DAW2016: Bioware

BiowareLogo

DAW2016_logo

Developer Appreciation Week is here!  For the uninitiated the concept of Developer Appreciation week dates back to 2010 and was started by Couture Gaming the Blogger formerly known as Scarybooster.  The idea was simple, spend a week talking about all of the things you love about various game development companies and studios.  As a blogger we spend plenty of time pointing out what is wrong in the games we love, and talking about ways that they could be better.  That said it is important to understand that for most of us this critique comes from being a huge fan of the games and genres as a whole.  So during this week we point out the things that are going right and make a point of mentioning all the things we really appreciate out there.  If you too are a blogger please feel free to join in by posting your own Developer Appreciation Week ideas.

BiowareLogo

This is going to be a difficult one to tackle, especially since I didn’t get a ton of sleep thanks to the tornado warnings.  However I am going to give it to good college try, and hope that the end result turns out at least not too shabby.  I first became aware as Bioware as a company with the release of Baldur’s Gate, or more so the existence of what I later came to know as the “Infinity Engine”.  I have been a fan of Dungeons and Dragons since I first found a players manual abandoned in a locker on the last day of school in second grade.  Finding that book spawned a lot of things, not the least of which was trying to hungrily gobble up anything TSR related.  I played the “gold box” series of games, namely because I had read the novels behind a lot of the stories.  There was just something missing with the game, and while I enjoyed them at the time they never really felt that good.  The story that was being told felt limited by the meager technology, and while I was happy enough with the end product…  that only lasted until I had played my first Final Fantasy game.  Baldur’s Gate was the title that brought me back from my console days into once again believing that the PC was a great platform for role-playing games.

Subsequent games were released…  Icewind Dale, Baldurs Gate II and even one of my all time favorites… Planescape Torment… all using this “Infinity Engine” I have to admit I got a bit of the wrong idea behind what exactly the company Bioware really was.  In my mind it seemed like Bioware was the tools company, and Interplay, Black Isle, or later the reboot Obsidian were the game creator.  It wasn’t until Neverwinter Nights was released that I really started to understand that Bioware was both the tools division and a lot of great storytelling wrapped into one package.  Neverwinter Nights was one of those revolutionary games for me personally.  While the original campaign was awesome… it was the inclusion of the aurora toolset that set my mind on fire.  At this time I was playing a lot of Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot so I tried to replicate some of my favorite features of those games using the Neverwinter engine.  I learned the C Script language and figured out how to code things like randomly generated loot from tables when you opened chests or killed mobs.  I also eventually figured out how to create a token based system along the lines of the one that allowed you to purchase armor in the Darkness Falls dungeon.  The end result was this amalgam of the EQ Plane of Hate and DAoC Darkness Falls that I called the “Plane of Spite”.  While I never did anything really interesting with it, I loved every single moment of working on it and figuring out the inner machinations of this engine.

It was not really until Knights of the Old Republic that I hopped back on the Bioware fandom, and I remember being crushingly disappointed when I learned that the title was going to be Xbox Exclusive.  Thankfully later that year it came out for the PC and I was absolutely thrilled to be dissecting that game world as well.  I loved Neverwinter Nights for its technical precision, and the Aurora and Infinity engines for giving me this awesome framework to go out and explore worlds in.  However KOTOR was the first time from Bioware that I was completely stunned by the storyline.  Last week we went into a discussion on AggroChat about the best Star Wars stories, and by the end of that show all of us pretty much came to the consensus that Knights of the Old Republic was if not the absolute best story, it was at least among them.  There are moments in this game that had shocking revelations that I have never quite recovered from.  Even though the engine is dated, and the graphics look like crap compared to what I am used to… I can still play this game happily over and over just because it was so damned well crafted.  I’ve bought it for others, and even own the mobile port of the game.  I feel like this game more than any set the tone for the modern incarnation of Bioware.

I ultimately for one reason or another skilled Mass Effect at launch, and instead picked up the Bioware banner once again with the release of Dragon Age: Origins.  During this period of time I was raiding in World of Warcraft rabidly… but there were a few weeks where I completely dropped off the face of the planet, and it was thanks to this game.  I was just completely enthralled with the world and the setting, and the concept of the dark spawn and deep roads.  I am a Dwarf at heart, so I loved every single moment of Orzammar.  My first play through was as a Dwarven Noble, and I have to say after all of the subsequent play sessions that is still the one I cherish the most.  Much the same as KOTOR, it was ultimately the characters that set this game apart from the others I had played.  They felt so fleshed out and three dimensional, and I actually cared about interacting with them.  I am a huge proponent of smashing things with a big weapon, and games that allow me to slaughter by the hundreds… but it is significantly harder to find a game that makes me feel.  Dragon Age made me feel so much, and during this time I had a really interesting encounter.  One of my guildies invited me to tank for some friends of his, and when I popped onto voice chat we had some of the usual getting to know a new person discussion.  I mentioned that I had been playing a ton of Dragon Age… and it was at this point that they started grilling me about this character or that, or what decision I made where.  It turns out that I was ultimately raiding that night with a bunch of the writers, and you could almost hear them beaming as they proudly chimed in that they wrote this or that as I gushed about various details.

With the release of Mass Effect 2, I later went back and became an addict of that series as well.  I still wish that someone would make that into a Walking Dead style serialized television show, because the story that is being told is among the best science fiction tales ever.  It just seems a crime that the only folks that will ever see the story, are the ones who have played through the game.  Then you of course have the release of Star Wars the Old Republic, that my friends and I tore through rabidly when it launched.  I burnt myself out on that game but recently a bunch of us ended up going back and remembering just how damned well written all of the story arcs really are.  At some point soon I want to go back and finish where I left off which is the start of the Revan content, and try out the new experience fallen empire content that I have heard so much about.  For sake of time though I am going to wrap things up, because otherwise I could probably carry on for a dozen more paragraphs talking about all of the things from Bioware games that I love.  It is a great studio, and while I was scared that EA would destroy its spirit… I have been pleasantly surprised that the core values of the company and the creative might seem to keep trucking along happily.  I look forward to more adventures be it with Andromedia or the next great IP that we have yet to experience.

Best Gift Ever

clone-wars-1-1

Star Wars Christmas

Return-of-the-Jedi_612x380_1

There are times when the best gift at Christmas…  you are not quite sure if it was intentional or not.  I’ve talked about our relatively chill Christmas day plans for the better part of a week, and I have to say after going through it yesterday it was far better than I could have imagined.  First off we have all this amazing food…  that we will be eating for a week.  On the menu….

