Friday, June 21, 2013

Film Friday: Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)

Sometimes a box office bomb is actually a gem. Indeed, even great films can get lost when the marketing goes wrong or when the general public just doesn’t get it the first time through. More often, however, a bomb is just a bomb. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was a bomb.

“Final Fantasy” is a video game franchise developed by Square Enix. First published in 1987, the franchise now consists of fourteen games, most of which are quite good. Over time, these games have obtained an amazing quality in terms of animation, video and music. In 2001, Square Enix decided to see if they could adapt their franchise to film using computer-generated characters. They spent $137 million and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was the result. They made $85 million.
FFSW takes place in post-apocalypse Earth in 2065. The planet has been ravaged by alien beings called “Phantoms.” These are energy creatures in any number of shapes, and when they come into contact with living beings, they basically rip the soul out of the living being. To protect themselves, humans have huddled into a small number of barrier cities, which are protected by energy barriers the Phantoms cannot penetrate. To stop the Phantoms, researcher Dr. Aki Ross and Dr. Sid (Donald Sutherland) are trying to develop a weapon which uses living energy to negate the Phantoms. The living energy comes from certain plants, animals and people. Needless to say, the military types like General Hein (James Woods) don’t cotton to this tree-hugger crap.

As the story opens, Aki needs to be rescued by a team of soldiers who include Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, and Peri Gilpin. She had been running around collecting spirits for her weapon when the Phantoms appeared - they are drawn to life. As they return to the safety of the city, we learn that Aki is infected by a Phantom and is slowly dying, though Sid has managed to contain the Phantom somehow. Because of this, Aki experiences a recurring dream which will explain who the Phantoms really are. Meanwhile, General Cliché is upset that the council won’t let him fire his new weapon, the Zeus Cannon, because they are worried about damaging the Earth’s (Gia) spirit. Like all military men would do, he sabotages the city shield, allowing the city to be destroyed, so he can fire his gun. Oh no!
How To Do It Wrong
This thing is a turd. They went so wrong in so many ways. Indeed, right out of the gates, the first problem was that they dumped their franchise except in name. The “Final Fantasy” franchise is a fantasy. It takes place in strange worlds where all kinds of amazing things are possible. There are beautiful vistas and fantasy worlds you wish were real (see image below). Setting this film on Earth was downright stupid, especially a grim apocalyptic Earth which lacked all the grandeur and majesty of the series, because it wiped out the essence of the game. Just as stupidly, they lost the sense of the characters. The characters in the game are anime characters who have just enough reality to them to be recognizable, but enough unreality to let you accept the things they can do, like flying and summon magic. The film dropped this and tried to use realistic, dull humans. The end result was an immediate disassociation of the very thing they claimed to be making, a disassociation which stripped you of the “Fantasy” part of “Final Fantasy” and just left you with another apocalypse film.
Even in the spirit of apocalypse films, this one stinks. For one thing, while the film does provide excellent apocalyptic imagery, like a skeletal worker still sitting at their desk in a skyscraper, the whole story comes across as dull and indifferent. What happened to these people happened so long ago that they seem to have become comfortable in their existence and it wipes out the tension and the horror. Moreover, there is no real risk to them because the Phantoms can’t break through the barriers. Thus, turning the story into a race against the clock is misguided because the humans really have all the time they need. And trying to inject a ticking clock by having Aki and Sid race to build their weapon of love before the evil General can fire his weapon of evil feels manufactured.

Then you add the politics. The “Final Fantasy” series has never really been about politics. They do have a Gia-centric worldview, but they don’t really beat you over the head with it. Here they do, and that is annoying. But that’s just half the problem. See, the writers have such little confidence in whatever their message is that they beat you over the head with it savagely and then let it kick you when you’re down. Even worse though, they aren’t quite sure what their message is. Seriously, this is what Aki spouts: something something, the Earth is alive, don’t hurt the Earth, something something, don’t fire space weapons at the Earth, something something, use love to kill aliens. . . “Eat more Chikin!” Talk about a rebel without a clue.
To make up for not having anything to say, they use the old Hollywood proxy of simply making the General odious and obviously wrong, while making Aki angelic and obviously right. This then becomes a proxy for the confused message and it reeks of propaganda. Basically, the message is, “See how evil the people who disagree with us are? Support our cause-thingy!”

