As a fan of and player of City of Heroes and Champions Online I spend a fair bit of time building superheros. I have a lot of fun putting together various sets and combination of superhero powers.
If you were a Superhero what elements make up you?
All I ask of a Superhero
A couple of people took me to task for my take on Iron Man 2. I like to think of myself as a simple man, but maybe that isn't true anymore.
Rethinking my expectations
I started reading comics as a kid. Batman, Green Lantern, The Hulk, and the X-men were some of my favorites. Growing up, superheroes were pure escapism. Granted some of the characters had family problems, personal problems, and even Batman lost a Robin, but the stories were all larger than life.
Superhero flicks are still larger than life, but they have more "realistic problems."
- Batman is a male Paris Hilton who fights crime.
- Peter Parker wouldn't know what to do with the girl if he got her.
- Tony Stark is rotting away from a self-inflicted disease + he is a male Paris Hilton who doesn't fight crime, he is bringing about world peace.
Holding out for a Hero!
Ok, everyone knows that I am a huge Bonnie Tyler fan, but every time I watch one of these movies, I hear her in the back of my head:
Where have all the good men gone And where are all the gods? Where's the street-wise Hercules To fight the rising odds? Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed? Late at night I toss and turn and dream of what I need
I need a hero I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night He's gotta be strong And he's gotta be fast And he's gotta be fresh from the fight I need a hero I'm holding out for a hero 'til the morning light He's gotta be sure And it's gotta be soon And he's gotta be larger than life
I want a superhero who is, well a hero. They don't have to be perfect, and well they can have basic human flaws, but at the end of the day, they need to be a hero!
Returning to Iron Man 2, I thought Whiplash made a good case against the Stark family, and Tony just acted like the spoiled brat Whiplash thought he was. I actually found myself wanting Whiplash to win. I can't stand whiny, self-important bitches, and that is all I saw in Tony. His womanizing turned me off, and his self-pity made me roll my eyes. He dug his own grave, and I was ready to see him lay in it.
Escapism and Realism
I think my biggest issue with the film is that I was really looking for some pure escapism from the movie. That is what I look for in a superhero movie.
I watch a superhero for action, mystery, and pure escapism. Watching a super hero struggle with illness was outside the realm of what I wanted to see, especially with people in my life actually struggling with various illnesses that do not have a magical deus ex machina serum. It felt like salt in the wound.
The illness reminded me of my real life, and the magic cure just upset me. I went to see a movie where a superhero and super-villain tangled with each other until the film climaxed in a super-mega-ultra battle.
The movie, like all (not so) superhero movies since Batman Begins, opened with scenes of stark realism... but it is a superhero movie!! Superheroes just aren't realistic, and films cannot serve two masters.
I am not sure exactly when escapism became a bad word, but my life is complicated enough. Sometimes I just want to walk into a dark cave and forget about my real life for a couple of hours. It might sound petty, but that is it.
I want a great, escapist spectacle from time to time, but more than anything, I want filmmakers to be honest with me and with their material. If the movie is not an action movie, don't tell me it is. If the movie is not a smart, well written think piece, be good with that. Just don't pretend one is the other, and stop telling yourself you can be both at the same time.
A half-assed story with half-assed action is just a half-assed movie. Two half-assed jobs never make a whole.
I know some of you liked the movie. Great! I wish I was one of you. Keep having fun, and sharing. It is good to hear contrary opinions. Just remember, we don't have to love the same things, we just need to help each other find more things we can all enjoy.
Champions Online: Pre-order Dilemma
Champions Online is a month away from it's release and now comes the difficult decision which vendor to get the game from? The bonus items that come with the game can be very convenient for running a character especially at the earlier levels. For instance I love the little jump pack that I got with my copy of City of Heroes. Very helpful for moving over obstacles at the earlier levels before I get good travel powers.
I like that Champions is giving options over which bonus items a player wants to start with. What I don't like is that I have to worry which vendor I purchase the game from. Why make life more complicated then it already is?
- Amazon.com: three exclusive apparel options: harlequin headpiece, black knight helmet, grenade chest strap. Five in-game micro-transaction dollars. Get your Amazon copy of Champions Online here.
- Gamestop: Access to the Early Start weekend. The Insectoid Airfoil costume piece and Experimental Anti-Graviton Generator flight travel power.
- Wal-Mart: an exclusive zone map. Iron-on decal. Ten in-game micro-transaction dollars
- Best Buy: Access to the Early Start weekend. Lil' Champ pet. A functional damage resistance item.
Though there are some differences between the packs they aren't as different when looked at closer. The main choice is whether you want to play on the early start weekend or not?
Cryptic is good with their execution of micro-transactions. For instance in City of Heroes with micro-transactions a player can purchase the bonus items that came with special purchased versions of the game or extra character slots (though each player gets a ton of slots per server) or character transfers, ect.
This means that I would not be surprised if players could not purchase the pet, damage resistance item, Experimental Anti-Graviton Generator, or special costume pieces.
The John Hodgman SF Fan Test
I really enjoyed John Hodgman’s speech at the Radio & TV Correspondent’s dinner for the jokes but mostly for the use of Speculative Fiction to communicate complex and emotionally charged political ideas. Before we get into that let us take The John Hodgman are you a SF fan test, are you more of an SF fan then the President? Watch the Video below.
