Category Archives: Axby News

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Coffee Time News 08/04/15

Five Nights at Freddy’s movie in the works, Bloodborne load times explained and Doctor Who confirmed for 5 more seasons at least.

Film

Rumour has it that DC’s cinematic universe could see the appearance of an iconic character in Batman’s life. Jason Todd, the second Robin, is killed by the Joker and returns (because comic books) bent on revenge towards the villain and resentment to Batman for not avenging him, he trains to be as skilled as Batman, but more violent. Laying the groundwork for the Red Hood (Todd’s eventual alias) in Batman Vs Superman and The Suicide Squad, makes this the perfect story to tell in a solo Batman movie.

Good news Tron Legacy fans; both lead actors Olivia Wilde and Garret Hedlund will be reprising their roles as Quorra and Samm Flynn in the upcoming third film which is slated for a 2017 release.

Five Nights at Freddy’s the incredibly simple, incredibly popular, horror game, looks like it might be getting a movie adaptation. Set to be produced by talents behind the likes of The Lego Movie, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and The Goldbergs, the project currently has no writers. I for one, would like to see a single actor facing off against the machines and the lore behind them. Films heavily featuring only one live action actor have a tendency to be tense and driven (Hey there Moon), but we’ll see what comes of it.

Television

 Doctor Who will be going until 2020, all being well and good with the series. The show is incredibly popular, not just here in the UK but overseas as well, and so it’s not much of a surprise that a show with the ability to replace cast members so easily has gotten another few years ahead of it at least.

The best thing about The Flash and Arrow, apart from Felicity Smoak and Oliver Queen (by decree of myself and Sara respectively), is the crossover potential, that and the fact that the shows are just so much fun. Anyway, things have been heading towards a huge pair of season finales that look like they’ll be another crossover event, check out the trailer for that here.

Arrested Development is returning again for 17 more episodes! Brian Grazer, executive producer has announced, saying that it’s because of the fans’ loyalty to the show that it’s happening.

Games

Bloodborne is a great game, if you’ve got the bottle to carry on, however, one of the main complaints about the game is the long load times, when a game expects you to die again and again, iteration times are important, but, it’s not laziness that’s the reason, as an interview with From Software by Games Radar pointed out, it’s safety. The game resets the entire world when you die, replacing not only enemies, but books, crates, anything in the world that can be tampered with. This, they say, is to prevent any bugs or glitches; if the memory is wiped and reset, any issues you encounter will be rectified. Read more about it here, and know that Sony and From Software are working on a way to reduce this iteration time.

The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt will be getting 2 pieces of paid DLC on top of the previously announced 16 free pieces of DLC. According to developers CD Projekt Red the two pieces will run at over 30 hours between them, with the first piece Heart of Stone costing $9.99 and the second Blood and Wine running at $19.99. the DLC will be coming in October and early 2016 respectively, while the game itself comes out on May 19th.

There’s been some leaked images and information about the sequel to 2011’s Deus Ex Human Revolution, titled Deus Ex Mankind Divided. It will carry on from the events of the previous game and feature a further enhanced Adam Jenson (He never asked for this),  working for Interpol and hunting down augmented terrorists. As long as they fix those damn boss encounters I’m game.

Politics, in a videogame?

‘Keep politics out of videogames’ is unfortunately something I have seen crop up from time to time. It’s an odd statement to make, when really politics is everywhere. The problem is most people don’t realise that nearly every decision one makes can has political implications.

Often when people claim to not want politics in their videogames what they actually mean is that either they don’t want something boring like political processes (see also bureaucracy and law) in a game, or a political position that they disagree with (insert hot political topic here), maybe even both.

I’m in a biased position as I have opted to spend over seven years of my life directly learning about politics, and whilst it won’t be the core part of my studies to come, it is an area that will always be of interest to me and influence my wider understanding of the world.

Yet the opinion that all politics should be absent from videogames is quite simply absurd. What’s more this position is dangerous. The irony with such a position is that by declaring that politics should be absent is in itself a political decision. The problem with this is that, as Keza MacDonald (of Kotaku UK) points out, this brings up parallels with the line of thought propagated by the Nazi’s. For them art should be apolitical, meaning it should look good and could draw upon themes of love or beauty, but it could not have any political connotations. The exception to this of course being connotations that supported the Nazi regime; in other words propaganda.

