Diecast #232: Desert Bus, Stan Lee, Superhero Movies, Grand Tour Game

By Shamus Posted Monday Nov 19, 2018

Filed under: Diecast 93 comments

I feel like we’re overdue for another SoldierHawk visit. I like to invite her on the show when she’s finished with a game, and right now she’s playing through three games at once. Hopefully we can make another visit happen before the end of the year.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

00:00 Let’s Talk About The Weather

Even as I write this post on Sunday night, we’ve still got 20k people without power. My wife just ran to the store and there were even traffic lights out. It was also strangely quiet. If people are without power then I’d expect them to leave the house. Maybe go out to eat. See a movie. Window shopping. Whatever. But the roads were mostly empty aside from the trucks from the power company.

12:39 Desert Bus For Hope

21:08 Denuvo Cites Huge ‘Losses’ For AAA Game Not Using its Anti-Piracy Tech

In related news, my blog is available to everyone on the planet with internet access and yet only a few hundred support me on Patreon. This means my financial losses are in the trillions.

27:35 Stan Lee Died

Link (YouTube)

34:47 Are we tired of superhero movies?

I hear this all the time.

43:56 Cliff Bleszinski swears off making videogames forever

51:17 Mailbag: Grand Tour Game

So, I know you did an article or two about watching The Grand Tour. I stumbled upon this weirdness today and I’d be curious to find out what you and the other Diecast folks think about it: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GF3QKFF/ref_=AGS_TGT_US_GW_XB1_PO_LP

It’s a game being made by Amazon Game Studios to tie in with The Grand Tour. Supposedly, they’re going to release more episodes of it as the series progresses (maybe). From the sound of things, you’ll be able to watch The Grand Tour episodes and then drive the cars and do the challenges from The Grand Tour.

It seems kinda unique to me, I haven’t seen anything quite like this before.


The Grand Tour The Game is a thing that exists. I came with questions, and I left with even more questions.


From The Archives:

93 thoughts on “Diecast #232: Desert Bus, Stan Lee, Superhero Movies, Grand Tour Game

  1. Paul Spooner says:

    I said in the show that Cliff doesn’t make the kind of games that I care about, but I was forgetting about Jazz Jackrabbit. What an odd game! If Commander Keen was an off-brand PC-port Mario, with guns, then it feels like JJ was an off-brand PC-port Sonic, with guns.
    Is that Cliff’s thing? Gears of war is just off-brand PC-port football… with guns?

    Also, sorry to anyone who was annoyed by the keyboard click at the start of my audio. I’ll try to fix it for next time.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Did he work on Commander Keen? The Wikipedia page shows him working at Epic early in his career, and lists Jazz Jackrabbit, but Keen was an ID Software production.

  2. Joe says:

    I can see why you didn’t like TLJ, Shamus. You like things to stick to a certain formula. That’s fair enough, though I prefer a little more variation. Recently I listened to the latest albums by Einherjer and Skalmold, and was somewhat let down. Good, but as far as I could tell identical to their previous albums. Nothing new. I haven’t bought them yet and maybe I won’t ever. Whereas for example Enslaved or Metallica have always done something new. Sometimes I don’t always like the new style, but at least it isn’t the same old.

    While I’m not sick of the MCU yet, I appreciate them giving us better villains. I could see where Killmonger and Thanos were coming from, though I don’t agree with their actions. What did Malekith or Ronan want? I can’t remember and don’t care enough to look it up. I appreciate something close to the previous work, but building on it and expanding on it. Because stagnation leads to death.

    Cliffy B had two big failures in a row, and copped a lot of abuse for them being derivative of other more successful games. That would put anyone off. Maybe he should have done something new and different instead.

    1. Joshua says:

      “I can see why you didn’t like TLJ, Shamus. You like things to stick to a certain formula. That’s fair enough, though I prefer a little more variation. ”

      That’s uh…rather insulting.

      1. Joe says:

        I didn’t mean it to be insulting, and don’t see how it is.

        1. Hector says:

          It’s definitely a back-handed compliment at best, and I don’t even see how it’s true as a statement.

          1. Joe says:

            I still don’t see it. Besides, there were 8 or 9 (if you count TCW) SW movies with the same style, the same formula before TLJ. Then you get into the cartoons, comics, books, games. Enough for anyone. There’s enough of the same kind of SW out there, why can’t I have one that’s only a little bit different?

            1. Joe says:

              I should state that there’s nothing wrong with formula, the same over again. There are many things in my life that follow a set pattern. But in the case of TLJ, I appreciate it being a bit different from the other SW movies.

              1. Lino says:

                It’s not about TLJ not sticking to a formula, or of Shamus being an old man who can’t accept anything new (he definitely isn’t – just like the people who didn’t like TLJ aren’t). It’s about TLJ having tone and themes that totally clash with what came before it, and leaving a bad taste in the mouth a large number of fans who liked what came before (look at this part of Shamus’ Mass Effect Retrospective to get a better idea of what he means – https://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=28485).

                1. Joe says:

                  I find that odd, because I see TLJ as consistent with what’s gone before. As consistent as Star Wars ever gets, of course. :)

                2. shoeboxjeddy says:

                  In the prequel era movies, Obi-Wan sees the Clone War as an important endeavor and flies into battle over and over again, the same with Yoda. In the Classic era, both characters see the flaws in the way they acted and sarcastically criticize their own actions. The same exact pattern plays out with Luke in The Last Jedi, but for some reason people FLY OFF THE HANDLE and cannot STAND that Luke is a bit regretful about the way certain things went down. They say that it is “a BETRAYAL of his character” and I think that whole position is baloney.

                  1. Lino says:

                    Small difference: the OT was very vague about the Clone Wars, and their previous experience made Obi Wan and Yoda understand the error of their ways. The prequels further expanded the mythos and showed us in detail why they thought their actions were justified. Even though after the Clone Wars everything got – for lack of a better word – FUBAR, they still didn’t give up hope (even in the OT they said that the original idea for their exile was for them to wait for a better time to strike out against the dark side).
                    One of the problems with Luke’s change was that it literally came out of nowhere, and was completely unearned in a narrative sense. The reason for his change of heart is completely arbitrary, convoluted, ridiculous, and a bunch of other expletives that aren’t appropriate for this site.

                    Anyway, I actually feel very strongly about this, and I fear that if I continue writing on this topic, I’ll start to sound just like some of the comments that Shamus criticized in this thread.
                    I think that it’d be best to just agree to disagree on this matter :)

  3. Dreadjaws says:

    34:47 Are we tired of superhero movies?

    I hear this all the time.

    I hear it all the time too, and it just doesn’t make sense. “Superhero” is not a genre. A superhero film can be anything: an action film, a western, romance, drama, comedy, horror, etc. They’re extremely versatile.

    If anything, you can claim that you’re getting tired of MCU movies, which is understandable, since they’re the most proliferate and they all more or less follow the same formula.

    About The Last Jedi, I think you could do well with establishing some ground rules to avoid the kind of stuff that happens everywhere else:

    – No personal attacks.
    – No belittling others’ opinions.
    – Corollary: don’t try to find silly reasons for people to have the opposite opinion from yours. Accept they just legitimately like/dislike something you disliked/liked.
    – The “no politics” thing is going to be a problem, considering that one of the reasons people dislike the movie is precisely that it dabbles in politics, but it’s still worth mentioning.
    – Send Dreadjaws a chocolate cake through mail. This one’s non-negotiable.

