thehefner: (Default)
As I await my final show tonight in this year's frustrating and lonely experience at Orlando Fringe Festival, it feels somewhat bittersweet that perhaps the utter highlight of my fourteen days here is that my host with let me play Portal 2. I could only do it a couple hours at a time, and I would spend the rest of the day OBSESSED with the game, dying to finish it.

Now, I'm not a gamer, and that's purely out of necessity. The internet alone is a huuuuuge distraction that keeps me from getting any work done, but you give me a video game and it's like giving a case of Jack to a recovering alcoholic. But as anybody who's played Portal and/or Portal 2 know, these games are different from your average games. Frankly, these are games which I wish could be experienced by many of my non-gamer friends, people like [livejournal.com profile] tompurdue, [livejournal.com profile] fiveseconddelay, and [livejournal.com profile] box_in_the_box. It plays on

It's not only because the portal puzzles are great fun (to the point that some people find themselves still thinking in portals long after they play the game), but--far more importantly for me--these games are exceedingly well-written. This may sound like a basic virtue until you realize that the writing on almost all video games is fucking ABYSMAL. Because writing isn't the point. Writing isn't what designers focus upon, nor is it what gamers care about. Graphics and playability rule all, it seems. That's probably why, when it comes to stupid obnoxiousness, many gamers actually beat out the worst of comics fandom.

But the Portal games are exceptional in the neglected gaming areas of great writing and acting. As I lacked any console or PC, when the original Portal came out, I just watched the entire game on YouTube walkthrough videos. It actually held up as incredibly fun and funny viewing experience:



Of course, just watching gameplay is probably considered blasphemy by gamers. And in truth, it's not the same as actually playing Portal, as it lacks the immense satisfaction you get from FINALLY figuring out a particularly tricky puzzle. Henchgirl is still battle-scarred from the first game, and is known to shudder at the mere mention of Portal and curse, "FUCKING MOMENTUM." I am bloody dying to watch her play Portal 2, in the event that we're actually stupid enough to get a console.

But again, fun and adrenalicious as the puzzles are, the real joy for me in this game was the writing and vocal performances of the characters. There's something about Portal 2 which puts it comfortably around the similar realms of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the more "Science!" aspects of The Venture Bros. But then, that all could just be the pre-recorded messages of J.K. Simmons as Cave Johnson, who's sort of like if J. Jonah Jameson voiced Stan Lee becoming Rusty Venture:



And then, of course, there's GLaDOS, the dryly passive-aggressive HAL 9000 guide/antagonist from the first game, about whom much has been said. Here, she actually gets a surprisingly great deal of character development, as does your affable new sidekick Wheatley, a bumbling British robot who saves your life at the game's start and proves to be INCREDIBLY helpful and informative throughout the game:



One of the finest moments between the two characters happens when he helps you finally confront GLaDOS, in this SERIOUSLY SPOILERY sequence which is plenty entertaining to watch for those of you who don't mind being spoiled. That's several minutes where you can't do anything, where there's no gameplay, and yet it's entertaining and riveting as hell!

Problem with falling in love with Portal 2 halfway into the game was that there was no one with whom I talk about the game. People who played the game were incapable of keeping spoilers from me, in that even "Oh, I can't talk about that yet!" is kind of a spoiler itself. Shit, the fact that I'm posting all this means I'm probably going to alter the gaming (or viewing) experience for anyone who hasn't played the games! I'm no better. At the same time, I've spent the past couple days trying and failing to explain the game and quote lines to people whom I KNOW would love Portal 2, but it means nothing out of context. You can't quote Simpsons or Monty Python's Flying Circus to anyone who hasn't seen the episodes in question.

Portal 2's the same damn way. And yet, it still under my skin, still playing in my head, and those characters now already feel like old friends to me to the point that... welp, here I am. Just can't help myself. Maybe I'm just throwing myself into this post because I don't want to think about IRL things, like what the hell kind of turnout I'm going to have in tonight's last show, or going to the Fringe after-party, or how it'll still be two and a half more days of work and driving before I can see Henchgirl again. Besides [livejournal.com profile] about_faces, that game has given this non-gamer a welcome relief in these past two weeks (what feels like two months) of blahness.
thehefner: (Iron Man: Life is Empty w/o GIN)
Wherein I too become one of the many absent people I've seen pop back onto LJ to write an "It's been a while since I've posted anything here, hasn't it?" post. I'm genuinely ashamed that I'm becoming one of those people who posts more about their general lives up on Facebook than here. No offense to those that do, but damn, I miss the thriving days of this place when people actually posted stuff and had something to say! Kill me before I break down and get a Tumblr account.

