Natural Selection 2: Launch Trailer

It’s nice to see some greater strides in FPS innovation lately.


Indie Spotlight: Sweetmilk

Every now and then, while perusing the vast informational highway of the interwebs, I’ll come across something that is both inspiring and interesting. Outside of all the pictures of cats in hats, dogs on computers, and hedgehogs holding hammers, there are some things that bubble to the surface. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you…Sweetmilk.

One might think that Sweetmilk is about the dainty exploits of a happy-go-lucky dairy farmer somewhere in the English country-side, or an orphaned cow who charms its way into the hearts of the farmers so it will never be butchered. It probably wouldn’t be someone’s first guess to think that it’s actually about a space captain and the serialized events that happen aboard his ship and on other planets. It certainly wasn’t mine.

Upon further review a feeling began to gloss over me. It wasn’t hungry, or even angry. It was excitement. The art design, backstory, and influences from other aspects of well-renowned sci-fi geekdome planted a desire to see this come to fruition. This is when I reached out to Jason and his team over in the UK to shed some daylight on where and when this show could be viewed by interested audiences such as myself.

Pictured above is the Sweetmilk team. A humble group of young creatives who were very proud to show what they have been working so hard on. I got to correspond with Jason Lee Weight, the creator of Sweetmilk, who provided a strong resume of sci-fi knowledge and inner workings of narrative from the get-go.

“Stylistically our main influences in making the visual aspect of this cartoon have been Cowboy Bebop, in terms of the slightly retro feel to the costumes and the lithe character design, and the later series of the Venture Bros,” he explained, “Which is truthfully just the most similar-looking thing in production in terms of background art and concept – because our series’ look is, I’m happy to say, quite unique.”

“In terms of story content, my influences, from major to minor, have been the humour and aimlessness of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” he continued “The wit and wordiness of Blackadder and Dr. Who, the antihero charm in FX’s Archer, and – I hope – the unpredictable silliness of Adventure Time. In terms of structure the series is very much serialised, and differs from all mainstream teen-to-adult cartoons in that the episodes roll over into each other, and part of the appeal is getting to know the characters as they develop. Most of the series, truthfully, isn’t about Sam at all, but instead focuses on elevating the secondary characters until they cease to be secondary.”

The goal of the Sweetmilk team is to finish out their pilot episode from their 3 minute sample animation. Originally penned for a pilot, Jason and his team quickly encountered the vast plain of concerns that any development team would encounter upon initiation.

“Once the characters were designed and I’d written most of the first series, I thought seriously about the problems of funding a new breed of cartoon. Who would trust the huge amounts of cash involved in animation to someone who a) had never had a project before, much less a successful one, and b) couldn’t give an example of a similar project that succeeded?”

Jason further elaborated, “Archer has been proving wrong the notion that adult cartoons need to be family-based sitcoms (Family Guy et al) or grouped together to survive (i.e. the Adult Swim subnetwork) but nothing like this has been done before, much less in England – a place whose animation industry has been largely restricted to advert shorts and Wallace and Gromit.”

To help chronicle their progress, the team has put out a series of shorts giving a humorous look into behind the curtains of their animation process. The wit here is obvious, with quick cuts used in comedic gems such as Arrested Development, and a confidence that seems to stem with a strong belief in what they are producing. Check out part one below.

There is a lot to get excited about on this series. The feel to this is crisp and refreshing, with a degree of humor that is lacking from a lot of modern comedies. Granted, what we’ve been able to view so far has been limited, but if the show is an extension of the same kind of comedic timing and cleverness that is coming from the promotional material then we might have a sleeper hit on our hands.

Check out their Facebook page for the latest updates and news from the team, their youtube channel, and keep checking us out here at Dork Torque, as we will be following this project with a lot of anticipation.


Resident Evil 6: Necessary Evil

By: Terence Gavin


Resident Evil for the Sony Playstation is in my opinion, a perfect game. Open-world game design spearheaded by the “Metroidvania” style promoted exploration and player ownership. Detailed canvas-like environments created an unnerving sense of realism and physicality. Challenging enemies were painstakingly hand placed to elicit both challenge and raw player emotion. A mature plot sewn together with care featured swirling intrigue and action surrounding a stranded squad of elite law enforcement in the mysterious halls of a dark brooding mansion. Puzzles seemed perfectly fit for this realm, each requiring a certain level of meditation before workable solutions presented themselves. Terror.

True terror as I had never experienced or believed was possible in the videogame format. Distant moans of the undead, gloomy hallways staring back at me, cutscene’s revealing unknown seemingly unstoppable enemies were just a few examples of the constant danger abound. A unique save system so perfectly couched in this world it never broke the fourth wall and provided both challenge and player devised stratagem. You were taxed to not only reach certain physical locations(typewriter) to save your progress, but the amount game saves per playthrough was limited by the need for an in-game item(inkribbon.) All of these aspects blended perfectly creating a rich, unforgettable experience still bright in many gamers’ psyches over a decade and a half later.


Resident evil 6 is a perfect disappointment. After having devoted 40+ hours into Capcoms most recent foray into the long running series, I can regretfully see why this game received such mediocre scores. RE6 is the lowest scoring numbered entrant in the franchise, with a combined console Metacritic rating hovering in the low 70’s. Considering the production values are second to none, this is without doubt a harsh but fair judgement of its unsatisfying gameplay mechanics. As with many big budget games in recent history, Call of Duty’s DNA is definitely abundant throughout. Multiple action-packed globetrotting campaigns where no boss fight is too grandiose, bullets are loosed by the thousands and every helicopter will crash in the now clichéd Black Hawk Down fashion. A skill system ala COD multiplayers’ perks where you can purchase 3 different skills to compliment and empower your preferred play style has even been adopted. It is perplexing how such a prominent franchise, managing to spawn the most successful movie crossover in videogame history would be so quick to shed the very genre it created. This is not survival horror.

