Let’s talk about Into Darkness. It’s a sequel to a reboot and also has some shades of a remake. Those are all things that seldom bode well for a movie, but, Into Darkness pulls it off magnificently. It simply does everything right. The main thing I want to address is Into Darkness’ existence as a sequel. There’s no getting around that. Amusingly, the main criticism I see in reviews is just that: Into Darkness doesn’t feel as fresh or new as 2009’s Star Trek. I’d like to counter that by saying: hello, it’s a sequel.
Now, a year ago, I wrote a post about what makes a good sequel. In that post I quoted Joss Whedon’s thoughts on how to make a sequel that would top The Avengers: “By not trying to. By being smaller. More personal, more painful… By being the next thing that should happen to these characters, and not just a rehash of what seemed to work the first time.” This is exactly what Into Darkness does.
What was 2009’s Trek about? A vengeful threat from the future seeks to destroy Earth and it’s up to the crew of the Enterprise to band together to stop him. The stakes are massive (destruction of Earth) and it allows our characters to come into their own and form the crew their supposed to be. It firmly establishes the new universe, re-introduces the characters, and sets it up for their next adventure. Why don’t we make a chain of stars explode and rip apart several planets now?
Into Darkness’ stakes are less direct. The whole of Earth isn’t quite currently at risk, but we do know the sweeping consequences if they fail their mission. Rather, the villain John Harrison and his actions cause tension and conflict among the Enterprise’s crew (particularly Kirk and Spock) and forces them into a corner, forces them to face the thing they fear most. Kirk is faced with the most difficult no-win challenge of his life. Spock is forced to face a scenario absent of a logical solution. These characters are forced to their breaking point, situations which, as Kirk says, “I have no idea what I’m supposed to do”. What’s so important about this scenario? Well, as Kirk goes on to say: “I only know what I can do.” This desperation marks much of the film. Where once we had our protagonists scrambling around trying to save the world, Into Darkness sees them trying to save each other and, at their core, themselves. It’s personal, it’s painful, and it’s precisely where the story needed to go.
2009’s Star Trek saw the assembly of the crew, Into Darkness forces them into a stronger, more unified whole. We need to see the Enterprise’s trial by fire for them to become the crew from The Original Series. This is their moment to become who they are.
Another thing that Into Darkness succeeds at is its reconciliation of the ‘first’ film and any future films with the classics. This movie, more than the prior, looks at Gene Roddenberry’s idealistic view of the future and translates its core tensions to work in a modern setting. It’s worth noting that in modern science fiction interplanetary organizations tend to be militaristic: Halo’s UNSC for example, far from the exploratory nature of Starfleet. The idea of pure exploration isn’t as cool anymore, is it? Into Darkness, more so than its predecessor, takes apart our own expectations and Starfleet itself, rebuilding it and proving that, yes, Roddenberry was right. Into Darkness is Roddenberry’s vision rebuilt.
Into Darkness is a phenomenal film. It follows up 2009’s movie by not trying to go bigger, but instead to go deeper. It draws on ideas from prior movies and episodes to create a new adventure that really gets into the heart of the characters. It dares to push them to their breaking point and forces them to find a way out. This is what sequels should do. The end result is a fantastic film that effortlessly blends old ideas in a new world.
Go see this movie.
As soon as I have it, I'll be posting my Dream Address (I'm guessing this is what they're called in the English version?) so you guys can visit my town from the Dream Suite, as well.
So excited ~ !
Those of you who have been following my work-in-progress fan game already know that programming games is a lot of work. It's insanely fun to piece together a game, but it's still work, and work takes time. Now, I've got a lot of time on hands, sure, but sometimes I wish I could spend more time on some things and then have someone else to do the rest. So far I've been working alone on my game, because I am quite frankly the only one with enough insight into my own head to know how things should end up.
Still, I can't do it all myself. I might be a jack-of-all-trades of game-making, but I am not perfect. I could use some help in several places. That's where you come in.
