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016 - On Fighting

016 - On Fighting

2/11/13

Seeing it happen before doesn′t make it any easier to accept.

I had initially planned on using this week's slot for a scathing joke about Alicorn Twilight, but then the whole Fighting is Magic thing happened, and I felt this was a comic that had to be made and posted in a timely manner, but dang it, I pre-wrote a whole editorial about the Alicorn thing, so I'm inelegantly slapping together two topics for this week's notes. It’s long and a little depressing, and you might just be better off waiting until next week when I post something silly and probably about Spike.

On the Fighting is Magic cease and desist...

Equestria Daily had a good editorial summarizing the matter, and I might have some overlap in my comments ahead.

What happened with Fighting is Magic is ugly. That's the only word I can think of to describe it. It's not unfortunate because that implies luck was involved, and it's not unexpected because the developers were making a game where adorable licensed characters beat each other up. The best thing any of us could have hoped was for Mane6 to stay as low key as possible until they released a public build, and even that is asking a lot from fate.

The biggest difficulty in this scenario is that there's no clear villain. It's just two parties naturally acting in the best interest of a property, though one is the unquestionable owner of the property and has broad aspirations, and the other is a passionate team wanting to produce an homage of the property for a honed demographic. That said, I don't think Hasbro handled it in any elegant way. If they don't have a dedicated community liaison, then the lesson here is that they desperately need one so we're not going from discovery directly to lawyer.

Faust really is a stand-up sport amid this. If you didn't catch her tweet after the whole debacle, she offered to Mane6, "want some original characters to make a new game with?" Originally, I felt that, if they weren't using the actual characters of the show, it just wouldn't be the same. Then a question came: Why does it need to be the same? This team has shows great potential. They did an excellent job developing the characters, movesets, animation, and music. It would be a shame to see that talent whither.

So consider this: They cannot use officially licensed characters, and it would be tacky to use generic fan-created characters. Therefore, there's a nice gap in there to create what would be a completely amazing pony parody fighting game, just a few steps away from what is legally untouchable. There's still an undeniable novelty to a fighting game featuring hyper-cute horses, and even if I can't play as Pinkie Pie or Applejack or Luna, I'm sure they could nuance enough wink-and-nudge into it with Frosting Top and Missie Orchards and Midnight Star (cut me some slack, I never claimed to be a pony namesmith). And hey, if the whole thing is built legit, that always brings the possibility of selling the final product! Given demographic overlaps, that's a game that would get Steam Greenlit in a day.

You started something really cool, Mane6, so don't let this roadblock stop you from achieving greatness. Remember, you raised $5,000 for charity during the EVO drive. That isn’t nothing.

On Alicorn Twilight...

My gut reaction to the poorly kept secret of Twilight’s extra appendages was about as negative as you’d expect, but for a while, I was a bit unsure as to why that was the case. There’s nothing I find overtly repugnant about alicorn Twilight, but there’s still an awkwardness to it. Upon reflection, though, the best reason I’ve come up with is that wings don’t add to Twilight as a character. Not on the surface, at least.

Twilight has flirted with the line of Mary Sue on multiple occasions, but it’s typically grounded by the facts that she can’t do everything and she frustrates easily. I’ve never thought, “Man, it would really benefit things if she could fly.”

There’s a deceptive elegance to the charactercraft of Friendship is Magic; everything feels very purposeful. Rainbow Dash has aspirations of becoming an elite flyer, while Fluttershy embodies the bitter irony that she can barely fly at all. Twilight’s magic capacity further cements the idea that magic in the series is the equivalent of knowledge and science, and Rarity’s use of magic reflects her hyper-multitasking creative process (plus it doesn’t hurt the animators that they don’t need to show a horse manipulating scissors). Even Pinkie and Applejack fit into the developing lore roles of earth-ponies-as-food-producers.

My ultimate hope is that this shift in character dynamics won’t go squandered. It’s happening no matter what I think of it, so the best I can do is hope the show takes advantage of this to its fullest, perhaps episodes about learning to fly or the weight of the title, or even just a lore dump as to why a princess would need a horn AND wings (My ideal season 4 premiere: flashback origin of Celestia and Luna. No framing mechanism to it, just that story). MLP certainly has moments of Adventure-Time-esque subtext, Hearths Warming Eve comes to mind, but it hasn’t been consistent.

The ball’s in your court, Hasbro. This season, you’ve made a Pinkie storyline both hilarious and heart-wrenching, you’ve tastefully altered the moral compasses of both Trixie and Discord, now you just have to make alicorn Twilight matter.

Good luck, and Godspeed.

Hoping next week will be more positive,
GX

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