Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bits and Pieces 10: The Current Status!

The Blog

I'm kinda shocked by the "success" or whatever of this blog recently. No comments or anything, but I've been getting around 300 views in the past two months and June isn't exactly over yet. Not bad for a blog of random nothings that are merely here to fuel my own enjoyment of them.

That being said, I think I'm going to amp it up a bit and post more frequently, especially since my posting has died off a bit since I started it in September of last year. Which means I'm going to include a lot more writing orientated stuff than normal. So, that should be fun.

The Games

Since this started as, primarily, a blog dedicated to fighting games and the like, I'm definitely going to continue that theme throughout. I've not been playing too many fighting games as of late, though I did have a spat with the PSP not too long ago playing Street Fighter Alpha 3, Tekken 6, and SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny quite a bit. I've dabbled with Mortal Kombat here and there after beating it with every available character and I'm working through the entire cast of Super Street Fighter IV to do the same thing. After losing my save file for that game twice over since its release, that has become quite the daunting task.

That being said, though, I did download the Arcade Edition DLC expansion for the game and it was so worth it. I can see a lot of differences they made to the game aside from the four new characters (Yun, Yang, Oni, and Evil Ryu) like the Ultra combos not doing nearly as much damage as they did unless the meter is full and the like. I'm a huge fan of fighting games, but I am by no means an expert, especially when it comes to online play. I cannot adjust to the input delay and any lag that pops up and I get my ass handed to me a thousandfold. I do enjoy playing as Evil Ryu and Oni, though. My favorite Street Fighter character ever is Gouki so playing an even more amped up version of him is always fun for me. And Evil Ryu is always nice simply for the fantastical aspect of it; it's like watching an alternate version of Star Wars where Luke became a Sith instead of a Jedi.

Mostly I've been playing a lot of Warriors: Legends of Troy, inFAMOUS, inFAMOUS 2 and L.A. Noire. Since I play so many games, I'm gonna broaden my game postings to include non-fighting games. I might do reviews, I dunno.

Non-Game Stuff

I'm still gonna review non-game game related things, if that makes sense. I've got two books that collect UDON's Street Fighter comic series and I'm gonna review them relatively soon, and we'll see anything else I can find. Maybe that Tekken movie, some other comics I can get a hold of, but I might start doing reviews of other books and movies and whatnot, too. I'm just throwing it out there.

Writing Stuff

I'm working on two books right now, off and on, and I'm gearing up to take the writing thing full time and self-publishing stuff on Amazon's Kindle. e-books and all that. The first book is titled The Last Tournament: A Tale of The Chiliad, which is heavily influenced by the fighting games I've played over the past twenty years since I first plunked some quarters into a Street Fighter II arcade cabinet. It's basically my version of a fighting game without the game aspect. It's a sixteen fighter tournament with a lot of those crazy story aspects one can only find in a fighting game. Like Bison cloning a female version of himself that he hopes to one day download himself into. Yeah, I don't get that either, and it won't be QUITE that crazy, but it certainly doesn't operate in a really-real world setting. It's a different kind of fantasy that I've never read outside of the fighting game world, or anything based on a fighting game that ultimately fails to do the games justice. This is something I've been working on for a very long time and all the details are just now falling into place in a very wonderful sort of way. And yes, you can totally expect fireball projectiles, electricity dancing from fingertips, teleportations, giant monsters, boss battles, and probably a lot of things that just don't make sense. At least not right away. Gotta leave room for potential sequels, right?

The second book I'm working on is called Effin' Vampires, which is straight on horror for the Call of Duty generation. It started as a joke, really, that I wanted to write a story about a thugged out gangsta sort of character that hunted vampires down and punched them in their pompous faces 'cause I was absolutely sick of the romanticization and wussification of the vampire from horrible monster of our nightmares to glittery clusterfuck of a thing that young women want to hump rabidly. Now it's somewhere along the lines of Call of Duty meets Predator meets Near Dark meets Darkstalkers. It needs a lot of refinement, but yes there is a thugged out gangsta character that punches vampires in the face.

I'll update on them regularly without giving too much info away, and I'll post links when I actually get them finished (which may or may not be a long while from now).