DISCLAIMER: I will be asking for some creative input on things such as map design in the list below. A natural process of game design is to brainstorm ideas, and there is always A LOT of ideas. Tons of them. So many that they can't all be used, and some are flawed from the get-go due to game balance, technical feasibility, etc. You are all free to post comments, critique and ideas; but please remember that I am in charge of this project, and as such I have the final say in what goes in-game or not.
I can say right off the bat that I will be sticking to the main Matoran Universe (the setting of BIONICLE from 2000-2008) and thus not include any direct Bara Magna references, alternate dimensions, crossover content, and so on.
Also note: This is a completely free game. There is currently no development cost, and there will be no income from the game even after it is 100% done. Therefore, I can't offer any payment to those of you who wish to contribute, but you will have my gratitude, a spot on the credits list, and the knowledge that you helped develop an awesome BIONICLE fan game. I hope that's enough.
Now, for the list of what I do need help with. I will keep the list updated and cross off items as they get done.
IMPORTANT: All sprites must be made in the same style as the Rayg 2.5 sprite kit. Size, proportions, the amount of color shades, etc. are all vital. Even if you're not able to make that perfect sprite, though, your half-finished sprites can also be useful as a starting point for some other spriter!
Characters and item sprites
- Animation: Toa "hurt" pose, falling forwards and getting back up.
- Animation: Rahkshi "hurt" pose, falling forwards/backwards and getting back up.
- Animation: Rahkshi walking/running. (Proper leg poses, more Mask of Light styled)
- Some Kanohi do not have rotated views.
- Toa-sized Kanohi Felnas
- Matoran-styled "adapted" Akaku (Solek's mask)
- Basic melee weapons such as swords, axes, and so on. Please, nothing extravagant here.
Just basic equipment, such as this.
- Nuva armor fitted to Rahkshi poses. This will require some reshaping of the armor itself since Rahkshi have wider torsos.
- All sorts of energy beams and spheres, for use as attack graphics.
Map design should seek to allow a variety of different characters. (A sky-based map with no ground to stand normally on is a bit limited, for example.) Sketches work, but a Photoshop-file with a finished map would be crazy awesome.
- Karda Nui: Improved graphics (swamp water, vegetation, vast cavernous backdrop, etc.)
- Kini-Nui: Mountain background, fores background for parallax scrolling, trees and vegetation.
- A sketch for the interior of the missing Ta-Koro fortress.
- Map layout sketches for other, generic maps you might think of.
IMPORTANT: Sound effects must be free of noise and scratches!
- Any missing sound effects for powers being used.
- Consistent male/female vocalizations such as grunts and yelps. No words required, just noises.
But before the convention, I asked you guys for some questions. At Kevin Hinkle's TLG Q&A I asked a few, but wasn't able to get them all in. So on Saturday during the public hours we sat down away from the crowds for a little bit to chat and go through some others. What you see below are not exact quotes, they're sentences constructed from the notes I was taking on my tablet typing away as fast as I could. Please do not treat them like infallible quotes that could not possibly be wrong and must certainly represent LEGO perfectly.
Questions are in italics, responses are in bold.
How long until Galidor comes out on DVD?
When you find it and burn it to a disc.
How are you doing?
A little overwhelmed lately due to the changes on the team - really just trying to continue to deliver on the expectations of the community and assume the new responsibilities. It's tough but I'm hanging in there.
When are we getting old fire back?
[Kevin had a really clever reply for this that I forgot to write down. ]
Who's your favorite Toa?
What year of BIONICLE was your favorite?
2006 because of the cartoony styles of the Piraka.
Were Bionicle-themed sandwiches ever considered a viable option during the theme's 9-year long run?
I can neither confirm nor deny. Sandwiches? Really?
Q: THANK YOU FOR THE PIZZA
Q: ALSO YOU'RE RIGHT THE SUPERMAN: RED SON ARC IS BRILLIANT
Q: YOU ARE MY HERO KEVIN
I'm glad to know you read that.
How is the Hero Factory theme doing in terms of sales?
Okay, not stellar, but not 'oh my god get rid of this line right now.'
How is the constraction category as a whole doing?
We're still trying new things to see what we can do with it.
Is there ever any chance of bringing Christoffer Raundahl or another Hero Factory designer to a convention in the United States?
