Boromir: What REALLY Makes Him Great

Out of nowhere, I’d like to present to you something I stumbled upon last night.  Occasionally, I see these things, and they have a way of bringing out my inner Tolkien scholar, nerdrage, and a desire to set things right.  Below, I present Exhibit A: what is presumably a Tumbler post that comes close, and yet so, so far in its attempted defense of Boromir’s character.  And Exhibit B: my original Facebook rant against it (where I discovered it)–somewhat cleaned up and trying to be a little more diplomatic for the blog.  There was also a second (albeit abridged) rant, and bits and pieces of that have been incorporated as well.  So if we happen to be Facebook friends and you are experiencing some combination of confusion or Déjà vu, well, then now you know why.

Tumblrshite

This is not entirely correct.  I could nitpick the nuances from beginning to end, but I’m going to go after the one thing that really grinds my gears here: “When Boromir tries to take The Ring, it isn’t because he’s greedy/corrupted…”

Gorrammit, Tumblr.

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Update: Current Projects

Microsoft and 343 Industries have kicked up a new wave of marketing for their upcoming Halo 5: ~Guardians~ through a Tumblr profile “Hunt the Truth”–I’m sorry–HUNT the TRUTH.  It’s sort of in the style of the old ARG “I Love Bees” during the days leading up to Halo 2’s launch.  Given the ways 343i has taken to obnoxiously dividing up narratives within Halo across varied forms of media (and because of sentimental and outright nerdy reasons), I’ve decided to follow everything Halo-related as closely as I can, if only to keep the continuity straight.  These days I follow Halo news and theories through the intensely dedicated fan website Halo Archive via their Twitter feed.  I also found a YouTube reviewer for the Halo Escalation comic so I don’t have to go out and actually spend money on it.  I’m glad I did.  The comics are hit-and-miss at best in both the writing and art departments.  The series is mostly a collection of vignettes that don’t really go anywhere, although there have been a couple of events within them I’m glad I’ve been brought up-to-date on.  Chances are they will be referenced in other Halo material later on without any context and I’d be confused otherwise.

Part of HUNT the TRUTH is a weekly series of audio logs from an investigative journalist within the Haloverse looking into the background of the Master Chief.  There was a 00 “primer” last week, and this past Sunday(?), they released episode “01”.  And boy, oh boy, do I have opinions on it.  Currently, the idea is that, when I’m not at work, I pretend to work on the breakdown analysis of 01 “A Hairline Fracture”.  It’s also reminded me of all the other Halo posts I’ve been meaning to write since forever ago, including book and timeline guides/outlines, analyses of games, stories and characters, and so forth.

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Free time for entertainment has been spent mostly on breaking down, buying a Wii U, and playing a craptonne of Hyrule Warriors (I’m going to have to talk about that and Dynasty Warriors 8 at some point), as well as playing the Homeworld Remastered Collection.  Homeworld was an important game for me as a kid, so I’m going to have to cook up a few words on that as well.

I also landed myself an infamous and maligned “Xbone” so I could get my hands on the Master Chief Collection.  But there’s been a problem.  Out of all the awful features of the console that I was painfully aware of (several of which were cut before launch, at least), the fact that the console was “HDMI only” somehow slipped my radar.  I only have an SDTV that’s older than I am.  I’ve tried AV adapters to no avail, but I did my research and knew those only had a 50% chance of working at best.  So until I get a new TV, Halo 2 Anniversary content and the Halo: Nightfall mini-series are out of my reach.  Nightfall is on DVD now though, but I’ve heard reviewers say it’s pretty terrible, so we’ll see.   Needless to say, the Wii U has brought me vastly more joy since (with the help of a Wii AV cable) it works on my TV.  Although I’ll need to upgrade anyway because the pixel count is lower than 480, I’m straining my eyes to make out details and text designed for 480p and up, and nothing formats properly to the screen–not even 4:3.  (I also don’t have a spare computer monitor with an HDMI port to act as a temporary substitute, in case anyone is wondering–my PC is a laptop.)

Armchair Designer episodes are cranking out slowly but surely.  We’ve moved from publishing on a weekly schedule to the 1st and 15th of every month.  But the recording of our most recent episode was corrupted and we completely lost it.  It was extremely demoralizing.  We’re working on each getting our own recorders so we have back-ups next time.  Show annotations for episodes 4 and 5 will come, but those episodes are available for listening.  It’s definitely been a season of growing pains for us.

That’s all for now.