Anyway, that's the current status of things as far as blogging goes. Yeah!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Bits and Pieces 9: Authentic Blend

The Random Section

There really needs to be a section of every book store, entertainment store, video game store, movie store, library or any other collection of things called the Random Section. I think it would be a blissful thing, myself.

I've been doing a lot of random odds and ends lately as I've been out of work with a bad back injury -- I pissed off a previous injury by doing something completely mundane --hence the title of this portion of the blog. The first thing that stands out is a lot of brain storming going into the book that no one'll prolly read but me (which I'm perfectly fine with at the moment) and a lot of headway being made on it. I'm almost ready to start writing the actual thing. Almost. I've also been thinking about a lot of things that I would never be able to write, but have some pretty nifty ideas for. I may start up a sub-set of blog entries about things you'll never read written by me. We'll see. I've done it before. Did a bit of reading here and there. A couple zombie short stories, one by Richard Matheson and his son, Richard Christian Matheson, that was hella cool. Loved it. But I am hella biased about that 'cause the Matheson collective of father and son are two of my favorite authors.

I also tried reading The Essential X-Men Volume 2 again for what feels like the fiftieth goddamned time. And here's where the ranting begins. I can't do it. I'm gonna try it again, I'm sure, but I really cannot do it. I'm at a complete loss at how Chris Claremont and the various artists he worked with over the twenty year span of his run on Uncanny X-Men made them so effin' popular. I just don't get it. The guy is not a good comic book writer. I've never read one of his novels, but I'm sure his style of writing works more in favor of direct prose fiction than comic book scripting. And -- I could be wrong about this -- I think these books were written in the old Marvel Way of writing comic books. I'll get to that in a second.

This book collects issues 120 to 144 of the main X-Men comic book that went from being just X-Men to Uncanny X-Men somewhere down the line. And the reason I bring that up is because this big book reprints two of the most essential X-Men stories of all time: The Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past. I have read these stories and I remember liking them. But that was back in the late 1980s when they were being reprinted in a book called Classic X-Men, and I skipped over any and all chunks of text that wasn't dialog. At that age, I loved reading comics, but I hated reading. That's pretty odd, ain't it? Somehow I loved these comics, especially Days of Future Past.

Getting back to the point: Chris Claremont is not a good comic book writer. And if these were novels, I'd say they were pretty well written. But comics are a mixture of words and pictures combining together to make a single thing. When there's too much art, it doesn't work. When there's too many words, it doesn't work. And in Claremont's X-Men work, there are always too many words. So much so that they render the art completely moot at times. There's a scene early on in this collection where a character called Sasquatch throws a plane -- don't ask, it's superhero comics, people. The art does a pretty good job showing you the Sasquatch character grabbing the plane and then chucking it into a hanger and destroying pretty much everything. But at some point in Claremont's life he thought it would be good to fill up the page with huge caption boxes with copious amounts of text describing the character throwing the plane in overabundant detail. It's not a good idea. It's like watching a movie with someone who has already seen it and telling you everything that's happening as it's happening, which is actually worse than someone seeing a movie then telling you everything that happens before you get a chance to see it yourself. A lot worse. Maybe I should not read the caption boxes when I try to read it again?

Now, here's the bad part -- at least bad if I'm correct, this section is purely speculation based on my fallible memory, so take it with a grain of sugar: the Marvel Way of writing comic books was created by Stan Lee during the early days of Marvel's superhero publishing days. The early 1960s and the like. Stan was writing pretty much everything Marvel was publishing at that time, and working with several different artists, so he would give them the basic plot of the comic's issue, or discuss it with them in a meeting or on the phone, all that sort of thing. The artists, like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko just to name a couple, would then draw the comic how they saw fit, then Stan would write the dialog and whathaveyou after the art was completed. So, if these books were done after the Stan Lee fashion of writing comic book stories, then there was a point when Claremont said to himself, "It's a very good idea to cover up so much art with these giant boxes of unnecessary text."

