A Letter About Lost, From a Bad Robot Employee

Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend a spectacular wedding at a venue that me, and a couple other of the more imaginative (and inebriated) guests surmised was the inspiration for Wayne Manor. After having searched for everyone secret switch in the bookshelves, and hitting every key on the piano, we eventually decided that we couldn’t find the switch because the house was definitely hiding a Batcave.

One of these fellow Bat-thusiasts works for ABC, and we began discussing Lost. If you’re a reader of the site you know that I was crushed by the ending, and the seemingly unapologetic stance the creators took. I’ve even gone so far as to outline the nebulous plot from Prometheus, penned by Lost writer Damon Lindeloff. The employee mentioned that he and a few coworkers had received an email from an employee at Bad Robot regarding the ending. I still have yet to verify who the specific person was, or at what level they developed the show on, but I thought it would be an interesting read, nonetheless.

Having read it, I can’t say that it removes my frustrations with the series, but it definitely provides a sense of enthusiasm and positivity that I don’t normally encounter with the subject. Without further ado, here is the response about the ending of Lost, from an as-yet unnamed member of the Bad Robot staff:


I can finally throw in my two cents! I’ve had to bite my tongue for far too long. Also, hopefully I can answer some of John’s questions about Dharma and the “pointless breadcrumbs” that really, weren’t so pointless …

First …
The Island:
Continue reading


Metal Gear Solid: Violence you can Masturbate to

Metal Gear Solid reemerged as the watershed of good story-telling and stealth game play back when it premiered on the original Playstation. It redefined a genre that combined clever writing with creative character design that immersed the player into a military industrial complex-dominated world of intrigue and interest.

Sons of Liberty, the second installment in the contemporary MGS franchise, was met with mixed reactions, but I personally found it to still be enjoyable and thought-provoking. “Snake Eater” had the characterization part about it, but it was a bit too over-dramatic for my tastes, and seemed to rely less on the stealth aspect; able to be beaten by simply running and gunning your way through each level. Four was … well … a lot.

And is single handedly responsible for making mustaches popular again.

Now we await the fifth installment of the canonical MGS franchise which premiered at E3 this year to a fairly decent reaction from the fans and the press. However, even Kojima himself stated that there could still be room for improvement, especially after seeing what Tom Clancy’s “The Division” showcased at the event.

So, what is Kojima planning on doing in order to improve his game, and make it more marketable and enjoyable to those who have any interest in picking it up?


Pardon my crass description, but Kojima is looking to entice more boners out of the gamers that play his games. If you watched the trailer you were able to catch a glimpse of a female sniper named “Quiet,” who has lost the ability to speak. Her body barely fits into this gear that she is wearing (for what reason is completely beyond me).

IGN recently covered the story about how Kojima wanted to make her outfit more “erotic.” That’s right, Kojima wants to improve upon his game — after seeing what The Division showcased — by making Quiet more erotic.

Embedded image permalink

What you are looking at is a picture that he tweeted about the direction he is going with her character design. He even went as far to make comments about how it might be too skimpy for anyone to cosplay. As if that’s ever stopped anyone at a convention of any kind from being two steps away from tassels.

Is this his strategy? The Division, which Kojima was so impressed with, showcased a dynamic system of MMO combat, as well as open-world environments in a Ghost Recon type design, that also enabled players to interact with their mobile devices in real time. That’s pretty substantial.

Kojima then follows up with more butt and boobs.

I don’t want to make this an issue about sexual identifications between male and female gamers and how they are treated/perceived on one of the largest money-making industries in the world, but there really isn’t much room to say otherwise. Kojima wants people (males it would seem) to buy his game to look at female bodies while sneaking around and killing people. The female incentive is to find a good outfit to cosplay with enough to garner attention at conventions or Halloween parties.

Being a female in a male dominated nerd-culture is difficult enough in some cases, but to continue to prescribe to this notion that women are best when busty seems a bit regressive. Especially when the MGS series has showcased some very strong female characters in the past, that didn’t need to slide down a metaphoric stripper pole in order to make themselves interesting.

Personally, I would rather see Kojima focus on making the gameplay better, as opposed to giving me more reasons to forget that I’m playing an action game in favor of a sex-simulator.

How You Should Respond to Affleck as Batman

Ben Affleck is Batman? Noooo! How could this happen? How could the world be so unfair? First Bradley Manning says he wants to be a woman, and now Affleck wants to be Batman! Thanks Obama!