    1. JakeyKakey says:

      I’m not sure The Last Jedi itself really dabbles in politics. What divisive political hot takes does TLJ actually deliver?

      You can very very very broadly align one’s reception of TLJ with one’s leanings in the Great Internet Culture War which leads to a lot of really stupid and reductive “you loved/hated TLJ just because you are an SJW/a misogynist” arguments surrounding the fim, but I think that says a lot more about the statue of internet discourse and outrage culture, than the film itself.

      1. Viktor says:

        Women exist and are capable of doing things. Neo-nazis are trash. Helping others at the expense of yourself is Good, helping yourself at the expense of others is Bad*. Those are extremely controversial in the current day.

        This is why I hate Shamus’ no politics rule. If a work has anything to say about people or society, it’s political. Those are the core of politics. Trying to avoid discussing politics while discussing the work is basically just an exercise in who is best at hiding their political stances while still getting their point across.

        *This is, I would say, the thematic core of the movie, and it’s actually more controversial than even the gender issue. This is the first moral stance that has been established in-universe that is any deeper than “Don’t murder 20 children at once”, and it is in stark contrast to the prosperity gospel that has been baked into the US psyche since the Calvinists were a thing.

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          Well, that didn’t take long.

          1. kunedog says:

            It’s exactly why there are so many people warning Shamus since he announced his plans. What if he finds himself considering scrapping the whole thing after he’s already written it all beforehand (like he does), because the first couple comment sections are full of posts of like that?

          2. Viktor says:

            Someone asked what politics TLJ was involved in. I answered without taking any specific stance on those politics, though TBH it’s pretty clear. Would you disagree that everything I said was fairly blatantly stated in the movie*?

            *Okay, “neo-nazis are trash” was more of a TFA stance, but TLJ carried it forward.

            1. JakeyKakey says:

              “Women exist and can do stuff.” sounds far more like you have a very snarky axe to grind with the portion of the fanbase that argues Rey/Holdo/Rose are poorly written, than a genuine explicit political theme within the film itself.

              Women already existed and did stuff in the original trilogy.

              1. Viktor says:

                Mary Sue is the term I’ve heard applied to Rey the most, but she’s not significantly different in ability or people’s reactions than Luke is in the OT. So yes, having a female char do the same stuff as a male one is a political stance, since people’s reactions to it is political.

                1. Kathryn...who is pretty sure she exists says:

                  You can make the argument against describing Rey as a Mary Sue (which is a discussion I’d be interested in, though I probably wouldn’t participate myself as I haven’t seen TLJ) without asserting that your political opponents deny that women exist.

                2. Daimbert says:

                  The only real thing Force-related that Luke did in the OT was make the shot that destroyed the Death Star, and he was coached into and through it by Obi-Wan’s voice. Rey does far more than that in TFA. She’s also far more central to the story than Luke is — do any of the other characters have an arc like Han’s in TFA? — AND is the impetus behind the rescue on Starkiller Base, which was the role Leia played in the first one, even down to Rey being taken more initiative in rescuing herself than one might expect. In fact, she DID pretty much entirely rescue herself with little input from anyone else, and the whole plan for the rescue was done because Finn loved her, not because she was important for any other reasons. She outshines others in their own areas of expertise — flying the Falcon better than Han, for example — and is abrasive and yet still adored and embraced by almost everyone. While I don’t really think she’s a Mary Sue, you can kinda see where those who do call her that are coming from.

                  1. Viktor says:

                    The problem is that Mary Sue itself is a sexist term, but my options are either ignore it(and let people claiming Rey is a Mary Sue dominate the conversation), argue against it(in which case I acknowledge that Mary Sue is a real thing that it’s bad to be), or point out that Mary Sue is a sexist metric that is never applied to male chars in similar circumstances*, in which case I’m the one getting political. Just by raising the topic, as someone did here yesterday, they automatically win.

                    *Luke/Anakin/Batman/Aragorn/Dick Grayson/Dom Touretto/Jack Reacher/Ethan Hunt/etc

                    1. Daimbert says:

                      The problem is that you’d be fussing over the specific term itself rather than focusing on what it’s meant to portray, which is problematic. Note that here explicitly you argued that she was no more focused on or more powerful or did more impressive things than other male characters — TWICE, even! — and yet I note that you in no way addressed my comments that she DOES do more impressive things than the characters you are comparing her to with less reason to think that she’s capable of them. Instead, you retreated to taking a directly political line … and then complained that the no politics rule stops you from arguing. Well, yeah, if you’re going to debate politics and not content then you’re going to get called out for doing that.

                      Remember, I said that I didn’t think she was a Mary Sue, and you STILL complained about the term and ignored everything I said about how she IS doing things that are more impressive than Luke. Where can the conversation go if you ignore my evidence to complain about a term that I’m personally not associating her with, and where my only link to it is to the descriptive details of how she is more central to the movie than she should be?

                    2. JakeyKakey says:

                      People who dislike Batman do constantly accuse him of being a Gary/Marty Stu – this discussion has an annoying habit of devolving into pedantic arguments as to whether you can still be a Mary Sue if you have a tragic backstory and genuine flaws, but I see it happen all the time.

                      As for the other examples, I’m not sure if I agree with those specifically. There are dozens of other male characters (such as Star Trek’s Wesley Crusher or WWE’s Roman Reigns or BBC’s Sherlock or Mass Effect’s Kai Leng or literally every other anime protagonist) who do absolutely get criticized for being Mary-Sues-by-any-other-name.

                      We don’t explictly label them as such, but with the exception of Rey who single-handedly brought the term “Mary Sue” back from relative obscurity, that’s not really the case for female characters either. Being explicitly accused of being a Mary Sue is an almost uniquely Rey-centric problem.

                    3. Kestrellius says:

                      It’s probably a bad idea for me to get involved in this discussion, but you’ve given me an opportunity to go on a long tangent about something I love, and goddamn it I’m not going to pass that up.

                      The main protagonist of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy is a girl named Vin.

                      (Spoilers for the Mistborn trilogy follow.)

                      Vin is a street thief with an unusual gift for influencing situations in her favor. Early in the first book, she’s discovered to be a Mistborn, an incredibly rare type of individual capable of using (one of) the setting’s magic system(s) to its full potential. She’s personally taken under the wing of death-defying famous thief and fellow Mistborn Kelsier, who is plotting to kill the demigod known as the Lord Ruler and topple his Final Empire, which governs the whole world with its oppressive might. It rapidly becomes clear that Vin is extremely talented, even for a Mistborn, and she gradually earns Kelsier’s respect and trust. Before long, she’s also caught the eye of nobleman Elend Venture, the scion of the world’s single most powerful noble family.

                      At the end of the first book, Vin — taking up Kelsier’s mantle after his death — engages the Lord Ruler, defeats him, and kills him; all with her own ingenuity, intellect, and courage. Throughout the following two volumes, it becomes apparent that Vin is someone truly special — an individual chosen to do great things.