Ultimately, though, the real problem is that this just isn’t a good movie. The effects are ok, but nothing special and they feel really dated (something you never feel with classic animation). This could have been avoided if Square Enix had done something unique and fantastic rather than trying to create realism. Moreover, the plot and the characters are highly predictable and not very interesting – a tired cliché at best. Ironically, Square Enix does better all around with their videogame storylines, so they would have been better off running with one of those. In a way, making FFSW the way they did was like hiring the world’s greatest football coach and asking him to coach your basketball team.

39 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

I'm not sure what I can say, Andrew. It is true many of my favorite films are not box office successes. Kind of like great art vs. commercial sell outs, perhaps. Computer fantasy games is a different generation than mine so this one never even crossed my radar. It sounds like it is just as well, but I guess I can't really thank you for saving me from this bomb, since I was never in any real danger of wasting precious time on it. Still, your scathing review was an entertaining read so that's something isn't it ? :)

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, As long as you enjoyed it, that's all that counts! :)

Also, let me be clear, I'm not saying that box office determines quality, but I am saying that in this case, the low box office was well deserved by the lack of quality and the generally annoying nature of the film.

AndrewPrice said...

BTW, For those of you looking for an apocalypse film, there is this thing making the rounds of some of the film channels called "The Divide." Do NOT watch this. This was one of those films that made me want to take a tire iron to the director and writer. Basically, the message is that Americans are sodomizing monsters in waiting.

K said...

Unfortunately I sat through this fecal pastry of a movie when it came out. You pretty much nailed the problems, to which I would add that the oh so obvious plot payoff made it intensely boring to sit through. The only hook then was the slow reveal of the "earth spirits" crap - which was telegraphed since it's yer basic Japanese animism - so I wasn't on the edge of my seat for that either.

Besides munching greasy popcorn, the only thing left to do then was to marvel at the detail and life like CGA. This is where I learned about the "uncanny valley". The characters would go from virtually indistinguishable from real people to plastic dolls inside the same scene.

Creepy. Which is why Robert Zemeckis is no longer making motion capture animation like Mars Needs Moms.


Basically, the message is that Americans are sodomizing monsters in waiting.

Sounds like homophobic hate speech. We should report them.

shawn said...

I saw the movie when it first came out and was amazed at the cgi and many of the design elements. As K said, usually you will know you are watching animation, but there are a couple of times I was fooled into thinking I was looking at real actors and not just computer generated images. It helps that I'm not a nintendo or playstation guy, so while I heard about the game, I was unfamiliar with the storyline, which the movie does not follow. I'm going to go against the grain here and recommend the movie. It's not a film I break out and watch all that often, but it certainly is worth at least one viewing.

ScottDS said...

If you held a gun to my head, I couldn't have told you anything about this movie!

I saw it in the campus theater at FSU not too long after it was released. Wasn't my plan for the night, but a friend insisted. I guess I thought it was okay, but having never played the games, I couldn't have said what the filmmakers should or should not have done. And I have no need to revisit it.

But from surfing the net all these years, I can safely say the movie has its fans, though it's far from "cult classic" territory.

AndrewPrice said...

K, I've never heard that term before, but I looked it up and that's exactly right! I really had that feeling with Polar Express, which is one of the creepiest movies I've ever seen. I didn't see that problem so much in this film, but the animation certainly swung back and before between very lifelike and very cartoony.

I agree entirely about the predictability of the film. At no point did I not know exactly how this one would turn out or what was coming next. I thought the reveal of what these things were was well done and was a little surprising, but the problem was that it didn't change the story. Basically, it doesn't matter if they are ghosts or enemy aliens or rubber chickens, the problem remains the same, the solution remains the same, the plot remains unchanged. They should have thought of some reason why that would change the storyline.

AndrewPrice said...

