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Chris

Idle Weekend May 20, 2016: History Doomed to Repeat Itself

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Idle Weekend May 20, 2016:

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History Doomed to Repeat Itself
The Weekenders are enamored with the most gloriously goofy video game of 2016 thus far: id's fast, furious, and self-assured Doom reboot. When not scouring demon-infested Martian hellscapes (or just... Hell's hellscapes) for Doomguys to fist-bump, Danielle ponders the delights of Soft Body and Rob goes toe-to-toe with a million-orc army.

Discussed: Doom, Wolfenstein: The New Order, WOW, Gwent, Blitzball, Total War: Warhammer, Soft Body

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When you guys were discussing franchises' and their ability to bring new people in, and you went to Marvel, I felt it so hard. I've seen like 5 Marvel movies: the first and second Iron Man, that Hulk movie that ended up not really being that important, the Avengers, and Guardians of The Galaxy. I was interested in Civil War because it was getting lots of praise and had an interesting premise and I thought 'huh, I should try getting into this stuff". As it turns out, though, getting into the MCU is crazy daunting. I looked online, and generally the list of films people were saying are 'must-sees' for CW were all the Iron Man movies, both Avengers movies, and both Captain America movies. That's a lot of movies, and ultimately what I would be watching those movies for would be the 'privilege' of being able to go out and continue to watch these films, each time a new one came out, where the circumstances change and the characters hardly do, forever- presumably. I probably won't spend my time that way. I'll keep watching the Netflix MU stuff, and just not even bother. Which is sad, cuz I keep really wanting to be there, and Marvel just keeps adding to the pile. 

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If it's any comfort I have only seen avengers 1 & guardians and loved Civil War. For Civil War, I think all you really need is to know who Bucky is. They do actually a really good job of catching you up very quickly.

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I've noticed a particular comment about the Doom protagonist in a few contexts, including Idle Weekend, so this is as good a time as any to bring up a slight point of confusion for me over interpretation of his character. Several people mention the "punching the terminal" thing as an indicator/textual statement about how Doom is all about Action and "Dudebro" characterisation of the protagonist. It seems pretty clear to me that Doomguy's behaviour is actually a little more nuanced than this - there's actually a surprising amount of characterisation given for him in his little interactions in cutscenes (looking pointedly at a dead body when Hayden does one of this justifications of using Argent energy being "for the benefit of humanity"), and it seems rather clear that Doomguy isn't so much a Dudebro as a guy who (understandably) Really Hates Demons and People Who Try To Justify Means From Ends (given his backstory, it seems reasonable) - a bit later in the game, he does take time to perform some actions on his own initiative, to protect another character, which shows he's not just all about killing. It's actually one of the more impressive things about Doom that it manages to actually do a little physical characterisation whilst also being a full-on Action FPS of the kind that we've not had in years.

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I'm not sure that sequels are bad, in general.

 

I mean, if 90% of everything is crap, I'd say sequels tend to fare better than wholly original material. The reason being that more often than not they are building on a successful foundation. That's not to say there aren't sequels that miss the mark. But I think the fact that sequels often follow successful, beloved properties causes us to perceive them more harshly.

I also don't think the stagnation of characters in the MCU is the result of sequelization so much as it's endemic to superhero storytelling, where superheroes need to pull double-duty as symbols. A similar stagnation happens in the comics, where the storytelling is not built around sequels, but around serialization.

I think it's also strange that in almost the very next breath, Rob & Danielle rave about a TV show--a serialized story, in other words. How does a serialized story differ from a series of sequels? Well, on the one hand, a serialized story *might* be better planned in the long run than a series of sequels--and I can see how that would make it preferable. But on the other hand, it by definition is not going to give you the complete story you crave. Not until the very very end, and often only if you're fortunate that the show doesn't go on longer than the story the writers have planned, or get canceled prematurely. By contrast, in good hands, a series of sequels is many complete stories.

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I'm generally wary of sequels because they so rarely develop the aspects I cared about in their predecessors. Mass Effect 2 polished off the gameplay but changed the story to a completely different direction than I wanted. This sequel problem can happen because of trying to make something with wider appeal, or because the creators just had a different idea of what made the original popular. Either way, it ends up meaning that a polished sequel is disappointing to me, and I wonder if that's what Rob meant on the cast. Though at the same time it can fall flat by retreading the same ground pointlessly and feeling like the same old stuff.

 

My general "sequels are bad" mentality is that I never assume I'll like a sequel just because I liked what came before, but I'm interested enough to find out whether they've built on what I liked or not.

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I don´t think that sequels by themselves are bad to storytelling (or something else), what is bad is poor planning, structure and understanding (by this I mean, per example, know why people liked or disliked this or that).

 

To be fair, sequels (or franchises) could, with good planning, improve storytelling, because instead of squeezing the whole plot in a single volume, you spread it around, meaning that each part and it own elements, have more space to develop and breath. Therefore, in fact, despite begin a series, is actually easier to get in to, because instead of single volume which tries to fit something of the size of the Lord of the Rings, you get piece by piece, that is easier to digest to new people, but also have the depth which older fans can enjoy.

 

Specially if you keep in mind, that many times, a game total "length" isn´t, like say, a book or movie, spend in just the development of the story, so instead of having "300 pages", in a game you might, depending of it design, you might trying to fit Game of Thrones in "100 pages", since the other are used to something else.

 

Outside of storytelling, sequels could also lead to polish of skills, that could lead to foundations to new games (or concepts/ideas which could used by them).  Overall, I don´t think sequels as bad, but as a part of landscape which both have people which desire to make them and the people which to play them.

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DOOM is just the greatest. Like the hosts, I had middling to minimal expectations for the campaign and was THRILLED to discover how great it is. I am digesting the campaign quite slowly, one level every couple of days, and I enjoy every second of it. I usually game with headphones because my wife and I share a small apartment and she can't help coming over to see what I am snickering or chuckling about every 10 minutes. The industrial metal soundtrack, the blood, the demon limb tearing and head smashing, it's just so fun. 

 

It's also incredible how well optimized it is for PC. It runs at blistering speeds on my fairly dated gaming rig. Really into it.

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It seems many people are surprised by DOOM being good, and having not played the game, but watched some gameplay footage - it seems to make a lot of sense. The 

, which is what many people formed their initial expectations around, is still horrible. It doesn't come off as confident, but rather as fan-service and reactionary. Does anyone who has actually played the game had a chance to look back at the trailers and early gameplay footage and noticed that it just looks different (I didn't actually dwell on the subject - but it seems that the curve for the animations is a little different in the final game? That could be just the sound effects for some of the weapons changing)? Is the E3 demo level actually a part of the game?

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