Visual Basic Game Programming for Teens

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VISUAL BASIC GAME PROGRAMMING FOR TEENS, THIRD EDITION teaches teens and other beginners how to create their own 2D role-playing game (RPG) using the free-to-download and easy-to-use Visual Basic 2008 Express.

You will learn step-by-step how to construct each part of the game engine using Windows Forms and GDI+, including a tiled scroller, game editors, and scripting. If you like playing RPGs, you’ll love learning how to create your own because you have complete control over the game world.

You’ll gain a basic understanding of Visual Basic, giving you a game programming foundation, and the ability to use the tools and source code you create for other custom games.

In each chapter you’ll study short examples of code to help you build the different components of the game, including the foundational elements, the game engine, and all the gameplay components. You’ll build the sample game from chapter to chapter, adding new elements and features as you learn them.

By the end of the book you’ll have created a working RPG from scratch! With the tools, code, and skills you learn you’ll be able to start creating your very own game adventures in no time.

Portfolio Page

 

Teach Yourself To Be A Game Programmer

The question most often asked of persons working in the game industry is inevitably this: What does it take to land a job as a programmer at a professional game studio working on games such as Batman: Arkham City or Call of Duty: Black Ops II? While the question is straightforward, there is no simple answer because the question is loaded due to inexperience.

A comparable question might be asked of a neurosurgeon about getting into the healthcare industry as a top-tier surgeon. The simple fact is, you have to start with a college degree, and eventually move into an apprenticeship to gain experience, and/or get an entry-level job doing the grunt work while being immersed in the environment, before moving on to specialization.

My experience teaching this subject for five years at the undergrad and graduate level helped give me a certain perspective on how well (or not so well) the education system prepares graduates for the game industry. The situation is quite simple, actually. The most passionate graduates will have gone above and beyond the courses they took in college to learn as much as possible about their desired profession, without relying solely on the degree certificate for their future employment chances.

College Degree or Work Experience?

What I also learned during those years of teaching computer science and game programming is that a college degree, while preferred, is not absolutely necessary. Some of the best and brightest in the industry today have no such degree.

That’s not an excuse to shirk college studies–if you have an opportunity to go, then go! But, I recommend against incurring a huge financial debt through student loans. I would not recommend it to any relative or friend when the student loan will go above, say, $50,000–an insurmountable debt for a young person just entering the workforce. Ultimately, your skills and experience will do more for your career than a college degree, all things being equal.

When I was just getting started in 1994, I was hired by a small game studio in my home town in California, a few hours north of Sacramento. This studio worked on contract retail games for the publisher, Simon & Schuster Interactive, which at the time was involved in game publishing, comparable to Activision and Electronic Arts today (before the industry consolidation). I worked on a sports game for the Sega Genesis, which was then ported to the IBM PC. It was an MS-DOS game, of course, and used SVGA resolution, prior to DirectX, so there was a lot of assembly and C++. The compiler used was Borland C++, with custom low-level graphics code (all software rendering, of course). A real far cry from today’s hardware rendering with Direct3D, OpenGL, and GPUs.

I left that job in order to go to college!

Was that a bad move? At the time, it was one of the hardest choices of my life, if not the hardest one. On the one hand, I wanted a college degree. I’d already spent a couple years fooling around at a community college while working mostly full time after high school. I wasn’t the sort of high school graduate who immediately took off to a premier college, and frankly, my family couldn’t afford that anyway.

Tuition Woes and Student Loan Nightmares

Hindsight is always 20/20, as they say. But, when I look back on that decision, I still cannot say whether it was the best choice, even after all these years. The reason for that is because, soon after I graduated from college, in 1997, college tuition doubled, and then tripled, and quadrupled! Also, I was able to get a Stafford loan from the U.S. Department of Education, which meant a single loan. Today, most student loans go through commercial banks, and that really makes me sad to think about it now, because that really does explain why tuition rates went through the roof.

In the 90s, college tuition was reasonable–not so today. I managed to get scholarships every semester to offset the costs, and my total loan was only about $25,000, which I paid off in 10 years. That was pretty common at the time, I’m sad to say, compared to today. It’s not necessarily that teachers are making higher salaries, but the educational system is in bed with the banks, and it’s a lose-lose situation for students. Thank you, representatives and senators in the U.S. Congress, for allowing greed to overcome common sense!

