The Problem with Bond Villains… February 23, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Humor.
Tags: Bond James Bond, James Bond, Movies
A friend of mine was complaining about the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall.
He did not like the movie because the Bond and the MI-6 team did several things that he felt were… well… dumb. Dumb to the point that they ruined the movie for him. And, I had to admit that some of the items he listed had merit.
However, I still had to laugh as he didn’t seem to have any problem with the villain’s plan until I pointed out that the bad guy could have accomplished his goal, wrapped things up nicely, and gone off to live happily ever after in the first 30 minutes of the movie had he not been bat-shit insane.
And that is a major aspect aspect Bond Villains. To get in the cross hairs of 007, you practically have to be certifiable.
I wrote a piece back in December, Travels with Commander Bond, which included some lists of some of my favorite aspects of the film series. However, I felt one list was clearly missing, the list of my favorite Bond villains.
The problem was that, while the other lists sprang to mind pretty much fully formed, when I think of Bond villains, things get a bit confused.
Certainly some quips come to mind. “I don’t expect you to talk Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!” is a favorite.
But then I start thinking about henchmen. Rosa Klebb, Odd Job, Jaws, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd… but they are just the hired help. They aren’t running the show. Then there are the various incarnations of Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Does he count as one Bond villain, or is he a different villain in each movie?
Then there are the plots.
And here is where thinking too hard about Bond movies starts to fail you, because the schemes, when examined, can underwhelm. Wikipedia has a nice list of Bond villains from the movies, what their plan was, and the result. Simplifying the plans down to desired results, out of 23 films, I count the following motives:
Money – 14
Surprisingly, to me at least, this seems to be the most popular motive. I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise. Twice it is in the name of drug cartels. But a lot of the time… especially in the SPECTRE years… it seems to be an already fabulously wealthy organization spending a lot of time and money on a result that, even if successful, would have paid off less than just investing in US Government securities. Max Zorin, for example, wants to destroy Silicon Valley in order to increase his company’s market share. That is his business plan! I suppose you have to go to some lengths to look evil relative to Bill Gates… though this pre-dated most Microsoft shenanigans… but still, couldn’t he have just lured away a few key execs? He already had immense wealth.
Start a War – 3
Actually, starting a war comes up four times, but I am not counting Elliot Carver because he was trying to start a war merely to expand his media empire… so, really… money. And I am not sure I should count SPECTRE’s attempt in You Only Live Twice, since they are doing it for a third party. But since they spent enough money to create a secret space program more advanced than either the US or USSR (whom they want fighting) and hid it in a dormant volcano, I have to imagine that the return on investment will be pretty poor. And, of course, in none of these movies does the whole war scenario really seem like a good idea.
Revenge – 2
This is at least a raw, emotional motivator. It just doesn’t come up very often. SPECTRE wants revenge for the death of Dr. Julius No (After all, the R in SPECTRE stands for Revenge! It is part of their mission statement in a way that smart financial planning is not.) and Raoul Silva wants revenge because he simply isn’t as tough as James Bond. Alex Trevelyan claims he wants revenge, but his revenge involves stealing a lot of money and covering his tracks, so I put him in the money column.
Utopia – 2
Kill all of humanity except for a chosen few, who will repopulate the world. In one the chosen were going to hide under the sea, and in one they were going to hide in space. This plot came up twice in the 1970s, back when we thought we were destroying the Earth (global cooling) and running out of resources. I am glad we’re past that now.
Just Doing My Job – 1
In For Your Eyes Only, Aristotle Kristatos steals the ATAC device for the Soviet Union… because that is who he works for. And when the plan fails, his boss doesn’t even seem that upset. Maybe the most realistic plot ending ever in the world of James Bond.
Random Asshattery – 1
I am not sure it is ever fully explained WHY Dr. Julius No was messing with the US space program in Dr. No. I guess SPECTRE was funding it, though it could have just been a hobby. Or it might have been version 1.0 of SPECTRE space program. It could have been meant to start a war eventually, or used for extortion. But in the movie Dr. No just seems to enjoy pissing off NASA.
So the prime motivator for a Bond villain appears to be money, followed by, but not exclusive from, insanity. After all, in Live and Let Die, Dr. Kanaga’s drug cartel plans were built around readings from a tarot deck. Then there is how all these guys plan to kill Bond after they inevitably capture him during the course of the film. Like that SNL skit said, when you capture Bond, don’t screw around, just shoot him and be done with it.
