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  1. #11
    WiiChat Feature Writer cbrotherson's Avatar
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    Hey Brandon,

    Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed the article. Just to address a few of your points…


    The creators of Judge Dredd/2000AD have recently stated they personally believe the decline in their circulation over recent years is entirely down to computer games popularity. You can't argue that computer games aren't vastly more popular than comics... But think about what things might have been like before computer games existed.
    I read this as well, and personally I'd disagree with them. Not 100%, but I think comic books' popularity could still have been much higher than it is now had the post 90s crash had not totally wiped out all but the direct market. Kids will love any form of entertainment as long as its 'engaging' (sorry, nebulous term) and they love comic characters as they do video games, but they just can't get to the damn things. News vendors hardly carry the books any more, leaving it to select book stores, which aren’t exactly viable for many children compared to newsstands.

    The reason I think this is pretty simple: Harry Potter and Manga. Manga has grown so much in the last 5 years it's insane, because they're easily purchased and very readable. Kids LOVE them, videogames or no. If American and European comics had the same readership as Manga, me and the hundreds of other Western comic book creators out there would be very rich But our distribution is far weaker.

    Then we have Harry Potter – a BOOK. Barely a picture outside its cover. Yet it does frightening numbers. Sure, it's a huge multimedia franchise now, but it started just from having words on a page. All while videogames were blowing up and making noise. It's not a common thing, true, but its an exception that disproves the rule – all my younger cousins (girls from 7 to 11 years old) read Harry Potter and when they're done they switch on their DS' and get down to videogaming. Yes, gaming cuts into reading circulation, but they're far from mutually exclusive – they can survive very well side by side IF the audience can reach both equally. And for me, that's what it comes down to. Comics cant be accessed easily by kids compared to games. Which is pretty ironic seeing as games are often 10 to 20 times more expensive, regardless of 'completed experiences'.

    Of course, everyone has their own take on this, but this is mine



    Comics have grown up in recent years because the kids who were reading comics 15+ years ago are now themselves comic writers/artists/creators. We are part of a generation that is somehow still able to engage in the past-times that we used to have as kids - because we've been able to make those past times and hobbies grow up "with" us. (I don't see myself ever stopping playing computer games or reading comics - then again there are computer games and comics that appeal to me now because they deal with adult themes - unlike in my parents time, comics were for kids back then).
    Yeah, same here. I love the diversity. I still also have my Choose Your Own Adventure/Fighting Fantasy/Lone Wolf books too. They actually helped me want to write for a living AND get involved in videogames. So you can partly blame Jackson and Livingson for making you spend time on my feature

    Comics don't make a shedload of cash. Licencing popular characters from comic books is where the money is... In movies, T-shirts, mugs, toys etc. But its the Movies that create the interest. The industry was almost bankrupt in the 90s - marvel almost went under. (Its been said taht the comic book industry is the "character development industry" - or something to that effect).
    Hmm, well I wouldn’t agree that comics don’t make a lot of cash – they don’t make a lot of cash in comparison to some other mediums in the entertainment industry, but there's enough, especially for the big characters/books. Mark Miller makes a mint for what he does at Marvel, for example. Artists make even more, but obviously their input (in terms of books per month - the artist workload is still higher) is smaller for a larger commitment. Merchandising makes the money for the company, very true, but it would be quite misleading to say movies create the interest – the character interest has to be there for the movie to be made in the first place and there's a protracted process in selecting characters for big screen adaptation. Many movie makers go to comics because the creative freedom is that much greater, even though the money is less; it's a far more innovate industry, which is why so many film companies are leeching comic book creators into their ranks and buying so much comic inventory.

    The crash of the 90s by the way, was through investors playing silly buggers and market saturation, more than anything else – the industry started feeding off itself and then decided to shoot itself into the bargain. Hubris and overconfidence rather than the fault of the medium itself. Gaming just so happened to be there to tapdance on what it thought was a grave.