Triumph of the Will is a film by acclaimed director Leni Riefenstahl in 1935 that shows off a rally at Nuremberg along with various speeches by Adolf Hitler and other members of the Nazi hierarchy. Whilst today we look at it as an obvious piece of propaganda, and it was the intention when the film was commissioned by Hitler, it is an astonishing piece of art. Riefenstahl was an accomplished cinematographer and this is evident in the stunning shots that are present in the film.

This leaves us with an interesting dilemma, but one that disproves the argument that politics should be left out of art, or in our case; videogames. Triumph of the Will is a fascinating piece of art, but it would not exist were it not for politics. There are only very few people in the world (although still more than there should) who agree with the motives that the film aims to help propagate, but that does not mean that it does not have the right to continue to exist. The further irony in this lies in the fact that banning the film from existing is just like what the Nazi’s would do with material they did not agree with.

Therefore we should ignore YouTube personalities (whose name I won’t include here) who state that ‘injecting politics into fiction is naturally exclusionary and in my view regressive’. In this person’s view then the original Bioshock should not exist because the game is highly political due to its interpretative critique of Ayn Rand’s objectivist ideology. Having read Rand’s two main novels, with her final novel Atlas Shrugged (a key influence of Bioshock), which essentially describes her ideology in practise, I found myself at a dillema. This was because parts of her ideology, to me, made sense, but there were others that seemed to go beyond what was necessary and would be counterproductive.

Having read this I found my own political beliefs challenged and my knowledge expanded. Of course if it hadn’t been for playing Bioshock it is very unlikely that I would have read it in the first place, despite my interest in politics (Atlas Shrugged is basically four books in one).

If games like Bioshock (or many other games that incorporate overt political content) don’t challenge a political view and/or ideology, then it is that which is regressive.

Game Delays are a Good Thing

By Joe Strange


Earlier this week Rocksteady announced that Batman Arkham Knight would be delayed once more, this time by three weeks, giving us a world wide release date of June 23rd. This isn’t the first time the highly anticipated conclusion to the Arkham series has been delayed; originally planned for an October 2014 release, it was delayed by eight months to June 2nd of this year, the reasoning? The team wanted to make sure that the game was absolutely complete, and up to their own standards, stating that they didn’t want to release something they weren’t happy with.
The reasoning behind the most recent delay is the same; Rocksteady want their final foray into the Batman story to be an experience that isn’t hindered by bugs, glitches and the other types of faults that this generation of gaming is rife with.

There was very little uproar this week when the team announced it, after all, three weeks isn’t that long, but I remember being livid when the game was delayed back in June of 2014, I had been waiting for the game since I finished Arkham City and I wanted more. I turned to a petulant, entitled kid who wanted what they thought they deserved.

That was, until Assassins’ Creed Unity hit in October. I don’t need to tell you how much of a sh*t-storm that game caused; with enough bugs and glitches to make a Fallout game look perfect, all in a game that isn’t half as endearing and charming as the Bethesda series of Wasteland survival, Unity had journalists and gamers alike up in arms. The game was not finished, it was not good, it was not acceptable.

In Ubisoft’s defence, they had backed themselves into a corner with their annual release schedule for the franchise, and were under the assumption that people needed another instalment every year. The end result was, well, weeks and weeks of patches, criticisms and fixes for a game that will forever be an off taste in the memory of an otherwise good series.

343 Industries, however, was a different case. The much anticipated Halo Master Chief Collection promised Halo fans the chance to play all of their favourite maps and game types in glorious remastered brilliance, but immediately people ran into problems with matchmaking. In this 5000+ word article, in fact, Rhys Weir has chronicled all the reported issues, patches and generally painted a picture of the game’s first 100 days of being released, he concludes with saying that it’s still dysfunctional and broken, despite the effort that 343 have gone to try to fix it all.

This isn’t so much because the game was rushed, but because it was poorly prepared, which is just as bad, and would have been more avoidable given more testing time, I imagine. But for a game like Halo, which has such a focus on the multiplayer, having a multiplayer system that just doesn’t work (when previous games in the series have worked flawlessly) is inexcusable.

