Friday, August 21, 2015

Q Attack, Round 18 - Are Video Games too Long?
It only seemed like last generation when gamers were complaining that video games weren’t long enough. Today, they question whether or not video games are too long. Tiger and Rabbit tackle this very question as they chat about recent hit Dragon Age: Inquisition and Tiger’s favorite series, The Elder Scrolls.


Tiger: You know what gets me, Rabbit?

Rabbit: Is something chasing you?

Tiger: What? No, it’s just an expression. Anyway, I can’t believe how many articles I’ve read about how video games are too long nowadays.

Rabbit: Oh, really? I remember it wasn’t that long ago when we saw articles stating the opposite.

Tiger: Remember Heavenly Sword and all the complaints about how short it was. You were practically paying $10 an hour for that game.

Rabbit: I remember the rebooted Prince of Persia also getting critiqued for its length.

Tiger: There were so many other things wrong with that game though.

Rabbit: It was a good game, just not a good Prince of Persia game. I definitely had fun with it. Nothing spectacular but it was fun.

Tiger: Don’t get me started on that ending. Actually, you know what? We’ll have to do a Q Attack about video game endings sometime but for now, back to the topic at hand. Most of the articles I read about video game length were in reference to Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Rabbit: You’ve played that game, right?

Tiger: I have and I’m still playing it off and on. I will probably be playing it for a long time to come. I think DAI might even rival the time I’ve put into The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Rabbit: Do you really have to go there every time we talk video games?

Tiger: Go where?

Rabbit: It’s always TES and Fallout. TES and Fallout, every single time we talk about video games, you bring them up without fail.

Tiger: *puts hands on hips* I do not and they are great games. I can’t help but bring up great games as examples. There are games that you love to talk about too, like Hakuouki.

Rabbit: But I don’t bring it up all the time. Sure, I know every character pales in comparison to Saitou Hajime, but that’s beside the point. I’m just stating that you need a new go to game to talk about.

Tiger: Fine, fine.

Rabbit: ^sighs^ Ah Saitou, my love.

Tiger: Putting that aside, I’m not sure what people are upset about with DAI. Yes, there is a lot to do and some of it is very annoying, I’m looking at you Elfroot, but you don’t have to do the majority of it if you don’t want to.

Rabbit: I think the bigger issue is not the length of a game but what you fill that time with. Yes, Inquisition is long but so much of that seems to be grunt work. Look at Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, there were a lot of things to do but most tasks felt meaningless. Did you even beat that game?

Tiger: *scratches head* Haha… ah, no.

Rabbit: See? If they didn’t stuff them full of “find ten million of this” or “deliver mail to everyone in the game”, you might actually have beaten it. I actually think the opposite may be true, that games are too short but have been artificially lengthened by filler. It’s just like how it is with the Naruto anime.

Tiger: I see your point but I also think those fetch quests can add to the overall experience of a game. I remember hunting for animus fragments in ACII and I ended up seeing a lot more of the map than I would have just by playing the main campaign. It was nice seeing all the detail that was put into the environment. I do agree that too much filler is bad for you. Traveling about the Black Flag map became a pain in the butt.

Rabbit: And did you see all those icons from Assassin’s Creed: Unity?!

Tiger: I don’t know how anyone can even deal with that. I’m too obsessive compulsive to play through a game without finishing every side quest or collectable, which is why DAI is going to last me a long time.

Rabbit: I worry this is going to become a mainstay gimmick for future video games. Where developers just throw in all these worthless quests just to make the game seem longer when in fact, it really isn’t. Similar to tacking on multiplayer for games that were generally single-player only. I’m worried that they spend so much time on little quests that add nothing to the story while sacrificing time they could have been working on that said story.

Tiger: There are games that have meaningful side and fetch quests. Think of Oblivion and Skyrim for instance.

Rabbit: ^throws hands in the air^ Here we go.

Tiger: It’s true! TES games don’t always have the strongest stories, they are a lot less linear than most RPGs, even less linear than DAI. The one thing I love most about TES games though is getting to spend time in the game world. So many of the story aspects of those games don’t come from the main quest, a lot of them are subtle and are found by completing sidequests. Similar to Fallout, if you pay attention to the details, you can find hidden stories that are told using the environment. TES and Fallout both utilize the environment as living characters rather than just a backdrop for the games. A lot of the sidequests help to cement this in the players' minds. So, they aren’t all fillers but I agree that quality needs to be valued over quantity.

