Daily Archives: July 14, 2008

Money for nothing and your mechs for free.

Zoso pointed out a Rock, Paper, Shotgun article this morning, about the free-to-play, your-soul-in-a-silk-purse-for-upgrades Korean MMO Air Rivals. It looks like a game deserving of a lengthy late night session of manly joystick waggling for sure, but it was Jim Rossignol’s almost throwaway comment about trying the free Robot MMO Exteel that got me to a-thinking, which for me is a rare event indeed.

Where is my BattleTech MMO? Where are our decent stompy robot MMOs? Yes there’s RFOnline and Exteel, but you’ll notice that I pre-qualified my statement by using the word ‘decent’. Surely it’s not just the Koreans who are madly, deeply in love with giant mechanical fighting machines?

EVE Online, now there’s a game where they have character development, and to a certain extent vehicle development in parallel. Vehicles aren’t just expensive mounts in EVE, or a convenient representation of how a player deals damage, they’re so much more. The ships in EVE are tweaked and upgraded and enhanced and even named. ‘Love my badger’ is no longer just a search term that will get you to a website with strangely bearded West Country folk who maintain questionable relations with members of the Mustelidae family.

So if you’re listening CCP, seeing as you are already working on the other MMO that I want to see most of all in the world, how about expanding your EVE universe to have giant mechanised combat on the surfaces of the various planets that the players fly past on a daily basis and pay little heed to, or simply buy the BattleTech rights from Wizkids and give us the decent stompy robot MMO we all desire.

The pessimist complains about the wind.

I had a chance to pop my head into the Wizard101 beta last night briefly. I didn’t get terribly far, but I managed to get through the character creator. Even from that stage of the game alone it’s readily apparent that it’s very similar to Toontown Online: big cartoon fonts, a simple interface and a naming system that forces you to choose from a series of lists, one for your forename, and two to make up your surname. I can see why they do this and it’s not a bad system, it certainly allows for creative combinations within the strict confines of names that don’t refer to frantic fornication between friendly flexible females.

However, a word to the wise at KingsIsle Entertainment: in the UK and possibly other places, pants are underwear, not trousers or pantaloons.

So without further ado, I present my new character: Brian Boompants.

He’s a storm wizard, you know. Lots of wind.

It’s currently in beta so there’s the Inevitable NDA at the moment, but there’s plenty more information available on the Wizard101 website and on places such as West Karana.

And if playing as a windy-panted wizard sounds appealing, you can still sign-up to help test the game at the time of my writing.

TYALIW: Batman Begins.

Today on Treating Your Audience Like Idiots With we’ll be Treating Your Audience Like Idiots With Batman Begins.

Good Evening, Mr Begins.

BB: Good Evening, Melmoth. And please, call me Batty.

Well Mr Batty, it seems like you have been treating your audience like idiots, and we’d like to ask you to respond to this. But first, let’s have a look at the evidence shall we?

It starts with a quick exposition for those of us who are perhaps a little lost as to why you’ve gone on and on and on earlier in the film about a microwave emitter – a device capable of vaporising a water supply – having been stolen, and how this could possibly be related to a plot where the villains have poured a deadly poison into Gotham’s water supply. One might have assumed, for example, that you were merely highlighting the plight of discarded microwave emitters, often overlooked by charities and aid workers around the world for more fashionable weapons of mass destruction. Give a home to a microwave emitter this Christmas: the vaporise that really satisfies.

So, we have a brief plot meeting between two board members, Mr Big (played by Rutger Hauer) and Mr Plot Exposition (played by someone obviously overjoyed to get his meal ticket in Hollywood for that night), to work through some Powerpoint slides as to what exactly is going on with this missing microwave emitter that can vaporise water supplies, apparently.

Then along comes our hero and his plucky sidekick who is thankfully not Robin, to spell it out for us:

Bruce Wayne (He’s Batman really, you know): “Somebody’s planning to disperse the toxin using the water supply.”