    Another point I'd like to make is that there aren't that many "true" comic book games... Think about all the comic book video games that have emerged in recent years. Are they comic book games - or mostly games of comic book movies?
    Very true, and as with what Rolex said, this is a good point. XIII and Ultimate Spider-Man were very 'true' comic games in that respect. Although many devs tend to meld both film and comic inspiration together, so it's a line that's blurred somewhat.

    As mediums they try to play to what they're good at, but many games do indeed boil down to what Rolex said – a scrap to the next boss (not that this isn’t entertaining – I played the original Punisher arcade game last month and fell in love… so awesome). Many have a very strict framework to stay within, so that never helps and publishers worry that deviation from films too much makes the gamer unhappy. There's yet to be a full blown comic book game where decisions can truly influence your outcome, but adventure titles are perhaps the closest to that, BioWare being the main developer to explore such routes. I just don’t think the RAM and internal memory for consoles is there yet for that sort of scope, and it would probably cost a bomb too. But if a dev does something like Hotel Dusk but for Wii, expands the gameplay possibilities and makes us truly feel we're 'changing the game' I think we could end up with something truly special. Would take a hell of a lot of work.

    I'm gonna go petition Ion to make a comics lounge now.
    What did everyone think of Cap America getting "capped". (lol @ own cheesy pun)
    Poor Cap *pours liquor in his honour*
    Last edited by cbrotherson; 05-18-2007 at 06:58 AM.

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  3. #12
    WiiChat Feature Writer cbrotherson's Avatar
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    Sorry, double post.

  4. #13
    Special Olympics Medalist BrandonMcAuslan's Avatar
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    Lone Wolf Kai Warrior - Joe Denver rocks" lol

    I think the biggest problem with the poor circulation of comic books lies with 2 things...

    1 - Marketing. Where was the last time you saw an advertisement for a comic book. The only time I see them are "IN" comic books - defeats the purpose. Personally if I'd been flicking through a magazine and saw an ad for spidey "back in black" that was mature, and as graphically intense as most comic book covers are I would be rather impressed. (And more inclined to look for/pick up the comic). Comics are a niche market, DC & MARVEL need to do more to actually generate interest in the comics themselves. And not just the companies who make comic book games, T shirts, movies ect taking the initiative. (they also need to advertise in a way to show that comic books aren't just for kids)...

    2. DIAMOND
    Diamond is the only distributer for all major comics companies. MARVEL, DC, DARK HORSE, WILDSTORM, VERTIGO etc... Diamond have an unusual policy in that they will only supply a retailer every month if their order meets a certain criteria. In the UK a retailer must spend over £300 in stock - and must spend this 'every' month. Retailers can spend less than the £300 but can only intermittently order stock from the DIAMOND catalogue. Thats why you don't see these comics in newsagents or small convenience stores. Small stores don't want to buy £300 of comics every month (non-returnable), and have a stockpile of un-bought comics build up.
    Average discount on a product is about 30% (more if you buy larger quantities). So a small retailer would need to shift 300£s worth of comics to make a profit of £30 - and common sense dictates that aint happening.
    If small businesses could purchase in small quantities from diamond I believe you would see quite a surge in circulation for at least the most well known comic books.

    Its been fun to rant about comic books for a while and not wii/ps3/360. Anyone interested in a comics lounge pm me

    Its interesting that in the current political climate Marvel decided to kill Captain America. The parallel between the "Patriot act" and "superhero registration act" is note-worthy.

    You could say the spirit of American society/personal freedom was corrupted somewhat by the "patriot act" - and captain America (an american icon) dying as a result of the "superhero registration" offers a poignant parallel. - just my thoughts.

  5. #14
    WiiChat Feature Writer cbrotherson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrandonMcAuslan
    Lone Wolf Kai Warrior - Joe Denver rocks" lol
    Oh hell yes. I loved those books. Got the combined 1st and 2nd game-novel and that book went everywhere with me. Despite the fact it was huge

    I think the biggest problem with the poor circulation of comic books lies with 2 things...

