Archive | September 2014

The coffee break. 30 September 2014.

Hello folks;

 

The usual rule applies: out a day early to be read the next day and so on.

 

Now this was an interesting find: according to IGN Destiny was supposed to have a completely different story altogether from the current one that is now out on the market. According to the article, a poster on Reddit claims that they were part of a group that was invited by Bungie to participate in a user research program. Cutting the long story short (and also because I will provide a link to the article at the end of this coffee break), the game was supposed to feature a totally different character, and the main character was somehow tied to the darkness, the traveler, and there were a lot more twists and turns that could make your head spin, so I will stop here (humor intended).

destiny last city on earth

Adding to this mystery is the fact that the lead writer for Bungie, Joseph Staten, left the company back in September of 2013. This departure of their lead writer could have left the company struggling to replace the story, or finish off the existing material that Staten had left behind. Whether or not this is true is up to the reader to decide, but the speculation is as good as any in a time such as this.

 

Alright where do I begin with this story. First of all it would have been interesting to see the main character be more involved with the plot, and to have the figures in the story – that masked leader of the Guardians, the Traveler, and the Darkness – all play a more active role, rather than just be a ball in the sky, a vague prophet, and some spoken evil lurking in deep space. Long story short, in my mind this seems more like a story similar to Gears of War in that the fuel that the Coalition fought for during the Pendulum Wars (which lasted nearly 75 years), turned out to be a biological organism that turned Locust and Humans into exploding demons which preyed on the living. This sort of: “the thing you have fought to protect/gain is now the enemy and you need to re-work your strategy” makes a story interesting largely because it forces the characters to adapt to their new environment, as well as continue fighting on as their slivers of hope fade into the shadows of the night. Regardless Destiny – the current Destiny – feels empty, and void of any life whatsoever.

 

Sure the environments are nice and you can jump around and make a fool of yourself, but the game needs a story – we all need a story. Somewhere out there, lost in the mists of time, a story exists for Destiny – one that would have been as amazing as Halo Reach, whereby during the cutscenes, the remnants of humanity’s near-fatal loss could be seen, showing the player the power our race once had before we nearly collapsed into nothing. The dust could be shown blowing over ruins of ancient cities, devastated armies, lost ships, and the list can go on – further illustrating just how bleak our world has become after the Traveler’s sacrifice. Also what about the politics of Destiny? Surely a last-stand city on Earth would have a degree of politics involved (though the Coalition in Gears only had their council, their chairman, and a military advisor). Perhaps a radical element within the governing body could exist, putting the safety of the city at risk, and for side missions you as the Guardian can go and take out these radicals who are seeking some sort of end-of-the-world plot to bring about their “new beginning.”

 

The potential is there for Destiny to be the next amazing thing from Bungie, but right now the company essentially took its game, got a random writer to slap together a basic arc, and then placed it into a box and put it up for sale. Sure there is DLC on the way, but in the end the feeling cannot be shaken. Should they manage to make an expansion that brightens the world, then we may re-work our opinions on the situation. The gamers can forgive, but they will never forget. This has been the writer for the 30th of September 2014. Enjoy that coffee, have a good work day, and I shall see you next time.

 

 

IGN article: “Was this the original storyline for Destiny?”
http://ca.ign.com/articles/2014/09/29/was-this-the-original-storyline-for-destiny?utm_campaign=fbposts&utm_source=facebook

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Where is my story Destiny?

Hello folks;

 

After watching Angry Joe’s video on the latest game from Bungie, Destiny, it has become clear that even a developer who has an excellent reputation for developing great games can fall victim to the DLC train. During the video, Angry Joe makes some valid points regarding the story, and how chunks of it was cut out and either will be sold as DLC later down the line (or expansion packs), or was removed and will never be included into the game ever again.

destiny last city on earth

Fans of Bungie’s earlier works during the beginning of the 21st century will be disappointed with Destiny, which is a shame considering how amazing their work on the Halo series up to this point has been. This fresh new start away from Microsoft could have been a new beginning – a golden beginning – for the company, something a lot of fans of Bungie on the Playstation systems were hoping for and ‘got,’ though whether or not they got a decent experience is left to the users to decide.

 

Now comes my perspective: rather than getting the good old Bungie-developed masterpiece, we got a game that was missing chunks of the story, and of which failed to deliver on that end of the spectrum. Now Joe has stated that the multiplayer is top notch, but yet even with that saving point I could not help but feel cheated, robbed by those of whom I placed my trust. Destiny could have given us an awe-inspiring story – a brave new world full of adventure, danger, mystery, and of course combat. Whether or not in the next expansion (hopefully it is stand alone) they will include a better story is for time to tell, for we cannot see into the future as well as the gods who created us all (yay giant titans with boulders for fists). Here is hoping the story will be better someday: I like a good story, regardless if it is a multiplayer game or a singleplayer game.

