Follow-up on Michael Jackson
June 29th, 2009
You know how I said the music industry ran itself out of business and Jackson could be used as a poster boy for that? Here’s an economist who is basically saying the same thing. Fascinating read, check ‘er out!
June 22nd, 2009
Photos of a famous author moving into his newly completed tower!
Get it? Because goats will eat anything!
Polaris Long List
June 19th, 2009
Well, the long list for the Polaris Music Prize were announced June 15th and there are some interesting choices on it. For those who aren’t aware, the Polaris Prize is the Canadian equivalent to the Mercury Prize, over in England, with the idea of celebrating and giving awareness to Canadian music, regardless of genre.
I’m not sure what the point of releasing the long list is, beyond perhaps simple promotion, but it’s nice to see what albums are given serious consideration before announcing the short list. For a music nerd like me, it’s handy to be able to have a cheat sheet of Canadian music I might’ve been oblivious about, as I’m always getting stuck trying to find new music to listen to.
Since I’ve been snubbed as a juror for the Polaris Prize, I thought I’d give my own shortlist and plug some of the music I’ve been listening to as of late as well. Also, because doing ‘list’ posts are really easy to do and I am anything if lazy. Anyway, onto my shortlist!
Metric – Fantasies
I’d like to know what Faustian deal Emily Haines and company have made that lets them continue to keep cranking out absolutely solid records. This is Metric’s third release and they haven’t really missed a beat or slowed down at all. Quite amazing, really. Haines’ voice is part of the problem, really, as she’s capable of becoming incredibly intimate, drawing you in and making it seem like you’re the only one in the world she’s addressing. Her voice is capable of provoking a range of emotions, be it wistfulness, sincerity, desire, excitement, the whole gamut. I realize that I’m veering off into sounding like a reject from Pitchfork here, but her voice is just so flexible and I adore it. She could read the phone book and I’d sit there stupidly, loving every minute. But that’s only part of it! The rest of the band are capable of providing insanely catchy hooks and just fit together seamlessly. It really is scary how well this band gels. As great as I think Fantasies is from top to bottom, I think that Metric will be shortlisted but will end up getting the Arcade Fire treatment: too big for Polaris’ britches.
Malajube – Labyrinthes
You’ve probably heard the music of Malajube before if you’ve watched any television in the past year or so, as one of Malajube’s songs was featured in a Rogers Wireless commercial. Whatever, Malajube are a great franco-indie band and continue the tradition of artists whom I enjoy who also sing in a language that I don’t understand (yeah, sadly, despite being Canadian I’m only fluent in one of our two official languages, for shame.) They write great poppy stuff that I can just listen to and have fun with, even though I don’t understand a word of what they’re saying. Reminds me of my days when I was interested solely in metal and punk rock. HAR HAR. There’s no real buzz on Malajube AND they’re Francophone, which could either help or hinder their chances with the award…honestly, the Polaris has only been around for such a short time it is hard to say. That said, I think that there’s more than a good chance that Malajube will get shortlisted and I would love it if this great band would get some greater recognition as a result.
Chad VanGaalen – Soft Airplane
I first got to see Chad VanGaalen when he opened for Matthew Good at a show in Calgary. I believe it was around 2004, which would’ve been about five years ago. Anyway, I was blown away by him, as he was a one man act, but he was able to capture the attention of most everyone in attendance and earned a huge ovation at the end of his set…something you don’t see very often with opening acts. It may have been that he was a local boy and there was a bit of civic pride at play, but I think it’s because VanGaalen is fucking awesome. If you like minimalist indie rock, you ought to check out Soft Airplane.
Joel Plaskett – 3
I was only casually interested in Joel Plaskett until I picked up Ashtray Rock back in 2007 and then I became hooked. Plaskett’s triple album is something that I’m just starting to get into, but I’m finding it quite enjoyable thus far. Perhaps I’ll write up a longer post once I’ve gotten a better feel for it. At any rate, Plaskett was shortlisted in 2007, losing out to Patrick Watson, so look for Plaskett to get the nod again, either setting him up to win the Polaris or to become the Polaris equivalent of ‘always a bridesmaid, never a bride.’
