All About Maxwell
When looking at the feedback for on "Forging WeaponLord," I noticed several commentators asking the obvious question: where's WeaponLord 2? Short answer: I don't know. I wish it was in my hands right now, and so does James Goddard, Dave Winstead, and the rest of the old WL team. Sadly, there aren't any concrete plans to bring back WeaponLord (yet), but I did pick up some tidbits about what the creators would like to do in a sequel.
NEW CHARACTERS: While the original WeaponLord only had room for seven characters, the team had plenty more ideas for other barbaric fighters. These included a spear-wielding orc, two gargoyles stacked on top of each other, and a demonic pit beast that would have been the tortured pet of Zarak. Having more dual-wielding characters was also something the developers wanted.
EXPANDED STORY: As outlined in this document, the canonical story would have Korr's long-lost brother, Kang (who was also Bane), returning to lead his brother's tribe after Korr is mortally wounded; Zarak's father, Raith, who is mentioned throughout the original game, would become a fully-fledged character; and Zorn would have also returned, however, as Goddard noted, "he would have been changed by his encounter with the possessed shield." The idea of WeaponLord 2 being able to read your save data from the original game and tailor the story based on how you played and which endings you received was also tossed around, though Goddard admits this would be a nightmare to program.
SMOOTH DIFFICULTY CURVE: This was a big issue for Winstead and Goddard. WeaponLord was a complex game, and the designers think its sequel could retain the first game's play style without being so impenetrable. As an example, they mentioned how, in Street Fighter IV, a new player could pick up the controller and start throwing fireballs and doing ultra combos without too much effort; they could feel badass right away. Then, when those new players saw combos using one-frame links and focus attack canceling, they were incentivised to improve their skills so they too could use those techniques. The original WeaponLord didn't have this; if you weren't already proficient at the game you got destroyed.
2D VERSUS 3D: The debate between making WeaponLord 2 a 2D or 3D fighting game is still up in the air. Should it be a fully 3D fighting game, like SoulCalibur, or a game with 3D character models fighting in a 2D arena, like Street Fighter IV? That decision hasn't been made, yet. In either case, Goddard is confident he could use 3D characters and still retain the same soul of the original game--while also adding in a ton more animations.
So, why hasn't WeaponLord 2 (or WeaponLord HD) happened yet? There are lots of reasons: time, money, and the fact that Namco--publisher of the original WeaponLord--still holds the rights to the WeaponLord IP. Goddard and Winstead considered trying to buy the rights from Namco after launching their joint-venture Crunch Time Games. However, when Crunch Time's first game, Shred Nebula, didn't take the world by storm, the idea of buying back WeaponLord was put on the sidelines.
A crowd-funding campaign was also considered, but ultimately deemed unfeasible as well. As Goddard explained, "In early Spring of 2012, [Winstead] and I were considering a Kickstarter to build a 3D WeaponLord that would have featured a professional fighting 3D engine that, after the project was completed, would have been open source for the community to do non-profit games with (the 3D equivalent of MUGEN, but with much easier work flow and pro-grade tools).
"However, if we were going to ask for crowd funding to build that, it was critical we be able to ship it and not run out of cash. The estimates got up to the $5 million mark and we decided that was not the right way to go. That project was very much motivated by building a fighting engine equivalent to unity for the community and the goals blew out the budget. Neither [Winstead] or I were in a position to take on, despite having built many combat engines and worked on so many fighting and combat games."
The fate of WeaponLord is still up in the air. The creators definitely want to make sequel, and it sounds like a lot you readers out there want to play another WL game as well. Rest assured that if the stars align and the opportunity presents itself, Goddard and Winstead will dive into WeaponLord 2 as soon as possible. They've learned a lot over the past 18 years, and have received a lot of feedback on the original game. "Honestly, that's the worst thing," said Goddard, "we didn't get the chance to take that feedback and do the right thing by growing the franchise into what players wanted." Hopefully, some day, they'll get that chance.
John Dies at the End
A very funny and enjoyable book; bit of mix between Clerks and Ghostbusters (if that makes sense?). The story revolves around two smalltown boys who are swept into a supernatural adventure after ingesting a living drug from a shady Rastafarian. Hilarity ensues, possibly involving aliens. The writing is fast-paced, witty, and has earned a sequel (available now!). If you only read one book from this list, think really really hard about picking this one.
