Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pipebomb! My experience with THQ, and WWE 12.

Sorry if this gets a bit long. Its quite the long saga. I could write a book. Please bear with me though.

Its not sour grapes (though there are a lot to be had in the mess), but I just hate the fact companies and their employees are allowed to treat their customers the way they do. I mean, they almost make EA Sports look saintly. They're almost as bad as Activision. They're on the same level as the forums and it's mods. That's a tough act to follow. I'd love to think that when THQ meets it's inevitable, fast approaching end, things will get better, but no, we still have EA and Activision to screw it up so badly, it can't be revived.

It all started November 22nd, 2011. The release day of THQ's much hyped, much anticipated, return to form installment of their licensed WWE franchise, WWE '12. I, having followed it being a member of and contributing community member of the forums since November 2006 as Stinger_tap10, and previously as Spinal_tap06 (I changed my user name due to wanting it to be more wrestling related, but similar to my old one), and being a life long WWE and wrestling game fan, rushed to buy it on release day due to interaction on the forum with the seemingly very helpful THQ employed Community Managers. I assumed that, being THQ employees being directly and very involved with getting community feedback, their word was trustworthy and frequently defended them from haters. Boy did I ever turn out to be wrong in doing that!lol So, I buy it against my better judgement, having had previous problems with the games from THQ in the past being buggy and glitch filled messes, but because I'm a wrestling/game fan, I gave it a chance.

I get it home, create a wrestler, download the day 1 DLC and go to use the online portion of the disc. Not working correctly. Seeing as how the rest of the game seemed to be great, I gave it the benefit of the doubt, and figured I'd check and see if others were having problems with it as well on (where I had/have alot of good friends, both local and long distance). There were. However to my own comfort, THQ was quick to acknowledge the problem, state they knew about it, and that they were working to get it fixed (Connection problems to the online servers) ASAP. This turned into days, and soon into weeks. During this time, I befriend (Atleast I thought I did), THQ Community Manager (Now ex), Marcus Stephenson. Through many Twitter Dm's, we decide that, due to my knowledge of the game industry, video games, and computers, that I'd help people to report problems with the game to him, along with any server down time and outages to the online portion of the game. In February, THQ, after 2 full months of complete inaction on fixing anything wrong with the game (Bugs, glitches, forgotten Superstar commentary audio files, all of the online mode), announced they'd be issuing a major patch to fix the above stated problems. Little known to us users, they blanked out Community to appear like all creations had been wiped from the servers. I'm not the only person who thought so. So, enraged at everything that's transpired so far, and the then current lack of any communication with Marcus, I take to to air my feelings, along with many others, which prompted Marcus to ask if we still wanted him to post there, threatening to leave and never gather feedback again. I said no, again along with many others. However, only I was harshly reprimanded by forum mod Ernez, and was "warned" after fighting with him about the punishment for saying what I did, which was true.

Now I'm on fire mad, that A: THQ is treating us customers like we don't matter, B: that is trying to censor its users from speaking out about THQ, just because people who work at THQ are signed up there, and that with everything I'm helping to fix, I seem to be getting the short end of the stick. Again, after many back and forth DMing sessions, Marcus and I make peace and again I set forward trying to help. I let bygones be bygones. At this point, I'm still speaking out about THQ and create a petition to take the WWE Franchise away from THQ for their mistreatment of the consumer base, and the seemingly purposeful "knee capping" of the game. Minutes after creating it, I post a topic on to spread the word, and within what I'd say was 5 minutes, and with not one reply, the topic was locked and closed by a mod there named Joel, who was very rude and condescending to me. This prompted me to put a link to it in my forums signature, and (Forgive the term) "whore" it out when I could in the "Post Patch Issues" and "WWE 12 Server Problems" threads at caws. I was again pretty much yelled at for this, and again, "warned". At this point people began to discover that not only had the patch not helped the servers, but that it also caused several more issues with the game aswell, even as far as corrupting whole game saves. At this time, and pretty much most of the time going forward, Marcus (And all the other WWE THQ community personnel) hid, and barely ever said word one about it, and never even mentioned the game again. Marcus eventually left THQ (To much speculation) to join the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets in an office position. He at one point recommended me for a "job" writing for a new blog at Virtual Squared Circle for friends of his looking to create the "polar opposite" of caws. That didn't last long, as again, I was treated unfairly, and poorly by Charles Shane (Ex employee at caws).