Rabbit: You have to stop and ask yourself “is this worth wasting my time on?” when you’re playing a lot of these quests. Think of the Requisition Officer crafting quests in Inquisition, those don’t really do anything but burn resources that already take too much time to collect. I think they really made a mistake adding in that collection animation too. It may be short but it makes you wait just a few seconds while your guy or gal picks up a stupid flower. It may not be bad the first time, but after a zillion flowers, it’s annoying. At least in games like Shadow of Mordor, they had the wherewithal to make collecting items fast and painless. So you are right, there are ways to make sidequests and collection quests a lot more palatable but I still feel this could become a dangerous trend.
Tiger: Then do you think that video games are too long?

Rabbit: I do but only when you are questioning substance over fluff. Same with short video games, the real issue isn’t the length; it’s how the developers utilizes that length. You could have an amazing experience with a game that lasts five hours but have a terrible one with a game that lasts sixty. I enjoy long games but more often than not, these big games like Dragon Age are filled with fetch quests and nonsense missions that waste your time. If this is the future of gaming, count me out. I’d take an eight hour game that was masterfully crafted any day over a game that just has me running errands for people the whole time.

Tiger: Well, I don’t feel the same way. I like having all this extra stuff to do in a game. It makes me feel like I’m really living in the game world rather than just being a passive observer.

Rabbit: ^smirks^ Do you enjoy having meaningless jobs to do too?

Tiger: *grabs Rabbit’s ears* Hey, butt out, this is my segment. I think people should look at these types of quests as bonuses rather than fodder. All the sidequests in DAI aren’t required to beat the game, so you can ignore them. But by completing them you not only get to see more of the game world, but you also get to learn more about your companions and may even get some fancy loot. The point is, everything adds to the experience of a game and whether or not you experience it all is up to you, the gamer. I’d rather have more options than fewer options when it comes to what I can do in my games. So viva la length!

Are Video Games too Long?

Tiger     vs     Rabbit

Random Happy Time, 24 O’Clock! - Weekender Bender!
After discussing Dragon Age: Inquisition, Tiger and Rabbit continue their chat about long video games. They discuss how they work video games into their busy lives and how they tackle games that take 100+ hours to beat.


Rabbit: So how do you even have time to play Dragon Age anyway?

Tiger: Oh geez, it’s pretty hard to fit in, especially since we really only play video games on Saturday anymore.

Rabbit: Or the Friday night benders I know you do.

Tiger: Yeah, yeah, those too. I really feel like when I play DAI, it’s a lot less “I want to finish this mission” and more “let’s see what I can experience today” type of mentality. I find that playing games like DAI, and yes, TES-

Rabbit: ^sticks out tongue^ Pssht.

Tiger: -that can take over a hundred hours to play through, that I really just make my play time about what I want to do or experience versus trying to accomplish set goals. I really enjoy spending a few hours in Thedas or Skyrim and going where ever my adventures lead me. You on the other hand…

Rabbit: Cram as much gaming as possible into the few hours I have to spare. Yes, I like maximizing what I can accomplish. I always try to reach certain benchmarks before the weekend is over, that way I can plan on beating a game by a certain date.

Tiger: You know it’s kind of strange that you have the more laid-back personality yet you burn through your games so quickly.

Rabbit: And you’re high-strung in real life yet you just chillax in all of your games.

Tiger: Hey, I’m not high-strung I just like to make sure everything is planned out ahead of time.

Rabbit: You plan your life down to the second; that to me is high-strung.

Tiger: Well, I don’t like to wing it like you do. Never thinking ahead, always expecting it to just “work out” in the end.

Rabbit: At least I know I’ll beat my video games, eventually. You may never beat DAI.

Tiger: I bet you I can and I will.

Rabbit: You’re on! Loser has to make a cake for the winner.

Tiger: Wait, that just benefits you either way.

Rabbit: It’s a deal!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Q Attack, Round 17 - Are Stage Productions Better than Movies?
Tiger and Rabbit have just returned from Seattle, Washington where they witnessed a Broadway show live and in person. The pair watched the production of Wicked at the Paramount Theater and were treated to the spectacle that is theatre. Tiger and Rabbit enjoy going to the theatre but not to the movies, so this got them thinking, are stage productions better than movies? Tune in to find out.


Rabbit: I’m gonna be popular.

Tiger: No good deed goes unpunished.

Rabbit: But I’m gonna defy gravity!

Tiger: Are you going to talk in lyrics this whole time?

Rabbit: Why not? It’d be a fun challenge.

Tiger: As I’m sure you can tell; Rabbit really enjoyed Wicked in Seattle.

Rabbit: It was spectacular! I had loads of fun.

Tiger: *sighs* Eh, it was okay.

Rabbit: There’s just no pleasing you, is there?

Tiger: I like the older style musicals, the modern ones feel like they’re just pop singers in costume.

Rabbit: I see your point but before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about what we’re talking about!

