Nefertiti Overdrive Inspiration: the Last Legion

Nefertiti Overdrive is funded at 107% as of now. That doesn’t mean I’m slacking off. The latest update uses Aishwarya Rai’s character in the movie the Last Legion as inspiration for the Serpent.

There’s still 15 days for you to get in on the Assyrian-bashing goodness.

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Nefertiti Overdrive Inspiration: 300

We’re at 90% funded with 18 days to go, and the most recent update looks at getting inspiration from the movie 300.

What are you waiting for? Go check out the Nefertiti Overdrive Kickstarter!

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Nefertiti Overdrive Kickstartering

I would expect that if you are reading this blog you already know, but Nefertiti Overdrive is Kickstarting now, and the campaign will run until 10 February with a target of $3,000. There’s a free Quickstart to sample the game and if it looks cool, please consider supporting it.

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The Lure of Crime

My present video game addiction is Grand Theft Auto IV. I am not a fan of the cop-killing, which is integral to missions required to move the plot forward, but have come to grips with it. I really like the story revealed so far (I’m about half-way through as I understand it) of Niko Bellic, the Balkan main character. He is the kind of character I would write about in my sword noir fiction: a skilled and dangerous criminal working within a strong moral framework in a very immoral world. Like Drust and Brude from my story “A Pound of Dead Flesh,” he’s a soldier who has no war left to fight. The game’s plot very much hooks the player with the lure of crime, but for me – at least – it’s not the crimes themselves that are the lure, but the character.

Niko Bellic from Grand Theft Auto IV

Given that my preferred choice of expression – sword noir fiction – focuses on anti-heroes at best and outright criminals at worst, I am obviously susceptible to the lure of crime.

To me, these character represent the outsider. Not only are my characters at a distance from the “civilian” community, they also do not entirely belong in the underworld. Their moral codes set them at odds with their amoral or gleefully immoral colleagues. Some of my characters – like Caspan Trey from “For Simple Coin” – are respected and possibly feared. Their skills are known. They have made a place for themselves. Others – like Calum in “Flotsam Jewel” or Brude and Drust – live completely outside of all communal frameworks.

My audience for this blog (all four of you) are likely geeks and nerds who strongly identify with the outsider. That’s me too. I had a close circle of friends in high school, but most of them actually attended a different school and I “belonged” to none of the cliques at mine. I had people with whom I hung out, and they were mostly the “alternative” or “new wave” crowd (this was back when alternative was cuneiform instead of pictograms).

It’s very understandable to me why I identify with the outsider – the person apart. We’ve all felt like this, even the most socially accepted of us. That’s what happens when one is a teenager, right? The outsider is also free of restraints, except for the restraints which the character independently accepts. The character is an outsider because that character has rejected enforced or expected restraints.

Who among us would not wish to live without enforced restraints? Then again, who among us has the honour and moral fortitude to live that way and not become the villain of the piece?

You can find out more about Grand Theft Auto IV here.

Both “For Simple Coin” and “Flotsam Jewel” are available in the collection For Simple Coin available here and here.

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Weekly Round-Up for 4 Jan 2015

These days I’m focusing on getting the Nefertiti Overdrive Kickstarter ready (13 January . . . and don’t you forget it!), so Sword’s Edge is going to be quiet for a while.

Not that much of a difference, I know.

But, on to the round up!

Pirates: I can’t really review this movie because I saw it in Korean. While I used to watch Korean TV and movies when I lived there (without subtitles, I mean), it’s been almost 15 years since I moved back to Canada, so I really couldn’t understand anything that was said. The basics of the movie were still pretty clear, and while Korean movies seem to still have a problem with Female action leads (hint: they still need a man!), this has a pretty tough, capable female captain chasing a royal seal (the one for marking documents, not the one that eats fish) from China (maybe?) which had been swallowed by a whale. Lots of swashbuckling and derring-do, so I am definitely going to seek this out with subtitles if it ever hits these shores or appears on Netflix.

King of New York: This was a gift from Accidental Chris’ daughter to my eldest, but it was really a gift from one family to the other. It is a fantastic game, and while it says 10+, my five year-old (turning six in a month) has no problem following the game (though she sometimes need the cards explained to her). What could be more fun than playing monsters leveling New York? Especially when Kong appears to be some kind of rock star, commie, giant ape. So cool.