K’Naan – Troubadour
This is the only album on the list I haven’t really had a chance to sit down and listen to, but out of all the nominees listed thus far, I think K’Naan stands the greatest chance of taking home the prize. Why would I say such a thing before I get a chance to sit down and listen to his album (and believe me, that will be forthcoming very soon)? One, because the Polaris Award is seemingly about celebrating Canadian music, regardless of genre. Are we really going to see yet another Canadian indie rock group win the Polaris? And c’mon, k-os is fucking boring, if the award is going to go to a hiphop album, K’Naan is a great choice.
Anyway, my second reason for K’Naan getting the nod is because, while I haven’t listened to the entire album, I’ve been playing the hell out of ABC’s while I’ve been out and about. I love listening to up tempo music when I’m commuting, as I use my bike as my primary means of transportation and ABC’s is off the wall. If the rest of the album is half as good as this single, my God.
The third reason that I think K’Naan stands a good chance of getting the Polaris is because of his background. Canadian music is more about music that is made in Canada: we’re a multicultural nation and it should be reflected in that. K’Naan was born and grew up in Somalia and his aunt (thank you, Wikipedia) was a rather well known Somali singer. That sort of background is part of what makes Canadian music great: it’s part of what you’re bringing to the table. You aren’t ascribing to preconceived notions of what music ought to be like. If there isn’t any room for you at the ‘table’, well, dammit, we’ll make room for you.
So yeah, those are my 5 choices of potential albums that are going to get shortlisted for the Polaris. The full list of 10 will be announced July 7th, and I’ll try to have more to say about K’Naan before then!
June 12th, 2009
Came across this while watching the Stanley Cup Finals tonight.
I’m usually not one for crass commercialization, but I would so be buying tickets for a movie adaptation of this.
Looking For Group: Another Horrible Webcomic
June 11th, 2009
So what do you get when you mash a World of Warcraft fanfic together with elements of 8 Bit Theatre, Drizzt D’Urden and a writer of an established Mary Sue webcomic? Why, you get Looking For Group, yet another gaming webcomic that is inexplicably popular despite the fact that it is a rather bad strip.
LFG is the brainchild of the two guys who also write/draw Least I Could Do, another terrible webcomic that has been savaged by others for being a horrible, unfunny, Gary Sue, misogynistic turd. Amazingly, their biggest claim to fame in webcomic sins aren’t of their own creation, rather, it’s being behind Blind Ferret Entertainment, the, and I use this term about as loosely as possible, ‘animation’ studio that brought us this (click for the full effect):
Yup. If you were wondering who were the idiots that unleashed the most poorly animated piece of crap this side of the CD-i, look no further. Blind Ferret apparently came to light as a result of Sohmer’s burning desire to see his other masterpiece animated. And really, given the exceedingly high quality that this company is known for and the artists/writers Blind Ferret has worked with in the past, surely LFG is one of the gems in the Internet’s set of Crown Jewels…right?
Well, while LFG isn’t as bad with the blatant wish-fulfilment and unfunny jokes about sex that LICD is notorious for, that’s like saying you don’t beat your girlfriend, rather, you simply get angry while playing video games and accidentally lash out at the closest human being who isn’t entirely sick and tired of your bullshit. Who happens to be your girlfriend. Okay, I’ve run that one into the ground. While you might be lucky enough to come across a baby alligator or something equally cool amongst all the waste that is the free flowing deluge of sewage that is the Internet’s webcomic community, you are far more likely to come up with something that looks like a baby’s leg, but smells a whole hell of a lot worse. And is made out of shit. Which brings us to LFG.
I’ve never really bothered with being a regular LFG reader. Unlike my other webcomic review with GU Comics, my experience with LFG has consisted of reading the first few comic strips going ‘this is fucking stupid’ and then accidentally lashing out at the person who recommended I check out the site. Total time wasted? About 5 minutes. So, in the interest of fairness and in order to delay getting around to doing any actual work at my job and thus actually justifying the paycheck that is given to me in these tough economic times where other people are not so lucky, I sat down and tore through the first 200 strips of LFG’s roughly 250 comic strips. I figure that would let me see if the strip truly is as bad as I initially made it out to be, or whether I was being unfair in my 5 minutes of looking at the damn thing. I mean, the least I could do (GET IT? HA HA HA) is actually examine the damn thing before I dismiss it ocmpletely.
