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Sony Santa Monica Studio continues to lead the way with God of War Ragnarök

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With 2018’s God of War, a reinvention of the long-running legendary action series for Sony’s PlayStation consoles, the hero, Kratos, has been transformed. While Kratos was once a man who was angry beyond words, Sony’s Santa Monica Studio’s “God of War” turned him into one of the most famous fathers in video game media. In a larger-than-life mythological game, it was inner conflict that ruled, specifically Kratos’ impossible struggle to protect his son Atreus from the physical and emotional dangers of a world in turmoil.

“God of War” was a huge success, winning top honors at the annual Game Awards and selling 23 million copies worldwide. Its parenting themes were celebrated, and considered another example of mainstream gaming’s continued maturity and ability to grapple with complex topics.

Now, this month, Kratos and Atreus are back in “God of War Ragnarök,” a massive adventure in which a younger god tries to come to terms with his destiny and Kratos struggles with Norse mythology that constantly aims to rouse him into fits of rage, all while dealing with his foreboding death. .

God of War Ragnarök is shaping up to be the biggest video game release of the holiday season. A few days after its release, ‘God of War Ragnarök’ headlined the 2022 Game Awards. 10 nominations.

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Kratos, prior to the 2018 title’s release, was described in a documentary by “God of War” director Cory Barlog as an everything, all the time, male protagonist who can expertly rip your head off but do little else.

However, God of War Ragnarök director Eric Williams has been subtly trying to bring Kratos beyond those toxic masculine impulses since the first game in the series, 2005’s “God of War.” Williams was adamant, for one, on putting a mechanic A hug in the middle of a climactic 2005 title fight, where Kratos will have to lend his wife and child to keep them protected during the fight. It was meant to serve as a manifestation of Kratos’ dreams and nightmares, as players already knew the ultimate tragic fate of his family.

It also planted a seed that Kratos could eventually evolve into, though that would take more than a decade.

“It was very metaphorical,” Williams said recently in the Santa Monica studio offices. He was fighting demons within himself, but he was giving his life for his family. That always stuck with me. This could be a character change thesis, which we took and ran with.”

The relationship between father and son is at the heart of modern “God of War” games.

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(Santa Monica Studio)

While the life-giving hugs amidst a frantic battle may be as far removed from the walking-and-talking scenes in “Ragnarök” or the drawn-out, breathless fights in their movement as they are in their dialogue, it was the scene, Barlog says, that began transforming thinking in Santa’s studio. Monica.

“God of War” (2018) and, even more so, “Ragnarök” are examples of games that challenge the player to never set the controller down. Even the expository plot moments that explain, say, Kratos’ fraught relationship with the goddess Freya are delivered with forward momentum.

Barlog says this was the argument he used to convince David Jaffe, the director of the first God of War movie, not to cut off an embrace in the middle of a fight.

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“We were really excited about what we could do with the game,” says Barlog. “We make games. And it’s really cool to do cinematic things, but how can you really feel like the player has agency?”

Tender moments typically occur in non-playable narrative scenes, but games over the past decade and a half have been experimenting with how to better integrate the two.

“We grew slowly, over a decade or two, up to that point,” Barlog cites. Naughty Dog’s “The Last of Us” (2013) As proof that big budget video games can balance violence and emotion. “But I think 2018 has been possible for me because of the many other matches.

“The Last of Us” is a definition. You can challenge people to more than just killing things, and they’ll want to. Prove to executives that this works. Before that, it might have been a very convenient place. For the longest time, it was always around the back of the box. You should have had something weird to sell, rather than saying that doing something good and engaging people on all emotional levels — not just anger, frustration, and fear — is possible.”

But this scene was also symbolic of what has become another staple of “God of War” and now “Ragnarök”: finding small personal moments in a game with gods and goddesses, monsters and dragons.

