Archive for March, 2010

TRON: Legacy, The Evolution of Technlogy

How things have changed.

No, they have evolved.

We hear about technological revolutions every other second and in see it in every other screen; computer, movie or television.

But nothing has really changed, just improved.

A lot.

Proof of that comes in the way of a movie trailer for the new movie TRON: Legacy. Or should I say, sequel. The original TRON came at a time of true technological revolution. The computer had invaded our homes, our offices. Coin-op video games were all the rage. Millions of kids dropped hundreds of millions of coins and played for hours on end while listening to music in their earphones from Walkmans. And the internet lurked in the connections between college mainframes, office networks and dedicated services run by kids from their own home machines or monolithic companies trying to carve their own sprite filled embryonic universes out of the metaverse that would become the World Wide Web.

TRON showed us a world inside a computer (two decades before the Matrix), which a sleek design reminiscent of the future-perfect ideals of the 1930s,50s and early 60s .  The computer graphics of the time which strained the power of the then mightiest supercomputers came through in monochrome straight lines and jagged mathematical surfaces.  The plot revolved in and around concepts such as cyberspace and computer viruses that would only become common place 10 to 15 years later.

Today we still use desktops (even if they changed from IBM Clones, to XT/AT Clones, to DOS Clones, To Intel Machines). We still listen to music though portable devices (flash memory drives instead of magnetic audio tape). We still play video games, not in vast arcades, but as the movie predicted, online and we spend billions of dollars in $15, $30 and even $70 increments. The fundamental concepts remain. Kevin Flynn would recognize the world we live in. I was born in the days of Pong and the Atari 2600, now I have no problem picking up a 360 wireless controller, hooking up to Xbox Live and playing any games, including hundreds of so called retro-games that once flickered in Flynn’s arcade screens so many years ago.

And even Master Control came to being, as a ubiquitous Disc Operating System, pre-loaded into 90% of all machines on the planet.

We call it Windows.

But that is a story for another day.

One more thing, the studio that gave us TRON (and it wasn’t a big seller back then) also gave us Pixar.

Chew on that for a second.

On top you saw the before, now it is time to show you the after.

—End of Line—


My Game Review: Munchkin The Card Game

The online Urban Dictionary defines Munchkin as:

3) The most annoying roleplayers you’ll ever have to deal with, who characteristically max out their stats, mostly without reprecations (sp?), play to mindlessly kill anything in their paths and boss the rest of your players around, and get as many dots or levels as possible. Most don’t really develop their characters’ personalities.

It also defines the theme of the game of the same name. The goal of the game is to reach level 10 by any means (both foul and fair), as befits its namesake. The game comes with two stacks of cards: Doors and Treasures. The players start with four cards (two of each) and play in a clockwise sequence from whomever rolled the highest number. Then game starts:

1. Pick a Door Card: If it’s a monster you must fight it or run away. You win if your total score (Level + Item bonuses) exceeds the creatures level. If you loose or choose not to fight the monster then you must run away. You successfully run away on a roll of 5-6 on a d6.  Failure means that Bad Stuff happens to you (each monster has a short description on the bottom telling you what that is). Success means you gain a level (or more if the monster says so) and you take it’s treasure.

2. Look for Trouble: If there was no monster, but you have a monster you can play it then, so you can fight it and try to gain levels and treasure.

3. Loot the room: If you successfully defeated a monster then you get to draw a number of treasure card from the Treasure card pile. You can play then right there or save them.

Fighting monsters is not the only way to gain levels. For every 1,000gp worth of equipment you sell (discard) you gain a level, and other cards give you level raises. The thing is that you can only win (reach level 10) by killing a monster or (if they are clerics) by a card called Divine Intervention.

Races and Classes come from the Door pack, and players can choose to be any class or race (and even have more than one with the right card). It may seem like winning this game is easy, but other players can ruin your game by boosting enemies, throwing down curses, stealing treasures or backstabing (last two abilities belong to the thief). Also you can draw curses from the stack which can wipe out your items or even take you down back to the lowest average level among the players. Cooperation is also encourage by the promise of sharing loot (only the player that drew a monster can gain a level) and in the case of Elves, by assisting other players in combat (only one player can assist another, but everyone else can dump on them if they want).

The cards are illustrated by John Kovalic (of Dork Tower fame, well fame among the RPG playing set that is) and are rife with gamer humor such as: Duck of Doom (curse), Lawyer (monster, won’t attack thieves out of professional courtesy), Gazebo (monster), Sex Change (curse), Pantyhose Of Power (+3 item not usable by Fighters) and many others. It is a fast paced game for 2-6 players and with a galaxy of expansions and sets (Munkchin in Space, Superheroes, Horror and Pirates) it won’t get boring anytime soon.


And no for some more gamer induced humor I present The Gamers: