Welcome back to the regularly scheduled programming everyone! Now that I’m caught up, things should maybe not be too long for a while. This week is a nice easy one, and two of my books are Drowned Earth chapters. Time to dive in (get it?)!
Despite being labeled as a tie-in, this book feels pretty fucking important. The last issue of Justice League ended with Poseidon impaling Aquaman on a trident, and this issue deals with the fallout of that. Aquaman is sent to the mythical version of the dead sea, where heroes and legends go when they die. Aquaman is given an opportunity to pass a test and prove his worthiness and maybe not die. It’s a pretty cool little story, although the guidance he receives from his dead dad feels significantly preachy. He gives a lot of fairly cliche advice – even though I’m dead I’m still with you, you’re more than your powers, sometimes knowing when not to fight is important, love and forgiveness are stronger than hate and regret etc etc. It seems like the book is trying really hard to have a moral, but it doesn’t quite work out despite the preachy advice and frequent nautical metaphors (“weathering the storm” being both a literal storm on the Dead Sea and the spiritual storm of Aquaman’s feelings). That said, the issue is enjoyable as someone that doesn’t really care about Aquaman outside of his role in the Justice League. The events of this issue will be important in the Justice League comic I’m going to review immediately after, so I’m glad I grabbed the tie-in.
Hello dear reader and welcome to Trash or Treasure where, yes, we are in fact watching Zombie Spring Breakers to follow up last week’s Spring Breakers. Zombie Spring Breakers (formerly called Ibiza Undead) is a movie about young people who head to Ibiza on spring break only to discover that there are zombies. They must’ve changed the title because it was too on the nose (and Zombie Spring Breakers clearly isn’t). The movie notably stars the voice actress of Tracer from the video game Overwatch and is found lurking on Hulu in the “please don’t find me” section. That’s my kind of section.
So I totally meant to announce that Dany was coming to visit, much the same way I meant to announce all of the written articles on twitter. But anyway it was super nice to see them and they were finally able to grab their TSF mug and move about their day in a more meaningful sense.
La di da we all grow as people, the intriniscally confusing nature of our day to days go on, and next time there will be more warning because I’ve set an alarm to update my personal calendar every couple of days.
Okay, with that out of the way.
I’m now all caught up on movies of the Marvel variety. With just one Black Panther to watch to finally neutralize the salty members that make up the MMM, we’re basically in a nice cool running to wrap this seasonal event up in a nice bow. I have no idea what the future holds for our pending act of creation during the 9 to 5, but expect something fairly short if it is live. Since I now carry full morning time duties, save for the Monday group stream, trying to piece something engaging together has thus far been quite a challenge.
We’ve got some show ideas in pipe, but we don’t know when those will be releasing just yet, so it’s gonna take some time to get those things ironed out in a meaningful way. Morning may be devoted to that, and as you are no doubt a morning devotee, this means you may need to devote yourself to disappointment in the mean time.
What is not disappointing is T’Chazz’s morning comic book rustle, which occurs on Tuesday mornings. He’s got all kinds of comic books to review especially with the pending threat of Superman’s big drop coming out hot and ready for next week. Even if you’re not interested in mediums that are not on paper, there is entertainment just to be had at reading the plots of some of these comics. Batman… married, I thought I’d never see the day, and yet here we are.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about then maybe it’s time to acquiesce and go read the comic reviews.
If the visit goes well, maybe stop over at Rosa town and peruse the movie collection, this month brought to you by the man badger that brought us National Treasure and also displayed sharp foresight in this weeks ToT, Next. This movie debuts a very full bodied Nic Cage attempting to seduce a very well paid actress only using his ability to see 2 minutes into the future. A superpower that seems only useful for predicting when you’ll disappoint your sexual partner because you’ve just started and you know that in less than two minutes you’re already going to be seeing fireworks.
Anyway that’ll do me today, catch you all next week.
Moral Choice Games Offer Dozens of Choices, but Only Give One
Freedom of choice is something a lot of us are used to, it’s something we deal with everyday. Picking up coffee for your coworkers makes you a paragon of the office, a shining idol of warm and roasty beverages, while taking the last donut makes you a rebel with the greed to match your gluttony. For example, this week I chose to be a rebel and ended up not writing this very article until the last second (Editor Getch, Im sorry. Editor Brian, you know me well enough to expect this by now).
But life has a way of presenting potential. Everyday I can choose to take a different path. There is always a way back no matter how hard or how long the path may be. I’ve already developed a habit of procrastination, but that doesn’t mean I’m stuck with it. Maybe next week I’ll get a head of myself and write two articles at once (purely hypothetical), leaving plenty of time for my clouded writings to be shined by my intelligent and very forgiving editors (… and beautiful… and wise). But these wild character changes are much harder to achieve in video games where the narrative is often set in stone. Choosing to betray your comrades and live a life of evil is difficult unless the game is built around that concept from the start. Often times this moral code offers a decision that is simply two means to the same end, or two sides of the same coin. Which is a fair comparison, as you often can’t have both sides at the same time…
Some games boast a rich moral system, having each choice leave the lives of the innocent in the balance against personal gains. What’s worth more? The personal safety of your character, or of the citizens of the neighborhood. Well that’s on you to decide, but no matter the choice the game decrees your character as either good or evil in it’s own definitions. But each choice made puts you further to one side or the other, and there is very rarely a middle ground.
In 2009’s inFamous for the Playstation 3, allowed the main character Cole to sling lightning as a hero or an anti hero. The player is rewarded with new abilities for each decision you make. Not caring about the people around you, destroying parts of the city, and in one case saving your girlfriend credits Cole with evil Karma, causing your lightning to pulse red explode more. Stopping a riot, being honest and comparing yourself to the Greek god Zeus returned a Heroic Cole with Good Karma, which made your lighting blue and gave you… less explody lightning? Good Karma choices filled a Good Karma meter, and Bad Karma choices filled a Bad Karma meter. The more attention these individual meters were given, the more rewards they gave out, but due to the limited number of options the game had, you could only make so many choices that supported good karma before completely losing the ability to unlock bad karma powers. There is not way to go back, or make an exception without losing efficiency in your superhero potential. This presents an awkward situation, if you want that great, ultimate, end-all attack you have to devote yourself to one side or the other. And this removes the ability to choose who you are morally as a character. It presents the one choice of good or evil, limiting the amount of depth the character can have. Perhaps you want to save every citizen, but not necessarily let the villains live. Well you want to get your hands on that super special finishing move, then you are stuck letting every mugger and evil maniac go on their merry way.
A similar problem occurs in The Old Republic, a Star Wars MMO that allows you to walk the path of the Jedi or Sith, each with a Light and Dark side options. Fantastic! Sith aren’t all bad, except that there are some powerful items and weapons that are locked behind a dark or light side level. So if that item were obtained, that player is locked in to being a bad guy if they want to stay strong. Even worse if you had a high dark side rating but made a light side choice, you wouldn’t get a light side rating, your dark side rating would lower. So by the time any of these items were obtained, there is no going back and turn over a new leaf, not anymore. The game presents strength in choosing once, light or dark, at the beginning and never diverting from that choice.
The best game I’ve seen tackle this issue is the Mass Effect Trilogy… Trilogy… with only three games, n more. This game had the player roam the galaxy to find and destroy an alien race that was out to kill all life. In the place of a good and evil scale, there were Paragon and Renegade options. While a Paragon would talk things out, a Renegade would punch the reporter because she was asking loaded questions. Seems similar to the system presented by inFamous, but instead of rewarding players for how much a certain type of choice was made, the reward was in the choice itself. This is a small change but makes leagues of difference when it comes to what choices feel valid. The player isn’t stuck making evil decisions because it’s an evil run. With this the player can pick and choose exactly how evil he wants to be and still be rewarded. In Mass Effect 2 there is a moment where you pretend to be a mercenary in order to get close someone the mercenaries are hunting. It’s obvious that this will result in a huge fight in the end, and at one point you are left alone in a room with an engineer that is too busy repairing a helicopter to notice you. My personal run was Paragon, but by god did I shove that scifi space welder straight into that guy’s back. It didn’t make me evil, it made me a Renegade. And you can be both a Renegade and a Paragon at the same time.