K, On "The Divide" I'm a little shocked they let the movie be made because the two gay guys become serious villains. But the whole film is so odious from start to finish that I really recommend people don't fall for the idea of "Oh, another end of world film, those are entertaining."

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, I thought the animation was excellent for the time, but the problem is that in trying to make a the characters look real, they guaranteed that it would look dated the moment someone made a new film with slightly better animation.

On the storyline, the problem isn't really that they didn't follow the story from one of their games, it's that the story just falls flat and I think they would have been better off making one of their games -- which generally have entertaining plots.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I'm sure it has fans, but I also don't see anything approaching cult status. Is it worth seeing again? Well. I'm sure some people will enjoy it. Shawn did. And I typically do recommend seeing most anything. So I certainly can't say no.

I don't enjoy it personally and I state my reasons above, but if this is your thing, then it's worth seeing at least.

ScottDS said...

Worth seeing? Yes. After one time, well, that's my stop. :-)

It's funny... you spend a lifetime watching movies... some sink in while others are forgotten. I envy those people who have total recall of characters and dialogue after watching a movie only once.

I can't do that. All the lines I quote in my replies on this site are the result of seeing certain movies dozens of times. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I can do that actually. It's amazing how much junk I have stored in my head. On the downside, it makes it impossible to be surprised by a film on a second viewing. I know people who actually can watch a film a second time and not remember anything about it as they watch it.

Anonymous said...

Andrew, this is the second time I've seen this movie reviewed, and it just seems to get worse.

(The first one was by 'That SciFi Guy.' LINK)

Since I haven't seen the film, I really can't comment further other than it really sounds like crap. Maybe instead of another review, this thing needs a proper drinking game centered around its use of cliches. Hm...on second thought, maybe not. It might result in needless deaths.

Speaking of video game storytelling, it is interesting how it's improved over the years since the glory days of the NES. I think the fact that a game can go on longer than a movie (kind of like a mini-series) gives the developers a chance to create a larger universe and really develop characters. Though, honestly, I could less about the standard post-apocalyptic/zombie invasion/'Alien'-style crew-on-a-mission tropes. (It seems RPG's have already developed their own worn-out cliches.)

That being said, I was introduced to such games while on the college program at Walt Disney World. Appropriately enough, my roommates played 'Kingdom Hearts'- a game featuring both Disney and Final Fantasy characters together. Pretty appropriate (and enjoyable!) for the setting.
My favorite game from recent years would be the 2009 'Ghostbusters' video game. (Dan Aykroyd has stated that, for all intents and purposes, it is the third movie.)

-Rustbelt

Anonymous said...

Typo...

that was supposed to say, "...I could care less about the standard..."

-Rustbelt

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, Kingdom Hearts is a great game -- so well done on so many levels.

I think it's amazing how sophisticated the stories inside games are becoming, with the mix of in-game films, action scenes and character twists and turns.

I just wanted the review, very nicely done! I agree 100%. He really puts his fingers on just how much nonsense there is in the plot.

Anthony said...

Great review. As a huge gamer who was a big fan of Square I think the saddest thing about this film is that it wrecked Square's finances and that it played a large roe in Sakaguchi's (the father of the games and the movie) departure from the company.

I agree storytelling in games is very advanced (just finished The Last of Us, a great horror game whose plot and acting shames 95 percent of movies).

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Anthony! That is the sad result of the film. But it's hard to lose that kind of money without those kinds of results.

I haven't played anything in the last couple years because I've been too busy, but what I've seen absolutely blows away most of what you see on film these days. A lot of these companies have really done an amazing job mixing game play with film quality story-telling.

As an aside, the one thing I don't care for is the shift to online play. I've found that to be too difficult, especially when the game plays in real time. It's annoying to wake up and discover that you got attacked at night.

Anonymous said...

Long time lurker, first time commenter here... Despite the fact that I'm a huge FF fan (I got hooked with VII) this movie never did seem all that appealing to me and I never saw it. Reviews like this weren't uncommon even back when it was released, so I stayed away and decided to just stick to the games.

