Saturday, January 30, 2010

Weekend Update

What? It’s already Saturday again? Wow, what a short week (despite shovelling snow). So, this is what I’m going to do this weekend:

  • DVD to watch: probably “Hot Fuzz” once more (love that movie)
  • Book to read: going through my “Myth-Adventures” collection (two heavy tomes)
  • Game to play: “Nick Chase and the Deadly Diamond”

Maybe I’ll also be playing “The Sims 3” and I think about writing something about the development of adventure-games for computers.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Weekend Update

And here comes the weekend update for this week.

  • DVD to watch: nothing really planned, but I’ll find something
  • Book to read: “Cemetery Dance” by Lincoln and Child
  • Game to play: “The Sims 3” probably

I just hope we don’t get any more snow next week.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

News from my settlement

A long time ago (probably), I wrote the last post about “Anno.” It’s “Anno 1404” by now, the currently last part of the series.

Again, some things have changed, others have stayed the same. On the whole, I can’t say anything real bad about the new part. Nothing has gone from good to bad, only some things the other way around. The game still isn’t perfect – but which game is?

All pictures in this post were taken from the same game, although during various stages, so the settlement has developed in the meantime.

This is the very beginning of a settlement (well, not the ‘beginning’ beginning). We have a market place, a church and a couple of houses. The first citizens have already moved in as well.

Here the settlement has grown quite a bit already. You can see the pub in the middle of the picture and there’s another market place with a second church in the far right of it.

This is the view from the eastern farms (hemp production for clothes and ropes) towards another island. This island is inhabited by the representative of the emperor – he’s a nice guy, sells a lot of goods and also offers missions for more fame and various wares.

In the middle you can see the first houses inhabited by aristocrats, the highest level of settlers you can get. (It’s farmer, citizen, patrician, aristocrat.) I haven’t had many of them yet (and have a lot of development to do for my oriental settlement – you need one for several wares and products).

Still, with the rather early production of tools (you need tools and wood for basically every building in the game, later on also stone and glass), the game has become a little bit easier over time. In the first game of the series (“Anno 1604”), you could produce them very late in the game – and always buying tools is extremely expensive. This way, you might need to buy tools once or twice before you can produce them yourself.

“Anno 1404” is a very good game and fun to play. You don’t need to wage war on others to win and can build quite some interesting things. And managing two settlements now is actually quite interesting.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Avatar and no end

I was foolish enough to enter a discussion about the movie “Avatar” in my favourite forum. I have decided to drop out of it now – because especially one of the others who participate in it doesn’t seem to understand that it’s a difference between saying a movie has a weak story and lots of CGI and saying ‘CGI is evil’ as a rule.

I do like CGI and am fascinated by the many options for filmmakers. But I don’t like a movie that neglects the story for other factors (not just CGI, but also lots of mindless action sequences or famous actors). That’s my point of view which doesn’t seem to get through to this other fellow.

What I don’t like is hyping a movie with a weak, transparent story. It will lead to more movies of that kind – that’s what the past tells us. “Avatar” is such a case. It does have great graphics and overwhelming effects. But the story is obvious and transparent and the message is ancient as humanity. It is, basically, “Pocahontas” with lots of technology and without the good music from the Disney movie:

I do understand why some people might think it’s great. At a first look, the movie is interesting. There’s really a lot of effects and the story seems political. But what’s political about a message we’ve had over and over again in the past? ‘It’s wrong to fight a war against a seemingly weaker society for resources’ – especially when they could probably be obtained from other places, too. But that has happened oodles of times in the past. It was, perhaps, done to the Neanderthals. It surely was done to the Indians in America. It was done over and over again by European empires in Africa and South America. That doesn’t make it right, but it doesn’t make a great and novel message for mankind, either.

The characters a one-dimensional, too. They fit with stereotypes and nothing they do is really surprising. The soldier who was turned into one of the aliens decides to fight for his ‘new’ world? Shocking, we’ve never seen that before. The ‘chieftain’s’ daughter falls for the stranger, even though her parents are against it, and helps him? I’ve never heard of that happening in the past. The seemingly weaker people win the war in the end? Has never happened before, has it? (Ewoks? I know no Ewoks…)

Still, as far as I am concerned, the discussion is over. I won’t enter into it again, I’ve got better things to write about. Check “Writer’s Blog” for a post about the “Royal Doll Orchestra” and Zombie-dolls.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Weekend Update

Here it is, on time this week, the weekend update.

  • DVD to watch: “The Hound of the Baskervilles” – the BBC version
  • Book to read: “Zombies for Zombies” by David Murphy
  • Game to play: “Penny Dreadfuls: Sweeney Todd”

In addition I hope to write a post about Kaori Yuki’s newest manga series. Check with “Writer’s Blog” next week to see if I made it…