I stopped "news hounding" this a while ago. Massively.com has some hands-on impressions from Cryptic's recent media day (albeit Star Trek Online's announcement has sort of pushed Champions into the background). While played on PCs, they apparently used XBox 360 controlllers, which should give an idea of it's multiplatform intentions. The controls seem fairly simple (buttons control jumping, basic attack, ranged attack, and blocking), and it doesn't appear it's a "remember 27 different hotkeys" scheme like more typical MMOs.
An interesting feature that immediately became apparent is that all characters could make use of a ranged attack, regardless of type. For instance, a power projector would be able to fire energy bolts as expected, but a brawler would rip up chunks of concrete to throw at enemies as his ranged attack.
About attacks: the basic attack was typically a single punch, with repeated button presses becoming a chain of punches for more devastating damage. Holding down the attack button charged up a more powerful strike, the effectiveness of the blow more than making up for having to absorb hits from enemies. This strike varied from character to character, depending on power.
Finally, there was a jumping attack -- a jump, combined with a basic attack, resulted in a shockwave effect upon landing, stunning nearby enemies for a few moments. This might have been character specific, as the first character this blogger used was a hulking, tank-like hero. Blocking was an effective strategy against multiple opponents, and quickly became necessary versus swarming mobs.
In all, Champions Online plays extremely well and looks fantastic. The actual mechanics are simple enough to be immediately accessible, leaving the complexity to other areas, which is as it should be. Within a few minutes with the Xbox 360 controller, maneuvering the character became second nature. We would have liked to have been able to play with a keyboard to assess how it performed, but the controller better suited the active nature of combat.
We don't know how much of the gameplay we experienced will survive for the launch, but it was engaging enough as-is, and there's still roughly a year to go. We'll go ahead and say it: this title will become the definitive superhero experience for both fans of the genre and new players alike.
Since you do have to give DC Direct your name/contact info, you'll probably want to use, well, whatever e-mail addy you're comfortable giving in possible junk mail situations.
(Sculpted by Kolby Jukes) "The Dark Knight" is in mid-flight in this dramatic action pose! This uniquely crafted piece features Batman's sweeping cape as the statue's base. This limited edition, hand-painted cold-cast porcelain statue measures approximately 10" high x 8" wide x 8" deep, includes a 4-color certificate of authenticity and is packaged in a 4-color box. Limited editionof only 6,000 pieces! A $150.00 US value!
(Sculpted by Kolby Jukes) Standing on a pile of oversized playing cards, this statue features The Joker sporting his trademark grin! This limited edition, hand-painted cold-cast porcelain statue measures approximately 10" high x 10" wide x 6" deep, includes a 4-color certificate of authenticity and is packaged in a 4-color box. Limited edition of only 6,000 pieces! A $150.00 US value!
Second prize for 10 folks are the Batman Begins LImited Edition Gift set on Blue-Ray or Batman Gotham Knight (the recent animated anthology) on Blue-Ray.
I couldn't find the statues at the DC Direct site, but there's a pretty nice vinyl one ($125):
I was happy with my older Powershot, but I tried many different Cannon models in numerous stores in recent weeks, and none felt comfortable to me, and the menu screens/tabs etc. generally confounded me.
I don't begrudge anyone sticking their head in the sand and refusing to try other brands (I might never buy another non-Toyota because my 1996 Corrolla has been so durable, for example), but I don't really shop by brands with electronics these days.
That's why I've used (and been quite happy with) Sansa and Creative MP3/multimedia players instead of Apple, chose a Kodak camera for my sister-in-law (she's had it a year and loves it) and the Sony camera in my case. I will of course let ya'll know if I ever come to regret the decision.
fwiw, the Sony's LCD screen has passed the "Obscenely bright sunlight test" today. I talked myself out of a Kodak touchscreen model after reading that its screen generally washed out in those conditions.
For more jaded takes on blockbusters, Pauline Kael was always a good bet. I always said she hated everything that didn't have subtitles. Though in retrospect, she did respond to summer movies on occasion, esp. E.T. I've tweaked her words a bit for quiz's sake.
... the picture is an amalgam of [his] follies--plot for its own sake, dissociated from character or drama; the affectless heroine ... AND effects that Spielberg the youthful magician has already dazzled us with. Kinesthetically, the film gets to you, but there's no exhilaration, and no surge of feeling at the end. It seems to be edited for the maximum number of showings per day.
What was it?
Spoiler for Hiden:
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
But at 2 hours and 17 minutes this is just a very big "Boo!" movie, with bum dialogue.
What was it?
Spoiler for Hiden:
It's an epic without a dream. Maybe the only real inspiration involved was to set [it] in the pop-culture past, and to turn old-movie ineptness into conscious Pop Art. And maybe there's a touch of genius in keeping the film so consistently what it is, even if this is the genius of the plodding.
What was it?
Spoiler for Hiden:
Star Wars (1977)
Retro-40s virtue piled on the cartoon underpinnings of TV comedy shows.
What was it?
Spoiler for Hiden:
Terms of Endearment (1983)
The movie is underwritten, but it has so many unpredictable spins that what's missing doesn't seem to matter much. It's mean and anarchic and blissful.
What was it?
Spoiler for Hiden:
Batman (1989) [I'll be damned, she loved it! ]
This is kinda fun. Maybe I should start a separate thread on this. But everyone will just Google "Pauline Kael".
I guess my only point is no movie draws accolades from everyone even if it makes a half billion dollars or sweeps the oscars.
Murphy's law is the more money, enthusiastic reviews and awards a movie makes, the more backlash and more "I didn't think it was so great" opinions you'll get.
