Monday, April 29, 2013

A Flight of Links

- EA's SimCity strategy is shady, but it works. RPS explains why. 
- Agent Smith enters ads. 
- The first trailer for Thor 2 is out, and it looks as cheesy as it looks like fun. 
-  The Portal 2 lead writer wrote a novel about a world where creatonism won. 
- Futurama has been cancelled.
- Steven Attewell reviews Tyrion V. 
- The Zombieland TV series sucks. Surprised? Me neither. 
- Why including free saving into video games is hard. 
- We don't need new consoles, Yahtzee says. 
- Sean T. Collins interviewed Alfie Allen.
- MovieBob lists stuff that needs a reboot. 
- The guy who invents the languages for GOT talks about pronounciation.  
- Bryan Cogman answered many questions about writing GOT.
- New episodes in the BSG newbie recap. 
-  A great fan-made opening for "Man of Steel".
- Michael Arndt is having trouble writing Star Wars VII. Hilarious! 
- The writers of Mad Men propose a show about NASA in the 60s. 
- There's a trailer - live-action! - for the upcoming 3rd-person X-COM.
- Two examples of gorgeous Bioshock cosplay. 
- Batman villains, twenties style. 
- MovieBob about Pain&Gain.
- 10 characters that got more interesting with their gender swapped. 
- The trailer to RED2 has Anthony Hopkins in it as a mad nuclear scientist. 
- Robb Stark meta
- The story of the development of Diablo.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Game of Thrones Season 3 Recap, Episode 4 "And now his watch has ended"

Go Dany! Danaerys’ storyline in season 2 left much to be desired, but in season 3, she excelled, and this episode was – despite the heavy bias towards the Night’s Watch in the title – her episode. She didn’t get that much time in the previous episodes, but she got the ending of this one, and it ended with a bang and a deep swallow from the CGI budget. It’s this bang that secured the episode a firm place in the viewer’s memory, even though the middle was a bit of a slug. This is again, of course, showing great skill by the creators, because this slug was necessary. You need to advance plotlines in order to get to the payoffs sometimes, and they essentially hid the advancing in between the great stuff, primarily Jaime getting his ass whooped by Brienne in the opening and Dany whooping slaver’s ass in the ending. But let’s continue our tradition of geographical progression.  

Go Dany!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My stance on various ASOIAF conspiracy theories, Part 26

Thursday is theory day.
This is the twenty-sixth article of the series. Since there are a lot of theories floating out there and I'm asked often enough what I think of them, I thought I write it down. You can then laugh about me when I am totally proven wrong by "The Winds of Winter" or something like that. Rules are as follows: you put a question about any theory or plot element (really, let's stress "theory" a bit for the sake of interesting questions) either in the comments of any theory post or by mail (stefan_sasse@gmx.de) and I will answer them in an upcoming post. And if you now ask "Stefan, isn't this a shameless rip-off of Sean T. Collin's "Ask me anything"?", I would tell you to shut up, because you are right.
Prepare for part 26. Spoilers for "A Song of Ice and Fire", obviously. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Boiled Leather Audio Hour Episode 19!


It’s a power-player episode of BLAH this time out, as our irregularly scheduled series on the women of Westeros tackles a trio who have little in common except their positions near the top of the power structure: Margaery Tyrell, Melisandre of Asshai, and Lysa Arryn. The combination was my idea, and the result of the odd juxtaposition is a pretty diverse set of questions tackled over the course of the episode.
How do the differences and similarities between book-Margaery and show-Margaery stack up? How does Melisandre’s use of magic compliment or compromise what you might expect from a woman in her position in Westerosi society? What does Lysa tell us about the costs of the Westerosi gender system, and the limits of audience empathy? Let’s find out together, just you and us.

Podcast RSS feed here.
iTunes page here.
Home blog here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The strength of an actual character

I played the new Tomb Raider. Ok, in reality, I played it several weeks ago, but I had too many assignments to do the game justice by reviewing it until now, so, here we go. Not exactly the most trending topic by now, but I think that what I have to say on the topic still holds enough water to revisit the game, before we can launch into an extended review of "Bioshock Infinite" at some later point, which suffered the same problem with my time schedule. So, before we actually talk about the new Tomb Raider, a caveat: I never played any of the old games. I watched the old Tomb Raider II at a friend's back in the day (it was the 90s, remember?), but never played them myself. They simply didn't interested me, neither concerning gameplay nor the character. I never found Lara Croft attractive,  not even in her "real-world"-counterpart Angelina Jolie or the several thousand models that were hired by Eidos Interactive at one point or another. 
Looking at you, girls.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Game of Thrones Season 3 Recap, Episode 3 "Walk of Punishment"

