Oh Christ: First Watchmen Footage

By Kieron Gillen on December 16th, 2008 at 10:32 pm.

My photoshop skills are weak. BUT MY CONCEPTUALISM IS STRONG.
No good can come of this. The first Watchmen video’s beneath the cut.

Honestly, nice try guys, but you may as well turn Anna Karenina into a Railroad Tycoon clone.

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160 Comments »

  1. Tom Crowley says:

    Ah well. This was never going to be particularly great. Still holding out hope for the film, but the videogame tie-in was a) inevitable and b) inevitably going to be deeply average.

    Though there’s always going to be a little bit of me that would like to play as Rorschach and break some fingers.

  2. Cooper42 says:

    Ouch

  3. Adam Hepton says:

    # Edie Sedgwick! Anna Karenina! Arlene Dahl!
    # I just want to be a sweetheart!
    # I just want to be a sweetheart!

  4. AndrewC says:

    And what it should have been is a straight Streets Of Rage clone in all it’s 2-D 16 bit glory. If they wanted to be ambitious have the game be the comic reading kid in an arcade (in full 3-D, obvs) which is full of Watchmen themed cabinets. A Comedian Commando clone. A Dr Manhatten Galaxians clone.

    And every time you complete a game the clock ticks one minute closer to midnight.

  5. Gap Gen says:

    “Also marine armour is utterly worthless and where the dickens are the flying suits?”

    Yes, unlike Battlestar Galactica, I suspect the grossly anachronistic weaponry and armour (given that they have warp drives or whatever) is, again, a comment on sending people to die in pointless real wars like Iraq (where, coincidentally, there were complaints of insufficient body and vehicle armour) rather than a genuine failure to think properly about future technology.

  6. AndrewC says:

    Imperialistic arrogance and the failure of large, technologically advanced miiltaries to adapt to assymetric warfare. All of which makes Starship Troopers sound rather dry and joyless. Unisex showers.

  7. phil says:

    The unisex showers were one of the finest ideas in the movie, beyond the obvious reasons it underlined how utterly dehumanised MI were, ignoring each other and their own fundamental desires.

    Equally having a middle aged black woman in a Fuhrer suit, complete with cap, as the supreme military leader, was a perfect visual representation of how the ideas of facism can evolve.

    Starship Trooper is possibly the most ironic movie Hollywood has ever financied. It sequels, by gloriously missing the point, underline the archness of the first film.

    Books as games – how about the Confessions of An English Opium Eater as a pac-man clone?

  8. AndrewC says:

    Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas as a Rampage clone.

  9. Gap Gen says:

    Angela’s Ashes – an adventure game where you struggle to survive in crippling, soul-eating poverty.

  10. phil says:

    The Grapes of Wrath as a Burger Time remake?

  11. Iain says:

    @Kieron: Starship Troopers is a terrific piece of cinema, because it works on two levels. As a pure action flick, it’s very effective, as it’s got some brilliant set pieces and there’s just enough characterisation for you to be able to care about the characters.
    But the real brilliance of the film is in the subtext. A lot of it comes from Verhoeven himself (who grew up during the Nazi occupation of Holland during the second World War) – he makes parallels between the Nazis and the Federation, uses a lot of fascist symbology in the uniforms and in the newscasts and then makes a further connection between the American neo-con imperialist agenda in the Middle East (again, this is very clearly stated in the director’s commentary). There’s a double irony in that the All-American Heroes are actually Argentinian (they come from Buenos Aires) and there’s also a clear implication that it’s the Bugs who are acting in self-defense, not humanity.

    I’m not sure it’s a case of the film being intentionally disrespectful to the source material – when I read the book, I certainly didn’t get the impression that Heinlein was presenting the model of the Federation as a social ideal (though obviously there are a few things, such as the equality between all races and genders that were) and I certainly don’t buy the anti-Heinlein Bugs = Jews argument… I didn’t get that at all from the book – more that while Heinlein was a social theorist (lots of his books explore alternative social models), Verhoeven is a social satirist and likes to poke holes in America’s innate sense of superiority.

  12. Acosta says:

    Please, kill me already.

