While visiting my brother this past weekend, he was offering up to me some of his graphic novels and trade paperbacks to read. One of those was Zombies! Eclipse of the Undead. I was going to borrow it, but ended up reading the whole thing before I left.
Its a fairly typical and fairly decent story. Zombies. In this case, people have gathered for safety in a local football stadium. The military has been ordered to pull out and leave the people to fend for themselves. Of course, all hell breaks loose.
One of the best aspects of this particular tale is the effectiveness of showing how simply not paying attention is the biggest killer when it comes to the genre. People get focused on one thing and forget they are surrounded by zeds, and then they get dead.
Overall, a good, quick read. I look forward to future Zombies! trades.
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The Internet exploded this week as Blizzard announced that they are working on a way to let people change factions in World of Warcraft. If you are unaware, WoW has always been a 2-sided dynamic, built in part on PvP play between the two factions of Horde and Alliance. On PvE servers, players have always been able to create characters on both factions, but on the PvP realms, once you created a character on one side you were locked out of the other. (I want to say all realms were like that at launch, but if they were it has since changed.) Of course, like their server transfer, this faction change will be done for a fee. In the announcement, two key pieces of information are missing. First, how much will it cost? Second, how will it work?
Personally, I don’t care about the first question. No matter how much it costs, I’ll never use it, just like I will never use their server transfer. But the second question interests me greatly, especially as it relates to a couple of posts I made previously on the idea of limiting a player to a single character per account. (I sometimes feel bad about not continuing that series, but no one agreed with me and I even got a couple of emails to the effect that I should never be allowed to design a game or even work in the game industry.)
So, let’s take a look at what I consider to be the only two logical solutions for changing factions in WoW.
The first option would be to leave the game as it is and simply let the user change their race. Since they introduced the Draenei and the Blood Elves in The Burning Crusade, every class is represented on both sides by at least one race, so it is possible as there are no gaps. However, that means that any Alliance Paladin, Human, Dwarf or Draenei, would have to switch to be a Blood Elf in order to go Horde. The main issue that I have here is for people like myself who actually choose race before class. I tend to always play human in any game, mostly because playing as a fantasy race just doesn’t appeal to me much. I want to be “me” in another world, not to be someone else. If this is the method they choose to use, I would never use it because my choice of race is actually more important to me than my class. While I might jump at the option to make my level 60 priest a level 60 paladin, making my level 60 human a level 60 undead, troll or blood elf is unappealing. Of course, I am probably in the minority, so for many players a race switch would be just fine as long as there are options they won’t hate.
The second option is the more complicated one, and that is to let the player keep their race and to just change the side they belong to. Now, if Blizzard is lucky, this could be extremely easy and every character has a single bit flag that says “0 = Alliance, 1 = Horde” and all game interactions build off of that. The chat channels, the side you play on in Battlegrounds, who you can attack, which NPCs will talk to you, etc. That would be awesome. However, given that the game was likely built with the idea that faction was the ultimate dividing point, I doubt that bit exists. So, either Blizzard will spend the next few months implementing that bit so they can flip it, or they’ll have to come up with a more complicated and convoluted solution. Being able to keep my race would appeal to me, seeing as how I identify more closely with my race than my class in these games, but I think it could also cause more damage to the game. Right now, in PvP, if you are on the Alliance side and you see two people fighting, you can tell which person to help by their race. I’m human, I see a tauren and a gnome engaged in combat. I heal the gnome or fight the tauren. Simple. Now imagine that same scenario after a race keeping faction switch. Now I’ll need some other cue to tell me who to fight and who to heal, because that could be Horde gnome fighting an Alliance tauren. Letting races switch factions muddies distance visual identification for PvP. So even if they had the “faction bit” that made switching factions easy, they’ll still need to do a considerable amount of work to ensure that playing the game doesn’t become confusing, at least for PvP.
Overall, since the game was not designed from the ground up with this in mind, introducing it now is, in my opinion, not a good move from a gameplay perspective. From a business perspective, it is an excellent idea, they’ll make money off it and make a number of people very happy. I do think that if anyone can solve the problems of the second option, Blizzard can. So now we just have to wait and see which path they take.
As another year draws to a close, I again find myself still not in as good a shape as I’d like to be. I mean, I’m not morbidly obese or facing serious health issues… and if the zombie apocalypse comes, I am confident that I could fight off the hordes of the undead and be able to outrun them when needed. However, while sheer will and adrenaline can get you through many ordeals, it would be nice to be in better overall shape.
