Sunday, February 15, 2015

Cities: Skylines: City-builder nerds may be delivered from SimCity's clutches at last

Hello everyone, Dilly here, back from an extended absence to bring you the good word. Now, you may recall from my previous posts that I am an avid patron of the city-builder genre. If you don't, that's fine, because I never actually mentioned it in my previous posts. But this isn't about what I may or may not have said in the past. It's about how concerned you should be that Steam will most likely become the type of sentient AI that brought humanity to its knees in The Matrix.

"Dilly, you're all over the place, you're going mad," you say? Well you would be too, if Steam was refreshing your quick launch interface every few days to fill it with games you don't own, in the hopes you'll try them and get addicted to them. You would be too if Steam's 'recommended for you' list included titles related to games and software you own separate from Steam (is it scanning me???). You would be too if you put titles on your wishlist, only to find them coincidentally on sale the next day. You would be too if every time you started up Steam, it blasted you with the exact title it knows you will want to buy:

And I do want to buy it. I really, really do. And I'm going to tell you why. But if Cities: Skylines is the quiet, intelligent, rational younger sibling of the city simulation genre, then I feel like we should start by talking about his big, dumb, older brother for a moment. You see, once upon a time in 2013, a game was released called SimCity. This game was unequivocally and decidedly a large, steaming, pile of shit.

Wrought with issues from the get go, and when I politely use the word "issues," I mean "severe game-breaking problems that made the game LITERALLY unplayable," SimCity was for a long time scarcely even fit to be used as a doorstop, or that extra 1/4" you needed under one leg to right that wobbly table. I won't go into why this happened, suffice to say that what was described as an incredible cloud-based calculation program that was supposed to be the bees fuckin knees of modern gaming turned out (rather unsurprisingly) to be a thinly veiled DRM - and EA's servers couldn't handle the amount of traffic they received at launch.

Now, getting past the headaches and frustrations of the initial launch (oh god, the headaches! They're coming back to me) the game itself quickly revealed itself to be a mere shadow of its predecessors SimCity 3000 and SimCity 4, both of which still remain superior in nearly every way. The new multiplayer mode, which was supposed to change the city-sim genre as we know it, ended up being a total flop when it was playable at all, offering little feeling of being part of a community of other cities and other mayors. Gone were the realistic, rational sims that populated the cities of previous titles; actual characters you felt you had some semblance of responsibility for as they drove to their jobs every day and came home to their families at the same house every night. In SimCity 2013 they were replaced by mindless zombies that literally drove to the closest open workplace in the morning, and then drove to the closest available house at night.

SimCity 2013. Stink lines added for effect.

It seemed like EA hoped that as long as the graphics were nice and shiny, no one would notice the laughably small city dimensions and lack of a persistent and dynamic population of sims. This to me was its biggest, most disappointing failure. The essence of any city-sim is the satisfaction of carefully planning and implementing infrastructure for it to be used wisely and thoughtfully by your city's inhabitants. What's the point if the people in your city behave like irrational, brain-dead squatters?

Although it is true I could go on and on, I won't get into the stupidity of the Origin distribution platform, or the pandering apology issued by EA (along with a free game from a limited crappy selection) as a peace offering for subjecting decent people to such a turd sandwich as SimCity 2013, because I want to get into why I even sat down to write this in the first place: Cities: Skylines.

Cities: Skylines comes to us in March of this year from developer Colossal Order, a relatively indie team of around a dozen staff members, who brought us the Cities in Motion series (most recently Cities in Motion 2). CiM2 was one hell of a city-sim...okay...back up a second, it's not exactly a city-sim, since in the game you only manage the transportation system of a city, but it definitely feels like it could become one. And that's exactly what CO has done now. They claim to have always intended to make a true city-sim, and I can certainly say after spending many hours playing CiM2, that they've mastered the transportation side of things (a huge part of any city-sim's gameplay).

Featured in CiM2 is a range of transport options, from buses to subways to ferries, that you must carefully construct and schedule around your city to meet the demands of citizens commuting to work, shops, school, etc. These citizens have persistent jobs and residences; they work on the weekdays and shop and access leisure services on the weekends - and I'm very excited to see this aspect ported over to the new Skylines title.

Cities: Skyline will also take after its transportation-centered counterparts by offering plenty of space for you to build a grow your city (about 36 square km compared to SimCity's bewildering 2 km).

Of course, you'll also be able to do all the other things that come with the typical city-builder. You'll manage taxes, water and sewage, emergency services, and other such hum drum activities that in the strictness of reality are pretty dull but in the freedom of simulation can become interesting and gratifying. CO has noted that they will improve upon the UI from its transportation-builder series - and in this vein, I hope they improve upon the graph and chart system offered in CiM2 to detail the statistics of your city, as these graphs were often confusingly labeled, poorly visualized, and of little use.

