Saturday, 31 October 2015

Top 5 Retired MMO Launchers/Patchers

Please be advised that most of this listicle is based on memory and opinion rather than research and fact.

Some used sounds, some had moving graphics. Some displayed the latest patch notes, some allowed you to login, or pre-download a future patch. But whatever they were like, they all kept your game updated. If you've played any MMO, you've spent a long time looking at them. Therefore its easy to feel pretty nostalgic about some of these launcher windows. And there are a bunch that have been changed over the years, or are connected to a game that's been discontinued. And with Star Wars: The Old Republic recently completely redesigning its launcher, I was prompted to make this little list of a few launchers I remember the most fondly over the years.

5. World of WarCraft

First on my list comes the original launcher for the biggest MMO around. It had a cool themed aesthetic, updated with each expansion to the game. As you can see I've included a picture of the Wrath of the Lich King launcher. It also came equipped with patch pre-loading. It was a cool, basic launcher.

4. Star Wars: Galaxies

SWG's launcher was the most feature & information rich of any MMO I've seen. Unfortunately I can't actually find an image of the real launcher, so this screenshot of the SWG EMU launcher will have to suffice. (If you do have a shot of the original SWG launcher, please let me know!) To my fallable memory I believe SWG's launcher displayed server status, server selection, patch notes, and even allowed you to adjust in-game settings before you hit Play.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Bridge of Spies (Review)

Steven Spielberg is a dependably good film director. Obviously. The worst thing I can say about his filmography is that a large portion of it feels light on ambitious creativity. I would say that his films tell stories in a less stylistic, less subjective fashion than most modern storytellers (though of course, a film can never truly be objective). Perhaps I only feel this because Spielberg's style has become the definite Hollywood archetype in my mind; the most movie-like of all American movies. The vanilla formula of film.

This is not to say that Spielberg's films, and Bridge of Spies, lack style. On the contrary, Spielberg's latest feature is gorgeous. The cinematography (by Janusz Kaminski) ranges from great to excellent. The way some scenes use light and position the characters in frame really brings the drama alive.
And there's plenty of drama to bring alive. Bridge of Spies tells a sprawling cold war story, but most importantly keeps it personal, grounded and unpredictable. The main characters really get a chance to live and change over the course of the film. It's even surprisingly funny, for a film such as it is. Though they're given writing credits on the film, it's difficult to say specifically what areas of the screenplay can be attributed to the Coen brothers.

Tom Hanks is easy to get behind as the morally steadfast lead, but Mark Rylance is the standout cast member. His Russian spy is a delicately portrayed and memorable character upon whose shoulders the film's plot safely rests. Oh and Jesse Plemons is there of course, because he's in like every movie now.
I hadn't heard anyone rave about this film before seeing it, so I went in tentatively. But I had no need to worry. Bridge of Spies is a very well put together cold war thriller. It's a Spielberg film through and through, and therefore won't be blowing any minds, but it will tell you a powerful story in a beautiful way, and that's good cinema.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

A Bad Case of Loving Who #5

My Doctor Who recap show continues. I was very glad to find myself loving the latest installment, "The Girl Who Died".

Thursday, 15 October 2015

The Insanity Project

I'm ecstatic to have finally completed a film I've been dragging through production for a fair few months now. The Insanity Project is a long short thriller set and shot in Darwin, featuring all the local talent I could get my hands on during the busy month of July. It's a strange creation, but aren't they all?

Monday, 5 October 2015

A Bad Case of Loving Who: Episode 3

In which we dive into the latest Doctor Who two-parter, and muse about who's probably dead, not dead or kinda dead. This show is weird.

Friday, 2 October 2015

The Martian (Review)

I really hate having such a predictable, worn-out opinion, but I think The Martian novel by Andy Weir is far superior to The Martian film directed by Ridley Scott. There's no doubt that reading the book before seeing the film negatively impacted my views on the adaptation. Compared to the thrilling dense logic of Andy Weir's against-all-odds narrative, the film feels like a bit of a melodramatic, overly-sentimental mess.

But it isn't bad. I don't think Ridley Scott ever makes bad movies. But he does make movies that feel like they could have been sharper, and The Martian is one of them. So although the movie gets a lot of aspects right, and delivers some exciting set-pieces, I think it butchers what makes this story great.

The story obviously centres around the lead character, Mark Watney. I find Matt Damon to be a great Mark Watney. Unfortunately so much of the character's ingenuity that made him a great protagonist is missing from the film. This comes as a side effect of how many subplots are removed from the film's narrative. Basically, a lot more stuff goes wrong in the book, thereby making Mark Watney a more impressive Mars survivor. A major message of the story is how powerful science is, how much humans can achieve when they put their mind to it, how cool this is, but by simplifying Watney's challenges the film makes this a less powerful theme. Surviving Mars is depicted as a much easier feat in the movie. By leaving scientific details unexplained but highlighting Watney's somewhat rebellious nature, the movie makes Watney seem more reckless than ingenious.

Then there's just the filmic dramatisation of it all. I fell in love with the novel because of how real it feels, with logical situations and not-necessarily likeable people. It's probably my own fault for having so many expectations, but I was disappointed that the film lost this factor by over-emphasizing emotional beats. It just doesn't feel real anymore. Most offputting is the way the film depicts communication between characters in different parts of space. In the book this is no problem, it's all typed. Unfortunately the only thing the film does to make this screen-worthy is to have the characters say out loud what they are typing. That looks stupid. Here, let me try. I'm doing it right now. I am sitting in my room saying these words aloud. I feel like an idiot.

Well this is a downer. The film isn't bad though. I think it just stood little chance against the book it drew from, especially when it decided to simplify and dumb-down rather than adapt and explore the narrative. What should have been a taut, nail-biting outer-space The Truman Show is instead a mess of half explained science fiction wrapped in a sentimental sheet of tattered NASA canvas.