Category Archives: Geek Life
It was brought to my attention recently that there’s an Assassin’s Creed movie in the works, which got me a little more excited than I expected. The honest truth is I’ve played maybe two hours of the entire series (which I promise I’m hoping to change very soon). But it’s always intrigued me a ton; the whole idea of the Animus and past-lives, assassins, and the style and art of the game have totally drawn me in.
Even with little experience, I’m pretty stoked about the movie and will definitely be seeing it, especially considering Ubisoft’s allegedly firm stance on retaining creative control. Most of us gamers have been sorely let down by film adaptions of popular franchises, so it’s easy to be cynical on whether or not the film will be worth seeing. I’m hoping it will.
So here’s what I’m not too excited about: they announced the casting of Michael Fassbender apparently as a lead according to this article from Variety. It’s specficially worded as:
“Michael Fassbender was our first choice” to play the franchise’s iconic hooded hero
That’s kind of a let-down, assuming they follow the games and that hero is Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad, a very Syrian kind of guy. It’s ironic to make such a casting and then conclude with these sentiments:
By controlling more of the creative through UMP, Ubisoft hopes it doesn’t wind up with another “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,”
Funny, since one of the biggest critisims was that film’s casting of predominately white actors.
I managed to spend about an hour at the NY/NJ Tech Group emergency meetup / protest yesterday. Listening to the very influential speakers and just the general chatter really got me thinking about what SOPA/PIPA means to me.
I’ve never been an angel. I was a huge pirate during my high-school / college years; at my most ignorant I’d brag at how many thousands of dollars worth of stolen content I owned.
But now, as a functioning adult and someone who’s hoping to break into an industry that is victimized by piracy (gaming, and art to an extent), I am doing my best to rectify those choices by paying for the content I enjoy as much as possible. I can thank Amazon, Pandora, Netflix, Steam and even iTunes for that. Through these websites I have discovered new shows, movies, games, music, books, and the like, all of which I am able to watch and enjoy knowing I paid for it or supported it legally.
Something of note, though: In my many years as a rabid fangirl of many franchises, I can say with upmost confidence that 90% of the time, discovering the series’ and artists that I currently love was through a method that would be considered illegal either by current or future “laws”. I think that stands true for a lot of people in my generation, and likely most in those after me. I can’t even tell you how many songs and artists I discovered from fan-made music videos on youtube or gaming streams. Or how many shows I got into because I saw them at a college meeting or a clip online. How many games I discovered playing on a friend’s account. How many old passions were rekindled because I ran into a great fanart or fanfic or an animated GIF.
Legislation like SOPA and PIPA would do nothing but hinder this process of discovery and the spread of quality entertainment. In fact, I believe it would cause the complete opposite by encouraging a shadier and perhaps more risky internet “black market” by making content harder to discover and enjoy.
It’s strange how 10 years can change things. Despite the impact 9/11 had on me and my family and the sad losses we faced, I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t feel like a bad, distant dream these days. But as I began to write this months ago, everything came back to me. My heart raced and my eyes teared, because that day was all too real.
So this might be kind of long-winded, but, I thought it was worth writing as a reminder to myself and perhaps as a form of venting.
The subject on what puts us on a different level from the countless other living things around us has been something humankind has debated for ages. We know we’re different. We know we’re special. But why? What is it that sets us apart from our animal counterparts? Why is it that we are the dominate species now and have been for thousands of years? What is it about our race that put us so far on top of the totem pole?
There are countless theories coming from as many sources, a good chunk of which are sometimes completely contradictory. Religious and scientific, personal and global.
I thought about it after reading an article from Deadspin linked by @Wired about how a robot apparently was able to write a better news story than a human. In the end, it isn’t particularly surprising that a program could create an automated report based on facts, data, and randomly interjected descriptive words. But it has people wondering; will human writers be replaced by robots? Is this the start of something we’ve seen way too many times in movies but coming eerily close to reality?
Everything evolutionary can be argued as an adaption for survival. Even some of the most beautiful displays mother nature has to offer have some sort of practical function. Attracting mates, pollination, camouflage. Very few creatures in the animal kingdom display a true creative flare; even less do it for no reason at all.
Humanity’s ability to think creatively and innovate is what I feel TRULY sets us apart. There are still tons of other practical factors, of course. Our bodies’ efficient energy usage, for instance, as being bi-pedal helped us out-endure our prey. Advanced communication abilities. Our intelligence. And then we used tools to help us, we created machines to do what we couldn’t do ourselves, and we dominate the world to work for us. We were able to solve the problems that would otherwise have been our downfall. Irrigation allowed us to rely on plants for food, allowed us to become stationary and create communities. Domestication assured us we’d always have the meat or protection we’d need. This is both a blessing and a curse, but in the end it’s the idea of abstract thinking that I believe puts us ahead.
As an artist, I think the other large part of what makes us different is our ability to create for the sake of creation. At some point in our history, we started to draw pictures. Further down the line, the pictures no longer needed meaning. We create music, write stories, and express our emotions not for survival (although some may argue that in a therapeutic way, it is) but just because. We want to. It feels good. So we do it.
