Iron-Blooded Orphans – Episode 4


In case you’ve forgotten: these are the only reason this show exists.

Episode 4 – Geopolitica Chaotica

  • Sunrise, plagiarizing its own work since 1971.
  • Augus is pumping it up, and his companion is ripped too.
    • This must be a gay’s paradise.
      • Mmmm.
  • “We’re working together again.” -Augus
    • Wait…are these guys…?
      • And his companion is embarrassed.
          • Sucks to be you, Atra. Augus is quite taken already.
  • Augus says it’s routine while having a flashback about “Kudelia”.
    • Um, why?
      • Well, apart from the fact that everything about “Kudelia” is mundane, boring, routine, and unimaginative.
        • I guess that makes sense.
  • “CGS” is crossed out.
    • Apparently some poor orphaned child took the time and effort to paint over a two-story logo.
      • Don’t they have better things to do? Like, not working, since they are *children*?
        • And we still don’t know what the fuck “CGS” even means. Solid storytelling, Sunrise.
    • “Young Mars Caucasians of Acidalia.”
      • See? It’s a reference to The Martian. I’m so clever.
  • “Don’t take too much time with this!” -Random asshole
    • Yeah, kids. Don’t take much time and effort in ensuring the giant machines of death you use are properly loaded and all safety procedures followed. Haste is all that matters.
      • Negligence is fun!
  • Il Duce is disgruntled by how he isn’t in control of a country and can’t send thousands of troops on incompetent foreign ventures to recapture lost glory.
    • Go read your fucking history, you idiots.
      • Il Duce, of course, is also craven and cravenly recounting what happened last episode.
  • “They’ve [Gjallarhorn] controlled this world for hundreds of years.” – Il Duce
      • There is no way an organization as goddamn incompetent as Gjallarhorn has controlled a goddamn planet for goddamn centuries.
        • They make the Holy Britannia(n) Empire look like the Wehrmacht.
  • That’s right, Il Duce. Have a heart attack…
  • One wonders why they’re keeping this asshole around, seeing as how his only skill is being craven.
    • Oh yeah, he’s going to try to manipulate them. This’ll go so well.
      • Just be careful, Il Duce. You don’t want to end up being hanged by your own people.
        • That’s a pretty lame way to go.
      • I’m going to love the bullshit that explains how they get into space.
  • Speaking of which…
      • HOLY CHRIST.
  • Of course the ship they’re waiting for is named “Hakobune.” That’s totally not Japanese.
  • According to this map, the distance between Earth and Mars is the same relative distance between low Mars orbit and geosynchronous Mars orbit.
    • You’ll also notice the icon of Earth is centered on Japan, perhaps for the convenience of a select group of viewers. Not saying who.
      • Which is courteous, to say the least. Those poor souls out in Kamchatka need some attention now and then.
  • “Usually, the path to Earth is under the control of Gjallarhorn.” -Biscuit
    • LOL.
      • Okay, stop.
        • First off, who the fuck is Gjallarhorn? Are they security forces from Earth? What organization or authority do they answer to? Who funds them? Or are they just this highly convenient space mafia that gets in the protagonists’ way?
        • Secondly, there is no way an organization as goddamn incompetent as Gjallarhorn has control over the goddamn space routes between Earth and Mars, which stretch for tens of millions of miles.
        • Thirdly, it is almost impossible to blockade a goddamn planet, particularly with just the two or three ships we’ve seen in their possession.
        • Fourthly, fuck this cosmopolitical setup into the ground.
  • “We need to take a back route which doesn’t cross existing paths.” -Biscuit
    • Oh yeah, Biscuit. Space is just like a walk in the woods. It’s not like your path is highly predictable, constrained, and governed by interplanetary physics.
  • “But it’s a complex route, and we’ve never traveled to Earth.” – Biscuit
    • I see nothing to worry about, “Kudelia”.
      • These people have no experience in space, none of the intense education or physical training required to be astronauts, nor any of the equipment needed to properly and safely make an interplanetary journey.
        • What’s more, they’re trying to do space hankey-pankey and plot a route to Earth that’s never been done before.
          • Sleep tight, sweet cheeks.
  • “And these back routes are divided into territories of civilian businesses.” -Or(l)ga
    • May I remind you that they are talking about SPACE. NOT GROUND. THERE IS NO “TERRITORY” IN FUCKING SPACE.
      • Also, who the fuck is translating this series? I’m asking for a friend.
  • These people are still listening to Il Duce, who has given them nothing but uselessly craven advice.
    • Watch Eugene agree with him.
      • Excuse me while I go spit out his milk, because Eugene just pointed out how they have no reason to trust Il Duce.
        • Especially considering how incredibly convenient it is that some fat asshole like him knows the CEO of a spacefaring corporation.
  • Or(l)ga is all fine with this. In his little brain, there’s no way they could be a trap.
    • Like what happened yesterday.
  • LOL.
    • “Hakobune” was actually “Hakofune” and apparently the Japanese education system is no longer teaching people how to Romanize shit.
      • Also, why the fuck does a Martian spaceport or whatever-the-fuck it is HAVE A JAPANESE NAME?
  • No, seriously. Their ship is supposedly named “Will-‘O’-the-Wisp”, but the port has a fucking JAPANESE NAME JUST SO THE JAPANESE VIEWERS CAN RELATE MORE TO IT.
    • FUCK. MY. LIFE.
  • “Kudelia,” you’re the daughter of Mars’ leader and the leader of the Martian Independence Movement (somehow). How come you’re unaware of the nature of this port and are asking about it like a dumb audience member?
    • Quality writing, Sunrise.
  • “But in order to use this ship, we have to officially make it Tekkadan’s.” -Biscuit
    • Here we go again.
      • 1) Hey, Biscuit. Ever heard of “smuggling”? No, you don’t. You’re still in control of CGS’ assets, correct? Just keep the ship under that name.
      • 2) Hey, translators. “Tekkadan” means “Iron Flower”. We went over this last week. We don’t need to keep saying it in Japanese.
  • Or(l)ga entrusts this critical part of their plan to some side characters with no experience in the matter whatsoever.
  • Meanwhile, “Kudelia’s” hair devours a seat cushion to keep itself alive.
  • Wait, so, they’re just going with Il Duce’s suggestion instead of seeking out alternative partners?
    • You know what this means: the writers were fucking lazy.
  • “This is where it gets real.” – Or(l)ga
    • Fighting for your lives against a vicious surprise attack that kills 110 people of your people is just a video game.
      • Negotiating space transport is the real deal.
  • Is no one noticing Il Duce smiling and cackling to himself right there in front of them all?
    • I mean, really?
      • How lazy can Sundown get at this point?
        • Shit, that is a question I should never ask again.
    • We’re an austere space ship, but we have teacups in storage just for fancy villainous antagonists with purple hair.
  • “Your subordinates looked like they were about to die.” -Purple Asshole
    • What a way to open a conversation, dipshit.
  • What is this retard even going on about?
    • “Having too excellent a senior officer means a lot of trouble.”
      • What the fuck?
        • 1) No indication has been given as to how this Blonde Asshole is an “excellent” officer. They are literally wasting company time sitting around in an office talking about this and drinking tea.
        • 2) That is not how leadership works.
  • Major Coral attempts some highly transparent feint at pity over a blatantly intentional mess he caused.
  • So, is the series ever going to bother to explain who these two assholes are or what their angle is?
    • Not for a while, huh?
      • I mean, I guess it’s obvious they’re supposed to be loyal, competent, upright soldiers who will defend Earth out of dedication and principles they believe in and……..
        • *snores* oh, shit, sorry. I fell asleep writing that character synopsis.
          • How could that be? It was so original and exhilarating.
  • Blonde Asshole points out a glaring hole in Gjallarhorn’s records about a unit being missing, something any military force worth its salt would be losing its shit over.
    • Major Coral’s explanation for this is inane and unconvincing.
  • One wonders how Major Coral has managed to keep his job for any length of time longer than two seconds.
    • My God, this guy’s cravenness makes Il Duce look like a Brave Fuhrer defending his Fatherland or something.
      • His name is “Coral Conrad.”
        • Somewhere, some Sunrise writer believes an imaginary mother named her imaginary son that.
          • Pbbbth.
      • This guy is fucking hilarious. They are trying so hard to portray him as evil as possible.
        • “Young fools! How dare they underestimate me!”
  • And Coral’s blaming Crank for his incompetent management of everything ever.
    • Well, to be fair, Crank was a selfish moron too, so meh. There go my fucks about this.
  • Meanwhile, at the Halls of Mars.
    • It’s a good thing Augus hasn’t suffered any side-effects from using the 200-year-old Hitler Just Dance.
  • Ah, Yukinojo. The blackest Japanese man known to man.
  • Yes, someone is finally realizing that they have no idea what they’re doing or if this 200-year-old Hitler Super NES is capable of spaceflight or if it’s even in good condition.
    • But it’s a Gundam, so I’m sure you’ve nothing to worry about until the plot demands it.
  • It’s a good thing we sent some random guy to negotiate the most important part of our entire plan.
  • Flashback to a scene to explain Akihiro’s motivation for doing anything.
    • Which takes two seconds to summarize: he has nowhere else to go.
      • If you’ll remember (and I do, Sunrise, as much as you would wish otherwise), that motivation was already covered in the first episode. This scene adds nothing to the series.
  • Yes, let’s trust the guy who looks like Fat Adolf Hitler. That’s a great idea.
    • At least have some backup in place, kids.
  • Augus, like me, is so fucking bored.
  • Is Or(l)ga really about to lecture them all about how important their first job as an independent organization is?
    • Gee, how novel.
  • Odd that such a poor organization can buy fresh Martian vegetables.
  • “UMAI!!!” -Random asshole.
    • Anime Trope #1096870908918050814360 1436 7041356708091356890.
      • Sigh.
        • That’s totally what Japanese people do in real life.
          • (It’s not.)
  • Also odd that “Kudelia” and Fumitan’s clothes are both still in pristine condition. Not even a smudge on them after days in a dirty, industrial environment.
  • “I’m such a weak person.” -“Kudelia”
    • By Thor’s Hammer, woman. Just kill yourself and save us all the pain.
      • The pretentious self-deprecation is just excruciating. I’d rather grind my penis against sandpaper than listen to this shit.
        • Was this written by some Sunrise employee’s toddler and they just left it in there because they thought it sounded profound?
  • Orcus or whoever-the-fuck this is opts to call them with a “Voice Only” option instead of showing his face.
  • Wait, wait, how is he getting their video but they aren’t?
    • I don’t know. Fuck it.
  • And this genuflecting old pervert is supposed to be trustworthy too? Gosh, “Kudelia”, you can really pick ’em out of a crowd.
  • “I might rob them of all their smiles.” -“Kudelia”
      • When was the last time anyone you’ve known talked like that in any way, shape, or form?
        • This writing. This writing. Where’s that blasted sandpaper?
  • Wait, wait, wait, wait. What the fuck?
    • Now the Specialist Dipshits are on Mars’ surface? And they’re wearing full suits in a desert landscape?
      • I don’t know. None of this makes sense, nor has it ever made sense.
  • Yeah, let’s do visual reconnaissance in white suits against a brown Martian landscape. No one could possibly spot us.
  • “The Noachis July Assembly.” -Sunrise
    • I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a studio more in love with the sound of its own voice than Sunrise.
  • The Earth is organized into four blocs:
    • The African Union.
    • The Oceanian Federation
    • SAU
    • Arbrau
      • Pbbbbbth.
        • “Arbrau”.
          • Ah ha ha ha ha ha.
            • You can’t make this shit up. Unless you’re Sunrise.
  • The Malta Conference divided Mars.
  • So wait, Gjallarhorn is some sort of supernational entity or independent organization in control of fucking Mars? What?
    • To the point that it was able to redraw national borders on another planet?
  • So, wait, the Mars territories already have autonomy, but are basically under economic slavery.
    • I love how Sunrise is flashing this incredibly important backstory faster than the human eye can process it. Fantastic storytelling there.
      • And it’s all in English, which means the Japanese viewer is fucked.
    • SAU = Strategic Alliance Union
      • Pbbbth.
        • HA HA HA.
      • And it consists of the US and Latin America…but not Canada.
        • Um, are they not aware the US and Canada have been close allies for centuries with very similar cultures and heavily intertwined economies? Why would they not join with the US?
    • The “African Union” controls all of continental Europe, Africa, and the Middle-East and reaches into Central Asia.
      • Bull. Fucking. Shit.
        • What, did the Muslims finally complete the conquest of Europe and Africa or something? What the fuck?
    • The Oceanian Federation consists of China, India, Southeast Asia, Australia (which has a giant fucking hole for some reason near where Sydney is), and Japan, the Center of the Universe.
      • …no, Sunrise. No.
    • “Arbrau” consists of Russia and Canada. That’s it.
      • Nope.
        • Nope.
          • Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooope.
  • It’s official: this show is abso-fucking-lutely retarded.
    • Geopolitics wants its dignity back.
      • Also, why was Greenland left out? I think that’s a bit unfair, you assholes.
  • Why do are they doing this on land? Don’t they have the facilities at Gjallarhorn to just reconnoiter this area from space? Or send their subordinates to do it. Or something.
    • Delegate, you idiots.
  • Um, question: if this is the battlefield where they fought a few days ago, then why isn’t the Iron Flower base in plain view?
    • Because it was right there. Everyone was watching it happen from the comfort of the base.
      • Did it just sprout legs and walk off?
        • Or did Sunrise just shoot continuity in the head execution-style and throw it in a dumpster?
  • “The Regulatory Bureau.” -Sunrise
  • Oh, there’s the base.
    • Good thing nobody can see them in their white suits and purple/blonde hair against a uniform background of brown.
      • Or notice their descent from space, which Sunrise just hoped you wouldn’t think about.
        • Silly, Sunrise.
  • They’re still painting over this shit. Wasn’t that covered ten minutes ago?
  • “Excuse me, where are we?” -“Kudelia”
    • Good fucking question.
      • How did they go from a barren desert to a lush cornfield? Where is this in relation to the base? What the fuck?
  • Biscuit’s grandmother is named “Sakura-chan.”
    • Right.
      • So why is Biscuit named Biscuit?
        • Fuck it.
  • Um, doesn’t Atra work at a store in town? Why is she here in this random cornfield?
    • Is this scene just an excuse to build tension between the two female leads as they fight in their hearts over their masculine object of desire?
      • Don’t answer that question.
  • Oh, it’s a good luck charm. Atra made it for him.
    • Too bad, Atra. He doesn’t really give a shit.
      • Think of it more as a representation of your bitterly unrequited and insane love for this fuckwit.
  • Now these two Specialist assholes are talking about their family or something, not that we care.
        • WAT.
          • WHAT IN GOD’S NAME.
  • “Kudelia” is predictably fascinated by the grueling, backbreaking labor of harvesting corn by hand.
    • Which they should not have to do if they have the equipment to mow the stalks down flat. We have the technology to mechanize that process today. It’s basically ubiquitous in the First and Second World. Why is it not on Mars 500-ish years into the future?
      • Have any of these writers ever read a book about anything ever?
        • I haven’t yet seen any moment in this series where they show a modicum of knowledge on any subject.
          • They fucked up geopolitics.
          • They fucked up space travel.
          • It’s a Gundam series, so they fucked up combat and physics.
          • They fucked up logistics.
          • They fucked up human behavior.
          • They fucked up basic storytelling, character motivation and development, and imaginative themes.
          • They fucked up philosophy.
          • And now they’re fucking up agriculture.
    • Manual harvesting is soul-crushing work, but of course “Kudelia” finds it refreshing, because she’s a sheltered rich girl.
  • LOL, “Kudelia” is so weak she can’t break a corn off the cornstalk, but then Augus catches her when she falls, creating a predictable, awkward situation.
    • Hey, Augus: pull her up before her arm rips out of her socket.
  • The currency for this planet is the “galar”, but of course it scales identically to the yen for the convenience for the Japanese viewer.
    • Also, there is no way any farmer would be growing corn if they could only get $0.50 for 10 kilograms. That’s not economically viable.
      • 10 kg = 0.4 bushels
      • So the price of corn is $1.25 per bushel. The current price for corn on the US market is $4.3775. For a metric ton, that’s $172.34; this Mars price is $49.
        • $49 for a metric ton. Going back 30 years, the price of corn has never gone that low on the US market.
          • Conclusion: Sakura-chan and her misshapen lineage should be so fucking destitute that “Biscuit” should be named “Kernel”.
  • Sunrise fucked up economics too. Achievement unlocked.
    • Also 2.0, there is no way there is still a market for corn-based biofuel in a civilization capable of terraforming and colonizing other planets.
  • I don’t understand. Mars is the lifeblood of Earth’s economy (somehow), right?
    • So how is Mars so bloody destitute?
      • Don’t say “colonization.” That doesn’t make any fucking sense.
        • It would take far more resources to terraform Mars and turn it into a viable biosphere than it would to just invest in Earth. The equation just isn’t profitable, period.
          • Colonization happens when developing, powerful economies from the outside encounter weakly-held lands or territories filled with unexploited natural resources and a poor population. It’s easy money.
            • You know what’s cheaper than terraforming planets? Asteroids. There’s a zillion times more money in harvesting shit off asteroids than desiccated wastelands like Mars. Maybe that should’ve been your premise, Sunrise. Have a child-labor force being used to drill asteroids. You know, makes sense.
          • Mars is a useless piece of rock. How is Earth in such a condition that it was able to terraform Mars into fertility, divide its territory up piecemeal and control it for hundreds of years uncontested, but *also* depend entirely on Mars to keep its economic engine going?
            • There is no economic scenario in which any of this makes any sense.
  • “Human Debris.”
    • Also known as “slavery.”
      • But we can’t say “slavery” because reasons.
        • Those reasons being “Human Debris” sounds cool to a Japanese ear.
    • Why?
  • Atra is being jealous. No one cares.
    • The Eldritch Twins return to wreak havoc.
      • So, Atra, what do you see in Augus?
        • Like, what is it that attracts you to him besides his shapely body?
          • I can’t see anything in his personality that would attract anyone.
  • The Eldritch Twins are so fucking dumb they can’t look both ways when crossing the road.
      • Also jumps to conclusions and doesn’t investigate the situation at all.
        • Jesus Goddamn Christ, how are we supposed to like this character?
          • He just switches to psychopath mode on the turn of a dime. He’s nothing more than a public menace and a danger to everyone around him.
      • I was wondering if they could go one episode without saying it. GUESS NOT.
  • Augus is also so stupid that he can’t recognize Gjallarhorn’s insignia even though they’re his chief enemy that he knows he’ll encounter in the future.
    • Also, the Specialists are so stupid they put a Gjallarhorn insignia on their car while doing a covert investigation.
      • I’ll save time next time: everyone is so, so stupid.
  • “My name is McGillis Fareed.” -McGillis Fareed
    • Someone got picked on in high school.
  • “Kudelia”, try cutting your hair in the future so that you don’t stick out like a sore thumb.
    • “Will-O’-The-Wisp” is now the “ISARIBI.”
      • …that means nothing to me.
  • The Iron Flower insignia is revealed.
    • Apparently we’re supposed to care about this, even though it’s in the opening sequence.
  • Il Duce is cravenly doing evil things with evil people.
    • Fear not. The Jews can smell his blood and they know no fear.