Right now, I'm savoring this brief moment of downtime to check in here while things ramp up to crazyland over the next few weeks. In less than a month, I'll be performing The Road to Nowhere at the Orlando Fringe Festival. Hard enough that I'll be trying to fill a hundred-seat venue for seven performances, but as Henchgirl may not be able to tag along (eight months pregnant and all), I'll need to master the tech for the projector. Which I need to do anyway, since I'll be flying solo for when I perform at the Capital Fringe Festival this July. Which, of course, will be the day that the tech finally explodes!

But until Orlando, there's plenty of other shit to do, mainly involving getting ready to sell the house. This means--gasp shock horror--actually cleaning my room. I just we just found Hoffa's body, so that's progress! Maybe we'll sell it for a quarter at the Garage Sale this Saturday. Anyone want to come to a Garage Sale? It'll be here! At least, I think it's happening this Saturday.

And of course, it's only in the past few days that I FINALLY feel ready to work on the Harvey Dent novel again. I made some great progress, actually. The first chapter is greatly improved, and with Henchgirl's strict editorial help, I'm finally ready to finish this bad boy. Given the suicidal manner in which DC Comics is running itself these days, I'm thinking that I might just suck it up and post it all online. At least that way it'll reach an audience, which is more than can be said if it ever did get published.

Of course, that's going to have to wait. God knows till when, since childbirth is imminent, following by moving to Delaware. Even for the immediate future, I don't know how much time I'll have to see any friends. Lord knows that I can't spend a whole glorious day with [livejournal.com profile] themadhatter26, driving Baltimore microbrews and playing Portal 2. At the very least, I'll try to make it a point to keep y'all in the loop, for those interested in loop-related subject matter.

If nothing else, you damn well bet I'll be throwing a going-away/baby-having party before we go. I'll keep you posted.
thehefner: (Harvey Dent: I Believe In Harvey)
I have returned from Tuscaloosa with a Henchgirl and a stomach flu, to discover that the teaser trailer for the video game sequel to BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM has made the rounds.

I couldn't actually play B:AA, so perhaps I missed out on a lot of the game's much-lauded appeal. I was expecting a lot more from it, between the Holy Trinity of Conroy, Hamill, and Sorkin united under the usually-superior pen of Paul Dini, and the rave reviews all-around. Instead, I found the dialogue to be far beyond Dini's usual standard, with the Joker being not that funny and Harley sounded rather more like Grant Morrison's tone-deaf Squeaky Fromme take from that abysmal BATMAN (purple) prose issue. I was holding out hope, that maybe it was all going somewhere really awesome. And then, yeah, not really.

Maybe it was more fun to play than to watch. Either way, I felt like the only person to be rather disappointed by the game.

That said, the trailer fills me with giddy geek glee. Hamill's laugh STILL makes my heart go aflutter, especially the way it's done there. The hints at the other villains to be included also pleases me gr... oh fuck it, if you watched that, you know exactly why *I'm* excited:





On one hand, I'm nervous about how this game might cock-up the character. On the other...*fingers crossed* get Richard Moll, get Richard Moll, ohpleaseohpleaseohplease get Richard Moll...
thehefner: (Green Lantern: Orange "Mine!")
I recently (finally) discovered the wonder and joy of playing vocals for ROCK BAND 2, so much so that I'm now seriously considering finally splurging and getting a Wii. Especially with this coming out:



It's the "multiple harmonies" feature that really sells it for me. That, and the fact that I bet I could play the drums on hard mode and probably still be all right. I love Ringo, don't get me wrong*, but how many times was he little more than a delightfully charming metronome?

Between this and Wii PUNCH-OUT!!!, I might just celebrate the end of my summer tour my buying a console sequestering myself in the Rehoboth Beach house for a month or three. It will be a well-earned hermitage.



ETA: Whoaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.





*He's number two on John Hefner's Immutable Laws of the Universe: 1.) Everybody loves pie, 2.) It's impossible to hate Ringo, and 3.) it sucks to be Harvey Dent.
thehefner: (We Don't Need... Rhodes)
ALIENS: The Board Game (Flash Edition)

I'm still trying to figure out of this qualifies as a strategy or a puzzle game. Either way, it's gonna replace the whale in me nightmares.
thehefner: (Batman: Freeze's Lament)
I had thought to have been a lot further along by now, especially considering how little I saw yesterday after leaving L.A, but if today's any indication, it's gonna take me a full week to make it up to Seattle. Then again, I have to wonder how many other things I'll see along the way on par with the time-consuming nature of Hearst Castle and Big Sur.

I may have to skip Napa Valley, which is probably for the best. Even if I could rest to sober up for the night, I've learned that I shouldn't drink anything if I'm driving the next day, as even a single beer can hamper the next day's ability to wake up energetic at 7am. And really, spitting out wine? What an expensive day-long cocktease.

