Escapist Podcast: 077: J.J. Abrams and The End of THQ

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077: J.J. Abrams and The End of THQ

This week, The Escapist crew braves an incoming ice storm to bring you a thought-provoking discussion on J.J. Abrams helming the brand new Star Wars film. We also discuss the end of THQ, Tomb Raider and our favorite game mechanics!

Watch Video

Love that opening *sigh*

Also how many streaming services are there in the US?
There's a minority of people that use something like Netfix or HBO Go use it so heavily that they're a loss leader.

How do those recommendation things work anyway.

Even if North Carolina was wiped from the map, the Escapist Bunker would be fine, right? Right??

Doesn't Disney 'own' the whole multi-story-one-universe series of movie concept? Just sayin'...

Woot! thanks for the podcast guys!

Chrono212:
Love that opening *sigh*

I know, that is how you know the podcast is going to be good. Susan being pissed = ratings.

Chrono212:
Even if North Carolina was wiped from the map, the Escapist Bunker would be fine, right? Right??

Might depend on the catastrophic event in question - I think most of us in the Escapist Bunker have lived long enough time in colder climates to handle anything snow-related, and we are in a mostly secure underground location to boot :P

The podcast is now where I get my weather updates. I was thinking about going to the Raleigh area tomorrow, now I wont.

bdcjacko:

Chrono212:
Love that opening *sigh*

I know, that is how you know the podcast is going to be good. Susan being pissed = ratings.

Dat Tomb Raider rant? It was like a right wing talk show! :D
Not that I'm glorifying anger or anything...

WMDogma:

Chrono212:
Even if North Carolina was wiped from the map, the Escapist Bunker would be fine, right? Right??

Might depend on the catastrophic event in question - I think most of us in the Escapist Bunker have lived long enough time in colder climates to handle anything snow-related, and we are in a mostly secure underground location to boot :P

Well, as long as you've drawn up a order of succession/order of who to eat first then I'm sure you'll all be fine.

Chrono212:
Well, as long as you've drawn up a order of succession/order of who to eat first then I'm sure you'll all be fine.

I... actually don't think we have one of those.

Oh dear.

WMDogma:

Chrono212:
Well, as long as you've drawn up a order of succession/order of who to eat first then I'm sure you'll all be fine.

I... actually don't think we have one of those.

Oh dear.

Welp. Looks like you're all doomed.

We'll just have to start our own Escapist! With blackjack and hookers!

In Wisconsin, and yes. We are ready.
Hope you all don't turn into popsicles. If you do though, you would be the COOLEST popsicles!
(I apologize for nothing.)

Also, I didn't think about it that way before, but the fact that we don't see women getting hurt as much as men (at least when we are playing as the women) may be why we are affected more when we see them get hurt.

Like you all said we see/have seen men beaten to a pulp so often, and for so long that we have gotten use to it. I hope the new Tomb Raider is good, because I haven't yet played one of the games, and this one sounds like it would be a good place to start.

When Susan was reading off that guys message I decided to put my face shield down. I think I was right to do so.

Great show, guys!

About Tomb Raider...

I think a lot of people have doubts of whether these issues are going to be handled well.
I hope so, but it's way too common for writers to throw rape in to get sex in, and because it's lazy writing.

If the rape-threat scenes are not treated as 'sexy', but as violence, maybe it will be okay, but it's a gut-reaction for me to just go 'no, don't put rape in unless you know what you're doing' in cases like this.

BTW, if the main-character was a man, sure, he'd get hurt, but he wouldn't be written in a situation where he is in danger of being raped.

But, we'll see how it's handled.

Set in.. Canadia? Ah.. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Ahem. Sorry, it had to be done.

I am going on record to saying mellow mushroom pizza isn't that good.

Great podcast.

The sound has seen an improvement in the dynamic range compression department.

You've still got problems with noise. The 60Hz hum is easy to notch out as is its first harmonic at 120 Hz. The compression itself is pumping a little and that was pretty hard to work around for the soft remix I'm doing this time. Try to be a little more cautious with that compresspr you're using.

Most of what I did concerns the noise and use of an EQ. The hum is notched, the whole show is slightly denoised to be a bit more quiet around the edges, there's a little soft compression of the top levels, but most importantly I cut quite a bit at 2kHz and 4.5 kHz to soften the whole show up.

Will upload tomorrow morning(my timezone is GMT+1).

