A look at Da New Guys-Day of the Jackass: A Super Fun Indie Action Title

In the world of pop-culture there are many things I enjoy, but two certain interests developed around the same time. My love point n’ click adventure games and my almost addictive enjoyment of sports entertainment/professional wrestling. Both these interests have evolved over the years even if the actual subjects haven’t. The best of point n click games are still interesting, but not heavy intensive art work with quirky dialogue, cool characters, a wacky plot and interesting puzzles. Wrestling has generally been the same since my childhood, quick paced action with some slow down, colorful larger than life characters, story lines that are a mix of reality and the completely unrealistic.

In the recently released game “Da New Guys: Day of the Jackass”, programmer, artist and designer Chris Burton has found a way to merge the two. Although one would say it’s much more Hulk Hogan’s Rock n Wrestling cartoon as classic adventure game, it still makes for a funny, ridiculous and crazy game.

That isn’t to say it’s without flaws. The art isn’t completely polished (but definitely has charm and is a big advance from the 8bit graphics of the first non-commercial gae), some of the later puzzles fall into the trap of being mini-games, but all together it is worth your time along with the original game which is available for free.

I had the pleasure/privilige to shoot Chris Burton a few questions via e-mail before the game officially came out and I’ve been sitting on his excellent answers for awhile. I can only hope that if my short review didn’t make you have interest, the following with links and various screenshots will.

1.) What was the deal with the bear head in the arena in Da New Guys?

That goofy-looking bear is based on my baby brother’s old teddy, who we used to make all kinds of dumb stories about when we were kids. It’s kind of an in-joke that nobody but us would get, which is why it’s not very prominent, but good old Bear’s present and correct in Day of the Jackass too!

2.) What was the original inspiration for Da New Guys? Was it always wrestling based or did the characters come first?

The characters always come first. Wrestling obviously plays a big part, but I think the heart of any Da New Guys story always has to be about the characters – I don’t think it would work if the story was ever just “they have to win the match so they can become champions”.

That said, the trio came about through playing a “true” wrestling game – Smackdown 2 on the good old PSOne. It had a really great create-a-wrestler mode, and then play with them through auto-generated storylines. I made the three heroes, then the game would make up rivalries for them to get involved in. Brain had a stick-on goofy smile, Simon was always grumpy, and so the characters just grew from there.

3.) Defender looks a lot like Cobra Commander, what’s the story there?

Google tells me that’s from G.I. Joe, so it isn’t intentional – though the comic-book influence definitely is. He’s a bit of a comic-book geek, and has a bit of a “hero complex”, so his costume tries to reflect that. His first appearance had more of a “samurai warrior” vibe, but it got refined and smoothed out over time to make it more original. Also, for as-yet unexplained reasons he wears a helmet to stay anonymous!

4.)I believe I noticed Kurt Angle in the first game in the Gym, is that correct?

It is! All thanks to a lack of texturing ability and easy-access to online images. I loved that Kurt was so over-the-top and in love with himself, but unlike Brain he’s actually a decent wrestler.

5.)Who are some of your favorite wrestlers? Also what are some of your favorite wrestling stories/angles?

I’ve been out of tune with wrestling lately – most of my memories are from the late 90s. Macho Man’s up there at the top – who can’t laugh every time he shouts? I loved any moment William Regal would try to “educate” the fans by showing them proper table manners – wrestling’s known for its stereotyping but I think that’s all part of the fun. The family issues between Vince and Shane McMahon were also great – I think that was the main dramatic angle I was genuinely swept up in. Also: Doink the Clown!

6.)Who/What inspires your brand of comedy? Films/TV/Comedians

I like humour that’s got the right mix of being wacky but also based in reality. In the same way that the game’s art style has caricatured people in a perspective-correct world, I try to push things over-the-top but still have clear “rules” that ground it all (the characters can get hurt, for example). I used to watch a lot of British sitcoms like Only Fools and Horses, which was very character-based and had a simple but charming humour to it. Unfortunately though, my cynicism’s growing and these days I’m more into comedians like Doug Stanhope.

Wallace & Gromit‘s more of a direct influence, I’d say, because of how well they manage to blend action and comedy together. The chase scene in A Close Shave is a perfect example of that: it’s wholly entertaining, and it’s got a very good mix of genuine jokes with geniune thrills.

7.)What are your full aspirations for Da New Guys? You’ve developed an animation and now finally have the second game, is there a next step or did the process of over 9 years betwen games drain that dream?

My ambitions grow with each project, and each one takes more and more effort, so I think any potential “next step” for Da New Guys would really be huge. I’ll never say no to anything else DNG-related, but I think another game would be so ambitious I’d have to really think hard about how to go about it properly. If people respond well to their first sequel, I’d certainly be very enthused to do another one!

8.)In terms of construction, how much of the game is all you(not counting the music) and what did Wadjeteye bring to the table?

