WC2.0 Episode 4 : Another Show Another Bleep

Welcome Lee to the show, Game with RoleplayDNA recap, Dread the RPG (editor’s note I said Mark Macklin I should have said Ryan Macklin), Next Game day in November, Justin will be at FreeRPG Day being held at Total Escape Games, Ayla’s interview with John Noble is on the internet, The Hatfields and McCoys mini series, Matt’s dislike of the Christmas Story movie, D&D Next play test, Denver ComicCon.

Music Used : “8-Bit Junky” by George Wood

Interview with John Noble

This took a while for me to get edited. Blame me. Sorry.

But Ayla was at StarFest 2012 and got an interview with John Noble. You have seen Mr. Noble in the hit TV show Fringe and the Movie Lord of the Rings: Return of the king, just to name a few of his many projects. This was Ayla’s first interview, but I think she did a great job!

I want to put a special thank you to the wonderful staff at StarFest who helped us get this interview and provided the video. WIthout them there wouldn’t be a great convention like StarFest to attend yearly nor would this video exist. Thank you again!

And of course we thank Mr. Noble for giving Ayla her first shot in what will hopefully be a career in celebrity interviewing.

Enjoy:

Trying to Keep Up

Justin on Mic

Justin on Mic

WombatCast is far from dead. We have slowed down quite a bit due to the changes and my sick need to fill my free time with projects. But I have made a commitment to keep WombatCast moving forward. And part of the commitment I have made to myself is to blog on a regular basis.

I want to write more. I am fair at it but I need practice, which I am sure you know if you read my work on a regular basis. Like any skill you need to keep doing it to get better, and for me that will be blogging and working on my game modules.

I will write about whatever is on my mind, but if you want me to write about something specific or answer a question about all the subjects I am an expert in, just drop me a line.

Some questions I have for you: Do you have any interest in watching WombatCast be recorded live? And what kind of people do you want to see us interview on the show?

Drop us a line!

The ET Blu-ray

Stephen Spielberg has decided to come out of the crazy rabbit hole that he followed George Lucas down. It has been announced that the alterations made to E.T. the Extraterrestrial will be removed from the upcoming Blu-ray version of the movie. If you don’t know what I am talking about let me show you. Here is how a scene looked in the original version of the movie:

 

Got it? See the FBI agents holding guns? Ok, now let’s look at a picture from when Mr. Spielberg and George Lucas decided to make alterations to the movie for the 20th Anniversary DVD release:

Not quite the same shot, I know, but if you look closely you can see the guns have been replaced with Walkie Talkies. Steven Spielberg said he removed the guns and Elliot saying “penis breath” due to complaints parent groups had with ET. In 2011 Spielberg admitted he regretted the decision of making the alterations and he heard the fan outrage that followed the changing of this masterpiece.

I applaud him going back to his original film. There is something unsettling to me when a film maker goes back and changes something I remember watching as a child. I can tell you where I was when I first saw ET, I was in the back of my parents old station wagon watching it at the drive-in. As an adult I still feel the emotions I felt as a child watching ET. Messing with that almost feels like someone went back in time, altered my life, and then came back to the future to point out what was different.

George Lucas had a lot to do with this. I’m sure that as the plan was made to rerelease ET on DVD, Spielberg talked to his good friend George about his mixed feelings regarding the complaints about the FBI using guns to capture Elliot and his friends. To which George said, “I can fix that quicker than Han can shoot first!”

The Star Wars series and ET represent so much more than a story, they are milestones of a generation’s upbringing. And while the movies and the vision belong to their creators, they are also beloved by the masses who watched them. I don’t own these movies, but I do feel protective of them.

Mr. Spielberg, thank you for realizing your mistake. Maybe you can talk Mr. Lucas into coming back from the dark side and release an original print of Star Wars Episodes IV-VI.

Bad Dudes

Justin on Mic

Justin on Mic

“So, Lone Star, now you see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb.” Dark Helmet talking to Lone Star in the movie, Spaceballs.

Think about the antagonists in all the stories you have read and/or watched that you are a fan of. The easiest example of the bad guy we love to hate is Darth Vader. I remember being a young lad and going to see Return of the Jedi with my parents. I can remember how the audience cheered at the opening scene when the Imperial shuttle lands in the hanger of the new Death Star, the ramp drops open, and out steps our favorite evil doer.

What makes villains worthy of our fandom? Vader is the ultimate in evil, let’s review his dastardly deeds over the four movies (I could Revenge of the Sith…I know, just stay with me): He kills padawan younglings, takes out a room full of unsuspecting separatists, force chokes his pregnant lover, helped the Empire hunt down Jedi, helped oversee the building of two Death Stars, took part in the death of billions by blowing up a planet with said Death Star, and he unsafely disposed of the Emperor’s body by throwing him down that huge shaft (note to self: install safety nets in huge shaft in throne room). This guy is about as bad as they get, but we cheer for him.

