Logan Paul and the YouTube Problem

Please note that this article was written on the 4th of January, 2018.

Suicide is not the answer, as someone who has been through and dealt with it numerous times I can tell you that there are better ways of dealing with depression, anxiety and suffering.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or suicidal tendencies, please call the South African Depression and Anxiety Group on 0800 21 22 23 (the number and group will be different depending on which country you live in, please call the appropriate numbers).


Not even a week into the year and someone on the Internet has already crossed a line. Over the last year we have come to expect anti-semitic or racist comments from Swedish YouTuber Felix Kjellberg, known to YouTube as PewDiePie, but while many were counting down or setting their New Years Resolutions, YouTuber Logan Paul was uploading possibly one of the most insensitive videos ever recorded.

Logan Paul and entourage had decided they would do a video on the infamous Aokigahara Forest in Japan, known internationally as the “Suicide Forest” (so named because hundreds of people have gone to this forest with the sole intent of committing suicide), they had decided to focus on the haunted aspect of the forest; not realising that, in 2010 alone, over 250 people committed suicide within the borders of the forest.

The video kicks off with a short warning about suicide and graphic content, even a short segment in which Logan talks about how serious of a topic suicide is, the video then cuts to earlier in the day with Logan and crew arriving at one of the entrances to the forest. They joke around, mentioning that they brought camping equipment, binoculars “for spotting ghosts” and “a football so we can have some fun”. They begin their trek into the forest with the usual craziness that is to be expected of Logan and his friends, when the video cuts to a shot of Logan seemingly noticing something off to the side.

Upon discovering the suicide victim, someone can be heard asking “Yo, are you alive? Are you fooling with us?”, a couple steps closer and they realise that this is no prank.

This is where the video gets graphic. Logan takes the camera and get up-close shots of the corpse, the face and upper torso were blurred out in editing but the white rope holding the man up and his blue hands said it all.

The camera turns to Logan who says “Suicide is not a joke. Depression and mental illnesses are not a joke. We came here with an intent to focus on the haunted aspect of the forest. This just became very real.”

It doesn’t take long for Logan and company to start giggling and cracking jokes, later claiming that it was a coping mechanism. As horrid as his ‘coping mechanism’ might sound, that is perfectly understandable; our brains have been known to short-circuit when we’re given bad news and we sometimes react out of character for the circumstances.

Their guide did call the police the moment they found the body; the cameraman even recording the officials as they left.

Logan ends the video with a short discussion on suicide and depression, mentioning suicide prevention hotlines and he placed the appropriate links in the description. The video was not monetised.

Logan was shunned on all forms of social media, with YouTubers of all varying sizes and types commenting on just how sick the video really was; even attracting the attention of CNN and a few other news outlets. Everyone from Boogie2988 to Comicsexplained and PewDiePie have commented and bashed on him; even TheAnimeMan took a bite out of Logan, ending his video with “get the (expletive) out of my country!” (in reference to the fact that he spent the majority of his childhood living in Japan, along with his familial ties to the country).

The really shocking part of all this is that the video made it to the Top Trending bar before it was taken down – and it wasn’t even YouTube that took it down, Logan did that himself.

Within a day the video amassed a total of 6.2 million views, and before being taken down it had been reuploaded to many times to numerous sites and servers.

Logan Paul’s evident lack of humanity is rivalled only by YouTube’s slow response to the matter.

YouTube, since the beginning of what has been called the ‘Adpocalypse’, has managed to demonetise or take down videos that simply even discuss suicide or make the slightest of sexual innuendos, as sexual themes and graphic content are against their user guidelines and are seen as ‘non-advertiser friendly’. DOOM gameplay videos have been demonetised simply for having ‘video game violence’ (a term used by rating boards the world over), videos have been taken down just because they feature a man using a sword to decapitate a dummy and yet a video which quite literally showed a dead person had no actions taken against it for over 24 hours.

Whether this is YouTube simply not noticing something or being complacent (Logan Paul has proven to be quite the cash-cow for them, acting in two YouTube Red Originals, The Thinning and The Thinning 2) remains unknown.

Logan did post an apology on Twitter after taking the video down, but by then the damage had been done and his apology seemed more like it was done in self-defence than anything else. On January 2nd he uploaded a video to his channel entitled So Sorry, as popular news-based YouTuber Philip Defranco said “This one had a different tone and I wished this had been his response” (as opposed to his rather short apology on Twitter).

Logan admits that what he did was wrong, that he never should have uploaded the video and that he probably should have turned the camera off the moment they found the victim.

Below is a direct quote from the apology video:

I have made a severe in-continuous lapse in my judgement and I don’t expect to be forgiven, I’m simply here to apologise. What we came across that day in the woods was obviously unplanned, and the reactions you saw on tape were raw, they were unfiltered. None of us knew how to react or how to feel. I should have never posted the video, I should have put the cameras down and stopped recording what we were going through. There’s a lot of things I should have done, but I didn’t, and for that, from the bottom of my heart, I’m sorry. I want to apologise to the Internet, I want to apologise to anyone who has seen the video, I want to apologise to anyone who has been affected or touched by mental illness or depression or suicide; but most importantly, I want to apologise to the victim and his family. For my fans who are defending my actions; please don’t, I do not deserve to be defended.

