Wednesday, 4 December 2013
It's been confirmed that Fast and Furious star Gal Gadot will be strapping on the bullet-proof braces and golden tiara of Wonder Woman in Zack Snyder's Bats vs Supes film.
"What's that?" I hear your cry, "Wonder Woman is in there too?". Is Snyder throwing too many heroes into what could be an already convoluted and stodgy broth? Yeah, probably.
Look, I'm sure Gadot will be a great Wonder Woman. Hell, I'm psyched that we're getting to actually see a movie incarnation of an amazing superhero. But it seems to me that she could have quite easily had her own film. Does this seem like rushing to anyone else? Maybe she will have her own flick a few years down the line, but unless Snyder actually wakes up one day to find out that he can actually direct a bombastic superhero film then I don't have high hopes.
Please, Snyder, prove me wrong.
Update: According to the Variety article The Flash is also said to appear in the film. Is this just going to the Justice League? Could this be terrible?
Tuesday, 3 December 2013
We're technically into the 8th generation of consoles with the PS4, Xbox One and Wii U, so I'm sure most of my readers are now penniless after splashing out on these behemoths.
To celebrate this new milestone, Ebuyer has created a retro game called Odyssey that lets you play through 7 generations of consoles while collection 102 consoles from the past to the present (did you even know there were that many?). It's pretty nifty!
You can play the game here: http://www.ebuyer.com/odyssey
Monday, 2 December 2013
So how geek are you? Considering I write a blog that's all about geeky stuff I can safely say that I'm definitely one of them. However, I found that I wasn't able to admit to knowing everything on the infographic below - 50 Things a Geek Should Know. How do you stack up?
Monday, 25 November 2013
This weekend I attended Thought Bubble Comic Con, an event that is often referred to as the best comic book convention in the UK, and for good reason. While like likes of San Diego and New York boast A-list movie star guests and first glimpses of new films and shows, Thought Bubble is very much about the comics. Because of this, panels at Thought Bubble are some of the best fodder for anyone who wants to hear their favourite comic creators get philosophical about the medium (as well as just plain gushing). There's a reason why they are so in love with comics - it's probably the most versatile form of media that exists. It's easy for the uninitiated to think that comics are just words and pictures. At their most basic this is true, but to create a truly good story a comic must be much more than this.
Trust in the reader
In one panel I attended, Marvel scribe Kieron Gillen explained why creators forge an inherent trust in the reader when they make comics. This mostly comes down to how people physically read comics. In a novel reading speed is fairly consistent all the way through. You may stop to look up an unfamiliar word, but ultimately you're reading at the same speed. In comics this isn't the case. As well as being written, comics are also essentially 'built'. Creators need to think about image and text placement and what is happening holistically on the entire page. People don't read from left to right - their eyes are drawn to particular images or fonts, so a whole page is as important as a single cell. Creators have a trust that the reader is going to go about the comic as they intended. They can guide them as much as possible, but that can only go so far. Gillen described it as being both a creator and an audience at the same time. At one time you have to let go of your work and trust that the reader is going to move through the page as you intended. Look at the spread below. There are many ways you can read it - it doesn't have to be from left to right.
Storytelling with art
Clearly art is a massive part of comic books and it's one of the more overlooked parts of storytelling. Artists have to create a story with their images just as much as writers do with their words. Some comics are poor because the imagery doesn't compliment the words. You could have the best writer in the world on a comic, but if the artist is unable to tell the story with art then it's going to be a poor comic. The entire feel of the comic can also change depending on the art style. Imagine a story about a war. If this were illustrated with the lush but often bleak brushstrokes of J.H. Williams III then that would set a serious and sombre tone. However, if you used the same script but had the cartoon wackiness of Skottie Young, then your tone would change entirely. In one panel at Thought Bubble Kelly Sue DeConnick explained how important it was that the writer knew who the artists was so that they could write with their style in mind.
Comics can do things that no other entertainment medium is able to pull off. Comics have multiple elements that can be manipulated in order to add an extra dimension to the story. Comics can twist expectations by using the medium to its full potential. Just look at the page from Young Avengers below.
That entire spread is a fight scene - one that could never exist outside of the medium. In that single image there is so much going on both inside and out of panels that at first it's quite difficult to get your head around, but there's no doubt how beautiful it is.
Comics are much more sophisticated than they're often given credit for and there's many more reasons than those I've listed here. If you're not into comics then I hope you've at least been convinced that they're not just pictures on a page with some word balloons dotted around.
Sunday, 17 November 2013
Saturday, 9 November 2013
I was recently reading about Shadowrun 5e when I saw that one of the drawbacks your character can have is being a racist. This got me thinking about how racism is used in games and how GMs and players can handle it.
Obviously racism in the real world is abhorrent. It's utterly reprehensible and yet the world is still rife with it. When you look at games, usually fantasy and sci fi, you will often find in-built racial tensions as part and parcel of the system or setting. This extends from literature, where books like The Lord of the Rings show hatred between dwarves and elves, one of the more classic dichotomies. Of course races in these instances are essentially different species. In the real world we're all human, no matter where you're from, but in a game human is just one type of sentient creature .
Still, racism can be something that challenges the players. In my own campaign setting, Peakvale, racism is actually one of the driving forces behind the political upheaval occurring in the autocracy. Humans and halflings are the favoured races, with better jobs and prospects whereas everyone else lives in squalor. One race has even been exiled from the country. So it sets up a situation where a group of characters with a mixture of races will lead to some interesting choices and sometimes uncomfortable decisions. The setting doesn't present racism for racism's sake. There is a clear problem in the political system and characters must decide where they stand and how much they risk.
What shouldn't happen at the table is tension between races as some kind of novelty. If it's something you're going to feature in your game then it needs to be there to tell a story and challenge the players. Don't cheapen it. If a player is going too far and making others feel uncomfortable then call them out. Adding racial tension to a game should never ever be an excuse for vulgarity. It should be an opportunity to explore ideas and preconceptions in a safe environment.