The truth of the matter is, with the game industry having such a dedicated following and with people clambering for any information on the next big game, the hype train is unavoidable, which puts pressure on developers to roll out the games while the excitement levels are still high.

Games like Dragon Age Inquisition, which was heralded as one of the best games of the last year, released with very few bugs, yes there were some here and there, but none were game breaking, and none really took away from the core enjoyment of the game. The Dragon Age fanbase is enthusiastic, dedicated, but most of all, they know that to get what they want, they have to wait.

Patience is a virtue, after all.

So, back to Arkham Knight, Rocksteady didn’t develop the last Arkham game, Arkham Origins, and while it wasn’t received badly, it was the weak link in the series so far. It would have been tempting for Rocksteady to forgo the polishing process and release Arkham Knight last October to make up for what could have been considered a mistake, but what would they have gained in releasing a broken game? What does any developer gain in doing so?

Ubisoft apologised for Unity‘s upset by giving away free DLC, which would have otherwise been paid for, or, for those who had bought the season pass, a free game from their recent release lists. 343 have plans to release a remastered version Halo ODST for the shortcomings of the Master Chief Collection, all this is more work and less profits for the studios and the dev team. Meanwhile, Rocksteady have a few more weeks to finish the game so that people have faith that not only will they be getting a complete game, but that they can trust the studio.

And faith in a studio is worth a hell of a lot in a time where they’re under a lot of scrutiny.

EGX Rezzed

Sara Da Silva


EGX Rezzed is a yearly event in which players can salivate over console and PC games before they’re released. This was me on Saturday. Having been to the past 2 EGX conventions I knew roughly what to expect, but yet again I was blown away.

As soon as we got to the convention, and after having lined up for what seemed like forever, we went straight for the Oculus Rift. I’ve used the VR headset before but the people I was with hadn’t, so seeing their reaction was all kinds of hilarious. As well as playing the beloved Alien: Isolation on the Oculus, we had the pleasure of testing out the Roto VR, which essentially is a swivel chair with a built in sensor platform that moves your character as you move your feet. It took me a while to get used to the movement and keep my thumb away from the right thumb stick, but once I got going it was hard to stop. Not literally.

The convention was choc-a-block full of different types of games. I hadn’t heard of the majority before because they were so new, but there were a few that I instantly recognised. Including, but not limited to, the internet’s favourites: I Am Bread and Goat Simulator. They certainly attracted a crowd.

But there was one game in particular that I fell in love with: Gang Beasts. It’s not as creepy as it sounds, I promise. I first saw this game played by Inside Gaming, who you may now know as Funhaus. It was hilarious then, and even better in person. The idea of the game is so simple and silly, yet genius. The anger felt after being eliminated by another player is almost on the same level as when playing Mario Kart. And that’s saying something.

Before we left the convention we somehow got roped into taking part in a postgrad psychological experiment which was measuring all sorts of variables, including empathy and spacial awareness. It was a two person experiment with the first person wearing a headset and controlling a computer, whilst the other was wearing a VR headset and was placed into a sealed coffin and had to relay clues and riddles to the other player in order for them to find their location. For some unknown reason I volunteered to be “buried alive”. It turns out that when I’m in claustrophobic conditions I burst into fits of hysterical laughter. But, by the end of it I actually found myself feeling quite comfortable. Well, I had to be seeing as my brother (who was controlling the computer) took such a long time to find me. I’m never trusting him with my “life” again. It was definitely the weirdest thing I have ever experienced in my life.

One of the greatest parts of gaming conventions is meeting the creators and developers. It really gives you a sense of how much effort goes in to creating the games that we play, and it can even be a stepping stone into the industry. So, if you’re interested in pursuing this as a career, or if you’re just a fan of video games, then definitely get yourself to EGX 2015.

New Comic Series! Something Something Thursdays

Axby’s resident comic artist/alchemist Charlie Higson has written a new comic series! Something Something Thursdays follows Luke the demon and his new 20 something housemate in his mission to judge whether mankind should be spared from the coming apocalypse. Check back every Thursday for another instalment full of Charlie’s distinct art style and humour all rolled into a serial story line!

So, because we like you so much, we’ve got the first episode here, as well as that, here’s episode two and three, and you can always go to the Something Something Thursdays section of the site.

SST0

Page to Screen: Should Authors be kept away from their adaptations?

