2.17.2010

To boldly go... Or not to boldly go...


MMORPG.  It stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game.

I'm not a fan. Why? Let's go down the list:

Role-playing games as a rule generally require an investment of time I'm not willing to offer to a video game.  A great deal of time is spent leveling.  This is boring to me.  I prefer to be given the tools I need to defeat more difficult areas as I progress through the quests of the earlier areas.  I DON'T want repetitive tasks like defeating weaker enemies for an hour plus. I prefer balanced gameplay that properly equips me along the way. When I arrive at the boss, I hope for a test of skill, not patience.  Maybe in high school, or even my 20s, but those days are over.  Or so I thought.  Let's continue.

I hate people.  Despite my apparently amazing ability to deal with people on a daily basis, I generally don't like them.  To quote Randal Graves from Clerks 2, "I hate everyone and everything seems stupid to me." Couldn't have said it better myself, Kevin Smith...  Don't think I'm going to sit here and badmouth MMORPGs without having tried them, I have.  I've also done online gaming that wasn't RPG.  Games like Street Fighter and Metal Gear have online modes.  Most of my online meetings with fellow gamers have met with disaster.  Give a person anonymity and a headset and he becomes a douchenozzle.

Most MMOs are for PC.  Not a PC gamer, I'm a console gamer. In my mind, personal computers are for personal computing, and game consoles are for playing games. I'm not interested in buying a $500 video card. I don't wanna have to make sure my system requirements measure up to sloppy programming. I don't want my game interrupted by "New Windows Updates"! I want to put a disc in, pick up a controller and play. That's how I was raised, with a controller in my hand, not a keyboard and mouse.

So I've done just about everything in the nerd realm.  Online Gaming, MMORPG, I've even done a substantial amount of tabletop RPG.  Tabletop is a different animal.  Take away that anonymity, and things become a bit more civil.  Nobody is screaming obscenities at you from across the table or laughing at your death, at least not in my experience.  About the only thing I haven't tried is live-action role playing, the last shreds of dignity I have simply won't allow it.  More power to anyone who LARPs!  My point is, you can't say I didn't give RPGs or MMOs a fair shake.

What I AM a fan of is Star Trek.  So a bunch of jerks got together at a meeting. The lead jerk says, "Our task is simple gentlemen. We will make an MMORPG that Ray will want to play."  The others all look at each other in disbelief. "But sir, he hates MMOs, What you ask is impossible!" The lead jerk turns his back and walks to the window. He strokes his chin and smiles, "Two words gentlemen..." He turns and slams two hands on the table, "STAR TREK." The others all stand and applaud him. Two years later, Star Trek Online was released, and I've been pissed off ever since.

What's so bad about a Star Trek MMO? NOTHING, and that's the problem.  I'm supposed to hate MMO, and these jerks at Cryptic and Atari make a game I can't resist.  The more research I do, the more awesome it looks. One review I read criticized the game for being "...basically a single player game with some online elements." Sounds like the perfect MMO for me. Check this out: You get your own starship, you customize your ship and crew, go on away missions, starship combat, set 30 years after the last Next Generation movie making me want to see what's happened in the Star Trek Universe since then...  YOU MANIACS, YOU FINALLY DID IT, DAMN YOUS ALL TO HELL!

So I'm trying to decide if it's worth the $15 monthly investment and the time it will take to progress through the story, dealing with internet morons along the way.  Is being captain of my own starship, and learning the fates of my favorite races and people in Star Trek really worth dealing with "LovesToSpooge69" and "FlacidSnake82"?  Is engaging in combat with Klingons and Borg really worth the time and money it will take to boldly go where no man has gone before? What do you think?  Comments below. You don't need a Facebook account.


2.15.2010

TFTF

Kevin Smith, fat guy

I hate flying. I don't travel much, and there's a reason for that. I just think the whole experience of flying is a hassle, and the people at the airport just don't give a shit about you. However, if you raise a stink about the situation, you get hauled out in handcuffs because 9/11 gave the airline industry an asshole license. There's a fine line between safety and courtesy apparently.

However, I like Kevin Smith. He's a writer/director and commentator on life experience, who tells it like it is. He wrote/directed a number of moderately successful comedy flicks that I enjoy and he speaks at colleges as an "average joe" who deals with Hollywood and has some interesting stories to tell. I'm a big fan.

What the hell do airplanes and Kevin Smith have to do with one another? Well, Kevin has a podcast where he discusses the subjects mentioned in the previous paragraph, but in his latest he talks seriously about an incident that occurred on a flight home on Southwest Airlines yesterday. This is hot off the presses, he recorded the podcast as soon as he got home and released it today.

