Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hide yer hamsters: Television's "V" is getting a remake

Looks like we have hit the 80’s with the entire “what was cool then is about to become cool now” generational thing.

We have a Footloose remake coming up, a Red Dawn remake, a Predator remake and now a older nerd’s most beloved TV show is about to get a reboot. “V” is coming back to television on ABC, this time around starring Elizabeth Mitchell (Juliet on LOST) and Morena Baccarin (Firefly’s Inara). The show is being done by the creator of USA channels “The 4400″ which in its own right was a damn fine show (and a clear X-Men ripoff). It has some other Firefly rejects in it (don’t they act in packs?) and promises to be just as confusing as the original “V” was  with several storylines  that will unfold together.

Won’t be the same without Marc Singer though and the repeated shuttle footage, but oh well cannot look a gift horse in the mouth.

But hey guys…no human alien relationships with babies ok?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Official slate of hero movies ramps up 2011

My my, what a year 2011 will be for hero movies. 2010 will be pretty quiet other than Iron Man 2 and some other films that will sneak in there, but 2011 is going to be a barn burner.

With news that the Green Lantern movie is being pushed back to 2011, we have now several movies hitting the box office that season.
Box Office Mojo has reported that Warner Bros. is pushing the movie back six months for a June 17, 2011 release.

Spider-Man 4 is canceled. Captain America is set for July 22, 2011. Thor is due on June 17, 2011 same day now as Green Lantern. I expect more dates to get shuffled around now. Either way my head will explode that summer.

Final thoughts on Lord of the Rings Online

I have to admit that the free week in Lord of the Rings Online has kept me busier than I thought. It was after the time was up last weekend that I did the unthinkable, even in the face of all the scorn I had thrown at the game I resubscribed.

Once again, into Middle Earth. There is just something about this game that draws me back more than other fantasy MMO’s. I don’t know if it is the setting, the scenery or the lore, but it drags me back constantly whenever there is free time. More than EQ2 or WoW.

This time, I returned all guns blazing. Determined to get into the meat of the game, about 4 other TITANS superteam members from the CO beta launched forth on the Firefoot server and created a kinship that will last at least until July 14th. By populating it with alts and other people that wanted to play until Champions Online launched, we had the Kin up and running and knew that we just had to wait for the Kinship bonuses to kick in.

Since we do not actively recruit or pretend to be anything other than a place to eventually have a home to teleport to, we had to make sure we got the roster full with at least 6 people within the 24 hours it was formed or Turbine would pull a wipe on us. We ended up with 15 people, more than enough and with that we were off.

We started off at first with the 25% XP boost and we all made characters that worked well together. There were just three of us to start, and more would join later. With people playing Demigod, Left 4 Dead and City of Heroes, our little TITANS superteam site had in fact become a multi gaming community and I have met a lot of cool people.

So I made a warden, and instantly I loved the class for its ability to chuck spears, use combos which kept the combat interesting, and do a bit of off tanking. The taunts for a warden kind of stink, but I was useful in some instances to absorb damage and save the minstrel.

We all made a pact and opened a separate sub forum on the TITANS boards for the game. We would not level past level 20 until everyone caught up, new or old player alike. That meant that should the people that played more cap out, we had to either tradeskill or start an alt (if we grinded deeds we had to be careful not to ding 21).

So off we went. Finally I had a like minded, ANTI WoW crowd to game with and it was glorious. We quested, we grinded deeds, we played music, and I even bought a house for my warden and spent 2 hours just fussing around with decorating it.

LOTRO housing is a little on the weak side, not as fleshed out or complete as EverQuest 2. You can only place things on certain anchor points and not all objects fit in the small house. I found this to be pretty stupid since a quest reward is for a bear rug that can only be used on a large floor spot. Thanks for nothing. Still, I will not look a gift horse in the mouth and some housing and atmosphere is better than no housing like we get in World of Warcraft.

My Warden also had some other kick ass pleasant surprises in game. First off I caught a purple goldfish that could be stuffed and mounted on my wall via a taxidermist in Bree. I also looted a purple bear pelt that could be stuffed and place on my yard (or house, not sure which yet). I know that EQ2 thrives on housing drops and decorations and I always liked that. This was a pleasant surprise to see in LOTRO.

