At one time, not long ago, a company would bend over backwards in order to make sure the customer was happy. Because if the customer was happy, it was a guarantee for the company that customer would repeat business with that company. That ideology has changed a lot in recent years.
This is especially prevalent in the video game industry. The video game industry already has a huge number of problems, the first and foremost being a long list of -isms that it doesn’t really seem to be able to figure out how to solve, or simply doesn’t realize it’s a problem. That aside (and it’s difficult to set that aside, because that’s a huge elephant in the room), the video game industry has another problem.
I know I’ve gone over time and time again about my enjoyment of one particular video game, and I honestly don’t wish to name drop and point fingers, but there are times when a company has to be held accountable. That company in this case is Cryptic Studios. They aren’t alone in this, as people have had massive issues with EA in the past and many other game publishers and studios. Granted, Cryptic is merely the game developer owned by Perfect World Entertainment. I can tell you, it’s not such a perfect world.
Cryptic has four games under their belt, all within the MMO market. They developed and launched City of Heroes, then sold off their share to NCSoft and the studio Paragon Studios handled development. Since then, City of Heroes has had life support cut by NCSoft. It was a good game, don’t get me wrong, it had a lot of loyal fans which a small amount of searching will show. But Cryptic struck off to do their own thing which was develop their own game (sort of). With the licensed product of Hero Games’ Champions pen and paper game, Cryptic went ahead and began working on their second super hero MMO. Which went fine. Later, they acquired the rights to produce a Star Trek MMO. Currently, they have launched a Dungeons and Dragons MMO called Neverwinter, which initially gave many players warm feelings about Neverwinter Nights, developed by Bioware.
Before I go on, I need to say this right here and now. I do enjoy Star Trek Online. But you can enjoy something and still be aware of how problematic that thing is, or how problematic the group or company who owns/distributes/creates that thing is. People can enjoy a television show while still recognizing that it’s incredibly misogynistic (Game of Thrones, for example), racist, homophobic and so on. Or even how misogynistic, racist or homophobic the developing team/creative department is. And that’s where I sit; I really enjoy Star Trek, but Cryptic Studios is the worst company.
In defense of Cryptic, I don’t accuse them of being misogynistic, racist or homophobic. I’ve never heard devs or artists or management within Cryptic say anything like that. They are, however, horrible when it comes to customer service. At present, they are running three MMOs; Champions, Star Trek and Neverwinter. Two of those IPs (initial properties) are much bigger and have a bigger fan base than one of the others. No offense to Champions, but it has a long way to go to eclipse either Neverwinter or Star Trek. Because of that, new development in Champions has laxed a lot. The driving force of a game, especially an online game, is more content at a reasonable time frame. Champions (or Cryptic’s) idea of new content is small alerts that take no more than fifteen to twenty minutes and have no repeat value except for grinding to get more loot. There’s been no additional story content since they made major changes to the Westside arc which happens to be low level content. So Champions has basically been kept on the back burner with a large group of players who are feeling rather left out in the cold.
This began when Star Trek launched. Cryptic released content for Champions and then began their focus on Star Trek Online. And it’s been that way even when they launched Neverwinter. When you’ve got two really good stallions in the stable, why do you pay attention to the mule in the corner. I can’t say much about Neverwinter, except what I’ve mentioned in a review before. I played the game for all of two days and then became extremely bored with it. However, this discussion has less to do with the content of a game, and more to do with those who maintain it.
Since beta testing and launch of Neverwinter, the servers for Cryptic have been, at best, mediocre. There have been constant crashes and near daily emergency service patches to each game. Since Legacy of Romulus came down, it hasn’t gotten any better. The three games are set up on their own servers, however, there’s only one gateway to get into those servers. Think of it like a shopping mall with three really big brand name stores, all three are popular, and all three have good layouts, lots of lighting and decent areas to find what you need. The only problem being is that all three stores have only one door to get into all of them. Just one door. No double doors, no bank of doors that might have three pairs of doors. Just one. When people flock to these stores, they run into the problem of getting inside. And once they’re inside, there’s still more problems. The lights flicker in certain areas, there’s no proper labeling on some of the merchandise, there’s no staff to help customers. This is what Star Trek Online is like, and lately it hasn’t been once in a while, it’s been so common you could set your watch to it.
Easy solution, right. Get the problems fixed and move on, right? You’d think that would be the solution, but it’s not. During these outages (some scheduled, many more not) emergency patches are released that are often 130 meg in size. And the things that were broken before the game crashed, well they’re still broken.
The common feeling among the player base is that Cryptic, and Perfect World, just doesn’t care. They’ve got the customer’s money, and that’s all that matters. They don’t care about helping the player base. Especially the player base that are lifetime subscribers or monthly subscribers. They’re more content with just taking the money, and if anyone disagrees with them and the way they operate, then they don’t care. The Better Business Bureau has even given Cryptic Studios an F out of the usual A+ to F system. The BBB does note that Cryptic Studios is not an accredited business and is under no obligation to become an accredited business. Since 2010, however, the BBB has listed 49 complaints that have been filed with them, and of those only 9 resolutions to complaints.
Yet, it seems Cryptic Studios, and to an extent Perfect World, really doesn’t care. As a side note, Perfect World Entertainment, which is the parent of Cryptic Studios, was also given an F by the Better Business Bureau. Perfect World is also not accredited by the BBB, and is under no obligation to do so.
I’ll more than likely still play Star Trek Online and Champions Online. I’ve got memberships with both, and both lifetime, so no more need to pay more money. I just feel like Cryptic took my money and then didn’t care about giving proper customer service.
This is more a rant about comments that people make about one thing regarding a choice I’ve made in my life. That choice is that I’ve let my hair grow long.
I’m often told that how I’ll be viewed is going to come off negatively because of the fact I have long hair. Either a “tree hugging hippie” or as a “stoner metal head”. Of which, both descriptions are very stereotypical and incredibly ignorant. Seriously, I know some hippies with short hair, and I know some stoner metal heads that can discuss the Doppler Effect until they’re blue in the face.
How one wears their hair is their own business. Not unlike how one decides to dress. It’s no one else’s business how one decides to dress, wear their hair, or how they look. Body policing is really a crock of shit. Each of us has our own individual way of dressing and living our lives, so it shouldn’t be someone else’s decision how we choose to live it.
My parents, especially my mom, would always cut my hair once a month on the button. But since I have moved out of the house (I am 42 after all, and living on my own for 25 years), I’ve let it go every so often. When I visit my parents, my mom likes to comment on how long and full bodied it is. She appreciates the decision I’ve made and isn’t hell bent on getting me into a barber’s chair.
So, as of now, I no longer am going to use the excuse “I’m growing my hair long to donate to the Canadian Cancer Society for use to make wigs for cancer patients”. No, the only thing I will say is “Yeah, so what? Don’t like it, just deal with it.”
I recently saw the latest in the alternate universe that is J.J. Abrams Star Trek series.
Action packed and a fun ride, but filled with problems.
There was a lot of references to Wrath of Khan. A lot. And before I go on, I’m gonna warn you now, there’s a few spoilers.
Star Trek into Darkness deals with a lot of very close to home issues, that being terrorism. We see London attacked in the movie and a madman leading the charge to destroy as much as he can on his way to proving himself superior to Starfleet and the rest of the world. He’s introduced as John Harrison, but we later learn his real name is Khan Noonien Singh. We’re also introduced to Carol Marcus, who will be notable as being Captain Kirk’s ex-wife as introduced in Wrath of Khan.
