Sunday, September 28, 2008

Warning: Hitchhikers May Be Escaping Convicts


[AI Program: Sifter]

[Routine Function: Censoring of all ig-mail from UEM personell and imbedded reporters]


[NOVEMBER 7 2177,


>Sender:{David Traviss, embeded reporter, ENW}

>Recipient:{Unkown, searching for 1337w1z4rd, Marcus}


I hate your numbers for letters bull[censored], Marcus. All those years in tech school, and you still write like a hacker.

Anyways, I have a request for you. I need to arrange a video conference with Michelle, back at corporate...Except that this one needs[end ref, line break]

off the books. The marines I'm traveling with have stopped for a while, something about a new kind of enemy "[censored]" is making them a bit skittish.

About time, if you ask me. Anyways, we're stopped here outside of what used to be capitol for at least five days. Get back to me and[end ref, line break]

let me know.



[AI:S: Reply recieved:

November 7, 2177

3:43 am Earth standard time]



lol, d00d. j00 C4/\/'7 83 srs. 4lr1gh7, 1 \/\/1ll 7ry. \/\/8 2 d4y5.


[Transmission Ended]

Monday, September 22, 2008


Here's something new I just thought of. Here's a little sneak preview before I post the "epilogue".

In the year 2177, humanity has finally broken the surly bonds of Earth's gravity, and extended it's reach into the farthest corners of our galaxy. Hundreds of thousands of planets, each one a veritable Eden, a place for humanity to sow it's oats, and finally achieve Manifest Destiny to the ultimate degree.

Unfortunately, there are other races out there to hinder our progress. Godless freaks who don't care whether we live or die; grotesque monstrosities who would enslave every man, woman and child on Earth if they could.

That's where the brave men of the United Earth Military come in. The stalwart green line between humanity and total destruction, the men and women of the UEM serve you, making sure that the galaxy is safe for you and your children.

Covering the heroic exploits of our brave marines, sailors and pilots are the intrepid reporters of Earth News Wire, a pan-galactic news agency dedicated to giving you up to the minute updates to the Reclamation War.

Of course, that's what the propaganda vids would have you believe. Down on the ground, the journalists of ENW are pretty much dedicated to filming a reality show detailing every minute detail of life in the war. Some of these reporters are fine with the status quo, but some want more.

On the planet New Polympto, the UEM is tasked with taking the planet back from the Keseythis , a race of bugs with a rigidly structured caste-system. During a routine breakout containment, one reporter gets the idea of a lifetime. Sure, his bosses might not go for it, but it'll get him and his cameraman the rewards they deserve...Isn't that all that matters?

Untitled Story:

“Want to tell the folks back home your name?”

At the reporter’s prompting, the soldier turned around, presenting a scarred, grim face to the camera. Suddenly, the man smiled. It looked like he had to struggle to make this expression, but when his voice came out; the grin was no doubt genuine.

“Staff Sergeant Edward Decanis, 201st Orbital Strike Regiment, Planetary Marine Corps, United Earth Army” his voice was thick and burly; the big sergeant probably came from the Houston megatropolis back on Earth. “Here to take these damn bugs, and fry ‘em up good! For all the folks back home, ‘o course.”

The reporter nodded knowingly “I’m sure they appreciate your effort! How does it feel to be on the spear tip of the United Earth Government’s reclamation push into Keseythis territory?”

At this question, the sergeant threw back his head and laughed.

“Is that’s what they’re callin’ it back home? Hell, out here, we just call it “Bug Hunt” or the “Target Practice War”. These damn bugs don’t know their backside from a bullet! They don’t have enough sense to plan a proper damn attack!”

As if on cue, the ground fifty yards from the small group exploded, and a horde of Keseythis warriors exploded out of it, into the waiting lead storm of the human forces.

The cameraman turned his lens toward the action, trying to get the best angle of the slaughter. Off camera, the sergeant he had been filming let out a war-whoop.

“Finally! Some action! If you’ll excuse me boys, Mabel and I need to dance.”

At this, he charged off towards his squad, firing his rifle in short bursts. Soon afterwards, the bug assault petered out, and the marines packed up to move to the next predicted breakout zone.

The reporter shut down his mike, and then turned to his cameraman.

“Alright, Adam, you can turn that off now. I don’t know if we can use that one.”

“Why not?” the cameraman asked “Seemed fine to me…Even if he did come off a little gung ho. And who’s “Mabel?”

“His rifle. He had that written on the side.”

