Blaugust Day 14: Hitman Agent 47 – Movie, Game and the Problem with Sequels

I’m really not current with these kinds of things, so it’s purely bizarre random chance that I followed a sequence of web links that led me to the realization that:

a) They’re making Hitman the video game series into a movie.

(Again. It’s a reboot, I must have missed the first, which appeared to have been roundly panned by most critics, save Roger Ebert, who might have decided to add a little more subtlety to his review after running afoul of the 4375+ comment responses to his statement that “video games aren’t art” the year before, but received a “ehhh, not too bad” from popular audiences.)

b) It’s coming out next week.

c) Hitman: Agent 47 was filmed on location in Berlin and in Singapore.

Whoooaaa. Come again? Singapore? Really? As in modern-day city-state Singapore, rather than fictitious not-at-all-anywhere-resembling-historical-fact-but-fantasy-cool Pirates of the Carribean Singapore?

Well, ok, they’re throwing in a hefty portion of superhero-like genetic super-soldiers and Hollywood-style explosions, so it’s not going to 100% reflect reality either, but still… “COOL.”

(P.S. Any Singaporean will tell you that there are not that many taxi cabs on our streets. Ever. Especially when you need to hail one down. They’re practically an endangered species.)

I think this is going to be essentially the first time that modern-day Singapore is going to be projected up on the big screen for a global (and specifically Western) audience in Hollywood fashion, not withstanding various TV documentaries (mostly about food, I’m sure), an odd Bollywood superhero movie or two, or a whole bunch of local/regional films.

Especially with the very recent additions to the Marina Bay skyline.

And I’m kind of strangely excited about the whole state of affairs.

Lazy pragmatic cynic I might be, but there’s still enough nationalistic pride left over from all that propaganda from our country’s 50th birthday and suspiciously-impending general elections to be thrilled that the world is going to see this crazy place we call home as a backdrop to a HOLLYWOOD action thriller movie, no doubt seeming as exotic as Hong Kong tends to be associated with, in that sort of action/spy movie genre.

Plus, I’m anticipating that the reaction in our local cinemas is going to be an absolutely hilarious mix of “oohs and ahhs” at the more explosively neat special effects and stunts, plus “ROFLs and LOLs” when we see some of our mundane landmarks dressed up in completely-nothing-resembling-reality fashion… like a plane hangar with black-clad rifle-bearing soldiers… that actually resides in one of our technical educational institutes for aerospace classes.

(It’s really going to crack me up if they use it as the set for the super-sekrit evil genetic lab base where superpowered Agents are made…)

Well, the trailers don’t look too bad… when judged from a brainless action movie flick perspective, mind you, I wouldn’t watch this for plot or storytelling. If it sort of manages to make coherent (if cliched) sense, it’ll already be great.

I think I’m just going to be thrilled to see home gussied up, Hollywood style.

Oh, and that they’re also cashing in on video game tie-ins these days, besides superhero and fantasy book-tie ins? Double bonus. So much mainstreaming (which leads to cultural acceptance) of my favorite hobby interests. Everybody wins.

… except I just downloaded Hitman: Codename 47 (the first game) off Steam – somehow I’ve collected the whole series in a sale and never quite got around to them – and am getting my butt kicked. Repeatedly.

I vaguely recall trying a Hitman game once upon a time, though I can’t remember which, and encountering a similar state of affairs.

Fans make a big deal out of the series giving you the freedom to complete levels via multiple solutions – some sneaky, some of the “gun them all down” variety – it’s done more often now, but back then, I think Deus Ex and Hitman were pretty much it.

What I keep personally encountering is a game series that is perfectly okay with you coming into the level completely blind, scouting it out a few times via unsuccessful attempts to get a ‘feel’ for the scripting of the NPCs and where the possible solutions are located, attempting the perfect execution of the puzzle solution several times more via death-and-repeat trial-and-error gameplay.

I think there’s a group of game players that really enjoy this sort of frustration in their gameplay. They clamor for ‘hard mode’ content like Dark Souls or Super Meat Boy where they have to bang their heads against a particular section repeatedly, dying and restarting, dying and restarting, until they either pass, or better, ace it with flying colors.

I’m a little less sure about how I feel about that kind of gameplay. It does usually tilt more to the frustration=no fun side for me, rather than the other way around.

Of course, it may just be non-polished issues with the first game. The default controls are anything but. They started out in a numpad layout. There was a “WASD” option, so I hit that, and the usual S key for backward?  It was walk forward… because W was taken up with run forward. And they shifted walk backward to X. ‘R’ didn’t even stand for Reload, a convention that I thought has been in place for years of first and third party shooters that offer guns. I had to rebind practically everything before starting to play.

There were no save mid-game functions… so every time you screwed up – and you can’t help but screw up when you’re coming into it blind and don’t even know what to expect – you began all over again, mission briefing clicking and unavoidable cutscenes included.

*twitch*

Then there’s the funny thing about me and game series, which I daresay is also a problem for other people too.

