Gem studded Red Alert 3 cast...

... or not, but cheese stenched!

Game|Life reported that EA has announced the cast of the Red Alert 3 story FMV sequences!

The list is as follows:

  • Gemma Atkinson (Hollyoaks)
  • Andrew Divoff (LOST)
  • Kelly Hu (The Scorpion King)
  • Jenny McCarthy (Singled Out)
  • Ivana Milicevic (Casino Royale)
  • Jonathan Pryce (Pirates of the Caribbean)
  • J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man)
  • Autumn Reeser (The OC)
  • Peter Stormare (Prison Break)
  • Randy Couture (former UFC champion)
  • Gina Carano (American Gladiators)

    Notable names - Tim Curry, from Congo, as someone in the Soviet side, should be hilarious and George Takei from Star Trek, as, oh, wild guess, someone from the Empire of the Rising Sun... not to mention J.K. Simmons, who played J. Jonah Jameson in the Spiderman films, in which I agree with Cavalli, he was great in the role. He must be someone with the Allies. I'd love to see a cigar chomping general behind a desk...

    Oh, and Jenny McCarthy. I remember her from the MTV shows back in 1996. Didn't know she was still alive. Now there's a surprise...

    Now where's Greg Kasavin in the cameo as a ruskie soldier? Make it happen, people! *taps foot*

WOTLK hair cuttery mess, a.k.a., the babershop visit

Edrebrann, my World of WarCraft hunter, was the only character really eligible to bring to the WOTLK beta, and guess what the first thing I did was? Of course, look for a barber. After thoroughly looking through IF... I didn't find anything, so I took the boat to Howling F. and started travelling north to the Crystal Forest to see if I could warp to Dalaran, since the awesome people in general chat said that that place was the only place with a working barber. After braving the wilds, seeing an awesome new possible pet I could tame *hint hint bear* I found out that said warp didn't exist for people at 70. Luckily, in trade chat on a deserted Shattrath, I managed to get some concrete info, on the location of the shop in SW - it's right behind the auction house, following the little alley. 14 gold later, new haircut! Mind, from the current state of the beta, and this is by no means final, it costs 7 gold to change the hair and color, plus another 7 for facial hair. Nothing has been mentioned about the rumored plastic surgeon to change facial features or skin color.

Anyway, here are some pics, I'm not sure how much in terms of screenshots I can post, but this is pretty self contained.

I played a bit more in Nortrend with a fellow guildie, and I'll probably post more about that later. Safe to say, I enjoyed it a whole lot.


Dark Knight watched.

Just came back home from the Dark Knight. Ok, not exactly 'just'. Two hours ago. Close enough.

So I avoided going to see it during the hype heavy premiere and all the hub hub about it. I have to say, I enjoyed it, it is a pretty good film, one of the better super hero movies.

I won't state much of my opinions about it seeing reactions after my Spiderman 3 views last year. I'll just say that I thought most of the actors did a good job. I again thought Batman to be too much like a chain smoker voice-wise. It's too over the top, and my best example of Batman, The Animated Series one from the 1990's, voiced by Kevin Conroy, did a much better job portraying the comic book character without the gruffness. Rachel, Brucey's love interest, again, could be done entirely with, she's awful, the new actress is uninteresting and her role in the story is just dispensable. Harvey Dent is just as cool as people have been talking about - a serious man who we could truly believe wanted to do what is best for Gotham. Scarecrow. Scarecrow. How we missed you. Wait! Don't go yet. Oh well, there he was, for five minutes.

Now, for the Joker, Heath Ledger. I'll go out and say it right now - he was pretty good, just not out of this world like all the world is shouting. He obviously studied the character and fit his own personality into it, borrowing A LOT from Nicholson's Joker, from the lip licking to the type of voice. I truly belive - and I do not mean to sound insensitive - his death played a lot into the opinion of the audience. Yes, he was pretty good as I said, just not incredible. I do not believe he deserves a posthumous Oscar for his performance. It was just good. That's it.

