Friday, October 28, 2011

RftP: In Time

I'd almost say that In Time is this years Skyline only by all accounts Battle: Los Angeles was, rather conveniently, this years Skyline and In Time isn't quite that bad. Still pretty god damned awful by any metric, In Time takes its high concept and... well... proceeds to weigh it down with leads that are phoning it in, cut rate production values, "Time" puns out of an 80's action film, and, most critically, no real attention/consistency to its core plot mechanic other than when we need to play it up for dramatic effect.

Anyways, In Time runs on the following premise: everyone in this world is genetically engineered to stop aging at 25. As a form of population control, once you turn 25 your biological clock quite literally starts ticking down from one year - conveniently indicated to you by a glowing green digital countdown on your left wrist - and this is how much time you have left to live. More time can be earned by working, and the time you have is spent as currency. You can trade it by taking a hold of someone's right hand, take out loans, pay for things via a bar code reader, or, in one of the silliest conceits of the year, fucking arm wrestle to the death over it. Many of the poor in this world turn 25 and find themselves down to a day or less as they pay off debts incurred while growing up by themselves or those of their parents. On the flip side, the rich live sheltered away in separate enclaves protected by bodyguards from any accidental deaths by hiding away in their homes, entertainment centres, and offices while accumulating millennia off the backs of those left in slums to slave in their factories and workplaces until they drop dead. Literally.

In more capable hands, there's quite a film to be made out of that. Unfortunately, what we get here pretty much wastes everyone involved as it proceeds to open with some maudlin melodrama between Justin Timberlake and his mom, Olivia Wilde, side trips through a third rate poker game outta James Bond, and then goes all stockholm syndrome meets Robin Hood with Amanda Seyfried. Meanwhile Cillian Murphy tries to pretend he's still working with Chris Nolan while channeling Tommy Lee Jones from the Fugitive if the character had 50 years to get completely jaded about how the world works. It's pretty brutal and made only more so because it uses its core plot points in ways that are completely implausible. For example, JT gets "arrested" at a night party, all the time he's accumulated gets "seized" until he only has two hours left to prevent him from running.... except he runs.... and is still alive at daybreak the next day despite the fact that the girl he's just abducted has made it plenty clear she's not giving him any of her time at that point.

Situations like that persist throughout the film but the worst abuser are the "running" sequences where they quite clearly are either the luckiest people in town in terms of where they run low or the fucking Flash. It's at this point you realize the plot device exists to serve the action sequences, plausibility and story be damned, and just go "fuck it, even for a popcorn film this is shit." The production values do nothing to counter this; there's an absolutely laughable CGI gar crash, the supporting cast and extras are just god awful (especially those playing bodyguards who handle their weapons like they first met in Costume, although you could possibly make an argument that's an intentional choice based on the fact that they usually never have to defend), and everything looks like it was shot on a single backlot somewhere unless they were in a city.

It just doesn't work, and more so because it's cut in a way that makes it very clear no one gives a shit about the plot and/or scenes were dropped and JT + Seyfried are acting like they're in a romantic comedy somewhere; quite possibly because they're both given some absolutely preposterous lines to say and just can't keep a straight face while doing it. Additionally, the action scenes are pretty limited and no one's going to come out of this thinking JT just set himself up for a long career as an ass kicker 'cause he barely does any throughout the film. When he does, someone's decided the best way to highlight him is to make sure every fight is over in 6 seconds through having him be some sort of ghetto Ninja with no setup as to why. The rest of the time he's just running and shooting over his shoulder.

All in all, this is a film you should catch on TV someday. Preferably off an antenna.

PS: Cillian Murphy's character? Totally JT's dad, even if the film never admits it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

WoW: You've Made Your Bed...

One of the fun recurring complaints you hear from PvP servers is how there's no PvP anymore. Because the faction ratios are 30:1. Frequently because one faction actively went out of their way to run the other off the server by camping them into oblivion and they're damned proud of it.

This is followed by ranting at Blizzard to try and "fix" the issue which is roughly equivalent to the following conversation:
Player: "Tom took his ball and went home because I kept kicking him in the face. I demand you find me someone else to kick in the face. With a ball."
Blizzard: "Um... yeah.... we'll get right on that..."
Reality Check: Blizzard isn't going to "rebalance" your server for the simple reason that there's really no evidence that you're not going to continue to run anyone they move there off and forcing a PvP experience with a mandatory migration upon their customers to appease you that basically involves getting camped until they log in frustration is not really in the company's best interest.