That would be awesome but I do not get a say. I just decide which event gets designers - only one or two a year to spread across the conventions.
What has The LEGO Group's experience with their expanding social media presence been like?
They've learned a lot from it - testing new waters and expanding. They're trying to rope it into a single voice/channel of communication.
What kind of considerations go into determining whether a theme gets a page on a social networking site? As an example, currently LEGO Ninjago, Duplo, and Legends of Chima all have official pages on facebook, whereas LEGO Friends does not and the LEGO Hero Factory one has not been updated in over two years.
It's based on marketing drive - what does the company want to push and when?
What can expect from the future of LEGO Digital Building?
It will still be in existence, we're still exploring that realm of the LEGO experience.
How Chima doing? Is doing as well as LEGO has hoped?
It is doing well; there's still a lot more data to collect.
What sort of opportunities are there within LEGO for mechanical engineers?
Most likely in the Czech Republic and Mexico where a lot of the moulds are made and manufacturing is done.
How successful is the Collectible Minifigure line lately? Are they going to continue?
Extremely successful and has introduced LEGO to other retailers. Definitely going to continue.
Have you guys made any strides in the color purple? I've seen purple in a considerable number of new sets, so I'm wondering if there's anything behind that (new science, heightened demand, market research, etc).
It's a little of all of those. If it's a licensed set it's going to have it, but otherwise they're always making improvements in quality and color consistency.
I'd like to thank the BZPower Community for all their love and support and have very much enjoyed meeting the staff and members at conventions. I enjoy talking to you all - keep up the great stuff and keep Bionicle alive!
As always I want to thank Kevin for supporting BZPower (and now BioniLUG). We really appreciate all your hard work and look forward to hanging out with you whenever we can!
Also I went to see Star Trek Into Darkness recently. I was quite pleased.
It's really happening...the link to Bond of Heresy is on the front page!! EXCITEMENT!! In related news, a comment or two on the story asked if I had any plans to continue it, which got me thinking. The next logical step, I think, would be for Ahkmou to discover a way to transform into a Toa, and then perhaps gather a few other corrupt Toa to supplement the army of Zyglak he'll be working with. If I do decide to pursue this story, I'm thinking "Chronicle of Heresy" would make a good title. I dunno, I'll have to see how it goes.
In more FFFC news, A Recluse's Dilemma received an Honorable Mention in "The Queens." I've made two entries to the new "Trial By Fire" contest: Averted Trial, about a search for the Kanohi Dragon, and Make It Stop, about a Toa being tortured by Skakdi (yes, the name is terrible).
Yep, that is about it. Also my project got delayed like two weeks, but I should be giving you all details on that when I get back.
Thanks for reading!
FAQ about CeeCee Av's
(This "FAQ" was done in good fun and is not to be taken literally. Please know this)
CeeCee, what makes you such a good artist?
Being a good artist doesnt come naturally. It takes practice and hard work and sometimes a deal with the devil
CeeCee, how did you deal with the fame of being such a great artist?
"Often I would wake up and there would be people outside my door asking for CeeCee Avs. It was cool at first but now its quite annoying so now I only let the hot girls in because I'm really shallow. Although they dont come anymore because of an incident with a shotgun"
CeeCee, what do you do with all the money you earn from being super famous for you Avatars?
"I'm afraid the three things I buy with the money and not permits to be said on this site, but they begin with an A, a D and a H"
CeeCee do you honestly expect us to believe this is a real interview?
"Yes. Shut up."
CeeCee, why do you expect people to care that your Av's are back?
"Because I'm rich an famous. That grants me access to loads of fan girls that pretend to care so they feel more exciting that they actually are"
CeeCee, Why dont to pay the child support anymore? CeeCee why dont you see you children anymore? CeeCee why do you drink so much?
*This answer can not be show due to profanity*
Yeah, they are coming back. I actually want to thank everyone though more making them as popular as they were. I dont expect anything like that this time but I will continue them regardless.
Thanks everyone and stay tuned in you are interested.