Iron-Blooded Orphans – Episode 3

"Kudelia" needs to watch Pleasantville.

“Kudelia” needs to watch Pleasantville.

Episode 3 – Glorious Misogyny

  • Daisuki-DOTTO-NETTO!!
    • Double exclamation points are teh bomb.
  • “Eating again? – Or(l)ga
    • Yes, Or(l)ga. Humans tend to fucking eat. Repeatedly.
      • Are you in any way surprised that Augus is eating a lot after a battle in which a Hitler Nintendo NX nearly killed him?
  • Augus’ overcoat in no way flatters his ridiculously ripped physique. It looks like something made for the inhabitants of Planet Moscow. Or something.
  • That was the most boring and inconsequential opening of an anime episode I’ve seen in a while.
    • “Hey, eating again?”
    • “Yep.”
    • “Huh. Okay. Well then.”
    • [cut to opening sequence]
      • You know what this means, children: the budget ran ooooooooooooooooooooooooooout. Hee hee.
  • PSA: despite this opening sequence’s implications, Iron-Blooded Orphans’ gender ratio does not reflect reality.
    • Shocking PSA: there are slightly more women than men in the general population.
      • Very shocking PSA: they are people just as much as men, with their own dreams, fears, aspirations, and worth.
        • Sorry to blow your mind, Japan.
          • (But not really, you misogynist twerps.)
  • Oh ho ho, Biscuit is in charge of food after the crisis. It’s not like he could be a competent engineer or anything. Fat people love food.
    • Ha ha. It’s funny because Japan is still stuck in 1954.
  • Great idea, Biscuit: give a giant boiling pot of food to your twin sisters to carry. They’re only, like, eight years old. The pot probably weighs as much as both of them combined.
    • Are you trying to give them second-degree burns and a horrific childhood memory?
      • World’s Best Brother, AD 23-something: Biscuit.
  • ありがとう、アトラ。皆喜んでいる。” -Biscuit
    • Oh, of course the woman is in charge of food too.
      • Looking past the tired, happy-feely horseshit that Biscuit seems to Chief of Staff for, this scene is clearly implying that women have nothing to contribute to society beyond supporting men.
        • Thanks, Sunrise. Thanks for moving our species forward into the future.
  • And of course, Atra blushes and smiles by squinting her eyes at Biscuit’s tired, useless, patronizing compliment.
    • Hey, Atra: where’s that guy you’re mooning over that doesn’t give two shits about you?
      • Even if he does, he doesn’t show it in any discernible way, so it’s the same thing.
        • Hey, Atra: since all these people are horrible idiots, how about next time you poison all the food and watch them die in painful convulsions? That would make your character both way more interesting and useful.
  • Continuing this show’s brave march into the Land of Misogynia, “Kudelia” naturally wants to help prepare the food, like a good Japanese woman, but like a good token “strong”, “female” “character”, is hilariously inept at it.
    • It also reinforces that she’s rich, even though everyone could tell by the fact that she has a personal factory for supplying her with hairspray, which she requires for sustenance.
      • Yes, “Kudelia” is so spoiled and pampered that she’s completely useless with a ladle, which requires only the most basic amount of hand-eye coordination.
        • She’s acting like it weighs 100 kilograms or something and is a bizarre object crafted by an alien civilization.
          • Someday, somewhere, Sunrise will stop treating its female characters like shit.
  • No, I’m not getting off this soapbox. All the female characters in this series are in this scene, and they are all delicate objects of desire and support for the men. This is sexism at its most sinister and subtle. It’s so bad that a stereotypically butch female pilot character with the personality of a lead bar and a boringly tragic past would be admirable progress for these writers.
    • So no, Sunrise, this scene is no way funny. It’s fucking insulting.
  • “Kudelia” is so useless and ignorant she DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO USE A KNIFE.
    • Excuse me while I go use a knife on some Sunrise writers.
      • Aww, the annoying brat with no distinguishing features gives “Kudelia” cute but absolutely useless advice on culinary preparation techniques.
        • “When cutting vegetables, make cat paws”.
          • DAWWW, KAWAII DESU.
            • Except not. What does that even mean? That doesn’t even make sense as an analogy for cutting vegetables. Have these writers never cut vegetables before either?
              • She’s pressing on that knife like she’s performing CPR. So either these are Martian cucumbers with skin as resilient as granite or that knife is duller than a worn slab of granite.
  • Enough talking with women, Biscuit. It’s time for MAN WORK.
      • And they’ll thoughtfully shield them from such harsh, masculine affairs. Women should be unblemished and pretty for the men when they get home.
  • Meanwhile, the men are down in the dumps and struggling with REAL emotional torments.
  • Lupin IV actually insults Biscuit by telling him to put his butt meat inside his soup.
    • That got odd really fast.
  • “Kudelia” has acquired the Skill [Basic Hand-Eye Coordination]! Her DEX increases by +5!
    • But she still scales worse than all the men.
  • These little brats call her お嬢様 and act like her serving them food is the best thing ever, even though it’s no different from any of the rest of the glop in the kitchen.
    • Remember, children: women support men like good mothers. It’s how it works.
      • *wink*
  • Augus is as personable and likable as ever.
    • He’d make a lead bar dance and sing with his stoic gaze and piercing eyes.
  • “Kudelia” is so incompetent at cutting things she made big vegetables. HMMM. LET’S SEE IF AUGUS TAKES THEM.
  • Augus, of course, treats her warmly and likes her food. In three…two…one…
  • And “Kudelia” blushes in shocked surprise.
  • And now she’s rubbing her hands in delicate feminine angst.
  • Now an insightful, gentle-voiced man will talk with Atra about Mikazuki. In three…two…one…
    • Atra sheepishly says she’s “imposing” on the manager.
      • Which is something only a dutiful Japanese person would say.
        • No one else would even give a shit about the manager in their store a hundred kilometers away.
            • THE PERFECT WOMAN.
    • Atra, of course, being a woman, has inexplicable insight into Augus’ mental state, even though he has exactly two facial expressions: bleh and MURDER.
      • Side note here: the black guy who’s over six feet tall has the surname of “Yukinojo”.
  • Oh, are you wondering why I care so much about their names? Because you should, clueless anime fan.
    • See, there’s a very good reason why all the potential antagonists (half of whom look like devils for some odd reason) have weird-ass foreign names while the Martian children all have Japanese names. It’s a tried and true psychological trick to make the Japanese viewer more inclined to sympathize with them. Tamaki looks like he went to a private school on Long Island, New York, but give him an absurd name like “Tamaki” and the Japanese brain instantly categorizes him as being part of the “IN” camp as opposed to the “OTHER” camp.
      • Tl;dr, racist chauvinism.
  • Atra is about to ask “Yukinojo” a favor because she’s so cute and delicate that she doesn’t have the courage to ask Augus herself.
    • Even though Augus will probably go “Oh, huh” and forget about it two seconds later because he’s a braindead stoic protagonist with no personality or relatable feelings.
      • This is how anime writers developed characters five decades ago, in case you didn’t realize.
        • Cut away from the scene without finding out what said favor is.
          • BRILLIANT!
  • So the coup has begun. WAIT. IS SOMETHING HAPPENING?
    • Lupin IV wakes to realize his…thumbs…have been restrained?
      • His THUMBS?
  • How wonderful, they did something slightly clever and spiked the food with sedatives. Something IS happening.
    • Hallelujah.
  • Hey, Or(l)ga: instead of keeping this group of people in a room with a lock, I have a better idea for you.
    • It’s called death.
      • As in make them die.
        • Kill them all.
          • Or at least drop them off somewhere in the hellish Martian landscape and have them fend for themselves or something.
            • Because this is going to come back to bite you in the ass.
  • Lupin IV, like the good little monster antagonist he is, demands something while in a position to make no demands whatsoever.
    • Augus just EXECUTED that guy.
      • Well, you certainly took my advice, Or(l)ga. Kudos.
        • But JESUS CHRIST, that was a LITTLE over-the-top.
          • Augus is also a complete psychopath. It’s confirmed.
  • The Caucasian Devil with the Bucktooth and Sunken Face is still here, somehow.
  • Of course the craven guy with glasses betrays his comrades.
    • Not that they were worthy of anyone’s loyalty to begin with.
      • But it’s telling you can tell everything about his character design by his squinted face and huge-ass spectacles.
        • NERDS HAVE NO SPINE, BITCHES. That’s what Sunrise believes, anyway.
  • His name is “Dexter Culastor”, and he’s in charge of accounting.
    • Pardon me for just a moment.
      • [loud noise]
        • Sorry, I had to go crack my skull on the wall in my study.
          • I feel so much better now.
            • Yes, that’s good brain damage. Very good. Mmmm. Tangy.
  • Dexter goes “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEH??” like a good wussy nerd.
    • And he’s wearing a tie, for some reason.
      • Because all nerd types wear ties.
        • Fuck you, Sunrise.
  • Eugene barges into Or(l)ga’s office muttering something about severance pay and shit. Dude is drunk off his ass.
    • Dexter is now released and working for them, because these sluts still need accountants to run shit. Bwa ha ha ha ha.
  • Or(l)ga is noble, so he gives these assholes severance pay for leaving.
    • I don’t care.
      • No, I don’t. There are arguments for this and against it, both legitimate.
        • It doesn’t make me like Or(l)ga any more or less.
  • Eugene, for some reason, wants to throw these guys out onto the street with no money instead of changing how they treat them.
    • Which is the whole point of taking over due to mistreatment.
      • Deeeerp.
  • Eugene is also objecting to them doing honest, upright jobs that will give them a good reputation.
    • Because reasons.
  • Also, that creepy, crunch-faced Italian guy (I’ll call him Il Duce) with the HITLER MUSTACHE is still around.
    • Apparently nobody in this future has heard of Adolf Hitler.
      • Which would explain why they are so eager to use a Hitler Machine.
        • Huh. I just made this series make a little more sense somehow.
          • Goddamn it.
  • Il Duce even talks with a stupidly retarded accent, just to emphasize he’s a smelly foreigner.
  • Yukinojo is staying and is an old man. Good to know, twats.
    • He looks like he’s 35.
      • “Old”.
  • “Kudelia” waits impatiently for her daily hairspray shipment.
    • The fools know not what forces they toy with.
      • She then absentmindedly and pointlessly picks up a random nut, heedless to any heavy machine traffic going on around her.
    • Or(l)ga is looking for Mikazuki, because we’re supposed to care.
      • Now he recognizes “Kudelia’s” tragic existence.
  • “Kudelia” gives Mikazuki a compliment in his absence.
    • Or(l)ga will now sternly correct her on how mistaken she is (LIKE A WOMAN) and how Mikazuki is somehow nothing special and just an orphan from the streets or something like that. In three…two…one…
      • BULLSEYE.
  • Japan, you said it again. Tsk tsk.
    • “Alaya-Vijnana System.”
      • 100. Trillion. Yen.
        • Now.
          • You wouldn’t want to make India angry, would you? They outnumber you ten to one.
  • Or(l)ga rightfully asks “Kudelia” if she has any plans or inkling of what she’s going to do next.
    • “Kudelia” calls her father “父” as opposed to “お父様”. She is learning, finally.
  • Now she’s wavering due to the idea that the innocent might suffer or be sacrificed in order to accomplish things.
    • Gee, “Kudelia”. Welcome to history.
      • Here’s a complimentary fruit basket for figuring that one out, you highly-educated rich girl who seems to know jackshit about anything for no logical reason.
        • “Kudelia”, in reality, would be lecturing these morons on geopolitics or how to work the Alaya-Vijnana System or something, but she’s a woman in an anime, so she gets to do exactly nothing.
          • What is with this nut? Is it supposed to be a metaphor or something? It doesn’t mean anything.
  • “Do you think you’re responsible for our comrades’ deaths?” – Or(l)ga
    • Um, hey. Didn’t we already go through discussion this last week?
      • Snore.
    • I’m going to need some more paper for this tropes list I’m assembling.
    • Fuck it, I’ll just order an entire ream.