So after defriending Marcus, Charles, and apparently making enemies at for helping people, Marcus causing twitter fights between me and others on twitter and speaking out against THQ, caws decided to ban me from the site, without any notice of any wrong doing (Which there never was), any excuse for the ban or any chance to retrieve any info from my message inbox before my account was deactivated, and now completely un-viewable to anyone but a mod. I'm not the only one. They've banned a member named Nemphosis, who was a long time member and outspoken about his dislike of Marcus and all things THQ. They stopped allowing long time member Dynomite from posting caws at the site, until he decided to just stop posting there and create his own site with Petchy, which prompted them to re-allow it. They were censoring long time, respected member Petchy through his comments and caw posting. They disallow any talk of hacking the game on the 360, yet promote said hacked caws on their site, and even hand out awards to the best caws/makers (Who always just happen to be the ones who hack the game). So during one night of twitter convos, relaxing after giving guitar lessons, I encounter a convo between my friends brienj and Petchy about lead forum mod ThreeG, who they stated to be hitting on and flirting with a 16 year old girl with the twitter handle @JustLikeJill. He's 25, she's 16. You do the math. I, in trying to understand the convo (I came in on the middle of it), jokingly asked "So ThreeG is a pedo bear in disguise?" (This all went down before my ban). Next day, my account at caws was deactivated. After 3 e-mails (2 went ignored), ThreeG responded by saying I'd not be getting my account back. While reporting outages to Stephenson, when I'd report to him they were working fine momentarily, in real time (within seconds), it would go back to being terrible to use again. Also ran across a great little story about their former mod Status blackmailing a mentally handicapped person who was banned from, for xbox live points (Which cost money). Ask him about that. Also ask him about calling people on twitter fags and homos, and telling them to die. His twitter bio is "Only faggots unfollow me." Well, guess what, I did. It doesn't apply.

So after many heated messages back and forth with Marcus after this had all went down, I learn, though not in the exact wording I'm about to use, that he was basically using me to shut people up so THQ wouldn't get in trouble for the game being the way it was, and when I started saying how bad it was, that's when he'd instigate a fight between me and a community member, so as to lose all my credibility, and so it wouldn't spread to anyone who's not a forum goer or WWE and THQ share holders.

Now, THQ's already in a world of financial trouble, with the stock split (Which was an emergency move after being threatened to be de-listed from NASDAQ for trading below a dollar for so long), ADIDAS suing them for 10 million because they failed to make a game with their sponsored tie in, and the Wii U failing. What am I gonna do, to great big THQ, that they need to silence me?lol I mean, the fact they put this terrible game on the market, and offer no refund and to not have a flawless, problem free replacement is illegal in it self, along with deceptive advertising due to the features it hyped not working properly or at all. They did this to themselves. Not me.

To this day, the servers still don't work right, they never added in Shawn Michaels' personalized commentary audio (Which Marcus admitted to me that the team flat out just forgot to include on the disc), story designer still is a disaster filled glitch and bug fest, the reversals glitch and are horribly unresponsive, and they completely took out the only helpful glitch, that allowed users to place Paint Tooled logos and ingame logos over the breast, crotch and buttocks areas that the game normally blurs out as a censoring safe guard (A few jerks who made completely nude caws one year, and uploaded them). They hurt the community every year, by making terrible games, that they say we have a part in shaping (Yeah, right), just to spite us. Wake up THQ. This is the reason Dana pulled UFC's game license from you, and WWE eventually will too. Apparently though, you want that from rumors I've heard. You're so deep in the red that you want to purposely fuck up games till all your licensed clients pull them, and you're free of any legal liability. Why don't you just make us sign a waiver when we buy a game, that if you make a game that doesn't work, its not your fault, but ours!lol

I want THQ, Marcus, caws (Especially Ernez, Joel, Status and ThreeG) you just don't treat people like crap and get away with it. It comes back to haunt you. 200 people signed, in agreement with me, my petition to boycott THQ and their games, their WWE franchise in particular. You just can't treat long time, loyal, respected members of a community like trash. You don't just slap together a shit game and force feed it to us, and act like we should just run out and take it, with smiles on our faces cause your the only wrestling game around. You're seeing the effects of that attitude.