 

The entire concept behind gaming is to escape to a mysterious new world in a risk-free environment. After all do people really want to be running for their lives for a living (you may be crazy, but I am not)? Gaming is a window into another realm; a pathway into the beyond. The story may only be the meat in a dish of meat and potatoes, but it is an important part of the dish: please include it next time. This has been the writer for Thoughts and Topics, and I shall see you next time.

 

Destiny Angry Review (Angry Joe Show)

On the documentary concerning the Afghan National Army.

Hello folks;

 

Earlier on Sunday the 25th of May 2014 I stumbled across a documentary that talked about the current state of the Afghan National Army (ANA) forces and their ability to handle the fighting season against the insurgents. The documentary seemed to want to show some sort of instability, and yet the reporters in question were met by rather calm villagers and soldiers who were – for the most part – modestly equipped to tackle most situations.

Watching the documentary, it was interesting to note the differences in military operational capabilities from that of the Canadian Forces, or the more commonly known US forces in that the ANA did not have a reserve fleet of vehicles to step in when their present fleet was damaged by a hail storm. Indeed the film skips ahead to the summer months where it is shown that the personnel in the ANA were still using the trucks that were previously damaged from the hail storm in question.

The reporter seemed to want to set a tone of despair, and yet despite the “lack of night-vision equipment” and other more advanced pieces of kit, the ANA were coping rather well to their changing situation. Indeed the reporter should have probably known that the US forces would take their gear with them when they withdraw as it is very expensive to procure in the first place: something a lot of journalists tend to overlook. The thing is when the US military withdraws from a operations area, they will either sell off some of the equipment to lessen the load (and to get rid of phased out or obsolete pieces of kit), or take it back with them. Indeed one has to understand that the equipment is still “money,” and should be treated as such. Nothing on this earth is free ladies and gentlemen; even the simple task of living, when you factor out everything and drop a person down to hunting and gathering, “costs” as it takes trees to build homes, animals and berries to feed a person, and tools which come from metal and wood to conduct daily operations.

While some parts of the documentary seemed to be guided by the officials in charge of the local forces, it seems for the most part that Afghanistan as a whole is reaching a point where the fighting is slowing down in intensity and could see minor attacks become the norm whereas actual raids or “proper guerrilla attacks” disappear from the scene altogether. Remember that not all resistance movements are successful, and not every single rebel fighter has the will to fight for so long, away from home and so forth. Ideology can only do so much to motivate a man to fight, and afterwards it becomes a difficult task when there are no financial benefits or real tangible rewards available to a soldier such as pension, pay, vacation time and so on.

While the withdrawal of foreign military forces from Afghanistan marks the end of the mission, and beginning of the time when the ANA and the Afghan National Police take center stage, there is hope that they will be able to conduct operations in a fashion that is to bring some degree of order and stability to the region. After all they had for the last ten years some of the finest trainers and instructors on the face of the earth to teach them how to soldier. According to the documentary, 2014 – this year – is supposed to show just how stable Afghanistan really is; sounds like a wager on the journalist’s end.

Ultimately the makers of the documentary were aiming to depict a specific scene – that NATO had failed miserably in their mission in Afghanistan (at least from the attitude I saw on camera in part by the reporters and their crews). This lack of confidence is unfounded, and as such these people need to re-think what they do with their journalistic talents. Instead of trying to shame the part of the world that has given them education, shelter, safe harbour, rights and so on, they should try and show a story from a neutral standpoint – the so-called “raw” footage as it is more commonly known. Perhaps then they can actually do something worthwhile, rather than go around on a wild goose chase, seeking leads that “bleed.” Unfortunately the old saying is true: “if it bleeds, it leads.” Pity.

The Coffee Break. 22 September 2014.

Hello folks;

 

Just thought I would do a quick coffee break for the 22nd of September. Likely most of you will have already finished your work day and will have little reason to read these coffee breaks, but regardless here we go with today’s thoughts (humor intended). After watching all the Halo Reach cutscenes in an hour, the feeling of awe and inspiration regarding the game suddenly returned. Now the premise of the game is that you are fighting a loosing battle, and that despite all of this you fight on with Roman valour as the enemy numbers grow while your own ranks dwindle.