The goal with my content is always to entertain, to push the boundaries, to be all-inclusive. In the world I live in, I share almost everything I do, the intent is never to be heartless, cruel or malicious. Like I said, I’ve made a huge mistake, I don’t expect to be forgiven. I’m just here to apologise.”

Logan has since stated that he will be taking a break from making his daily vlogs.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD

A couple days after watching The Last Jedi (which I eventually got to in between Christmas and New Years), I sat at my computer and pondered on exactly what to write. I literally couldn’t figure out what to say, SW:TLJ wasn’t particularly bad it wasn’t exactly stellar either, so I figured I would just sit on the review for a while and hope I’d eventually come up with something. But with my deadline fast approaching, sitting around waiting for the words to pop into my head wasn’t exactly an option.

Cue me sitting in the cinema waiting for the lights to dim and for The Foreigner to start – because when you can’t write a review for one movie, it’s always a good idea to cram another one into your head, that way you can force the information out – actually, no, don’t to that, it’s a bad idea and it makes for sloppy writing.

 

(next day)

This morning I sluggishly slithered out of bed, grabbed my breakfast in the kitchen and groggily went through my news feeds – oh look, the ANC has a new president; Mesozoica has been released on Steam Early Access; and there is still no progress on the upcoming Unreal Tournament game (that last one was totally not a shocker) – after realising the second half of my cereal had turned to mush, I decided I’d just brush my teeth and maybe spend the day reading.

In the bathroom, I stared at my reflection, realising that not only had I not been sleeping very well, but that I’d also forgotten to buy beard oil the last time I was out shopping; and it was while I scratched at my itchy beard I realised something: Luke’s mechanical arm should have fallen to the ground when he became part of the Force! It’s not actually a part of his body, it should have been left behind just like his cloak.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, hauling in just over $220 000 000 on opening weekend, but it didn’t feel like it was THAT good. Sure, Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 93% on the Tomato-meter (the same score they gave Force Awakens) but for some reason the large majority of people I’ve spoken to (both online and in person) seem to agree that TLJ was actually kind of disappointing – and I still can’t quite put my finger on why.

It was definitely the funniest Star Wars film to date, some of the comedy didn’t really seem out of place (especially in Poe Dameron’s case) but I’ll have to agree with Mark Hamill and say that something just seemed off about Luke’s characterisation and the way the script forced the actor to portray the character – and it’s not even like anyone could argue his point, actors often think very deeply about their roles, especially their longtime roles in the case of Mark Hamill playing Luke Skywalker, if anyone knows the character inside and out, back to front and upside down, its him.

And now, onto the thing you’ve all been waiting for… LIGHTSABERS!

Snoke is dead. Luke’s lightsaber has been destroyed.

But between the two of those things happening, we got what might have been one of the best-choreographed lightsaber battles we’ve ever seen.

Speaking of lightsabers, did anyone spot what looked like a red kyber crystal in a metal container in Luke’s hut on Ahch-To? ‘The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary’ describes these as a “fragmented Sith lightsaber crystal” and a “recovered Jedi Crusader pendant.” Those of you who just watch the Star Wars films probably won’t realise just how much this means for the Star Wars canon, but to those of you who have played Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic or Star Wars: The Old Republic video games, the term “Jedi Crusader” means one thing and one thing only: Darth Revan.

Quick breakdown for those who don’t know what I’m going on about: Revan was once a Jedi but he went against the wishes of the Jedi Counsil and, along with a few of his followers, joined the Galactic Republic in the Mandalorian Wars, Revan and his followers won the war but he later turned to the Dark Side and became a Sith Lord of note (no seriously, in the Star Wars comics; the canon of which is now yet again up for debate: Darth Revan was arguably one of the most powerful Sith Lords ever to exist).

‘But what ties the term Jedi Crusader and Darth Revan together?’ you may be asking. Well, the Mandalorians coined the term… and they used it exclusively to refer to Revan. The producers could have gone with any number of other Jedi-related terms which are canon to the films, Jedi Consular, Seeker, Guardian or Sentinel; but it seems like someone consciously decided on Jedi Crusader.

The reason there is so much to freak out about over this is because a year or two ago LucasFilm declared that the games, along with any Legends branded Star Wars comics, were not canon to the films – just for clarification this means that most of the currently-running Marvel-produced Star Wars comics are canon to the films (or at least they should be, I’ll not go into inconsistencies now).

But why hint at Darth Revan? Rian Johnson, director of the upcoming Star Wars trilogy, has already told us that his trilogy won’t be set around the same time as the Old Republic… but its not like directors and producers haven’t lied to the public before, especially when it comes to keeping secrets about upcoming films.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Jumanji…

Where to start?

Well, for one it’s definitely a sequel, but the title, Welcome to the Jungle, suggests that there might be another one coming. And while I wasn’t too sure about this one to begin with, regardless of the fact that I enjoyed it, I’m not so sure a sequel is the best idea either.

Hands up if you watched the original Jumanji as a child. Hands up if you think they should have left the franchise alone. Hands up if you miss Robin Williams.