Tiger: I’ll let you take this one.

Rabbit: ^rubs hands together^ Muhaha! We were in Seattle, Washington over the weekend to see Wicked, the traveling Broadway show, at the Paramount Theater. Wicked is a musical that tells the story of Elphaba and how she became the Wicked Witch of the West. It follows her during her years at Shiz University where she meets Galinda who eventually becomes Glinda the Good.

Tiger: It’s based off of the novel of the same title by Gregory Maguire. The adaption was done by Winnie Holzman and directed by Joe Mantello with the music and lyrics created by Stephen Schwartz.

Rabbit: I thought you liked Schwartz’s work?

Tiger: The only works I really enjoyed from him were collaborations. He did compose the music and lyrics for The Prince of Egypt which weren’t bad. I know Pippin did great; I’m just not a fan of his overall style. It’s not bad, just not my thing.

Rabbit: I thought the music in The Hunchback of Notre Dame was great but you’re right, that was in partnership with Alan Menken. I have to say I love Menken, but I really enjoyed Schwartz’s work on Wicked too.

Tiger: They had a really talented cast, it wasn’t the original but they were very good.

Rabbit: The original cast of Wicked had Idina Menzel as Elphaba and Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda but this one featured Alyssa Fox and Carrie St. Louis in those roles.

Tiger: Admittedly, the 10 year-old girl inside of me was excited to see Ashley Parker Angel as Fiyero.

Rabbit: ^grins^ Who is that and how do you know of him, exactly?

Tiger: *blushes* I’m not answering that. Anyway, it was a very good show, while it’s no Phantom or Company; it was something that I could recommend for people to go see.

Rabbit: The costumes were really impressive and while it felt like the Paramount’s stage was small compared to others I’ve seen, they utilized it well.

Tiger: The set was impressive too, the moving dragon mounted at the top of the stage and the lighting really made the show. The set changes were clever too; I loved the clock motif throughout. I wonder what they used to keep Fox that green, that must be a nightmare to put on.

Rabbit: I felt bad for her because she didn’t get to wear the really cool costumes like Glinda did.

Tiger: Yeah, I had a lot of fun.

Rabbit: More fun than you would like to admit. I know you bought the CD, see’mon, just admit that you liked the music.

Tiger: I got the CD because it came with the program that I wanted. I will admit that Popular is a catchy song; I’ve had it stuck in my head since we got back.

Rabbit: I’ve seen a few clips from the Menzel and Chenoweth version and I have to say that St. Louis did a better job as Glinda in my opinion. She definitely has a better set of pipes.

Tiger: I like Chenoweth but she’s a typecast actor in my books. So yes, I can agree with you there, St. Louis can straight up sing. Fox also did a great job. Now, Menzel is extremely talented and has a very specific sound to her, which Fox sounds similar, but I thought that Fox did well with making the character her own. I’ve listened to the original cast recording and there’s not much of a drop off between Menzel and Fox, which I was really impressed with.

Rabbit: So here’s the thing. We don’t ever go to the movies yet we go to the theatre and symphony whenever we get the chance.

Tiger: Yes, we do.

Rabbit: Why is that?

Tiger: *scratches head* Because the theatre and the symphony are worth the stress of attending where movies aren’t?

Rabbit: Yes, I guess.

Tiger: That’s not seriously our topic for today, is it?
Rabbit: No, I wondered if you thought the theatre was better than movies.

Tiger: That is a tough one, it’s kind of like comparing apples to horses, there’s just no comparison. If I had to choose though, I think you can do more with movies than you can with stage productions. While I love the theatre, I think there are limitations especially with the modern audience in mind, that are very hard to overcome. I can’t imagine seeing a superhero on the stage without the special effects and action.

Rabbit: There was a Spider-Man musical.

Tiger: Which bombed, badly. There’s also a pacing issue, movies generally play out really well but with musicals or plays, they often feel disjointed. Take Wicked, the majority of the work was in the first act then the second act felt strangely condensed in some places and unnecessarily elongated towards the end. That’s the biggest knock I have for the show, the second act was not as good as the first. Movies don’t have an intermission to deal with, set or stage limitations, nor do they have to contend with using limited special effects. Plus, if you mess up in a movie, they can always re-film it. The theatre, you can’t do that. I also think the theatre can be one dimensional in a way since you are always viewing it from the same point, from out in the audience. With movies, we can have different angles or close-up shots; it adds another element to the storytelling when you can utilize the camera to help facilitate the story.

Rabbit: You are so wrong that I don’t even know who you are anymore.

Tiger: *shocked face* What? You can’t blame me, I’m a symphony person. I prefer to listen more than to watch.