  • Chilli-Cheese Rotel Dip
  • Sausage Cheese Balls
  • Pulled BBQ Beef
  • White Chocolate Cranberry Clusters
  • Chocolate Cashew Clusters
  • Snickerdoodles
  • Ranch Pretzels
  • White and Milk Chocolate dipped Pretzels
  • Flakey Biscuits to heap the BBQ Beef on

It was not exactly the most conventional meal, but we grazed happily throughout the course of the original three Star Wars movies.  You cannot have read my blog over the last few months and somehow missed the fact that Star Wars was a major part of my childhood.  I went to see the original when I was roughly 2 years old in the local drive in… and was hooked from that point on.  So for Christmas it was a given that I would end up getting a bunch of Star Wars merchandise from my parents.  The best gift however was this marathon and the effect it seems to have had on my wife.  I am trying to keep my expectations tempered, but maybe just maybe we have another Star Wars fan in the family.

Granted she has always been amazing about my Star Wars thing… and has brought me home various artifacts like Star Wars Legos, or just the other night a cool set of Kylo Ren playing cards.  So even though she didn’t get why the movie was important to me… she was always super awesome about putting up with my thing.  I remember in college she even used to get into the hunt for new action figures, helping me crawl through the racks of figures to find the one or two that I didn’t already have.  The prequels pretty much killed my desire to be surrounded by action figures on my walls…  but I do pick up the occasional figure every now and then and on the wall between my monitors I have Dark Jedi Luke, Jedi Leia, Clone Emperor, Mara Jade, Admiral Thrawn, a snow gear Plo Koon, and a badass Savage Opress figure.  So yesterday I half expected the desire to watch the three originals and then go see the new one… was at least in part a gift for me.  That is until she invited one of her friends along for the journey.  After watching the originals and seeing the new one…. she came home with all of these questions that I can’t really answer before she watches the prequels.  So right now the plan is to spend today marathoning through those as well…  and I am happy as a clam when I say… it was not MY idea to do this.

Keeping it Chill

clone-wars-1-1

There are a lot of things I am into that I think she would also like.  I mean she was a huge fan of the Harry Potter series and got into it long before I did, and is also a fan of the Star Trek series and has been amped to see the newer movies.  So the raw DNA of a Science Fiction and Fantasy fan is there, and I think if I could ever get her interested in say the modern Joss Whedeon Marvel films she would really enjoy them as well.  However with those… we would need to start at the very beginning chronologically and do another Marathon since each movie at least in part fleshes out another corner of the Avengers universe.  All of this said….  I am trying to keep it super chill and not put any pressure on her to like things more than she actually does.  However just having my wife ask me questions about Star Wars…  might be quite possibly the best Christmas gift I have ever received.  I mean I guess it was impossible to live with me for the last two decades and not have SOME of the Star Wars franchise to imprint on her.  She has always liked R2-D2, Chewbacca, The Jawas and the Ewoks…  and she used to laugh when I would throw a blanket over my head and say Utini.

One of the awesome things about our marriage has always been that we could have completely different likes…  but each of us would be supportive over whatever the other person was into.  She has been awesome about the daily blog thing… and the podcast… and this game or that…  because I know they really do put dents in our schedule that are theoretically “untouchable” where I need to be at a keyboard.  Similarly I am cool with the fact that there are many nights where she works in her classroom until 8pm or has this or that church activity that needs attention.  It has always amazed me at just how well we work together, when in truth we don’t have that many shared interests.  At the core has always been this willingness to go along with whatever the other person wants to do… because I think we enjoy seeing the other half excited even if we aren’t that excited ourselves.  All of this said…  I am not expecting a Christmas Miracle… and all of the sudden my wife will be as obsessed with Star Wars as I have been all of these years.  I still think its amazing however for her to be asking the same sorts of questions that I pondered all throughout my childhood and even now have nothing more than vague guesses at.  I think without a doubt though, there will be no question as to whether or not we will be going to the next several movies because if nothing else… she seems hooked on the new generation of films after watching Force Awakens last night.

 

 

 

Santa and Grumplings

Santa Lives

I’ve been going through this strange set of emotions since getting out of the movies on Thursday night.  One of the things I am learning about myself is that I am in fact deeply susceptible to nostalgia.  Growing up I honestly thought I was not nostalgic at all, because the things I cared about never seemed to align with the things I was supposed to care about.  Photos for example are just not one of the things I care about that much, and the only time I take a photo of something is when I want to show it to someone else.  I have a pretty good memory when it comes to visual images, and I can always summon up images from the past when I want them… and as such I never placed much value in having a physical representation.  My mother on the other hand…  that is the thing she finds most important in the world and has taken volumes of photos that the world will likely never see… because she never does anything with them.  My nostalgia… seems to be firmly rooted in the things and places that gave me the most joy in the world.  The king of all of this will always be Star Wars, because it truly was my first love.  For so many years I doubted my memories, or at least doubted that I had as much fun with Star Wars as I seemed to remember.

Then Thursday night I watched Force Awakens and remembered just what it was like to experience that level of joy again.  Now I am just riding the giddy contact high of the experience, and looking forward to talking about it with anyone that has already been indoctrinated into the club.  Yesterday there was a sequence of tweets trying to decide when it was time to talk about the movie, and I guess personally… I am going to wait until January 18th.  I am going to give the world a full month to watch it before I start openly talking about spoilers and spreading the world with my theory crafting.  Spoilers are such a weird thing…. because for me personally they do not adversely effect my enjoyment of the movie.  I personally guessed at four or five of the plot points from the movie, and it was in no way tarnished for me when I saw them coming.  In fact there was a bit of strange excitement coursing through me when I realized that things were playing out in one of the ways I had imagined them.  For others though… once something is spoiled it ruins the experience, and as a result I am going to try my best not to ruin anyone else’s.

The “A” Team

Return-of-the-Jedi_612x380_1

I love the Star Wars universe, and while I was greatly disappointed for years…  shows like the Clone Wars and the current Rebels made me remember just how awesome the setting COULD be.  I think they were essentially the gateway to allowing myself to indulge in the hype leading up to Force Awakens.  The problem with Rebels is that as good as it is…  it isn’t the team of characters that I wanted to be engaged with.  Shows like it or Agents of Shield… no matter how amazing they might be… will always be stuck in the rut of being the “B” Team.  These are the characters that are ALSO in the universe…. but aren’t really the characters that you really want to be watching.  While shows like that might raise the excitement level a bit every now and then with a “special guest appearance” you know at the end of the day… you are never really going to get back the characters you care the most about.  While to some extent the new movie is setting up a brand new cast of heroes to take over the throne… in the form of Finn, Rey, Poe and Ren, it still very much feels that we are going on another adventure with the characters we grew up loving: Han, Luke, Leia, Chewie, R2, and C-3PO.