That's a classic image you used to contrast SW and the games, BTW, Andrew. It really does give you a good sense of Tidus' character and how fantastic the world of Spira is. It's hard to beat a lot of the areas of that game for splendor, especially the Moonflow, Macalania, and the Zanarkand Ruins.

I've always been interested in the ways games can tell stories, too, even back on the old Genesis days. It was the FF series that really got me thinking about how good games can be as a storytelling medium, especially VI, VII, X, and Tactics. It's always been my dream to do story planning for a game, though I wouldn't know how to get started and it's getting a little late for me to be able to do anything with it anyway.

On the shift to online play, I don't care much for it either. I'm not the most sociable type as it is; I mostly prefer single player games to get away from people. I'll do some things with a very, very small group of friends occasionally. I don't really have the patience for the things you mentioned or just how obnoxious a lot of the other players are.

Anthony - Another friend of mine said the same thing about The Last of Us, which I'm hoping to get at some point. He mentioned the quality of the voice acting, too, especially how good Troy Baker was as Joel. If only my budget wasn't so tight and my gaming backlog wasn't so big...

Anyway, sorry for the rambling here. I've thoroughly enjoyed both this and the political site, Andrew, and I've learned quite a bit from both the main blog and your Agenda 2016 book (and enjoyed Without a Hitch, too). I don't know how often I'll be commenting beyond this, but keep up the good work!

- Daniel

Commander Max said...

The bird at the end was the best scene in the film. That really looked good for the day.

But the rest of it, well. There was neat looking spaceship, but...how many bad films had really good production design? That's Hollywood, spare no expense to make it look really good.
Writers? Nobody reads anymore so why do we care;).

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Daniel! I'm glad you've enjoyed the blogs and the books! And thanks for commenting! :)

I totally agree about online games. The times I've played, I've found some good people, but I've also found a ton of jerks who do their best to ruin the games for everyone. There's just no reason to put up with that. So I prefer the games that let you play single player.

On FF, I got hooked on VI as well and have since gotten into the others. My favorite is the Kingdom Hearts spin off, but I also really love X.

And yeah, that is a classic imagine. But the whole series is full of those -- truly beautiful scenes, the kinds of places you wish were real.

AndrewPrice said...

Max, I'm actually a little surprised the writing was so poor on this one because they generally do so much better with the games. They really do manage to have complex and interest plots with lots of twists and turns. I kind of wonder if they didn't dumb it down a lot to try to reach general (non-gaming) audiences?

Commander Max said...

It is surprising, I'm assuming there is a bit of executive involvement. It happens all the time in film, we have missed some really great stuff because of others input.

I do think Wing Commander was a better film, but it's story did suffer as well. Besides the game having a much better cast than than the film. Remember the days when it was the other way around. Perhaps they were trying to appeal to some teenage non-game playing demographic. I do not understand marketing, "Let's make our movies for the people who have no money".

Anonymous said...

You're welcome! The take you have on films and politics is unlike anything I've seen on most conservative sites and I think you're doing a valuable service to both conservatism and politics here! I wouldn't have even thought about the causes of problems with things like health care if it hadn't been for the site and book.

It was actually VII that got me into FF, not VI, but VI is definitely a masterpiece. You could tell Square got the most out of the old SNES hardware on that one with how vivid the setting was and how memorable the characters were. Celes is easily one of my all-time favorite fictional female characters, if not my overall favorite, and Kefka was an incredible villain as well. It's still amazing how you could be laughing at one of his comments one minute and then see him do something completely horrifying the next. It took a lot of writing skill to pull someone like that off that well.

I was a bit slower to get into Kingdom Hearts than most... I went through a rebel "Disney is for babies" phase when I was a little kid that hadn't quite worn off by the time KH came out, but when I gave it a chance I thoroughly enjoyed the gameplay and the nostalgia from seeing the various Disney and FF characters. KHII got my attention pretty quickly when they revealed that Auron was going to be one of your party members (he, Celes, and Sephiroth are my top 3 FF favorites), but I didn't have the money to get it for a while. It was great when I did, though, and I'm definitely going to be getting KHIII when I can afford a PS4 and it gets released!