I remember that with stuff like The Fugitive in 1993 or even Die Hard in 1988 (no, not everybody loved it, even if 100 Hollywood screenwriters have copied it). Heck, my mom expressed that opinion in summer 1984 when I belatedly took her to see Terms of Endearment (1983 Best Picture) at a military base in Korea. "This was Best Picture? Blah." Me, I saw it when it first came out and loved it. I think if you guys had seen it (TDK, not Terms of Endearment ) opening day, you'd have different opinions. Titanic drew a lot of that opinion late in its run. I think Titanic's great, but Billy Zane's performance was perhaps one of the worst, one-note performances I've ever seen. fwiw. just imho.
I did have more fun with Iron Man, and there are lots of TDK fans who think Iron Man was a forgettable waste of time - and shame on them.
Oh well. Different perspectives make us human. I mentioned I enjoyed the Indy movie (in spite of the lame-o Lucas plot), but a friend of mine hated it so much he all but gets beet redfaced with anger just talking about it. Go figure.
Aaaand, Freeman is in a Memphis, Tenn. hospital it turns out.
No doubt this'll bring out the conspiracy theorists that TDK is "cursed." Lord knows the cast and crew could use a break from tragedies. It sounds like he'll be OK, though something like this at age 71 has got to be tough.
He apparently over-corrected when his tires went off the road shoulder a bit. We've had some nasty accidents from that sort of thing in the D.C. metro region here, esp. with teen drivers. It's one thing that makes me nervous at 2-lane roads.
I just see the "Batman voice" as another means of disguising one's identity. How *should* he sound? Michael Keaton's Batman had a slightly deeper voice "in the suit," but it was clearly still his voice. I disguise my voice sometimes when calling friends, but they always recognize my voice unless I really exaggerate my voice or impersonation. I have to go "over the top" to become unrecognizable.
I sometimes find it silly in Spider-Man that nobody seems to notice that he sounds exactly like Tobey McGuire/Peter Parker with panty hose over his mouth (in the '60s animated version, Spider-Man has a more "grown up" voice, and I think they actually used different voice actors); or in the cheesy Adam West Batman, there's no difference between the Bruce Wayne and masked voice at all.
TDK edged out the lame Mummy Sequel for #1 again. It's to about $394 million through Sunday. Some pundits point out that Titanic's number of tickets sold (at a far lower price, so less profit per ticket) was astronomically higher. I buy that, but there are also a lot more things and technologies competing for your entertainment dollar today, and $4 gasoline vs. about $1.18 gasoline in December 1997, not to mention higher food costs today that might make you hesitate to drop $11 on a summer movie. It's hard really to make perfectly consistent comparisons between movies, even ones only 11 years apart.
After sort of surprisingly "falling in love with it" at a Circuit City counter on Friday, I got a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W150 (Black model, 8.1 megapixel, 28-140mm lense) there yesterday. Prices are always better at Amazon.com, Buy.com etc. but I just preferred to get at a store and it was a $20 off, plus it's "Virginia Tax Free days" Fri.-Sun. here.
There are better rated cameras out there, but it just came down to me enjoying the controls, menu system and using it in the store (even if most reviews complain about the same things I like about it). There's a fun "slideshow" feature, and it has a tiny built-in speaker so you can hear your videos in the camera. Everyone tends to recommend the Big Brands (Canon, Minolta, Olympus, etc.; and Panasonic seems to be building a good rep), but I helped pick out a Kodak for my sister-in-law's birthday last year, and for me the Sony was the one I most enjoyed actually using. A friend of mine has a well rated Canon that I tinkered with, but I really found its whole menu system baffling. I'm sure I could learn it but I like ones that use understandable text explanations on the menu and don't require referencing the manual too much.
While I still think it's always cheaper buying these online, no matter how detailed a Web page listing is, it's never as useful as going into a store and actually using it, even just for a few minutes.
What I got is definitely not for those who want to fiddle with the actual camera settings (which I've never really been comfortable doing so it didn't bother me). I liked the wide angle (28mm), fairly strong zoom (5X optical) and increasingly rare optical viewfinder (albeit it's tiny and doesn't really give you the full lense view) and various other features. Megapixels are just ridiculous these days (there's a 13.6 MP variant of this), but for sharing online and via message boards etc. it's all quite a moot point. My old camera is only 2 MP though, and I was finding it not very useful for these occasional magazine articles I work on (they need at least 4-5 to be able to use them at any appreciable size in print).
Despite some truly atrocious reviews, the Mummy sequel presumably will pull in some folks this weekend though I wouldn't be surprised if TDK remained at the head of the list. A decent weekend would probably push it to maybe #8 ahead of SW: Revenge of the Sith ($380.3 million) behind Spider-Man ($403.7 million).
EW's Mark Harris has a column (not online yet, but it would eventually be at http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20205970,00.html) proclaiming "there's no way" The Dark Knight can reach Titanic's $600 million mark. So he echoes my sentiment, but I'm not as snarky about it, because I'd like to see TDK reach it I just don't see it quite having the legs (although it's had remarkable legs for a summer movie in a busy season).
Harris is still on the Snobby side of the critic fence that both lauds TDK's ambition but sort of waves off its success as "fanboy driven" and says any Oscar nomination talk for the movie is both fanboy-driven and (aside from Ledger's performance) a joke.
I don't see it as a joke because if critics think Jaws, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the King are all Oscar-worthy (and all got Best Picture and Best Director nominations in their release years, and of course ROTK won everything just about), then a leap to something like TDK isn't that much of a stretch. Unless you're a snobby critic with issues about guys in rubber suits and clown makeup.
This reminds me of a reporter friend whom I saw Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in1989 with who spent the whole movie whining, "Oh gosh, he stole that old man's car!" and the like. Probably he would've complained in Raiders of the Lost Ark about Indy "spoiling the ancient tombs," and "violating the sanctity of the South American natives!" He would've spent Iron Man hand wringing about Iron Man "destroying government property" and "hindering the war on terror."
I mean, come on. I never saw another movie with him, I learned my lesson.
It's summer. If everything's going to offend one's sensibilities, it's best not to visit a theater from May through August.