Two major problems arise with this movie (and these don’t include the plot points of having Kirk die and brought back to life and Spock shouting KHAAAAAAN!). The first is the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan. Khan’s name is very South West Asian, and to be more to the point, very East Indian. Yet, here’s a Whitey McWhiterson cast as the role, only because Cumberbatch is really big in television and movies right now. Seriously, couldn’t have found an actual man of colour to play the role? Worried that it might have insulted sensibilities because a man of colour is playing the role of a villain? Or just white washing a role that is known so well in Star Trek universe? To be fair, the original Khan was played by Ricardo Montalbán, a Mexican radio and television star. He wasn’t East Indian either, but during the time of the 60′s when the original series aired, there was a lot of racist actions that appeared in television (the “chop suey” accent of Chinese characters, and let’s not go into how Nichelle Nichols was paid as a day worker, and the execs tried hard to limit her time, thankfully the writers ignored that). Still, we live in the 21st Century (or at least we’re supposed to) so how hard is it to put in the casting call “East Indian decent” for the role of Khan?
The second is the treatment of Carol Marcus in the movie. She’s a brilliant scientist but as soon as we see her, she’s objectified by Kirk. Spock makes mention that the Enterprise already has a science officer, which is odd, considering the crew compliment of the ship (seriously Spock, do you do all the science?).
But let’s skip past that.
Obviously, it’s a bit of a setup (and shout out) to events in Wrath of Khan where we learn Carol Marcus and Kirk used to be married and they have a son. However, it’s done rather cheap, like a last second thought. And the scene where Carol changes in front of Kirk so the audience has a shot of her in her undies…
What was the point of that scene? Really? It was obviously gratuitous, and objectifying of the character of Carol Marcus. And before someone says “but she’s beautiful”, please note that she’s also pretty hot FULLY CLOTHED! The scene had nothing to do with the plot except satisfy the perverted fantasies of a bunch of fanboys who wanted a bit of on screen wank time for themselves. If it doesn’t have anything to do with the plot, then toss it out. Was there a purpose that she had to change in front of Kirk? Not really, she probably could have found a small change room and change just as easily. If it was purely to have some form of nudity in Star Trek, then that’s stretching it. I really adhere to the Alfred Hitchcock school of nudity; showing less is showing more. That scene, if it really needed to be in the movie, could have been done with Carol Marcus seen in head and shoulder view on the screen standing behind a divider from Kirk.
Abrams has taken Star Trek and gone astray from what it originally was. Philosophical exploration was just as much a part of the franchise as was the action involved. The movies before Abrams came along even explored this concept, and they managed to do it in the heat of battle. In Generations the main point brought up is that time is the enemy with teeth that stalks her prey. Voyage Home was a big eco film, displaying that shit gets real if we keep screwing over the planet. Undiscovered Country was about change and that some people are very resistant to change. Those bits of philosophy were still able to breathe in the movie along with all of the action.
As for the current run of Star Trek films, they’re action filled and fun, but they are a far cry from Star Trek films and television shows of the past.
That is a damn fine uniform. It happens to be one of the really cool things you can unlock in Star Trek Online. There’s a lot of things you can unlock in the game, more than just uniforms. There’s weapons, armour, ship weapons, shields, devices to help in space and ground missions. Naturally, as you progress through the missions and episodes of the game, new missions and episodes unlock (the main story missions are called episodes, where there’s a series of missions that focus on one arc). If you collect certain weapons, shield and armour types together, they will unlock additional abilities to help you in combat.
The above uniform, I opened up while performing the duty roster missions (what I call XP while you are away from your computer, because you just set the mission and then walk away). Four ranks in Diplomacy of the duty roster missions and you unlock the uniform, plus the ability to transwarp to DS9 (at the other ranks you can transwarp to Starbase 39 and Deep Space K-7), plus you get the option to have an bridge officer from an enemy faction. I picked an Orion (I wanted a Ferasan but those are a species you have to buy in Cryptic’s C-Store… which I’ll get to in a bit).
You can also do actual missions that help to unlock ship items (weapons, shields, consoles, impulse engines and deflector) which unlock additional abilities, as well as personal shields, armour and weapons. I managed to unlock the entire M.A.C.O set of armour, shields and weapons for M’iaa (above) which gives the ability to replenish personal shields and remodulate weapons on the fly while fighting against the Borg.
That’s all great, it takes a long time to unlock this stuff and there’s a feeling of accomplishment when you do so.
However, for as much as there is this stuff you can unlock, it’s really annoying to see how much stuff you can unlock just by buying it. Cryptic has the C-Store, which uses real word dollars to buy in game currency. It is a lot of in game currency, mind you, as $20 will get you about 1500 which can buy some decent things. You can buy additional ship skins and types. For example, M’iaa’s ship is the U.S.S. Ocelot, a Defiant Class Escort ship complete with cloaking device. There is a Defiant Class ship you can unlock when you reach the captain’s level, but it doesn’t have the cloak. You can even buy playable races (like Caitian and Ferasan) and certain bridge crew species (like Caitain and Ferasan). I’ve taken advantage of that, plus I’ve taken advantage of all of the costume add ons. This I have no issue with, because it’s a quality of life aspect to the game. Customizing things so that you stand out in the game just a bit.
What really annoys me is one aspect of the game which manages to drop lock boxes. These lock boxes contain special additions for your character to use. Weapons, shields, duty rostes to complete your duty roster crew, costume pieces, and in the case of the Ferengi lock boxes, lobi crystals which can be used to buy a few other add ons. You even have a chance to open a box with a ship (Cardassian, Jem Ha’Dar, Tholian, Ferengi, Mirror Universe ships available). What picks at me is that the keys required to open the boxes require real world money to buy. And they aren’t cheap. Over 1000 in game credits to buy ten of them. Which isn’t so bad, but at the frequency of which the lock boxes drop, it can get very expensive.
These aren’t achievements you can unlock, but achievements you can buy. And even then, the chance of getting a ship is remote.
Costumes and ship skins I don’t mind paying for. It’s an added bonus to the game to help make you look unique. I do have an issue with being forced to buy keys to open boxes in order to have a chance of something really different. What I’d suggest is keep the keys in the store, but have certain missions that will offer the chance to get a key as a reward on completion of the mission. Make that drop rare enough, so when a player does manage to get one, it’s a real accomplishment. If players want to shell out cash to buy keys, so be it, be at least give players the opportunity to be awarded keys in game. Even make a key bundle of ten a reward option.
It’ll make the reward actually feel like an achievement.
Not that money can’t buy Love, but Love needs money to avoid bankruptcy.
Now, before anyone thinks I’ve gone slightly mad and am talking about Valentine’s Day again, no I’m not. I’m talking about the small community of Love, Saskatchewan. For years, people have written stamped, self addressed envelopes to the small village which sits on Highway 55 between Prince Albert and Nipawin, just to get the cancelled stamp. From wedding invitations to marriage proposals to Valentine’s Day cards, the Love Post Office has seen it all.
But that may not happen much longer.
The village is broke. The mayor of Love says they need about $50,000 in order to remain solvent. The village at this moment cannot pay their bills. The mayor and council, which is three people, have taken it upon themselves to try to make a plea to a certain person: Oprah Winfrey. Oprah featured Love, Saskatchewan on her show about 20 years ago, and Oprah is set to make an appearance in Saskatoon this Sunday as part of a major tour. The Village is hoping that a mention on her website or even a tweet will help the cash strapped village. Love is trying to raise funds, such as selling cookbooks, tee shirts, and other paraphernalia.
