Friday, May 23, 2008

Indy IV (Spoilers)

I have a feeling this is going to get me in trouble. I saw the new Jurrasic Park movie last night and was enjoying it, until I realized that it was an Indiana Jones movie. I hadn't fully formed my opinion by the time I left the theater but as I mulled it over the movie began to come apart. Regardless of whether it is an Indiana Jones movie, the movie still has to stand on its own as a movie. The bad:
  1. Extra Characters: There are just too damn many people wandering around here. Ray Winstone's character is completely useless and adds nothing to the movie that couldn't have been done better with a more dynamic villain. John Hurt's character takes the place of Indy's brain. Karen Allen seems to exist only for horrid exposition through dialogue. All of these people just clutter up the film. Indy is at his best working off one sidekick, whether it is his dad, Short Round, Salah, or Marion. In previous films they were always careful to remove one character from the action as they introduced another. Even in Last Crusade's tank chase scene there are really only two characters actually doing something Indy and Henry even though Salah and Marcus are present. Indy and Mutt are fun, and I thought the movie was at its best when it is just the two of them together early on.
  2. Fan Service: There is just too much of this. I will not list it all but the wedding was completely uncalled for. One little thing I liked: I believe that the town he was discussing in class was Skara Brae of Ultima/Bard's Tale fame. If I heard him correctly.
  3. Cheesy CGI: Please, don't do this anymore. The action scenes lack the weight of the original movies because of the CGI. Everything just feels overlit and floaty. Whether you should do something is at least as important as whether you can. Monkey scene=bad.
  4. Action Sequences: These lack the realism of the original movies, obviously plenty of physically impossible situations exist in the first three films but Indy's actual movements were always realistic. This is not Harrison Ford's fault. I have to say that he still is very convincing in a fist fight as Indiana Jones. The problem here is in the direction and the CGI.
  5. Horrible Exposition Through Dialogue: This is like Rule #1 of writing: You don't do it. It is done constantly throughout the movie, especially in the soulless exchanges between Marion and Indy. Their romance just suddenly flares up in minutes after he abandons her with a child! John Hurt's character exists only for exposition through dialogue and to serve as the Prima Strategy Guide that Indy reads to get through the movie.
  6. Superhuman Indy: What made Indiana Jones cooler than Luke Skywalker? He had no super powers. Well he does now. They have turned Indy into a cartoon character, he was always tough but now he is a rubber man, a cartoon. The thing with the atomic bomb and the fridge was not cool, it was silly. There is a difference.
  7. Bulletproof: The bad guys cannot hit anything.

The movie was at its best when it stuck to the things that made the others great:

  1. The Motorcycle Chase: This scene carries the weight of reality present in the earlier films. It also centers on the contributions of only two characters Indy and Mutt. It also has my favorite bit of acting in the whole movie. Mutt does something daring on the bike and gives Indy a cocky look, Indy fires back with the exact same unimpressed facial expression that Henry senior gave him in Last Crusade's bike scene. This works. Many of the other "we are like you and your dad" moments fall flat.
  2. The Warehouse: The fan service was completely uncalled for but the scene itself is one of the better action sequences in the movie. Indy's failed whip swing and "I thought that was closer" line are about as close to the Raiders Indy as you are going to get.
  3. The Plot: I actually liked the overall plot. You have to take it in the spirit it was intended though. The first three Indy movies were send-ups of '40s serials, this one is a send-up of '50s paranoia B movies. Keeping that in mind it works.

This movie owes more to Jurrasic Park and The Mummy than it does to the other Indy movies (which owe alot to North By Northwest). I think it was an error to turn this into a Disneyland ride were the action sequences are strung together willy nilly. Sadly there is plenty of plot there but they never seem to connect it to the action sequences in any meaningful way. Cate Blanchett's character is the weakest of the Indy villains because she is never developed in any way. The characters, other than Indy and Mutt, are really weak and their relationships seem to exist based on what the fans wanted to see rather than any logical train of thought. At the end of the day if you replaced Harrison Ford with Brenden Frasier this would have been the weakest of the Mummy movies (I am not counting The Scorpion King here).

Overall C-

Thursday, May 22, 2008

PoK Armor

Back in EQ1 land I got started on my PoK armor quests.

The first piece from Butcherblock went down easy, took about half an hour at the Chessboard to get it done.

The second piece (North Ro) took me all day. I had every kill, and item drop within the first 30 minutes except the Dune Tarantulas. It took me another 4 hours logged playtime to get them to spawn, with a lot of offline waiting in between. What is it with this game and giant spiders anyway? On the plus side I got to see the sand giants again and that makes me think of Fansy the Famous. And that makes me happy.