  • “I’m just angry at myself.” -“Kudelia”
    • Which is the reaction no actual human being would have in this situation.
      • “Kudelia”, honey, you were caught up in a treacherous situation you knew nothing about and had no control over. Your own father sold you out or something for some reason, right? So why are you angry at yourself? You should be angry at your FATHER for SELLING YOU OUT.
        • And possibly your mother for NOT TELLING YOU ABOUT THIS.
    • “Over how powerless I really am.” -“Kudelia”
      • Yeah, that’s what you should be angry about. Definitely not your own family handing you over to vicious murderers and rapists.
        • Fuck you, Sunrise.
    • So they have 3 months of solvency left. They could have said that in five seconds. Not two minutes.
  • I’m trying to understand how severance pay and normal maintenance costs are eating into their bottom line so much.
    • The severance pay can’t be that much, considering maybe five guys are leaving. The maintenance costs can’t be that much either, considering they just lost 110 people and only a few machines, which aren’t in great condition anyway. Their costs should actually be way down.
  • Or(l)ga, having found out they have 3 months of solvency, declares they must find work immediately or go bankrupt or something.
    • 3 months = nothing, apparently.
  • “But with our current situation, people will take advantage of us”. – Biscuit
    • You mean how you have a priceless superweapon and just fought off an assault from an elite interplanetary security force?
      • Yeah, what a desperate situation that people will take advantage of.
        • Go shove food in your mouth, Biscuit. It’s where you belong.
  • Il Duce has to be the one to point all of this out, because these people are morons.
      • They are really milking this “despicable foreigner” stereotype.
        • Il Duce even has a noticeable beer belly, because les raisons.
  • Oh boy, someone from Gjallarhorn has come back.
    • I wonder who it is.
          • (Honestly, a tedious children’s card game would be more interesting than this.)
            • Unless this involves more of Augus executing people like a veteran of Stalingrad.
              • Then it’d be fine.
    • (Seriously, where is the microphone? He has no microphone.)
  • Okay, Crank, have you actually thought this through? What is this duel supposed to accomplish?
    • No, seriously.
      • Yukinojo somehow knows the history of things as they were 200 years ago.
        • No, I don’t believe that people settled things in duels before the Calamity War.
          • That’s fucking bullshit. Shut up.
  • Hmmm, I have an idea: shoot this fucker while he’s outside his Mobile Suit.
    • Or decline.
      • Hey, is anyone wondering why this Gjallorhorn asshole is out here by himself without any support? Anyone?
        • How about you just capture him or shoot him or ignore him?
        • Jesus Christ, when did you have time to change into that outfit?
          • (Which is still pants-on-head retarded, not to mention it looks like you are ACTUALLY WEARING PANTS ON YOUR SHOULDERS)
  • Golly. I wonder what’s going to happen next.
    • Maybe Augus the Stoic will object and offer to fight Crank for her honor and glory or something.
      • Yaawn. Someone wake me up when Sunrise does something mildly original.
  • “Meaningless battles should be avoided, correct?” -“Kudelia”
    • Uh, except this wouldn’t be a meaningless battle by any stretch of the imagination, you dimwit.
      • Il Duce, like all those of Caucasian, not-Japanese, dishonorable heritage, suggests very cravenly that they let her go and cravenly negotiate for some money in the process.
        • No Japanese person has ever sold another out for money, btw.
          • Ever.
  • “Kudelia” continues to try to solve a problem she clearly does not understand, all out of a misguided desire to assert herself.
    • Fuck you, bitch. I hope you die.
  • “And I do not plan on just dying.” -“Kudelia”
    • Oh yeah, like you’ll have any say in it.
      • What are you going to do? Smack them with your hair?
  • Or(l)ga’s face says it all:
    • “Holy shit, what am I doing with my life?”
  • Or(l)ga, rationally, doesn’t trust this random prick who just tried to kill them all yesterday.
  • Augus is perfectly fine with piloting the 200-year-old Hitler Youth Club after it ruptured his jugular vein less than 24 hours ago.
    • Wipe them out, Augus. All of them.
  • This episode is titled “Glorious Demise”. I think we can guess what happens.
    • Or do I have to pull out the Book of Isaiah again?
  • Augus’ physique is perfect somehow.
  • “Alaya-Vijnana System”. Pay up, Sunrise.
    • 100. Trillion. Smackaroos.
  • LOL, “Kudelia” actually throws out the idea of her piloting the Hitler Disco Ball so she could help people.
    • Yeah, that’s the only way you could help people. Not by putting your educated mind to use or something.
      • I hate this stupid, inane, self-deprecating stereotype of a woman so much, let alone the middle-aged men who wrote her.
  • “We were just lucky”. -Or(l)ga
    • Yep, that sums up the whole series. No logic or sense. Just pure coincidence and bad writing.
  • Meanwhile, let’s all stand out here on the battlefield exposed to whatever debris or flotsam that might result from the duel between two towering Machines of Death.
  • Leave it to Augus the Stoic to only ask how the winner of the duel will be decided after starting the duel.
  • “What Coral…No.” -These Incompetent Subbers
    • Here’s a translation for us poor English types: “Coral…no, we just wanted Kudelia’s life at first…”
      • That’s way clearer.
        • Also, listen up, “Kudelia”: these people just want to kill you. Bet you feel smart now.
  • “Children should not be victimized for adult strifes.” -These Incompetent Subbers again
    • Real English: “Children shouldn’t be dragged into the conflicts of adults.”
      • I thought subbers had learned how to translate Japanese after almost three decades of experience.
  • Crank waxes mournful about children suffering unnecessarily while fighting a child unnecessarily.
    • I don’t think you’re really sincere about that, Crank.
  • Augus wants to kill this guy simply because Or(l)ga told him to.
    • ……….
      • Right.
        • Okay. That’s not creepy or twisted.
  • “Mika knows that he has to be strong in order to live.” – Or(l)ga
    • Incoherent philosophical Japanese babble, AWAY!
      • And now they’re going to wax philosophical about risks and strength and blah blah blah blah blah.
        • Tl;dr: gambaru-ing solves all your problems, no matter what they are.
          • So get back to work, salaryman. Your boss needs those projections by 3:00a tomorrow. Stay late if you have to. Sacrifice your happiness for the company. Gambatte.
  • “He’s [Augus] boorish yet honorable.” -Or(l)ga
    • I’d say he’s just boorish, considering his demonstrated penchant for cold-blooded executions.
      • “He’s full of contradictions. But that’s why he’s strong.” -Or(l)ga
        • Some Sunrise writer: “My characters are so three-dimensional and well-rounded! Tee hee hee!”
          • Neither God nor Satan will take the souls of these writers when they die, alone and unmourned.
  • “Will I be able to fight like him?” -“Kudelia”
    • As if that’s a desirable goal for any sane human being.
      • “Kudelia” processes, struggles with, and ultimately abandons the insane idea of having the surgery to pilot the Hitler Hungry Hungry Hippos, all within five minutes of it popping into her head.
        • Because now she knows she can fight in another way. Or something.
          • Yay, “Kudelia”. That character arc lasted less than fifteen minutes. Congratulations.
            • Now get back in the kitchen and cook food for the men. You can use your hair as kindling.
  • Notice how none of these retards are the least bit concerned about this pitched battle between two towering Machines of Death happening twenty feet away from them.
    • It’s almost as if they read the script in advance.
      • One also wonders how “Kudelia’s” dress is still immaculate after being exposed to the wrath of the rusty soil of Mars.
  • “I’ve never been victimized for anything. I’m just doing what I can for me and my comrades.” -Mikazuki Augus
    • LOL.
      • Sure, kid.
        • Sure.
          • You know, apart from growing up as an orphan, having a life-threatening surgery forced upon you, being forced to work for assholes, etc.
            • Your entire life is the definition of victimhood, you fucktard.
              • Tl;dr, gambaru-ing solves all your problems. So get back in the kitchen, Japanese housewife. Make that dinner and don’t worry about your own fulfillment.
  • This is the worst Gundam Duel I’ve ever seen.
    • It’s beyond boring. I can’t even dedicate a single neuron to caring about it.
      • At least Gundam Wing had generals in Napoleonic uniforms flying around in blimps and shouting “INTELLIGENT BATTLE!!!!” and other such bombast to keep me interested.
        • This is less fun and exciting than watching Mike Huckabee talk about wholesome Christian methods for paint drying.
  • A weapon the size of a house just crashed into the earth literally two feet away from Or(l)ga.
    • The only thing anyone suffers from that is a mild pattering of Martian dust.
      • Sure, kids.
        • Sure.
  • “Tekkadan.” -These Incompetent Subbers thrice
    • “To call ourselves a rotten name like CGS just irritates me.” -Or(l)ga
      • That’s funny, because I still don’t even know what the fuck “CGS” even means.
        • So why should I give a shit?
    • See, it’s a Kanji joke. 鉄 (tetsu) is obvious, but you can’t tell by sound what “ka” means. “Kudelia” thinks “tekka” = 鉄火, but Or(l)ga means 鉄花.
      • The Japanese love their puns AND inside jokes. As if this show couldn’t get any worse: now it’s trying to be pretentious.
        • Good luck, dubbers. Good luck trying to make that shit work in English.
  • “The iron flower that never wilts.” – Or(l)ga
    • Um, Or(l)ga. It’s not alive to begin with, so of course it can’t wilt.
      • That’s a fucking stupid name.
  • Leave it to Augus, ever the morally upright, to ask what happens if he wins the duel only after he wins it.
  • So, basically, Crank achieved nothing and Augus achieved nothing. NOBODY ACCOMPLISHED ANYTHING.
  • “If I go back with negative results, my actions will reflect poorly on all the troops.” -Crank Zent
    • -And These Incompetent Subbers x4
      • Actual English: “If I go back empty-handed, I’ll have disgraced my comrades yet again.”
        • Reality: “Shit. I’ve already disgraced my comrades by disobeying orders and throwing my life away for no reason. Fuck me.”
  • “But if I can end my life here, I will carry all the responsibility with me…” -Crank Zent
    • ….
      • Go fuck yourself, Crank. Go fuck yourself and your suicidal Japanese obsession with honor or something.
        • Just fucking die, you worthless piece of shit.
    • Not only does he execute a man in cold blood the third time this morning, he then erotically SMELLS THE BRACELET ATRA GAVE HIM RIGHT AFTER DOING SO.
        • JESUS. H. CHRIST.
  • Il Duce, smiling cravenly, cravenly whines about not being able to cravenly get any money out of the situation.
    • Eugene, being also not-Japanese, agrees for no reason.
  • “Kudelia” asks them to keep escorting her, even though they have no reason to do so.
    • She even promises them money.
      • Except she has absolutely no control over any of her family’s assets.
        • The family that just tried to SELL HER OUT TO BLATANT MURDERERS AND RAPISTS.
  • Conveniently, “Kudelia” has gone from being the innocent, naive daughter of the leader of Mars to the leader of the Mars Independence Movement to a dissident with connections to rich people, all as the writers need her to be.
    • “Kudelia”‘s character is so misogynist she’s meta-submissive.
  • “Nobliss Gordon.” Pbbbbth ha ha ha ha ha.
    • These names. These fucking names.
      • Il Duce, cravenly obsessed with money as he is like all craven Europeans, cravenly knows about this supposedly super rich guy.
  • Augus doesn’t give a shit.
  • “We Tekkadan will make sure we deliver you to Earth safely.” -These Incompetent Subbers V
    • Having already explained that “Tekkadan” means “Iron Flower,” they use it again for no reason.
      • Actual English: “The Iron Flower will ensure you are delivered to Earth safe and sound.”
        • It’s even fits the deferential, honorific language Or(l)ga is using much better.
  • “よろしくお願いします。” -“Kudelia”
    • Look, a set Japanese phrase. IT’S CUTE.
      • Maybe something will happen now that we’ve gotten these shitty introductory episodes out of the way.
    • GOD.
  • Eugene has shifted to being a total asshole because puppies.
  • That’s a goddamn cross explosion. I knew it.
    • Maybe this will end the same way The End of Evangelion does: with everyone dying.
      • Whoops, spoilers.