The excitement doesn't end there. Players of Cities: Skylines can look forward to two more unique features that set it apart from the EA blowhard competition. One is the intense ability to micromanage several things, all the way down to renaming individual citizens in your town. The other is the promised mod support, which has the potential to be truly heroic. With support from the Steam Workshop and an in-game modding tool (YES!), users will be able to create vast variations of buildings, parks, vehicles - you name it - and share them with the gaming community. This means endless possibilities of dynamic cities of all shapes and sizes! Why don't you put that in your pipe and shove it up your ass, you money-grubbing EA fucks.

Build sprawling farmlands or a towering metropolis...or a quiet suburb.

I have no doubt that EA and Maxis will continue beating their dicks, occasionally ejaculating a discolored discharge that will be another DLC for SimCity 2013. But after that well runs dry they'll probably be hard at work coming up with the next SimCity title to once again corner the market. And until that day comes, let's hope that Cities: Skyline doesn't fall flat on its face too.

Monday, February 2, 2015

2015 movie predictions Part 1

So, using my massive many wrinkled brain I am (again) going to tell you what movies are gonna rock and what movies are going to be stinky piles of discarded wank socks. Last time around (cough, points to old blog posts) I was pretty much dead on minus one GLARING mistake in thinking Prometheus was a guaranteed winner. For that, I apologize and if any of you 3 to 4 people who read that went to see the movie based on that recommendation, I will make you a cookie for reparations. Just one. It'll have a frowny face on it and maybe a gum drop in the center to represent and alien bursting from its chest.

If you pay attention there is a slight break in theme this year. Its not just the usual appropriation of existing licenses or the mindless sequels/prequels that typify Hollywood. No, things are getting worse. Not only do we have a big budget video game movie coming in the form of Hitman: Agent 47, which I haven't see the likes of in awhile but my research indicates is going to be a big trend in the next few years (scheduled projects include Assassins Creed, Sly Cooper, and...ugh...Angry Birds...that one hurt to type) , but we are also getting a full feature release of a Goosebumps movie. You know. Goosebumps. Those scary books for kids. From the 90s. With the bees and puppets and boos.

Yup. Goosebumps. 
Pausing on the Goosebumps front for a moment to let my brain process it. The video game movie thing scares me as well it should. If you look back, can you honestly point to a good adaptation of a game to a movie? I mean, there was Mortal Kombat which was tons of fun but not a good movie by any means. Other than that, the transfer is usually pretty painful, mostly because its licensing. The company making it buys the rights to make a movie and typically only has so long to do it and, because they already dropped a ton of cash on the name, usually make it on the cheaper/lamer side of the coin. These movies are rarely passion projects. They are calculated products to tie in with existing merchandise. But what ho, dear readers! The same could be said for comic book movies not even 5 or 10 years ago. Now look at it! We have four huge comic book movies coming, all of which we can trust to be at least fun because marvel figured it out. So maybe Hitman won't be too bad. I would still be weary of it though, there are still going to be some growing pains, I'm sure. Back to Goosebumps...

I'm gonna watch it. I'm totally going to see it. Jack Black is in it. He plays R.L. Stien in his own horror universe. Its probably going to suck HARD but I'm feeling like its gonna suck just the right way to be worth the price of admission.

For the rest, here's the short predictions:


Monsters: Dark Continent: Sequel to Monsters, a movie that oozed so much stereotypical pretension and hit-you-over-the-head stupid messages that I wanted to punch the screen. (And don't get me wrong, I went to a local non-accredited film school; I can be pretentious to the max, but nothing is worse than super overt masturbatory pretension, which really should have been the title for this movie.) My bet is that since it lost its director to the Godzilla movie, the studio making it is banking on its new found pedigree to sell. Gonna be boring and probably pretty soulless. 

Anything else that's a squeal: I did the looking for you. From a new Transporter and Ted 2 to Paranormal Number-Whatever-The-Fuck to Pitch Perfect 2, you can just avoid all this shit. Except for...FURIOUS 7

Insert flexing and grunting noises here

The first one was fun, the second was shit. The third brought it closer to where it needed to be with the over-the-top insanity, the fourth brought it back down. The fifth got its groove back and the sixth was one of the most inane piles of macho insanity that I have ever seen and I reveled in every moment of it. I think they figured it out, and they are going to go even crazier with the seventh, so its gonna be totally worth it.


A mixed bag this year! Instead of every single one looking like a sad old prostitute with some sweet CG effects projected over her to try and sell her "goods", there are actually one or two that might be worth it! The new Mad Max looks like it was made by someone who actually watched the original movies and it has real cars doing a lot of real stunts which really titillates my tits. Jurassic World also has the potential to be a strong "eh, I'm not upset I paid to see this" so that's good! 