Wadjet Eye got involved very late in development, so up until the middle of last year it was all me. That said, I think having Wadjet Eye on board massively improved the game. The story and pacing was final, but in an adventure game it’s the small moments and details that matter, and I got a ton of feedback. Not just from the excellent testers, but Dave and Emily were both very open about what they liked and didn’t like, which really helped me bash the game into shape. There were a couple of moments in the game where, looking back, the puzzles really weren’t so intuitive, and they were great to bounce new ides off of.

Wadjet Eye also gave me a whole bunch of voice actors! The first Da New Guys game was all voiced by myself, and it’s pretty obvious. While there are a lot of new characters in the sequel, there are some returning as well, but Dave was able to get some great replacements who I really wish I was able to get at the time I made the first one.

9.)I noticed in the art gallery that the characters started out as 3D models which you then drew over for Day of The Jackass, what was the thinking process for this decision?

The main reason the game took so long to make was because for a long time it really lacked the polish I wanted it to have, and the low-budget was painfully obvious when it came to animation. I can’t animate 2D at all, so when – after having learnt 3D animation – I discovered a way to animate in 3D space and rotoscope the frames into the game, the answer was obvious. It was a very elaborate and time-consuming job to convert the 3D to 2D, but I think it paid off really well, and let me come up with new puzzles that took advantage of it. Whereas before it was difficult enough to make a character hold their hand out, now I could make them kick, climb ladders, and do whatever I wanted. That freedom really meant I didn’t have to cut a puzzle or be less ambitious in a cutscene, just because I wouldn’t be able to portray it.

I’m really glad you’re enjoying it so far, and thanks for the interest!

I finally finished the game various times since that interview and slowly but surely getting this article up for print since the game became officially available at the end of February/almost beginning of March.  It is currently on sale from Wadgeteye Games and for $10 is worth it for anyone who enjoys funny point n click adventures with full stories and enjoyable characters.  There are arguments that can be made that NO ONE would want to help The Brain and that’s true, but I can think of many popular comedies full of annoying, stupid characters that we enjoy following… Mr. Bean, Peter Griffin, etc. and luckily for most of the game one plays the more enjoyable courageous, interesting guy that you wonder why he even hangs with these guys and the tough, grumpy, gruff guy that makes you wonder why he hangs with these guys.  It’s that awesome triumverite we’ve seen before and done well in an animated indie cartoon adventure.

Kickstarter Projects you should check out (March 22, 2012)

SPIKE-A Love Story Too: A one man video game production of a sequel to an excellent flash game with humor, cool graphics and ingenious ideas about gaming. The sequel promises to be bigger and better with an Atari mode, a Bob Ross mode and a Visual novel mode.

Cavegirl Fudge: A big part of my weight loss is finding new products that would allow me to enjoy the pleasure and still keep my weight down. These girls are making fudge I can eat. No sugar, fat free dairy… all that good stuff. New York is full of companies making healthy chocolate, but none of them are making FUDGE.

BEYOND-The Adventure Short: This could be one really interesting little film and the director’s previous effort Paradox is great.

The Gills – Motor Running EP Release: Some good music and tons of charisma from a rock band of four brothers, well, two brothers and two brothers.

The Last Of McGuinness: A documentary of professional wrestling’s Nigel McGuiness (Desmond Wolfe in TNA) final wrestling tour before retirement, he visited tons of wrestlers who like him had the talent, know how and skill, but was never given the ball in the big leagues. Stories, road trip, history, looks like a good one.

The Little Red Bird : A Multi lingual children’s storybook designedd to be offered for free as an e-book, but also making limited edition traditional style book.

I Was A Teenage Michael Jackson Impersonator: Keith “Keef” Knight wants to do his first original graphic novel and like all his work it’s autobiographical.

PULP BOY film: Great movie project with an awesome star lined up (Allen Enlow who you might recognize from commercials and web series) and to be made from a script by crime writers Victor Gischler and Anthony Neil Smith.

Professor Cat’s ‘Mazing Machine : I’m not sold on the puzzle game the developer is making cause it’s not my kind of thing, but the design of Professor Cat by artist Caldwell Tanner is awesome.

Borthaniel : Comic book about a genetically engineered teddy bear like thing. Maybe a little much Boris The Bear looking, but still cool.

Manga Animated Music Video for original song by Cristina Vee, pretty self explanatory. Here’s Cristina’s Youtube.

Album for Johnny BHive called Jaggar Jones-Poetry in Motion. I listened to some of his stuff at ReverbNation and it’s pretty good.

I’ve started looking at IndieGoGo as well for possibly interesting projects and here are two:

The Bret Braddock Adventures: An awesome web comic collection from Australia about the production of a ridiculous TV show. Great art work and really funny.

What is it Katy?: Another collection of a fascinating web comic that was done as an experiment and turned out excellent.


Nerd Notes for March 21, 2012 (Mostly Video Games Edition)

The Act: An upcoming iPhone and Mac game which is basically an interactive 2D cartoon.  Sort of like I’d say Dragon’s Lair but at a much higher level of gaming and style of humor.  Having better animation than Don Bluth would be asking too much, but The Act still looks like some high quality fun.