Although I'm sure they'd take the realm change cash, Blizzard is smart enough to know that it's player attitudes towards what's supposed to go on on a PvP server that are causing the issue and not, say, class or faction racial imbalances as the source of this issue. The problem actually comes down to the simple reality that, at some point in time, the PvP community got this idea into their heads that the purpose of a PvP server was not to have a "live" opponent from time to time but, instead, to achieve that ephemeral goal of "Domination" and now that they've achieved that, they don't get their "live" opponents anymore because... well... they've dominated them instead of engaged in some sort of sustainable level of mutual harassment. Blizzard can't program around player attitudes and, lets be honest, if they tried the people who want to play domination are going to transition from whining about having no one to dominate to screaming to high heaven when there are roadblocks placed in their way.

So, until attitudes change, you're likely screwed. Although, maybe they could just let you faction change to the other side on your own server for free for a while. I suspect you guys on the high side are certainly gonna jump at the challenge and extra PvP opportunities that opens up.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

TotD: Not Remotely Shocked.

Strong winds, rain cause power outage at Jane and Bloor

Used to work this area as a phone tech.

View Larger Map

If the Power network is as archaic as some of the phone equipment was in this area I'm surprised it's not down more often. There were quite literally 1940's/1950's Pole Terminals still in use here for the phone lines a few years back. Boy, that was fun to work with.... especially with the stands they were on...

Had these old school seat brackets we were warned against using because no one was doing maintenance on them anymore.

Friday, October 14, 2011

DGtCDB: Zul Gurub

Boy, this is late in coming but these take significant writing time to do and I've been busy.

Important Trash Note: Utilize your Cauldrons. Green Cauldrons will provide a substantial immunity to Nature damage - handy for fighting certain mobs and passing toxic areas. Blue Cauldrons will give you a buff that freezes and does substantial damage to the first target you hit; they make certain mobs much easier to kill. Red Cauldrons don't really get used much in trash, but cause you to make like a 'lock and start casting a Hellfire equivalent - with the exact same consequences to your health. All three will play in role in one of the later boss fights.

Going to try doing this in a slightly different format than the earlier ones which I've been advised were too "wordy". Sooooo, streamlined it is....

High Priest Venoxis
First boss does a lot of poison/nature damage - much of which is demonstrated by the trash priests on your way to the boss.
Rule One of Venoxis: Don't stand in Green. Repeat: Do. Not. Stand. In. Green. Tanks, please position the boss so that his ass is not facing the green fog on the staircase as you will make it hard for Melee to not violate Rule One; fog damage aura extends further than you think. Likewise, when the boss goes snake and starts spitting bile, get behind it, don't eat it.
Interrupt: Whispers of Hethiss - You'll likely need to rotate on this because it will be cast about every 5-8 seconds
Run Away!: Toxic Link - If this is cast on you, a green line will form between you and another player. You want to get away from that player as quickly as possible in order to cancel out the ability. Ranged and Healers should pre-position themselves in the room so that the ability will fall off immediately to negate it entirely for those players. Think a big triangle with Ranged DPS in opposite base corners and Heals at the tip towards the back alter.
Bloodvenom Tendrils - the boss will cast this when he jumps back up the stairs. You'll need to run though the green maze of lines on the ground to avoid the AoE damage they will do shortly after spawning so leave yourself a path to run and, if necessary and health allows, don't be afraid to cut quickly across a line if it means being able to avoid the AoE.

Avoid those abilities and Venoxis will likely fall in 1-2 phases.

