Over at https://www.patreon.com/TheScrag I’ve a few copies of issue #1 of my zine still available for purchase. Issue #2 is up there to and #3 will be following in august
The Scrag is a daft zine.
It’s 20 pages of trite drivel and dreck that you can get delivered to your door or inbox every month.
To give an idea of what features, stories and scraps will fill the pages I’m sharing some pages from 2018’s limited run. Though this Patreon series will be ALL NEW NONSENSE!
The Technocrats may have plunged print media into a death spin but I for one still fondly remember what paper felt like. I miss the simple joy of turning a page, the risk of a paper cut or scanning your eyes to the end of a story to spoil it for yourself. Magazines were for lying on the sofa, sitting on the toilet or displaying to visitors on your coffee table. The Scrag can fill that gap that’s already been filled a thousand times over by the superphone in your pocket.
Head over to the Patreon site now to pick the Tier of support that best suits your belief system.
When Disney waterboarded George Lucas with $4 billion until he signed over the complete rights to Star Wars we all knew a glut of new films were coming. They might even be different and unique takes on the universe and with Lucas lost in a tsunami of cash he’d be unable to get his grubby, midiclorian-riddled, fingers on it. Turns out that didn’t happen. But one theme that I hadn’t expected to stink up the new movies up was characters killing themselves. Or at least trying to.
Self-sacrifice, I think, shouldn’t be seen as glorious but tragically out of date. Martyrdom doesn’t exist anymore It is jingoistic suicide. And it tastes like dog shit in my mouth in these Star Wars movies. Or their other move, the old bait-and-switch, where they act like the character is going “for his tea” only to pull out at the last minute. And this is from Disney, the “authors of childhood”, which makes me think they need to have a sitdown with themselves.
A quick, uncomprehensive, rundown from the Disney movies: Force Awakens starts off okay. The following year we got Rogue One and every character wilfully dying for the cause. That’s every single character, from the boring ones to the forgettable ones. The Last Jedi joined the doom cult party next. It started with Rose’s sister, Paige Tico, blowing her ship up to save the resistance, then Holdo outdoes her in the suicide bombing stakes by flying her huge ship to help the cause. Finn tries to join in on the kamikaze action on the salt planet only to be stopped at the last moment. We wonder if perhaps this is the movie reversing its stance but then Luke dies moments later for the cause and the blind patriotism resumes. Next, we had Solo where we get introduced to Thandie Newton’s character Val for a few scenes before she blows herself up for the cause. The “cause” itself is given less explaining in this movie and I’m at a loss what the point was. Then came Rise of the Skywalker where Leia dies, I’m not really sure why except its for the cause, the same with Kylo Ren and Rey. C-3PO also gets given the chance to “pay the ultimate price” by having his brain wiped (although it’s unwiped by the end so what’s the point). There may be more but after Force Awakens I was rolling my eyes near constantly that I may have missed some. Chewbacca was dead and mourned for two seconds before the scene cut and we were relieved to see he was still alive. The quickest bait and switch death in the new Star Wars movies.
There’s plenty of talk out there on the unnecessariness of these five movies. And I agree that we could have done without them all. When the JJ Abrams Star Trek came out, the Gulf War was still deemed newsworthy and I remember reading a sort of collar tugging article about the opening act where the captain’s sacrifice could, in light of the current events, be seen as suicide bombing. Which it was. And I first thought it was an oversight by the writers. They were maybe so chuffed with themselves that they found such high drama to start their movie that they didn’t realise they’d inadvertently had the audience reason and rejoice with suicide bombing. Beyond that article, no one else seemed to have spotted or cared about it. And so more and more lazy writers took the trope as a “writing hack” to ramp up unearned, drama.
It all almost happens without a second thought. Characters are jumping straight to martyrdom the second the odds are against them, instead of pulling out a heroic move that saves themselves and the day. I know that can be hackneyed too. But too often in an action scene, we get the character looking all dew eyed, the music turns soft and dramatic, the enemies allow them to take a final look at their friends, who are shouting “no” before they kill themselves. We’ve seen it too much that, to no surprise, it means nothing to us anymore.