It's all about him being kicked off a Southwest flight for being a "security risk" (too fat). I'm not necessarily a fat dude (though certainly not in shape), but this will piss you off no matter what your body type. Amazing how airlines can treat people! In typical Kevin Smith style he's a man who accepts, even embraces his shape and puts a comedic spin on the story. It's an hour and thirty long, but it's an EXCELLENT listen, otherwise I wouldn't be blogging about it.

Listen below, or click the link in the title above and save it for later on your iPod. Listen in the car or train, or even on a plane, but listen. If you've ever flown, or plan to fly in the future, chubby or not, it's quite a story.



2.11.2010

It's relevant... (to me)


Ok so I just watched Transformers The Movie.

Don't be confused, not the Michael Bay movie about humans with the occasional robot. I mean TRANSFORMERS THE MOVIE. Animated. Released 1986. Heavy metal soundtrack that dates the movie horribly...  Ya with me?  This blog is about Transformers.  If you're not interested, may as well quit reading and move on to your porn sites...

Something that always bothered me about Transformers post 1986.  I mean besides the fact that all of the best characters died in it, including the Autobot and Decepticon leaders (Hey gotta get those toys outta kids minds so they'll buy WAVE 3, COMING FALL 1987).  What bothered me was how Hot Rod got such a raw deal.  Hear me out here.

Optimus Prime, bad ass
For two years prior to the movie's release, Optimus Prime was established as the leader of the Autobots.  Now let me tell you, this guy was, and still is my hero. He's wise and powerful, a warrior, scientist and diplomat.  While all the other Autobots were cars, he was a TRUCK.  A Goddamn TRUCK!  I have every incarnation of his toy, even the $150 masterpiece import from Japan. I have every episode of the TV show, and every Transformers comic because of Optimus Prime.  I was even able to stomach two simply terrible, awful, horrible live action attempts because of Optimus Prime.

In 1986, Transformers The Movie was released with the tagline "Does Prime die? Then who would lead the Autobots?"  Well by even bringing up the prospect, they were pretty much telling us this was going to happen.  Then the new toy commercials began hinting that "...a new Autobot leader would appear".

So I tried to prepare myself, but *SPOILER ALERT* when Optimus Prime died in Transformers The Movie, I was pretty crushed. However, I believe I was a pretty well adjusted kid, and was able to handle it. Looking back, I think it was an important lesson to learn as a kid, that things change, death happens, and you need to move on.

Apparently some kids were not as well adjusted as I was... Here's how Hasbro, the powers that be behind Transformers handled it, and why I think Hot Rod got the friggin' shaft:

Hot Rod, shafted by Hasbro
This is Hot Rod.  He was first introduced in Transformers The Movie. He was voiced by Judd Nelson, and established as a young Autobot, equivalent to a human teenager.  I liked Hot Rod, and through a series of unfortunate events, he was chosen as the next leader of the Autobots.  He became Rodimus Prime.  Rodimus was a different type of leader than Optimus, full of doubt that he could live up to Optimus' example.  He spent a lot of time talking to a statue of Optimus, asking what HE would do.  Despite being unprepared for the mantle of leadership, he continually shined out and showed great courage and leadership ability.  Again, what a great lesson for 1980's cartoon to be teaching kids, that even the youngest of us can grow up and be responsible when called upon.

Rodimus Prime, transforms into camper with flames
While I pondered these lessons and accepted Rodimus Prime as the new leader of the Autobots, apparently some other children were locked in their closets, crying under their beds and hiding in kitchen cabinets.  Hasbro was flooded with letters (no e-mail back then) from angry parents telling them to bring back Optimus Prime so their kid could move on with life.  Hasbro certainly didn't want this development to hurt their bottom line, so instead of making these kids grow the hell up, they BROUGHT BACK Optimus Prime, in a two part episode appropriately titled, "The Return of Optimus Prime".

Now don't get me wrong, I was glad to see my hero again.  But did anyone ever stop to think about Rodimus Prime?  Now he's back to being regular old Hot Rod.  All of the time he spent learning, growing and becoming more responsible as Autobot leader, a young TV viewer grew along with him.  But hey guess what kid, here comes Hasbro, Optimus is back!  I always thought it was a raw deal, for both myself and Hot Rod.  I don't really have a point here, it's just kinda annoying right?

Sorry for wasting your time.