On the one hand, I do sympathize with their situation. Love has gained international notoriety just on its name alone. On the other hand, I hate to be a downer, but this is common among every small town in Saskatchewan. There was a time when small towns and villages in this province had an outward migration to larger centers like Saskatoon and Regina, even while those cities faced their own outward migration to Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton.
There are lots of things smaller communities can do to make themselves more attractive. They just have to find their own niche.
It’s taken me a while to really take a look at this updated Star Trek that J. J. Abrams has done, and I’ve come to a final realization.
Abrams Star Trek shows none of the progressive steps that Gene Roddenberry and Rick Berman attempted to do with the different television series. Star Trek at one time took great strides to tell stories in a sci fi setting that mirrored the real world. The first black commanding officer with Ben Sisko. The first female captain with Janeway. The story about torture that was played out in Star Trek: The Next Generation. The stories about family as a whole.
The new Trek is gratuitous amounts of action, and with the latest installment, a lot of sexism it seems. The new female character spent more time in a bikini than actually in a uniform, played up mostly for perverted, junior high school like fan service if nothing else. And then, completely all male fan service. Because the character was viewed as an object, not a character. Not like Kirk or Picard or Sisko or Janeway have been in the past.
Abrams has managed to take a very storied universe and step it back to 1950′s ideology. Women aren’t characters in this universe; they’re just sex objects and we must be serviced by them. That was sarcasm, by the way. But Abrams has managed to take every aspect of ideology that Roddenberry and Berman attempted to bring forward, tear it all down and leave us with nothing but sensationalism. Let’s do this ’cause it’s cool and they did it in the original series but we’ll do it better.
I’m really not sure what this new series is, but it sure as hell isn’t Star Trek. It may look like it, there may be a lot of terminology used that was in Trek, but the characters and how they act are far from Trek. A lot of what we’ve come to know from Star Trek was tossed aside in this new offering. This brings me back to my complaint about rebooting a series. Why reboot it, when you can do something new? Why was it so important to recreate the crew of the Enterprise when you can just make something new that comes after Voyager, after the last Star Trek movie. Is it that risk factor that fans won’t go see it because it’s not familiar? Sorry, that’s a lame excuse. This is Star Trek, fans will go see it. The franchise is, more or less, mostly risk free.
So, let’s toss out progressive story arcs, showcasing different character types, expanding on an incredibly diverse universe. Let’s just make as much sensationalist stuff up that we can. Oh yeah, and call it a reboot and recast the original crew. Because that’s innovative. No, actually, it’s not. It’s just lazy.
Oh how I do loathe this day.
I’ll admit, I hate most jokes that are commonly associated with April Fool’s Day, because often the jokes which people say are in good fun are actually really belittling, demeaning, insulting, and in many cases really dangerous. Only once in my 42 (almost 43) trips around Ol’ Sol have I encountered an April Fool’s joke that was harmless fun. I’ll detail that one because it was pretty good.
I was, at one time, a huge (HUGE) Ottawa Senators fan. I still follow the team, but my fanatic nature has waned since there’s been several lockouts, with this season being the clincher. But at the time this joke took place, I was still firmly planted in the Sens camp. When this joke took place is also when Wayne Gretzky was still playing. There had been many rumours that Gretzky would be traded from LA at the time, and one of my co-workers at the radio station in Rosetown where I worked set this one up. In our news room we had the Broadcast News Wire Feed, which is a network that puts together stories from all around the world and allows newscasters to print off what they need to in order to fill up a news cast with national and international content. The problem is, and this may be a good thing as well, you can edit files on the BN computer and they look like real stories. Save for certain things that give it away, but if you aren’t looking for them, then you don’t notice them. Anyway, my co-worker made up a really convincing story that Gretzky had been traded to the Ottawa Senators which sent me into a tizzy. My co-worker had a good laugh.
Now that’s an April Fool’s joke done well. There was no harm, no injuries, it didn’t humiliate the target, and fortunately my co-worker managed to stop me before I went on air with the story.
But doing things like making it hard to drive your car to work in the morning, that’s not a joke that’s plain rude. Placing huge amounts of dangerous items in an office isn’t funny, it could end up being very life threatening. There have been jokes in the past which have gone horribly, horribly wrong. Is it any wonder that when I went to school, teachers reminded students that April Fool’s Day ended at 12 Noon (whereby it was reminded that the person playing the prank would become the fool).
Jokes can be in good fun, but for some it brings a high amount of anxiety. If you know that a person has a high amount of anxiety, yet still want to do a good joke “because they need to lighten up” then you need to stop. Because it’s not fun for them at all.
This isn’t actually the kind of internet rage you might think. The type where you see hugely insulting comments in some new article, whether they be racist, misogynist, homophobic, or any other ism or phobia (or even some troll who has the mental function of a 10 year old). Nor is this the type of rage where you get pissed off so badly at a game you rage quit in the middle of it.
No, this has nothing to do with those things, but everything to do with internet connectivity.
I’ll be the first to admit, I have no clue about the complete working of an intranet or network for our work place. But I do know that ours is so horrid that we often lose connection several times a day and can’t even do the most simplest thing like sending an email. It’s a pain because it often interrupts important things like ftp uploads for our newspaper pages to several different sites which includes our provincial association, our company headquarters and a repository for several newspapers that can use stories from different places to flesh out one or two of their own pages or stories. In the event of a lost connection to those, it’s really annoying because we have to shut down the client, restart the router and try again. I’ve thought we should maybe call our local computer shop and see if they can help, but there’s two problems with that. Problem number one is money. It costs money to have that service done, and we had to fight tooth and nail to get our new computer systems in. We’re probably the smallest of all the newspapers in this chain, so our needs aren’t as high a priority as other newspapers. The second problem is a case of network specialization. I know there’s no difference between networking a Mac and a PC, but Macs (which our shop has) bring out this very intimidated feeling among anyone. I know people who’ve never touched a Mac, but they hate them.
Maybe one of these days, we can get our network connection fixed and all our problems will be solved. For now, we struggle on.
Then again, maybe spring will arrive sometime in West Central Saskatchewan as well.
Before I go into my own new description (yes, I know I haven’t posted anything for a while, but I’ve got some things on my plate), take a gander at this video first from Jim Sterling at the Escapist Magazine. He talks about innovation in video games, and it’s something I want to point out more in usage of the term. But first, the video.
Innovation, as Mr. Sterling pointed out (getting past some of the more crass aspects of the man) has become an over used term. It’s the new buzz word. I remember when I worked in broadcasting how I began to loathe buzz words. Like “It’s on the back burner” or “it’ll climb to the top”. There were others, but in the decade since I worked in radio (more than a decade, actually), we’ve managed as a society to keep our buzz words to just one word phrases.
Now, we’re using innovation like it’s the next great thing, and I honestly don’t think that people really understand what the word means. The CEO of Apple uses it every time a new product comes out, like the new iPhone, iPad or computer system. Google’s done it. So has Microsoft, Sony, Blackberry, and on and on and on. But really, what they mean is “we’ve taken the thing our competitor made, and made it better” which isn’t innovation, it’s just lazy.
The same can be said for story telling.