Light and Dark side, Karma systems, and other mechanics like it need to do more than just offer that one choice. They need to offer that choice continually throughout the game, at no downside to the player. Utilizing a “How Evil Are You-ometer” makes a decision in the opposite direction detrimental to what you’ve worked for the entire game leading up to it. Having some grand reward given to how much of a good boy you’ve been the entire game makes choosing the bad boy route lose value. For game to give true moral choice, it has to allow the character to be played how the player wants. Heroes and villains are more than the title portrays, because they are people. My Mass Effect run I was a Paragon that helped the downtrodden and saved every life I could… Except those out to kill me, they died without a second thought. Does that make my character less heroic than someone who would spare the villains of the game? Possibly, but that was my choice, and it was made knowing that I wouldn’t miss out on a big reveal or way to make my character stronger. Other wise these “series of branching choices” that were advertised, end up being just one.
Okay so I’m trying to not overdose on coffee right now, but it’s a total challenge to keep things under control as we get closer to podcast time and the number of things I need to gets ever higher. I usually write these pre-podcast but post cooking, so by this point my day is well strung and nearly over. Through this ocean of hurry I’ve managed to survive almost entirely off of this Aubrey Plaza ASMR video that was born out of W magazine.
It fills me with PandR nostalgia, and is awesome. If you’re having a hard time, I would suggest checking it out.
Anyway, I’ve got some apologizing to do. Last week I led by saying that the morning programming would be back. That was wrong. In fact it was so wrong. It was opposite of right. We did even less morning program, and god forbid, if Eneaz was not there to cover there would have been NOTHING. NOOOOTTHHIINNGGG.
But we’re all cleaned out of the old office now. Everything has been moved to the new place (but have not been setup quite yet) This means that we’ll be back to the morning M – W program during the 9 to 5 block.
MMM is still going, I’m working on something to get caught up, and it’s sort of killing me, but it’ll be worth it when we finally bring ourselves back together and are on track.
It’s NICK CAGE month. No seriously, Nic “Saint Olaf” Cage was delivered to us by aliens on this month. We don’t know the specific day because time didn’t exist in the way we know it during the oily refuse of his creation. All this month Rosa (The poor sodding disciple of Cage) has relegated themselves to the batters den of Cage movies. It’s just Cages. Forever. As the editor for the series let me alert you to my dismay with a well recorded voice line.
Besides that Wolf is slated to do some exciting Superman specific stuff we’re finalizing the details, but I’m doing everything in my power to research Sman to make sure we can grab some good stuff.
That’ll tie it up this week. We’re going to the pool at the new office to go veg and chat. Thanks for readdddddddd.
You know the sound a moose makes when it’s walking around, it’s genuinely horrifying. It sounds a bit like a collection of trains surfing down some musty dirtways.
Anyway just like the angry moose surfing down the malignant walkways that make up our everyday we’ve got another week of bullish content coming to you. This week we’re trying a podcast layout based around us sitting around a computer a la funhaus style. We’re working on seeing how viable the garage is, but for the most part, we may be able to pack in a full SF setup into the computer room inside of our new office (home).
Podcasts are starting to grow a sequence of segments inside of the flower bed that is our one hour content romp. Things are getting pretty spicy with bits like script play where guests are given an out of context script to a movie they likely have not seen. There are also a few other segments that are slowly being introduced to the current machine that is starting up over on our podcast.
Every week Noble Wolf puts his comic hat on and spends a bit of time reviewing comicals which have just come out. Recently he’s been spending a lot of time doing some weird hybrid mythology comics which feature popular comic book characters. It’s stuff that feels like it was cooked up by a bottle of Guinness after spending a bit too much time in a sweat lodge, but gosh is it a good read.
