September 4th, 2010

Worms Ready For Battle

Everybody? Meet Rose Yeager, Star Of "Quantum Redshift"

This is it!  The moment you've been waiting for!  Or maybe not....

So, I have the pages ready to go.  I'm currently writing up the synopsis for the pitch package.  I'm going to spend the weekend doing some extra concept art, and then it goes to Ape on Monday.  Wish me luck.

So, Peter, what exactly have you been up to?  What is Quantum Redshift?  Well, click under the cut for not only the basic storyline, but also seven pages of completed art to see what I have in mind.

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Dupe Nukem

"Guess what, Peter?  They're finally going to release Duke Nukem Forever!"

How droll.

"I'm serious."

Yeah, I've heard that before.

Well, supposedly, this time, it is for real, although how anyone can expect it to be taken seriously, I don't know.

For those who came in late -- Duke Nukem Forever was supposed to be a sequel to Duke Nukem 3D.  Duke Nukem started out as a generic 2D adventure shooter, of which there were dozens on the market at the time.  Then, the game was made into a 3D shooter along the lines of Doom, Quake, Unreal Tournament, and just about every other trendy game at the time.  Duke was the Howard Stern of video games -- shocking, puerile, and completely visceral (for example, you could pay strippers and see their pixelated BEWBS!!1!, then blow them up).  This isn't to say anyone who likes the games has no taste (I reserve that insult for people who like Data Designs), just saying that my firm belief was the game wasn't a hit because of stellar gameplay but from the audience getting an environment to live their dream.

In 1997, Duke Nukem Forever was announced.  Typically, your really tricky games with lots of 3D and such will be done in about three years.  Duke Nukem Taking Forever was never finished and became a running gag in the industry as vaporware.  What exactly went wrong?  My theory is that 3D Realms' co-founder George Broussard is a dipshit.  Broussard wanted to make the next Quake or Unreal Tournament, and chucked a lot of completed work when more advanced game engines and graphics cards hit the market.  Comments he made to message boards and gripes from devs who jumped pointed to a guy more interested in making something spectacular instead of getting the job done.  In fact, 3D Realms developed other franchises, like Max Payne and Prey, from the ground up within two year windows for each while supposedly working on Duke Nukem Whenever.  The design staff was understandably pissed -- in this business, you have to keep moving.  You constantly need to show off new stuff with current tech to make studios want to hire you.  Not only were most of the workers stuck without anything new appearing that they could brag about, but they also signed up for profit participation.  I don't blame them, back then, this seemed as sure as the sun rising.  In fact, an anonymous person claiming to be a former staffer at 3D Realms posted that the 2001 trailer was complete machinema, it wasn't in game footage but modeling to make a movie specifically to make people think there was a game there when their wasn't.

During this time, GT Interactive, which held the distribution rights, got acquired by Take Two Interactive.  Broussard went on message boards insulting his bosses at Take Two who questioned his abilities and stated they didn't think the game would make its constantly sliding target dates (the same people fronting him money instead of just canceling the project and putting up with his bullshit.  Way to be professional, dude).  As I reported here, 3D Realms tried getting more money to "finish" Duke Nukem If Ever, Take Two decided this had gone on long enough and told them to fuck themselves, 3D Realms folded, Take Two asserted its rights and grabbed everything, and promptly farmed out the project to Gearbox Software (lots of 3D shooters like Half Life expansion packs, a remix of Halo, Brothers In Arms, and a new Aliens game).

Yesterday, at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle, a nearly finished version of Duke Nukem:  Forever In Development was available for fans to try.  Gearbox is saying that the game WILL be finished and out in 2011 for the PC, PS3, and 360.  Okay, THEM, I'll believe.

It's not that I'm a Duke fan, I honestly don't give a shit about the games.  It's not my bag, others like it, have a blast.  But it's been the biggest running gag in the history of gaming.  Even John Romero and Derek Smart have become footnotes instead of immediate entries.  And now, the ride is almost truly over.  Oh, the fans will still bitch.  But it won't be the same as the creative stuff like one guy who posted a picture of the receipt he got when he preordered the game for $5 from Circuit City.  The quality control on the lulz is going to go way done.

Broussard famously said the game would be released "when it's done".  And I've only had this blog for about a year and a half.  And in that time, the game went from "when it's done" to "next year, definitely."  And I hope all the staffers who hitched their wagon to this dead horse can get something they can use on their resumes out of it.
Peter G

Robert Schimmel, Rest In Peace

Comedian Robert Schimmel, a very funny guy, has died.  He was 60.

