Looking for a way forward

A wealth of opportunities has never been a problem for me until recently.   I kinda feel like a jerk worrying about it as much as I am, but it is my nature to care way too much. 

Story ideas flow again, now it is just a matter of what to do with them.  That is where I am spoiled for choice. 

The problem is, I don't want to choose. I want to do it all, but I am not sure I have the time to do it all.  

The first opportunity is the magazine I have always wanted to do. Starting a new magazine as a one man shop is a little frightening, but I think I can do it.  

I just don't want to do it to the exclusion of other projects. I want to find a way to work it into the flow. I am sure there is a way, but I just don't see it clearly right now.  

The second opportunity is to do a world in Storium. I love the very idea of that, but it is such a new service that it is a risk.  

I have been working on a table top game, and maybe this is the kick in the pants I need to get that done.  

I want to go hardcore back into scifi for a bit, because I miss it so much. 

What do you want to see from me?  Where would you like to see me go?  I think I can do it all and make it work, but if that isn't something you all are interested in, then maybe it isn't the way I should go.  

Help me Obi-wan Kenobi! You are my only hope. 

Project: Shadow Game System Open Source

For quite some time, I have thought about making a game based on the worlds I write in, and today, I started the process.

My goal is eventually to produce a free game for Our Solemn Hour and Dragons of Night, but first, we need to develop a core game that can be used for build these world specific games.

The Project: Shadow Game System is up on Penflip (here), a version of Github designed for text files and documents.

Everyone is welcome to contribute to the game.  Penflip is really easy to use, and is compatible with the Github applications if you so wish.  I cannot wait to get this project up and running at full steam.

What is a gaming community?

Chistina Kelly put together this great presentation on what makes a gaming community, and it really made me think:

 

 

I think the problem that we are all facing an issue about how to bring in people in a way that they contribute to the project, without clouding the issue of copyright and ownership to the point where no one can make money off it.  This presentation is a great start.

Star Trek Online Goes Free-To-Play

I enjoyed playing Star Trek Online and think giving a Free-To-Play option is a good move.  Along with many fans, Eric and I played Star trek Online when it first came out.  It's huge fun for fans of Star Trek and those who like getting into the story of the game.  They did a great job with ongoing story and an evolving galaxy.

As an MMO player my hardest choice is picking which MMO to pay a monthly subscription for to play.  I find with more offering free play options I can go back and forth between them and then paying for the one that I am mainly playing at that point in time.  After all there are those times when one wants to swing a sword and cast spells and other times when the mood strikes and piloting a Prometheus class ship into combat against a Klingon bird of prey sounds like a blast.  This option also allows those unsure about getting into the game a way to try it out and make an informed choice, aka get hooked.

Cryptic will not restrict the play for the free-to-play options which is smart.  In other words both options will get to level up to maximum level, explore the whole galaxy, join fleets (aka guilds), enter into pvp which is a lot of fun in STO, and have access to all of the classes. 

The main difference between the free-to-play option and the subscribers is the conviences and perks that does not have main game play impact.  For instance subscribers will get more storage slots for items and credits, create fleets, have more character slots and additional bridge officer slots, and vet rewards.

I hope this move will allow Star Trek Online to continue and to bring back some of those players who had to make the hard choice and left.

Star Wars Galaxies Ends in December

I really have mixed feelings about this news.  I played Galaxies for years, and sort of hoped that The Old Republic Online would spur them to return the game to its glory days...  I didn't think they would raise the white flag.

Pre-NGE (New Game Enhancements) Galaxies is the gold standard by which I judge all MMOs, and they all come up lacking.  Post-NGE they had a lot of highs and lows.  I just said last night that I thought they would go free to play, guess I was wrong.

What they got right

  • None of the classes, races, or characters were faction locked.  You could play anything as anything.
  • You could switch factions if you wanted
  • Player cities that were involved in the Galactic Civil War.
  • Guild wars
  • The best crafting system I have ever seen.
  • Non-combat classes that made the community form naturally.
  • Varied game play
  • Expansive worlds to explore and build in
  • Character customization, you character was your character

What they got wrong

  • They removed the sandbox characters with NGE.  You used to be able to build your own custom classes easily
  • They focused on forcing large group play rather than making an amazing game that people talked their friends into playing.
  • HORRIBLE customer service.  Ask anyone who played, they didn't care about you as long as you payed your bill.
  • They never really updated the game after NGE, and game play started to feel dated

What now?

I suppose this makes the open source Pre-NGE project 100% legal after next year, since the game will no longer be playable in any other form.  I have some serious concerns about The Old Republic Online, so I hope this means that Lucas Arts is transferring the Film and extended universe content to another company.

This is sad, but not entirely unexpected news.