So in closing, Sianara THQ. You'll be out of business faster than the Titanic sank, and, you'll be lucky to have any active members left in a year. Marcus, you ruined what took me so long to build, my reputation online as nice person, cost me a few friends, and an online forum account. Never once got an apology from him. And thanks to most of the WWE gaming community. Most of you helped this mess happen in the first place by backing me when you moaned about the game, but never stepping up to back me when the time came. From now on, you buy a bad THQ WWE game, you're all on your own.

Friday, July 27, 2012

My rebuttle to HotdogCinema's Hatchet Review.

Now let me start out by saying just a few things. First thing that comes to mind is my need to say that this in no way a slight to Hotdog Cinema. They have an awesome site over there which I strongly urge all my readers to visit. They, along with my good friends over at Bloody Disgusting have probably the best 2 horror sites on the net. Secondly, this isn't really about Hatchet, but rather a serious (albeit friendly) disagreement over whether not not the Slasher horror genre is "done and dusted" and if the movie has "done a disservice" to the genre itself. So lets get on with it shall we?

Let me state that I (at the ripe old age of 25), was introduced to horror movies BY the slasher genre, and it has been my "home" in horror since. The very first horror movie I was ever allowed to see was NOES 3: Dream Warriors the very first Halloween I was ever allowed to trick or treat by myself (I was 8).  The very first "scary thing" I was ever allowed to see was "The Halloween That Almost Wasn't" or "The Night Dracula Saved The World" for those who bought the VHS. 

So lets start out with good ol' Victory Crowley and his Hatchet. Has he done his fellow slashers wrong? Hmmm, that could made into a country song!lol  Anyways, no. After a long, long, LONG tireless parade of remakes of old slasher and other classic horror movies, and the tired continuation of the Scream franchise (Quite possibly Wes Craven's worst films ever), Hatchet comes along and revitalized the horror scene. The first thing that comes to mind about the movie, is the fact its not like other slasher movies. Its not NOES, its not Friday The 13, Its not Halloween, it's it's own "Monster". Sure it might feel that way, but really, think about it? What can you really do in a slasher film (That hasn't been done already or at all)? It finally said to Hollywood that original ideas, can and will sell and make money. If anything, for that reason alone its helped a multitude of different movies see the light of day that normally wouldn't have (Frozen, The Piranha series, Rec, The Lady In Black, The Woman,  The Rite, Insidious). He/She also included that it breaks many typical stereotypes and hallmarks of the genre (I'll itemize these). Well, that in of it self is refreshing, especially in a time when most, less sophisticated movie goers can't watch a movie for more than an hour and a half. First real problem they site is that they have the killer appear too early in the movie. Well, I assume you must have hated that Dracula appears no less then 1:20 in to Dracula (Lugosi driving the carriage), and when Mike Myers pops out from behind the bushes while Laurie Strode walks home (About 3 minutes in). This is done stylistically for a reason. Its so that the tension builds faster when you know their there and what the protagonist is up against, when they don't. It also helps to lend some level of sympathy to the character. They also write that there's nothing there to build suspense. Welcome to the 21st century. You must again hate anything after Friday Part 2 and NOES 2. Suspense isn't needed for the slasher genre, that's for the thrillers of the world. If you can incorporate it then great, but its not needed, and I agree it is somewhat lacking in that department. The next complaint is the 'wooden" acting. Show me a horror movie where there isn't any wooden acting/actors/actresses. Its horror. Its almost understood that's gonna occur, and especially in slashers where its more about gore and jump scares. Budget also applies here. Last complaint, is actually the look of Victor Crowley. Lets just say, I'd like to see you say what you did in the article to Jason or Leatherface!lol Think they'd take exception. 

