A few months ago, we were surprised by Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s announcement that he’d be producing a Sandman film with the blessing from creator Neil Gaiman. Then, we were teased by writer Jack Thorne’s attachment to the project. Now, as fans twiddle their thumbs waiting for more updates, I’d like to offer an argument for the casting of our beloved brooding Dream Lord.
Some e-whispers suggest that Don Jon himself should don Morpheus’ oneiric cowl. Why not? He’s pale with dark dressings and has dabbled in the DC universe before. Others like our own ethereal editor, Leia, champions more maturity in the master of disguise, Doug Jones. On the other hand, Gaiman put forward the razor-sharp cheekbones of Tom Hiddleston or Benedict Cumberbatch for his two cents.
What is my informed and corrected opinion on who should be cast, you ask, nay, you beg? All of the actors, or at least as many as could be seamlessly cut into a scene.
Hear me out. One reason among many that makes Sandman one of the most preeminent comic series of all time is it’s art, which not only was helmed by a multitude of different artists, but depicted a comic book hero who is iconically inconsistent from panel to panel. Unlike the red and blue of Superman, or Batman’s dark gauntlets, Morpheus’ face and clothing rarely had the exact same features from page to page, let alone spanning volumes. Even more interesting, Dream’s appearance would often depend on who he was interacting with. J’onn Jonzz sees Morpheus as a Martian, while to the Egyptian cat goddess, he is a great black cat with stars for eyes. How then could one actor really capture Dream better than a comic book artist? Why make a film at all if you’re going to lose something so essential from the character? (The different facets of Dream is probably best depicted and explained in the current mini-series, Sandman Overture, which marks Gaiman’s return to the character).
So imagine a movie where different actors play Dream in different moods, or in different scenes reacting to different characters. Picture the Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, but much, much, better. Not only would this be visually amazing, but would honor the inconceivable vastness of a character that personifies an eternal and formative aspect of the universe. Throw Cat-Dream in there, and I think you’ve got the basis for a perfect Sandman adaptation.
What do you all think?
We are less than a third of the way in to season four of Game of Thrones and HBO has already dropped some rather large bombs on us. Tyrion breaks up with Shae. Sansa has escaped into Littlefinger’s creepy clutches. Joffrey got extremely choked up at his own wedding, which, where was my invite? It’s enough to feel like this week’s third episode, entitled “Breaker of Chains” which is so obviously about Daenerys, fell a little flat by comparison.
We jump back in to a mini recap of the Lannister and Tyrell nuptuals, which fans lovingly refer to as the Purple Wedding. Cersei screams, Margaery is beautifully bewildered, Jaime rushes to help his nephew-son, and all of the blame is laid on Tyrion for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
As I mentioned in my review from last week, “The Lion and the Rose” is subtly crafted to keep the viewer guessing as to who murdered poor king Joff, since everyone has some sort of motive. Tywin could be in the market for a king his wisdom will actually reach, Cersei could be getting a second king out of the way in order to keep her crown, Sansa has enough hatred to fill the Shivering Sea twice over, and Margaery has always wanted to be “The Queen.”
While it hasn’t been revealed who the culprit is, viewers get to see the aftermath that the Purple Wedding has on individuals, and Westeros as a whole. What can happen to this kingdom with someone new at it’s helm?
Which, actually, this is a great moment to stop and talk about that Tywin scene with Tommen in the Sept of Baelor. This was a really clever way for the writers to stick in some of the source material right under everyone’s noses, and having it play out in the form of a lecture to educate our new King Tommen was brilliantly subdued. And don’t think for a second that we didn’t notice Tywin saying, “King Robert” rather than “your father.” Tommen may wind up being a good king, but all I am concerned about is if he will still have his affinity for Ser Pounce? PLEASE GIVE SER POUNCE A CAMEO.
For all the cleverness of the addition of Tywin and Tommen, the scene directly after it actually makes no sense at all. Book readers, you know what I’m talking about, and show watchers, I know you were confused by it too. The Jaime/Cersei twincest moment. To a lot of viewers, it felt extremely out of place and kind of smacks that character development we’ve been viewing straight out of the tower along with Bran. While HBO and Thrones producers still haven’t attempted to comment in regards to the changed scene, George R. R. Martin himself took to his blog to address the questions and add a little bit of insight.