As a result, I finished college just before tuition skyrocketed, and in that regard, it was a good decision. But then, by the time I’d finished, I might have continued working as a game programmer, built up my resumé, gotten several games under my belt, and moved on to a larger studio during those 3-4 years. I might not have needed college to go down that career path. Or, perhaps I might have picked up a degree later with part-time evening/weekend courses (which are now offered online, but that’s what they were called when I was younger).

I could have gotten back into the game industry after college if I’d wanted to, but by the time I finished, I’d entered the information systems industry as a software developer and had my sights on high-end IT work, leaving video games behind. Ironically, I still had a passion and love for game programming, and I found a parallel career writing books on the subject.

The Indie Developer Route

One can also make a good living writing and publishing games as an independent or “indie” developer, by self-publishing. That wasn’t really a very good option prior to Apple inventing the App Store, which really opened the market to indie developers like never before (and copycats have sprung up which is even better for self-made game developers, such as Google Play and Windows Store).

I am a proponent of self learning, of giving oneself an education through self study–if one has the discipline to learn without the structure of a formal course. When I formally exited the game industry, I continued learning, continued to have a passion for video games, and maintained my skills through writing books and working on my own hobby games, without that being my primary means of income. But, without discipline, self learning will be ineffective. You have to test yourself by pushing your boundaries.

In the context of game programming, that means learning new languages and SDKs that are out of your comfort zone, and working on your own hobby game(s) to test your skills as you continue to learn. You should be creating demos and games anyway, if you truly love game programming, but do so with the intention of putting your work into a portfolio and be mindful of how your work looks. Algorithms are great, but if you can display them graphically, that’s even better.

Where To Start Learning?

First, as an aspiring game programmer, you simply must learn C++, and learn it well! That means reading a dozen or more books on C++ to get a good breadth of understanding as well as a depth to your skills in certain aspects of the language. I highly recommend studying the C++ standard library and becoming proficient with iterators, lists, vectors, and similar constructs. Use them in your own games and demos, and write up a blurb about how you’ve used them. Make short tutorials to put into your portfolio if you prefer.

Yes, you do want to study other programming languages as well, but if you’re serious about formal employment in the game industry (i.e. with the likes of Electronic Arts or Sony of America), then C++ is your ticket. But, by all means, learn Java, C#, and Python as well–the experience will only help you, assuming you are highly proficient in C++.

The Book List

I did not intend to push my own books in this article, which is why I’ve recommended other authors for primary and secondary reading. However, my own portfolio is on this site and found here:

Here are two related articles that complement this one:

 

Awakening

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The Kickstarter  experience was a good one. It showed me that there was a lot of interest in this story without any reasonable advertising on my part. I have since continued to work on the novel, almost daily, and have made serious progress on it for completion in a few months. Then, I will begin the process of trying to find a publisher or agent who is interested in the story. Although, I suspect I’ll go straight to my favorite publishers first since I already have a lot of experience with publishing so many computer books.

This science fiction novel is shaping up nicely now that I’ve made a serious effort to complete it. In the past, I would work on it only in spurts–like when I felt inspired by a new idea to add to the story. But now I’m treating it like an urgent project with an outline and beginning to gather all of the disparate ideas together on sequential pages that flow well from chapter to chapter. Most surprisingly is that I’ve begun removing portions that no longer work–the story is taking shape and going in interesting new directions so that some older chapters are no longer needed, as they drag the story down a bit too much.

I’ve also increased the scope of the story tremendously. My original plan back in 2003, when I first started writing, was fairly limited to human activities around Earth and within the Solar system. That’s the sort of focus you could write volumes about, granted, and authors like Ben Bova have done just that. But I realized that I wanted a grand spectacle in this story that goes farther than I’d previously planned. To need a grandiose plan means you first need a great big problem. So, that’s exactly where the story is going. The protagonist, Jack Seerva, (who I have never before publicly revealed), will have much bigger problems to deal with after his bootstrap project gets going. I’ll leave it at that level of vagueness for now!

Oh, very well, one little hint: There does not appear to be enough matter in the universe to produce the gravity and expansion being observed. Latest physics theories can’t cope with it, but believe dark matter/energy is involved. I have a rather scary perspective of this issue that will be taking place in the novel.

Teach Yourself Android Game Programming

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Now, there’s a practical, hands-on guide to mastering game development for Android 4.0 with the Android SDK and Eclipse IDE. One step at a time, this book teaches all facets of mobile game development, from game design and handling user input through publishing via Google’s Android Market. Top game development author Jonathan S. Harbour starts with the absolute basics, making Android game development accessible even to programmers who’ve never written a game before.

