Star Trek Online – Week One Report

•February 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

So Star Trek Online is approaching its first full week online (Headstart began last Friday morning) and I thought it’d be good to look back on how it fared in its first week as a MMO launch can range from great to a total disaster.

I honestly didn’t think that anything would pull me away from Mass Effect 2. When I got that I played non-stop for nearly eight hours, but since Star Trek Online has started I honestly haven’t touched it and it’s driving me nuts as I want to see the end of Shepard’s second adventure.

Firstly, don’t listen to the angry Champions Online players who are spamming game forums telling people not to play STO out of anger of a paid expansion coming out for that game. Most MMOs have paid expansions (EVE Online is really an exception to the rule) and you need to understand that most people who complain are really just teenagers without a job and are borrowing their parent’s credit card in order to play their MMO. You see the same kind of complaining in other MMOs when they announce a paid expansion, and it’s just noise that should be ignored. The same can be said about the people on the STO forums complaining about Cryptic’s C-Store and the $1 and $4 options to add new races to the game. Again, the vocal unemployed minority should be tuned out and not affect how you enjoy a game.

I mean one big complaint that’s been spamming the boards is that the game makes you set up a subscription prior to logging in, even though the first thirty days are free. Every single premium MMO in the history of the genre requires this. It doesn’t matter if it’s UO, EQ, EVE, EQ2, SWG, AOC, or WoW; you have to enter some kind of subscription information before you can even play the first free month. People are just stupid and looking for a reason to bash the game either out of pure stupidity or blind loyalty to another game that they may feel is threatened by a big new release.

Every time I see these complaints pop up, I picture this guy.

Enough about that. The game is fun. You can get even more positive impressions here and here and the general consensus from mature and straight-thinking MMO veterans is that Cryptic needs a pat on the back for such a smooth MMO launch as well as apologies for complaints surrounding their previous two MMOs and any content or gameplay problems seen there. STO is a different beast, and the third time was definitely the charm for Cryptic as they have created an extremely polished MMO that honors its license quite well.

Headstart was a bit rocky with the servers crashing nearly every day. However over the weekend they deployed a small 128mb patch, which seemed to fix things. This is only speculation from my experience behind the scenes on a couple MMO launches, but my guess is that the server crashes may have had less to do with not handling the player load and more with some kind of client issue as the client patch seemed to fix the instability. With MMOs, especially around launch, it’s very common for a small issue with the player client to cause server instability.

Once that patch went out it was very smooth sailing through launch. In fact, the main servers held up on Tuesday very well. The account and authorization servers seemed to go up and down, but that’s understandable with the sheer number of people trying to get in.

I’ve seen a lot of complaints that the game isn’t very fun at first. And while it’s true that the first 11 levels (you get your first new ship at level 11) can crawl by; they’re worth going through as the game opens up once you reach Lieutenant Commander and you get your Tier 2 ship. Even the missions are better.

My favorite so far was one where Augment Klingons (remember them from Enterprise?) kidnap Miral Paris and take her back in time through the Guardian of Forever to 2270 in order to try to cure the Original Series Klingons. Once there, they immediately attack the NCC-1701, which you have to rescue and Spock even hails you via Nimoy’s voice. Also while in the past you board one of the old Klingon D7 cruisers and fight Original Series Klingons with your away team all before rescuing Miral Paris, encountering the original 1701 Enterprise again, and returning to the future through the Guardian of Forever.

Missions like that feel like a great two-part Star Trek episode and really make the license work in a MMO setting much better than Star Wars Galaxies ever did.

There are also great little bits lying around for Trekkies/Trekkers to geek out over. While on Earth Spacedock, look outside at the Moon…it’s just as Riker described in First Contact. Look for Kirayoshi O’Brien as a young officer on Memory Alpha. Naomi Wildman is the new commander of Deep Space K7. One suggestion for Cryptic? Put Morn at the bar in Quarks. Sure this is thirty years after the DS9 era, but it’s hard to believe he would ever leave his stool there.

I’m currently a Lt. Commander and loving the game. I haven’t really had this fresh feeling with any MMO since the original EverQuest as everything as just been clones of other games. There are elements here and there in STO that have been done before, but it all comes together in something that feels new and not just World of Warcraft with a SciFi skin.

If you are a big Star Trek Fan you definitely need to check out Star Trek Online.

Star Trek II Release Date

•January 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

So Star Trek II is set for June 2012. Although there isn’t a script or story yet, there are some things they can improve upon in the sequel.

-Fix the engine room: Please, please, ditch the Bud plant in the sequel. Just explain that the ship had a refit. Seeing a modern day industrial plant tore you right out of the first movie.