Sadly, LFG is just not that good. The comic originally started off as a ‘comedic’ strip before it got ‘serious,’ which is sort of like being a staff writer who gets tasked to work on a ‘very special’ episode of Blossom: it doesn’t work very well. I’ll say that it’s been handled better than Tim Buckley’s abortive attempt at veering into Seriousville, but then again, you could say the same thing about Michael J. Fox performing neurosurgery. I didn’t really notice any sort of dramatic shift in tone whilst reading through, although the strip started moving away from being completely nonsensical to only slightly nonsensical, so there’s that. Anyway, I said at the top that LFG reads as a WoW fanfic and, after going through the first 200 or so pages of this webcomic, I stand by that assertion. Having dabbled in World of Warcraft and now guaranteeing the fact that I have just doomed myself to never having a girlfriend again, I’m familiar with the universe and have paid attention to the lore because I’m an idiot that way. While I haven’t read any of the books (and I seriously doubt that will change anytime soon) I am familiar with the basic plotline of the War of the Ancients trilogy. You know, the one that had a bunch of time travelling and characters going back in time and, okay, your eyes are glazing over so I’ll shut up.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: generic group of fantasy characters go back in time to a mighty elvish empire right before ‘the fall.’ Said empire seems to be carved entirely out of white marble. Said characters go back in time to stop some poorly defined tragedy from befalling the world, interact with mysterious draconic characters and then are flung back into the future having made things better.
Oh, but apparently I’m mistaken. According to the comic’s official Wikipedia page, the very existence of which makes me contemplate suicide: “outside of artistic similarities, the strip’s plot bears no resemblance to the Warcraft setting and Sohmer has stated that it is set in an independent universe.” As if we needed further proof that Wikipedia is full of shit. Despite being completely different from WoW, there’s constant parody going on with the fantasy genre and “pop culture references in medieval guise abound.” Gee, you’re right. World of Warcraft never references anything pop cultural or parodies the genre itself at all, boy oh boy. How silly of detractors to think as much.
At least I think that there’s parody and pop culture references ‘abounding’ in LFG, as nothing is ever really all that clear, which brings me to my biggest complaint with this webcomic: it is written fucking horribly and trying to figure out the ‘plot’ of this story is annoying for someone who isn’t a devoted fanboy who will gobble up anything that is thrown up without question. Look, I know that fantasy writing has a reputation for being shit, despite there being a ton of talented and smart authors out there, but there’s also a large portion of fantasy out there that is complete and utter crap. Sohmer happens to fall into the latter category, being guilty of coming up with nonsensical dialogue, plots that don’t make a ton of sense, relying FAR too much on having crap happen ‘off screen’ and basically using every single goddamned fantasy cliche in the book and running it into the ground.
Evil empire looking to conquer the world? Check.
Honorable (but fucking retarded) ignoble savages? Check.
Dwarves that speak in Scottish accents? Check.
Gnomes that love to tinker? Check.
Ancient prophecies up the fucking wazoo? Check.
Ancient prophecy that revolves around a MacGuffin? Check.
And on and on and on. I imagine if you were to open up TV Tropes and randomly select a page and then randomly select a LFG comic you’d, more likely than not, get a match. And before anyone tries to tell me that that’s the point of the comic, I’d like to thank you for pointing out the obvious, but LFG is apparently a ‘serious’ webcomic now, so you can only play the parody card so much before your ‘serious’ story becomes a joke.
But Jesus Christ, the writing is the major reason why this webcomic is terrible. From the very early stages of the comic, we have a bar fight that magically shifts to the characters being in the middle of the woods, with zero explanation as to how they got there. Sohmer has absolutely zero sense of pacing, tension, drama, whatever you want to throw out, he’s not catching it. You build up this confrontation, set things up for a fight and then…PHEW, glad we lost them! That just reeks of shitastic writing. Think that’s an isolated incident? Here’s another example. Here, we have the Bad Guys, with the utterly creative name of Legion, are in pursuit of our heroes. For some reason. We’re not sure how they know where they are, but who cares, dammit, this is about ACTION. So, the captain of the ship gets her crew ready for battle…and then goes on to brag about how her ship is so fast, they needn’t worry about battle in the next strip. Again, shitty writing that breaks up the story and makes it look like 9 year olds doing a reenactment of the old He-Man cartoons. Here’s yet another one. Up to this point, readers have been given the impression that this person is ALSO wanted by the Legion, but, hey, that annoying thing called a plot is getting in the way, so let’s just handwave our way through it to make way for the author’s insipid storytelling, because, really, details are Fucking Stupid. Here’s yet another great example. There’s some sort of epic fight going on between two groups and the main characters are down in some CATACOMBS. We see them descend underground and yet here we see the roof caving in and griffons and soldiers who were previously fighting a massive army are now suddenly duking it out with these guys and oh god my brain. To quote the great philosopher Stefani: this shit is fucking bananas.