Another example is the Joker from the Batman comics/films. How cool was the Heath Ledger version of the Joker from the Dark Knight? Why did we enjoy seeing this psycho chew up Gotham and its citizens?

Meanwhile we cannot stand other villains and have zero love for someone like Prince Joffery in Game of Thrones TV series or the Song of Fire and Ice books if you prefer. And I would argue that Joffery is only a fraction of the evil we see in someone like the Joker.

My personal belief is that Joffery is more realistic view of evil, where Vader and the Joker are an over the top, stylized version of the villains of reality. I can imagine a Joffery being a real person and has qualities of people I have known (not the extremes mind you, I try to hang out with the kinder sort).

What other villains do you love to hate or just hate?

WC2.0 Episode 3 : Coming Out

Welcome Ed to the show, RoleplayDNA game day June 2nd, Ed is the Kristen Stuart of sarcasm, Snow White and the Huntsman, Denver ComicCon is coming the weekend of June 16th, June 16th is Free RPG day, a DC comic character is going to be announced as gay, Joss Whedon doesn’t want to do Avengers 2, D&D Next play test.

Music Used : “8-Bit Junky” by George Wood

 

D&D Next

Dungeons & Dragons

It was 1985, and I was 10 years old. I had an entire summer break to look forward to and I spent most of my days being watched by my Grandmother. She lived on a West 6th Avenue, and this is where my friend universe centered. One friend, Brad, decided he needed to introduce us all to a new game: Dungeons and Dragons. Up to that point I had only been exposed to board games, so getting what was going on was difficult at first. But once we got going my life was never going to be the same.

Dungeons and Dragons has been a star in the celestial expanse of my life. As I got older that D&D star, I discovered, was part of a constellation…the Big Dorker. I will work on that name, it doesn’t roll of the tongue. But it was a constellation that included gaming and other geek interests. D&D and gaming became a central part of my life and to this day still is. That was until 4th Edition.

I do not want to start an edition battle here, that is not the intent of this post. I do want to say that 4th edition killed D&D for me. I tried to like it, oh did I ever try. I have a large collection of 4th edition books that will show you how I tried to get into this strange new version. As I played D&D 4th edition more and more, I slowly felt my desire to play and DM dwindle away. That spark of creativity and fun was gone from the games I participated in.

Then Matt introduced me to Savage Worlds. He ran me through a one-sheet Deadlands game that woke that sleeping creative giant in my mind. Not long after this I was playing more SW at cons and with friends. And one day I was writing an adventure for D&D, that I was running the next day, and I was building an encounter when I stopped…I didn’t want to do this anymore. I talked to some friends and players and in the end decided to introduce everyone to Savage Worlds the next day instead of play D&D.

Since then my D&D books have sit on their shelf in my bookcase filled with games. The monstrous being known as Dungeons and Dragons had died. I went back to my younger days of trying out new games and to list a few that have really tweaked my creative melon: Kingdom of Nothing, Bulldogs, Agents of Oblivion, Fiasco, and Icons. This is just a small list mind you.

Then Wizards of the Coast announced D&D Next. I became intrigued by the ideas the original announcements stated. The idea that Wizards, in a way, admitted the problems with 4th edition was a good first step. The finger of the beast of D&D twitched…maybe it isn’t dead.

Today I got the D&D Next play test documents and I can see a ray of hope for this franchise. It is far too early to tell, but assuming Wizards doesn’t stray too far off this path of simplification and getting back to its roots, I think they might have something here. Maybe this beast isn’t dead, but simply slipped into a coma, and will rise again!

Will D&D ever be my only game? No, there are far too many great systems and games out there. But could D&D become part of my rotation again? Time will tell.

The Green Arrow going Prime Time?

As I was trolling some of my favorite websites today, I came across a post about the new Green Arrow TV show on CW. I have to tell you that Green Arrow has always been one of my favorite DC characters. In my opinion the DC Universe does one thing better than it’s competitors, and that is to give their characters and stories a much more visceral humanistic feel. Their flagship characters, Superman and Batman, both exemplify this in different ways. Batman wars against the darkness in his soul by fighting the horrors that have haunted him since his youth. While Superman embraces Humanism by making himself vulnerable through his emotional connections and empathy towards the people of his adopted home. With the Green Arrow, DC eventually made a fantastic transition from a cheap copy of Batman into something really significant.