                      At the end of the trilogy, Vin literally becomes a god. Not the superhuman-demigod-posing-as-an-actual-god kind of god — the real, genuine, ancient-metaphysical-principle-manifest-as-a-conscious-being kind of god. She doesn’t stay one, granted — she dies heroically in the act of defeating the trilogy’s antagonist, also a god, and saving the world from annihilation. The reborn world remembers her as a hero for centuries, with at least one major religion revering her as a spiritual figure. That’s Vin — a girl from humble origins, blessed with phenomenal power, favored by heroes and nobles and literal gods; who achieves divine transcendence and saves the world.

                      I have never heard anyone call Vin a Mary Sue.

                      Now, someone, somewhere, probably has. It also helps that the Mistborn fanbase — while substantial by the standards of literature — is far, far smaller than that of the Star Wars franchise, which means any accusations of Mary Suitiveness would be less visible. But the idea of Vin being too powerful, or being a Mary Sue, or even being a bad character is nowhere on my radar as a member of this fanbase, and I certainly don’t think she’s any of those things, even though I’d be fairly comfortable leveling those accusations at Rey. (Certainly the last one. The first two I’m a little less sure about.)

                      The main reason for this is pretty simple — it takes a lot more than “powerful female character” to attract the Mary Sue moniker. In particular, I think the reason Vin doesn’t get called that is because she’s simply a well-written character — or at least a competently-written one. (Mistborn was one of Sanderson’s early works, and character writing was not his strongest point at this stage of his career.)

                      While Vin’s probably not as compelling as she could be — she pales in comparison to Steris Harms, from a later series set in the same world, for example — she’s sympathetic, she’s fairly relatable, she struggles, she has an arc, and there’s nothing really wrong with the way she’s written. And this is the big difference. Rey is an awful character — and her overpoweredness, while not exactly a great decision, is not the main reason for this.

                      Rey, as far as I can see, is a brick. She has little personality to speak of, and no motivation beyond a vague (and rarely acted-upon) desire to reunite with her parents, which goes nowhere anyway. She’s almost never faced with obstacles that impede her significantly or give her an opportunity to reveal her character (presumably because the writer does not wish to give away that she has none). She’s just not very interesting.

                      I suspect that the idea of the Mary Sue functions similarly to the idea of the plot hole, in that they’re both related to the story-collapse gradient. That is, I think the label only comes out once the writing has already failed. So my guess is that if Rey had been a properly-written character, and had given audiences some substance to chew on, most viewers would have ignored or simply not noticed any unreasonable power she exhibited — though, as I indicated, I think her power level and her brickishness are connected, in that Rey’s abilities are being used as a means to disguise flaws in her writing, and as a substitute for character growth.

                      As a final set of points, the idea-cloud that people call “Mary Sue” contains a bunch of other factors besides “female + powerful + badly written” (and female isn’t even really one of them; as others have pointed out, shoddily-constructed male characters are regularly referred to as Gary Stus). Rey hits several of these points, and I think they’re what trigger peoples’ Mary Sue alarms. The power-level thing is just what people talk about most, likely because it’s the easiest to debate.

                      The relevant criteria are:

                      – Overshadows “canonical” or previously-established characters. Remember that the term originated in fanfiction circles, where a major concern was the way original characters interacted with canonical ones. Writers (both male and female) would (and still do; this problem hasn’t gotten much better) write wish-fulfillment self-inserts who would either take the spotlight from the work’s canonical protagonists or be immediately and bizarrely beloved by them, so as to elevate their egos by association. While the sequel trilogy technically isn’t fanfiction, it functions similarly as a long-term followup to a beloved series created by different writers, so its new protagonists are naturally examined closely, and the fandom will not react kindly if they’re found wanting by comparison to the OT’s characters. And if they suddenly outshine those characters in their own specialties, with no justification…

                      (I do want to make the point that I would be very surprised to learn that Rey was created as a self-insert or wish-fulfillment character by any of TFA’s writers. TFA is a Perfectly Generic Extruded Star Wars Product* (*focus-group approved!), so I doubt any of its writers were sufficiently passionate about the project to do something like that. More likely, Rey was intended as a self-insert for female viewers, particularly young ones. Which isn’t a bad thing — that describes like half of all protagonists — but it is a problem when that’s all a character is.)

                      – Is unreasonably loved/hated by everyone around him or her, depending on how sympathetic the other characters in question are intended to be. (That is — loved by heroes, hated by villains.) This is closely related to the previous one, as the characters who are inexplicably enamored with GMary Stue are often the canonical or original protagonists.

                      I think this criterion is the best evidence in favor of designating Rey a Mary Sue. Like I said, power + bad writing isn’t enough on its own, but TFA contains a lot of characters who become inordinately fond of Rey for no adequate reason.

                      – Exhibits an obnoxious/grating/holier-than-thou personality, which strangely does not interfere with the character being loved by everyone he/she meets. This one’s pretty obvious.

                      This is the main reason I’m reluctant to call Rey a Mary Sue — she doesn’t have an annoying personality; she doesn’t have a personality at all. She does occasionally say things that are theoretically irritating, but it’s all too bland for me to really find it obnoxious.


                      Well, that got long. It occurred to me that Vin, despite being an extremely powerful female protagonist, never really attracted criticism for it and would serve as an effective counterargument to the idea that Rey is disliked simply for being a powerful female character, and I wanted to write about it. Then a bunch of my other thoughts ended up getting thrown into the mix.

                      On the upside, this appears to have filled my writing quota for the day.

                      Anyway. I hope this has been entertaining, and that I haven’t added too much fuel to the fire. ‘Bye, folks!

                    4. Shamus says:

                      I’m not familiar with these books, but this was a really interesting analysis.

                      I haven’t enjoyed a wall of text comment this much since The Rocketeer wrote all those essays during the Final Fantasy X series.

                    5. Bloodsquirrel says:

                      Mistborn is a fantastic series, definitely worth checking out, especially if you want a little bit of optimism in your fantasy. Brandon Sanderson is famous for thinking his plots and settings through, providing a lot of good details-oriented groundwork for his stories.

                      And Vin is a great character, and the difference between her and Rey isn’t hard to see. Vin earns her power and her victories through hard work, determination, and actual ingenuity, rather than having the plot cheat for her. She has internal conflict that actually matters and goes somewhere. Like, actual internal conflict, where she has mutually exclusive desires and impulses, and struggles to decide which ones she should choose. And her become a literal God is something that is brilliantly set up over the course of the series, with the final key being something so simple and, in retrospect, obvious, but still took me by surprise and all makes perfect sense.

                      It’s one of the best fantasy series I’ve ever read, to the point where I refuse to start reading the sequel series until it’s finished (supposedly in 2019) because I know that I won’t be able to stand finishing the currently last book and not being able to read the next one.

                    6. Syal says:

                      Sanderson likes his worldbuilding, and he likes his twists, so his books are pretty much chock-full of stuff that looks one way on the first read and turns out to be something quite different but still narratively consistent. And the villains are overwhelming types that often end up being puzzle bosses. I enjoy them greatly.

                      The Mistborn trilogy’s also got the advantage of being some of the shortest books he’s written; I think Book 1 of the Stormlight Archives is longer than the entire Mistborn trilogy.

                      Although Mistborn does feel a bit RPG-y. There’s a point where Vin defeats a group of half a dozen people who are said to each be as strong as a previously Too Strong To Fight villain, and I’m like “oh, so this is the late-game dungeon where early bosses start showing up as mooks.”

