Good VS Evil

Today, kids, we talk about games with morality engines. Good VS Evil. The right thing VS being a complete dick. They’ve become quite popular in games, and since their early days, I’ve been very fond of them. Putting in my hands the option to be a good guy or a bad guy, a sinner or a saint, that’s my kind of thing. I get really excited about games that have this particular kind of structure. The more involved it is, the happier I am.

It’s just that, well, I tend to play instinctively. Which means, and here’s something that might just shock you, 99.9% of the time, my character is the bad guy the first go ’round. Even if it just ends up that the morality engine is so involved that I’ve managed to make choices that place me more along the lines of Chaotic Neutral (yeah, I’m that much of a prick), I’m certainly not the Knight In Shining Armor. I’m no Hero.

It kind of surprised me to learn that most of my friends are. Not even just friends, but people I encounter randomly and discuss games with. We that play our characters wickedly because it comes naturally – and it’s way more fun – we are a very small percentage of the world. Very. Fucking. Small.

Most players will go through their first plays of these games with golden hearts and halos that (somebody like me would shove up their asses given the chance) gleam with all the glory of the righteous. They do the noble things, the brave things, sacrificing themselves and/or their loved ones so that it might save an entire race of beings (barf). When the game is complete, then, and only then, will they traipse through the world again, this time choosing the dark side. The majority of players like this will not find these actions easy. You will see them struggle with themselves, even though they’ve made the decision to be bad. Oh, WHY is it that you people cannot see how glorious it is to walk on the other side of the tracks?

There are even some players, a fairly good fraction of those that are good at heart, who cannot – no matter what – bring themselves to play a bad guy. And some that, beyond that, can’t even be mildly morally questionable.

Okay, I will admit. I usually save the “white hat” run through for the very last. I don’t generally have as much fun being nice. I’m not into all that … self sacrifice and putting the good of the whole before the good of myself. I like being reprehensible. I like how the Dark Side alters the way one looks when one uses it too much (KOTOR). It makes me giddy to see that I’ve screwed somebody else over so that I can have an easier life.

But it’s not impossible for me to play through as a good guy. I do it. I do it to see different endings, to see how differently characters will react when you’re not threatening to burn down their village. I do it to see the changes and the subtleties. It’s still fun, just not as much fun. So why can’t those do-gooders see my side of it? Why can’t they just admit that for a little while, it’s kind of interesting and entertaining to be evil? Hm? I think it’s a little biased, really. I can play how you play, but you don’t even want to try it my way?

This is starting to sound a little … naughty, isn’t it.

Some people are surprised when they discover the nature of my gaming. Most, however, not so much. Once you get to know me, you really can’t ignore the fact that it bleeds over into real life. I am who I am. I make it no secret. I don’t lie about it. I laugh when people get hurt. I enjoy tasteless jokes. So my friends? Really not startled when they see my achievements always pop up with the “you won the game as a complete heartless bastard” first. Not surprised when I talk about the dark endings before I talk about the light ones. Not at all taken aback, but highly amused, when I rage quietly about accidentally getting the Light Side ending in Force Unleashed the first time I played it. ACCIDENTALLY GOT IT. SON.OF.A.BITCH. Yes, I’m still angry. I also harbor resentment and grudges, fyi.

All I want you people to do is try to see things my way. That’s all I ask. Is that so much?

Evil. Try it. You might like it.

Kameo

Let me tell you a little bit about my history with Kameo. It needs to be said, or I don’t think it’ll make much sense, my feelings about this game. My inability to truly feel much about what’s going on.

Once upon a time, I decided to try GameFly. I thought that it might be a good idea, renting games, getting to see what I might like and what I might hate without paying for a whole game. In theory, it’s brilliant. I suspect that for most people out there, it’s a wonderful tool. For me? Utter failure. Complete waste of time. Even though I didn’t pay anything at all for my two week trial with them, I feel like I wasted a lot of effort.

I tried games that I thought I might like, and when I did like them, I went out and bought them anyway. With my track record of games I like when I buy them VS games I hate, there’s not a lot of risk there. I could see where it would be risky for people who just pick up every game they see and give it a try. GameFly would be great for them. So you can see, effort wasted. Time wasted.

One of the games that I tried with GameFly was Kameo. I did like it pretty goddamned quickly, and it also happened to be at the very end of my trial. So I sent it back, went to the store with the intent to buy it and promptly saw something shinier. I can’t tell you now what it was, just that I had to have it more than I had to have Kameo.

Months later, I was back in the store, and lo – Kameo. Cheaply. So I picked it up. Why not? I’d had fun the first time, though I hadn’t gotten very far at all. I took it home and put it directly into my machine, happy as a clam.