The cameraman made a face that looked like he had just bitten into a lemon. “Cute. Anyways, why can’t we use that take. The big wigs back at exec are going to need more clips for the weekly war wrap-up.”

The reporter tucked his mike back into his multi-pocketed vest before he answered. Why the hell had corporate given him a vest with so many damn pockets? At least they gave him a gun this time. Scratching absent-mindedly at the scar underneath his chin, he turned to his cameraman with a sober look in his eyes.

“Because, Adam, nobody back home wants to hear any of that garbage. “Bug Hunt?” “Target Practice?” This war is supposed to be for the benefit of Earth, not for some thugs to get all their murderous energies out on some bugs who never did anything to bother us in the first place.”

Adam rolled his eyes as he collapsed his camera back into a more manageable size. “Jesus, David. Don’t give me your pacifism speech again. Humanity needs the resources on these planets more than a bunch of dumb bugs do.”

Walking back towards their rover David though over his stance on the war, and why the top execs back at Earth News Wire, the network David worked for constantly had him film space marines and their stupid gung-ho attitudes. Why wasn’t anyone trying to talk with the bugs? Didn’t anyone want to know what the Keseythis leadership thought of this war?

Humanity knew that the bugs had a leadership caste, but never bothered to find out much about them besides the basics. Besides, they had declared total war on the humans, so who wanted to know much about a species that would probably be dead in a few years anyways?

Suddenly it him. The greatest idea of his career, something that would get him out of interviewing marines, and probably win him the type of awards and accolades he richly deserved.

Smacking Adam in the shoulder hard enough to make his friend momentarily lose control of their rover, he let out an excited whoop, and grabbed his note pad. David liked committing all his ideas to paper. It came with being an intellectual, after all.

“What the hell was that for, David? You almost made us crash!”

David couldn’t help but smiling. “Listen, Adam, how would like to win a Pulitzer? How would you like to be remembered for something great for the rest of your life and beyond?”

Adam snorted sarcastically. “Yeah, sure, David. I’d also like a gold-plated stretch limo and several models for wives, but that isn’t going to happen, is it?”

David’s smile shrank, but a manic energy remained in his eyes. Adam couldn’t help but be intrigued about what his long-time colleague was thinking.

“Alright, man, I give. What’s your amazing idea?”

David looked up from his notepad, and the smile came back to his face, but with a sort of dangerous quality to it.

“Adam, we’re going to get the greatest interview of our lives. We’re going to interview a Keseythis hierophant.”

Thursday, September 18, 2008

More Corran Horn than Kyle Katarn, but the Force is still strong with this one.

So, if you're like me, you bought The Force Unleashed on Tuesday. If you're not like me, who has a room-mate currently dominating the X-BoX because he just discovered Mass Effect, then you've probably beaten it. However, I would like to present my thoughts on The Force Unleashed, so read on.

So, for the un- initiated, The Force Unleashed is set one year before the events of A New Hope, where you control Starkiller, Darth Vader's secret apprentice. As Starkiller, you are tasked with hunting down various Jedi who have continued to evade Order 66, including the ever-unkillable Shaak Ti.

Alright, now that that's out of the way, let's get down to the nitty gritty. The Force Unleashed has an interesting control scheme. As a third person brawler, you mostly rely on spamming the "X" button to kill foes with your lightsaber. You can mix in your Force powers to boost your damage-dealing capabilities, and the death animations are sometimes pretty gruesome. Shocking someone with Force Lightning will lead to spastic twitches, and Force throwing someone into a laser-barrier will result in them being totally incinerated. It's a great use of Euphoria and Digital Molecular Matter(DMM) , and led to some "Oh My God" moments from my friends as they watched me bend a metal support beam into a TIE Fighter, and send it spirling into a group of hapless Stormtroopers.

As awesome as it is to send explosive crates flying at enemies, the aiming for your Force throws is sometimes a little tricky. Often, you'll fling objects and enemies in completley different directions then you intended; sometimes, you'll just lightly toss things around when you ment to hurl them. It's not intuitive, and takes some practise to get it right.

The AI is also fairly simple, and brutally punishing. Larger mini-bosses will knock you down, and since it takes a few seconds to get back on your feet, you'll often be hit again before you can recover. When trying to attack you, the AI will either run right into your face, or stand in one place and blast you. Seeing as this is essentially a brawler, it makes sense, but kind of dulls the moments that the Euphoria engine tends to bring.

On a positive note, the game looks amazing, and the music and sound effects are classic Star Wars. Composer Mark Griskey, who also scored Knights of the Old Republic 2, brings in his own style to John William's classic scores and succeeds brilliantly. The levels are beautifully crafted, and the character designs are fantastic.

