Bungie has finally “dropped a trailer”:http://www.bungie.net/News/content.aspx?type=topnews&link=ournextgame for their latest reveal – an expansion (presumably) for Halo 3 set during events between Halo 2 and Halo 3. Our new hero is an ODST(Orbital Dropshock Trooper), alone in Covenant-occupied New Mombasa.
Two things about this trailer video really fascinate me, both with regard to the city-governing AI, the Superintendent. The first is the level of expressiveness in the Super’s reactions. The icon the Super uses to represent itself is simply a circle with two eyes, and yet that is enough to convey a wide array of feelings with respect to events taking place within its city. Most of the expressions are flashed across the screen almost faster than you can catch them without slowing the video down, but it’s well worth taking the time to focus on them for a few moments, since a lot about the Super’s personality can be derived for those glimpses.
The second that’s fascinating is watching the Super’s process for gleaning information about the drop pod. The Super attempts to identify from its civilian database the vehicle on its crash approach, and when it fails to do so, it accesses the UNSC database and makes a positive ID. From there, you can almost see the Super switch gears as it elevates both its awareness and priority level for the drop pod’s passenger as it begins to use the city signs to guide the ODST to some, as-yet unknown destination.
As always with Bungie content, there is a lot hidden in the trailer for attentive viewers to puzzle out. Already I’m looking forward to next fall and seeing this new expansion.
It is through the efforts of two gentlemen that the existence of “Reclaimer”:http://reclaimercomic.com is possible. The first is Tyler Martin, who has created the beautifully designed “ComicPress”:http://mindfaucet.com/comicpress/ theme. Tyler’s design makes it eminently easier to produce a regular comic using the powerful WordPress platform. I’ve long been a fan of WordPress, and I’ve wanted to produce a Halo comic since Halo 3 first hit store shelves, so I’m very grateful to Tyler for making it that much easier to make it happen. With the release of “ComicPress 2.5”:http://mindfaucet.com/comicpress/2008/05/19/comicpress-25-released/, things are even better. Tyler built five different layouts, with the graphic novel layout being the design of choice for Reclaimer – and by the feedback I’ve received from you, my readers, it’s been a very positive change. So, my thanks to Tyler for putting the effort into creating such a great tool for producing webcomics.
John Bintz has added another great tool to ComicPress 2.5 that makes it even more efficient to post up new comics. It’s a plugin for WordPress called “ComicPress Manager”:http://claritycomic.com/comicpress-manager/ that goes hand-in-hand with the ComicPress theme. Before, I had to make the comic, use Filezilla to upload the file to the comics directory, then go into the WordPress dashboard and create the new post, write the title, write a little blurb about the comic, add tags, set the category, and set the date and time so that the comic publishes only when I want it to. With ComicPress Manager, all I have to do is create the comic, make sure the file name contains the date and name, and use ComicPress Manager to upload the file. From there, the plugin automatically sets the date and time for me, pulls the post title from the tile of the comic file name, and even creates thumbnails for the comic archive and the RSS feed. I can set my tags and blurb right there. What took me about five minutes before now takes literally 30 seconds and adds more features than were previously available. It’s a powerful little plugin that makes it even more fun to produce a comic by taking away a lot of the ‘pain’ in posting.
Again, my thanks to these two gentlemen for producing these great tools and volunteering their efforts to the webcomic community.
On a day when everything is a bit on the rough side, “a ray of sunshine”:http://comic.shamuswrites.com/2007/11/14/reclaimer-chapter-one-part-eight-more-than-genetics/#comment-22 appears. There’s nothing a writer loves to hear more than a comment like this, and it certainly pushes the clouds aside a little bit.
I love doing the _Reclaimer_ comic. At the moment I enjoy even more than writing a short story or a piece of flash fiction. _Reclaimer_ is letting me tap into several of my interests and hobbies at the same time – writing, graphical manipulation, Halo 3, web design, and more. It’s kind of like the best of all worlds bundled up in this little nutshell of yummy goodness.
I was worried initially that I wouldn’t be able to produce a comic that would grab the interest of veteran comic book readers. I’ve never really been into comics all that much, never had much access to them as a kid, other than the ones that appeared in the Sunday paper. I’ve read a comic book here and there over the years, and I do subscribe to several online comics now, but relatively speaking, I’m pretty new to the comic book genre. So you can probably imagine that it’s intensely gratifying to be producing a comic series that continues to generate positive comments. I look forward to every writing session and to setting up the scenes in Halo 3, capturing the necessary screenshots, and then manipulating them in Photoshop to produce each page. It’s a relaxing process for me, and one that I enjoy more and more every time I do it.
Have any of my readers here tuned in to the comic? I’m curious to know if the comic has been able to break the barrier past the gaming community.
I avoided Matchmaking in Halo 2 like the plague. I played a lot of Rumble Pit early on when I first got Xbox Live, and I’m sure that certainly helped me develop a lot of the necessary skills to be a somewhat competitive player. My favorite type of match to play, however, were custom games with friends. There were two reasons for this.