In just 24 sessions of one hour or less, he shows how to use free Android development tools to design and construct high-performance, highly-playable games for the newest Android smartphones and tablets. Friendly, accessible, and conversational, this book delivers a practical grounding in Android game development without ever becoming overwhelming or intimidating. Each lesson builds on everything that’s come before, helping readers learn core techniques from the ground up. Readers learn key concepts, syntax, and techniques through short, practical examples that reflect the realities of modern mobile game development.

This book covers the Android 4.0 SDK 19 using Eclipse and the Java language, with step-by-step tutorials on setting up the development environment. A new developer is likely to find Android daunting to break into. This book helps alleviate those challenges by offering sage advice and solid tutorials. This book is for beginners with intermediate coverage of game programming concepts.

More Details Here

Beginning Game Programming, 4th Edition

A revision to Beginning Game Programming will be coming out in mid-2014. This new edition will retain most of the chapter structure and content but will be updated to Visual Studio 2013 and DirectX 11. As a beginner title, there will be no 3D covered at all, strictly 2D graphics to simplify it and better target the intended audience.

The existing chapters covering 3D from the previous edition will be replaced with more gameplay and graphics techniques. Overall, the book should be more accessible despite the difficult C++ language and subject matter. It’s my goal to make it easy enough to follow that someone with only rudimentary experience in C++ will be able to follow along without getting lost.

 

An Hour of Code

I support the Hour of Code initiative launched by President Obama and backed by Bill Gates and hundreds of other people. It’s a great idea to inspire the next generation of computer science students! Teaching programming to beginners is what I have devoted over 10 years to by writing programming books for beginners. With titles like Video Game Programming for Kids, Beginning Game Programming, More Python Programming for the Absolute Beginner, and Visual Basic Game Programming for Teens, plus a low-cost course at Udemy, this initiative is just the sort of thing I am happy to endorse.

 

A Little Gaming Nostalgia

I bought an album by the catchy but now-defunct 10,000 Maniacs with Natalie Merchant. Blind Man’s Zoo took me back to the 1988 World Series game. The Los Angeles Dodgers were led to victory against Oakland by Orel Hershiser. It was an extraordinary game for Hershiser who did his best to keep Oakland from even getting a hit.

This particular game, brought to memory by the haunting lyrics of Natalie Merchant, singing such songs as The Big Parade and Trouble Me, will always be associated with a game of a completely different kind. I was playing a PC game called Sentinel Worlds while watching the game in my room.

Hershiser was throwing pitches through a 12” RCA color TV while the crew of my space ship battled aliens through a 14” Tandy color monitor. I can still hear the music of the game combined with the cheering crowd.

 

 

Forum is back up

I’m looking into the problem with the database. It began as a DOS-like attack about two weeks ago with escalating bandwidth usage and doesn’t seem to have affected any other services running on this account, just the forum. Hope to have it back up soon but I’m still not sure what’s wrong and won’t know until the web host company looks into their side.

EDIT: It’s back online at http://jharbour.com/forum

 

Batman Versus Hollywood

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(Michael Keaton with Bob Kane, the creator of Batman)

Do you know the feeling when something is nagging at the back of your mind for a long time (maybe even for years) and you just can’t quite get a handle on it? That’s how I’ve felt about live action Batman movies dating back to my first theater experience of caped crusader–the Michael Keaton movie directed by Tim Burton in 1989. I haven’t quite known how to go about expressing these nagging thoughts until I’d rented and watched Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises again–and I couldn’t finish it.

I was not a serious comic book reader as a kid, although I considered myself a fan of the medium. I spent most of my money on video games as a teenager. At the time I was aware of most of the popular characters through animated TV series. I was not a hardcore fan until many years later when I began to actually read instead of just watch. In other words, I was a Batman fan due to film, not from reading the comics. I watched the syndicated Adam West TV series as a kid, along with Star Trek and Star Blazers, like most kids in the 1980s. I did not read the comics much.

Tim Burton Trilogy

There’s a big difference between fans of the Batman films and fans of Batman, the iconic DC character. Film fans know nothing about the character beyond the films. They may or may not be aware of The Dark Knight and Detective which have contributed possibly even more to the character than the Batman comic has done over the years (by the fact that they must compete for readership while remaining “in the family”).