The XP curve was massively adjusted as well. My previous experience in the game had been to level 23 on a Captain that I have since deleted on the Meneldor server. Hardly enough to comment on the total game. My next main was a female captain to level 18. This time around I was determined to take my time and relax, and since I knew that no one would break past 20 I could calm down and not feel rushed to level. The warden did capable damage and soon Arelias was near completing all quests in Bree, Staddle, Combe, Old Forest, Buckland and Southern Bree Fields. Plenty of XP to take a character to 21 around there and still not see more than a sliver of the game’s content.

Not only was the XP curve fixed, I leveled faster than ever before and got tokens that were dropping on mobs as part of the second year celebration to turn in for gift boxes. This, coupled with doing more research about the game and making sure I quested out every area instead of skipping content, made my time with the warden enjoyable. So much so that before I knew it I was level 20 and one bub from dinging level 21. Knowing this, I actually had to log out at one point while hunting Wights in the Barrows or I would ding and break our team’s sacred covenant.

My ex wife used to play a minstrel and I had used her character before. Now in LOTRO you are able to spec in three different trees and actually be a battle bard, so naturally this was the next character I would level up. Along came Deebroo, my Hobbit. Deebroo started in the Shire, a place I used to loathe, but soon moved to the dwarven starter area to help a fellow kinsmate. I took the Hobbit from 7-12 there, and moved back to the Shire to tackle it head on. MY GOD. The amount of quests in the shire, from Michel Delving to Stock, was immense. Finally, I completed every single quest I could find, including the mail delivery and my Hobbit sat on the cusp of level 17. Ever being the completist I am, I knew my work was not done. I grinded out a few kill deeds, got those taken care of and then and only then did I set off for Bree. Once there I took all of Staddle by singing storm and soon hit level 18. Finishing that up I hit Bree and the Chapter 1 material and this , coupled with some wight grinding in the Barrows, dinged my Hobbit level 20 in about three days of playing. I also earned a trait to wear medium armor, a class trait I could equip if i wanted to DPS and take some hits and still live. Otherwise its light armor and healing away I go.
Hobbit at level 20Hobbit at level 20

I had this game down to a science. Since our pact was still in effect and some people were starting with new classes since they didn’t like their first choices, it was time for me to bust out my human Loremaster, who is now level 10.

In between this level spurts I have been tradeskilling, fixing up my house and researching which deeds to pursue. The game has kept me so busy at all times of the day that I actually do not realize what time it is outside Middle Earth, in that place they call the Real World.

Somewhere in here, I started to like the game. It offers so much more, like EQ2, than just leveling and pursuing loot in instanced 5 mans that I actually came to appreciate what the game stood for: CASUAL PLAY WITH REAL CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. Not only are the amount of traits you can obtain insane, but you can spec in three different play styles by swapping them out and it gives the game such life that you never get bored. There is a bit of a grind inherent in this, but by hanging out in Ventrilo and talking to my buddies I hardly notice it.

Many of you have had this happen but honestly, I blame World of Warcraft for sucking away the prime years of my MMO time. I also noticed another thing. People that come from WoW to play this game honestly don’t know what to do when it comes to not running a 5 man constantly or just raiding. Since there is so much character development you can do they tend to throw their hands up and just give up. That, coupled with the lack of mods that had previously auto healed or done other things for them, cause many WoW players to declare the game boring and give up. I used to be that way. Until I slowed down and realized there are OTHER things to do in an MMO other than run instant loot generating dungeons to get items. I had tried LOTRO back when there was no housing, no multiple specs, and no fleshed out barter or rep system. Now that I have returned I am kicking myself for not jumping on Moria sooner.

I know that there are still grinds in LOTRO, and there are still steep hills to climb. However it seems the game is more about the journey than anything else. With 3 man dungeons and soon new content that may let you hire henchmen, I think that LOTRO may be more fleshed out than many MMO’s on the market. They have room to improve as well, as the world of Tolkien is almost limitless. I suspect that with the release of the Hobbit movie interest in this game may skyrocket once more. I also like the fact that PVP is virtually left on its own and does not influence the PVE game. You don’t see the cry babies on the forums or the cries to nerf something because A class cannot beat B class in an arena. Instead what you get is a nice community willing to help and a ton of gold spamming. I’ll take it though. Even though LOTRO has more gold spammers than I have ever seen anything is better than more time in Azeroth at this point in my life.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Doing the things a Hobbit does

So this free week back into Lord of the Rings Online has gotten me thinking.

