Monday, March 27, 2017

The Problems with Mass Effect: Andromeda's hilarious animation and graphics

I've been playing Mass Effect: Andromeda and burst out laughing when I saw some of the animation of game play and cutscenes. Stories about the bad animation with the game have been spreading around the internet for months. Well, it's true. Some of the graphics are terrible. Watch this xLetalis video comparing Mass Effect: Andromeda with the original Mass Effect released in 2007.

Here is some more video of Mass Effect: Andromeda, which is even funnier.

So what's causing these problems with character animations?

1. Bodies and faces are badly designed.

I'm not going to post every article by feminist hating writers that say Mass Effect: Andromeda's women were made "uglier" But check out this article from The Sun which features pictures of the model Jayde Rossi who was the template used for the main female character Sara Ryder. Now the male model Steven Brewiss who is the template for the main character Scott Ryder looks just as much as the hunk in the game as he does in real life. However, it's obvious that modifications were done to make Jayde Rossi's face less attractive. Somebody gave her thicker lips, a more angular nose and a puffy face. If I were Ms. Rossi, I would sue. I would agree that it looks like BioWare made the women uglier.

And what about the body design? Well, on both male and female characters, the arms seem too long. Character Cora Harper whose supposed to be a bad ass Biotic has a bizarre body. She's short, has way too thin waist but a large bottom with very wide hips. Here's the image. And to boot, you could stick her head on a man's body and it would not look out of place. Just change the hair. Okay, it's not that bad but there's something going on here.

Is this the revenge for Miranda from Mass Effect 2 and 3? By the way Miranda looks like actress Yvonne Strahovski because that's who she was modeled after. But I digress. Look, the effect of ugly faces and weird body types is two fold. When Asari Peebee jumps ontop of you and sticks her mug in your face, you will literally yell. Their faces make you laugh when you shouldn't be. Second, I've noticed that Cora can walk bowlegged at times. The long arms are not animated and the whole effect makes her act like a string puppet rather than a human being.

This attempt by BioWare and EA to be politically correct will backfire. Look, I am a liberal but a politically incorrect one. Video games are art. And most of them are fantasy in that they let you become the hero. This is especially true in Mass Effect since you can make the lead character look like you. And the male gamer and female gamer who maybe is a lesbian gamer wants to woo the gorgeous woman. Yeah, I get the feminist view. In real life, women don't look like they do in most video games. This isn't real life. Actress Gal Gadot is beautiful. Should they have picked somebody uglier to play Wonder Woman? Don't get me wrong. Not every film or video game should be forced to cast a beautiful woman. But let the part dictate it.

2. Mass Effect: Andromeda doesn't understand how the face and body works. I don't know if they used motion capture or not but it looks like BioWare didn't. I mean going back to Cora, she walks with her buttocks way out with those long arms. It's not natural. Sometimes the arms don't move as she walks.

However, it's the emotions on the faces that fail the game. I'm sure somebody at BioWare understands the art of acting and how it can be portrayed by computer animation. For this game, it seemed like that person at BioWare was on vacation.

Actors perform with not just their voices but their faces. And one's face moves in multiple ways to convey emotions. Just watch the great Judi Dench in Notes on a Scandal. (2006) You don't even have to listen to her dialogue to figure out what she is feeling. And a lot of the reaction in her face is subtle. We don't see this in Mass Effect: Andromeda particularly in cutscenes. Faces look like mannequins. Frozen. Then there are times where eyes move back and forth for no reason. It's hilarious.

But can acting be caught or portrayed in a video game? Yes. Just check out L.A. Noire, a game that came out in 2011! Here's a trailer for that great game.

Yeah, L.A. Noire used 32 high definition cameras to motion capture facial emotions but the concept is still sound. I'm sure BioWare could have done some of this without breaking the bank or at least have an animator put more attention into the facial performances. . I don't know if BioWare was trying to save money but this is a AAA game. They certainly didn't spend it on big name stars. Maybe next time BioWare should have somebody objective look at the product before they put it out.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Conservative Republican Devin Nunes chooses Trump over America

Two days ago, conservative Republican Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee personally went to President Donald Trump to tell him that his campaign associates may have been inadvertently recorded by American intelligence. Note that the Trump associates were not the targets of the surveillance. Nor was there any indication of illegality. And according to Nunes, these communications had nothing to do with the Russia interference with the 2016 election investigation.

After I heard this, I said to myself, "What the ... ?" Trump's campaign is under investigation for possible collusion with the Russians. This akin to the police investigating a mob murder and the chief of police going to the Mafia Don or Donald, and talking to him about criminal surveillance about him. We don't know where the information Nunes is talking about came from. Nunes won't say. Which makes it ironic if it is coming from a leaked source because the conservative Republicans were whining about leaks on Monday.

But what do I think Nunes was doing? I believe he was giving cover to Trump for making the false claim that former President Obama was wiretapping him at Trump tower. Nunes was part of the Trump transition team. If that wasn't bad enough, he does this. He is not impartial to be on the investigation. But from what I saw on Monday, none of conservative Republicans on the investigation should be.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Wonder Woman trailer

Here is the latest trailer for the upcoming Wonder Woman film. It looks great. And unlike Batman v. Superman, there is the color of blue and sunshine in this film.

