Rezzed 2017 – Paul Kilduff-Taylor: Frozen Synapse 2, Tokyo 42, and New Unannounced Game

I caught up with Paul Kilduff-Taylor of Mode 7 Games to discuss the public reception to Frozen Synapse 2, Toyko 42, and mentions that a new game being published by Mode 7 is in the works.

Thoughts in the Wake of Launching Jaffameister TV

Months of planning, re-planning, designs, redesigns, shoots, re-shoots… but it finally got filmed, edited, and published.

Jaffameister TV grew from various trailing concepts into the answer to one question: “Wouldn’t it be a bit funny if I took this brand that I have and make videos with it while assuming the role of a zealous propaganda news anchor?”

For those of you not quite in the loop, I’m a Communist. Shocking, I know. I am, however, not the Stalin-loving, Authoritarian-state, Lenin-was-a-shining-golden-god kind of Communist stereotype often attributed to the Marxist-Leninist movement (sometimes unfairly.)

But then it dawned on me: what if I play the character of a Stalin-loving, Authoritarian-state, Lenin-was-a-shining-golden-god kind of Communist stereotype, for a bit of self-satirical introspection and because it might be a bit funny?

That’s how my brand, of propaganda poster-inspired aesthetics and adamant Communist assertion, came about. And it sorta just stuck, for better or for worse. Jaffameister TV is a continuation of the big joke that I’ve built around myself, to a degree far higher.

And thus far it’s been well-received! Which I can’t say how relieved I am about. It’s been a lot of work to get the ball rolling on the project, and I’ve had a lot of anxiety in the time leading up to its launch. But a lot of it has been quelled seeing how many people are excited for more.

So stick around comrades, and stay tuned for the next broadcast from Jaffameister TV.

[This is a disclaimer that I’ll be adding as a footnote to all of my work from now on: any nonsensical connections made between video games and Communist themes, zealous and self-righteous dictator-esque behaviors, and perceived support and/or apologism of oppressive regimes like the Soviet Union are purely instances of self-satire as a means of comical introspection, and in some cases have no basis in truth or personal belief.]

My Quest to Find Communism at May MCM Expo London

This weekend just gone, I went to MCM Expo in London, a convention that finds its home in the ExCeL Centre sandwiched neatly between the DLR line and the River Thames. And I went with a mission: to find any and all instances of Communism in the games area of the Expo. Why? Because it’s on-brand, of course! Here details that very quest, as well as other wonderful little aspects of my trip.

 

The first game I managed to get my grubby little commie hands on was the upcoming Volition game Agents of Mayhem, an effective blend of a character shooter and Volition’s previous franchise Saints Row, which shares a universe with Agents. It follows an organisation called MAYHEM (Multinational AgencY Hunting Evil Masterminds) on their mission to take down the evil LEGION (the League of Evil Gentlemen Intent on Obliterating Nations.)

Photography by Wesley Elkins

I’d casually kept my eye on Agents of Mayhem since its announcement, as it seemed intriguing and fun, but what my eyes didn’t catch was what I now consider the greatest video game character of all time: Daisy, a butch roller derby girl with a rockabilly haircut and a giant minigun. Now, that’s not explicitly Communist, but a significant aspect of the kind of Communism I adhere to is women’s empowerment, and what better way to empower women than by giving them a giant gun and a penchant for aggressive roller sports? I certainly felt empowered by that design choice.

The game itself feels great to play, with smooth controls and a slightly clunky but functional shooting mechanic that feels understandably reminiscent of Saints Row. There’ll be a roster of 12 playable Agents each with unique playstyles, abilities, aesthetics and personalities, four of which were playable on the show floor: Rama, an archer and distinguished immunologist, Kingpin, the alias of 3rd Street Saints Communications Director Pierce Washington, Redcard, an unstable and bulky man with a shotgun, and the aforementioned Daisy.

 

Photography by Jane Magnet

My next destination was Rising Star games. I saw the name and the logo, a red star, and assumed that this would be where I found the highest concentration of Communism at the convention. And what do you know?

I picked up a 3DS loaded with a copy of Cooking Mama: Sweet Shop, a continuation of the handheld cooking mini-game franchise, and immediately understood the subtext as I began to play: Cooking Mama is about producing food for the glorious motherland. It all made sense! For years, Red Star had successfully integrated, in cleverly-sublimated messages, its belief in a glorious Communist Utopia. My evidence? The Zuccotto, which looks a bit like one of those coned roofs on the Kremlin. But oh, this was just the tip of Rising Star’s dialectic iceberg.

What does this year of 2017 mark? Only the 20th Anniversary of the Harvest Moon franchise, marking the release of Red Star’s new game, Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley, yet another continuation of their glorious propaganda campaign… allow me to explain. I am convinced without a doubt, based on the theme of the game and the branding of the publisher, that the Harvest Moon franchise is indisputably a simulation of workers control over the means of production. Growing food? Cultivating crops? This combined with Cooking Mama clearly shows that Rising Star Games places a heavy importance on informing the masses of the plentiful food and produce available to all under Communism! My quest had been successful! I had found Communism at MCM Expo London.