Iron-Blooded Orphans – Episode 1



Episode I – Get in the Fucking Robot

  • 15 seconds of logos.
  • PP 3/5. Man, they don’t waste time with the inane foreshadowing.
  • Oh great, they’re kids. Because no Gundam series could ever deal with adults and be successful.
    • Oh good, they’re not kids. They’re teens instead. Who…somehow have the voices and bodies of adults. Or something.
  • “Slacking off” apparently means “sleeping” in their language.
  • Why does he have a Japanese name in the future? I mean, really? What are the odds of that, considering he has WHITE FUCKING HAIR?
  • “Maruba” (another inexplicably Japanese name) is the “president”. Ooookay…
  • Oh look, it’s a Gundam. Ten bucks says one of these two will be piloting it in less than thirty minutes.
    • Money. It’s a gas.
  • If the engine room is “top secret”, you should probably keep it guarded instead of unlocked and easily penetrated by two truants.
    • One minute into the series and these people are idiots.
  • We’ll give the Gundam one extra scene. Gundams always need more screentime so the kids will buy our shit–I mean, because they’re very important to the story.
  • And we’re on a terra-formed Mars. I seeeee.
  • Of course the representative has a daughter and needs escorts for her trip to Earth…as if she has any sort of diplomatic experience or authority.
    • Gee, I wonder who those escorts are going to be. HMMMMMMMM.
  • “The Third Group” looks like the most unprofessional group of whatever-the-fuck-they-are on the planet. They’re wearing green and orange uniforms. Green and orange.
    • Not one of them is gay. Calling it right now.
  • “Kudelia Aina Bernstein.”
    • Pbbbbth ha ha ha ha ha. Did they pick three random English words out of a name dictionary and smash them together? Pbbbbbbtttttth.
      • As required by the Diet of Japan, the voice actor paused for 0.68 seconds to say that weird “English” name.
  • “Biscuit.” Oh, he’s chubby. That’s why they named him biscuit. How cute.
  • So “Kudelia’s” mission just happens to be a cosmopolitical fulcrum that, should something untoward happen to it, might trigger a war or open conflict. HMMMMMMMMMMMMM.
    • Sunrise, you might want to try a different plot. I’m pretty sure there are a few dozen others ones you can work with. Just go take a writing class and stop being lazy.
  • “Kudelia” picked these guys. Since when does she have a say in her military escort? Is she a soldier? Does she know anything about that? Does the President of the United States handpick his Secret Service escorts every day? No.
    • (Latin American diversity quota: check.)
      •  I’ll call him Lupin IV. He looks vaguely like him.
        • Yeah, way to go, Lupin IV: talk down to them and treat them like shit for no goddamn reason. That’ll help.
    • HOLY SHIT.
  • Wait…why are they not wearing shirts while piloting these? Um…okay.
    • I mean, I don’t mind per se. It’s just incredibly fucking stupid.
  • “Mikazuki Augus”. That is not his fucking name.
    • Like, seriously, what are the odds this random guy is Japanese?
    • Real sympathetic, Martians. I so want to root for you now.
  • Racist caricature of a Caucasian man. His jaw is crooked and his cheeks are shaped in the form of evil.
    • For great justice, Nippon. Except to anyone who doesn’t look like us.
  • “CGS”. Why do they all have these uniforms and these teenagers have none?
  • Blonde guy questions the idiocy of this entire plan to escort “Kudelia”.
    • Oh, nice job on translating “お嬢様” as “Young Miss”, you lazy subbers. As if any person speaking a language other than Japanese would say it like that.
      • They’d call her by her actual name. Be creative for once.
  • Biscuit is eating happily. It’s funny. Because he’s fat.
  • Takaki, the guy who does not look at all like someone of Japanese lineage, has a Japanese surname. Why?
    • Ethnocentrism, 123! It’s bad for you, but good for me!
  • The Blonde Guy is now spouting off exposition in order to kill time. Nobody gives a goddamn shit, you asshole.
  • Uh, “Kudelia”, I don’t think picking a squad of greasers to escort you to another planet was the best idea you’ve had in your short life.
  • “Eugene.” At least he looks like he could be “Eugene”, not fucking Takaki over there who looks like he was born in fucking Connecticut.
  • Mikazuki nearly rips this poor guy’s ear off. So sympathetic.
  • “Akihiro,” the first person with a Japanese surname who actually looks like he could kinda sorta be Japanese.
    • …progress? I guess?
  • Oh God. “Kudelia” calls her mother “お母さま”. Why. WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY.
    • Bitch is a stuck-up ho. Because that’s the only way a woman can be competent.
      • Equality is for LOSERS.
  • Why does her mother call her by her middle name “Aina” and sound like every other old Japanese mother in every anime ever? Sunrise is really pulling out all the cliches in this one.
    • Oh, and she’s so softspoken and ladylike and drinking tea. The perfect stereotype of a perfect noblewoman.
      • Fuck you, Japan.
  • “お父様”.
    • Fuck you, “Kudelia”.
    • Fuck you, “Mom”.
      • Also, why is your father giving you such an important task as this? It seems, I dunno, batshit insane.
        • Also also, how many gallons of hair spray do you go through a day, you little twerp?
  • This poor maid is probably like “Bitch, I have to change your shit-damp sheets every day. I don’t want to hear about your First World Problems.”
  • “I want to see and feel the truth.”
    • This is the extent of “Kudelia’s” character. There is a 10^-billion chance she’ll be developed any further.
  • “I chose these child soldiers to escort me because they weren’t born under Earth Rule.”
    • I will also ignore they’re child soldiers and that using them is morally reprehensible on its face.
      • I, “Kudelia”, am the best mediator in the universe.
  • “I have to interact with such people to learn what the real problems of Mars are like.”
    • As opposed to reading about it and educating yourself beforehand through far safer means at far more appropriate times.
      • If you’re planning to represent your entire planet, you might want to have done a little homework in advance before the day you set out.
  • “Norman Bernstein.”
    • He lives in a split-level tree.
      • Hee hee, the Japanese have no idea.
        • Oh, of course he’s craven and weak-willed. Like all Japanese fathers.
  • “Sir Coral.”
    • Is an evil asshole.
      • Yellow and silver uniforms. Not a single person drawing this show is gay.
  • Orlis is also an evil asshole. He has that lovely Caucasian face that looks like it just went through an industrial blender.
  • Ein is an insecure n00bie. He’ll probably panic.
  • So many proper nouns we can’t pronounce, so little time! Woo hoo hoo hoo!
  • In order to properly set everything up in an anime, the first line out of a character’s mouth must include another character’s name.
  • “Gaelio.”
    • He needs a buff, Riot.
      • What nationality has purple hair?
  • “McGillis.”
    • Is also an evil asshole who waxes philosophical at every opportunity.
  • “The economy of Earth depends on Mars.”
    • Which is used up.
      • Somehow.
        • Lazy cosmopolitical setup is laaaaaaazy and stupid.
  • “Gjallarhorn.” Who comes up with this shit?
    • In case you didn’t notice, the Japanese are addicted to weird-ass foreign proper nouns. It’s like crack for them.
      • Their uniforms are only 600 years out of date. No one dresses with capes anymore, you retards.
  • For forced labor conditions, those cots are absurdly roomy.
  • Gay chin-up contest is gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.
  • It takes 5 months to go from Earth and back. And Earth plans on enforcing its will on Mars…how exactly? That’s a longer time than it took to go from Great Britain to America.
  • I have no idea whom Orga (Olga?) is talking to.
    • “Whiskers”? The fuck is going on? What are these people talking about?
  • “Man-Machine Interface, the Alaya-Vijnana System”.
    • That one alone cost them 100 trillion yen.
  • Oh, Olga is the kinda of guy with the will to overcome incredible pain without anesthetics. I’m pretty sure that’s not how biology works on any planet.
  • Please let Mikazuki and Orga be lovers. That would be fun.
  • “AFEWA” is the name of a popular Mars department store.
    • That, or the animators threw in the towel two minutes into drawing this scene.
  • What a very timely mass protest.
    • Complete with girls in swimsuits. Oh, Japan. You never change.
  • Wait. I guess it’s actually “Safeway”. Huh. Well, they got me there.
  • Enough about peaceful protesting. Time to go to the slums.
  • “Haba’s Store”. Prime cacti for sale.
    • Wait, so…who are these people?
      • One thing’s for sure: the black lady is definitely not a protagonist.
        • The white chick has red eyes. You know who’s the protagonist. Don’t try to deny it.
  • They stand with their feet apart when going to “attention”. Yeah, these are real soldiers. Totally.
    • And they show up in work uniforms as opposed to any sort of service dress. Mmmm, Okay.
  • Awkward greeting with “Kudelia” is awkward.
    • The poor guys are probably just trying not to laugh at her retarded name.
  • Of course she takes an inexplicable interest in Augus. We could never be original.
    • Fumitan (her maid) is like: “Bitch is on the prowl.”
    • And of course she’s now attracted to him because he was basically considerate.
      • Fumitan: “Bitch is a virgin.”
  • Sunrise still thinks it’s really insightful to have everyone pontificate about philosophy in their spare moments.
  • The Ahab Reactor is a plot device.
  • “Humans are like that.” I WAS WAITING FOR IT.
  • And all of a sudden there’s a massive armed attack.
  • Fumitan: “I’m not fucking paid enough for this. See ya, bitch.”
  • Augus, of course, is a genius at combat.
  • The leaders, of course, are craven and money-grubbing.
    • Every non-protagonist looks like a savage white devil. It’s so comical.
  • “Kudelia” is hopelessly naive. Because reasons.
    • No one saw *this* coming.
  • “Danji” is a fucking idiot and risks the lives of his squadmates in order to be a hero.
  • “Kudelia” is holding her hands together in a typical pose of womanly helplessness.
  • About time for the Mobile Suits to show up.
  • Orlis is a sociopath.
  • Nobody thinks to, like, shoot at their legs. Or something.
  • Yawn. Augus comes to save the day in a fancy Gundam.
  • Orlis is dead.
  • Look at all that katakana in the credits. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.
  • The English in this song is complete gibberish.

Keep avoiding risks and repeating the same tropes, Sunrise. At least it’ll get you into Purgatory.

P for Psychology: Heroes of the Storm, Matchmaking, and a Very Expensive Herring

Heroes of the Storm has been out for almost two months now, to moderate and respectable success. You should go play it if you enjoy games like League of Legends or DOTA2, but don’t enjoy slugging through libraries of guides on obtuse mechanics on last-hitting or jungling or whatever. However, this is not a plug. I condescend to you to discuss a problematic trend in the Heroes community right now. Despite the youth of the game, HotS continues to get a lot of flack for its “matchmaking problems.” This is the purported issue of how Heroes’ matchmaker prioritizes speed over relative skill as measured by MMR, leading to countless posts on how the matchmaker put someone with, say, 3000 MMR on the same team as someone with 2000 MMR. Moreover, since the rise of, MMR checking and other pernicious habits have started to infest the community’s mentality, despite being notoriously inaccurate. I do not dispute the existence of a matchmaking problem per se, since Blizzard has already admitted to certain issues with it, but I highly doubt just how widespread people think it is or if they even understand the supposed problem to begin with. From a higher perspective, my concern lies in people latching onto a convenient scapegoat instead of learning how to deal with the typical and inevitable variance they will encounter in an online multiplayer team game. As I said, Heroes is a young game; bad habits form easily in youth; bad habits die hard.