By Joe Strange


Oh boy, I’m so happy to be back underneath the Page to Screen title! Today’s article was tough to come by; I’ve been celebrating my sister’s wedding all weekend and in between that I’ve been focussing on my own writing, so coming back to Axby this week has been a bit rough, even after catching up on all the stuff I missed since Thursday. So, with personal stuff out the way, let’s get back to today.

While I was away a little film called Fifty Shades of Grey came outand despite a record breaking release not all is well in the land of E.L. James’ adaptation.

According to sources close to the project the filming was plagued by disagreements between writer E.L. James and director Sam Taylor-Johnson, so much so that Taylor-Johnson is looking for a way out of her three film contract.

Apparently the disagreements centred around the level of involvement of the original author, how she would persistently veto the crew’s creative decisions, from the costume department to the director’s chair. James’ ability to do so was given in the deal to adapt the book. Universal gave the author an incredible amount of control over the adaptation, so much so that she could attempt to overrule a lot of decisions. This is obviously going to cause friction with the director, who’s been hired to bring her work to life.

So this is obviously going to bring up the question as to whether or not creators of the adapted medium (be it book, game, or anything else) should have that much control over the film that’s to be made from their work, if any at all, and thus another Page to Screen is born.

Film adaptations of books are anything but a new concept, and Fifty Shades is far from the first instance of creative differences in the production of them. The most notorious example is Stephen King’s disdain for the Stanley Kubrick adaptation of The Shining. King has stated that the film is not a good adaptation, and that it’s the only adaptation of one of his books that he ‘remembers hating’. So dissatisfied with the film, King went on to work on a television adaptation of his book.

Now, the differences between these two projects, Fifty Shades and The Shining are plentiful, the former had plenty of involvement from the writer, whilst the other did not, one of them is critically acclaimed and enjoyed by film critics and casual viewers alike while the other took £13 million on the opening weekend but has been almost universally panned by critics and the layperson alike.

It’d be easy to look at those two comparisons and say ‘well, let’s keep authors out of the film industry’, but I can’t quite say that. Now, first of all, as a budding author I’d love to see my work on the big screen one day, and I’d like some say in what goes so I might be a little bias towards one side, but on the other hand I also like to think I know when someone who has trained for years to do a job, they know the matter a little better than me.

It’s also not quite that simple, (is it ever?) for every adaptation that keeps away from the author and does well, there’s one that consults the author and does just as well. Likewise there are those projects that fall flat either way (Eragon had little to do with author Christopher Paolini and it kind of sucked.)

The Harry Potter series is one that I’ve talked about a lot in this series of articles, and for good reason. The series is a great example of both how to do adaptations really well and capture the ahem, magic, of the originals as well as how not to approach the process of adapting a beloved series.

To maintain the over arching plot lines of the series, J.K. Rowling assisted in the script writing of the film versions of her series, her hand went as far as to tell certain actors big reveals for their characters to keep them consistent with actions in the later books, and therefore the later movies.

While there are some people out their who despise the movies but love the books, I don’t think it’s too hard to admit that amidst all of the directorial changes and the huge timespan of the series, the Harry Potter films are exceedingly good adaptations of the original books, and that has to be, in large part, to the involvement of Rowling.

A more recent example of an author’s involvement in a well received project is that of George R.R. Martin and his work in the television adaptation of his Song of Ice and Fire series. He’s been heavily involved in the production of the show, even writing episodes of the show.

And honestly, Game of Thrones is incredible, even when it deters from the source material it does so in such a good way that (as a book reader) you don’t mind.

So at the end of the day, there’s no clear cut answer to whether or not authors should be involved in the adaptations of their work. If we insisted on it, we’d not have films like The Shining, but when the involvement is too intense we end up with directors questioning whether or not they’ll make another film at all.

Really it comes down to respecting that the other party has the ability to craft a good piece of art, and knowing when your decision might not be the best one. After all, directors direct, writers write. You wouldn’t hire a plumber to give you a liver transplant.

Like most of my articles, it comes down to moderation, but the thing I’m worried about is, despite the financial success (which had a lot to do with the film catering to an otherwise untapped demographic), the critical reception may lead studios to think that writers shouldn’t have a say in the process, which would be a horrible shame and disservice to both the industry and fans.