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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: Invincibility Bug

At some point during last year, I bought Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance on Steam, but I only recently started playing it this month.  It’s the first game in the Metal Gear series that I have ever played (since I was never a Playstation owner), and what little I know of the franchise is from Angry Video Game Nerd, Hiimdaisy’s abbreviated fan dubs, and Super Bunnyhop’s Critical Close-up series.  Unlike the rest of the series, which is stealth-based, Revengeance is all about button-mashing combos and cutting up enemies and objects into a million, tiny giblets with your power sword.  I am familiar with Hideo Kojima’s affinity for the absurd, and this game is absolutely, 100%, overthetop bonkers.  There was a time when I would have turned my nose up at that–everything had to be the highest quality of serious, realistic/grounded, believeability.  Then I mellowed out, got bored, lowered/adjusted my expectations accordingly (depending on genre and other factors), and began exploring games and shows I normally ignored before.  Point is, I freaking love Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.  The action is nuts, the style is nuts, the writing is nuts, and I’m reveling in it.  It’s just, dare I say, fun.  It’s not terribly important to know the events of the previous games (though references to some past events are made), but Super Bunnyhop’s MGS videos did give me some semblance of an idea of what’s going on, and that was nice.

So you wanna see a weird bug I ran into while playing?  Let me show you!

Essentially what happened is I was fighting one of the game’s bosses and my health reached zero.  The camera locked, my radio buddies shouted, “RAAIIIIIIDDAAAAN!” … and, for some reason, the game kept going.  Raidan didn’t fall over, I could still move around and fight, but I couldn’t die because my health bar was already depleted.  No explanation as to how it happened, and no idea if the bug could even be replicated.

I quickly fired up Fraps, and set out to see how far I could take this glitch before I completely broke the game.  And that’s just what I did, until I had to Alt+Tab out, close the executable, and start again from the last check point, at the beginning of the fight.

Normally, I’d be annoyed at having to start over, and I was a little disappointed that I had to, but I got a kick out of the bug and I wanted to share that experience, so hey.

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Armchair Designers Episode 3

This week’s episode was actually recorded before Thanksgiving last year, but there were some complications with getting it up, plus holiday stuffs.  But we’re getting back into the swing of things.  At any rate, it’s going to be a two-parter.  We’re talking about David’s favorite series: the Deus Ex games!  In part 1, we discuss Deus Ex and it’s much maligned sequel, Deus Ex: Invisible War.  Part 2 was recently recorded and concerns Human Revolution and all its pieces-parts.  It should be out within the next few days, hopefully.

Show Notes:

00:01:25  Bel opens our discussion on the original Deus Ex.

00:43:00  We wind down discussion on Deus Ex and talk about Invisible War.

If you’re interested in additional Invisible War discussion, here is a video I watched on it from Errant Signal (a couple of my comments or talking points were pulled from here):

And here are two blog posts by Shamus Young, covering different aspects.

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Let’s Play Verdun: The Quest for Christmas Truce Finale

And so concludes our Christmas adventure.  It’s not my first ever YouTube video, but it’s my first foray into any kind of video series, as well as my first foray into video editing.  I’m not entirely happy with the quality of the picture or the entertainment value, but I hope it was enjoyable enough.  I aim to slowly, but surely, hone my new craft.

My closing thoughts on the game (for this series anyway) would be my reiterated wish for a separate Christmas playlist so that players wouldn’t have to jump through hoops just to experience the unique content.  Although I could see from the perspective of the designers any concern there may be that players might avoid the Truce mode entirely, making it difficult for those interested to find a match.  But I think a separate playlist at this point would be worth a shot.  The game is still in beta anyway, so there’s plenty of room for experimentation and growth, and as I stated before, I’m keen to see what the devs do with the game.

I’ll also go ahead and pull what I wrote on YouTube about finding information on the origins of the Christmas Tree in the USA and paste it here:

My own preliminary investigation into the introduction of Christmas trees into America turned up no evidence that Christmas in the trenches was responsible for the popularization of the tree in American culture.  Everything I found points to German immigrants throughout American history, which makes sense, as well as the country keeping up with English fashions around the time of Queen Victoria and her German husband Prince Albert (which also makes sense).  Although it wouldn’t surprise me if American soldiers saw German trees in the trenches in the winter of 1917, the year they joined, and that it might have contributed in at least some way.
Here are some links I read:
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_tree
History: http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas-trees
History of the Christmas Tree: http://pickyourownchristmastree.org/traditions.php

If anyone has any other info to share on the subject, please feel free to do so.