If you were hoping that Welcome to the Jungle would be a direct sequel to the original, I’d hate to burst your bubble, but I’m going to have to: none of the characters from the original make any appearances at all. The only callbacks being the board game itself and the name ‘Alan Parish’.

The film starts off at the beach, where the last one ended, only this isn’t some far off beach in another country, somehow the game ends up back on the American coastline, where it is picked up by a jogger in 1996 (the original took place in it’s year of release, 1995 – now I’m starting to feel old), the jogger takes the game to his son who at first shows no interest in the boardgame, instead preferring his Nintendo/Atari (we never really get a good look at the console). That night, we hear the iconic drums, which wake up our first player, who opens the box and discovers that the board game is gone and has been replaced by a game cartridge (oh the good old days, now I’m really feeling old); he gets drawn into the game and something something years later a group of teenagers discover it while cleaning out the school basement while on detention, they decide to play the game aaaand I can’t say anything more without spoiling the plot.

Now, I don’t know about you but that sounds eerily like the original: boy gets stuck in Jumanji, waits so many years for other players to join, they finish the game and then everything goes back to normal.

Only this time there is a bit of a twist; a video game twist. NPCs repeating their lines, something which is barely funny the first time (if I had a cent for every time I’ve heard the ‘I used to be an adventurer like you, but then I took an arrow in the knee’ line, I’d be a billionaire) and wears off rather quickly; the whole inappropriate female clothing thing (they had a lovely excuse for that one – its a video game stereotype, so of course this allows the film-makers to put Karen Gillan in clothing inappropriate for the setting; technically it doesn’t but it does make sense because they’re in a game, and games have proven time and time again that they just don’t care) and a couple of other things – overpowered masculine characters and nonsensical inventory systems among them. All of this, plus a couple of other things, warrant a few laughs here and there, but there comes a point in this two-hour feature where the comedy dies and suddenly we’re watching a serious action film – like, come on guys, pick a genre.

Much could be said of the horrid story, but in a sense, it mirrors older role-playing games; a good deal of them didn’t really have good stories – PS: I’m referring to the in-game story, the actual story and character development weren’t too bad. The characters were clichéd (high school nerd, self-obsessed teenage girl, etc) but it seems as if this was done on purpose, because each is thrust into a role which demands that they turn their weaknesses into strengths: the two shy characters are forced into positions in which confidence is required (be it hand-to-hand combat or flirting), the self-obsessed girl is forced to take a look at herself and become not-shallow, the confident basketball player is put in a position where he has to constantly take cover and run away from danger. I can see why the producers made some of the decisions they made, and it all makes sense.

At the end of the day, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, while not perfect, isn’t as bad as people thought it would be. Including me.

The Disney/Fox Deal

Remember a while back I mentioned that Stan Lee had said something about Marvel reacquiring the film rights to some of their characters? Namely the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and all affiliated characters.

That was in November – and nothing came of it.

Then someone reminded Disney that they are one of the largest entertainment-based corporations on the planet; so Disney tried again and this time they did not play around. 

52.4 billion US Dollars later, Disney now owns Fox’s entire film division – which includes 20th Century Fox, 21st Century Fox and a few television channels, National Geographic and Sky among them.

Fox was first founded as 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation in 1935, starting a television division called TCF Television Productions in 1949; producing tons of box office hits and long-running TV shows over the years to come.

‘But what does this deal really mean for Disney?’ you might be asking. Well, in short, it means that the X-Men, Deadpool and the Fantastic Four will be entering into the MCU in the not too distant future; it also means that Disney now also owns all the rights to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (for the longest time, Fox owned the distribution rights to Episode IV, meaning that Disney couldn’t even use the extended version of the now famous opening theme that Star Wars is so well known for).

Disney doesn’t care too much about the television channels they’ve now acquired, and what they’re eager for isn’t just the X-Men and R-rated Disney princesses, what they’re really after are the streaming rights.

Earlier this year Disney started pulling a lot of their productions from Netflix, in anticipation of starting their own streaming service and now they have the production, distribution, merchandising and streaming rights to as many IPs as they could possibly want. Now you’re probably wondering just what it is they own – well, it’s a pretty long list…

In terms of films, Disney now owns the Alien franchise (hopefully they’ll get rid of Ridley Scott and put James Cameron back at the helm), Avatar (the highest grossing film of all time, four sequels to which are scheduled for release anywhere from 2021 to 2025), the Planet of the Apes franchise, Kingsman, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Home Alone, Die Hard, Night at the Museum, Ice Age, Rio and Alvin and the Chipmunks.

With those titles, their sequels and the rights to the characters and ideas involved, Disney could already do so much, but they didn’t stop there…

On the television front, Disney now owns Modern Family, This is Us, Empire, The X-Files, The Gifted (a live-action X-Men TV series), Legion (another live-action television series based on the X-Men comics) and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

But wait, there’s more!!!

Disney now also owns The Simpsons, Family Guy, Futurama, Bob’s Burgers and this deal even leaves Disney with a hand in the production of American Horror Story… oh, and Gotham, can’t wait to see how that turns out.

That’s a lot of intellectual property, and I can think of exactly what Hollywood would like Disney to do with it all: reboots, reboots everywhere. And let’s be honest, as much as that word probably sends a shudder down your spine, Disney seems to have the perfect reboot formula, whatever it is they’re doing, it’s working – I’m referring to The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast, don’t know what went wrong with Pete’s Dragon.