Katawa Shoujo: A Free Interactive Visual Novel based in bishojo, it had it’s birth in 4Chan of all places.  It’s for a really niche market, but that a joke became a real project with good art and music after 5 years is amazing and, it’s free, so don’t complain.

YESTERDAY from Pendulo Studios: Most known for entertaining, funny and highly adventurous modern point n click games with awesome cartoon graphics, Pendulo goes a new route of horror and suspense.  It’s still a point n click and uses their usual art style, but it should be an interesting twist.  Pendulo, Daedelic and Click Shake are the three best companies doing the point n click except for of course Double Fine who will be making hopefully the next big adventure game.

Drew Wise – Pixel Artist:  An excellent artist who also makes greatly designed shirts based mostly in video games but with some pop-culture too.  His Beetlejuice shirt design it awesome.  I’m done with shirts after my Remus and Liam shirt and my eventual DFA shirt (and any shirts I might get as promos at a Comic-Con), but you should get it.

Jón Kristinsson-PointnClicking: Inspired by Double Fine’s return to adventure game making, this artist started doing quality pieces based on his favorite classics.

High Vaultage:  Simple controls, but awesome cute pixel graphics, cute music and addictive.

Jason Boyer: Great artist who dabbles in design, illustration, animation, pixel art and games.

Nerd Notes 3/12/2012

While it’s nice that Microsoft still offers Movie Maker 2.6 for folks who don’t like or need a more refined software than the dumbed down Windows Live Movie Maker, it’s not the same thing as Vista Movie Maker a free program only available through Vista.  That software will work on a Windows 7 machine and luckily Techbliss is offering it.

When “Clerks 2” came out William Garvey, composer and writer of the Q Lazzarus hit track “Goodbye Horses” made famous in “Silence of the Lambs” did a remix for the film, this more uppy, happy, transcendant version was never released, but again in a turn of luck, William Garvey put it on his website for the world.

Edward Pun, an artist at Sucker Punch Productions, makers/creators of the video games Sly Fox &  inFAMOUS edits a collection of comics by other Sucker Punch artists called ATOMIC LEAD , they include work by Dev Madan, former DC artist and co-creator of Young Heroes in Love and artist on the Sly Fox comic produced in 2004.

In The Darkness II video game there is a short film featured on a TV, they show the entire flick, but you can’t zoom into it, something about the movie felt like it was something they borrowed from elsewhere and I was correct.  It’s called The Other Gods, a short silent film desigbed and sold as if it’s from the 20’s, except it was made in the aughties. (The Other Gods)

There’s quite a few OZ films coming out in 2012 including the animated Dorothy of OZ and a prequel starring James Franco, but another is a Sequel/Reimaging from BBC Films called Dorothy and The Witches of OZ which borrows from the concepts of other modern retellings such as the Wonderland miniseries and Once Upon A Time.

The live action trailer for video game SLEEPING DOGS the formerly titled True Crime-Hong Kong,  is really a quality production,  I’m as excited about this game as I have been since day one of its existence and through it’s troubled turmoil life cycle.

Here’s a video of Paul Williams in full “Planet of The Apes” make-up and costume from a Tonight Show with Johnny Carson episode (via Rock* games)

No trailer or website exists from Billy Bob Thorton’s Jayne Mansfield’s Car, but between the cast, plot and it being a Thorton flick, I’m quite excited as it’s been 11 years since Billy Bob wrote/directed.

Something Else by Dried Brains is an example of simple Flash cartoons that can be high quality and hilarious are alive and well.

If you like indie musicians, ukulele and The Beatles, I have the website/project for you.  Some of my favorite indie folks and friends have been involved in this one including Bree Sharp, Alyson Greenfield, Andrew Vladeck and many more.

I’m not sold on HTML 5 but this scrollable comic called SOUL REAPER is a good example of what can be done.

Law & Order’s Legacy Continues in Interactive Format

I was twelve years old when Law & Order began its long run on NBC. The show didn’t really hit its stride till the late great Jerry Orbach joined the cast in the second season along with S. Epatha Merkeson in my personal opinion and truly didn’t reach excellence till Sam Waterson joined as Jack McCoy. All that can be easily argued, but suffice it to say I’ve been a fan since day one. Criminal Intent was quickly my favorite show because of the awesomeness of D’Onofrio’s Goren and Kathryn Erbe’s Eames, but SVU always held my interest through and might actually top CI as a favorite with Meloni’s Stabler, Hartigay’s Benson and Wong’s Dr. Huang. Through the new shows though I still always loved the original and it’s various pairings. Logan was the original guy, but once teamed with Brisco he just reached levels of awesomeness and anyone who teamed with Lennie was automatically awesome, especially Rey Curtis. The way they wrote Benjamin Bratt’s character out was tragic, but the return to who he was in 2009 was just as tragic and never had any followup.

