Hi Seibertronians! I think that once a month is an opportune interval to take a break from the flurry of Transformers news and shine more light on the awesome members of our community. When I initially planned to interview this Autobot, he was only a normal, hard-working maintenance 'bot. However our reigning Magnus has promoted this 'bot to the rank of Prime, so please give a warm welcome to my newest interview experiment subject and coincidentally, newest staff member, Va'al!
Blurrz: HiVa'al! Iwilltrytoslowdownmyspeechsoyoucancomprehendme. Before we dive into deep and thought provoking Transformers talk, let us give our fellow Transformers fans a little information on Spotlight: Va'al. Where are you from? Who is your favorite Transformers character? And lastly, why 'Va'al'?
Va'al: Hi! Well, this is nice. I've never really been interviewed before -- is this going to be my 15 minutes of fame, and then back to obscurity? You know, fame over, finished. Where I'm from is an easy question, it's the answer that's a bit trickier: I'm half-Tuscan, on my dad's side, half-Yorkshire, on my mum's - that's half-Italian half-English, for non-Europeans! But there's Turkish, French, Dutch and Irish blood in me. Grew up in Italy, and moved to the UK in 2008. My screen name is actually a blend of my second name and my first (Alex), and I'm quite proud of it. It gets annoying when websites don't allow apostrophes though. I have to stick an 'h' in there instead. As for my favourite Transformers character... this one's a pickle, I've been trying to figure it out. I always thought it'd be Soundwave, and my collection seems to prove that. But reading the recent More Than Meets the Eye comics series, I discovered Vos. A linguist, a sadist, a Decepticon. After my own spark. Literally. As an afterthought, though, I think The Fallen, deserves an honourable mention. He's a part of the background mythology of the other characters, and he's modelled on various mythemes from different cultures, something I'm particularly interested in. Plus, he's on fire, baby.
What got you into Transformers? Do you remember your first toy?
I wrote about this in my collection thread, but I'm still trying to locate things in time really. As I was born in 1989, in Italy, I didn't catch a lot of original stuff. First series I remember watching, and following, was Beast Wars; it stopped airing after the last episode of season 1. I was extremely disappointed. I'm sure it was on TV after that, but I never found it again (I finally caught up three years ago).
The thing that really got me back into the toys (I had a few as a kid, especially Beast Wars, though, were the three recent Michael Bay films. When the Revenge of the Fallen toyline came out in the UK, I fell in love with Sideways and Sideswipe, and it just kept going from there.
My first toy, on the other hand, was a present my dad got me during one of his business trips: G2 Sideswipe, known to me as 'Freccia' ('Arrow'). I loved it, but have no idea where it went. I think my fondest memory of a Transformer toy was Beast Wars Optimus Primal, which my mum bought me on a surprise trip to the toy shop for one of my birthdays. He's still alive and kicking, although missing all his missiles bar one, and only has half a sword left.
That's an interesting point you bring up, as I believe a fair number of us Transformers fans were brought back into the hobby from the Transformers Movies! For those who have yet to dive into your collection thread, what is your favorite Transformers line that you have collected? And why so?
For a while, the only line I was collecting were the movie-related ones: Revenge of the Fallen, Hunt for the Decepticons, Reveal the Shield, Dark of the Moon. Then some Generation started appearing across the UK. I can't remember which one I picked up first, but some of them were absolutely stunning! So different from the movie lines!
Then Power Core Combiners showed up. That was a troubled relationship, to say the least. I bought the Crankcase and Destrons 5-pack on a whim. Played around with him, then decided to give him to my brother for Christmas. As I was wrapping the figures, I had a strange feeling of regret. I put them to one side, and got him something else. The following day I found Bombshock and the Combaticons on sale. I bought a couple more after that, didn't like them that much, sold them again. Then missed them, horribly, a couple of months later. You know where this is going...
I've said this before, PCCs are not only desirable, they are adorable.
Well, as long as you have your kidneys! It is interesting to get the perspective of fans who aren't exactly in the heartland of the Transformers fandom. Do you feel like the Hasbros in Europe are providing enough content for the fans who want to keep up with their fellow fans in North America or Asia? If there is one thing you could change about the way the company works in Europe, whether that be distribution, toy content or something else, what would that be?
I've spoken to several other European fans, from Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands and, of course, the UK. And no, I don't think there is a particularly good service. Entire waves not arriving, surplus of earlier waves at the cost of later ones, store exclusives, even distribution within the same country! And the prices are pretty ridiculous too.
If I were to change something, just magically change it, I'm not considering any real-life application here, it would probably be distribution. I'd like to ensure that the different branches across Europe have similar stock at similar times, rather than the current situation: if I go visit my girlfriend in Manchester (north of England), I will find a lot more selection than here in Norwich (south-east). As soon as I go back to Italy to visit family, they're still a series or two behind, even.
However, I only realised all of this once I joined Seibertron.com. Had I not been wanting to keep up to date with the franchise, I never would have known, and possibly never cared, either.
I'll have a go at what you said though: do you really think that the "core" of the fandom is in the US or Asia? For the toys, maybe, but in terms of comics... Simon Furman, Andrew Wildman, John-Paul Bove, Nick Roche, Livio Ramondelli (although he now lives in L.A.), Guido Guidi, James Roberts. All from Europe, and at the core of the current, and in my opinion, extremely successful, three series!