“I think the “butterfly effect” that I have spoken of so often was at work here. In the novels, Jaime is not present at Joffrey’s death, and indeed, Cersei has been fearful that he is dead himself, that she has lost both the son and the father/ lover/ brother. And then suddenly Jaime is there before her. Maimed and changed, but Jaime nonetheless. Though the time and place is wildly inappropriate and Cersei is fearful of discovery, she is as hungry for him as he is for her.
The whole dynamic is different in the show, where Jaime has been back for weeks at the least, maybe longer, and he and Cersei have been in each other’s company on numerous occasions, often quarreling. The setting is the same, but neither character is in the same place as in the books, which may be why Dan & David played the sept out differently. But that’s just my surmise; we never discussed this scene, to the best of my recollection.
Also, I was writing the scene from Jaime’s POV, so the reader is inside his head, hearing his thoughts. On the TV show, the camera is necessarily external. You don’t know what anyone is thinking or feeling, just what they are saying and doing.
If the show had retained some of Cersei’s dialogue from the books, it might have left a somewhat different impression — but that dialogue was very much shaped by the circumstances of the books, delivered by a woman who is seeing her lover again for the first time after a long while apart during which she feared he was dead. I am not sure it would have worked with the new timeline.
That’s really all I can say on this issue. The scene was always intended to be disturbing… but I do regret if it has disturbed people for the wrong reasons.”
A few other things of note happened in the otherwise slow episode. There were some touching moments with Podrick and Tyrion, as the dutiful squire brings him news of the realm and stays steadfast in his loyalties. It would’ve been the perfect point for a brohug, but sadly even with Tyrion’s life on the line, they’re still not in the touchy phase yet. Prince Oberyn is offered the chance to help pass judgement in Tyrion’s trial, in exchange for some kingly goodies. Arya carries on her wonderful banter with the Hound as he doles out a few little life lessons of his own. And apparently the Thenns are cannibals? This one is still a little confusing to me, because I feel like I remember enjoying the Magnar and his son in text form. But none of those things are what I’ve really been itching to discuss. Hint: Remember the so obvious name of the episode? She gets her ten minute cameo in the end of the episode, and though I am a steadfast Targaryen through and through, fire and blood and ermahgerd dergens, I just can’t stand watching Daenerys scenes anymore.
And I think I found my catalyst.
Continuing on with my unnatural hate of all things Meereen from episodes one and two, tonight on Game of Thrones episode three, Daario Naharis played by Michiael Huisman winked straight to camera and I felt nothing.
Yes, I’m continuing on with my Daario Recast Hate, and no I’m not going to let it go unless Elsa herself sings it to me in a bright and clean vibrato. During the scene, as I was bored to tears watching Daario take down a horse with a knife to the eye and I’m not sure how that was boring because that is just so brutal yet he made it look yawnworthy, it occurred to me that having not perused the books in awhile that viewers are missing out on the hilarity that is Strong Belwas. Getting my timelines mixed together, I originally thought that Belwas was the opposing fighter and got excited until I remembered that this is absolutely not true and I should be ashamed of myself. As Dany has yet to enter Mereen, perhaps she will meet the character in the slave fighting pits as that would be a more appropriate screen reveal. You know, once she gets inside in about five more episodes. And I will have something to distract me from Daario the Dreadful, as he takes down that horse with little to no effort. Just like his actor counterpart. Other than Ser Jorah’s more and more obvious friendzoning, of course.
Okay, but realtalk, for the entirety of this Meereen sequence, all I was thinking about was, “Huh. When did Skittles change their green flavor from lime to green apple?” Because lime was my favorite, and now they’re gone. Just like Daario.
I realize it isn’t fair to attribute my boredom solely to a recast. Before season four, any time Daenerys whipped out the High Valyrian, I was all like,
And yet on her journey to free Slaver’s Bay, I can’t help but feel all sorts of meh.
I. Just. Don’t. Care. Anymore.
I contribute these changes to the fact that, yes, in the books Dany’s storyline is slow, meaning they will have to milk her POV chapters until dry, and even then continue to water them down a little. I get that. But mostly because Daario Recast Hate. Really, if he can’t even pull off a wink that convinces my ladyparts, I don’t want to see any other parts of him this season. Nope. I’m really only excited for her outfits.
Want more Game of Thrones reviews?
Check out last week’s play-by-play of the Purple Wedding in Game of Thrones’s second episode, “The Lion and The Rose” by clicking here
And don’t forget to hop back (Get it? EASTER JOKE LULZ) over next week for more Game of Thrones goodness!