Now for other parts of the film. I enjoyed seeing some of the references. The Animated Series definitely was taken into account for some of the character designs - especially for one in particular that won't be mentioned for 'non spoiling' purposes. When I saw this character, it clicked where the look came from. Another character, detective Ramirez was practically Montoya from the cartoon for me, through the entire film. As for the Jeph Loeb name drop, few would notice, but cool nonetheless. The flow of the movie was pretty good, even though it ran almost two hours - didn't notice it pass, and that is rare nowadays. The Batman/Wayne combo seemed to have an on/off switch, on one time Batman is kicking butt, and at another, Bruce is *trying* to be swave, and even at one point, they trade places, shockingly enough. I was disappointed to see nothing was added after the credits, even though I left before the end - I checked online afterwards at home. We're used to seeing bonus content in films, and it's annoying to have some in some movies, and not in others. Movie posters should state - stay after the credits, there's stuff to be seen, or, not. Credits are originally designed to be watched, and I appreciate when they are developed like the ones in WALL*E, but we should face it - people don't care. I often try to sit through the credits reel, sadly today wasn't the case. I did catch the mention of Ledger's and the stuntman's honorable mentioned from the movie makers.

I'll cut this short, I've already gone long enough. Dark Knight is one of the better hero movies out there, proving that a direct sequel can work - it was fun to watch, with good development. It's just that, good, true, enjoyable, just not out of this world incredible.

My picks...

I'd love to see embedded gamertags, IDs and Wii numbers on the profiles. Maybe a space for MMO identities as well?


The wiki entry points system - my view

*scratches head*

So, I spent a good part of my afternoon today writing up some wiki pages for the site. Mostly for games that only came out in Brazil for the Master System, which are basically rom hacks of Wonder Boy under the authorization of SEGA. I then remembered I know a lot about J.R.R. Tolkien, so I decided to see if his page was filled, and to my surprise, it was empty, so I opened notepad and started typing out. After two and some hours, it was done - I needed some random info from other sources about his birthplace to be sure I wasn't making mistakes, but sure enough, I submitted it, along with profile completions, photos, characters and a list of games based on his works.

After some hours, I check my e-mail and notice there are two messages saying the submissions are accepted - logged back into GiantBomb to see the results and I'm a bit shocked. Yes, they are up, awesome, I'm happy, but hell - around 90 wiki points for the SEGA game that had two paragraphs up and hardly a set of images I uploaded and a bit over 100 for the J.R.R. Tolkien article, for which I truly took more than two hours to compile then to upload the pictures and all the info. I wouldn't be chocked if this was my first submission, but my first entry was for Jackie Chan back in the first day of GB, and I got 230 points just for that and some pictures. I did not add any more profile info or anything else, just a simple bio and some pictures.

Don't get me wrong, I am not bitching about the scoring system, I'd just like to get a sense of balance - how can a text the size (I won't say quality since I don't want to come out as arrogant) of what I compilled for Tolkien get almost as many points as one I made in ten minutes for the Master System games, let alone being half of what I got one week ago for another article around 70% the size of what I did for that? I'd love to get a sense of comparison, say, heck, posting about Luigi, a topic everyone knows about, and posting about, say, the Flying Scotsman from that Scotish kilt fighting game?

Anyway, I am trying to get to 1000 pts just like all writers so we can spare the moderators the trouble of going through all submissions. It's just taking longer now. Gotta figure out the sweet spot to bump it up more. How about writing a full blown story script for Double Dragon The Movie? No, I'm not that in a hurry, thanks. :)


Dear not-so-dear Microsoft

"I am in the verge of just giving up on your company.

My Xbox 360 ELITE's last dying breaths took away the like scrap of hope I had in you, Microsoft. Your treatment to clients in beyond disgusting - it's inhuman. My desire now is to simply sell every Xbox 360 product I own.