-edit/
And here it is : https://soundcloud.com/airon-extv/escapist-podcast-20130125-077

To the person handling the mix of the podcast, here is a shot of the EQ settings I used, as well as the compressor action inbetween. Not totally necessary, but since there's still room for improvement there, this is what I did on that front, which wasn't much this time. For denoising I employed Izotope RX2. It's also deessed a little. Hope that helps.

http://stash.reaper.fm/15306/Escapist-Podcast-077-EQ_Compressor_EQ-settingsq75.jpg
/edit-

Hope JJ does a good job. Zack Snyder is my preference too. Argo is on my must-watch list, because I totally enjoyed Affleck's "Town".

Great podcast guys! I think the more constant breaks keep the rambling from going on too long and then into dark places. You know you've gone there.

I really hope the new Tomb Raider works. I've been a fan of the series since its beginning, and I understand why the formula was getting...dull. I still love Anniversary (except their freaking pint-sized Atlantis), Legend was kind of OK but not very tomb-y, and Underworld could have gone somewhere interesting if it didn't have to make sense with the whole stupid parents' arc. Let's not mention Chronicles. Lara is a great character, way more than the whole sexualized image has pidgeoned her into, and I'd love to see more interesting traits surface throughout this game. That said, I hope they handle the whole brutal violence well, because it could easily tread into Saw territory of excess.

On JJ. Well, I still give him some faith because of Felicity (don't ask why, I just loved that series). You might excuse him for the last half of Lost, but you can't excuse him for Alias. That show also went bonkers, and it was all his baby. I'm not entirely sure he can't turn Star Wars, with an already expansive and complicated lore, into some dismal mess of things. Also, I know it's clichè, but I really do hate Abrams' flare aesthetic. It's getting worse with each movie, and with light sabers added to mix I might just have to bring sunglasses to the showing.

Captcha: Eat your vitamins
Darn it, these are getting kinda bossy now, too, aren't they? The other day I got "Mend Fences"

Look, we manage to survive the snow in England every year and we also only have one snowplow in the whole country and have to use salt from the supermarket, despite the fact that it happens almost every fucking year. We are the epitome of unprepared, and also somehow surprised that it happens. You'll be fine guys.

Captcha: slippery slope ...yes captcha, the slopes will be slippery.

Also, I still call them computer games.

As an aside before I go on to saying how much I loved the podcast(because I did), I just feel like saying this because the topic never comes up somewhere I can say my piece.
My personal problem with the Tomb Raider reboot was(note, WAS) mostly related to the whole PR-guy going "We're doing this so the player will feel the urge to protect her"-thing. That sentence irked me in an intangiable way I can't really describe. That and general uncertainty how it was gonna be handled.
That was about it. But then I did some more research into who's writing it and so on, finding out Rihanna Pratchett's involved and, she's a writer I really trust, having come across her work in other games and really dug it.
And as more info and trailers came out, I put the above into my "Just PR-guy jibberish"-folder and ignored it.
Because that was seriously the only thing that really irked me for... some reason.
So now I'm actually looking forward to the game and, haven't even been curious for a Tomb Raider-game since like... Tomb Raider 2 or so. It's a weird feeling.
Here's just hoping the game itself is good too. And that it lacks the annoying camera from the previous titles. Of all the things I just really wish is NOT in the game, that's it. Don't have that camera which constantly annoyed me in the entire series and I will probably like it.

I'm rambling, sorry. Too much coffee(or possibly, not enough, not sure yet)...

But in conclusion, I wasn't so much worried about the "What" as the "how" but doing some more research put me more at ease. Execution is everything after all.

The Escapist Staff:
077: J.J. Abrams and The End of THQ

This week, The Escapist crew braves an incoming ice storm to bring you a thought-provoking discussion on J.J. Abrams helming the brand new Star Wars film. We also discuss the end of THQ, Tomb Raider and our favorite game mechanics!

Watch Video

Happening upon "used porn" in that way stirs the same kind of uncomfortable mix of feelings as when you sit down on a public toilet and it's warm. Part of you thinks, "Well, at least it's not cold," but then you think a bit more about it and wonder if this is actually better.

On Star Wars, I'm totally on board with Susan. Abrams is not right for this flavor of sci-fi. Star Trek has always been far, far more about the toys than the people (though the reboot helped this a bit), and it's always been very clean.