The development team attempted, futilely, to shoehorn in familiar RE concepts and mechanics. Considering the leagues of enemies thrown in front of your path, ammo is strangely scarce. This design choice seems bizarrely counterintuitive with both pace and tone of this adrenaline-fueled action extravaganza. Upon completion of the campaigns, the player is then rewarded with the ability to purchase unlimited ammo skills to make subsequent playthroughs on harder difficulties much easier. Considering how instinctfully flawed many of the shooting and game mechanics felt, this seems to be the only way the highest difficulties could be tackled without instigating mass controller destruction by the players. Green and red herbs are still present for healing player health but seem so out of place in this modern setting that at times it’s almost laughable. Leon Kennedy’s campaign is a trite attempt at recovering the spirit of a survival horror game, and instead proves itself as a testament to the lack of player freedom and a failure to incite even nominal emotional reaction. This game has no pulse. Pun very much intended.


Resident Evil is not beyond saving. I believe we can construct a RE game that both satisfies diehard survival horror fans and modern action junkies alike. The key I believe is freedom. Let’s begin…

The first step is to decide on an environment for the game. Historically, RE games are centered around one engrossing location. RE1 featered a sprawling mansion that set a decidedly eerie tone of isolation. RE2 was host to the Raccoon City police department which helped propel a theme of societal collapse amidst escalating chaos. This is paramount, as a dramatic but realistically grounded environment captures the players attention, sets the mood and builds a sense of exploration and locality. Why labor to create hundreds of set pieces and spread them thin across the world when you can paint one singular realm? A Fitting location for the series should be large enough to elicit a sense of wonderment yet fundamentally isolate the character from rescue. An offshore oil platform, underground bunker system, remote military installation or cruise ship would all be natural options fulfilling this criteria.

Gone will be the linear level structure that is in my opinion a backwards leap to archaic game design. This will be an open world interconnected from the very first room until the final conflict. By instating multiple paths leading to the climax the player creates their own route to victory using instinct and emotion as a guide. With your new found key you have the option to leave the barracks, or continue clearing it room by room which has already proved so treacherous. Why not dive into the ventilation system towards destination unknown or unbar the doors to the mess hall in search of answers and treasured supplies? Every hidden item will be earned, every fight a sacrifice, every door opened an ambition.

Gameplay will still use the 3rd person over the shoulder camera which proves to be the best modern interpretation of RE1’s cinematic disembodied camera angles. Ammunition will be limited with more curious players being rewarded for going off the beaten path. To make up for the lack of ammo, players will have to master a robust hand to hand/weapon based melee system that RE6 begins to hint at with Jakes campaign but fails to fully realize. The best players will figure out how to spear, stun, grapple, counter, disarm, neutralize enemies without firing a shot all the while exposing themselves to danger in close quarters combat. Those that wish to distance themselves will be forced to figure out the best shooting positions for each weapon and master breath control. Distraction elements and environmental objects will play a constant role, such as flood lights that can be shot out, noxious lab samples that when destroyed can have varying effects on creatures and character alike, Pressure doors that can be hacked and manipulated to crush enemies and fire containment systems that can be tricked to automatically expel halogen freezing enemies in place. The player’s surroundings themselves are a force that should be manipulated but respected.

The days of slow shuffling zombies have been swept aside for a myriad of grotesque mutations each more wicked and fantastical then the last. The game has changed and so should our protagonist. When considering the odds, a seventeen-year-old medic named Rebecca wielding a 9mm handgun is no longer a viable vessel for this journey. It is clear to me that a new breed of RE action game will involve a player character that for better or worse is exposed to one of the many strands of virus inhabiting the RE universe. Honestly, it is ridiculous that reoccurring characters like Chris and Leon haven’t contracted any biological agents considering the thousands they have come in contact with. So, we are infected and our goal is a cure ourselves, or sacrifice ourselves to synthesize a cure for the world, or harness the powerful infection to find and destroy those who caused the biological attack. It’s up to you… freedom, remember!

Wielding an infected character not only puts in motion a plot device, but opens the door for more involving game mechanics. This infection could be the basis for an in-depth leveling system akin to role-playing-games. And why not, RPG elements have snuck into almost every genre and when well implemented provide abundant player motivation, reward and customization. Let’s say the character is first given one of 3 choices for their base mutation, then, upon gaining experience will be able to choose more advanced mutations offering both divergent gameplay and player freedom. Possibilities might include telescopic retinas allowing the player to zoom in while a weapon is drawn for better shot placement, regenerating health, a mutated arm that provides a shield and harder hitting melee attacks. Maybe there are only a handful of potent mutations to choose from or hundreds of subtle choices that when combined create wholly different playstyles. In the spirit of freedom, I would be remise to leave out the option of avoiding mutations alltogether, provided there were motivators and consequences of doing so.

On the topic of experience, it should not be an ethereal number floating on the heads up display, instead XP should represented as a tangible item dropped by enemies. The player will then have to sacrifice their finite inventory room to carry these XP items which I’ll refer to as DNA samples to specific in-game locations. These might be something like military-grade medical injection sites spread throughout the game. All of these mechanics help reinforce immersion, a cornerstone of the RE franchise. Further RPG elements might include sub-bosses that can be revisited with the intent of acquiring elusive mutation drops. When equipped these rare “drops” might allow the player to mimic their respective bosses’ powers. Providing player motivation to return to already cleared areas is not a familiar notion to the series, so this unapologetically stolen mechanic might be one of many design choices necessary to promote replayability. Careful attention to detail and player immersion would dictate that these fallen beasts could not simply reappear. A believable in-game item such as a DNA sample could be used under special circumstances to recreate the beast. Not only have we satisfied our design choice… we’re playing God.

