Barnestorming- Brett Murrell (DOAII) Interview, Firefly, Wind Waker, Wake in Fright

Barnestorming- Brett Murrell (DOAII) Interview, Firefly, Wind Waker, Wake in Fright Hot

Michael Barnes     
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 Behold, Power Flannel.

On the Table

So here it is, part one of my interview with Duel of Ages II designer Brett Murrell. He’s got some interesting things to say in it, I think. Part II will be next week. If you haven’t played the game yet…why not? You’re really missing out on one the year’s best.

Also, please take note- I rather rudely bumped Matt Drake’s piratical review of Dread Curse down, so make sure you check that out.

I’ve been playing GF9’s Firefly quite a bit, both solo and with my “ruttin’” friends and so far I really like it. I issued forth on it in the forums already and I’ve got to save some “gorram” material for the review but the long and short of it is that it’s a really fun space commerce game with a space pirate/cowboy theme and an emphasis on crew rather than spaceships. I think the guys that did it (same folks that did Spartacus) have a great handle on how to design based on a license. Most people look at the property and think “what mechanics do we use to show that”. These guys look at a license and say “what do people who like this show want to do”. It makes a big difference in the outcome, I think.

Yedo will get reviewed in a couple of weeks. Can’t say it’s not a really well made, well-considered design…but I can’t see playing it over Waterdeep. If this game had come out right after the Caylus craze, it would have been a total smash…but it’s far more thematic and nasty than Pillars of Earth and those other worker placement games. Really pretty heavy for a WP title.

Thinking about giving Eldritch Horror a pass…I realized the other day that Lovecraft anything is about to tip into my “overused themes I no longer care anything about” bucket, right on top of zombies and impressing burgomeisters.

On the Consoles

Wow, it sure is liberating to hit the November video games release rush and not give a flipping shit about almost everything coming out. Still have the PS4 on preorder but I doubt I’ll get a game with it unless it’s FIFA 14. Definitely getting Mario World and the Link to the Past sequel on 3DS…but Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty, all of that…could not possibly care less. I even passed up the Batman game, knowing full well that it’ll be $20 in six months.

But I have been excited to play Wind Waker, and I’ve been enjoying it more than when I played it back in 2007. It’s bright, cheerful, and full of the kind of old fashioned VIDEO GAME values that made me love the medium to begin with. No bullshit multiplayer, no DLC politics, no SyFy channel-class “screenwriting”, no negative subject matter, no psychopathic protagonists (unless you count Link’s thing for smashing pots).

I’m going through that same thing I did back when the Wii first came out…getting back to the kind of FUN and PLAY that Nintendo does best and rejecting all the hatefulness and death/guns/murder-fetishizing of modern video games.  I’m not a redneck teenage boy with anger issues, and I don’t want to play games that assume that’s what I am.

I am going to get back to Dragon’s Dogma sometime soon since it was free on PS+. That was a criminally underrated game.

On IOS

Piled a couple of things on the new 5S…XCOM is surprisingly playable on the phone. Infinity Blade III is more Infinity Blade, and that’s fine because I really like the game. Total timewaster, what with the leveling up different items and all. Also got the new Star Wars Pinball stuff, far away from anyone named Fastkmeans on the leaderboards.

On the Screen

Halfway through Firefly. I still don’t really like it. But I’m now further into it than I have ever made it.

I was delighted (?) to see that Netflix turned up Wake in Fright, the semi-legendary Australian picture that Nick Cave declared the best film of his native country. I’ve always heard great things about it, about it being a difficult, raw, and brutally honest film and I think that’s correct. It’s one of those, however, that I don’t know if I would class as “entertaining”.

I’ve seen the film compared most frequently to Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs and it’s not hard to make that analysis, but really I kind of felt like the film compared as much to Deliverance. All three films are about hyper-male environments where masculinity is celebrated to excess and leads to negative outcomes. The storyline is definitely closer to Straw Dogs, what with a clean-cut man encountering roughnecks and kind of going native. Wake in Fright is more subtly surreal, threatening, and actually kind of frightening.

There are some amazing ways in which this picture shows how the character is pulled down into a virtually womanless, completely de-sexualized morass of heavy drinking, gambling, doing nothing, killing animals, and self-destruction. A firm hand on the shoulder. A drink offer that will not be denied.  A ring of men betting everything on coin flips, losing it all and remaining trapped in their no-hope situation in a dead-end town. It’s harrowing.

The scenes I think that would be most remembered, however, are pretty problematic. There is an extended kangaroo hunting sequence that is frankly just as exploitative and morally wrong as  what goes on in Cannibal Holocaust. I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever seen so many animals killed on film before- by gun, knife, and truck. There’s a disclaimer at the end that the footage is from a hunt conducted by “licensed kangaroo hunters”, but so what. I’m not sure I needed to see all that.

But obviously, it’s a very dark film questioning male-ness, machismo, and relationships between men…yet it is absolutely not homoerotic, other than the casting of the fairly effeminate (and quite gay IRL) John Grant in the lead role. He’s cold, clean-cut, and precise- which makes for an interesting foil for characters like Donald Pleasance’s greasy, manic town doctor.

I don’t know, I do think it’s possibly a great film but it’s one of those that achieve greatness through its honesty, fearlessness, and unwillingness to cut the audience a break. It won’t ever be the best film Australia has ever produced, however, that remains Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

On Spotify

Scarlett has started making requests, so I’ve heard the theme song from Sofia the First and “Under the Sea” like a hundred times over the past couple of days. Impossible for a daddy to argue when she’s back there trying her hardest to sing along. Then River asks to hear Queen. Last night he asked to hear “Crazy Train”.

Barnestorming- Brett Murrell (DOAII) Interview, Firefly, Wind Waker, Wake in Fright There Will Be Games
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