So what does all this mean for those of us who are just interested in the MCU?

Well, for starters, it means that Thanos is no longer the be-all and end-all of Marvel villains; Disney’s access to Galactus and the Fantastic Four means that we can jump into storylines involving The Council of Reeds – a storyline in which Reed Richards discovers an interdimensional group, consisting of Reed Richards from different dimensions, the council exists to solve problems, anything from universal hunger to Celestials gone mad.

Disney owning the X-Men and the F4 means we can have events like Doomwar, a story where Doctor Doom tried to take over Wakanda.

The deal also solves the ‘sharing Quicksilver’ situation… now if Marvel could just figure out how to bring him back to life, that’d be great.

And if Marvel can find a way to introduce the multiverse, maybe we’ll even see Secret Wars on the big screen.

Now before I go on and on listing storylines and events that you may or may not know about, I’ll just wrap this up by saying this: anything that has happened in the comics, can now happen in the MCU.

Lets see how this goes.

Justice League

I would put down a SPOILER ALERT but we all know Superman died in BvS and that he returns in Justice League, the leaked set photos practically confirmed it… oh, and don’t forget that we saw him in the posters too.

Justice League tells the story of-

Why am I even explaining? You should know this; a bunch of heroes band together to stop a threat that neither of them could ever hope to face alone. Sound familiar?

No, I’m not talking about Avengers, I’m talking about our childhoods; the animated Justice League TV series, to be more specific. We all know the story in some regard.

Okay, maybe not everyone knows who Darkseid is, although if you’ve been keeping up with DC’s animated ‘direct to DVD’ films then you probably know who he is, but unless you’ve been reading the comics (and I mean REALLY reading the comics), chances are you haven’t got a clue who Steppenwolf is (no seriously, I don’t think he’s been seen or even mentioned since the start of DC Rebirth; Steppenwolf barely has a proper origins story, even in the original comics, we don’t really know what his deal is and we hardly see him all that much in the New 52 either, he was just never all that popular or well known). And you might know some of the New Gods by name if you’ve seen Smallville or Young Justice (the latter of which is FINALLY getting a third season, YAY!!!).

And don’t worry, even I had to do a double take when I saw him in the first Justice League trailer.

Steppenwolf is Darkseid’s uncle, and his greatest general; he is in charge of the entirety of Darkseid’s army. Don’t ask me how Darkseid turned his uncle into his glorified servant, because that is a whole other can of worms. And so are the Motherboxes, those deserve an entire article all by themselves. Along with the New Gods, they’d need several articles all to themselves if I were to explain them properly.

See the problem here? I don’t really want to compare Marvel to DC (seeing as I loyally read comics on both sides and watch all the related films) but I’m going to have to point out an itsy bitsy problem: DC is trying to do in just five films what has taken Marvel seventeen (soon to be eighteen) films to do: setting up the big bad. And I’ll be honest, Justice League manages this, if only just barely, but there is so much stuff that you just wouldn’t understand unless you’ve been paying attention to DC’s other forms of media (being their animated films, TV series – both live-action and animated – or the comics themselves). Darkseid isn’t even mentioned by name, so newcomers to the fandom have no frigging clue who Steppenwolf is and what he means for the DCEU, let alone who Luthor was talking to in the second post-credits scene (yes, there are two, so make sure to stick around) and what that means for the DCEU.

In short: Justice League needed more setting up before diving right into making New Gods references. We need to see Batman and one of his Robins (personally, I’m looking forward to Damien, but we still have to meet Dick, Tim and Jason, although it is confirmed that Batman has already lost a few Robins, so we’ll see where that picks up); we need to see Cyborg fighting Grid; Superman fighting Cyborg Superman (or maybe take the opportunity to set up the Multiverse and introduce Red Son Superman); Wonder Woman fighting Cheetah (maybe do Cheetah’s redemption? Which she got so close to in the comics recently); Barry picking the name ‘Flash’, fighting Reverse-Flash and clearing his father’s name. There was so much that needed to be done and Warner Bros is just glossing over it all; with the first Flash film to be titled ‘Flashpoint’ (which is arguably one of the more important story arcs in DC comics history), the first Green Lantern film will follow the Blackest Night story (another very important story arc); they aren’t even taking the time to properly set the Green Lanterns up (and Blackest Night requires more than just the Greenies, the Blue, Pink, Indigo, Black, Orange, Yellow and White Lanterns also have a steak in that story).

Enough complaining about that, time for the movie itself.

Bringing Superman back from the dead probably wasn’t Batman’s smartest move, at least, it doesn’t seem like it at first. Sure, it all worked out well in the end but I’m still not happy with it. Those who have read the comics will know that bringing people back from the dead often involves that person never really being quite the same again – Aquaman mentions this in the film; but what irritates me is that Supes was crazy for all of half a minute (his three line monologue to Batman was amazing though) and then he’s fine again. I half expected him to kill someone or at least be all sulky for a good deal of the movie but no.