Good insight! I think it would be incorrect for fans in general to underestimate the European contributions to the Transformers brand! Let us get one more toy-related question in before we head into more comic-heavy discussion. What is your Transformers toy holy grail?
Ah. Er... Hm. I'm not actually sure I have one, as of now. I'm getting to a point where I feel like quitting collecting the toys for a bit, to save some extra money while I'm still getting some for my studies. And that thought tends to push out most of the others!
I really like the mythology currently being explored by both the animated series Transformers: Prime and the comics series, and the focus on the different origin stories of Cybertron and its inahbitants. It's not really a grail, more of a "I'd like to see a figure of...": Nova Prime and The Fallen, and possibly the Decepticon Justice Division.
(Although I am patiently waiting for Maketoys to deliver their stand-in for The Fallen... and it's PCC compatible! Double win!)
There's a Transformers fan who has yet to read IDW Transformers comics. What issue or series do you hook them with, and why?
How did you guess I'm into the comics? The easy thing would be to start with the "official" jumping-on point of the two most recent series, Robots in Disguise and More Than Meets the Eye. Maybe even The Death of Optimus Prime, to get some pointers about how previous stuff ended and the series begin. And a lot of fans seem to prefer either one or the other, whilst still reading both (and they do call to each other, every now and then). The problem with recent IDW stuff? It's all connected. The writers are quite explicitly trying to patch up some continuity troubles from the previous series, and most of the Spotlight comics are set back then too. So if you haven't read any of the IDW stuff, I'd cheat, and suggest the IDW Omnibus reprint of Dreamwave's The War Within, published as Transformers: War Within. Simon Furman, Don Figueroa and Andrew Wildman shaped a really good prequel to pretty much the whole story we all know. Shame it was never finished (although I do have the first three issues of the third part of the story, plus the scripts and summary of the ending). It does introduce The Fallen, though.
Good ole' Dreamwave! So lets move along to the current side of Transformers comics, mostly looking at Robots In Disguise and More Than Meets The Eye. I'm rather sure if we started discussion on the series itself we'd end up writing a novel, so sadly I guess instead off looking at each series at a whole, I guess I'll just rephrase this question, first focusing on RID, what was your favorite issue in RID so far, and why?
These may contain spoilers, if reader's haven't caught up with the series yet!
As much as issue 14 contains a gigantic turn of events, I still think that issues 12 and 13 work, on a different level. The build-up is insane: Prowl is recovering from being blown up, disappears and reappears beefed up; Wheeljack is trying to keep everything under control, unsuccessfully (and he quotes Ghostbusters); Megatron returns, gets almost blown to pieces by the Autobots, then is taken in for recovery by Wheeljack and Jetfire; Starscream gives a heck of a speech, only to find out that no one cares, especially not the Decepticons; Arcee reveals herself to Blurr and his bar clientele (including a Sky-Bite/Jazz spoken word-music double act). And that's just issue 12!
Special mention goes to the Annual, especially for the flashback sequences drawn and coloured by Guidi. Wow.
(As an aside, and I know not everyone will agree, but I really enjoy how Griffith is trying to give characters their toy counterpart look, where possible.)
RID's sister comic, More Than Meets The Eye. Favorite issue so far, and why?
For this one, there are three big contenders: issue 6, with the introduction of the Decepticon Justice Division; issue 12, exploring the various relationships between the characters on the Lost Light; issue 13, because it's stupidly fun. Oh wait, 7, too. But Shadowplay is amazing as well. Blast.
Ok, focusing on just one issue. I'd say 12. It expands on Tailgate, Cyclonus, Whirl, and especially Chromedome and Rewind. It was really moving, and I'm not embarassed to say it, the way in which Chromedome talks about Rewind's past and how he found him. Really good character development. And useful to the plot, in the light of issue 14, which I've only just read.
But Shadowplay - That's a story by itself. That is something that needs reading. Takes up from where Chaos Theory left, and wow, does it have a kick and a half.
(Again, special mention to the Annual, for its further look at the mythology behind Cybertronian culture.)
They are certainly a series that fans can get into! This is probably not talked about much, despite him being such a dynamic character - with Megatron's resurrection/reappearance in our two Ongoings, what role do you see Orion Pax/Optimus Prime playing in the near future? Is he a character that belongs back with the rest of the cast, or should he remain an outcast? In a related note, any comments on the art of Ramondelli?
Ah, yes. I was initially disappointed with his return so early in the series, but I do like that he's doing his own thing at the moment! He's chasing Jhiaxus and Bludgeon, dangerous characters, who are chasing Shockwave's plans. That's three of the sharpest, most dangerous Decepticon minds he's after. I think he has his hands full as it is, to be honest. Having said that, his stories do appear in the same series as Megatron, but with Overlord back again in MTMTE, the Decepticon leader also might have his hands full.
Ramondelli's work is something very different from the rest of the artistic cast. His cover art is superb, Autocracy was executed brilliantly, and I enjoyed every moment of it, and I'm really looking forward to the Monstrosity TPB. Chaos, on the other hand, was a bit confusing at times. He does shine on spreads and splash pages though, and he's excellent at talking with fans. And he does all his work on paper (then scans it and colours it)!
We touched on this prior, so let us say you get a cushy job at Hasbro R&D, you are assigned character selection for 2014 Generations Waves 3 and 4. We already know you love the DJD, so they're Wave 3. Who is in Wave 4?