Age of Conan

I started Age of Conan with the guild from Fear the Boot on Tuesday night. Here are my first impressions:
Wow that is a lot of install/update time
OK, that's over with let's play the... not so fast! It never put an icon on my desktop. Ok there are a bunch to choose from here let's choose Age of Conan. A console comes up and nothing happens. OK, let's try patcher. I get an error message in which some of the characters are Chinese and none of them are Phoenician letters. No idea what that means. OK lets try the other patcher icon. It works!
Woops! spoke to soon. I can't see anything there is just sound. Ctrl-Alt-Del time, end process. Error message in Chinese again. And now I have only local network access not internet. This takes an hour and a half to resolve with Microsoft.
Looking at the AoC tech help forums I see that the game doesn't exactly work with ATI x series video cards. Pssssh! Who uses those anyway? Turns out you have to edit an .ini file to get the game to work. Sloppy, really sloppy guys. The x800 256 meg is a perfectly common card, how did you not know you would run into this? It's ATI for Christ's sake! What exactly did you do during Beta?
OK, it is up and running but it looks like crap. I spend a little while adjusting the settings and finally get it looking pretty good other than the shadows which look like Legos.
I make a character and immediatly exit back out to character creation to make an alt to reserve my names. Wait I didn't go back to character creation, I went all the way out of the game! I still haven't figured out how to get back to character select, if this is even possible.
Let's load up again. And I get the Chinese error. More time on the tech forums, turns out I have to delete some .ini files EVERY TIME I WANT TO START THE GAME! Who is running this show, Brad McQuaid?
So I get it back up and running again and finally start playing. First things first, the UI is crap. I prefer EQ1s UI to this. How do I add people to my friends list? Second I have to zone to enter a building. Let's talk about the games where I don't have to do this: EQ1, EQ2, WoW, EQOA, FFXI, UO... there is no excuse for this. There is no excuse when Turbine pulls it and none when you do either Funcom. It's lame. There isn't even anything inside the building and I have to zone.
The combat system is a bit of a let down. Yes, it is fun but once you adjust to the three attack buttons it is the same fun you have been having since you downloaded a fancy MUD client with buttons. It is hardly the promised revolution. Maybe it is better in PvP.
The enemy AI is, as expected, totally useless. We are talking DAoC Catacombs level stupid here. Guys just standing around with PULL ME signs. Oh well I guess PvP is supposed to be the focus, but still.
The world is a lot of fun, the character models are impressive and the quests are certainly more inspired than anyone else's other than LotRO and FFXI. The combat system is at least slightly more active than average. It is hard to tell how dynamic it is until I get into PvP since the mob AI is on the level of The Girls Next Door.
The game has a lot of potential and once I got playing it I had fun with the missions. The problem is, this was a shit launch guys. I know that it is way better than your last MMO launch but that was a long time ago. You are in a post LotRO launch world now. I wasn't too fond of LotRO but it worked when I put it in. I paid $49.99 for a box with the client in it, you need to support the video cards that you know you are going to run into on launch day. You need to not have to edit .ini files and delete files to get it to run. This is not acceptabe for something that came in a box. I had more trouble getting this to run than I did Vanguard...in Beta. Now, once I got it running it runs better than VG did but that is hardly something to be proud of. This is sloppy, careless work that quite frankly you should be ashamed of. It FUBAR'd my network settings, not acceptable.
The game is fun, there is a lot of potential and some good content here. I give it a 5/10 due to technical incompetence.

Unrest

Been sick so it took me a bit to get this up. I am writing this at work so screenshots will follow.

Ran around and collected two more pieces of my newbie armor before the Unrest run (these spiders almost never pop).

Got to Unrest at level 20 and made it to 23 (just shy of 24). I did not have a banner night, personally. At first it was just me and Sela (Tipa) and I got completely stun locked and dead on the first pull. Then I got stuck in the pool outside the mansion and had to be towed out with autofollow.

Once we got inside things went pretty smoothly and I got a gem to boost my stats off of one of Bjoern's dopplegangers.

Sadly Fada got creamed while we were in a hard to get to spot which put him out for most of the rest of the night. He went down fast, I started to cast Heal when he was at 84% and he was dead by the time it was done.

I used Lesser Succor for the first time. I had to memorize it while we were dying and kept getting hit. Sela (or someone) grabbed the mob that was hitting me long enough for me to get it off and as the screen faded I saw she was at 2% HP. I'll be shooting for 1% next time.

After that we regrouped with Fada and pulled from the lower level for the rest of the night.

Sometime early in the night I picked up a decent Belt that either Fada or I could use without realizing it while looting. I tried to get him to roll on it later but I am not sure he ever saw the message. I attached my gem to it but Fada if you want you are welcome to roll on it next Tuesday. Fair is fair.