I know there’s a few movies that have come out as reimaginings of the original (like Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and Psycho) where someone somewhere has said the film is taking a bold, innovative direction. But it wasn’t innovative when you’re basically telling exactly the same story. In truth, the dictionary meaning of the word comes from innovate, which means at its root “to alter”, but also means to create as though for the very first time. I see lots of the former, but very little of the latter. And that’s part in parcel because that kind of innovation requires a dirty R word. Risk. And nobody likes risk, unless it’s the board game (and then, nobody likes having the weakest defensible point on the board, unless you have Australia).
In order to do something really new (or really innovative) one has to take a risk. Let’s be honest, nobody is doing that in any form of entertainment medium. Not video games, not movies, not comic books. At least, it’s very rare in comics. And those movies and video games that are really innovative, are usually passed over without so much as a glance by those who follow the mainstream (if anyone has some REALLY innovative movies they know of, leave them in the comments, it’ll give me more movie watching material later). There is one place where such things do take place, and that happens to be in books. But I also believe that books, printed and digital media, happen to have a leg up on the aspect of innovation. There are some really great books being published. Admittedly, there’s a lot of steaming piles of shit, too, but there’s a lot of good that’s being published. Not all of it is coming from the mainstream publishing houses, and even some is being self published.
For now, can we all agree to stop using the word innovation, because it’s getting tired with how badly it’s being misused.
We have this thing in our society, all of society really, where we’re told that it is best to be polite and kind even when dealing with someone who may be considered less than polite. There is a problem with that, however, because it doesn’t actually make us look better. Nothing does, to be quite honest. We can get mad, and these people will accuse us of being raging and crazy. We can try to be polite and have a calm conversation, and we’re accused of being passive and timid.
These people I speak of happen to be a portion of society that really feels that some people don’t deserve the same rights as everyone else. These are the people who believe gay marriage will shred the fabric of society. These are the people who use the term “black single mothers” when describing people on welfare or social assistance (in Canada, they often replace ‘black’ with ‘Native’, at least in some parts of the country). Some of these individuals actually believe that the majority of science is a fraud, the most laughing of these examples is that they will often try to hold up 24 cases that shows global warming and climate change to be a myth, while there are over 13 thousand documents that refute, debunk and disprove all of those claims. Even more of these individuals believe that the planet Earth is only 9 to 10 thousand years old, that man lived with dinosaurs, and some even believe the Earth is a flat plate resting on four elephants, resting on a turtle (I shit you not with that last one, there are still people who believe that). These are also some of the same people who would rather regulate a woman’s uterus than guns, believing a woman making her own decisions is more dangerous than a semi automatic assault rifle in the hands of a lunatic.
Personally, I’m done being polite and nice to these people. They’re idiots, and they should treated like idiots. With absolute contempt. People like Pat Roberts, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Ann Coulter aren’t just morons, however (because, they really, really are). They’re evil. They’re manipulative. All they care about is increasing their own wealth. Now in some cases they aren’t manipulating the public, in some cases they truly are idiots and we get to see just how stupid they. Like O’Reilly’s comment about tides and no one knowing how that works. He must not have been present that day in Grade 6 Earth Science, because that was most likely when it was covered. The majority of the well educated populace (and even some of the not so well educated populace) know that tides have everything to do with the gravitational forces of the Sun, Moon and the Earth. Even doing a quick Google search would find that out. But that’s just something small in the vast three ring circus that is the far right in (not only) America (but all of North America).
While there are those who are willfully stupid, like O’Reilly, there are others who are oppressive bigots. Like Pat Roberts. He, just like members of the Westboro Baptist Church (which has no affiliation to actual Baptist churches in the United States), are lying and manipulative. I hate to use Godwin’s Law, but really, if herding people into concentrations camps to be gassed was politically correct, they’d probably be all on board for that. These are people who if given the chance would deem anyone not white, Christian (and even then, only certain brands of Christian), and male as not human and could be treated no better than cattle. These people are evil, so let’s call them what they are. But don’t just say it on Internet forums, say it to their faces. Lying, manipulative, evil… all of it.
I just have one warning for these kinds of people.
Over a thousand years ago, the height of culture, education, philosophy and science was in a place called Baghdad. That’s right, the current city of Iraq and much of the surrounding areas of the Middle East, were the cultural mecca of the world. They had libraries, they had incredible mathematicians, they made huge discoveries in medicine, astronomy, physics, and even gave us things like Algebra, algorithm, and named two thirds of the stars in the night sky. Belletrix, for example, is an Arabic word, and happens to be the name of a star.
About 400 years into this cultural and philosophical renaissance, an Imam decided that he needed to be more vocal about his disdain of all things scientific. Much like the political pundits of today, he said mathematics was evil. Oh, it had been said before, but no one really paid much attention. But this one had a little more power and influence. It changed the shape of the Middle East for a while. The current situation in the Middle East isn’t indicative of that decision, much of that can be blamed on foreign policy of the United States and other NATO Nations. However, it is something that is presently going on in North America. Politicians, evangelical ministers, pundits and more on the right side of the political spectrum are doing everything in their power to rewrite history, demonize science and force actual junk science (like dinosaurs living at the exact same time as man) into classrooms. That’s not the only factor that saw the fall of this philosophical age in the Middle East, but it was one of many that helped. That doesn’t even cover the treatment of women, the segregation of different ethnic groups (as is happening in Israel and Palestine), nor does it include the outside interference of other nations from the West into the political lives of these different nations. Pakistan, for example, is the target of a huge number of drone strikes conducted by the United States government.
All of the “moral values” of the Christian Right Wing in the West is actually the most evil, vile, bigoted and manipulative kinds of values one could think of. If it continues, there will be no progress made. If it continues, then true evil will win out. It’s time to call out these people like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Pat Roberts for what they are. Evil.
They’re becoming more common in circulation now, but our money has two windows. They’re also made of polymer not paper. Everyone complains they stick together, forgetting that the other twenties would also just stick together. They complain about what happens if you forget them in the wash, forgetting that the other twenties would also become rather wrecked if they went through a good washing.
In other words, when someone does something new, people just like to complain about it. Which sort of brings me to a conversation about new stuff.
When we develop something, it’s to help with a chore that we used to do, which took longer. Shovelling snow, for instance. Back breaking work, unless you’ve got a really short walk. So snow blowers were invented to make the job easier. Fuel efficient vehicles with better safety regulations. Communication devices such as cellphones, smartphones, and so on. Reading tablets like the iPad, Kindle, Nook and so on. But still with all of that stuff, people still complain.
“Oh, whatever happened to books,” people will often moan. They still make books, but it’s a whole lot cheaper to buy a digital copy of a book than something you can stick on your shelf. Books are just huge dust collectors. Whereas a Kindle or iPad can contain a huge number of books on them. Consider this; while I’d need an entire room of bookshelves to house a few thousand books (seriously, that would still be awesome) my 6″ Kindle can hold the same amount. This cuts down on things like picking a book to take with me when I travel. That’s a hard choice, because I often think, what if I finish the book and my travelling hasn’t ended yet. What do I do then, buy another book somewhere? With my Kindle, I’ve got them all, right there. And even if I do want to buy another book, I can do that with my Kindle.
We live in a society where we like to complain about new things, always saying “back in my day” and then detailing a long list of hardships as though it made you a better person. Well, some people who went through those hardships stopped for a moment and though “waitaminute! This is bollocks! There’s got to be an easier way to do this”. And so, innovation was born, and that thing we did became that much easier.