Another great example of this is when Richard (and, believe me, more on HIM in a moment) is banished to the ‘Plane of Suck’ (LOL!) and is robbed of his magical powers…only not, because…well, it’s never really explained. NOTHING is explained at all, which makes reading this thing a fucking chore because you have to simply accept shit happening. Deus ex machina is Sohmer’s favorite tool as a writer and to hell with constructing a narrative that makes any sort of goddamned sense. There’s also a point at the very start of this strip where Benny is expected to pony up some gold to the Bad Guy…which then magically turns into something called the Sword of Truth somewhere along the way. That last bit can be a bit of a nitpick, as this once again goes back to the argument that this was originally a ‘silly’ webcomic that turned into a ‘serious’ one and hey, maybe things weren’t planned out. Regardless, this serves as evidence that Sohmer doesn’t plan things out at all and is flying by the seat of his pants. Awesome!
As well, it seems that the only way that Sohmer knows how to advance his plot, if he’s not using offscreen methods or simply ignoring what he’s already written in favor of whatever current direction he wants to go in, is through battle or wholesale slaughter and again, I can appreciate that in a fantasy comic strip, where you expect to see a lot of fighting going on, but this again goes back to pacing problems. If you keep building up epic battle after epic battle with NOTHING else going on in between you’re going to have your audience get burnt out and disinterested because, well, if you’re having sex with two Swedish supermodels every night, how long does it take until it becomes routine and boring? So then you go out and try and spice things up. Maybe some handcuffs. Next thing you know, you’ve got a Doberman tearing off your private bits and your entire family has stopped speaking to you. Same principle here. You don’t want to be having these huge armies fighting each other all.the.goddamned.time because it winds up giving you the exact opposite result you were hoping for. Yeah, great, hack and slash is awesome, but mix it the fuck up for once and try to resolve your plotlines in ways other than HURR DURR STABBITY STAB STAB, which, if you think about it, is also how the majority of the plots are resolved in LICD, so really, he’s experienced zero growth as a writer. Hurrah!
Then there’s story details which are just completely illogical. Take the situation where some village is besieged by elementals. Somehow, the fact that some of these elementals are made out of fucking fire is irrelevant, because, hey, what the fuck good is fire when you’re laying siege to a settlement?
To be fair, these problems with the plot could be explained away if we were provided with interesting, dynamic and compelling characters. Unfortunately, this is yet another area where LFG falls far short. Let’s start with arguably the most recognizable character of the bunch, who has taken on a sort of cult following amongst fans: Richard. Fucking Richard. I can see the appeal with someone like Richard: evil sociopath who thrives off being a complete bastard. Why, it worked so well, it’s actually been done before. You see, Richard is nothing more than a thinly disguised ripoff of Black Mage from 8 Bit Theatre, essentially being the same damn character used for the exact same purpose. But see? He does a hadoken AND a shoryuken, so he’s like, totally different from Black Mage, so it’s cool.
Then there’s Cale’Anon, an elf who dual wields swords and has a pet panther. Oh, and he’s also the only non-evil member of his particular group of elves. At least, that’s what we’re told, as we’re never really SHOWN exactly how evil these elves are, outside of laying siege to this one castle. But yeah, that TOTALLY doesn’t sound familiar. At all. Because that’s what Sohmer would lead you to believe: that Drizzt was very clearly NOT an inspiration for Cale’Anon. Despite this strip initially starting off as a parody of fantasy and fantasy gaming. Despite having AD&D having a clear influence with the strip. But yeah, Cale’Anon is totally not a Drizzt clone. And Richard is totally not a rip off of Black Mage!
What else is there? Well, there’s the fact that the dialogue can be laughably bad. Here’s some examples:
His hair, like a helmet. Pubes? Like a wheat field.
Unfortunately, the script was lost on its way overseas to the Korean animation studio!
“We shall do well with bauble, eh!”
