Wednesday, February 28, 2007

HBO to Turn 'A Song of Fire & Ice' into Fantasy TV Series

There is not very many TV news headlines that catch my attention, but this was definitely one of them.
HBO has acquired the rights to turn George R.R. Martin's bestselling fantasy series "A Song of Fire & Ice" into a dramatic series to be written and exec produced by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

"Fire" is the first TV project for Benioff ("Troy") and Weiss ("Halo") and will shoot in Europe or New Zealand. Benioff and Weiss will write every episode of each season together save one, which the author (a former TV writer) will script.

The series will begin with the 1996 first book, "A Game of Thrones," and the intention is for each novel (they average 1,000 pages each) to fuel a season's worth of episodes. Martin has nearly finished the fifth installment, but won't complete the seven-book cycle until 2011.

The author will co-exec produce the series along with Management 360's Guymon Casady and Created By's Vince Gerardis.

Martin's series has drawn comparisons to J.R.R. Tolkien, because both are period epics set in imagined lands. But Martin has eschewed Tolkien's good-vs.-evil theme in favor of flawed characters from seven noble families.

The book has a decidedly adult bent, with sex and violence comparable to series like "Rome" and "Deadwood."

"They tried for 50 years to make 'Lord of the Rings' as one movie before Peter Jackson found success making three," Martin said. "My books are bigger and more complicated, and would require 18 movies. Otherwise, you'd have to choose one or two characters."

Aside from writing the most recent draft of "Halo," Weiss recently adapted the William Gibson novel "Pattern Recognition" for WB and director Peter Weir.

Benioff and Weiss were repped by CAA and Management 360.
As a huge fan of the books, I am very excited!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I've Been Invited to the Lord of the Rings Online Beta!

Since I have been talking about Lord of the Rings Online (LotRO) as of late, I guess it is time to put my money where my mouth is without opening my wallet. I have received an invite to the late stages of the LotRO beta.

I will reserve my comments until after I am done playing around a bit.

Monday, February 12, 2007

They Put Magic on My Lord of the Rings Online!

Lord of the Rings Online (LotRO) has dropped it's NDA. Tobold has his quick hit review up here. The following quote just destroyed the game for me:
"I created a hobbit minstrel as my character. You can also play humans, dwarves, or elves. And there are 6 more classes: Burglar, Captain, Champion, Guardian, Hunter, Lore-master. If you wonder why there are no "priests" or "mages", this is due to the Tolkien lore. There is no commonly available "magic" in the game. But that is only semantics, the abilities of the character classes in practice work exactly like magic spells in other games. The minstrel I'm playing is a kind of healer / bard, and plays very nicely. Besides a healing spell, an improved melee attack, and a "cry" that works like a direct damage spell, I have a series of ballads to sing. These ballads combine a short-duration buff with some direct damage to the enemy. Thus I can't buff before the combat, I need an enemy target to hit to use them. The ballads exist in several tiers, tier 1, tier 2, etc., and I can only use a tier 2 ballad if I have a tier 1 ballad buff currently on me. So keeping up all the buffs during a longer combat isn't trivial, and makes for some quite interesting gameplay. If there are still enough people remembering the original Everquest, I'm sure that this will be called "twisting" ballads, after the EQ bard gameplay."
LotRO has failed the "something here is not like the others" test. If you lined it up next to WoW or Everquest in terms of gameplay, there would be no discernible differences. What a way to fuck up the most beloved fantasy work of all time. First Dungeons and Dragons and now Lord of the Rings. Someone please stop licensing top notch intellectual properties to Turbine!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Vanguard Launch Wrap-up

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes (V:SoH) has launched and their servers have gone live. While I am not planning to buy the game, I still felt it was my duty to bring a wrap up of sorts to see what is going on in the house that McQuaid built. In order to do this, I have grabbed a selection of links and quotes from around the Internet.

From Gamebunny:
When will the suits at Sony learn their lesson? The game is in development for ages - then it’s forced out the door before being ready for its close-up. STAR WARS GALAXIES anyone?

From GameSpy:
"After getting the game to a playable frame rate, I found that on a very basic level, player movement in Vanguard feels very floaty, with characters that don't have much weight to them and whose animations make them seem like they're sliding back and forth across the ground instead of strafing. It can be painful to negotiate closed doors and cramped halls in the game's many indoor areas, and you'll need a dose of good luck controlling your jumps mid-air when you encounter things like broken stairs and assorted platforming elements. The way movement and spellcasting worked, in particular, was fun and had enormous PvP implications: You can cast spells on the run."

From IGN:
"Vanguard's environments are reminiscent of fantasy oil paintings. Sigil Games hopes that three layers of gameplay (diplomacy, adventuring and crafting) and a comprehensive character creation tool will make for a more absorbing online experience."

That is a pretty good selection of material for everyone to read through. If words aren't your thing here is a little video for you courtesy of Game Trailers.