All this build up brings us to be able to discuss the new Telltale game for iOS and eventually PC, Law & Order: Legacies. Written and developed by Ryan Kaufman with production from Dave Felton, the game attempts to actually create in many a season of Law and Order that could’ve made it to the airwaves, alongside the fantasy of stories never told. It’s definitely a professional approved fan fiction, but it’s a well done one with creativity and an attempt at as much accuracy as possibly allowed by the production’s budget and limits. I found it interesting that Arie Kaplan who worked on the HOUSE M.D. games and is an accomplished journalist worked on Episode 2.

Unlike Telltale’s Back To The Future which featured the talents of original BTTF stars Christopher Lloyd, and Claudia Wells, the Law & Order game were not able to procure talent such as Benjamin Bratt, S. Epatha Merkeson, or Linus Roach among others such as obviously the dearly departed Jerry Orbach. Yet despite this, between quality voice acting and top notch art, the original actors are surely missed, but do not result in causing a distraction. Among the talent are voice over actress Cissy Jones, poet/musician Kid Beyond who has worked for Telltale previously, musician/voice actress Rashida Clendening, and many of the people who have worked with Telltale on other productions. The one voice they were able to retain was Steve Zirnkilton, the Voice of Law & Order, as well as that pretty critical Mike Post composition.

In playing this I had really wanted to replay the Vivendi/Legacy Law & Order games which had the use of the real actors, but as I remembered featured mail it in performances as well as writing and tons of bugs, yet, I wanted to try and do a track record of these type of games, as well as comparing them to Telltale’s CSI games. Yet in terms of style, content and conception, Legacies is its own entity based much more in paying attention to clues and having a good eye, while the previous games were based more in choosing the right random dialogue tree and beating annoying minigames like tile, match and also match and sometimes peck and hunt.

While I’ve only gotten to play the first two episodes, I wanted to reflect on the plot as there was a real attempt here to create something original here. The game in the first episode seems to take place shortly after season 12 and before Season 13. Detective Rey Curtis after a few years since his wife’s passing in 2009 and moving back to NYC is prompted by his daughters to return to the force instead of moping around. He someone gets automatically put back on the 27th Precinct run by Lt. Van Buren where he and Lennie Briscoe partnered. His first case in which he hasn’t been given a partner is a murder which also turns up rape evidence, Detective Benson from the 16th is called up to join the investigation as her partner is “on leave”, which is probably Benson not wanting to accept that Elliot actually quit, that is the only thing that makes sense unless Ryan Kaufman messed up his L&O timelines . That now gives us the Legacy of two major L & O characters becoming temporary partners on a major case, which once the suspect was revealed probably should’ve been turned over to Goren and Eames, but that’s splitting hairs. That case takes a quick left turn during trial and it is up to Michael Cutter and Abby Carmichael to clean up the mess. This must be before Cutter ends up as the new Bureau Chief of ADAs who work on SVU cases. A sidenote in the story reveals a connection between this case and a cold case Briscoe and Curtis worked on years ago.

In chapter two we are sometime between 1995 and 1999, probably closer to 99 based on the statement that the cold case took place 10 years ago from the first episode’s story, although for the time line to work it had to be at least 11-12 years ago, but one can say I’m nitpicking. This is an untold case of Briscoe and Curtis looking into the possible murder of a young father who died steps from his door step. The investigation follows all logical steps and Jack McCoy and Abby Carmichael have to use everything they can to convict in a case that isn’t not exactly as clear cut as one would hope. During the episode we discover a little more information on the Cold Case mentioned in Episode one and that it wasn’t just cold but closed, and that Lennie had been working on it on his own time. I spoil this information here so that fans and potential gameplayers who have yet to try the game out are aware there is an over arching storyline which seems to promise that while each episode is playable on its own, the full purchase will be definitely worth it.

Plot out of the way a very quick discussion of gameplay. So far the game is broken into two sections much like the TV show. We open with an investigation which includes listening to answers, hearing stories and a bit of a “find the item” type of minigame which actually has some thought put into it and allows for some cool looking backgrounds. The questions section will ask at certain points if you believe someone or feel you’ve caught them in a lie or that information provided was accurate and if you answer that correctly, a multiple choice will ask you the why of the answer. These mulptiple choices can be tricky as they can be worded incorrectly. Getting an answer wrong won’t end your game, but it may lead to a different result when it comes to the trial. Once all investigations are done, you go into court room mode. Here when interviewing a witness on the stand it is much like the interview investigations, but the twist comes in the properly placing objections and doubt when the defense is up at bat. There is also a closing arguments segment where you must properly choose what subjects to bring up. There are chances of losing, winning by jury or even offering a plea bargain which allows multiple gameplays just to see those scenes play out.

While I have not yet played the just released episode 3 which introduces Detective Logan to the story as returning to the force after quitting Major Case, trying out the real world and deciding he had to be a homicide detective, I definitely look forward to it and seeing where else the game and story go. Maybe with four episodes to go we might even get appearances from Lupo or Munch. Since this game was supposed to originally be a Law & Order: L.A. game there’s a chance will get a cameo from Connie Rubierosa who has decided that California just wasn’t doing it for her. Either way Telltale has shown that they can handle telling original stories, with gameplay that should be acceptable for all levels of gameplayers from the beginners to the veterans and a plotline that should be satisfying to all levels of fans of Law & Order as well.