                3. Matt Downie says:

                  It’s been a while since I saw TFA, but if I recall correctly, Rey seems to be an expert technician, warrior, pilot, and force user. She’s achieves roughly Luke’s level in Return of the Jedi (that’s when we first saw him do the Jedi mind trick) despite having had no obvious training in any of these fields. Personally I’d have preferred to see her struggling more before succeeding.

                  If someone says she’s a Mary Sue, they might be saying something like the above, or they just might hate empowered female protagonists in general. If you assume the latter without strong evidence, it turns a discussion into an ugly argument.

                  1. Viktor says:

                    “no obvious training” She spends the first 20 minutes of screentime climbing over old ships, finding useful parts, and fixing those parts. She then fights to defend herself from someone trying to take her stuff. And she’s been doing all of that since she was six. Yes, she’s good at it. The novelization explains her piloting skills, but they’re not exactly unexpected from someone who has a focus on old ships. Are you actively ignoring everything used to establish her character and skills, or do you hate empowered female chars?

                    And again, why is all of Rey’s skill less believable than Luke being a better pilot and shot than the entire Rebellion?

                    1. Daimbert says:

                      Luke ISN’T a better pilot and a shot than the entire Rebellion. Arguably, Wedge and Biggs and the others are better pilots — they don’t get singed blowing up an emplacement, for example — and Luke only makes that shot with explicit guidance from Obi-Wan and directly using the Force.

                      The novelization isn’t the movie, and so it’s difficult to use that to claim that the movie portrayed her correctly. The Special Edition of Star Wars, however, explains LUKE’S piloting ability: he was piloting small fighter craft on Tatooine for quite a while, which even placates the squadron commander.

                    2. BlueHorus says:

                      So here’s the thing.
                      It’s not necessarily what you’re saying…it’s the tone you’re using. This is a great example:

                      Are you actively ignoring everything used to establish her character and skills, or do you hate empowered female chars?

                      ‘Are you deliberately misunderstanding the film or do you HATE WOMEN!?!?!?!’

                      Think about the other ways you could have put that question. As it is you’ve framed it as a really offensive binary choice where Matt’s wrong either way!
                      Now I’d point out that something from the novel makes no difference to the film, because the film should be able to explain its own story by itself. Does that mean I hate strong female characters?
                      Or is that just a needlessly unhelpful and inflammatory thing to bring up?

                      And from an earlier post of yours:

                      …Trying to avoid discussing politics while discussing the work is basically just an exercise in who is best at hiding their political stances while still getting their point across.

                      To some people, sure. But there are dozens of examples of posts on this site that show that you can seperate politics from discussions about sci-fi films. Just because you find it difficult…

                    3. Kathryn says:

                      Ran out of nesting, but this is a reply to BlueHorus: To be fair, Viktor is paraphrasing Matt’s statement, “If someone says she’s a Mary Sue, they might be saying something like the above, or they just might hate empowered female protagonists in general.” And Viktor does have a valid point in that there is a significant chunk of screen time (was it really 20 min? I do not remember) spent on establishing that Rey’s life has been a giant pile of suck, so the fact that she’s survived this long should show us that she must have some good survival skills. (I’m actually glad he brought that up, because I was turning over the Luke/Rey comparison in my own head (wasn’t going to comment, though, bc I don’t remember TFA well and haven’t seen TLJ) and had forgotten about that part myself. At least Luke had a stable home life (you know…before the stormtroopers arrived…) and all the blue milk he could drink.)

                      That being said, Matt did also say he hadn’t seen TFA in a while and could be forgetting something, so your overall point that a more charitable reading of his comment is certainly possible and would more effectively facilitate the discussion is also valid.

          3. BlueHorus says:

            Well, that didn’t take long.


            One thing I found very interesting is that (going from the last comments section) there’s a distinct link between the people warning about TLJ starting a flame war…and the people saying the things that might actually start said flame war.

        2. Shamus says:

          “This is why I hate Shamus’ no politics rule. ”

          Which I guess explains why you go out of your way to start fights. Dude, the rule is there specifically because of people like you. You’re too angry and too eager to reduce your opposition to neo-nazis and misogynists. If I lifted the rule then every goddamn thread would be people ranting about Trump and SJWs because hey, “everything is political”.

          If you’re looking for a fight, you have the ENTIRE INTERNET to play on. Why do you need to come to my house and do this shit?

          1. houiostesmoiras says:

            You need a like button or upvotes or something, because I very much want to give this a thumbs up.

      2. Joshua says:

        I’d say a lot of it is over-exaggerated in the arguments, specifically when it comes to the gender issue. One thing that did leap out at me as an explicit political point was when Rose rants against the opulence of Canto Bight because “there’s only one way that people would get this rich”, and Finn understands the answer to be “war”, which seems to be a dig against the Military-Industrial Complex.

        So, it seems to make a political point that people are only fabulously rich because they are profiting off of the death and misery of others.

        This is one of the things that took me aback in the movie, because I would say that in the real world, our richest people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerburg, etc. all made their billions in ways little to do with weaponry. In the Star Wars movie universe up to this movie, it seems to be a plot point that the Republic continually under-funds their own military (severely), and the military spending of the Empire seems to be all internal governmental (as seen with the various Death stars being built, and even the forced conscription of the engineers to design it), with no indication thus far that there was severe outsourcing of weaponry to external companies who were profiting off of the battle between the Rebellion/Empire or Resistance/First Order.

        1. Ninety-Three says:

          This is a good example of some of the movie’s problems. It’s not that it’s taking a firm stand on a controversial issue (“Abortion is bad!”). While people might disagree on the scale of the problem, pretty much everyone agrees that the military-industrial complex exists and is not great. The problem is that it’s stretching our suspension of disbelief (even if weapons manufacturing is the biggest industry in Star Wars, there aren’t any Space Oil Barons or Space Bankers on the Rich People Planet?) to make stupid confused points.

          1. Daimbert says:

            What would make that even worse is that from the OT we know that such people exist and would go there, because Lando is pretty much one of them before his recruitment to the Rebellion.

          2. Falling says:

            It’s also not great because it comes across as preachy because nothing else in the story is about that idea. Like, if the story was centred around fighting against corporate overlords and taking down evil independent capitalist shipyards, then Rose’s views might means something. But it doesn’t mean anything at all if she just gives a statement of disapproval and then everyone moves on. Same thing with it all being worth it because they rescued a bunch of animals (temporarily). I was like ‘thanks PETA’ but the film isn’t actually about rescuing animals, so it doesn’t mean anything except to be randomly preachy and a really, really weird shifted goal. (How can this all be worth it when the Rebellion is still in danger of being wiped out and you bunch of bumbling clowns couldn’t get the real hacker because you couldn’t figure out how to pay a parking ticket.)

            1. BlueHorus says:

              the film isn’t actually about rescuing animals, so it doesn’t mean anything except to be randomly preachy and a really, really weird shifted goal. (How can this all be worth it when the Rebellion is still in danger of being wiped out and you bunch of bumbling clowns couldn’t get the real hacker because you couldn’t figure out how to pay a parking ticket.)

              Finn looks back at wrecked Casino: ‘It was worth it though – to make them hurt?’