And I shit you not, the next day something came out that would once again eclipse my playing of Kameo. And once again, I cannot tell you what that thing was, just that it was bigger and bolder, and called to me so deeply that I ignored the small cries of this newly bought game as I pried the disk out of the tray and shoved it back into it’s case, then onto the shelf. I should note here that I got exactly as far through the game as I had the first time.

A year later. Kameo again. Again it is usurped.

Forgotten in the stacks of games to play, I finally came upon it this year in my quest to finish every half touched game that I owned. I decided that now was the time to let this game shine. Now was the moment. I placed it where it needed to go and sat my ass down on the couch, ready. I restarted my game, because by this time, I had no memory of what I’d learned – however little – and what had happened in the story.

After about a half hour, I realized that I hadn’t gotten very far at all and caught up to where I recalled leaving off very quickly. Kind of sad, really, given all the efforts I’d gone to previously (*cough*). It also occurred to me that not once in my former tries had I ever gotten further than this into the game. Always, something more had come forward and taken my attentions away. For a few hours, I played with fear and trepidation. What if something fantastic were to fall into my lap as I held the controller in my hand? What if it demanded to be played instantly and once again Kameo was thrown to the wayside?

And then I got over it, because I realized I am my own downfall, and if I didn’t go seeking new shiny games, they would not appear.

It didn’t take me long to get through this game. And I did have fun with it. But I just have this kind of apathy going on about it. I don’t care that I played it, really. I guess I’m glad I did, it’s done with, it’s not on my shelf anymore. It’s not waiting for me and mocking me every time I walk by. But I have no sense of satisfaction. I have no feeling of accomplishment. I didn’t put down my controller and think to myself “Holy shit, that was a good game” and I didn’t by any means desire to play it again. It wasn’t a bad game, it really wasn’t. Plus, I am an avid, nearly insanely so, replayer, thus my lack of desire to go through again was and is surprising and confusing.

I don’t know where this feeling – or lack thereof – comes from. Is it because I just let it sit for too long? Is it that I tried too many times to get into this game and it never happened, thus leaving me with an empty hole where my enjoyment should be? I don’t know. I just don’t.

I have passed this game on, a thing I don’t really do, as I like to keep them around so I can play them again at a later date. But I know that I will not ever pick up Kameo again. I won’t ever give it another go round. PLEASE. SOMEBODY EXPLAIN THIS. My world is upside down (I’ll get over it).

Beautiful Katamari

When I first got this game, I really adored the concept. I loved the story that set up what you had to do. Everything about it suited me just fine. I was excited to play it, and popped it into my machine as soon as I got it home.

I enjoyed it for about 20 minutes. A couple of levels.

After that, it was just tedium for me. I stopped being intrigued by all the things that I could roll up into a ball with me. Then, on top of it, the music started to make me feel like I wanted to put a hole in my head. There were all these little annoyances that I might have been able to handle individually, but all together, were just too much.

I put the game down for three years. I didn’t touch it, and I didn’t look at it. I didn’t even think about it. I’m not against giving something another shot after I’ve had some time away from it to cool down and maybe get out of whatever mind set I might have been in at the time. Look at it freshly, you know? Under different mental circumstances.

So while I was going through all of my partially played games, I noticed that it was still there, and decided to add it to the end of that pile. I figured by the time I got through all the other games, I would be ready for it again. I could give it that second change. Let it show me that I had been wrong, or just in a bad place for it the last go around.

It’s time finally arrived. I popped it into my Xbox and sat down to play.

I discovered that I felt the exact same way.

I went ahead and did a couple more levels, just to be extra sure. But nothing changed for me. I wanted to like this game, I wanted to like it so very much. But I just didn’t. I couldn’t even get halfway through it. There was no way to force myself. I ended up giving it to a friend who I knew would appreciate it more than I would, and she did. She played through it pretty quickly, actually. I’m glad that somebody got joy and enjoyment out of it, because I couldn’t.

There haven’t been any sort of large number of games that I have started and were unable to finish because of my dislike. In fact, the only two I can really think of are this one and Watchmen: The End is Nigh. Oh, and don’t get me wrong. My apathy toward Katamari is nothing close to my loathing of Watchmen: The End Is Nigh. I am of a general indifference toward Beautiful Katamari. I hated Watchmen deep into the core of me. There was nothing redeeming about that game, and I think if anybody handed it to me, I’d light it on fire.

It does actually make me a little bit sad that I couldn’t get into Katamari. I know that a lot of people had fun with it. It makes me wonder why I couldn’t manage to have fun with it.

Oh well. We can’t win them all, can we?

But considering my point of view compared to all the others out there, I can’t honestly say that anybody should or should not pick this one up. I feel as if I’m in the minority here, thus making me an unreliable source.

