Unimportant Stuff

It’s that time again. The part of the month where you come here seeking information on my next release, and I waste your time by listing media that interests me. Goodie.

Because I am writing, I’ve gone back to playing smaller, shorter stuff. Binding of Isaac, in this case. It’s disgusting and disturbing so yes, I love it. This is something I never got to play as much as I wanted. Let’s fix that.

The new God of War looks incredible. Too bad I don’t have a PS4. Maybe I should spend another piece of my next book’s budget and buy one. Then I could enjoy not having the time to play it.

There’s this show called Bojack Horseman. It is an existential nightmare and I think everyone should see it. It’s on Netflix. Enjoy.

Speaking of existential nightmares, I do love myself some Lyf hax.

Stay brutal.
M. T. Miller

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Fun, And Not As Much Fun

My thoughts on the new Tomb Raider film can best be described by this guy, who currently more or less acts as a gateway into my mind.

To combat this assault of by-the-numbers boredom, I have taken to playing something wacky. In this case, that something is the BlazBlue series. I’ve only played the first one back when it came out, and will now proceed to play through the rest of the series. An interesting, eccentric story with unusual characters. Shields the mind from the onslaught of Hollywood stagnation.

As far as writing goes, I’m still far too slow. Too much going on in real life makes it difficult to get a good writing streak. Nothing to do about that. I write when I can and try to stay somewhat sane and functional.

That’s about it. Stay brutal.
M. T. Miller

Reporting In

Still alive. I’ve been everywhere, done everything.

I hung out, traveled to see one of my favorite bands ever, Rhapsody, on their farewell tour. This was likely my last shot at seeing them, and I don’t regret blowing a piece of my budget on the event. Easily the best concert of my life.

A band I’ve never seen or heard before opened for them. It is called Beast in Black, and it is actually really, really good. I need to hear more of them.

Other than that, I’ve played and beaten Pyre. Supergiant Games keeps shooting up. Great narrative, great characters, great music. Easily recommended to everyone.

I’ve barely written anything in the last week. I must fix this. Life and experiences are nothing when compared to the big picture. Fame or death. All in. Balls deep. No mercy. Etc. Etc.

Stay brutal.
M. T. Miller

Warframe Burnout

No, not that kind of burnout. Creator’s block is for the weak. I’m talking about being burned out on a game.

Warframe is a whirlwind romance in game form. You discover it, fall in love, waste a chunk of your life, then just stare at it wondering “what the shit was I thinking?”

Oh, the game still plays, looks, and sounds incredible. The movement is like poetry. The weapons roar satisfyingly as you blow chunks off things. You are a space ninja. And it’s free!

So what’s the problem?

The problem is that after getting to a certain point, there’s nothing more to do. So you’ve discovered what you really are, played around with that, then entered the endgame. That’s it. Go and do the daily Sorties, which are nothing but more difficult versions of the stuff you’ve already done. Boring and tedious, especially after all it took to get there.

So it’s basically the same as real life. Hehahahahahahahhah.

I’m not someone with a lot of patience. Isn’t a game supposed to be fun? Doing the same thing over and over again is only fun to people with a certain disorder I won’t name because that would be offensive. And I’m all about being family friendly and wholesome.

Anyway, I predict I will gradually be winding down my consumption of Warframe, which is a shame because it’s such an incredible, unique product. But I want to enjoy stuff, not spend my leisure time swearing at the screen and doing the exact same thing over and over again.

If I want to get angry, I can work.

Stay brutal.
M. T. Miller

Warframe

For the last week or so, I was basically a warframe.

I can’t remember the last time something had me this hooked. Perhaps League of Legends back in ’11.?

Anyway, being a space ninja is incredible fun, and the speed and mobility are really working my (presumed) ADD.

GOTTA GO FAST.

Where It All Started

I keep saying I’m a fan of over-the-top 90s stuff. That is mostly true, but in analyzing the things that make me tick I have realized something I wasn’t aware of before. Namely, that the piece of media that had the biggest effect on me came a bit later.

