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Media Consumption: EA Mythic's Josh Drescher (Warhammer Online)

This week's Media Consumption speaks to EA Mythic's Josh Drescher, senior designer on forthcoming MMO Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, about his media favorites, from Andrew Bird to Dr. Strangelove and Hunter S. Thompson to Civilization.
For this week’s Media Consumption, a column that looks at the media and art diets of our favourite industry personalities, we spoke to Josh Drescher, senior designer for EA Mythic’s Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. The license has had a rocky history, with an MMO in development by Climax Online cancelled in June 2004 before EA Mythic picked up the license in May 2005. Warhammer Online is currently set for release early next year, and the first batch of public beta testers just have started on the title recently, with more invitations to be handed out randomly in the future. Drescher comments that the experience of “getting some eyes on the game that are out in the real world”, as opposed to those within the company, has been “really exciting”. “It’s been a blast hopping in and playing with people I don’t work with,” he grins. “I wound up playing until 4am in the morning over the weekend – once you get into a heavy evening of Public Questing, all concept of time disappears.” We spoke to Drescher recently, and asked about the aperitifs and digestifs in his media diet of late. Sounds: "Music was invented in 1987 by U2, when they released The Joshua Tree. Music died in 1995, when U2 recorded a song [Hold Me, Thirll Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me] for the Batman Forever soundtrack. Everything recorded in the intervening years is pretty good, with the exception of Achy Breaky Heart. By strange coincidence, I was in middle and high school during those years. Beyond that, I listen to a lot of rockabilly, classical and proper country, like Haggard and Cash. I have a massive weakness for Elvis and the Beach Boys that dates back to my earliest days as a sentient creature. Under duress, I will cop to digging Lionel Ritchie and Neil Diamond. As for new stuff, I’ve officially become so old that most pop music either confuses or scares me. That said, I have enjoyed a decent number of recent albums: Andrew Bird’s Armchair Apocrypha is, on the surface, an album full of toe-tappin’ tunes, but if you stop to listen to what’s actually going on, Bird winds up laying all sorts of heavy stuff on you. It’s reflective and engaging. And he takes on great metaphysical topics by using the vocabulary of ray guns, action figures and Operation. Grails’ Burning Off Impurities, which I love to listen to when I’m writing because it’s blissfully free of lyrics and has an almost cinematic quality. Rock-inspired without being instrumental rock, if that makes any sense at all. Joanna Newsom’s Ys is an album I can never listen to when I’m writing. It’s beautiful, but freakishly dense both in terms of lyrics and composition. Newsom sounds like a disturbed mystical forest creature trying to come to terms with her place in the world. John Rae and the River’s Knows What You Need is what the Complete Works of Flannery O’Connor would sound like in musical form. What I’ve heard of the upcoming White Stripes album [Icky Thump] sounds very, very solid as well." Moving Pictures: "My all-time favorites are probably Patton and Dr. Strangelove, due in no small part to the towering genius of George C. Scott. Patton is an incredible film about an extraordinary personality. Everything about the George S. Patton of the film is riveting for me – his ego, his recklessness, the fact that he’s so formidably well-read and yet superstitious to the point of seeming mania, his boundless audacity. He’s flawed in all of the right ways. Scott’s performance basically wills the spirit of Patton onto the screen. He’s on camera for – effectively – three hours and you never get tired of him, never find yourself waiting for his latest bravura performance to wind down. It’s the only war movie I can think of where you’re a little disappointed when the talking stops and the action begins. Dr. Strangelove, obviously, is just about the most perfect political satire of all time. I was too young to really have any awareness of the Cold War when it was winding down in the ‘80s, so when I first saw Dr. Strangelove in high school, it was like watching a very funny artifact of an older time. But the jokes made sense and the message was clear. However, watching it again now in light of the current state of things sort of refreshes the dark, chilly humor that viewers must’ve felt when it was first released. They should put it back in theatres before the 2008 elections. The last movie I saw was Spider-Man 3, and – as a lifelong comic book geek – I weep for the utter and total decline of the franchise. It was fundamentally awful in nearly every way. The last good movie I saw was Hot Fuzz. I loved Shaun of the Dead, but I actually think this film is better. I grew up watching terrible action films - and specifically remember defending the quality of Point Break at one point in college - and I have a real affection for them. Hot Fuzz definitely puts the genre through a bit of a ringer, but it’s obviously intended to be the sort of smart, loving jab that can only come from fans." Words: "I tend to always be re-reading something by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. or Hunter S. Thompson. I’m currently going back through Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 to get myself warmed up for the upcoming - ongoing? - campaign season. You don’t want to go into a dark, crazy thing like a presidential election without getting stretched out and limber first. I’m also reading Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow because Penguin released a new version with a swanky Frank Miller cover and also because I’d somehow managed to forget why I never finished reading it in high school. It’s a thick, dense mound of utterly impenetrable prose and you find yourself spending an hour reading an getting mentally exhausted only to find that you managed to work through a mere fifteen pages of it. Oh, and I’m working through the entire run of Dave Sim’s Cerebus because I remember really enjoying some of the issues I got my hands on as a kid and have always wanted to read the whole thing. I’m pretty early in at the moment, so Dave’s still just telling funny stories that lampoon old sword and sorcery fiction rather than being nutty and ranting about how women are trying to destroy the pure light of his masculine creative virtue." Games: "Civilization is my all-time favorite PC game. It was engaging and had depth – rather than complexity. Depth is fun forever. Complexity just slows you down en route to having fun. I also have a soft spot for old adventure games – like the old Roger Wilco Space Quest games and the early King’s Quest titles. Full Throttle was an amazing, wonderful high-point for PC games. I’d love to see that genre reinvigorated some day. Recently, I’ve been playing a lot of Wii games and having a passably good time. I keep waiting for that one magical game to come along and really nail the potential of the system. I’m looking at you, people who make Lego Star Wars games!"

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