That said, the comics make a big deal about Bats never using guns. So a fair number of Batman fans were a little peeved that he so non challantly fires what presumably are 20MM cannons in such a nonchalant way.
I checked some Canadien papers about it the other day. There's much hyperventilating about why fellow passengers didn't step in to stop him, or throw something at him, etc. But I don't think anyone knows how they're going to act when their seatmate starts stabbing someone with a big butcher knife until the situation actually happens. To be a blog/news article commenter with 20-20 hindsight on that seems pretty lame.
There have been several cases of bus drivers being attacked, though not to this grisly extent. Some of the US Greyhound stations are doing at least random metal detector "wand searches," but it really isn't reasonable for podunk bus stations in the middle of nowhere to do that.
Gordon Gekko: The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works.
fwiw, I cover parts of the oil industry (base oils, motor oil etc.) and deal with ExMo on and off as a reporter. They are both very professional, and -- because they're one of the world's largest privately-owned companies -- prone to just clam up if I'm asking about something negative.
Once when I dealt with a smaller publicly owned refiner, I remember being surprised how candid the public affairs spokesman was about something that I didn't expect them to even get back to me about.
What saddens me generally about US Business these days is it's basically about doing everything as cheaply as possible. And if that means outsourcing everything to other countries that don't allow unions and don't require costly worker safety/environmental standards, and importing everything in sight because other countries make everything cheaper, well... greed is good. I mean, heck, you even see it in game publishers ferreting game development out to overseas dev houses that presumably pay their people peanuts.
Canuck, you're such a traitor to the MSI Wind cause.
Actually, a work buddy and I goofed off a bit at a Best Buy after lunch yesterday. I saw several "normal" small laptops in the $599 range that seemed pretty appealing and looked nearly as small as the Wind and the latest EeePC models.
I think the Wind's launch pretty much got scrooged over by the 6-cell battery deficit (due to some big factory fire in South Korea).
In the end, I spend too much time Web surfing as it is. Being able to vegetate on my couch as I attempt to multi-task and watch TV would just be doubly pathetic, so I probably won't end up getting anything at all.
I'm probably getting a new Kodak camera today that uses a touch screen. It isn't "ultraportable," so I'll have to yak about it somewhere else.
I have it, and I haven't played my PSP in almost 6 months (I'm really dismayed with the 2008 games lineup compared to the fine 2007 lineup). Just let me debate if I'm going to give up on the systems altogether or not, and I'll get back to ya.
I think part of the problem is the PSP devs can't make a living doing the games, so they do one good one, put their PSP dev kits away and then move on to console games (as was the case for the devs on Killzone: Liberation, SOCOM Tactical Strike and God of War: Chains of Olympus).
Blah, blah, guess I already said that somewhere else.
* We're now done with the majority of the process to completely equalize Male and Female damage. We've balanced the animation-lengths for all "white damage" attacks as well as all "combo finishers", and furthermore we've matched the animation length of "moving attacks" to the lengths of "stationary attacks". As a result players should now experience no difference in damage dealt or time needed to execute an attack based on what gender their character is. * Aborting multihit combos before they're finished won't activate their full effects anymore. [This will be good if you found yourself "wasting" multihit combos/stamina on thin air because the target already fell, something I often do.-bj] * Pet commands should now be more responsive. * When aborting a multihit combo finisher, you now get a percentage of the full cooldown depending on how many hits you got in before the abort happened. (It's really in this time!) CLASSES
* All Assassin, Barbarian, Bear Shaman, Conqueror, Dark Templar, Guardian, Herald of Xotli, and Ranger combo damage and stamina costs have been rebalanced to match the newly adjusted animations.
* Spirit Aegis will now give 0.5% invulnerability to Holy and Fire instead of 1% Fire with the first rank trained.
* Combos granted by feats should now deal significantly more damage than before.
* The Talisman Mastery buff will no longer be removed upon death if the proper feat is trained.
* Shield Sweep combo will now scale more consistently across the first three ranks. Herald of Xotli
* Pillar of Internal Flame Rank II is now a three-step combo (including combo starter) instead of an instant cast.
* Bone Horde debuff now uses the proper icon in the debuff GUI.
* Resolved an issue that caused item bonuses to not scale correctly. * Many items are now 'bind on equip' meaning that once equipped the item can no longer be traded. * Resolved the issue with raid gear that had lost it's bonuses in a previous update. * The bonuses awarded by gems have been rebalanced. Unfortunately some of the gem bonuses were originally applied incorrectly leading to situations where too much bonus was given, mainly for invulnerability rating. These gems have now been modified. The benefit of the different level gems has been also been amended though, meaning that higher level gems should now be better than the lower level versions. * All items Green+ are now Bind on Equip (BoE) or Bind on Pickup (BoP). * Items which are BoE/BoP should now state this fact below their item name in the mouseover tooltip. When these items are equipped and bound to the character, the text below the item name will change to reflect this. A message will now ask if you are sure when attempting to roll "need" on a Bind on Pickup item.
* Players will now always see Massive PvP results, and the time left in a battle during battles. This information is displayed in the right top corner, below the minimap.
* Field of the Dead: Changed the level on the quest Entourage from 52 to 47. * Field of the Dead: Changed the level on the quest Cleansing the Tomb from 53 to 48. * Khopshef Province: Forbidden Knowledge - The Crumbling Codex will now despawn after it is picked up. * Khopshef Province: Slave Cages will now show a visual effect when player is on the correct quest to interact with them. * Pyramid of the Ancients: New Quests have been added to enhance your questing experience. Bosses have been upgraded to present a challenge to solo (or small groups) of players. Pay careful attention to the items they drop - they could be the key to defeating more challenging enemies. * Pyramid of the Ancients: All quests should now be working. * Tarantia Sewers: Orphans in the Hovel - Galeria should now talk to you after you kill her captor. * Defeating Lord Atum-Keket in the Pyramid of the Ancients will now reopen the door to the Lord chamber. * The teleport altar behind Lord Atum-Keket will now be visible at all times. * The Master Torturer in Pyramid of the Ancients will no longer spawn multiple times in a row.