              There’s an interesting, good idea here: free the mistreated animals so that they rampage over the casino as both a metaphor of the downtrodden rising up and a symbol of the spirit of the Rebellion – sure, they’ll get recaptured, but they did hurt the rich and powerful, proving it’s possible. Maybe inspiring others.
              That’s a good message/theme to have in this kind of story.

              But having Finn & Rose be so incompetent undermines it: they just wreck the Casino by chance because they were dumb enough to get caught parking illegally and causing a stampede is how they escape prison.
              Not to mention having Rose afterwards imply that it’s actually worth it because they temporarily saved some animals, you immediately take a nice clear message/image and muddy it with a dumb, shallow sentiment.
              Is it a message about inspiring others to rebel? Well, kinda…but it’s also that these idiots just don’t know what they’re doing.

              So much of this film made me say ‘I know what you were going for, but…’

              1. Falling says:

                Yeah, I agree in that I can see a lot of what they are trying to do, but they completely bungle the execution. Except I think I was more annoyed/ upset at ‘It’s all worth it.’ Maybe because I’ve worked maintenance before and I think I’m pretty good friends with our janitorial staff. Mostly I thought she was being selfishly cathartic- one joy ride through town, doing the equivalent of the Vancouver Riot post-playoff loss. It doesn’t accomplish anything other than force the little guy to clean up after you. So much for high minded ideals… I just think you’re a jerk. You sprayed (metaphorical) graffiti on a wall that will be washed away by some slave, only mildly inconveniencing the rich and you’re going to call it a day? Nah. Give me back my real Rebellion that actually fought for stuff that mattered in a manner that actually overthrew corrupt regimes. That sequence was so unironically shallow in its viewpoint that there was really no way ( in my eyes) to redeem Rose as a competent rebel and hero after that.

        2. wswordsmen says:

          Keep in mind in the last 1000ish years there have been precisely 2 major wars in the galaxy (and another one is supposedly starting… I have opinions about that), so not only does it not make sense compared to the real world it doesn’t make any sense in SW either because there are only 2 periods to get that rich and they ended roughly 30 years ago.

      3. shoeboxjeddy says:

        Consider that every single alt right pundit hates The Last Jedi with the fury of a thousand suns, without exception. And that the Russian hacker hate squad were caught out making hate posts to make the discourse around TLJ even more negative (to increase American turmoil and infighting, natch). It would seem fairly clear that on the most basic level, the political views held in The Last Jedi are “left leaning” in some kind of way, based on this information. This doesn’t mean that disliking TLJ makes you alt-right, not at all. But it’s a bullet point on a list that can add up.

        Other noticeable bullet points:
        -Suspiciously having vitriol for every female character in the film, but not necessarily for the male ones… and also being hostile to the concept of female or minority characters being a good idea to add in the first place.
        -Insisting that there were already “enough” characters that were women or minorities or whatever and that adding any of the new ones was a part of an “agenda.”
        -Seeing TLJ as a part of a trend of having women heroes or minority heroes and that’s… bad on its face somehow?
        -Angrily using the terms SJW and Mary Sue (this sort of gives the game away, really).

        1. Distec says:

          Was the Russian bot thing ever substantiated, or is it a convenient deflection to wield against critics of the film? Given my prior experience with the “Russian Bot” controversy, my confidence in this claim is extremely low. RT reported they saw nothing they’d consider suspicious on their end; although of course they’re going to defend the integrity of their site regardless.

          Any way, the inference I take away from your post is that it’s the “Alt Right” making this political. I have two thoughts on this:
          1) Most people who watched TLJ have never seen or otherwise encountered an “Alt Right pundit”. Consider, perhaps, that your familiarity with their talking points is mostly due to the media sphere you (and I) exist in.
          2) So the Alt Right uniformly hates TLJ, and this is evidence of political motivation. What is stopping me from flipping this on its head and pointing to the gushing and near-unanimous praise TLJ received from the media, often while invoking progressive terminology?

          1. Bloodsquirrel says:

            He’s using the “everybody I disagree with” definition of “alt-right” here.

            And, no, the Russian bot story is just a ridiculous conspiracy theory, re-purposed from the ridiculous conspiracy theory about Russian bots stealing the election, because when your understanding of the world is exactly as nuanced as “everybody who disagrees with me is in a giant, ideologically-driven conspiracy” then the Kremlin being concerned with a Star Wars movie’s RT score starts to sound plausible.

            1. shoeboxjeddy says:

              No, I’m using the “dudes who are explicitly alt right on youtube” as my definition. Regarding the Russia thing:

              Sounds like people incorrectly cited his study about Russian bot activity, but he’s pretty firm about the hate tweets being made by people who were right wing in nature and not necessarily fans of the movies. So take that as you will.

              1. Bloodsquirrel says:

                No, I’m using the “dudes who are explicitly alt right on youtube” as my definition.

                No you’re not. You’re explicitly calling not liking TLJ as a “bullet point” that “adds up” to you being alt-right. Aside from the obviously fallacious guilt by association, you’ve yet to cite anything that has any explicit connection to the alt-right at all.

                Your own link shows how feeble the connection is:

                basically that those 105 tweets came from accounts that didn’t seem interested in the franchise and just wanted to hurl attacks on the movie’s supposedly left-wing politics.

                They “didn’t seem”, according to his unsubstantiated subjective opinion, to be interested in the franchise. I could just as easily assert that I’ve yet to find a defender of TLJ that isn’t a left-leaning culture warrior.

                1. shoeboxjeddy says:

                  I already feel as if I’m walking on the edge of breaking the rule by talking about content that WOULD break the rules here. You’re not going to bait me into going further than that. Suffice to say, if you go to youtube and type in “The Last Jedi” and any phrase like “is broken” or “sucks” or “ruins Star Wars” or any alt right buzz word you’d like, you’ll get a ton of alt right Youtubers hating on it. And likewise, I would be SHOCKED if you could find a positive review of the movie from an alt right source. I don’t think this point is really arguable and won’t be going any further with you on it.

    2. Mephane says:

      While I agree that “superhero movies” is not a genre, it is a useful category descriptor nonetheless.

      There are certain aspects to superhero movies that are particular to these movies (or more generally, superhero stories). For contrast: Dr Strange would usually be categorized as a superhero, Gandalf would not.

      Now me, personally, I tend to get tired of superhero movies when they escalate too much. A story between Batman and Joker, I can get behind that. But, like, Thanos killing half the universe just goes too far for my taste, the stakes needlessly exaggerated*. It feels like several writers tried to one-up each other with bigger and bigger stakes much like kids would escalate action figure fights (“my hero can shoot fireballs” – “my hero can make the sun explode” – “oh yeah? my hero punches you with a galaxy”); I have a hunch this is what actually happened, over the course of decades.

      *Also, of all this gigantic universe, this incredibly, mind-boggingly vast cosmos, which even per the lore of these settings is brimming with intelligent life – of all this, the story just *happens* to have humans, who haven’t even entered the galactic, let alone intergalactic, stage, as the central pillar of the story. (A gripe that I also have about the Mass Effect series.)

