Wednesday, 25 March 2015

British Politics

RE all this bullshit in the news about the SNP:


Monday, 23 March 2015

The Glories of Monster Rancher

My girlfriend and I have a terrible secret that I am prepared to share with the world. Think of this as a Wonderings Exclusive.

We're both big fans of the old Monster Rancher game.

As a youngster I was first acquainted with the brand through the anime. You remember it right? It was the one with the weird yellow eye with a tail and mouth. And a villain whose name probably made a lot more sense in Japanese.

Evil Moo, in all of his presumably-bovine glory
If I was a pedant, which I absolutely am, I would point out that this game is actually Monster Rancher 2. The ol' "not releasing a game in the West" trick those wacky Japanese love to pull. Them lovable mischief makers.

The artist formally known as 2 is a monster raising game of the "nurturing" sort, as I like to call it. Unlike your collect-athons - the Pokemons and Dragon Warrior Monsters of the world - Monster Rancher revolves around taking a monster and taking a lot of time and effort raising only one monster at a time. It combines the visceral action of battle with the heady thrills of parenthood.

So you have a monster. You feed the monster. You train the monster. You force it to fight in tournaments, even if it doesn't want to, because food doesn't buy itself dammit, and you want a nicer house. Then, upsettingly, one day it dies.

The beauty of the game is that the raising of the monster is a time consuming process that involves difficult decisions. It asks you to balance the well being of the monster with the need to push it hard enough that it becomes a killing machine of any worth, as such you form a fairly specific relationship with each monster. After a while it seems like they have their own personality.

The really unique part of the game is your ability to create monsters from whatever miscellaneous disk you have lying around your house. Being as well acquainted with the rich Monster Rancher lore, which I am sure you are, you'll remember that monsters could be extracted from ancient stone discs. The game allows you to take out the monster rancher disc and put in a CD or a non-DVD computer game or Playstation game, and then converts that into a monster. It adds an exploration element that can be fun and surprising. It can also be highly tedious too.

There's a surprisingly low level of cuteness in the game. The series mascot, Suezo, looks like a piece of Cronenbrug body horror that has been re-imagined by a crayon wielding five-year old. I suspect that Pikachu's job is safe for the moment. Maybe this is why it's but a dim 90s memory next to the continuing behemoth that is Pokemon, but I know which one I would choose.

Today in Football - 23/03/15

Greg Dyke has warned Premier League football is in danger of "having nothing to do with English people" as new proposals to limit the number of non-EU players are outlined by English football's governing body.

Having emerged ruddy-faced from Nigel Farage's local pub following a conference with an "adviser who would remain nameless", Dyke  also revealed plans to toughen the rules on home-grown talent in the latest proposals from its commission, which was set up in 2013 to improve the England team.

The Dyke-Farage commission has also proposed changes to work permit rules having highlighted flaws in the system.
The stricter work-permit rules, approved by the Home Office on Friday, will come into force from 1 May.
Under the proposals outlined by the FA on Monday:
  • A player will have to have been registered with his club from birth - down from 18 - to qualify as 'home-grown'.
  • The minimum number of home-grown players in a club's first-team squad of 25 will increase from eight to 25, phased over four years from 2016.
  • At least two home-grown players must also be 'club-trained' players - defined as any player, irrespective of nationality, that has been registered for three years at their club from the age of 15.
  • Only the best non-EU foreign players will be granted permission to play in England.
"We have to do this by negotiation with the different leagues and with the clubs - we have to convince them that this makes sense for English football," said Dyke, "English players for English jobs.
"And we are helped by Harry Kane in truth - we are helped by seeing a young kid come into the Spurs team and become the top scorer in English football. If he was Spanish, or maybe Welsh, people would already be saying he is better than Messi and Ronaldo combined!
"How many other Harry Kanes are around in the youth teams of Premier League clubs? It was almost by chance that Tim Sherwood became manager at Tottenham for a time and put him in the side - otherwise he would still be out on loan at Millwall or some other shitty backwater no mark."

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Today in football - 22/03/15

Former Manchester United manager has described this season's Premier League as the "poorest he has seen "in a long time".

"Maybe we have talked up the Premier League more than we should," the 51-year-old Scot told BBC Radio 5 liveSky, The BBC and pundits across the land have reacted with confusion, dismay and anger.

When found for comment, Sean Dyche was seen roaring from the roof of Turf Moor as a plane carrying Danny Ings receded into the Spanish sunset, a mixture of rage and sorrow palpable in his gravelly voice.

"So if we're to believe Moyes," reasoned one confused member of the public, "then there's no best league in the world. Which only makes sense if there are no leagues in the world, and that's bollocks."

Another member of the public added that he'd seen Scottish football before and not only did it exist, but it was worse than the holocaust.

Currently a petition is gaining momentum for Moyes' citizenship of the UK to be revoked. 

Moyes added that it is no shame to fail in a league as poor as that, and its qualities may be drastically improved by hiring a solid and experienced Scottish manager who would be doing just as well as that Dutch cunt if he had had as much money to spend.

Friday, 20 March 2015

UoL vs FNC

If you're a fan of LoL in any capacity you owe it to yourself to watch this.


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Amateur Hour

I’m a big fan of Fresh Meat. It’d not been something I’d taken to initially, the characters and their initial conflicts just seemed too spiky dislikeable to hook me in. At the urging of a friend I picked it up again and before long found myself being drawn into the lives of those six students, and their increasingly ridiculous personal lives.

Having finished season three, I spent a lot of time telling everyone that not only is the story a great one, but the fundamental principal behind it is an important writing lesson. Fresh Meat works because all of the main characters are, as human being, fundamentally shit. Their bad choices caused by self-absorption, naivety, immaturity and emotional cowardice create the situations that evoke laughs and, more importantly, drive the plot forward. They are defined not by their positive traits, but by their negative ones.

This is, I think, one of the key aspects of good characterisation and engaging conflicts. Characters have to be driven and defined by their flaws – and beyond that, their flaws have to be an active part of the obstacles they face and the conflicts they are embroiled in. To be engaging, a character needs to have agency in a story, and for it to be compelling the agency has to be exercised primarily by the character’s negative traits.

So the BBC Writersroom comedy window is open, and I’m beavering away on a script that is probably too wacky to make the cut. In my continual hoovering up of advice and the such I come across this. Andrew Ellard, a noted and experienced script editor with BBC, giving very good advice for the people looking to enter a script into the Writersroom. His message is loud and clear: no passive protagonists, laughs are derived from a character’s flaws.

Thing is, this script I’m writing on? Protagonist is passive as fuck. He’s spent about twenty pages at this point just saying “what?” I’d rabbited on about characters being defined by their flaws, then created a character whose flaws, or even his good attributes, don’t play an active part in the story at all.

But I guess that is the line between a good writer and a bad one – it is all well and good recognising good practises, being able to spot it, but actually implementing it in your writing is a totally different thing.


Today, I fall on one-side of the good/bad dividing line. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be on the other side.