Rabbit: ^puts hands up^ I’m not going to even talk to you anymore. Ignore what Tiger just said because that is complete bullpucky. Stage productions are ten times, no a million times better than movies and here’s why. With the theatre, the audience is a part of the production, and oftentimes even acknowledged to some degree. Everything on stage is also real, from the people to the props and sets; there’s no CGI. That element right there brings the entire experience to life. So what that you have to use a little bit of imagination to turn a mirror and some lights into a magic portal; that’s the fun of theatre. You get to see a dark and plain stage suddenly transform into the Emerald City or a Parisian opera house. And special effects? The theatre has special effects too, live ones with lots of working parts. Just look at the set changes or the flying monkeys in Wicked; the dragon was also awesome. Stage productions aren’t one dimensional either, if you think that, you weren’t paying attention. There are layers to these shows that make you really pay attention to what is happening on stage. There’s no pause or rewind, so you better be watching or you could miss subtle nuances. Pacing is also different but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I love having an intermission because they always build up the tension before leaving you with 15 minutes to examine what just happened and think about what will come next. Wicked’s second act was a bit condensed but it created a sense of not only movement in time, because we did jump a few years ahead, but also a sense of nervousness with what was going on in the plot.

Tiger: Are you done?

Rabbit: No, I’m not. There is an experience when going to the theatre that is nothing like going to the movies. In a movie theater, you just sit there and stare at a screen. The movie has already happened; it’s done and finished with you passively watching it. Stage productions on the other hand, they are actively unfolding before your very eyes. It’s something that you witness happening in the present, and there’s a connection that forms between the audience and the actors on stage. It’s a place where the performers have to be perfect every night, they come to not only work but to play and you can see it in their performances. They transform into those characters, I’m not saying movie actors don’t either but with the theatre, you know that everyone does that. I don’t always get transported to a new place when I watch a movie, but with the theatre; every single time I feel like I’ve been taken somewhere completely new and different. I will take a stage production over a movie any day of the week.

Are Stage Productions Better than Movies?

Tiger     vs     Rabbit

Random Happy Time, 23 O’Clock - Clap Happy!
With Tiger finding movies more enjoyable than the theatre, Rabbit uses RHT to convince Tiger to see the error of her ways. From candy to clapping, read on to see how successful Rabbit has been in proving that the theatre is supreme.


Rabbit: The theatre is so much better than the theater. o(>< )o

Tiger: I don’t know about that, there are a lot of perks at a movie theater versus a theater with a stage.

Rabbit: The Paramount had concessions just like at the movies, they had drinks and snacks.

Tiger: We don’t ever do that though.

Rabbit: ー( ´ ▽ ` )ノ Broadway shows have merchandise booths! You don’t ever see that at a movie theater.

Tiger: I don’t think that’s a good thing. Yes, I bought the program/CD combo and you got a hoodie, but it’s not like that’s a game changer.

Rabbit: The Paramount is a storied theater with lots of history and great architectural details.

Tiger: (¬‿¬) Okay, that is true. The Paramount is an amazing building, I would love to just walk around the place when it’s empty but we’ve also been in there before during PAX. So it’s not as if you have to go to a show to see the theater.

Rabbit: You get to clap, a lot!

Tiger: I hate that about the theatre, absolutely hate it! (⋋▂⋌) Why must we clap after every freaking song? It is one big piece, it should be like the symphony, you don’t clap between movements. It’s foison of clapping!

Rabbit: It’s fun though; you get to feel like you are a part of the show.

Tiger: I don’t know; I’m not sure I want to go again.

Rabbit: I treated you to Mongolian Hot Pot afterwards! I know how much you love that place. ヽ(゜ロ゜;)ノ

Tiger: You love that place, I just tag along.

Rabbit: We went to Kinokuniya and got to look around.

Tiger: They were having a massive street fair in the International District.

Rabbit: It was packed, they had a few vendors inside Uwajimaya too, similar to an artists’ alley.

Tiger: I did enjoy spending time down there. I purchased a couple of Vocaloid CDs though I was really looking for Wagakki Band.

Rabbit: We also did some grocery shopping and bought a cool looking plate.

Tiger: A plate we will never use because it is cool looking.

Rabbit: I think next time we go we should see the Beauty and the Beast.

Tiger: I want to go see a hockey game in the fall or Rach 2, not another show.

Rabbit: Rach 2? If we go to the symphony again, it should be Pini di Roma.

Tiger: Yeah, I guess.

Rabbit: They are having A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder next year.

Tiger: Oh, we have to go see that one, that’s a great show. I still say we should go to a hockey game; the Everett Silvertips are just across the water.

Rabbit: You and your love of sports, I’m trying to get us to do something cultured here! (꒪⌓꒪)