Archive for category Weasel Musings

What’s Wrong With Your Face?

Hey, it’s a new year. And I’m not even going to pretend that there will be a lot more content in the months to come. I guess most of the potential blog material simply either ends up being posted at some other place or shredded and then pooped across Facebook or Twitter. Or was it pooped and then shredded? I wouldn’t know. What I know is that I, like most human beings, probably enjoy the sensation and the thrill of writing the word ‘poop’.

Anyway, Mike ‘Harry Plinkett’ Stoklasa has finally published his review of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. It concludes his take on the prequel movies, and if you haven’t checked out any of his pieces so far, I highly recommend doing so. It might seem overly easy to pile on something that never was really held in high regard to begin with, but he does it with great attention to detail, references to other movies and general notions on why some element simply might not work.

I had watched each of the movies exactly once and only remembered being bored enough to not have the intention of ever going through that experience again. It wasn’t until Red Letter Media’s Episode I review that I remembered how stupid the plot and the overarching setup really was. Naboo trade boycott? Good grief. Watching ‘Plinkett’ point out the flaws, inconsistencies, contradictions, and the making-of material he sources to great effect is quite the joy regardless of whether you can appreciate the serial killer shtick that’s attached to the analysis. The most telling parts are probably the behind-the-scenes pieces in which George Lucas presents ideas or make suggestions while everyone else in the room looks highly uneasy, nervous, and uncomfortable. No one dares to speak up though.

In some cases, going unchecked and unchallenged is how brilliance comes to be. This was not one of them.

Linkage: RLM reviews of The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. And, yes, the other reviews are both, entertaining and informative as well.

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Inception Essentials

Inception

Now that Inception finally got released over here, I instantly waddled off to the movie theatre. I enjoyed it a lot, appreciated the way they set up and unfolded the different layers, kept them connected, and concluded the narrative threads with a nice cascade of kicks. Christopher Nolan and his crew crafted a well-paced ride. The few elements that didn’t seem consistent with the concept or were left unexplained didn’t really hurt the experience.

The cast was superb. (Side note: I probably spent minutes trying to figure out what movies  Tom Hardy had been involved earlier. The face, the voice – he seemed familiar. It wasn’t until I was back at home and dove into IMDB that I saw that he had played young Bizarro-Picard in Star Trek: Nemesis. I guess I’m just bringing that up to have an excuse to link to Red Letter Media’s excellent review of what could have been a carreer-ending turd.)

The biggest gripe I probably have: As always, many, many signature scenes were already included in the trailers. I guess I too am at fault though for never being able to resist the urge to watch trailers in general.

Inception leaves plenty of room for speculation and interpretation. If that happens to be your cup of tea, you might find the links after the jump interesting. Obviously, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you should avoid this journey to the republic of SPOILERSTANIA.

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Breaking World Cup News

Paul

Mankind has finally reached its peak now that BILD is covering people being angry at an octopus for predicting an undesirable outcome of a soccer match.

Dear angry people,

There are two options: 1) That squid isn’t psychic. Why would you care about its predictions then? You might as well yell at a sock or something. 2) That squid is psychic. Let me repeat: PSYCHIC SQUID. Rest assured that there are bigger things you should be worried about than your favourite team losing.

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Meeeeeeeemries

We had some sort of high school reunion last weekend. It was nice to chat again with some old classmates and teachers. I guess. I also ran into our former German teacher. Who was (and still is) an awesome teacher. Way back in school on her 40th birthday, I had congratulated her by noting that, statistically, she had reached the second half of her lifetime, and also innocently asked if she remembers what happened to the German Democratic Republic when she turned 40.

The funny thing is that I had kind of completely forgotten about that. She clearly hasn’t.

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AFD Makes Me Want to Go AFK

I pity March 31 and April 2 — if the calendar was a restaurant, they basically would be the two persons sitting next to the toilet.

I’m already groaning in anticipation of the crap that passes as April Fools’ Day joke these days. Especially German companies seem to have a habit of pooping out press releases and articles I’d love to ignore if they didn’t offend so much due to being horribly unimaginative. Hey, random developer, your next Horse Beauty Farm game is going to ship with an actual pony? And hello there, little gaming website that just acquired Electronic Arts!

The best part: Some of them actually send out emails or post updates to set the record straight on the next day. Hoping to reach that one two-year-old that did not instantly figure out the ‘prank’ and has yet to start loathing mankind.

Here’s the deal: Not everyone can be Blizzard when it comes to AFD content. If you don’t have any resources to spend, if you have authors that need to look up funny in the dictionary, or of you think it can be done without any effort at all, don’t bother creating jokes just for the sake of it. You’re not obliged. Regardless of how much your PR company bugs you because the 299 bucks they want to unleash some lazy press release will totally “increase your visibility!” (Rest assured: The uninspired and generic pieces they tend to come up with usually won’t!)

It’s not like one has to have 10+ people working on it for weeks. (Obligatory Schadenfreude Interactive link.) However, if it took you five minutes to come up with the prank idea or even its final form, you either got a shitty concept or some of the most creative and productive staffers ever. Gee, I wonder what the chances are.