Including making bad memes.

Matchmaking in an online game has, is, and always will be an art more than a science, particularly in a team-based game. Often people offer blind praise for the matchmaking caliber of a game like Starcraft 2…a single-player RTS game. When you get right down to it, it’s very difficult to match five players against five players while trying to narrow any potential skill-gap as much as possible, let alone accounting for stuff like allowing for friends to queue with each other. Games are not at the point where their systems can make comprehensive value judgments on a human’s behavior, so any sort of matchmaking rating is a post-facto attempt to gauge pure game performance. As everyone knows, damage meters don’t tell you how good of a player someone is. Win ratios don’t reveal if a person yells at his teammates every second game or grasps strategic priorities on every map. At the end of the day, MMR only conveys how often a person has won or lost relative to the player base over a long period of time. Everything in between is variance.

But what is variance? Well, it covers a lot of ground. For instance, no one’s knowledge of the game will ever be complete. Heroes is not a solved game, like checkers. It is constantly shifting and being adjusted by its developers, who are in turn making decisions based on the collective decisions of a vast playerbase. Nobody knows everything about everything in Heroes at every point in time. Most people don’t learn even half the heroes of the game very well, even people in Master League. This is why you end up with players that only play assassins well or who can never play support. You will run into those kinds of people at every layer of the playerbase. Knowledge variance never disappears; it just stabilizes over time as you tend to encounter more people with wider game knowledge and wider competencies.

The same applies to performance variance. Robots are not playing this game: humans are. Humans are meat-bag primates whose nervous systems and physiques did not evolve to play highly complex computer games online. We have physical and mental limitations that affect our ability to perform at tasks. Sleep problems, a bad breakfast (or no breakfast), a miserable day at work, frustrating social events, etc., can all very negatively affect one’s ability to make judgments in a game like Heroes. Glaurung has bad days. Zp has bad days. Nick has bad days (and breaks the screen to cope). Everyone has bad days. Everyone makes a bad call on occasion, whiffs that key skillshot, gets tunnel vision, mixes up spawn timers, or even prioritizes playing a champion to have fun over winning. Just like knowledge variance, performance variance never goes away.


What? I had to get a Snape reference in here.

So what does this all have to do with matchmaking? Well, everything. Matchmaking is no god. It does not determine everything that happens to you. In fact, unless you’re at a very competitive level of the Heroes community, it probably doesn’t affect your games much at all. The other stuff I mentioned is so much more important. Skill gaps, even tiny ones, can have far more drastic influence on how often you win or lose. Your team knowing when to take mercs or to go for an objective, or knowing how certain champions scale and which ones counter which, can make or break a match before it even begins. The mere skill of knowing when to back off is something most people at the lower strata of play don’t understand, even though it’s vitally important. To chalk everything up to “I was matched with a n00b” is both lazy and self-defeating. There are very few matches where you played perfectly and everything was everyone else’s fault. Yes, they do happen, but only once in a blue moon. You have no control over whether someone’s Time Warner connection is shitting itself at that particular moment. You can only control what you’re doing, so you need to focus on helping both yourself and others instead of tossing all blame onto a convenient excuse you don’t really understand.

The Heroes community needs to stop mistaking what has come to be called “matchmaking” for normal shit that every player goes through in every online game. You will be matched with feeders, AFK’ers, the first-pick Sonyas, the last pick Novas, and you will be matched against the first-pick Zeratuls that can Blink-dance with one hand tied behind their backs. It’s called “life”. Deal with it. Matchmaking shouldn’t even be on your mind until you’ve been Rank 1 for months and your win ratio is very stable. Only then can it be an intrusive element that you can legitimately complain about. In the meantime, if you really want to improve, watch replays, watch high-level players in tournaments, analyze what they do, analyze what you’ve done wrong, and treat your teammates with respect and decency. What’s more, part of this “matchmaking” issue arises from the way the competitive ranking system is structured at the moment. It’s much harder to rank yourself against other players and judge where you really are when there are only 50 ranks, only half of which matter, and there’s no Grandmaster League yet to stratify and discriminate between the people who’ve gotten to Rank 1. That will be fixed in time, though. It’s not something to get worked up about.

Heroes has the potential to be a very popular and excellent MOBA, but if we keep instilling this mentality that “matchmaking sucks” and teaching new players to blame their poor performance on a convenient scapegoat, we poison their experience from the very beginning. Even at the very worst, Heroes doesn’t fuck you over nearly as much as a game like LoL or DOTA, where you’re stuck with that feeder for 30+ minutes and just one ill-matched person on either side can sink the game for you and waste such a significant amount of time. If you get stomped in Heroes, the match is over in 10-15 minutes and you move on. We should be selling that as a big feature instead of running around with our heads cut off about that stupid Sonya pick.

Perspective is everything in life, and we shouldn’t lose it here just because it’s a game. Games really are serious business. We enjoy them and invest ourselves in them, which is the only thing that truly matters for us in an otherwise brief and largely futile existence. If you let something as specious as “matchmaking” control your thinking, you’re not going to have fun in Heroes, and that’s a crying shame, because that’s what games are all about.



And winning. Winning is more important.

Heroes of the Storm and the Deathly Release Date

SILLY.SNAPE-PREPAREDBlizzard announced the Heroes of the Storm release date today. June 2. Huh. Well, I’ve been playing HotS up to my eyeballs–enough to keep me from posting on this blog–and have a pretty high MMR, so I’m confident enough to speak on the game’s current status, particularly as to whether or not the game is actually ready for this sort of transition. Snape, loving curmudgeon that he is, has already given away my opinion.

As an aside, yes, I am alive. I do plan to post more, but there’s not too much to talk about as far as anime or whatever goes this season. I will do another Code Geass post soon, as that was a shitton of fun to write and read. Lelouch Lamperouge must be taken to task for all his “grand” schemes that make no bleeping sense whatsoever. I will need many bullets.

Get it? “Bullets”? They’re…eh. Philistines.

Oh, I was talking about Heroes of the Storm. Yeah, Blizzard, I don’t think you know what you’re doing. The game isn’t ready. It just isn’t. I play at high Diamond level and am pretty close to Master. From my perspective, the game has a lot of grime that needs to be rubbed off before you toss it out for public consumption. Most notably, we need more Heroes. Lots more Heroes. I was talking to a friend about it just now and we both agree the Hero pool isn’t sufficiently deep enough to create a healthy meta that supports flexible team composition selection. Sylvanas was a good step in the right direction, but since you’ve so thoughtfully set us down a collision course with destiny, we need about six-to-seven more Sylvanases to be in a decent state come June. Given that you’ve been releasing champions around every six weeks, that’s not enough time for more than two champions…unless you’ve got some surprise package of Heroes in the pipeline just waiting to go. To be honest, I was hoping today’s announcement was going to be a Diablo trio of Heroes or something thereof. Talk about disappointment in that category, but it just brings us back to the relative dearth of meta-viable Heroes to take into the Nexus. In an interview a few months ago, Blizzard stated clearly there were six Heroes in development at that time. Since then, both Lost Vikings and Sylvanas have been released. So that leaves us four. I’m going to assume that since then at least one other Hero has moved into the acute development stage or whatever you want to call it, so say five. Five isn’t enough, especially when there’s no guarantee all of them will have the same release-date quality as Sylvanas.

But that’s not all, Blizzard. There are other problems afoot at Hogwarts, since this school is run by morons who think putting soul-sucking, life-scarring Dementors a hundred yards away from school children is a perfectly sane idea.

Talents. Talents, talents, talents. Talents are a relatively new development in HotS, and it shows. Jaina and Sylvanas both demonstrate that Blizzard is finally getting the hang of what talents ought to look like, but so many other Heroes need an update in that department. There are only a few meta-viable talent builds for every Hero; many of those are sub-optimal. Some Heroes are stuck in the short end of the pool as far as that goes. Tassadar, Tyrael, Uther, etc., all have talents that suck really bad and no one will ever pick in any universe, prime or alternate. Furthermore, that’s not the kind of change you can realistically push out in the space of seven-ish weeks. Sure, surprise me by all means, but I remain skeptical, as I ought to.

Then there’s matchmaking, the canker afflicting HotS. People are not really matched well based on their actual MMR or some other solid performance indicator, but speed and general accuracy. This is less of an issue at the lower ends of the game where no one knows fuck-all and runs around thinking Anub’arak is OP or something, but it quickly becomes a serious issue the higher your skill level goes. At the very top end, it’s pretty annoying at best to be matched regularly with people at half your projected MMR, not that the other team doesn’t suffer from this just as much. It still takes the wind out of the sails of high-end competition. Few things in HotS are more enjoyable than a high-level match between equally skilled teams, win or lose. Trust me, I’ve done it. The problem is that it’s so rare that you have to slug through ten matches of Gazlowe-obsessed weirdos before you can face gather a proper team comp.

Suffice it to say, I’m not sure if Blizzard has listened to Illidan on this matter. We’re not ready for public release. The game systems need to be refined more, the talents need serious attention, we need more Heroes to shake things up and provide more viable picks and counterpicks, along with a simple team/guild/clan system and other similar features. HotS has the potential to be a great MOBA, but that only comes with time and patience. Am I wrong to suspect this release date is more internally dictated rather than developer-oriented? Maybe, but I wouldn’t bet one of my horcruxes on it.

I have no horcruxes, by the way. That was a joke.

5 Things Game Developers Apparently Believe (Are Legitimate Excuses For Their Screwups)

(In response to this from Kotaku. The views expressed henceforth are my own.)

Before I joined the military, I worked at Starbucks as a barista. My formerly conservative views and upbringing gave me a pro-military leaning when it came to American men in uniform. Despite this, I didn’t spend all my time spewing vitriol at the big-budget Pentagon on how carelessly they were using our troops. I didn’t have to: they obviously were. Still, they offered a bunch of reasons why people just didn’t understand the realities of war. I didn’t care then or now. It turns out that, despite not knowing much about the real-life military, I still kind of expected them to follow all those inconvenient rules of engagement and Geneva Conventions and to get shit done in a reasonable time frame with as little loss of life and expenditure as possible despite all the unimaginable conditions they endured every day. Funny how that works.

Six or seven-ish years removed, I still expect that of the military, even though I know a little more about what it’s like in uniform as opposed to outside of it, probably because we are responsible for a vast amount of power that can (and has) ruined entire countries. I mean, I guess it’s probably hard for those guys manning our nukes in Montana somewhere to wake up at 0400 or whatever and deal with the most monotonous, horrible job that they hope to God never ever gets exciting, but I still kinda ruthlessly expect them to foster and maintain that sort of discipline each and every day while they’re handling devices that can bring about The End of All Things (complete with Howard Shore score) in the space of a few minutes. How unreasonable of me. The gall.

I say this stuff as a deliberately hyperbolic example, so let’s take it down a notch: I guess it’s pretty hard to build a building, e.g., an apartment complex, a type of facility in which billions of people live. To make matters worse for my spoiled ass, I happen to reside in a developed country with a decent standard of living and the inconvenient expectations that brings about, so I expect the facility to be safe, clean, protect me from the elements, and all the other sort of things I trade a little over one-fourth of my paycheck for. If, in the course of my residence, I spy a hole in the corner of my study, the roof starting to cave in, or simply a lot of bugs of the various types that shouldn’t be there (apart from spiders. I really don’t give a fuck about spiders and oh my god would you stop freaking out over them), I basically have grounds to complain about this, right?

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

1. Making games is a thousand times harder than you think (so it’s not our fault if we fail miserably)

I am an atrocious blogger. Check how often I post (and what I post about) if you don’t believe me, but jeez, I’ve gotten a little tired of the game industry coming up with all sorts of variations on this same comic mea culpa, which really just says “fuck you faggots it’s not our fault” in regards to stuff that clearly is. It’s hard to feel empathy for them when, oh, I don’t know, the developers for Assassin’s Creed go on record saying “it’s really hard to make female animation models, so fuck women. They’re not important!” then shit out a game that tried to coast on the same tired formula of their franchise’s last five games, hoping you wouldn’t notice how the rendered dolls behaved and appeared very much like the vanguard of Cthulhu.

Let’s say you want to make a game. The first thing you do is set goals. Over the past twenty-five years or so, one of them has tended to be to fix most of the critical bugs before shipping things. Then you can move onto things like story, gameplay, themes, etc. Done.



To make a game now, you need to focus on monetization. This is a fancy corporate term for squeezing money from your potential consumers who have stuck with you all these years, all due to a vicious cycle of spiraling costs and development times for much smaller profit margins, one we loudly lament on our Twitter feeds but refuse to do anything about, since the actual people above us tend to sign our paychecks. I can understand that you have families and can’t really be asked to be moral crusaders at the forefront of changing the industry you’re stuck in or wish to remain a part of, but then that probably means shouldn’t throw stones from your glass houses, as eventually some people might a mistake your attempts at catharsis as a legitimate opinion. Again, the gall.

Maybe I should have read the Necronomicon after all.

Maybe I should have read the Necronomicon after all.

And that’s just the most vocal people at the top, you know, the ones with some capital and wiggle room to freely express themselves in a public space once in a while. Since this is their livelihood and career, one that doesn’t tend to allow crossover into other sections of society, the unfortunate lower members of the studio have to shut up and deal with their studio heads’ questionable management methods and objectives and knock out the overwhelming pile of shit in the “To Do” pile on their desks. Granted, I haven’t worked in the game industry, but considering this is how it works in almost every company or organization worth a damn, I’m going to guess it applies to the oh-so-special cadre of persecuted game developers. Then you have to deal with the inherent uncertainty that comes with an industry with little solid ground and studio shutdowns and hoping Metacritic doesn’t tear the kitten you’ve labored on for five years into tiny pieces and, and, and…

I haven’t even mentioned design and code, because I’m giving up trying to follow the general literary format of the original article for no reason. Let’s skip straight to my point:

No one. Fucking. Cares.