  13. Ginger Yellow says:

    “I imagine anyone willing enough to bring the less popularised works of Dick to game would do a faithful job, and how fucking cool would it be?!”

    Oh, don’t tempt me so!

    Confessions of a Crap Artist – the Bejeweled clone
    Ubik – the afterlife management sim
    The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch – Can-D Wars

    Also, I add my support to Starship Troopers. One of the best satires of the 90s.

  14. Iain says:

    @Phil: The unisex showers were one of the finest ideas in the movie, beyond the obvious reasons it underlined how utterly dehumanised MI were, ignoring each other and their own fundamental desires.

    Not dehumanised, simply that gender segregation is an alien concept in their society. One of the core social concepts of both the book and the film is that true equality can only be achieved in what most people would consider a fascist regime. Which is a pretty scary thought.

    I’ll shut up about Starship Troopers now. (It’s one of my favourite films, can you tell?)

    Okay, books as games… how about: Slaughterhouse-Five as a Sims clone.

  15. Gap Gen says:

    Starship Troopers was a dull, poorly-structured book anyway.

  16. Lars Westergren says:

    @Iain I haven’t read that book, but people whose opinion I respect have said that Heinlein was something of a conservative Hawk, who seemed to be of the opinion that Important Lessons In Manhood are taught on the battlefield. Also in the book, the idea that citizenship and the right to vote should only be granted to those who are willing to join the military and Fight Against Evil, was supposedly shown in a fairly positive light.

    So, being the pinko leftist I am, I highly enjoyed the parody in the first film.

  17. Jochen Scheisse says:

    Well, as everything else about Starship Troopers has already been said, IMO it belongs to the category of movies that you can see sober, drunk, and stoned, and essentially view 3 different movies.

  18. Iain says:

    @Lars: That’s a relatively fair assessment. But then you contrast that mindset with some of the stuff he wrote in Stranger in a Strange Land… Heinlein certainly worked through the full political spectrum.

    I wouldn’t recommend Starship Troopers (the book, that is), since it’s not really one of my favourites by Heinlein, but Stranger in a Strange Land and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress are definitely worth reading.

  19. phil says:

    @Lars Westergren – Your friends are right. The book, whilst well writen and pacy, with a great survival tips if you ever find yourself naked on a mountain, is just horrible in terms of the politics.

    The protagonist’s father for example, starts out a liberal pacifist and ends up as the protagonist’s subordinate staff sargent. The whole ‘young teaching the old (to be more violently nationalistic)’ theme was a favourite of totalitarians of all stripes.

    @Iain – They are UTTERLY dehumanised; Johnny and the rest change from all American (who happen to live in Argentia) red blooded stereotypes to unfeeling storm troopers of death, who’d rather ‘kill bugs good’ and torture other sentient life than have sex. The shower scene was Vanderhoeven raming his point home with his normal subtle, whilst no doubt providing the studio with the contractually stipulated T & A.

  20. Solar says:

    From what I understand, this is supposed to be a prequel to the film, detailing Nite Owl and Rorshach’s early masked-adventure style crime fighting exploits alluded to in the novel. In that context, it’s not as bad as everyone is making it out to be. It kind of fits well into the story.

  21. Iain says:

    @phil: Hmm. The scene takes place far too early in their training for any dehumanisation process to have taken much effect. The scene is there to provide character exposition more than anything, though if you’re looking for a social subtext, I took the message from the scene that the society has mixed showers because there’s no reason to segregate – everyone is equal. There’s also a more disturbing parallel here to the “showers” in places like Auschwitz, too. There wasn’t any gender segregation going on there, either…

    Though you are correct – by nature, military training is a dehumanising process – otherwise you can’t get people to go into combat and kill (see also: Parris Island in Full Metal Jacket).

  22. mrrobsa says:

    I’ll have to agree more with Iain re:Starship Troopers and say that I think the unisex showers are a social comment rather than a symbol of a dehumanising process.
    The same tool (unisex showers) was used to much the same effect in another Verhoeven classic, Robocop, I feel.

  23. manintheshack says:

    @ IdleHands: For the love of God, watch Granny. It’s possibly the best bad film I’ve ever seen.