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Max Payne. Back when it came out, this game had it all. The graphics. The gameplay. The incredible music. But what made it stand out most were its hopeless, gritty atmosphere, and highly verbose and cynical main character.

It was basically Film Noir: The Game. You had your hard-boiled main character with nothing to lose. Your set-up. Your revenge plot. But then a hallucinogenic drug got introduced, and things got seriously messed up. Basically, between the parts where he shot people and dodged bullets (Matrix style), Max had these moments of insanity where he would hallucinate the worst parts of his past (His wife and baby getting killed, mostly). And you got to play through them. Lovely.

Contrary to the idea of keeping the protagonist vague so the player would fill out holes themselves, Max Payne did the exact opposite: it reveled in how much character it had. Basically, each scene was an exercise in style. Max and the gangsters fought for their lives as well as verbal dominance. The one-liners flew with machine gun speed, and they mostly hit the mark. It was magnificent.

This seems like an exaggeration, and it probably is. In fact, a lot of characters appear, spout their lines, then get gunned down by Max. One can’t really call them three dimensional. Thing is, this is okay. They did what they came there to do, and they did it in style. Their screen time was used to the greatest effect it could possibly be used for, without derailing the plot or more important themes. We are then free to proceed further into the night, as Max would say.

In today’s world, the word “edgy” is mostly used as an insult or joke. I used it myself in such context in a recent post. People generally don’t like their media to be grim or grotesque, even when it is lined with humor. So it took me by surprise that this parade of unpleasantness was a huge hit. People seemed to love it just as much as I did. I hoped it would open the door for similar products, but they never came. Or at least arrived too late.

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Max Payne got two sequels. The first one (pictured above for its awesome cover art) was pretty much more of the same, with an added focus on Mona, the resident femme fatale. The third one was made by Rockstar, the guys behind GTA, and (to most everyone’s annoyance) turned Max into Walter White. Overall both games were very good, but none reached the brilliance of the original.

So why do I like this stuff so much? I can’t say for certain, but I think it might be association. Basically, I had so much fun playing and getting immersed into the first game that I want to re-live it. Not just replay it, but experience the same intensity again. And to me, this intensity goes hand in hand with grimness and witty banter. I wasn’t aware of it for a long time, but this is the effect I was going for with my writing.

I think I actually know myself a tiny bit better now. Funny.

The Genius Of Nier

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

Too long. Luckily, Nier Automata isn’t out yet, so I can talk about this hot keyword and get some free traffic going my way.

Let’s get something out of the way first: I LOVE the original Nier. Videogame storytelling simply cannot get better. There are games with better stories, but I have never seen a game tell a good story this effectively.

I originally went into Nier for the hell of it. Having picked up a PS3 relatively late in its life, I hunted for the action RPGs that my PC platform lacked. The game looked and sounded unusual, so I thought “why not?” Initially disappointed, I pressed through regardless, encouraged by claims that it gets better. Oh, it does, and how.

It was about halfway through that I realized that Nier was part of my favorite piece of insanity: the Drakengard franchise. I honestly couldn’t tell. The characters were eccentric, the music was brilliant, and the budget was wonky, but other than that, it seemed as if they were not cut from the same cloth at all.

To illustrate, Drakengard games are like a crazy ex: full of great traits you can’t find anywhere else, but just don’t work in the end. Sure, you might remember the good times, but going for a replay inevitably leads to ruin. There is a kind of warped beauty about them, but no one in their right mind would ever call them good.

Nier, on the other hand, is that girl who looks great from afar, but reveals more and more imperfections when you get close. Most people would run away screaming at that point, but those with the tenacity to spend some time with her would learn that she could make them happy in a way no one else could.

Indeed, roughness almost killed this game dead. Now considered a cult classic, it struggled with sales back in the day. Lazy, partial reviews by major gaming press didn’t help as well, but talking about that alone would take too long.