First thing is first, no one has seen the movie that hasn’t been made yet. There is no way you can predict how he will be as either Bruce Wayne, or Batman. Yes, we all remember 2003’s Daredevil, but you can’t argue that he was the sole thing wrong with that film. It’s not as if the movie was a brilliant transition from page to screen, and it was Affleck’s performance that was the one catalyst that brought down this masterpiece into misery.

Yes, Affleck did a lot of movies for money. Yes, a lot of them were really, really bad. But, so were the films of a certain actor that played opposite the caped-crusader in 2007’s The Dark Knight.

Many people are already bringing up that the world freaked out when Heath Ledger was announced as the Joker. It seemed like such an odd and unthinkable path to take for a role that was made famous by the legendary Jack Nicholson. There isn’t a person, now, who can say that Ledger’s performance wasn’t extremely memorable.

Need another example? How about when Daniel Craig was announced as James Bond before Casino Royale came out?

Now imagine him with a Bawtsahn accent instead.

Regardless, Affleck has also had an extremely impressive rebuilding of his career; showcasing his talents as a director, in addition to some strong performances in The Town, as well as Argo. Had he not had the reputation for making bad films during the Bennifer Affpez (that was it, right?) then he would be remembered for Good Will Hunting, and his roles in the Kevin Smith films.

Here’s why I think he might be a good Batman.

Affleck is probably still painfully aware of how things went wrong with the previous movies he did. He is a talented writer and director, and will probably have a fair say in the development and portrayal of the character while working with Snyder. There also isn’t an actor out there who knows what it’s like to be under the public spotlight more than he is. He knows how important public opinion is to a career and reputation, and he has taken some major steps to regain his credibility. He could have easily walked away wit his millions and done the has-been path. Instead, he chose to fight a long, uphill battle to be taken seriously again. This deserves some respect, not just for him, but for the gravity of the role he’s agreeing to take.

Affleck definitely has the looks to pull off a Batman/Bruce Wayne character. My only concern would be the voice. Nolan’s version, although well thought out and visually appealing, lacked in a few key areas. One of which was Batman’s ridiculous growl. As much of a die-hard batfan as I am, I had a really hard time getting over that.

There are even people who are talking about how they should have brought Bale back, and they wish that Nolan was still directing the next one. Or that Joseph Gordon-Levitt should be brought in to continue the world. My response to that would be, “Are you kidding me?!”

“But girls like me.”

Don’t get me wrong, Nolan’s Batman films were good, but they had a LOT of problems if you were to go back and look at them. There are plot holes riddling (pun) every single installment of the trilogy. Most people never took the time to go back and watch them objectively; instead choosing to focus on how well thought out the villains portrayals were, instead of if the story actually made sense at all (hint: a lot of it didn’t).

The main point here is don’t be cynical. Why so serious? Let’s put a smile — ok, forget that line of thought. There’s absolutely zero reason to bash on the guy for a film that none of us have seen yet. Ledger and Craig have proven that the wildcard can succeed, and Affleck is someone who has worked very hard to earn the right to be taken seriously again. So, before you start hoisting up rage signs about how his Robin should be Matt Damon, or he should fight Bluntman and Chronic, or that Lois Lane should be recast with J-Lo, or that someone should dub over scenes of Batman with his lines from Good Will Hunting and that accent he carried (someone please do that), just take a step back and relax. He might end up being great.

However, I could be wrong.

Why Elysium is a Regressive Step for Science Fiction


This film is not Halo, nor is it meant as a middle finger to those who didn’t give Blomkamp Halo.

I want to start by saying that the reason I am writing a movie review for a gaming blog is because I was such a huge advocate of Blomkamp doing a Halo film. After seeing this film I now have my major doubts. I’ll just go ahead and jump right into why this film is a step in the wrong direction for science fiction.

The thesis of this is that the film treated it’s audience like 5 year olds. The narrative was cliche and without the thought or heart that accompanied Blomkamp’s previous film, District 9 (which is one of my favorite sci-fi films, ever). Let us count the ways I state thee.

1) The social messages were so heavy-handed I thought I would suffocate. Damon and Blomkamp have come out and said that they weren’t trying to be political with the film. I think I agree with this statement from the simple fact that they are probably both aware that effective allegories are subtle. They linger in the back of the mind and appear at moments outside of the theater to cause the audience to think. This movie was the least subtle film ever. So if it wasn’t political, then why were these themes so blunt? The answer is disappointing and simple.