One thing I appreciated but still think could have been done better was Cyborg. When we first see him in Justice League, he’s all “I can’t let people see me, I’ll never have a normal life again. I hate you for this, dad!”, but then at some point, he just flips a switch and everything is alright. On the one hand, I’m thankful he wasn’t angsty throughout the movie, that’s not what we paid for, but on the other I would at least like to see his change of heart or what it was that made him change – then again, being part machine it should be possible for him to just flip a switch and be OK; but where’s the fun in that?

Oh, and we finally got to see Bruce Wayne!

Now I know what you’re thinking: ‘dude, Bruce Wayne and Batman are the same person, you should know this, it’s common knowledge’.

And I do know that. But the point of having an alter-ego is that they are very different from you. This was one of my biggest issues with BvS; there was little to no distinction between Batman and Bruce Wayne; but in Justice League, we start to see the difference, little by little.

Onto Superman, and boy, do we have a problem here. Notice how Supes always has this smug little smile on his face? Superman is supposed to exude confidence, but the only vibes I’m getting from Henry Cavill’s Superman is arrogance (even if only a little); this was a problem that my fellow moviegoers also experienced (I just love going with friends, hearing other opinions, it’s amazing, certainly helps me make my writing better).

Onto Aquaman.

Dressed like ‘not-Batman: The Animated Series’ Aquaman, thank goodness. Jason Mamoa’s Aquaman is the Arthur Currie we didn’t know we needed. What I loved about Aquaman is that Justice League simplified him while still leaving room for more; we find out he can swim really fast, he takes pity on humans but wouldn’t mind if the Earth was completely covered in water, can technically talk to fish, has yet to take his place as King of Atlantis and had his backstory very quickly and off-handedly explained in a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ moment. That was all we needed and it was all we got. Presumably, Aquaman’s first solo film will follow the story of him taking the Throne (Throne of Atlantis, anyone?), but looking at DCEU’s roster for upcoming films, they might just skip that part and jump right into Prince Orm attempting to usurp the Throne (Spoilers? I guess?).

Wonder Woman was spectacular, as one would expect after watching her solo film. She’s evidently still a bit salty after losing Steve but she didn’t have, nor need, any real character development this time around.

Although, in the same way she’s been carrying the DCEU, she did most of the heavy lifting when it came to fighting Steppenwolf.

All in all, Justice League was actually a very good film and I would definitely watch it if I noticed it was on TV, but if I had to choose from all the movies that came out this year, I’d probably go for Logan or Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Jigsaw

It was only very recently that I discovered Saw would be getting another sequel, then we were told it was something of a reboot but not really – and then we were slightly confused.

It’s a sequel… but it’s still kind of a reboot.

 

The entire film is one gigantic callback to the originals in that there is a room filled with literally every single tool we have ever seen Jigsaw use on his unwitting victims.

And that right there is this film’s only problem: it tried too hard to be a reference to its own franchise. Although it still did a good job of setting up the possibility of a sequel… maybe we’ll get another six or seven of those in the coming years.

 

As expected, Jigsaw gets right into things, we aren’t even introduced to the victims and they’re already suffering – which is good, because some of us are just slightly sadistic and we like that kind of stuff. Hey, don’t judge, why else would someone go to a movie like that?

What I enjoyed was that, for the majority of the film, we have no clue who the killer is. We don’t know if its Jigsaw himself (remember, “he is supposed to be dead”) or if the killer is a copycat; we don’t know if the killer is a cop or his partner, or if the killer is someone no one expected at all. And that’s good, a good murder mystery is supposed to keep the killer a secret from you, but you’re also supposed to be able to figure the whole thing out before the big reveal. Everything is given to us, its all in plain sight, we just have to spot it to know whats really going on.

MINOR SPOILER WARNING WHICH IS TECHNICALLY A MAJOR SPOILER BUT I DON’T ACTUALLY TELL YOU ANYTHING MAJOR: there is a twist at the end. I don’t know how the twist caught me off guard and I don’t know why, honestly, at this point twists are to be expected.

 

Anywho, it was great seeing that creepy little doll again.

 

 

 

And no, no one is forced to cut their foot off this time.

Project Offset – Skyrim’s Unreleased Rival

Back in 2004 a small video games company was launched by a group of developers who had just won the grand prize at the Independent Games Festival for their work on S2 Games’ Savage: The Battle for Newerth (an RTS with first and third-person aspects); they called their company Offset Software and they had an idea that would have taken the gaming world by storm.

 

Their game was to be an FPS (with third-person aspects) set in a high fantasy world and they had some pretty interesting ideas about gameplay.

From the start, Offset Software had two things in mind: Project Offset (a working title) and the Offset Engine. The tech demos alone showed graphics and gameplay that caught the world’s attention upon announcement back in 2005, managing to garner almost as much attention as it’s more well-funded contemporaries. Unfortunately, the game was trapped in development hell for another five years, eventually being canned in 2010 without any real explanation.

 

Project Offset was to be set in the fictional realm of Aelon (I think that’s how its spelt, I couldn’t find any articles with the name in them, I mostly just found videos and short articles referencing interviews which deemed themselves impossible to track down), with several different campaigns. Remember how that horrible Alien vs Predator game had three different campaigns? One where you played as a Xenomorph, one where you played as a Predator and another where you played as a Marine? Project Offset had something similar in mind; the game had five different classes for the player to pick (Warrior, Wizard, Engineer, Paladin and Assassin), each class had their own campaign and your decisions and actions in one campaign affected the game-world of the others; with the core idea being that each of your characters was technically living in the same game-world and that they could – in theory – meet up.

