Fridgecast Follow-up: Comics You Should Read

At the end of the most recent Fridgecast, I had the opportunity to share two of my favorite graphic novels.  But it seemed like an opportunity to add a little bit more, talk about the comics that I love, and why I love them.  My favorites are the ones that are distanced from the human elements, that address the consequences of superheroes as gods among the human race, what they might do, how they might reject or cling to their humanities.

Mythology is my bag.  When I was eight I had this big yellow book of greek mythology.  It was full of stories of the gods.  I remember my mother reading The Hobbit to me.  It was probably where I started to love of a good story and myth, fantastic locations, and good solid book.

I continue to read when I can, but it’s getting harder and harder lately, so I’ve turned back to another childhood past time to fill some of that void:  comic books.  Well, I don’t collect them anymore; I just buy the trades.  But they’re quick reads and relatively inexpensive and it lets me feel young.  But it all goes back to that love (obsession?) with mythology.  The imagery and art adds to that mythological element as well.  I once read somewhere that comics are such an interesting medium because they straddle the world between literature and film.  In simplistic terms, literature is about observing characters through what they think and say.  Film is about observing characters through their actions; what they do.  Comics provide a bit of both–the words and the actions.  In many ways you can do things in comics that would be too cumbersome to describe in a novel, or too expensive to show in a movie.  There are a still a lot archaic, cheesey things hanging around the medium.  It’s like a vestigial tale.  But overall I think it’s worthwile; there are some extremely talented authors and artists out there using this to tell stories where they could not elsewhere.  And comics are what?  80 years old?  100?  That’s a pretty new method of storytelling.  It is still growing.

The best example of mythological themes and motifs in comics is, in my opinion, Kingdom Come.

[OBJECTION!] ‘Brown v. EMA’ – A Compelling Government Interest

“OBJECTION!” is a column analyzing the legal issues that affect our beloved nerd culture. In this first article, Jay Imhoff analyzes the Supreme Court decision that just ruled California Assembly Bill 1179 unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court has brought down the judicial hammer on the California’s Violent Video Games statute, and your Open the Fridge legal analyst is here to provide you the nitty-gritty. While the result of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association is indeed a big win for video games as an industry and art form, in terms of a legal decision this is not all that surprising.

Readers might not fully grasp the legal significance of the First Amendment. The Court is extremely skeptical of any law that, on its face, restricts speech. In legal parlance, these are known as “content-based” restrictions. The Court reviews content-based restrictions with the strictest of scrutiny by the courts. That means that, before any logical or legal analysis takes place, the law is presumed unconstitutional. This is not simply an uphill battle; this is climbing the Rocky Mountains with your legs tied together. And you are slathered in honey. There are bears. If you are the government, basically you don’t ever want one of your statutes facing strict scrutiny by the Supreme Court, because it is all but certain to be struck down. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as obscenity, but they are pretty narrow. (For example, obscenity only covers “depictions of sexual conduct.”)

NYCC 2010: Interview with Chris Cao, Game Director of ‘DC Universe Online.’

In the Sony Online Entertainment press room, we at OTF had a chance to sit down and discuss the minutiae of the game’s focus and development with Chris Cao, game director of the upcoming superhero MMO DC Universe Online.

In the second of two interviews conducted at a roundtable, Mr. Cao was kind enough to discuss the MMO’s “inspired by” system, the development challenges in defining  the game world, and what exactly is being done to make the player the star of the game in a world where Superman flies the skies.  We also talk about the dreaded subscription fee ($14.99/mo) and why that subscription fee may be “the cheapest thing you’ve ever spent on video games.”

Read on for the interview and the character creation trailer released at NYCC!

DC Universe Online is slated for release on the PC and the PlayStation 3 early next year.

At the panel, you were going over the create-a-character – that you could align yourself with certain characters or motifs. How many characters are we looking at that you have the opportunity to align yourself with?

Chris Cao: There are sort of two different parts to this. One is choosing your mentor, which is really a choice of what kind of hero or villain you are. We have the game is split into three buckets: tech, meta, and magic. Guys who depend on their own skills are tech-based; guys who have inherent powers, like Superman, are meta-based; and those who use magic are magic – it’s kind of surprising [laughs.]

DC Universe Online’s Character Create Trailer

Those mentors actually [determine] your choice of content through the game and ultimately what kind of battle suit you get. If you want the Batsuit, you need to have Batman as your mentor because he’s not just going to hand it out to anybody, right? If you want the strength of Hera, which is Wonder Woman’s suit, you need to actually be working for her. That’s the first choice in character create.

Read more about game development, the challenges in making an MMO with a license, and betraying your mentor after the jump!

Searching for PAX in All the Wrong Places

[Thor and I were not the only ones who went to PAX East, of course.  According to estimates, over 60,000 PAXers were in attendance.  OTF guest contributor, Jay (3eeve), shares his thoughts on the inaugural East Coast gaming convention, both inside and outside the doors of the Hynes. –Ed.]

The Penny Arcade Expo. PAX. These words are synonymous with the gaming industry. The most important companies in electronic and tabletop gaming are all here, displaying their newest and most polished demos. Gaming rock stars like Chris Avellone happily imparted wisdom from one of many panels. Perhaps even more importantly, indie developers get a shot to strut their stuff. You can see real instruments, modified for use in Rock Band. You can find the most stunning Xbox Live Arcade titles. And more so than any other industry event, this one is for the fans. Basically, if there’s some sort of gaming medium you enjoy, there is a reason for you to attend. If E3 is the Mecca for our people, PAX is surely Medina.

This year marked the very first PAX East. Held in the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik brought their unique, wonderful, and influential event to the other side of the continent. They did not disappoint. The weekend kicked off with a stirring keynote speech by Wil Wheaton, followed by an immediate Q & A session for Gabe and Tycho. Then we were off to the races. Massive rooms of console and PC freeplay for all. Sign-ups for Dungeons & Dragons on two floors. Demos everywhere. Entire hallways devoted to tabletop games both famous and obscure. Any number of panels about all aspects of the industry.

I saw almost none of it.