There is a continuity that other derivative products lack, and in a way I am more okay knowing the cast of the original trilogy will always play a secondary role in this new trilogy of movies.  The Avengers are still an active team… and while they exist… Agents of Shield will always be the lesser product.  Similarly no matter how cool Rebels is… and how awesome it is for filling in the gap between the prequels and rebellion era movies…  it will always be the story of people we didn’t know existed until Disney told us they did.  So in the meantime I am going to embrace the joy I am feeling, because there were points yesterday where I wanted to take my hot-wheels Millennium Falcon and go running around the office making “space” noises.  There is a kid inside me that has woken up, that has not been awake since the 80s… and I am perfectly okay with hanging out with him again.  Part of my whole mission to limit the negativity in my life, and to be less cynical…  was to be able to truly feel unbridled joy again… and this movie has paid off in spades.  Sure I am almost forty years old… and sure I probably shouldn’t be enraptured by Star Wars.  To that I say “fuck it” I get to decide what sort of Adult I am going to be, and I choose to be the one that never really grew up inside.

Grumplings

Wow-64 2015-12-19 07-39-42-65

The most annoying part of any in game holiday event… are the things you have to fight other players for to get spawns.  In the new Winter Veil garrison event, you have to fight players for patches of snow on the ground, in the hopes that instead of getting a snowball of various kids…  you get a Grumpling pet.  Last night after looting many piles of snow I managed to get one… and now I am done touching those piles of snow.  I am not going to be one of these players that tries to profit off this event, because it is my hope that by removing myself from the picture others will have an easier time getting their own Grumplings.  Now however I am still going to be completing the daily event… until I get the damned mount.  I’ve decided to send all of my packages to Belgrace my MooCowAdin, because he seems to be the closest to getting all of the appropriate factions for the flying mount.  So among the four characters I have that can do the daily, I am hoping ONE of them gets the stupid mount.

 

Spoiler Free Review

Doing Silly Things

So the other day I said I would be doing a spoiler free review today, since I was in theory seeing it ahead of a good deal of the potential folks that will eventually see it.  As a result I am leading off my post with the single line tweet that I sent out last night after getting home.  Now I am going to talk about the day and night itself for a bit.  I was not one of those first day ticket scroungers, in fact I ended up waiting at least a week before trying to find any.  We have a smallish theater in town within walking distance of the house…  however last night it fell in the “too damned cold” territory to even consider walking.  For Lord of the Rings I was able to simply walk in on opening night and get tickets, without any pre-order…  so I had no real doubt that I would be able to see the movie this weekend without much fuss.  The original plan was to eat dinner at Plaza De Toros  a Mexican place that I like quite a bit that just happens to conveniently border the parking lot of the movie theater.  Just to make life easier… so we could meet up at 5pm and then walk over and start standing in line around 6pm for the 7pm show.  This at least was our plan…  our plan changed.

I went home over lunch yesterday to pick my tickets up, since pre-orders still need to be printed at the theater in our setup.  I ended up having a lengthy conversation with the worker that was manning the booth, and he told me that they were seating for the 7pm show… aka the first showing as early as 4:30 so that we could go ahead and get seats.  So when I went back and talked it through with my boss, we agreed that we would simply meet at the theater around 5ish instead and either eat at the theater… or like I did and grab something really quickly on the way home.  The positive of both options is our theater has unlimited refills on both soda and popcorn, so my boss went with that option.  The only negative is that I didn’t think to warn him not to take one of the Highways that is notoriously hell to travel on during the evening rush hour… so this meant it was running about 30 minutes later than planned.  Luckily about this time another friend popped her head out of the theater and hollered at me, and saved us some seats near her, her husband that I work with, and their son who was completely amped about the experience and wearing and Ezra Bridger costume.  So there we sat in the theater for an hour and a half ahead of the start time… chatting away and killing the time.

The Movie

Latest-The-Force-Awakens-Trailer-Description

I had a lot of hope riding on this movie… but at the same time I kept trying to prepare myself for the potential of it being just as disappointing as the prequels.  In fact a good deal of my conversation with my friend was that both remember how excited we were for Phantom Menace and how disappointed we were immediately after.  I have to admit… I was not immediately in love with this movie.  Not saying I was disappointed in any fashion… but the movie has a look that is significantly different than the traditional “star wars look” for lack of a better term.  JJ Abrams simply has a different design ethic than George Lucas did… and this is perfectly okay… but I spent the first few moments of the movie “adjusting” to the style.  However at about the twenty minute mark… I was hooked and from that point through the end I was completely drawn into the world and believed that I was in fact watching a new Star Wars epic.  The characters are all excellent, and more importantly than that… their interactions…  are also awesome. There are jokes and quips… and not in a way that takes you outside of the picture.  Much of this movie had to be about passing the torch from one generation to the next… and feel like we are now firmly introduced to the conflict through the eyes of Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, and Kylo Ren.  Not really going to delve into characters outside of the group, because those are the ones we already know quite a bit about thanks to the trailers.

What I like the most is that each of these characters is their own “new” character… and not “The New Vader” or “The New Luke”.  They are each their own person and don’t really fit any predetermined molds in the Star Wars universe.  The conflict that is set up… is one that I cannot wait to see resolved over the course of the next few movies.  In fact I am hungry to see what happens next…. which is something that never happened during the prequels.  This is the first “new” story that we have had from Star Wars on the big screen in a very long while, because the prequels had a fixed beginning and a fixed end point… and we were simply seeing how the details worked themselves out between.  This time with Force Awakens… we have no clue what is going to happen in the beginning, middle or end… and in spite of all of our machinations and predictions… we know that we know next to nothing.  There are certain aspects that I think seasoned veterans of Star Wars and the Expanded Universe might guess at…. but those guesses are never justified with a firm answer.  This movie feels very much in the tradition of A New Hope, and also feels like this grand Star Wars pen and paper adventure… played out on the screen.  The critics are more than likely not going to like it… because this is absolutely a “Star Wars” movie… and not something that is trying to get an Oscar.  That said… the costuming and use of practical effects absolutely SHOULD get an Oscar.

The little kid in me is alive and happy.  There was a period of time after the prequels where I doubted if my memories of Star Wars were really genuine.  I wondered if the universe really was as cool as I remembered it.  I am happy to say that yes…  this setting still has amazing things to show us.  Now stop reading this shit and go get tickets to see Force Awakens.

 

Predictions and Dots

Wow-64 2015-12-17 06-21-29-64

Star Wars Predictions

KermitFlail

It is in fact the day… and I have reached full on Kermit Flail status.  All day yesterday my brain kept going “Star Wars! Star Wars! Star Wars!” and I have zero clue how I am going to be a reasonably functional human being today.  The tickets are for 7 pm tonight at my local generally no frills theater…  in 2D… which is honestly the way I would prefer to watch this movie.  If it can blow me away without any frills, then it will have been a good day.  At this point I am largely in a Star Wars information black out other than occasionally checking what the Rotten Tomatoes “freshness” score happens to be.  For most of yesterday it was around the 98% but right now it is sitting at 95%.  I am super thankful that Google shows the score without having to actually click through into the  site, because really I am trying to avoid knowing much of anything about the actual plot.  That said… when the Legion announcement happened in WoW I did a few predictions that morning, some of which were serious… others very much not.  So I thought it might be fun to do my Star Wars: Force Awakens predictions.  Please note that any alignment between these and actual plot points is pure coincidence and based on sheer dumb luck.  I promise I know nothing… and these are not spoilers…  but “wouldn’t it be cools”.