The first was that Matchmaking was rife with Timmies. For the uninitiated, a Timmy is a play – usually a child or adolescent – who, regardless of skill at the game, mouth of with words that would make a sailor blush, verbally abuse anyone and everyone around them, declare themselves video game gods when they are playing well and accusing everyone else of cheating when they don’t, and spend a large portion of their time teabagging the virtual corpses of their opponents – whether they were actually the one who defeated them in battle or not. The Timmies still exist in Halo 3 Matchmaking, of course. It’s just a lot easier to put the mute on them and to stick bullets into them.
The second was that I was never quite able to match up competitively with most of my opponents. In all my games of Rumble Pit, I can count on one hand the number of games I actually won. When playing with “my fellow Gunslingers”:http://tiedtheleader.com, I always felt like the dead-weight who was more of an impediment than a help. In Halo 3, I’m _very_ competitive, having achieved skill levels so far in the 18-19 range, where I never consistently made more than a 12 or 13 in Halo 2. I’m enjoying Halo 3 much more than Halo 2 – and for those who know me, they know how much I raved about Halo 2. The games seem much more balanced now, and I feel like I still have room to go up in skill points.
The game itself is visually and audibly stunning, taking advantage of the full processing power of the Xbox 360 to provide a cornucopia of delights. Forge is a beast, allowing you to customize maps to your heart’s content, and Saved Films, Screenshots, and File Share are revolutionary pleasures. I’ve joked in the past that Halo 3 is probably the most expensive video game to date, since many of us acquired an Xbox 360 for the sole purpose of playing this game. It’s no joke now, though. Halo 3 is worth every penny, and I look forward to many more hours of enjoying this game with my friends and the Halo community.
Ok, apparently, I’ve been terribly neglectful of my blog these past few days. I’ve actually got two entries in draft form that I just haven’t quite finished yet. So, in an effort to catch myself up on some of my happenings the last few days, here’s a short bullet-list:
* Remember when I posted a “visual writing prompt”:http://shamuswrites.com/2007/09/14/writing-prompt-1/? Well, at the time I didn’t have any takers and so I just never quite found the motivation to post up another. The MasterKidderMinster “wrote a bit of flash fiction”:http://masterkidderminster.net/?p=46 that he told me about a few days ago. It’s a pretty good read and a lot of fun to see the direction he took the image. He’s requested that I continue the writing prompts, so plan to see a new one show up on Friday.
* My “Dune book giveaway”:http://shamuswrites.com/2007/10/24/book-giveaway-dune/ has been met with a somewhat lukewarm response – six entries. I’d love to see at least a few more folks enter the contest to win this wonderful science fiction novel by one of SF’s greatest. The contest is open until Wednesday, so there’s still plenty of time.
* Awhile back, I read Jayne d’Arcy’s lament on her blog about needing a new custom theme but having trouble finding someone who could produce one at a reasonable cost. Well, I volunteered to build one for her for free, since I love building WordPress themes so much, so that’s part of what kept me away from here so much last week. If you want to see the final product, head over to “Jayne’s blog”:http://jaynedarcy.us and check it out.
* I’ve also started a couple of new projects, which are the other parts of what has kept me from blogging much lately. The first is called “Mendicant Bias”:http://halo3.shamuswrites.com and is a repository of Halo 3 screenshots I’ve captured. None of these shots have been modified in any way, other than to resize them down a bit. There are a lot of creative ways of taking interesting shots in Halo 3, and it’s been fun trying to find them. The other project I’m working on is a Halo-based comic built exclusively from screenshots. This project is called “Reclaimer”:http://comic.shamuswrites.com and is something I’m planning on producing on a weekly basis for the foreseeable future. We’ll see how things go on that front.
* “Flashes of Speculation”:http://fs.shamuswrites.com has relaunched and there has been a pretty good response, both in stories submitted and in readers who have commented. I’m always looking for new writers, stories, and readers, so if you fall into any of those categories, head over there and find out how you can get involved.
There are a few other things going on right now, as well, but I’ll announce those as they present themselves. I’m looking forward to getting back to doing some actual writing, both blog-wise and fiction-wise. I’ve got a great dark sci-fi piece I want to start on this week and a couple of other small pieces.
Lots of good stuff happening. I can’t wait to share more of it.
Well, I’m afraid that my writing time has been at a bit of a minimum the last week or two. In addition, I’ve had no time as yet to develop the new WordPress theme for “Flashes of Speculation”:http://fs.shamuswrites.com in preparation for its re-launch. This is due, in part, to the fact that I’m back to work full-time. Now I’m trying to get caught up on some new projects while shouldering new responsibilities for an entire database management system that our university uses. I think it will be enjoyable work in the long-run, but the task of getting up to speed on how some of the backend processes work is, quite frankly, a little daunting.
It also doesn’t help that Halo 3 came out for the Xbox 360 last week, and I’ve been as much free time as I can playing online with friends and “clan members”:http://tiedtheleader.com as well as playing around with the new File Share capabilities and dabbling a bit in Forge. I still want to write up a review for Halo 3 but that, like so many other things, is something I haven’t found time for just yet.
I do want to get back to writing here a bit more again, just as soon as things settle down at the office enough for me to be able to fit a little blogging in around projects.
In the meantime, don’t forget to comment on “my book giveaway”:http://shamuswrites.com/2007/10/01/book-giveaway-the-gunslinger/ and check out “my tumblelog”:http://tumble.shamuswrites.com.