Star Wars, especially the original trilogy, was just as much about the smuggler as it was the Jedi. The Force was a recurring theme, but it was not the central idea. (It was the second trilogy that was extremely one-note -- glowbat fiesta!} The central idea was good triumphing despite insurmountable odds at the hands of reluctant heroes.

I don't want Abrams to be all of my sci-fi. I wouldn't even want Joss Whedon to do it (we've already had his perfect Han Solo via Mal Reynolds). This is the time for a new voice.

- New actors - no established names with firmly established expectations.
- New settings - the universe seems tiny if we're always coming back to Tatooine.
- New character archetypes - we've explored the duty-bound-Jedi, the Smuggler-with-a-heart-of-gold, and the secretly-kickass-Politician. It's a bit too Tank/Healer/DPS at the moment.
- That includes villains, too. Enough mustache-twirling. Let's have some believable motivations, and maybe an "evil" leader who isn't a Sith.
- New director - Lucas's success in the first trilogy was that he wasn't so bloody aware that he was "making Star Wars." Let's have someone who isn't bound by all the baggage, or caught in all the old habits.

Speaking of Netflix, they really do make really strange categories. One of mine today is "Raunchy Black Comedy".

It's sad to see THQ go, but I'm happy all the games franchisees I liked have been bought.

I am seriously considering sending in a bogus question just for a jumping off point for a Susan rant.

One of the better podcasts I've heard so far, and it even got the Doctor Who reference in too! Susan, I must mention how much I love it when you place a Who reference in, particularly for the Classic stories. Being an American with very few to make jokes with regarding Who, it's lovely to come across them when I do.

First of all, I agree on Abrams directing Star Wars. I, however, was never a fan of his Star Trek reboot (unlike many), so giving him reins of Star Wars was an automatic "meh" for me. However, with the points you brought up, it's hard for me to see Abrams pulling on Star Wars off when he's still in Star Trek land. They are, as you said, too very different universes and, although I believe he brought the reboot Star Trek more in-line with Star Wars a la the action, the ethos of each franchise are almost polar opposites of the other. As much as I love both franchises, I don't want him to do both. Even if we all love Abrams' and worship the ground he walks on, getting in a mix of new ideas and flavor to a franchise that is being rebooted is almost a requirement.

As for Tomb Raider, even when the PR man said the sentence of doom regarding "protecting" Laura, I still didn't feel a lot of angst towards the game or even the idea. What made the whole thing outrageous were the gamers, and more importantly the feminists, who made me feel like a bad person for not boycotting a game that was still in production. Although it irks me when people do not mention that men can and are raped every day, albeit on a much lower level than women, the cultural attitude world-over makes rape/sexual assault a very real danger for women of all types in any situation. I do not see how this can be a negative (in a storyline concept, not rape as a whole) when a game is simulating the high-probability outcome of a young woman being held captive, on an island and alone, by a big, male captor. As a woman who wants to play this as her first Tomb Raider game, I'm more than intrigued by this whole notion and am waiting for the game to come out before passing complete judgement.

Heavy Rain did it, well almost did, and I was scared so badly I was shaking afterwards. Even if it was terrifying, I am glad the developers/Cage put that scene in (which most likely meant a lot more than what was shown regarding that character, for those who have played the game) and it's one that I will nver forget.

Neither game, at least it appears, is glorifying rape/sexual assault but, instead, is using it as a character development point that has been used so many times in other mediums. As long as they do it right, ie no victim blaming and nothing explicit on screen (imo or else I couldn't play it), then I think the subject will be moot. People who have been placed in such situation are called survivors, not victims, for a reason.

Overall, fantastic podcast. And has it ever been said if Susan has a favorite Doctor? I'm suddenly overly curious. I have a huge soft-spot for Five. He had such a hard time of it too.

You sure had a lot of breaks in this one.

StriderShinryu:
Set in.. Canadia? Ah.. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Ahem. Sorry, it had to be done.

You beat me too it. I laughed so hard when I heard that.

Hate to say it, but using a service that you're not paying for to enjoy content IS piracy.

"But it's no different from borrowing a DVD from someone?" and that's no different from making a quick copy of it, and well, you could just download it now since your friend has bought it anyway. Two people are enjoying the content of HBO but the studio is only seeing one slice of revenue.

It's like 3 people going to an all you can eat buffet but only paying for one plate.

