Archive for October 10th, 2008

Crewing a Hovership

2008 Oct 10

Before making characters, choose one player to play the ship’s operator and another player to be the ship’s captain. If you like, also choose a player to be the weakest link. It’s probably better to start without one of the characters being The One. You should also choose the name of your ship, preferably something mythologically significant: the Nebuchadnezzar, the Osiris, the Logos, Mjolnir (a.k.a. the Hammer).

The ship’s operator was born in Zion, so they cannot enter the Matrix. However, an operator is a critical member of any crew since they patch crew members into and out of the Matrix, hack the code if necessary, and take care of their crewmates’ bodies while broadcasting. Additionally, the shades ritual works differently for the operator. Normally, the operator does not wear shades. The only time the operator wears shades is when Agents have appeared, since the operator is responsible for playing Agents. The job of the operator’s player is to make things action-packed and dangerous for the crew while they are in the Matrix (acting in the interest of the Machines) while pretending that they are trying to help and occasionally throwing them bones (as the operator).

Oh no! Agents are coming! I don’t know, they just came out of nowhere! And the nearest exit is on the far side of the mall, a pay phone in the food court! Here, I’ll send you a pilot program for that Kawasaki Ninja they’re raffling off at that sporting goods store!

The ship’s captain is responsible for pushing drama in the real world. Captains are generally arrogant and brash, following their own instincts and ideals instead of the best interests of their crew and humanity. The captain’s player, with the help of the other members of the play group, should brainstorm the captains personal quirks, background, and ideology, since they will doubtlessly come into play and will effect all the other characters. Each player should also come up with a tension that exists between themselves and the captain, but then a complementary reason that they haven’t abandoned this ship for Zion or another, hopefully less crazy, captain. The captain’s personal White Whale can lead to missions and conflicts both in the real world and in the Matrix, but it should not be the focus of every scene. Take time to show the other characters reacting to the captain’s craziness and also pursuing their own potentially disruptive goals.

The weakest link is a character who is close to betraying everyone to the Machines, Cypher-style. They don’t have to be on the verge or even have considered going that far. Just, if someone’s going to break, it’ll be them. Most likely, their tension with the captain is almost as strong as their reason for staying. Additionally, they may have tension (unrequited love, jealousy, etc.) with some of the other crew members.

The other characters are free to be determined. Make sure they have badass hacker names.

This Will Happen

2008 Oct 10

Between the Matrix-love that Eben, Dev, and I possess (not to mention Shreyas and Elizabeth), we will make this happen.

One Step Closer

2008 Oct 10

Thanks to Paul Tevis for giving me advice on audio hosting. And to podcast veterans Mike, Brennan, and Judd for encouragement. And to Ryan for making me record an audio ad for Free Game Valhalla, showing me how hard/easy it was.

Ashes of Time Redux

2008 Oct 10

Last weekend, I was looking at movie trailers and was stunned to see one for Ashes of Time Redux, a new director’s cut of Wong Karwai’s unknown (in the West) 1994 arthouse wuxia masterpiece. The NYTimes review gives an okay sense of the feel of the movie, but has no clue about the content or where it comes from.

Ashes of Time (literal Chinese title: “The Evil of the East, The Poison of the West” referring to the two main characters’ nicknames) is like the Watchmen of wuxia, since it takes Jin Yong’s Legend of the Condor-Shooting Heroes, the most famous modern wuxia novel, and totally deconstructs it, showing the aging heroes as alcoholics, going blind, feeling sorrow over their wasted lives, going insane, etc. The movie ended up taking so long to make that Wong shot two other movies, Chungking Express and a comedy parody of Jin Yong’s novel, during breaks from shooting, using the same cast, sets, and costumes in some cases.

In the history of arthouse wuxia, which would eventually give us Crouching Tiger and later ‘wuxia blockbusters,’ Ashes of Time is only really proceeded by Ronny Yu’s 1993 film, The Bride with White Hair, which contains half the same cast (Leslie Cheung, Bridgette Lin) and probably started filming after Ashes. Another early 90’s film with some of the same traits is Tsui Hark’s 1993 Green Snake, but it’s a bit sillier, even with Maggie Cheung in the title role.

All of which is to say: see this cut of Ashes if you get the chance. It’s a really bizarre, moody take on wuxia, but it’s definitely worthwhile.