FAVORITE CONSOLE GAMES of 2011

Back to the Future-The Game: With Bob Gale along as a supervisor, Mike Stemmle and Andy Hartzell, a fourth Back to the Future movie was realized. One just needs to completely ignore most of Back to the Future: The cartoon to enjoy it. It’s a very easy game, making it much more an interactive story than an adventure game, but that seems to be what TellTale is going for these days based on Law & Order: Legacies which is really well done, but very easy. What makes BTTF: The Game so special of course is Christopher Lloyd. His inclusion on voicing Doc takes this from a fun detour into a real project worthy of favorite.

Catherine: This Japanese Tetris like game has a lot going for it. While the majority of the gameplay is simply a hardcore variation on Tetris, Bejeweld, etc. it has an overlapping story with adventure game elements holding it together. Combined with absolutely stunning anime sequences produced by Studio 4°C (who incidentally did the anime sequences for one of my favorite games of all time Rogue Galaxy) and soundtrack of classical tunes remixed by Shoji Meguro, it is an amazing entry into video gaming and a game changer of what is capable in terms of basic being innovated.

Fight Night Champion: I have gotten to play the Champion mode of this game (by choice), but as a compelling original boxing tale with awesome combat controls it was one of the best experiences I have had with a video game. As a movie with interactive elements its actually on top as that, with a great script from Oscar nominated Will Rokos, good voice acting including video game veteran and popular actress Elisha Dushko, really quality realistic animation and the fact that’s its based in boxing really gives it an edge and I can see myself coming back to it even in years to come.

Infamous 2: Between Uncharted 3, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and Skyrim it seems like the second chapter of Sucker Punch’s two games in one super hero saga has been forgotten. In the second game we get an even more realized and cooler world in a New Orleans-esque town. Cooler enemies with the zombie vampire like swamp creature horde and a more intriguing story with continuations of the first game but giving us now two protagonists, two sides to choose from and your special sidekick. Infamous 2 was everything Infamous was and more. Throwing in the ability to create your own levels or play user created levels, a first for a third person action adventure game on a console where the developer actually approved and helps distribute the mods, it was a gem among the horde.

L.A. Noire: The story in L.A. Noire and the acting is top notch, as is the clue gathering, the conversations. It’s a great conceptual answer to an interactive version of a 1940’s cop film with as much accuracy as allowed, with some intriguing twists of inaccuracy, because really… a fully realized game would probably be boring. The characters are fully realized, not just by the performances that the technology developed for the game allows, but by the actual writing itself. Alongside Quantic Dream’s David Cage, I see former Team Bondi’s Brendan McNamara one of those videogame writer/director’s who will create very few, but very powerful, interesting, critically popular games full of strong script, concept and final product. L.A. Noire was the Heavy Rain of 2011 and more people got to play it, since Heavy Rain was a PS3 exclusive and still is.

Yakuza 4: The latest iteration of the Yakuza series before they went “Kill Zombies” in the next game lost some of its flavor by telling four different stories from four different characters instead of just focusing on The Dragon, but it gained another flavor and various techniques of intrigue. Four characters means four fighting styles, four different personalities and four different side missions. Some of them are huge side missions which I have to believe you can work on when you beat the whole thing, because I have not got that far yet. This is a huge epic game with more options of things to even more so than Yakuza 3. Training fighters, bowling tournaments, parkour challenges, fishing, more food to learn about, more drinks to discover, fishing, bating cages with better technique, and just so much more, more, more.

BONUS iOS

Jetpack Joyride: Hardcore addicting and adorable, the most recent Barry Steakfries game which is probably a prequel has no ending, you just keep playing, then you die and you try again. I don’t think there’s an end at least. Maybe there’s a way you can reach the super end if you unlock everything and spend extra money to get coins… I don’t know. I do know it’s super addictive and really fun. It’s currently still free so if you an iPhone or iPad I’d go grab it.

Where’s My Water?: Disney Mobile’s first original game and the game that actually beat out Angry Birds for top selling iTunes App Store game may be considered a cheap choice especially with my console favorite choices, but in terms of iOS games compared to video games, sales do generally mean quality and proof of concept. Some of my favortie games of all time in all history were definitely not the best selling, or even critically best, but they are my favorites. Swampy is adorable, he’s so adorable he’s getting an original web series in a couple days.

Console Games scheduled for 2012 that catch my attention

Be aware that I like puzzle games, adventure games and third person action adventure games with platforming.

I Am Alive: An Ubisoft productiion, the trailer shows an awesome combination of platforming, third person action, puzzles, first person shooting and more. Currently scheduled for XBLA and PSN. The game looks a bit big for digital release, but maybe that’s a good thing.

Hitman-Absolution: After watching a nail biting gameplay sequence on the official website showing awesome stealth, timing and shooting mechanics I am totally sold on the first ever PS3 Hitman.

Devil May Cry: As developer Ninja Theory will not be doing a sequel to Enslaved, seeing their work continued in some fashion in a fascinating looking game is what I’ll settle for. I have no connection to the DMC games, so a reboot is right up my alley.