Halo-Reach-Scenery1

 

Some bits of the game do not age well, and it shows in certain segments. Yet for all intensive purposes the artistic design of the game helps to smooth over the transition from old to new in the sense that despite us seeing newer, and more shinier graphics, the game can still live up to our expectations. Now this may all sound like rambling (and it probably is), yet the game always leaves me in awe every time I watch the cutscenes. Perhaps it is the story of a hopeless battle fought to the bitter end, of which a spark of courage is able to escape to ultimately help us win the Human-Covenant war. Perhaps it is the way Bungie threw together their final farewell to the series, and with the art, the music, and the cinematic direction the game came together as a whole – making players feel like they made a difference, even though the final fate of Reach has already been written long before they set foot on that world.

 

The sense of dread is somewhat subdued because in the end you know that there is hope out there, and though the enemy might close in on your position, and your ammunition stores may be exhausted, that all your actions – and subsequent death – will have counted for something. This sense of purpose is what I find most attractive about Halo Reach: that or I may be over-analyzing the game. Yet each person interprets the game differently, and this is how I interpret this piece of art. Agree or disagree, once has to note that in the end the game will enter the pages of history as an influential title to the games industry, and one that – years from now – I will use to recount my adventures to my grandchildren, and tell them of battles fought, comrades lost, and humanity saved. Then again if today’s youth are any indication, they will probably ignore me and go about doing their own thing – Emperor knows I did that from time to time (humor intended).

 

Emotion in gaming: something that should be explored. After all this format of storytelling is just as valid as books, as is television and so on. Gaming gives us that extra level of depth to a story, and allows us to interact with it in ways of which neither books nor films can ever hope to achieve. The future of gaming is bright so long as there are stars like Halo Reach, the Mass Effect series, Dragon Age, and so on that continue to dot the night sky. Ladies and gentlemen this has been the coffee break for the 22nd of September 2014: take care out there, and I shall see you next time.

The Coffee Break. 19 September 2014.

Hello folks;

 

Earlier today an article surfaced on CBC news.ca detailing the CRTC (that is Canada’s regulatory body for Television, radio, and telecommunications), wrapping up its final day of hearings with representatives from Netflix urging the body not to regulate the internet for sake of competition and innovation. The CRTC is currently holding hearings regarding the current status of television, and the future of broadcast here in Canada.

 

Alright well all of you know where I stand on this subject. Here in Canada the political parties in office – the majority government and the official opposition – have stated that they will not support regulating the internet. Good news thus far, but be weary of such promises because if the CRTC decides to play ‘fast and furious,’ things could go south very fast. Now to my fellow countrymen here in Canada, I urge you to get in touch with your Members of Parliament (MPs) and let them know that you oppose regulating the internet. Remember that the CRTC cannot overturn either Parliament, or the Supreme Court of Canada, and has no authority to defy them should the people call upon these two institutions to act on their behalf. The internet is one of the best things that has happened to humanity, and despite our victories thus far, we must not relent in our pursuit of an open and neutral internet: for us, and for future generations to come.

 

Okay enough with the whole: “wave the flag lads and follow me! Onwards to glory!” mentality, let us talk video games. Well my subscription for The Old Republic is about to expire, but in the mean time I am making use of the time left to level my agent as far as I can go before it expires and I lose my experience bonus for being in a rest zone. The game itself still plays great, but I cannot shake the feeling that it is a bit stiff in the sense that combat and movement is not as fluid nor fast-pace as – say – Mass Effect 3, or Guild Wars 2. Indeed Bioware’s choice of making the game into an MMO did cause a lot of people – myself included – to raise an eyebrow or two, but I say the MMO part is what keeps the game alive. Player housing, campaign, flashpoints, missions and so on add to the experience on top of the whole aspect of fighting with a guild. Some guilds are alright, others are ‘interesting,’ and I will leave it at that. Whatever the case as the time ticks down to expiration day, I shall be fighting in the name of the Empire as usual, and let us see where it goes from there.

 

Okay today I am going to have to cut this one short: I have a few things I need to do. Therefore this concludes the coffee break for the 19th of September 2014: have a good weekend, and I shall see you next time.

 

 

Netflix tells CRTC consumers should vote with their dollars (CBC news article):

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/netflix-tells-crtc-consumers-should-vote-with-their-dollars-1.2771603

The Coffee Break. 17 September 2014.

Hello folks;

 

Well it has been a wonderful five days: took a trip to Alberta, enjoyed a bit of the last days of summer if you will, and now I have returned home to BC. Feeling good and off to an excellent start; let us talk gaming today. According to IGN.com, Destiny is now the: “world’s best-selling new franchise ever.” Normally this would not warrant the attention of yours truly, but in this case it was deemed appropriate to discuss the whole: “we are the best-selling franchise ever” phenomenon.

 

First off a game can only be the “best-selling franchise ever” if the game can sell in the long term. Short term sales can give off a false sense of invincibility, but remember that a good franchise lasts decades, whereas a franchise that was part of “the moment” tends to drop off the radar and become another forgotten relic of a bygone age.