Batman

The first Tim Burton film in his Batman trilogy was 1989′s Batman, starring Michael Keaton as Batman and Jack Nicholson as Joker. It was a wonderful movie, and the first of the modern era. But, Batman was out of character most of the time. Batman never kills criminals, but he does in this movie. The origin story for both Batman and Joker are presented here, and it was very well done, despite the aforementioned problems. I’m sure many fans today are in the same club, having been introduced to the character by this movie. Those fans would also tend to believe that Batman occasionally kills villains.

Was Batman in character in this film? Partially. All of the basics were covered but his behavior was a strange balance of justice versus vigilantism. He was not the detective, nor the dark knight, he was more of a visceral monster in a way.

Batman Returns

In Batman Returns (1992), Keaton reprises his role with two new villains: Michelle Pfeifer as Catwoman and Danny DeVito as Penguin. In both cases, Burton completely failed to understand the characters. He went for pseudo-realism in his portrayal of them both. Catwoman does not have feline DNA as a result of her attempted murder, and Penguin does not have avian DNA as a result of being dropped in any icy river as a baby. Ridiculous!

And again, great fun if you don’t know anything about these characters. Penguin is not a penguin-man, he’s “The. Penguin.” As in, a mobster with a long nose. He does not live under Gotham as a recluse and a freak of nature, he’s a businessman of sorts. Bob Kane himself is credited with writing the characters for this movie, so does that make it canon? Hard to tell. Did Burton follow his own creative direction with them or did Kane come up with them? Either way, they were not true to the comic source material, which brings up another issue.

Why is it that writers and directors of superhero movies feel the need to legitimize the settings and characters, to make them as realistic as possible? Do they feel that audiences will reject a fantastic character without a cause or reason behind their powers?

Was Batman in character in this film? A little better than the previous film, although he’s surprisingly violent again. In one scene, some of Penguin’s men are running toward him, and he starts up the Batmobile’s afterburner to light them on fire.

Batman Forever

1995 saw the release of Batman Forever, with a new actor playing Batman in Val Kilmer. The villains include Jim Carrey as The Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones as Two Face. This movie also introduced movie fans to Robin, played by Chris O’Donnell. Also of interest, Drew Barrymore (“50 First Dates”) plays a girlfriend of Two Face named Sugar, while Nicole Kidman plays a love interest for Batman and Bruce Wayne.

This movie was just plain fun, through and through. It was definitely my favorite of the three, which is why the fourth was so shocking–it was as if some studio exec’s 10-year old was given the next movie… But I digress. In contrast to the previous two, Batman Forever doesn’t take itself too seriously. Val Kilmer brings a fresh new face to both characters and he does a great job with them both. The villains, Two Face and Riddler, seem to have been inspired by the 1960s TV show more so than a modern interpretation.

As I conclude this section on Burton, I’m reminded that Frank Miller was a star writer at DC, having produced Year One and The Dark Knight Returns during the 1980s–stories which audiences simply weren’t ready for until two decades later. Honestly, I really believe that those stories could not be done properly on film (either animated or live action) at the time, due to right wing parenting groups that had a strong voice at the time.

It was a different era with quite different expectations. So, while I have no doubt Burton read Miller, he couldn’t use any of it, and the Two Face (Harvey Dent) and Riddler (Edward Nigma) of the comics stood aside while their cartoon-like caricatures were brought onto the stage.

Strangely enough, Batman Forever went quite against the standard set by the two prior films by not insisting that these characters were 100% realistic. Jim Carrey was brilliant, while Jones had a slightly more subdued presence. My favorite scene is the one where they are fighting over the brain wave machine, sticking the suction cup to their foreheads. Nevertheless, these were TV characters, not drawn from the source comics and certain not canon.

Was Batman in character in this film? Much more so than the previous two. Kilmer gave the character more of the compassionate side of Bruce Wayne rather than the careless messenger of brutality seen previously. He uses his gadgets are more often here.

Joel Schumacher’s Disaster

Batman & Robin is widely known as one of the worst films in the history of superhero movies, possibly only eclipsed by Pitof Comar’s Catwoman (featuring Halley Berry). The director seemed to take the balanced humor in Batman Returns to an inappropriate new level, misunderstanding basically everything about Batman. His irreverence is obvious in the way the film presents one absurd scene after another. It’s almost like Schumacher was forced to do this film and wanted to spite the studio without completely ruining his resume in the process.