This company, for me, is the symbol of everything that is wrong with games today. How can you insert into the market a product with such an absurd defect and after two whole years, not do anything to discover and remedy this problem. No, your new 360 models don't guarantee a problem free future. No, your suggestion of sending my system abroad for repairs is preposterous. No, paying two hundred and eighty dollars for a stripped down Arcade unit is not a solution.

Even if I manage to get my funds back from this disastrous purchase and invest in a new machine, I'll always be worried every time I press the 'on' switch. I'm just tired. And mad. Hell of mad. I would utter two short words for you that pretty much sum my feelings at the moment, but I know it would be pointless. I know this company simply does not care. You just want my money in your pockets.

As I said before, I'm in the verge of giving up, and if I do, mark my words, I won't be coming back.

Use your imagination regarding the two words I'd utter to you right now, it's my little gift to you.


AnimaMundi 2008 overview

This year's banner made by Koji Yamamura.

This year's international animated film festival, AnimaMundi, happened last week in Sao Paulo's Latin American Memorial space. I was able to attend four of the five days of the open shows.

At the end of the day on Wednesday, I watched a panel on Ray Harryhausen, the man behind the special effects and stop motion animation in films like Clash of the Titans and It Came from Outer Space. In a very interesting, albeit slow moving presentation due to the poor real time translator on duty, Ray's agent and friend, Arnold Kunert, showed us a lot of the work made in a time where people hardly gave a second look to special effects like stop motion animation.

Thrusday's main event was certainly Blizzard Entertainment's panel featuring James McCoy, one of the heads of animation over at the company. He showed most of the newer cutscenes from WarCraft III (both Reign of Chaos and The Frozen Throne), StarCraft II, Diablo III, World of WarCraft and even StarCraft Ghost, which never saw the light of day. After an hour of presenting the videos, came an in-depth look at the production of a CG cutscene: pre-production, following the animators acting themselves what the characters will do, pre-render simple rigged animation tests and the various phases of shadering, texturing and lighting for some of the scenes shown before, mainly StarCraft II's promotional trailer "Making a better marine", World of WarCraft's intro movie and an example of lip synching for "The Death of Hellscream".

I enjoyed the many short film sessions on Friday, but by far, the funniest one was the last one of the day, especially this short, featuring a simple setup: a bear, a rabbit and a wolf. I'll let it explain the rest for itself. Priceless.

I'm probably starting to sound repetitive, but it is the truth. For Saturday, the best thing I saw was a feature length film that was shown at the end of the day: Bill Plympton's Idiots and Angels. I'm already a Plympton fan from his past shorts like Guard Dog, so buying a ticket for a feature length was an easy decision. The film tells the story of *shock* a pretty mean guy, an idiot, who lives his life being a jerk to everyone. Slowly, though, the heavens play a trick on him, and he starts growing a pair of angel wings on his back. Plympton's humor is plastered all over, and I simply won't spoil it, you have to see it for yourself. It goes for a bit too long at over an hour, but it's worth seeing, for sure.

Funnily enough, I was tired on Sunday, so I took a rest. The festival this year was pretty packed with quality films, with very few cases of some being boring or just plain bad. Sadly, the second feature length film I watched, named Belowars, was pretty bad. It's a nationally made film that "borrows" a lot of things from Genndy Tartakovisky's works, and it was painful to watch, which is a shame, since the production team's short stop motion film called PAX was one of my favorites from 2006's AnimaMundi. It pains me to say that this film was my main low point for this year's AnimaMundi, but we, Brazilians, have got to stop patting people on the back when they make crap and label it 'national productions' with funds from the Government and competitions. Their past production, Brichos, was awful, and Belowars follows the mold. I won't give them another chance.


Updates of the launch.