Bloodlord Mandokir
Straightforward Tank + Spank pretty much. Mandokir will occasionally jump around and instagib someone with Decapitate so be prepared as Tank or Healer to have the other go down from time to time when RNG hates you. Deaths on this fight also cause Mandokir to Level Up - increasing damage by 20% for each one so you're trying to finish him before he simply overpowers you.
Rule One of Madokir: the Chained Spirits are how you get revived from Decapitate. You have 8. Mandokir will (re)spawn his Raptor Ohgan over the course of the fight. If Ohgan is allowed to run freely, he will kill the Chained Spirits. No chained spirits, no rezes. No Rezes, dead party through attrition. You want to control Ohgan with slows or burn him down to prevent this and maximize your Chained Spirits.
Run Away!: Devastating Slam is a conical AoE attack which has a ground effect similar to Earthquake in a big frontal V. Prioritize clearing out because ground spikes will erupt within it and kill you instantly. You don't want extra deaths on this fight - remember each one causes Mandokir to Level Up.
Periodically: Bloodletting will be cast on a player and a red line will link them and Mandokir. They will lose 50% of their remaining health every 2 seconds for 10 seconds up to a minimum of 75K. Healers need be aware of that minimum and also top these players back up after the spell finishes.

Mandokir will enrage at 20% increasing his attack speed by 100%. Survive that and take your spoils.

High Priestess Kilnara
Somewhat of an add fight, the Tank will need to juggle holding agro on Kilnara with pulling kitties to be burnt down by the DPS.
Rule One of Kilnara:: Her kitty adds need to die before she hits 50% health, or else any remaining adds will agro and start chewing on the party.
Interrupt:: Tears of Blood - she will cast this periodically before she goes below 50% and it will do significant AoE damage to the party if left to run it's full course.
Run Away!: Wave of Agony - she will face a random player and create a giant purple wave. Anyone standing in its path will be knocked back and take 70-80K damage when it goes off so clear out of it's path/get behind her before it does.
Dispel: Lash of Anguish is 18-20K damage every 2 seconds for 10 seconds - ~80-100K. If you can dispel magic, take it off, don't heal through it.
Periodically: Wail of Sorrow will damage the party. Heal through it.

At 50% she will turn into a giant cat lady, the roof will collapse dealing AoE damage, and any remaining kitties that weren't killed will awaken and attack the party. Heal through the AoE damage to top everyone back up and then just burn her down before her attack buff builds to the point where she can kill you all.

This is where those Cauldrons we were talking about earlier will come in handy.
Rule One of Zanzil: Use the right cauldron at the right time. Blue to Kill/Control spawned Berzerkers, Red to Burn down Zombies, Green to handle Toxic Torment.
Interrupt: Voodoo Bolt as much as possible to minimize Tank damage.
Run Away! Zanzil Fire is a line of fire towards a random target. It is not a buff.
Zerkers will lock on to a random player just like they did on the path up to Zanzil's area. If you can't kill them in an iceblock, the person they target needs to kite while DPS finishes them off.

This entire fight really depends on how much DPS you have. With lots, it's entirely possible to have everyone grab the Fire Cauldron to start, stack on the boss, pop Hero, and heal through the party damage from the Cauldron buff while you try to beat out the Potion timers. At which point, it basically comes down to what you get first. If your first Potion revives a Berzerker, it's best to deal with it. But Toxic Torment, or Zombies? Get the appropriate buff, then stay on Zanzil and burn baby burn! But, if your DPS is low it's going to be 3 phases at least so don't be impatient: take the time to handle them appropriately because the boss really can't kill you if you manage his adds/potions correctly.

Jin'do the Godbreaker
Ahhh, the fight that still breaks many party's backs. Quick and easy done right, brutal wipe fest done wrong.

Phase 1: Above 70% health, Jin'Do will basically use two abilities: Deadzone and Shadows of Hakar.
Targets in the Deadzone take 90% less magic damage, but also cast 90% slower. Tanks want to keep Jin'do out of these so he doesn't get the 90% reduction buff. When Jin'do goes to cast Shadows of Hakar though, the party wants to be inside the Deadzone because the Chain Shadow damage will destroy players otherwise. So basically, you're going to dance in and out of big green bubbles until the boss runs away and starts...