- What are the name of all 3 types of hobbits?
- Who is the Father of Superman?
- Do you have a particular technology addiction?
- Do you have a picture of yourself in Cosplay or on a pilgrimage to a SF place?
- Can you flash the Vulcan solute?
- What was the name of the God that Conan the Barbarian worshiped?
- Do you know what the Kwisatz Haderach is?
- Bonus points if you know which version of dune the picture is from?
- What is the name of the giant sandworm?
- What is the name of the machine to summon such a sandworm?
- What is the name of the fluid that they expunge from the sandworm?
I love his comment on the Constitution as a big faq for the U.S. and the founding fathers perspective of God as a distant Dungeon Master.
The beauty of John Hodgman’s speech is the use of SF to communicate complex and emotionally charged political ideas in an approachable manner. He was able to reach out to both sides of the political spectrum and get them to think about ideals like
- Eagerly looking forward to the future
- Appreciating our diversity, EDIC
(via Huffington Post)
Looking at vamp's from their gooey inside
Vampires from a core essence perspective are:
- cursed with a hunger or desire that is difficult at best to satisfy
- must feed off of life
- have powers beyond those typical of the group they came from
- evoke a sensuality / sexuality / eroticism
- are fairly invulnerable with a juxtaposition of a major weakness.
One example that I love is in Shine Like Thunder. C. E. Dorsett created the Bhuta's which are vampire like characters but set in space where they meet all of the elements but take on a whole new light.
Can you think of other examples of nontraditional vampires, like our modern day golddigger character?
(Photo by Robin Hutton)
Star Trek Online Details Revealed
We have finally seen Star Trek Online, and while they shared a lot of good information, I don’t think they showed nearly enough gameplay footage. Before we get into the details, I have to say that I am encouraged by the amount of knowledge Cryptic showed about setting and types of stories that are told in the Star Trek series, but the arrogance of the team and the fact that they brought up the nerfing of characters in their first release of gameplay footage worries me. Grant it, the comments where made in jest, but I am uncomfortable with any developer talking about who to blame for messing up a game while that game is still in development. I can only hope they will stay true to the vision they laid out and not sacrifice the setting and the story in a vain grasp for popular appeal.
Developers Must Watch Series
Cryptic made it mandatory for all of the developers to watch at least one entire series of Star Trek. They are mining the series and the books to provide detail to the setting as well as inspiration to guide gameplay systems.
Built on the Champions Engine
Star Trek Online is being built on the Champions Online (available in April) game engine. As soon as they got the license, they began building content and in-game systems. Once Champions Online comes out we will have a better idea whether this is a blessing or a curse.
Game Takes place Post Star Trek Nemesis
Star Trek Online will take place after the events of Star Trek Nemesis. Relations with the Klingons are breaking down, and the Federation is in a state of turmoil. The developers are using the books and series for setting information, especially for information regarding the state of the galaxy after the film. The films and series are considered hard canon, while the books are considered soft canon.
Windows Only on Release
Cryptic will not have a Linux or Mac version on first release , but left the window open for future version. They are planning to release the game in less than three years.
Graphics and Requirements
The animations in the game are going to be hand drawn rather than relying on motion capture. Having played City of Heroes/City of Villains, I am encourage by this. Any company that can make superheroes look and act naturally in the setting should not have much trouble with aliens and starships.
The game will be playable on as may computers as possible so, like World of Warcraft, it will be playable on laptops as well as towers without requiring an expensive overhaul of your gaming system.
Every player will be the captain of their own ship.
Play as one of the classic races or create your own with what was described as a City of Heroes style character designer which will give the player many customizable features.
Captains will have a specialty: science, tactical, navigation, diplomacy, or medical.
Gameplay will be squad based. Each captain will recruit NPC staff they will bring with them on away missions with their own skills and talents. They will effect away missions, and possibly even the ships stats. Control over the away teams will be more like City of Villains than City of Heroes where the captain will be able to issue orders and have them carried out. Players will be able to recruit staff from the races they encounter.
Star Trek Online will not be a level based MMO. The abilities will be determined by the crew and new ships will be earned as a character gains renown.
The exteriors and interiors of Ships will be customizable. Within the parameters of the ships class, each vessel will be customizable. Even the bridge, engineering sections, medical, and holodecks. I wish they would have said more about the holodecks.
Missions and Tours of Duty
Star Fleet or the Klingon High Council will issued players tours of duty. In the way this was described, it sounds like you might also receive random distress calls as well as making first contact with randomly generated races.
The Borg or the Tholians will randomly invade. I presume this will be handled like a Rikti in City of Heroes.
Cryptic is planning several style of mission for varied gameplay:
I hope they do not make these noncombat missions into nothing more than running around clicking on things. The possibilities are endless if they take advantage of them.
Groups and Guilds
Players can team up in task forces to work on missions together. They can also band together into fleets. Fleets are required to have:
- Star Bases
- Ship Yards
- Resource Gathering.
Player v Player
Star Trek Online will not be a PVP centric game. At launch, PVP will be between the Klingons and the Federation.
Cryptic hopes have the game take place on a single server so everyone will play in the same world.
I hope to get into the beta, and I wonder if we should start recruiting for the fleet now.