So, to that end I have (once again) decided to try to get more healthy. Since many of my previous attempts has failed, I am going to use an approach that has worked in other areas of my life. See… the problem is that my lack of good health can actually be chalked up to a large number of bad habits, and rather than to simply try to cram a new lifestyle on top of or around my current one, I need to identify my bad habits and break them one by one, and to instill new habits one by one.
About a year ago I broke my habit of drinking sodas. I was literally drinking a half dozen cans of soda a day. The first step was to cut out caffeine, so I switched from Coke to Sprite. After I got used to that, I switched to water, and sometimes lemonade (Crystal Light to be exact). Overall, dropping soda for water caused me to drop about ten pounds, maybe fifteen.
My next step is to add in a new habit. My goal is to do 100 push-ups a day. That is in a 24 hour period. Right now, it takes nearly twelve hours for me to do my 100 push-ups. I can do 10 at a time easily, and I can do 20 at a time alright, but beyond 20 in a row my arms get tired. So I do 20 when I can, and 10 when I can’t, and take long rests in between. My goal is to be able to do the 100 push-ups in a couple or three minutes.
That’s where I am… I’ll post updates as I feel inspired to.
That is the title of my NaNoWriMo project this year. Originally I was going to work on something called Necromancer, but I stalled out on it really early on and after a few days being totally stuck I decided to bail on it in favor of something that will be far easier to write.
So, what is The Awesomest Story Ever Told? It is the tale of a clan of ninjas who protect the world from threats of the undead who encounter a spaceship from the future crewed by two astronauts, a monkey and a robot who have traveled back in time to prevent a zombie apocalypse. Right away they discover that the apocalypse of the future was the product of a group of mad scientists who unleashed the zombie hordes in their bid to overthrow all the governments of the world. As the scientists activate their own time machine and slip away, our heroes reconfigure the spaceship from the future to follow them. It is a journey through history fighting for the future and encountering everything awesome that has ever existed.
As you can see, my basic story already contains much awesome. Ninjas, zombies, astronauts, a monkey, a robot, mad scientists, spaceships and time travel. There are already plot points to include dinosaurs, cavement, pirates, wild west gunfighters, sharks, vampires, werewolves, a medieval castle and knights, but this story needs to include all of the awesome. All of it.
So, I implore you, every reader, suggest something (or many things) that is awesome. Feel free to explain why it is awesome, or don’t. Just suggest awesome and I will try to work it in to the story, and I’ll give credit to the first person to suggest an item of awesome should this work ever see publication of any form.
It is not often that you can read the same character portrayed in more than one way. If you read all the Dirk Pitt books by Clive Cussler, they all pretty much read the same. Not to say they aren’t good reads, but a Dirk Pitt book is a Dirk Pitt book. In the realms of Science Fiction and Fantasy, however, sometimes you can find a character who is written by several authors, and those authors can be very distinct in their styles. Conan, for example, has been written by dozens of authors, and if you read enough of them, while Conan himself remains relatively the same throughout, his surroundings and the tales in which he is enmeshed change.
Hellboy falls in here also. Many of the Hellboy books I’ve read and reviewed here are akin to superhero novels. Hellboy and his band of misfits saving the world from one monstrosity or another. Emerald Hell on the other hand is a much more sedate book by comparison. More brooding. More searching.
Within the pages we find Hellboy on his own, and after hearing some tales about the six silent daughters of Bliss Nail and the little Georgia swamp town of Enigma, he decides to check them out and see if something sinister is afoot. Of course there is, but its not the potential world ending calamities of the other books. Instead its about a pregnant girl who needs protecting from a misguided undead minister who murdered the girl’s mother. More so than the other books, this one is all about mood and sorrow.
I don’t think I’d put this book at the top of my Hellboy pile, but I enjoyed it just the same.
One of the central preoccupations of my life is ensuring that I am prepared should the dead rise from the grave.
Okay, not really, but it is fun to pretend sometimes…
In any event, when I saw the products from Gibbs Technologies, I couldn’t help but think that they might come in handy should the improbable happen. Especially the Humdinga. Going from 4 Wheel Drive to gliding across the water is sure to safer than driving around looking for a bridge to cross the river the undead have chased you toward.
Now if they could just make it a hybrid capable of running on full electric, full gas, or any combination thereof, I’d be set.