Anyway, it was nice to finally find a subject to comment on here. When it comes to the blogs I consider myself more of a student quietly taking notes than contributing to the class, but I'll try to comment more often. If nothing else I'm definitely one to talk to on gaming matters, where hopefully I can finish my stories and maybe get them published. As nice as it is there are definitely some obnoxiously liberal games out there that I'd like to see some alternatives to.

- Daniel

AndrewPrice said...

Max, Could be? Hard to tell.

I have to admit that I enjoy Wing Commander a good deal. It has some serious flaws, but it's a pretty sold film.

AndrewPrice said...

Daniel, I'm glad to hear the blog has given you a different perspective. That's always been my goal: to approach things in a novel way and see what happens. I may not always be right, but I like to think that I'm thoughtful. :)

Feel free to comment any time you wish!

I hope your gaming idea works out. There are definitely some obnoxiously liberal games out there.

I haven't had the chance to play KHII. I kept waiting for it and waiting for it and by the time it finally arrived, I found myself so busy on other things that I haven't had the chance to play it. In terms of my favorite character, Yuna is easily my favorite.

P.S. Sorry about the slow responses, I've got company this weekend and have only been online a couple times.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. Celes is an excellent character as well!

Anonymous said...

It really has. Until I found CR I felt like all I was getting from conservative sites was just angry emoting. I was lurking on Big Hollywood when I saw that you and Larry established Commentarama and I've been reading ever since. It's great to see real, calm intellectual analysis of events from such a thoughtful group of people. I'll definitely comment a bit more, too!

I understand the slowness, too, no worries.

- Daniel

Thanks, I hope it does too. I've always enjoyed coming up with weapons, spells, and such for games and I've been told my writing is good, so I've always hoped to get in on the story planning of an adventure game, preferably an RPG. I have no idea how I'd go about doing that, though, and I'm still not sure how any of these plots and characters will work out yet. I've been consulting some friends who are big gamers for ideas and such, though, and the article here about American Mythology got a few wheels turning in my brain, too. For better or worse the anime influence from FF and similar games is a part of my creativity, so I might just end up Americanizing it through my own work.

Yeah, it's annoying when you do run across a blatantly liberal game. Gaming and reading have always been my primary forms of entertainment anyway but the in-your-face liberalism of a lot of movies, TV shows, stars, and such dampened my enthusiasm for them severely. By and large gaming still seems to be apolitical, but it's definitely grating when you find blatant leftism in it.

Which liberal games did you have in mind, BTW? When I was typing my earlier comment Assassin's Creed was on my mind. I love the gameplay and historical settings of the games, and knowing me I'll probably end up playing IV at some point anyway, but things like the whole "Capitalism is a Templar conspiracy" thing from one of Brotherhood's side missions and Shaun's smug, snarky liberalism always make me grit my teeth. The same went for the Che veneration in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, though the MGS games are so high-quality it usually doesn't detract from my enjoyment of them as much as it could.

KHII was definitely a blast, and Yuna is a good character, too. I like her sweet-natured character and quiet determination. Being able to unload 99,999 HP worth of whoop-ass with Anima and the Magus Sisters helped, too!

Celes is great, all right. She came off as strong, elegant, and determined without being too abrasive and the way she eventually opened up to Locke and the others, and her eventual relationship with said thief - uh, treasure hunter, made for a good story. She was always in my party whenever she was available because she was so good in battle, too, and she's always at the head of my party whenever I fight Kefka in FFVI replays.

Anthony said...

Daniel,

Have you tried the Persona rpgs? The protagonist (male or female in P3, male in P4) is a student new to the school who with the help of their friends has to solve a dark mystery. What's really unique about them is that your character has to balance dungeon exploring with normal life.

Your character has friends and family who want to spend time with him, might play on a sports team, might hold a job, might have a girlfriend, might be a member of the art club, etc, etc. Also, your character has to study for school.

The power of the monsters (personas) you use to fight is strengthened by your social relationships, so its not irresponsible to choose to hang out with a friend rather than go into a dungeon.