-The Shatner issue: You can’t have old Kirk as he’s dead. Why not put Harry Mudd in the movie and have Shatner play him? Mudd isn’t too far a leap from Denny Crane.

-Kahn is not needed…yet: Everyone wants Kahn, but they shouldn’t rush into a remake of the first Star Trek II. They could introduce Kahn in the first sequel, and end it with Kirk marooning him and Kahn promising his wrath to come.

This is How the World Ends

•January 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Avatar is now #2 behind Titanic on the all time worldwide gross list.

Brian Michael Bendis hasn’t drank the Avatar Kool-Aid

•January 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Big time Comic writer Brian Michael Bendis apparently doesn’t like Avatar, according to his awesome tweets:

i am truly truly sorry i have offended the relatives of james cameron and the fox stock holders who clearly follow my every word here :) 6:01 PM Dec 30th, 2009 from TweetDeck

ok, i am leaving the internet now. 2:15 PM Dec 30th, 2009 from TweetDeck

did i say avatar flopped? no. i was amazed at how it has not turned a profit. the blind side will make more $$ than avatar. interesting. 1:50 PM Dec 30th, 2009 from TweetDeck

for those playing at home $661,284,488 is not what fox gets. theatres take almost half off the top. 1:36 PM Dec 30th, 2009 from TweetDeck

$661,284,488 worldwide and avatar isn’t even close to turning a profit yet 1:24 PM Dec 30th, 2009 from TweetDeck

Keep fighting the good fight Bendis. The Avatar cult will be defeated someday.

Avatar

•December 29, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Wow. I never expected my little Avatar post from months ago to explode the way it has. But in a way I’m glad it did if only so more people can be exposed to classic SciFi and to see how something hyped as a revolutionary original vision really isn’t what many think.

Look, I enjoyed Avatar but mostly on a technichal level. The 3D is the best I’ve ever seen, but as a SciFi movie it didn’t draw me into it’s world or story in the same way District 9 did; and both share one similar story element.

I do hope that by the time Avatar reaches BluRay that credit is given similar to how a credit was added to the Terminator credits.

Is Avatar ripping off Ben Bova’s “Winds of Altair”?

•August 27, 2009 • 11 Comments

Everyone is dying to hype up James Cameron’s Avatar as the second coming of film. There really hasn’t been hype for a movie like this since Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and we all know how that turned out. But is Avatar as original as everyone thinks? Not really.

This is the Avatar description from Wikipedia:

The story’s protagonist, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), is a former Marine who was wounded and paralyzed from the waist down in combat on Earth. Jake is selected to participate in the Avatar program, which will enable him to walk. Jake travels to Pandora, a lush jungle-covered extraterrestrial moon filled with incredible life forms, some beautiful, many terrifying. Pandora is also home to the Na’vi, a sentient humanoid race that humans consider primitive, yet are more physically capable than humans. Standing three meters tall (approximately 10ft), with tails and sparkling blue skin, the Na’vi live in harmony with their unspoiled world. As humans encroach deeper into Pandora’s forests in search of valuable minerals, the Na’vi unleash their formidable warrior abilities to defend their threatened existence.

Jake has unwittingly been recruited to become part of this encroachment. Since humans are unable to breathe the air on Pandora, they have created genetically-bred human-Na’vi hybrids known as Avatars. The Avatars are living, breathing bodies that are controlled by a human “driver” through a technology that links the driver’s mind to their Avatar body. On Pandora, through his Avatar body, Jake can be whole once again. Sent deep into Pandora’s jungles as a scout for the soldiers that will follow, Jake encounters many of Pandora’s beauties and dangers. There he meets a young Na’vi female, Neytiri, whose beauty is matched only by her ferocity in battle.

Over time, Jake integrates himself into Neytiri’s clan, and begins to fall in love with her. As a result, Jake finds himself caught between the military-industrial forces of Earth, and the Na’vi, forcing him to choose sides in an epic battle that will decide the fate of an entire world.

Sounds pretty cool. Unfortunately, that is the plot of Ben Bova’s 1972 novel “Winds of Altair”:
Winds of Altair Cover

The classic SciFi novel tells the story of humans trying to terraform the planet of Altair IV, where they cannot breath the air. The natives of this planet are a cat-like race (hmm, the Na’vi in Avatar look a little like cats) and Humans are able to transfer their minds into these cats in order to explore the planet safely. Throughout the course of the novel, the main character inhabits the body of one of these cats (just like in Avatar) and grows to side with the natives against the Military in the story.

The plots are almost identical. But will Cameron give credit to Bova for the story in Avatar? Doubt it.

R2D2 in Star Trek

•June 12, 2009 • Leave a Comment

From Gizmodo:

R2D2 in Star Trek

R2D2 in Star Trek

 
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