I swear, we’ll eventually move onto a time when all you need is your debit card, and currency of any physical kind will become obsolete. And at that point, people will still find something to complain about. Same thing with phones. Those who complain about smartphones often say that we’re more in touch but we’ve forgotten how to communicate, often pointing out that we’ve developed a whole text language and that the English language is on it’s last legs. Not to say anything about any other language. But that’s how language evolves. We don’t talk like they did in Shakespearean times, and in a few hundred more years, the words we use now will most likely be considered dead. But all of this complaining and worry is absolutely pointless.
It’s like Stephen Fry said once: Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.
You know you live in Saskatchewan when…
When you see a truck drive by while you’re standing outside in -5 Celsius weather and a light breeze and the driver has the window rolled down and is blasting Hank Snow on the radio.
Often, conservatives will tout themselves as the “moral right”, as though that had any real meaning. There is no moral right, save for not being a dick to people. Conservatives will tout their faith as the backbone of their reasoning.
Which is odd, considering most conservatives, the most vocal at any rate, will site passages from Leviticus or some such book of the Old Testament, to push forward reasons why they are against marriage equality. Completely ignoring the fact that Christ died on the cross to nullify all of those old and outdated laws (even by Christ’s time, they were thought of as old and out dated). Let the veil be lifted and let the old ways be no more. Something Christ said (though, not an exact translation from the language he probably used, which wasn’t English).
Conservatives also ignore the real meaning of conservative. That aspect of fiscal safety, not taking huge risks so there is little harm done in the future. Thrifty spending. Yet, conservatives are like a dude in an electronics shop on Black Friday. Buying all of the crap they can get their hands on without actually considering the need for things that count. ”I gotta pay rent, but I really need this big screen TV.”
Conservatives, the ones who spew their verbal diarrhea, that toxic verbage which makes no sense and makes them seem that much more ludacris, should stop calling themselves conservative.
The other day, this quote or inspirational drivel came across my desk:
The secret of good living is not to do what one likes, but to like what one has to do. ~James M. Barrie
Really? Like what I have to do? Sometimes I have to do laundry. I don’t necessarily like it, but I also don’t hate it. It’s just something that has to be done. Same with doing the dishes or vacuuming. I don’t necessarily like doing those things, but I have to do it in order to keep a neat and tidy place.
Liking what you do is half the battle to having a good and successful life. If you do what you like, if you manage to be one of those lucky or privileged enough to get a job in a field you really like, then you’re full steam ahead. But if you’ve got a crumby job, and you have to do it, there’s no amount of philosophical bullshit that will make you like it. Especially if it’s a crappy job, if the manager is sort of a bully, if your co-workers are all boring and listless. None of that will help you with liking your job. And that doesn’t even cover pay wage. Poor, minimum wages don’t make one feel empowered. “Wow! I work at a minimum job, and I feel empowered to make the $10.00 an hour in order to just get by.” That’s what the minimum around here is. It gets even worse in places that are lower, or, as I’ve seen in many places, no minimum wage at all.
I’m not gonna turn my life into some Disney Princess film (though, I’m pretty confident I could pass as a decent Disney Princess, beard and all) and sing every time I have to do a load of laundry or clean my bathroom. There’s no fucking birds landing on my balcony as I dust my living room. And even if there were, my only response would be to shoo them all away before they shit on my balcony. Funny how birds don’t take into consideration that they’d be more accepted if they didn’t shit all over everything.
But really, I’m sorry to the original author who tried in vain to make a philosophical, and inspirational comment, and have it fall flat. Because as far as I’m concerned I’d rather do what I like than like what I have to do. I’d rather write and have all my creative ideas flow onto paper (both physical and digital). As it is, the things I often have to do are completely draining on me at times. So no offense, dubious inspirational quote, but I’m going to call bullshit on you.
That old saying which was featured in the movie Field of Dreams is quite nice. If you build it, they will come. It’s a fluffy, heartfelt comment meant to bring a tear to the eye and long for nostalgic things.
Unfortunately, that’s all it is.
I know that in the film it was meant more for the ghosts of baseball players to show up at a baseball diamond in the middle of a corn field, but it has been used to describe so many real life things. Here’s the kicker; if you build it, the public has no obligation to come. Stark reality for those who want to produce something, or create something. People do put in a lot of hard work for their endeavours and it’s great when people come forward and appreciate the things created. But if there isn’t any support, or very much at all, then it often begs the question “is it even worth it”.
This can be seen in many aspects of a community; the local hockey team, the local theatre company, the local movie house, a small diner, a book store, a new novelty shop. The list goes on and on and on. And, let’s be honest, people like it when their community has stuff. By stuff, I mean the local hockey team, the local theatre troupe, the local baseball team, the local bowling alley. But in order to keep that stuff, it needs to be supported. I’ve lived in communities where I’ve gone to the theatre with a couple of friends and we’re the only ones in the seats. I’ve been in diners where I’m the only one having a quick bite to eat, and that wasn’t at some obscure time of the day, that was during the lunch hour.
Organizations, businesses, community clubs, theatres, sport teams, none of those can continue without some support from the community. If a hockey team hardly has any support, chances are the team will fold due to lack of funds and lack of fan turnout. When that happens, there’s always someone who cries out in anguish “somebody should have done something to make sure the team survived”. Well, often that somebody happens to be the one who didn’t go to a hockey game. Ever. They like their stuff in their community, they just don’t really support it.
More support makes those who are directly involved with the effort feel a lot better. The hockey players and coaches, the theatre group actors and stage hands, the business owner who runs the movie house, or the owner who runs the diner. It may not be the greatest thing in the world, but when there’s genuine support for something, it makes those who work hard to produce it feel better and care a lot more about their own craft. If those teams, businesses, groups and organizations don’t get a lot of support, then it might not be very long before they just fade away altogether, which is a sad thing. Because without things like hockey teams, baseball teams, theatre troupes, movie houses, diners and more, a community feels less than a community.
I had this idea kicking around my head the other day. What if you created an original world, whether it’s filled with Arthurian Knights, but instead of swords they carry pistols, or World War I was fought with steampunk airships and trench warfare was virtually unheard of, or even gunslingers of the wild west who instead of shooting bullets, had their high noon showdowns with magic and blasts of fire balls. Mixing and matching isn’t a bad thing, after all, some of the most interesting and creative works have come from mixing one form with another. MeLin Miranda’s Scryer’s Gultch, for example. Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. Even Girl Genius.
Now, what if this fantasy world gained a bit of interest, readers naturally will want more. But we ourselves as individuals often can’t find the time to write, and exploring an entire world from the deepest darkest forest to the tallest mountain right down to the depths of the sea may become an absolute monumental task. Oh, some have done it in the past, but it’s very rare indeed. And we live in a world of instant, where text messages, replies over social networks and phone calls can be made from nearly every place on the planet. When you’ve got a huge team of writers for a massive production, it’s often funded through a major company or studio, so you’ve got the money, people and resources to create this grand world. But we (by we, I mean most of us who just write stuff online and maybe get something published) don’t have that luxury or privilege.
During the 70s, 80s and 90s, major computer companies clung tightly to the code which was the backbone of their operating systems and applications. It was hard to reverse engineer the software, because it was so tightly guarded. And then, along came a group which used a new word at the time. It was called open source. The background code was open for everyone to view, build, offer suggestions, help design and even help set up places for the software or operating system to be shared. Linux was a big shaker with this. For a while, many felt it was the thing that would crush the evil Tyrant that was Sir Bill of Gates, Lord of Microsoft! (sorry, had to do that) While Microsoft never took a tumble from the great wall, it’s considered now that any Unix based operating system is more a competing platform along with Windows and the Mac X OS. But that idea of open source created a lot of really good project. Office suites were made, including OpenOffice. Full photo manipulation and vector art programs were released. Even some games were made available for open source.