And that's bad comic book writing. And it makes it very hard for that book to be readable to me. I didn't make it through two issues before I just started thumbing through it and looking at how bad an idea it is to keep comic book characters ageless. What's really amusing is reading the dialog from the White Queen, Emma Frost, in this book and then jumping into Grant Morrison's run and reading her dialog there. In Claremont's and John Byrne's run here, she's written as though she's intended to be a bit older than most of the X-Men characters themselves and she's drawn a bit more mature as well. In the face, not in her choice in dressing herself. Flash-forward to Morrison's run which was written twenty-one years later or so, and she's a much different character. She's a snobby, stuck up sort of character that's very high upon herself, and declares that's she's only twenty-seven years old. She's been twenty-seven for twenty-one years. That's pretty neat.

Moving on past that stuff. I played a lot of Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Tekken 6 the past few days as well. I picked up my PSP and refamiliarized myself with the little gadget and reminded myself of why I bought it in the first place. Such a charming piece of technology, that.

One of the better things about getting lost inside the world of a fighting game is that... it's always just about the fight. Regardless of the individual characters' justifications for their actions, it's ALWAYS about the fight. You can pick Ryu in Street Fighter who's fighting to perfect his own martial arts discipline, or you can pick Kazuya Mishima from Tekken who wants to murder his whole family and uses his martial art to get the job done. It's great stuff.

Speaking of fighting games...

Eee Three!

E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is going on this weekend. Which means gamernerds, such as myself, and technophiles are going to be either geeking out, or flailing about spastically in fits of nerdrage at all the announcements that'll be going on.

And I've already got my geek on pretty hardcore. Even in my cyclobenzaprine induced state of constant sleepiness. I just like writing that word. Cyclobenzaprine. It sounds like some kinda Cyclopean disorder. Like when their one big eye gets all infected and stuff and they have to go to a Cyclopean doctor and he says, "Damn, son, your eye has the Cyclobenzaprine!" I'm on the crap because I'm two steps away from being a cripple. Or handicapped. I prefer cripple, but I'm also as politically correct as a Bill Hicks bit.

Moving on.

I've got my geek on pretty bad, and the Expo hasn't even started yet. WHY?! you ask in all caps as though you're shouting at me through some digital interface or another? Well, that's simple. First, I saw that KONAMI used their own code on their own heads (UP UP DOWN DOWN LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT BEE AYE BEE AYE SELECT SELECT START, FOOLS!) and are whipping out a Metal Gear Solid HD Collection for me to have in my very own home! The collection is slated to come out this November, and yeah, I already have all three games that are in the package, but I don't have them in HD! Or with Trophy support! In this collection are Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Peace Walker was a PSP exclusive title that was on par with even the most recent MGS game, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. I'm not too sure why the first MGS game isn't in the package, but I'll take it anyway. For those of you reading this and don't know, Metal Gear is a SUPERSECRETSPY sort of game where you sneak around and try not to kill everyone to battle giant robots at the end, all told with a Japanese sensibility so everyone has some weird superability or another. Except you. You're just Snake and you've got pretty much nothing but a pack of smokes. You gotta collect all your gear as you go. And it's my favorite non-fighting game series out there. Yup.

KONAMI also announced a Zone of Enders HD collection, a Silent Hill HD collection, and they teased that they're bringing back Contra, one of the games that featured the KONAMI Code quite prominently.

Sony was also showing of the NGP, which needs a new name, although the thing is a work of technological beauty. It's Sony's new handheld gaming platform, a sequel of sorts to my favorite handheld of all time, the PlayStation Portable (I don't like Nintendo, sorry), and it looks fantastic.

Just a few short hours ago, I saw the first footage-slash-trailer of Soul Calibur V, and that got me all sorts of stoked. It looks really pretty, and I hope its better than the last three installments. My favorite of the series is still plain ol' Soul Calibur for the Dreamcast. Which makes me the odd man out, I think, 'cause everyone else that plays the kinda games I do says that Soul Calibur II is the best of the series and I didn't care for it all that much. During that same time frame I watched a teaser trailer for Aliens: Colonial Marines, which I hope is a good game 'cause there needs to be a good Aliens game for once, and a newish trailer for ICO and Shadow of the Colossus in their HD presentations for the PlayStation 3.