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“A lot of Norse mythology is built around the Ragnarok prophecy. It’s the only myth where the gods don’t just know when they’re going to die, they know who’s going to kill them,” says narrative director Matt Sophos. “But the more we start to focus on that, the more we keep moving forward, “We are off track.” … As you develop a story, especially a big one like this, and you know you’re going to be dealing with Ragnarök, we can see every time we start to veer into a lot of prophecy and the path of mythology and you need to bring it back into character.”

A man with an ax confronts a creature in the video game "God of War Ragnarok."

God of War Ragnarok mixes big-budget action and mystical creatures with personal issues.

(Santa Monica Studio
)

This tension is present early in the game, with Kratos and Atreus returning to their relatively modest country home for a moment of introspective disagreement. However, seconds later, a visit from Thor and Odin disrupts them. A full-scale battle between Kratos and Thor ensues, with Thor leading Kratos to a remote battlefield. As the fight continues, Kratos becomes increasingly concerned about Atreus’ whereabouts and what Odin might be up to with his son.

“We’re free-spirited with Norse mythology,” says Megan Morgan Joyneau, the studio’s director of product development. “We’re not a reality-based game, but our settings are based on things that happen to real people. I think that’s where the emotional connection with our fans comes from. Sure, there are fantasy elements and enemies you wouldn’t see in the real world, but the experiences and relationships between the characters are pretty similar. Big things you might see in real life.”

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First-time game director Williams says he wanted “Ragnarök” to pick up where “God of War” left off. His goal was not to reinvent the franchise but to make it feel as if it was a new chapter in an ongoing story.

“The best compliment I can get, in my opinion, is that I feel invisible as a director and [that] “It feels like a real continuation,” says Williams. “For me, they are siblings, and they have to get along. I don’t want them to be.” [Barlog’s] The game and my game. For me, that would be sad. I want you to jump up and say, “This looks like we just came down.” There are differences, but I don’t think they’re so drastic that it might seem strange or awkward now.”

Barlog says he can play Ragnarok and notice where Williams strays from his choices. Nothing on a grand scale, though. Just a few details here and there. Williams plots each scene using Excel spreadsheets, for example, a step Barlog skips.

“Eric is like the Wes Anderson of Gamemasters,” says Barlog. Wes will figure out exactly what’s in the set. All the outfits. A particular figurine on the shelf of a character is basically as important as the hero’s prop in the foreground. Its placement means something, not just to Wes but to the characters. He’s meticulous in his layout “.

out of necessity.

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Williams says he learned early in the directing process that he lives with aphantasia, which is the inability to visualize mental images in one’s mind. To get around it, Williams said he would overcompensate, sometimes giving artists dozens of visual references or very detailed documentation.

“I am very rigid,” he says. “I like to plan a lot of things. I’ll write everything down in detail. A lot of people find that restricting. ‘What should I do?’ You’re supposed to do that. But I wouldn’t take that too well either. I had to leave a little wiggle room. It was a learning process.”

Santa Monica Studio is currently “spread out on a lot of different things,” Barlog says, though he declined to provide details. In the past, the studio has published a diverse list of indie games, Including Thatgamecompany’s thoughtful collaborative work “Journey”, He occasionally spoke about a canceled project that he believed was focused on science fiction.

But Williams was quick to add that if the company is devoting itself full-time to the “God of War” series, there’s no shame in that.

“I remember talking to someone from another game company, where they were trying to make me leave. He said, ‘Do you just want to be known as the ‘God of War’ guy for the rest of your life?” That was your pitch to me? Because yeah, I do. somewhat “.

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Here are the best cheap wireless earbuds under $25 on Amazon

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I’ve lost my AirPods, and I simply refuse to pay for new ones. The latest 3rd generation AirPods – And it’s great! I checked it! Starting at $169. The older, second-generation version is $120 (yes, there are sometimes deals online). These prices are not ridiculous. After all, they’re premium products, and the price point is in line with other high-quality wireless headphones.