I imagine I'll be spending the majority of tomorrow in San Francisco (hint hint, [livejournal.com profile] kali921! Don't leave me hangin'!). Seeing the Winchester House is a priority, as is finding a comic shop. Need to see how the hell this abortion known as BATMAN R.I.P. wraps up.

Which reminds me, the news just broke that the Paul-Dini-scripted BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM video game (in the style of SILENT HILL horror survival games) will feature Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker! FUCK YES YES YES!!!!

Meanwhile, on [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily, a noted asshat had to be "that guy" and sniffed (or at least, I imagine he sniffed) "Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy are good actors, but they are not the Gods fanboys make them out to be. Nor is Paul Dini a god." In a rare moment of snark (for I loathe to be snarked and to be snarky alike), I simply replied, "We have some lovely parting gifts for you."

I mean, clearly they're not gods. But dude, get over yourself. No one likes a contentious snob, especially not one against something so universally respected and beloved. Meantime, you show me someone who can do a more pitch-perfect job than those three respectively, and let's get them hired pronto, because dear lord, we need more people of the caliber of Dini, Conroy, and Hamill.


Oh, and I am officially accepted into the Orlando Fringe Festivals. With NYC, Montreal, Winnipeg, Indianapolis, and Vancouver, that makes six for 2009. Am I seriously mad enough to go for seven with Minneapolis, because I keep hearing that it's so goddamn awesome that it's a must-do?
thehefner: (Kids in the Hall: Tea Bag)
So not too long ago, a commercial came out for a game called MERCENARIES 2. I had no interest in the game, as I'm smart enough to stay away from consoles when I have money and time that must needs be devoted to more important matters. But the ad took my notice with the music...



When I heard it actually played on the radio recently, I gave it a google search and discovered that, yes, they've actually released the full track online. I've been listening to this on a loop for the past hour or so now.

I think we have a new song to join the ranks of "Stay Alive" from PORTAL. God, to hear a version of that with full choir would be epic. With someone like William Shatner performing it, backed up by the monks from CHANT.
thehefner: (Iron Man: Life is Empty w/o GIN)
As I understand it, sometime last year, a paparazzo snuck onto the set of IRON MAN and took some shots of the titular hero in armor, leaking the grainy pictures to the internet before director Jon Faverau and company had a chance to officially release the awesome promo shots that would eventually make us piss our pants regardless.

Faverau, however, is not without a sense of humor, as we all know. And at the end of IRON MAN, when Tony was reading the newspaper with the headline WHO IS IRON MAN?, one can slightly make out that the newspaper's (grainy) photograph looks rather familiar. To those in the know. It was well-played indeed, and all in good spirits.

Well, it turns out the paparazzo was none too pleased, and is suing Paramount for their use of his pictures.

I shouldn't be surprised that a paparazzo should have such unmitigated nerve. But wow.



Here, to wash the taste of that out of your mouth, I give you Ninja Cat:



Remember the weeping angels from DOCTOR WHO? It's like that. In cat form.
thehefner: (Bill the Butcher: Milkshake)
I read a news story yesterday that I was sure would be the greatest thing I would hear all day. After all, CHUD.com headline of said story read: "THE BEST GODDAMN STORY YOU'LL READ ALL DAY." It reads as follows:

I still don't quite believe this story because it is too wonderful to be true, but since Billboard believes (and they just had Iron Maiden on the cover, man) I'm going to pretend this might at least have a chance of being real.

How do I put this…OK, the company that owns most of Hall and Oates' big hits is shopping a cartoon called J-Stache in which John Oates and his mustache are reunited to rock and (one hopes) fight crime. Dave Attell will voice the 'stache.

Here's part of the pilot plot, which features Oates opening a new arm of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to highlight mustachioed musicians:

Suddenly, a dying David Crosby appears and with his last breath warns Oates of a mysterious secret group of mustache wearers bent on killing other mustache wearers. As actor Tom Selleck attempts to escape from the latest murder scene, Oates summons his own mustache with a fist pump that simultaneously changes his clothes from conservative attire to pink pants and white boots.

The pilot has been storyboarded (done exclusively with those toy sketch pads that use metal filings and a magnet 'pen' if I had my way) and could be produced within the next two months, after which creative director Evan Duby says they could shop it either to network, or use the web as a stepping stone to network.

Douchebag hipster bait? 100% Possibly very funny? Also true. And all this being the case, why isn't your pilot greenlit yet? What's wrong with you? We've told you to stop shaving for years.


Indeed, I thought that truly was the best goddamn story I would read all day.

That is, until--just minutes shy of midnight--[livejournal.com profile] themadhatter26 called me up with some news.