This little “explanation” is something nearly everyone in the work force has to deal with. No one outside the military really understands us; as mentioned before, we’re still expected to do our jobs. Nobody outside the finance world understands it; it’s still kinda expected (but not really forced to, thanks to the power of Mammon that people still haven’t figured out is entirely imaginary) to do something productive for society. Nobody outside the video game industry really understands it; you’re still expected to meet a basic level of quality.

You’re not special snowflakes.

2. Games look like complete ass for 90% of their production (which is why we never explain anything)

You know what I love about Blizzard (that company that makes WoW and some other games whose names I can’t really remember right now…weird…)? Apart from their generally consistent output of solid iteration on established franchises, they’ve become masters at pretending to be really earnest people whose fans don’t empathize with, yet refusing all the while to elucidate and build a culture of transparency of how decisions are made in their meeting rooms. They’ll make long Blue Posts on their forums once in a while about how “we really try hard and care and blah blah blah” while making absurdly clueless decisions about problems in their own games, ones that their vigilant raiders were screaming at them for weeks to fix. Eventually, after a thousand and one mistakes, you stop believing they’re sincere. What’s baffling is that they (and almost all other game studios) insist on adhering to some unspoken Biblical Commandment that internal decisions and priorities are sworn to greater secrecy than CIA black ops, as if revealing their whole methodology–one uniquely tailored to their own institutional culture–will ruin everything. I don’t know why. To go back to my own experience, how the military works is not exactly mystifying. In fact, it’s one of the better understood ways of living in human civilization, since shitty stuff happening to you for inscrutable reasons beyond your control continues to remain literary gold. To be sure, the military doesn’t want you to know the precise details of what it’s up to right now unless you actually need to know, but that’s somewhat reasonable. Not for the video game industry, though. Imagine what would happen if they were transparent. They might get…embarrassed.


Exhibit A.

The above poorly generated meme refers to the brief scandal in World of Warcraft known as Candlegate, in which Ion Hazzikostas (a cool guy that I met very briefly while my face was painted and stuffing itself with a mistakenly large pizza) declared, to the best of his knowledge in that minute, that they wouldn’t be nerfing an in-game item (yon Candle) even though it was clearly overpowered and causing some serious issues. Twenty four hours later, a hotfix was implemented to nerf the Candle. Oops. Egg on face. Hazzikostas was working off the information on the top of his head, but it still reflected a telling sign of the left hand not knowing what the right was doing, if not more. Suffice it to say, attempts at transparency in a corporate structure at odds with the very idea tend not to go very well.

Obviously, it’s not hard to imagine why this aversion to transparency endures. Video game developers are people, and much of what happens in those studios undoubtedly arises less from holistic creative aspirations–or even EA-style shenanigans–and more from the gritwork that we love to watch Frank Underwood spin: politics, self-interest, and ruthless pragmatism. You don’t really want to admit even the possibility that Casey Hudson ruined the Mass Effect franchise for the sake of his own ego or whatever (an unverified and unverifiable rumor, but to quote Mordin Solus: “theory fits evidence”), so you keep your mouth shut. You don’t want to try to put your foot down against Activision’s goal to release another soulless Call of Duty clone to keep the money coming in, so you keep your mouth shut. In a close-knitted industry where much of your resume involves your reputation, burning bridges safely is an opportunity most members will never run into.

The problem is that this sort of mentality actively instills among your fans a very skeptical, hostile, and altogether unforgiving culture towards you. It’s not like your feeble PR antics actually fool any significant number of people. They just communicate that our concerns and desires ultimately have no say: you’re the corporation, we’re the consumer, and we should learn our place. So if corporations want to continue avoiding transparency like the Black Death, they need to accept some amount of unbridled and at times ridiculous levels of criticism from us in return. It’s not like our concerns mean much to you. Why should your concerns mean much to us?

3. When the devs use the word “excited”, they’re not blowing smoke up your ass (except when they are, so good luck trying to tell the difference)

Really? No, really? This is a point? “The devs have feelings too”? You know, I generally assumed someone involved in such a nascent thing as the video game industry would have some kind of passion for it. How else would you get anyone to even start the damn thing? I also assume they’re working under a number of constraints that force them to do stuff they would rather not do, like oversell a talking point that a manager wrote for them. It’s not as if every other human being has ever had to do this.

This is how demeaning this article gets, since apparently everyone who criticizes a game is a Metacritic trollwhore who just wants to shit on game developers’ hopes and dreams and see their families starve. It’s like the author, now a game developer himself, hasn’t considered that most gamers are reasonable, intelligent people who work just as hard as they do (or harder) and would like to see some consistent return for shelling out their hard earned cash on an entertainment medium they enjoy and have dedicated significant portions of their own limited mortal passion and attention to. Let’s be fair: there are some idiots on the Internet who haven’t really thought through the logistics and realities of making a video game, but let’s be fair: those are few and far between. Most of us hating on you for demanding that we pay $60 for The Order: 1886 have some legitimate grievances with a pattern from your industry, a pattern that is no longer explained away as a fluke or variance. It’s become a damnable habit, and you’re just catching on to how we’re catching on. Uh oh.

4. Game devs actually read a lot of critical writing on their work (but don’t actually have to care)

All right, I do believe this point a little more than the others, if only because I watched the Dragon Age team fall on their swords repeatedly to appease the idiots who thought Dragon Age 2 was the Beast and False Prophet all tied up into one baby-eating package. On the flip side, who gives a flying fuck? Consumer criticism, by definition, is ex post facto, i.e., after the transaction is completed. From the standpoint of the law, the video game consumer has very little wherewithal or standing with which to resolve their buyer’s remorse (those massive EULAs have consequences). Keep in mind: we’re not talking about buying some rip-off toy from a mall vendor because we fell for their cheap sales pitches. We’re talking about $50-60 purchases that you, the developers, spend literally years building hype for. You promise us a tremendous amount of shit in the hopes we’ll buy it, much of which borders on blatant deceit. To our credit and often folly, we tend to follow through, because we care about games and tend to have active interest in experiencing this pastime of ours. To claim you empathize with our anger after you have managed to get us to hand over our money that we cannot get back from you is a little rich. At best.

No, it’s as rich as escargot, assholes. There is an implicit contract between the game developer and the gamer: you give us good shit, we buy it from you. If you don’t give us good shit, we at least have a right to complain loudly, as that’s the only thing we can do. No amount of bitching, Reddit-level quality or otherwise, will get a court to listen to us and force you to fork over those greenbacks. You’ve won. The only thing you have to do, as far as we can tell, is move onto the next game. You’ll repeat the cycle. Again, I’m more than willing to entertain the idea that game developers don’t always (or often) have a choice in what they can accomplish during a game’s development cycle, but examples of developers truly listening to feedback and making serious changes–changes they often don’t even have the corporate leverage to effect–are few and far between. Again, Dragon Age is really the only example that comes to mind off the top of my head. Not all of what they changed was good anyway. In the end, those people who hated Dragon Age 2 lost out on their money and time, even though I disagreed with them and spewed vitriol at them myself. Sure, maybe some of their reactions might prove a bit immature in the grand of scheme of things, but yours has no weight whatsoever.

In other words, game developers score no brownie points by claiming “we have passion too.” In the context of the basic video game transaction, they have the upper hand. For them, passion is a luxury. We, as video game players, only buy video games we have passion and interest in to begin with. That is literally the only thing making us willing to fork over several hours’ wages for something like this. When a flagship franchise for a next-gen console barely has enough content to match the real-world number of hours the average worker might have slaved away to buy it, you lose all standing for pity with us.

5. If you think something sucks, that’s not really news to the dev team (so suck it up anyway)

Oh. This again. I get to be enlightened by how game developers have limited resources and have to establish priorities. Yawn. I already explained that we, as normal people, understand this. Going back to Item #2, however, due to the gaming industry’s crippling allergy to transparency, we never get to know why those choices were made. Why do game developers insist on belittling us with stories about how “we have to make hard decisions” while never explaining what the calculus of those decisions is? You think we care if we don’t have any substantive details? Answer: we don’t. Here Anthony Burch waxes rueful about how his team had to choose between the bulk content of Borderland’s 2 and the ending. I dunno, that seems like a pretty big strawman to me, to say nothing of how it speaks to how out of touch he seems to have become with the average gamer. Very few people bought Borderlands 2 for the quality of the story, an element it barely even had. The entire game is sold up on reckless mayhem combined with some silly antics and quality voice acting to provide a transparent excuse for carnage. We want the guns, the classes, and the mindless violence. Claptrap is not Fall-From-Grace. He’s a mascot that produces cheap laughs. Sacrificing the ending of a game that did not prioritize literary quality from the outset is not a sacrifice. It’s called structure. We don’t expect Call of Duty to have an amazing story either. Or Blizzard games post Frozen Throne. Even claiming to value story is a reputation that a gaming company tends to have to earn.

Let’s go back to my favorite dead horse: Mass Effect 3. Explain to me the priorities of that game. It was the end of the trilogy, the closer to two previous games that had constructed a memorable array of characters in a rich and inviting universe we all loved. I’d hazard to say the story of that game should have taken priority over everything else, assuming all that talk about passion wasn’t pure flatulation. Instead, it seems pretty clear said story was low on the priority list. Forget about the nightmare that was the ending for a moment: Mass Effect 3’s story was the weakest of the three games regardless. There was a very noticeable shift in the actions of the characters and how the stories were told in the first place. All the piles of hype about how the story would have branching endings and radical outcomes based on what you’d done before turned out to be ashen night. But what did seem to have the priority of the developers? Oh, the gameplay. I should note that Mass Effect 2 had solved that issue already. Despite the outrage over thermal clips, the gameplay was tight and crisp. What other major iteration was needed? Apparently lots, because the gameplay was the best in the franchise, revamped and sparkled up for all to revel in. Even significant amounts of development time were dedicated to building a feature into a singleplayer RPG that nobody had ever asked for: multiplayer. I bet the months and resources appropriated to that could have been spent on giving us a final boss, or, maybe, a credible concluding scenario that fit the overall tone and themes of the franchise. Oh, but I just remembered Item #4, so here’s a little clarity for you: nobody remembers Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer. Everyone does remember the ending. Those last three minutes ruined the entire Mass Effect franchise and permanently scarred and besmirched the Pixar-like reputation of Bioware as a studio. I certainly hope that the studio discussed priorities after that fiasco.

It never gets old.

It never gets old.

You see, there are priorities, and there are basics. Assassin’s Creed didn’t get that right. Watch Dogs didn’t get that right. More and more games seem to be following in those footsteps. But beyond all that, merely having a list of priorities does not mean those priorities are well-conceived. It’s perfectly possible to ruin a game with the wrong set of priorities. What we’re a little miffed about these days is that you keep making the same mistakes. You keep throwing out games that nobody could believe were ready for release, yet you adopt the corporate line the moment shit hits the fan. A few months later, you rant about how nobody understands you. But we do: you are a normal person, in a normal job, in a normal industry, and we still expect you to do that job. Just like the military, stress and logistics are no excuse for massacring a village. The complexity of building a plumbing system doesn’t make the consumer a whiny brat for suing you when that shoddily built system ruins their month. But in the video game industry, we don’t have any recourse. You take our money and that’s that, often by outright lying to us. So we get to bitch in return and call you names on this giant bathroom wall.

Until you put your money where your mouth is, we’ll keep opening ours. It’s the only option we have, after all. How’s that for constraints?

Retrocaustic: Code Geass – Episode 1

Code Geass is stupid. But how stupid? Let’s find out together.


Shhh. Just let it happen.