A late Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

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Let’s Play Verdun: The Quest for Christmas Truce Part 4

I don’t have much to say at this point.  The next episode will be the last.

Oh, so yes.  As I’ve mentioned in parts 3 and 4, I went on a New Zealand adventure.  This deserves its own post, really, but I had the time of my life.  I spent 14 days traveling across the north and south islands on a Hobbit Premier Tour, seeing film locations, meeting a lot of cool people, and getting do a lot of cool stuff.  But I’ll elaborate on this later.

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Let’s Play Verdun: The Quest for Christmas Truce Part 3

At this point in the game, we were beginning to feel a little fatigued by the match.  Mostly because we were impatient to get to the Christmas Truce segment of the game.  At least we found things to talk about.

The good news is that we’re actually very close to the end of the match.  This mini-adventure is coming to its close.

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Let’s Play Verdun: The Quest for Christmas Truce Part 2

Our adventure for the Christmas Truce continues.  This episode we kinda sorta maybe have a little fun at the expense of the French.  We do talk a little about the Red Baron later though.

At this point we still weren’t sure how to get into our desired game mode.

Now might be a good time to explain how the game works.  Verdun is a class-based shooter with some skill progression.  Teams are divided into three (or four?) squads each with up to four players per squad.  Progression seems to be tied, at least in part, to coordinating with your squad.  You are encouraged to stick with the squad leader for skill and experience bonuses.  The combat is very attrition-based in an attempt to simulate trench warfare.  Teams take turns playing offensive and defensive in an attempt to seize the other’s trenches until one side or the other is pushed to the very back of their side of the map.  At the end of every combat match (for the holidays), you get to play a Christmas Truce round for a few minutes, which includes snowball fights, football, and possibly other social interactions I haven’t figured out how to do.  You also get experience during these segments.  In short, I really like this.  I’m hopeful for slightly more variation in classes or weapons (like trench guns–though if they’re already in the game, I haven’t seen them yet).  Also, I honestly wish Christmas Truce had its own playlist so you could jump in whenever you liked, as opposed to having to run through lengthy attrition combat segments first.  But as the devs tell you, Verdun is not complete yet.  I’m interested to see what they do.

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Let’s Play Verdun: The Quest for Christmas Truce

A friend of mine and I decided to jump into the WWI online shooter Verdun and try to play the new Christmas Truce mode on Christmas Day.  Then I got the bright idea to record our mess.  I switched on FRAPS, grabbed some editing software, hopped on stage, cranked the amp up to 11, THEN tried to learn the guitar.  Pleas of leniency apply.  Hopefully it’s somewhat amusing.

“Ian and Nate set out to partake in a digital reenactment of the 1914 Christmas Truce in the online WWI shooter Verdun.  However, two obstacles stand in their way.  The first is how the game’s playlists are set up.  The second is their own ignorance of how to play the game.  Will they find the game mode they seek on Christmas Day before festivities at home call them from their computers?”

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The 1914 Christmas Truce

The year 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War (later known as World War I), one of the greatest, bloodiest, and perhaps most pointless conflicts in human history.  But this year also marks one of history’s most poignant moments: The Christmas Truce of 1914.  Soldiers on both sides laid down their arms and celebrated Christmas together.

To think that both sides were forced to go back to killing one another by the end of the day, it genuinely makes me weep.

This is a powerful moment that has been written about and portrayed in film.  It is now going to be recreated live by schools, clubs, re-enactors, and actual soldiers for its anniversary.  It is even being recreated in video games.

WWI games are few and far between, given the setting’s general incompatibility with traditional gaming conventions, but designers have been finding ways around that by exploring genres apart from the first person shooter.  This year, Ubisoft published Valient Hearts, a side-scrolling adventure game telling the stories of multiple, playable characters.

This game does not feature the Christmas Truce, which is a terrible shame, but it has not stopped me from feeling… many emotions, and I highly recommend it to everyone.

I don’t have much more to say at this time.  But I hope, for anyone who reads this, that you are encouraged to look into one of the most important events of the 20th Century that is still creating ripples in our world today.  Many, if not all events on the world stage can be traced back to this war.  But let’s scale back to something seemingly smaller (yet no less impactful): from the trenches of this war, JRR Tolkien would bring to life stories that would one day become part of his future Middle-earth (such as the Fall of Gondolin).

Above all, Merry Christmas.

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