NPC / MOBS
* Toirdealbach's Tomb has had its level range adjusted from 50-53 to 46-48 [as an Epic instance, it seemed like you needed L60 teams to have a prayer-bj]. Loot in Toirdealbach's Tomb has been adjusted to fit the new level range of mobs. * Pyramid of the Ancients: The Harem Girls have been dressed up properly, and sexily! * Many of the spells used by raid bosses will now ignore line of sight-checks, thus making it impossible to avoid them by hiding behind pillars and such. * Many of the spells used by raid bosses will now be impossible to fully resist. * The Dark Flames breath attack used by Vistrix will now use normal line of sight checks. * The knockback strength on Kyllikki's Blizzard has been reduced. * Yakhmars adds have been modified, they will no longer stun players as they did.
* Cloth Resource droprate in the world has increased somewhat. * The Resource and Building playfields (Lacheish Plains, Purple Lotus Swamp, Poitain) have new NPC camps that will drop tradeskill items previously only available through the Alchemist's Cache. Some of these encampments will aggro, some will not. This makes these zones more dangerous, but allows lower level players a chance to get the tier 1-3 resources they need.
* Checkerboard textures should no longer appear on the ground throughout the world.
* The horse ability Hind Leg Kick will now have a 12 second reuse timer, like the other horse abilities. * The Skewbald Pinto Horse has had its stats adjusted to horses of the same tier and price.
* The "Quests" tab in the quest journal should now indicate the current number of accepted quests and the total number of allowed quests. [welcome Qualify of Life improvement, many players asked for] * An option to add a player to your ignore list was added to the "Add by name" dialog. * If your trade is rejected, you will receive an onscreen message. * Tooltips for NPCs on the map should now show up in the localized version of their names, instead of their default English names. * You can no longer trade while in combat mode. * You will see an onscreen message stating that a team member has joined your team. * Onscreen feedback for a failed attempt at a trade due to a full inventory has been tweaked. * Added a new option that allows the player to make his cloak invisible. * Strange or seemingly out of place text in the UI should be removed
* Several causes of crashes and assert failures have been addressed and fixed. * Important notification sounds now won't be interrupted by other sounds. * A fix was implemented for item descriptions when switching between languages on the client. * Fixed an issue that would cause some playfields to be empty after logging out for some time, and then back in. * You can no longer send unlimited mail through the tradepost. If you send several mails and are informed via system message you cannot send any more, you will need for in-game time to pass before being able to send more mail. * Ignored users will no longer be able to send you mail. * Raid playfields will now kick players who are not in the raid. * Fixed some animations that weren't blending properly * The number of needed 'Fresh Kills' has been increased to 20.
I've highlighted a few things of interest. Option to make cloaks invisible was something I had hoped for - it's just sometimes more fun to show off your armor backside, and there just isn't much variety in cape color.
The Explanation Notes (full patch notes in 2nd post here-bj):
The main focus of this update has been in three key areas, firstly to update some of the instance locations to provide some great new encounters for you all to enjoy and secondly we have completed the process of ensuring the combat and item mechanics are consistent. Lastly we are continuing to focus on improving the GUI functionality based on player feedback. New Instance Challenges!
The Pyramid of the Ancients dungeon has been updated and repopulated with a variety of new quests, encounters and dangers for you to face in this ancient site! The new content should provide an interesting and challenging experience for solo players and single teams alike.
Next up is Toirdealbach's Tomb in The Fields of the Dead. This group instance has been tweaked so that the mob levels are more in keeping with the level of the Fields of the Dead [sigh, I wish this had been in weeks ago; it was next to impossible-bj]. We have also been through and amended the placement of mobs in the dungeon so that the balance between ranged and melee opponents should be much fairer to groups trying to tackle this ancient evil!
This update sees the completion of the work to ensure that the combat animations are consistent amongst the different class and sex character options.
Resulting from this, all Assassin, Barbarian, Bear Shaman, Conqueror, Dark Templar, Guardian, Herald of Xotli, and Ranger combo damage and stamina costs have been rebalanced, the vast majority of stamina costs have been lowered to reflect the new attack speeds and the damage ranges will now be correct and consistent across any weapon and sex combination.
The issues that were causing item bonuses to not scale correctly across all level ranges has been resolved with this update. Items should now scale correctly between level 1 and level 80.
In addition the raid items for high level players that lost their bonuses in the earlier update should now be fixed and correct again.
Massive Resource Zone Update
The resource and building zones (Lacheish Plains, Purple Lotus Swamp and Poitain) have had a thorough repopulation based on player feedback as to what resources were problematic. New resource nodes and many new camps have been added to these zones to help the avid tradeskillers amongst you find what you need. Be warned though venturing too far off the beaten path may result in you finding yourself face to face with some dangerous foes who won’t take kindly to you trying to harvest from them!
Continuing the trend of recent updates there are continued improvements and tweaks of the GUI in this update.
• Added a new option that allows the player to make his cloak invisible. • The "Quests" tab in the quest journal should now indicate the current number of accepted quests and the total number of allowed quests. • An option to add a player to your ignore list was added to the "Add by name" dialog. • If your trade is rejected, you will receive an onscreen message. • You will see an onscreen message stating that a team member has joined your team.
There are even more changes which are introduced in this update and we will continue to even further improve various aspects of the GUI in the coming updates.
This is mostly a big Quality of Life/Fixes type update though there are a few new quests mentioned for one instance (Pyramid of Ancients).
While they didn't take a "bootleg video" of the footage, they do describe it in some detail.