On the other hand, we have things like Poltergeist, a horror movie with a summer release which is never a good sign and, of course, Terminator Genesis. Oh wait. I'm sorry. GeneSYS.


They have 3 or 4 call backs and catch phrases in the TRAILER. This movie is going to be pandering stupid awful garbage. Remember that one kid in high school who tried so desperately hard to be cool he would do and say anything and everything he heard to the point of it just being really sad? Yeah, that's this movie. Its going to be the "well my dad drives a Mustang and totally hangs out with the Beatles and he drove me to meet Paul McCartney in his Mustang" of movies. 

Alright, this is getting long so its time to make this a two-parter! Keep being awesome all you four or five people that stop by and remember, if you give bad movies money they will keep making them. So stop it!  BAD!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Pitches to The Asylum: Titanic 3

IM BACK! Thanks to Erik Hoofnalge being the sexy stallion he is blowing smoke up my ass about this blog I finally got off my ass and finished this entry. BOOM. I hope its good! It probably isnt. FUCK. Well whatever heres my pitch for Titanic 3.

A brilliant red giant star is slowly eclipsed by a procession of asteroid and small plutoid objects. Suddenly a large ship enters the frame, speeding towards the sun to establish orbit. As it turns towards the star, we see its designation, "Titanic III" written in giant slabs of gold inlayed with diamonds.
Asylum calling card #1: Fraudulent sequels and spin offs
The scene fades to black as the words come off of the ship and begin to take up the screen as  a dubstep song begins. the final title reading "Titanic 3D: Terror on the seas of tomorrow" Thats right. This shit is in 3D because its about time Asylum corners that market. The drop hits as the scene cuts to an opulent party on the domed deck of the ship. The party is off the chain as the future financial elite let it all hang out on the maiden voyage of the very first interstellar cruise line as it moves on its tour towards Alpha Centari, all of which will be established by some ham handed delivery between the Captain and main financial backer of the ship, played by someone who is at least 400 pounds and who speaks EXTREMELY moistly, preferably always with a cigar or snifter of brandy, and his son, played by Jonathan Taylor Thomas-

Asylum calling card #2: Out of work 90s actor
Look familiar? Yeah. Thats Urkel. Hes using navy science to kill a Crocosaurus. The other guy was drunk the entire film and its really obvious.

-starry eyed and apparently at odds with his fathers nearly Ferengi level of capitalistic ideals. After some heated and moist debating about something the father says, JTT storms out and bumps into a servant girl/now romantic interest, a green skinned foxy whoman who drama shouts all of her lines.

asylum calling card #3: "hot" "actress" REALLY nailing all that dialogue.
To be fair, Brooke Hogan really managed to let Hulkamania run wild all over Two Headed Shark Attack
Its a classic and oh so culturally hip gender swap of the original plot which is way more in keeping with the terrible values of society (which the Asylum revels in), a poor disrespected woman finding love in an super rich attractive douche nozzle.

From there the plot follows the formula of the first Titanic movie, just condensed down to a cool 85 minute run time not including end credits. They fall in love, the dad is all rich and moistly angry about it, they keep it kinda secret, he paints her naked and we see her quad boobs (did I mention the quad boobs? I mean, shes an alien, so...yeah. Quad boobs) and then they get totally freaky right before the shit goes down. And boy does it go down. A electromagnetic solar doodad temporarily knocks out their long range scanners, which leaves them open to the greatest danger in space...A COMET!
See what I did there?
Comets are made of ice
Its like...a space ice berg...

ANYWAYS it hits the ship and all hell breaks loose. The vessel begins falling into the gravitational pull of the star its orbiting, doomed to sink into the abyss of fire. The rest of the movie contains the following.

-People floating off into the vacuum putting their best "I just froze/suffocated to death in the vacuum of space" face on.
-A scene where someone in a panic opens an airlock door and people try really hard to act like they are getting sucked out.
-Seeing as this is 3D, lots of scenes of JTT and his green love interest floating around in space suits pretending like they are dodging debris that are in the foreground.
-A scene of fat dad escaping the ship on an escape pod only to be hit by a stray comet piece and be spun TOWARDS THE AUDIENCE WHOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAA 3D THE FUCKING FUTURE OF CINEMA!!!! as he is flung wildly out into the depths of space to die.
-A lot of REALLY bad line deliveries
-The inevitable scene where JTT sacrifices himself to save the girl, giving up on his fortune and blah blah love blah blah shes poor and saved etc. The jets on the escape pod dont work so he goes out and fixes them. There is a tender moment as they power up and they both put their hands on the escape pods view port staring into each others eyes before she jets off towards earth, leaving him to float down into the waiting star. Good thing he'll suffocate before he gets there am I right folks?! Ahhh family fun.

Run Credits.

I expect a call Asylum. I just handed you gold. Moist and shiny Jonathan Taylor Thomas  gold.