2) The characters were so uninteresting they could be described as cinematic Ambien. Who were we supposed to feel for in this film? The downtrodden workers of the factories, whose bosses were so ridiculously un-empathetic that it bordered on comical? The lowly criminals covered in tattoos because that’s how we identify who is bad or not, by the ink on their skin? It certainly wasn’t the white people (excluding the three on Earth, two of which were there as antagonists to Matt Damon’s character), whose only motivation and driving force seemed to be greed and causing harm to others. Is this a G.I. Joe script? Characters who are evil just for the sake of doing bad things are boring. Shows like Game of Thrones and Dexter have shown us that the people we consider as bad guys actually see themselves as good guys in many cases. The traditional “evil villain” characterization died out with the Superfriends cartoons. Apparently someone forgot to inform Blomkamp of that.

3) The science made no sense and expected us to dive into the explanation of “because science.” One of the first facepalm moments was when Kruger shot rockets after the shuttles rushing to Elysium at the beginning. The reasons for using a guy like Kruger were simple enough to understand, but how on Earth (pun completely intended) would small rockets fired from the shoulder be able to catch up to fully fueled shuttles that had a significant head start?


Not to mention he prefers not to wear regular clothes, which we see an abundance of. Hardly covert.

Also, the entire Elysium system can be set on a 180 degree path from it’s original ethos by changing one line of code from ILLEGAL to LEGAL. This is either one of the most careless oversights in programming history, or the original developers of Elysium intended for the station to serve as a “power from on high” that the rich folks used for their own purposes and lifestyle choices instead. That would have made for a much more interesting film, in my opinion.

4) The narrative plot points have been overdone. The sacrificial hero. The murky past. The salvation of the human race. Boring! At no point did I end up caring about what happened to anyone. There were no great internal struggles, no degrees of self questioning, and no discussion about anything of substance that dealt with the human condition. There was so much opportunity for that in a world that is so greatly divided. There was no talk about how Earth was governed, but there was talk about how Elysium was. Elysium is governed by a president who can apparently be taken out of power, at a moment’s notice, by “restarting” the station.


Aren’t there people who are involved and invested in the current president’s political station? Wouldn’t someone, like a senate, congress, parliament, or secret service do something about this? Are there no courts in Elysium? Or does Jodie Foster’s character (some of the worst acting I’ve seen from the actress) work as a protectorate like Ceasar? We don’t know, because the world is never fleshed out.

5) The social constructs do not align with Elysium’s economic interests, at all. Let’s just take a look at the factory that Max (Damon’s character) works at for a second. He gets injured and is told he can’t work. He says he can so his boss lets him. Know how this problem could have easily been fixed? Give the place a machine that fixes the workers in seconds. They wouldn’t have to worry about having any delays because of injury; they wouldn’t have to hire additional workers, therefore keeping their personnel expenses lower, and they wouldn’t have to worry about one of them having underground connections and becoming a volatile enemy of the state. Did this future Earth take no lessons away from Breaking Bad?

Is Elysium an Autarky that is able to sustain itself without any support from the dystopian planet of it’s origin? Again, we have no idea, as nothing is explained. However, it would seem careless they they are willing to just let the drek of Earth eat themselves if they are dependent on their services in order to maintain their Eden in the sky.

The major issue I’m trying to get across is that this world doesn’t seem thought out. One of the best things about science fiction is that the world you are engrossed in seems like a living breathing ecosystem that was present before you started observing it. There is nothing here that gives any backstory as to how mankind could have gone so downhill in a 100 year time span other than an incredibly vague opening title sequence.

In fact, maybe the whole point was for us to feel like the inhabitants on Earth, while Blomkamp and those involved in the film were the inhabitants of Elysium. From where we sit it doesn’t really seem like they see us as intelligent, capable beings.

The History of Dark Souls (by “Deddan” on /r/darksouls)

Recently, I found an illustrated history of what is possibly my favorite game, ever. It was created by reddit user “Deddan” and is not only well thought out, but includes some wonderful illustrations to help get the messages across. Because the story line in Dark Souls is told almost entirely out of personal interactions and item descriptions, I found this to be a very useful (and entertaining) learning tool. Enjoy! (WARNING: SPOILERS, AND A VERY LONG SCROLL) Continue reading

5 Invaluable Life Lessons You Didn’t Realise You Learned From Gaming

As a child you believe that, if you follow the rules outlined for you, you will be achieve anything and everything you’ve ever wanted. The world is a ripe orchard of opportunity waiting to be picked at a moment’s notice. But anyone over the age of 20 knows this isn’t always the case. In fact, the most valuable lessons of life are learned outside the government-required methods of teaching and learning.