    1 - Marketing. Where was the last time you saw an advertisement for a comic book. The only time I see them are "IN" comic books - defeats the purpose. Personally if I'd been flicking through a magazine and saw an ad for spidey "back in black" that was mature, and as graphically intense as most comic book covers are I would be rather impressed. (And more inclined to look for/pick up the comic). Comics are a niche market, DC & MARVEL need to do more to actually generate interest in the comics themselves. And not just the companies who make comic book games, T shirts, movies ect taking the initiative. (they also need to advertise in a way to show that comic books aren't just for kids)...
    Agreed there - although from what I'm told it's more complicated than we realise. Many other entertainment vendors don't want to advertise comics, despite cherry picking the properties, which is a terribly one sided situation. Huge shame, too.

    2. DIAMOND
    Diamond is the only distributer for all major comics companies. MARVEL, DC, DARK HORSE, WILDSTORM, VERTIGO etc... Diamond have an unusual policy in that they will only supply a retailer every month if their order meets a certain criteria. In the UK a retailer must spend over £300 in stock - and must spend this 'every' month. Retailers can spend less than the £300 but can only intermittently order stock from the DIAMOND catalogue. Thats why you don't see these comics in newsagents or small convenience stores. Small stores don't want to buy £300 of comics every month (non-returnable), and have a stockpile of un-bought comics build up.
    Average discount on a product is about 30% (more if you buy larger quantities). So a small retailer would need to shift 300£s worth of comics to make a profit of £30 - and common sense dictates that aint happening.
    If small businesses could purchase in small quantities from diamond I believe you would see quite a surge in circulation for at least the most well known comic books.
    Ah, yes, Diamond... AKA the monopoly board Yep, Diamond is one of the reasons many indies have such a hard time (which in turn gives me a headache when promoting my comics). I know of this pain first hand, sadly, so I can only nod in agreement.

    You could say the spirit of American society/personal freedom was corrupted somewhat by the "patriot act" - and captain America (an american icon) dying as a result of the "superhero registration" offers a poignant parallel. - just my thoughts.
    Hmm, a very nice point there, quite a large metatext worth going into...

  6. #15
    Moody Loner Rolex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbrotherson
    But John Layman did make a strong point that he felt gaming was actually less passive than comics (sadly, there wasn’t space to explore this in the feature, so I had to leave it on the cutting room floor). While I'd disagree, I'm not saying comics are a passive medium (as I think John may have thought I was inferring) – but they work on an interactive level that I think is far more subconscious than gaming itself. The work you do in getting something out of a comic works far more on a instinctive level than in games, but the game input is specifically geared towards interaction and physical activity, something a comic cant do in respects.
    I am certainly with you 100% on that - how can a medium which forces you, by it's very nature, to use your unlimited imagination to fill in the gaps / details / expositions etc... be passive. Interactivity isn't purely a physical attribute by any means.

    The effort needed to play a game / read a comic or book depends on it's ability to immerse the participant - games do have this quality but it tends to be a physical [visual] attribute within a world created by a designer with limitations and a specific interpretation thus - comics and books create user defined depth which no writer / artist can begin to truly know due to words and pictures being static, individual imaginations behave differently with no two the same. If a static picture speaks a 1000 words a moving one speaks a hundred.

    The pleasure I get from reading far far outweighs the pleasure I get from tv or gaming but I can play games for may more hours than I can read straight, which backs up my earlier statement. As for comic books / graphic novels - I find that the immersive levels can be a lot greater than normal books for example as you have a cross over from images and the power of the written descriptive narrative. Of course this sounds like I'm way toooo deep for my own good but when writing things down it's tough to sound light and airy when describing your passion for things!!!

    I totally agree that there's still a way to go before there's less hand guiding as such in gaming, but graphical adventures seem to capture this spirit more than most genres. Have you tried Hotel Dusk for the DS?
    I may pick Dusk up - thanks. To be honest when gaming on the DS I have tendency for mindless titles - you can't beat a bit of thumb bashing! LOL
    ---Smithy...
    "This IS the difference over the other systems....graphics can make you believe you're there to some extent but motion gesture can make you believe you're doing it!"

  7. #16
    Moody Loner Rolex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbrotherson
    I totally agree that there's still a way to go before there's less hand guiding as such in gaming, but graphical adventures seem to capture this spirit more than most genres. Have you tried Hotel Dusk for the DS?

