As some of you may have recognized, I’ve moved into that phase in my life where I want to effect some level of social change, somewhere. Anywhere, really, and I’m just stupid and egotistical enough to believe that I quite possibly could do it somehow. I’m hitting this phase a little late in life, but letter late than never right? Gotta do something now before I become weary and all dreamcrushed like the rest of you old farts.
The problem is that I don’t believe in absolutes (save for one, but that’s special). I have a really hard time rallying troops to my cause because I like to listen to the other side before brutally shutting them down. They might have a good idea in there.
There’s also the issues of boycotts and stuff like that. The way the world works it’s just too hard to effectively riot against something. If you decide that proctor and gamble is evil you actually won’t hurt anyone in control of P&G, it’ll actually hurt all the poor workers first. Billionaires are going to make their money, if that means hurting the little people to do it, then they’ll do it. So I can’t call for wholesale boycotts.
What if I pick out one flaw in the system to rail against? It is inevitable that I am, in my life, doing something condemnable on another front. Or maybe there’s another more worthwhile cause that’s not getting my attention. I can’t save the world, but that’s the point of activism, to change the world.
So the truth of it all is, you can only do what you can do. Pick a target and go for broke. I do wish I had entered this phase younger when I wasn’t nearly as disgustingly rational as I am now. Realism kicks the pants out of plans to be a social activist.
All time No Brainer July 19, 2010
I just read a couple of reports online about how the Kindle is selling more digital copies of new books than physical hardcover copies. BOOKS ARE DEAD! Orrrrr, $10 is much better than $35. All the analysis in the world can’t change that. I’m a book person, I don’t own a Kindle or Nook or Sony eReader or Kobo (look at that equal opportunity shill). That said, I buy most of my books second hand, or read them from the library. I like pages. I like laying upside down with the book. I like squashing flies with it. Putting my drink on it. Using books to build a fort. I love all that stuff. What I don’t love is paying $30 for a brand new copy. That’s just not coo.
I understand that this is tracing NO new ground. I just wanted to put in my two cents on this issue. I hope publishers and those folks get the right info from this and don’t jump to improper conclusions. What this does not mean is that books are dead. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. No wonder they get “D”s in everything. Don’t think that people aren’t interested in physical copies, or that only a small dedicated hardcore fanbase wants physical copies for collectors purposes.
Naw, people like physical books. They like hard covers. They like paperbacks. They LOVE mass market paperbacks. Those are the best things on the planet. No matter how cool Nooks are, you will never be as comfortable with those guys at the beach or poolside as you are with a trusty $6 mass market paper back. Ask around, you’ll see.
All publishers need to do is look deep. Don’t go for the sensational headline and try to change your entire business strategy (actually your stupid strategy should have changed years ago, just not for this reason). Just find out why people like digital versions. (cause you can get them instantly and cheap. There’s no barrier to entry once you own the device). People are buying these things in bulk and never reading them. How insane is that?
This is just a placeholder to see how terribly DC botches this. They’ve completely and totally destroyed Milestone after the merger. That property is just dead in the water now. They came close to assassinating the archie characters but at least they’re giving a go at making them universe relevant. More a go than the Milestone characters ever got. I’m not sayin’ I’m just sayin. Now the third acquisition of last year is getting it’s go. It’s been over a year since they announced they owned the T.H.UN.D.E.R. Agents licence and in November they’ll finally do something with them. I’m torn. One part of me wants this to be a phenomenal failure like Milestone was, the other part of me really likes the absurdity of the characters and wants them to find a niche in the Universe.
Actually it doesn’ matter, not like I’ll be reading any DC Comics when this comes out. So for the poor sods who will be reading, here’s hoping it’s good.
Converting things from one medium to another medium is always a tricky beast. A story that works great in one form doesn’t always work well in the other. The absolute best forms of each medium are ones that cannot be done in another. There’s no way you can take the best comic and make it into a novel or a book. Same with the best Novel. The medium that I feel is most exemplary of this is Video Games.