Zipfy Freestyle Luge: We sucked up the freezing rain so we could take advantage of the snow that fell last night. This was the first snow since Christmas, and the girls got these cool little sleds/luges as gifts, so we wanted to try them out. The girls loved them. Turns out, these are for adults as well, but I thought they were children’s luges. My wife is small enough, so she felt okay to ride one, and she was howling with laughter. These things are great little rides, and a nice alternative to your average sled/toboggan.

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Kundo: Age of the Rampant

Kundo: Age of the Rampant is set in the late Choson period of Korea. It’s an interesting time, historically, as Korea descended into corruption and decay, and as court politics befouled any well-meaning king’s attempt at reform. This is all made clear in what I consider an unnecessary voice-over narration.

The thing is, I liked this movie, but I think it could have been much more awesome. There was too much telling instead of showing, especially when the showing did all that was required. The appalling conditions in which the common folk lived are illustrated again and again. The corruption and venality of the bureaucracy and nobility are the crux of the movie. We don’t need to know the details, and knowing them does nothing to improve the movie.

Indeed, along with some fantastic action sequences, this movie could be an allegorical warning against widening income inequality. This was Korea’s “gilded age,” in which the rich continued to get richer by exploiting the poor. The problem was – and maybe is? – that once you leave a person with nothing, that person has nothing left to lose.

And so it is for the bandit commune in which the main character finds himself. These are Robin Hoods, stealing from the rich to re-distribute among the poor. And tellingly, they are not sharing coins or jewelry, they are sharing rice. The people are starving, and the bandits redistribute the food coerced out of the locals by their noble, who uses it as leverage over them as they starve.

Perhaps this makes the movie sound too heavy It’s not. At its heart, it is an action movie with good action scenes. It is also a Korean movie, and as with so many, it is soaked in Han – something I tend to describe as deep, cultural melancholy, but which is so much more complex. What this means is that you do not get a happy ending. The ending is happy-esque, but I don’t think this would have survived a Hollywood test screening.

The biggest problem I had with the movie as that it needed more action. The action that it had, it did well, but there just wasn’t enough of it. I was thinking at one point we were going to go into 13 Assassins territory and have 30 or 40 minutes of just straight up killing. That didn’t happen. I’m not saying that ruined the movie, but I think the movie really could have used more action.

I also believe the great actors were mostly wasted. Yes, this is a good actioner with a social conscience, and what that led to was a lot of rumination and repetition – rumination on what makes a good man and repetition of how bad the baddies were. We didn’t need this reinforced. That time could have been used on some retribution.

But I think this is one of the things I need to accept about Korean movies. Along with the melodrama, a lot of times there’s got to be suffering. Lots of suffering. For me, the suffering served to provide information. The antagonist? He’s a bad dude. Boom! Done for me. But for Koreans – and I think this might get back to Han – could the suffering have a different purpose? Could it be introspection of a historical sort? This is part of their history. Suffering is part of their identity, the foundation of Han. It serves as something more than a message. Maybe it’s catharsis?

That’s getting too deep for me. In the end, I just wanted more action. Or even more character development. I needed something more to push it from a good movie to a great movie. As it stands, I enjoyed it. While not stunningly original, it was strong. While not having enough action, the action it had entertained.

I recommend Kundo: Age of the Rampant to movie lovers who don’t mind subtitles, and I give it 4 akimbo meat cleavers out of 5.

You can find out more about Kundo: Age of the Rampant at Wikipedia and IMDB.

You can find out more about Han here.

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Weekly Round-Up for 28 Dec 2014

Call of Juarez – Bound in Blood: I gotta tell you, this western FPS is pretty much the definition of railroading. Granted, so are all of the episodes in the Call of Duty series, and I enjoy those. And I do enjoy Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood. The graphics are dated (it’s a 2009 game), and it took me less than 8 hours to complete my first run-through, but I love using guns like (according to IMFDB) the Winchester 1892 Saddle Ring Carbine, the Jennings .41 Volcanic Repeater, and especially the Colt 1848 Dragoon. I kind of suck at the gunfights, but I’m learning, and I actually enjoy the story. It’s got a lot of hardboiled in its spaghetti western, and I love those flavours. I’m picking up Cartel and Gunslinger, which are pretty cheap on Steam right now.

Commitment: Another fantastic South Korean action movie about North Koreans. This time, the hero is a very young North Korean agent, recruited from a camp for political prisoners (there are really more like colonies, with numbers in the thousands and tens of thousands), and offered freedom for himself and his sister if he does this one job. Oddly enough, part of this movie is a high school drama. It’s very entertaining with some great action.

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