Tag Archives: Trigan Empire

Disturbed by memory

We all have that, we all get these thoughts that come from childhood, or from early teenage years and we make some form of connection, but the links are vague, missing and usually incomplete. For me it started today as I was figuring out a few things. I had the thoughts before. The first one was about elemental droids (see image) it was a comic book in the early 70’s, and just now I learn that there was a reboot in 2019. The second was some form of living cars, in part animals. Yet this was well over a decade before the original Transformers were launched as a cartoon. The mind is trying to make links, there is the option for gaming, the option for more. I am not doing to much about it, because it is not my IP, someone did the work, someone is doing the relaunch and for the other part, my mind is trying to make links and it is grasping back to those images for some reason. Just like there is setting where streamers (or Hollywood) would do good to start talking to Don Lawrence, who is one of the creative minds behind the Trigan Empire, as I see the half baked series on current channels, that might be a great catch for whomever scores those rights. 

Yet the creative writing mind of mine is seeking an outlet and the images my mind calls forth seems to be pushing me back to the 70’s, not sure why. It is like the mind found the solution and it is trying to remember the complete story to present to me, but that is merely me speculatively grasping. 

In an era where IP is growing a much larger concern in nearly all fields, as we realise that gaming will represent an amount exceeding $200,000,000,000 by 2023, IP is everything and we already see that only the strongest franchises will survive, Sony and Nintendo have their fair share, Bethesda, Guerrilla and a few others have strong IP, the rest needs to find it or become lost in mediocrity. And they all want their slice of that 200 billion dollar pie. So new IP is where it will be at and at the end of 2023 streaming games will be a massive part of it, games designed to work in client server mode with the client will be as small as possible. And here Amazon Luna has an advantage, with the only unknown player Netflix, who has game-able IP all over the place, so there is the crux. Google is not developing in house and Microsoft seems to rely in their master chief to save them. In that setting the consoles have their market and Amazon Luna has an optional field that could fetch them a massive advantage over the other players, but will they grab it?

We might wonder where they find it. And in all this we see what was brought in 1985-1992, the IP on three systems might not be protected and those owners might be interested to see their ideas push to new levels, there are all kinds of new options, especially in the old alternatives. But that does not stop my mind of thinking up new ideas and new IP. For those in doubt, consider that Jeff Minter brought us the mutant camels and everyone was happy. Yet it took 17 year old Matthew Smith to teach us that Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy were more than ground breaking. Someone had to take a jump into the unimagined. And in all this we ignored a whole range of games, because in those days it as always about the next game, not admiring the current game. That led to the diminished visibility of Andrew Braybrook who would bring the people Paradroid and Paradroid 90, Microprose brought us Covert Action and no one considered where those two could lead us on consoles and in streaming. Even now, some of the games from those days are now making it to Android, they will have an advantage as they develop for streaming systems and those systems will want these games, because the more games they have and the more games that an work in a limited 5G environment, the stronger the pull will be and soon these systems will wake up to the call of number of games and they want that level to be as high is possible with as much quality as possible. In the last 24 hours over a dozen sources are making this claim, as I have clearly made the claim for weeks, for months even. We are now seeing the media waking up, the streaming systems were already on that page, but do they have the IP? That remains to be seen. Yet time will prove that I am right, the moment they make a run for the IP, we will see that they have the sets to make a run on the number three position and they are setting a Hugh yield low impact race. Microsoft paid billions for Bethesda, a good move but there we see less then half a dozen IP, good IP mind you, but still the same IP on other systems and that is the difference, there will be a run on IP that other systems do not have, or not anymore, and the remastered and new versions will be accepted (Mass Effect proved that), yes, Mass Effect is exceptional. Yet the makers relied on that to push forward. Now when one of the players get their hands on a dozen IP’s that can be remastered, we will see systems with over a dozen unique games. If they are good enough, it will make them a winner, that is the game and the winning system will have a much bigger slice of 200 billion than mediocre games do. Sony is ready, Nintendo seems to be ready and Microsoft claims to be ready. So where are Netflix and Amazon? They remains silent and they are having a game plan, they aren’t silent because the media makes it so, they are silent because in the final hours any marketing wave will be 2-3 times more powerful than waves created a year in advance. For me Netflix remains an unknown, Amazon less so and they are off to a good start, will they make the number three position in gaming? It is becoming more and more likely, but it is not a given. And there is more, Microsoft gave us 4 hours ago (via Video games chronicle) “As an industry, I would love it if we came together to help preserve the history of what our industry is about so we don’t lose access to some of the things that got us to where we are today and built this industry. That would be a cool thing.” And we see the intent, but not what happens to the IP, it seems to me that Microsoft wants to claim it all, they fear the setting I gave for some time and now it becomes sort of a race and there is where I get to laugh. I put my IP out in the open, making it public domain, it gives game makers free reign to make gams for Sony and Amazon free, but that also limits Microsoft, and any created game is a loss for Microsoft and as they try to make the historic jump (over time) they will lose out more and more. In a stage Microsoft gives us ‘I would love it if we came together’, yes because that has always been their objective (not really). They want it all under the Microsoft flag, a flag I personally detest because of steps they made in the past. They ignored the players and decided for the players what the players wanted, it is not the right way. So as a gamer I revolted and published IP for all other game makers to freely use, my way of stopping a short sighted giant. And it was easy to do, I had the time and I (hopefully) expect that my 5G IP will get me through, it is all I need. The rest is to make a new stage for gamers by gamers and that stage is highly unlikely to have a Microsoft logo. 