I'm still getting used to the site's features. I managed to get some things done for the launch - added some of my reviews and a new wiki entry for Jackie Chan (the person) on the site. If/once that's approved, I'll be filling the blanks for some other wiki entries. They'll work as a bit of writing practice, I hope. First thing I'd love to see in the future - editing reviews. I made the dumb mistake of forgetting to grade my review of EXIT, now it's at zero stars.

As for friends, quite a bunch of people are asking for track, and that's pretty cool. Thank you for your interest. I'll do my best to maintain this blog as updated as possible.

About my 360 situation, tomorrow I'll be picking it up from repairs and taking it to another place so it can go through the reballing process. Sadly, the reflow thing the guy made didn't work, since my GPU problem is quite rare. According to him, the reballing procedure should have it up and running for good. I'll find out by the end of the week.


Article: Confessions of a tone deaf pseudo rocker

Rocking out... crowd screaming... fingers sliding on a guitar neck... total control. That's what most people dream about when they think of rock stars. In video games, the current trend is the rhythm music game that combines music, rhythm, memorization and coordination into one single experience. The draw is that you can be a musician even if you don't know how to play a real instrument.

Unfortunately, some players suffer from the lack of a few of the mentioned ingredients in this concoction of a game genre. Enter me. Guitar Hero attracted my interest since it became popular, not because I had dreams of rocking out nor the urge to follow a trend. It was the hunger for something new. As a video game player since an early age, I've enjoyed many different types of games, and as mentioned in a past article, I am a generally bad player in a lot of those. Even then, I enjoy playing.

Such was and probably will keep being the case with music games with me. The notion of entering strings of commands based on timing that comes with a song is interesting to me at best, but my execution fails miserably whenever I try to put theory into practice. Years of playing Super Mario Bros don't boost me through songs while playing a guitar shaped controller. My condition is what can be associated to the music industry term 'tone deaf'. While I can manage to pay attention to what goes on on the screen, my brain doesn't work quickly enough to follow with stimuli so my fingers can act. Thus, this usually results in many failed songs, even at a low difficulty setting.

With Rock Band, it couldn't be different. In fact, in my case, it's worse. I had the chance to try out this band game experience early in the year, and for what I was worth playing, I managed to get even worse results. This was due to the fact that one failing part of a band has to be 'held on' by the fellow band members in their own instrumental playing. Even playing a secondary (or even tertiary) role like base playing turned out to be a flop. Tomatoes, lettuces and cabbages were expected to come flying after the virtual gig.

The true question comes as - is there a cure for this virtual tone deafness? Can it even be considered an ailment if a certain person cannot be good at a certain form of interactive activity? People work on getting better in sports, for an example, but even then, there are cases of someone being just plain bad. Experience, in many cases, proves to be vital, and the true obstacle for improvement is impatience, at least in most cases. Instant results are what drive the modern person, and relates to music just as well. Very few are actually gifted with the ability to easily manipulate musical instruments, and knowledge comes with time. The music game can be compared to the real interaction with an instrument up to a point - memorization and coordination. Like in a band, the musician has to know the song that is going to be performed. All the while, knowing the song has the leverage of the possibility of their own interpretation of it. In a game, the song played is inflexible, the notes are always the same and in theory, it is a matter of memorizing rather than interpreting a musical piece.

With that in mind, a connection can be made between some apparently distant game types - the musical rhythm and puzzle. In both, you find yourself memorizing patterns in order to achieve a certain goal. A puzzler thrusts the player into the next challenge, while the music game brings a new song to be mastered.

This link is a possible thread for me to understand my utter frustration with games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band - while I enjoy the experience of trying to perform a song, I can't get past the notion that the tracks and notes running on the screen are, in my head, nothing more than patterns to be memorized. It seems hard to grasp that I could actually learn to change my mind set in order to excel at those games. Like mentioned before, maybe this is a matter of impatience on my part. I like to think of it as a personal trait. I am not ashamed to admit my virtual tone deafness, but I am willing to keep trying.
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