Catch Up Post!

I started a new day job, so I had to let my mind play catch up with the blog, so I could deliver some decent content.

Starting with Movie Monday: I don’t think I caught a movie this weekend, so I’m going to let this one roll on through.

I did however learn some new information about the Modern Warfare reboot that really caught my attention. Now, before you say it, I know that I’ve blogged about the reboot before, but this was interesting to me. And it may be slightly delayed for the public.
Anyway, what caught my attention was the feedback from Video Game coverage giants IGN. I’m going to include the video link here: WATCH THIS FIRST, and then read on below for my thoughts.

 

So, first of all, I missed this highlight from E3, and somehow caught onto it Sunday, I think. IGN media was shown the game, and apparently allowed to delve into the story a little. Basically, the game is about a terrorist attack in London, and the story follows from there, with Captain Price returning to kick some terrorist arse. But the thing that really seems to be shaking people up, is that this version of Call of Duty, really leaves some moral ambiguity in the air. You aren’t penalized for killing non-combatants, and sometimes your missions are questionable. Even in the video, they talk about not being sure if they could keep up playing several hours of gameplay that dark. That sounds outstanding to me.

Yes, I’m American, but I’m no psycho. Not to get political here, but for as long as we’ve made video games about war, we’ve also made sure that the soldiers we’re playing are the bonafide, tried and true, heroes of the story. (With some exceptions.) Whereas this one, as in the video, they describe that the game has some moments where there are female combatants being used as human shields — who are then let go and pick up weapons themselves. It gives us some reality in that soldiers have to make the hard — and sometimes wrong — decisions in the heat of the moment. It sounds like it’s going to be a wild ride. What I’m super intrigued about is how divisive the game sounds already. Now, for games like Call of Duty, that’s a selling point. The video I linked above in “with some exceptions” is a clip of the game called “No Russian”. If you don’t remember it, read up on the fallout of that mission in the game and how it affected sales.

I’m really, really excited about the concept and I hope that the execution of the campaign and the multiplayer are both outstanding.

 

Unless something changes, I probably will hold off on a prompt for this post. Hope you enjoyed the read on MW and the video, courtesy of IGN!

Throwback Thursday: Another Convention Edition

Star Wars Celebration is in Anaheim in 2020, and it sold out already.

This past Friday, the 21st of June, the 4 Day passes and Saturday Passes sold out in less than six hours from their release. This sucks, because it will be the second Celebration I’ve missed in a row. The last time was in Chicago, this year.

I attended Celebration Orlando in 2017, and it was easily one of the greatest experiences I’ve had in my convention-going. The convention organizers had some issues, but all in all, it was an overwhelmingly positive experience.

We left for it, I think, on Wednesday night headed out there, with the intent to drive through the night and get up after some rest to do things… that, uh, that didn’t happen. It was about eight hours down there, give or take thirty minutes for food. There was four of us in the car, but only two of us drove (for future reference in stories about trips including these four — only two of us ever drive). Sub note: I hope they read this and know that I’m calling them out!

We got to Orlando around… 5:00AM local time, and got lucky enough to be able to check into our room early. We were pretty excited to take a nap. What we didn’t expect was that from our hotel room, we could see the line wrapping around the Orange County Convention Center… waiting to get inside the con. Instead of sleeping, we went on down to get in line.

That whole day I lived on enough hype to ignore the fact that I needed sleep, until that evening when I crashed at probably midnight, after a pool party with the Mercs.

The rest of the trip really was great. I worked a little at the Mercs booth, and attended a Mercs-only bash, and just basked in all that was Star Wars.

Some of the scattered memories of the event:

Getting on the Jabba’s Palace stage. That’s me in the gold and red. (And being in character.)17952933_10158596558340241_7008646486696183581_n

Meeting Jon Boyega — great guy, ecstatic to be a part of Star Wars.

Jumping on the excitement and hype train of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Hanging out with some really cool people. The guys below being some of the best among them. (I think we were dubbed the Corellian Three, Featuring Wages.)
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Looking at cool ships, built to scale.

The list goes on and on…

 

I’d love to find a way to make it out to Anaheim, but hopefully we’ll get one back in Orlando sometime soon. Fingers crossed.

Writing Prompt Wednesday

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“No, no, no! You idiot! Listen to me!” I said, a dark bag over my head and my hands tied up. I had been bagged, tagged, and thrown into the back of a van somewhere on the side of Billington Street. I hadn’t even been paying attention. Better yet: why was I kidnapped? Where did I show my wealth or renown? Nevermind. “Hey! Hey you!”

Finally, the thickheaded chump turned around. “What, man? What could you possibly have to say to me? ‘Let me go I’ll pay you millions!’ ” The kidnapper chortled, wheels squealing as he made a sharp right turn.