    Ha, yes, that would be something… maybe we should start lobbying for it…
    Corey,

    Picked it up [Hotel Dusk] this afternoon and although only a few hours into it - I've got to say that I didn't really expect the atmospheric experience which it's certainly giving off at the minute - although it's a slow plodding affair [early on at least] it has a certain depth, I, for one, didn't expect - and I likes it!!

    It's still not deep enough; as you mention; to be considered a true interactive experience but it more than tips a wink towards what devs should / can do when they put some effort into this type of genre.

    I have a funny relationship with the DS - I reluctantly / eventually bought one due to my being overseas and waiting to get settled and waiting for my Wii to make it over here and the only reason I bought this over the PSP was the price point not the fact that I have had a GC and Wii - and it's taken a few games to settle in but more than the games I currently have, I am more drawn to the possiblities that DS could have to offer - culminating in actually being rather impressed with the touch screen functionality but I still, at the moment, feel that DS has more to offer - as does Wii and it's control system.

    Let's hope that DS and Wii can break into the true movie / game / book ideal. Possibly, with the potential that they are showing at the moment.

    As an industry insider - do you know of anything that may look like it will move us closer to this ideal, which will push DS and Wii to be truly outstanding in the game / book genre??
    Last edited by Rolex; 06-07-2007 at 10:59 AM.
    ---Smithy...
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  8. #17
    WiiChat Feature Writer cbrotherson's Avatar
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    Hey Rolex,

    Glad you like Hotel Dusk, I'm hoping it does well enough that other titles like it emerge; I missed much of the evolved adventure days because I didnt own a PC, Amiga or ST (I was an Amstrad CPC 464 man, lol), so was jealous watching my friends play Monkey Island and the like... I actually own those games now, but XP is an arse in getting them to play, so I have to use a SCUMM emulator. And Grim Fandango was played within an inch of its life when I still had the disc. Still one of the best and most well written games I've ever played.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rolex
    I have a funny relationship with the DS - I reluctantly / eventually bought one due to my being overseas and waiting to get settled and waiting for my Wii to make it over here and the only reason I bought this over the PSP was the price point not the fact that I have had a GC and Wii - and it's taken a few games to settle in but more than the games I currently have, I am more drawn to the possiblities that DS could have to offer - culminating in actually being rather impressed with the touch screen functionality but I still, at the moment, feel that DS has more to offer - as does Wii and it's control system.

    Let's hope that DS and Wii can break into the true movie / game / book ideal. Possibly, with the potential that they are showing at the moment.

    As an industry insider - do you know of anything that may look like it will move us closer to this ideal, which will push DS and Wii to be truly outstanding in the game / book genre??
    It's a very fair question... at the moment I've not seen anything which I can say will fill that hole completely, but there's certain titles that are pushing in that direction; Capcom's Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure, is a brilliant looking experiment in that sort of evolved adventure genre, so much in fact that some of the puzzles require you to think on your feet with very little help - you're just tossed into it and have to fend for yourself. Naturally this makes for something fairly unforgiving and slightly unfriendly in terms of game mechanics, but it's a very fine line to tread because as gamers we seem to want freedom, but with some form of game design boundaries.

    The main problem is few developers can afford to take what they deem as a risk. There's some steps being made, but they're quite small (hopefully we'll see some advancement with Mass Effect on Xbox 360 - that game looks amazing). That said, I honestly do believe we'll see definitive titles for both Wii and DS that take us closer to the ideal, simply because there's always been at least one title per generation on each format that underlines the progress of that generation's advance. Although we may have to wait a year or so before it hits...

  9. #18
    Moody Loner Rolex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbrotherson
    Hey Rolex,

    Glad you like Hotel Dusk, I'm hoping it does well enough that other titles like it emerge; I missed much of the evolved adventure days because I didnt own a PC, Amiga or ST (I was an Amstrad CPC 464 man, lol), so was jealous watching my friends play Monkey Island and the like... I actually own those games now, but XP is an arse in getting them to play, so I have to use a SCUMM emulator. And Grim Fandango was played within an inch of its life when I still had the disc. Still one of the best and most well written games I've ever played.