  24. phil says:

    @Iain – If memory serves, Johnny and co had been through a good portion of basic training by the time of the showers, though I might be wrong.

    My main issue with your arguement is that there isn’t greater equality in film, everything comes down to whether you are a battle tested, dehumanised, fully indoctrinated ‘citizen’ or not. Age, sex, race and the other distinctions that used to segregate society are no longer respected because in Heinleinland, there is simply the strong us and the weak them.

    Verderoeven, though he borrows the conventions and action of the war movie, seems more passionately concerned with detailing this distopian society that is essentally asexual, as the people become too drone like (ironic considering their insect antagonists) to form emtional romantic links. The characters that do, like the characters that show fear, are punished by the narrative with death (asides from the leads, cos this is hollywood after all.)

  25. Gap Gen says:

    I don’t think Heinlein ever fought, anyway. From what I hear he was ill and didn’t serve in the end.

  26. Cedge says:

    That said, I think the answer to your likely rhetorical question would generally be “nothing” or “an adventure game”. Watchmen isn’t an action story, so the idea of making an action game related to it doesn’t sit very well.
    Indeed, of course the events depicted during Watchmen don’t constitute an action story by any stretch of the imagination. But this game is set during a time which the comic never really directly expounds upon in great detail: the Crimebusters era of the 1970s. In comparison to the heady and complex events of the 1980s, the pre-Keene Act events of this time, which I think you could, if needed, simply boil down to a bunch of driven vigilantes in varying stages of moral and sexual psychosis taking the law into their own hands and beating the tar out of any criminals and deviants they come across, suit themselves to a beat-em-up rather well, if you ask me. I mean, were Rory and Nite Owl not beating up a lot of lowlifes at this point in time? Yes, they’re going to have to invent a lot of details about the Underboss and other figures about which the comic says precious little, but Len Wein is supervising, and I trust him.

    Perhaps some of the animosity about this game stems from some confusion about it’s setting. Indeed, were this game set in 1985, I’d be up in arms as well, but it’s not. I think the developers made a perfectly fair choice in what they chose to depict from the extended Watchmen mythos, and how they chose to convey it. If there had to be a Watchmen game, I can’t really think of another way to do it. And the events of the comic would make a piss-poor adventure game, I must say; we’d already know all the solutions.

    I, for one, am rather looking forward to cracking some skulls as my favorite squidgey-faced, morally absolute right-wing extremist.

    Honestly, I’m not holding out any hope for the movie or the game, but I’m quite willing to be pleasantly surprised.

    Fair enough, but the latest word out sounds ever so promising:

    http://chud.com/articles/articles/17450/1/WATCHMEN-THE-FIRST-22-MINUTES/Page1.html

  27. Pags says:

    It amuses me that this comments thread has turned into two things:

    a) Ridiculous suggestions for inappropriate game adaptations
    b) A running commentary on Starship Troopers

    To think we have so little faith in the Watchmen game we would actively go out of our way to discuss other things when time comes to accepting it’s existence.

  28. Iain says:

    @phil: The shower scene is very early on in their training – that’s why Kitten is asking everyone why they joined the Mobile Infantry. “Well, we all have one thing in common: we were all stupid enough to join the Mobile Infantry…” It’s the first scene where we really see the troopers interact on a personal level and get to know each other. From that you can infer that it’s very early on.

    And there’s clearly a greater degree of equality in the Federation than in today’s society. You cite one of the biggest examples yourself – when the white, male Aryan Sky Marshall is replaced by the black, female African in the highest military office in the Federation. There’s no glass ceiling, women occupy positions of power and authority throughout society (such as the Captain of the Rodger Young) and even at a lowly level, Dizzy is every bit as capable a trooper as any of the men – hell, she’s even the quarterback of the High School American Football team.

    I think you may be confusing the equality of individuals with the equality of social status. Everyone has the opportunity to “do their part” and become Citizens, but not everyone takes it. Rico’s father, for example, is not a Citizen and is vehemently opposed to Rico doing a term of service – but that doesn’t stop him from clearly being wealthy and successful in his own right (he threatens to cut Rico off financially after trying to bribe him with an off-world trip fails to dissuade him from joining up) – Rico Senior actively looks down on the Federation and “citizenship” as a bad thing – that is, risking your life to be able to vote is not worth it (a very potent political statement in itself). Whereas the counter-view is that Federation service provides you with the discipline and wisdom to be able to be trusted enough with decisions that shape society (assuming you survive the term of service, that is).