OK, show of hands: who laughed at the “Meereenese knot” reference? Congratulations, you officially spend way too much time on the internet. In other news, this episode introduced a whole lot of comedy, and some of it even breaking the fourth wall quite openly (besides the Meereenese knot there was also a werewolf reference), with the most point for the WTF-factor going to Podrick Payne being a sex-god and tutoring Tyrion and Bronn. They are quite good with that, cutting back and forth between jokes and comedy to really serious, tragic or terrible stuff in the blink of an eye. Cases in point: Lord Hoster’s funeral, where Edmure was tragic, ludicrous and sad. The Game of Chairs Tyrion and Cersei perform just to get back to business instantly. And so forth. 
 
We need details!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

Announcement: REVEALING A FLIGHT OF SORROWS: COLLECTOR’S EDITION AND ANNOUNCING A HYMN FOR SPRING

Tower of the Hand: A Flight of Sorrows was a big deal for us.  Never before in the Song of Ice and Fire community – or, just perhaps, in any fan community of any media property – had the leading voices from several different publications banded together to create an in-depth, thought-provoking, but nonetheless fun product, independent of any major publisher.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My stance on various ASOIAF conspiracy theories, Part 25


Thursday is theory day.
This is the twenty-fifth article of the series. Since there are a lot of theories floating out there and I'm asked often enough what I think of them, I thought I write it down. You can then laugh about me when I am totally proven wrong by "The Winds of Winter" or something like that. Rules are as follows: you put a question about any theory or plot element (really, let's stress "theory" a bit for the sake of interesting questions) either in the comments of any theory post or by mail (stefan_sasse@gmx.de) and I will answer them in an upcoming post. And if you now ask "Stefan, isn't this a shameless rip-off of Sean T. Collin's "Ask me anything"?", I would tell you to shut up, because you are right.
Prepare for part 25. Spoilers for "A Song of Ice and Fire", obviously.  

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Flight of Links

- Some meta about Ramsay Snow.
- And some more about homosexuality in Westeros. 
- Blake's 7 is getting a reboot. Do I care? No. But perhaps you do. 
- Song about Tyrion. 
- MovieBob about Miracle Man, again. 
- Shamus Young explains Bioshock Infinite's ending pretty well. 
- A really, really great column about stealth games. 
- Sean T. Collins, my beloved BLAH co-host, also interviewed Sophie Turner. He should stop that interviewing some time soon so we can do another podcast. 
- Interesting interview with the writers of FarCry3 and Spec Ops: The Line.
- There's also a part 2.
- And a part 3.
- Newbie review of "33". Man, this is going to be entertaining. 
- 8 major heroes who will probably never get their Marvel movie. 
- Alyssa talks about young teenage girls in adult series. 
- Extensive doesn't even begin to describe this "Dark Wings, Dark Words"-review. 
- RPS reviews "Heart of the Swarm" and manage to put my concerns into better words. 
- Review of 42. 
- Ad analysis for Mad Men by Sean T. Collins.
- I can't slam my head on the desk often enough at the sight of this Walking Dead luxury edition.
- Interesting meta about Lyanna, and about her relationship to Rhaegar 
- And another about Joffrey, Gendry and how their parents (or lack thereof) influenced them.
- Great article about how to make characters in games seem in danger. 
- Good meta about Tywin being a rascist prick.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Game of Thrones Season 3 Recap, Episode 2 "Dark Wings, Dark Words"



Game of Thrones is on! And they just took off where they stopped last week. Instead of pondering questions of power and freedom, however, we get a ladies’ night in Westeros. The episode firmly centers around the female characters of the series, and there’s a whole bunch of strong scenes in there, with the weakest scenes being pointedly those without women in it. But let’s do it in the usual way and go through the plot points character by character. 