But where’s the horror? I know… I’m getting there, but were going to have to take a modern look on what gets players heart’s pumping. The slowly trodding pace, poor character control dubbed “tank controls” for their rigidity, and alienating camera angles that caused so much tension were rightfully shed by Capcom. These aged tricks can no longer be relied on to provide genuine terror. Capcom just hasn’t figured out how to replace the scares, or have they? In RE6 there is an unlockable game mode termed Agent Hunt in which you are tasked with invading other players campaigns. Blending in as one of the many nightmarish creatures you stalk your prey in order to halt the hosts progress. A griefer mode, huh? Diabolical, yes, but ultimately it falls flat due to a lack of any natural direction. You endlessly assault the poor target because you’re told to do so. Successfully murdering the host player sends them packing back to reload the last checkpoint, and our victorious invader is then spit out to the menu or anticlimactically cycled into another game. Agent Hunt mode is at best, a mildly amusing time waster. It does however provide a glimpse into a possibly frightening game theme, chaos through natural human interaction.

What if every time the player loaded a new area or region during their quest software was invisibly matching them up with others online. You would be forced to rely on memory and keen senses. Do you hear footsteps in the distance, was that blast door open before, didn’t you leave the slow lumbering zombie in the lab alive? Constant alertness would prove imperative if others might be right around the corner. Remember were aiming for freedom here so no true goal is set in motion for either party. You may work together to explore and take down creatures as a team, trading precious ammo and health along the way or simply try and kill each other for a chance to sap valuable XP. Every matchup will be as unpredictable as the person behind it. There are rewards for working together or against. Will someone use you to help them take down a boss then instantly turn on you for the chance to replenish their expended provisions? There should be contingencies in place to allow the player to disconnect from a chance meeting if the need arises, such as hiding in the oft used air vent or locker. When being chased by a psychotic twelve-year-old with a 12 gage shotgun and scorpions tail simply hide. After enough time has passed in your secure location the software will automatically disconnect the other player allowing you to continue your journey in relative peace. Not only is the human element the driving force between all interaction, the narrative itself is being written by those you bump into. Freedom and power…

Death is a journey. Player death is inevitable, but restarting at a checkpoint to repeat a failed challenge shouldn’t be. From software’s Demon’s Souls has set a new standard in using player death as a part of the characters journey. The player uses every grim demise as a learning experience and is then challenged to retrieve what wealth they have accumulated in a seamless transition back to life and continuous narrative. Player death should no longer be followed by an attention breaking load screen. Why would the game market developing more and more cinematic adventures be so reliant on catapulting players backwards to a previous checkpoint to play out the same failed scenarios ad infinitum? Would even your favorite scene from a film hold up if you were forced to rewind and watch it 15 times before allowing the story to continue? Invite player death to become part of the story not an agent counteracting it.

Let’s use our theoretical medical injection sites spread throughout the world as a dual purpose DNA synthesizer that also recreates the character the last time you uploaded your sample to it. Not only is death part of the narrative but we’ve nestled it neatly within the constructs of the world similar to the originals type writer mechanic. Along with our potent DNA analysis machine we can easily implement another original RE component, the “box.” The box added a sorely missed level of depth and strategy to the series in which players were able to bank items they wished to keep but could not fit in their inventory. Using our new respawn mechanic the box will also play a new role as death and the possible loss of gear will force the player to place emergency items and supplies inside. Now, using Demon’s Souls method as an example we can add the challenging punishment for player death. Some items, possibly including XP, weapons, ammo or quest items are still in a backpack where you perished and you must recover them. In this way the player is not forced to play out the same failed scenario, but compelled to return and exact vengeance.

In the original RE games many small choices stacked up to create unique playthroughs. Just 10 to 15 missed handgun shots on the first few weak zombies could come back to haunt you hours later and frequently did. Every choice should have weight and add up to something more than a pre-scripted boss fight and universal cut scene. The freedom the player is met with should only be matched by real consequence in the final chapters of their journey. The final boss’s attributes and location should be decided on multiple subtle changes you’ve made to the environment throughout the game. Entire world tendencies could be altered by the flick of a switch. Perhaps you found a rare item that when placed inside the climate control system eradicates a single breed of enemy from the game completely, possibly making others stronger. These world altering decisions get interesting when they are collated and applied online to others’ games. For instance, if enough players accidentally damage a power relay station during a certain boss fight it will cause a temporary blackout in everyone’s game. When your hallways and laboratories begin to strobe with red emergency lighting you will know too many noobs destroyed the generator. These world tendencies could create an impactful experience that echoes the achievements of others or a haunting reminder of their failures.

The basic formula for compelling game mechanic comes in three steps, discovery, challenge and reward. The player must first be taken to a new believable world. In order to keep the players attention this world must immerse the player with interesting dynamics and reliable mechanics. Challenging the player is best accomplished when multiple solutions are hinted at. Allowing the player to utilize their own strategies based on the world mechanics allows the player to solve challenges how they see fit. Reward is best demonstrated through consequence and world manipulation. Unlocking a new more powerful weapon or earning more hit points is not enough. The environment must transform based on player actions. By the final conclusion the player isn’t tasked with slaying the boss because that’s the next level. The player must be motivated to do so and take responsibility for their choices leading to the finale. A more compelling view of the three base game mechanics might be immersion, freedom and consequence.

This theoretical Resident Evil is not impossible to develop. The next generation of console hardware is right around the corner and online connectivity is steadily growing with data speeds climbing every year. None of the proposed game mechanics are revolutionary. Budgets for top tier videogame franchises are surpassing that of Hollywood productions. The question is… does Capcom trust the player enough to allow this kind of freedom?

Dunwall — A Possible Future for The Elder Scrolls

Dunwall is a city like no other city we’ve seen. Its steampunkish atmosphere permeates through canvas like backgrounds, and political turmoil like something out of Game of Thrones. A secret order of assassins carries out the whims of whoever pays; collecting bounties on valued targets such as you — Corvo — and the Empress herself. To battle these elements you are granted powers and abilities from a mysterious deity that appears when you activate his shrines. All of this is fun, well orchestrated and … familiar.

What is to account for this familiarity that oozes through your narrative?

Dunwall is a city in the future of Cyrodiil. That’s right. The same kingdoms you’ve fought and sacrificed for in Bethesda’s popular Elder Scrolls series has taken a leap in time to show you what is in store for the future of one city. Let’s examine.