So we have Tarn, Vos, Helex, Tesarus and Kaon (with The Pet!) as wave 3, with Vos and Kaon as Deluxe, and the other three as Voyagers. I think we need some love for Rung, Swerve, Tailgate and Rewind. But throw in Metalhawk and Jhiaxus, too, from Robots in Disguise. And I suppose Prowl, at this point, is a must.
But for some real fanservice, you want Overlord. Deluxe size tank, Deluxe size jet, Voyager(ish, probably a little bigger) robot mode.
Do it Hasbro!
Time for word association, I give you a phrase, name or a word and you respond with one word of your choice!
-2009-2011 Ongoing Series
-Power Core Combiners
-Hasbro Masterpiece Soundwave w/ 5 Cassettes
Looks like this wraps things up. Thanks for sitting in on this one Va'al. Any last words for the community?
It was fun! Thanks for the opportunity.
Last words: Read the comics - love Power Core Combiners.
Seibertron.com podcaster and voice actor jON3.0 recently had the opportunity to interview the legendary Garry Chalk. Garry Chalk has appeared in a multitude of roles both on-camera and off as a voice actor, which include Optimus Primal and Optimus Prime. Enjoy the interview in the embedded video below.
On this Microphone Monday, I interview the incredibly talented, amazing and down-to-Earth Garry Chalk - voice of Optimus Primal, Optimus Prime in Transformers Armada, Energon and Cybertron, Sky Marshall Wade in Voltron Force, Slash in Reboot and countless other characters in cartoons such as Exosquad, Sonic the Hedgehog, Mega Man, He-Man and The Masters of the Universe, GI JOE and many others. He has also portrayed dozens of characters ON-camera in movies and TV shows like The Fly II and Stargate SG-1.
If you're a fan of IDW Transformers Robots In Disguise, Transformers More Than Meets The Eye, or both, then you might be interested in what Multiversity Comics has cooked up. Chad Bowers was able to get a very detailed interview in with John Barber, writer for RID, and James Roberts, writer for MTMTE. It has been roughly a year since both series started, and this interview provides insight on what their creators have planned for the future, and what they've thought about the past. Check out an excerpt below, while the entire interview is available at Multiversity.
Congratulations, guys, on an amazing first year! But before we gush too much about the here and now, let’s start at the beginning… or the end of the previous series, rather. Walk us through the close of the last Transformers ongoing series — essentially, why was it time to end it and launch two new titles in its place?
John Barber: Well, I wasn’t involved yet. I was a freelance writer in New York at the time — I’d just written the Transformers: Dark of the Moon prequels and adaptation for then-Transformers-editor Andy Schmidt. Andy asked me to pitch on a new Transformers series, and showed me a document that James had written, which was an outline for what basically became The Death of Optimus Prime, the debut issue we co-wrote and that spun into the two new ongoing series. It wasn’t until after we started working on those that I wound up getting hired to replace Andy (when he started working at Hasbro) and moving out to San Diego and becoming the Transformers editor at IDW. So I wasn’t there for the decision, but I think the previous series had run for almost three years at that point, and writer Mike Costa was ready to move on. So the idea of winding down the mostly-Earth-based comic and starting up with a new number one and a new creative team and direction made sense. Plus, that ongoing ended with a story called ‘Chaos’ that had two components–one taking place on Earth and one on Cybertron, and they came out biweekly, alternating stories each issue. The success of that suggested there was a market for more Transformers comics, so I think the idea of doing two ongoings came into being.
James Roberts: I don’t have much to add to that, I’m afraid! I remember that a second ongoing had been planned for some time, and that it was going to launch after ‘Chaos’, but it wasn’t until relatively late in the day — perhaps at the point that Mike decided he wanted to move on — that the decision was taken to actually close down his ongoing and launch two new titles, both from issue 1. I think there was even talk about The Death of Optimus Prime being numbered issue 125, and the numbering carrying on from there. A ‘clean’ relaunch was better, in the end.
"Just a normal interview," they said. "Everything will be alright," they said. Well as this innocent Autobot reporter found out, his assigned interview subject happened to live in a no-so-alright star system controlled by Unicron. It also turned out that my interviewee was not-so-normal either. Among the list of his many credentials is some sort of secret 'Agent of Unicron', so I was not entirely sure if we were going to play Casino Royale, or there was going to be some Skyfall. Luckily I found my subject in his natural habitat, and coincidentally, he happens to Twincast/Podcast and Seibertron.com staff member, Razorclaw0000!
Blurrz: Every Transformers fan has a different origin. When and how did it begin for you?
Razorclaw0000: In my Universe, the Vok also created something greater from the sparks of Air Razor and Tigatron, but here, the Vok meant business. Instead of that sniveling Tigerhawk trying to stop Megatron from interfering with time, I just disposed of him. Tigerhawk is not me and I am not he. However, the Vok are not kind to their creations, and cast me adrift. Then, millennia later the Dark God Unicron found me and bestowed the mantle of General upon me. To feed the Chaos Bringer's thirst, I oversaw the Cauldron - a great Arena which put the ancient gladiatorial games at Kaon to shame. At that time, I also began amassing a vast collection of Microns and Minicons to please Unicron.