The differing classes were expected to play a major role in that each campaign told the story of it’s respective character in a non-chronological manner, each intertwining with the other (possibly meaning that you would complete a segment as one class and then do it again as another; jumping back and forth in the storyline until you had one cohesive story) – with one part of the story rumoured to be set hundreds of years before the others, possibly to fill in some plot points.

The layout of the game was supposed to allow the developers to continue releasing new storylines to players through downloadable expansions even long after the game’s initial release.

 

 

So what happened to Project Offset?

Offset Software was originally started by just four developers, when they first started, the company was little more than a hobby, with the devs constantly swapping roles when and as needed. After they’d announced Project Offset to the world with a short tech demo, they started hiring more staff, eventually reaching a grand total of 50 staff members, and they survived on donations from gamers who were eager to get their hands on the then highly awaited Project Offset.

Then came February 2008, Intel bought Offset Software (along with all their assets) and set them to work on the Larrabee – a GPGPU (General-Purpose Computing on Graphics Processing Unit) – the chip was meant to be the core of a consumer 3D graphics card; but due to low performance in tests, the Larrabee project was terminated in May 2010…

And with no more reason to develop a game to go along with the Larrabee, Intel shut Offset Software down.

 

Offset was destroyed, their engine had been licensed for use in one game: an MMOFPS called Firefall from Red 5 Studios, who, seeing as Offset Software was now gone, had no choice but to attempt to maintain and upgrade the engine themselves; today, Firefall uses a heavily modified version of the original Offset Engine.

 

And the really sucky part? The four founders of Offset Software tried to get the Offset Engine and Project Offset back… to no avail. Intel had decided to hold onto all the licensing, ideas and assets; in Intel’s eyes, there was no point in letting it all go, even if they weren’t planning on doing anything with the material.

 

So, one of Offset Software’s founders seems to have dropped off the grid (I’m sure he’s somewhere, but he clearly didn’t tell the media where he went), the other three went on to form Fractiv and created small iOS games, eventually creating Lane Splitters – to great success, because Lane Splitters won Fractiv several accolades, with the game hitting the top of the Apple Store charts numerous times as the most downloaded app; at last check, Lane Splitters sat with over 16 million downloads on iTunes and a 4.5 star rating with over 40 000 reviews.

Fractiv hasn’t said anything about any attempts at reacquiring Project Offset and it’s accompanying engine, but there is an online rumour that maybe Fractiv is looking to earn enough money to entice Intel to sell their assets back to them.

 

Who knows, maybe it will work.

 

Maybe one day, Offset Software will reboot, Project Offset will be given it’s actual title and maybe, just maybe, we’ll finally be able to play it.

Thor: Ragnarok

No, Thor, NO!!!

 

While Thor: Ragnarok was probably the best film of the trilogy, it bugs me that they tried to go for ‘Guardians of the Galaxy-level humour’ and stopped at being ‘just funny’.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that Marvel finally realised that Thor has access to this widely varied and crazy universe, but Thor and Peter Quill are two very different people, and the thing that happens when you put them together just barely survives outside of the womb from whence it came.

I enjoyed the humour now and then, like when Thor says “He’s a friend from work!” (a line suggested by a fan), but every now and then it just felt dry and overdone; like they were pushing the humour just a bit too hard and failing miserably.

Although I guess that is what happens when Thor finally comes into his own as a solo hero: he gains something of a sense of humour and his air of arrogance (somewhat) returns.

 

What I do like is that we’re introduced to Surtur very quickly (incredibly quickly), Thor makes short work of him (in the comics, that fight probably would have gone on for ages) and then decides to return to Asgard.

Where he finds Loki impersonating Odin.

I’m guessing you can tell where things go from there.

 

I was hoping that Surtur’s presence would lead to Beta Ray Bill’s introduction, but sadly not; and while Hulk fighting in a gladiatorial arena on a planet called Sakaar does heavily imply the Planet Hulk storyline, we have to realise that the Grandmaster had no part in that story, and that Sakaar was definitely not a junk planet.

Unfortunately we will probably never get another live-action Hulk solo film, simply because Universal Studios owns the title “Hulk”, they’ve given up the character but they still own the name (at the time of writing, that is; Stan Lee has said that Marvel is working on getting back all the rights to their characters, so this topic is subject to change).

Speaking of Planet Hulk, what the heck happened to Korg’s voice?!?!?! Is he still a prepubescent rock? Will he turn into a full grown boulder for his next appearance in the MCU? Did Marvel feel like there were too many masculine voices in the film? What happened?!

 

Okay, I’m calm now.

One of the things that bugged me was the differences between certain scenes in the trailers and those exact same scenes in the film. Some of the differences made sense, certain story information had to be withheld until the actual release of the film. The reasons behind other changes absolutely escape me; one such scene would be Thor and Loki’s first encounter with Hela; which in the trailers was portrayed as being in what appeared to be a city street or alleyway (you can tell from the bricks in the background) but in the film it happens in an open, grassy field.