I was lucky enough to get some great interviews with some of the guests for PAX East! I tried my best to get the best audio quality, but with a show floor as busy as downtown Mumbai and music blaring from every possible, there’s definitely background noise. Hope you guys enjoy!
First up is my interview with Evan, one of the developers of Broforce
Next up, I talked with one of the PR people and the music creator for FRACT
They then took me through their latest laptops.
MSI toured me through their new graphics cards. The interview starts while he’s talking about their 290X Lightning card, which is absolutely nuts.
They then showed me their latest laptops.
Project Cyber developers talked to me about their audience participation approach to game development and how it’s shaping their new game. The audio on this one is less good than the others (it’s possible, turns out) since I recorded it on my cellphone, but it’s still interesting!
Last, but not least, Greg Kasavin, writer of Bastion, talks about Supergiant Games’ latest game Transistor.
Our west coast photographer Chagler Photography dropped by WonderCon 2014 in Anaheim, CA and got some great shots of the con floor! See yourself or someone you know? Feel free to head on over to our Facebook page and tag and share to your heart’s content!
Want more Wondercon goodness? You can find the full album on Facebook! Don’t forget to show some love and “Like” the page while you’re there!
It’s not all about killing bad guys and saving the princess anymore.
When you take a look at media as a whole – books, comics, movies, games – and take a step back to see how they’ve evolved over time, you’d see a pretty interesting evolution. Over the last few decades look at the changes that we’ve experienced – not only the ability to be immersed into graphically realistic depictions of different environments, but the type of ideas that they can convey to the reader, viewer and player. Take the graphic novel as an example – once upon a time it wasn’t considered a medium that could convey serious thoughts, then came works like Art Spiegelman’s holocaust survivor story Maus and Joe Sacco’s journalist comic Palestine. These are only two examples in a number of titles that are more than superheroes and traditional good versus evil.
Games have been a little bit slower to evolve on that front – there’s a field generally referred to as “serious games” out there but a lot of times that focuses on using the platform for interactive learning more than gaming in a traditional sense (… is there even a traditional sense of the word anymore?). What I’m talking about here though is a little bit different. I’m talking about games that through the very story and gameplay put the player in a position to wrestle with difficult decisions and make them think about more than just what’s on the graphical surface. Look at Papers Please, for example, a game where the player is an immigration official. Your job as said official is to decide who is allowed and denied entry past your checkpoint based on information your supervisor has given you. Simple enough right? What do you do when a elderly couple can’t come through together because one’s papers are right while the other’s aren’t? Do you let them both through and face a violation that prevents you from feeding your own family? How do you choose? There’s a whole other side to the traditional “war games” we see that is represented here in the moral quandaries regular people are put into during hardship.
And that other side, inspired by Papers Please, is where we find This War of Mine.
When you play a lot of big studio titles on the topic of war, you’re going to find a lot of common themes. First person shooters and real time strategy games are focused on peace through superior firepower. These games all tell stories from the viewpoints of the commanders, or the soldiers themselves. This War of Mine on the other hand focuses on everyone else that is still impacted by the conflict, exploring war with the focus shifted away from the soldiers and tanks, and onto the people suffering from the fallout, just trying to survive.
You begin in a besieged house with a group of survivors. Because of snipers outside, you’re trapped where you are. Immediately you have to salvage for anything in the house – spare parts, food, wood, medicine – anything that can be used to help your party survive. These materials can be put together to provide needs for the house – beds for sleeping, drinking water, wound dressings. At night you can leave the house to salvage at nearby locations to bring back more materials to use the next day.
In addition to salvaging you also decide who sleeps (on or off a bed) and who stands guard. The problem is that your backpack is extremely limited, and you have to prioritize what you bring back for the good of the party. Scavengers and guards don’t sleep. If you haven’t made a way to prepare food then they go hungry, making it easier to get sick and need medicine. All of the needs of the survivors must be juggled to survive.
Let me give you an example. During the first night I sent one survivor to scavenge and brought back materials for making beds for proper sleep. During the night, the house was attacked. My guard was hurt and the other survivor fell sick. I didn’t gather enough to be able to collect water for drinking or preparing food. OK, now what?
The next night I have the sick survivor sleep in bed while I send a scavenger out again. I pick up enough materials to construct a water collector – but that doesn’t leave me enough for picking up medicine. I made the decision to drop water filters for medicine. Now she had medicine, but no one got food or water. I now had 4 hungry and thirsty survivors. 1 was injured. 1 was sick and not getting better. None of them were rested. All of them hiding from snipers. The following morning, my sick survivor succumbed to illness ad died.