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Glad…

… I didn’t sign up for that ’52 blog posts per year’ project. That would have been rather awkward. I guess.

Anyway, here’s a link to a ninja kitten, just so no one can claim that there’s no purpose to this post.

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Cake With A Weasel On Top

My little cuddly blog here isn’t what one might define as traffic monster, unsurprisingly enough. Not that I want it to be one to begin with — my provider bill is just fine as it is, thank you –, but the lack of content isn’t helping, I guess. I had Nielsen Media do some research for me to find out more about my target audience.* They then polled 9853 people and, among other things, asked them about how interested they are in the content I’m delivering here.

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Avatar

Avatar

I watched 3D version of Avatar yesterday, and while it surely is not a flawless movie, it still was a fascinating and visually impressive experience. I was a bit worried that it might feel like two movies going through a shotgun wedding due to the mix of real actors and full CG scenes, but it ended up blending rather well. Facial animation often is a problem in movies that try to aim for a ‘realistic’ look – see Polar Express or Final Fantasy – but the Na’vi worked and did not break the immersion.

And an immersive movie it certainly was thanks to the world James Cameron and — based on the credits — millions of artists had crafted. Let there be no doubt: Avatar is a movie that begs to be watched on a big screen, preferably in 3D.

However, the c’t take I saw today probably put it best: It’s a three-dimensional film with a one-dimensional story. Pretty much everything is telegraphed ahead, and what follows is predictable down to the smallest level. Well executed, but predictable. Dances With Wolves was brought already by others, and yes, it’s an apt comparison. Cameron also sourced some of his own movies and reused themes he had employed there, especially Aliens and The Abyss.

The characters are more or less stereotypes and equally fail in surprising anyone. Avatar has a running time of 162 minutes, and yet there’s next to nil information given on the background or motivation of any of the characters. Col. Quaritch (Stephen Lange) — I had to look up his name because, like most of the other names, it did not really stuck with me — really is your average military person, Grace (Sigourney Weaver) and her colleagues are the good-natured scientists while Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi) came across like a poorer version of the corporate guy played by Paul Reiser in Aliens. There wasn’t anything particularly remarkable about them, and same can be said about Na’vi characters like Eytukan (Wes Studi) or Tsu’tey , which probably both translate to “I’m a character that will kick the bucket before the movie is over so that Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) can become the true and clear leader of the tribe“. It’s up to the audience to speculate as to why Trudy (Michelle Rodriguez) goes rogue by noting that “this isn’t what I signed up for” because soldiers usually do not sign up for dishing out candy. None of those details was a dealbreaker that ruined the experience for me; many of them could have been fixed/improved by some writer though. Not every piece of information needs to be spoon-fed to the audience, but sometimes providing more background helps provide a reason for what a character is doing instead of conveying the impression that he/she does it because the script simply requires him/her to do exactly that at that moment.

Cameron still knows how to frame a good action scene. Despite there being quite a number of fights and a bigger aerial battle, pretty much everything was easy on the eyes compared to the hectic and overly nervous crap delivered in other recent action movies like let’s say Transformers 1 & 2. They surely were aware of the fact that quick cuts and changes of focus will result in a jarring and stressing 3D experience – and avoiding that really paid off. I also thought that they used the 3D effect quite well throughout the movie – not as gimmicky as Beowulf.

So yeah, it’s nice cinematic experience with a really well defined world. And while the story or the dialogue can’t live up to Avatar’s visual quality, it’s still way, way more bearable than the insane scripts beneath other 2009 ‘blockbuster’ productions — yes, 2012 and Transformers 2, I’m looking at you. Go and fetch your ticket already.

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Atlas Shrugged

Yesterday, a fellow Goodjer mentioned that he just lost his dad who had suffered a severe heart attack. His father was an avid gamer, and together they enjoyed quite the amount of entertainment software it seems.

It was sad news — but it also reminded me of how, to my parents, gaming always was a closed book. They never did mind me adding it to my list of hobbies, however, they hardly understand what people find fascinating about them. I, obviously, was aware of that, and yet it didn’t become gravely evident until Comanche arrived in 1992.

Comanche

Unlike other developers, Novalogic had opted for a Voxel-based engine, and the result was absolutely stunning for its time. I did not completely fall in love with its flight model — it felt a bit arcade-ish — , but the technology was what kept me playing. There simply had been nothing like this before. Taking advantage of the hilly areas to hide and sneak up on your targets, or doing a daring canyon run with several with several K-50s on your six — Comanche just delivered.

Being completely enthused, I simply had to show the game to my mother. I did a brief demo while gushing over the “incredibly realistic graphics” and what breakthrough we were seeing here. I was emitting vibes of utter excitement.

My mother looked at the screen. Then she looked at me. Then back at the screen. Then back at me again.

Hmmm mmmmm.

That’s when I knew that there was no hope for her.

(Screenshot courtesy of Mobygames)

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T Plus 3 Years – Of Monkeys & Dinosaurs #1

Paraworld

Ah, September 15. To the day it’s been exactly three years since Paraworld shipped in Germany and a few other European markets; the UK/US version showed up ten days later. Well, what a journey that was.

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