    It's a very fair question... at the moment I've not seen anything which I can say will fill that hole completely, but there's certain titles that are pushing in that direction; Capcom's Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure, is a brilliant looking experiment in that sort of evolved adventure genre, so much in fact that some of the puzzles require you to think on your feet with very little help - you're just tossed into it and have to fend for yourself. Naturally this makes for something fairly unforgiving and slightly unfriendly in terms of game mechanics, but it's a very fine line to tread because as gamers we seem to want freedom, but with some form of game design boundaries.

    The main problem is few developers can afford to take what they deem as a risk. There's some steps being made, but they're quite small (hopefully we'll see some advancement with Mass Effect on Xbox 360 - that game looks amazing). That said, I honestly do believe we'll see definitive titles for both Wii and DS that take us closer to the ideal, simply because there's always been at least one title per generation on each format that underlines the progress of that generation's advance. Although we may have to wait a year or so before it hits...
    Corey - I always swung the other way [ahem...so to speak] in that I never really had much time for the point n click adventures, I was always older school than that, to the extent that the type in adventures from Level9, Scott Adams etc.. always always took up most of my life (gulp) when I had a Spectrum / C64 / Atari 800XL - these games captured me soo much more than the more heavily graphically biased Leisure Suit Larry genre.

    When Snowball came out with it's; then; atmospherically digitised images - we moved a step closer to what the DS, I feel anyway, is attempting to pull off with Hotel Dusk, it [Snowball] just did it in a more interactive way but was obviously limited by the range of inputs available. This is where the line blurs.

    When you look at the divide between reading and gaming. Comic books in particular have an interaction between reader and content biased to the reader, games also have this but more biased towards content than reader, i.e. we follow the content pretty much where the designer knows we need to be. Books tend to meander you through and you have a freedom of imagination - as we've discussed elsewhere in this thread.

    I think that what Hotel Dusk is achieving is a mixture of both - I was playing it and as the story unfolds, I started to imagine / fill-in what the backstory was between Hyde and his partner, Louis and Mila. I know it will tell me definately as I progress but this was something new in a game, not since the text adventures of say, Perseus and Andrommeda has this happened - way back in the 80's

    Another thing is the way you use the DS - holding it like a novel is inspired. It adds to the familiarity of the genre it's trying to emulate. I certainly think that this is 100% unique to the DS, you can't emulate this on a big screen or on one screen to the same effect.

    Now as a writer, couldn't you have some fun adapting your comic book project into this style of game? The challenge would be to have all the content and plot lines fall into place whilst still retaining some non-linear experiences....is this the next step for this type of game / book hybrid -to actually transfer existing content in a way which copies a book and still is enjoyable as a deep gaming experience...? It would certainly stretch anyones limits as writer to get it right.

    I must admit that the trailer for Zack & Wiki does look pretty good. Games of this ilk are of course just dying to be Wii titles - it's so perfect, more so than PC even!!!

    One thing which does worry me with the DS - is the lifespan of the DS in it's current incarnation - it was launched in 2004, in hardware terms it's reached at the very best, middle age. Will we still see games which innovate on this platform [ I know how many they have sold, so I'll guess the answer ]?

    Oh and just found out that Myst is coming to the DS...I enjoyed the original on the Saturn but man was it sloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow!! Any thoughts?
    Last edited by Rolex; 06-08-2007 at 01:12 AM.
    ---Smithy...
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  10. #19
    Special Olympics Medalist BrandonMcAuslan's Avatar
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    Bring back Simon the Sorceror! For DS!

  11. #20
    Moody Loner Rolex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrandonMcAuslan
    Bring back Simon the Sorceror! For DS!
    Brandon,


    What platform was that on - The title sounds familiar but I don't think I know the game.

    If we are going to drag old games up to be remade for the DS - either Skooldaze or Spellbound - oh and the Wally Week games from Microgen I loved.
    ---Smithy...
    "This IS the difference over the other systems....graphics can make you believe you're there to some extent but motion gesture can make you believe you're doing it!"

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