And still my mind is giving me issues with a comic book from the 70’s, I see a little more, but so far not enough to identify why my mind is pushing me there. Irritating!

Yet I do believe that the mind will win and it will show me what I missed (and why), perhaps in my dreams, perhaps not. 

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The stage of a game

We all have an idea, some have the idea of a life time, but I cannot make that claim, not because I do not have one, but because I have too many. Yes there is the call to make remasters (Knights of the Sky), there is the call to reinvent the wheel (System Shock by Nightdive Studios), or there is the need to take it to the next level, a next level that was not possible in the past, mainly because technology did not allow for it.

This is how I always saw Pirates (by Sid Meier), there was a chance where Black Flag was a nice tribute, but it was the dawn of PS4 and Xbox One and Ubisoft took a cowardly way to progress a franchise on a lack of factors. So as I initially played Black Flag, my mind went racing. And then I remembered another pirate game, a board game with additional bluff cards. So what happens, when w take the foundation of Black Flag and make it more towards the original the Sid Meier made? The map would be well over 20 times the size, a lot more like the actual map of the Caribbeans in those days, the game would not be some fruity assassin, it would be your version and you get to live the life of a cutthroat, a buccaneer, a privateer, it is up to you, to go from a small skiff to a full-grown galley or slave ship if you are good enough. You see, there is something totally awesome about the way the game Elite Dangerous is designed (by David Braben). There your life does not matter, the game does not care, nor should it and it is time to set that stage to RPG and a pirate RPG makes a lot of sense. You cannot always be a captain, you start as a simple sailor. And in this you could get to a rank if you are good enough. 

So how do we go about it, we tend to look towards the wars of adjustment, yet there are so many wars the were never on the radar, the Dutch independence wars (which took close to 80 years), the age of piracy and lets not forget the Sudan wars (Mahdist War 1881-1899), all places that seem to be forgotten. Who remembers the siege of Khartoum? Some are so set in a stage of winning, the we sometimes forget that half the fun is surviving, so how far will you get? The original siege went on from 13 March 1884 to 26 January 1885, so what happens when you are in charge, how long will you last? Games are so much about winning, the we forget the enduring is nothing less. To make it to the date or even past it would be a victory and a half. It is so American to be the victor the most of them do not understand ‘the Last Samurai’, it is not about winning, it is about not losing, or better stated, the way you live towards the final days matters more, we forgot about that part, didn’t we?