The Persona games are only on the PS2 and PS portables, but they are some of the best jrpgs released this generation. They are massive games with a ton of content (you can play through several times and not see everything).

Moving back to the FF games, my favorite character is probably FF9's Vivi. FF9 had a ton and a half of problems, but Vivi (a construct with a short lifespan who wondered about his purpose and was a more than a little reminiscent of androids in Blade Runner) was a wonderful character who made the game worth experiencing.

Anyway, good luck getting into game design. Nowadays I get the sense that most young people are going the indie route and making their own games rather than joining a big publisher.

Anthony said...

My favorite videogame film is undoubtedly Wreck It Ralph (I love that film as much as my kids do).

My favorite film based on a single videogame is Silent Hill. The ending kind of sucked, but prior to the end it really nailed the atmosphere of the games.

Also, Advent Children is meandering, but it has some really great fight scenes (and ends with a Cloud vs Sephiroth fight, so the FF geek in me has made me watch it many times).

Anonymous said...

Anthony,

I've played all of the Persona games except for Innocent Sin, which is in the aforementioned backlog, and I thoroughly enjoyed them! I liked both the earlier ones and the sim-life aspects of 3 and 4 (with Yukari and Yukiko being my girls of choice for the protagonist). I even played Persona 4 Arena on PS3, which is pretty entertaining in the way it brings in RPG elements like status effects into a fighting game. I never got Persona 3 Portable, but when the Vita has more games to make a purchase worthwhile P4 Golden is on the list.

I enjoyed FFIX well enough, though it doesn't jump out as a favorite of mine the way VI, VII, X, and Tactics do, and it's hard not to like little Vivi all right. He was a very endearing and sympathetic character.

Some of my friends suggested going the indie route as well, which I'll have to look into. The big publishers no doubt have the resources for good games, but the odds of getting in there, along with the BS that goes with working with big corporations, does make me cautious. Of course I've still got a degree to finish that's dragging on and a (literally) crappy retail job to escape first, so who knows when I'll be able to put some real work into it.

- Daniel

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Excellent review, Andrew!
Yeah, this film was a bummer. Compared to the games it didn't hold a candle.
Sometimes i wonder why they don't make films based on prior games that have great stories.

I mean, since it's rare to find good writers these days...or maybe hollywood producers just don't know how to discriminate between awful storytelling and good or great storytelling.

I'm a;so a fan of the FF series, my favs being 5-10, but the rest are still good.
Been playing Skyrim lately and that's a very addictive game, lol.
Before that I was replaying a PS2 gem, Dark Cloud 2 (also called Dark Chronicles). What a blast of fun!
A very quirky, very different kind of rpg but well worth playing, with likable characters and a good story.

AndrewPrice said...

Daniel, I know what you mean. So much of what I see at conservative sites right is just angry emoting without any thought. I find that really depressing. I'm really thrilled with the audience we have here because everyone is so thoughtful. That makes for much better discussions and I find it really stimulating.

That sounds like a great idea to Americanize something like FF. I wish you luck! :)

On liberal games, Assassin's Creed was actually what came to mind right away.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I've heard really good things about Wreck it Ralph. I think my favorite videogame adaptation is actually Resident Evil.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, Thanks! I haven't played Dark Cloud, but I haven't had much time lately.

I'm not sure why they didn't have a better story behind this movie, unless they made a conscious decision to try to make it more appealing to general audiences.

Anonymous said...

Andrew,

The state of modern conservative sites is depressing all right. I wandered through a good bit of them before landing here and it's been a serious breath of fresh air. Hopefully sites like this and your Agenda 2016 book can bring some sanity back to the field.

Interesting that we both had the same series in mind there. As I said above I like the gameplay and historical settings in AC a lot, but the blatant liberal messaging spread throughout the games gets very old very fast. I'll probably end up playing the upcoming sequel, Black Flag, anyway but it's nice to know I'm not the only one who finds that annoying. The anti-religious themes in the games get irritating, too, and I've had a conversation with an offline friend about how we both dislike those aspects of the games as well.