Ten months ago, I was first introduced to Urban Dead. A free online game about fighting hordes of the undead and surviving the zombie apocalypse… or so I thought. About seven months ago, I was excited to be playing the game, casually fighting zombies and barricading myself inside buildings while I slept. The game wasn’t and isn’t overly graphic, but I was more than capable of filling in the narrative myself. After getting myself skilled up a bit, four months ago, I decided to create a project for myself in the game, and a week later I had to modify that project due to what had become the glaring flaw in the game’s design. After I abandoned Munford, I took residence in the Pickford Cinema over in Osmondville…
At this point, I really wish I could say that things took off, the movie theater was made secure, we fortified the doors and beat back the walking dead, slowly spreading out to other theaters and growing a network of safe havens for people to pretend they are watching movies as the undead shamble out in the streets. I really wish I could.
The major design flaw in Urban Dead is that you, as a survivor, cannot win. And I don’t mean that in a “this is an MMO with endless grinding, a virtual world, and there will be no ‘You win! The end!’ screen.” sort of way… I mean that in a “There will always be more zombies because you can’t kill them for good because they are not NPCs, they are the other players.” sort of way.
A month we spend inside, making neighboring buildings safe, keeping the free running paths clear. Trips to the mall for supplies, gas from the gas station to keep the generators running… life was pretty good. Then a horde of zombies comes through, breaks down all the barricades, kills all the people, and makes a mess. Now, all us survivors are zombies. Luckily it doesn’t take too long to wander over to a NecroTech building with a revive point, but it does take nearly three weeks to get all those people revived (it takes 20 action points to make a syringe -but you can search for them and cut that down- and 10 action points to revive someone, after you spend a point DNA scanning them, so that 1 person, even if they already have the syringes, can only revive 4 people a day). It takes us another two weeks to get all the buildings back in good order, then the zombies come through again…
I don’t want to be a zombie. Obviously some people do. But when my game, as a survivor, is actually 75% of the time spent trying to recover from being killed… I would rather lose levels than this. Especially since I have no say in my deaths at all… they all happen when I’m offline.
I tried. I really tried. Its just not worth the frustration. I play games to be the hero, the guy that “wins”, not to be just another victim.
I’ll still be keeping my eye out for zombie games, and I still desire to make one… but for now, Urban Dead, as far as I’m concerned, is dead.
for bad zombies, worse jokes and even worse music
So, a little over a week ago, I decided to sign back up with NetFlix, which I had canceled a while back just because the wife and I were watching so much TV and buying so many movies that we never had time to watch our rentals. Now with TV in flux and not buying movies, we’ve got time… plus, since we use a PC to watch TV anyway, it gives us a great way to take advantage of the movie streaming available from NetFlix. Furthermore, as I work from home most days, it also gives me an opportunity to stream movies I might otherwise never see to my other laptop while I slave away on program code.
And this is how I came to watch Undead or Alive, a zombie western comedy. It was… bad. The zombies were corny and goofy, the jokes were lame (in fact the movie never crossed the line from “mildly amusing” into “funny”), all in all not really a good film, or even a good bad film. Don’t see it.
More after the break… Continue reading Undead or Alive
for Zombie Awesomeness and Silly Scream At The Screen Cheese
Being a zombie fanatic, when I saw the ad for Flight of the Living Dead I knew I had to see it. Snakes on a Plane had been kind of a let down. Sure, there had been snakes on the plane but the ending was just… crap. And frankly, being trapped at 30,000 feet with the undead has long been a scenario I’ve wanted to see play out on the screen.
The movie delivered. Living dead on a plane. It was even moderately believable. Moderately. Okay, I’m stretching it because I love zombie movies so much. Mildly? Look, there are reasons it only gets that 9 out of 13. But it was fun. Worth seeing.
More after the break.
Continue reading Flight of the Living Dead
Its Halloween, my favorite holiday. And just in time for it, a friend sent me a link on how to build a proper Emergency Zombie Defense Station. I’ll need at least two for the house, and one for the office, though I may have trouble getting it through security.
In other zombie news, we have XXXombie, a new comic book about the undead shamblers and the pornographic film industry. If you want to know more, read this, because I’m not going into any details here.
The latest issue of GFW magazine has a nice little article on the upcoming Dead Island. Sounds like a ton of fun.
In my copious free time, I’ve been working on a prototype for my zombie survivor tamagotchi. I really hope to be able to have a playable game by the end of the year, single player of course. Maybe multiplayer if I have time. But next month is the NaNoWriMo, so you might not hear much out of me for the next 30 days, or you may hear alot… depends on how the writing is going.