We can set any gaming stage, but it is how we play where we see if we measure up, not if we merely tap the mile poles in a game. I reckon that the achievements made us all a little complacent in games. We can go in any direction, a Hindenburg flight simulator, yet in there we will always come up short against the Microsoft flight simulator, it makes more sense for them to add the Hindenburg. Yet what happens when we turn the script? What happens when we set the stage to a simple thing, what if the player is a no one, yet his/her grandfather was Hades, Poseidon or Zeus? What happens when we map a place like Monte Carlo completely and get him to retrieve a relic that one of the 2,261 millionaires or 50 billionaires has. Is it in a house, is it on a boat or is it somewhere else (like a museum)? We can simplify any game for as much as we can, but in the end we need a healthy story and for the most Wars tend to do that (an unhealthy endeavour if ever there was one). I saw the need of a game on mines, and remembered some bomb defusing game on the CBM-64, so where to go from there? The stage of a game is important, because it sets a vested interest of the gamer, Ubisoft had the down to perfection in Assassins Creed 2 and Brotherhood and after the they lost the plot, they almost won it back in AC4 Black Flag and they definitely got it back in Origins. I would think the a Battlestar Galactica RPG is one the would be favourable with the BSG fans, but not much outside that, the same can be said for Babylon 5, the Star Trek fanbase is huge, so that tends to be a close win any given day of the week, but that does not guarantee a good game, the issue is seen when an idea with a small base entices a large following, that is the stage we all seek. CD Project Red did so with Witcher and seemingly is about to do it again with Cyberpunk 2077.  It is the setting the fuels the story, and the story is everything, I have always believed that, it is the power of an RPG. It is because of the that we see out the great stories (Tolkien), yet I wonder what happens when we try this with Herbert on a larger scale with Dune, not merely on Arrakis, why if all the other places become involved? Perhaps a visionary will see that option with the next Dune movie (2020). In this books have been the strongest source of inspiration, mainly because there are so many of them. Yet most of us go to the same source, why? I agree that it is appealing, but there are so many nations with alternatives. That is something we saw when someone created the Untitled Goose Game, brilliant t in its foundation, as such I wondered if someone had considered the same thing with a cat (Minoes, Annie M. G. Schmidt), a writer the has a following of millions in the Netherlands and Belgium. In that same setting, as Skyrim became such a hit, did anyone ever look towards the famous Spanish Comic books of the Mercenary by Segrelles? It has all the makings of a much larger game, a stage where some are set not in multiple games, but one game with a season pass and several DLC’s.

Then there is the comic hero Rork, by Andreas, or even the Trigan Empire by Don Lawrence. I remember growing up to these stories and the stories of Ravian (Valerian), I am a little surprised that the Trigan Empire never made it to the silver screen or the computer, Don Lawrence has a flair for imagery and the computer always needs this. So what is the stage of a game that will be set next? The is the question and the is where players like Sony and Google/Apple will find themselves. Microsoft might be acquiring the brands (Bethesda), yet they do not have the stage alone and the next innovator might be just around the corner. For me, the idea that the $7,500,000,000 lemon the Microsoft acquired (not Bethesda mind you) would backfire largely and loudly and the would be OK with me.

As I personally see it, Microsoft pissed of true gamers and that group of people doesn’t pull punches when they play with their idols, we do not fault Bethesda in any of this, but aligning with Microsoft was not the best idea, as some say, you are only as good as your next game and Bethesda had plenty of winners, but what is next? We look not merely to the stage of the game, but to the next stage of gaming and I believe that they are too often hiding behind terms like ‘hype worthy games’, yet that is a setting from the mind of a marketing department, they predict that people who play games, will think this is a hype. Yet true hypes come from games the are on the edge of what is possible in gaming, the Witcher 3 is the perfect example there. Cyberpunk is also on the stage, neither of them are Microsoft games. Yet it was brilliant to buy Bethesda, but the also means that those who do not love the Microsoft console will look to the borders and see what else is possible, optionally setting the stage for the $7,500,000,000 lemon, not because of Bethesda, but because gamers have a lack of trust in Microsoft and the fact that some had the numbers that only 1 out of 3 considered the new Microsoft console, the gives me the impression that Microsoft has a much larger problem and buying software houses will not solve it, making visionary games do and the is the lesson Microsoft has not learned. They opened the door for Sony to look what else is out there, what else could become an exclusive and the is where Sony will win and gamers will win. Because it is on the edge of possible gaming where new gamers will be born, new games will be born and at the end of my life I see that there are options coming towards gamers, games the will create new gamers, it will create new creativity and new thinking through gaming and this is a good thing. The simple truth is the there is real gaming beyond Ubisoft and Microsoft, true gaming is never soft, it is challenging and the is where we need to look, we need to look where they are not looking. That is how I got most my IP in several fields. Not by being some bullet point presenter like all the others, but by looking in a direction they decided not to bother looking. That is how most revolutionary IP is created, and it is funny as this is the way Microsoft and Ubisoft started, to look where no was. Too bad they forgot about the part of the equation and I reckon the Sony is waking up to that lesson at present.

 

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Removing the floor

OK, I have made predictions in the past and most were close to spot on, some were just a little off, yet I had not ever for the life of me gotten it wrong by half a billion before. In ‘First the Soft‘ at (https://lawlordtobe.com/2019/04/27/first-the-soft/), I made the prediction: “we now see that Avengers: Endgame is heading towards a 700 million opening weekend (globally) is no stretch, it would make it the largest opening weekend in history“. Some claimed I was being too optimistic, perhaps I was at that a little; I now see from several sources that the estimate was off by a lot. The sources mostly re-quote Variety and when we realise that the reality of “According to Variety, ‘Avengers: Endgame’ pulled in $350 million in the US and an incredible $1.2 billion worldwide in its first weekend. This smashes the ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ take by over $500 million“, we can agree that my thoughts on it being the best Marvel movie ever is not even close to the mark. The movie is now listed on 18th position of the best money making movies ever on a global scale, from naught to 18 in one weekend. This now implies that the movie could shoot to 3rd position in a week, optionally replacing Titanic in 2nd place, it is a record that James Cameron held for 21 years, and he also held the number one spot for 10 years which is now in equal danger of getting surpassed by Avengers: Endgame soon thereafter. I believe that will happen, yet the speed at which this could be happening at has never been seen before.