It’s said that it’s always more likely “someone’s stupidity over malice”. And I’d agree, I don’t think there’s an LT Smash style conspiracy by Disney and the US Army to brainwash kids. The prevalence in the new Disney movies of suicide for the cause is most likely hackneyed writing. But it could also be the sands of time have shifted and as a society, we’ve come back around to the idea, subconsciously, that giving our lives for the cause is the highest honour.
Another thing that lightens the weight of the self-sacrifice is that with the runaway cash train of the new saga the outcomes keep proving to be for very little. In Rogue One they all died to stop the death star, but then the Empire built a second, and then another one built in a planet, then one in every ship of Palpatine’s new fleet. So it seems like the Rouges dying was pretty insignificant. Holdo took down a load of Empire ships with her but not the main ones who were still around for the next movie. It all just seems redundant, ya die for the cause but not enough to really make a difference and ultimately more suicides are needed again and again. Both sides are run as death cults. “Who’s turn is it going to be to die gloriously and make a slight dent in the opposing force’s plan today?” If the main motivation for them is that we’ve lost too many to not lose more in the attempt to stop losing more, than what’s the fucking point? Join the Empire and you could die as a neglected grunt. Join the resistance and you could die as a neglected grunt but with the facade of virtue. If I was in this universe I’d tell them both to fuck off and take my chances with hedonism. Let them fight their wars. I’d rather drink spotchka in a beautiful backwoods planet.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that Disney is being irresponsible and lazy. To paint your movies with the shades of the glory of dying for the cause is smearing patriotic suicide in the eyes of your audience as a heroic goal. If they’d no realization that they’d been glamourizing the merits of suicide bombing then, they’ve run the “trope” into the ground and they’ve cheapened it by overuse, failed bluffs or pointless outcomes.
There’s a hushed voice of Georger Lucas that can be heard under a mountain of Disney’s money whispering about his plans for more wacky aliens and hokey space mysticism. Like space ghosts or tiny sentient microscopic creatures called the Whills. I don’t think it would have been good, but it’d be better than more and more characters having their names etched onto a monolith of soldiers that have fallen for marginal gains in a war that will never stop.
Over the last two or so years I’ve been working on something. I work on a lot of somethings and a lot end up being farts in the wind. But that’s the way she goes, I guess. And when I say “work” I don’t mean paid or professional. I’ve just sat at a pc or notebook and tried to make something out of nothing using my brain. I love doing it, it’s what I’ve always done and can’t help myself from doing. School was always about day dreaming and scribbling in the gutters of my books. The reveal at hand is something different for me. It’s a game. And that game is called Dole Quest.
Dole Quest is an RPG where you play as a lad with little on the horizon but plenty of shit he has to do.
Too often RPGs (role playing games) have you role play as some hero in a fantastic world of magic and wonderment and fantastical blah-de-blah. In Dole Quest you assume the role of a guy, Howard, in a world stripped of magic, hope and opportunity: Modern Day Ireland. Who wants to cast spells when they can apply for jobs that aren’t hiring? Why converse with mages when you can get grilled by your family because your life is going nowhere? Forget battling monsters when you can battle your crippling depression and self worth?
Do I need to say more? I’d say so as there’s much more to Dole Quest than I’m letting on. Two years of scrabbling around so far and still tons more work on my plate to have it ready for release. The plan is to release it by the end of 2020 on PC and mobile. Although that’s being generous. It still might be longer as Game Development is new to me and the chances are great that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. But hey, it’s clear there’s no work for me out there unless I make it myself.
I’ll go more into the development and the inspirations behind it as the weeks snowball towards its release. I’m very excited about it and am enjoying the workload. There’s always something to do each day, modeling characters or environments, writing and coding quests or building systems. I’m trying too to play through games each week that I’ve always wanted to play but have put off, which is why I’ve been doing those write-ups as a way to get my thoughts in a row. Someday, someone somewhere might actually read them. It may even be you.
So to restate Dole Quest is a PC and Mobile RPG set in the wasteland of modern Ireland aiming to be released by the end of 2020. Put that in your calendars.
Spec Ops: The Line is a game that’s popped up in shit I’ve read surrounded by the oohing that it’s something special. And often used in response to the grand questions “Can games be taken seriously as art?” A very lofty question that the big thinkers spend more time chewing on than is perhaps necessary.