Other things you do for entertainment consumption are generally passive. Sure, some plays you go to use crowd participation, but usually you just sit there and let the actors do their jobs. Same with books, movies, comics, music, and interpretive dance. With games, nothing happens unless you make it happen. Now, you may only be able to make happen what the developers want you to make happen, but it still stands that to get enjoyment out of it you have to do something. You are more or less in control of the actions of the characters.
There is a lot more that goes into it, but that’s the big issue. The video game of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is my favorite Star Wars based game since Republic Commando (They’re both on steam). It’s a very enjoyable experience, and it does a wonderful job of filling in one of the story gaps between Episodes III and IV of the Star Wars story. The writers were working with some hard constraints as to what they could an could not do with the story, and they did a smash bang job.
I was surprised at how much ‘canon’ they were allowed to play with. This story effectively made itself a HUGE part of star wars lore in a way most Extended Universe stories can’t and don’t. They essentially went in a way where “A New Hope” doesn’t happen if not for the events of this game. I found that kind of cool. One of the things Lucas Arts wanted to do with this story was branch it into many paths. The video game was the main focus, that’s the money maker. The comic book and the Novel were just nice additions. The story is good enough that a decent writer should be able to catch and enhance the good parts of it. The comic that Haden Blackman did with Brian Ching and David ross was very good. It was a straight forward adaptation with good enough artwork. Nothing to complain about, and for the $7 I spent on it I was very very well pleased.
I just picked up the Novelization from Sean Williams from the library and ran through it. It’s been over a year since I read the comic or played the game. I enjoy the story so much that it was a joy to get back into it in a different way. As a book it is a quick read. The only thing that might slow someone down is the rare use of made up Star Wars words. The game talks a lot about the different Jedi Fighting styles which don’t mean ANYTHING to people who have seen the sun in the past forty years. It really is kind of dumb. They’re brief mentions, and I guess if you are familiar with all those fake martial arts terms then it’ll help paint a visual, but otherwise it’s all gobblygook.
Williams does do a nice job of showing instead of telling. Which is a hard thing to explain in novels. I was afraid that the novelization would fall into the trap that most video game adaptations fall into, which is just bullet point telling you what happened in the game. They don’t actually convey the plot as a story.
The biggest downfall to this book is that it is ultimately based on a video game. Some of the conceits you give to a game because you know what you’re working with there you may not give to a book. I LOVE adventure stories. I love the notion of exploration and finding new environments. I also understand that costs A LOT of money to develop in a game. Building new worlds from the ground up isn’t easy, nor is it cheap. So if during a game you change an environment some so that when I revisit it I feel it’s a little different, but not terrible I’m okay with that.
When I’m reading a book, that is not what I want to have happen. I don’t want to go all fetch questy. I don’t want to end up where I just was an hour ago. Not enough time passes while reading a book to really warrant seeing three of the same places twice. It just feels kind of funny. I wonder if people unfamiliar with the game will feel the same way, though. Or will they just not understand what’s happening or why it’s happening. It’s possible you’ll be more accepting of it than I am.
That complaint aside the characterizations here are spot on. This story is really about Darth Vader’s secret apprentice’s movement from being an unknowing pawn in a grand game to a knowing pawn trying to move himself on the board. Maybe even being a rook or a bishop or something cooler than a pawn. The Apprentice, No Name Starkiller, starts off as a nondescript evil person sent on a series of errands to blow fools up. Through various interactions with his pilot, Juno Eclipse, and is trusty droid, Proxy, he quickly becomes someone fun to follow, if not quite sympathetic. PROXY isn’t as loveable here as he is in the game, but that’s to be expected. (I apologize in advance for the following phrase) the nuance of his character work in the game is just pretty close to imposible to catch in words. Williams trys, but you never get the full fun sense of a robot’s who’s primary job is to kill his master in the book. Imagine Cato Fong, but going for blood instead of goofily flustering Inspector Clouseau.
