Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Been a short while since I have had a chance to play ME2 but thought I should get around to posting some thoughts about.

I’m still a bit unsure of whether I prefer Mass Effect or Mass Effect 2. In some areas they made some big improvements, but in others they didn’t quite hit the mark. Plenty of others have talked about it before though so I’m not going to labour it.

I did enjoy the game. It was a different look at the ME world, had some great music and characters and left us waiting for the third, and final, chapter of the trilogy.

It is certainly best played with a save from ME1 – all the little bits and pieces that make it into ME2 that refer back to events in ME1 give it flavour.

On to other matters – six degrees of Mass Effect 2. Firstly one has to watch the following scene.

Apart from the amusement of the conversation, pay attention to the names given to the two recruits – Burnside and Chung. Short of a massive coincidence I know (and have worked with) the two people they are named for – Ken Burnside and Winchell Chung. The project was Attack Vector on which I helped design the background setting – a hard Newtonian science space sim. Apparently during the design of ME1 both of them gave some assistance to the designers via a mailing list I’m also on – sfconsim – and this easter egg was a way of thanks.

And one more clip, involving Mordin, one of the character in game. Probably my favourite and also has a huge fan base. He is simply awesome and quite complex all in one. The following clip is just a small display of his awesomeness.

When I started writing my current story I had no plot. In fact I had nothing. I just sat down one day and started writing in an effort to see what turned out. Now that I am returning to the story properly, I looked through the various plotlines trying to work out how to mesh them together. In the end some were set aside for use another day leaving just two main plotlines. It took some thinking and pondering of ideas to figure out a way to mesh them properly so they connected and told a single over-all story. It has breathed some fresh life into the story, now that I know where it is going and how it will end.

A trend of late in fantasy stories seem to be to churn out large volumes containing literally dozens of plotlines that seemingly have no connection to each other beyond being in the same setting. In the long run, ten books in, they may connect, but in the current book they may never meet.

If you look at Lord of the Rings, it had three main plotlines. The first was of course Frodo and Sam. Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas made the second and Merry and Pippin the third. There were other, lesser plotlines – such as Gandalf, Eowyn, Boromir and the like – but they wove in and out as needed. Those three main plotlines kept touching on each other even when they weren’t connected and in the end of the story they formed the whole story.

If you look at the late Robert Jordan and the current Stephen Erikson on the other hand, they stuff their novels with so many plotlines and characters that it is a struggle to keep track of them all – especially when a book can go by in which the plots followed never once met up or even mention each other. They are like two or three different books cut apart and then pasted together.

I think initially that was a way my current work was going – but I have since changed it. Yes, there are other stories of other people I wish to tell in that setting, but I won’t mash them all up together. Instead they will follow separately, hopefully, in their own work so that their stories aren’t lost amongst all the others.

A Blast From The Past

Posted: January 15, 2010 in General
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Back in the day when I was young, one of my favourite TV shows was Danger Mouse. On a whim I looked it up on youtube last night and was surprised to find just how awesome it still is.

Here is one of the episodes – The Hickory Dickory Dock Dilemea – made even more awesome by a Doctor Who reference.

Even though I knew Mass Effect 2 was being released just around the corner (as in just over a week now), I hadn’t been paying it all that much attention.  I enjoyed Mass Effect 1 and am planning on getting the sequel, but as matters stand at the moment, I’m going to have to wait until it comes down in price to be able to afford it.   So there wasn’t much point in looking at it too much or I’d just torture myself.

But something I did stumble across (and alas had me looking into the game more than was good for me) was the following video showing who is doing voice acting in the sequel.

Martin Sheen.
Tricia “Number Six” Helfer
Michael “Colonel Tigh” Hogan
Carrie-Anne “Trinity” Moss
Michael “Worf” Dorn

And Adam “Jayne Cobb” Baldwin. No one knows yet what part his character plays, or if you can have them as a team member, but if they are you know I’m going to have them permanently on roster. Teaming up with Jayne Cobb? You betcha.

And here is the trailer for the game.

One of the interesting things about ME2 is that you can import saves from ME1 and events that transpired in it affect the ME2 game. A character dies in ME1? They aren’t around in ME2. The choices you make at the end of ME1? They carry over – so the council may be dead or alive.

Only two of the six original team members are available to team up with again – Tali and Garrus. Its a shame that Wrex can’t be a team member, but given what can happen in ME1 with him, you can see why.

In preparation for when the game does come out, I am working on a couple of saves, getting them set up perfectly to export over.

Playing the game again makes me want to work on some SF stories again one of these days. Many years back I came up with a SF setting that I have planned to write in for some time, but it has always been far down the list of things to do. Maybe one of these years I’ll get back to it.

Some More Doctor Who Treats

Posted: January 8, 2010 in General
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Just a few more videos of Doctor Who related material.

The first is a sketch from the 2007 Comic Relief featuring Catherine Tate and David Tennant. Its a bit meta in relation to Doctor Who, but the funnier for it. I must admit that when Catherine Tate was announced as being a companion of the 10th Doctor, I was a little sceptical at the time, but I must admit that that opinion changed during the course of her time on the show – and I was a little sad at the way her character departed the show.