 

NOTE: this next paragraph is a bit spoilery in terms of references to the comics, if you’d like to spot those yourself, skip it and come back after you’ve watched the film.

Something to look out for, is Thor’s ‘umbrella’ as Doctor Strange calls it (we all know it’s Mjolnir but it’s a reference to the character Donald Blake, who, until just recently, was the human host for Thor’s spirit – there was also a reference to Donald Blake in the first Thor film); once upon a time the hammer could take the form of a cane or umbrella, and would transform Donald into Thor when needed. Other references would be the faces on the tower the Grandmaster seems to live in, I managed to spot Hulk, Man-Thing and Hercules, see if you can identify the rest.

 

Thor: Ragnarok was good fun, it really was. Valkyrie came through nicely towards the end of the film (to be honest I was slightly worried that her character had been ruined when we saw her in the first trailer) and it was good to finally see a Hulk that could actually string together sentences – even if they were a bit short.

But Ragnarok suffers from the same problems as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2: too much not-so-hilarious-comedy (they were really trying way too hard) and not enough feels.

 

Although I have to admit, it was great to see Thor has finally learned how to deal with his brother; because each film with Loki in it goes through the same thing: Thor is constantly falling for his tricks… well NO MORE!!!

 

 

 

Oh and if you’re a fan of Lady Sif, sorry to disappoint; actress Jaimie Alexander was in the middle of filming for a crime/drama series called Blindspot when Marvel approached her about reprising the role and she felt her schedule was full enough. Sorry, guys.

rAge 2017

South Africa isn’t known for geek and gaming conventions, but we do have some pretty awesome stuff going on from time to time.

Once a year, in the starting weeks of October, the TicketPro Dome in Johannesburg plays host the country’s largest gaming and geek convention: rAge. There are other, smaller conventions earlier on in the year, being Geekfest (less gaming, more paraphernalia for pretty much everything) and ICON (a massive cosplay convention). rAge takes these two expos and puts them together; with the added benefit of being near the end of the year, so we get to see and play a good deal of the games that were showcased at E3 earlier on in the year.

 

Sidenote: I had originally written this article just a few days after rAge 2017, and it was originally intended for both New Game + magazine and for this blog, but apparently I forgot to upload it. So here it is, enjoy!

 

 

rAge 2017 has drawn to a close…

The hype has died down…

The rAge Facebook group will be silent for the next ten months or so (once people are done identifying which cosplayers they took pictures with, of course).

And last but not least, we are all hyped up for the release of Assassin’s Creed: Origins (at the time of writing, anyway, by the time you read this the game will already have been released).

Oh, and our pockets are empty BEFORE the festive season starts (that’s a bummer).

 

When I first asked the team at New Game + if they’d let me cover rAge this year they were ecstatic, so I got an instant ‘YES!’… and now, just a day after rAge, I realise something: you guys are going to be reading about it a month after it happened; AC Origins will be out just a few days before this issue hits shelves… so now how the Hell do I talk about an event that you either attended or will have no interest in until August 2018? I don’t know.

But bear with me, because I’m going to do this anyway.

rAge this year was spectacular, it really was. As someone who’s been attending for years (although I did miss rAge 2015), I can’t really say that it was the best rAge ever (when an annual event like this has been going for fifteen years, there is always a better year); but the wonderful thing about rAge is that no two rAges are the same.

Never again will rAge have the Assassin’s Creed Origins demo, or the Shadow of War demo; next year, indie developer Robot Wizard probably won’t be doing voice over auditions for their upcoming game, Jengo (chances are, they’ll be showcasing it!); Shire will probably have more Harry Potter wands and Lord of the Rings paraphernalia and Cosmic Comics will always have different statues Pop!s for sale.

There will always be familiar exhibits, Microsoft, Sony and BT Games among them. Then there are the familiar traders… if you attend rAge for even two years in a row, you start to see familiar faces, and you can soon put names to them (the ever friendly artists in the Artist Alley are an amazing example).

The cosplay this year was incredible, I didn’t stick around long enough on Sunday to really get a good look at all the cosplayers but between my best friends, the rAge Facebook group and my co-writers here at New Game +, I got to see the best of the best.

And OH MY GOD!!! Did anyone see that incredible Doctor Strange cosplay?! If any of you were at ICON this year, you’d probably recognise the film-accurate costume as the winner of 1st place in the Masters Cosplay Category.

 

Onto the games!!!

I managed to get hands-on with Shadow of War, which I loved – not even gonna talk about it, because thinking about it just makes my mind explode.

AC Origins was probably the most coveted game on exhibition, with the queue being impossibly long unless you got to it early or were attending rAge for the whole weekend. The combat felt much more self-driven; because in older AC games, once you learn to chain attacks, you can just start executing enemies left, right and centre with the greatest of ease; now your enemies can actually stop you from doing that, and they won’t wait their turn to attack either. The game currently has a level cap of 40 but it will go up with the release of the “The Hidden Ones” DLC in January 2018. The second DLC pack, “The Curse of the Pharaohs” will release in March 2018 and will also raise the level cap. There is also an event, which will have started by the time you lovely readers get this, called Trials of the Gods.