He really is an idiot, I thought*.* “No, I want you to keep me. But I want you to get back on Billington instead of the left turn you just made onto Lasseter.” I could hear the sound of sirens in the very far distance as he yielded to turn. “They’re coming for you now, because they were just coming for me. You pay attention, and we can get away. Your choice. They want me, but they’ll take you, too.”

I heard him slow down, and felt the RPM’s change in the vehicle. Good. “Why should I believe you?”

“Alright, let’s go through this with some transparency, because the truth is the only thing that’s going to save us. It’s my job to acquire high value targets for… certain organizations. I usually work for criminal groups and charge a premium. But, I’ve also worked for the Feds. My last job was a little sloppy, and a local couple of detectives suspect me for the missing Senator’s kid. It was me.” I was sitting upright, and my core was sore from trying to stay erect. “I know it’s crazy, but I need you to listen to me for now. You don’t even have to untie me yet.”

Silence. Good, he’s contemplating, I thought. Then he spoke, “A’ight. Where are we going?”

“Okay, listen close. Get back on Billington first and foremost. Blow the next red light.” I placed by back against the barrier directly behind his seat, to try to leverage myself into staying upright. I wasn’t as young as I used to be. Why didn’t he have help? Did he do this by himself? I can’t remember. “Good, now. Do you know where Silven Street is?”

“Yes,” the man replied.

“Turn in, and turn behind Gibbens Restaurant.” I stiffened my legs, trying to stay firm as the van turned. “We’re going to the docks. I hope you don’t mind losing the van for a while.” I felt the van turn slowly behind the restaurant, and I recognized it by the telltale bump-rattle-bump of the concrete dip above the culvert and the drainage grating.

“It’s a rental, man!” He said, his words nervous.

“Are you kidding me?” I asked, incredulously. “Just go.” If I had mentally groaned any louder, it would have come out of my mouth. “Good, now, cut across traffic and go down Manheim, and then make an immediate turn on Third. When you get through the far side of third. Take Finings, and Dolins down to the bay.”

I stayed silent the rest of the way, following the path he took by the feeling of the roads they were on. This had been his stomping ground for his whole life, so these roads were like braille to him. He knew where he was when he was blindfolded. When the vehicle finally reached the docks, the man in the front seat panicked and looked around, “Alright, man, what do I do?”

“Look for Targeaux’s fishery. It’s an old warehouse that stored fish. It’s full of junk now. I don’t own it, but I use it.” I shifted, the van slowly started rolling toward the warehouse. “Get out, open the doors, the keys are under the fifth brick from the bottom. Park inside the crate stack inside. Pull past, then back up.”

After all this chaos had abated, my kidnapper came to the back of the van and opened the doors. “Alright, man. You kept us both out of cuffs. I guess…” he trailed. “I guess I’m going to let you go.”

I slid to the edge of the van and felt the guy undoing my bonds and removing the bag over my head. I’m older, but my initial reaction was to punch him in the nose. He fell to the ground, bleeding, eyes welling up. “You’re rough, you’re amateur, and you have no polish to your efforts. It’s all sloppy!” I thought about kicking him around, but instead a bulb went off in my head and I reached down to help him up. “But you could learn.”

He took my head and stood up. “And, what, you’ll teach me?”

“Of course.”

Video Game Tuesday: MMORPGs

Where are all the good, new MMO’s?

I remember a few years ago when MMO’s were coming out regularly. Now, their poor quality and reception may be the reason why we don’t see more of them today, but that shouldn’t act as a deterrent to game developers — not in my mind.

The first MMO that ever really gets mentioned — and was before my PC gaming time by a few years — was Ultima Online. The game was really the first successful foray into the pioneer world of Massively Multiplayer Online Games. It was the Wild West, and it was amazing. It doesn’t stand the test of time, of course, but it’s there as a memorial to what started it all. Next was Everquest, and if you’re a gamer, you’ve heard of Everquest. It was the first real 3D MMO, with beautiful environments, and one of the longest running worlds, having released 22 expansion. TWENTY-TWO!

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Ultima Online Gameplay
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Everquest Boss Battle

There were a few small-release games in between, basically piggybacking the formula used by their predecessors. In 2001, a little Java game released called Runescape. What was different about this game was that it had a free version and a paid-for version that allowed players to experience the game, but to really delve into the world of Gielinor, players needed to be “Members”. This subscription method let them release the game’s new content for “free” essentially, which usually equated to a new quest each week. Runescape was my first foray into the MMO world, in March of 2002, thanks to a player whose username was Crusader85.

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Runescape Classic – Circa 2002

I played Runescape religiously until 2007-ish, when I picked up World of Warcraft, which had just released The Burning Crusade. World of Warcraft is a household name. It’s been parodied dozens of times on shows as popular as South Park, and studied for gaming addiction, and blamed for players who played so long and so hard, that they literally died. It was blamed for obesity, and lack of human interaction, and so many other things, that it was almost comical. In reality, it was probably the best — and the most game changing (ha) — entry to the MMO world, and it’s still going strong to this day.

