Saturday, 21 April 2012

Engage - STO

My latest passion in the gaming world is Star Trek Online. With free-to-play there is no barrier for giving things a try and the game has been around long enough to have evolved a little from any release wonkiness that MMOs invariably suffer from.


The game has me completely immersed now, it is a wonderful realisation of Star Trekkiness bringing some exciting space and ground battles, interesting quests, bridge officers and more. The game has such a good feel to it, whether I am just sending my Duty Officers off on their own quests, working through the main Episode storylines or just leaping out into space and dailies.

The sound (music and effects) bring us into the Star Trek universe, along with all the races, ships, planets, equipment, uniforms and visuals that lure me back in each time. I havent even started to look at the Foundry (player created content) and the fun that could be there in creating my own. As I write this I am lining up some more Duty Officer missions, overly good experience comes in for me from this fun 'side game'.

There is so much to like here, whether it is Leonard Nimoy's Spock congratulating me when I level, the complex space and ground battle opportunities or the fun customising crew and ship - everything here is fun. Even the little detail of having the name of my ship actually visible on my hull shows some of the love that Cryptic have put into the game for trekkies and all.

Here are a suite of images showing my character in a few ships leading upto the captain rank plus a few shots on a ground mission as well.









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EDIT: forgot to include this link when I posted: Why I Play: Star Trek Online (on Massively)

Friday, 20 April 2012

Alex Garner WW and ImagineFX

The latest ImagineFX, which I always love seeing arrive in the mailbox (along with my 3DWorld) sports a super Wonder Woman cover from the mighty hand of Alex Garner. Apart from the cover piece, we get a tutorial from Alex explaining some of techniques (photoshop layers, masks, etc in CS3) that are part of his workflow in managing the creative process from start to finish. The DVD sports a whole video capture of him working through the process which is what I like as we get to see the changes, the evolution, the fixes. These things reveal far better the work that goes into works like this and how what we see doesn't just arrive magically on the page/screen.

[Alex Garner's Wonder Woman ImagineFX cover art via Issue 082]

There is much more Alex Garner art on his DeviantArt Gallery as well as his home website.
Since he is somewhat famous for his Wonder Woman covers, here are a few more, though there is much more to be enjoyed on his sites ... go on ... go and have a look!




[Alex Garner Wonder Woman Covers via his DeviantArt Gallery]

I certainly recommend ImagineFX to all and sundry, Issue 82 is another inspirational edition - now to dedicate more time to trying out all the techniques...

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Battleship Time

We geared up to see what Hasbro had in store for their movie adaptation of the classic board game last night - Battleship. To be honest we didnt go in with high expectations apart from some super special effects and probably some simple escapism. The Vmax cinema set things up nicely and the action began. The cinema laughed at multiple times and even clapped at the end for delivering us a fun ride.





The CG was great and the production quality was high. The plot was highly stereotyped, which would be ok, but there were too many armada sized holes if you actually have your brain in even first gear. Assuming we can slot into neutral then the film was cool, I think it would appeal much more to the 9 year old boys that it is targeted to, but I still enjoyed it.
That said there is good here, the Aliens feel like they arent just a mindless invading throng, are they the bad guys or are we - this could have played a bigger part, was at least still woven in there a little.The cast is kinda neat, bringing a nice breadth of types and looks of people and they were enjoyable to watch.



Steve Jablonski gives us the sound track (Transformers fame) and much of the sound effects and technology were straight from the Transformers franchise. Remembering that a ride at Disneyland gave us the Pirates of the Caribbean, taking inspiration from a board game can certainly work. Here we got right into the Navy and the action with cameras doing remarkable things as they tracked through the chaos of battle. See Director Peter Berg's comments on DenOfGeek.

I have to admit I didnt even pick up on the part where they were firing the missiles as being a direct translation of the gameplay - feel kinda silly about that now. Anyhow, thinking back, that was actually quite clever.

I actually see quite a bit of Star Trek here actually, think on that...

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CG, one of the key reasons for going on the journey with the aliens and ships was all the CG work.We have the masters of ILM on the task, so the results were always going to be jaw dropping. Clearly the effects are drawing on skills learned in doing Transformers and Pirates, bringing together the technology, explosions, complexity, performance capture, aliens and more. The Navy ships looked great up there on the screen and all the weapon effects were superb.

This featurette shows off some of the creation and behind-the-scenes work by the film crew and ILM - hints at the truly remarkable amount of work from many people to achieve results at this level.




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Lastly check out the Hasbro Battleship fun.