October 2009 Archives

The Plan is in effect

Absolute Zero

I've recently started re-watching the entire Battlestar Galactica series from the beginning, and I'm finding it surprisingly awesome considering I already know how it plays out. A big part of what made BSG great is all the little interactions between the characters, and these are first things you forget. So, I've still got a lot to enjoy.

I watched The Plan on Blu-ray today. In it, you follow two Cavils while they plot and execute their plan to destroy humanity. It takes a lot of the memorable moments of suspense from the miniseries and season one—when you knew something was happening but weren't given all the details, or when you suspected someone of being a Cylon, etc.—and expands them to show you what was really happening using a lot of old material is used to seamlessly transition into the Cylons' point of view.

I'm really sad to say that the only part I liked about The Plan was Dean Stockwell's frakkin' amazing acting and Bear's equally great score. The Plan has a lot of problems. First and foremost is that it's literally a recap of the miniseries and season one -- there's no new story. If I had to guess, 25 to 50% of the scenes were actually old aired footage. Another problem is that all those great moments lost their suspense by being expanded. And the last major problem is that the new material focuses on the "bad" Cylons. This seems like a really great idea at first, but what I quickly realized is that the TV show never made us connect with them and as a result I had trouble caring at all about their scenes. Most of the time I was just hoping my favorite human characters or "good" Cylons would get on screen and give me all those little interactions I talked about.

Purely as a BSG geek, there was some interesting new information to learn. But bottom line? I was bored. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone. I'm really sorry to say it too, because I and so many others were looking forward to it.

More Ice Caverns updates

Absolute Zero

A new pair of videos is out, this time showcasing an ancient tomb in Soul's Absolute Zero campaign for Left 4 Dead. The area's design draws from a lot of ancient civilizations to create a unique yet familiar look that makes you imagine what it was like in its original state. Even though it's not done yet, the architecture still looks pretty awesome!

During the making of the video we couldn't stop playing around as hunters. The area quickly reminded me of some of the freestyle trick maps for Quake where there is no particular goal, only at lot of stuff to play with. We began making tricks more and more complex and were having so much fun that I recorded a few of them for the start of the video. Despite consisting of a mere three pounces, the middle jump was by far the hardest to pull off, requiring snap aim, timing, and air control all within a quick few seconds.

Valve's original idea for Left 4 Dead was to make it a game of who survived the longest, not who survived. They didn't go through with that idea, but it's one that we've always liked. One of the first decisions Soul made when creating this campaign is that it would be much harder than Valve's campaigns. Even experienced teams shouldn't expect to survive without some really excellent strategy and teamwork. I know a lot of players seem to think that fun means winning and winning means never dying and finishing with a score of 8000 to 300, so this map might not appeal to all crowds. For people who enjoy a real challenge, I think this campaign will have a lot to offer.

If any mappers, modelers, or texture artists are out there, Soul could use your help! He's chosen such a different art design that most of Left 4 Dead's pre-made stuff isn't going to work.

The first level of the map can currently be downloaded from L4Dmaps. This second level is about 80% of the way toward a basic beta version.

Dollhouse might get cancelled?

Amy Acker in Dollhouse

Dollhouse finished its first season with pretty poor ratings, with Fox deciding the only reason to keep it on air is DVD sales of Joss Whedon's shows are always high. Fox did decide to trim some fat, though, choosing to cancel the more expensive Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles instead. The second season premiered a few weeks ago to even worse ratings, at the bottom of the charts with the second episode even being beat by reruns.

Apparently there is now real talk of cancelling Dollhouse mid-season. I can't say I'm surprised. People have blamed the Friday night death slot, while others blame losing Terminator: TSCC as a lead in.

Myself, I just don't think it's a good show. I'm a huge fan of Joss' other shows— Buffy, Angel, and Firefly were all frakkin' fantastic, along with all of the comics. Dollhouse just doesn't cut it, though. I really can see the potential for an interesting story, but it has thus far been taking the irritating Lost approach of only spending 5 minutes of every episode to advance the overall story. This might work in Lost, but with Dollhouse introducing new characters (though played by the same people) every week it becomes very hard to invest in.

Most fans agree that the DVD-only budget episode "Epitaph One" is the best in the whole last season, and that doesn't do much of any help if it was only on DVD. I had hope that season 2 would quickly advance the storyline into something more like "Epitaph One", but so far we've just had more wasted monster-of-the-week time. Terminator: TSCC was an incredible show, I think much better than Dollhouse, and it really saddens me to know it died for this. Unfortunately due to the way TV is filmed so far ahead of when it airs, there's not much quick adjusting that can be done to save it either.

Should Dollhouse be saved? I think Joss would eventually be able to pick up the pieces to make it interesting, but I can't help wonder if it would be best to just cut it now and let him move on to something new. Preferably with more Amy Acker hint hint.