As for the so-called humour of the strip? Well, there’s Rickroll jokes roughly 2-3 weeks after that particular fad had officially jumped the shark? Or a 300 joke? Or ripping off 8 Bit Theatre’s whole burning down orphanages joke and running it into the ground? If you’re going to have a running gag, at least make it your fucking own and not one blatantly stolen from someone else. Yeah, there’s not a lot of humour to be had. Oh, there’s the utterly fucking hilarious attempts at geek humour, such as implying that elves might be, LOL, EFFEMINATE. Or there’s such a horrible, hamfisted attempt at shoehorning in a joke that it comes out as being absolutely retarded. The worse thing about all these attempts at humour? More often than not, you see the characters being drawn laughing at the jokes. Now, I might be out to lunch here, but I view that sort of thing as being something you just don’t do. Drawing your fucking characters cracking up at your jokes shows either how much of a big fucking ego you have or how much of an insecure dipshit you are.
With Sohmer, though, you have to assume that he’s completely and utterly full of himself. Nevermind the ridiculous wish fulfilment that goes on in LICD, we have a guy who thinks that he’s King Mother Fucking Shit because he happens to update his webcomic and posts garbage like this:
On the frontpage of LFG’s site. For those curious as to what the link is, here you go. What kind of arrogant shitheel does this guy think he is? Sign a petition because, damn it, I should be writing a comic book put out by a professional company that has standards. Also, how’s that for fucking irony? He’s bitching about people’s sense of entitlement in the post immediately preceding it. Wow.
He’s also made comments where he thinks he should get into the video game business because LFG has been so successful. Yeah, I’m right there with you, if only a) your previous attempts at branching out into other forms of media weren’t affronts to God and b) your source material wasn’t so pisspoor.
As for the artwork? Lar DeSouza is pretty good and is great at mixing things up, although there’s the odd misstep here or there. Nothing really to get bent out of shape over, though, and completely understandable when you’re working on 2 different comics at a time. The cartoony look isn’t really my cup of tea, but I’m not going to hold it against him. He’s a good artist and is capable of cranking out some solid stuff. Hopefully he’ll keep up the good work with someone who can actually write. Honestly, the art is not the major problem with this comic. The biggest problem is the proliferation of B^U syndrome that’s going on, with character faces, but given that he’s capable of drawing in multiple perspectives, can draw things like feet (something which King B^U is incapable of doing) it’s a minor quibble and can be chalked up to a stylistic choice. Is it a good one? No clue, but the art is something that just doesn’t appeal to me all that much.
And honestly? LFG could be a much better comic if there were an editor kicking around or if Sohmer actually exercised some planning and self-editing himself. It’s a problem that plagues a LOT of online material, be it webcomics, writing in general or other mediums. There’s no real quality control process for people. Whereas an actual comic book will have a ton of people looking at a single work, there’s a lot of crap that proliferates online because there’s no attempt at revision or editing. A lot of the problems that I found cropping up here would have easily been picked up if there was someone else going over things behind the scenes looking at things with a critical eye. Given that Sohmer gives the impression that he’s incredibly full of himself, though, I highly doubt that will happen anytime soon. Hence, shitty webcomic.
Are we talking ‘used’ as in secondhand, or…
June 8th, 2009
Craigslist never fails to bring the funny. A short, concise ad, but one that is completely baffling.
Must be experienced with horoscopes and sex toys?
Three years experience? What, is that to prevent the horoscope writers fresh out of school from annoying you?
Sorry folks. I’m in the process of moving and getting set up at a new base of operations. Additionally, wireless internet is spotty at the moment so getting Part 3 of my HQ LP up is a pain in the arse. Apologies! I know, I’m a baaaaaad blogger.
David Eddings: RIP
June 4th, 2009
I was a little surprised to hear that David Eddings had passed away. I never really read a whole lot of David Eddings stuff, to be honest, but one of his books, The Ruby Knight, was one of the first fantasy novels I had ever read (with The Hobbit and LOTR being the two that preceded it.)
What was more sobering for me, though, was doing some reading up on other authors out there and realizing that we’re going to be closing the book on a great deal of speculative fiction authors. While it’s exciting to think that there’s going to be new writers establishing themselves and doing new things within the genre, it’s quite saddening to think that a lot of recognizable names are getting up there in age.
Piers Anthony is 74.
Terry Pratchett is 61, but was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s 2 years ago.
Ursula Le Guin is 79.