One reason why fans were so angered by it is the wasted opportunity to present some beloved characters in live action for the first time, including: Arnold Schwarzeneggar as Mr. Freeze, Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl (!). George Clooney, who is known for his natural talent for humor, was cast as Batman, and it all went downhill from there.

Was Batman in character in this film? It doesn’t even matter.

Chris Nolan Trilogy

Years go by with Batman fans in a funk over the disaster that was the last Batman film likely to ever be made, because it was such a train wreck. What studio in their right mind would green light another Batman film? Enter Christopher Nolan.

Here in Nolan we have a fan’s fan who has read the print material and knows Batman canon. He cites Year One, The Dark Knight Returns, and The Long Halloween for at least part of the inspiration behind his approach to the character. Rumor has it that his pitch to Warner Bros only lasted a quarter hour before he was enthusiastically approved and funded.

Batman Begins

The first Nolan film is, of course, Batman Begins (2005), which is the origin story for Batman from the source material. There are some scenes taken right out of The Long Halloween. This graphic novel was written by Jeph Loeb, illustrated by Tim Sale, originally published as a 13-issue run in Batman during 1996-97. This story strongly features Catwoman (as very nearly a partner to Batman, a femmé fatale love interest rather than a villain), Harvey Dent as the Gotham DA, and James Gordon as the GPD commissioner.

It is the dynamic trio of Batman, Dent, and Gordon that is first portrayed by Loeb’s story, and clearly evident in Nolan’s writing (as co-author of the screenplay). One might draw upon Frank Miller’s Year One and The Dark Knight Returns stories as the source for Loeb as well, regarding the crime-fighting trio. I found Nolan’s interpretation of Dent (aka Two Face) and Gordon to be spot-on from this perspective. These were real people ala comic people, not fantastic characters forced into the mold of reality as we know it.

Do you see the major difference here from prior movies? This is a character-driven story, not an actor-driven movie. Huge difference! A fan of the prior movies will have been shocked to learn that this is the Dark Knight as he was meant to be portrayed. Slam dunk, Nolan!

The cast: Christian Bale as Batman; Michael Cain as Alfred; Gary Oldman as Gordon; Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow (for the first time!); Ken Watanabe as Ra’s al Ghul (for the first time!); Tom Wilkinson as Carmine “The Roman” Falcone (very exciting for Loeb fans); Mark Boone Junior as Flass (a cop from Frank Miller’s Year One). Unknown characters include: Liam Neeson as Ducard (of Ra’s al Ghul’s Assassin’s Guild); Katie Holmes as never-before-seen friend, Rachel Dawes.

Was Batman in character in this film? Yes, Nolan completely nailed the character, perhaps for the first time in movie history. Bruce Wayne acts like the real Bruce Wayne (from published canon), and Batman acts like Batman, with considerable depth.

The Dark Knight

The second Nolan film, The Dark Knight (2008), had to exceed the standard set by Batman Begins, which was no minor challenge. Of course, the most memorable thing about TDK is the Joker, played by Heath Ledger, who passed away after filming but before the movie’s release. Sadly, his death led to a morbid curiosity in the general public which led to increased viewership (and box office sales).

Ledger had a tough challenge in this role, since he was competing with Jack Nicholson’s Joker from the 1989 Burton film. Who in their right mind would want to compete with Nicholson? Ledger seemed like an unusual choice for the character until we saw him on the big screen, complete with make up job. I’ve often wondered which version of Joker Nolan wrote into the script. Was it Loeb’s Joker, Miller’s Joker, Starlin’s Joker, Winick’s Joker, or even the TV show Joker (played by Cesar Romero)? I’m sure Ledger consumed all of the material while preparing himself for the role.

It seems to me that his portrayal most closely matches the Joker from “A Death in the Family”, the story arc that resulted in the death of Robin (Jason Todd), written by Jim Starlin and illustrated by Jim Aparo in 1988. Judd Winick wrote the script for the animated feature film, Batman Under The Red Hood, which was a movie adaptation of the infamous story. If you haven’t seen the film, it’s a must see, and will open your eyes to the director’s source material for Ledger’s Joker.

In this story, the Joker is hired by Ra’s al Ghul to kidnap Robin in order to distract Batman from his attack against the Assassin’s League. Only, Joker takes it a bit far, nearly beats Jason to death, and then finishes the job with a bomb. And, in a surprising twist, Batman did not arrive in time to save him. Although Red Hood (2010) followed The Dark Knight (2008), the original story featured a truly brutal Joker.