This news is actually more important than you might think. You see Hollywood is nothing if not revenue driven, so there is every chance that my beloved comic books form the 70’s and 80’s will find themselves to the big screen or some Netflix streaming channel. This is both awesome and optionally sad. When the money makers see the amount of money Marvel just grossed, it will make them step into the fairway and claim their own billions. The sad part is that there is every chance that people will concentrate on their dollar shaped pupils and forget that Avengers: Endgame is the result of 11 years and 22 movies, so whatever they do they need to be careful not to squander the option they would acquire.

One of the front runners in this would be the work of Don Lawrence. He became famous with the works of the Trigan Empire as well as Storm. The Trigan Empire has everything to become stellar, it is placed in what would be a ‘Nova Roma’ A roman empire but in the 21st century, so we get decadence, martial impact (for references see the Spartacus series), direct encounters (read: sex, combat and confrontational resolutions) as well as other elements making it highly desirable to the watchful eyes of millions. Getting it right would be an essential part in all this. Remember, that I Claudius failed in the first attempt until it was done right in the 70’s.

In second place there is the Spanish artist Segrelles who gave us ‘El Mercenario‘, a little more fantasy, but most pleasing to the eye in more than one way. It is utterly lacking realism (the dragons are a dead giveaway) but the stories have been intriguing since the beginning and the art has a certain flair that does go with the need for excellent story telling.

I am not giving you a top three. There are so many considerations. There is the Flash Gordon from the 70’s, there is Diabolik, although in this case it seems that Murdoch’s European pay-tv operation are already on that case, so I reckon that if they make that one dark enough, they might have an instant hit. This all has one additional benefit for me, there is every chance that someone will consider reprinting the comics by Angela and Luciana Giussani, a win-win for all. I believe that technology was the greatest push here. Now that special effects can set the stage more closely to what the comic book makers envisioned and gave to their audience, the sky has become the limit and as we see more and more revenue towards streaming, there is every chance that the biggest delays will be finding the actors committing to a series and finding the right actors, manpower will become the largest obstacle for moviemakers in the foreseeable future. I will happily volunteer there, but I know I am no Inspector Ginko (or inspector Gadget for that matter).

Yet we can also look into the other direction, for that we merely need to seek out André Franquin and his office boy Gaston, every company seemingly has one and therefor would bring instant joy, laughter and entertainment on a global scale, all mostly untapped ideas as American Netflix has been too localised in their searches (as well as the method of finding new stuff). Yet with Disney Plus on the horizon and other players like Stan making more and more waves, we might see a bidding war for the IP rights of these works soon enough.

 

 

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About Entertainment

I stumbled upon an article by Gilbert Cruz called “The Lone Ranger Represents Everything That’s Wrong with Hollywood Blockbusters” (at: http://www.vulture.com/2013/07/lone-ranger-is-everything-wrong-with-hollywood.html). It is actually quite a nice read and the conclusions that I personally do not completely agree with are still well supported and seem to make sense.

His ‘unease’ with franchises are well accepted by many including me, as we read and have spoken out against these reiterations often enough. when addressing the origin story problem he states “Give us a story that works and then, if you’re lucky enough to earn a sequel, you can give us flashes of an origin tale down the road, as opposed to weighing down your first movie.” That is one view, yet it is the view of the director that counts. It should be about the vision of the director. Perhaps it is less about the origin story and more about having a visionary director. My view is supported by mentioning the hidden gem ‘Margin Call‘. I think that this is a movie any economic student should watch. It watches like a story, yet there are layers of events that give it all an actual strength. The fact is also about a story portraying the initial stages of the 2008 financial crises are set in a movie.
Can anything be more dull then that? And even though this movie is pretty much all star, it required a visionary director to pull it off. That is how I see the origin story as well, without vision it is a presentation. It does not matter whether we watch a movie containing a Wild Wild West version of Sparrow, or the start of the lone ranger. the same for Thor, Spiderman and so forth, how they ‘became’ is part of the movie, but how to address it?

