It’s been a few weeks since the last wrap-up post. Things have happened. Quite a few things. I’ve seen a few more movies and even reviewed one that was excellent.
This week, however, saw a few things I hadn’t expected or that I forgot were about to come up. The first was that I saw the launch of a YouTube channel. This one’s special because it’s dedicated to gaming, but even more important, the person starting it (Peter Saddington) intends to pursue the great dream of many gamers (myself included): to play games as a full-time occupation. Take a look:
As you can see, Peter’s got quite the passion for gaming and for doing what’s super scary at its core – committing publicly to being serious about making a living pursuing his passion. He even is sharing that with nearly complete strangers like myself. He feels like he can make an assessment of a game in the first 15 minutes of play. I think there will be a few exceptions, but that might just be due to how some games are designed.
I had the chance actually to chat with Peter on the phone briefly this evening. You can feel the seriousness and energy he has, even on a short call. I can’t help but want to see him succeed, and I’ll try to help as best I can. I didn’t mention this blog, but I might bring it up at a later time. I’ll probably share more of his videos on social media, however. He’s currently reviewing gaming PC configurations that fit his budget, which is a good idea, since a very high-performance rig is a necessity, especially for somebody that hasn’t been deep in the gaming scene for multiple years.
The next thing I hadn’t reminded myself strongly about was the US premiere of the Sword Art Online movie. I purchased my ticket quite a few months ago and set a calendar item. I got a couple of reminders from the ticket company, via email. That helped me to get a bit hyped for it. I’ll probably see it again once it’s in wider release this coming week.
That’s all for now. There are some fun and festivities this weekend, but that’ll be for another post. I hope everyone else’s weeks have been good. It’s March! Things are warming up in the northern hemisphere. Let’s enjoy the changing season.
At the urging of someone close to me, here’s my review of Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale, based on my having attended the US premiere in Hollywood.
It’s a fascinating look at a “what if” situation. Specifically, it continues the situation introduced by the series itself, so I’ll go over that briefly before digging into the movie.
In the TV show, Sword Art Online (SAO) is the newest of a near future’s virtual reality (VR) massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG). In this fictional future, VR terminals, called NerveGear, completely immerse players, temporarily shutting down their real-world body’s motor and sensory functions. That means that usually, users must log in someplace comfortable, like their beds at home, or a secured location. One player does so from a place that’s not their home, but it’s a spoiler, so that’s all I’ll say about that.
At any rate, there’s a significant event in the SAO game world, attracting all players to the same location. It’s thousands of individuals. The event is one unique to the game world, created by its lead developer. What happens is a terrifying thing: an ominous entity appears and tells them the game’s real objective. The only way to leave the game is to “win” it, by conquering the final boss in the highest dungeon. All players are affected by this condition. They cannot log out!
Unspoken is also a terrifying secondary condition. Dying in-game results in real-life death. The first season of the series is then the adventures of the main protagonist, Kirito, and the friends he gathers in-game. Kirito has gaming experience, and specifically with an early release (beta) version of SAO, which leads to his having fine-tuned skills and knowledge of the game’s behavior. He’s quickly labeled a “beater” (beta cheater) due to that when he’s found out. That pushes Kirito to go solo, refusing to team up formally with any other players. It drives him to quickly level up to be the first to conquer and progress through the massive 100-level dungeon. He later has trouble and finds out that the higher levels require huge teams, so he must have allies, and it progresses from there.
The second season takes place in a post-apocalyptic, shooting-based world, Gun Gale Online (GGO), that, while safer than SAO, had it’s own real-world connection to a problem player. It deals with a slightly different set of real-world issues as well. It’s worth a watch.
I was late to the screening (80-minute drive directly from work), so I arrived at the tail-end of the movie summarizing this 2-season plot. The film is watchable, on its own, due to that. It’s been more than couple years since the SAO game ended, and many “survivors” of SAO were admitted to a unique set of schools to complete their real-world education and (not mentioned) rehabilitation, after having spent years logged into another world. Some, like Kirito, had also joined other VR worlds after SAO or joined its newer, fantasy-based successor.
There exists in the post-SAO future an augmented reality (AR) game, called Ordinal Scale. This game exists as a separate visible (to players) overlay on top of what they see in the real world, via a less bulky head-mounted display, much like Google Glass. Unlike VR games, players must be physically conscious and, importantly, real-world locations matter. If you’re thinking of Pokemon Go, it’s a logical evolution of that type of AR game. In Ordinal Scale, there are boss battle events put on nightly, which rewards the players participating, if they manage to virtually survive and if the boss is defeated. Players receive short notice as to the location, which is usually either an existing public space, or a cordoned off space, so there’s a controlled safety factor the game’s developers are aware of.
The movie begins, however, with Kirito, and the others, noticing strong things happening to players, and specifically to SAO survivors, after some of the battles.
The movie’s worth a viewing so that I won’t go too deep into its plot. It’s related to the events in the original SAO game, but for a character not seen in the show, but with a connection to many SAO players. Ordinal Scale does touch upon a few of the current worries around AR, but the fictional world also offers some interesting solutions to some, such as having specifically planned-out places for players to safely gather. It also encourages exercise, which a VR player like Kirito quickly finds is hindering him a bit until he comes up with a creative solution to help him progress. He and others notice that the bosses are bosses they’ve seen in SAO before, giving them a useful leg up on dealing with them and also ensuring they do the most damage, which affects their ranking.
