Barnestorming #78762- Fun-First Design, Beta Ray Bill, John Carter

Barnestorming #78762- Fun-First Design, Beta Ray Bill, John Carter

Michael Barnes     
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funWarning: Pretentious Twaddle

On the Table

This one goes out to Dragonstout, who “misses” my old rambling “brainy britches” articles. This week, over at Cracked LCD’s NEW home at Nohighscores.com, I’m on about “fun-first” design and how that concept impacts games criticism and how we receive and experience designs. Blah blah blah, pretentious academe. I really haven’t written anything like it in a while.

Infiltration is holding up pretty well. It’s definitely a better four player game than a six player one, no doubt. It is one of those games though where just a couple of changes would have shifted it from very good to great.. I actually kind of wish that it were just a real-world heist game without the stupid, derivative SF stuff. But hey, Cyberpunk is back in vogue along with mechs this year, so who am I to complain.

Uncharted is actually pretty interesting. It’s like an odd cross between a light area control game, a CCG, and…Ascension. But it’s not deckbuilding. It’s more like tableaux building. It’s not really a board game as billed, it’s very much a card game. It seems like the “deathmatch” mode is the way to go, you fight other players rather than bad guy cards. More later, but it’s not terrible and may actually be pretty decent.

On the Consoles

Got the new Avengers Chronicles tables for FX2. The Avengers one and the FREAKING INFINITY GAUNTLET one are great. World War Hulk and Fear Itself…not so much.

I reviewed Inversion over at NHS, don’t bother reading it. It’s terrible. Don’t buy it. The fact that it’s been out for two weeks and there’s already price drops as low as $20 should tell you something.

I’ve actually been playing a lot of Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown…I’ve never gotten into the VF games, but I’m digging this one.

On IOS

Magic. Duh. Wanna play?

The funny thing is that I’m like totally burned out on all other IOS games…so this game is like a savior or something. Summoner Wars will probably feel like that too.

On Comixology

Screw it, this really should be its own section.

I splurged on the first volume of Walt Simonson’s Thor run, it was $20 for 300 pages of sheer awesome. I had never read them back in the ‘80s and always heard they were great. Boy howdy, did I miss out. They really are that good, some of the best superhero writing of that era. The Beta Ray Bill story was just fantastic. And I am completely head over heels in love with Simonson’s art. It’s _exquisitely_ great. It’s definitely Kirby-inspired, but it has a very specific early 1980s look to it that still feels really quite modern. I’m only halfway through it and my finger occasionally hovers over the buy button on volume 2.

Iron Man: Extremis sucked. I’m not a huge Warren Ellis fan, and I thought this book showed him at his self-indulgent worst. Look no further than the loony hippie that prattles on to Stark about those evil corporations and all of the soft-headed, new age drug talk. And that’s after the silly, trite and too long interview with a left-wing documentarian trying to call Stark out about the effects of his designs. It’s all very childish, facile “corporations and the government are real bad, man” talk. I didn’t like the story, and the whole Extremis thing took away from the coolness of Iron Man being a rich dude in a super suit. I didn’t like the art either. How did this book get good reviews?

Also terrible was Batman Incorporated…I read ten freaking books of that garbage. I really don’t even know what I read. It’s Morrison at his worst- uninspired and trying way to hard to be edgy with established characters. I can’t believe I even finished the almost incoherent issue that takes place almost completely in the “Internet 3.0”. A terrible book, don’t buy it..

And MORE sorry Batman! Legends of the Dark Knight 1&2…yeesh. You forget how terrible Bats can be in the wrong hands. In the first one- I’m going to spoil it here- a drunk Bruce Wayne bets Alfred a dollar that he doesn’t have any invulnerabilities. On patrol, he sees a scene just like when Joe Chill killed his folks. Surprise, he flips out. It turns out that it’s these three thugs that Alfred hired that kick his ass. Alfred appears from the darkness, pays the guys, and then takes a dollar out of Batman’s utility belt.

So to sum it up…Alfred must have told these thugs that Bruce Wayne was Batman and exposed his vulnerability to them. Then, for some reason, Batman was carrying a dollar in his belt. Why? So he could buy a soda? Tip a doorman? Or was that my dollar that this stupid fucking book stole from me?

On the Screen

So yeah, I figured out why John Carter failed other than that it didn’t include any indication that it’s a SF film in the title. It’s because the movie was horrendously medicore at best. A talentless, completely unlikeable lead, a long-winded and dull costume drama story, and ugly design work. It felt like watching a very rich person literally burning money in a barrel. This is exactly the opposite of what I meant when I talked about Avatar needing to be very vanilla, accessible, familiar and simple. You don’t make a $250 milllion picture based on an esoteric, not very well known character with little or no current cultural relevance beyond influencing a bunch of genre fiction and folks that create genre fiction. Sorry, but John Carter is hardly a hot commodity.

It was very clearly a vanity project that Andrew Stanton, who has absolutely zero ability to direct live actors or action it seems, was allowed to make based on the successes of Finding Nemo and Wall-E. He got away with it, and someone really should have put the brakes on the entire project because it shows the signs of a troubled, disjointed production, a lack of direction, and careless bloating.

The script was unbelievably banal and uninteresting. The action felt just as lifeless as anything in the Star Wars prequels. The whole thing looked fake, overlit, and silly. The only memorable scene was when Carter was wiping out the Thark army single handedly- that _looked_ like the John Carter of my imagination. For a few seconds, it looked like Frazetta.

I really wish that this film had been made either in the 1930s or by Harryhausen in the 1950s (he had the rights at one point, I believe). At least there won’t be a sequel.

Barnestorming #78762- Fun-First Design, Beta Ray Bill, John Carter There Will Be Games
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