One of the major points for this is The Outsider. A remnant of an ancient practice of religion that is outlawed by the government. Why are his ways outlawed? Simple, because there was a point where the Daedric Princes and Lords were hunted down and killed. Events like the Oblivion gates, and the turmoil caused during the events of Skyrim (not the dragons, but the side quests) became too much for the people of Cyrodiil to handle. At some point in the Elder Scrolls timeline there will be a unification of the kingdoms, and one of their first orders of business will be to free themselves from the tyranny of the Daedra.

So, like the hero in Oblivion, the realms of these specific Deadra will be breached and “cleansed.” This is not an unfamiliar tactic for large governing bodies, as it is a way to defend against possible threats. The people of Cyrodiil decide that they will be the masters of their fate, and not those who would manipulate for their own enjoyment. The once boisterous Daedra will be powerless against the united masses of Cyrodiil, and will eventually succumb to the product of their intrusions over countless centuries.

So what happened to the Khajiit, Dark Elves, High Elves, Argonians, and Nords?

Two possibilities. One, is that they are still around and they just aren’t allowed in the realm of Dunwall, or choose not to go there. Two, over the thousands of years it would have taken for a civilization to reach this point in the Elder Scrolls timeline, they were either killed off, or assimilated into the general populace through generations of cross-species breeding. This is probably more likely for the Nords and maybe the Elves, and less likely for the Khajiit and the Argonians, who would probably killed off in the preceding wars.

Magic has fallen by the wayside because it was too highly feared and not properly monitored. In Skyrim, the Mage’s College is a remnant of what it once was, and if that path continued then magic would eventually be discarded for military might. Century after century would pass, and the thought of magic would pass into the area of myth and legend. Taking it’s place would be the fossils and artifacts from the “dwarves” of Skyrim, and their mechanical inventions. Without magic, there wouldn’t be an efficient way to power these devices, so they begin to harvest the fat from the mighty sea creatures that inhabit the waters. Human ingenuity replaces magic.

Meanwhile, there is one surviving Daedra who has learned to keep to the shadows in order to survive. He/she has learned that gaining a mass amount of followers will only attract the kind of attention that got their fellow Princes and Lords killed. The best way for him/her to entertain his or herself, while still shaping the paths of those he/she deems as inferior, is to select people that have no interest in the deity themselves.

In the game there are six people who have had direct contact with The Outsider. Piero was taken to The Void (The Outsider’s daedric realm) and was presented with the idea of the mask that Corvo wears. It is not stated that Piero had any interest in contacting The Outsider previously, and was much more focused on his own inventions and natural philosophy. There is an unnamed boy who was given abilities by the Daedric prince to take vengence on those who wronged him previously. There isn’t any more spoken about him after that. There is Vera, otherwise known as “Granny Rags,” who was more interested in her suitors than she was in what the Outsider could do for her. There is Daud, who is the head of the Whaler’s assassin group, and there is you. Daud states that he has visited the shrines and seen The Void, but his interest seems to only be in what he can attain for himself with the abilities, and less with any kind of deity worship or curiosity.

Then we have Sokolov, the mastermind behind the devices and paintings in the city of Dunwall. He is obsessed with finding The Outsider, which is something The Outsider even directly addresses, by saying Sokolov would have an easier time getting in touch if he was just “more interesting.” Sokolov seems like a very interesting and influential person based on what he can accomplish, but he would also draw too much attention to the Daedric prince because of his obsession.

Think of it like this: Have you ever had a guy or girl who likes you so much that they are constantly trying to get in touch with you and want to take up a lot of your free time? Kind of a turn off for a lot of people. It’s like that for The Outsider and Sokolov.

The Outsider has seen what happens when too much attention is drawn to what a Daedra can do, so he operates from the shadows. He gently pulls on the right strings to watch the weave unravel, all for his own amusement.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to also see some sort of tribute to the Night Mother somewhere in the Whaler’s main base, as I believe they are a distant relative of the Assassin’s Guild. Their headquarters is now in this Dunwall (which could possibly be the city formerly known as Anvil) and have taken the name The Whalers based on the culture of the times.

So, to conclude, Dunwall is a jump to two/three thousand years into the future, after a major war between a united kingdom and the Daedra finished, with only one of the Princes or Lords surviving. This lord decides on changing his tactics in order to survive, and sticks mainly to the shadows and influencing people who have no interest in him outside of what they can attain. They are selfish people whose goals override their intrigue. Daud’s is money, Corvo’s is revenge, so was the young boy’s, Vera’s was herself, and Piero’s was his inventions and ingenuity. Magic has been left by the wayside since it too easily corrupts and is too dangerous for any state to control, and the remains of Dwemer technology became the inspiration for the tech used in Dunwall.

Unearthing Original Ideas in Modern Cinema: Loopers and Bloopers

By Derek Czura

It’s 2044 in Kansas, a desolate lighthouse of American poverty. The country outskirts are still serene and untouched, scenes that beckon back quiet old time films. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) patiently waits in a field, eyeing his pocketwatch in one hand while holding a blunderbuss in the other, enunciating french that washes through his head from earbuds. A man suddenly appears hunched over, gagged and covered on top of a square sheet unruffled by the slight wind that gently moves the nearby dried crops. The man is abruptly shot dead in the chest and flies backwards. Attached to his back are a packed pad of silver bars, the agreed money for a Looper.

Rian Johnson ambitiously returns to cinema with Looper, a freshly original take on time travel, legacies, and a little commentary on the future of society. As Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character explains: Time travel doesn’t yet exist, but when it does in 30 years it will be immediately banned, only to be used by higher echelon criminal organizations to completely erase the existence of an unfavorable party. The system is seemingly simple and only briefly explained: the target for a Looper in the futre is fitted with a back full of silver bars (future currency), put into a small circular machine (somewhat reminiscent of Deja Vu by the late Tony Scott), and sent to a location to be immediately killed, wrapped, and put into a furnace. This is quick, efficient, and effortless. The person is completely expunged from the future.