And don’t even get me started on the poor rank and file of these villains. How do they recruit them? And what entices people to work for these guys? I have to think the death benefits for your family must be excellent, since these villains kill their own rank and file on a regular basis. Their HR staff must be going crazy.
So, in the end, it is very hard for me to pick a favorite James Bond villain because they are all so bad at what they do.
It is almost like they are put up there simply to make James Bond look good…
Well, without them, we wouldn’t have had the Austin Powers series.
Roll on Dr. Evil. Your plots are not half as mad as they could be.
EverQuest: More Popular at Launch than WoW is Today… February 15, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, Humor, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Air Warrior, Camelot Unchained, Friday Blog Wars, sarcasm, Trolling Tobold
But only if you use the Bizarro metrics.
For example, on Planet Tobold, it ISN’T how many who play your game that matters, but how many people DIDN’T play you game.
Taken to logical extremes, there are more than 7 billion people today who do NOT play World of Warcraft today.
However, back in 1999, when the first player logged into EverQuest, there were only 6 billion people not playing it!
A clear victory for SOE, putting it a whole billion “non-players” ahead of Blizzard!
But wait. Back in 1987 when Air Warrior was finally rolling, it only had 5 billion people not playing it!
Who is the most successful online game now, bitches?
Meanwhile, SpaceWar, running way back in 1961 had a mere 3 billion people not playing it!
A clear victory in the unpopularity race!
And yes, I am stretching Tobold-logic to humorous extremes on purpose. But even trying to work the negative player numbers in a serious manner… potential player populations, target populations, subscription rates, and what not… seems like building a castle in a swamp.
Of course, so does trying to measure how many people remember a game. I suspect there are games out there that more people remember than actually played them. But how do you even begin to measure that and, more importantly, how does that equated to success?
Being remembered certainly doesn’t pay the bills.
Nor does historical significance which, by definition, is an assessment of something that happened far enough in the past that it has ceased to be contemporary and actual becomes history. Real history, in the serious academic studies sense, only starts when those who were there to witness it… and thus have invested opinions about it… pass on and things that had to be held secret to protect governments and individuals alike are released to the public.
Which is to say that neither I nor Tobold can really make anything besides guesses now about how the future may view this era when it comes to MMOs and the like.
But when you’ve soured on a genre to the point that your agenda seems to be deny that any MMO with numbers south of 250K can possibly be a success merely because WoW exists and heap scorn on anybody who wants something different, I guess you have to take whatever crazy ammunition you can find.
I am certainly not saying WoW isn’t a success. It is certainly what keeps Activision-Blizzard funded for the three quarters each year when they don’t ship a new Call of Duty game. But success is not an absolute bar, now set so high by WoW that nobody can ever succeed again. Mark Jacobs’ Camelot Unchained plans are not an automatic failure merely because he is targeting a small audience. It is an experiment. It has risks. It has to live in the current MMO ecosystem.
But that alone doesn’t mean it won’t work.
Of course, even Mr. Jacobs isn’t above pulling out a silly metric himself now and again.
Quote of the Day – Forge This! January 4, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Humor, Lord of the Rings Online.
Tags: Quote of the Day, sarcasm, The Depredations of Free to Play
SynCaine is wrong again!
But here we have proof that it is not so!
They won’t sell you such a ring, just the ingredients!
You have to assemble it yourself.
Totally different from selling it to you outright.
So I think we have settled that!
Oh… the quote… um…
Forge Your Own Ring! Get Your Ingredient Packs Today! January 4-10
There… title requirements satisfied.
SOE Web Inertia Face Off! December 7, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Humor.
November was a big month for SOE. Not only did they launch an new game, PlanetSide 2, but they also launched expansions for their two Norrathian MMORPGs. EverQuest got Rain of Fear and EverQuest II got Chains of Eternity.
But no event is so big that some obvious, customer facing detail cannot be left out. So here we are, a week into December, and both the EverQuest and the EverQuest II web sites are still advertising their previous expansion right there in the side bar of the front page.
So the question is, which site will get updated first?
Now, with all things being equal, I would bet on the EverQuest site being updated first, as you can no longer even buy the Veil of Alaris expansion if you click on the Buy Now link. Meanwhile, Age of Discovery looks to still be listed on the EverQuest II expansion content page.
So which site do you think will get updated to the latest expansion first?