Thursdays almost always feature an action packed excitement brigade prompted by the appearance of Rosa’s Trash or Treasure. The last one, about the movie “Gold” is going to be the last ToT for a month and Rosa pivots to an extreme takeover of the NickC. April is going to be Nick Cage month, we’re going bad to bad to Conair as Rosa subjects themselves to an ocean of overacting.
MMMM is still happening, and we’ll actually be getting back to some of the morning programming as it comes around this week. There is an Ant-Man/Strange double feat that’s coming up, with Civil War being the movie to watch this week.
Hey my dearest readers! Before we get started I wanted to mention that this upcoming month of April is designated as “Nic Cage Month” here at Trash or Treasure. This means for four straight Thursdays you will get only the primest of Nic Cage content delivered to you through the Trash or Treasure format you know and love. Hope you enjoy! Now, your featured presentation:
Hello all and welcome to Trash or Treasure lucky number thirteen where we’ve struck gold! Not literal gold, but the 2016 Matthew McConaughey film Gold. The film, based on a real life event, is about a prospector who teams up with a geologist to find gold in Indonesia. The two most apparent things about this film from what I can tell are that Matthew McConaughey appears to be partially bald and that the film was nominated for best original song. I’m not sure how either of these things fit in with this film, so let’s jump on in.
Howdy comic fans (and Skill Floor members forced to proofread), welcome back! Got a somewhat light week, but also books I’m very excited about, so it works out. As always, stick around after the credits for a peek at whatever random fuckin’ thing I decide to go into.
The Brave and the Bold #2
The magical intrigue continues! With the king slain and a culprit not yet found, tensions are mounting Tir Na Nog. The factions of the faerie folk (the Fomors and the De Danann) are at odds, since the king was a critical part of the truce between them. The Fomors want vengeance, and freedom to return to the outside world. The De Danann want to remain safely tucked away, as per the oath they all took, and to keep the balance. Meanwhile Batman remains in the Irish Quarter of Gotham, trapped in a magical illusion or hallucination. Right nearby, the mysterious old man with druidic tendencies continues his search for Tir Na Nog. This issue begins to bring the three stories into line together, which leaves four issues for the main meat of the story. Despite not much happening in this issue action wise, the work of unifying the plot threads is really important and interesting. There’s more world building thrown in as well, references to Celtic myths, and some fantastic art on the gods/monsters/nightmares/etc. The writing is a little weird, with everyone speaking very dramatically and with a lot of bolded sections and exclamation points. However, it fits in. The way it’s narrated makes the whole thing feel like a myth or a play told around a fire, which I’m sure is the intent. The creatures aren’t the only thing that stands out in the art either. Everything has an appropriate look to it, and a lot of the pages or panels are framed by some truly gorgeous Celtic knotwork. I’m a little curious to see how Batman works thrust into the magical world, but I think he’ll bring in a grounded element and certainly add to the mystery. This series remains hugely exciting to me, and the six-issue mini means it’ll be quick and well structured hopefully.
I’m not a good person wrangler, I’m basically restricted to aggressively texting people last minute to try and get folks to get sized up to show up. I basically spend about 30% of my Friday in a fit of panic about how I’m going to be able to get the whole cast rounded up for the night. Sometimes it’s easy, and sometimes it feels like my body is about to catch fire.
Welcome to this week’s Trash or Treasure where we spend time talking about the mysteries of life: what what does it all mean? Why are we here on Earth? What is love? Baby don’t hurt me…ahem. Just kidding, we’re looking at deep Netflix find Undercover Grandpa. This film stars James Caan clearly with nothing better to do, Jessica Walter from Arrested Development and Archer fame, and a bunch of people who probably signed on to a movie because they got James Caan. The movie is about a teenager who’s girlfriend is kidnapped, so he enlists his ex-CIA grandpa to help him find her. The plot sounds interesting enough, and so let’s get started.