The book moves along under the motivation that The Apprentice is working with Vader and eventually Vader will topple the emperor with Starkiller at his side. The book really gets moving once all of that is thrown out of the window. Unfortunately you realize that you only have 100 pages or so to go at this point. You want so much more. Now that Starkiller is someone you feel for you understand that absolutely nothing good can happen the rest of the story.
My second big complaint is the stories biggest strength. That’s how tightly it ties into Episode IV. While it gives you some sort of emotional tether, the first half of the story that didn’t have any of that worked great anyway. When you bring in Mon Mothma, Bail and Leia Organa, and characters like that, even in cameo roles we as readers/viewers/players all know they don’t die here. They can’t die. The goal is to make us wonder how they get out of whatever predicaments they’re in. I also wonder how other characters are moved out of play from the end of this story to the beginning of Episode IV.
Essentially though none of that is really important. The important thing is that we got a cool look at a part of the timeline that wasn’t filled in before, and it was done well. Minor complaints aside the book is a decent read. I’m thinking about telling my little brother to check it out just to get a different point of view on it from someone much younger and someone who hasn’t played the game.
Quit your bitching.
That is all.
Okay, that’s not all at all.
I find it amazing how often you see video game publishers bitching and moaning about used game sales. They make it out to be the worst thing in the history of human kind. In fact, it’s just a way that common people save money.
The gaming industry is experiencing something that they’ve not had to deal with yet because they’re so young. Just as few as ten years ago the market was completely different. Gamestop and EB were different companies. Babbages, funco land, and software etc. were all different companies. They all actually existed, so used games were around. The difference is, the market was much smaller. The sales of games were all hardcore. The notion of the casual market didn’t make sense to most people. Yes, we knew about the people that bought a ps2 and only played madden and GTA, but we didn’t talk to them. We didn’t see them. We saw the people that bought a new $50 game every month. That was all of us.
Who cared about the fringe people that couldn’t afford that? They weren’t gamers, they were just there. Then over time they became a huge segment of the market. The truth of the matter is that there are a lot more people that can’t afford to keep up with the rat race than can. I use to be able to and now I just absolutely can’t. So I pulled back. I refuse to buy games at $50 and $60. That’s just not for me. I still like games. I want to play them, I just can’t afford them out of the gate. So I wait. After all t he waiting is done I find the game at a cheaper price. For instance I found Super Street Fighter IV for $25 when the game was still at $40. That’s in my price range and I get a lot out of that game. I saved $80 on six games during a b2g1 free sale at Gamestop.
What the publishers hate is that they’re not seeing a dime of that money. Not one dime. That is entirely their fault. All I want to do is be able to enjoy my entertainment. I do the same with movies and music. Whatever the cheapest way for me to get it, that’s the way I go. It’s all about the financial bottom line. I only have so much to spend on entertainment and I’ll maximize that money. Why spend $60 on one when I can spend $60 on three or four?
On a similar end of the argument, I recently spent over $100 on PC games during Steam’s summer sale. Games were anywhere from 50%-90% off. Companies like Codemasters, Lucas Arts, Sidhe, Atari, PoGo, Infinite Interactive, Bioware, and so many more received money from me, no matter how little, that they would NEVER have gotten. Why? Because the games were affordable. There was a value to me.
That’s the crux of the issue. Used games exist only because there is a demand for them. There is a great incentive to consumers to get things cheaper. It provides them money to buy other stuff. Or maybe they only have so much money and it provides them a chance to buy something they wouldn’t ordinarily get. Give the consumer the chance to give you money for their product and they’ll do it. Give them the chance to give someone else less money for your product and they’ll definitely do that. That’s just the way of the world. You want to maximize product. Consumers are holding to the same code. Don’t be mad at them.