Alternatively, I've always been fond of Transformers, since I was very small. I was just a few years too late to catch G1 at its pinnacle, and ended up seeing reruns in syndication. My first few toys were Minibots, Perceptor, Blitzwing, Groundshaker, and Iguanus. We were not a financially stable family though, and toys that weren't from a dollar store were a sparse luxury, so I ended up with many anonymous robots from various low cost Chinese lines.
I stayed a fan for a long time, and saw some of Beast Wars as a teenager. Rampage was a fantastic character and the toy always excited me. It was a few years later, in my senior year of high school when I finally had a small job and a bit of money that I stumbled on a Rampage in a Boscov's Department Store, covered in dust, and had to buy it. I was hooked, but money was still tight. I ended up finding some good deals on clearance in Kay-Bee, a Scarem and Sonar, and a Transmetals Scavenger, which were my only toys for a few years.
By 2002, I had a fairly stable job, ironically at a Boscov's, while I was putting myself through undergrad. One day, I happened to stroll over to the toy area, and saw Armada Starscream. The design was interesting. There's a presence to that figure, with the stocky lower legs, smirk, and sword that mean business. I ended up buying it, but I felt slightly disappointed by the slightly less complex transformation. Within months, I ended up buying nearly every domestic Armada figure, skipping some repaints. I was hooked. There were some stinkers, like Scavenger, and some real winners, like Jetfire and Tidalwave that looked great, even if articulation was weak. I also started backfilling with clearance RID figures, and even a few Beast Machines figures hiding out here and there.
In 2003, I ordered my first Japanese figure: the reissue God Ginrai with God Bomber, on clearance at HLJ, along with a color set of Micromaster Six Wing. My fiancee (and currently my wife) was relatively annoyed but didn't complain too much. For years, I ended up picking up most of the domestic products, through Energon, Alternators, and Cybertron, along with a few pieces here and there from older or foreign lines, like a Sonokong Big Convoy. Right as Classics began to hit store shelves, we bought a house, and I took a large pause for nearly a year.
When the 2007 movie came up, on Memorial Day weekend, I found the movie prequel book "Ghost of Yesterday" and Protoform Prime and Starscream, and decided to pick them up. I was excited by the fiction, and intrigued by the molds. My collecting desires rekindled and I was on a mad dash to grab the Classics I'd missed.
Unicron's glory reigns supreme in Razorclaw0000's collection!
Q: Sounds like Unicron will have Bards singing your tale! So let's get more into the little guys. What does collecting mini-cons mean to you?
A: When I was growing up, and we were poor, I did end up with a handful of Minibots, namely Powerglide, Brawn, Outback, Huffer, and two poor Seasprays that never managed to keep all the propellers. I think there's something about Minicons and Microns that pulls me back to those points, and there's some gleeful irony in the stupid prices a few of them are worth. I'm also borderline OCD, so the "gotta catch 'em all" aspect tickles my fancy. Finally, I think a few of them are so outright gorgeous and unique, like the DVD Sonic Attack team (girly planes!), Micron Booster Green Emergency team (minty fresh team!) , the Platinum team, and the US Giant Planet Team. They're fun to fiddle with, and don't take up much space, unlike other parts of my collection...
A mere glimpse into his collection - Razorclaw0000's work in progress Mini-con shelf!
Q: Like myself, you are an avid video game enthusiast. How are you feeling about Fall Of Cybertron the game, itself?
A: I think it looks good. I got chills when I heard the original trailer, featuring "The Humbling River" by Puscifer. I'm a huge Maynard James Keenan fan, so that was a nice treat. The visuals look great, and I'm intrigued by some of the characters, like the Combaticons. However, I was somewhat unimpressed with WFC. I'm a big fan of real cover shooters, like Mass Effect and Gears of War, with nice clean snap in cover mechanics. Standing behind a pillar isn't quite the same, and I'm a bit spoiled. I'm sure I'll pick it up, though, just to support High Moon and the property.
Q: Leaning more towards the Fall Of Cybertron toyline. How does it fit within your collection? Do you feel that WFC/FOC has done justice on the Pre-Earth Transformers? Do you think FOC toyline is a step backwards or forwards for the Transformers toy franchise?
A: I built up a shelf last year with Welcome to 2010 Primus, the War for Cybertron Generations Deluxes, BotCon Alpha Trion, and Universe 2.0 Blaster with Renderform's DJ Rockblast head. I'm pretty happy with it, and I have no problems adding a *few* more figures to it, particularly Shockwave, Starscream, and Bruticus. I'm not crazy that the mainline Bruticus has the inferior, pseudo-G2 color scheme, because I'd rather keep the SDCC MISB. The big thing that irritates me, though, is that large Soundwave with the annoying disk gimmick we saw at BotCon. I like the concept, but the execution is poor, and I can't help but think of all those development dollars that could have gone to more Neo-G1 figures, or Prime figures, or anything. Too much, too late?
Q: As we all know you have a nose for completion in regards to collecting toys. What made you lean towards this way of collecting? What was the most arguably painful and frustrating purchase you had to go through because of this mentality?
A: Completionism is a special kind of hell that only a dedicated few can put themselves through. It takes an understanding spouse, a dash of luck, and a whole heap of obsessive-compulsion. There's a special kind of yearning that enforces the "Gotta Catch 'Em All" feeling of toys, and makes you ignore the common sense that tells you one Backstop was enough, and you don't need two others in even worse decos.