Loopers use a short range blunderbuss to take out their targets, grab their money, cycle their normal work day, and then “live the good life”. This involves cruising around town in a red Miata (the heir apparent hot-shit car in the future), spending money on ocular liquid drugs, and fancying a stripper or two. Some are even lucky enough to have a slight genetic mutation that allows them to float small metal objects as a neat hobby (simply called TK). The streets are impoverished, where law enforcement seems non-existant as a man who attempts to steal another person’s backpack is shot dead in a street as the sidewalk is full of onlookers.

Johnson didn’t join the film business to make simple, if you look back to his previous work (his excitingly fresh take on neo-noir Brick, and his somewhat slumpy yet enjoyable con artist caper The Brothers Bloom) he is innovative, attentive, and challenging. It is my presumption that he isn’t interested in what many people will view today’s movies as “escapist”. We are left early on in Looper (if you saw no previews) wondering about Joe’s interest in French, how he acquired his job, and what would it be like if he were to meet his future self. Rest assured, many people can ascribe to the notion that Johnson is keen enough to address all of these, but what we will focus on the most is the premise of the film; co-existing with his future self when he is assigned to kill him.

Looper’s work on soft 30-year contract, and are overseen by their from-the-future boss Abe (Jeff Daniels). The good ones like Joe flourish in the business, while other supporting characters such as Seth (Paul Dano, as strung out as usual with no milkshakes in sight), and Kid Blue (Noah Segan, a staple in all of Johnson’s films) highlight the backlash of business shortcomings. Once their purpose has been served or something goes awry in the future, they are assigned to kill their future self, stated as “closing the loop”. They get a golden bar payday, and get to enjoy their slice of life before they disappear as their future self did. The main contradiction most people will have here is the choice of “letting your loop go”, which is self-explanatory, and also a huge mistake.

While the film’s premise is already appealling, the co-existance of the young and old self adds more dynamic to the film. Johnson specifically tailored Gordon-Levitt’s physical appearence to resemble Willis’, including colored lenses, and a furrowed brow that seems pretty corny looking at times, but is accurate. The older self is seasoned from actually living a life into the future, so seasoned that they are able to understand how their younger self works.

This includes thought patterns, locations, and ultimately choices. A nifty bonus is their ability to have a cognitive connection with their current self, a mental linkage that allows them one step ahead of the other. Obviously Old Joe (Bruce Willis) finds ways to avoid his younger self with the aforementioned advantages. At this time Johnson weaves a montage of scenes to show us a glimpse of Young Joe closing his loop, the evolution from a young gun to a seasoned old man who comes across love that was absent in his younger life, and the problems that has as well.

The film does stumble a little bit once we are introduced to Old Joe’s purpose for being a target for a closed loop: the future is dealing with a threat known as “The Rainmaker”, who has been specifically targetting Loopers for reasons unknown, and Old Joe acquired a piece of information that he believes will lead him to killing said villain before he has a chance to grow old and put wrath upon the world. A mix of morality, personal values, and common ground help the movie stay pat on its foundation for the remainder.

While the film is a futuristic think-tank on time travel and science fiction, it still presents a lot of unanswered issues. The first is character-centric, which the production may have flubbed on by bringing in one trick pony Bruce Willis, who even in the future is still a one-dimensional character who can walk in a straight line while firing two automatic weapons and not get hurt. His staleness only muddles the film, but do we really require more from what his character has to offer?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stands tall, but I’m unsure if he is able to carry a movie by himself yet (I got kind of an Orlando Bloom with Kingdom of Heaven vibe), especially with all of the supporting work he has shined with in the last few years. His interactions with other characters including a farmer (Emily Blunt, who in my opinion has yet to show huge range in any film) and her son (Pierce Gagnon, a neat surprise of fervor and emotion for someone his age) that he finds as refuge have a somber feeling as the plot progresses.

Jeff Daniels serves his purpose as the Animal Mother, but something that could have been addressed (with him being from the future) is the absence of his younger self. Is he across the country, hidden, unknown possibly? It would have been an interesting note to play, instead of dealing with Noah Segan’s annoying and unnecessary character who seemed forced into the movie; and Paul Dano, the dumb friend that we learn from.

The last bit is the idea of time travel itself. Now rest assured, this isn’t Primer by any means (if you haven’t watched this movie, go buy a bottle of Aspirin and watch it until you think you might understand all of the dynamics and timeline; I have yet to do so), but it isn’t fighting with kid gloves either. We are left in the dark as to how time travel is invented, as well as the specifics of how it’s used. After thinking it over it seems more convenient that people are transported back to appear in the middle of nowhere to get killed and have the looper be paid … but if this can be achieved … can’t they simply just use the time machine to send someone into a crocodile-infested swamp somewhere in South America or an active volcano? Did the people in the present and future both have to scout for specific locations to make it more convenient for loopers? Why are some people sent to slum locations inside the city? Where are all the police at? I saw Timecop, apparently Johnson didn’t.

Nonetheless Johnson has produced a quality film which will hopefully pave the way for future (rimshot) movies that will be more slated to address the subsistance of our epistemic views in film. As more people go to the theatres and talk about these types of films, the more chances we will get for directors and actors to not only challenge themselves, but challenge their audience even more.

Where Have All the Gamers Gone?

By Dan Gallagher

Did I hear that? It sounded like a friend just came online. That can’t be right though, there haven’t been any friends online in ages. Okay, that was definitely a friend coming online.


Wait, be cool, I don’t want to scare them off. I don’t even know what they’re going to be playing yet. Doesn’t matter, I’ll switch what I’m playing to match them. Then maybe an old fashioned co-op? I haven’t co-oped since Black Ops, that was like forever ago.