That’s what sets us apart from animals. But what about robots? What about AI?
Computers can do amazing things it’s almost frightening. They can even think, so to speak. Anything involving numbers and algorithms, formulas and facts, a computer can do better than most people. But what they cannot do, not yet anyway, is create. Not truly. Yes, we have robots who draw, but all that is really based on software with pre-set factors and/or randomization at best.
It’s popular belief that the moment of eclipse when robots take over the world is when one can truly feel something real. Have an abstract thought, question existence, feel love or hatred. I wouldn’t disagree, however, I feel the pre-cursor to this evolution is when AI can truly create something new and beautiful and purposeless without being guided to do so by programing. It’s a scary thought because while the idea of AI being able to think freely or feel emotion is a long-way off, their ability to be creative seems much closer to home and realistic. What if creation is the stepping stone to emotion?
I don’t know much about science or programming or AI, honestly. But I guess the whole human vs robot apocalypse isn’t so far-fetched after all. There still has to be a lot of factors to allow it to happen, of course. Free-thinking and creative software on its own can, at best, completely shut us out of the digital world. A social shock perhaps, yes, and westernized nations reliant on anything computerized will find themselves extremely vulnerable. But we still have the ability to go outside and farm ourselves food and hunt.
What the AI would need is the hardware (body) to function in, and manipulate its environment. It would also need a lot of bodies. Power in numbers, after all. Lastly, an unlimited power-source. So that’s the golden combination. Solar-energy powered self-thinking painterly robots en masse will be humanity’s downfall. One can only hope mercy is a part of that formula.
Well Saturday morning I met up with Malibu of G.W.E.N and went to ArenaNet’s Dynamic Event panel which was chuck-full of crazy amounts of information. We were given a great surprise when Eric Flannum said we’d be designing a dynamic event chain that would eventually be implemented into the game.
The first chunk of the panel was a brief rundown on Dynamic events. It was a lot of stuff we already knew, but the most interesting part was that they gave us a map with a dynamic event quest list, which I unfortunately didn’t get a good image of. We learned a few tidbits of gameplay and new info on races. Dynamic events are made to be successes: there’s no incentive to failing one. Furthermore, they are meant to promote teamwork. All other players are allies, not enemies, when in the persistent PvE world. They also discourage completionism in the events system: there’s no reason to go back and purposely fail an event.
The tengu are back! Ogres are beast-masters who usually have pets. The quaggan are a new, passive race that get bullied by the krait, who are vicious and slave-driving. Not all races are black and white; some will be allies or enemies depending on the situation. Others are always bad and others, always good. We learn that the Norn and Slyvari have a lot of interaction, as well, and the Norn like to mess with them by tricking them into doing weird things: “Go kick the hive over there!” “Ok!”
After the run-down, Eric starts with explaining how we’d create our event: first he gives us three locations, explains the terrain, races, and major hubs in the area. The group chooses Timberline Falls, a 50-60 zone, as the setting and the conflict between the Quaggan and Krait as a basis.
We cover a lot of ideas over the panel with Eric and Jeff Grubb explaining how and why they will work and won’t work. Some were silly (MEGASHARK > INSERT WALRUS), epic (Underwater Super Weapon), and downright wonky (Tricking the Slyvari into raiding the krait towers?). I started zoning out by the end, but we eventually got a solid basis that involved training the quaggan to fight and commissioning a super weapon. After the event chain is complete, the Vigil will likely step in to recruit and continue training the quaggan.
Right after the panel, which ran over by 20 minutes or so, we met up with a handful of people from Guild Wars 2 Guru. Sadly, JR, Neo, and a few others had bailed right after (jerks!) and we didn’t get a chance to say hi! Due to time and trivia contests, we split instead of going to lunch.
I met up with Jess and we ran around playing games, grabbing shirts, hitting up the LAN, sneaking in lunch, and relaxing at the hotel before heading out to the ArenaNet fan party at the Hard Rock Cafe.
The party was such an awesome experience. We got to mix and mingle with a slew of ArenaNet employees, from familiar faces to completely new ones. Malibu and I made the rounds taking pictures and introducing ourselves to whoever we didn’t know. Eventually, Jess and I got into a lengthy chat with Stephen Hwang, a level designer who was extremely awesome to talk to. We ran down a whole bunch of topics, starting out with introducing GuildMag (he hadn’t heard of us!), what it’s like working with A-Net, and the general reception of GW2 from old fans and new. It was really awesome hearing about the game from another designer. Likewise, he explained how seeing the game from the view of the fans puts things in perspective. We all know what it’s like when you stare at your own piece of work for so long, it’s difficult to see it objectively.
I think the most important information I got out of that conversation, though, was just the amount of passion about working on this game that Anet has. We always hear these guys say how much they are gamers like us and are doing this because they love it. But to hear it in person, and not him directly saying it but just the way he talked about being a part of this team, it’s really humbling. It’s easy to see why this game is shaping up to be as awesome as it has lately when the minds behind it believe so much in what they’re doing.