Episode I – The Empire Strikes Back Again

  • We get it, Japan. Cicadas happen in the summer. Summer has cicadas. Can we never have this trope ever happen again?
    • NOPE.
    • There. I have summarized all of Japan’s foreign policy for the past 70 years.
      • Also don’t remember how we raped China and Korea for three-ish decades. That never happened. Just keep reminding everyone how we were conquered by a vaguely America-shaped power as if we didn’t deserve it.
        • Even though we did. Really bad.
  • Oh, Japan lost its name. How cute. What hegemon would do this? This doesn’t make any linguistic sense. Renaming Japan as “Area 11” and actually calling them all “Elevens” is so fucking retarded. They seriously reach for the anvil in the first thirty seconds of this show.
  • Knightmares (what a pun!) are the most impractical weapons ever depicted. I know of no way these things could possibly work or provide any advantage worth their incredible expense and numerous obvious engineering flaws over the tried and true methods of warfare already at these nations’ disposal.
    • No, seriously. They’re giant humanoid soldiers that rely on melee combat, i.e., cannon fodder in an era of precision-guided munitions, not to mention are immensely expensive. They can be disabled with a few well-aimed shots to their legs or other weakspots so glaring they might as well be bosses from God of War. Kneecaps, anyone?
      • Why would you even want to emulate the anatomical disaster that is the human kneecap anyway?
    • Knightmares exist to sell toys. That is literally their only purpose in this series. Everything else could have been better accomplished through conventional weapons.
  • Enter Lelouch Lamperouge, who, at eight-ish years old, now has a grudge against an empire he is party to. All after living in Japan for a few months.
    • Suuuuuuuuuure.
  • What did Britannia do to Japan? Why is there all this ruin and devastation in the ghettos alongside a pristine capital after only seven years? Do you really expect me to believe that many Britannians moved to Tokyo in less than one decade and that they were able to build such a pristine capital in that time? Why? Why would they even destroy Tokyo so much anyway? Enough to push the 40 million people living on the Kantou plain into a ghetto? Do writers have any sense of demographics whatsoever or how colonization has actually proceeded before?
    • No.
  • Lelouch Lamperouge is a wunderkid, showing that these writers have no idea how basic human neurology works.
    • Chess is a bullshit way of showing intelligence. People have been working out the strategies to chess for five hundred years and more. It’s a matter of rote memorization.
  • Lelouch Lamperouge is playing hooky many miles away from his school, because this school sucks at basic things like accountability. Of course.
    • Idiot rich nobleman with immense resources and frivolous idle time to play chess with random people remarks how time-stressed, exam-laden high-school students have so much free time. Someone has never gotten laid.
  • [4:31] Did they set that chess board up wrong? Because I’m pretty sure everything about that chess setup is wrong/impossible.
      • Lol.
        • Lol.
          • I’m going to go kill myself.
  • Speaking of which: enter Shirley, tragedy bait.
  • Of course #2: a terrorist attack.
  • Enter Clovis, death bait.
  • Terrorist attack involves the inevitable scene where the racist Britannimericans call the Japanese “Elevens,” then the racist Japanese protest they are called “Japanese” with no sense of irony towards how the Japanese treat Koreans/Chinese in the real world.
    • This happens because writers do not know how to convey racism in a natural, convincing way. They literally have to hold neon-lit arrows labeled “RACIST” over their characters’ heads.
      • This does not bode well for the next forty nine episodes of this series.
  • Enter Kallen Stadtfeld, the humanoid growth attached to Kallen Stadtfeld’s Derriere.
    • Also the least Japanese-looking Japanese person since every other “Japanese” protagonist.
  • Enter Diethard, the evil journalist.
  • The Britannimericans are utterly incompetent in controlling their own capital. I should like to know how these ragtag Japanese terrorists–who, despite the collective protests of all anime in history, stick out like sore thumbs–managed to sneak into the heart of the Britannimerican district, steal a top-secret truck supposedly containing POISON GAS, all while having in-tow an uncamouflaged Knightmare. Absolutely nobody in Tokyo does their jobs.
  • We’re speaking about highly sensitive and classified information within earshot of three dozen or so people with no business knowing any of it. Now I’m beginning to understand.
  • Why are the streets so goddamn empty in the middle of the capital?
    • The animators were lazy cheapskates.
  • Why did the driver drive that way? You know, the worst way possible? What reason did he have for veering off the road like a maniac? It was just a motorcycle. Use the right lane (it’s Japan) and pass him.
    • In other words, if Kallen Stadtfeld’s Derriere’s dumbass driver had not been a douchebag, Code Geass would not have happened.
  • Why does Rivalz use the word “puraido?” Do the Japanese not have a word for pride in this alternate universe? You know, like 誇り?
    • At no point do the Japanese get to complain about the decline of their language ever again. Code Geass has taken away their hall pass.
  • Oh look, Lelouch got stuck in the truck. I wonder what will happen next.
  • Why are you using Knightmares to chase down a truck supposedly filled with POISON GAS? What makes you think Knightmares are the tool for such a delicate situation (or any situation)? For God’s sake, just track the truck and summon some special forces to surround and capture the people when they eventually stop somewhere. Or better yet: announce the idiot Elevens have stolen a truck filled with POISON GAS that they have no idea how to contain or handle.
    • Note: this is actually how the situation ends up being handled anyway. The Knightmares prove utterly useless.
  • Wait, why was a top-secret project supposedly involving POISON GAS allowed to be located in the middle of one of the most densely populated areas on the planet?
    • Not even God knows.
  • Kallen Stadtfeld’s Derriere’s dumbass driver suggests unleashing POISON GAS in the middle of one of the most densely populated areas on the planet. Kallen Stadtfeld’s Derriere should think about why she brought this monster along with her.
    • It certainly wasn’t for his fantastic driving skills.
  • How does Kallen Stadtfeld’s Derriere have the required military training needed to use a Knightmare? Like, how is that temporally possible?
  • Enter Jeremiah Gottwald, flamboyant nutcase.
  • Enter Lloyd, the Mad Prince of Awesome.
    • And the woman who works for him. Whatever her name is. I don’t remember. That’s how badly they treat her.
      • Go Japan. Yaaaaaaaaaaaay.
  • IT’S POISON GAS. GASP. (Hee hee.)
    • Except POISON GAS doesn’t talk.
      • Or sparkle.
  • Why are 40 million people living in a massive ghetto that definitely does not have the resources to support their numbers? Does Britannia not know this will inevitably lead to very bad things?
  • Enter Suzaku Kururugi, also known as Mary Sue Goody Two-Shoes (MSGT). This is his name now. Yes.
    • That karate move MSGT just did is literally impossible.
  • Lelouch: “You don’t want more deaths? Then obliterate Britannia!”
    • This would require more deaths, Lelouch.
  • Lelouch is reasonably shocked that MSGT would join the Britannimerican military, of all things.
  • Canister opens at the most random of times.
    • For no reason.
      • At all.
  • Enter C.C., servant of Morgoth.
  • MSGT believes he can change the system from within.
    • Thirty seconds later, MSGT is shot by his brutal, sadistic Britannimerican commander.
      • MSGT might be mistaken.
  • Clovis orders his armies to destroy one of the most populated areas on earth on a whim. This is not a good idea: it is neither possible to carry out on any reasonable time scale, nor does it accomplish its stated purpose, since it merely displays that Clovis is an utterly incompetent ruler who has lost control of the situation.
  • I think it’s been like ten minutes since one of the human beings on this show did something rational.
  • Why does Lelouch think Suzaku is dead? There was literally no blood from that gun shot. None. Check the frame.
    • That baby is fucked.
  • Shirley strikes. Her aim is deadly.
    • Why didn’t Lelouch set his cellphone to vibrate or silent in the half-hour he was hiding in the back of a truck being driven by people he thought were terrorists?
  • C.C. takes one for the team. It’s funny because the higher-ups know C.C. can’t die, so they would never believe these murderous soldiers’ cover story anyway.
  • Enter Nunnally, walking plot device.
  • C.C. spawns a web of foreshadowing that the show will never follow through on.
  • Why do they all cackle when they kill themselves? And why do their guns sound like water balloons?
  • So this was actually one of my favorite parts of the series, when Lelouch narrates his whole saga and commits fully to the path he’s set himself upon, switching from the past tense to the present seamlessly and elegantly in Japanese. The English translations have always been rather lackluster. I’ve always preferred something a bit like “So it’s worth it” for Lelouch’s last line in the episode, rather than the dry “So that’s why.”
    • Anyway.

This is gonna be fun. Hee hee hee.

Heroes of the Storm – Tassadar Feedback

I got into the cPRETTY.TASSADARlosed alpha for Heroes of the Storm about two weeks ago. This is the one Blizzard game I’ve been interested in for a while now. I bounce into WoW every now and again to hang out with guild mates, but the game lacks pull to keep me logged in every day. For the past two weeks I’ve been mostly maining Tassadar. I’m close to unlocking Level 10 on him. My plan as the game’s development goes forward is to main Tassadar and Nova and expand out to another support and assassin. In general, the game feels good. It’s quite distinct from LoL’s style. Most pleasant is how anti-snowbally HotS is compared to LoL. Very, very rarely do games feel hopeless. Even if you’re several levels behind, one good team fight can completely turn the game around. It makes playing the game decidedly less miserable than LoL, although not as engaging. I’d say that’s a fair exchange.

Anyway, onto the actual feedback:

Tassadar is designed to be a support/assassin. I put “support” first simply because all his core abilities fulfill that role. You’re not going to do the most damage on your team, but your clutch Q’s can save the day, a well-placed W’s can decimate an enemy team, and a Force Wall or Archon can turn a teamfight in your favor. Regardless, Tassadar always servers to augment his team’s abilities. To be honest, I’m not really sold on calling Tassadar an “assassin” either, unless Blizzard is just using “assassin” as a blank term for “damage dealer,” a nomenclature I deem problematic. Needless to say, there’s a very good reason Tassadar is marked as “Very Hard” on the champion select screen. His base kit is doesn’t seem terribly focused or intuitive, and I think this will make new players shy away from him. It takes time to really grasp what Tassadar can do. What’s worse, a lot of it doesn’t feel very interactive. You throw out shields, you throw out Storms and hope and your enemy stands in them, you cast Oracle at opportune times, and Archon is really just a temporary DPS buff. The most interactive and fun ability he has is Force Wall, which unfortunately feels weak compared to his assassin build.

HotS is built off its talent system, which I won’t take too much time to explain. Any one with a passing familiarity in RPGs or gaming should understand the concept of a talent system. A full list of Tassadar’s talents can be found here. Overall, Tassadar’s talent choices after his latest rework don’t feel particularly compelling. As you’ll see below, most of his tiers have one or two good talents that crowd out the rest. Talent trees have always been haunted by the specter of opportunity cast. It’s just as important to consider what you’re going to give up as much as what you’re going to get from a talent. As such, on Tassadar you really know what you’re going to pick beforehand, so long as you’ve decided on which path to proceed down.

Tier 1:

  • Conjurer’s Pursuit – due a lack of options, this is mandatory for a support-build Tassadar. You’ll be spamming out spells as much as you can. Having a steady amount of regen is vital on a champion as mana-hungry as Tassadar is. You have to be pretty proactive about building up your regen, though, which I like. It doesn’t come necessarily for free.
  • Overload – useless talent due to Psi-Infusion.  Scrap it and provide something more for assassin-Tassdar, or change other talents to make it more attractive. A simple increase to Psionic Storm’s range serves no real purpose, as nine times out of ten your enemies will walk out of it, and that tenth time you need the range to snipe a target means you’ve done something wrong. Given that this talent is taken significantly more often than Psi-Infusion, yet gives the same win-rate, I rest my case.
  • Psi-Infusion – very good for assassin Tassadar, largely for the same reasons as Conjurer’s Pursuit. You need to hit 9 targets to really break even with it, but it saves you a ton of mana nonetheless and allows you to lane and team fight without worrying about going OOM quickly.
  • Minion Bulwark – absolutely useless. Scrap it and provide something more for support Tassadar. There are a handful of times where I’ve ever even thought about using my shield on a minion, and it’s almost always been a waste of mana.

Tier 2:

  • Mental Acuity – my default talent on any build. Frankly, this tier doesn’t have very many options. Oracle is a key component of Tassadar’s presence, and being able to cast it twice as often offers near unrivaled utility.
  • Leeching Plasma – this talent might be good if you’re paired with a tank or such, but it’s usefulness seems pretty situational. I don’t pick it too often.
  • Promote – Terrible. This game is not minion-focused whatsoever. Scrap it.
  • Healing Ward – can heal allies for 33% of their health if they stand in it for 10 seconds. I guess that’s not awful, but really, why would I take this?
  • Reinforce Structure – borderline useless. Borderline OP on Haunted Mines. This talent alone has won games for me on that map, particularly if the enemy team gets a stronger golem. However, this is entirely due to the golem’s behavior. The counterargument is that other talents in this tier can help you prevent that situation from even happening, so there’s not a very strong argument for it. Needs a buff or rework.

Tier 3:

  • Khala’s Embrace – Default talent on support Tassadin. An extra few hundred health everywhere you or your allies go is always useful. Synergizes well with other talents too, and makes sure shield absorbs do not get wasted ever. Very good talent.
  • Static Charge – default talent on assassin Tassadar. Greatly increases his DPS output and provides some much needed interactivity to his playstyle. Good talent.
  • Deep Shift – useless. Scrap it. You use your E to dodge abilities or break out of roots and such. Its duration is secondary. At no point can I think an extra 0.75 seconds would be worth it compared to the other talents in this tree.
  • Calldown: MULE. People were calling this talent OP somewhere, but I really, really don’t see it. You just snipe the thing down, and 100 HPS cannot counteract a full team push. Maybe I’m missing something.

Tier 4:

  • Archon – core talent for assassin Tassadar, but, frankly, a really boring one. It’s a DPS buff, as I said above. You get some juicy damage output for a few seconds, and data says it’s far more effective than Force Wall in winning games, yet that’s also a factor of sheer popularity.
  • Force Wall – core talent for support Tassadar. Can make or break teamfights. Has saved my ass countless times. Best ability Tassadar has in his arsenal as far as fun and feel goes. Effectiveness is suspect, though. I think it needs a buff.

Tier 5:

  • Distortion Beam – my default talent on either Tassadar build. A 25% slow is such good utility it’s almost impossible to resist.
  • Presence – mediocre talent. See Deep Shift. It’s some convenient grace, but that’s about it. The flipside is that Dimensional Shift effectively silences you, so it can trigger at inopportune times.
  • Scryer – mediocre talent. I don’t see what it really adds. Evasive Shielding fulfills this roll in the talent tree.
  • Spell Shield – no one takes this. There’s a good reason why.
  • Shrink Ray – the anti-assassin talent. It’s not bad. It’s not great, but it’s not bad.

Tier 6:

  • Evasive Shielding. Awesome talent for support Tassadin. Don’t change this.
  • Resonation – meh. A slight slow that doesn’t really do much. Scrap it.
  • Second Strike – a free Psychic Storm every cast greatly multiplies the effectiveness of the ability.
  • Dimensional Warp – why? Again, Dimensional Shift is something you want to be using as little as possible.

Tier 7:

  • Resurgence of the Storm – bullshit talent. I predict Blizzard will delete this talent soon. No MOBA has ever made a generally available instant-revive component work. It’s either useless or broken beyond belief. Right now it’s the latter.
  • Storm Shield – no one takes this.
  • Twilight Archon – everyone takes this.
  • Force Barrier – makes Force Barrier easy to use. I think the range should be baked into Force Wall and the talent given another component.