  • Rey – I think it is probably a given at this point that Rey is the child of Luke and Han that somehow got stranded on Jakku, or at least that is my working theory.  There was a shot of Rey and Chewie flying the Millennium Falcon which kinda lead me down this line of thinking.
  • Han – Harrison Ford has long said that the only way he would ever return to the Star Wars franchise is if they were going to kill off his character.  So I think without a doubt Han Solo will die in this movie.  It will be an even bigger shock to me if he doesn’t… because I guess at the end of the day that means that Harrison Ford REALLY likes printing money.  It would be cool if he got used to the fandom, and approached it with less disdain… but I am not holding my breath.
  • Chewie – I think if and when Han dies… the Life Debt that Chewie owes Han…  will transfer to his daughter.  My biggest fear is that they jettisoned the Expanded Universe just so that Chewie would be alive…  only to kill him off again.  This movie should be all about passing the torch to the next generation… but you still need some aspect of the current generation to make that work, and I think Chewie continuing on would be a good callback.
  • Kylo Ren – This one… I am torn on.  For the longest period of time I thought maybe this was also Han and Leia’s kid… if for no reason other than in the Expanded Universe…  their son did in fact turn to the Dark Side.  Now I simply do not know.  I have a feeling he ties into the Skywalker lineage somehow… but at this point it makes me wonder if he will end up being Luke’s son.
  • Luke – One of the big mysteries is what exactly is up with Luke.  I think this one goes one of two ways… either he has turned to the Dark Side himself and becomes the new big baddie … the power behind the throne of sorts.  There are problems with this however… because if that were the case why would Kylo be on this hunt to collect all of these artifacts of Darth Vader… why wouldn’t he just worship the new embodiment of the Dark Side instead.  I think more likely he is going to play the role of Obi Wan from the first movie… where he has isolated himself from the world and we go on a hunt to find him, where he is slightly mad in an almost Jorus C’Baoth style.
  • Poe Dameron – I think a safe bet would be he somehow ties lineage back to a member of the Rogue Squadron that we will come to know during the Rogue Squadron breakout movie.  That said I am going to go down my “wouldn’t it be cool” line of thought…  and say… wouldn’t it be awesome if he turned out to be the child of Boba Fett?  I mean he bears a vague resemblance to both Jango and Boba as seen in the prequels, and I mean… vague… because its not like Boba looked exactly like Jango.
  • Finn – I really have no real guesses on this one.  My fear is that they will go with the simple answer and make him Lando’s kid.  I would love to think that he is tied into the original cast somehow.  I know in theory he could be the child of Han Solo and Sana Solo which was introduced as Han’s wife in the comics.  I’ve long thought that Han himself was a force sensitive… because his unnatural luck at times…  could just literally be latent force sensitivity.  I think Finn is going to play into the main story line in an important way, and we know he at least ends up wielding a light saber… so could he be also of the Skywalker lineage somehow?

Whatever the case any of these things might be… I am just hoping that I really and truly love the movie.  I need this to be awesome… because I am still so disappointed in the prequels.  I am even wearing my special Star Wars vans today…  in hopes that tonight will be a truly awesome experience.

Warlocking

Wow-64 2015-12-17 06-21-29-64

In theory Wednesday night is the night that I raid with Jed and crew, but I needed the night off.  It has been a pretty crazy week, and with something scheduled almost evening…  Wednesday night was really the only night I truly had to sit at home at chill.  So instead of raiding I ended up working on the new holiday quests.  The positive is that there is now a whole sequence of Winters Veil quests that start from your Garrison, the negative is that one of them is horrifically bugged and largely impossible to complete if you wish to retain your sanity.  I guess in theory if you caught the quest during off hours you would do just fine, but since this is the sort of thing you want to do on every character that can possibly do it…  it means that the area is pretty much constantly camped.  Realistically they should have had the Alliance event happen in Shadowmoon Valley and the Horde event happen in Frostfire Ridge…  because simply getting there is a bit of a pain in the ass for my Alliance characters.  The worst part about the new quests is that Christmas has now also become a mount chase… with these chests purchasable from the vendor in your garrison for essentially one days worth of tokens.  If you are insanely lucky like apparently Jaedia…  you can end up getting the Minion of Grumpus mount…  which I will be shooting for during this event.

After fiddling with holiday bits, I relaxed to an evening of working on my new Orc Warlock.  Essentially I am leveling just like I would an arcanist, which means running around like mad and dotting things up.  The end result seems to be a pretty rapid fire way to level… and I am already out leveling the content.  Granted I am fully decked out in heirlooms which is in part what is making that be a thing.  Mostly I am just trying to push my way into “dungeon” levels as fast as I can so that hopefully I can be queued for a dungeon the entire time I am leveling.  If nothing else I am enjoying myself which is a first when it comes to Warlocks.  I’ve always been interested in the class… because demons…  but always struggled with getting into the spirit.  However during the AggroChat podcast and through playing Final Fantasy XIV… I am learning that I basically tried playing all dot based classes wrong, and that the answer is in fact to run around like mad, dotting everything up and watching it just die before my eyes.  So upon leveling this Warlock that is absolutely my new MO, and so far … it seems to be working.  I needed a chill out class to play and this one is fitting the bill.

Week in Gaming 12/13/2015

Blogging is Hard

KnightsOfTheOldRepublicComicjpgI’ve been in a bit of a relative funk this week, and found it extremely hard to get started writing most mornings.  It is like for whatever reason my will to put fingers to keyboard and make important sounding things happen… has been drained out of me.  At this point we are a few months away from going three whole years worth of blog posts, and I guess in a way it is having its toll on me.  At this point I have far more regular readers than I have ever had at any other point in the blogs history, and that is freaking awesome.  The fact that I have so many supportive people with my back…  is ultimately the thing that keeps me moving forward on days like today.  We recorded this insanely huge podcast last night where we took the normal crew of myself, Grace, Kodra, Tam and Thalen…  and included some other friends InkyBrushes, Nephsys and Pizzmaid.  Sadly we were missing Ash but he had his own version of a really rough week.  Combined we focused a single topic… and recorded for over two hours…  which compressed down to just under it.  The problem being… by the time I did even the most basic editing pass…  it was around one in the morning.