Save this game and quit out to the dashboard. There’s no save point here — screw it. It’s only three hours of questing. The second time through will go much faster. Okay quick dashboard and there you are; you beautiful, elusive friend online. I haven’t seen you since Forza. I wonder if you’ve seen our clan garage lately. Does it seem needy if I send you a party invite? If I don’t maybe you won’t know that I’m ready to rock and or roll. Okay, be cool Dan, be cool. Just sling an invite and pretend like it’s normal. You guys haven’t talked in like a year, but this is a chance to catch up and game. This is going to be an amazing night. Invite sent, here we go, just wait patiently. He’ll see it in like two seconds. Maybe he’s peeing or grabbing a drink. Alright, he’s back. Mic’s hot, drinks are cold, and he’ll accept the invite in three, two, one.

“Netflix? Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo!”

Recently I noticed more and more absent profiles on my friends list. Our schedules have changed and work/girlfriends do seem to get way of gaming, but it’s like an online draught. Where is the rest of my clan? I am single handedly supposed to represent this once great group of sneaks, killers, and strategists? What happened to getting online every Thursday to meet up and make random gamers regret having purchased a game? Where are the buddies with a few encouraging words to help get me over a five death streak?

They’re almost all gone except for a select few who can still hear the beat of the gamer’s drum. Surely I’m not alone on the Island of Lost Boys, these online warriors must have not been as serious about gaming as I am. Right? Guys? Is my mic on? Writing this has made me think back to when I first discovered my passion for gaming and my progression into the adult I am, who loves gaming too much to walk away from it.

I have been gaming for as long as I can remember. My father, before I was born, purchased a Ms. Pacman arcade machine for my mother as an anniversary present. After tucking me in at night, my parents would escape out to the garage with their coffee and play for who knows how long. I often fell asleep to the music of the cut scenes. I grew to learn which level they were on based on the music that led into it and if I listened closely I could faintly hear gobbling noises and the thumping of the joystick as “Pinky” showed up out of nowhere. I would have friends stare in disbelief that I had Pacman (Ms. Pacman) in my garage and you didn’t even have to put quarters in it. I can distinctly remember yelling for my mom to come help me multiple times because I was on “my last man” and desperately wanted to see the cut scene that went along with the music I heard in bed. For the record my mother still is better than me at Ms. Pacman. She proved this recently in a pizza parlor in front of witnesses and will forever will be better than me. I have learned to accept this.

I have since been killed, crushed, pwned, slaughtered, Monster Killed, headshot, melee-ed, tea-bagged, ganked, backstabbed, rocked, and been made someone’s female canine. Thankfully, I learned early on that I am not always going to be the best at whatever it is I’m trying. I have rage-quit, shouted profanities at the screen, engaged in online rage voice messages with people that I believe should quit breathing let alone quit gaming. One thing that I have found is that when playing with friends, hardly ever do I become angry. It feels to be more of a “same team” vibe.

Eric Davidson and I used to have personal matches while playing Day of Defeat. While on the same team it became a peeing match of who could get the most kills. When the scores would come up, we would have pulled so far away from the rest of our team that their combined scores wouldn’t equal one of ours. Then the next round, while on opposite teams, he would single handedly hunt me down. Passing down multiple kills just to get the drop on me. My once partner-in-crime had risked his own score just for a chance to kill little ol’ me.

To be honest, I still to this day am not above a playful little shove of a teammate over a cliff or dropping a concussion grenade at their feet and running out of the room. The question is why though? The simple answer is because it’s your friend. You know before your dastardly deed how they’re going to react and odds are you’re trying not to laugh into the microphone while you proceed. If you can’t enjoy killing your buddy, who can you enjoy killing? As I grew older and the number of friends I had that gamed increased and gaming became more fun. The more competitive the friend, the more fun the game was.

My brother, who is roughly three years older than I am, got one of the greatest birthday presents for his ninth birthday. He received a Nintendo Entertainment System (that’s an NES for all of you young gamers) with Super Mario Brothers/Duck Hunt. This is probably what single handedly led to my on-going love of video games. Conversations before school in the mornings consisted of what level of Contra was fought to and the best way to get through the coral in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The addiction to trying to be the best at a video game has afflicted many of us. My college years involved heading straight from class to go to a gaming cyber cafe. My close group of friends consisted almost entirely of gamers and we would fuel each others need to be the best at Starcraft, Battlefield 2, and Madden. Final Fantasy was played by one, while being watched and encouraged by four others. I dated a girl for two years that crushed me in Halo. I never beat her. Ever. Gaming was more socially accepted than it had ever been up to that point.

At the peak of my game, I slowly started to notice something. The LAN parties were drying up, Madden leagues were disappearing, and anyone left was stolen by World of Warcraft. I knew of WoW, and I had seen the addicting game play that allowed people to continually play fueled on only Mountain Dew and nicotine. Eventually, I fell victim to it as well with promises from friends of guild entries, amazing loot, and ultimately playing it on a forty inch plasma TV. When I awoke from my (short lived by comparison) 9 month coma that is WoW, I looked around to find a startling discovery. Most of the gamers were gone.

Suddenly there were weddings to attend, new lives to celebrate coming into the world, promotions, and homes being purchased. Life, as it seemed, had moved on a bit without me. Once my friends, one by one, awoke from the coma-life one leads playing WoW, things evened out a bit. I have since “downgraded” to console gaming with a few exceptions as have most of my gaming friends. The number of friends on X Box LIVE was solid. Game release nights were almost like reunions with lots of people in private matches and parties, ready to talk trash and belittle each other as was once second nature. The catch now is that while most of my friends are still registered, accounts are going inactive. Last log in times are measured in days now instead of hours. Life goes on and people’s priorities change.

None of this was unexpected and nothing gold can stay. Terence Gavin has an expression that he uses and that makes me laugh. He sometimes says ” This isn’t the end, but you can see it from here”. It almost gives the feeling of defending the Alamo against an overwhelming Mexican army , but I guess it would be better related to Dempsey, Nikolai, Takeo, and Richtofen defending against endless waves of zombies.

As one generation of gamers seems to fade off into the sunset, in search of their father’s scotch, there is always a younger generation waiting to pile in and fill their shoes. This isn’t anything we all haven’t thought of before. We older gamers sometimes even try to keep up with the young bucks, even making it to midnight release (if our girlfriends and wives let us) instead of waiting for a delivery from GameFly.

