Friday, December 16, 2011

Forgive Me While I Indulge in Some Major Geekery

Today, I am going to majorly geek out about a subject I usually don't cover, but have addressed in a pair of posts which actually garnered a fair amount of hits... that subject being computer games. I don't engage in much "gaming" these days, with the one major exception being the free, beautiful Battle for Wesnoth (warning- major time sink!). Today, though, I am inspired by this post by Cerberus at the mother ship and a post (which I cannot find) excoriating Frank Miller and another comic book guy who wrote this about The Onion:


The Onion lost all credibility for me a while back when they did a “story” on the Hudson River cleanup GE was forced to do. As some of you may recall, one of my neighbors is a GE veep, and he was directly in charge of this, so from him I found out all kinds of details the press did not bother to pass along to the public. Since The Onion apparently gets its info from other papers, the story was full of inaccuracies.

What are they, Michael Moore?

Anyway, I stopped reading The Onion from then on.



At any rate, the post which I cannot find (I'll have plenty of time to hunt down a link when I work the midnight to eight shift on Saturday) compared Frank Miller and John Byrne to the eponymous antagonists in the classic computer game Myth: The Fallen Lords, former heroes who have been corrupted, and now fight to destroy the civilization that they once defended.

The Myth series of games involved simulation of squad-based tactical combat in a pseudo-medieval setting, a mash-up of world legends and Glen Cook's Sword & Sorcery novels. Medieval soldiers rubbed elbows with extras from Braveheart, fallen-samurai-turned-penitent-Mayan-curanderos, and Molotov-cocktail tossing dwarfs. It was a glorious mess, but it all played out swimmingly because the production values were so high. The soundtrack, by the talented Marty O'Donnell, and the narration were equal to anything that the film industry has produced recently. The action was fierce- the player had to fight a series of seemingly hopeless battles against multitudes of implacable foes, against a backdrop of a war for the very survival of humanity. The very fate of a shitload of code was at stake!

The game began with an animated introduction, as a lone Braveheart extra fights his way out of a ruined city with a mystical MacGuffin (WARNING: content may be offensive to members of the Undead-American community):





The game in earnest begins with an introductory episode, as a small squad of soldiers defends a small village against a bunch of not-so-fresh antagonists:





It's the narration, and the dedication to plot which really knocked the game out of the park, the gameplay and the vaunted physics engine notwithstanding. To cap it off, the haunting soundtrack lends a melancholy air to the proceedings, with the piece introducing the third episode, The Siege of Madrigal being particularly beautiful:





The Siege of Madrigal piece has appeared in Bungie studio's subsequent games, typically as an Easter egg for obsessive-compulsive fans to find. The song has appeared in all of the games in the Halo franchise.

Some enterprising (or totally obsessed) individual has posted videos of the entire game to Youtube- if you were fans of Peter Jackson's films loosely based on The Lord of the Rings (I'm not really a fan of Mr Jackson), these videos may be of some small interest to you. There's some amazing imagery there- a jolt as a monstrous trow advances on a small huddle of unsuspecting soldiers, a frisson of horror as a lost regiment comes upon a vast platform built out of skulls by a long-dead nightmare people. Of course, locating a copy of the game would be a better idea- just make sure your "dorf" doesn't blow up his comrades with a poorly-lobbed Molotov.

One feature of the game which lent quite a bit of pathos to it was that each of the units in your squad was named. If you screwed up, Cruniac or Balin would be killed, and you'd feel bad about his non-existent orphans, the bits and bytes that made up his grieving mother. It's just a pity that our politicians don't feel the same way about the real kids they consign to the meat grinder that I did about the named sprites I was responsible for.

The sequel Myth 2: Soulblighter, was another triumph of plot and gameplay, another desparate series of skirmishes as humanity seeks to defeat the remnants of the evil forces which it had fended off in the first game. The sequel has a couple of surprising plot twists in it- the players were assumed to have some familiarity with the background of the setting. The game was most noted for it's "modding" community- the source code was available online, and many variations of the game were created by fans. There is still a web presence for the community.