Backlog

I have not only a backlog of posts to make here, they kind of got caught in the net of trying to move things over and not wanting to post anything either place due to how much trouble we were having getting it all figured out.

But I also have an fairly enormous backlog of games that I haven’t played. I have 20 games that I have not touched at all, and 7 games that have been diddled with a little bit. 2 of these games I actually can’t play right now, because my television set is not HD, and attempting to play said games on a normal tv is akin to pounding your head with a hammer while squeezing lemon juice into your eyes.

I’ll make an upcoming posts post, so you all can keep me on track, and then for the fun of it, I’ll make a list of the games I’ve got going on along with the ones that I’m anxiously waiting for and wanting.

Why not torture myself for your amusement? Isn’t that what this is all for?

Surrogates – Yet another badly recieved robot future movie

I have a theory.

The theory is this: This generation grew up watching things like Small Wonder and Star Trek (where we saw Data) and various other things that implanted in our brains that the future was in androids, robots, cyborgs and the like. We have felt for the longest time that these things would be wonderful, they would be fabulous, and nothing would go wrong.

Despite the many books on the subject, we as a generation (and those that come after us), do not want to see the potential ills of relying on these things too much. That they might be evil, or we might be making the wrong choice. That we could possibly lose ourselves as humans to the machines.

I encountered this similar distaste for the humans in Wall-e. Probably for similar reasons. In that movie, we are given ever convenience, and we become fat, weak and small boned. Incapable of carrying ourselves on our own two feet. Reliant on machines to do everything for us. Everything. Including brushing our teeth.

The electronic age has brought in many fancy and fascinating things. Ten years ago, who would have thought that our cell phones could do all they do now? Who would have really given pause to the idea of reading books on eReaders on a regular basis, and that they would be available to Every Man? We have these fantastic computers and MP3 players and we don’t even give it a moments thought. The majority of the world is now run by computers. Many human fail safes have been pushed aside because for some reason we think that computers are infallible. We blame every mistake on human error.

Well, yes. But who made the machines? Who fixes the machines? Who keeps them clean and upgrades them and spills their coffee on them in the morning? The backup plan for important files is no longer to have a hard copy. It is to rely on other machines to keep track of them. Online storage spaces. External hard drives. And what if those all fail?

It leads me to think that this world is not ready to see the potential problems with putting all our eggs in the electronics basket. Just consider a moment everything that you own, how much you rely on it, and how much you take it for granted. Just… a moment. Look around. Think. I’m sure you’ll find at least one thing there that if it failed, really failed, you’d be fucked. Because you weren’t thinking, and now it’s dead and everything that was on it is gone. Maybe it’s not a huge thing, just music files. Just computer games. But how pissed would you be?

I, Robot didn’t do well. The robots in that eventually turn on us. They gain too much intelligence and refuse to be our slaves anymore. I feel that people don’t want to believe that can happen. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if my computer called me an asshole in ten minutes. I might shit myself, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

A.I. didn’t do well. In that, we watch a couples’ life fall apart. They turn to a machine to fill their void. And what do they do when the void is lifted? They abandon the machine. Again, people don’t want to consider this possibility. Yet we do it all the time. What do you do when your old computer bites it? When it becomes old tech? You toss it, without thinking. You get your files and send the poor little thing away without a second thought. You’ve gotten what you need out of it, what does it matter? It’s only a machine, after all. Is it?

Surrogates didn’t do well. In this, we just give up on being human completely. We put ourselves into fake bodies and do things that we wouldn’t be able to do in our flesh because our flesh is breakable. They get shot on purpose, jump off bridges. Have unprotected sex. The world is a pseudo-utopia. We think everything is perfect. Except for that one small contingent that is convinced that walking around all the time in an artificial exoskeleton is an abomination. Then they turn out to be right. Thinking, feeling, being is more important than perfection. Which is another thing that humans rail against. Perfection is all. We strive to be perfect, or what our society deems is perfect at the time. Look at the fashions today, look at the hair, the models. Look at what it all used to be. It’s never the same. Nothing is ever perfect. The most beautiful things are the things that are flawed. But humans can’t have that.

I believe that it makes people truly uncomfortable to give thought to the fact that perhaps our answer isn’t robots. Robots are cool, I’m totally not going to argue. Probably, if they manage to do it before I die, I’ll stick my brain into a robot body. But not until this fleshy mess is finished with. I want to see the world with real eyes. Smell the world, no matter how much it stinks in places, with an actual sense of smell, hear the world with ears and not aural preceptors.

But hey, that’s me.