There is however something that I don’t think many have taken into account yet. We are now going to be the parents of the next generation of gaming. We are old enough now to have the coveted jobs working for the companies that develop the next generations of games. It is going to be our responsibility to shape the future of gaming. The gaming cowboys aren’t gone, they’re just sitting behind the desks now calling the shots instead of all the grunt work.. This generation has an amazing opportunity to change the gaming industry in new ways, while still keeping the origins of gaming in mind. We’re the first generation to “grow up” with gaming consoles. A console in the home is part of who we are.

It’s all in the perspective you choose to take when faced with the inevitable. You can fight it kicking and screaming, or you can take it upon yourself to guide the next generation. Create your own version of Ms. Pacman for your kids like my parents did for me. Start rivalries between yourself and your kids, or between two brothers. There are going to be advancements in videogames that we haven’t even considered to be possible yet. Our kids will have their own Golden Eye to totally capture the concept of competitive console gaming. I realized that my friends are not dead and gone from gaming, just taking a break while they bring up their own to get ready to take the reins. The gamers will be back soon enough, but we might have to wait until after bedtimes.

Train Like a Wayne: Week Five

This week we’re going to have a conditioning/metcon focus to keep the body shock going. Afterwards we’ll jump back into the 5/3/1 programming and continue the functional strength.

This list was provided by the guys over at Highbar Crossfit, who I’ve collaborated and trained with for a couple of years now. They know their stuff, and this is a fantastic set list. Below are the Batman versions of this. For the Robins, try to get what you can in this, and scale the weight accordingly. Again, if you can’t perform the actions listed, substitute it with something that has similar movements. Questions, comments, and concerns are always welcomed, and don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Workout 1

Strength: 7×2 reps squats with 85% of 1 rep max – rest approx 2 minutes between sets

Metcon: 20 minutes amrap walk/run 200m with an odd object weighing roughly 30 to 40 pounds, for robins make it a weight that is challenging but still possible. 12 Sumo Deadlifts with 135 lbs, if you can’t sumo deadlift then perform airsquats with weights like dumbbells. 10 burpees

Workout 2

Endurance: 3×1 mile repeats – Run each mile for speed/time. Rest half the time it took you to run the mile. (note: If you did the above workout the day before your legs will be sore and it will affect your time. Run at a pace that is challenging, but not overkill)

Metcon/conditioning: 4 rounds – each round is timed 4 minutes 1 minute plank hold 25 situps use remainder of time to do as many double unders (single unders if you can’t do double unders) as possible

Rest 90 seconds between rounds

End with a 1 mile cool down run

Workout 3

(not for time) 4 Rounds 10 benchpress close to max (can break up reps if needed), for Robins you should use a weight that is challenging but not impossible. Max rep strict pull ups round up – for example if you do 7 pull ups and have to drop, do 3 more to make it 10. If you get 12 pull ups and have to drop, do 8 more to make it 20

Try to rest no more than 3 minutes between rounds

Then —

4 Rounds 8 to 10 bent over barbell rows with a weight that you struggle to get 10 with. It should be a weight that you cannot get 10 with on each set. You should be falling to around 8 reps by the last round

superset this with max rep ring dips round up (same scheme as strict pull up above). Do pushups if you do not have


try to rest no longer than 1 minute between rounds


Isolation arm exercises of your choice supersetting bicep and tricep exercises. Do not rest at all between sets.

The Greatest Hero of Borderlands 2: It Isn’t You

Pandora. A place where you will not find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. You must be careful. There are bullymongs (bonerfarts), skaggs, super irritating-flying dinosaur-assholes, robots, bandits, and you. Yes that’s right, you are one of the worst things on this planet. There is one shining beacon of hope to finally bring an end to all the sociopathic murder, deceit, greed, violence, ignorance, and pain — and that’s Handsome Jack.

Don’t believe me? Think I’m just writing this to present a counter-view to the already established protagonist/antagonist relationship to get some page reads? Maybe, and you’d be correct in the realization that Handsome Jack is, without a doubt, the antagonist of Borderlands 2, but you’d be mistaken to think he is the evil one. Let’s take a look.

Why you think Handsome Jack is the Badguy:

Because he’s not you. This is a pretty simple statement, and I don’t think anyone was confused about what side of the game you’re supposed to be playing on/supporting. However, if there is one thing nerd-culture has presented to audiences through shows like Game of Thrones, it’s that perspective is a powerful force of interpretation. Who is it that you are interacting with in Borderlands 2 that would ever make you think that you were on the side of “good”? Here’s the roster.


This might be one of he tougher ones to see, as Roland is described by everyone as being amazing. He’s calm, collected, a seemingly natural leader, and is interested in creating a sanctuary for the oppressed of Pandora in a city called … Sanctuary. Okay, so he’s not very creative, but how can you speak negatively of a guy trying to save others? Simple, you look at who he is trying to save.

Look at the people in Sanctuary. We’ll go one by one through this penitentiary of sociopathic psychos just to really nail the issue into your brain. First, you have our favorite doctor from the first game, Zed. Zed is an admitted fraud; proudly pointing out that he doesn’t have a degree or license in any medical field whatsoever, and he still asks you to perform duties for him for his purposes of “study.” A few examples of his requests involve murdering a man with an Eridium powered gun, then using that rifle to kill bandits in order to study the effects of shooting highly charged projectiles through living flesh. But hey, those are bandits, so who cares about them? He also asks you collect body parts, but in a timely manner so they don’t rot away before he can use them. Yeah, you helped in illegal body part trafficking. That’s fine though, Pandora is a crazy place and you need to do what you need to do to survive.

Also don’t think about how he is knowingly profiting off of your carnage.