Lucius (Not Luscious) Fox (Not Batman): “The water supply won’t help you disperse an inhalant. Unless you have a microwave emitter powerful enough to vaporize all the water in the mains. A microwave emitter like the one Wayne Enterprises just misplaced.”

Ah! So they’re going to use the stolen device that can vaporise a water supply, to vaporise a water supply! Ingenious! That’s the thing with these modern villains, always thinking outside of the box. The box labelled Original Plot Devices.

However, I’m confused, because how is vaporising the water supply filled with a deadly poison with a water supply vaporising device going to cause the collapse of Gotham as the world’s leading city?

Batman “If they hit the whole city there’s nothing to stop Gotham tearing itself apart.”

Well yes, but how ar…

Gordon: “How are they gonna do that?”

Yes, ok Gordon, I was just about to ask th…

Batman: “The train. The monorail follows the water mains to the central hub beneath Wayne Tower. If the machine gets to the station it’ll cause a chain reaction that’ll vaporise the city’s water supply. Covering Gotham in this poison.”

Well ok then. Despite the rude interruptions, we thank you for taking time in your busy ‘last minute against the clock to save the city’ crusade to explain all that in such agonising detail. Especially the bit about vaporising the city’s water supply, I think we were all confused on that issue.

Meanwhile, whilst Batman and the ‘cop who can suddenly drive a high-tech tank by pressing random buttons’, race off at break neck speed to save Gotham because they’ve realised they’re late, probably due to all the time they’ve spent expositing plots (they’d just started on a detailed analysis of Twelve Monkeys when they spotted the time), here’s a helpful fellow at Water Supply Central, with a public information broadcast:

Old Father Exposition: “The pressure’s moving along the mains, blowing the pipes. If that pressure reaches us the water supply right across the whole city is gonna blow!”

Oh my god! So it’s the water supply! I thought they were going to use the water-supply-vaporising microwave emitter to vaporise all the honey in the supermarkets in Gotham, such that the entire population was stuck in a sweet sickly mess, and as such all their precious hairstyles would be ruined. I mean that seems like the obvious thing a villain would aim for. Hair. But no, you’re saying that they’re going for the water supply? Huh. Waiiiiiit. Didn’t those villains put something, you know, like stuff, in the water supply earlier in the film? I’m sure I saw something about that. Yes, there was a huge scene with a factory and loads of men standing over a hole saying things like “Let’s get the last of this poison in the water supply”, “Careful with that poison, make sure it only goes into the water supply!” and “Don’t fall into that hole, it’s the water supply to Gotham and we’ve filled it with poison!”. I’m sure I recall something along those lines. Oh lordy, but wait, I’ve forgotten what’s happening in the film now, because my poor tiny mind can’t keep up!

But wait, who is this dark crusader swooping across the floor at Water Supply Central in the manner of a slightly agitated sloth, why it’s the hero of Gotham, Old Father Exposition! Save us, Old Father Exposition, tell us where we are in the film before we blow!

Old Father Exposition: Evacuate the building. We’re on top of the main hub and it’s gonna blow.

Thank you Old Father Exposition! Thank you!

It’s gonna blow?! Why the hell didn’t you tell us earlier so we had a chance to evacuate! Now we’ll probably have to rely on an aging police detective to use a prototype, highly technical, military bridge-jumping vehicle with which he has had two and a half seconds training from a strange pervert in a rubber neoprene suit who turns up at his house in the middle of the night when he’s trying to feed his kids, to destroy one of the stanchions on the monorail causing the train to crash, and in all likelihood kill thousands of homeless people sheltering beneath the track, one of whom only moments before had probably complemented the police detective on his rocket-powered black armoured tank as a ‘nice ride’, in some sort of bizarre attempt at surrealist humour.

Or something, I’m just speculating in a panicky fashion here because, you may not have heard this, but the mains are gonna blow! I know; it took me by surprise too.

So there’s the evidence, Mr Batman Begins, any words on this for your audience?

BB: Well yes, I think they’re all idiots.

Thank you, Mr Batman Begins.

Until next time on Treating Your Audience Like Idiots With. Good night.