And now for something completely different. No, not Monty Python – it is still Doctor Who related. The Doctor Who theme on electric violin. If anything sounds like a Chaos Noise Marine, then it is this.

First Trailer For The Next Doctor Who

Posted: January 3, 2010 in General
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With the airing of the second part of The End of Time, the curtain has been drawn on David Tennant’s time as the Tenth Doctor. Now it is the time of Matt Smith as the newest, Eleventh Doctor. It also marks the end of Russell Davies as being in charge of Doctor Who, and Stephen Moffat taking over. Given he is responsible for the best episodes of the New Who (Blink, The Girl in the Fireplace, The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances) this can only be a good thing.

The BBC have released a short trailer for the upcoming season on Doctor Who and it looks to be a lot of fun.

The Weeping Angels are back!

Of course, as with every other time the Doctor regenerated there are those complaining the show is ruined. Ruined! The Doctor changes – that has always been the way of it. I much preferred Eccleston’s 9th Doctor to Tennant’s 10th but it didn’t stop me watching and enjoying the show. And for those complaining that the preview shows The Doctor firing a gun and hitting someone and complaining that is is un-Who, go back and watch through the various Doctors. They’ve used guns and fought before. Despite the Tenth Doctor being a technical pacifist, the very first time we meet him he fought a sword duel and dropped an alien off the top of a spaceship to his death. Give Matt Smith a chance and remember – he won’t be the last Doctor either.

After last years effort, I’ve decided not to make nay new years resolutions this year, but instead set some goals I’d like to achieve. Okay, there isn’t much of a difference, but goals don’t feel as binding as resolutions. At least that is what I tell myself.

1. Write every day.

I find writing a bit like rolling a stone – once you’ve got it up to speed it rolls along, but if it isn’t moving, it takes some effort to get it rolling again. Stopping for any amount of time is a dangerous thing. One day becomes two becomes a week and before you know it you haven’t written in months. I may need to change my schedule a bit by doing some writing first thing in the morning before anything else. The goal would be to try an aim for a minimum of 1000 words a day. In theory it shouldn’t be too hard.

2. Stick to a novel and finish it.

Last year I worked on at least four different novels, and not surprisingly none got completed, even though a lot of writing got done. Two of them had the first draft completed. The problem was I kept moving on, getting new ideas and wanting to work on them. So this year I plan to choose one story and see it through to the end before starting a new one.

3. Write more short stories.

Last year I did manage to write a fair number of short stories, but quite a few of them were reworking of previous draughts and ideas. This year I want to pick up the output. What I’d like to see is trying to get a new short story written every fortnight (though one a week would be nice.) The stories would mostly be expanding on the current storylines, of Nhaqosa the Minotaur, the Cahuac Cycle, Cara’s Choice and Primal Tales, but with additional ones making an appearance.

4. Blog more.

The last couple of months saw little in the way of blogging done. I’d like to pick up the frequency of posts, and to make them more interesting. Also to comment more elsewhere on other blogs and forums, and also to twitter a bit more – though for that I’d have to learn to blather on a bit more.

How Did I Miss This?

Posted: January 1, 2010 in General
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As I may have alluded to once or twice in the past, I’m a bit of a Doctor Who fan. Looking forward to the second part of the 10th Doctor’s last show and the beginning of the 11th Doctor’s show this year.

It is therefore something of a surprise that I hadn’t run across this video earlier – Time Crash, a short video featuring the 10th and 5th Doctors for the 2007 Children In Need Special. It took TvTropes to alert me to its existence.

And here we are at the start of another year – where did that last one go?

New Years Eve was interesting. The day was stinking hot – 38C (around 100F for those not in the modern world yet.) For here that is hot. Never really cooled down either and is still quite warm this evening. Evening started off with a domestic down the road that led to the police turning up – later on, towards midnight I thought another one was going to start up in another part of the street.

There were fireworks down on the water, but nature provided a far more spectacular display. A thunder storm swept in over the mountain, lighting up the sky. At first you couldn’t see the lightning as it was hidden by the clouds, but you could see the glow from each strike reflecting across the whole sky. Later on there was an almighty bang right above and the skies opened up in a deluge for a few minutes. it cooled things slightly, but not completely. I’d turned off computers and TV by this stage just to be sure and then had to spend the next hour or so looking after my brother’s puppy who was going through his first thunderstorm and got a little agitated. He wasn’t too bad about it, but didn’t jump out of my arms after 15 seconds like normal. He just needed reassuring I guess and eventually settled down.

So that is the last year and a new pone begun. Looking back, my resolutions for last year were kind of epic fail, especially in regards to my writing. The last couple of months saw almost nothing done. I think this year I’ll stick clear of resolutions, but instead go with intentions. At least last year I discovered how not to write a book – this year hopefully I discover how actually to write one.

The Wolfman

Posted: December 11, 2009 in General
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Hollywood always seems to be doing remakes – sometimes they work, other times they don’t.

There is one coming out that I am looking forward to – the remake of the classic 1941 werewolf movie, The Wolfman. Werewolves rate up there amongst my favourite mythical monsters – far above vampires, or at least their modern incarnations. Hopefully the movie turns out well.