Current State and recommendations:

Tassadar’s support side needs some buffs. Right now everyone seems to go assassin Tassadar, and I think the reason is the same one behind his recent nerfs: he doesn’t give up much to do damage, so why would you go support unless you’re overloaded on damage already? Tassadar support needs to bring a little more active and reliable utility to the battlefield. Until Level 20, Force Wall is hard to use due to its short range, and Oracle is great but very, very passive and boring. On the other side of the spectrum, assassin Tassadar needs more flavor and some toning down to give support Tassadar room to shine, namely some tradeoffs for his damage.

Suggested talent changes. These are brainstorming ideas, nothing more. They are not meant to be taken too seriously:

Tier 1:

  • Minion Bulwark replaced with Khala’s Wisdom – If your shield is consumed with X seconds or expires without absorbing any damage, Y(%) of the mana cost is refunded.
    • Do you want to go for long-term mana regeneration for more general utility, or shield heavy for support Tassadar? It at least offers a potential decision, as opposed to now.

Tier 2:

  • Leeching Plasma (active talent) – Tassadar converts X of his remaining shield into Y stored damage that will be dealt by his next basic attack. This damage can stack up to Z, but will be lost if not used within A seconds.
    • Such a component would add some interactivity to his damage build and force you to make decisions on whether to risk your shield for burst. It would also tone down his innate utility by motivating him to shield himself over his allies.
  • Reinforce Structure – Reinforce Structure now reduces damage taken by the building by X% for Y seconds.
    • Gives the talent some added value. It might not save the talent, but it’s at least something.

Tier 3:

  • Deep Shift replaced with Dimensional Distortion – Deep Shift costs no mana and stuns enemies around you for Y seconds upon exiting it.
    • Allows Deep Shift to be used offensively, and makes the other Deep Shift-themed talents more appealing. Could also consider a cooldown reduction element instead of a mana cost one.

Tier 4:

  • Force Wall – make Force Barrier’s range increase baseline; nerf Force Wall’s baseline duration to compensate.

Tier 5:

  • Scryer – No longer gives increased duration. Casting Scryer grants X% movement speed to yourself and all allied champions in its initial cast range for Y seconds. Enemy champions revealed by Oracle are visible for Z seconds even if they leave Oracle’s range.
    • By making Scryer an active speed boost to your teammates, it makes the spell a little more interactive.

Tier 6:

  • Resonation – reduces Psionic Storm’s duration/damage by X%, but enemies struck by Psionic Storm are rooted for Y seconds.
    • Y would have to be brief, but making Psionic Storm a brief root or stun would add some reliability to spell and make Overload a much more attractive talent. As a tradeoff, its duration or damage would be reduced.

Tier 7:

  • Force Barrier – Force Wall’s cooldown is reduced by X seconds and its duration is increased by Y seconds.

Despite all of this feedback, Tassadar is a pretty fun champion, one I look forward to making one of my support mains as the game progresses towards release.

Dragon Age: Inquisition – The Beginning of the End

Unlike my previous post, this is meant to be a more serious take on Dragon Age: Inquisition. Fair warning: it is pretty nerdy. Feel free to skip over it if you don’t have a significant interest in the lore of the Dragon Age franchise and such. If you proceed, know that I never pull punches with spoilers.

Continue reading

Dragon Age II: A Study in Insanity

We have fifteen days (HOLY CRAP JUST FIFTEEN DAYS) before Dragon Age: Inquisition comes out and I lose all contact with the outside world. In order to hype myself up a bit more–to the point where I think I’m losing my mind with how obsessed I am with this universe–I’ve been replaying Dragon Age II. Before I get castrated by the shitzillion fucktards who always come out of the woodwork whenever Dragon Age II is mentioned, no, I didn’t hate the game. I’m near the 400-hour mark on Dragon Age II. I love this game so much, and sometimes I don’t know why. I’ve been of the entirely unorthodox opinion that Dragon Age: Origins was overhyped from the beginning, and while I enjoyed that game too, I didn’t get involved in it like I have DA2. To this day I still don’t understand why everyone likes DA:O so much. Sure, the game is polished like no other, but apart from the fascinating world it presents, the content within is pretty unremarkable. The graphics style always bothered me–it came across as both bland and unrealistic. By that I mean it just doesn’t feel real; it’s more like you’re watching a storybook unfold. Maybe that was the point, but it just doesn’t feel like something positive to me. The ways he characters move, look and behave feels so stilted, somehow lacking in emotion. Then you actually get into combat and you want to kill yourself: oh look, another twenty seconds of auto-attacking while your rogue takes ten of those seconds just to get across the battlefield to the enemy. Wait, why did I even bring a rogue? Oh, for traps. That’s it. Otherwise I’d just bring three mages and a tank and kill everything with one hand tied behind my back. Then I’ll go wade through the generic storyline with a cadre of characters I barely care about. I’ve concluded that DA:O is an object lesson in how execution and polish can cover a multitude of sins, while DA2 is an object lesson in how good fundamentals can’t necessarily do the same.


This dragon respawns every time someone says “DA2” on the internet.

At its core, DA2 was a better game than DA:O. Storyline, characterization, combat, thematic coherence, etc., everything was conceived much better from the ground up. More than anything else, Hawke’s adventures put the “role” back into “role-playing game.” It did this better than Mass Effect, I think, which is high praise indeed. The story excelled at putting you in Hawke’s shoes, at making you feel like this refugee building their way up from nothing and becoming important, with all the consequences that has. Act 1 has you poor and weak, running around Kirkwall doing menial tasks as befitting a noble whose house has fallen from grace. The characters you met along the way got swept up in that story and became crucial parts of the tapestry you were building. Aveline, Fenris, Varric, Isabela, Merrill, Bethany, Carver (who?), and even Anders (hiss) all felt like real people you had a deep connection with. Some of Bioware’s best characters and moments ever come from this game, particularly Aveline and Varric. Then combat in DA2 proved far more interactive and engaging, with each class becoming much better defined with strengths and weaknesses you could appreciate and build a party around. Something people also fail to appreciate is that Bioware took a risk with DA2. While EA might have thought otherwise, it’s clear DA2 was a conscious departure from its predecessor. Bioware wanted to try something different: they wanted to work with a narrative structure they hadn’t really done before. They could have just made a money-grabbing sequel-copy to DA:O and the fanboys would have bought it up so long as they polished it right and checked off all the boxes, but they didn’t. Anyway, all in all, DA2 was a good game. So why wasn’t it a great game?

Well, DA2 got rushed out the door, and it shows. We all know about the One True Cave. I’ll first remark that Skyrim had One True Cave too: it just took twenty million copies sold for people to realize it. That’s why I go back to the lesson in polish and execution: DA2 only had the One True Cave and crammed every second quest into it: combined with the constrained scope of Kirkwall and the world you were set in, you caught on pretty quickly, so unless were already taken in by the game’s events and other systems, like I was, you’d get frustrated and bored in no time. Contrarily, Skyrim had a larger world that maintained the illusion of novelty, so your mind didn’t really notice or care it was wandering through the exact same cavern a billion times on random side-quests. A few years removed, people suddenly realized that the Skyrim released at launch sucked and that all the hype surrounding it was dumb. Hey, too late now, idiots: Bethesda has all your money, and I’m pretty sure your critical credibility just flew out the window as well. You really don’t care if companies milk games; you only care if it’s a game you don’t like. People rag on EA for releasing Madden every year and milking the shit out of it, but there are some legitimate reasons for that, such as roster changes and the ever-changing world of American football that six billion people don’t understand. Meanwhile, Bethesda has released the exact same game three times in a row, and people worship them. Apart from graphical fidelity and some minor changes to stats and talents, Morrowind and Skyrim, two games released almost ten years apart from each other, are indistinguishable. Same bland talking heads all voiced by the same dozen people, same horrible melee combat, same unexpected messiah narrative structure, same sidequest system, same musical themes, even the same goddamn opening. If I have to sit through one more sequence where I’m a prisoner of the Empire being dragged off somewhere…

Wait, what was the original point of this post? Oh yeah, I’m playing through Dragon Age II again. It’s been a little while, but this sums up my reaction to everything that happens:


Hawke has way better hair, though.

More particularly, I’m focusing on the Templars and how the Circle of Magi is utterly broken. Seriously, it’s so dumb how everything within this system operates. “We’re afraid of mages, so we’ll lock them up and have them watched over by drug-addicted zealots with no effective oversight or recourse, all while teaching them their charges are one step away from killing everyone. What could possibly go wrong?” An excellent question, my lovelies. In the first Act, the Grand Cleric, who possesses ultimate authority over the mages and the Templars alike, says to Hawke with a straight face: “It is not my role to form judgments on her [Knight-Commander Meredith’s] character.” Um, what did you just say? Because that’s wrong, you cow: that is exactly your role. You are supposed to be overseeing what the Templars are doing, otherwise this system cannot function. Don’t you realize the kind of people the Templars are? They’re brutal sociopaths at best. You need people smarter than them to make sure–oh, fuck it. You die in two more acts, Elthina, and it’s your own damn fault. Anyway, it seems like everything the Templars do is hilarious. Cullen says he’ll let a recruit, who was captured by crazy mages with some stupid plan to forcibly possess some Templars with demons, be promoted to full knighthood if he doesn’t show any signs of possession after ten years. Ten fucking years? Really? You’re going to condemn this poor guy to a life of poverty and menial labor just like that? Are you stupid? Let’s presume he is possessed, even though it’s clear Hawke arrived in time before the crazy mages managed to do anything to him. Hey, Cullen: spirits and demons don’t exactly have a concept of time, probably because they exist in a realm where there is no concept of time. If this recruit really has a demon om-nom-noming on his soul right now, all it’ll do is just wait until you no longer suspect his host. Boom: party time, baby. Do you not study the basic principles of magic and demons? If you don’t, why are you in charge of overseeing mages in the first place? Isn’t basic education on this stuff kind of important for you to ensure you’re doing your job correctly? Do you even care? No, of course not. Every second Templar is either an obvious rapist or a clueless fucktard that couldn’t care less about things.

This extends not only to DA2 itself, but all the books and such we see beyond it. In Dragon Age: Asunder, Lord Seeker Lambert is a hopeless douchebag who wants to kill every mage he sees, and this is the guy in charge of the organization that’s theoretically in place to step in when the Templars don’t do their jobs? How does that sound like a good idea? Why were the Seekers even brought in to begin with? Oh yeah, we haven’t even talked about Madame Psychopathy Herself, Knight-Commander Meredith, who gets the 9:37 Dragon Award for Leader of the Year. How this fucking moron managed to acquire such a position of authority is beyond me. She should have been removed the moment she started making mages Tranquil because reasons, which is the most flagrant violation of Chantry law ever. Mages who have passed their Harrowing cannot be made Tranquil. Oh, and she denies mages appearances at court, locks them up in their rooms, and immediately suspects anyone who runs away from her nightmarish prison-state a practitioner of blood magic. In Act 3, you hunt down some mages, two of them who do turn out to be blood mages, and you find out that they both resorted to blood magic because the fucking Templars treated them like shit. Meredith even suspects the third mage, some hopeless virgin who just wants to get laid, and casually decides if he’ll keep his life or not. Fuck you. Finally she just goes into batshit mode and orders the execution of every mage in the city after Anders blows up the Kirkwall Chantry, even though the terrorist responsible for it is right there in front of themof all and admits to acting entirely on his own with no help or support from the Circle whatsoever. Her justification? “The people of Kirkwall will want retribution for this.” Mmkay. I believe you, Knight-Commander, if “people of Kirkwall” means “me, Meredith Coocoopants.” Pretty sure the people of Kirkwall don’t even know what the fuck just happened, as you let all but three seconds pass between the explosion and your casual decision to commit mass murder. It’s almost as if you were just waiting for an excuse to kill all these mages anyway. The mages even offer her complete and unconditional surrender, but NOPE. She’s just gonna kill everyone. Hey, Cullen: you might want to stop her. Are you going to do something, man? Gonna, you know, point out how weird it is she’s lost her fucking mind? I dunno. Anything would work at this point.


Or 4chan. Same difference.

What’s most annoying, though, is that everyone treats the problem of mages as some unsolvable dilemma of the ages, when it’s really just a simple matter of civil rights and secular oversight. As it is in Thedas, mages live within a system of slavery. They’re locked up in the Circles their whole lives and are only dragged out when the Chantry needs them to fry some Qunari or darkspawn. The social contract between them and the rest of civilization is completely one-sided, with society asking everything of them while giving them nothing in return except the nominal right to existence. Oh yeah, that’ll keep them happy. Sure. The first thing you could do is not have them watched over by religious zealots. Bioware has even glossed over the obvious sins of the Templar Order, much to my chagrin. I can’t imagine just how much rape and abuse has gone on within it for nearly a thousand years. We’re still dealing with the issue of widespread rape and sexual harassment within our militaries even in the twenty-first century. On the other hand, mages will always need some system of oversight over them. To me, this is the most fascinating element of the Dragon Age setting: the question of what to do with people who are naturally separate from the rest of society. The innate potential of mages far exceeds that of their fellow men. How do you balance the desire to use this potential for the betterment of mankind against the threat of them using it against everyone else? It’s a captivating question for me, and one that opens up some interesting paths to explore. I really hope Bioware doesn’t drop the ball with Inquisition. Everything seems like it’ll be great, but then again, so did Mass Effect 3, and we all remember how that turned out.


Choose the Instagram filter you’ll use to watch everyone you ever loved die horribly.

We’ll find out in fifteen days. In the meantime, I’ll go knife Anders and Meredith again. Unlike the One True Cave, that shit never gets old.