This dilemma is approached within the slogan of TV channel ‘FX’. “The story is everything!” I think when it comes to TV channels; it is the most brilliant slogan ever. Yes, we remember the special effects, we see the stars we love and idolise, but without the story…. (Imagine the sound of a flop!).

This is also why (for now) I stayed away from the Hobbit. I loved the lord of the rings. I have been a fan of Tolkien since long before I was at the legal drinking age. So seeing the movie was a massive moment in my life for me. Like many fans I did mentally object loudly when the freeing of the shire was missing (as this is the moment the hobbits experience what those around them went through), yet to see the book on the big screen was a moment I loved. To see the Hobbit was indeed something I was looking forward to, yet to see a 320 page book in 3 movies of around 3 hours each is stretching it all a bit thin.

So as most might agree with, is the fact that a good story requires a visionary. Perhaps this is why James Cameron has been so successful? 2 movies bringing in almost 5 billion is just insane! We should not forget that timing is also extremely important. I feel that this is shown when looking at ‘Dances with Wolves’ and ‘a man called horse’, which was a shining moment for Richard Harris. Perhaps the world was not ready for the ‘going native’ view in the 70’s.

The article stamps out a side I actually never gave much notice of. He states “So in order to ensure sequels and appeal to the maximum number of people, it must be rated PG or PG-13. Good luck finding an R-rated summer blockbuster.” He makes a fine point here. I want to see a movie that is good; I am not all in favour of bloody or bloodless movies if they hinder a sense of realism. Although I was never a fan of zombie films, the ‘realistic’ view ‘the Waking dead’ brings, is why I am eye locked to the small screen. So, the ratings requiring certain lack of levels of gore would be counterproductive to me. I do not believe that it is about gore and blood-letting. This is why I enjoyed the movie ‘the A-team’, where with 17,000 bullet you see no one gunned down (keeping in pace with the original TV series), yet the opposite of ‘Act of Valor’ is a gem as it is about the efficiency of making every bullet count (Navy Seals apparently are not about wasting time). So my stance floats a little with the movie I am watching, again, the story makes it happen.

This is why the hammer on ‘The Lone Ranger’ feels a little harsh to me. If it is about entertainment, then the Lone Ranger provides, yet the points the article brings up should not be ignored either. This is a Disney movie and Disney factor is important as that brand has a following with an audience they need to protect. Consider that the (Grand) parents, with younglings on a day out will see the protection that the Disney logo brings and as such a gore driven Zombie film with a Disney logo is unlikely to ever happen.

The final part where I slightly disagree with the views Gilbert Cruz offers, is when he mentions The Phantom and The Shadow. These 90’s movies failed because there was a lack of vision (as I see it). The characters are well established through the radio shows and the comic books. If we consider the slogan of FX and if we consider a slightly more Frank Miller themed view, then consider Howard Chaykin’s ‘The Shadow: Blood & Judgment’. That was more than just a mere piece of comic book. That was graphic art on an entirely different level. As much as Baldwin failed to portray the Shadow, the blame should fall to the lack of vision the director showed (perhaps with a small degree of ‘technology lacking’ options). Consider what Tarsem Singh achieved with ‘Immortal’, now let him have a go at ‘The Shadow: Blood & Judgment’. The result could be a lot more than a cult movie that we will remember for a long time. The result could be a blockbuster R-rated movie. Again, it is about timing and for 2013-2015 the timing seems right to take these old ‘heroes’ off the shelves and give them to visionaries, not to the directors that come from the ‘Hollywood blockbuster template machine’. In that regard we all hope that Luc Besson will achieve to revive the French hero that should be seen as an international landmark. As he is remembered for the Fifth Element, this visionary could make the heroes Valérian and Laureline truly immortal. As franchises go, a trilogy of these two characters could reshape the way people see comic book heroes. The only sad fact is that this movie arrives almost 40 years after I read the comic books. Even now, I still remember the art of Jean-Claude Mézières. What is also intriguing is that the art you see in ‘The City of Shifting Waters’ had a lot of similarities that the TV-Series ‘Revolutions’ showed almost 35 years after the comic book came.

It is also interesting that, considering the success of the lord of the rings and the implied upcoming blockbusters that the Hobbit seems to become, that not a larger net was cast on the type stories that have this epic view. We all remember Flash Gordon. Some trough the view of Ted (a McFarlane sense of humour), some through the exquisite music by Queen, however I still think back to the comics as drawn in the 60’s and 70’s. In that same style there are the stories of the ‘Trigan Empire’. It seems so strange that these successful works of art still have not made it to the big screen.

So I believe that there are plenty of options out there, it just takes faith (and funding) in one visionary to take that step forward.

 

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