Will anybody care enough to check up on the answer?
SOE – The Movie? November 22, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Humor, polls, Sony Online Entertainment.
A Potshot inspired poll, bringing a little bittersweet silliness to the day.
What movie best represents the story of Sony Online Entertainment, from the launch of EverQuest through to… when ever you like?
Feel free to suggest roles/casting in the comments if you really think you are on to something.
I will put in any “other” choices in the comments.
Disney Buys Lucasfilm, Plans New Torments for Star Wars Fans October 30, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Humor.
Tags: Disney, George Lucas, Star Wars
When I saw this headline pop up over at Game Informer News, I had to check the calendar.
No, it is not April 1st.
Maybe this is some sort of “Devil’s Night” prank?
What can this portend? I can hear a million sighs of relief as George “The Destroyer” Lucas is out of the picture. The quote:
“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” Lucasfilm CEO George Lucas said in a statement. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers.”
But is Disney a step in the right direction? Is Star Wars even a Disney-like property? I thought Disney required kids with single dads and dead mothers, not kids with single moms and no dads. And what will we get with a Star Wars Episode VII release in 2015?
The future looks… weird.
Now what is the best follow-on rumor to start right about now while people are stunned… the return of Star Wars Galaxies maybe?
And in what freaking order am I going to have to watch the movies after Episode VII comes out?
Anyway, how are you taking the news?
Twitter Feature Suggestion October 3, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Humor.
Tags: Chuck Woolery, Twitter
I have been very interested over the last two years at how powerful a communications device Twitter can be. There are a number of serious news stories that I came to learn about first on Twitter. Events like the raid on Osama bin Laden and the death of Steve Jobs first came to me via Twitter.
And smaller events too, which can be anything from game updates to the birth of a child.
I'm a dad again! Our son Benjen was born nice and healthy. Giving much praise to our Lord tonight.—
Syp (@Sypster) October 03, 2012
Congratulations Syp. Nice Game of Thrones reference there.
Twitter has become part of my news cycle.
I follow a range of people who are more prone to passing on links and information rather than pontificating. I find Twitter much better suited to that and tend to shun people who try to use it as a broadcast IM channel or who try to run question and answer events. (I’m looking at you SOE.)
And one of the most powerful tools in Twitter is the retweet. Via this you can take a tweet you have read and rebroadcast it to the people who follow you. This is what gets messages out, this is the amplifier that can move a news story across the world in a matter of minutes.
Basically, you don’t have to follow everybody, you just have to follow people who watch areas in which you are interested and who know how to retweet the key items. I could follow a dozen or more free speech advocates on Twitter, but I don’t. I only follow Ken over at Popehat because he follows those people and retweets the key items.
It is the modern day phone tree for information if you can find the right people to follow.
The problem is that people will retweet things for different reasons. Sometimes a retweet is a matter of wanting to pass along important information or an interesting article on particular topics, and sometimes a retweet is a matter of public mockery. Or humor. Or irony. Or something else that strays from a direct endorsement of the material being retweeted.
That is what I have to conclude was going on when I saw this retweet this morning.
Talk to someone new to the US.They will tell you how amazing the opportunities are here, meanwhile those blessed to be born here just whine—
Chuck Woolery (@chuckwoolery) October 03, 2012
Chuck Woolery, a game show host probabbly best know for his time on Love Connection and being the guy before Pat Sajak on Wheel of Fortune, says that people born as US citizens are whiners. Thanks Chuck! I see you were born here, and you appear to be whining as well, so we’ll call that another point in your favor.
You can try and read things into that tweet. Is he pro-immigration? Does he simply feel Americans should appreciate their country more? Is he sure the US is so perfect that nobody has a legitimate reason to complain about anything? Or is he just a fussy old man telling the kids to get off his damn lawn in his own special way?
I hold no brief for Chuck Woolery, and cannot interpret his real meaning. So I have to go with the face value proposition that he called a lot of people, including him and I, whiners. Go Chuck.
At best this is somebody attempting to express a complex concept in a medium that really only lends itself to the simple. At worst, it is more of the bumper sticker philosophy that pretends to add to the national discourse while actually being empty of any message more complex than, “America; Love it of Leave it!”
But the real point here is that somebody I follow on Twitter felt the need to pass this along, and I cannot tell why.