Papo & Yo : Another digital only, this time PSN only, has amazing art and gameplay with seems puzzles meet third person adventure.

Tomb Raider: No gameplay has shown up for the reboot, but I trust in the company to create another excellent game full of everything I like.

Max Payne 3: I’ve been a fan since day 1, got Payne on XBox and PC and Payne 2 on PC. Got to see what they’re doing with Payne 3 at New York Comic Con and I was sold.

The Last of Us: Sure no gameplay yet, but it’s Naughty Dog and it has a great cast. Also from what I understand one of the main guys who worked on Enslaved spearheaded this.

A.M.Y.: Sure it’s ANOTHER zombie survival horror game, but it’s a PSN title and it’s made by the man who gave us Flashback all those years ago.

Inversion: Third person shooter with physics tricks and gameplay? Yes please and thank you.

Neverdead: Ever since the first gameplay of this I was on board. You’re body can fall apart and then you find it and as you gather a body part you can keep fighting and you can just keep getting your arm or leg ripped off and just grab it again but shoot with the other arm? Plus the story trailer was hilarious!

Lollipop Chainsaw: Hot chick, super awesome graphics, extreme violence, 3rd person action and Suda51? Ok!

Journey: thatgamecompany has not disappointed. Cloud, flOw and Flower were three very different but amazing games and I look forward to seeing what they’re latest which has had a much longer development time can bring.

Testament of Sherlock Holmes: Frogwares has been doing Sherlock games for the PC for a long time now, with interesting and original stories in the Holmes tradition including having him go against Jack the Ripper and Arsène Lupin. This will be the fifth game in the series and the first to be designed with PS3 and XBox in mind. They upgraded their gengine from scratch and look to have retained/returned to their more popular third person camera with first person probably now being the optional camera view. I’ve actually gotten to enjoy these games and feel they have a good handle on the character. While all renditions of Holmes have their incencretities, these are some of the funnest next to the BBC modern show and the Guy Ritchie films.

Silent Hill-Downpour: Traditionally the Silent Hill games have caused me frustration more than anything, but the latest version is from a brand new developer and is just using the premise of the Silent Hill ghost town to tell another survival horror action adventure. With IDW editor and Silent Hill comics writer Tom Waltz on story duties and music from Dan Licht.

Binary Domain: An action shooter from the producer of the Yakuza games and the producer of Vanquish? There seems to be some innovative squad based actions as well, yet still all in single player third person mode… so basically like elements from the Mass Effect games, but with a different fundamental. The videos for this look awesome.

Tribute to those fallen in 2011 Part 4

I repeat the initial paragraph here so you do not have to reference it after three prior posts.  I’ve always felt it necessary to look back on what people who had an impact on my pop-culture history and in some cases my real life. In the past I’ve written these obits with the most marginal of information, but I’ve always broken it down by categories. Frequently there would be people I’ve missed people or even complete categories as my heart and soul weakens as I organize this work. This is the first time this type of writing is showing up on Pop-Culture Spectrum. It will appear in approximately five parts and then a final collection post of linking for those who don’t go backward in blog reading. In each category it is broken down alphabetically and the age of the person and their cause is in parentheses after. Each category will have its own specialties.  This time I shall have more than one category as their sections are not long enough for an entire post.  They will have links where available.

AUTHORS/PUBLISHING/BOOKS

Michael S. Hart (64- heart attack): The founder of Project Gutenberg and by extension the e-book, he can be both thanked and blamed for the kindle, the nook, iBooks, comixology and many more. Yet without him, public domain books in easily accessible digital formats, be they .doc, .txt, .pdf, or .epub would not exist so I am eternally thankful.

Christopher Hitchens (62- esophageal cancer): One of the greatest minds of our generation, he wrote what needed to be written and said what needed to be said. Christopher Hitchens chose to be a controversial, derisive figure among analysts, political experts and the such. He was the non comedian version of George Carlin, with more bite, more vitriol and definitely way more to the point. He called a spade a spade and then he beat the shit out of that spade and stuck it up your mom’s bum and called it an idiot for even believing in not believing. Of course he wasn’t a perfect thought maker, like anyone of his measure and opinions, he had to get something wrong one in awhile or “wrong” as the case may be. His words and bravery to spread those words will be truly missed, but luckily he was quite prolific and left behind an amazing legacy.

Brian Jacques (71- heart attack): My bookshelf proudly holds various Redwall books, including an early version of the comic adaptation. These fantasy tales of anthropomorphic mice and more are brilliant and of course had to be a major influence on Scott Petersen’s Mouse Guard. Yet, it is Jacques other series that truly took my fancy and placed him among one of my favorite writers ever. The book, Castaways of the Flying Dutchman, was followed by two sequels which I have unfortunately only read one, but it and Angel’s Command are amazing works and cement Jacques.