SWTOR Bounty Hunter

Star Wars: The Old Republic released a rather uninformative trailer for the Bounty Hunter.

I emailed BioWare, and they refused to comment about the Bounty Hunter.  I asked them 3 important questions:

  1. Will there be a PVP Bounty system?
  2. Are Classes faction locked?
  3. If Classes are faction locked how are they going to ensure a vibrant player galaxy.

Since they didn't answer, I looked around, and didn't find much.

Bounty Hunting

They put up a Fact Page in the community (here), where they confirm that there will be Bounty Terminals in the game and they will at least have NPC bounties in them.

In a community poll, they asked how important a Player Bounty System is (here).  Only 90 people responded:

  • I MUST HAVE PBS in TOR! If there's no PBS, I won't be playing Bounty Hunter.  7.78%
  • I want a PBS, but I'll still play if there isn't one.  51.11% 
  • I don't want a PBS, but I'll still play if there is one.  10.00% 
  • I'm avidly against PBS and if there is one, I will not be playing Bounty Hunter.  4.44% 
  • I don't care.  26.67%

With 58.89% saying they want a Player Bounty System and only 14.44% opposed, this poll will hopefully goad BioWare into including one in the game.  Their reluctance to answer the question does bother me.

Class and Faction

I can understand tying class to faction at the beginning.  Since BioWare claims they are building out a full rpg for each class, but they need to think about the endgame.

If characters are bound to their faction, the game world will not be able to mimic the complexity of the Star Wars Extended Universe were people flip faction from time to time.

Silence is Deafening

I am not sure why they are staying so quiet.  It is not like these are new features that no game has ever had.  Many people, like me, presumed that the features of Star Wars Galaxies would be the baseline for The Old Republic Online.  I hope I am not wrong.

I am still looking forward to the game, and hoping for a beta key.  I just hope they get it right.

 

Which Mass Effect Story To Tell In Movie?

Mass Effect poster
Image via Wikipedia

Legendary Pictures has picked up the rights to the BioWare game series Mass Effect. I Am Legend and Thor screenwriter Mark Protosevich has been assigned to write.

THR says that Avi and Ari Arad will produce with Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni from Legendary. The project is early in development; Warner Bros. would co-finance and distribute worldwide.

The Mass Effect setting has the potential for several great movies.  The game unfolded an interesting interstellar setting.  A setting that inspired not only a second game but also many books.

If you were to write a Mass Effect Movie what storyline would you tell?

Would the movie be a disservice to the fans if they were to just pick a storyline from the games and tell that in the movies?

Should they pick one of the novels and turn it into a move?

Or would you continue the setting and tell a new story from within the setting Mass Effect games?

Check out some of the Mass Effect books here.

Get Mass Effect Games here.

(via /Film)

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Tron: Space Paranoids Online

Did you ever want to or get the chance to play the game Space Paranoids that was featured in the movie Tron?

In honor of Tron Legacy's release date latter this year they sent the fictional character from the movie Flynn to Wonder Con to announce the games release online.  Watch the video above.

I hope it is more then a gimmick.  Imagine sitting there iPad in hand playing Space Paranoids.  Just don't forget the mini game where we get to face off with the discs.

Get your copy of the classic movie Tron here .

(via Wired.com)

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Star Wars Much Ado About Something?

Thomas Dolby, Boulder Colorado 2006 Image via Wikipedia

Tomas Dolby posted a fun update on his blog about some future Star Wars projects that has got many running in circles.  Is it much ado about nothing rather then something?

Thomas Dolby, poptastic mastermind of Hyperactive and She Blinded Me With Science fame, posted an update to his blog about his current stay in Tiburon, CA, across the bay from San Francisco. His host, he revealed, is one Paul Sebastien of Lucasarts. The kicker comes when Dolby writes:

Last night he was telling me a little about the forthcoming Star Wars-related TV show, movie and online games—very cool indeed.

Because of the probable NDA he would have to be as vague as to mention a TV show, Movie and Online Games.  This would keep the actual project secret and would still be true since Lucas Arts is working on all three anyhow.  It sounds to me like he is referring to many of the projects that are already in the works.

Game:  The long awaited KTOR online MMORPG.  I can’t wait for that to come out.  There is also Star Wars Battlefront 3, also can't wait for that one.  And probably several other tie in games I would be shocked if there weren’t.

Lucas Arts is working on a live action TV show, a project that has been in the pipeline for a while now.  I hope that is what he was referring to.  I want to see this project.  Since the success of releasing the Clone Wars pilot as a movie I hope this will be repeated for the live action show.

What I wish they would do is:

  • KTOR movie, maybe a tie in to the MMORPG
  • A movie taking the Star Wars saga forward after the Yavin event or maybe a movie version of Legacy of the Force!