Phase 2: Ahhh.... the phase of mass death. There will be three chains in the room covered by bubbles. To break these, the tank needs to go pull Gurubashi Spirit from the landings below and get them upstairs. The Gurubashi Spirit should not be killed right away; instead the party wants to keep him up until he casts at least one Body Slam on a random player who must be standing near one of the chain bubbles when he casts it in order to break the chain.
Rule One of Jin'Do: Don't miss your Body Slams. The longer this fight goes on, the more adds will spawn in the room and the harder it's going to get. You want your first three Slams to hit the chain bubbles. Also note: the purple circles created by the slams increase all damage done to things inside them by 200% so you really want to take advantage of these and get them placed not just so that they break the chain bubble but that the chain itself is included as well.
Run Away!: Shadow Spike - If there are white puffy clouds below your feet, a large amount of damage is coming your way. Move out of the smoke circle. Note: the damage buff from the purple circle applies to these strikes as well - you really don't want one of these landing on you as Melee while dealing with the chain.
Control: Gurubashi Spirt - Tank and Healer need to communicate to the party how many jumps you want to try and take per Spirit because the longer he's up, the more damage he does. While you don't want him immediately dead, whether or not you're killing one after every shield break, or after two, or going for all three needs to be communicated to the party so your Tank doesn't die.
Twisted Spirits - will spawn from shadow portals and harass the party in increasing numbers as the fight goes on. Ranged should make a best effort to control these as they will beeline for your Healers otherwise and do significant melee damage. Failure to control these often ends up in dead Healers which often means wipe time. It's best for the Ranged to stay near the healer so that they can camp a Chain together as mobs rush in instead of run all over the room and be out of position for a Body Slam.

Control the adds, break the bubbles, and destroy all three chains and you'll be free to go.

Yes. I know there're 4 random archaeology bosses. There are also almost no people who've done the prof to spawn the boss sooo I'm not bothering.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Rant: Oooohhh, HMV....

As noted before, HMV Canada is in a bit of a pickle: they need to find some way to make themselves relevant to modern customers who are increasingly taking advantage of digital media before they're pronounced dead through attrition.

The good news is that they have a plan.

The bad news is that the plan seems to be to go running headlong into lines of business that failed.

Subscription music is the dumbest of the two things they're looking at. The primary problem with it is that they're trying to sell a music service that likely won't be portable because I sincerely doubt their service will be compatible with anything other than a computer screen. The reason this is a problem is that people don't tend to consume music sitting in front of their computer screen to the degree they consume it sitting in a car/bus/etc commuting or exercising or just generally out and about. The lack of hardware support - especially from the Gorilla in the room throwing Apples - is the main reason why these services haven't gained a lot of traction.

They could be hoping that Smart Phones +Tablets + "Apps" take this long standing limitation away but... why? Where's the compelling reason that their service is going to survive longer or be more successful than the others that have come and died before it? There isn't one and there really hasn't been since everyone started selling unencumbered MP3's: just buy the music you like and listen to it forever. The rest? Well, there's a shit ton of free streaming on the web (hi YouTube!, check the Link Storage or CBC R3 for other examples), that already work with those platforms, by and large, to scratch the itch for that song you kinda sorta like sometimes or find something new. So, why would you want to pay a fee to do that on a permanent basis just to be able to keep songs you like?

Next up: lets start renting movies now that Blockbuster's Shuttered all its stores!


Look, it's not necessarily a bad idea because, by all accounts, BB Canada was making money until the US Bankruptcy Courts noticed that they were put up as collateral against that division's debts and pulled the plug but... why would you want to step into a dying business model when your core problem is that you're already a dying business model?

They're clutching at straws here and unless they've hired an absolute fucking genius to enact these my gut says their best outcome would be to continue to tread water.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

TyL: Playing Dark Souls.

Third party edition:
Dragons are like cats. They are curious and will look for you if you seem to vanish. Much like a cat, if you surprise them, they lash out. Unlike a cat, a dragon does it with LOTS AND LOTS OF FIRE.

Own impressions coming later.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

TotD: Addendum...

... to yesterdays thought.

It's interesting that when every other form of retail has come to the conclusion that they need to sell their products to ever younger audiences to build brands and take advantage of the buying power kids hold in the form of parent sway that every solution comics has attempted to try and fix their declining readership tends to double down on the assumption that they need to regain the attention of past readers or become more "mature".

Maybe, just maybe, they need to get the attention of new readers. By making comics that appeal to them and that their parents won't blanche at at first glance.

Because the problem is not "too much history" or "Silly Costumes". The problem is that you've started writing for your niche and your niche is shrinking as you fail to bring new people into the fold.