Anne McCaffrey (85- stroke): The Dragonriders of Pern series was used very often to introduce children to adult science novels, when it was time for them to graduate. Not me in particular, I got started with Douglas Adams and Robert Heinlein between 10-13. Eventually I found my way to McCaffrey, devouring at a young age Dragonflight and such, but for whatever reason I didn’t stick with her completely. I found myself gravitated to Isaac Asmov, Ray Bradbury, Roger Zelaney, etc. but I know how amazing the Pern books are and I absolutely adored the Dreamcast/PC game, despite the fact that it was heavily panned.

VIDEO GAMES

Bill Kunkel (61- heart attack): The Godfather of Video Game Journalism, he helped start the engine that has allowed Game Informer, Game Trailers.com, IGN, and even G4 to exist. While video games by their own existence became the phenomenon they did, Kunkel started the ball rolling that made them an excepted concept. So much so that you see video game reviews in GQ, Vanity Fair, Playboy and even The New York Times.

Takeshi Miyaji (45- unspecified): One the true pioneers of console gaming design. He worked on my favorite J-RPG of all time LUNAR as well as the GRANDIA series. While his work on LUNAR is not what turned the game into a forefrunt of love for me. That being the amazing animated sequences done for Silver Story Complete developed by Toshiyuki Kubooka and the amazing story written by Kei Shigema, but Takeshi was the spearhead behind making sure the original product existed and without him, Working Designs would never made the absolutely two thrilling North American Collector’s Editions which I am obscenely proud to own… including my Ghaleon punching doll.

Will Townsend (33- car accident): This young game producer helped on the DJ Hero project as well as other games at Activision.   Gamasutra’s tribute article is a  good read.

PERSONALITIES who don’t fit a single category

Edmund Snow Carpenter (88- natural causes): Visionary and anthropological genius, he opened the doors to the future of documentary work and historical analysis. Without him, visual anthropology and films which explored society through media would’ve never reached it’s pinnacle as both an accepted art form and as accepted academic research tool. He was an amazing writer and documentarian and you can get a feel for his work at this website if you aren’t familiar.

Steve Jobs (56- complications of pancreatic cancer): I was planning to keep this simple and state that I own an iPhone and I’m addicted to the thing, but Steve Jobs was so much more than this. When he left Apple and before he purchased Pixar he started a company which would go on to develop the software used by Apple for most of it’s current OS and digital products. It was his purchase of Pixar and helping steer the Disney deal in place that really cements his legend for me though. While he was only the business end there, it was his clear minded vision to see the future that allowed the future to exist and it is that vision that will continue to steer the future as it comes.

Jack Kevorkian (83 – thrombosis from cancer): If he wasn’t such an amazing presence on screen and speak such an important message which he was wrongly imprisoned for; and they didn’t make a compelling biofilm with Al Pacino (in one of those rare bothering to act roles) and John Goodman, I probably wouldn’t acknowledge his passing, but such as it is.

Jack LaLanne (96- pneumonia): The guru of fitness, the man also has some of the sickest feats of strength in history. Swimming shackled to Alkatraz Island at over 40? Doing it again at 60?  Then something similar including pulling boats at 70? The man was a beast. Not enough of us (myself included) listen to his words of advice. He was a wise man who lived a fulfilled crazy life with a TV show, fame, books, and living legend status. Us stubborn, weak willed individuals (myself included) should have listened to him more. It’s not too late though, not too late.

Don Lapre (47- apparent suicide from cut throat & blood loss) : Con Man and infomercial master! If you never saw this dude growing up or as a teen or who knows how old you are… whatever. This dude sold vitamins, tips on how to make money by BUYING ads in newspapers and even tried to sell his scam skills to help people create infomercials to sell scam products. Man had guts… but the coward couldn’t handle it when the feds decided to throw the book at him. Instead of taking it like a man, he killed himself. Still he didn’t rape anyone, he just robbed them blind. He did it really entertainingly though.

Zoogz Rift (58- health complications): A long time ago in what feels like another galaxy I was very good internet friends with Zoogz Rift. We would e-mail each other back and forth, sharing wrestling theories, musical concepts and artistic visions. I even wrote a comprehensive biography of Bob which sits somewhere in my files. Writer, painter, avante garde musician and professional wrestling manager and booker, Zoogz, was quite the interesting cat. A man with many awesome successes and equally failures, but somehow a man who always bounced back and found a platform and to display his energy and entertainment and who definitely made his mark along the way in many lives. I still treasure my School of the Criminally Insane T-shirt which I will proudly display in any punk rock music video I ever make or any professional wrestling appearance I ever get lucky enough to be involved in again, even one of my own making and money.

New York Comic Con 2011 Overview Part 4

SUNDAY – DAY 4

I ended up waking up much later than planned and found myself rushing out of the house to at least catch my 12:15 Press session with J.Q. Quintel of “Regular Show” and Pendelton Ward of “Adventure Time” along with other writers and voice talent from the show including Tom Kenny.

From there I had about an hour or two to kill before a scheduled interview with Dave Gilbert of Wadjeteye Games. That interview was amazing and will be on this site sooner than later, probably this week. My mother’s hospital stay has delayed a lot of things.