I can hope.

(via /Film)

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Vlad’s Mass Effect

Mass Effect 2’s new voice talent, Vlad the Impaler not a vampire? and Clash of the Titans poster.

Mass Effect 2:

Worf
Image via Wikipedia

Michael Dorn is added to the voice cast for Mass Effect 2.  I love Michael Dorn's voice.  Best known for his role as Worf in Star Trek, he has lent his voice talent to many projects.  I espically enjoy hearing Dorn’s voice on the Discovery specials and other science shows.  He will be a great addition to mass effect 2.   Mass Effect one is so good, I’m really looking forward to the second game.  (via TrekToday)

Vlad the Impaler:

Vlad the Impaler is better known as Dracula was thought to be another vampire move turns out to be about the historical figure instead.  I would be interested in seeing a movie based on the Historical Vlad. Those comparing it to the likeness of 300 concerns me, I definitely don't need another homophobic movie.  (via /film)

Clash of the Titans:

The movie poster is out.  How can a movie with a fairly cool and exciting trailer have such a bland movie poster? I would expect this quality for the box art on the DVD but a movie poster! Honestly? (via /film)

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Prince of Persia HD Movie Trailer

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time only caught a passing interest from me.  Movies based on games tend to be a hit and miss venture.  Add that to Disneys involvement and this project had caution written all over it, that is until I watched the trailer above.

I'm now excited about Prince of Persia.  The effects looks good.  I like the use of a broader variety of weaponry especially the more exocitic ones.  The trailer does a nice job of setting up the back and forth between Dastan and Princess Tamina, even if a bit cliche.

Prince of Persia hits the theaters on May 28, 2010.

Pilot / Story:  Based on the game Prince Of Persia.  Dastan is a street urchin in 6th century Persia. Adopted by the king as his heir after showing valor in battle in hopes of keeping the king's two sons from fighting over the throne.  Dastan teams up with Princess Tamina  to rescue the Sands of Time, a gift from the gods that controls time, from the hands of the villainous nobleman, Nizam.

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Eve Online- March of Dominix

I have featured "March of Cambreadth" by Heather Alexander before, but something about this video cried out, "Share me!"

This vid cuts together footage from the "Dominix-Ops" from Eve Online.  Watching this, I wish I enjoyed playing the game more than I did, but I suppose this is a game I will have to enjoy from a distance.

What made this vid so so compelling to me was one thought it forced into my head:

Why can't Machinima be easier to make?

I am looking into software like True Bones and Daz 3D.

Frankly, every MMO should have a Machinima package, it would be free publicity for them, build a stronger core audience.

Anyone have any tips?

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Second Life Amusement Parks: Alice in Wonderland Ride

quillsThere is much more to the 3D social network Second Life than fun and games. You can network with writers, poets, actors, musicians, and artists at places like Quills (pictured here). You can visit foreign countries and learn new languages by speaking to those with a true native tongue. You can attend live concerts, workshops, readings, and plays. You can even join role playing games and become a vampire, werewolf, mage, or Hogwarts student.

But what if you’re just looking for some fun wind-down time? Well, they have that too. Recently I’ve been checking out the amusement park rides on Second Life. Yes, you heard me. If you haven’t got the time or money to pop over to Disneyland in real life, you can spend a few hours at these wonderful builds on Second Life. Every bit as realistic and awesome as the real rides, without the waiting in line!

My favorite ride so far is the Alice in Wonderland ride at Kleio Island Amusement Park.  Project8 According to the signs posted in front of the ride, this massive dark ride took six months to develop. These screen shots show you just some of the great artwork and structure building this project encompasses. Add to this the sound clips and environmental perks and you have an excellent experience that you can ride any day of the week for as many times as you like with no waiting!

The ride gondola is very cute and set to theme. It starts out as a black and white checked car and changes colors as you ride. The seats are made of playing cards and the four corners of the vehicle are capped in chess pieces. All this gets you in the mood to take a ride into Lewis Carroll’s fantasy.

Project1

First the ride takes you through the Mad Hatter’s tea party.

Project6

Then you get to ride by the Queen of Hearts and her King.

Project7

The high build shows you a view of the entire amusement park as it brings you through the Jabberwocky section.

Project4

Then you spiral down through the black and white tunnel into the end of the ride, where you can ride it all again.

Project5

Kleio Amusement Park offers all sorts of carnival rides such as a ferris wheel, jumbo slide, and this merry-go-round where you can ride crystal horses through the snow.

Project13

Rides and extras on this land such as cotton candy and tea party venues, are mostly free. Some cost a minimal amount, but you can choose to buy or go on to the next event. The Alice ride is free, but if you’d like to leave a donation to those excellent creators of this fun ride, they have a tip cup near the entrance.