It started with Mike Grell and his re imagining of Oliver Queen in the “Longbow Hunters”. Not only is the Mike Grell art fantastic, but he converted him from a pulpy one dimensional superhero with a bunch of trick arrows into an anti-establishment, violent crime fighter that has no qualms about using lethal force to extract some justice. In that one 3 part story, he gave us a person that resonates, because he suffers from the consequences of his decisions. Instead of languishing in despair, he tries to take back control and make it right. After the Eisner Award Longbow Hunters, Mike Grell was given a monthly series that kept the theme of Oliver the man dealing with life instead of Green Arrow the Trick Shot Archer. He was pulled out of the mainstream DC Universe, his popularity soared, and for a time he was he was my favorite story.

So now I see the CW making a Green Arrow TV show in the same vain as Smallville. To be perfectly honest I have never seen Smallville. I have heard great things about it and I know they even made a Cortex Plus RPG that has impressed a fair amount of gamers. But I have never watched it because it seemed like a remade version of Superman if he lived at Melrose Place. Also in general, I have fallen away from Superman stories simply because he has become so powerful that he becomes more like a god rather than the vulnerable, insecure hero trying to figure out his place and identity among the people of his adopted homeworld. So needless to say my expectations of “Arrow” are guarded. I watched the trailer (see below) and I think it looks promising. They seem to be using the Mike Grell version, making him struggle like the rest of us, and having his determination and focus being as important a tool as his shooting. This is definitely DVR worthy and I will give it a chance, but I do hope they treat him like he deserves.

(As a side note if you haven’t read What Ever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? , Red Son, or the absolutely brilliant All Star Superman then you are truly missing out. For Batman check out Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, The Killing Joke, and The Dark Knight Returns. I consider these some of the best stories written and yeah I am a bit of a fan boy, so take that into consideration.)

 

Sinking Battleships

In 2 days Battleship will be released. For those that don’t know, here is a summary of the movie as posted in MetaCritic: “Based on Hasbro’s classic naval combat game, Battleship is an epic action-adventure that unfolds across the seas, in the skies and over land as our planet fights for survival against a superior force. (Universal Pictures)”

What’s the deal movie execs? How does this get made and so many worthier concepts get left to die in development hell. I can imagine the pitch of this movie starts off with “What makes a movie a prototypical Summer release? We need a big name (Liam Neeson), and a popular artist (Rhianna), and a decent director with a good reputation and an edgy style (Peter Berg). The story needs to be simple and action packed, so the viewers don’t have to think too much. It must be 130 minutes, because studies show that is the perfect length for a movie. We have the perfect vehicle to match these criteria…Battleship. We won’t have to pay the creative talent as much because Michael Bay has created the perfect template of success. We can use his special effects, sound effects, and the alien design he did for Transformers. Oh and to make it relevant to the game, the alien missiles will be shaped like the pegs from the game and there will be lots of combat at sea. And on top of it who hasn’t played Battleship as a kid? This movie will sell itself.”

I am sure I am grossly paraphrasing, but how else could this movie get made. I can’t imagine professionals who make that much money don’t have some kind of logical justification. Maybe they think they are at the front of a trend that will make 100s of millions of dollars? Did you know that Ouija, Monopoly, Candyland, Risk, Monsterpocalypse, Clue are also being made into movies? Maybe the dearth of ideas in Hollywood has led to a mad scramble to remake any property to keep the machine going. Movies like Judge Dredd, Highlander, The Crow, Excalibur, Mortal Kombat, The Lone Ranger, TMNT, Dune, The Evil Dead, Godzilla, Scarface, Robocop, Akira, Tomb Raider…and the list keeps going… are currently being redone.

I don’t object to any of these movies in principle. I object to the “bottom line” decision making that is used. There is an algorithm involved in making movies that doesn’t contain intangibles like quality of story material, acting, and design. In my opinion it’s the intangible that really resonates with viewers.

You know what I would like to see being made? more John Carter. The movie was actually good especially in comparison with most of what is being made today. Edgar Rice Burroughs stories (i.e. Tarzan, Barsoom (Mars) Series,  Pellucidar (Hollow Earth)) could be mined for decades, and because the material is so rich, it wouldn’t even take much effort to make a decent film. How about some Robert E Howard? Conan has been done poorly in the past, but the stories are so good if somebody would give it the time it deserves to make a decent movie script out of it. He also wrote Solomon Kane, Kull, Bran Mak Morn. He even wrote Cthulhu Mythos stories, Westerns, and Historical Adventures. How about H.P. Lovecraft? Fritz Leiber (Fafhrd and Greymouser)? There is material out there that is brilliant and hearkens back to a time where we still developing horror, mystery,  Fantasy, and Sci-Fi. When this was all undiscovered country and we all got to share in it’s exploration. Please Mr. Movie Executives spend some time exploring the past in a meaningful way. Dig a little deeper than the past couple of decades and give us something less derivative and mindless.