      1. Bloodsquirrel says:

        Infinity War works, I think, because the movie makes Thanos a sort-of protagonist and makes the goal deeply personal and psychological for him. The scale of the stakes isn’t relied on to create the drama; it’s used as a backdrop for a story about sacrifice and the meglomaniacal pursuit of a goal.

        Thanos is a step up from the rest of the MCU villians. Despite the scale and insanity of his ambitions, his motivations and philosophy are more grounded and nuanced than, say, Hydra’s or whoever the villains from Ant-Man were.

        1. LadyTL says:

          See that is why Infinity War didn’t work for me. It was like how people bring up Hitler was a painter. Just because we get a brief moment of humanity does not make me sympathetic to a genocidal dictator. It wasn’t even that great a moment either given he barely thought at all about it before going through with it.

          1. Bloodsquirrel says:

            I don’t think he’s sympathetic- I think he’s compelling. And it’s more than just one moment. It’s when he lets Gamora think she’s killed him, and then interprets the emotional release she has from thinking that she’s finally free as grief for him. It’s his belief that he loves her even as he’s torturing Nebula to get her to talk. It’s his claim that the universe will be grateful, and his admiration for Tony Stark.

            There’s just a lot more to him than most movie villians, and it’s the conflict between how he sees himself and his mission and reality that makes him interesting.

        2. Ninety-Three says:

          Thanos’ motivations may be more nuanced than those of Ant Man Guy (“I want to sell supertech to the military because I like money”), but all those gains are erased if you think about it for more than five seconds. His plan is stupid. It’s so stupid that to justify it, you basically have to fall back on “Well he is the Mad Titan”, and that kind of “He’s crazy therefore his motivations don’t have to make sense” has never made for compelling characters.

          Let’s say that Thanos’ diagnosis is spot on: all life everywhere is caught in a Malthusian trap with too few resources, and let’s also grant that because reasons, Thanos can’t use his omnipotent glove to make more resources.

          In developed societies, killing half the population makes things worse. Sure, if you have a bunch of cavemen eating berries, then killing half the cavemen means more berries to go around, but by the time you get to modern globalized trade, the Snap means that important people don’t show up to work at the power plant, the electrical grid fails and food shipments stop going out as people try to deal with the ensuing chaos. Billions more will starve, quality of life will decline unimaginably, and by the time things stabilize we’ll have post-apocalyptic people scratching out a living in a worse Malthusian trap!

          It’s not like this is an unfixable problem either. If Thanos spent five minutes thinking (literally how long it took me to come up with this), he could enforce a universal One Child Policy and fix overpopulation without sudden catastrophic collapse. Or if he’s really committed to this Snap thing, he could avoid killing farmers, international leaders, power plant workers, the kinds of people you absolutely need to keep a semblance of society running.

          1. Bloodsquirrel says:

            His plan is stupid.

            Okay, but that makes it pretty par for the course in terms of what real megalomaniac dictators do. Pol Pot famously killed 25% of Cambodia’s population by emptying out the urban centers and trying to force the county back to being an agrarian society. Some of the things that the Soviet Union did would be downright comical if it weren’t for all of the people they killed doing it- like letting politicians make completely uninformed engineering decisions, then throwing the engineers in the Gulags when they blew up in their faces for “wrecking” (ie, intentional sabotage). Or how about the Great Sparrow Campaign?

            Evil people with lots of power have a remarkable ability to come up with plans that even a five-year old could point out the flaws in and doggedly carry them through no matter how many bodies pile up around them.

      2. default_ex says:

        It’s the power climb problem. One of the main things that turns me away from super hero movies and to a smaller extent modern stories. There seems to be this bizarre fascination with ‘there’s always a bigger fish’ philosophy. The next problem/villain has to be a bigger threat than the previous problem/villain. All while ignoring that this is a horrible idea to base a franchise on, that you can only grow scope so far before it’s so far removed from reality that even your die hard fans will find it hard to believe.

        A lot of these writers producing that kind of thing just need to take a step back and look at the long running TV series. The long running series all have this pattern of you build towards your big threat, the threat is dealt with by the end of the season and then a new threat which might be worse, might be equivalent or might be less but it’s unique compared to the previous threat. Take Stargate series, our potential threats there are: Humans, Asgard, Ancients, Goa’uld, Replicators, Ori, Wraith and the Genei. Each a force to be reckoned with in their own right. It’s fairly clear which are stronger than others and it even shifts over time as each develop their respective technologies. They are not however rungs of a ladder forming a power climb.

        1. Kathryn says:

          Yeah, the Dresden Files started out with Harry dealing with local warlocks and the occasional rogue werewolf, and now…Don’t get me wrong, I love the Dresden Files, but man, Butcher doesn’t have any room left to raise the stakes.

          (I fully assume that somewhere in the world, Butcher just looked up from his current draft of Peace Talks and said, “Hold my beer.”)

          1. John says:

            If Robert Parker could write over three dozen Spencer novels about a normal PI without constantly raising the stakes, I don’t see why Butcher couldn’t have done the same for a wizard PI. I would have liked that series more than the one he wrote. Alas for me, it seems Butcher had other ideas. Oh well.

            1. shoeboxjeddy says:

              Spencer didn’t have magical abilities, the intention was never to have the main character become more powerful and deal with bigger problems. It’s a bad comparison. It’s pretty clear from the initial 3 Dresden novels alone that the power curve and increasingly scary bad guys was always a feature of the series, not a bug.

        2. Echo Tango says:

          Videogames also suffer from the power-climb; All media really. Super Hero stuff tends to have it more frequently, but it can exist at lower levels too (e.g. a police show could start out following small thugs, then move on to the local gang, then by season six the police/show is dealing with international paramilitary groups and nuclear weapons). For me, besides becoming unrealistic, power climb also means I can’t rely on a certain media providing a certain experience.

          1. Boobah says:

            Power creep like that happens when your finale depends on a big setpiece fight. If you throw equivalent fights at the protagonist, there’s no sense that they might fail because they already proved themselves at that level.

            Or so the reasoning goes.

        3. Hector says:

          I don’t think the power creep thing actually makes much sense unless you leave out half the movies. A bunch of them deliberately focus on smaller concerns, and the first Cosmic Threat shows up as early as Thor 2. The scale of threat bounces back and forth a lot in this series.

    3. John says:

      – No personal attacks.
      – No belittling others’ opinions.
      – Corollary: don’t try to find silly reasons for people to have the opposite opinion from yours. Accept they just legitimately like/dislike something you disliked/liked.
      – The “no politics” thing is going to be a problem, considering that one of the reasons people dislike the movie is precisely that it dabbles in politics, but it’s still worth mentioning.

      Those are pretty much just the site rules restated, but–dude!–look at all the replies just above mine. Can you honestly say that if you were Shamus you’d be looking forward to moderating hundreds of comments like that? I got bummed out just reading them. I’d hate to have to sit and think carefully about which ones are okay and which ones aren’t. I’m actually really interested in what Shamus has to say about the film. I’ve skipped both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi because the premise or backstory of The Force Awakens doesn’t appeal to me. (And also I have zero trust in J.J. Abrams.) The details of the plot and characters are nearly irrelevant, as far as I’m concerned. Even if I liked them, I’d still dislike the premise. If I disliked them, it would only make things worse. From what he let slip today, it sounds like Shamus may be thinking along similar lines. So, yeah, I want to read that blog post, but not at the expense of making Shamus miserable.