To get to Kleio Amusement Park, join Second Life for free and then click this landmark below: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Kleio/61/92/22

Art direction and structure creation of Alice in Wonderland ride by Atom Burma Scripted motion by Jay Karlfeldt Sculpted characters by Kanic Huldschinsky Narration of The Jabberwocky by Roxxy Rhode

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Shadow Complex fans hate gay people

Xbox
Image via Wikipedia

First off, I have to say that I am getting tired of SyFy site winking at bigotry.

Known Bigot Orson Scott Card has released a never game called Shadow Complex.  200,000 people either didn't know or didn't care that this bigot was behind the game and purchased it!

SyFy's Fidgit turned this into a joke... and people like me are just getting tired of fighting this fight.

Homophobia is one of the last acceptable biases in our culture.  Honestly, I am out of breath on this topic for now.  I will just say it again:

STOP supporting bigots like Orson Scott Card and those who pay him.  Maybe I should cancel my Xbox live Gold Account...

(via Fidgit.)

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Entertainment Designer

From Entertainment Design


The Hollywood Reporter has an article up about Will Wright's future as an Entertainment Designer.  While it was interesting, it got me thinking more about the future of creative works.

The Future of Fiction

I am reading What would Google by Jeff Jarvis do right now.  Well, actually, I am reading it over and over again, especially the chapter on books.  I love writing novels, but I feel a little limited by the format.

I love franchise fiction.  Delving into the worlds of Star Wars, Star Trek, the Dragons of Pern, or The Lord of the Rings, pulls me deeper into the world and characters than anything else I know.

What makes these work for me is the multimedia nature of these products.  I am just not sure how an independent creator like me can pull off anything like that easily.

Easy is the Key!

If we are going to movie forward in our attempt to re-envision creative works we need easy tools for content creators to make multimedia productions.  What kind of tools?

 

Simple mechanima maker.

  1. Character and setting creation as simple as the Sims.
  2. Good auto-lip-sync tool.
  3. No scripting required character animation and special effects.
  4. Easy unique setting creator for the 3D impaired people like me.
  5. Easy import of most if not all existing mesh and skin formats.
  6. Easy export into at least the most popular video formats.
  7. Low price point

Simple MMORPG Maker

  1. The same features as Mechanima maker.
  2. Easy story telling engine.
  3. Simple cut scene maker
  4. Setting time line that will allow players to decide what era they want to start in so they can play through the storyline in a dynamic and ever changing world.
  5. Certain setting elements are fixed over time as part of the over arcing plot, over setting elements would be dynamic and alterable by the players.
  6. The ability for players to move their characters easily from era to era through both play and choice.
  7. The software would allow users to visit any setting with 1 client and one monthly fee.
  8. Creators are paid for the amount of "player hours" their setting attains.

Hypertext Novels that relate to the text.

(I recently wrote more about this in my post: Making a Website an extension of Story)

  1. Web based and downloadable hypertext versions.
  2. The hypertext layer should be shown only by the reader's choice.
  3. Readers should be able to flow through stories via their chosen path, for example, when the reader discovers a new character they should be able to:
  4. pull up a biography of that character.
  5. see a list of other works containing that character and the size of their role in the story.
  6. navigate into those books/stories if they want to, then return to the previous place in the book and read on.
  7. This type of meta-book should be self updating and thus be treated as a service rather than a product.
  8. possibly as a subscription to the meta-book reader service, paying the author based on "reader hours."
  9. Books should be printable, sharable, linkable, and searchable.
  10. Authors should be able to add special features like outlines, setting notes, and general notes to the text.

Cross platform integration

  1. All of these platforms should be integrated one with the other.
  2. If someone playing the MMORPG wants to pull up the text, video, or audio relating to the era they are playing in.
  3. Locations in the MMORPG should be able to pull up context about characters, items, and locations from the other media.
  4. Readers should be able to switch between the text, video, audio, and game versions of the content at whim on multiple devises which are kept in sync one with the other.
  5. Fanfiction and Fanfilm should be integrated into the platforms.
  6. Fanworks should be community and creator curated.
  7. Fanworks should be community and creator rated.
  8. Fanworks should be promotable to cannon by the creator, and revenue sharing engaged at that point.
  9. Content should be importable and exportable from one platform to another.
  10. Content should take advantage of and if necessary create open standards.

 

The Creative Suite we need!

This is the creative suite we need, and that I am personally hoping for.  With state of technology, most (if not all) of these features exists in separate non-compatible applications.  What I want to see is for all of these features to exist in one comprehensive and affordable creative suite.  Once we move authors and other content creators into mixed platforms like this, we will see the birth of real entertainment designers, and I think we will see much more compelling content.

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