The number 2 ranked Ordinal Scale player also is a key figure and appears to be an SAO survivor as well, which quickly gains the attention of Kirito and his girlfriend, Asuna, who recognizes him first as a former guildmate from SAO. They’re concerned that this player is connected to strange happenings stemming from Ordinal Scale, and Kirito gains a rival since one can’t make it to #1 without going through #2.
There’s also a virtual idol appearing in many of the boss battles, Yuna, who also happens to be a pop singer with many fans in their real world, and who has an upcoming concert in a major arena. She serenades players as they battle, granting both a bonus buff at the beginning and granting an experience point boost to the top player for each victorious battle. There something strange about her, and many don’t know if she’s a real life person, or a virtual idol, like Hatsune Miko. This ambiguity does matter, but any more description of her is too much.
If fantasy-based action appeals to you, this is a must-see. If you have an interest in AR or VR, I’d say give it a look as well. It’s a great adventure, nonetheless. I do want to see it again, not just to see it from a further back row, but because it is entertaining. I’m giving Ordinal Scale a top recommendation, and I do hope that more anime series get a movie if this one does well in a wider release. US release is March 9, so mark your calendars!
Today’s the day! The new Star Wars movie begins it run in theaters this evening. My or pre-purchased ticket, reserved months in advance, is for an 8 PM screening.
Hopefully, I won’t be completely useless at work today due to the excitement. I’ve actually seen the movie at the premiere screening earlier this week, but the movie’s so good, I definitely want to see it again, even if just to pick up more details I might have missed.
It isStar Wars, after all, right?
I’ve loved the universe of Star Wars almost my entire life. I was too little for the initial premiere of the original film, and I’m side it was not a luxury my parents, taking care of my 1-year old self and my baby brother, could afford, that warm May day back in 1977. My first viewing is the same as many my age: on TV (likely on ON TV, an early cable provider), and I was hooked.
Every time after the first, if I saw that Star Wars was on the TV schedule, in TV Guide, or via a commercial, it felt like a short holiday. I knew I would be trying to watch it when it aired.
I’m sure my parents loved it too. They certainly had no problemd watching when it was on. All three of the originals were experienced by my brothers and I (3 of us by the time Return of the Jedi was released) on TV, in fact. It wasn’t until the re-releases in theaters, after years of wearing out the boxed VHS tape set, that we’d see the first trilogy in theaters.
So, fast forward from the 90’s to the present. We all still love the films, I’m able to not onlh costume up as, but also able to perform as a Jedi, as part of a group of like-minded fans and friends, in Saber Guild, an LFL-recognized, international lightsaber performance group.
We create and perform shows, in characters of our own creation and with known characters, and any funds recieved are donated to local charities. We volunteer our time to spread the wonder and excitement of Star Wars to others.
It’s my association with, and participation in that group that got me involved in the comic conventions I’ve attended, such as the Long beach and San Diego comic-cons. I’ve met many fellow fans and made many friends across the other costume clubs, such as the 501st and Rebel Legions, The Dark Empire, and others.
It’s been a great deal of fun, and some work, but it’s also been a dream come true. I feel so lucky, and grateful to be alive, now, because, even in the face of the spread of evil and fear-mongering I’m the wider world, there are those that fight that depressing really off, in bursts, as they can, by spreading love and hope. I could not be prouder to be a part of such a community. Yes the movies are fun, but the community is what drives many fans to band together for good causes.
I’m excited today that yet another generation will get to experience the awe and wonder from what follows these words on the big screen:
The first Back to The Future movie ended with that line, as Doc, Marty, and Jennifer launch, in a flying DeLorean, to the future. Part 2 picks up right after this, and the future definitely looked different. Somewhat outlandishly different.
Clothing that would have been at the edge of fashion in ’85 was the norm in the imagined 2015 world. Advertisements were much more pervasive and even holographic. Athletic shoes had self-tightening laces. Hoverboards, for gosh sakes, were the latest fun way to get around, replacing skateboards. There’s even more, but those are some of the most memorable examples.
So, what’s a tech-savvy person to make of this? Well, there’s some things there that are nearly self-fulfilling projections of the technology of the time. Self-tightening shoes, for example, were really a giant leap and Nike will be releasing matching shoes, inspired by those in the film.
Hoverboards, however, as envisioned in the movie, are ever-elusive, although tech is in the works on, and some practical hovering-based things exist, but they’re mostly more practical things, like cargo moving gadgets, to replace wheels.
Great Scott! The future is now. Meet our Hendo 2.0 #hoverboard #bttf
Not quite as versatile as the ones in the movie, but evolving.
The heavy commercialization and in-your-face advertisement isn’t quite as obnoxious as shown in the film version of 2015, but it does continue its slow crawl towards it, from increasing product placement almost being expected, not just in film, but, TV (which still exists) and even video games.
In a way, I’m a bit glad it’s not such an exact match of the predictions, which usually fall short, especially in more whimsical sci-fi such as this. Things are, in some ways, arguably better (and, not just because the Cubs didn’t even make it to the World Series.) For example, the very wide-spread use of, and even existence of, the Internet. There was not even an inkling that such a communication network would be so big. It’s good that was not imagined since any guess would have been very far off.
Those are just my quick thoughts on this since it was really a summer movie that didn’t get me to thinking too hard on serious issues of the development of society. I was more focused on getting ready for the fall school year since my family hadn’t been in our new place in the suburbs very long while the movie was still new.
[On October 21, 2015,] movie fans celebrated “Back to the Future Day” since it was the day that the characters went to in their time machine. The vision they cast about what 2015 would be like in 1989 is quite different. What do you think about that?
Let me know what your thoughts were, or if you’ve already grown weary of the saturation, that’s fine too. 🙂