Some of the hardest things to find in my collection are obscure non-Micron figures and items from the Micron Trilogy (the Japanese equivalent of the Unicron Trilogy here). I've been working for a long time on finding the last Force Chip (Cyber-key) that was not paired with a larger figure during Galaxy Force. If you know anyone looking to part with "Ignition Prize", send 'em my way! The Superlink Energon Weapons are also a bear to track down. Many of the hardest items are difficult to search for, and were often overlooked by sites like Seibertron when they were first released. Even getting photos is extremely difficult...
One of my happiest moments was tracking down the three rarest US Minicons, though. At the start of Cybertron, Wal-Mart released the Wave One deluxes in special tiny boxes, paired with a palette-flipped set of the Armada Road Destruction Team, along with "Tiny Tin" storage boxes. Each Minicon in the team was paired with two different deluxes. I've managed to complete a full set of the six deluxes, sealed, along with a loose set of the Minicons for display. Yes, that does mean I own the team three times...
Razorclaw0000's specials. Prototype Razorclaw and BotCon 2010 Customizing Class G2 Sideswipe
Q: Mini-cons certainly perpetuate happiness among certain members of the Seibertron.com staff! So among your massive collection, which one is your holy grail?
A: Shining Unicron is certainly the top of the "grail" list. Dragoyell is another Lucky Draw that tickles my fancy. For non-Micron Trilogy, I'd certainly love a Black Fire Convoy or the gorgeous Lucky Draw Micron Legends Megatron.
However, if we're looking for 'attainable' grails, it would probably be the Space Galaxy Team. They're still one of the most elusive sets of Microns ever produced that weren't Lucky Draws, and command absurd dollars in the after market, if they even show up at all.
If we step down from that, I'll be very happy when I wrap up the last three DVD Microns, Impulsor, Quench, and Freeboot, that I need.
I don't want to die! Plot shield please?
Q: What is your opinion of Shattered Glass? Are you a devoted fan or strongly opposing it? What do you think of the upcoming e-hobby/TFCC crossover?
A: I'm not a fan at this point. It was clever at the beginning, especially since I'm a big fan of Star Trek, where the idea really blossomed from. However, I think it's been taken a bit too far by now, and is stunting the creativity of the club. To be fair, though, it's a nice avenue to get repaints we may not otherwise, like Road Rage. I'd just like to see some other property developed by the club already. Wings was promising, but seems to have petered out. I didn't join the Shattered Glass Collector's Club.
Q: On the topic of the club, which figure is your favorite of the upcoming 2012 Subscription service, and why?
A: I'm the odd man out, and I'm really digging Circuit. I enjoy that mold immensely; it's one of my favorites out of the amazing NEST Global Alliance/Hunt for the Decepticons/Reveal the Shield era. I'm also really enjoying the trend of giving us Action Masters. I love Double Punch, Slicer, Kick Off, and Thundercracker, and I'm really looking forward to more homages to that era.
Blurrz: Whelp, looks like Unicron calls. Thanks for stopping by Razorclaw0000!
Razorclaw0000 left this here.. What is this? I don't even..
Industry people seem to have a lot of good things to say about the casting of Mark Wahlberg in the TF 4 movies. MTV.com had this to say about the casting of Wahlberg.
MTV.com wrote:"It's an absolutely brilliant move," MTV Geek editor Valerie Gallaher tells MTV News of Wahlberg's casting. "It'll keep this franchise fresh."
"The guy can act - as anyone who has seen 'Boogie Nights' or 'The Departed' can attest to," agrees Brian Truitt with USA Today. "And he brings sort of an exasperated 'Come on, alien robots, are you kidding me?!' vibe that would make for a great and different dynamic."
Also, TMZ had a phone interview with Michael Bay as he talks more about the casting of Wahlberg. He had a few things to say about the comments made by former franchise star Shia Lebeouf. And last but certainly not least he let a minor spoilerish plot point escape saying the new movie would take place 4 years after the attack in Chicago as seen in Dark of the Moon. The movie will also see release July 4, 2014. The Michael Bay interview starts 18 minutes into the video.
A very insightful and spoilerish interview with John Barber about his work on Transformers: Robots in Disguise and the events leading up to issue #10 has been posted on Newsrama.com. Parallels can be drawn between the fictional political intrigue facing Cybertronians in the ongoing series and the impending US elections. Click HERE for the full article.
Newsrama.com wrote:After the epic “Death of Optimus Prime” arc in IDW’s Transformers comics last year, the future of these shape-shifting robots was at a cross-roads. While Rodimus and a band of fellow Autobots took to the spaceways to find the fabled first Cybertronians, Bumblebee took on the tumultuous role of leader of Cybertron and set out to unify the long-fractured factions of Transformers, both Autobot, Decepticon and even non-aligned Transformers. This story is chronicled in the new series Transformers: Robots In Disguise which launched at the beginning of the year, and truly lives up the franchise’s “more than meets the eye” slogan (despite that actually being the title of the sister series) with politics entering the fray.
And now with Transformers: Robots In Disguise nearing the one year mark and the real-life political scene in the United States entering its apex, Newsarama spoke with writer (and long-time Transformers editor) John Barber about the political struggles on Cybertron, the disappearance of Ironhide, and the mysterious mind-control going on in the jungles of Cybertron.
Ain't It Cool News caught up with IDW Senior Editor John Barber to discuss their upcoming Transformers Prime: Rage of the Dinobots mini-series, which is scheduled to release in November. Click here to see how the Dinobots factor into the Prime universe and the Aligned continuity.