    I don’t think you can really read too much into the way characters are killed off – I think that’s just a standard horror movie trope, especially when you have Kat give her reason for joining the MI as being “I want to have babies”, that’s just an instant death sentence. It’s also very funny.

    @Gap Gen: Heinlein served five years in the US Navy (1929-1934), but didn’t see combat. He was invalided out with tuberculosis.

  29. Paul Moloney says:

    Starship Trooper is indeed a great movie on both levels. It’s ironic that the right-wing “Service guarantees citizenship” idea has been taken up by some on the anti-war side ; you know, the idea that a government of non-soldiers cannot legitimately send soldiers into battle.

    Would You Like To Know More?

    P.

  30. Gap Gen says:

    “b) A running commentary on Starship Troopers”
    Sorry.

    Actually, I’m not sorry.

    Iain: Yes, that’s it. I wonder how it coloured his view of the military and war in general, not to have seen his comrades be killed in battle or have to kill anyone himself.

  31. Pags says:

    Don’t worry, I’m the one who sparked off the inappropriate adaptation thread of discussion. We’re both derailers.

    Oh hello again edit button, where have you been these past few days?

  32. Resin says:

    AndrewC – 16 bit arcade idea FTW!

    Crappy adaption games deserve off-topic discussion.

    Still this discussion, has led me to examine that part of my brain that upon finishing anything excellent – book, movie, comic makes me think, huh, what would this look like as a game? Usually I know very well that it shouldn’t be done but still I ponder:

    Inland Empire – the randomly instanced MMO?

  33. aperson says:

    I hate my life.

  34. Quater says:

    Never mind this. This is small fry. The Dante’s Inferno game is a genuine fucking atrocity against art, literature and human culture in general, and I refuse to have anything to do with it.

  35. K says:

    Anne Frank’s Squad-based Tactical Shooter.

  36. phil says:

    The edit button is back? Thank GOD for that.

    @Iain – I duly concede the point regarding the timing of the shower scene, though not it’s ironic significance (not something I’d ever thought I’d write.)

    As I said, ‘Age, sex, race and the other distinctions that used to segregate society are no longer respected,’ from the disabled recruiting officer, to the various ethno groups represented in the company, to the the pasty geek psychic commander, the MI are a multi-ethnic, mulit-gender, multi-generation kick ass fighting force – of desexed Nazis.

    I was not confused in my references to equality – though it would be useful to define our terms. The ‘inequality’ in the film is the same totalising inequality that existed in fascistic socities – either you are part of militiaristic, expansionist, violent social whole or you are not, and if you are not you are seen as less than a citizen, less than a fully paid up member of the human race. In history, you could be excluded due to your race, creed or sexuality. In this movie, you are excluded if you refuse to ‘serve,’ abandoning yourself to a dehumanising process that strips the characters of their compassion, desires (asides from the desire for violence and glory), morality (witness their amusement at the general’s death), sympathy and most other human virtues, percisely the virtues scorned by miltiaristic, violent and expansionist societies since year dot.

    The arguement that there is nothing wrong in allowing only veterans to vote and breed is superficial satisfying, if you are not willing to fight for what you believe in then what good are you, why should you have a voice in the running of the society? The book never moved before this point. That’s exactly why Heinlein’s been dodging the F word ever since.

    The movie is brilliant percisely because, after the jingostic start, the scenes with the father included, it systematically undermines this arguement, till in the end you are cheering for the bugs.

  37. Hater says:

    this looks like absolute shit. And what’s the deal about the special moves? They look retarded like hell. Really, really retarded. Not only they are not recapturing the charm of the (few, but present) action sequences from the comic book, they look extremely silly and shitty.

    What an horrible game

  38. ordteapot says:

    This comment thread makes me feel warm and safe.

  39. ordteapot says:

    Also, I always imagined Gravity’s Rainbow as an adventuring Deus Ex mod with chronically obscure puzzles.