As I grew up, I encountered some harsh realities that no one really prepared me for. However, they seemed familiar, as if I had lived another set of lives that gave me an insight – albeit the slightest one – into how to best deal with what was happening to me. That’s when lightning struck, and I realized that any reality check or life lesson I would encounter, I would already be prepared for… thanks to video games.

Yes, video games. Throughout my 30 years of life there are five main lessons I’ve learned because of my digital adventures and tribulations, and chances are, you’ve learnt the same things…

5. Most People Are Out To Serve Themselves

Human Shield

One thing I came to grips with through my 20s was the fact that, no matter what field you work in, you will be surrounded by people whose main objective is to further their own lives. It doesn’t matter if you’re working for a non-profit, or deal in some kind of client services; the services rendered are often fueled by an individual’s desire to increase their own repertoire of accomplishments. If it so happens that they are able to do it in a field that allows them to help people, all the better. Those are called psychic benefits. Although nice, most people understand that you can’t pay rent with good vibes.

In the gaming world you often see a similar situation in FPS multiplayer games – particularly in team deathmatch mode. Your teammates aren’t there to help you get the highest score, and you aren’t there to help them. You are all there to achieve as many unlocks and points as possible with the added benefit of being able to use your teammates as distractions. A few games reward the “support” role, like Ghost Recon, or the Battlefield series, but unless you’re playing Journey you won’t find anyone rooting for your cause.

The incentive just isn’t there.

Helping others may give you a brief feeling of accomplishment in the vein of psychic benefit, but it won’t get you the rifle decal you crave so much .

4. You Will Fail (But You Will Succeed Later Because Of It)


Video games are designed to make you fail. The intent is to take your lion-sized courage and confidence and morph it into a baby duck. It’s industry standard for developers to program boss fights to take somewhere around three tries to win. That means that their goal is, literally, to make sure you don’t accomplish your desired goal on the first try. Or, if you’re playing Dark Souls, your 30th attempt. Continue reading

How MMOs have become the worst business model in the industry

Crosspost from my article at Whatculture.com.

marvel heroes mmo

In the beginning there was a wish. During the days of Final Fantasy VII, Chrono Trigger, and Secret of Mana, many of us imagined a world where the characters we fought and bled with would be populated with other like-minded RPG fans. Where we could explore the fictional worlds with our friends; riding airships, exploring ancient cities, and avoiding marauders and other high-level dangers.

Then, one day, it happened. One day we woke up and we were given Asheron’s Call, EverQuest, and Ultima Online. The dream of immersing ourselves into a living, breathing world; full of cultures, factions, and other people had become a reality. The world was good, and the people rejoiced. Games like World of Warcraft (WoW) capitalized on this growing genre of gamers by using its existing brand recognition and innovative quest system to amalgamate users from these divided worlds. In the early to mid 2000’s there wasn’t a gamer alive who didn’t know what World of Warcraft was.

Eventually, this WoW bubble burst. Since it had become the face of MMORPGs the genre began to fade with it. The game became a polarized version of itself. The ease of starting the game was meant to appeal to casual gamers, but the end-game gear was primarily reserved for those who could invest eight hours a day into raiding dungeons or PvPing. Attempts were made to curb this separation, but by this point the first generation of WoW players had moved on, and their brethren were soon to follow.

Since the fires of WoW have now tempered themselves, people really haven’t heard much in the vein of MMORPGs on a blockbuster scale. One reason is because it is very difficult for an upstart title to overtake a game’s brand loyalty and consumer base. How many other first-person shooters can you name that have a truly competitive nature with Call of Duty or Halo? Many of these games fall into a roadside ditch, never to be thought of again.  Others try to replicate the design, but through a lens that doesn’t really understand why the major title was famous in the first place. Allow me to show you an example of the latter. Continue reading

The Path of the Bat — The live-action Batman series I was able to pitch to WB


The Path of the Bat


A live-action procedural series explaining the skills and abilities that Batman learned while traveling the world as Bruce Wayne, and how that shaped the hero he would become, and the demons he would combat. It would be similar in tone to BBC’s Sherlock while utilizing the time-jumping chronology demonstrated by Lost.


The series will focus on the first few years of Batman’s existence in Gotham City, while flashing back to the training he received during his decade traveling the world. Commissioner Gordon is not his ally yet, and Batman hasn’t encountered any of his infamous rogues’ gallery. Each episode would begin with a set up in present day Gotham City, followed by the flashback to his past. The two timelines will parallel each other as the episode unfolds, and demonstrate what skills he is specifically using for the crimes he solves.