I subscribed to Westfield's subscription comics service back in the mid 1980s to early 1990s. While I quite enjoyed it, my condo just doesn't have enough storage space to keep devouring them on a monthly basis. But I am trying to buy a few select compilations and graphic novels now and then. I'll probably try to get Batman: Dark Victory next.
I might try to get a hardcover of Watchmen, as I did give my copy to my older brother as a gift probably 20 years ago.
I used to be crazy about Bennigans but the Monte Cristo notwithstanding, it became pretty hard to distinguish it from Friday's, Ruby Tuesday, Applebee's etc. etc. I imagine some of their debt was due to all the similar competition, and I'm sure with gas prices being as they are, fewer people are going out for their Monte Cristo fix.
I did in fact have the Monte Cristo the last time I was there, a few months ago. It's great, but I never would recommend it for lunch on a work day. I felt like a tub of lard the entire rest of the day. In the future, you can have a similar effect on your afternoon energy level by eating half a jar of Crisco, but it won't taste anywhere near as good.
I always thought the restaurant with "flair" that Jennifer Aniston worked at in the movie "Office Space" was a faux-Bennigans, but friends of mine sometimes argued it was actually Ruby Tuesday or TGI Friday. I guess assuming someone doesn't take over the chain, it'll be the only reminder it ever existed.
PvE wise, around the 1min50sec mark he talks a bit about the upcoming Ymir's Pass (55-60, I think?) region. He said it will have a lot of the Yetis (seen so far only a little bit in a couple of zones), new archtecture, and a chance maybe to meet (as an NPC) Keira, who seems to be the female assassin that appears in a lot of publicity media for the game.
He also details the new dungeons, including Thunder Falls, a high level dungeon coming to the Thunder River area; and The House of Crom (which they haven't really talked about yet).
He said they're also working on increasing item visual diversity, making item statistics more meaningful, and make rewards from quests and raids "better."
If you're going to say comic books, graphic novels and Watchmen aren't "cool," all of us here will have to beat you. Besides, we're all videogamers and computer gamers here anyway. So we're all pretty much un-cool already, right? But I do appreciate having this place to discuss all of this stuff without feeling awkward about it.
Though I'll admit when I bought the two volumes of the Batman: Hush collection today at Barnes & Noble, I was imagining the cashier lady thinking, "He's too old to be reading this. They must be gifts for his son!"
The Watchmen Panel at Comic Con is tomorrow, I think -- or did it already happen? I'm confused. Snyder said they'll screen about 3 1/2 minutes from the movie - some of it overlapping the trailer footage in content, but some of it new too. He's still trying to whittle the 3 hour cut to about 2 hrs 25-30 minutes apparently. I'd like to think TDK's runaway box office at 2 hrs 32 minutes, or heck, Titanic's at 3 hrs. 14 mins would give him more leeway.
So how's my return? Well, the game genuinely seems to look better than it did before. They have changed meshes and some other things, and it seems noticeable.
A lot of map icons have been changed, and made a little easier to see and understand.
And the new instance (Velon) is right at the level where I got my highest characters to before I lost interest (low 30s).
The problem so far is I just don't remember how to play the game "well." Also, i reconfigures some hotkeys, but now I can't remember what the default keys were for certain things. I seem to recall 'F' by default was supposed to let you do a "quick kill" for extra exp when a red skull was above an enemy -- but I reconfigured it. And I don't see any key on the keybinding list that resembles that hotkey (I don't even remember what it was called officially). Argh.
I also don't remember what my upper level characters' favorite abilities were. And while they gave a free respec at some point while I was gone (unassigning *all* your skill and attribute points), I'm lost as to what I was assigning points to before.
The thing about MMOs is you reach the point where everything is second nature, and after a few months away, it's like trying to ride a bike again after 20 years and constantly crashing into the street face first.
I always say it's best to catch movies like this early. Midnight Thursday even. Then you're as unburdened with expectations and what other people think as you can be (although since TDK review screenings occurred weeks before its release, it didn't work as well in that case). I did that with TDK and Iron Man, and was generally glad I did.
I really do miss walking into movies with no expectations at all. I think it was a lot more common pre-Internet. I had that experience with Jaws ('75), Star Wars ('77) and Raiders of the Lost Ark ('81). I knew about the movies a little going in, but I wasn't suffocated with advertising, interviews, entertainment shows etc. ad nauseam about them -- so I had an amazing time the first time I saw those and I wasn't spending my time thinking "This isn't as good as so-and-so said," which I do sometimes find myself thinking today.
I should re-read it myself (you can find copies at most Borders and Barnes & Noble today fwiw). I was only about 22 when I bought it, and I ended up giving it to my older brother as a gift (1986-7) because, well, basically I didn't "get it."
EW has a photo gallery of folks at the Comic-Con, and among them is the entire cast of the Watchmen movie (w/ director Snyder), albeit not in costume:
A vandal in my generally fine neighborhood severely bent my '96 Corolla's manually-retractable car antenna *twice* in the space of a few months. The first time, the vandal bent it in a pretzel. The antenna is not flimsy by the way. It takes an awful lot of force to bend it at all, and there was no way to "un" bend it. This was in a crowded neighborhood outside our condo building, not maybe 20 yards from the front of our building.
I had a dealer replace it for something like $300. Most of the problem was peeling back parts of the car's interior to get the new antenna in place.
So after fixing it, I basically kept the antenna retracted (the radio worked surprisingly well without the antenna extended, in most places).
And then, I came out to my car another day and *boom*. This time someone had pulled the retracted antenna out, and then bent it across nearly the length of my windshield. With much effort, I was able to retract it most of the way into its antenna-sheath (about the last 18 inches can't go in). This time, I didn't bother replacing it. I reported it to the police both times, but it was always, "Did you have an argument with anyone in your neighborhood?" I hadn't. This was all about 5 years ago, but it still ticks me off when I think about it. The radio works fine, and to this day, the antenna is still sticking out, bent up, of its sheath.