Mike, of course, is my resident video game fanboy, whereas I consider myself a recovering game addict. I haven't owned a console since the Sega CD (yes, I was that guy!) and as no computers I ever bought came equipped with 3D cards, PC gaming was right out too. I credit the fact that I've written three complete long-winded manuscripts to my lack of gaming system.

Oh, wait, I tell a lie: I do own an old used PS2, but that was purchases expressly for DDR. I have used it for the occasional game, but I try to avoid doing so wherever possible. I lost a whole week to GOD OF WAR.

My point is, Mike called me up to inform me that they're making MEGA MAN 9.

Not MEGA MAN X 9. Not some souped up new Mega Man for the Nintendo Wii with 3D graphics and all that. I'm talking brand new, old school, classic NES style MEGA MAN 9. Right down to 8-bit graphics.

Oh god. I think... I think I came in my mouth a little.

I can only hope and pray they'll get all the details nailed, right down to the blinky slowy-down effects when the graphics would get overwhelmed. And, of course, the music. I can honestly listen to the soundtrack for MEGA MAN 2 and 3 on their own, they are that good. Especially the legendary theme for Dr. Wily's castle:



Good lord, people. Tell me that doesn't get your blood pumping. Looks like I'm gonna be falling off the wagon.
thehefner: (Heeeeeere's JOHNNY!)
I... it...

Until ten minutes ago, I had never heard of the band Europe, nor their hit song "The Final Countdown."

Dear sweet fucking lord. I need to film a montage to that song. Perhaps for a film about a 1987 gamer training mind, body, and soul for a Mega Man 2 death-match tournament. It'd be like a combination of a Bruce Lee/Van Damme flick, KARATE KID, and THE WIZARD.

I can't stop laughing as I listen to this song. I can't. It's utter brilliance.


Seriously, in terms of pure montage potential, it's up there with "Gonna Fly Now," "Eye of the Tiger," "Push it to the Limit," and the downright brilliant fake trailer for the PUNCH-OUT! movie.

Which reminds me: old-school NES fans, rejoice. The PUNCH-OUT guys have returned.

With CONTRA.



Not as utterly fantastic as PUNCH-OUT, but I anxiously await their new offerings. GIVE HIM ZE UPPERCUT! ZE UPPERCUT!!!



Finally, CRACKED continues to inexplicably prove itself as a must-read website with features like the following:

The Five Biggest Badass Popes.

The Six Most Terrifying Foods in the World

And once again, for the sake of posterity: Introducing the Larry Holmes Grillmaster XL. Which I still cannot read with a straight face.
thehefner: (Doc Ock)
GHOSTBUSTERS III is finally happening.

As a video game.

...

Now, bear in mind, last we heard, Aykroyd was saying it was gonna be a CGI film. Which was a "... huh" prospect in of itself. So I can see the logical progression of how it got to this point.

And it's still going to be fully scripted by Aykroyd and Ramis. To which many will instantly go, "Psh, yeah, they wrote GHOSTBUSTERS. But you know what else they wrote? GHOSTBUSTERS II." To which I can only eloquently respond, fuck you, GHOSTBUSTERS II was great.

But what really concerns me about a GHOSTBUSTERS video game is that... well, [livejournal.com profile] themadhatter26, just what is the success rate for franchise-based video games? This one could have a brilliant script, but with games, there are so many other factors to consider. My immediate reaction is unhappy doubtful pessimism. Aykroyd and Ramis are claiming to be involved in this game far more intimately than most other non-game creators in their franchise games. But will that help the gameplay at all? Of course not.

Don't get me wrong. Before Bill the Butcher, Harvey Dent, Hal Jordan, and Otto Octavius, my first childhood love and obsession was GHOSTBUSTERS. Particularly Egon, for some reason. I still have the firehouse playset, and will not be throwing it out. I want this to rock my socks.

And yet, regardless of all this, there's one thing this game will have that is cause for great celebration. And it's not just the fact that Aykroyd, Ramis, Murray (hopefully not phoning it in), Annie Potts, and MAN-GOD ERNIE FUCKING HUDSON are reuniting to do their voices. That's all squee-inducing and marvelous, yes. But one name rises above them all. A name still whispered in the darkest corners of the 1980's:

WILLIAM. "BITCHES." ATHERTON.

Yes, this hearlds the glorious return--if only in voice and CGI likeness--of the only man to beat Joe "CHOKE ON 'EM" Pilato for the title of Greatest Dick In Genre Cinema for his immortal roles in DIE HARD, REAL GENIUS, and, of course, GHOSTBUSTERS (as Peck, but more commonly know as "Pencil Neck" and "Dickless"; I've since just called "Pencil Dick," and everyone immediately know who I'm talking about, hehehe).

This game now has an obligation to Zuul him/herself NOT to suck.

September 2012

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