You ever sit and look at game boxes and the stuff you have bought, MMO’s in particular, and realize how much money you have wasted by giving up on each one and never finishing them? This goes for every type of gamer: the chronic game hopper, the one that buys them with no research and then hates it, the one that joins friends only to have them leave and leave you stuck alone in a guild of about 6 people. I do that a lot. I look at the Age of Conan box, the Lord of the Rings Online box, the Everquest 2 boxes, and some others like Tabula Rasa and wonder what it was like at the end game. Most of these games are identical. Some had nothing to offer, others had a lot to offer. We all know what World of Warcraft has, what Warhammer has, and what Darkfall tries to do. For me though I wanted to play them and experience them.

With this free time in LOTRO, a game which I had played off and on for two years, I decided to just relax and take in the sights and sounds. Without certain negative aspects of my life inflicting “LEVEL-ITIS” on me, I am able to step back and play like a casual noob experiencing it all for the first time. This is my last chance with the Middle Earth game that is for sure. After countless times in Bree, Staddle, that elf place, and the Shire I am about sick to death of the intro quests and the level 1-20 gig. I find it important in this game, and many others, to pick a class and not be influenced by outside thoughts as to the success or the failure of the profession at end game. After all, it had always worked for me in other MMO’s, so why not here?
I think that this reason alone causes a burn out to happen in my games, and makes me loathe them rather than appreciate what they have to offer. Also, the lack of a dedicated group or a bunch of friends playing starts to take its toll after a while. No one likes to solo all the time (well, some odd ones do) and when you are new in a game at low levels in an MMO that has been out a while it can be quiet.

In World of Warcraft, no matter how you preach it, taking this approach does not work. WoW is a frantic game that shoves leveling and end game and items down your throat. It has a certain vibe to it where when you log in you need to be ready to go go go. Some games have other feelings about them when you log in. AoC gives me a feeling of crushing combat, like I log in just to fight and get my hands dirty in a savage world. I will not worry about crafting or any of those things. I will quest and fight. EQ2 and LOTRO had a calming feeling, like when I log in I am logging in to a home away from home. A place where I can have posessions and careers and things I do and make matter. Unfortunately, when you get into a game like that you can get easily bored. After all, living another life where you have to furnish a place to live and do odd jobs to make a living is about as boring as well…real life. These two games have their “fluffy bunny” aspect that is for sure and are developed for people that want a second reality in a game.

So since WoW was so easy for me to give up at last, I looked into a richer experience in LOTRO during the free week that Turbine gave out to celebrate 2 years of Middle Earthiness. LOTRO often gets looked down upon as the MMO dumping ground for people that cannot hack raiding or handle the stress of Word of Warcraft. In short, some of the lamer more inexperienced MMO players shift their attention here due to the slower lifestyle. Others look at LOTRO as a more mature community, which is easy since the servers are a lot more empty than WoW. Of course which game isn’t. I actually like this aspect of the game, since when I ask dumb questions or want to know something in the advice channel I am not spammed by a 100 17 year old boys calling me “gay” or a “douchebag”. So it was that this week I devoted myself to falling back in love with the game that should have been a hit for me so long ago. I was the ultimate Tolkien semi nerd so what happened? Ultimately I found the game boring, ugly and wanting to be something it just wasn’t cut out to be: a serious MMO trying to cater to people that just didn’t get it. You know the types. You can wipe 10 times in an instance that GOOD players in WoW would clear in 1 hour. However these people will just laugh it off and simply smile. What is going on in LOTRO? Are these people dumb? I NEED TO GET THIS DONE MY GOD JUST HEAL RIGHT? CAN’T YOU TANK?

But then I sit back and go: what has World of Warcraft done to me. This is a game. I need to relax. In the long run WHO CARES. So perhaps I am the weird guy looking in from the outside at people who think I am psychotic. Once you put away all  misconceptions and just take your time, and surround yourself with people doing the same, the game just clicks. I don’t need to prove myself anymore, and neither do the ones that joined up for the free week to go in unbiased. I have earned my stripes in that other game and honestly it isn’t all it is cracked up to be. What I wanted was community and some sense of other world realism and what I got was a loot machine and really nasty people. People with drama, emo attitudes, self centered egos, and some people that really sucked at playing. Obviously stepping away from WoW was simple at this point in my MMO life. No one wants to deal with that crap night after night especially for Blizzard’s stale end game content.

At this point in my MMO wanderings I needed housing, things to collect and dare I say it: more expandable options for my character. I also needed people that could type complete sentences and were actually grown up when I spoke to them in tells.