The Raw Shark Texts
Amazon has a real wishy-washy description for this book, but I can't blame them. Yeah, it's about a guy on an adventure to regain his memories, but there's so much more. Of course, telling you would spoil the whole first act (which is very mysterious). What I will say is that this book deals with memories, their power, and the worlds we create inside our heads. It's also not as heavy as I'm making it sound. And yes, there is a shark (of sorts).
House of Leaves
This book is a trip. It's a three-part story that is unorthodox not only in structure, but in presentation. Let's break this down Inception-style. Bottom layer: a family thrown into chaos as they discover oddities in their house: dimensions that dont add up, rooms that shouldn't (and couldn't) exists, and a hallway into nothingness. Middle layer: an old man whose life's work has been compiling information about the family. Top layer: a younger man reading the old man's work about the family and experiencing weirdness in his own life. This is a book of puzzles, and pages filled with sideways text. Its a tough read, but very memorable if you make it to the end.
Ready Player One
I'm sure you heard someone mention this somewhere at some point. It's that book what has all the video game references in it! Ready Player One cronicles an MMORPG player as he explores his digital world to solve an elaborate riddle, which is steeped in 80's geek trivia. The reward: control of the game world and the company that owns it. Of course, there's an EVIL CORPORATION trying to stop him. It's all very 80's action movie.
And if you have any recommendations of your own I'd be happy to hear them in the comments section below.
Sometimes I catch myself missing how I used to play video games. Today, when I sit down to play a game I have a pretty good idea what to expect within minutes of pressing start. Using my combined experiences of hundreds of games--plus the copious amounts of pre-release materials--I can set expectations very quickly.
But it wasnt always like this. I remember a young Maxwell who had zero expectations. He could take a game and in his own mind transform it into something completely different. For him, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on the Sega Genesis was less of a game and more of a toy. Remembering that kid tells me not only how Ive changed, but games as well.
Growing up, I knew a lot of kids who had a gaming cave: a space, usually their room or basement, where they could retreat with their friends and play, undisturbed by the outside world. Me? I had a jungle. For part of the year, at least.
When it would get cold, my mother would bring in the potted plants from outside and store them in the basement. Surrounded by Fiddleleaf Figs and Arrowhead Vines, I would slump down in my old, brown recliner and lose myself in those digital worlds.
Not to gush, but those days were pretty awesome. Im sure thats how we all remember them, right? It was so easy to simply lose myself within their digital worlds, so much so that I would often ignore the central plot or object and strike out on my own. Exploring every inch of the game, and creating my own, internal narrative.
Earthbound on the Super Nintendo was a prime candidate for this. In the game, there was this really run-down house you could purchase for a huge sum of money. The joke was the outside of the house looked really nice, but the inside was a complete pigsty--one of the walls was even missing. I guess this was supposed to leave you with a tinge of buyers remorse, but I thought the house was awesome!
Inside that shack I would act out whole narratives where Ness and his friends had jobs, ran errands, and lived out their day-to-day lives together. It was a little sitcom inside my head. There was no fighting, no plot-advancement, or anything like that. I was basically recreating The Sims inside of a SNES game.
Today, this never happens. I approach games--all games--differently. There are several reasons for this, such as: my age, amount of pre-release exposure, or advancements in storytelling. Something I enjoy (but secretly loathe) is how much exposure we have to games before their launch. Look at Resident Evil 6. For an astute enthusiasts, you can get the bulk of what a game is about just from pre-release media.
Modern videos are so much more proficient at directing your experience to ensure all key moments and plot points the designers wanted you to see arent missed--no matter what! While entertaining in their own right, more complex games, more complex characters, and more complex stories are (perhaps) driving out room for imagination on the players part. Classic Mario and Sonic games had little to no story whatsoever. Save the princess. Stop Robotnik. It was up to the player to fill in the blanks about the world and its inhabitants.
And how many older games have you played where the art on the cover looked completely different from the game itself? That design constraint meant that as you were playing, say, Gauntlet on NES you were in your mind recreating those little sprites as epic warriors and monsters.
All this is not to say that I hate modern video games or good stories or anything like that. Im just...concerned about a perceived loss of imaginative engagement between player and game. Perhaps Im way off the mark (as I often am) in my less-is-more creative approach. Did anyone else even DO this as a kid?
My Recent Reviews
Jun 3, 2013 1:13 am GMTMaxwell posted a new blog entry entitled Where's WeaponLord 2?