The story and voice-acting, what I've seen of it so far, are also well done. Haden Blackman has penned a better story than most Star Wars properties of late, and he should be commended. This Star Wars has emotional weight and heft to it, far beyond "Anakin, you're breaking my heart!"

So, that's my quick over-view of TFU so far. Once I finish the game, I'll be back to let you know what I thought over all. So far, I'm enjoying it, and it is a sure-fire purchase if you're an old-school Star Wars fan at heart.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Nerds Unleashed

So, today is Force Tuesday, as millions of harcore Star Wars fans flock to their nearest Best Buy, Future Shop, or GameStop to satisfy the craving for actual Star Wars story-telling; not the greasy money-grabbing trendrils extruded by LucasFilm in hopes of snaring younger audiences with pretty colours and bland animations.

No, this is a different beast altogether. The Force Unleashed promises to be "new" Star Wars, something millions of hopefuls around the world expected to never see. Only time will tell if TFU manages to deliver on this prospect. Twirlling stormtroopers around in the air like cows caught in a twister(best movie scene ever) should be one of the most entertaining prospects of the fall gaming season.

I'm hopefully picking up the game tonight, so I'll be giving my review on it a few days from now. Yes, I've read all the other reviews up on the internet so far, but dammit, I'm determind to have some Sith shenanigans!

Also, Republic Commando: Order 66 is released today, continuing the saga of Omega Squad, some of the only Star Wars characters I care about.

And just so you don't think I'm a total nerd: Columbus Blue Jackets for the Playoffs! 7th season is the magic number, baby! Woo!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Trials and Tribulations of Iyace Resol

Here's a new one for you, something I whipped out pretty quick to get a feel for writing in first person. This could also be considered the introduction of Iyace Resol, a character I feel pretty good about fleshing out a bit more. Also, this is posted from the new Google Chrome browser, so how about that?

Ending Things With a Bang.

I guess we should start from the beginning.


My name is Iyace Resol. I’m a Mando’ad, colloquially called Mandalorians by the galaxy at large. Just by admitting that, I’m among the most feared and misunderstood beings in history.


I never knew my parents, or my real name, but by Mando standards, that’s fairly common. According to my adoptive mother, she found me in the ruins of one of the worlds the Galactic Empire decided to “educate” during the earliest days of it’s regime. I was raised on Concord Dawn in the typical Mandalorian fashion, “blasters before grade school”.


Now, just like all the Mando’ad living in diaspora, I’m trying to carve out a living by offering my martial skills to the highest bidder.


Which is what led me here. I’m standing out side a dingy swoop-bike bar on some backwater world whose name I can’t remember. 


The Hawkbat’s Grill caters to a certain type of clientele, and Mandalorian bounty hunters certainly aren’t on that list. Unfortunately, my current target, a gutless chakarr by the name of Cleff Olarr has been holed up in here for the last two weeks, trying to shake off the Corellian Security agents who have been attempting to chase him down.


Olarr promised to rat out some fellow swoop bikers to beat a rap sheet about as long as my arm. Somewhere along the line, Olarr had a sudden change of heart, and went into hiding. CorSec called me in discreetly to help Olarr reconsider.


I sigh to myself as I consider my options. Going in the front door is out of the question, which leaves sneaking in. Throwing a long black traveling cloak over my beskar’gam, I take a length of fibercord from my utility belt, and unravel it.


Walking around the side of the bar as if I’m just passing by, I duck quickly into a side alley once I’m out of site of the bouncer standing guard at the door. I hurl the grappling end of my fibercord onto the roof, and feel it stretch taut when it catches on something.


I give the rope a couple experimental tugs to make sure whatever it’s gripping onto will hold my weight, then I begin my climb. I make it to the roof with no problem, and move silently to the nearest grate set into the top of the building.


Fortunately, it leads right into the men’s refresher. Popping the grate off, I lower myself on the seat of the nearest toilet, only to slip on the wet surface, and plunge ankle-deep in to the fetid water of the bowel.


Osik, I mutter to myself as I remove my soaking pant-leg from the water. I have my helmet on, so the smell doesn’t carry to my nostrils, but I know without having to smell my pants that they’ll need a serious washing when I get back to Concord Dawn.

If only Mandalore had enough beskar left for the knee-high greaves I wanted, I muse as I move towards the bar itself. The Empire strip-mined Mandalore of its precious iron a while ago. Beskar is still around, but my mother had to call in a few favors to get a suit of it made for me.