I assume it was just some neighborhood kid who hopefully has grown up and moved on. I just couldn't understand why they did it to my car and none of the cars next to it (many of which are far fancier). But then I thought, why am I trying to attribute "reasoning" to a vandal.
I had two wisdom teeth pulled back in 1991 when I was 26. Mine was a rather strange procedure where they used some sort of strong local anaesthetic, and I sort of was half-sitting/half-standing for it. The actual procedure I didn't feel hardly a thing. But I did have to call my doctor that night (the surgeon gave me his home number, which was nice of him) to ask for a stronger painkiller prescription. I think I was fine after that. The first couple of post-op days were worse for me but it was OK beyond that.
I do think the ability to reach your surgeon after hours is important, so that's something I would ask about (nowadays he/she would probably give you a cell phone number).
Oh man, what kills me is that my best bud in my City of Heroes supergroup was *both* an avid blackjack player (I don't know if Professional is the word, but he apparently did go to real casinos often to play), and a die-hard Trekkie. Unfortunately, he ran into some situation late last year where he told us he would have to basically avoid the Internet completely for at least a year.
So here's a Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, and announcing the ST MMO. Good grief, that would be the poor guy's fantasy! I hope he finds a way to attend.
Like everyone else, I have all sorts of questions about whether you're controlling multiple AI characters on your ship, or other players (there was much debate about that with Perpetual's ST MMO take), and if the ship combat is going to be more Star Trek Bridge Commander, or more Freespace 2. And I dunno -- can you play as the "bad guys" and farm "red shirts?"
Since pretty much everyone from the City of Heroes dev team (save Emmert and I think one person who decided not to switch to the new studio NCSoft created to run CoX) is no longer at Cryptic, I don't really expect the game to play too much like it. But I'm sure Emmert's experiences with come into play at some point.
The Star Trek conference presentation on the game'll be Webcast, and no doubt it'll be all over the place Aug. 10 (presentation's at 1:30 p.m. Pacific, 4:30 p.m. Eastern time that day, fwiw).
I worked in newspapers about 15 years and am a trade newsletter reporter (covering part of the oil industry) now - so I guess I just like to track news and stuff is all. I just don't play much outside of MMOs these days so that's what I like to track. And we have a good audience here. There's no fun in tracking gaming news things down if you don't have anyone nice (well, usually ) to share it with.
Anyway, the Star Trek Online Web site launched today, with a letter from Cryptic's Jack Emmert about it: http://www.startrekonline.com/ Here's the "About Star Trek online" info from the site:
Become part of Star Trek®: The Star Trek universe will appear for the first time in a massively multiplayer online game. Everything from the elegant domes of Starfleet Academy to the ancient temples of Vulcan, from the towers of Qo’noS to the Fire Caves of Bajor, from the mysterious Mutara Nebula to the unexplored voids of deep space, all will be represented in stunning 3-D graphics. Immerse yourself in the future of the Trek universe as it moves into the 25th century: a time of shifting alliances and new discoveries.
Adventure in the Final Frontier: Explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations in an expanding vast universe. Make contact with alien races, discover resources and uncover mysteries that will change the future of the Star Trek universe.
You Are the Captain: Command your own starship as a Federation Captain or a Klingon Warrior. Outfit it with the systems that you need to make your mark in the galaxy. Customize your ship as you see fit. Recruit, train and mold your crew into an elite force for exploration and combat.
Surface, Shipboard and Deep Space Adventures: Command your vessel in thrilling space battles, or beam down to planets with your away team for face-to-face confrontations. Missions will take you and your friends into space, planetside and even inside starships!
Powered by the Cryptic Engine, Star Trek® Online will be developed for both console and PC formats. With customizable ships and characters from the Klingon Empire and United Federation of Planets, ground, space and shipboard gameplay and unique options for player-generated content set in the Star Trek universe, Star Trek Online is the MMOG that allows you to boldly go where no one has gone before!
And Emmert's blatherings.
Quote from: Jack Emmert
Star Trek® has been a part of my entire life. Few other of my geeky obsessions can make that claim.
I started watching the original Star Trek when it reached syndication and cult status. I can remember even more vividly where I was for the premiere of every subsequent Star Trek series. For Star Trek: The Next Generation, I watched "Encounter at Farpoint" lying on the floor of my childhood apartment. When Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rolled around, I was a graduate student at the University of Chicago. I watched the first episode in the basement of my dorm with a dozen other students. A few years later, I was at Ohio State and saw Voyager travel to the Delta Quadrant while sitting on a friend's couch in Columbus, Ohio. And I was thrilled to see the beginnings of Starfleet in Star Trek: Enterprise. At the time, I was just starting out as a game designer, with little to no idea that I'd be jumping into that very universe within several years.
When the opportunity came for Cryptic to obtain the license for Star Trek, we were absolutely thrilled. I realized how many people at Cryptic loved the IP when the possibility of us getting the rights leaked out to the rest of the company. I had more Trekkies in my office asking to work on the project than I ever imagined.
Cryptic would now be given the task of bringing to life this entire universe that has been so brilliantly conceived and executed over years of TV, movies, books and comics. There are few other fictional backgrounds that fit the MMORPG medium so well. After all, Star Trek was never about a single character, ship or even planet; Star Trek was always about an entire universe. And MMORPGs are uniquely suited to create such a thing and allow players to explore every inch.
Admittedly, Star Trek has its challenges. We want to make a game that best captures the real essence of Star Trek. We see Star Trek as much about exploration as combat. As much about the variety of alien civilizations as it is about the core Vulcans, Klingons, Humans, etc. It's going to be an exciting ride over the coming months as we begin to unveil STO. I can't wait.
They have some screenshots there, and they promise some gameplay footage Aug. 10 at the official Star Trek convention in Las Vegas.