Spec Ops: The Line aka Spec Oops: Tow the Line, a PS3 era game set in a near-future Desert Storm scenario. Everything about the marketing would have you believe it’s just another jackbooted shooter like Call of Duty or Battlefield and that all the fun will come from its tales of camaraderie and valour as you shoot hundreds of real-world guns at NPCs. But soon enough, playing Spec Ops, the game starts fucking with you. The waters get murky. And I loved how twisted it got. To explain any of the story beats would ruin it, as I do recommend it. But I will say that they recreate the military term “FUBAR” (fucked up beyond all recognition) so well. Firefights are shitshows where you haven’t got a clear clue who’s the enemy amongst the gunfire and roaring soundscape of shouting, shooting and swearing from your companions. I soon got into a mindset of shoot everything until the chaos stops. And that’s exactly the state the devs want us to be in as the narrative unfurls. I loved every fucked up moment in it. There are scenes that’d cause controversy had the game been more popular. Yet, in my eye, it made the jingoism and heroism of other games seem more offensive.
I’ve also been dipping into Call of Duty: Mobile and beyond how well it looks and plays in your hand it’s a fucking joke if you look beyond your kill stats. Flashy and garish gun skins are being pushed and promoted for personalisation. There were Super Bowl-themed guns last week and now they’re shilling Valentine’s themed skins. If that’s the game, then that’s the game. But Call of Duty likes to also veer on the pro-military side of the gun debate. I think if you’re doing that, then do that but it seems off to have these realistic simulations of guns in a game and then have them pimped out like shiny collectable stickers. But then you need to make a lot of money to be rich so I should shut up.
Spec Ops is a military shooter that wants you to shoot people while reminding you that you’re shooting people. And in the midst of it lean in and ask you with raised eyebrows “how you feel about that?” In Battlefield they liked to remind you that every soldier is a human being with a name appearing on screen with the death screen, letting us take a pensive moment to think about the family that will be getting a folded up flag soon. Then the game reloads and we start shooting again. It seems they want the game to be like the Spielberg version of the world wars. Spec Ops veers more towards the dark military themes, like fubar, misinformation, friendly fire, following dubious orders, quagmires and makes a game out of it. And I’m delighted that we have that alongside the AAA Support the Troops games. Specs Ops: The Line is well worth playing. There was a point in it where one of my companions shouted that we need to “hold the line” and I smiled because at that point in the game we had well and truly crossed the line and it was light years behind us. There are a dozen memorable moments in it that I’d never seen in a game before. As well as a great jukebox soundtrack. The controls and some of the mechanics are a bit janky I have to say but worth persevering with.
So to the question “Can games be taken seriously as art?” my answer is “Who cares” and “of course”. Firstly it makes no difference to me how games aren’t perceived by academics or high society. So I’d scratch the serious part from the question. To the “Are games art?” question the answer is a unanimous “Yes”. Anything that’s been created or made to express something is art. Is it good art? That’ll always come down to individualistic preferences. I hate what a lot of people love and a lot of people hate what I love. And, you know what, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Handheld Gaming Recommendations
Coming from a big family I found it tough to commandeer our one TV to fully get lost in games. But playing on a handheld let me play in the corner of the living room while my four sisters rewatched Titanic on videotape. The last few years I tried to recapture the simpler times and have dumped too much of my scratch on the latest iterations. I bought a 3DS, sold it, bought a PS Vita, sold it, bought a 3DS xl, sold it, bought another PS Vita, sold it and then figured I should stop being a fool and just play games on the phone I already carried around everywhere.
But you gotta be careful with the games out there. They’ll either mug you of your time or your money. Free-to-play games would ration my progress to keep me hooked while trying to coerce me into in-app payments. But last year I broke out of my click prison and recaptured that proper joy of earlier gaming times. Paying upfront for a game that’ll leave me alone and let me finish it.
It feels apparent that mobile game studios now have departments that work on the Squeeze Math. Number nerds that work out the stats, cooldowns and progression chokeholds into a couple of cranks that the CEO and stockholders can turn to keep the money flowing as the market wanes or quarters approach.