But how does it tie into Drakengard, you ask? Oooof… this will take a while. After the final, joke ending of the original Drakengard, the final boss of that game enters our world and decomposes. Sadly, it also releases a disease that either kills people or turns them into mind-controlled monsters (their choice). The body of Caim’s dragon is recovered by the Japanese government and experimented on, becoming a source of magic. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

A man (or very young man in the Japanese version) defends a little girl from what appear to be ghosts. He uses the power of a strange talking book to beat them away, but his daughter/sister (again, depending on version) seems to succumb to the disease.

Papa Nier, Badass, Altruism, Big Sword, Huge Weapon, White Hair, Dead, Delete Save

Papa Nier

The game then jumps one thousand three hundred and twelve years later, to apparently reveal the same pair of people, now living in what seems to be a post-apocalyptic (but still lush and green) land. The man (named Nier by default) is kind of a protector of their town, and defends it from the ghosts in the intro (called Shades by the villagers). Shades speak an incomprehensible language and are entirely malicious.

Yonah, Nier's daughter, sister, baggage, little girl

Yes, she’s wearing a drape.

The girl (named Yonah) doesn’t seem to have gotten over her sickness over the course of a millennium, so she can barely do anything at all. This is the part where the previously-mentioned imperfections play a large part. About half of the game is essentially a series of fetch quests and world-building. This pays off later, but is mostly agonizing early on.

Grimoire Weiss, Talking Book, Magic, Liam O'Brien, Snark

The expression says it all.

Through circumstances too complicated to explain, Nier gains possession, or rather companionship of another talking book. It calls itself Grimoire Weiss, and seems to be lacking a good part of its knowledge. Luckily, this knowledge can be recovered, so Nier uses Weiss to cast an ever-expanding assortment of spells throughout the game. Weiss is also quite a bit of a wise-ass, providing most of the game’s humor. Calling it Liam O’Brien’s greatest role would not be a stretch.

Kaine, Hermaphrodite, Saw swords, Companion, Shade, Possessed

No words for this character design.

As Nier continues his fetch-quests (most of these are aimed at helping people, but a lot produce nothing but tragedy), he comes across a hermit of a girl who calls herself Kaine. Kaine is a foul-mouthed, lovable minx who is on the hunt for a gargantuan shade that killed her grandma. Also, she may or may not have a penis. Overall, a charming person. She and Nier team up (her exchanges with Weiss are nothing but brilliant) and she eventually gets her revenge, but it soon becomes apparent that she is also partially possessed by a Shade. In time, she would become one herself.
Overall, Kaine was a lot of fun, and I loved the time she spent on the screen. Another performance of a career, this one from Laura Bailey.

Nier Emil, Skeleton, Moon face, Magic weapon, Sacrifice, Tragic

Cute little bugger. Right?

Saying who the fourth party member is would a major spoiler, so let’s just put his picture up here for the sake of completeness. Plenty of places on the internet with info on that guy. I’ll just say that his highlight scenes are among the most intense in the game.

In fact, saying pretty much anything beyond what I just did would completely ruin the experience for whoever was lucky to have yet to play it. Nier is tragic, immersive, and witty in a way very few games from Japan are. Not saying that Japan’s lacking in wits, it’s just that something tends to get lost in the translation. In this case, that didn’t happen. Everything about the localization is just about perfect.

Let’s leave it at that.

I know. I’ve already spoiled Drakengard 1& 2, so why not Nier? I’m not so sure I know the answer, but I’ll try to give one regardless. It was Nier that showed me that the people who made this just might in fact know what they are doing. It becomes hard to mock the craft of someone capable of taking you for a ride, turning the whole thing up on its head, and ending it all by wounding you horribly. Yet you somehow don’t hate them for it. In fact, you want more.

Thank you, Yoko Taro. Thank you for this work of genius. And fuck you. You know why.
M. T. Miller