In between I enjoyed many of the various booths I had missed on other days. I saw video games, indie publishers I hadn’t seen in years, had great conversations, saw amazing cosplay, took photos and all that jazz.

I stood on my feet as long as I could and even considered doing my traditional see what’s left over from booth destruction/left over, but the madhouse made me just feel best to get the hell out of Javits and not deal with people anymore.

I made plans to meet with my best friend Nick and figure out something fun to do for his birthday which we went and did.

New York Comic Con 2011 Overview Part 1

To get a clearer idea of where my head was in a jumbled state and the factor of this being possibly a serious mishmosh, let’s set some background.

I’m working from memory mostly, with the notes of my schedule for reference. Twitter and Facebook were impossible to get onto while in Javits. I tried, and was successful sometimes, but mostly nope, so my notes are photos, videos, what I bought, sketches and my good ol noggin. Another thing to note is that on Wednesday my mom admitted herself back into the hospital. She was there throughout the weekend and is still there as I write this on Monday night. It is nothing serious and they are getting down to the bottom to various problems she has had lately, but it added a stress factor to what usually is my most exciting weekend I New York for the last six years.

DAY ONE- Thursday

I got to the convention center and down into the press room, registered and ready to hit the floor just around opening at 4. The first person I saw before even getting on the show floor was Steve Talkowski. He introduced me to Tim Jester and I got to see his GibbyGop figure while admiring the Tokidoki car as well.

For this first official preview night where I had no panels or scheduled press interviews or autograph sessions I wanted to hit up so it was all about hitting the floor, getting whatever goodies I could and seeing as much as I could before 7 PM hit and it was time for the Tom Morello concert.

I gave my hand at Dead Rising 2: Off The Record and I’m thinking I’ll want it eventually, although I’ve yet to beat Dead Rising 2. A lot of the game booths pertained to genres I didn’t care about or had no interest in, but at least Ubisoft was there with some Assassin’s Creed and their game for the TinTin film. I played that and found it really fun.

Over at the Rockstar booth they were showing off the 10th anniversary edition of GTA3 which is a port for mobile devices and tablets. I got the feel for it and with some final tweaking it’ll definitely find new life on iPhones/pad/droids/whatever.

They were also showing Max Payne 3 in an early build in a closed off room. I’m thinking I’m probably not even supposed to TALK about the game, but damn it, it’s not video or photos, it’s just some dteails on awesomeness. They showed us a sequence flashback with Max Payne looking like his old self in New York City. In this wild sequence we find out why and how he ended up in the games main part of Brazil. They showed us the awesome mechanics and amazing graphics that are still in process, which means they’ll get even better. They then showed us a section of the Brazil part where Max is running around protecting his girl. The bullet time and final kill shots are just mesmerizing and there’s even SPECIAL bullet time sequences to allow for balls out ballistic kick ass action and Max is way more brutal now. After a dive he can be on the ground and turn around while still shooting. While Batman: Arkham City, Uncharted 3, and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations are going to keep me busy, I look super forward to Payne right now after that preview they gave us.

Walking the floor exploring awarded me seeing various other industry friends and acquaintances such as Dean Haspiel, Chris Miskiewicz, Joe Infurnari, Michel Fiffe and Kat Roberts (aka The ACT-I-VATE Crew) and in the Cultyard, Jared Deal. I also got to see the FIRST comics booth and had a good conversation with the owner of the returning publishing venture. I was also happy to see Jarret Williams, writer/artist of Super Pro K.O. from ONI Press. He was the first of the very few sketches I was able to pull off at the convention this year.

Other things of note were the awesome Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City action figures on display the DC Booth, the Hasbro Announcement of bringing back Jem and The Holograms and while I found the new Rayman game way challenging it looks freaking awesome and that visual standpoint should help it overcome it’s pretty high difficulty in 2-D platforming.

I also really enjoyed meeting street artist/cartoonist Tito Na Roa. When he hit New York City as part of visiting for NYCC he hit up the legends rooftop in Manhattan. I am hoping he somehow finds/found time to hit up more walls before going home, but even if he didn’t at least he solds his books at NYCC and his project is so mesmerizing.

Before the show floor closed on Sunday I was staring at Mattel’s collection of WWE figures, because no matter what I can’t seem to quit this shit. No matter how bad it gets. I’m still not the kind of fan they want though and never will be. My TV’s aren’t counted in market share, I don;t buy PPVs, I don’t go to live events, I don’t buy the toys and I criticize them left and right whenever I can. So I’m an addict, but at least I take my methodrone.

I almost decided to not go to the Tom Morello concert, but I am very glad I did. It was a super enjoyable and fun concert to listen and watch. He did a full amazing set of Night

I fell like I’m leaving out essential information in that the evening before I was off buying an iPhone and while I was about to go home is when my mother called me to tell me she was going into the hospital. She didn’t even know if she was being admitted till much later, which is why I wasn’t worried on Thursday. She wasn’t put into a room into late Thursday.

After the concert I went home knowing that the next few days were going to be intense and brutal.