I’ve been fighting what I think is largely sleep deprivation most of the week, and it has ended up with me falling asleep as early as 8 pm on a couple of the nights.  Well granted I went to bed at 8pm… and read comics on my new kindle but still I ended up drifting off to sleep about 30 minutes to an hour later.  I have been getting a lot of use out of my Marvel Unlimited account, and largely using it to read the backlog of awesome Star Wars comics.  At first I went through what was available of the modern series, namely Star Wars and the Vader series.  I started on the Princess Leia series but struggled with it, mostly because I simply was not a huge fan of the art style.  Recently though I have been running back through and reading the Knights of the Old Republic series from the start.  I am maybe a dozen episodes in at this point and I am loving it…  this totally feels like I am consuming comics in the same way I binge Netflix shows.  I just wish the lag between print and them showing up on Marvel Unlimited was not quite so great.  The latest issues of the modern Star Wars comic to show up are from August of this year, but what I am really hoping is that they release the issues on a semi-monthly basis just with that lag.  I can totally deal with reading comics late…  I just want to be able to read them with a certain regularity.

World of Shipyards

Wow-64 2015-12-05 08-49-30-95

This week has largely been about reconciling my differences with the Shipyard system.  I commented last week that they were essentially a worst possible version of the Garrison system…. and in many ways I don’t have a significant change in that opinion.  What did change however is that I realized that after so many of you told me about it…  the Garrison addon I was already using had built in functionality to automate a good deal of the shipyard bullshittery as well.  The end result is that I have somehow managed to learn to live with the Shipyards and they have rewarded me well for my blind submission.  At this point between the three characters that have them…  I have earned a hippo mount, a bunch of hellfire citadel gear caches,  and more left sharks than I could ever have a use for… I seriously have three sitting in the inventory of my MooCowAdin.  The problem with all of this of course is the fact that I now need to feed the beast that is the shipyard, and the only reliable way of doing this… is schlepping out to Tanaan jungle and completing the daily mission.  Now some of my characters have been stockpiling oil from Garrison missions for along time now and won’t really have this problem… but Belghast is constantly struggling to pay his daily upkeep.

Other than this I have been slowly inching up my gear levels on Belghast and Belgrace, and attempting to run the Timewalking event on my alts… that can actually benefit from the 660-675 gear that they can drop.  The funniest part of the week however has been learning that I don’t simply remember the BC era content as being significantly rougher… that it actually really is.  PUG groups are simply not prepared for mobs that crowd control and fear the hell out of players… and are in no way ready for just how hard everything hits.  There have been more wipes from the party finder than I have had in ages… and I am really enjoying every minute of it.  The alliance side…  has been a colossal mess of chain group joins and splits until finally we push through the dungeon.  Horde side on the other hand.. people just buckle down and pick themselves up after a wipe and keep pushing forward.  I guess when you have to wait through a thirty minute dps queue… you are significantly less likely to abandon ship at the first sign of trouble.  Alliance will always be my first home because that is where my army of alts lives…  but I have to say Horde is growing on me really quickly.

Fabian Strategy Lives

Destiny_20151212090948

I know I spent a good deal of my post yesterday gushing about the new and revised Fabian Strategy… but seriously I am in love with this gun.  It had been roughly a month since I had seriously spent much time in Destiny, and yesterday I poked my head back in.  Apart from being woefully out of practice, I am still amazed at just how fun the moment to moment play is in this game.  I spent a bit of time yesterday trying to play Battlefront, and the gameplay just doesn’t hold a candle to just how good Destiny feels.  Now that I have this weapon that allows me to abuse all of my instincts, I can see myself really settling on it as my main gun.  Now I have said that numerous times… and I know I said it recently with the Xhalo Supercell…  but seriously….  this gun is amazing.  I will always be a Titan at heart, because I want to play like a tank in most games.  This gun makes me FEEL like a tank, because the chance of regeneration upon kill ends up firing a lot more frequently than I think most people realize.  There have been several strikes that I survived entirely because of this weapon constantly triggering my shield regeneration.  It is my goal this week to pop in periodically, and not go quite so long between play sessions.

 

 

Misfortune Mordren

Boring Post Material

ScreenShot38

This morning I am struggling a bit to remain conscious.  Neither myself nor my wife managed to get much sleep last night, because in our partially finished state…  the rain kept dripping off a metal plate just outside our window.  Which meant either try and sleep through this loud irregular dripping pattern, or sleep with the television loud enough to hopefully drown out the noise.  We did the later which means we never really slept that deeply, kinda like we do when there is a tornado warning and we end up with the weather blaring all night hoping we would wake up if we needed to take shelter.  As a result I am struggling a bit when it comes to stringing together thoughts into a sentence.  This is absolutely the sort of day that I would just say screw it and not blog…  but after several years of this madness I don’t really want to break the chain.  That’s the funny thing about doing the daily blogging thing… is after a point you really don’t want to do something to break the pattern of posts.  It is like the pattern itself becomes the important thing and not so much what I am writing about.

This weekend also was one where I did a surprisingly small amount of gaming.  We recorded the latest episode of AggroChat on Friday night this week, and during that I piddled around in Fallout 4.  Then as usual I stayed up way the hell too late wrapping up some minor details on the podcast.  Then Saturday we had the very first of our family “Christmas” activities, I say it in quotes because it is technically a dual purpose Thanksgiving and Christmas that we have with my wife’s dad and step mom.  They are snow birds and spend the winter in warmer climates… so for the last decade or so we have had this dual holiday day around Thanksgiving.  Thing is they keep pushing it up so they can get down South “before it gets cold”, and admittedly they have a really nice place down there so I don’t blame them.  It just ends up making for a strange holiday get together… when I am absolutely not even in Thanksgiving mode yet.  When I got home from that… I had every intent of taking a nap, but instead the contractors were banging on the wall of the bedroom which would have made sleep impossible.

As a result I pretty much sleep walked through the day until we went to bed that evening relatively early.  This is the point at which we realized that the drip was a thing… which woke us up about 4 am Sunday morning.  My wife just stayed up, and I attempted to sleep through it…  which I am guessing I eventually succeeded because it didn’t wake me up again until around 7:30.  Over the last several years we have pretty much ignored we had a back yard.  The siding had gotten bad and honestly everything back there was just overwhelming in that it all needed attention.  With the bedroom door thing leading out there, my wife has become determined to fix the problems back there and reclaim it as usable space.  Since we had a dumpster thanks to the construction folks…  she was damned determined to use that to take care of some stuff.  We had a few hour break in the rain, so my wife and I were trudging through the muddy back yard picking up things and carrying them to the dumpster.  I am surprisingly sore from this, even though all I really did was act as the person moving stuff from the backyard to the dumpster, and she did a lot of the brute force gathering stuff into piles for me to move.