  40. Christian Otholm says:

    Never cashed in on his reputation. Never set up a company selling posters and diet books and toy soldiers based on himself. Never became a prostitute. If that makes him a Nazi, you might as well call me a Nazi, too.

  41. phil says:

    @Christain – Neither did Terence Trent D’Arby, your point?

  42. Kieron Gillen says:

    Phil: It’s a cultural reference, man.

    KG

  43. phil says:

    Ah, I’d apologise but ‘Some things, once they’re busted, they can’t ever be fixed.’

  44. Iain says:

    @phil: The ‘inequality’ in the film is the same totalising inequality that existed in fascistic societies – either you are part of militiaristic, expansionist, violent social whole or you are not, and if you are not you are seen as less than a citizen, less than a fully paid up member of the human race.

    That’s an interesting statement, (and it’s important to make a distinction here between the film and the book) because I don’t think Rico’s father would agree with you there. He didn’t become a Citizen and he didn’t care if he was “excluded” – as it certainly didn’t stop him from being able to afford a large, mountain-top house and being able to afford to send his son to Harvard. But then he got squashed by an asteroid, so what does he know? ;-)

    Yes, it’s a two-tier society, but it’s not like one is necessarily an underclass. Other than the people you see in the aftermath of the asteroid strike in Buenos Aires, virtually all the non-citizens in the film are portrayed as having an excellent standard of living, not deprived of the basics of life because they can’t vote. Here in the UK we’re the oldest of all Modern Democracies, yet the typical turnout you get at elections is under 50%. Hardly a ringing endorsement of Democracy and the importance of the vote if you ask me… the older a Democracy gets, the more voter apathy takes hold, so you can see why Rico Senior might see why being able to vote isn’t really important. Anyway, I’m not here to defend Heinlein’s politics (as I’m a card-carrying Liberal myself), but it is an interesting argument, because the discrimination between Citizens and non-Citizens isn’t arbitrary (unlike discrimination according to race, gender or sexual orientation) – it’s a discrimination based on your willingness to “do your part” for the community you live in, which is very different from liquidating millions of people because they happen to be Jews or homosexual.

    Not that it’s what the PC-brigade over here would call “positive discrimination” (an oxymoron if I ever heard one), but it does make some kind of sense on an intellectual level.

  45. Dan says:

    There are far too many comments to read.

    All I will say is that Rorschach is a fucking sociopath. If that isn’t what the game is about, then they can fornicate themselves with a big iron stick.

  46. Anesthesia says:

    The only way I can keep that footage from hurting my head is to imagine that it is a cash-in game made by Veidt Industries, like the action figures and other toys. (They show all that stuff in the back end of one of the issues…)

    It’s crap I can wrap in the story, so that slightly saves it. No way I’ll play it though.

    Also, I’d like the MMO version of Kafka’s The Castle.

  47. Quater says:

    @ Anesthesia: No! A Phoenix Wright game based on Kafka’s The Trial XD (althogh Phoenix Wright represents enough of a Kafkaesque perverse and nonsensical mockery of the justice system as it is).

    I still think next to the unbelievable, inexcusable and generally fucking disgraceful bastardisation of Dante’s Inferno (which, to repeat myself, is an atrocity against art) this is comparatively easy to deal with. No way in hell I’m ever playing it though, or watching videos of it or even accepting the idea that it exists at all.

  48. Funky Badger says:

    Heinlein was a writer, he wrote books from different viewpoints (Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land being two examples) – he wrote from every viewpoint with passion and conviction, which is what makes him a good writer. Doesn’t nessecarily make him a Nazi, knee-jerk reaction really. resumably the ideas in ST garner such hostile vehement reacitons because they’re not easily dismissed. (Paddy Ashdown would have been Prime Minister insdtead of Tony Blair following thos guidelines…)

  49. BlahBlahBlah says:

    > Ubik – the afterlife management sim

    There is already a very little known Ubik game. It is something of an Action+RPG+Tactical game that sucks.

  50. Koldunas says:

    the angry internet men collection of 2008 at RPS really needs this thread somewhere on the list.

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