I was playing Marvel Future Fight to get that Marvel Ultimate Alliance type of game on my phone. And at quick glance, it looks like an update to those games and there was a load of things I really liked about it, for one they’d update missions, characters and costumes with every MCU movies. But it soon felt like it’d never end, the goalposts would be moved further and further. And I even unlocked an auto-attack button that pretty much let the game grind its self leaving me to just thumb my chin and think of how much hero-bucks or whatever I needed to buy to get the most stars for each character. I dragged it into the bin not long after and decided I’d get Marvel Ultimate Alliance for the Switch once I could afford it. At least then I’d be left alone to finish the game without being pestered hourly (besides for the purchase of their DLC).
But as mobile games are concerned, there aren’t much out there that’ll take your money and leave you alone but here’s some I’ve discovered.
Reigns: Game of Thrones
Pitched as Tinder for ruling kingdoms this was cheap and plays well. You get petitioned with requests from your peons and you swipe left or right to accept or refuse before ultimately being stabbed in the back or thrown into a bath of wildfire. And like Tinder you don’t know you’ve swiped on a lunatic until it’s too late. It’s also out in non-license versions but the GOT tropes are great to get into.
Rockstar Games have been class with putting upgraded versions of their old game on the Play/Apple stores for a few quid. Bully is a game I never played when it came out on PS2, it came to Ireland surrounded by the noise of concerned aul wans that invaded the media and made it difficult to have it bought for me.
But as with most Rockstar games, they have got a lot more to say than the tittering mob would give them credit for.
I’m loving it on my phone although the controls took a few hours to get used to. But stick with it and you’ll soon be zipping around soon on a skateboard letting those bastard jocks eat your dust.
GTA Liberty City Stories
A nostalgia trip that plays really well as it was originally on PSP. Cruising Liberty City is a great trip down memory lane and cruelly losing a long mission at the last moment and having to drive all over to try it again is also a trip down memory lane. Remember, not all memories are joyful ones.
I find myself forking out for this every year, getting tunnel vision for a few days, playing relentlessly and getting into a strop with my players. I stop when the club is ruined or am fired and then leave management to for the cushier job of TV analysis. It’s a romp until it isn’t and I have to uninstall it to get back to the more important things in life like doing the dishes and paying attention to the bus arriving at my stop.
It seems a daft idea in the current landscape of live-games and games as service to 1) pay once for a game and 2) to actually finish it. But I easily forget that gaming began with the pocket-money swallowing arcade machines. And the corporate execs are loving the return to the shaking us loose of our spare change. Perhaps it’s easier for the ports I mentioned to stick to the old retail model cause those games have long since made their money and anything now is just a happy top-up from the whiskey bottle they thought was empty. No one is going to spend the standard fifty quid on a phone game so they can hardly fund a AAA development cycle. And honestly, my “ya fucking serious?” point on pricing is anything above a tenner. So I get that companies would rather uncap their returns and sell limitless gems, gold or whatever spurious shite their game begs from its players. But it’s nice to have a few games out there that the introverted kid in me can pay and play and be left alone in the corner of the room.
And I’m looking to get on to KOTOR, Max Payne and the other GTAs as I finish these ones. (any other good I should check out let us know)
Uncharted Lost Legacy and the reluctant anticipation of Last of Us Part 2
Trying to finish Uncharted 4 Lost Legacy aka Uncharted4daGurls has left me dreading Last of Us Part 2. Now, I loved the original Last of Us in every way except actually playing it.
I remember being so taken after finishing it that it took weeks before I could watch movies again. My flatmates were watching Mad Max Fury Road the night I finished LOU, and as much as I have been informed since that it’s a great film, I couldn’t be arsed with it and walked out after half an hour of scoffing. It was boring and passive. Were we to cheer at the decisions the characters were making? That felt like an empty gesture. It wasn’t even Mad Max or your one Furosa. It was actors. Cunts I’d seen in all sorts of shit before. Hardy did a Sky Mobile ad, Theron was in a Budweiser ad. In LOU when it had cutscenes it was me as Joel. I’d done what got him there. Naughty Dog were very good at making you feel like you’d made the decisions independently. Like a magician asking you to pick a card knowing that he had a showstopping reveal of the 10 of hearts already tattooed on his arse.