I'm not saying I wouldn't do it, and it's obviously a much more limited and self contained form of piracy. But perhaps just recognize that it isn't "Absolutely fine" (as Susan said) in the eyes of HBO or their EULA, thus making it piracy

Listened to the podcast for the first time. [It may of been 3am but why not.] Was great. New regular.

LordFish:
Hate to say it, but using a service that you're not paying for to enjoy content IS piracy.

"But it's no different from borrowing a DVD from someone?" and that's no different from making a quick copy of it, and well, you could just download it now since your friend has bought it anyway. Two people are enjoying the content of HBO but the studio is only seeing one slice of revenue.

It's like 3 people going to an all you can eat buffet but only paying for one plate.

I'm not saying I wouldn't do it, and it's obviously a much more limited and self contained form of piracy. But perhaps just recognize that it isn't "Absolutely fine" (as Susan said) in the eyes of HBO or their EULA, thus making it piracy

We did make the distinction between legally and morally. Legally, I'm sure HBO would take issue with it. But morally? No problem. It's something that's been bought and paid for, and if It stops being paid for, it goes away. It gets a bit more gray if the friend is also using the HBO Go part of his subscription, but that's not what's happening here.

Susan Arendt:
Snip

I agree it's morally fine, that was kinda the point I was getting at. For example, I will download a TV program that I had recorded on my PVR but I wanna watch on my PC. In a previous discussion I was faced with "But what if someone had deleted it, what if you forgot to record it, what if it isn't out yet in your country but it will be soon?"

I was caricaturing that 'holier than thou' attitude, in reality it's more likely to net HBO one more subscription in the long run.

Anyway, enough of semantics. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the podcat, listen to each one at least twice. I know I'm guilty of not letting you guys know what an awesome job you do each and every week.

I have to disagree violently with the team about Fringe. The show was much, much better as a narrative vehicle than as a procedural. The build-up to the alternate universe reveal and parts of Season 2 were the best part of the series. The procedural episodes failed because the 'science' behind Walter's insights was laughable, and the monster-of-the-week aspect frequently suffered from bad costuming and visual effects.

Stay warm, guys!

I have one of those APB bullet USB drives! Along with an APB T-Shirt.

Because Realtime Worlds were (since they are unfortunately no more) based in my home city of Dundee, I got to visit their studios as part of a computer game making competition, and they were very awesome people. Shame they went out of business although APB wasn't the best second game for a developer.

While I agree with what you say about the new Tomb Raider, Susan, there is one thing I have to question.
You say that we never complain when we see male protagonists get beat up and tossed around and bloodied up, but... That's not as common an occurrence as it seems. In most games with male protagonists, you're a bad ass action hero with a massive weapon standing upon piles of dead bodies being completely on top of things all the time. Tomb Raider is actually one of few, I think, examples of video games that actually does inflict peril and pain on you rather than just hand you a big gun and suit of power armour but tap you on the shoulder every few minutes and say "remember, you are fighting for your life, no really."
So while I still think it's dumb to find the new Tomb Raider objectionable, I can understand that people might find this situation in particular a bit icky, cuz they don't have too many games where it's happened to a male protagonist either.
When most of the civilised gaming world is constantly calling for more female protagonists, they usually want unstoppable bad ass heroines that can prove that women can conquer just as many planets/demon lords/etc as the men. So as soon as we get a female protagonist (let alone THE female protagonist) and she's in a situation where she's no completely on top of things, the knee jerk reaction could be "nooo! this isn't what i wanteeeed! they still don't get it!"
But at the end of the day, the injury, the mud, the three seconds of being felt up that people have somehow turned into an entire imaginary rape scene, none of that is going to be glorified by the game. This isn't a game about a girl suffering in a hostile environment, it's a game about a girl OVERCOMING a hostile environment. Of course there'd be some suffering along the way, otherwise there's nothing to overcome!

Lieju:
.

BTW, if the main-character was a man, sure, he'd get hurt, but he wouldn't be written in a situation where he is in danger of being raped.

But, we'll see how it's handled.

Male rape is a thing that exists, you know. In fact, it is such a taboo topic that the amount of incidents are probaly very under-reported.

Not that it really matters for this argument, since I agree that male rape would not a topic for a video game (since it is, as I said, taboo).
However, I agree with Susan that a female charater should be able to be presented in a story or game in any situation a male is, without this creating an outcry. If you are uncomfortable with that, how much of that is an internalized idea that women are "the weaker sex" and needs to be protected? I find it rather unsettling how such a subconscious sexist attitude creeps out when these kinds of issues comes up. "White Knighting" is the new "Nice Guy", I think...

