“You’re not Ron.” DH P.1 (SPOILERS)

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Just watched Deathly Hallows P.1

Great stuff through out.

Other have commented on it so I’ll just pick two moments that made it special for me.

1. The dance: I felt a little awkward with that tacked on scene between Harry and Hermione, but the two of them pulled it off. You know Harry just wants to cheer up Hermione who is depressed about Ron leaving them (and leaving her). But when it is over, she looks at him and simply turns around as if to say, “You’re not Ron.”

BAAM GO THE SHIPPERS!

2. The Tale of the Two Brothers: Holy Heck! My jaw just dropped to the floor. The animation, top notch, it had one part old fairy tale (the really creepy versions before the Brother’s Grimm/Disney clean them up), two part puppetry and three part eye candy. Simple and sublime.

As an added note: I liked the “zip-me up” moment. Yes, not like it happens on the book, but funny enough with the ear less twin thrown in for good measure. The folks at Potter Cast say it was awkward, but considering that the relationship got such a short drift in Mov 6, that the characters simply had their relationship interrupted before they could get comfortable with each other.

Plus it ended right where I knew it would end, or at least a moment after. I knew that Shell Cottage was the perfect midway point after Dobby (sorry, I have something in my eye), but they added the last bit with Voldy just to remind us that this is far from over.

Just my two cents!

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Listening to Telepopmusik-Don’t Look Back:

Fallout: New Vegas-A Review (WITH SPOILERS!!!)

So I finished Fallout: New Vegas.

My verdict?

It’s okay.

Not great, at least by the standards of what came before, but it does the job.

For this installment Bethesda takes the players back to the West Coast or at least as close as they dare without retreading the steps of the Vault Dweller (Fallout) and The Chosen One (Fallout 2).

The Good: The wasteland is far more colorful, the characters are more engaging and even if your not playing in hardcore mode, it’s will remain challenging for most players through out. And for fans of the franchise (I’m taking Fallout and Fallout 2 devotees), the call backs and references to earlier games abound.

The Interesting: You have faction based reputation, so as you play you build up your reputation (good or bad) with a vast variety of factions. Towns, governments, gangs and movements all form an opinion of you depending on how your actions affect them. Like I said above the Mojave Wasteland is far more colorful, with red rock lined canyons, actual trees and even snow caped mountains.  And there is more variety of critters as well, which makes for more interesting combat.

The Bad: (HERE BE SPOILERS!) Here is where things take a downturn, especially if your a fan of Fallout 3. The storyline fails to immerse you the way past games did. While the story in Fallout 3 literally kicked you out of the womb here you wake up after being shot in head. Fine you want to get revenge on the SOB who did it, but besides that, what happens in the wasteland is of little concern to you. In Fallout 3, the world seemed to revolve on your every move, your actions either sung or vilified by Three Dog on the radio.  Not so in this game. In fact, it seems that whatever you do, you have very little real impact on the game.

Not only that, but you will see the twist a mile away.  It suffers from the inevitable sandbox shrinkage far to early in the game (when you realize that the game world is not as big as you thought it was). The reputation system is a bit broken as well, as doing things that are beneficial for some factions will still garner you a loss of karma/reputation with them. It even has the annoying feature of telling you you failed quests you didn’t even knew you were a part off. And you suffer from ending fatigue (as I did while playing Morrowind) because while you know how the game is going to end, you have to run around and do a bunch of quests that simply streech the game play further.

This game is then an adequate continuation of the Fallout franchise, but one I consider could have been delivered via DLC rather than packaging in an entire new game. Lets see how New Vegas own DLC packs deal with the flaws above, and I hope that Bethesda has not abandoned the East Coast completel

Countdown to New Vegas

If you been hiding under a rock somewhere, you might not know that Fallout: New Vegas comes out tomorrow.

Fallout 3 exceeded all my expectations and this installment promises to be better.

See you on the wasteland!

Gaming: The Power of a Good Story

Games, games are changing.

Yes the graphics are always improving and the physics engines both imitate and subvert reality in many outstanding ways but now we have something more….

Story.

At the dawn of video games, there wasn’t much space in cartridges or floppy disks for stories.  Most developers didn’t bother, but as the first decade of gaming progressed (that’s the 80’s for you youngsters, yeah the ones wearing the John Hughes’ movie wardrobe), RPGs crossed over to home computers and PCs, which meant stretching the hardware to accommodate story beyond “here be aliens, shoot them!” explanation of the earlier frantic gaming mechanic.

Most of said story remained buried in the manuals with the game itself providing more shooting, spells swinging and sword bashing than complicated plot points.

Not anymore.

Somewhere around the turn of the century a combination of more powerful machines and graphic cards, game worlds could be rendered in glorious 3D (as opposed to the chunky polygons of the century before) and with plenty of space in both hard drives and disks (CDs, then DVDs and now Blu-Ray) they could inject great soundtracks, thousands of lines of spoken dialogue by dozens of highly skilled voice actors (and not a few celebrity cameos).

Which still leaves one thing….

Story!

The best games in the last few years, specially in the Console/PC RPG market, not only have stunning visuals and fast paced action but powerful story lines.  You don’t simply want to blast your enemies into pink (or green or blue, whatever) mist, but you want to known what your father was working on, who is behind the abduction of of human colonies and why your family was slaughtered while you were spared.