I loved LOU but I hated playing it. It felt like toil. I’d have to gear myself up to play for an hour. Like rolling up my sleeves to unclog the toilet. I didn’t enjoy it but persisted cause I owed it to the characters to get them through it. I couldn’t leave them stuck in the machine with clickers shuffling. That just didn’t seem fair to them, it was my duty or our duty (me and Joel’s) to get them to some sort of resolution. I’d never felt that before in a video game. Traditionally your through-line is mastery. Getting more powerful until you beat all opposition in the world and the credits roll as there is nothing left for you to conquer, like a weeping Alexander the Great when there are no more challenges. And I was fine with that sense of having truly “beaten” a game. You’ve bested it and the game agrees, the devs’ names scroll passed in acknowledgement that you can move on, you can walk out of the cinema and let them clean up the spilt popcorn.
LOU was anything but fun. And I get that they weren’t going for that. Uncharted was about fun though, wasn’t it? I got the remastered PS4 Uncharted in anticipation for U4. Syposising quickly, I gave up 1 at the boat barrel bomb level, got frustrated with the opaque stealth system in 2 and played 3 for a fair bit until some other game glimmered on the horizon and I traded the Uncharted disk in. But when 4 came out I played it all the way through and from my recollection I enjoyed it. There was a lot of great ideas, blockbuster moments and more focus on character. It was a cool caper. I think anyway.
I started Uncharted 4 Lost Legacy last week on PS Now and it’s been a slog. The systems and structure are all there, as far as I can tell, the same as U4 but the fun seems to be missing. I’m planning to finish it any ways, not so much that as an obligation to the characters but to the developers. I’m taking game development more seriously now and wanna see how they play this one out. But it’s been making me wonder more on whether the game has changed or I have.
The play cycle is the same, usually a sequence of:
But I’ve been struggling to enjoy any of them and none feel insanely fun though. U4 had stand out moments that stuck with me but Lost Legacy just feels played out. Like they’ve pushed the systems to breaking point with U4 and this is just a retread. The exploration is samey, the puzzles are a chore, stealth is too fleeting and combat is laborious. And I hate to say it, but I feel without the veneer of the graphics and characters taken seriously, it’s an overly rigid platformer. They made a point of recalling Crash Bandicoot in U4 and it’s anything but flattering in Lost Legacy. Too often I’m reset having fallen of what I thought was a jumpable ledge or shot by an off-screen sniper. “Here we fucking go again” I tut as I hit X to continue.
And that’s what has gotten me worried. Uncharted is about fun and Lost Legacy isn’t fun. And if the fun is a drudge then what’s it going to be like with LOU2 when it is supposed to be a drudge? I will play LOU2, again I feel I have to for the characters. I would have also prefered that LOU2 never existed. I would be completely fine with them closing the book after the ending of the first one. But that’s not the world we live in and I know they’re taking their time with Part 2 to make it justify its existence. But for me, that means a few weeks of grimacing, elbows deep in sewage as I’m obligated to unblock the u-bend.
My girlfriend was complaining that the thrill had gone from her life. And typical bird-brained me, I thought she was talking about the soppy wankers “The Thrills” that had blandly snook through the middle of the road and into the spotlight in the early 2000s. I was trying to relocate them to play a reunion but they were nowhere near either of the pubs in our estate so I stopped looking. And when I got home, surprise surprise, herself has left me. Some days you just wanna forget
All this talk about equality of work opportunities for women has got me going “wah?”. Why do they want to work their way through promotions when the tried and tested approach of old, sleeping your way to the top, still applies as men have all the jobs of power? The mind boggles
I saw Carol Vorderman is desperately flogging Life Insurance on daytime TV now. It’s quite sad that she made a career out of numbers and it was numbers that saw her get kicked out of the limelight. No matter what algorithm she could muster she was never going to have her age lower or her sexy higher than Rachel Riley’s
(Cont’d) …I mean I’m not in a job of power but I need to be given some motivation (female attention) for working hard. If it’s a meritocracy for meritocracy’s sake you can forget it
Why are all lunch baguettes cut from end to end but whenever I buy my favourite, a garlic butter baguette, it’s cut across a dozen times?
Elon Musk? Donald Tusk? Is it just me or is this -usk suffix in surnames of men in the news getting dangerously out of hand?
I had a go at watching the “Bollywood” channel last night. None of the people looked or spoke like me and it was turned off within seconds. I will be ringing Sky to have the channel blocked.