 

The IGN article did mention how Ubisoft stated that Watch Dogs was the best-selling new IP in video games history without revealing statistics and so on. Sure the pre-orders and day one sales may make a difference in terms of viability of the franchise over the coming years, but that alone cannot be used as an indicator of long-term success. Halo for example was able to sell year after year, so much so that the game series has become a flagship title on the Xbox. Another game that can be counted as successful is the Deus Ex series: the original game that came out in 2000. That game was a success in regards to being an original IP, and it shows as people time and time again refer to the original when comparing its successors Invisible Wars, and Human Revolution. The lasting impression that etches itself into people’s hearts is what counts when talking about successful IPs, not initial sales figures and so on.

 

Then again one has to see the reality: the suits are in charge of funding and development. Video games in the end is an entertainment format, and if it does not sell initially, then the suits will decide it is not worth the effort and scrap the entire concept along with its crew. First impressions are indeed important ladies and gentlemen: in an interview for a job, and in the video games industry.

 

Moving along I had a wonderful time in Alberta. Certainly the first day I arrived there it was covered in a light dusting of snow, but over time the snow melted and I was treated to a scenic view of the landscape around the central and southern parts of the province. While the trip was fun and all, it is good to be back home at last, and it seems as though after taking the trip, I was able to re-align myself per se in that I feel a strong motivating factor, whereas previously every time I sat in front of my computer I felt less than adequate.

 

Indeed “getting away” could be a good antidote for feeling less-than-adequate so to speak. Puts things in perspective, and reinvigorates the mind to take on the challenges that lay ahead of us all. Feeling a lot better, hopefully this sense of purpose can translate into more written pieces for you folks here on Thoughts and Topics. Whatever the case this concludes the coffee break for the 17th of September 2014: take care out there, and I shall see you next time.

IGN article: “Destiny is the world’s best-selling new franchise ever.”

http://ca.ign.com/articles/2014/09/17/destiny-is-the-worlds-best-selling-new-franchise-ever?utm_campaign=fbposts&utm_source=facebook

The Coffee Break. 11 September 2014.

Hello folks;

 

Every so often we stumble across some greedy person’s attempt to control the internet. First it was the whole SOPA brigade, and now we have the US cable companies wanting to prioritize internet speeds for those who pay more cash for better speeds. Totalbiscuit said it well: “they are not increasing speeds, rather using a 70 km/h lane for premium customers, and taking the other 70km/h lane and reducing it to a 30km/h lane.” The sharp-eyed among you will no doubt realize I am paraphrasing, but the concept stands.

 

Included in this coffee break are two links: one leading to Totalbiscuit’s video on Net Neutrality, and the other to the ‘battle for the net’ website. Also I encourage the US viewers of this blog to write to your local congressmen to voice your concerns and ask them to protect your internet from infringement by greedy persons. The US is a democracy, and therefore you will always have the right to voice your concerns. These people represent you, so make them represent you. Otherwise come next election they can start filling out a Taco Bell application because they failed in their duties as representatives.

Battle for the net.
https://www.battleforthenet.com/sept10th/

 

Totalbiscuit’s Net Neutrality video.

 

Okay now let us return to some gaming stuff. Started the second play through of Mass Effect 3: suffice it to say female Shepard seems a lot more humorous than the male Shepard. There is often more humor between Shepard, James, and Cortez than Male Shepard, James, and Cortez (Wrex not withstanding). Now one part that really stood out for me was seeing Fem. Shepard sparring with Vega. The idea that men and women can fight one another in a military environment, and where women can take a hit really appeals to me. Female or Male, war is war: both have equal right to fight for their country. Hell if she can bear the rucksack load, the rifle, webbing and helmet, welcome aboard. Now you take point and I will cover with the heavy machine gun: cool?

Fem.Shepard offers a different approach to things, which is further enhanced by Jennifer Hale’s talents in helping to bring the character to life. Indeed she seems very enthusiastic with the role as her voice acting is second to none, and Fem.Shepard is truly a better figure thanks to her efforts.

Regarding Mass Effect 2, I have not finished that game yet. While it is tempting to use the comic that is available, I am reading mixed reviews about how the comic does not offer certain romance options. Indeed the decisions such as saving the council are important, but the romance mechanic – to me at least – is vital for character interaction as it adds that level of depth to the character rather than the usual: “I am a Space Marine. I am Elite: join us. Alliancemarines.com.” That said, I will take my time with Mass Effect 2 as the game – despite my frustration with combat – is still worth the effort.

 

Well this was a handful: net neutrality, females in combat, and Shepard sparring with Mr. Steroid- I mean James Vega. This concludes the coffee break for the 11th of September 2014: take care out there, and I shall see you next time.