Yeah, forgive my supergeekery, people... now I have to see if I can run the games on my current machine. If there are no new posts for a month, you'll know the reason!

11 comments:

vacuumslayer said...

Hold on a second. I came here to make fun of you for crushing on lunachicks. What's all this? Oh, I saw Frank Miller in there...may have to read...

vacuumslayer said...

Anyway, I stopped reading The Onion from then on.


I stopped reading the "Oz" franchise when I bought this pair of sparkly red shoes from eBay, clicked my heels together 3 times--and NOTHIN'.

w/v says you are "mench." I guess w/v needs to brush up in its Yiddish.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Bungie's Marathon was released recently for the iPad....for free.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I used to waste too much time playing video games.

Now I waste too much time blogging.

P.S. First time I started wasting time: At S.M.U. in Dallas (I had an NSF grant to take math and computer science courses over the summer between junior and senior years of H.S.).

Anyways, as he shrugged off any and all charges of being a geek, I played this Star Wars-based game on their mainframe. There were no graphics...it was just a grid (quadrants, people), with R's and such as for the Romulans.

*Tebow pose*

Oh, and p.s. and such as. WV: nonsen
~

Laura said...

I'm more a Mario Bros/Donkey Kong kinda gal (TOTALLY A MARIO BROS/DONKEY KONG KINDA GAL).. but my boys play these kinds of games.

Hey, whatever floats your boat. What is it that they say? Let your geek flag fly! :)

((Hugs))
Laura
P.S. Mass just came over to the computer and read your name. He says.. "Big .. Bad... Bald..." and then whispered about 3 or 4 times .. "bastard".. LOL

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

I came here to make fun of you for crushing on lunachicks.

Moonbabes r00l!

I stopped reading the "Oz" franchise when I bought this pair of sparkly red shoes from eBay, clicked my heels together 3 times--and NOTHIN'.

Sounds suspicious... if you had read the books, you would have bought a pair of SILVER shoes! I'm probably the one person on the planet who is more familiar with the book than he is with the movie.

Bungie's Marathon was released recently for the iPad....for free.

**S'pht!!!** That's actually really cool. I think one of the main reasons why Microsoft bought Bungie was that Bungie was making really amazing games for the Mac, and Bill Gates could not let that aggression stand!

I used to waste too much time playing video games.

Now I waste too much time blogging.


But, think of your readers! We need you, Thundra.

(TOTALLY A MARIO BROS/DONKEY KONG KINDA GAL)

Hey, Mario was a paisan'.

P.S. Mass just came over to the computer and read your name. He says.. "Big .. Bad... Bald..." and then whispered about 3 or 4 times .. "bastard".. LOL

That's funny... it's like the Simpsons' episode when Homer learns that he has a half-brother, and Bart calls him a bastard. When he gets yelled at, he tells Marge that, since the parents didn't marry, the word was correct, then starts singing, "Bastard, bastard, bastard, bastard, bastard, bastard, bastard bastard!"

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I just sent AK and Smut the John Byrne Fantastic Four because Latveria had descended into chaos and it really needed the strong leadership of Dr. Doom.

Comics and fascism: it's a natural!

Anonymous said...

Above is S. McG anonymized by ancient technology.

Laura said...

@Big B.... Yep. It was pretty much exactly like that. :P
I had to tell him to "shut it" after awhile. :P

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Bungie was that Bungie was making really amazing games for the Mac, and Bill Gates could not let that aggression stand!

I was pissed when that happened, and the Mac release of Halo was turned into an X-Box game.

I played Myth 2 for a bit. I was always more of a SimCity guy, go figure.

vacuumslayer said...

Sounds suspicious... if you had read the books, you would have bought a pair of SILVER shoes! I'm probably the one person on the planet who is more familiar with the book than he is with the movie.


I read every book in the series ( more than once) so I'm pretty familiar myself. Or at least I was when I was a kid.