Crowd sourcing is the new term, but that’s something for later. This is all about Open Source. And writing. Especially fantasy writing, but could also work for any genre.
As I was saying before, not everyone who writes is able to craft the massive amounts of ideas that come into their heads. Sometimes they get ideas for including similarities to all kinds of cultures and wants to create a fantasy world that is a mirror of the world we live in. At least with the people that exist in it. Because, really, where is it written that fantasy creatures, or even people who live in fantasy worlds, can’t be as diverse and layered as the world in which we live.
There’s already a lot of very pen worthy (or word processor worthy people) who are very skilled with the twisting of a sentence or two to make a very interesting plot. They’re called fanfiction writers (we’ll, at this stage, ignore the often spoken of rather troubling aspects of the fanfiction library). They already write in someone else’s playground, the universe that someone else created. Sometimes, they create interesting new stories that have a different twist on the characters. Some stories are self satisfying, which is okay. Because even self satisfying stories find an audience.
What if you were a fanfiction writer, and someone came up to you and said “I see you really like my book series, do you want to write a portion of the world, based on the rules of the world with your own characters”? It’s not much different than all the writers that have crafted for Star Trek novels or Star Wars novels. And I don’t think it’s laziness on the part of the original author. I just think it’s the author admitting something. ”This world I’ve created is really big, and I’m gonna need some help to tell all of the possible stories of this world. I know there’s a lot of really fantastic writers out there who don’t get the recognition they deserve, but maybe together we can bring about something and get a little attention for this world.”
I’ve been thinking about that for a while now, possibly doing that with the world that Black Mask & Pale Rider is from. Encouraging others to write stories about that world, and invite them to play in the playground I created. This idea even takes a step further. To encourage inclusion within the borders of a fantasy world. Fantasy books are essentially mirror images of the world we live in. They are developed based on the experiences that we have gathered and that we have had. Whether that be from researching on old myth and putting a twist on it, or by taking a real life event and putting that into the context of a fantasy setting to teach people a moral lesson.
It’s a big world, and not one single person can do justice for everyone that might read something from that world.
There’s a time and a place to sign petitions, to support a cause, and to rally the troops (so to speak) and if you happen to work in a place of business like I do, there are reasons why it’s best not to sign petitions (or even voice political opinions, unless you happen to be a political pundit).
Or rather, stop doing and start doing. I’ve found that there’s a great deal of entertainment that comes out which is mostly recycled from what we’ve done before. I’m not talking about themes or aspects of plot, because if you want to say that, then pretty much everything since the dawn of time was recycled. But there are three things which need to stop completely in science fiction because there’s just way too much of it.
1. Dystopian Future. According to Meriam-Webster, dystopian is the anti-thesis of utopian. It’s a place where people live oppressed and dehumanized lives. In science fiction, such a future will often see a civilization under constant threat of attack in some way shape or form. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really good sci fi books and movies that take place in a dystopian future. Blade Runner, for example. One might also say Hunger Games is as well, but Hunger Games really doesn’t fall under the guise of science fiction (I suspect it would be if all the tributes had pulse rifles, disruptors and phase pistols). One thing I’ve always thought the majority of science fiction should be is one of hope. That as we look to the future, it gets better than what we currently live in. But maybe that’s just an example of the human condition. We are used to living in a crappy present and what makes the present better is by seeing a future that’s gone completely down the drain. Which can be rather disheartening if you really think about it. There is a fair share of hopeful sci fi out there, but there’s also a lot of really dark, dystopian science fiction as well. One could say that Star Trek has a dystopian future, but it’s the example of a world that goes completely down the drain before it gets better. This point sort of leads to the next point, and while point 2 can be included with dystopian future, it is not exclusive to dystopian future.
2. Find a bloody light switch already! Too often a really good science fiction book or movie comes along that takes place in a darkly lit place. Alien is a really good example. Alien did that for mood, as well as the subsequent movies in the franchise (I’m trying to forget the fourth one, just like I’m trying to forget the second Aliens vs Predator movie). Predator managed to pull this off as well, which is most likely one of the reasons why Aliens and Predator fit so well together (aside from the tease in the second Predator that showed an Alien skull on the trophy wall). But someone out there must have thought that because of how well Alien did, that all science fiction has to take place in some dark place. It’s the future, you’d think we could have created a better light bulb in a couple hundred years. After all, this is science fiction, not horror. And while Alien was a great example of crossing the genres, after a while it becomes a trope that’s overused and old (elements of atmosphere can also become a trope just as much as plot devices). Two examples of science fiction that use light very well are Star Trek and Iron Man. Even though J.J. Abrams has a love for all things lens flare, the bridge of the Enterprise is still brightly lit, just as many different areas of the ship. Iron Man (yes, it’s science fiction, Tony Stark is a scientist after all) is also brightly lit, you can see his suit, and even the HUD that is displayed inside his helmet is clearly shown and easy to see. Sure, deep space is a dark, dark place, but you’d think if people are traveling in space, they could have made a really good light bulb.
3. More colour, especially people. One thing that I’ve really been getting tired of is the white knight syndrome. Not the theoretical aspect of the white knight where someone steps up and becomes the hero, but the fact that the one who becomes the hero happens to be a white dude who knows exactly the thing that’s needed to save everyone. One reason why I’m looking forward to Pacific Rim and seeing Idris Elba as the lead actor. We’ve been living in a ‘post racial society’ for several decades now, you’d think that we could have a black guy as the lead in a science fiction series more than just a couple of times. To date, one of the best known roles that falls into that happens to be Benjamin Sisko of Deep Space Nine. Sadly, for everything else, we’ve had massive amounts of white washing all over the place. Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy is a prime example, where Trillian is described in the book as being vaguely Arabic. And we get Zooey Deschanel in the movie adaptation, who is so far from being Arabic, it isn’t even vague, it’s none existent. When people of colour are placed in science fiction roles, stories become a lot more rich than we’ve seen before. And that doubles down when a woman is placed in that position. We need to mix it up more, because this continual display of white dudes in science fiction is only leading me to believe that we won’t have any people of colour in the future. Which is just sad. Maybe J.J. Abrams should consider doing a reboot of Deep Space Nine.
Hey everyone. I felt the need to put some things in perspective because the word “murder” has been tossed around in reference to things people eat. It seems to come from this place of “self righteousness” that people who don’t eat meat think everyone should not eat meat (I’m glaring at you PETA).
It’s 9:00 in the a.m., but I am currently contemplating the sexiness of consuming a bacon, lettuce and tomato, toasted, with a side order of fries and gravy. Just for shits and giggles, here’s a sample of what that thing of beauty would look like.
This is only a representation.
Now, here’s a mutherfuckin’ tiger.
This tiger (panthera tigris) has a lot in common with me. Because, he’s probably contemplating a nice, juicy chunk of meat. Quite possibly from one of the many animals he happens to be chilling out around.
The main difference between us (aside from the obvious) is that he’s gonna kill his meal with his paws, claws and teeth. He’ll use superior body strength and keen hunting abilities to kill his prey. And then eat it. Like a badass.
Just like this.
Tigers’ diets consist of animals like moose or deer, and sometimes they will take down a crocodile (because they’re badass!). Tigers are carnivores. They need meat to survive. How do they get their veggies? Well, they eat things that eat grass, grains, berries and other plant like material.