"Slasher aficionados looking for a new nostalgia may end up feeling circumvented. This one did." Really? Your statements aren't really helping that statement, and making me question it aswell. Also don't think circumvented is the word you wanted right there. 

So IS the Slasher genre dead as Walt Disney is frozen? No, and it never will be. The sad thing is that there are many more quality Slashers being made, that we'll never get to see due to studio stigmas and budgetary limits. The only thing right now that's really hurting the genre (I'll admit its like any opponent that ever lost to John Cena), is that we have people, making the movies, who have no business being near them. We have people like Form, Fuller and Nispel making these movies (that are atrocious), while being paid millions, when they're not even fans, and people like Rooney Mara, who admittedly tanked their performance. They belong nowhere near the genre while people like John Carl Buechler, George Romero, Sean Cunningham and Tom McLoughlin are relegated to low budget, DTV (Direct To Video) clunkers cause studios won't give them the time of day. There is a whole generation of people who grew up on these movies, and became film makers because of them. Lets let them handle the movies, not failed music video directors and talent less waifs. 

Link to HotdogCinema:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Play Date! Aladdin at The Cortland Repertory Theatre

Where: Cortland Repertory Theater
Show: Aladdin (Performed by the CRT Troubadours, the intern company)
Date: 6/0/12

Upon hearing of my little brother's the, upcoming school field trip To the CRT, I jumped at the chance to be one of the 4 chaperons allowed to accompany the classroom in its excursion. Normally, his school (Alton B Parker) doesn't really offer anything to anyone but parents and grandparents, I needless to say was very excited. I arrived to his school the morning of the rip, and we left around 9:15. Around 10:40 the play started. 
These period-dressed people (I would guess very late teens) came rushing out onstage, dragging with them, and old chest, upon which sat one of the actresses. They bantered back and forth for awhile, telling of their shipwreck and and journey to shore, and how all they had left was what was in the chest. They continued to banter about who was most important to the group, and acknowledged they they would still put on a play, but had to see what survived the journey to determine what could be done. They settle on Aladdin and proceed to hand out parts, props, costume pieces and start the play. 

Chris Collins - The Genie
Avery Epstein - The Director
Alexander Hulett - Aladdin
Alexa Shanahan - The Sorceress
Abby Sheridan - The Princess
Parker Slaybaugh - The Sultan

It begins with The Princess pining about her current love life and people her father (The Sultan) chose for her to date (People were brought up from the audience to create this). Along comes Aladdin, with whom she almost immediately falls deeply in love with. They have a music-backed (The Lovin' Spoonful's "Do You Believe In Magic" and Taylor Swift's "Love Story") montage, when the Sultan enters and immediately chastises the Princess and places a difficult challenge on Aladdin if truly loves the Princess and wants to win her hand in marriage. The Sorceress (Later revealed to be the Sultan's wife, and the Princess' mother) Overhears of the challenge (To find a magic lamp in the "Mysterious Caves of Little York", and bring it back) and enters herself to gain wealth and power. They journey to the caves and through audience participation (Making sounds, lining up to make the cave entrances), make their way to the lamp, where they both struggle with it, and in doing so, summon the genie. In both touching the lamp at the same time, the genie has the audience decide who gets the wishes. Aladdin wins, and uses his three wishes. The first, the hand of the princess, the second, that the Sultan and the Sorceress rediscover their love for each other (Que music!), and the last, to free the genie from his duty to the lamp. More music is heard, and then to end the show, audience members are brought onstage to dance with the actors and actresses.  They come back out after going backstage, and introduce themselves and bow. They announce that they'll be at each exit to take pictures with the kids, and give high-fives.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience to be had. The acting for such young individuals was amazing. It certainly held my attention, as it did the rest of the children who attended the show. Even with the plot holes in the story, the ensemble and their excitement and presentation made you look past it and just immerse yourself in the experience. I would most definitely go again, if only just to see this particular casting group. They are headed towards greatness, and I wish them all well.

John Bonham for The Halloween Horror Blog