All because I had to make a choice between medicine and clean water.
It was a difficult and dark experience to have to go through those kinds of decisions, even if the characters were virtual people on a screen. And that was 3 days of virtual time (about 30 minutes real time) with me comfortable at a computer with a mouse and keyboard. I was forced to think about the hell someone in that situation must be in somewhere in the world at this very second.
I got to speak with 11bit’s Pawel Miechowski about the game, who said that while the game has gotten huge positive feedback there’s also been some negative backlash, complaining that games can’t handle serious topics and are for entertainment only. “I believe that games are perfect for talking about important things,” he says, “because they’re interactive.” And I totally agree. It’s the perfect vehicle for expressing thoughts and ideas, and this game forces the player to think. “Imagine yourself in a city under siege, and your mother is dying of sickness. How would you treat her? Would you be willing to kill someone to steal antibiotics to save her?”
To drive the point home Pawel decided not to name the city the game takes place in, to remind people that “it could be your city, your country – it could happen anywhere. And when it happens it doesn’t matter if you’re American, Indian, Polish, or Russian or whatever, because you’re a human being and you have the same needs.”
To those who say games are no place for tough topics, he says that as developers they feel that like movies, games have grown up. And the same way directors now make movies about love and hate and deep topics more now than years ago, so too can depth be found in games like This War of Mine. “It’s natural evolution.”
“Games are 30 years old, most of us have grew up with games and we treat them as a natural way of storytelling.”
Now for those with positive feedback about the game, Pawel did say that many survivors of conflict that are willing to help spread the word about the game, and are very supportive about it because it’s so important to talk about. He made sure to mention by name former Marine Corpsman John Keyser, who through what he saw during his time in Fallujah became anti-war, and is serving to help Pawel with this game.
“I’d like to send my greetings to John and thank him for his help.”
With the countless number of games glorifying war, in my opinion this is a very important game that through its story reminds us that in war there are no winners.
This War of Mine is being developed for Windows, Mac and Linux and 11bit will have something sometime this year, with a mobile experience coming too. As Pawel says though, “not a free to play ruined mobile experience with microtransactions.” It’ll be a pay-once, get it all from A to Z premium experience.
As you would expect from a hardware vendor coming to a gaming convention, the focus for MSI was high end gaming, and boy did they come loaded for bear. Here are the top three products they had to show off.
MSI GS60 Ghost Pro
Gaming laptops have historically been large enough to be put in the category of desktop replacement, but with the latest wave of ultrabooks, we’ve seen a slimmer form factor with only a slight reduction in features. The GS60 Ghost Pro is no exception, featuring a 3K display, Intel i7-4700 HQ processor, GTX 860M graphics card sporting 2G of GDDR5 and a 128GB SSD with 750GB HDD. Its younger brother, the GS60 Ghost, has almost identical specs, but only features a 1080p screen (pshaw, right?). Coming in at less than an inch thick and under 5 pounds, this gaming monster is pretty much all you could ask for in a gaming ultrabook. It even has a fully programmable, rainbow backlit keyboard. Which is just so baller. The only downside is that when I was playing around with it, the fan was painfully hot. Maybe that wouldn’t be an issue normally, but after 4 hours of playing Bioshock Infinite, it was not advisable to touch that fan.
Even a few years ago, PC proponents would talk about how terrible the all-in-one paradigm that Apple had stuck to was a terrible idea, but now we see tons of PC all-in-one popping up from every manufacturer. MSI has taken this idea and run with it, creating an all-in-one aimed at gamers that’s sure to chew through anything you throw at it.
The AG2712A features a 27” touch screen with Windows 8 (come on, it just doesn’t make sense without a touch screen) and an Intel i7-3630QM processor. The 16 GB of DDR3 RAM and 128GB SSD are sure handle any modern game, and the 2TB HDD is ready to hold your collection of anime and completely legitimately downloaded movies. Perhaps the most interesting feature of this all in one is its HDMI in port, allowing the computer to be used as an external monitor or TV. So if you’re looking for a gaming PC and a TV at the same time, you’ve got one right here. “But I want to mount it,” you say? Well you can! VESA mounts are built in, though the ports are in such a position that you’d probably want an extendable arm to fit all the cables behind it. The screen also features flicker-free technology, anti -glare matting, and a whole bunch of other cool stuff. Coming in at around $1800 bucks, this unique form factor PC is optimal for low desk space or multipurpose use.