      1. Joshua says:

        Yeah, I’d really like to see Shamus do this and with his well-reasoned argument help bring catharsis to what I find dissatisfying about it, but I’m afraid of the toxicity of some of the comments. We’ve already gotten some of the toxic pro-TLJ comments on here to the extent of “You just don’t understand it” or “You don’t like anything new”, but only dabbled in the problematic anti-TLJ comments (talking about Rey being a Mary Sue).

        Fortunately, no one’s thrown out the obnoxious terms like “SJW” or “Admiral Gender Studies” or racist remarks just yet, but maybe those aren’t the kind of people that follow this site for the most part. For sanity’s sake, I think it would be best to leave the argument about whether or not Rey is a Mary Sue to the side because there’s *plenty* of other material for argument that won’t instantly turn into a flame war. My $.02 anyway.

  4. Bloodsquirrel says:

    Infinity War was amazing, but it really drove home for me just how empty the rest of the MCU has become. I don’t think it’s quite fair to call it formulaic, but the range of possibilities that it allows itself to play with has shrunk to the point where none of the movies have any surprises anymore.

    They’ve become a lot like modern WoW: an undeniably polished product that does what it wants to do very well, but with less and less personality and less and less willingness to challenge its audience.

    The last bunch of MCU movies I’ve seen except for IW have failed to leave any lasting impression on me. I think Civil War was the last one that felt like it had any sense of consequence. Thor 3 blew up all of Asgard, and it could barely even pretend that it mattered.

    1. Viktor says:

      I would call them formulaic. It’s my issue with the MCU right now, so many of the heroes have similar snarky dialogue, a touch of justified angst, and a significant personality issue that prevents them from getting too close to their attractive, competent female companion even after they resolve the UST and start dating. Add a basic Hero’s Journey plot and you’ve got the first movie the char headlines. It’s a solid formula, and as long as it keeps working Disney will keep going back to it, but it’s hard to stay excited for new movies that I should want to see when I know that’s coming.

      I’m actually a little surprised that you didn’t like Ragnarok, it was the first one in a while that felt different IMO. Not hugely, but I was more into that one than a lot of the other recent movies.

    2. Matt Downie says:

      The point of that bit of Ragnarok was that blowing up Asgard didn’t matter – it’s just a place, rescuing the people was what was important.

      (Of course, most of those people were killed by Thanos shortly after.)

      1. JakeyKakey says:

        Yes, but for it to work as a theme, the movie still needs to initially sell us on the idea that destroying Asgard is a really big deal. The Asgardians are a millenia-old race literally named after the place, Ragnarok is the largest event in both their past and future history, and the destruction of their ancestral home is played almost entirely for laughs.

      2. Bloodsquirrel says:

        In addition to what JakeyKakey said, the people of Asgard were a faceless mass in which I scarecly had any more emotional investment. Thor’s best friends were killed in such an off-hand way that you’d never know who they were if you hadn’t seen the previous movies.

        The movie really needed a few scenes selling the idea of Asgard as a real place with real people. As fun as the scene with Dr. Strange was, it was entirely unnecessary, and it was time the movie needed to spend building it’s emotional groundwork.

    3. shoeboxjeddy says:

      Thor 3:
      -Killed Odin
      -Disfigured the protagonist (loss of an eye)
      -Destroyed the signature weapon of the series (Mjolnir)
      -Destroyed the setting of the series (Asgard)
      -Depleted the supporting cast of the series (Bye bye Warriors Three, so long Jane I guess?)
      -Realigned the core myth of the series (Odin went from heroic warrior king to selfish despot who eventually had a change of heart)

      And none of that had any impact? I feel like… this is a ridiculous hurdle to clear in that case.

      1. Bloodsquirrel says:

        And none of that had any impact?

        No, it didn’t. That’s the problem. All of those things should have had an impact, but the movie treats them so flippantly that it’s hard to care. Asgard, in particular, has never actually been the setting of the series; Thor spends more time on Earth, with Asgard never having been developed much beyond being a place with some weird looking sets with a bunch of extras hanging around in them.

      2. Syal says:

        I can confirm that none of that has any impact.

        Maybe the eye, but it has as much impact as the new haircut. A costume change, nothing more.

  5. Chris says:

    The desert bus payment system reminds me of an old story. Some guy helped the king out, and in return the king would accept any payment that was feasible. So the guy asks to grab a chessboard, and put a ricegrain on the first square, and then double the amount of rice on every subsequent square. So 1, 2, 4, 8 etc. So the king is like “well this is cheap” and agrees. And then around square 20 it starts to get out of control.

  6. Bloodsquirrel says:

    Cliffy B did actually attack a lot of people. The guy was long-standing asshat, from when he attack people over criticizing the initial always-online plans for the Xbox One to bad-mouth ing Epic for “poaching” his employees when they were leaving his failing studio. A studio which was failing, btw, because of what he did with Lawbreakers that pissed off all of its players because he was butthurt over some nonsense about people “fetishising skill”.

    The guy was always mouthing off in dumb ways, but he was able to get away with it when he was attached to a successful studio. Now he’s the head of a failed studio and is doing nothing to generate any good will.

  7. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    Honestly I’m not a fan of the saying that Marvel Movies are “all the same”. One of the reason they’re successful is that they’re genre movie with superheroes. Iron Man was a corporate thriller, Captain America movies were WW2 action flick then spy thriller, GoG is a space opera comedy, and so on. Compare to the X Men or DCU movies that are, well, super hero movies and that’s it.
    I mean, can we really say that Black Panther, Thor Ragnarok and Ant Man are “the same movies”? I wouldn’t.

    1. Bloodsquirrel says:

      As I said above, I don’t think they’re the same movie, but you can really feel how restricted the possibility space they play in is. If you showed someone BP, The Dark Knight, Thor 3, and Ant-Man, they’d pretty easily pick out which one is not part of the MCU, even without the explicit continuity links.

      They largely share the same brand of humor, the same sort of milquetoast themes, and the same kind of mostly happy ending. They can’t upset the applecart too much, but they also all have to have big stakes.

      It’s the kind of thing where you can’t nail down an exact formula, but you can definitely say that, for example, Deadpool never would have come from the MCU.

      The movies by the Russo brothers are the only ones that really stand out to me.

      1. shoeboxjeddy says:

        I don’t think the humor in Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man Homecoming, and Thor Ragnarok is that similar actually. It’s different writers aiming for really different things. The wacky Looney Tunes esque character deformation or darkly humorous violence from Guardians 2 would be really offputting in Spider-Man. And the teenage goofing around in Spider-Man would be BADLY out of place in Thor. And so on.

  8. Ninety-Three says:

    I am in a weird place on Marvel movies because I absolutely despise them but I’m not some High Art hippie, I want a return to the good old greasy cheeseburgers of Iron Man 1 and Thor 1. Just like Bioware, if you look at the last decade of their production, you can feel them iterating towards some kind of formula, and I was a fan of elements that got discarded along the way.

    If I had to point at one problem, I’d say it’s that they feel aggressively insubstantial. Part of it is the lack of continuity (because marketing figured out that you reach a wider audience by not alienating people who didn’t see the previous one), but most of it feels more like Bioware moving away from Infinity Engine combat: the suits realized there’s a bigger audience for banter and flashy action, and have been turning that dial up and up at the cost of everything else.

