Rift Review and Preview

 

Last Friday I heard from a friend good things about a new MMO called Rift: The planes of Telara.  Since they were having an open beta I decided to give it a shot.  First though a little background on my MMO experience.  I started in MMO’s with Guild Wars back in its first alphas.  Then I stuck with it into its betas.  Finally when it came out in April 2005 I jumped all over it.  Since it was free to play I leveled and enjoyed for almost a year.  Then a friend told me about World of Warcraft.  He bought me a copy about the time patch 1.7 hit right after they added Blackwing Lair.  I started a hunter and was sucked in for about three or four years.  I stayed for the next two expansions (The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King) and finally gave up after that.  I moved on to Lord of the Rings online.  I picked up a copy during its beta and still have an account.  I love LotRo.  It’s one of my favorite gaming experiences.

So far Rift is as good as, and in some ways better than vanilla WoW.  It has some very interesting features that make if almost an amalgam of the good parts from other MMOs.  Here are some of the highlights I have experienced so far.

The class system:

Holy snap the class system in Rift is awesome!  Basically there are two parts to your class, your role and your role.   There are four roles that will be familiar to any RPG gamer: Warrior, Rogue, Mage, and Cleric.  After choosing one of the roles you then add souls to your role.  All the role does is determine which souls you have access to.  There are nine souls per role.   This allows you to play the perfect class for your play style.  I will go into more detail after I get a bit more experience.

The graphics:

This game is pretty.  The grapics are sharper and less cartooney then WoW but not quite as sharp as LotRo.  So far I have not been to many areas but what I have seen so far is a very high fantasy.  There are beautiful forests and great halls.  The character models are very pretty, the only downside is they are very generic.  There will be more on this as I watch peoples gear improve.

Rifts:

I haven’t gotten to experience a rift yet but from what I can gather they are a bit like public quests in Warhammer Online.  Rifts are areas that have a goal and upon completing this goal grants rewards and closes the rift.

Overall coming from a WoW background I really like Rift.  More to come as I experience more of the game this weekend during the head start.

Check it out at this website.

Check out my next piece Rift: More Time Space Anomalies!

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America’s Greatest Otaku

 

Filming or taping otaku for TV and/or documentaries is not by any means a new concept. However most of the time when its done its for 2 reasons: created as a means to show otaku as being ‘uber-strange’ or created as a project ‘for otaku by otaku’. There’s nothing wrong with the latter, but far too often this means these films/shows have limited reach and limited production. Otaku Unite! was perhaps the first production to break this mold, since Eric Bresler was able to distribute his film on a much larger scale than those who came before him.  After Otaku Unite!’s release though few ventured to follow in Bresler’s footsteps. Thankfully though with the development of podcasts, vidcasts, and blogs, fans were able to still demonstrate to the world what being an ‘otaku’ really was all about. This has served us quite well these past few years. Nevertheless the absence of a highly produced view of otaku-dom remained, until Tokyopop took to develop a new show America’s Greatest Otaku.

I have been following Tokyopop’s news about America’s Greatest Otaku from the initial announcement, and to say the least I was curious but at the same time not all too optimistic. I feared the reality show format would take over, and that all the ‘content’ would be lost in the process. I was thankfully so very wrong! Instead the first episode of A.G.O. demonstrated to me that Tokyopop and Stu Levy, founder of Tokyopop and host of A.G.O., were indeed serious about making an entertaining, yet enlightening show about America’s otaku.

In the first episode of A.G.O. the audience is first introduced to ‘six’ otaku who, after submitting their vid entries detailing their ‘otaku-ness’, were picked to join the A.G.O. road crew. Together they and Stu then begin to travel across the U.S. to meet fellow otaku. Since Tokyopop is based out of California they naturally start there with Anime Expo, where they talk to a variety of attendants, cosplayers, and J-Rock fans prepping for the X-Japan show.  Continuing on from there Stu, and the ‘Otaku Six’ more and more, begin to talk with owners/managers of places that represent some form of ‘otaku’. The sites they visit include an awesome hotel, very chic office, a must-visit maid cafe, and a cartoon museum.  Interwoven with those interviews Stu also meets and talks with a variety of individuals that believe themselves to be America’s Greatest Otaku. Indeed many, if not all of them, put me to shame in terms of talent used and monetary investment into otaku-dom, so I think they all could easily earn the title. Of course, as with Highlander there can be only one, and the big question is which one will it be?

While only episode 1 has been put on Hulu thus far, I’ve definitely decided to watch the entire series. Essentially if you want to see a positive portrayal of otaku, while also enjoying the sites and sounds of ‘fandom’ around the U.S., then you should watch this show. Who knows perhaps you will know someone featured on the show?

(Still) Saving Firefly

 

If you are even a little bit of a sci-fi fan then you should have heard of, and hopefully have watched, a short run show called Firefly. Firefly has been lauded by fans for years after, and being a fan myself I must say deservedly so. Firefly can truly be said to be my gateway into TV sci-fi. Sure I’d watched a Star Trek episode here and there throughout my life, but until Firefly I really never appreciated how rich the genre could be. So while Firefly has led me to discover many other great shows, sadly I was too late, as were many, to help save this fantastic show from an early demise. Thankfully the early fans didn’t go down without a fight, and thanks to their participation we got the film “Serenity”. These fans, and many of the latecomers like myself, have kept up the hope that one day Firefly will return.

Well while I’d love to be able to title this post “Firefly Saved!” I sadly cannot. Instead though I can report on a new development that has Browncoats coming uniting again in an effort to save Firefly! What has caused this renewal of the spirit you may ask? Well it’s all thanks to this comment made by Nathan Fillion, who played Mal in Firefly and Serenity.

“If I got $300 million from the California Lottery, the first thing I would do is buy the rights to Firefly, make it on my own, and distribute it on the Internet.” – Entertainment Weekly (Feb 17, 2011)

Of course like the organizers of the campaign ‘Help Nathan Buy Firefly‘ I can’t help but wonder if it’s merely a wishful comment, or perhaps an offhanded comment by Fillion. Regardless though I am optimistic and so are many fans that at the very least action and donations may help raise awareness and maybe eventually allow Fillion to really buy the rights.

If you’d like to follow these developments and see what you can do then check out www.HelpNathanBuyFirefly.com

AKB49 (Manga Preview)

 

More and more I realize I have become an unabashed AKB48 apologist. While I don’t go as far as some and try to buy all their singles, photobooks, etc., I at least try to stay up on major happenings connected to the group. So that being said I wasn’t surprised to hear AKB48 were going to be featured in a manga; however, I was surprised to see how that worked out specifically in the newly released manga AKB49.

 

While only a few chapters are currently out in Japan, the story essentially is this: guy likes girl, girl likes AKB48 and wants to join, guy cross-dresses as a girl to help her in the audition, both pass the initial auditions thus starting their path to potential idol-dom. Needless to say this has ‘Japanese wackiness’ all over it, because a) it obviously highlights AKB48, Japan’s #1 female pop group currently, and b) it involves cross-dressing. Despite the silly premise AKB49 does indeed feature characters clearly based on actual AKB48 members, which is cool for a fan such as myself.  The main focus of the story though appears to be related to Yoshinaga and Urayama, the female and male lead respectively, and the potential quirky romance that could build out of this strange experience.

 

While I can’t speak to the overall story, again because not many chapters have released, I know I’ll be following along excitedly. This manga is being published in Weekly Shonen Magazine, and seems to be supported by AKB48 themselves, so it will likely become quite popular.