Thanks for the well-wishes on my game ideas! I saw the potential for storytelling in games through RPGs like the Shining Force and Phantasy Star games (I had a Genesis as a kid and didn't get to play the big SNES classics, FFVI and Chrono Trigger, until later). FFVII and Metal Gear Solid cemented the idea in my head, so I've been thinking up plots, potential game mechanics, and such since high school. How exactly I'm going to pull it off given my current situation, to say nothing of how good my plot and character ideas actually are, remains to be seen.

On that note it's nice to see that the site has a good creative community as well. It's exceedingly rare to find people interested in writing and such that aren't ardent liberals, which always made me a bit nervous working around them. I always avoid the subject with them and they've never looked down on me personally for disagreeing with them, but it does make me feel like I'm walking on eggshells sometimes. I'll let you know how some of these ideas are coming along if you're interested; this seems like a place where I could get some quality feedback.

Ben - A lot of my friends have played Dark Cloud and have spoken highly of it. I never played it myself, though in this case it was more because I already had a lot of games around to play rather than actively avoiding it. I might have to get a copy of it one day when my current backlog is finally manageable.

- Daniel

AndrewPrice said...

Daniel, There are a lot of signs that things are changing, but the people driving the change are taking a beating from everyone else in trying to lead them there. Fortunately, they seem up to the task of taking the beating and pulling through. All in all, I think change is inevitable at this point because what so many of these places are doing is just not tenable -- insane anger burns itself out quickly.

On your ideas... absolutely, I'm interested! And I'm more than happy to provide feedback. I'm sure our little community will as well. We definitely have some very thoughtful people here with a surprising degree of experience in various artistic endeavors.

On your point about conservatism and artists, I've found a lot of conservative artists, but they tend never to let anyone know their ideology because they're convinced it will only hurt them. I know that's true in publishing (books), where I've met bunches by now -- many of whom are published but felt they needed to hide their views. I do think that's changing as self-publishing has wiped out the gate-keeping ability of agents... who are very, very liberal, but it is still a problem for many.

In terms of "getting there" with your ideas, that's hard to say. In my experience, non-traditional routes work best. But I don't know what those are in the gaming industry.

Do you work for a video game company at this point?

Anonymous said...

Andrew,

I've gotten a sense of that from reading the blog, which gives me some hope at least. It was pretty disheartening to go on some sites and find both the conservative commenters and liberal trolls sounding equally insane and seeing the same old spin on both sides get rehashed. It'll be interesting to see what the future holds regardless.

I'm glad to hear that where the concepts go! I'll need a bit of time to get the notes presentable, but I'll definitely send them over the first chance I get. I'd always meant to get involved here earlier because I was so impressed with the range of creative talent here, but I tend to be more of a quiet observer in these settings.

I haven't met as many conservative artists myself, at least not online. I did meet a few at my previous church and some of my old high school friends are conservative artists as well. I feel a lot more at ease going over my ideas with them since I don't feel like I'm going to step on one of my liberal artist friends' toes in the process. I've noticed that about self-publishing as well, which is something I've considered if one of my ideas might not work better edited into a book format.

How to get in, what kind of education and training I'd need, and how to even afford the latter are some of the biggest issues I'm facing here. I don't work for a gaming company, unfortunately, and don't know how I'd get in with one. One of my professors and I were going to look into it the last time I was in college but things didn't quite work out with that school (long story and I'd rather not air a lot of this in a public forum anyway).

Still, a non-traditional route could work... A former co-worker of mine told me that the recent Tomb Raider reboot came from a novel (though I haven't confirmed the veracity of that), which does prevent one option. Also, while I don't know how he pulled it off or if it could even be done today Hideo Kojima didn't have any gaming experience when he joined Konami and now his Metal Gear Solid series is so big Kiefer Sutherland will actually be voicing Big Boss in the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V!

Anyway, at this point I'd rather continue this conversation over e-mail if that's all right with you. It's a GMail address, andrewpricebooks, right?

- Daniel

AndrewPrice said...

Daniel, No problem. My e-mail address is:

andrewpricebooks@hotmail.com

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