While some are now speculating about it matching Titanic's numbers (http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=titanic.htm) and its legendary $600 million plus mark, that's a pretty tricky thing to compare it to. Titanic released just before Christmas to fairly modest box office expectations, but it did have the advantage of releasing at a fairly dead time without much competition. I remember it having pretty spectacular legs -- I seem to recall it making more in weeks in February and March than it did in December. Nowadays some movies see their DVD release happen in that span of time.
In a way, I feel bad for Hellboy II -- which seems like a solid film that got steamrolled by TDK's success, and may not even break even in terms of its fairly modest $85 million production cost. The X-Files movie seems to have flopped, but its stingy $30 million production cost means it doesn't need to do much to recoup costs.
I went ahead and reactivated this morning. I got a lot of patches to install, so it might be a while.
This past week's update included some really extensive changes to the graphics engine to improve performance in some cases, and just the overall look in others. I like what I've seen in the last couple of updates. If they can keep pushing more new content (like the Veloh instance and its accompanying missions), that's one thing I was griping about at the time I deactivated in April.
I'll get some screenshots up of some of the new stuff (including the Looking for Squad system) once I've got it updated and ready to go. I've switched computers/video cards since I quit this, so I'm hoping I can run it high detail now.
While I'm not quitting AoC, I've found it getting a bit tedious in the low 70s for my tastes, and while they are working on new content, I'm a little tired of having to resort to Dungeon Runners style endless hunts there to level, much of the time. Maybe I'm actually hoping dabbling in something else for a while, or in between AoC bouts, will avoid burnout.
And I want my darn PAU! (Personal Armored Unit). I don't think those will get out this year though.
While I was predicting Auto Assault-style Doom for TR by about this point, I think maybe slipping out of the spotlight (with AoC and others getting all the buzz, hype or doom 'n gloom stuff in the months since TR's launch) was in a way good for it. It's had time to polish up, bug fix, and finally inject some new content and PVP clan control point stuff without the glare of over-hype. One look at the "known issues" list in the latest update tells you they still have a long way to go though.
If ya hadn't heard, Cryptic's help wanted ad in a game developers magazine gave away what presumably is their big announcement coming up Monday (they've had this timer running on the Champions Online site about it). It's a "fall" issue so they probably just didn't know it would release as early as it has.
If you view the PDF link that the Massively.com item mentions, the Cryptic ad is on Page 44. I haven't been able to save the image or otherwise capture it. It reads:
Cryptic Studios, a leading independent developer and publisher of massively multiplayer online games, including the upcoming Champions Online and Star Trek Online, is expanding into a global marketplace and launching publishing operations around the world. We need talented people to serve our customers and build a worldwide community of Cryptic Users - do you think you have what it takes to help shape the future of MMOGs?
That's been the rumor for months, but this seems to be the first concrete evidence of it.
The ad's image has one that's obviously from Champions, and then there's one of some asteroid field with a planet of the background. Then up top is some sort of base in a snowy region with a snow covered background (which I guess could be from either game, but it doesn't look like the cel-shaded Champions to me, fwiw).
Presumably this isn't based on whatever Perpetual was working on, nor on the "casual ST" game that was mentioned in passing after Perpetual's demise.
I was sifting through search engines for some more interviews, and found a pretty neat site called "Slashfilm." I would though suggest their news posters learn the values of Returns between paragraphs and stop writing their interviews likeStreamOfConsciousnessTranscriptsThatBecomeSomewhatHardtoReadKnowWhatIMean?
“We’re not gonna tell you… other than to say that Batman has been published for 70 years. In the first movie we use Ra’s Al Ghul and The Scarecrow, who had not been in the movies before, and had not been in the sixties TV show before. And there are dozens if not hundreds of other characters that fit that bill. Everyone says its gotta be The Penguin or Catwoman [the latter is a hope of the Batman on Film webmeister - bj] … well I completely disagree.”
“I think Warner Bros would like to do another one,” Goyer admitted. “But it wasn’t until three or four months after Batman Begins had opened that Chris and I sat down and talked about another one. It was a scary proposition trying to do Dark Knight, and it’s sort of a geometrically scary proposition to try to do another one.”
I had forgotten, but back in summer/fall 2006, the scuttlebutt was that C. Nolan was supposedly going through final negotiations to direct a movie version of The Prisoner:
U reloads 'Prisoner'; Nolan to helm Peoples script http://www.variety.com/index.asp?layout=story&articleID=VR1117948317&cs=1 He has sounded noncommittal about it in more recent interviews, so I don't know if that deal actually went through. The guy's gotta be exhausted from TDK and all these interviews of late. I hope he and his producer wife Emma can get a nice long vacation before they tackle something else.
I picked up the new Batman: Gotham Knight anthology (it's basically 6 different animated takes on Batman, each with its own writer, director and animation style), really out of curiosity. I think the 2-disc is worth it if only because disc #2 includes four of the more memorable episodes of the early 1990s animated series.
The discs include a preview (strictly just pencil sketches and interviews with voice actors/producers) of the upcoming Wonder Woman animated movie (I think my understanding is it's a direct-to-DVD release like Marvel's various animated flicks, and shooting for a PG-13 rating). While Joss Whedon's planned live Wonder Woman movie crashed a while back, at least Nathan Fillion (Firefly series/Serenity movie) plays Steve Trevor to Keri Russell's Wonder Woman. They seem to have a really bang-up voice cast lined up, including Virginia Madsen, and Alfred Molina (so good in Spider-Man 2) as the main villain.
What's my take? Mixed, but I really liked the last of the 6 short films. That one worked best for me, and left me wishing for more stories by the crew that made it. Hate to be so vague -- I'll try to watch it again and take notes this time.
Overall, I'd say two of the short films didn't work for me, two did (esp. the last). The one in the middle, I just found a little too dense in the dialogue department, and I don't think I was patient enough to get through it.