I personally enjoyed all three movies. But my brain is wired to look for whatever can possibly go wrong with any given thing. I’m a generally negative person in that way. Everything that can go wrong, will. At one point or another, there will be total system failure. Be it biological or otherwise, eventually everything will fall apart. It’s just how the world works. It’s just how everything is made. A fact of life. Not trying to be depressing here. Just the facts, ma’am. I certainly don’t expect others to see things the same way I do, I’m not one to try to convince others to see things from my point of view. I’ll state my case and if it’s acceptable to others, fine, if not, fine.

Then again, I’m ready for the zombie apocalypse.

Ma Vie En Rose – Request

There are two movies by this title. Both are French. One is a biopic about a singer. This one is about a 7 year old boy who wants to be a 7 year old girl.

I’m starting to notice two things about French films:

1. They’re just a little bit strange, all of them
2. They don’t pull their punches.

The story of this movie may seem like a typical coming-of-age/finding yourself movie, but it isn’t. Not just because there’s some very odd interludes with a doll, either. Though, those are pretty atypical.

They really manage to show the struggle some people have to go through – at any age, really – but especially in childhood. We all tend to think that being a kid is easy, when really it’s the furthest thing from the truth. Being a kid sucks sometimes, a lot. For some people it can be a really confusing and turbulent period of life. It’s hard to make somebody who doesn’t understand that feel that, but this movie really tugs at the heartstrings.

I really like what they did with this film and it’s main character. The whole thing felt truthful, honest. Sometimes this sort of subject matter can come off feeling forced. Contrived. Amazingly, there wasn’t a point where I thought that it was trying to hard.

The ending really pleased me a lot.

Slipstream – Again

In my last post I wrote out the words “I can’t believe I’m not even on cold medicine yet.” The key word there being yet. When it kicked in, I had to stop this movie, because… well. Many reasons. You don’t really need to be high in any way to feel like Anthony Hopkins is fucking with your head, and it also became slightly confusing to my eyes, so many flashing scenes, it was hard for my eyes to focus.

There are three main pieces of advice I feel the need to give out here before I continue.

1. If you don’t like surrealism, you have no business watching this movie. If you do watch it, being not a fan of the surrealist movement, and discover yourself angered or otherwise unhappy with your viewing time, it’s your own goddamned fault. If you do not like/adamantly hate a particular genre, don’t watch said genre, because you’re not going to enjoy yourself. It’s pretty simple.

2. Do not take cold medicine to watch this movie.

3. Watch it all at once. The experience will be much more fulfilling for you.

I, myself, am a very large fan of surrealism. Of course, I had no idea that’s what I was getting into when I clicked on the play button in Netflix. I mainly did it because I saw the words “Written and directed by Anthony Hopkins”. I’m a very very big fan of his, so I couldn’t really pass it up.

The problem I’m finding with Netflix is that the descriptions don’t really fit or tell you what’s truly going to happen in the movie you’re about to watch. I discovered this huge flaw for the first time (the first time rather glaringly, I should say) when I watched Decent. You know, that one with Rosario Dawson and rape? That was not fully explained in the description. It didn’t even hint at what the ending was going to be like, and I sort of feel like it should have.
In this case, nobody saw fit to mention that there would be heavy surrealism going on. Not that I feel the need to be forewarned about that every time, but it’d be nice to know I should wait to take my cold medication until I’m done with the movie.

I find myself making comparisons to the movie Stay now that I’ve watched all of Slipstream. There are some very clear similarities, though things are done in a different way. Two different stories using similar keys in them.
I really liked Stay, a lot. A lot a lot. I don’t have a good enough vocabulary to fully expound on how much I adore Stay. Naturally I’m having similar feelings to this movie.

I love things that make me think. Really love them. I love things that are fucked up. I love surrealism. I love Anthony Hopkins. There really wasn’t a single part of this movie I didn’t love. Everything was done so beautifully.

Anthony Hopkins has a wonderfully visual mind. You get the impression that he’s extremely intelligent just from any brief TMZ encounter with him, you know that he’s a good actor. But you don’t really get a good look inside of his head. With this movie, I feel like he opens himself up and shows you a glimpse of what he’s capable of. Really capable of. Just a tiny little look that leaves the impression that if he were given the reins of the world, nothing would ever be the same.

One further thing I feel I have to make note of, not that it really has to do with the movie itself or Anthony Hopkins, is the fact that for the past few days, every movie I have decided to watch has had Michael Clark Duncan in it. I’m unsure if this is a Universe Note or what, but it’s been pretty strange.

This movie is definitely not for everyone. I’m not going to tell everyone to rush out and find it as soon as possible as I do with other films. But I am going to say that I enjoyed it 100%, and I would like Anthony Hopkins to do more of this kind of thing.

Please.

Pretty please.

Pretty please with fava beans on top.