However, I simply don’t want to pay $169 for headphones. I’d rather pay way less. Say… $20, maybe $25? I don’t think I need to explain myself here. I would like to keep more money in my pocket. This seems somewhat reasonable.

And yes, I am very willing to settle for quality. Apple AirPods have spatial sound with Dolby Atmos, great pairing functionality, and long battery life. I don’t expect $20 to make all of that happen, but I do want something completely acceptable.

Fortunately, Amazon has an amazing selection of cheap AirPod-like wireless earbuds. They have weird brand names you’ve never heard of, prices seem random (and there’s often a coupon on Amazon, which makes it even more confusing on pricing). I set out to test them out to find out which one fit my needs: cheap, but still usable.

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I tested five anonymous brand white earphones, or, as I like to call them, the ShitPods.

My criteria for selecting five of the many options were:

• It should look like an AirPod. I skip the colorful or differently shaped earbuds that might have been just as good.

• Price point under $25.

• Lots of reviews, good or high rating. (Yes, this can be played around with, but at least it’s a start.)

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• Free shipping and returns with Amazon Prime.

But first, there are two disclaimers:

1) I use headphones mostly to listen to podcasts and audiobooks. Music quality is not my primary concern. If you are an audiophile or music is your passion, you will likely pay more money to get better headphones. I also use it for phone calls, so microphone quality—the person on the other end needs to be able to hear me well—is important to me.

2) All of these things were available on Amazon, but by the time I tested them for a month, two of the original five listings had already disappeared. That’s because Amazon’s marketplace for cheap electronics is a fun house for hyper-capitalist acceleration, as New York Magazine’s John Herrmann explained in his recent article “Paired Amazon. There are strange fake brand names like “CXK” or “Raviad”. Reviews often deceptive or fake, The sellers are often not the manufacturers, and the prices are constantly changing. Chances are that if you read this a few months after it was posted, the product links will change again.

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@therapistzach deals with his bad TikTok username

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Laser, 30, is a licensed clinical social worker in Chicago who runs his own center Special training, created TikTok less than a month ago to post videos about the kinds of things he focuses on with his customers: self-esteem, body image, anxiety. Then, last week, he got a comment on one of his videos.

“At that moment, my blood was hot,” Laser told BuzzFeed News.

Laser, who now has nearly 31,000 followers on the app, said he never thought of a different reading of the words when he did the math, and in his job he sees the word “therapist” so often that he never thought of another interpretation.

Several commenters have pointed out that it looks like a joke in a Saturday Night Live Sitcom “Celebrity Jeopardy” featuring Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery:

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Gen Z adults pay rent with credit cards

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“I will never put rent on my credit card,” said M, a 26-year-old in Boston. She’s been trying to pay off the credit card debt she’s had for about a year She asked that her full name not be used. “I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable—or, to be honest, trust myself—to try this tactic.” She lives paycheck to paycheck and fears she will forget to pay her card for a month or fail to set aside that portion of her paycheck if her rent goes to a credit card. “It looks like a rabbit hole waiting for me to fall into,” M said.

“Credit card companies make money off people who don’t pay their bills on time,” said Lamarre. “Credit card people, like me and my friends, are at least getting rewards for using the cards responsibly. … It’s not something that I control, that people aren’t responsible for, but I try to tell people how to work within the system and not be a victim of it.” .

the Average credit card balance Among Gen Z consumers last year it was $2,854, according to Experian. LendingTree’s Channel predicts that Gen Z consumers’ credit card use will increase as they age, as did millennial consumers. Many of them are still not fully financially independent. When the pause on student loan payments is lifted, and more Gen Z adults are coming out restrictions Which makes it difficult for people under the age of 21 to get a credit card, their dependence on this type of debt is likely to rise.

As credit card companies develop new incentives, the channel has encouraged caution. “I certainly wouldn’t invite Gen Z, or anyone else, to come out and say, ‘Gee whiz, I have to start making my car payments with my credit card now, because I’m going to get more points,’” the channel said. For most people.” ●

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