The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Posts Tagged ‘Monsters’

A List

Posted by Matt on March 1, 2011

Well, now that that’s over with, back to fun.

You know what’s coming out Sunday? I’ll give you a hint (by which I mean I’ll link to the answer).

To celebrate the incoming POKEYMAN games, Ill do something special. As the games introduce 156 new monsters, I decided that I’ll go through them all and pick the 25 (plus a few extras, as you’ll see) that really stand out. Yep, here are the coolest things to come out a game for 10-year-olds that I will also be buying:

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Posted by Matt on February 11, 2011

And now: Godzilla.

We all know there’s going to be another stab at an American-made Godzilla movie, right? Well, now you do. This one has the distinct advantage of not having Roland Emmerich involved. I’m not saying this guarantees it won’t be terrible, but at least it could be a different kind of terrible. The hiring of Garth Edwards, the man behind some weird little horror movie that came out last year called Monsters, as director also guarantees it at least has a decent chance to be interesting in some way.

Chances are this will be another attempt to recapture the feeling of the very first movie. It’ll hard to really get at that atmosphere, considering the historical reasons the 1954 Godzilla was made in the first place (read: not-so subtle metaphors!). But there’s still something there for the creative types to grapple with, some decent science fiction ideas that could still be mined. And if they can do something interesting with it, I say go for it, as much as I like the monster vs. monster movies.

One thing I’ve considered for this theoretical movie is the way in which Godzilla will be rendered. Of course, rubber suits are out, unfortunately. As fake as they were, those movies in some key ways still feel more ‘real’ than a lot of CGI, which feels rather floaty and cartoony (it’s one reason why the original King Kong still looks better than all the subsequent remakes. Stop motion may not look ‘realistic’, but it feels ‘real’ in a way, because it’s actually there, with physical objects being manipulated and interacting with eachother). In a perfect world, we’d get at least one chance to see what top-of-the-line animatronics could bring to Godzilla, but it is not to be.

This is a situation where I think motion capture would help. The problem with a lot of purely CGI creations in otherwise live action movies is that we have a really hard time really suspending our disbelief, because often they look like video games projected onto a green screen (which is what it is most of the time) and the actors being told to react to something that isn’t there. But CGI can and is used to great effect in enhancing what’s already been filmed. If there’s some form of ‘reality’ that the CGI is being layered onto, the effect is usually much better. In order to get that lumbering movement characteristic of Godzilla to be represented on-screen, mocap would be the best option.

I don’t know why I’ve been putting so much thought into this.

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Christmas Post 1/12

Posted by Matt on December 14, 2010

Well, it’s the holiday season again. Which gives me an excuse to try to post some things on a daily basis. 12 days, to be precise. Get it? 12 days of Christmas. Yeaaaaaaah.

The first thing about Christmas one should learn about is Krampus. Krampus is the monster friend/colleague of Santa Claus/Sinterklaas/Saint Nicholas in his homeland of Eastern Europe. Krampus is meant to be the stick in the carrot/stick dynamic, threatening children on the naughty list with blunt objects and rusty chains, or taking them away in a sack. Krampus is an awesome meeting point between pre-and-post Christian folklore in the region, and its a shame that the tradition has not caught on over here. Many Internet nerds, however, adore Krampus, and make sure to reference him every Christmas.

Other Christmas creeps in European folklore:

Belsnickle is, depending on where you are, either another companion of Santa Claus or his equivalent figure. He seems to be the basis for both Santa’s fuzzy costume and his love of stuffing stockings: Belsnickle either gave children socks full of candy, or coal. Sometimes he would also carry things to threaten violence like Krampus.

Black Peter/Zwarte Piet is the one who supposedly went down chimneys to deliver gifts, thus the source of his blackness. In early versions of the story, he was a demon enslaved by Saint Nicholas to show his conquest over evil. Since then, he has essentially become a gollywog, which is why some people may not be too comfortable with him around.

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Posted by Matt on November 10, 2010

“Some say a lack of evidence is an argument against the existence of the creature”

Thanks, Monster Quest.

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Posted by Matt on May 9, 2010

I’ll explain: the reason why I’m playing Pokemon again, aside from nostalgic residue, is because it plays perfectly into my OCD desire to customize characters and make a distinctly ‘me’ team in games. For this same reason, I also like SRPGs like Final Fantasy Tactics and Disgaea, as well as Worms. The fact that’s it’s a simple fun RPG that can be played anywhere is a bonus.

I don’t understand this trend among a lot of online Pokemon fans or former fans who seem to think every monster made after the first games are shit. They’ll say things like “Oh, well the first 150 were more like actual animals. and the later ones are too weird!” (there are several answers to this question: (a)there’s a mix of more ‘down-to-earth’ designs and weirder ones in every game, and (b)who cares? Did you not notice the part where this a game of magic monster fighting for kids?), and it seems to be based more on nostalgia than any actual logic. I mean, what kind of standards do people have for cartoon creatures? For me, it goes like this: if I were ten years old, would I draw this?

Is every Pokemon design awesome? No, but when you’re creating 100+ new designs every few years, each one attempting to fill a specific niche, that happens.

As you can see, I discuss matters of utmost importance on this here site.


Some have been freaking out about Marvel vs Capcom 3 since not long after it was announced. Capcom has made mention that they want the game to appeal to as broad a audience as possible. Since Street Fighter IV, ‘hardcore’ fighting players know what that means: they will not be the primary demographic the game is designed for! They will ‘dumb down’ the game and make it for casuals and scrubs!!!!! More importantly, it won’t be exactly the same as Marvel vs Capcom 2!!!!!!!!!!!