I was saddened to hear all the news come out about Wacko Jacko. I was shocked and decided to do my own research. I listened to his albums and hate to say it but the evidence is there, clear as day. He gloats in the song/ confession “Bad” that “your butt is mine”. Further research indicates that “butt” is what American kids say in reference to their arseholes. How were we that naive?
It’s a shame the Jews don’t eat pork. Rashers and sausages are always very cheap
The Rock? Emma Stone? Pebbles from The Flintstones? Is it just me or is there a geology craze going round?
They say “pink to make the boys wink” but when I see the pop thing P!nk on TV I close both eyes, cover my ears and scream until someone changes the channel.
That Bob Marley song about cricket would be a great song if it was sung by salamanders, small snakes, frogs, toads, rats, bats, shrews, mice and insect-eating birds
I see Jennifer Aniston is the face of Smart Water. What’s next? Ross the face of Smart Bread? Or Peebee the face of Smart Beans? Honestly, though water that’s crisp, clear, vapour distilled and re-mineralised with electrolytes is as good shite as anything else to shill
Keira Knightley? Tess Daly? Is it just me or are our celebrities’ surnames becoming time-sensitive?
I know from the bottom of my heart that comedian Jeff Dunham is not racist but to portray that, without a shadow of a doubt, he has to stop associating and cut all ties with Achmed the Dead Terrorist, Bubba J, José Jalapeño on a Stick, Melvin the Superhero Guy, Walter and of course Peanut
It’s sad to hear about that bad thing that happened. I couldn’t believe it. I mean it has to stop
Every week we send out a delicious meal of Scrag, Chips and a Drink. All you gotta do is tell us why you deserve it with #ScragSupper
One morning, while I was still in bed, I heard the screams of someone being attacked. The next day I found out it was the Gym Class next door. But now I know that had it been an attempted murder I’d have stayed in bed. What a coward. Any chance of a supper?
I approached a girl in a pub and said she was a “Pig”. And before I could explain that it meant “Pretty Irish Girl” I was wearing her Malibu and Diet Coke. Surely I deserve a Scrag Supper.
To the lady who fell asleep on the plane and thought that a kid had stolen her Honey Nuts. It was me. I’d like her to get a scrag supper. And also to the kid that got an awful hiding from his Da.
To those fine folks in advertising. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t know what I like, who I was or what my life goals should be. They really aren’t paid enough in my opinion. Thanks guys.
I found the key to a better life. Just ask yourself: If you were to die tomorrow how would you wank today?
There’s a lot of talk now about the types of toys we should let kids play with. Should we have girls’ toys and boys’ toys? Well back in my day, we were too poor and I got neither and had to play with the dirt. Any chance of a bitta grub to treat me now?
I managed to use the jax in Brown Thomas without buying a single overpriced thing. Let me say it was the height of luxury but the deed was as pleasurable as if I’d shat in a bin. I’m glad of the experience but also glad that it hasn’t changed me.
I often think that we’re like robots. Or me anyway. Only instead of Duracell Batteries, I run on cans of budget beer. Beep Beep Lad-Bot! Any chance I could line me stomach?
I was really looking forward to Hallowe’en and all the dressing up parties until I remembered that I’ve no mates. Giz a birra Scrag.
To me Ma that I slagged off for watching Jeremy Kyle every day. But now years later I have also grown bored of all other media too except for good auld Jezza. So sorry. Save us a chip Ma.
I found out a way to feel hallowed when you’re low. Just have a few cans outside a church. All the auld wans will bless themselves as they pass you like you’re something of a saint.
To my wife who realized I plagiarized our vows. I stole all the words from an episode of Four Weddings Australia. I didn’t mean any of it, especially the “Love you unconditionally” bit. I have many conditions, like giving me a moment’s peace when Sky Sports News is on.
To Anthony McGuire the talent agent. I’ve never seen better tribute acts. You should all check out The Faux Fighters, Melting John and The Rolling Smokes.
I’d like to give a home-cooked meal to all of the socially malformed castoffs on Reddit. Maybe some warm wholesome food instead of the processed shite they do be eating might calm their rage and bitterness a bit.
I want to apologise to that Hen Party that was drinking outside a Pub in Temple Bar. I was in a bad mood. I shouldn’t have burst your cock balloons with my smoke. Have a plate on me.
Will we be rifling through your rubbish next time?