The Hour (and fifty-seven minutes) of Twilight
One of my comments from the other day mentioned some of the machinima that gets made for Earth Online. Now obviously there are a lot of fan-made videos, and some of those are pretty impressive. Music parodies, for instance, kind of inspired by real-world artists like EmberIsolte or GreyFoo or whoever. (Yeah, yeah, I know they’re Alliance, but hey, art cuts across all boundaries, right? When the Alliance finally crumbles before the might of the Horde, I’ll probably let the handful of them live so they can perform at Trollapalooza down in Sen’jin.)
But another one of the impressive things about Earth Online is how much work they put into incorporating machinima into the game as part of the world culture. The game has a HUGE amount of cut scenes built into it, and while some of them are directly connected to questlines and other gameplay, there’s also a ton of them that are just there to help flesh out the game world – basically the idea is that the videos are supposed to be what the in-game citizens of Earth watch for entertainment. You go to various viewing centers in the world, and click on something to start the movie, and it’ll just run on your screen while your character is “watching” it in-game. Thing is, it’s really pretty amazing that they put as much effort as they did into making these things, seeing as the ones that are there for the world culture really don’t serve much practical gaming purpose, other than maybe drop a clue or two about some of the quests you might go on at some point. But they still put in the time and effort to create them just to add more depth to the world. They must really be raking in the gold on subscription fees if they can afford to pay people to crank these things out, let me tell you.
The other cool thing about these built-in videos is the way they’ve based so many of them on things in the real world. Earth Online is packed full of little in-jokes like that, but these machinima especially. For example, there’s a series of pretty lengthy films obviously based on the actual adventures of Harrison Jones. (For anyone new to Earth Online, by the way – totally check out the first three if you can find them, they’re really well done. But the fourth one, seriously, don’t even bother. I have no idea what they were thinking. I mean really, ETHEREALS?) Or, they have another series of machinima about these giant mechanicals, where the main villain is obviously supposed to be a reference to Negatron out in Netherstorm.
But here’s the one I get the biggest kick out of, really. There’s this series of horror-ish videos about this really bizarre (and kinda lame) (without the “kinda” part) love triangle between a human woman, this San’layn dude, and a worgen. They don’t actually call them San’layn or worgen in the movie, but that’s obviously what they are. But that’s not even the important part, because by itself that’s not really all that interesting, but they manage to add this one more layer of reference to it that actually makes it kind of genius. See, these horrory love-triangle-ish videos are actually really…well…they’re just awful. Like just horrifyingly bad. Like bad on the level that it gives you THAT feeling – you know the one, The Feeling you get when you see something so shitty that you’re embarrassed not just for yourself for actually watching it, not even just for everyone who was involved in making it because they have to have their names on such a piece of shit forever, but you actually feel embarrassed on behalf of your entire civilization for having collectively allowed it to come into existence. You know, THAT level of bad? The kind of bad that actually makes you hope for the end of the world, just because any world that could allow something like this to happen just DESERVES to come to an end.
So, you’re probably wondering, how does that make these videos a GOOD thing? Sounds pretty awful, right? Well here’s the thing. It’s the in-joke that makes them awesome. Because get this – they’re all called “Twilight” something-or-other. Think about that a second. These horrifying, nightmarishly bad movies that just make you want to root for the end of the world…are all named after the insane cult that’s actually trying to bring ABOUT the end of the world, and restore the Old Gods in some horrifying nightmare apocalypse. Really, let that sink in for a minute.
Seriously, how is that NOT fucking beautiful?