Jack Vance is 92.
Michael Moorcock is 69.
Robert Jordan passed away 2 years ago.
This post is probably more than a little morbid, but it was the result of stumbling around and checking out some other authors which I am familiar with.
RIP David Eddings.
June 3rd, 2009
One of the Internet whipping boys as of late, particularly if you’re of the geeky bent, has been author George R.R. Martin, he of the ongoing Song of Ice and Fire series. I’d recommend the books to pick up and read, but, well, I’d probably have to go and recommend you take up black tar heroin or start reading Robert Jordan, another fantasy author who passed away not too long ago before completely finishing his epic fantasy series, leaving his story unfinished and in the hands of another author. You might see where I’m going with this.
See, the fifth book in the series, A Dance With Dragons has been stalled. Roughly five years, as a matter of fact, although technically, the ‘drama’ with Martin has only been going on for the past 2 years or so. The fourth book in the series, A Feast For Crows, was half of what he intended the fourth book to be and A Dance With Dragons was going to be tossed out really quickly, lickety split, because, hey, if he had written only half a book, figuring out the rest shouldn’t be too hard, right? Unfortunately, the release of ADWD hasn’t happened and fans, being the annoying pests that they are, soon became disgruntled. It doesn’t help that Martin keeps a blog where he updates readers on his current doings, such as works that he is editing, other projects, such as the HBOization of ASoIaF, hocking merchandise or, and this is important here, providing updates on ADWD. This criticism reached critical mass not too long ago when Martin himself lashed out at angry fans on his blog, upset that they dare to pester him about updates regarding the book.
More recently, authors such as Neil Gaiman have come out to voice their support for Martin, telling fans that Martin ‘is not your bitch.’ I can see the point that Gaiman is making: just because you buy the published work of an author, doesn’t mean he is under any sort of obligation to provide more entertainment for you. I agree with it, too. Unfortunately, when you’re someone like George RR Martin, constantly posting updates regarding your work and making and breaking promises to your fanbase about said work, you’re providing them with an expectation, intentional or not. Martin is under no obligation to post said updates, but when he does that begins a dialogue with his audience and expectations change.
I think the big misconception that a lot of people are under is that fans aren’t mad because Martin is doing other things, they are getting mad because he has teased fans with the hope that the book is going to be done soon. This has been an ongoing problem for about 2 years, if you refer back to the last link that was made. This becomes further complicated when Martin refuses to give any sort of insight as to what is going on with ‘the’ work, other than vague promises of ‘soon, soon’ and then goes on to talk about every other writing project he is involved in, projects which have all seen completion or progress of some kind. Further, it becomes frustrating when rumours abound that Martin forbids any sort of mentioning of the book when he makes appearances at conventions and quells any attempt at discussion on his blog. This would be understandable if his blog hadn’t already been setup as a place to go for information regarding ‘The Book’, but, again, since Martin uses the blog as a way of updating people on his work, fans have an expectation that he would be giving updates on all of his work, as has been the case. To chastise fans for expecting something is silly, given that he uses his blog as a way of advertising every other piece of writing and merchandise of his. To make one exception: to refuse to discuss a book that has been promised to be released ‘soon’ for the past 2 years while getting angry when fans sour against you for what they view as dragging your heels is asinine, especially when you leave all of them in the dark, after providing them with information and updates prior to this.
That’s the issue and why so many fans are upset and feeling frustrated: they feel as though they are being lied to and that Martin is being evasive about things. It is not because they lack sympathy towards George because writing can be frustratingly hard at times. It is not because fans expect a new book: that expectation was placed there by Martin with his constant promises of ‘soon.’ The book isn’t something he has stated he has put on the backburner, it is something he is actively working on and, if you believe him, close to completion.
If Martin were to come out and say ‘Look, the pressure regarding this book is huge and I’m having some incredible difficulties with it. I can’t give you a timeline because I need to reconnect with the project and get the writing juices flowing.’ Fans would be a hell of a lot more understanding than with the current runaround that they are currently on the receiving end of. To bring up one of my favorite authors, China Mieville has said that he wants to write more books in the Bas-Lag universe, a world that I abso-fucking-lutely adore, but that he’s taking a break from it and he wants to write some other stuff. I’m not getting pissed at him. Why? One, because he has arms that could probably crush me into a fine powder and two, because he hasn’t gone onto his LiveJournal and written posts where he says ‘Oh sup mates, I’m working on a new Bas-Lag novel. It should be finished in June’ and then when June rolls around, posts something like this. Then repeats the process for the next 2 years.