But we humans are not 100% carnivores. We aren’t even herbivores (which are the things that tigers eat). We’re known as omnivores. Omnivores will supplement their diets with a combination of meat, veggies and fruit, thereby getting all of the nutrients, proteins and carbohydrates we need to keep our bodies going.
You know who else is an omnivore?
Foxes (vulpes vulpes) are a member of the canine family. they’re distantly related to domesticated dogs, wolves and coyotes. They have sharp, needle like teeth for chewing and grabbing prey. But they don’t just stop at field mice or badgers (yes, foxes will take on mutherfuckin’ badgers for food, thus, why they are badasses!), during seasons when prey is scarce, they will forage for food. Meaning, they will eat fruit, nuts, berries, root vegetables and even grasses to sustain their diet.
So the next time you call a human a “murderer” just for eating meat, think of those badasses, the tiger and the fox, and how they kill in order to eat.
The thing is, a diet is a diet. How we as humans choose to eat is our own choice, not anyone else. If you wish to be vegan, be vegan. But do it for your own health and dietary needs, not because you believe that you are on some self righteous crusade to save animals. There are other things which do a greater deal of harm to the natural environments of creatures such as the tiger and the fox. Eating meat isn’t bad. Over hunting is bad. Inhuman domestication practices are bad. Campaign to end certain farming practices, and attempt to find ways to change the way domesticated livestock are kept and handled. Don’t campaign to have people change their diets. That has economic problems, especially for those who live in poorer areas and cannot or do not have access to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
If you’re thinking that just killing an animal in order to eat it is “murder” then you’re wrong. Because based on that very narrow minded view, tigers and foxes are also committing murder when they hunt.
The supposed end of the world on December 21, 2012 is one that many have found to be laughable. Myself included. Not because it was some prophesy by the ancient Mayans, not at all. I still think that the Mayans had an intricate calendar, but just didn’t have enough stone around to keep going. Or like present day things, there wasn’t enough interest or capital to keep going with the development.
No, it’s not the Mayans I’m laughing at. They’re part of history. What they did contributed to our history. The people I’m laughing at are those who put stock in this ridiculous notion that the Mayans were able to predict the end of the world, yet were unable to see themselves being conquered by the Spanish and nearly wiped out. Don’t get me wrong, as a writer the notion of the end of the world as predicted by some ancient people is the stuff of science fiction. Great stuff to twist words together and make a great narrative.
Here’s the reason why that date and that myth is important.
Most sane people (and some not so sane) won’t give a second glance at the Mayan End of the World prophesy. Even if they do give a second glance, it’s to giggle under their breath at all the people putting stock in it. And it’s those people we should be worried about. See, there is a section of the population that will go bananas just because December 21, 2012 will roll around, and give in to the excuse of “well, the world’s ending, let’s break shit”. These idiots are the ones who may very well try to break shit. Which means that the rest of us have to be safe and cautious and look out for ourselves so we don’t get hurt. Because somebody is gonna try to steal something, burn something, hurt someone, or just act with total disregard for anything and anyone around them.
Now I could be wrong and I hope I am. As I said, many sane people won’t go out just to break stuff. I remember the computer apocalypse of 2000. The date when all computers would shut down because no one had created an actual way for the systems time clocks to roll over to 12:00 Midnight, January 1, 2000 from 11:59:59 pm, December 31, 1999. There was predictions of people robbing stores and looting. Fortunately none of that came to pass.
This, however, is more than just mere property damage and looting. This is the endangerment of people’s lives.
Not every idiot on the face of the planet is going to get together to wreck stuff on Deceomber 21, 2012. I figure it’ll only be contained to a few areas, if it happens at all. That date is a Friday, a weekend, when some people are going to be getting ready to travel to meet loved ones around Christmas time. Ample opportunity for morons to do something destructive to affect other people’s lives.
I intend to wake up and greet the world on Saturday, December 21, 2012. That’s because I don’t intend on going anywhere on Friday or doing anything. Because there might be one moron who I run into that takes stock in this end of the world crappola.
Decided to play around in Champions Online again, since it’s been a very long time since I did so. They added vehicles. Or at least hover craft. And some fighter jets.
This is the Hawkwing Stealth Fighter. It has three weapon slots, one defensive slot and a support slot. The craft acts as a device in the devices bar on your character. When you activate it, the craft becomes your character, complete with it’s own set of skills, powers and more. The Stealth fighter has stealth capability, booster rockets, a regenerative beam to help team mates, and has wing turrets and a missile launching underneath.
There’s also the Hawkwing Heavy Fighter, which looks like a little snub nose, has two weapon slots and two defensive slots.
The only thing I don’t like about them is the in game movement. They don’t pitch and yaw as well as I’d like.
Well, my issue with it goes more than that. Movement is the least of my complaints about the new vehicle selection. You’d tend to think that someone with the name Rocket Fox would have a pretty kick ass fighter jet. Unfortunately, the jets are pretty much all about speed and very lacking in punch or defense. You have to work on those, I suppose. Before I mentioned the Stealth Wing has five mod slots, three for weapons and one for defense and one for support. It seems when you travel through the world, complete missions and tackle huge bosses, you get lots of possible mods. In the form of lock boxes. Which you need to use real world money in order to buy keys from the in game C-Store so that you can open them.
The deal is, you pay XX amount of dollars (or whatever currency is native to your country) and get XXXX amount of Zen, the in game currency used to buy items through the C-Store. A lot of online games have this. Probably the best example is Guild Wars 2 selling costume skins and dye packs. But that’s just aesthetics. I don’t have a problem with that. Champions Online has things in their store that affect the game world. Sure there’s different power sets, travel powers, costume pieces, bases, and mini figures, but those are all aesthetic aspects that have no bearing on how well you do. The powers, for example, aren’t any better than the ones you get already. The travel powers, same thing. Many are just doctored up to look like different versions of things that already exist as travel power selections.
Vehicles, catalysts to make mods better, keys to open lock boxes. Those are also available in the C-Store, all of which you can buy in order to make your character, or your vehicle stronger. That’s more of a pay to win scenario which I’m against in games.
It ain’t cheap to get those keys. 1100 Zen there abouts to get ten keys. And that’s about 30 bucks in the real world. Those lock boxes are frequent drops as well. Currently Rocket Fox has 32 of those things in her inventory, and I did buy 20 keys just to see what was in those boxes. Each box has something different. XP boosters, Resource boosters (which is the currency in game to buy from vendors, not use at the C-Store), and level 1 defense or support mods. About 75 each. So you can craft them and get several level 2 versions of the same mods.
Sadly, this is the only thing that’s been added to the game in a while. No actual content in game, just more costumes and vehicles that you have to buy through the C-Store. No new missions, no new areas (such as Hudson City, which had been talked about before). This is rather disappointing, considering that City of Heroes is going off line in less than a week. There may be several CoX players who will venture over to Champions Online. Which means Cryptic better get their butts in gear.
Cryptic has been pretty weak in a lot of areas when making their games. They have terrible customer service, they’ve ignored Champions Online in favour of delivering new material and content for Star Trek Online and working toward releasing Neverwinter Online. It isn’t that difficult to level from 1 to 40 in Champions, but after that there really isn’t anything to do. Sure, there’s alerts, but those get old fast, as each alert is recycled with new villains. After a while, you tend to see those over and over again as well. There is something that could help, and that’s by implementing something popular in Star Trek Online into Champions Online. That’s the Foundry, which is user developed content played in game.