Quick note: All of the DLC I mentioned above actually looks quite sizeable and well worth the price tag. There will even be a photo mode, so you can spam all your Instagram and Twitter followers with amazing images of Bayek in combat or sitting atop the Great Pyramid.

Call of Duty: WW2 promises to be an amazing return to ‘boots on the ground’ military combat, but I probably would have been nearer to the top of the scoreboard if I’d been given a mouse and keyboard. The only thing that kind of sucked was the lack of innovation, there was nothing new to try out; it really just felt like I was playing Modern Warfare 3 or Black Ops 1 (maybe even Black Ops 2); then again, it was just the gameplay demo, there will be far more upon release. I’m on the fence with this one, but if you’re looking for a first-person shooter in a true war setting, maybe it would be best to stick with Battlefield 1.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my hands on The Crew 2, but I did get to try out Forza Motorsport 7 on Sunday morning before the swarms were allowed in (oh, the wonders of a media pass). I’m not particularly a fan of Forza games but I’m not going to lie to you, I had a ton of fun.

I noticed that Ginx TV was in attendance but I was unfortunately otherwise occupied engaging with other gamers or the arcade games that Eurasian Entertainment had brought with them.

The NAG LAN was incredible, as always; I didn’t get to take part but I spoke to some of the people on the other side of the fence and they said that it was a tonne of fun to be able to meet other PC gamers and talk about their gaming rigs, all the while playing CS:GO, Overwatch or Dota 2 (or Paladins, apparently a whole bunch of them were playing Paladins).

Last year, the focus of the gaming tournaments up on screen was evenly split between Dota 2 and Black Ops 3, this year, the dome was dominated by CS:GO, with ESL Africa hosting their finals on Friday and Saturday. Speaking of, did anyone catch the final match? I was having lunch when it happened.

 

Overall, rAge 2017 was a blast, I feel like there could have been more emphasis on the fact that it was rAge’s 15th anniversary but hey, it was still a heck of a lot of fun.

Probably the highlight of rAge for me was that we, New Game +, had a stand there. It was so much fun to meet with some of our fans, as well as make some new ones. Hope to see you all next year!

Stranger Things 2

I’d originally thought Stranger Things season 2 was only going to go live on Halloween, but it actually came online on Friday the 27th, so I had a few days to get up to scratch before Halloween itself.

 

SPOILER WARNING: Minor spoilers for Stranger Things 2.

SECOND SPOILER WARNING: everything from season 1 is fair game, you have been warned.

 

One of my favourite things about Netflix Originals is that they release entire seasons in one go; working with the formula of less suspense and more binging (a formula that works mainly because they add so many new series almost daily).

It took me a couple days to get through the whole thing – let’s be honest, not everyone has the time (or energy) to binge for nine hours straight (even those of us who barely sleep at all).

Stranger Things 2 left me with more questions than answers. We’ve now met one of the other experiments of the lab, being 008 (or ‘Kali’ as she was known to her friends), which makes one wonder if any others escaped and what their abilities are – presumably we won’t be seeing anyone with super strength or indestructibility, nothing on the same level of the crazy scale as the characters in Marvel and DC’s comics; but I’m guessing that the next season will bring about the introductions of some of the other ‘experiments’ from the lab (if there will even be a third season, which I’m pretty sure there will be).

Stranger Things 2 jumps right into things, introducing Kali within the opening seconds of the first episode, only for us to not see her again until a later episode, when she meets Eleven. We soon learn how Eleven is still alive and it is adorable. Will, as seen in the trailers, occasionally switches between their home dimension and the Upsidedown, he has become the flea (in a metaphor you will only understand if you remember the boys talking to their science teacher at Will’s ‘funeral’ back in season 1).

Dustin and Lucas have a little competition, seeing as there is a new girl in town (the redhead seen in the trailers) and they both like her – mainly because she topped their scores in the local arcade.

 

Remember in the previous season, Will’s Dungeons and Dragons character, Will the Wise, was taken out by the Demogorgon (the one in the game), only for Will himself to very nearly be killed by the very real Demogorgon who later became the season’s main villain. This same foreshadowing applies to the end of the very last episode of season 1, when Mike, acting as Dungeon Master, placed the Thessalhydra on the game board, we knew there would be a second season, with a much deadlier monster as their opponent.

The boys don’t name the new villain after the Thessalhydra, but they do name it after another D&D monster – which I won’t ruin.

This foreshadowing also applies to the game Dragon’s Lair, which we see Dustin playing in the trailers for season 2 and during the first episode. Remember the shot of the knight dying?

 

Speaking of Dragon’s Lair, I have to emphasise that not only did Dragon’s Lair really exist, it actually looked like that, it was made to look like an animated film.

This new season seemed to drag in places, like the episode following Joyce Byers in the previous season, it felt as if some of the scenes could have been condensed for the same effect. One thing that irritated me was that this season left quite a few things open-ended in what felt like a rather forced and unnatural manner.

 

Either way, I look forward to the next season… or the ever-expanding headcanon/fanon which will take its place, whichever comes first.

 

 

What was really satisfying, though, is that Will and Eleven finally got to go to that Snow Ball he’d been talking about!