Pushing the door open, I’m relived to find that the bar decided to have a live music night, so the loud noise of the glimmik band and the light show accompanying it help to mask my entrance.


I quickly spot my target hunch over the bar, nursing a glass of lomin ale. Not the sort a man you’d expect to be in a swoop-bike gang, Cleff Olarr is a relatively small, thin man, but his loose clothes serve to disguise his wiry muscular frame.


A few empty glasses occupy the bar nearest to him, so I figure I can lead him out of here without much trouble. Yeah, just a friendly Mando playing designated driver to a wanted criminal. A loose smile plays over my lips as I lay a hand on Olarr’s shoulder.


I keep my voice cheery. I’ve been told it’s more discomforting to hear a cheerful Mandalorian. Lends itself more towards the unpredictable sociopath than the hardened merc.


“Hey there, Cleff. A few of our friends have been looking for you, and they’re concerned that you’ve gone off the wagon again. Why don’t you come back with me, and we’ll all have a nice chat.”


Olarr doesn’t respond, but he does raise his hand to signal for another glass of ale. The Zabrak bartender ignores me with the practiced ease of someone who’s seen this routine more than a few times.


Olarr lifts the glass to his lips as I lean in closer, and lower my voice to a more threatening tone.


“Listen, chakarr, I’m running out of patience. We’re going back now, and you’re too drunk to stop me. So get up.


Olarr finally turns to look at me. His eyes are glassy, and my helmet’s sensors detect a fair amount of alcohol in his breath.


“Yeah, your right, little Mando. I may be too drunk, but my friends aren’t.”


I hear the stun baton whooshing through the air about a second too late. The baton collides with the plate of armor on my back, and the heavy metal absorbs most of the impact. I still stumble forward into the bar, and manage to doge the second blow.


“You kirffing bounty hunter,” comes the voice of my assailant “We’ll teach you for trying to take in one of our own!”

So these guys don’t know that Olarr was going to rat them out, eh?  I turn around to face my attacker, and see I’m facing a huge biker about twice my height and width.


He’s exactly the sort of stereotype of gang members that are played out in the holodramas. Face obscured by a huge mane of white hair, and an assortment of gang tattoos visible on his arms, he stalks towards me, smacking the baton into his hand.


“Think you could just walk in here, and leave as you please? Sorry, Mando, that ain’t going to happen. See, we’ve seen too many buddies leaving here in shackles, so now’s our turn to have a little fun, ya hear me?”


  Great. The band’s stopped, and now the whole bar is looking at me. There’s no way to talk myself out of it, so my only option is to fight.


Before anyone can react, I point my holstered blaster pistol backwards at Olarr, and fire a low-intensity stun burst into him. At this range, a full powered blast would fry his nervous system, but this will at least keep him out of it for a while.


The massive biker raises his baton for an overhead smash, but before he can bring it down on my head, I drive a gauntleted forearm into his chest. Being hit with a solid block of beskar hurts, and the biker lets out a grunt, and falls backward into the mass of people behind him.


I pull my blaster pistol, and switch the power selector over to full power, and begin firing indiscriminately into the crowd. The blue rings of the stun blasts hit the patrons at close range, sending them reeling, and clearing a path towards the door.


As I reach backwards to grab Olarr, I hear the distinctive click-clack of someone working the slide on an archaic shotgun. The bartender is pointing it straight at my back. Before I have a chance to duck the blast, the Zabrak fires.


Even through the beskar plate, I feel the burning force of the shotgun’s discharge. Grunting in exertion, I whip around and clock the bartender across the face with a left cross. He falls back into the display of fancy liquors behind him, shattering the bottles and pouring a cascade of multicolored liquid onto the bar.


Grabbing Olarr by the belt and hauling him up over my shoulder, I begin to make my way for the exit. The bouncer is standing in my way, but I swing my body around and use Olarr’s booted feet as a club.


The heavy footwear catches the bouncer in the chin, and he slams back into the door. Racing outside, I throw Olarr over the saddle of the nearest swoop bike, and quickly hotwire the engine. I toss a small EMP device at the remaining passel of swoop bikes.


The bike comes to life in a throaty roar, and I gun the throttle. In my helmet’s 360-degree view, I can see the mass of angry bikers begin to mount up on their respective steeds. Triggering a button on my gauntlet, the EMP grenade explodes, and fries the engines on the remaining swoops.


The angry shouts of the bar’s patrons reach my helmet’s aural sensors, and I smile to myself. Not a perfect operation by any means, but I’m always happy to end things with a bang.