Was Batman in character in this film? That depends, because this is very nearly two films in one. On the one hand, there’s the first half featuring the Joker’s rise to power in the criminal underworld of Gotham. The second half is a bizarre and hard-to-follow terrorist plot that at first seems to be in character for Joker, except that he just doesn’t play games as portrayed (he tends to leave that to his old pal, E. Nigma, the Riddler). The two barges full of people, the mind game involving the triggers, it just didn’t fit in–and this was a trend Nolan followed even more so in the third film. I would say yes, Batman was in character, but Joker wasn’t quite right in the second half, and his capture was anti-climactic. For some reason, Nolan seemed to have 9/11 on the brain here and especially in the next film.

 The Dark Knight Rises

First of all, I’ll clear the air up front by just stating outright that I hated this movie, and still feel very strongly that it ranks up there with the worst of the modern films. It’s not nearly at stinky as Batman & Robin, but I’d say it is close. Admittedly, that’s not a popular opinion. But then, when was the majority rule ever capable of making intelligent decisions? This does not in any way reflect my opinion of the previous two Nolan films; it stands on its own as a poor representation of the character and thoroughly botches canon due to creative license.

Why was it so over the top with the Bane storyline? What is up with the ridiculous digitally-inserted Sean Connery voice?

Movie fans were likely unfamiliar with Bane. His character was true to the source by literally breaking Batman’s spine. The original story is fond in a huge collected edition TPB called Knightfall.

At the time of my first viewing, TDKR reminded me of The Siege (Bruce Willis, Denzel Washington). If you aren’t familiar with it, this film is about a terrorist attack against New York City, with events, scenes, and a story that mirrored TDKR in many ways. It dealt with government abuse of power when martial law is declared, and the danger of having the military police a civilian population. But, isn’t that exactly what happens in TDK Rises? I’m reminded of the scene with Blake escorting a bus full of people across the Brooklyn bridge, with soldiers threatening to blow it if they didn’t stop. It was a powerful scene.

There are some fascinating scenes in this movie for fans of Miller and Loeb, such as Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman playing a love interest and partner for Batman, while still trying to remain aloof (and not really succeeding). Although unrelated, Marion Cotillard’s Miranda as the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul–isn’t her name Talia, the mother of Damien? Maybe al Ghul has more than one offspring but I was only aware of Talia. Secondly, there was the age of Batman, and his associated aging woes, reminiscent of Miller’s TDK Returns. In that story, Bruce had given up Batman for 10 years and only grudgingly came out of retirement when he couldn’t stand the violence taking over the city again. (For reference, be sure to see the animated film adaptation of this remarkable story with a bonus–Batman fights Superman at the end!).

The real problem with this film is a punishingly long terrorist siege of New York City very reminiscent of the aforementioned movie, The Siege. Terrorists…yada, yada, yada. Honestly, the terrorist thing should have been put to rest quickly. We had enough going on in this film so that a long, ridiculously drawn-out scene (over an hour) that it could have easily been cut in half without losing a single important detail. Ultimately, it was leading up to Batman’s sacrificial death and the similarly seemingly endless series of homages to him that followed. Seriously, this needed to move along, it was unbelievably boring, considering this was most of the cast and the same director we saw in the previous films. But, like I wrote earlier, Nolan was already leaning in this direction with his Joker terrorist scene which also dragged on way too long.

And, that’s the gist of it. The movie was too long, and the terrorism thing just wasted too much time that could have been devoted to really interesting scenes with Bane and other characters. Or how about flying the Batjet through the Grand Canyon for 20 minutes? That would have been at least pretty if not similarly wasteful.

Was Batman in character in this film? Seriously, no, not at all. Something changed in Bale’s performance or Nolan’s direction of the same. He was trying to portray an aged Batman, 8 years hence, who was worn out and (like Miller’s story) not quite willing to come out of retirement until he had no choice in the matter. This aging effect was over-played. The struggle to rise up again was the theme of the film, but it was done with nauseatingly fine granularity when, again, the story just needed to move on. It’s one thing to give fans everything they want. It’s another thing to give fans everything they want, and end up with a crowded film.

We’ll see how Batman and Superman handles the character in 2015, under the direction of Zack Snyder (Man of Steel). I’ll try to be objective, knowing Ben Affleck is wearing the cowl. He’ll be playing an aged Batman again, like Bale just did.