Sadly, I’m not sure that is being pushed forward, as Cryptic seems to just chuck small things at Champions and focus all their efforts on Star Trek Online and Neverwinter Online.
I kinda went off on a tangent about the recent crap in fandoms regarding the appearance of a person of colour for the role of Lancelot, and using POC in fantasy in general (spoiler: there’s nothing wrong with it, so stop complaining). Also like to apologize for the grainy quality of the video, it appears I need to get a better quality webcam. Also, sorry, didn’t add links. I’m also quiet because it’s 10:00 at night and I don’t want to be a dick to my neighbours.
- Author Harrassed For Depicting Bisexual Arthur And Lancelot (lezgetreal.com)
- Is literature turning colour blind? (independent.co.uk)
- ‘Once Upon A Time’ Season 2 Adds Captain Hook, Lancelot, Mulan & More (screenrant.com)
Before I actually get around to posting up Rocket Fox Chapter Nine (I will, I promise) I’ve had a few things on my mind lately.
Video games and cultural representation
I often hear the cry of how people can’t relate if there’s a person of a different colour on screen than the same old white dude (and yes, it’s almost always a white dude) in a video game. Often, if there is a black/brown/red/yellow person on the screen, they aren’t made as a playable character, and they often have huge stereotypes. Insulting stereotypes as a matter of fact. I don’t include MMOs into this, because in an MMO, you have a costume creator, and you can make your character look however you want. I’m talking single player games, for the most part. But I guess there is that cultural aspect in video games that we don’t get to see different cultures and explore those realms. For instance, any video game I pick up is most likely to take place in the United States. As a Canadian, there is a very rare number of games that have a Canadian city that I know of off hand. Deus Ex Human Revolution does have a futuristic version of Montreal in it, and Champions Online does have a Canadian zone, but that zone happens to be “The Great White North” (in it’s own a stereotype) and even the “native tribes” have been replaced with Sasquatches. And the lone “Native American” in the Champions Online Canadian Zone happens to have a real white name. It goes further than that, mind you, to other cultures. For instance, we see a lot of representation from Asia, but bottom line those nations and culture include only China and Japan. Maybe Korea. There’s quite a few other nations in Asia and include Bangladesh, the Philippines, Vietnam, India and to an extent Pakistan. Go further west, and you find lots of games represented in Europe, from fantasy right up to a plethora of World War II games. But how many are in Africa that doesn’t star a white archaeologist from the United States or a white archaeologist adventurer from England? Not many. By my count, one. Guild Wars: Nightfall was the only game that I know of that created an African style setting in their own world. Even the NPCs were all people of colour. I’d really like to see more of that, but sadly, I’m in the minority on that mark. Maybe that’ll happen more in the future where we get to see video games taking place in a setting with the main hero/heroine being a person from that setting not just a white guy there to save the day.
Na Na Na Na Na Na – COMICS!
There’s been a lot of talk lately (some good, some bad) about the actions and reactions of some of the writers of DC Comics titles. One of whom was Scott Lobdell. I’m not gonna repeat it here, but he said a few rather unflattering things, especially about Native Americans, relating to the back story of Roy Harper/Speedy who is one of the characters in the book Red Hood and the Outlaws. Now, I read RHatO when it first came out, and I found it to be a complete pile of trash. The book didn’t appeal to me, the characters were all one dimensional, Jason Todd’s a douchebag, Starfire has none of the appeal from the old Teen Titans (sort of like they wiped her backstory and replaced it with something that was incredibly misogynistic) and Roy Harper is a dick. Red Hood and the Outlaws is a complete waste of time, but it seems to sell and sell well because the lowest common denominator in readership keeps picking it up. That book, along with Hawkman, Green Arrow and a couple of other titles were reasons why I was very close to just giving DC Comics a big “fuck you” and move on. However, I realized that a personal boycott of DC would be detrimental to other, better books. Don’t get me wrong, me on my own wouldn’t crush DC and make them see the error of their ways, but if there were enough then books like Batwoman, Batgirl, Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman, Animal Man and Demon Knights would all suffer as well. Those books are good books. So my suggestion, keep buying those books. They have really good stories (except for Wonder Woman supposedly now dating Superman -giving you the side eye, DC) with writers who really are good at their craft. The others, not so much. And don’t just wait for collected editions in trade paper back. Buy the single issues, give them to friends and then buy the collections. I did that recently with my Mike Grell and Chuck Dixon Green Arrow books as well as the Kevin Smith run. Same with Spider-Girl from the M2 line and Vampi. All those books are now being enjoyed by someone else, and I have a nifty trade sitting on my bookshelf. Essentially, what I’m trying to say is boycotts don’t always work, because the good stuff has a tendency to suffer more than the crap. Buy the stuff you like, avoid the stuff you hate, and pass on the stuff you like to others.
The leaves, they are a fallin’
With apologies to Bob Dylan for ripping off his song Times They Are A-Changin’, we are officially now into autumn. I, however, have no intention of letting go of summer without a fight. Autumn is wonderful and colourful, but it’s also a stark reminder of just what’s coming; winter. Around here, winter is a harsh mistress. Only the hardiest of people can survive this province with summers that scorch and winters that freeze. Granted, autumn does mean that Halloween is not far away, and I shall hold onto that hope with bated breath. I enjoy Halloween, because it’s filled with mystery and stories. I shouldn’t complain too much about autumn, it is after all, when my writing bug gets bigger and bigger and happens to be the most productive for me, right on up into winter. Which hopefully means that the end of book one of Rocket Fox and most of book two of Rocket Fox should be completed this autumn and winter. Which may mean that sometime in the next year, both book one and book two will be ready for publication.
That’s it, that’s all, ’til next time…
…keep ‘em flyin’!
Dog days of summer
Not really, but it’s kind of this lazy, laid back feeling of “meh” where one just doesn’t feel like doing anything right now. Usually dog days refers to the listless lazy days of summer, and we are right in on that. At work, we’re about two and a half weeks away from a shut down of our office for two weeks, which is alright. This allows everyone to plan their holidays accordingly. Me, I plan on parking it in a lawn chair somewhere. Either on the beach at Elbow, or in the park her in Outlook, or maybe along the riverfront in Saskatoon. Heck, I may even just park it on my balcony.
Be careful using short forms and abbreviations
One should always be careful to ensure that the proper short forms are used when writing them out. Even the slip up of a url country code (as an example, .ca being for Canada) can send you some place you weren’t expecting. Granted, some of those can end up being quite amusing. Such as one of the short forms, or abbreviations for cubit meter. It looks very different when read as cu. m.
I don’t wanna get down on what happened last night in Aurora, Colorado. And I don’t want to dwell on it. Suffice it to say that 12 people are dead after some idiot decided it would be a good idea to pull a gun in the middle of a crowded theatre whilst watching the Dark Knight Rises and open fire. Thanks to his (or her, I really don’t honestly know) incredible lunacy, 12 people are dead. I don’t even give two twits what race, religion, gender, political leaning he is, because he (or she) killed 12 people. I’m not even gonna make mention of the bastard’s name, because he’s not important. He killed 12 people, and as far as I’m concerned, those 12 were far more important than some twat with a gun.
This morning at work we got into a bit of a discussion about how the news media treats stories like this, and I was going to write something about it. But thanks to wilwheaton‘s tumblr, I don’t have to because Charlie Brooker did such a better job of it. Watch more below.
Let’s hope that this isn’t given 24/7 news feeds for the next month, because I really don’t need to be kept reminded of during the summer.