if we take the insurance out of the equation and push for a self-sustaining level of hospitals on local foundations? You might think that the given logic forces us to look at Behemoths like the NHS and large medical corporations. I am stating that it is my belief that the medical gravy train is losing too much cargo on route. So it is our need to have a neutral solution. When medical suppliers start pushing on ‘how it will be too expensive that way‘, the people will have to push back. So that means that the UK hospitals start getting supplies from other sources, independent and possibly even non-UK sources. How long until greed driven corporations cave? They only need to fail 2 quarters of forecasting and THEIR nightmare begins! Trust me when I state that a merger making the board of directors over 200 billion means that their margins were really really good and via Ireland they were only getting better.

That is the issue and solving that is a first step in solving the slavery riddle, which is not a riddle, it is a mere puzzle that can and should be solved.

 

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