Then there is the dishonest, cheating, manipulative weapons dealer, Marcus. If there is one mission that will really point out what a horrible, selfish, and callous individual he is, it is the one in Sawtooth Gap, where you have to find Kai and retrieve nine-dollars. If you listen to the ECHOS you will hear Marcus tricking a poor geek into thinking he is a chosen one in order to sell him some shit equipment, which ends up leading to this person being murdered. What’s Marcus’ concern? Nine-dollars. He also asks you to go collect refund checks that he should have been issuing anyway from people he admittedly cheated. But you don’t think anything of it because of the amount of ridiculousness that is already happening on this planet. Keep that in mind for later, because this is your established perspective.

Then there is the cultured, accented scientist and knighted (we assume) intellectual, Sir Hammerlock.

He comes off as polite, and even lets you into his city at the very beginning of the game. Granted, it’s to murder some bandits, but he let you in and reattached Claptrap’s eye. So, he’s a nice guy, right?

Wrong. This guy screams fraud, and seems to get his jollies off on taking out personal revenge on a tier of the animal kingdom that is responsible for his lost limbs. How little respect does he have for the life on this planet? Well, for starters, he asks you for the hides of some local bullymongs. Not a big deal, as there must clearly be a reason why he can’t capture one instead. He also, for some reason, doesn’t like the name “bullymong.” There must be something aesthetically wrong with that, but that’s not your concern because he’s dangling a weapon in front of your face as a reward. After renaming them Bonerfarts, then going back to the original name, he asks you to see what grenades do to these lumbering beasts. This is already after you’ve killed about 20 of them. I’m pretty sure you could guess what happens when a grenade goes off next to something, but there’s got to be a good reason for his methods. Surely it will get explained at some point!

Then there is the fanservice that are Moxxi’s breasts. A returning character from an expansion of the original Borderlands; Moxxi is well known because she used to run tournaments of death. Think about that. You are helping and assisting a woman who made insane amounts of money off of mass homicide. Which you can apparently do with a throbbing erection, because that cleavage and her promise of gear takes away any thought into the ethics of what you’re doing. So, why is she serving in a bar instead of running her games of death? Because Handsome Jack destroyed her arena.

Thankfully, there are two other arenas you can go to in order to massacre large amounts of people for money and weapons. Because, as the “good guy,” you need better gear to stop this “evil” individual who is going after the same thing you are.

Let’s not forget Scooter. A man so sexually twisted that a poem of his causes a woman to commit suicide, another woman to go isolate herself with a bandit group known as the “rats,” and not to mention his own sister caught him with feelings for her at one time (which he doesn’t deny). But he lets you move quickly on wheels, so we’ll forgive him.

Then there are the vault hunters from the previous game.

Brick is a psychopath who derives pleasure from killing people. He is the leader of the “Slab” bandits, who attack you with the same ferocity and disregard for anything rational as the rest of the baddies on this planet. Brick is their LEADER, and he kills them on a whim and doesn’t even feel bad about it. He also killed a man by cracking his skull open like an egg with his thumbs as the man begged for mercy. No wonder Facey McShooty wants you to shoot him in the face when you’re in Slab territory. Then there’s Lilith, who also happens to be the most powerful Siren on the planet. What’s she doing now? She is revered as a Goddess to a local faction of bandits. Yup, another leadership role to a group of murderers and killers. Instead of pointing them in a positive direction she makes them kill each other so Roland can focus on fighting Jack. But, as we’ve gone over, it doesn’t matter to you because you want their stuff, and you find death on Pandora humorous. Mordecai might be the only one out of the group who isn’t a serial killer under his mask. Until his bird gets killed, that is.

Perhaps that’s what happens when you go vault hunting and discover that what you’ve really been gun-lusting after is a giant monster the entire time.

Here is why Jack is actually good:

He is trying to use The Warrior for peace. He wants to eliminate the savage monsters, the constant violence from the warring bandit tribes, and destroy Roland and his uprising. It’s only the previous vault hunters who make the assumption that Jack is going to destroy the planet.

Jack creates a city — Opportunity — that may be a bit fascist, but, on a planet like Pandora, that’s probably what is needed to restore some semblance of order to the chaos. He is providing jobs, a safe environment, and is pretty careful about who he will let live there once the construction is complete. If you listen to the recordings over the loud speakers Jack won’t even let the engineers live there once construction is done. It will probably be automated, so that when the city begins to flourish it won’t be populated with builders who can also be willing to murder a stranger at the drop of a hat.

Then we have Angel, his Siren-daughter. Jack mentions that Angel did something terrible to her mother when she was a child. This is what caused jack to house her in the Eridium pen that you find her in 3/4’s of the way through the game. What a cruel bastard! Roland even points out that someone who does this to their daughter doesn’t deserve to live.


We’ve seen what an unchained Siren can do with Lilith. Jack is also using her abilities in order to try and create his version of peace. The password to enter her chambers is “I love you;” something that he programmed himself as a constant reminder of why he is doing what he is doing. At one point, he even tells you to forget about the key to the vault, and realize that it is an innocent human life that you are about to destroy for … what, exactly? You’re doing it for gear. Roland is doing it for Sanctuary, we think. So, you then proceed to kill Jack’s daughter, who is obviously mad at her daddy for keeping her locked in her room because of the damage she can create.

And don’t think that Jack isn’t merciful. He owns the machines that bring you back to life each time, so he obviously is giving you plenty of opportunities to see the error of your ways.

So with all this information, why does he come off as the badguy?

Easy — he’s an asshole. Jack is good at what he does, and he knows it. He believes so highly in himself and what his plans are that he becomes narcissistic, as many uber intelligent people tend to do. Because he says mean things to you he becomes the villain. To be more accurate, your antagonist. Jack isn’t the one killing people for relics, elbow spikes, shields, guns, ammo, and some life experience. You ruin everything, Vault Hunter, and you should feel bad for it. Really bad. Until you see what unnamed abilities that orange weapon can do, and need to find a new camp of living organisms to test it out on. However, there is good news. Now that you’ve stopped Jack you’ve been able to find other planets with Vaults on them. As Lilith says, in a nice allusion to the marketing music from the first game, “Ain’t no rest for the wicked.” How true, you sick bastard.