I feel distinctly odd if I attempt a game sequel (or game 4 or game 5), without having played through the early games in order.

It’s like… aren’t I going to miss a significant part of the story this way, or some of that ‘historical’ experience other gamers would have had, by playing this game series in sequence?

And yet… something about game 1 or game 2 ends up being off-putting, because they’re more primitive and more raw, without the benefit of experience and iteration smoothing out those rough corners, and I find I can’t actually complete or continue the game… yet am reluctant to move on to later sequels.

I have similar problems with Assassin’s Creed, Torchlight II, Orcs Must Die 2 and so on…

(Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2 would have been a similar case, except that I did get through 75% of the first game – and finally gave up with the endless side map explorations and charged through to the story’s end via walkthrough – and decided that qualified me to graduate on to 2 when it came out, which was excellent because 2 was a much better game than 1 in so many ways.

And I can see someone getting stuck on the Batman: Arkham games in a similar fashion too, though I thankfully liked that series so much I played through really fast.. just some completionist stuff on Origins left, and waiting for Arkham Knight to not suck.)

Dunno.

Maybe I just need to get over it, especially since I have plenty of hard disk space now, and install the later games and just start and -try- them.

Maybe one will click, and I can use that as a jumping off ground to play the later sequels, and treat the earlier games then as “prequels” that may or may not be played later.

This post was brought to you by the letters B for Belghast and Blaugust, and the numbers 14 and 47.

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Blaugust Day 13: Packrat Problems (GW2)

I always had the impression that I was a hopeless pack rat when it came to all things MMO – or really, anything that has an inventory and allows you to collect stuff (including Diablo-style ARPGs and real life.)

Today, I was logging into my GW2 characters at random, wincing at the messes I was looking at – bags half to three quarters full on actively played characters, filled to the brim on storage alts, an account bank stuffed with account-bound souvenirs of nothing but sentimental value mixed with items that might conceivably be worth something later (maybe), two guild banks full of non-account-bound tradeable commodities that were being kept for the dual reasons of “it might be worth more later” and “what if Anet tweaks something that makes this super-expensive and I want to craft something super-desirable that suddenly requires it?”

As usual, I was telling myself, “you hopeless packrat, you, I don’t even know where to begin…” when it suddenly hit me.

Maybe I’ve got it all wrong.

It’s not really a -hoarding- problem, is it?

Folks define hoarding as the accumulation of stuff (mostly seen as worthless by other people) to the extent that it starts to impede someone’s quality and standard of living, possibly posing a health hazard, yadda yadda.

Even though I have a lot of GW2 stuff – admittedly, some of it sentimental, in the sense that they were one-off souvenirs:

a) many of the other items are not seen as worthless by other people, and has the potential to go up in value over time

b) and/or I will -really- regret it if I throw them away or sell them now, given Anet’s proven track record of suddenly making valueless items valuable (and vice versa)

c) it’s not that I have run out of virtual space to keep all the stuff – I have two empty character slots, and two of my lowbies are new, have completely empty bags and aren’t presently being used to store anything

No, I don’t have a -packrat- (as in collecting or hoarding) problem per se.

What I have is a severe lack of any organization system, or a good way to find and retrieve any desired item among the amorphous piles of unsorted stuff.

In GTD terms, I’ve only collected, but I’ve barely processed any of it, nor thought about any way to systematically organize the things I want to keep, and certainly I don’t regularly -review- my inventory AT ALL.

Sadly, better defining the problem or seeing it from a new perspective doesn’t immediately lead to any magic solutions.

I did drool a little after Googling up a third party add-on for LOTRO that apparently allowed the player to look at the inventories of all their alts in-game, and search them by keyword, listing how many quantities were on which character. Wrong game, alas.

GW2 apparently has an inventory API out, but bleh, frankly, the thought of letting a third party website have an authorization token to look at my account inventory makes me more than a little nervous, so that’s not a great solution either.

It may end up being a case of old-fashioned Excel to keep track of the 17 of 19 character slots… (yeah, I’m not sure how that happened either. What can I say, I’m an altholic, and it’s nearly been three years) though I’ve also been browsing some home inventory programs for general ideas on how I’m going to handle this.

I also bit the bullet and logged in every one of them, to take a screenshot of their inventories and do an initial “obvious junk” cleanup.

Hopefully, it will sort of provide me with a brief overview of the entire scope of the task that lies before me… Maybe.

I suspect part of the problem is that it’s very difficult to sort anything if my account bank is completely stuffed and thus posing a bottleneck to transfer items from one character to another.

So that’s something that needs to be addressed too. *sighs*

I have this feeling that I will need to print out everything onto sheets of paper to draw little arrows and circles to group “like” items togther, before I can even begin to grasp how I can best get this organized…

… that or cut and pasting in a paint program or something.

Somehow.

Here, this sort of contains the problem.
Here, this kind of encapsulates the problem. One thing’s pretty obvious. Too much dragonite. Need to get Princess chomping more of those.

This post was brought to you by the letters B for Belghast and Blaugust, P for Perplexed, S for Stumped, and the number 13.