Skyweir:

Lieju:
.

BTW, if the main-character was a man, sure, he'd get hurt, but he wouldn't be written in a situation where he is in danger of being raped.

But, we'll see how it's handled.

Male rape is a thing that exists, you know. In fact, it is such a taboo topic that the amount of incidents are probaly very under-reported.

Not that it really matters for this argument, since I agree that male rape would not a topic for a video game (since it is, as I said, taboo).
However, I agree with Susan that a female charater should be able to be presented in a story or game in any situation a male is, without this creating an outcry. If you are uncomfortable with that, how much of that is an internalized idea that women are "the weaker sex" and needs to be protected? I find it rather unsettling how such a subconscious sexist attitude creeps out when these kinds of issues comes up. "White Knighting" is the new "Nice Guy", I think...

And my point was that it's much less likely for a male character to be put in a rape-situation for fanservice. They said in the podcast that Nathan Drake goes through all the same stuff, after all, and this was not about rape in real life, but rape as presented in video-games.

I don't really understand why you quoted me anyway.
I'm not uncomfortable with women being put in a situation where they are hurt, I dislike rape being presented in a sexualised way and for fanservice, and I'm sceptical of the game's ability to handle the idea in a way that doesn't turn exploitative. But I haven't played the game yet, maybe it will turn out okay.

The Fringe finale did air last week, as did X-Play and AoTS, 3 shows that I will miss. I am happy that Fringe actually completed its run, something that was doubtful with FOX doing their "sabotage the good show" thing and some episodes airing out of order. But it did wrap up nicely. Oh and Spoiler (but not really)


I'm glad the show wasn't just an X-Files rehash. They did jump the shark a bit with the last season but it all went toward explaining who came from where, or when, why they are who they are, and what their purpose is. I will now always beware of bald men in bowler hats. I did not know that Anna Torv voiced Nariko. I did know Andy Serkis voiced/mocaped Bohan. That was pretty obvious. Great game, too bad a sequel was never released.

I think the "women in traumatic events" thing is going to be an ongoing theme this year with Tomb Raider and Beyond: Two Souls. It does not personally offend me like it does some people. It just makes for good drama and adds to the argument that games are art.

On Abrams, some think he will be great, some think his fondness of lens flare will blind the audience the first time a lightsaber is used. I'm going to be cautiously optimistic. He can make good drama (See Fringe) but his visual style really needs to take a backseat. Who knows, maybe this will be that movie like Dark of the Moon was for Michael Bay. Bay as you might recall was forced to do the slow sweeping shots rather than his regular shaky/splosion schlok because he was using brand new 3D tech that he didn't want to accidentally break.

Lieju:
And my point was that it's much less likely for a male character to be put in a rape-situation for fanservice. They said in the podcast that Nathan Drake goes through all the same stuff, after all, and this was not about rape in real life, but rape as presented in video-games.

I don't really understand why you quoted me anyway.
I'm not uncomfortable with women being put in a situation where they are hurt, I dislike rape being presented in a sexualised way and for fanservice, and I'm sceptical of the game's ability to handle the idea in a way that doesn't turn exploitative. But I haven't played the game yet, maybe it will turn out okay.

Who said anything about this being presented as fanservice? Does a movie/tv show/book/video game glorify or exploit child pornography simply by mentioning that it exists? What some of you people seem to be ignoring is that it's not the presence of a rape scene in an adult story that you should be worrying about, it's how it is presented that's the important thing. And the little bit I've seen of it seems to present it as the disgusting, horrifying experience that no one would ever want to go through. Or it would be if the whole point of the scene wasn't to PREVENT IT FROM HAPPENING. Seriously, I think you need to go back and listen to that part of the podcast again. You're honestly sounding like one of the people they were talking about where all you heard was "rape, rape, rape, rape, rape, rape, rape, rape, rape, rape, rape," and didn't even begin to take things like "context", "situation" and "possible outcome" into account. The fact that you've for the most part dismissed this as just some gimmick to titillate the perverted section of the fanbase simply because, "What other reason would it be in a video game?", and it now needs to be proven wrong just to be deemed "okay" in your mind really irks me.

I can't believe this. You've actually got me defending a game that, despite being a Tomb Raider fan, I have absolutely no intention or desire to buy.

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