So. Nintendo recently talked with a certain website about some videos hosted there. Long story short Nintendo wants all all the money from the ads on videos featuring their products. Because of copyright law, they can do that. Now, let's look at this for a moment. What Nintendo is targeting is the let's plays, where game personalities review and play games for the consumer enjoyment. This is known to be a huge marketing boon, exposing your game to hundreds of thousands if not millions. A ton of people buy games based off these videos; I know I do.
Now you may be saying "OK they help Nintendo cool, but they're using Nintendo's stuff, it's their right to do what they will." Perhaps so, but being allowed to do something doesn't make it right. A lot of these game personalities make their living off these videos. There was one guy I watched called ColbyCheeze, making League of Legend videos was his job. Imagine if Riot Gaming took that ad money from him.
Let's look at the numbers here. How much money do these LPers really get? Well, aforementioned certain site pays their users one third a cent for every view. This makes for some real easy math. One view is one third a cent. Ten views is three cents. A hundred, thirty. A thousand, three dollars. A hundred thousand, three hundred dollars. A million, three thousand dollars.
Now, some users have massive fan bases and get millions of views on a regular basis. But while Nintendo has their eyes on the big channels with the big bucks (because we all know Nintendo, a multimillion dollar company, needs a couple extra thousand bucks), their policy affects the little guy. Take ColbyCheeze for example. His videos use to get around two to four hundred thousand views. He put out about a video a week, sometimes two. His yearly income from ads hovered around ~50k, which the mean American income is around 45k so that's alright for a single guy in an apartment. Is he getting super rich off of Riot's game? No, and that's why Riot promised a long time ago never to do what Nintendo is doing now. Colby has given Riot several thousands of new players, and Riot is appreciative of people like him around the internet, giving them free marketing.
Fact of the matter is at the end of the day, what Nintendo is doing here is greedy, plain and simple. Are they in the legal right? Yes. Is it their right to govern what is done it their intellectual property? Yes. But having the right to something doesn't make all your decisions correct. The LPers on that certain site and indeed, sites around the internet, give Nintendo free marketing and many many new customers, and for what? A third a cent a view. Is that really so much that Nintendo feels that it needs it?
Maybe the 3DS launch and the WiiU launch hurt them more than initially thought. So now they're taking it out of the pockets of people who make their meager living off of hawking their game to the internet. Pro move Nintendo.
Remember, we're all BIONICLE fans - can't we come together as a community and try and help understand each other, not tear each other down? If somebody says something that isn't right, there isn't a need to yell at them or say how terrible they are - explain what is wrong about it, and why it offends you personally. Understanding never hurt anyone, and that's all I am going to say.
I never thought that I would get to this point, but I can't say that I'm surprised. Since I started working last year, I have been able to get a steady cash flow, which means that I can set some income aside for savings and for feeding my hobby. This has led to me buying assets that I normally would not have purchased (mostly graphical assets, but sometimes I do spring for robust coding solutions like this AI code package that I bought).
Obviously, this income requires a lot of my time, so I don't have the free hours I once had trying to hack together an AI system or a 3rd-person character system. And that's just coding! There's still all of the modeling and animating that has to be factored in (fortunately, thanks to old friend Mihunai I don't have to do that much 3D modeling. Hope to see you around the forums again someday!)
So, I thought I'd share a visual of my progress since my last entry. The bare, bare basics of the combat system are done, there's still a lot to be done though, including:
- New and accurate sound FX (the ones there came with the AI package)
- possibly altering the enemy's AI (right now it just looks a little awkward, though that may actually be due to the size of the monster. I have no issues shrinking certain Rahi to make things more smooth)
- Graphical indications that a character has been hit (e.g. sparks, color flash)
- A "death" (the Rahi's actually just disoriented ) sequence for the enemy. The player model already has a death sequence that isn't shown in this video.
- An actual HUD
- Other aesthetics that will come during the polishing stage of development.
Check out my website's home page to see all three of my videos and make your comparisons between the first two and this one I just made.
Next on my agenda, I plan to do much of the tasks that I listed above. Further down the road, I will start on the trap laying system or the NPC dialog system, whichever one is easiest. Thanks for reading!
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