Tying in with the video game TRANSFORMERS PRIME: FALL OF CYBERTRON, comes the IDW comic book TRANSFORMERS PRIME: RAGE OF THE DINOBOTS. Hitting shelves in November and taking place in the 'Prime' Universe, Transformers readers can get to meet everyone's favourite robotic T-Rex, Grimlock for the first time, in this incarnation of the Transformers. In RAGE OF THE DINOBOTS, the Grimlock and co are forced to battle Shockwave with the very fate of Cybertron hanging in the balance. Written by Mike Johnson (Star Trek) and Mairghread Scott, the writer of the TRANSFORMERS: PRIME animated series. Artist Agustin Padilla (Dungeons & Dragons) provides pencils while Ken Christiansen provides covers. I spoke to IDW Senior Editor John Barber about the book and the Transformers legacy on the screen and in comics.
JOHN BARBER (JB): Well, the Prime Universe is the timeline where theTransformers: Prime TV series from Hasbro Studiostakes place, along with the FALL OF CYBERTRON video games from Activision and the novels that Random House publishes, like Exiles and Exodus by Alex Irvine. So if you’re familiar with any of those, you’re already familiar with the characters. The team at Hasbro takes special care to ensure there is continuity between a wide variety of storytelling platforms for the brand.
With just 3 days left to sign up for the TFCC subscription service, fellow fan site Tformers shot some questions toward the club and Pete Sinclair took the time to fire back some answers. You can also see a new shot of Ultra Mammoth chillin with Optimus Primal. Here are the main points from the interview which can be read here.
The Transformers subscription service came about due to the great reception from the G.I. Joe subscription service using the same frame work with a few tweaks.
With 6 figures planned for the first year the idea was to touch on different mythos and to do a little gap filling.
The subscription service replaces the members exclusives but convention exclusives remain unchanged.
In the fiction there will be some interaction between at least five of the six characters even though they are from different timelines.
If you want a sneak peak of the comic action, check out the 2 page comic preview we reported a couple days ago.
Earlier today, popular game site Kotaku hosted a live Q&A interview session with Matt Tieger, the game director of the highly anticipated Transformers Fall of Cybertron game. The session ran for about an hour starting at 10am PT. Fans quickly bombarded Tieger but he addressed many of the questions presented to him.
MrOpto: How did you first get the Transformers license? Did Hasbro put out offers or did you go them?
Matt Tieger: ATVI already had a relationship with Hasbro, but what they were looking for was someone to make a non-movie based game. They both felt that we would be a great fit and War for Cybertron was born. The success of that game allowed us to make Fall of Cybertron.
bigduo209: I love games that use Sci-fi inspired weaponry/abilities and not just future-looking guns (Ratchet and Clank, Bioshock), how many crazy weapons have you made for Fall of Cybertron?
Matt Tieger: The great thing about this game world is that there are absolutely shotguns and sniper rifles, but also lightning guns, acid guns, and 'tron' disk guns. The guns are divided into Primary and Heavy weapons. Many (but not all) of the more sci-fi guns fall into the heavy weapons category. In SP there is a Teletraan Store where you can buy and upgrade those weapons. In MP the weapons are divided between the classes based on countless play testing hours - so not every class can use every weapon. As to the exact number of them, since you explore and find blueprints to unlock them i don't want to spoil anything, so ill say quite a few more than we ever had in War for Cybertron.
Jason Schreier: How would you convince a non-Transformers fan that he/she should play your game?
snowtires: Play the demo, it's awesome.
Matt Tieger: Good Question, and one that I often think about. The worst compliment we get about War is, "what a great game, too bad nobody knew about it." What i would say is this (in my most passionate game dev voice. "forget Transformers, forget Michael Bay, forget the toys, and consider for a moment a game that allows you access to your vehicle at any moment in time, a game where the core tactical choices are movement based, and now imagine a game where each character is a unique experience with different vehicles or special abilities. This game offers something that no other game can, huge variety and tactical variety. Oh yeah and it happens to be Transformers"
SaburoDaimando: What are some of the lessons you learned on designing Fall of Cybertron compared to War for Cybertron?
Matt Tieger: When we developed WFC we looked for similar games that tackled similar level design issues and frankly, found none. So we blazed a trail and learned alot. With FOC we again did a survey and found WFC to be the only comparable game, so we set out to exceed it in every way. As one example, the driving got a bit stale in WFC, it might seem like a small thing but in FOC we added terrain, so instead of all flat metal surfaces, you now had hills - which innately make driving more fun. We also bowed down to the gods of player choice, and for much of the game you can tackle problems as you see fit - stay in vehicle the whole time, Transform constantly, etc. We had some of that in WFC, but now it is the rule in FOC.
Mike Fahey: WHERE IS OUR BEAST WARS GAME!?!?! ALL CAPS!>!!>!??
Hlokk: Most important question! Notice the all caps!
Matt Tieger: I get asked this alot. Lets see how this game does. We do have Dinobots and Insecticons, so i'd say its in the realm of possibility - someday.
Marquis_Gabriel: When taking on a IP, especially one with tie in's to a movie. What are your expectations?
Matt Tieger: just to make sure - we are not related to the movies in anyway, we are a distinct storyline. We do this by telling their story before they ever reach Earth. With any game you need to find the 'heart' of what makes that game so unique (original or licensed). Strip everything else away and Transformers are about 'transforming' (i know sounds simple, right?). By focusing on that single concept and making everything else supportive to that, we stay true to the license while still making a great game.