Although I’m not as hung up as some other, more rabid, fans can be, it is frustrating watching this play out. If I ever, ever get a publishing contract, please, for the love of God, use this post as a reminder of what not to do as an author.
Chrono Trigger ROM Hack Leak: Or Why You Can Thank Dragonball Z For Ruining Final Fantasy
June 2nd, 2009
Moving away from hockey, I found some interesting news regarding a Chrono Trigger ROM hack that was providing a ‘sequel’ of sorts to the classic SNES game. Predictably, Square-Enix issued forth a cease and desist on this group. The real kick in the nuts, though, comes from the fact that this group had about 98% completed this ROM hack before SE decided to descend upon them and give them hell.
A lot of folks are pissed off at SE for doing this, claiming it was a scummy move and so on and so forth. Well, yes, it is a bit of a scummy move, but it’s one of those things that needs to be done if Square wants to protect their intellectual property. Some people might scoff and go ‘Well, it’s just a fan made game, nobody’s getting hurt over it and blahblahblah.’ While that’s probably true, it does set an ugly precedent and it would make it harder if someone else came along and decided that there was profit to be made in meticulously remade fanfiction using existing ROM files. The whole 98% thing, to me, is getting thrown around way too much, as well, as it seems to be nothing more than an unfortunate coincidence than anything else.
Here are some unfortunate truths for people out there who are wanting to get their hate on for SE:
1, They have had a history of stopping fan projects before. The best example I can think of off the top of my head is the aborted 3D remake of Chrono Trigger. Square jumped all over that quickly and nipped it in the bud. For the people who have been a part of the Crimson Echo project to openly advertise and promote their project before it was done, knowing that SE has stopped fan projects in the past is either naive or ignorant.
2, A sequel to Chrono Trigger hasn’t been made because the original creators aren’t all involved. Despite everyone screaming bloody murder at SE and going ‘OMG WHY WON’T U MAEK GAEM’ as a justification for a lack of a sequel, SE is instead showing consideration for their fans by NOT making a sequel to the game that doesn’t involve people who were originally affiliated with it. This is part of the reason why I find this whole thing to be hilarious: rabid fanboys think they know more/better than the original developers/designers of the games and are arrogant enough to go where the Big Bad Evil Company are loathe to. Yet people are angry at SE for being ‘money grubbing bastards.’ Oookay.
3, The ‘shittiness’ of current SE games is YOUR fault. Yes, YOU. Okay, maybe not you specifically, but you catch my drift, yes? While there are tons of people out there who either love or hate Final Fantasy 7 and the subsequent trends that they created in JRPGs, often pointing to this guy:
As the source of Final Fantasy’s ills. For many fans, Sephiroth represented a lot of what went ‘wrong’ with the Final Fantasy series: vaguely effeminate, ‘badass’ character with an absolutely mindboggling past that led to a plot that didn’t make a lot of sense. The black trenchcoat and katana also led to a more ‘contemporary’ look in character design and, blah, blah, blah. I’m not repeating anything that hasn’t been said before. While that’s all fine and good and nerds will either rage or love Sephiroth in entirely inappropriate and disturbing ways, I’d argue that Sephiroth wasn’t the root cause of all the bullshit that clogged up the pipes of the Final Fantasy series (and even I would argue that ‘blaming’ anyone or anything as a specific cause would be reaching…why I am writing this, then, I have no fucking clue.) No, the blame should land at the feet of THIS guy:
Big weapon, silly hair and the same sort of nonsensical backstory that you got with Sephiroth and whom also has a ridiculously huge cult following, just like Sephiroth. While there have been no cults forming in honor of Magus, there were a group of people who devoted five years of their life in making a game in which Magus plays a central part, if what I’ve viewed from the 15 or so videos already up on YouTube are anything to go by.
And this is what I find the most insane of all of this: you have a group of people who have an obvious passion for something and, more importantly, the ability and desire to create something. Why didn’t they make their own game instead of penning what basically equates to a bunch of electronic fanfiction? And why did it have to be a game where the company in question has a known history for striking down such work?
I have little sympathy for these guys, as they were obviously begging for SE to come and take them down a notch or two.