Star Wars Pen and Paper

swtor 2015-10-11 16-26-29-92

The highlight of yesterday has to be our Star Wars pen and paper game.  The AggroChat crew and a few friends have been doing a fantasy flights Star Wars system game through Roll 20.  The way that game integrates with Roll 20 is amazing, and quite literally if you fill out your character sheet correctly all you have to do is push a single button when you want to do an attack.  I am assuming there is a lot more going on behind the scenes that Tam is doing to run the game, but for the most part… this is the best possible remote pen and paper experience.  Essentially we are a group of force users during the A New Hope era, with one significant monkey wrench thrown in.  My character is the one that does not fit…  I am not a nice person…  I never claimed to be.  My character has pretty much spent his entire life working as a Bodyguard/Hired Gun/Enforcer for one Hutt cartel after another.  The problem is… I get these “bad feelings” and often times my employers don’t heed my warnings and end up dead.  As a result I’ve developed this persona in the underworld of “Misfortune Mordren”, and it has been interesting to see how that is working out.

I built this persona because I thought it would be interesting to play… but apparently I am some sort of underworld bogeyman.  We had an instance yesterday where our craft was about to get boarded by some pirates, and the mere mention of my name…. and some really high deception rolls on the part of Kodra…  caused them to back off because they wanted absolutely nothing to do with me.  Apparently I am considered to be so “Bad Luck” that even after interdicting our ship…  it was not worth their time to try and take us on.  Then again there is a whole other side to this tale, because I am racking up quite the body count.  While I am playing a character from Edge of the Empire, we decided to make things easier and put me on the Force and Destiny conflict system.  I feel like I am not understanding this system… because every time I take conflict I cheer out loud.  Much to the horror of my otherwise party of “goody two shoes” that are trying desperately to avoid the Dark Side.  We walked into a gang base yesterday, and I opened fire before they had time to even speak.  To my defense though… I figure if you are in a gang on Nar Shadda you have made some poor life choices anyways.  Also to my defense Kodra did ask me to create a diversion…  so yeah I was just doing that.

Essentially I am becoming somewhat of the conflict sponge for my party, and I am perfectly fine in that role.  The thing is… I never said I wanted to be a light side character… and additionally I never said I was a “good guy”.  My character has spent his entire life living in Hutt territory, and in truth I am turning over a new leaf.  As a Hutt enforcer I would have been expected to torture every single one of these people I took down… just for good measure, because that is what Hutts do.  I have yet to feed a single one of them to some bizarre creature we are keeping in a pit to entertain the boss.  So simply taking them out cleaning… is a bit of a mercy from what I have been used to.  It is going to be interesting to see how my character and the rest of the party play out… as they so carefully use their stun settings…  and mine has dust on it because it has never been used once.  The game usually runs for several hours… and by the time it wraps up I just have enough time to grabs some food and head downstairs for my Sunday evening television time… including Walking Dead, Talking Dead… and now maybe Into the Badlands.  I watched the first episode last night and I have to say so far I am digging it heavily.

 

 

Media Consumption – 10/31/2015

Happy Halloween

MediaConsumption

This was another week where I mostly just watched things on YouTube.  That said I did dig up a few gems that I feel are worth sharing.  My weekend is going to be a bit odd because last night we recorded AggroChat so the members of our podcast that have social lives… can go out and do social things.  I on the other hand plan on playing the new Funcom single player game “The Park” in honor of the holiday.  I am not 100% sure if I am going to stream it or not, but I will likely record it.  I have heard it is honestly not that long of a game, but it seems just about right for Halloween fun time.  Other than that…  I have this fear that because of the cold snap I am starting to also get a cold…  I know it doesn’t work that way but still.  So I am starting to preemptively medicate myself, because I really don’t want to be sick again…  after having recently spent entirely too much time sick.

The Book of Sorrows

This is absolutely amazing… and you should stop what you are doing and spend the next hour and a half listening to this.  I may or may not be a bit obsessed with Destiny and its oddly coherent… but insanely difficult to find Lore.  This lore has traditionally been pieced together in a manner that can only be fully represented if you imagine a basement somewhere… with newspaper clippings, photos, scribbled writings…  all connected together with red string with various bits and pieces circled and text scrawled on it that says “this means something”.  Seriously to understand Destiny lore is to lose a significant part of your sanity.  With the Taken King release…. they made things a bit easier in a way that peeling an orange with your bare hands… is easier than trying to do it with a pair of those weird mechanical lab arms that you see in science fiction labs.  Throughout the new items there are some items called Calcified Fragments… and each one you collect unlocks another tidbit of a tome called the Book of Sorrows.  This actual book…  outlines the progression of the hive from being this tiny race that lived only ten years…  to the immortal monster that it is today.  This shit is really good… and at some point I will listen to it again.  The channel I linked is pretty damned amazing… because it is voice acted in a manner you would expect an audio book to be done.  Extremely worth your time…  seriously listen to this now.

Star Wars Original Trilogy – Force Awakens Mash-up

Another thing I am also completely enamored with right now is Force Awakens and anything else that seems like  Force Awakens.  The measure of hype and love that I am feeling for Star Wars right now…  is insane.  The awesome thing about it is that right now I am rocking a R2-D2 beanie… and it is insane the amount of friends I make because of it.  I had a long conversation about Star Wars Battlefront last night with the grocery store cashier because it all started with a “Man I love your beanie”.  If you want to be crushed with feels….  watch this above video.  The creator took scenes from the original trilogy, and cut it to fit the thematic elements of the Force Awakens trailer and that soundtrack.  Seriously…  I felt shivers when I watched this thing… and then was just overwhelmed with emotion upon its conclusion.  I am probably overselling it…  but you know I get super excited about things so…  watch this too.

Detroit Trailer

A few years back there was this amazing tech demo running on the Playstation 3 hardware called Kara, about this android that feels more emotional than it should.  We wondered for years what would become of it…. if anything would come of it.  It was this great experience of trans-humanism and my friends and I all sort of hoped it would be more than just a tech demo someday.  Turns out they are in fact working on a game surrounding that same universe, and they are setting it in Detroit.  Not sure exactly what the appeal of Detroit is for non-American developers…  but apparently it has some because there seem to be an awful lot of games set in this city.  The game looks pretty awesome, and it is going to be interesting to see what ramifications come from being a “free range android” of sorts.  Reminds me quite a bit of the show Humans, which deals with similar issues.

Destiny re-cut to Force Awakens

I said I was obsessed with Force Awakens right now… and also Destiny… and this video connects the two.  Similar to the original Star Wars trilogy trailer, this takes the sound and voice over associated with the Force Awakens trailer and edits it to Destiny footage.  I think it works pretty great, and I felt the same sort of warm fuzzies watching this as I did the other…  I was honestly shocked at just how well it worked.  The strange thing is… the guy that did this apparently almost exclusively re-cuts movie trailers to Destiny footage… but honestly most of them don’t work nearly as well as this one.

Walking Dead

I thought I would throw a footnote in here really quick…  just to say I am not going to talk about this episode.  Mostly because I don’t want anyone to accidentally have it spoiled.  Some shit happens… some major shit…  and Monday morning we tried to sort through all of it.  We were seriously distraught because we were uncertain what the events of the show meant for the franchise as a whole.  Then…  one of us found some leaked information…  which makes me even less likely to write about it.  Right now…  I am just not sure how I feel about it… what happened… what supposedly will happen.  As a result I just am not going to talk about it other than what I have just said here.  Since however I have gotten in the habit of running down each new episode, I thought I would at least leave a footnote.