KnickKnackMyWack246: How does this universe connect (if at all) to any Transformers stories other than G1? A friend of mine suggested it's a prequel to Transformers Prime while another believes it's a prequel to the Michael Bay films. Can you clarify?
CodeMonkey76: It's a prequel to the G1 television series
Matt Tieger: G1 is our primary touchstone, meaning that we look to G1 for visual ques, abilities, VO quotes, etc. We look to not violate the Movie universe, but aren't beholden to it (and we do in-fact stay in the distant past to help with that). Prime has the most relevance with our game, there are many things introduced in WFC that are not part of the Prime show, like Dark Energon. There are a few elements that have the same 'visual DNA' like the Nemesis for example.
Emmerson: With how the Transformers scaled in the first game, with Scorpinok and Omega Supreme being the biggest we had seen. Then in the second game with having combiners, and then summoning Metroplex, how can you guys top that in terms of Transformers power and scale? How will you handle the issue like Fortress Maximus and Unicron?
Matt Tieger: Quick edit : last game didn't have Scorpinok in it (although that would have been cool) it had Trypticon. Your essential question is, "How do we keep ratcheting up from here?" Honestly, I dunno - you made some good suggestions, what we will do is wait and see what the reaction from this game is before thinking that far ahead.
Brian Erice: Im curious about the campaign design change for FOC. Why did you move away from the two split campaigns that were in WFC?
Matt Tieger: Excellent question. Game Director is often thought of as the best job ever, and some days it is, but often we have to make excruciatingly tough calls - the campaign change was one of those. In WFC, you had 2 separate campaigns that you could play in either order, so we never knew how you were going to play. What this meant for the game that there were functionally 2 first levels, 2 second levels, 2 3rd levels - you get the picture. and when you had played 50% of the game you had really played 100% of the game. We believe that one of the primary reasons for the major criticism of the game, "The gameplay got repetitive", was in-fact because it DID get repetitive based on the campaign structure. So we made a single interwoven campaign where we could pace it well.
Mungry: Hey Matt, huge fan and I love everything about the game we have seen so far! My questions is about multiplayer. I am wondering if their will be killstreak rewards in the game and if we can expect new multiplayer game modes as the game progresses through its life? Thx - SoooMungry
Matt Tieger: SoooMungry - I'm actually a fan of yours. At the studio we watch your Youtube channel and read the comments - thank you for your excitement for the game. Regarding Killstreaks, we had them in for a while during our dev of the game, we took them out for balance reasons. Let me explain, every game has a very unique MP pace and with all the changes from WFC, what we were seeing was runaway gamers, specifically due to killstreaks. By removing them, they game was more competitive. Along a similar vein we removed double jump, many gamers initial reaction were negative until the played it for a bit and realized that the streamlined approach actually made it better. remember this isn't WFC2 this is FOC.
DinoDinoBot: What made you guys change your mind about releasing it on PC after you said you wouldn't? And what do you think is the best addition or special feature in this version?
Thanks for the Q&A.
Matt Tieger: coming off of WFC we needed to laser our focus on FOC. Reducing the number of platforms that we ship on was one way to do that - and it was the right call for the dev team. The fan outcry wasn't lost on us, however and once we saw how much PC gamers wanted it we started looking for solutions. The short version is that, a PC version exists because of the fans.
czen2: Is there any plans to include other combiners like the aerial bots ,protectobots, or even transformers like ultra magnus ,hot rod,cup, etc.
Matt Tieger: Yes and no. The curse of Transformers is that there are so many of them. Last time I spoke with Hasbro i asked them how many there are, their response was in excess of 11,000! We simply cant put that many into the game. What we do have is customization in MP. There are millions of combinations and enough color choices that you can make, and name, a garage full of Transformers.
Emmerson: As my favorite Transformer(s) ever, I have to ask, Where is Devastator? Any chance on seeing him in the new game?
Matt Tieger: Devastator isn't in this game. however, who knows where we go from here
Leebee: how did you guys approach designing multiplayer this time around? what features did you guys want to add to make it fresh from the last game? how often did you guys release new builds to tweak overpowered/underpowered stuff? will keeping the MP suite fresh and balanced be a priority for you guys after release?
I'm a huge fan of asymmetrical competitive multiplayer design, and I love giant robots. you could say that I'm a huge fan of your games. :3
cheers, and thank you.
Matt Tieger: We host 5pm MP matches for the team, EVERY night through the ENTIRE project. Now not everyone can play every night and sometimes the build breaks, but more often than not the team is playing. What that means is that it gets tweaked every day, we try all sorts of stuff, game modes, who has what gun, footspeed adjustments, everything. the 'secret sauce' is countless hours by a dedicated team.
James De Moss: Will we see humans in the franchise? I know WfC and FoC take place waaaaaaay before humans were in the picture, but will the franchise ever go that far into the future?
Matt Tieger: Certainly not is this game, but we will have to see.
Aidil42: During development, with all ideas flying around, do you sometimes wish you're not tied up to an already established franchise?
Matt Tieger: In this case, i'd say no. The harder decisions are what not to put in.
FullmetalPrime: Are there any characters, save the Dinobots of course, that you'd like to have included into this months Fall of Cybertron?