And now they have evidence: the game is going to use the 3-normal-attack layout (like Tatsunoko vs Capcom) instead of the 4-button of MvC2. Here’s the thing, though: that layout worked in TvC. In a more fantastic game like this, you don’t need to follow the Street Fighter standard 6-button layout, because you don’t need to have specific buttons for punches and kicks like those game do. Some people complained before TvC came out that it would be confusing not knowing which button is a punch and which button is a kick, but I think that’s more of a problem with preconceived notions than anything else. In any case, you have to figure out what the button does; even if you know it’s a punch or a kick, you still have to know what that punch or kick does. so what difference does it make if it’s not specifically either?

The other argument against this is that it limits the amount of moves that each character can have. That’s a possibility, but I doubt it’s really a significant hamper. For example, in TvC, Ryu’s moves are easy to figure out even without a Punch/Kick separation; and unless one thinks every character should have a dozen different special moves (which wouldn’t even be in-line with past MvC games), the system works out fine. Yes, the game will technically have fewer attacks than, say, Street Fighter IV, but so what? These games have never really been as ‘in-depth’ as the SF games, or at least not in the same regards. Don’t forget: this game also has lots of its own unique features (everything revolving around the assist system, snapbacks, aerial raves, stuff like that) to help provide a unique strategic experience, and they announced ALL those features being brought back alongside the new button layout. Losing an attack button really doesn’t hurt the possible depth of the game that much, from what I can see.

I had considered the possibility that they would use this control scheme; my only concern was it would use an odd number of buttons with the two assist buttons needed for a 3v3 game (in TvC, it worked out very well with only one assist, leading to 4 buttons). They solved this problem by adding the Exchange attacks, which actually sounds pretty interesting. Aside from providing one-button launchers (which is fine by me, I see no real difference between using a specific button and DF+HP for it) and other easier access combo-oriented attacks, it can also be used to counter other Exchange attack, depending on what they use. So, not only do they solve the even/odd layout issue, as well as make a certain important aspect of the game very slightly more doable, but they even added entirely new ideas in the process! I’ll be curious to see more about this new thing.

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Posted by Matt on April 4, 2010

Not seeing Clash of the Titans in theaters due to disappointing reviews and tacked-on 3D. Oh well, maybe I’ll wait and see Iron Man 2 as the first movie I see this year.

However, Clash’ release this weekend has put me in Greek mythology and monster mood. So I will now talk about one my favourite parts of the whole crazy enterprise that is Hellenistic myth: the monsters, and the crazy little things about them.

The people who say that superhero comics and classic Greek stories are pretty identical are right. But you already knew that, I’m sure. But even when you get right down to minutia like continuity they are the same, with a general timeline existing, some consistent character traits, and a whole lot of stuff that changes from author to author, even when they create inconsistencies. If we’re comparing them to modern superhero comics, there’s also a lot of moping and rape, although in the case of the myths, they didn’t need Watchmen to decide that was the proper thing to do.

Then there are the monsters. We all know the monsters. Monster Manuals and Final Fantasys the world over would have some gaping holes in them without all those Greek monsters. Some of them go on to become cultural icons, who doesn’t know what a gorgon or a cyclops is these days?, and some of them are left in obscurity, like Python and the fox that can’t be caught and was ultimately destroyed when a guy sent a dog that always catches its game, and Zeus just can’t take the paradox.

One detail about many of the most famous Greek monsters that I’ve always liked is the fact that they were related. And that includes some of the big ones, too, like the Hydra, and Cerberus, and the Sphinx. Yes, despite not looking the least bit similar, they all have the same ma & pa. The father, Typhon, was a giant horrible fire-breathing demon who tried to destroy Zeus because he locked away all his giant horrible siblings. Zeus then threw a volcano on him. This is a long line of awesome, as you can see.

For reference, here’s the family roll call:

-Nemean Lion (One of the Hercules’ twelve tasks involved killing this thing, despite it being nearly invulnerable)

-Ladon, the dragon guarding the golden apples. Hercules had to kill this thing too. See the pattern yet?

-Cerberus, the guardian of entrance to the Underworld and one of the few survivors of the the Herculean labours, only being inconvenienced. This is possibly because he was the only real non-jerk among the monsters.

-Orthus, a two-headed dog that was also a victim of Hercules’ anti-monster killing spree. In true Greek fashion, some sources claim he is in fact the real father of some of the other monsters.

-Lernaean Hydra, who famously had infinitely regenerating heads and poisonous breath. She (yes, she) also had a crab sidekick, sent by Hera to annoy Hercules while he killed the Hydra.

-Theban Sphinx, who guarded the entrance to the city of Thebes by asking riddles. When our future no-eyed hero Oedipus figures out her riddle, she jumped off a cliff, despite having wings. Well, at least she wasn’t killed by Hercules.

-The Lycian Chimaera, who was the youngest and maybe the scariest. She was killed by Bellophron and Pegasus.

Giving all the major antagonistic monsters a single origin certainly makes sense. If there’s one thing older human thinking promotes, its things have a very simple, understandable beginning, even if the rest of it doesn’t make any sense (see also: every other religion ever). The fact that the monster family is completely random doesn’t mean a thing as long as where the monsters came from isn’t.

It’s pretty easy to understand why I like this detail. One, it involves monsters. Two, there’s just something cool and cute about a family of monsters. Three, there’s a interesting dynamic created when most of the monsters are sent out to fuck people up by the same group of Gods who thought it proper to bury their dad under a volcano. Also, the children of the God who buried dear old dad under a volcano have a tendency to kill them. I think I could do something with this.

This has been my profoundly silly post of the month.

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Posted by Matt on March 6, 2010

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Posted by Matt on November 10, 2009

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