 

I didn’t attend the convention exclusively for this glorious purpose, of course; I adore a lot of what MCM London has to offer at their biannual events, and the con has found a special place in my heart since attending my first one in 2014.

There’s VidFest, home to many beloved YouTube content creators, gives many members of the public the opportunity to meet fantastic directors, vloggers, reviewers and comedians, like RedShirt Films, Chloe Dungate, and Thomas ‘TomSka’ Ridgewell, and the talks and panels that they host are funny, wholesome, and a clear reminder  of the great and entertaining communities that arise around the work that these people produce, which could be seen Ridgewell’s panel on Saturday, wherein I instigated a group ‘dab’ that the whole of the audience took part in. (Though this does leave me feeling responsible in part for his declaration at the end of the recent episode of his YouTube series Last Week, that he had quit dabbing. You can also see the group dab in this video.)

There’s the Comic Village, a sea of gorgeous artwork and nervous yet passionate faces, all dedicating their time and energy to producing compelling storylines, memorable characters, and stunning illustration. Most notably this year I purchased a concept art book for an upcoming graphic novel called Roller Grrrls, a colourful and dynamic series that looks to tell the stories of a diverse range of women participating in the sport of roller derby.

There’s Discord Comics, a wonderful booth headed by Tab Kimpton, a queer comic author responsible for Minority Monsters, Shades of A, and Sir, Butler and Boy, as well as many other inclusive and representative comics celebrating the queer community and all its diversity. Tab is a lovely person, and Discord Comics’ presence at MCM Expo makes the whole convention feel that bit more accepting and comfortable an environment to exist in.

And then there’s the Cosplay community, joining fans of Star Trek, Star Wars, Steven Universe, Undertale, Attack on Titan, Fullmetal Alchemist, Marvel, DC, 2000 AD, and countless other universes and franchises under one big umbrella of nerds who love to dress up as their favourite characters. It’s a community that constantly surprises me with its passion, its dedication, and its inclusivity, and a significant part of the appeal of every MCM is seeing what wonderful costumes, suits, and outfits are rolled out on the show floor.

 

This weekend has to be one of the best I’ve had in a long time. I saw beloved friends, enjoyed my favourite creators, and even found a little bit of Communism along the way.

 

[This is a disclaimer that I’ll be adding as a footnote to all of my work from now on: any nonsensical connections made between video games and Communist themes, zealous and self-righteous dictator-esque behaviors, and perceived support and/or apologism of oppressive regimes like the Soviet Union are purely instances of self-satire as a means of comical introspection, and in some cases have no basis in truth or personal belief.]

The Real Heroes – Episode 8: Fruity Round-up 2

It’s been 50 years but George and Elodie are finally back even though they’re old now. On their geriatric journey they’ll meet such colourful characters as Danny DeVito the pooping Na’Vi, Alfonzo (leave it to him) and everyone’s favourite, New Character! You’ll wish they’d never come back!

The Real Heroes is a podcast starring George Johnson and Elodie Cunningham, dedicated to seeking out and identifying the real heroes of gaming. Often minor characters and usually very strange, it’s an abstract and comical show that occasionally hosts guests.

The Indie Haven Podcast – Episode 5: Present Your Entry Sponge

The Indie Haven podcast hits peak intrigue as infamous master trickster Wentworth Miller returns and lays down a curious gambit. To make matters worse, David cage has vanished without a trace and not even the BBC de-facto world police can track him down. Will freelance detective Josh Rivers be too busy decoding Edmund McMillen’s soft-announcement of a new video game to crack the case? It’s a thrilling rollercoaster of a show that’s almost as action-packed as Men in Black, so strap in and hold on to your hats!

Oh yeah, and there’s video games. We’re a video game podcast. Snake Pass, etc.

The Indie Haven podcast is Indie Haven’s revival of their podcasting ways, brought to you by the brand new podcasting network, Pod Haven.

The Indie Haven Podcast – Episode 4: Put These Clowns in the Sea for Me

Amidst yet more concerns over the Rube Goldberg machine that is Steam, the gang gets together once again to deliver the kind of top quality chat you’ve come to expect from the Indie Haven podcast. George comes bearing an immensely on-brand indie game pick of the week, Elodie mourns an insect, David Cage returns with some slanderous accusations, and Josh refuses to be silenced.

Oh, and another indie studio got threatened with a ludicrously spurious copyright lawsuit. What a surprise.

The Indie Haven podcast is Indie Haven’s revival of their podcasting ways, brought to you by the brand new podcasting network, Pod Haven.

The Indie Haven Podcast – Episode 3: A Very Rude Ghost

It’s episode three of the Indie Haven Podcast, and obviously we’re going to talk about Yooka-Laylee. We also talk Steam Direct, and how we’re not sure it’s doing enough to solve Steam’s quality control issues – and as if that wasn’t enough, Josh fights through illness and the influence of painkillers to reveal the malicious and incredibly vague mind games that have been keeping him awake at night.

Elsewhere on the show: Elodie runs afoul of an unusual curse, George forgets some spiders, the crew chat about the games they wish had lived up to their potential, and David Cage is faced with an impossible choice.

The Indie Haven podcast is Indie Haven’s revival of their podcasting ways, brought to you by the brand new podcasting network, Pod Haven.