Schimmel was one of those comics whose entry into the upper echelon of comedians always seemed just out of reach.  Fox had a deal with him to make a TV show, but it was pulled from the schedule at the last minute for retooling.  Never finished.

Schimmel started off as wry sarcastic.  As he got older, his health became source material.  First, there was blood pressure medicine, along with his daughter's impending marriage.  Then, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.  He not only mined that, but he wrote a book about it, "Cancer On $5 A Day."

It wasn't the cancer that got him.  He was riding in a car, driven by his daughter.  She swerved to avoid an oncoming vehicle and it rolled.  She's in stable condition.  He wasn't so lucky.

Rest easy, Schimmel.  Your legacy is safe with those of us who knew where to look.

Census Taker. How Many NOW?!?

I no longer remember when the stories occurred chronologically, but I think I started losing interest in keeping up with (not reading, I wasn't bothering to read them, but keeping up with) event storylines sometime around either Identity Crisis from DC or House Of M from Marvel.  Both stories basically broken the comic book storytelling model.  It was when editorial edict supplanted story progression and continuity.  Editors didn't like the universes they were running, and demanded changes to conform the realities to their visions.  In essence, it took story direction out of the hands of the creative staff and turned them into extensions of the editor, making the kinds of books he would make if he could write and draw 40+ issues a month.

Identity Crisis was completely mercenary, an attempt to show that DC could do character assassination edgy and mature just as well as Marvel.  The story existed for no reason other than to make the DC characters less goody two shoes, but they didn't really think it through, resulting in the dumbest moral compass for a story until Peter Parker made a deal with the devil, proving Marvel plays second fiddle to no one.  House Of M put up a good fight, though.  Scarlet Witch has a mental breakdown and uses her hex powers to remake the world so that mutants are the dominant species.  Eventually realizing the horrors she orchestrated, she declared, "No more mutants," and reduced the number of mutants in the Marvel universe to just shy of 200.

Marvel simply felt there were too many mutants, so their solution was for one of their characters to have a "Britney-shaves-her-head" level meltdown (doncha just love that mental illness is simply a plot device and a lapse of reason instead of a real problem?) and basically commit genocide.  And it wasn't because the creative teams had run out of gas, it was because editorial wanted stories to focus on something other than the sprawling mutant population.

(Side note:  there is speculation that the editorial edict was a kneejerk reaction to Grant Morrison's tenure on the book.  Traditionally, the mutant books have been metaphors for minorities trying to survive in the world, where they can risk their necks for the norms' sake and the norms will still hate and fear them, and trying to find nobility and purpose for themselves that society at large denies them.  Morrison actually took the "mutants are the next step of human evolution" thing and ran with it, creating a literal rising of the mutants and a real sense of paranoia and fear in the general populous.  Then Morrison went to DC and Marvel went about trying to revert the X books to how they were thematically before Morrison's run, with the norms simply exclusionary instead of reacting to a building threat.  Don't know if I buy it, but it fit damn good.)

And people like me just waited, knowing this would eventually reverse.

Well, apparently, it's happening now.  With the Curse Of The Mutants storyline getting underway, things seem to be shifting to at least restoring lots of the mutants out there and putting the numbers back up.  Proof?  In the comic shop, there's a book called, Namor -- The First Mutant.  I asked, Since when?  The guy behind the counter who is reasonably versed in Marvel history said, technically, Namor is a halfbreed and other stuff, but it basically boils down to, "Why?  Fuck you, that's why!"

Of course, this really does nothing to make me want to start following the books again (although I do wonder how this is going to affect the little corner of the Marvel Universe X Factor occupies).  So what if the characters are more like they were?  They are still being changed at an editorial whim, disregarding any emotional investment in the stories just because.  Even Ralph Bakshi knew when to reel it in -- while The New Adventures Of Mighty Mouse was breaking every convention the cartoons established, it never broke history (Mighty's Wedlock Whimsy, according to legend, was created because the staff wanted to see what they would do if they backed themselves into a corner.  Mighty was going to marry Pearl Pureheart.  Can't do that, you'll change the character forever.  Bakshi and his staff preserved the character without losing a step in their comedy and creativity.  The episode was a massive put-on, and people like me still had a gas with the intentional cop-out ending).  I have no faith that characters I enjoy will be allowed to remain as I enjoy them because someone might decide to do their own thing with them based on their whim instead of trying to tell a good story.

So, the mutants will be back.  I, however, won't be.