No, not you, you're dead, go away.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My stance on various ASOIAF conspiracy theories, Part 24

Thursday is theory day.
This is the twenty-fourth article of the series. Since there are a lot of theories floating out there and I'm asked often enough what I think of them, I thought I write it down. You can then laugh about me when I am totally proven wrong by "The Winds of Winter" or something like that. Rules are as follows: you put a question about any theory or plot element (really, let's stress "theory" a bit for the sake of interesting questions) either in the comments of any theory post or by mail (stefan_sasse@gmx.de) and I will answer them in an upcoming post. And if you now ask "Stefan, isn't this a shameless rip-off of Sean T. Collin's "Ask me anything"?", I would tell you to shut up, because you are right.
Prepare for part 24. Spoilers for "A Song of Ice and Fire", obviously. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Them castles are not empty by happenstance - the history of the Night's Watch

There are several aspects of the situation of the Night’s Watch that we are introduced to pretty early in the story. In the beginning of “A Game of Thrones”, Benjen Stark mentions that there are many deserters. We soon learn that the Gift is scarcely populated, that the Raiders are growing bolder and getting over the Wall all over the place, that most castles are empty (16 of 19, to be exact) and that the Night’s Watch barely possesses enough men to garrison their remaining three castles. In fact, their main seat, Castle Black, is in a state of frenzied decay, with several buildings uninhabited for decades and nearing collapse. Even more often, we are told about the glorious past days of the Watch, when eighteen castles were manned (they never manned all 19 since Queensgate was built to replace the Nightfort) and one man in every ten was a knight, instead of one in every hundred. Man, that had been times! Thousands of black brothers, armed to the teeth, highly trained and motivated to fight off rag-tag bands of raiders, because the last King beyond the Wall dates back before the Targaryen conquest. And then, in the course of 250 years, the Watch declined to its present sorry state. From eighteen castles to three, from thousands of well supported men to a rabble of perhaps a thousand, if you count the stable boys. 

It stood for thousands of years!

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Flight of Links

- My beloved BLAH co-host Sean T. Collins interviewed Natalie Dormer.
- Yahtzee talks about SimCity. 
- Shamus Young about why Sam is the most annoying character in Tomb Raider.
- 8 reasons why movie reboots fail
- 20 most epic beards and mustaches
- io9 disliked the Walking Dead finale as much as I did.
- Mary Sue too. 
- They are publishing a comic based on Lucas' first Star Wars draft. Why? This certainly is not literacy gold. 
- Noooooooo...LucasArts is shut down. 
- Baby-Lightsaber.
- 12 movies that look good but suck. 
- An australian billionarie wants to build two parks with giant robot dinosaurs and an exact copy of the Titanic, because, why not? 
- Race to the Iron Throne gives us Eddard VIII. 
- Stormsongs reads Arya IV. 
- An obituary on LucasArts.
 - Some retro-reviews: Jedi Knight, Zak McCracken, Days of the Tentacle, The Curse of Monkey Island, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Escape from Monkey Island
- The director of Iron Sky complains about HBO's business policy regarding Game of Thrones. 
- Recap of the BSG Pilot. 
- Sophie Turner says season 3 will have major changes. No surprise. 
- Is Disney destroying the Expanded Universe? Frankly, I don't care. Star Wars sucks, and the new products Disney makes will suck too. It's not like they would tell a tale worth telling, it's lightsabres and powers.
 -  An more than extensive review of "Valar Dohaeris". 
- Interesting thoughts on Arya. 
- The Walking Dead creator is sexist. Who would have thought? 
- The new XBox tries to bring a demand for permanent onlice access and a great gaffe. 
- Some facts about Jurassic Park and dinosaurs. 
- Great Tomb Raider review. 
- Could you build Columbia?
- Info about Sam Raimi. 
- Review for Evil Dead.
- An analysis of the relationship between Tywin, Joanna and Aerys, and the "liberties" Aerys took. I don't agree, but it's interesting to read. 
- A really good analysis of Jaime Lannister.
- Someone disagrees with our BLAH about Asha.
- Nice theory about the death of LucasArts.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Game of Thrones Season 3 Recap, Episode "Valar Dohaeris"


Back in Westeros, and boy, does it feel good. After “The Walking Dead” finale, which aired at the same time as Throne’s opening, was such a downer, it is past time to be in Westeros once again. And what an entrance the show makes! “Game of Payoffs” would have been the appropriate title. It is astonishing how Benioff and Weiss, the show’s creators, manage to keep all the balls in the air they threw there in these past two seasons. Master jugglers, indeed. And really, this week’s episode, “Valar Dohaeris”, shows two prevailing themes, one in terms of story, the other as one of how the writers create the show. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

A study in Westerosi feudalism

There was fantasy before „A Song of Ice and Fire“, and there is fantasy after it. Martin’s yet unfinished epic marks a turning point in a genre that seemed to be stuck in the corner for children and nerds forever. Dragons, mages and heroes were abundant. While some authors experimented with other scenarios, the majority still saw „good vs. evil“ as a driving force behind fantasy. It was Martin who changed that forever and inspired a flood of „dark“ fantasy that has grown so dominant that many people start to ask if there could be a fantasy world without obscenities and racism. However, few reached what Martin achieved. The new cliché is not the radiating hero, but the anti-hero cursing and fucking his way through hordes of enemies instead. That’s of course not what makes Westeros such a grim place. While it has its fair share of curses, sex and violence, it’s the often quoted „gritty realism“ that makes it such a great literary place – and the implications for our own minds that make it such a rich story to explore. The most striking example for this is the pervasiveness of the feudalist system.