A simple retweet just sends the original message along to you. And while there are options to add your own comment, you are still restricted to the 140 character limit of the medium. So you can get the original message, but the intent of the retweet… be it informational or simple mockery… remains opaque.
So my feature suggestion is to add a method to characterize the nature of the retweet. It could be as simple as a little icon in the corner that you can mouse over to get the mood of the retweet. Twitter could probably come up with a dozen or so options to cover most of the uses on Twitter.
I suggest the following as a starter list:
- This is great!
- Breaking news! (real)
- Breaking news! (ironic)
- Aww, something cute!
- I couldn’t have said it better!
- Retweet this please!
- This is a great article on the subject!
- This issue is important to me!
- I expect you to actually do something about this!
- This tweet is what is wrong with America/My Country/The World!
- I am retweeting this ironically
- Here we go again…
- Ha! Look at this idiot!
- Death to America!
- Ron Paul 2012!
That is my proposal, my first pass cut at a list that would cover most situations.
Did I miss anything? What else should be on the list?
And what do you think should have been the flag for that Chuck Woolery retweet?
Question of the Day – What Will Lord British’s Sith Name Be? September 28, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Casual Games, entertainment, Humor.
Tags: Darth Pincus, It's Friday man, Lord British, Quote of the Day, Zynga
So here we are. As I posted yesterday, Lord British acknowledges that Zynga is evil, or at least really annoying. And since they are annoying not only purpose, but to their own material benefit, how does one distinguish that from evil? (See Tobold definition.) And what is the Lord British response?
Knowing the truth, and even acknowledging it publicly and repeatedly, Lord British has still partnered with, and has been accepted as the apprentice of, a card carrying Sith Lord, the man who has admitted in the past that the ends clearly justify the mediocre means (the ends being increasing his wealth and power, as opposed to, say, making good games), Darth Pincus.
(Not to be confused with Greg Pincus, though the methods may sound similar.)
In the words of Lord British, when reflecting on the evil of Zynga:
Yet, it’s still really important to learn those lessons, and there’s no better place to learn them then by having Zynga as a partner.
As a rabid consumer of crap science fiction and fantasy in my youth… and my relative youth… and, well, into middle age frankly… I know that this can only end one way.
So the immediate next question for me is, what name will Darth Pincus bestow upon his new apprentice?
And here is where things get a bit fuzzy, as the whole Sith naming structure is pretty opaque to me. Do they have some deeper meaning? Are they some sort of subtle mockery of their past, pre-Sith life? Are they just supposed to sound badass so as to strike fear into their enemies and make it easier for movie goers to figure out who the bad guy really is when they are off screen?
So I can only guess how Lord British will be restyled once his transformation has begun.
What do you think it will be. Who will rise up to cast down Darth Pincus and redeem our misguided hero? And will George Lucas get involved somehow and screw the whole thing up?
This whole thing needs a web comic or something. And a better version of Darth Vader’s head pasted on Lord British. I was short on time before work this morning.
Remembering Spaceship Warlock September 10, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Ancient Gaming, entertainment, Hardware, Humor.
Tags: CD ROM, ComputerWare, Macintosh, Spaceship Warlock
Back, more than 20 years ago, there was an interlude in the succession of jobs that somehow became my career, where I had to take some time out and work retail. Again.
It was the early 90s and the Cold War was over. My classes in the Soviet studies program were turned into a few semesters of obscure trivia. (Details of the organization of GOSPLAN anybody?) And one of the first results of the so-called “peace dividend” was a recession in Valley. Before there was Fairchild Semiconductor to rebel against or the high tech boom that renamed the Santa Clara Valley from “The Valley of Heart’s Delight” to “Silicon Valley,” it was aerospace defense contractors who provided the economic power to build the houses and strip malls over the orchards of my grandparents. It was the influx of companies like Lockheed that took the cheap farm land of the valley and turned a pack of sleepy little farm towns into a carpet of tract houses. A hundred suburbs in search of a city as they say.
Anyway, I was out of work not because of the recession but because my previous company lost a lawsuit that caused to boss to call us all into the production area to tell us to clear out or desks and go home. We were all laid off.
The recession came into play in finding a new job. With the idea that any job was better than no job, I applied, and got a position, at a local computer retailer called ComputerWare, which specialized in Macintosh computers.
Okay, I swear I will actually get to the game itself, but there is a stage to be set for this. There will be pictures and links to videos, all after the cut and some more background text.