It would begin with a present day Bruce Wayne looking over Gotham City and someone welcoming him back to Wayne Enterprises. He would then think back to the day he told Alfred he couldn’t stay in Gotham anymore, and that there was nothing for him to learn in a place that was so dark. Young Bruce would board a ship and his journey would begin.  There would be no need to start with his parent’s murder. Many people are familiar with how Bruce lost his parents, and a simple main title that shows a gunshot and a string of pearls falling onto a dirty alley floor would serve this purpose each episode. There is no need to delay the progression of the story with an origin episode.

The beginning of the flash backs on his journey would focus on Bruce’s inexperience and anger about the injustice committed against his family. He would disembark somewhere in France, and upon seeing some thieves or other criminal sorts he would attempt to intervene. His anger towards the criminal element would overpower any sense of self preservation, and he would be beaten, badly. His intervention would draw the attention of Henri Ducard. Not the man we know as the former leader of the League of Shadows, but the man-hunting French detective who would teach Bruce about forensics and the art of deduction.

In France, Bruce will not only gain invaluable skills needed to become the world’s greatest detective, but he will also learn about the restrictions and red tape involved when trying to stop illegal activites through the “proper” channels. Eventually, his unsanctioned involvement with some of Ducard’s cases will force him to leave France to save his mentor’s reputation.

In this past, Bruce will travel to the other areas that lend him skills and abilities inherent in becoming Batman. From the body control methods of the Nepalese monks, to the tracking and hunting education he receives in Africa, to the stealth and combat abilities in Japan and East Asia; Bruce’s Journey spans nearly a decade.

During his training he will also start to form the idea of Batman. The darkness he will find useful in his stealth training in Japan; the vision of the bat he will discover during his body control teaching in Nepal, and the importance of theatricality and symbolism he will remember from seeing the Mark of Zorro from when he was a child.

Throughout the show viewers would see allusions to what Bruce will eventually become: his disgust of clowns, despising people who are two-faced, being assaulted by a porcelain penguin in an exaggerated skirmish. Ducard will begin tracking the illegal trafficking of what will eventually become the Venom that powers Bane’s strength.

As the back story unfolds, viewers will simultaneously be following a story in present-day Gotham that mirrors what Batman is learning in each episode. Each specific skill he learns in his travels will be showcased as he unravels and plan by Ra’s Al Ghul to return the world to its natural state. Ghul’s purpose is simple: human beings, once a symbiote, have become a parasite and must be eliminated in their current structure in order to preserve the planet, and the species.

Ghul will use the different members of Batman’s rogues’ gallery in order to get what he wants, mostly from behind the curtains and in the shadows.

After Ra’s is revealed he will attempt to use the Joker as a pawn in his plane – a disastrous attempt that will set him back on his plans, and thrust the Joker into the spotlight as the major antagonist. The two will vie for the title of top villain throughout the series.

Unbeknownst to Bruce, Ra’s will even play a part in his early training years. Because of Ra’s vast international connections and need for a proper heir for his organization, he could monitor, influence, and invest in Bruce’s travels. Ra’s could even pit Bruce against other potential suitors for Talia Al Ghul without their knowledge.

Warner Brothers is already an established name in the DC world. They have shown that they can take a familiar story and make it something new and fresh. Shows like Smallville, Arrow, and even back as far as Lois and Clark, have shown that they know how to create something contemporary, as well as engaging. This series will allow Warner Brothers to continue that trend, enhance both the Batman franchise as well as perpetuate  the legacy of Gotham’s lone protector.

State of Decay: Review

state of decay

I think many of us might agree that the zombie phase of entertainment is hobbling on its last leg. The undead bubble from the mid 2000′s has just about reached its bursting point. With all of the refuse that has tried to capitalize on its popularity only a few intellectual properties have really done the genre justice, and been able to capture the feel of how zombies have been famously portrayed throughout the years.

Left 4 Dead is a top contender for best zombie game, and the Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare expansion was a very generous and well done supplement to the already famous title. Since then we haven’t really had a lauded zombie game from a major developer. Dead Island started off well, but wasn’t able to capitalize on the hype it generated in its execution. It seemed as if the genre was dead, with its brains destroyed, never to be re-risen.

Enter State of Decay. This modest title from Undead Labs was a $20 buy from Xbox Live arcade. With that low of a price and distribution funnel I wasn’t sure how much I would really enjoy this game. Then I started playing it. The game was infectious, and that pun is completely intended. Continue reading