If you are actually playing this game I want to make sure you are aware of the game's first official downtime and it's first official patch.

In conclusion: I don't know what to think about Vanguard. The MMORPG industry has made me tired and I really can't seem to get myself steaming angry about this title any longer. I want to bitch. I want to complain. I want to tell everyone what I really think, but I am going to follow my own advice. I am going to vote with my wallet.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Slappers and Punks

A time the rules of brotherhood were broken was when my younger brother, Tyler, taught me how to play the card game Slap. Slap is a two player card game that revolves around playing cards in order incrementally up or down on two separate piles. The game gets it’s namesake from the slap rule. If at any time both stacks of cards have the same number card face up the first person to slap the piles becomes a slapper. The slapper’s opponent, now called a punk, must then pick up all the cards in both piles, flip them face down, and add them to their deck. The first person with no cards in their deck and hand wins the game. Big brothers are supposed to be slappers, and younger brothers are supposed to be punks. Tyler was forcing me to break that rule. I wasn’t going to let my little brother beat me at a simple card game.

It was shortly after dinner one day that Tyler had decided it was time for me to be initiated into the proverbial fraternity of slappers and punks. It was not long before two threes were face up on the table. Tyler’s hand came thundering down. Before I even knew what was happening he was pushing both piles of cards my way. I was a punk before I even really understood the rules of the game. This was going to be a long game.

The important cards in my hand read two, three, and four. The suits and colors did not matter as cards get played in order by their value. An opportunity presented itself when one pile of cards had a face up two, the other a face up five, and Tyler couldn’t play any cards.

Down went the four on top of the five! Down went the three on top of the four! I halted as Tyler hovered over the piles waiting for the two I was not about to play. I needed to be absolutely ready. He made me a punk earlier, but now it would be down to the fastest hand. If only his concentration would break.

I refilled my hand to the maximum of five. Tyler was going to be a punk, and it was sealed when he suddenly blinked. Down went the two and cards flew across the table as our hands impinged atop the face up twos. My hand lay firmly below his!

“You’re a punk!” I exclaimed as a wry smile crossed his face.

“It’s not over yet.” He picked up the cards and the game went on.

There comes a time for all big brothers when they realize their little brothers aren’t so little anymore. The same brother that I had taught to play Go Fish, Monopoly, and a dozen other games as a child was now teaching me. Not only was he teaching me, but he was beating me. I started out not knowing the rules, but in reality I knew the one rule that counted. You never let your younger brother win. You never let them become the slapper.
Note: This is a cut and paste of a paper I turned in for my English 101 class. Hope everyone enjoys it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Reality Check: I suck at English!

I received a wake up call today in my ENG 101 class. I suck at grammar. Give me a list of vocabulary words and definitions and I am king. Give me a test asking me to identify subject/verb agreement, comma splices, or improper verb use and you mine as well shoot me in the face because it will be far less painful. 52% (or a big fat F for you uneducated folks) is what I received on my grammar assessment test today.

One more thing I will have to work on if I plan on achieving another 4.0 this semester. Who said this college thing was easy?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Two Weeks = Many Victories

Well I haven't been gaming a ton lately due to school and a busy real life. It is amazing what can get in the way of gaming! Damn roof leaks! Anyways the little gaming I have done has taken place at my local game store; Reality Check Games (the premier gaming hangout in upstate South Carolina).

The Spoils TCG

The past two Sundays have featured Invitational Qualifier (IQ) tournaments for The Spoils TCG. I took home first place in both tournaments and received an invite for the Invitational being held in March. I am still debating whether I will pursue competing in The Spoils on a more serious note and attend the tournament. There will be a free pre-release for 1st Edition: Part Two at the invitational so I would come away with some cards regardless.


I have participated in two Edge tournaments for Dreamblade in the last two weeks. Included within that was a post release sealed tournament for the new expansion set, Chrysotic Plague. It was a three way tie for first at the sealed tournament so I technically finished first! I was actually in possession of first leading into the final round where I lost (again) to Andy who I just can't seem to shake a win from!

The prior constructed tournament brought me my first win against my good friend Dave. It's always nice to beat the person that taught you a game. I finished second overall which was my highest placing to date.

World of Warcraft TCG

I have played very little of the WoW TCG lately. I just can't bring myself to pay the outrageous prices to be competitive in this game. The rare, epic, and then legendary card distribution is just a turn off. On top of that there are so many good cards in Onixyia Raid deck loot packs that you really can't compete without them. An Onixyia Raid deck costs $30 a pop and you are probably only going to get one or two cards you can use. With decks requiring anywhere from 2-4 of the better cards it can get expensive quick.

However, I do still play the game online via OCTGN. It allows me to test any deck build I can think of and that has kept my interest in the game. There are better strategies coming out week by week so it has renewed a bit of my faith in the game. It is a fun game, but the card distribution just forces it to be a "rich man's game".