Story matters.

Story makes the difference.

The age of true interactive entertainment is here.

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And to show you what I mean, here is a bit of epic writing that turns the Mass Effect franchise into something more than alien fodder blasting or Space Opera Light:

Chose Your Planetary Color

Most science fiction works with casual interstellar space travel suffer from the Single Biome Planet Syndrome.

This is the case were in a planet is described as having a single class biome, such as Forest, Desert, Tundra or Ocean for the entire planet.

The reasons are obvious for this:

  1. It gives you a wide variety of exotic yet familiar locals with well known weather patterns and animal behavior. You don’t have to create a complex world if your only going to use a specific local such as a Forest, a City or a Desert.
  2. Cut down on cost. You don’t have to go globe trotting to get locations shots for each environment and the backgrounds can be easily recreated inside a studio or in your local backwoods area (rock quarries and pine forest are fairly common in North American and British sci-fi productions). Even with CGI, you still have to pay the animators to come up with something that is reasonable in a short amount of time (at least on TV).
  3. Writers can also save themselves a lot of world building headaches by going the single biome route.

Now, there are planets in our own solar systems which are dominated by a a singular geographic/weather pattern. The key word here is biome or as it better known, an ecosystem. Wikipedia defines it thus:

Biome are climatically and geographically defined as similar climatic conditions on the Earth, such as communities of plants, animals, and soil organisms,[1] and are often referred to as ecosystems. Biomes are defined by factors such as plant structures (such as trees, shrubs, and grasses), leaf types (such as broadleaf and needleleaf), plant spacing (forest, woodland, savanna), and climate. Unlike ecozones, biomes are not defined by genetic, taxonomic, or historical similarities. Biomes are often identified with particular patterns of ecological succession and climax vegetation (quasi-equilibrium state of the local ecosystem). An ecosystem has many biotopes and a biome is a major habitat type. A major habitat type, however, is a compromise, as it has an intrinsic inhomogeneity.

The problem comes from the fact that life, even the most simple form of life has an effect on the environment around it. Photosynthesis changes the gas ratios in the atmosphere, which can lead to the creation of water molecules, an ozone layer. Their root systems can slow down erosion and so on and so forth.

One way around this is too look at Earth own geological history. Earth has been at times a volcanic planet, a water planet (still is), a frozen planet, a swamp planet and even desert planet. But this is due to many factors such as continental drift, asteroid/comet impacts, volcanism and the like. More likely than not any planet encountered would be going through one of these phases (which can last millions of years) but even then you would still have temperature gradients due to ocean currents, altitude and a host of other factors, among them, of course, the presence of life itself.

Especially true if such life is sentient, which means at the very least a conscious ability to alter the landscape through tool use, labor and science/technology.

Of course, if the planet was terraformed by a sufficiently advanced race so that it has a single biome/ecosystem that could work.

At the end of the day it is the creator’s choice and it is up to the audience to decide it they accept it or not.

Off the wagon!

Well Magic: The Gathering™ doesn’t have trap cards, that’s another collectible card game with a anime/cartoon show on Saturday mornings.

Alas, the addiction has returned.

Way back in the Nineties, the granddaddy of collectible card games came into a market crowded by AD&D splat books on the RPG side and bland tabletop board games on the other. It mixed and matched elements of the two and added a $$ making idea, lets make the cards collectible and like splat books, we will launch new expansions every so often which the players must buy or find themselves defeated the next time they play.

And I caught the bug bad then, bad.

I bought many a card and lost many a game until I grew sick of it.

Mainly because I ended up losing far more than I ended up winning.

I even gave away all my cards and swore the game off.

Then last year I bought a couple of premade decks just to play when the regular RPG group wanted a break from the story. I didn’t buy too many cards this time around. Not going to get hooked again. Just take them out of the box once in awhile and play, loose and put them back in the box again.

Then a friend of ours discovered that a local Gaming/Comic book store was having an offer for the new Magic edition.

Half-price.

So, yeah I bought some.

And I lost.

But then I decided that instead of playing the decks as is, I should do something I resisted doing a long time ago, creating my own deck of cards. I went to the Holy Internet and found the answers I sought.

And I won.

You can see where this is going, right?

Now I’m hooked, again.

I can kiss my soul goodbye!

Oh well…..

😀

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Next on my reading list

That is, what  book do I buy next?

Do I go the U/F route with the new release of Kelly Meding’s As I Lie Dead?

I recently read Changes and it was good, as was Meding’s first book, Three Days to Dead. Maybe it will kick start the stalled Revision/Revising on my on U/F tittle.

On the other hand I pulled an all-nighter just to finish Sanderson’s second book of the Mistborn trilogy, The Well of Ascension, I haven’t done that in years which should tell you how good the book is (review to be posted soon on SuD) so getting The Hero of Ages should cure my epic fantasy itch.

And last but not least there is David Weber’s Honor Harrington series.  A Short Victorious War would certainly put me in a space warfare kind of mood which is the perfect mood to be in when you’re writing the outline(s) for your own space sci-fi trilogy (yes, my head is that big, I’m not surprised you noticed).

Any suggestions?

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Talking epic sci-fi as well as media premiere’s (Kelly’s book as well as the subject of the clip below debut today!) I leave you with this video from Starcraft 2-Wings of Liberty.

Awesom Sauce!