So this week I have leveled my Warden to 14, a minstrel to 14, a captain to 18 and just really relaxed. Tradeskilling along the way and filling out those deeds, I am trying to cover every quest I can and actually pay attention to things around me. It has been a relaxing week I have to admit. While I do look forward to logging in I will be once again sad to leave when July 14th rolls around and I head into a brand new MMO in the form of Champions Online. Lord of the Rings always sits on my shelf and mocks me for not level capping, but then I remember all the not fun things to do in WoW at level 80 and have to wonder if jaded LOTRO players feel the same at their level cap. I think it is the same across all games. If we love a game we level cap, and make alts and keep doing it over and over due to brand loyalty or fanboyism (or fan GIRL ism in the case of some). I however don’t do that. Lets face it, if I get bored with an MMO and find it stupid I move on. What I find even funnier is that instead of going back to the new and shiny MMO (I hear it has orcs and a hammer in the title) I head back to LOTRO because the other game is really just not that good. Plus I am a PVE guy and I probably prefer polish over crap. I guess I am weird like that.

So after one week LOTRO has won me back not because it is better than EQ2, but because I just prefer Tolkien and the world he gave us. I never meshed with EQ2 like some, be it because I was not in a good guild or I just didn’t like the combat I am not sure. While I yearn for Norrath I have to admit to myself that EQ2 just IS NOT EQ1 and will never ever be that way. I don’t like most the classes, despise the ploddingly slow combat, hate the spell effects and do not like the quests. In the back of my mind I just wish Sony had made a true sequel and not thrust us decades into the future and changed what I came to know and grow fond of. I still despise LOTRO’s interface and action bar and the animations are laughable, but since it was free this week I had to give it another shot. While technically it is not as polished as World of Warcraft or as complete in its focus, it does let you do a lot of things at a decent level of quality. While I feel I have outgrown WoW, LOTRO fits just right at this point. Overall I am done with fantasy games, but if I had to go back to one LOTRO or Age of Conan would be it. For flavor and variety the two games offer me a good amount of change and fun.

I am currently duo’ing with a friend and we have two characters that level together only when we are both on, otherwise it is all out on our solo characters. My solo character is a warden, who I want to get to 18 before my free week ends to match my captain. Organizing things after my server move from Meneldor to Firefoot was long and complicated and took me over an hour. I turned my burglar into a mule (what a CRAPPY class. The WoW rogue is still best representation of a rogue type class I have played and that includes the Guild Wars assassin) and had to mail all sorts of crafting materials back and forth to the proper tradeskillers. So now we have this kinship full of about 10 alts and one other buddy who is checking the game out so that we can get the kinship bonuses if we just let it sit around. Last night I got my furryfoot over to the elf starting lands and knocked out 3 deeds, two of them advanced, and walked away with a ton of new traits to slot. I felt like I got something accomplished and I have always said I prefer LOTRO’s grinding over WoW’s dumb faction grinding anyday. I don’t know why, but I like to have things ADDED to my character through grinding rather than do it for gear only. In LOTRO, and EQ2 for the most part, grinding expands your character and adds things to them and just doesn’t reward you with gear you will replace later anyway. I like that aspect and keeps me going.

LOTRO has its issues, and I still look down on it from a perspective of an experienced end game raider, but it has a certain charm and quality about it that compels me to keep trying it out among all the other crappy MMO’s that sit on my shelf collecting dust. Let me just be honest. You will be doing the same thing in LOTRO, EQ2, WoW or Warhammer at end game it just depends on where your friends are. You will still be collecting tier sets, some sort of token or trying to get a title no matter where you do it. IT’S ALL THE SAME. People just like to pick sides and start blog feuds. Right now I just so happen to like spending time in Middle Earth. It is laid back and quiet, and that is what I want right now.

I just wish the fantasy genre would stop, and luckily it is happening slowly but surely. Star Trek, that new Funcom MMO that will probably be a disaster, Star Wars Old Republic, Champions Online…we are starting to see a shift with all this new technology towards games that break the orc/dwarf/elf/anime angel type fantasy stuff that has been shoved in our faces for years. This current break until July 14th has opened my eyes and also gotten me to step away from the computer for a while and that is a good thing. We have a huge string of movies ready to bust out this summer so I plan on getting out and about. I will be at Wolverine Saturday and then see Star Trek on the IMAX the following week. With my comic collection coming along and the warmer climate arriving, I can finally break free from MMO’s and not feel guilty about it because Middle Earth and Millenium City will always be there.