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World of Warcraft Gameplay

Other mentions worthy of announcing were games like Final Fantasy: XI, whose legions of players were required to play in shifts to defeat bosses that were unbelievably difficult. It has since been replaced with a more “casual” entry to the series, Final Fantaxy: XIV (dubbed A Realm Reborn). Elder Scrolls Online was an intriguing entry, even though it encountered some major bugs and issues not only at launch, but in early release end-game. I was one of many players who got stuck in the final bosses hand, and couldn’t get out. It took days — if not weeks — to remedy the problem so players could finish the fight against Molag Bal (I think). ESO is now a thriving MMO community. Another, and I suppose final, mention is Star Wars: Galaxies. I briefly got to play the game, but the PC I had at the time really struggled to get the game moving. I got to experience this one almost vicariously, with stories from the people who played it for years.

All that behind us now and I look at,and see that the options are slim, and stale, and undesirable.  Maybe I’m just bitter and becoming a “get off my lawn” gamer, but there needs to be some new faces. One day, I hope that a new MMO will come along that will sweep the gamers from their other games, and bring us all together again for one, epic, MMO to rule them all.

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Here’s hoping.

 

 

Photo by Emmanuel on Unsplash

Movie Monday: Robin Hood (The newest one.)

There have been over 70 versions of Robin Hood.

So, everyone knows the basic story. The difference this one has is that it’s ever-so slightly modernized, and we know the characters all too well. Robin Hood is played by Taron Egerton whose fame and notoriety came from the Kingsman movies (great movies, if a bit crass for some audiences). Little John is played by non other than Jamie Foxx, whose character portrayal of John is a bit different than we know. The big bad is played by Ben Mendelsohn, who I know best from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and  Ready Player One, plays the Sheriff of Nottingham — he has a talent, and a penchant for playing bad guys. Maid Marian is played by Eve Hewson. Finally, Friar Tuck is played by Tim Minchin, who played Atticus Fetch in Californication, another show I dearly love.

Now, you may be wondering: “But who plays the rooster?” I regret to inform you, this is not the movie for you.

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“BUT WHAT ABOUT THE ONE WHERE THEY’RE WEARING TIGHTS?!” It’s not that one, either. It loses out for this review.

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But, Robin Hood (2018) really is a pretty darn good movie. It’s only got 2.5 Stars on IMDB, and 3 stars on Amazon, but does that really mean that we’re all supposed to just stop watching movies when they have less than four stars? I don’t think so. Reviews say it had things like “Wooden acting”, and the “clothes were too modern”, and a few other things that were a bit nasty, like “It demonizes Christianity”. Someone doesn’t know their history, and that the church at the time sanctioned the Crusades… so… I mean… take it for what it’s worth, I guess. I personally enjoyed the flick for what it was — essentially a medieval action movie with a romantic subplot. It was a decent movie, give it a shot. I rented it for .99 from Amazon, it was way more than worth that.

So, then, let’s get into the plot. Dip out here, if you want to miss some minor spoilers to a story you already know the plot of.


 

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Robin of Loxley is a Lord of Nottingham. He is an heir to a vast fortune, and one day he catches a thief trying to steal a horse for a lesser person. That thief is Marian. Their meeting there turns into a relationship, and they’re together for a while before Robin is drafted into the Crusades at the hand of the Sheriff of Nottingham. He up and ships off to the Middle East for four years, where he meets Little John in a… complicated scenario.

When he returns, he realizes that his home has been claimed by the Sheriff and basically condemned. Two years after he was gone, he was mistakenly declared dead. When he returns, his house is in shambles, the love of his life is with another man, and John helps Robin understand that he really is the best chance to stop this war machine, and get the Sheriff down off his high horse. And so, the legend of the Hood begins. Robin begins stealing from the rich and redistributing to the poor, as the story goes.

Robin pretends to be Lord Loxley by day and Robin Hood at night, in a sort of Batman-esque portrayal of Robin Hood. He eventually learns, by his secret involvement on both sides, that the Church is securing a shipment from Nottingham that will secure a major change of hands of power in England. Robin has to stop it, or else. Before that happens, though, they capture Marian. During a daring attempt to save her, she discovers that Robin of Loxley is actually The Hood, and John gets kidnapped.

Robin manages to convince all the peasants of Nottingham to rise up against the Sheriff, and a very modern protest-esque standoff occurs on the city streets, all eventually leading to a rather interesting conclusion where Robin leaves his Lordship full and completely behind and the battle against the Sheriff continues.

 

If they make a sequel, I’d watch it.