Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The (many) Rules of the Game

I mentioned here before that I have been looking at Green Ronin's True20 RPG rules. In addition to True20, I'm reading the rules for Pinnacle's Savage Worlds (which will also power their upcoming Solomon Kane RPG) and Politically Incorrect Games' Iron Gauntlets. Each of these have huge followings of fans on the internets. I'm trying to get the gist of each and determine if they might be a good fit for the playing styles of our groups. Have a look at the sample rules here and here (haven't found a free sample for IG). Sometime soon, when I get my basement cleaned up, I'd like to playtest these rules and put them through some goober stress testing.

Edit: Forgot to mention Mongoose Publishing's RuneQuest 4th Ed. The SRD and Developer's Kit is available here.

Thoughts on Trek Remastered

This past weekend, Fox showed "Balance of Terror" in the 6pm Saturday slot and "The Devil in the Dark" in the 1am Sunday night/Monday morning slot. I don't know if "Miri" was shown at all. Our local Fox station was behind one week, then, but now seems to have caught up -- unless the Saturday night showing is a re-run of the previous week.

If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend that you check it out.


Fandom has a way of often jumping the gun on things, especially now in the age of instant Internet communication. There are plenty of reviews that went up right away after just the first episode. I agree somewhat that there are some missed opportunities, but I'll reserve final judgment until they get some more episodes in the can. From what I've read, the studio seems to be on a tight schedule cranking the Hi-def episodes out as fast as they can. I hope, with more practice, that they get better and better at it. Since I don't have a HDTV, the episodes look good but not astounding. I would guess on a better TV there would be more of a difference.

The point of contention with the reviewers is the updated FX. I agree that the CBS/Paramount seems to be "too respectful" to the original material. Many of the new visual effects are duplicates of the original shots, including camera angles and model movement that was a result of effects technology of the time. The new inserted effects could be so much more dynamic and interesting. There are hints, like the three-quarters view over the top of the Warbird in "Balance...", or the emergence of the Horta from the cave wall in "Devil...", that really show what the new CGI can do. The closing flyby of the Enterprise in "Devil.." is particularly nice. I think there will be more of this as time and the episodes go on.

In my opinion, the best thing about Trek Remastered is that it has people talking and excited about Trek again. Especially, for me, because the Original Series has always been my favorite.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Trek Original Series clarification

OK, Fox showed an episode of Enterprise on Sunday night instead of the enhanced Original Series. However, I saw a commercial that gave the day and time for TOS as Saturday at 6pm. Next week's ep is "The Devil in the Dark". If you don't recall, that's the one with the Horta.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Star Trek: The Original Series digital remasters in syndication!

I first learned about this project from some links that Edige passed along to me, showing some CGI effects test footage. This was some kind of well-kept secret in the entertainment community, because the news has just been breaking in the past few weeks.

CBS/Paramount has been remastering episodes of TOS for syndication (and possibly later DVD issue). They will take the place of Star Trek: Enterprise, which now moves to the Sci-Fi Channel. Stations that had been airing Enterprise will now be showing the updated TOS episodes (which includes, locally, Fox on late Sunday nights).

So what is new about them? The image quality gets an upgrade, so they should look better than ever. Plus, many of the visual effects are getting CG makeovers. This could be as little as extra moving images in the static matte painting backgrounds to completely new CG starship exteriors. The opening credits are supposed to be new as well.

From the little I've read about it, they are still in the works, so they literally are getting them done week to week. The proposed schedule is on the offical site, and some of the backstory on what is being done can be found at The Digital Bits, here, here, here and here.

The first week's ep is "Balance of Terror", although the Tribune's TV Guide says "Miri" is on instead. We'll see in just about an hour from this posting. If you don't remember, "Balance..." is one of the better eps, very much like The Enemy Below but set in space.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

High Tech Noon

I'm glad I watched High Noon during my attempt at 100 Films in 100 Days. Not only for the obvious reason, that it's a great film, but so that I'd get the jokes in this parody. Although parody isn't the right word for it. Maybe a..."re-imagining"?

I like the mix of sci-fi and western tropes, Firefly being the most obvious example. Take a look at the movie (4 min. YouTube video), it's really well done!

Speaking of Firefly, the complete series DVD set is on sale this week at Target for $18.99.

Flyboys and other movie surprises

I haven't been keeping up on new movie releases the way I normally would. I need to do better to retain "movie guru" status. Several late summer films have taken me completely by surprise -- De Palma's adaptation of James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia; the story of George Reeves' suicide (murder?), Hollywoodland; and Ong Bak 2 (a.k.a. The Protector) -- and these are movies that I should have known all about long ago.

Here's another one that came out of nowhere: Flyboys. I saw a preview of it that makes it seem like a WWI twentysomething "buddy" movie, but the CGI visual effects in the commercial were great! If there's just ten total minutes of aerial battle scenes like those, including the strafing of a zeppelin, then I'll be satisfied. It's out September 22nd.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Steve Irwin, R.I.P.

CNN - Irwin's last moments caught on videotape

Yahoo - Steve Irwin - Main News Page

CNN - Irwin died 'doing what he loved'

Not much I can add to what's already been said. I didn't watch all of his shows but I always enjoyed whatever I saw, and tried to catch his appearances on other shows like Jay Leno and Conan O'Brian.

I feel a little guilty for going as the Crocodile Hunter for Halloween once. It wasn't malicious mocking, but heartfelt respect, at least I hope it came across that way.

I think he'll be remembered as someone who who used his energy and enthusiasm to entertain and to share his care and concern for the natural world with others. He will be missed.