Stephen was nice enough to give me a better run-down on the other employees people might not hear about as often but are just as important to the success of the company. He also introduced us to a few of them who walked by, and I tried my hand at convincing everybody to go to Pax-East (rumor has it they are!) and learned they will be having a small presence at New York Comic-Con next month, which I’ll try to go to.
All-in-all…it was a great experience. The connection Anet has with their fans is undeniably a huge reason they are doing and will continue to do well in the future. Dorkishly enough, I am really proud to be a part of this community.
The full album is here, and a few of my favs down below:
Alright, so the day is finally winding down here in WA. Day one was pretty nuts!
On the Guild Wars front, there was a lot going on. The lines to test out the game were nuts: I was standing for almost 2 hours before I decided I had to go.
On the bright side, I got to watch both presentations by Martin and got a pretty in-depth look at the combat systems. Seeing the UI in action up-close, too, made me feel a lot more comfortable with the way it’s going so far. Screenshots definitely don’t do the game justice.
I got to meet a lot of awesome Arena-Net people, too! Martin, Regina, Emily, and Habib (??), a programmer who’s probably not as well-known but still awesome. Everybody was really cool to talk to. I saw Izzy, Kristen, and Joe but didn’t get a chance to say hi.
I’ll be hitting up the Dynamic Events panel tomorrow morning and the party at night, so it’ll be a whole lotta Arenanet goodness.
I got to play a few other games, too, and got a lot of free T-shirts. We plan on getting a few more tomorrow. A few WoW loot cards, LoL codes, tons of betas and trial codes, trading cards…yeah. Lots of loot.
More pics and info tomorrow!
A few pictures for you guys:
As a lot of you know, I’ll be heading to PAX-Prime this week over in Seattle. I’m ridiculously excited about going, and mostly because I get to try out the Guild Wars 2 demo! Jess and I will be heading over representing GuildMag and our podcast. It’s going to be both thrilling and crazy busy.
We’ll be heading in Thursday night and plan on hitting up the Triwizard Tournament drinking tournament with some PAX buddies from over here on the east coast. If the Pokemon pub-crawl at Pax-East is any indication of what I’m in for…well. Lets just hope I manage to get up the next morning!
Friday, first plan of business is heading over to Arenanet’s booth to snag a ticket for their Dynamic Events panel and introduce myself to the crew there. Depending on lines I’ll try to get a demo session in, too. At some point I need to figure out when I’ll be hanging with Barbie from the GW-EN network, too!
Sometime after the panel Saturday, there’s gonna be a Guildwars2guru community meet up, which I’m looking forward to beyond all reason and then a lounge party that night with the crew from GuildCast that I’ll be hitting up around 8:30-9pm.
What are the panels I’m hoping to hit after?
12:00 PM: Myth of the Girl Gamer
12:30 PM : Raud Warning Live Podcast (if the Girl Gamer panel is full, which is likely!)
2:30 PM: The Community Manager Challenge
4:00 PM: Mega 64
6:00 PM: The Various Roads to Becoming a Community Manager
10:00 AM: Guild Wars 2: Designing Dynamic Events
12:00 PM: World of Farmcraft
4:30 PM: Women Own: A Conversation with Researchers, Professionals, and Gamers
6:30 PM: So You Want to Land a Marketing Job in the Game Industry?
3:00 PM: Ask a Games Journalist: Veteran Editors Answer Any and All Questions
I’m gonna try to check out community manager and girl gamer panels as a priority. During my down times I’ll probably be hitting up Team Fortress 2 in the open LAN room with buddies and collecting swag from around the expo center.
Keep an eye out for me on Twitter: I’ll be posting twitpics and updates on lines, events, and my general location. I may also be trying to update the blog with pictures and small updates, but no promises!
Hope to see you guys there!
Yesterday it was announced that there’s this interesting new concept of media ownership called Ultraviolet Movie Locker.
The skivvy is that any time you purchase a movie in any form (VHS, DVD, Blue-Ray, Itunes, etc.) you also purchase a sort of “Ownership Token” on that title, essentially indicating that you legally own it and thus can freely snag another copy of it in whatever form the future brings.
This aims to preserve collections through our constantly changing digital world. It’s not too unlike the idea that, so long as you previously purchased an album one way or another, it’s not illegal for you to go and and bit-torrent the MP3′s.
Whether this supports grandfather ownership remains to be seen, though.
For instance, I own the original Pokémon movie on VHS. If I register this with UV and get my theoretical ownership token, does that mean I could technically demand Itunes give me the digital copy for free since I already own it? Cause that would be -sweet-.
The project aims to preserve playlists too. It’s backed by big names such as Microsoft, Warner Bros., Sony, even Adobe.
This seems like a pretty epic system! But there’s also room for abuse (as with anything) and Apple’s notorious forced Apple-Only formats may have issues with the ordeal.
The whole shebang is set for testing soon.