Not exactly a socialist revolution.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

My stance on various ASOIAF conspiracy theories, Part 23

Thursday is theory day.
This is the twenty-third article of the series. Since there are a lot of theories floating out there and I'm asked often enough what I think of them, I thought I write it down. You can then laugh about me when I am totally proven wrong by "The Winds of Winter" or something like that. Rules are as follows: you put a question about any theory or plot element (really, let's stress "theory" a bit for the sake of interesting questions) either in the comments of any theory post or by mail (stefan_sasse@gmx.de) and I will answer them in an upcoming post. And if you now ask "Stefan, isn't this a shameless rip-off of Sean T. Collin's "Ask me anything"?", I would tell you to shut up, because you are right.
Prepare for part 23. Spoilers for "A Song of Ice and Fire", obviously.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Heart of the Loading Screen

Almost three years, we waited for the first expansion pack for "StarCraft II", a wait than be described as unprecedented, especially taking into account that yet another expansion - "Legacies of the Void" - is anounced for some unspecified date. Regarding that "Brood War", the expansion for the first StarCraft, arrived within a year of the release of its core game, the long wait for a mere expansion seems excessive, as does its pricing tag, which doesn't shy away from the comparison to a full-price game. Accordingly, this is the standard that "Heart of the Swarm" needs to measured on, and I have to say: after the disaster that was Diablo III, "Heart of the Swarm" continues a series of disappointments from a developer that once could do no wrong. 

Trust meeeeeeee!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Walking Dead Season 3 Recap, Episode 16 "Welcome to the tombs"

And the finale for season 3 is over. Man, what a downer. Not because there won't be Walking Dead until fall this year, but because the episode really sucked. The writers seem to be fully in "making shit up as we go along"-mode now. The episode plays some bait-and-switch with us, implying that the gang has decided to leave the prison now, with them all packing up and good to go. Just for a second there I wondered whether they would really leave the prison. It would not be wholly unlogical; the place has become pretty insecure, and they don't even know where Walkers can come in anymore, not to speak of the wide open gate for attacks. But then I remembered the last episodes and thought it was to be a ruse, but I remained a shred of doubt throughout the episode that now can be considered clearly wiped out.
Loaded and ready to go.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Flight of Links

- Why did comics start to suck in the 90s?
- Female characters in video games suck. 
- They are doing a Hercules-movie with The Rock as lead. Seriously. 
- How artists once imagined earth would look from space. Interesting. 
- Seems like a church thought "The Walking Dead" as great to promote easter services. 
- Captain America 2 villain is...a French kickboxer. Seriously. 
- Stunning how much this novel from 1969 got right about the times we live in. 
- Tomb Raider seems to be a flop, unfortunately. The game is great, so pick it up asap!
- 24 warning signs from the movie world. 
- Lengthy AGOT review.
- Zero Punctuation about SimCity.
- Race to the Iron Throne with a new Dany chapter. 
- Thoughts on a possible Prometheus sequel. 
- Game of Thrones became the new flagship of HBO, apparently. 
- Is Fantasy progressive? 
- Apparently, this is a thing now in Japan. 
- Death is dead.
- The new "Where are my Dragons?" sitcom. 
- GOT death generator. 
- A feminist review of Tomb Raider. 
- Some cosplayers were molested by a reporter. Man, these guys suck. 
- Ads from the first days of home computers. 
- 60s superheroes in todays movies. 
- Why can't Hollywood make a decent fairytale movie? 
- No surprise at all: GOT won't go into hiatus if Martin doesn't finish the books in time, but make it up themselves.  
- GI Joe Retaliation review.
- MovieDefenseForce: Wild Wild West
- The NYT about why Game of Thrones rocks. 
- 5 movies that could be awesome remakes.
- 6 huge movie twists that caused even greater plotholes.
- 5 recurring extras that you won't believe you never noticed
- Another stance on female protagonists in games. 
- Matthew McConaughey to star the new Nolan movie.