R9 290X Lightning
What? Just look at this thing and join me in asking “what?”
The R9 290X Lightning is the biggest graphics card I’ve ever seen. Not only was it longer than all of the motherboards MSI showed off, but it took up more than two slots! With that kind of size, it has to have wildly awesome specs.
And it does! 1.08 GHz core with 4GB of GDDR5 at 5GHz memory puts this thing toward the top of its class. This monster is kept cool with three fans, all of which you can monitor and control through software. It outputs to 2 Dual-link DVI-D ports, one display port and an HDMI port and has a maximum supported resolution of 2560×1600. It also supports DirectX 11.2 and OpenGL 4.3 and has support for Crossfire, which just seems unnecessary. If you can fit two of these in a case and decide to do this, you must be a mad scientist.
I’m told there’s also a shortage of product, not only due to ravenous gamers, but also Bitcoin miners looking to upgrade their rigs. If it comes back in stock and you have three slots to spare in your box, you can’t get much better than the R9 290X Lightning.
And if you’re interested in the full interviews, you can listen to them here:
Not to be topped by MSI, Gigabyte also had some great products to show off this year.
Coming in at 20.9mm, the P35W v2 has a crazy thin design for all its monstrous components. It sports a GTX 870M with 6GB of GDDR5 Ram and an Intel i7-4710HQ processor. Combine that with 8-16GB of DDR3 RAM, RAID support with 2 SSDs and one HDD, and a 1920×1080 resolution and this laptop is a beast. And for those of you still stuck on physical media, it also has a Blu-ray RW drive. One of the best things about this model is that it’s configurable, configurable, allowing the user to choose from a few different processors, RAM, storage, and graphics offerings.
If you’re looking for a thin, light gaming laptop with some configurability, Gigabyte has a great solution in the P35W v2.
PC manufacturers have been trying to do smaller and smaller enclosures for machines for some time now, but it only really picked up when HTPCs became a big deal. As a result, it’s taken a while before something small, but gamer-oriented was released, but now it’s here. Meet the Brix Gaming.
Gigabyte’s Brix line has been one of the best small form factor PCs for a while, but it’s difficult to fit all you need in a gaming PC into a box that tiny. Gigabyte’s finally figured it out, though. The Brix Gaming features an AMD A8-5557M processor and a Radeon R9 M275X GPU featuring 2GB of DDR5 RAM. 2 DDR3 slots mean up to 16GB or RAM (you can configure this), and it supports 2.5”thickness hard drives with a 6Gbps SATA3 port. Throw in 4 USb3.0 slots, an HDMI port, mini DisplayPort, RJ45, and VESA mount support and the Brix Gaming is pretty desirable. For all of this, you’d think it’d be huge, but it only stands at 59.6mm thick, and 128×115.4mm around, small enough to throw in a backpack and take to the LAN party down the block. Now if only they made foldable monitors…
Featuring AMD’s latest R9 design, the R9 290, the R929OC-4GD features 4GB of GDDR5 RAM and a 1.04 GHz core clock. It outputs to an HDMI port, a Display Port and two DVI ports. It also supports a max resolution of 4096×2160, so everyone trying to get a leg up on the new 4k wave, this card has you covered with the HDMI or DP ports.
The R929OC-4GD also supports DirectX 11.2 and OpenGL 4.3. Somehow, Gigabyte also managed to cram all of this into a 2 slot design, making it easy to Crossfire this bad boy.
If you’re looking for the latest AMD has to offer, Gigabyte has a card with all the right specs.
You can hear our full discussion here:
I wasn’t sure if I should include this in gaming or hardware, but since I got to play with an Oculus last, it’s improved its hardware so much that I felt it was best to talk about its components.
The fine people at Oculus sat me down and let me play Couch Knights, a small demo game in which you control little warriors fighting each other in a living room. It looks something like this:
I think the best part of the demo was being told to look around to get my bearings. Left was fine, right was fine, up was fine, down was temporarily terrifying. I this demo, you’re a static body sitting down, so when I looked down, I saw limbs that were not my own positioned very similarly to my own body. And my brain couldn’t handle it. For about a second, I had a feeling like “OH MY GOD I CAN’T MOVE MY BODY WHOSE LIMBS ARE THOoh wait, right, VR.” So cool.
The Oculus Rift will be hitting retail shelves this year and if my hunch is right, will have better hardware than even this design does currently. Get hyped!