World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade

I have not bought the expansion pack and plan to wait a few weeks before doing so. Every passing day makes me want to resub my account though!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

World of Warcraft : The Burning Crusade is set to Launch!

Battle stations! Blizzard is preparing to launch The Burning Crusade expansion pack for World of Warcraft! If the Internet dies tomorrow we'll know why. Good luck to all the players that will be attempting a launch day login. Good luck to any of them that actually make it past Authenticating. Last, but not least: good luck trying to make it to the Outlands!

Personally I am going to wait about two or three weeks before resubscribing and picking up the expansion. I have too many other fun things to do with my time currently and unlike eight million addicts I can wait to get my fix.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Meet the New Everquest 2 Community Manager

No, it's not me! It is my good pal Grimwell!

Here is the official post.
I work for Sony Online Entertainment. I'm the new EQII Community Manger. No, really, I have proof! It's a great opportunity to fill some very big shoes and jump into an established and cool community. Obviously I have lots to learn there, and despite some people thinking that SOE is an Evil Empire(TM), I've yet to meet a bad person in the company, or do anything evil. The dark spot in my heart is almost dissapointed.
Congrats go out to Grimwell for a job well done. He deserves the position and I'm damn glad to have been a volunteer for his site. I've known about his new position for a while and I glad to finally be able to share it.

Even with my dislike for SOE I can only wish the best for Grimwell.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Tag: Five Things You Don't Know About Me

If you haven't noticed the whole "tag... share 5 things about yourself" game has been going around the blogosphere as of late. It was just a matter of time before I was tagged to share something about myself. Thanks Chris, who is the owner of my local game store; Reality Check Games (the premier gaming hangout in upstate South Carolina).

Five Things You Don't Know About Me

1. The aircraft I worked on while in the active duty Air Force, the C-17A Globemaster, sent me to the ER a few times for stitches, almost cost me an arm, knocked me unconscious, and almost killed me. Without going into details let's just say that $180 million dollars worth of aircraft can be very dangerous. The good news is that I'm still standing with all limbs attached :)

2. As a child I almost hung myself climbing a tree. For some reason I tied a rope around my waste in a slip not. The thought process was that the rope was going to save me if I fell. Well I did fall and the slip knot acted as a noose and nearly got the better of me. Fortunately my mother was watching me play and quickly saved the day. Watching your kids in the yard while they are playing is so overrated these days.

3. I haven't bought a music CD in years. I really got into music after I found Napster. Never in my life had I bought as many CDs or listened to as many bands as I did when I had Napster. Sure I had tons of songs illegally downloaded, but I turned around and bought tons of CDs for my collection instead of burning them. Since Napster's shut down I have pretty much gone cold on the entire music industry. The industry complains about illegal downloading hurting the $bottom line$, but at the same time I turn the TV on at night and have to watch how the latest gangster rapper just bought another multi-million dollar house with twenty cars.

4. I want to write a book. Sci-fi or fantasy probably, but I have a ton of other ideas as well. Ironically I have very little schooling for either English or Writing. I originally wanted to join the Air Force as a journalist, but was unable. Most of my writing skill just "exists". I don't know definitions of terms or proper sentence structure, but I have been nicknamed "a human dictionary" and fair rather well as a self editor of my own stuff. I usually get compliments like "thanks for the easy edit" when I submit articles to various websites. Someday this talent will take me somewhere... or maybe not.

5. This will be a big shocker for everyone. I am not nearly as good at the games I play as many people believe. I was once a terrible sport about losing and still throw a tantrum every once and a while when I lose in an online video game (I swear the computer is cheating for my opponents). In real life I tend to be a bit more mellow around other gamers when I lose.

I am ultra competitive and can turn the most friendly game into a competition. Ask any of my D&D groups and they can tell you how "competitive" I can make my characters. I'm not about outdoing other players. I just like to win and win consistently which I haven't really done in many games I've stuck around to play for any period of time.

I wouldn't say I'm a rule Nazi, but I definitely take pride in interpreting rules correctly. I hate "gray area" rules in games and demand clearly stated rules. I usually will let my opinion about rules be known out loud regardless of whether it is a popular opinion or not.

My skill set for games is varied. I can play a lot of games well, but I can play no game superbly. I can pick up games fast, but I lack the ability to really master them. This is true of both video games and card/board/etc. games. As fast as I pick up stuff in a classroom and am able to apply it logically to situations you would think I would be a wiz at mastering games the same way. I am not though and I truly have to work at it if I want to compete in any game I play.

Nowadays I've come to the conclusion that gaming is about fun with competition being second. I can have fun regardless of wins or losses. In the end I am better at writing about games than I am at playing them and I find that writing about them is sometimes the best way to get better. Regardless I am not giving up gaming anytime soon!

Time for me to tag some other people: Ethic at Kill Ten Rats, Brent at Virgin Worlds, Rollie from WarcraftRealms, and Dizzarian, Amokk from