Presented without comment…
I’ve started showcasing my photography over on DeviantArt. I’m also hoping to network with other artists and hopefully find a penciller for a comic book pitch I’m trying to put together. Anyway, cycle through my stuff if you get a chance. I don’t completely suck.
Ronin’s MMO Report
City of Heroes – Re-Inventing A Super-Heroic MMO
I have no content prepared so here’s an in depth look at some PAX coverage. Wait, that isn’t how this works, no content means random picture illustrating super heroic shenanigans or slightly relevant hot women. Meh. What with Reverend busy at the Comicpalooza and nothing to show for it (Don’t listen to him, he totally has nothing to show for it) I figure I’d make a little post over the things I’ve learned today about my favorite MMORPG, City of Heroes. What’s that you say? Why are you talking about a game with a few hundred thousand subscribers, none of which have probably even heard of this blog? Well, because I have nothing better to do.
So there was this little ol’ convention known as the Penny Arcade Expo, or PAX. For those of you unaware, I was being sarcastic, or facetious, I mix those two up. The development team behind the Super Hero MMORPG “City of Heroes” held a panel called “Re-Inventing A Super-Heroic MMO.” The panelists included Melissa Bianco: Lead Designer, Matt Miller: Lead Systems Designer, David Nakayama: Lead Artist, Eric Johnson: Art Producer, and EM Stock: Studio Community Lead. The whole affair presents plenty of information while keeping the tone lighthearted and adding doses of humor that the community has come to expect from the developers, such as dialogue about a new powerset featuring clowns.
There was plenty of info presented regarding the future of the game, and provided more info on the expansion “Going Rogue” the is set to release in the future. Things began with a few details regarding the developers “then and now”. They begun with the origins under Cryptic studios, the current team or Paragon Studios, and the future of the franchise. When the team switched names, every single developer was offered a spot on the new team, and everyone accepted. Since then, the producer NC Soft has been completely supporting of the team and the game, providing ample amount of funding. They switched topics to the near future, Issue 17.
Issue 17: Dark Mirror, the next massive free update to the game, is set to release relatively soon. With it it bring not only new contents for both Heroes and Villains, but it goes and revamps old content that the players and developers were not satisfied with. The Positron Task Force, a low-level, long series of missions that locked heroes into a team until they finish was constantly scrutinized by players. With this new issue it is being divided, and updated, much to the joy of players. And there is a new enemy group of Doppelgangers. Yup, an enemy that is your own reflection (with the ability to choose for them to look like you normally, or with an inverted color scheme). And this isn’t including all of the small “quality of life” improvements sprinkled throughout the Issue, or the grand graphics update found in the game’s soon to be released “Ultra-Mode”.
The Going Rogue expansion brings with a cohesive storyline set in an alternate universe comprised of brand new zones, and it provides four new powersets for both Heroes and Villains. Dual Pistols: a simple concept taken to majestic levels for any vigilante who wants a more natural feel for their character. Demon Summoning: giving the mastermind archetype power over not only the elements, but a horde of demons who embody those elements. Not to mention a hellfire whip. Kinetics Melee: what’s better than swirling your hands about and then knocking around foes with blasts of energy? Just ask anyone who’s ever wanted to Hadoken something… that, or be an Airbender. Electric Control: 1.21 gigawatts? 1.21 gigawatts? Great Scott! Providing a new powerset for every melee, ranged, control, and summoning archetype, the expansion surely won’t disappoint in that regard.
But the developers know that not everyone wants to hear about the totally awesome expansion pack that you have to buy, so they let loose a few details regarding the free updates, otherwise known as “Issues”. The game is currently resting at Issue 16 with 17 getting ready to enter open beta soon. But these folks are confident in their work enough to talk about Issue 19, an issue to be released after Going Rogue. This later issue, dubbed for now as Issue 19: Incarnates, brings something that player have been asking for since they first hit the level cap. While not raising the level cap, it does put in place a system where heroes and villains can gain more “levels” and powers after they have reached level 50, and is set to provide a challenge for anyone seeking one.
From all of the information Paragon studios has been releasing over the past few months (and all the yet unreleased information yet to come) it is clear that there has never been a better time to play City of Heroes. So I ask any reader with an interest in online gaming and superheroes, check it out. There is a free trial to be found on their website. Anyone who has played this game before but has left, take another look, for there is much more enjoyment to be found now. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be hitting the streets with my psycho-kinetic technomancer.
This weekend I was working a booth at the 3rd Annual COMICPALOOZA event down here in Houston. Our store was sharing a booth with the guys from ANGEL COMICS and I was on the ground floor wheeling and dealing. Luckily I had some time to sneak away and enjoy the convention a little bit, getting some face time with Humberto Ramos, Ben Templesmith, and J.H. Williams III.
I’m not going to bore you with anecdotes from the con, but I will say that everyone there went out of their way to be friendly and receptive. Templesmith, who I admittedly isn’t one of my favorite artists, as his style doesn’t really grab me, showed off some commission pieces that blew me away and straight up made me a fan. I was almost salivating over J.H. Williams’ original art pages for Detective Comics, and watching Ramos draw Impulse from memory is something to behold.