Although Bruce Timm (who oversaw the beloved early-mid 1990s animated series) is a producer on this, it's mostly in an anime style that you'll probably either love or hate. I just found that for me the anime look worked for me in some cases, and in others just made it look, well, too much like some funky anime series (at times I was getting Marine Boy and Speed Racer flashbacks ) and not enough like Batman.
Q: How did you feel about developing Marvel Universe Online when you were essentially competing against yourself -- killing your own baby? A: Champions Online is going to be better than City of Heroes in every way, shape, and form. It's sad, but it's evolution. We're not afraid to take up the challenge.
Q: Why are you working on Champions Online instead of continuing work on CoX? A: NCsoft didn't want to do it. They wanted to own it. [This was opposite of how I seemed to understand it some months ago -- that Cryptic was moving on to Champions, so NCSoft formed a new studio in order that CoX wouldn't be "orphaned" without a dev, and that all but one of the CoX devs chose to move to NCSoft's newly formed studio; I guess there really are two sides to every story - BJ]
Q: What do you think about game companies shipping games early and unfinished? A: It's all about money. You've burned so many millions and can't simply wait to turn a profit. Waiting can also date your early content -- perhaps it was originally designed with bleeding edge technology, but if you push your launch date back a year, it won't be nearly as impressive. There's also a lot of pressure from your publisher -- they're like Uncle Scrooge. You're forced to release a game when it's "good enough" rather than "perfect."
[Devs are constantly pilloried for premature MMO-releases but I venture that most of them would keep their games in beta testing forever, if it wasn't for the Mighty Publisher and/or Investors brandishing their brass knuckles behind them at a certain date in the development timeline. I guess that won't ever change, but I think most players would argue that all the ill-will that premature releases build up isn't worth pulling in revenue some months early-BJ]
The Cryptic "Timer" only has a couple of days left on their other game announcement, which most folks are assuming is Star Trek Online (or something along those lines).
My brother took my 11 year old nephew and 13 year old niece (my sister-in-law took a pass ) to see it. His thoughts have one spoiler, so I'll use the spoiler button stuff too:
Quote from: Blackjack's 47 year old brother
I actually saw TDK with the kids... I concur that (as the local paper's review noted) while the movie fit the PG-13 designation, and it also always managed to turn the camera away from the most torturous acts of violence, its very grim presentation and repeated allusions to torture made it a much darker film than past Batmans, even the first Christian Bale one.
The kids were okay with it, I think, but I did go out of my way to talk to them about it after viewing---you know that as torturous as some of the Joker's acts were, this was truly comic book violence, etc.
Spoiler for Hiden:
We also talked about how good a message it was that the civilians and the prisoners totally foiled the Joker's expected punch line in the boat detonators trick.
For my part, I loved the movie, and have to say that Heath Ledger's performance far exceeds Jack Nicholson's performances of either the same role, or his much more commended rendition of the (living) antagonist in The Shining. I really do think it was Oscar material.
Probably only the Nolan brothers (Chris and writer Jonathan) and David Goyer *really* know what the various motivations are. Then again, probably the best kind of movie or storyline is the kind that builds up so much of its own momentum and reasons that it takes on its own life, and we (the audience) forget someone was banging away at a keyboard to think it all up. I've seen lots of forgettable comic book character-based movies that don't get that kind of discussion going. So it's nice TDK does.
I would love to see this on IMAX at some point. In my region though it's only playing on IMAX screens in museums where I'd have to pay obscene fees for parking. There's one new IMAX screen at a regular theater in my area but inexplicably they are playing Kung Fun Panda on it instead of TDK (which they are showing on several regular screens). Argh.
While I'd love to see them all do another go-round with Bats, I also hope C. Nolan gets to do at least one other film (as he did with The Prestige) before returning to the character. I think that's healthy for him as a director, and the cast would have time to tackle other roles (or just take a break) before returning to it too. Working on TDK, grieving over two deaths (Ledger, and stunt technician Conway Wickliffe), and doing all the massive publicity for it has to have been exhausting for Nolan and Bale in particular.
I hadn't visited mmorpg.com in a bit. They talked to the couple of Funcom reps at E3. Funcom isn't doing any sort of big presentation there (I think I read they have bigger plans for the upcoming Leipzig show in Germany):
In the content update to come, players will enjoy a new 55+ zone, Ymir's pass in Cimmeria with new architecture and graphics, a new dungeon, Thunderfalls and a high level dungeon, House of Crom. A major makeover for the UI is expected and of course many new quests. Both Erling and Rick agreed that the 55 – 60 game needs more content.
“Players constantly surprise us,” said Rick. “We found that they were doing things in their 40s that we didn't expect them to tackle until their 50s, hence we have a need to concentrate development in the 55 – 60 content right now.”
The majority of players at this time also seem to be concentrated in the 55 – 60 spread. Erling reiterated that the original AoC team has not been moved to other projects and they are busy focusing on implementing suggestions and fixing bugs and issues brought to their attention by the players.
What's kinda tricky is most MMOs I've played, if you tackle stuff 5-7 levels above you it's generally Doooommm. Here, esp. with certain types of classes, it's commonplace, so you do end up burning through content they maybe anticipated you would do several levels later, and then it just becomes a vicious cycle of drying up in quests once you reach the level they *thought* you would be doing stuff at. I'm running into that even at 72, in spite of there seeming to be a huge number of quests to do at that point in two different zones.
There's a brief mention of the console version:
One last note to close this out this interview of current status and future plans in AoC, players can expect the Xbox360 version of the game to launch in late 2009. Console players will be given a choice of whether to play on a co-mingled server or on a platform specific server.
All all of this seems to come with a small caveat right now: horrible battery life. MSI is only selling the 3-cell version of the Wind, which averages just a hair over 2 hours of mobile use. This is unacceptable for a travel companion device. Good news is sometime in the future: a configuration will be sold with an extended battery, and early adopters should wait for it.
That seems to be the general consensus, though if you're just going to shuttle around your house with it and other places where you'll have outlets handy, it may be less of a concern.