Matt Tieger: Triple changers. I always thought that concept was a cool one. We just didn't have the bandwith to do it right, that I am not sure how much fun Astrotrain's train mode would be.
CFNexus: Any chance there could be a Transformers MMO in the future? Ive been thinking about 1 for years. I have already thought of character creation, mechanics and plenty of other things. I think and MMO has some very interesting things going for it.
Callum F, Northern Ireland.
Matt Tieger: It is definitely a big enough universe, but at HMS we aren't geared for MMOs.
mandrate: Is Co-op has been taken out for a more immersive single player storyline?
Matt Tieger: I mentioned earlier about tough decisions - this was the other big one. We do however recognize that Co-op is part of fan expectations, so we really put a lot of focus on Escalation. It is crazy addictive 4 player online Co-op, trust me you will like it.
Zurick: Will there be a 3rd game in the series?
Matt Tieger: Maybe. Lets see what the fans are saying about this one first.
dinowho: Why you no give autobots combiners? AerialBots! Thanks for revitalizing the Transformers to the glory they deserve
Matt Tieger: Deceptions get Bruticus, Autobots get Dinobots - sounds pretty fair to me!
Glenn Beck: Pre-order G1 DLC has been shown played to "The Touch." Make us all happy and tell us you have some Stan Bush somewhere in the game.
Matt Tieger: you will be happy.
Trax0r: How come it took 25 years for a designer to finally make a great Transformers game (WFC)? It seems like its the perfect premise and platform for a good story/fighting/shooter, and yet until, WFC, the ones that did come out were total shit.
Matt Tieger: Transformation is a tough concept to wrap you brain around. It sounds simple enough, but when you start to really knuckle down with the geometry and the mechanics it is a unique problem with no real parallels. We took this as an opportunity to do something different, I am glad you feel that we succeeded.
opieman2010: From what I can understand, War and this game are considered the "revised" official canon for the Transformers, as well as the Prime cartoon. How involved was Hasbro, outside of just overseeing the story? Were any other writers brought in to work on this that have also contributed to the Transformers story?
Matt Tieger: Hasbro was very involved, but the story starts and ends here are HMS. We have some very talented writers, a studio full of G1 fans, and a design staff that is passionate about bringing the story out in the world.
Cabbagetroll: Any hints to what else you guys are working on? Maybe a little bit of news about Deadpool?
Matt Tieger: No can do.
frizzlestick: The first level of the demo had you playing as Bumblebee, but for some reason his voicebox was smashed. I really enjoyed Johnny Yong Bosch as Bumblebee in the first game, so will he still have a voice or is this a reflection of the Bay-era where he never speaks?
Also, Dinobots are awesome, but they did get messed up by Devastator in the 80's film.
Matt Tieger: BB does not have a voice in FOC. This is one element that is in fact a reflection of the Bay movies. Per a comic that was a 'movie prequel' he has his voice box crushed by Megatron, in the game there is a VO that allude to that fact.
Chris Zombiechild: Are there any other cartoon series from the same era that you would like to make a game for?
Matt Tieger: Thundercats, Dinoriders, He-Man. Not sure that anybody other than me would want to play them, but they could be awesome. Also Big Trouble in Little China would make an amazing video game.
djs2879: How soon do you expect the Dinobot DLC to come out after launch?
Matt Tieger: not soon enough by most peoples standards, but it will happen.
Anubis_Arcane: Will we be able to use our custom built transformers for escalation mode? A few of my friends and I were wondering if that might be a possibility down the road.
Matt Tieger: in Escalation you play as the named characters, we chose this for 2 reasons. 1 so that you could use the official iconic characters with your friends and 2 because that mode requires an extreme level of balance within the team, we needed to set the rules.
montymonster50: I love the WFC multiplayer, but I thought it died out (relatively) quickly. Are there any plans to expand the multiplayer to keep players involved for a longer period of time?
Matt Tieger: Tell your friends about it. Seriously, we are very hopeful that the community can reach a much larger self-sustaining size this time around. ATVI has gotten behind the product in a big way, so if you love it help us get the message out there.
Seibertron.com: Are there any Easter Eggs in the game that die-hard Transformers fans can look forward to? (other than Stan Bush's "The Touch")
Matt Tieger: tons of them, keep your eyes open
TheBigTsk: Will the MP skills that were so popular in the first game be back? Right now there doesn't seem to be much info and the info that is out there looks bleak.
Matt Tieger: This game stands on the shoulders of WFC, but it isn't WFC2. Things are slightly different, and in our opinion significantly better. What I suggest you do is try the demo, you initial reaction might be that you miss something specific, but i'd bet that after a few matches you will realize the clarity of the MP experience and see how much better this game is. WFC had really good MP, FOC has great MP.
mannoroth0913: My question has to be: Is Grimlock as amazing in game as the trailers make him out to be, because there's no way I can miss a chance to play as the King
Matt Tieger: Yep. Not only is the gameplay fun, it is very unique compared to every other playable character and the story is exceptional - you get to see how they are created in a brand new official cannon story.
Atomic3xplosion3564: Is it possible for you guys to make a movie?
Matt Tieger: LOL. I hear that alot. Thanks for the vote of confidence.
Liquid-X: Will we get some version of Starscream in a cape and crown?
Matt Tieger: smells like an easter egg to me.
opieman2010: What does an Easter egg smell like? Probably a lot like a regular, hard boiled egg.
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