    1. Bloodsquirrel says:

      Part of it is- like I said- that they’re stuck in a playground that they can’t do too much with. They can’t tailor the rules and background to each story to really fit the themes that they want, and they’re increasingly stuck with the same cast of characters. Compare them to, say, The Dark Knight Rises, and you can see how being part of a “stand alone” trilogy gave Nolan a freer hand to say “You know what? I’m going to end the movie with Batman retiring.”

      And, of course, everything has to be building toward the big giant crossover (but only a little bit at a time), which is great when it happens, but which leaves a lot of the preceding movies feel like they’ve got this dead weight to them.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        Civil War Writer: And to drive home how bad it is that all the heroes are infighting, I’m going to have them accidentally kill Warmachine!

        Suit: Woah woah woah, you can’t kill him, we’ve got action figures planned!

        Writer: But I need to have some kind of stakes! Can I… cripple him?

        Suit: *Flicks action figure’s fully articulated limbs*

        Writer: What if we just undo it by the next movie, like Iron Man blowing up all the suits, or Vision being super powerful, or Iron Man having PTSD, or Ant Man wanting to not be a criminal, or Iron Man being poisoned?

        Suit: No, that’s getting a bit overused, and we’re already planning to do it again with Thanos. Aha! What if you have him get better in the same movie?

        Writer: *Sighs*

  9. Ninety-Three says:

    Shamus, if you want to talk about TLJ but are worried about the comments turning awful, how do you feel about publishing the article with comments pre-disabled? I know it’s not normally your style but I don’t know how important a part of your site you consider the comments to be.

    1. Geebs says:

      Not sure disabling comments is really much of a defence against getting Internet Lynched for saying something (that someone, somewhere might consider) controversial. After all, Twitter is still a thing.

    2. Syal says:

      That would avoid flame wars in the comment section, but I think it would exacerbate the main problem; the article’s argument becomes a much more pointed statement if no one who disagrees has the ability to respond.

      Plus, without the comment section’s diligence, how would he ever know what he misspelled?

  10. Fizban says:

    I watch as much Desert Bus for Hope as I can, mostly the evening and graveyard (Nightwatch and Zeta) shifts. The max viewership this year was somewhere around 11,000 at once, and viewership through the night is still usually around 4,000, maybe down to 3.5k at the lowest points.

    For catching up you can check the VST spreadsheet at http://vst.ninja/DB12/ . A line by line catalogue of things that happened, with youtube links for highlights. It doesn’t catch every discussion in between things, but definitely all the improv games and songs and bits are on there. You can just scroll through the descriptions, watch whatever sounds like fun and skip the rest. No need to download the full torrent or dig through whatever giant vods Twitch might have for a while.

    1. bubba0077 says:

      VST website also has the viewership and chat stats. If you really want just the highlights, I recommend the poster imagemap (http://vst.ninja/DB12/postermap/), where VST takes every image on the excellent Mike Lunsford DB poster and links to the relevant clip.

      Slight correction: the hour cost increases at a rate of 7%, not 10%
      DB2 was indeed the record for most consecutive points at 14, and this year set the run point record at 17 (breaking DB2). This year had the fewest crashes in a long time, as crashes had increased due to a number of factors. First, just less of a care about not crashing. Second, for a few years they actually had a device between the controller and the console that would mess with the input in predefined patterns on demand (for instance, reversing the inputs). Third, just a wider variety of drivers with less experience.
      Final(ish) total was $731813 and $5.2M+ lifetime

  11. Personally, I think the only thing they really need to do to make The Grand Tour The Game a success is to let you go out in the desert and drive that tank Hammond loved so much.

    1. I think that if I were Amazon, what I’d do would be to basically re-create each of the weird challenges that they do in the game. So, you could drive buggies around in the Namibian desert, or old Jaguars in the mountains, or race sport utility vehicles at an abandoned quarry, or winching around through the mud, or racing drifters, all that kind of thing. It wouldn’t just be racing cars on a track. There’d be a significant challenge element to each section.

      And, instead of having the conventions of racing games where if you totally go off the track and flip your vehicle etc., if you get irretrievably stuck, you get stuck and have to start over.

      But, here’d be the interesting part. After you’ve watched each episode and completed each challenge the “vanilla” way, what it does is unlock the vehicles from that challenge. And then when you go back to repeat challenges you can drive *any vehicle you have unlocked*. You can race the tank on the drifting course. You can try to drive a supercar in the mud. You can take a dune buggy to the Nurburgring. The crazier the better.

      I think this would be a cool idea because it would lend itself to streaming challenges REALLY, REALLY well, because you could take vehicles that were completely unsuited to a course and do crazy things with them. And it’d make the split-screen multiplayer potentially really crazypants.

      The point of the game wouldn’t so much be racing, but “messing about in vehicles”. And, it’d continue to tie in with the show, because you’d be excited to try out new and weird things and get new and strange vehicles when the new show seasons come out. I think if they really embrace the quasi-anarchic aesthetic of the show to let you try wacky stuff, it’d potentially be a really cool game.

  12. Dragmire says:

    I vaguely remember Cliff getting headlines for his controversial opinions. I can’t even remember what those opinions were, just that they got under people’s skin. I don’t side with the people that are cheering his departure from the medium but I’m not sure the jeering is just because people don’t like his games.

  13. houiostesmoiras says:

    The Grand Tour won’t be the first good TV tie-in game if it succeeds:

    * Adult Swim had some great games, most of them based on their shows (though, granted, they were mostly cheap Flash games).

    * South Park: The Stick of Truth was pretty good, and I’ve heard that The Fractured But Whole was, too.

    * The Simpsons arcade game was one of the best beat-em-up games of its era, as was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game. Also, the Turtles Nintendo game and the Nintendo port of the arcade game. (I’m not counting Turtles in Time, of course, since that was a movie tie-in.) Granted, TMNT was a comic, but the games were more based on the show.

    * Speaking of games based more on the show than the comics, Bucky O’Hare, my favorite platformer when I was a kid.

    Just off the top of my head. Man, do I have a NES emulator lying around? I wanna play Bucky O’Hare on my day off now.

    EDIT: Apparently unordered lists are not among the HTML tags supported in the comments.

    1. Bloodsquirrel says:


  14. wswordsmen says:

    Please write about The Last Jedi, if anyone can get a level headed conversation out of that movie it is Shamus.

  15. It’s actually been done before. There’s an MMO that was a tie-in with a TV show.

    Defiance was a show on the SyFy channel that ran from 2013 – 2016 that had a companion MMO of the same name developed by Trion Worlds.

    It was an interesting premise in that the MMO had characters from the show who were voice-acted by their respective TV actors. There were also quests that directly referenced or continued story arcs that were introduced in the show.

    Overall, both the show and the game were neither terrible nor great. Defiance the show had an interesting premise, but the characters were poorly written, the tone varied wildly from one episode to the next, and the dialogue was often cringe-inducingly juvenile – as if the entire writing staff was a bunch of 16 year olds.

    The MMO still exists, but it has been stripped of almost all of its TV show content and re-released as Defiance 2050. It’s a fun shooter, but it can get repetitive after a while since so much of its content has been removed.

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