After we finished up I managed to get my last piece of newbie armor and my scimitar!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nostalgia the Guild does Paludal

Tonight our Tuesday progression group did Paldual Caverns. We managed to get from 15 to 20 with only one death.
Here you can see us resting up between battles Fada and Soaridor were mages, Sela is our guild leader's (Tipa) fearless halfling Paladin. I am Hakiko the Halfling druid and Tesser the Beasmaster rounded out our crew. We were killing quick and Sela was able to overpull all night, which made it more fun and kept us on our toes.





Sadly Fada got wacked when he got seperated from the group and jumped by some usavory types. Here he is in non-corpse version. We were able to get his corpse back to him and start pulling bandits for the rest of the night. Fada was dishing out some serious damage.








Sela was looking impressive in her shiny armor and pulled a constant stream of mobs all night long. She manages to walk tht fine line between too many mobs and a thrilling line of combat, always staying on top of mana.








Tesser was pulling triple duty, off tanking, off healing, and dishing out the pain with her tiger pet. She was on top of adds and kept her eye on the health bars ready to jump in if I got overwhelmed.

Soaridor showed real attention the many aspects of the mage job, grabbing the occaisonal mob that aggro'd me and doing a good job walking the hate line. I very rarely saw him draw aggro despite being very active, this is a good way to keep the healer happy.




As for me, I was just trying to keep up with these guys and not get anyone killed. I am pretty happy with my performance tonight. I had no runners get loose and only one death. I am getting more comforatable with my party role and finding that healing in EQ is a lot like healing in FFXI. Keep your eyes on the bars, check the scene every couple of secods, and get in a good, low aggro rythm with your heals. I still have a lot to learn especially about picking out what loot will sell. Eveyone else looted several plat worth of stuff over the course of he night. I was encumbered with an paltry 5 gold worth of junk.

Next week...Unrest.

Friday, May 9, 2008

I couldn't have said it better myself

Ironically this is like the devil preaching to the choir here. I am pretty sure that most of America (and certainly large chunks of my age group) not only agree with whay Klein is saying, but have in fact been saying it till they were blue in the face. Now if only he would follow his own advice.

By the way I would love Lincoln/Douglas style debates across the country from Obama/McCain. That is of course assuming there isn't a screwjob at the convention. It only takes one judge to cause Florida v America II, and last time I checked Michelle Obama hadn't appointed any.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Wierd ways that people get to my blog

Looking at my Traffic Sources there are a few that stand out:

Coming in at number 24 is "rambo burma femininst". Obviously this is from when I reviewed the new Rambo film. I just think it is odd that anyone was searching for Rambo+feminist

"Black Eagle Barony" Obviously this refers to the villains of the D+D Mystara setting. Good to know that people still search for them.

"savage dukes" Obviously this is refering to my writeup on Dr. Luke Meyer's excellent Savage Dukes of Hazard game at Fear the Con. I just wondering what the person searching for that unlikely combination was hoping to get.

"'lawful good' seven samurai" ... I have no idea

Hopefully all of these people found what they were looking for. I am dissapointed that there were no pornographic searches leading to my blog. I will have to try harder to work those in. Perhaps Hot Troll on Catwoman Action....

MMORPG.COM

There was a time when I was a regular poster on mmorpg.com. I posted several times a day and the site always had some kind of stimulating conversation about virtual worlds. It started to descend into "why did the devs nerf this?" territory and then took the full plunge into cross game flame wars.

I checked it out today to see if they had cleaned it up any and found this as the top post. I admit that I did not read far into the post, I only needed a few "No you FAIL" comments to see how things were going. It is sad that my once favorite message board is now cluttered with this junk. Obviously there were always flame wars and trolls but by the time I left it was completely out of hand.

It is a shame they haven't started some real moderation over there to clean it up. I do wonder if Gameloading is still around. He could get a bit flamey from time to time but was overall a breath of fresh air when it came to Korean game discussion.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Befallen

The Tuesday Night Progression group for Nostalgia the Guild had its first run last night in Befallen. Overall it was a success. I went from level 10-15 and we only wiped 4 times. We did not have a rogue so every time we died we had to get the key to get back down to our corpses, although later on Tipa brought out her higher level cleric to go grab the corpses. I know that this sort of game play is supposed to be dated and hated but honestly it is just plain more fun when there is a little bit of danger involved.

I may have caused some of our early deaths due to my n00bness on druid and my overall out of shape situation in EQ. Little things like not running past living necros when you are invisible to undead, and remembering to root the last mob. Fortunately I did remember how to heal correctly and did not embarrass myself by running around like a chicken with my head cut off when I drew aggro.

Next week we go to the moon and Paludal Caverns, a zone I have never been to before so I am looking forward to it.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Giant Spider Meet Your Doom

After being out of down in a hotel I couldn't get a good connection in, I managed to get some EQ in tonight. Found and killed two Giant Wood Spiders and got the drops I needed to make my Moss Toe Tunic. These spiders are a pain in the ass with their slow spawning.

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