The long and short of this post is basically just to say that it’s nice to have a successful comic convention in my home town. A place that REALLY needs one with the number of fans we have in the area. I can only imagine what next year will be like.
(And yes, I did have Liefeld sign my Deadpool comics, but I gave him the evil eye. *_* )
Ronin’s Review #5
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth
Available on the Nintendo DS
So begins Part One of a multi-part series called… “Gaming March Madness: When Everyone Decides to Release Their Games At the Same Time”. Sure it’s a long title, but then again so is the game I’m about to review. For those of you who do not know, Ace Attorney Investigations is a spin-off from the core Ace Attorney games, with protagonist prosecutor Miles Edgeworth. After getting swept up into events all concerning a particular smuggling ring, he and a couple of helping hand, leave the courtroom in order to do a little detective work.
A little history lesson is in order. The first game in the core series, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, was released as Gyakuten Saiban on the Game Boy Advance back in 2001.It didn’t get an English release until it was remade for the DS in 2005. The first three Ace Attorney games centered around defense attorney Phoenix Wright, while the fourth centered around his successor of sorts, Apollo Justice. A fifth Ace Attorney game is currently in the works, though the only fact known about it is in fact that it exists. There’s no word on whether it will continue the Phoenix Wright or Apollo Justice saga, or feature some new protagonist. But after the fourth Ace Attorney game was released it was announced that Miles Edgeworth, probably the most popular side-character in the series, was getting his own game. Edgeworth entered the series as the rival for Wright. Edgeworth starts out as the cold, perfection-driven prosecutor interested only in getting a guilty verdict, but as time goes on and the story progresses, Phoenix ends up making a dramatic influence on his behavior. By the time his own game rolls around, he keeps his regal presence and can still be rather harsh to his subordinates , but he now values the absolute truth over any sort of verdict.
The Ace Attorney games are a series of text-adventure games that emphasis critical thinking and logic while telling stories that are welcomed in both dramatic and humorous circles. The universe that the series takes place in is rather peculiar. The games generally take place somewhere around 10 years in the future, yet everyone still uses VHS tapes. The American justice system has evolved into one without a jury of your peers, instead defendants are guilty until proven innocent, and trials must conclude within three days because of laws passed to expedite trial proceedings. The American populace has suddenly become more influenced by Japanese culture, so I can only assume they have become the leading world power. Though this world may seem strange and confusing, it only stands to help the design of the game. One of the series’ most notable features has been its rather unorthodox cast of characters. The design and dialogue have been a high point of the games since the beginning and still carry through in Ace Attorney Investigations. Which is good since, well, dialogue takes up quite a lot of a game that is advanced primarily through text. It takes a certain kind of skill to make me laugh out loud when playing a game, and the Ace Attorney games deliver, especially Investigations.
While the original Ace Attorney games split up the action between investigation stages and courtroom stages, Miles Edgeworth spends all of his time in the field in his game. But he still takes a bit of the courtroom with him. When information needs extraction from a witness, it is taken in a process practically identical to previous courtroom interrogations. Listen to the person’s testimony, press where more information is needed, and present evidence when a contradiction is seen. The main difference between Investigations and the core series, lies in the ability to actually control a character. In the core series the gameplay amounted to examining crime scenes as static screens. In Investigations Edgeworth moves around within the scene and physically interacts with his surroundings. When a particular area needs closer inspection, it shifts to a static screen similar to that of previous games.
You might be saying, “it seems like you’ve spent more time talking about the older games than actually reviewing this one.” Well, I guess that is true. The gameplay is good. As is the story, sound, and presentation. The problem is that the only way I can describe this game is by comparing it with the ones that preceded it, and I can’t guarantee everyone has played those. There are many parts of this game that can only be fully enjoyed if the player has experienced the Ace Attorney games. I’d say that this is a game for Ace Attorney fans, except even Ace Attorney games are for Ace Attorney fans. But everyone I talk to that has experienced the series enjoys it, so there really isn’t a reason to not be an Ace Attorney fan after playing the series. While I can’t necessarily recommend this game to anyone who hasn’t played the Ace Attorney games, I can recommend anyone who hasn’t played them to give them a try. And then I can recommend this game. With five games in all, the series is certain to supply anyone with a DS with hours upon hours of enjoyment. Even those who do not own a DS can get the first three Ace Attorney games on the Wii thanks to the WiiWare downloads.
Verdict: This isn’t a game that I think everyone should play, it is in fact a series that I think everyone should play. This game improved and expanded upon its predecessor, just as that one did with its predecessor. The only way to enjoy the experience in its entirety is to seek out the original, and follow the lineage. Phoenix Wright : Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth. With than many colons and subtitles, you know a series is on the up and up.
Apparently she’s filming a remake of Hawaii Five-O, which I could care less about. This is the one time I’ve seen Boomer from Battlestar not covered in dirt and grease. [More Images at TheSuperficial]