Week In Gaming 10/25/2015

Destiny_20151024125447

The Sickly Bel

weekingamingThis week was an odd one in that I managed to catch some flu-like chest crud.  I felt pretty awful most of last weekend, and then struggled to exist Monday and ended up coming home halfway through Tuesday.  I chained Wednesday as well, and found myself in that place where I wanted to play something…  but anything seemed to require too much concentration.  This was after all the week I had early access to Star Wars Fallen Empire, and I did exactly none of the content.  I poked my head in a few times to attempt to play my Sith Sorcerer and failed miserably at it.  I have a few comments to make about my experiences, but the majority of my gaming time was spent playing Destiny.  Apparently that game is largely muscle memory, and I can play it without having to think too much about it.

SWTOR: Fallen Empire

swtor 2015-10-20 21-14-50-86

As I said in the intro, this week was the early launch of Fallen Empire the massively game changing expansion for Star Wars the Old Republic… and I barely touched it.  I did pop in enough to get sorted out how some of the new systems work.  Namely the way companions now exist as being independent of the abilities they use.  This means if you no longer have to deal with companions you cannot stand just because they fill the role you want.  As a result I swapped to using Andronikos Revel on my Sorcerer, because he loves it when I shock the shit out of NPCs that are not giving me my way.  Similarly I would probably never run with a companion that is not Vette on my Sith Warrior, or always run with Kira Carsen on my Jedi Guardian.  There is seriously nothing cooler than running around with Kira and feeling like a Jedi strike force, and having her also be a healer…  just icing on the cake.  As you can tell this is a super important change for me, and I am damned happy to see it go in.

Other than that the other big change for me is the fact that the NPCs are actually labelled as to what type of quest they give you.  For example in the above image you can clearly see that this NPC is going to give you the Belsavis planetary quest.  This makes it easy to ignore things like the non-soloable heroic quests or flashpoint quests you are not quite ready for… to keep them from cluttering your logs.  The other big thing that I noticed was the way that the level scaling works.  It seems like when you land on a planet you are scaled to the maximum level for that area, somewhat like Final Fantasy XIV scales dungeons.  This means you can overlevel content… but just barely making it a bit easier if you wait for awhile to do a quest rather than doing it when it is on level.  However there is never a point where content ever becomes useless to you, which means you can easily go back and farm early content if you are struggling a bit to progress forward.  The loss of 12x class experience however means that pretty much to stay current you are always going to have to do your class quests as well as the main planetary story arc.  In any case I think the expansion content is going to be enjoyable… if I ever actually play it.

All-Saints Wake

ffxiv_dx11 2015-10-25 10-52-03-70

I don’t have a lot to talk about when it comes to Final Fantasy XIV this week, but I did poke my head back in for a few hours.  This week was the release of the All-Saints Wake event that serves as Halloween for the game.  As we talked about last night, holidays in Final Fantasy XIV are largely the tale of incompetent villains and in this case it is a repeat appearance of the Impresario the mastermind behind the Continental Circus.  Over the years we have learned that this is really a group of voidsent that are trying to cause mayhem each year, and we the player finds new ways to thwart them.  As cute as the story line is… the reason why you do holidays in games is to get stuff.  This year we get the purple outfit that my character is showing off above, a new Pumpkin Butler minion, and for the first time this year an actual mount.  We get to ride around Eorzea on a flying broom… that actually does fly if you have unlocked flight in a given zone.  The thing I love about Final Fantasy XIV holiday events is that they are adorable, provide awesome rewards… and end up taking only a few minutes to complete rather than being a grindy mess that brings out the worst in players.  If you are subbed you should definitely check it out, because while the quest is more enjoyable if you have done the previous years… it is still fairly easy to follow without that ancestral knowledge.

Devilian

Devilian 2015-10-24 20-43-52-27

I have some issues with this game, but since I am now in alpha/beta/whatever phase it is and the NDA has dropped I thought I would talk a bit about it this morning.  My number one issue is the gender locked classes and the fact that they have very specific styles to them.  The Berserker is a guts clone, the Shadow Hunter is a bare chested Bishi-elven alucard like character, the Evoker is spilling out of her dress, and the Cannoneer is a Loli.  Out of those options… there is exactly one I can stomach playing as, which is the Berserker.  The thing is…. all of these design decisions unfortunately have nothing to do with Trion Worlds which is the company bringing the game to non-Korean markets.  As fraught as the classes are… the game is actually rather enjoyable once you get past its slightly odd control scheme.  By all looks it is a Diablo clone, but it controls vastly different… and honestly reminds me a bit more of the way skill shots in League of Legends feel.  You use your mouse for character facing and then use your number keys to fire off abilities.  You can bind an attack to your left mouse button, and I am probably going to do that with my basic attack to make it feel more Diablo-like.  What I have seen of the combat is kinda interesting, and the dungeons are really enjoyable.  I am just struggling to get past the art direction decisions, because honestly…  they make me really sad.  This could be a really great game, if it didn’t have gender locked classes and the art design did not seem to be from a thirteen year olds “tee hee hee boobs” mindset.  It will be interesting to see if I am still piddling with it by the time the next beta comes around or if I have decided that the game is simply “not for me”.

Destiny

Magical glow of an Exotic Engram… only to be dashed moments later when you find out its a damned helmet.

This week has been almost entirely devoted to Destiny.  As I said before this was the game that I could play without having to apply much thought to it.  A good chunk of the week was spent working on my Hunter who is now I believe 270ish light level, and all of the way through the TKK content.  I cheated a bit and jump started the character to level 25 using the item I got from purchasing the Taken King.  I have to say if they want to sell something on the cash shop… I would absolutely buy a second one of these.  Going from 25 to 40 was not that bad, but I am just not looking forward to taking my Warlock from 1-25 to get there.  This week has also been the resurgence of my appreciation of Auto Rifles.  I completely the third Gunsmith faction quest and it ended up giving me an exotic rifle called the Fabian Strategy.  This thing is just a blast to use and I love the way it sounds and feels as I rip through mobs.  This has also caused me to dust off the auto rifles I had in my vault and I found a few others that I really like, one of which my hunter is currently using.

The other key activity for this week has been running level 36 strikes in an effort to get exotic engrams with three of coins.  I found out today that I could be just doing level 20s, but honestly I kinda enjoy the slight effort the 36s provide.  They go so much quicker than the heroics, but don’t feel like I am simply steamrolling them in quite the way that the level 20s do.  Essentially my pattern has been to run strikes using coins until I get an exotic, then take a break for a bit and do something else.  I am also attempting to keep both characters up to date on bounties each day, and my regular farming runs on the dreadnought manage to pay off big time… as I had more than enough Hadium Flakes to get my Hunter his sword almost immediately.  The big chore is still trying to increase my light levels, and the most 290 grind is extremely slow.  That said it still feels enjoyable because I am seeing a ton of drops in the process.  Even though half of the things are going to turn out to be something I cannot use… it still feels good to see drops.  Its like the game is giving me hope… even though moments later it is just going to dash them once again when I find out the exotic is another damned helmet.