Conservative Republican Devin Nunes throws up smoke screen for Russians

Okay, I'm watching the Select House Intelligence Committee and listening to Congressman Deven Nunes (R-Ca.) opening questions to NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers and its become clear what the conservative Republican response to possible collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign. It was all about leaking of information to the press not about Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election. In fact, Nunes' main questions to Rogers was all about whether the Russians tampered with vote state tallies! That's never been the question. Everybody agrees that the Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee and the information was released to Wikileaks.

Rather than investigating Russian interference with the 2016 Presidential election, I've been listening to the conservative Republicans congressman and their whole goal is to make the case about leaks to the press. What a bunch of unpatriotic jerks. Former Trump National Security Advisor Micheal Flynn resigned because he talked to the Russians after the election and lied about it to the administration. We have also found out he was lobbying for the Turkish government while he was with the Trump campaign. What's amazing is that FBI Director James Comey just testified that there is an investigation into coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Huffington Post. Comey's statement is remarkable. It should be country first, not politics. Hey, we're talking about the President of the United States' campaign coordinating with the Russians, you right-wing conservatives. Stop trying to throw a smoke screen for the Russians, you conservative Republicans.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Here are the Corrs and The Chieftains with "I Know My Love."

Trump administration insults our friend, Great Britain

Chalk this source to conservative President Trump's favorite news outlet, Fox News. On Tuesday's Fox & Friends, Fox News Analyst Andrew Napolitano accused the British of "wiretapping" Trump at behest of President Obama. Trump White House spokesman, Melissa McCarthy er... Sean Spicer repeated the allegation yesterday. Huffington Post.

Great Britain strenuously denied it. You see what's happening here. As Trump's wild accusation that Obama wiretapped Trump's phones at Trump tower unravels due to its baseless foundation, his administration is searching for anything to show that the Donald was not lying. Except now, conservative Trump is insulting our friend, Great Britain. And why doesn't Trump label Fox News as fake news?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Kong: Skull Island review

Have I got a movie bargain for you. This film stars Samuel L. Jackson, Oscar winner Brie Larson and Mr. Taylor Swift. Er, ... make that Tom Hiddleston. It's a fusion of Moby Dick, None But the Brave, Apocalypse Now and Jurassic Park. But wait. There's more. It's got one of the most iconic, legendary characters in film. I mean Hollywood has made three movies about him. It's got the big guy himself. Mickey Mouse? No, it's got King Kong. The film is Kong:Skull Island.

The movie takes place in 1973. The United States is winding down its war with Viet Nam. Bill Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) lead a scientific expedition to Skull Island which is somewhere in the South Pacific. They enlist the help of James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) a former SAS soldier whose role is basically your Great White Hunter. Providing protection is Col. Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) and his Army company of helicopter borne infantry. Brie Larson plays Mason Weaver, a photojournalist. I have no idea why she is in this movie other than to provide a Fay Wray to King Kong. She does rock a tank top. Another thankless role for the other woman in the cast goes to Jing Tian as scientist San Lin. My guess is that her presence in the movie is for the Chinese audience.

Randa and Brooks decide it's a good idea to drop bombs on the island to map it. What?! Anyway, Conrad's choppers come upon King Kong who doesn't like the wake up call and is not a morning person. He destroys all of them. Obviously, that makes it hard to "get to the chopper" to escape. Anyway, Packard, Randa and others survive but are separated from Conrad and Weaver. The latter team finds a bloated Marlon Brando leading a savage, unauthorized war against the Viet Cong. Oops, sorry that's Apocalypse Now. Conrad's team really discovers a World War II American airman named Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly) He's been living on the island with the help of a now deceased foe, a Japanese pilot, and some silent islanders. They're probably silent because it was cheaper not to write them any lines. But I digress. Marlow tells them of something worse than Kong. They're giant bony lizards called Skullcrawlers. Conrad's team then decides to work on escaping while Col. Packard has a different motive. He wants revenge.

For any movie to work, it's got to start with a competent screenplay, followed by good acting and direction. Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein and Derek Connolly wrote a cliched movie that needlessly crams Hiddleston and Larson's characters into a monster mash up of Moby Dick, Apocalypse Now and Jurassic Park. There is even a homage by Larson to Fay Wray, and Jessica Lange, the other blond damsel in distress in the 1976 King Kong movie. I won't say there is a beauty killed the beast moment so as to not spoil it but folks, there is a Samuel L. Jackson one and you can guess what his line is going to be. That being said, the movie sticks to the compelling story lines, that being Packard's desire for revenge and the monsters that like eating human snacks. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts keeps the action moving with clear action scenes and no wasted time.

When I was watching this, I initially thought they could have made this film without the big stars. I mean it could have been a glorified SyFy movie. However, they're are two performances that carry this film. Samuel L. Jackson as the revenge bent Col. Packard, gives an intense and riveting portrayal. I know he's like that in many of his movies. But here, you can't take your eyes off him. He's so good, you will believe in his need for vengeance. He's Captain Ahab wrapped up in Col. Kurtz from Apocalypse Now. The other performance is actually the comic relief. John C. Reilly as the isolated Marlow steals the show. He clearly is having fun as a guy who has lived without verbal communication for decades. That leads to Marlow unable at times to control his expressions.

Kong: Skull Island is not going to win the Oscar for Best Picture. However, it's entertaining. If you see this movie, stay for the post credits end scene. Yes, the producers are confident for a sequel. Thankfully, this movie is not The Last Airbender. As for the future of this franchise, you'll ask yourself, Warner Brothers has the right to that monster? The grade is B.