And just a couple of seconds ago, I watched a killer trailer for Spider-Man: Edge of Time, the new Spider-Man game from Activision and Beenox. It's a follow up to my favorite Spider-Man game I've ever played, Shattered Dimensions, and I'm a geek for good games made out of comic book properties. I'm still waiting for someone to make badass games out of Erik Larsen's The Savage Dragon and a book called WetWorks, though I don't think either of those things are ever going to happen.

I'd provide you links to these things, but I am too busy clacking at the keyboard making words to be bothered with copypasta.


Maybe there was some sort of Apocalypse that happened at the turn of the Mielelenerennenium. You know what I mean. Everything needs to be rebooted, repackaged, relaunched, reincarnated into something it isn't, and regurgitated to audiences everywhere! And I really don't know what to think about it, and I'm not so sure I even care. They could reboot something I'm literally quite fond of right now, and I don't think it would bother me one bit.

But the most recent reboot that's making headlines all over the nerdosphere is the relaunch of the entire DC Universe that's happening in September. I ain't gonna lie, 'cause I never tell no lies, it has me quite curious. Of course there's the conspiracy theories that are raging about concerning why DC as the collective whole are going this route, but I don't pay them no mind much either. There's at least one monthly comic coming out of this that I'm interested in and that's Justice League. Why? 'Cause it's written by Geoff Johns, who's pretty good, and Jim Lee, who is one of my favorite comic artists ever and has been since... 1989? 1990? I dunno, whenver it was that I saw that awesome cover of Uncanny X-Men drawn by him that had Wolverine crucified on a giant wooden X. That left a visual imprint on my brain meat that's rather tattoo-like in concept. ...whatever that means...

The entire universe is getting the reset button switched on it, and that's perfectly okay with me. Why? 'cause that's what people fuckin' do!

Every time you retell a story that you've already told someone before, you're rebooting the fucking story. Did you know that? Prolly not. Why are you rebooting it? 'Cause you never tell the same story the exact same way. Never. I know this 'cause I'm quite the observant one, and I pay attention to people when they tell the same stories. I don't even interrupt them most of the time when they're telling me a story they've already told me.

The reboot, relaunch, reimagining ranting and raving from the cool kids in the corner should just launch itself off the highest cliff in the world and land right into a very spikey and pointy bottom, 'cause you're constant squaking is hurting my ears and it's making my eyes bleed like a rabid anime flick.

I'm just hoping that WildC.A.T.s (which is a fucking pain in the ass to type, just so you know!) and StormWatch get thrown in the mix somewhere. Not so much the Authority, 'cause to me, the Authority died when Jim sold WildStorm to DC in the first place, and we really don't need TWO effin' Justice Leagues in one superhero universe. Oh, yeah, I'm talking nerd shit.

I've read that Grifter is being thrown into the relaunch stuff, which is interesting, so I'm hoping that a lot of my other favorite WildStorm characters appear somewhere as well. yeah, I just repeated myself. Don't care. Boom.

Now I segue into something different: digital comics are too expensive. Especially since alongside the DC Relaunch of Everything (Crisis of Multiple Relaunches?) they're doing day-and-date digital releases... which means that the same day the physical comic comes out, the digital comic will also be released out into the digital world of... I got nothin'. But for the same price. It irks me that companies, corporations, publishers, all them sorts somehow can justify to themselves that a physical copy and a digital copy are worth the same amount of money. Physical copies are harder to make and take more people involved, thus they are usually worth the money you pay for them. A digital copy? It doesn't take a whole lot of work other than taking the digital files provided by the folks that made the comic physically, having someone upload them, and me downloading them. Cutting out those pesky middle men like publishers, paper folks, staple machines, distributers, Diamond Comics, comic book shop people, UPS, FedEx, and so on and so forth.

Not to mention the fact that it feels weird to pay three bucks or so for something on my phone that's going to give me between five and fifteen minutes of entertainmental joy, when I can download Angry Birds for free and that's got entertainment for DAYS. Maybe even WEEKS. In the epic battle between comics and video games, video games always win. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

I don't think anyone really knows how to use digital distribution correctly. Ninety-nine cents for a song sounds a bit much. And that's a good place to end this.