 

Media Consumption 10/24/2015

Week of Star Wars

MediaConsumptionThis week was extremely dominated by my burgeoning love of Star Wars.  I have written many times about how I just was not feeling the franchise after the prequels… and that all of the hype surrounding me has rekindled that little kid inside of me that wanted to be “darfa bader”.  I’ve always loved the empire more than the rebels, and I feel kinda bad about that… but Storm Troopers and Darth Vader….  come on.  I was sick for a chunk of the week and while home sick… I caught up on a few things… namely Star Wars Rebels.  So without further rambling… lets talk about stuff.

Star Wars: Force Awakens – Trailer 3

This trailer is absolutely amazing and only serves to bump my hype for this movie up to a fever pitch.  This honestly scares me more than a little bit.  I am as excited right now for Force Awakens as I was for Phantom Menace… and we all know how that turned out.  I think the thing that gives me confidence more than anything is the giant trail of money attached to this movie.  Disney paid four billion dollars to purchase the Star Wars franchise… and I think the realize if this movie is the stinker than Phantom Menace was… they have essentially flushed the vast majority of that money down the toilet.  That said I have also come to realize that quite simply I don’t think George Lucas knows how to direct human beings with human emotions.  I’ve recently watched the prequels again… and those movies are full of some really damned good actors… all of which are chewing up scenery with some of the most unnatural dialog and acting I have seen.  You take those same actors and put them in quite literally any other movie and they do amazing jobs… so it has the be the movies themselves that are the problem.  Anyways… enough of that and on to the trailer.

I love the feel of this trailer, how it is a sequence of more fleshed out vignettes this time.  I have gone back and forth on the popular conspiracies and at this point I simply don’t have a clue.  I don’t know why Luke Skywalker isn’t on the movie poster, and I am starting to question if it is him with the robotic hand reaching out to R2-D2.  I am playing this game of “who is the Skywalker”, and I right now I am starting to think that maybe Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren are all connected to the previous trilogy.  I am still leaning heavily towards Kylo Ren being the child of Han and Leia who has now turned to the Dark Side and become essentially a Vader fanboy… since he knows that Vader was essentially his Grandfather.  You see Rey behind the seat of the Millennium Falcon in one of the shots that has come out… so that would lead you to believe that maybe she is ALSO the child of Han and Leia…  maybe sibling to Kylo?  Finn is the one I cannot place…  since we see him wielding a lightsaber we know he is a force sensitive.  Makes me wonder if maybe he is the child of Luke, but with whom.  He could also be the child of Sana Solo which is now apparently the in canon wife of Han.  I feel like a lot of this movie is going to center around Kylo Ren essentially going on an Artifact hunt trying to find relics of Vader, but past that I am not sure of anything.  I am absolutely looking forward to December so I can finally see how the pieces are going to fit together.

Star Wars Rebels

star-wars-rebels-season-2

While sick this week I caught up on watching Star Wars Rebels, which I found out you can stream from the Disney XD website so long as you have a cable provider to validate with.  The only problem with this is that it isn’t really clear where one season ends and the next begins.  At this point I am apparently caught up and into season two, and I have to say this show… is so great and just what we needed to bridge some gap between the prequels and the modern age movies.  This show is essentially about the birth of the Rebellion as we know it episodes four through six.  I’ve talked about the show in the past on my blog, and I will warn you it honestly takes a few episodes before it starts to feel right.  Sabine Wren is awesome… just going to get that out there.  I love Mandalorians and she has this awesome quirky nature that is just great, and I love the fact that she tags her armor every time they take down another imperial target.  I also adore the paint job she did on the captured Tie Fighter.

The coolest part about this show however is the fact that we get to find out what happens to Ahsoka Tano.  That was the biggest problem I had after Clone Wars you weren’t really sure what became of her.  You know she isn’t in any of the prequels…  largely because I don’t think the character existed until the Clone Wars cartoon… but we just know she is not around in any form.  Here we find that she is fighting the good fight and acting as the rebel operative known as “Fulcrum”.  It is awesome to see her again, but we know that issues are going to come up…  and with a brief interaction with Darth Vader he realizes exactly who she is… and that she is still alive.  You are left with the impression that she has her assumptions that Vader is Anakin…  but she isn’t nearly as certain as Vader is in that interaction.  I thought it was awesome that they brought in Commander Cody as well, and it makes me so damned happy that essentially Clone Wars and Rebels are a continuation of the same basic story arc.  I was afraid that all of the great characters that got invented for the Clone Wars show would simply be gone, but now we are seeing them almost all revitalized as part of the Rebels show… which also I believe means they are being inducted into the canon universe.  The hope is that maybe some of these characters will have brief cameos in the new movies as well.

Walking Dead Season 5 – Episode 2

720x405-TWD_602_GP_0518_0043

Wow… this episode.  I thought the first episode was intense with the quarry full of walkers, and herding them down the path.  This episode starts off very benign showing you how the rest of the characters were spending the time while everyone else was out in the field with the walkers.  Then in a manner so quickly that I thought it might literally be a hallucination…  we see the wolves get into Alexandria and just start slaughtering the residents.  We all knew the wolves would eventually get there, and it seems as though either someone jumped the fence in the same way that Carl and Enid have done…  or someone left the damned gate open again.  Last week we theorized as to who was hitting the car horn and leading the walkers of the pack, but this week we find out that it was instead a semi truck that was heading for one of the walls to break it down.  The gun in the guard tower managed to shoot the driver…  but then the driver fell on the horn while dying.  The episode as a whole was just so strange to see how absolutely feral and blindingly fast the wolves were.

The part I am thankful for however is the fact that essentially this incident forced Carol to abandon her disguise.  She had to become the badass we all know she is, but I do think it is significant that she once again took on the disguise of a wolf, much like she took on the disguise of a walker getting into Terminus.  I think this is the sign of something more with her character… I think she got used to having to wear a mask in the years she was in her abusive marriage, and now it is just comfortable for her to keep adopting them in order to stay safe.  This episode however was a tale of two styles conflicting…  the monk like pacifism of Morgan, and the brutal and honest force of Carol.  The body count from this episode was massive and I think in one show we have whittled down the folks in Alexandria to only the reliable and self sufficient ones are left.  The wolves came in and killed all of the sheep as it were…  all of the people who simply could not take care of themselves.  As a result I think Alexandria is going to be a vastly different place in the coming weeks as they have to deal with this horde of walkers bearing down upon the walls.  I am amped for this week to see what happens next.